Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beer 2

So this post is long overdue. Late last summer (August) I brewed beer 2 - AHS Anniversary IPA. The ingredients:
  • 1 lb Crystal 75L Malt
  • 8 lbs Extra Pale Extract
  • 1 oz Magnum hops (bittering - 60 minute)
  • 1 oz Falconer's Flight hops (flavoring - 15 minute)
  • 1 oz Cascade hops (dry hopping)
  • SafAle US-05 dry yeast

OG: 1.058 FG: 1.014 ABV: about 6%

I didn't use any aroma hops. I let it go three weeks in primary, then two in secondary with the cascade hops, then I bottled. This was the first beer I've made so far that I didn't make any mistakes on, and it came out great. Even when I was racking it to the secondary fermenter, it tasted good enough that I drank a pint then. It was flat, but tasted like an English "Real Ale" from a cask. It's even better now! I'm definitely going to make this recipe again.

I'm thinking about trying an all grain (no extract) brew next. It's more difficult, but the beer will taste better without that extract "twang" thtat all extract beers seem to have. A local Homebrew store just opened up here in Melbourne do I don't have to buy online anymore.

Friday, September 16, 2011

White House Homebrew

President Obama made one decision that even the most die-hard Republicans can agree with:

Beer 1 - Results

Photo courtesy John Doty

I'm really late with this post, but Beer 1 finished up in July. It's good! The flavor is definitely an ESB, and it has a really strong Kent Golding hops finish. The head is thick and creamy. 

I ended up keeping it in the primary fermenter for two weeks, secondary for one, and bottles for at least 3. 

It still has a slight "twang" to it on the finish. I don't know if it was the fact that I had trouble with the liquid yeast or if it was something I did, but it's not too noticeable. I'm going to use this recipe again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beer 1 - Finally Fermenting

When I called Austin Homebrew, they agreed that my yeast was most likely bad. They are sending another batch. Originally I had Wyeast London ESB #1968. They said they have had some problems with the Wyeast yeasts lately so they are sending White Labs English Ale #002, an identical yeast strain from a different company. He also suggested that I find a local dry yeast and pitch that ASAP. I didn't think I could find any closer than Orlando. One of my coworkers overheard my conversation and it turns out that he is an active member of our local home brew club. He told me of a place not too far away that sells brewers yeast!

I ended up driving up to Cocoa Beach to the hippie organic food store, SunSeed Coop, which also sells a limited amount brewing supplies. I went there after work and ended up buying Fermentis Safale S-04 English Ale yeast. I pitched it when I got home and had fermentation within hours! Most websites say to rehydrate dry yeast before use but this package said to just toss it in dry. It worked beautifully. I cranked the temperature on the fermented down to 62 due to this yeast's lower temperature range.

I have that liquid yeast vial coming in a few days still. I'm tempted to make the same recipe, with the same accidentally high hops, using the liquid yeast to see if I can taste a difference.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beer 1 - Brew Day

I brewed last Sunday. Everything went very well. My only problem was that the instructions called for 1/2 oz of the various hops additions but the packets each contained 1 oz. I completely didn't notice until after I added them to the beer so I guess it'll be a slightly hoppier ESB. Not a problem for me! In the end I hit my target gravity of 1.060, which doesn't seem like a surprise since I'm using malt extract.

One thing that may be a problem is the lack of fermentation. I had a "smack pack" of liquid yeast. I warmed it up to room temperature 12 hours before I brewed and smacked it to break open the inner package 3 hours before I brewed, just like the instructions said. It was supposed to swell up but didn't. The package also said that if it doesn't swell then it isn't a big deal and to use it anyway. So 3 days later, still no fermentation! I opened up the bucket last night and remeasured the gravity - still 60. Not even a little bit of fermentation has taken place. And ale is a top-fermenting yeast. I saw nothing floating on the beer. I'm suspicious that I got a bad batch of yeast. The instructions in the kit from Austin Homebrew said to call if I see no fermentation after 48 hours. I'll call when they open today.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beer 1 Recipe

I received my ingredients kit from Austin Homebrew earlier this week for a Fullers-style ESB. The recipe:
1/2 lb Pale Ale malt
1 lb Crystal 75L malt

8 lb Amber Extract

1/2 oz Target bittering hops
1/2 oz Challenger bittering hops
1/2 oz Kent Golding flavor hops
1/2 oz Northdown flavor hops
No aroma hops
1/2 oz Kent Golding hops pellets for dry hopping

Wyeast yeast #1968 - London ESB

Expected stats:
OG - 1.060
FG - 1.014
ABV - about 6%

I plan on using a 2 week primary fermentation, a 1 week secondary for dry hopping, and then 3 weeks in bottles before it's ready (although I don't expect I'll be able to wait 3 weeks before opening one!).

Beer 0 Results

So Beer 0 is done. I've been drinking singles for the past few weeks and it's been getting better with age. It's finally to the point where I transferred all of the remaining bottles to the refrigerator for drinking!

It's not perfect, but it tastes good enough for me. For my first batch, I'm happy with it. The biggest problem? It has a bit of a fruity aftertaste. This is a result of me not being able to get the fermentation temperature low enough. For my next batch, I bought a temperature controller and plan on using my kegerator to keep the fermentation bucket at exactly 65 degrees. It's clearly a pale ale though, and a decent one at that. A few of my friends have asked for some bottles to take home so people seem to like it.

Here's the recipe I used (from a Brewers Best kit):
3.3 lb Light LME (liquid malt extract)
2.0 lb Golden DME (dried malt extract)
8 oz Caramel 60L specialty grains
2 oz Kent bittering hops
2 oz Spalt flavoring hops
1 oz Cascade aroma hops

30-33 IBU nominally (mine will be higher since I did a larger boil)
OG 1.042 - 1.045
FG 1.010 - 1.014 
ABV 4.25% - 4.5% (mine is a bit higher since I had a higher OG due to not adding enough water)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


This isn't beer related, but I've had a few people request the link to my Picasa photo album, specifically my pictures from the US Panama soccer game last weekend. They can be found here:

My beer is done and I just ordered the ingredients for my next one. I'll post more details soon!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Beer 0 - Bottling Complete

My wife was going to take pictures of the bottling, but she was too busy drinking wine in the pool with one of her friends. Here's the end result though. Now on to more waiting...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beer 0 - Cold Crashing

Cold crashing the secondary. This will hopefully result in clearer beer. There's less beer than I expected - about a gallon less. I most likely under-accounted for loss of fluid when I boiled for an hour before. I'll be more careful next time. This means the beer will be stronger flavored and slightly more alcoholic.

Tonight I'll add some priming sugar, bottle it, and then it should be ready to drink in another couple of weeks.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Beer 0 - Final Gravity

I opened up the primary fermentation bucket yesterday for the first time. I leaned over to smell the beer and... got a face-full of CO2. Anyway, I measured the gravity of the beer. It was 1.010, right at the low end of the target based on my recipe. I can calculate the alcohol content by volume using this formula (from Wikipedia):

ABV = 132.715 (OG - FG)

Plugging in my original gravity of 1.044 and my final gravity of 1.010 yields an ABV of 4.6%, right on target for my recipe.

Today after work I'm going to check the gravity one more time to make sure that the fermentation is mostly finished, then probably move it to my glass carboy for a (short) week of secondary fermentation. It's probably not necessary, but I want to try using my new equipment. Plus, since I opened the primary, the CO2 layer dissipated and now there's air on top of the beer. Using my 5 gallon secondary carboy will leave much less airspace above the beer, lessening the chance of contamination and spoiling.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Beer 0 - Fermentation Update

My beer started fermenting within the first half hour, and the airlock was bubbling like crazy until Wednesday. It slowed down after that and now has stopped. I'm going to open it up, measure the gravity, and taste it tomorrow. My plan is to let it age in the fermenter another week and then bottle it.

The airlock activity shows that fermentation took place. I don't know if it will taste good yet, but I do know it will have alcohol in it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Beer 0 - Brew Day

Today I brewed my first beer with the new beer kit. It went well enough, although I learned a few things for next time that I can do better. Here's how it went.

First, I set up my new 33 quart turkey fryer on my porch by the pool.

Next, I sanitized all relevant brewing equipment. I used Star-San that I bought online, and used my primary fermentation bucket to hold the sanitizer.

The recipe called for boiling 2.5 gallons of water to make the wort. There was a convenient 3 gallon mark in the turkey fryer pot, so I used 3 gallons instead. The instructions indicated that this would result in more hop flavor which I was OK with. I heated up the water to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and turned off the burner. The thermometer that came with the turkey fryer was within 5 degrees of the lab thermometer that came with my brewing kit, as was my IR thermometer. Once the water was heated, I turned off the burner and steeped the grains for 20 minutes.

I left the burner off while the grains were steeping, watching the temperature to make sure it didn't drop below 150 degrees.

Next, I had to add the malt. I had a can of liquid malt extract and two bags of dried malt extract. I don't have any pictures of this since my photographer (my wife) was helping me stir as I added the malt. It was at this point that I had a boil over. I didn't think I'd have to worry about that since I had such a big pot, and I added a few drops of Fermcap to prevent this. I think I added it too early though so it had settled. It's probably a good thing that I had a boil over the first time - my wife stopped questioning my decision to buy the turkey frier instead of brewing in the kitchen!

These were the hops varieties that the ingredients kit included. The bittering hops were added at the initial boil, the flavoring hops 40 minutes into the boil, and the aroma hops at 55 minutes into the hour boil.

Once the boil was done, I carried the pot inside to chill in the sink with ice water.

As it was chilling, I rehydrated the yeast. Once the wort was down to 75 degrees or so, I poured it into the fermenter and transfered the Star-San sanitizer to the bottling bucket for storage so I can reuse it later.

I then poured in the extra water I had boiled earlier to get the beer up to around 5 gallons. I didn't measure the volume directly but went based on the gravity of the beer. It ended up at 1.044 (I think - the hydrometer was hard to read with the foam) which was right in the middle of the expected range for my recipe of 1.046 - 1.042.

I poured in the now hydrated yeast and made a homemade swamp cooler with a cooler full of water, a fan, and an old undershirt to help keep fermentation temperatures down. We usually keep our A/C set to 80 to save money, and this setup looks like it's keeping everything in the low 70's. We'll see how well it works over time with the humid Florida air, but I'm hopeful. If I get serious about this hobby I may look into buying a small chest cooler and a temperature controller.

The airlock started bubbling within 20 minutes of pitching the yeast so now it's time to wait! I'm still undecided as to whether I want to do a secondary fermentation in my 5 gallon glass carboy. If not, I'll probably let it sit in the primary for 2 or 3 weeks then bottle.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Brewing Kit

 I opened up my beer kit and here's what I found:

The bottling bucket (with hole for spout - not pictured) and a book on how to brew

 The 5 gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation

From left to right: a hydrometer to measure alcohol % and fermentation progress, a bottle brush, an "auto siphon", a bottle filling wand, one-step cleaner, a yellow thermometer, a siphon hose, a carboy stopper, the airlock, a wort stirrer, an L-shaped carboy brush, and the 7 gallon primary fermentation bucket

 The ingredients kit to brew an English Pale Ale: a can of malt extract, 60 bottlecaps, 2 packets of dried malt extract, a red bottle capping contraption, malt for steeping, three packets of hops (cascade aroma hops, germal spalt fragrance hops, and kent bittering hops), a packet of yeast, priming sugar, and a bag for use when steeping the malt

I have on order from Austin Homebrew Supply a bottle of Star-San sanitizer and some anti-foaming drops that I read about online to help keep the wort from boiling over when I brew, and I have a sweet turkey frier on order from with a 30 quart pot. This is what the local craft brewing club recommended when I took their class on how to brew beer at the Broken Barrel. It's no more expensive than just buying a large pot on its own, but it lets me brew outside without making the house smell like a brewery. Plus, I get a sweet turkey frier out of the deal.

The kit is a Brewer's Best Deluxe kit that I bought from SunSeed Coop, an organic food store up in Cape Canaveral. The owner is a member of the craft brewing club. I got a coupon from him during the class and was able to pick up the kit for much less than I could find it online. There were a lot of hippies there, but they had a great selection of beer and I'll definitely be back for more brewing stuff.

I'll have plenty of pictures and a copy of my recipe posted this weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Post

My wife just let me purchase a homebrew kit as an early birthday present. My goal is to have my first batch done by the time we go to a family wedding in late May so that I can share some. I'll be using this blog to chronicle my recipes, results, and adventures in brewing. More to come!