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!