Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ain't No Cure for the Summertime Blues

Things are falling apart. For a time everything was going so well. After the brew-a-thon mentioned in the last post two months ago, I've not had want for beer. I had plenty. I tore into the Amber quickly. Fortunately I made 10 gallons of it and partitioned them into two separate vessels so I could age one a tad more and enjoy them a tad longer. I had such a surplus that I bottle-conditioned Andrea's Almond Amber Ale, which had been aging for nigh two months. The Black IPA spoiled on me. I don't know what went wrong and that troubles me more than anything. I tasted it and got a headache, sure enough a few weeks later a white filmed developed at the top, sure sign of spoilage. The brewing of the IPA went better than expected. I followed a Dogfish Head technique and continually added hops the full 60 minutes of the boil - one ounce at start of boil and a handful every five minutes or so - bringing the total to four. It is currently sitting in more whole leaf Cascade hops as I write this.

I took a vacation. Three weeks along the West Coast. We met some friends in L.A. and we all drove north to San Fransisco. Parting ways, my wife and I flew to Portland and hopped (no pun intended) a train to Seattle before flying home. It was wonderful. I ate some great food and drank some amazing beers. But this blog is not about what I did on my summer vacation. This blog is about my homebrew and that was no vacation.

While I was touring the coast, with an average temperature of 72 degrees F, my carboys were sitting in a dark closet where the average temperature just outside was in the triple digits. I cannot imagine how hot it got inside but I'd save 85 is a conservative estimate. Once Andrew Godley of the Parish Brew Company gave me a piece of advise that I knew to be true, but never took to heart. Temperature Control is the most important factor in fermentation, he said. I paraphrase of course, I was pretty drunk on IPA at the time, but I am feeling the effects of my folly.

Temperature control costs money. I have little. As I've stated in the past most of my equipment has been donated including the initial kit. I told myself the off temperatures would add "local color to my beer," but it has only added funk. Andrew had a vast array of chest freezers. I have one but it's being used as a keg-orator and generally is colder than desired. I did some lagering in there once, but only once. Most of my brews are ales. Ales ideally ferment at low 70's or upper 60's range, say 68-72 degrees F. We're lucky to get those temperatures in the winter here in South Louisiana. I can see why the Northwest is an ideal climate for brewing with 72 all year long, I loved it there.

So when I returned from my vacation I had less than a gallon of Amber Ale left in the keg-orator, a batch of spoiled Black IPA I have yet to clean out, a carboy of IPA still dry hopping one month after the initial transfer, and five gallons of bottled Almond Amber Ale all roasted in the Louisiana heat. The last of the 10 gallon Amber was safe in the keg-orator, but it didn't last a day after my homecoming. I consoled myself with a six-pack of Almond Ale and a few loose 22's, and for the first time since I can remember I drank a beer that was absolutely undrinkable.

Let me amend that; I've never drank one of my beers that was undrinkable. If other people give me their beer and I think it nasty, I'll quaff it quietly or politely leave it unfinished, but for the first time it was one of my beers that tasted like feet. Again I don't know what went wrong. Everything tasted fine during the transfers so it was an error in bottling or the damned heat. I don't need to sugarcoat it to myself or spare my own feelings - this beer is terrible. I tried everyone of the six-pack and two of the 22's hoping that the flavor was a fluke of the individual bottles, but no. Each and everyone I had to pour out. Right now I find myself with a five gallon excess of marinade beer, a position usually reserved for High Life, and a slug bait*.

I sit in my air-conditioned home afraid of the heat. I've stopped by a few brew stores for ingredients and even bought Washington grown dried figs during my travels, all to make a fresh batch of Rouge Huit, but I cannot bring myself to brew. It is brutal not only on human life, but on yeast cultures**. I'm not worried about sweating in the heat, but at these temperatures the yeast will produce funky flavors rather than mellow bready goodness. As I write this the spoiled black IPA rests in a carboy right behind me. There's no need to clean it out as there are no other batches to take its place. I have everything ready to transfer the IPA, the last of my homebrew, into a keg for consumption. But if the Almond Amber funked-up in a bottle, what's to stop the IPA from spoiling in its carboy. I'll know when I muster the courage to try it.

But all hope is not lost. I've got some new toys to help beat the heat. My dad gave me a cylindrical refrigerator, one that you might see Powerade being kept cool in at a convenience store. A carboy won't fit in it, but my food-grade plastic bucket - converted for lagering - might. In addition my mother-in-law is getting rid of a standup freezer. If I attach a temperature regulator to it and reinforce the shelving I can keep it at 68 degrees F constantly and store up to four carboys at a time. It'll take a little investment on my part and the time and energy to import the equipment from Lafayette, but it might be just what I need for the Summer Time Blues.

* Handy tip: If your garden is plagued with slugs, take a can lid or other semi-shallow basin, fill it with beer and leave it in the garden. The slugs will be attracted to it and drown in it.

** Historical Fact: Before refrigeration, refreshing summer beer was brewed in the winter and fermented in cool cellars for the yeast esters to develop those mellow tastes, and winter beers were brewed in the summer for the yeast to impart those heavy funky warm flavors. This of course takes a lot of foresight, planning, and temperance.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Craft Beer Week Celebration

Monday May 17 is the start of American Craft Brew week. It took me by surprise this year as it does every year. Luckily I've been active enough to have a batch or two ready to celebrate with.

Apparently Homebrewers are suppose to start things off for this celebration early. The first weekend in May is National Homebrew Day. It occurred this year on May 1 and the American Homebrew Association, in association with the coordinators of American Craft Beer Week, have declared a Big Brew Day Recipe. This year's recipe is the American Craft Beer Wheat. I love a good pun.

Unfortunately, I am only finding out about this now as I research for this post. Fortunately I did make a beer on the first and it was none other than the smash hit of the summer and Baton Rouge's favorite wit beer The Rouge Huit! Really, I brewed it on the second, but the fact that it too is a wheat beer is a happy coincidence.

I do plan on sharing my love of craft brew this joyous week, by crafting some brew! I always need help with my homebrewing - there is a lot of equipment to be lifted with a lot of very hot wort inside of it - but often there is no set time to when I will brew. I'll let a few friends know a few hours or days before I begin, and if no one shows up to help my wife is cosigned to the project. But this week is a big deal.

Here is a set week to share the joys and mysteries of brewing. I decided to send out an open invitation to all of my friends and curious connoisseurs. Often they will say "We need to brew sometime." Well let's make it this week. Find some time to make it out. I have the grain, I have the technology, we can craft it stronger, hoppier, better.

In the manner that is most befitting our generation's social interactions, I have created an event on Facebook. I don't want just anyone to show up at my backdoor so I invited a select few, but I extend invitations to third party friends-of-friends. After all more hands makes the work easier.

Sunday I plan on brewing a large amount. I know I'll have the help of my wife so I intend to make 10 gallons. I also plan to do two five gallon batches on Tuesday and Thursday. However, brewing 10 gallons is not only ambitious but utilitarian. I have only two primary fermentation vessels, two 6.5 gallon glass carboys, but recently my wife bought me a Brew Cube. Although plastic, it hold 13 gallons of liquid and so makes a formidable 10 gallon primary fermentation. She got it from the Austin Homebrew Store although I spotted another one at my local veterinarian. Seems it makes a formidable dog food storage unit as well, the only difference is mine has a hole for an airlock in the screw on lid.

To make the large quantity on Sunday I will be using some old equipment in a different way. My large Igloo mash tun busted and needs repair. In the meantime I want to use my stainless steel lauder tun on the burner itself to control the temperatures. The only problem is the false bottom is high and extra water will be needed in the mash, leaving less water to sparge and possibly less efficient sugar extraction.

So here's the agenda for the upcoming week. Sunday:

Amber Clone (10 gal)


Style: American Amber AleOG: 1.055

Type: All GrainFG: 1.016


ABV: 5.11 %

Calories: 181IBU's: 32.24

Efficiency: 70 %Boil Size: 10.00 Gal

Color: 13.1 SRM Batch Size: 10.00 Gal


Fermentation Steps
NameDays / Temp
Primary7 days @ 68.0°F
Secondary14 days @ 72.0°F
Bottle/Keg21 days @ 74.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount

Name

1.00 lbs

Biscuit Malt

1.00 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L

1.00 lbs

Victory Malt

17.00 lbs

Pale Malt (2 Row) US

1.00 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L

1.00 lbs

Caramunich Malt


Hops
Amount

NameTimeAA %
1.00 ozs

Northern Brewer60 mins 8.50
1.00 ozs

Cascade60 mins 5.50
0.67 ozs

Goldings, East Kent20 mins 5.00
0.67 ozs

Cascade20 mins 5.50
0.33 ozs

Goldings, East Kent10 mins 5.00
0.33 ozs

Cascade10 mins 5.50

Yeasts
AmountNameLaboratory / ID
2.0 pkgSafale S- 05Fermentis

Additions
(none)

Mash Profile


Notes


www.iBrewMaster.comVersion: 2.630


Then on Tuesday, unless plans change, an old classic. This one made with a hint of Rye and a bolder hop profile:


Istrouma Pale Ale


Style: American IPAOG: 1.059

Type: All GrainFG: 1.018


ABV: 5.37 %

Calories: 195IBU's: 55.55

Efficiency: 70 %Boil Size: 6.50 Gal

Color: 11.3 SRM Batch Size: 5.00 Gal


Fermentation Steps
NameDays / Temp
Primary7 days @ 68.0°F
Secondary14 days @ 72.0°F
Bottle/Keg21 days @ 74.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount

Name

9.00 lbs

Pale Malt (2 Row) US

0.50 lbs

Cara-Pils/Dextrine

0.50 lbs

Rye Malt

0.50 lbs

Biscuit Malt

0.50 lbs

Victory Malt

0.50 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L

0.50 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L


Hops
Amount

NameTimeAA %
1.00 ozs

Chinook60 mins13.00
1.00 ozs

Cascade5 mins 5.50
1.00 ozs

Cascade20 mins 5.50

Yeasts
AmountNameLaboratory / ID
1.0 pkgSafale S-04Fermentis

Additions
(none)

Mash Profile

Protein Rest20 min @ 130.0°F
Decot 8.00 qt mash & heat to 150.0°F

Light Body Infusion In75 min @ 150.0°F
Add 8.00 qt water @ 212.0°F


Notes


www.iBrewMaster.comVersion: 2.630



Then, on Thursday, necessity becomes the Mother of Invention, and because of a limited hop selection and I fuse two recipes to make:


India Brown Ale


Style: SchwarzbierOG: 1.064

Type: All GrainFG: 1.019


ABV: 5.90 %

Calories: 211IBU's: 63.77

Efficiency: 70 %Boil Size: 6.50 Gal

Color: 27.7 SRM Batch Size: 5.00 Gal


Fermentation Steps
NameDays / Temp
Primary7 days @ 68.0°F
Secondary14 days @ 72.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
Amount

Name

2.00 ozs

Black (Patent) Malt

0.25 lbs

Chocolate Malt

0.50 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L

0.50 lbs

Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L

1.00 lbs

Caramunich Malt

9.00 lbs

Pale Malt (2 Row) US

1.00 lbs

Molasses


Hops
Amount

NameTimeAA %
1.00 ozs

Chinook60 mins13.00
1.00 ozs

Cascade20 mins 5.50
1.00 ozs

Cascade10 mins 5.50

Yeasts
AmountNameLaboratory / ID
1.0 pkgSafale S- 05Fermentis (null)

Additions
(none)

Mash Profile
(none)

Notes
(null)

www.iBrewMaster.comVersion: 2.630


It combines the hops of an IPA with the malt and roasted characteristics of a Brown Ale, but you've probably already figured that out. I got the idea from some unique brews I've had. Dogfishhead makes one, and I even have a recipe for it from Sam Calagione's excellent book Extreme Brewing. Also, for the second time on this blog, Athens, GA's Terrapin gets a plug for their interpretation, Hop Karma Brown IPA.

There is one problem with this mass production of craft beer. I will quickly run out of room for it. If I follow my aging times as planned I will have beers that need to go into secondary vessels and no where to put them because the ones that came before it will need at least another week, but I hope my friends who celebrate with the crafting this week will enjoy imbibing the brew a bit early.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Stepping It Up

Istrouma Pale Ale 3

Style: American Pale Ale
Type: All GrainCalories: 188


IBU's: 37.98Boil Size: 7.00 Gal
Color: 10.3 SRM Batch Size: 5.00 Gal


EstimatedActual
Brew Date:-03/29/2010
OG:1.0571.042
FG:1.0171.008
ABV:5.24 %4.45 %
Serve Date:05/11/201005/01/2010

Fermentation Steps
Primary7 days @ 68.0°F
Est: 03/29/2010Act: 03/29/2010
Secondary14 days @ 72.0°F
Est: 04/05/2010Act: 04/10/2010
Bottle/Keg21 days @ 74.0°F
Est: 04/24/2010Act: 04/20/2010

Grains & Adjuncts
9.00 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) US
0.50 lbsCara-Pils/Dextrine
1.00 lbsVictory Malt
1.00 lbsCaramel/Crystal Malt - 40L

Hops
1.25 ozsCascade - 60 mins
1.00 ozsCascade - 20 mins
0.75 ozsCascade - 10 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkgSafale S-04 - Fermentis (null)

Additions
0.50 tspIrish Moss - 15 mins / Boil
0.50 tspYeast Nutrient - 10 mins / Boil

Mash Profile

Protein Rest20 min @ 120.0°F
Add 12.00 qt water @ 130.0°F

Light Body Infusion In30 min @ 140.0°F
Add 3.80 qt ( 0.33 qt/lb ) water @ 200.0°F

Full Body Temperature30 min @ 160.0°F
Add 0.50 qt/lb water & heat to 160.0°F over 15 mins


Notes
Sparge with 5 gallons @ 170. Boil 90 minutes.

http://www.ibrewmaster.com/ Version: 2.620

This is what I ended up submitting to the homebrew competition. In the last incarnation I was happy with the hops profile, but the body was watery and the alcohol lacking. For this pale ale I had to replace the Chinook bittering hops with Cascade because I bought that in bulk, and I had limited supplies of Chinook.

I won't say too much about this brew because to tell you the truth I'm sick of Pale Ales. I've made three different Pale Ales for this competition and none of them have met my ideal standard. It must not have met the judges standards because I didn't win. Perhaps it's because I have limited supplies of specialty grain; perhaps my hops profile lacked imagination; Lord knows my mashing process needs work!

I made one more Pale Ale, thinking to submit it - a Rye Pale Ale. I've mentioned this recipe several times and didn't deviate from the recipe except I used exclusively Cascade once again. I didn't submit it, although my wife thinks if I did I would have won. I wanted to craft a real Pale Ale for this contest, because that was what the contest was about. Aaron, the store owner, told me he wasn't being too by-the-booky though, and that someone had submitted a Satsuma Pale Ale! The weekend after the competition my wife graduated and we drank all the Rye P A at her graduation party.

So I am done with Pale Ales! For the first time in my life I think I've had enough Hops. The competition was also the store's new location GRAND OPENING! I got several 1oz for $1 loose leaf hops, a couple of pounds of this and that in the way of specialty grains - Oh and another 50lb Sack of Grain for $35! That means I'll be good to brew for the rest of the summer. Speaking of; the best way to get past a hops hangover is with the smash hit of the Summer:


Rouge Huit

Style: Witbier
Type: All Grain
OG: 1.042

FG: 1.012

Color: 4.6 SRM


EstimatedActual
Brew Date:-05/02/2010
OG:1.0541.042
FG:1.0161.012
ABV:4.98 %3.93 %
Serve Date:06/12/2010/ /

Fermentation Steps
Primary7 days @ 68.0°F
Est: 05/02/2010Act: 05/02/2010
Secondary14 days @ 72.0°F
Est: 05/09/2010Act: 05/08/2010
Bottle/Keg21 days @ 74.0°F
Est: 05/22/2010Act: -

Grains & Adjuncts
5.00 lbsWhite Wheat Malt
4.00 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) Bel
1.00 lbsWheat, Flaked

Hops
0.00 ozsTettnang - 60 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkgSafbrew WB-06 - Fermentis (null)

Additions
8.00 oz
1.00 oz
Apricots - 60 mins / Boil
Coriander - Flamout

Mash Profile

Light Body Infusion In75 min @ 150.0°F
Add 12.50 qt ( 1.25 qt/lb ) water @ 162.0°F


Notes


http://www.ibrewmaster.com/ Version: 2.620


Unfortunately I forgot the honey. It's not that I didn't remember to buy some; it completely slipped my mind to add it. Because of that, it will be low alcohol, but no biggie.

Did you notice the new iBrewMaster app outlines Mash Profiles now? Pretty neat, huh? Did you notice that this batch was a single infusion? Yeah I am done with step mashing. I am just unable to control the temperature the way I need to for it. For this simple recipe I infused with 170°F water, and let it be, but still my sweetwater came out with low sugars - 1.020 O.G. with an estimated 1.052.

I couldn't figure it out. The past few batches, ever since I started Step Mashing, have been weak. I assumed it was a temperature control issues but for this Rouge Huit I used the tried and true method I've always used - Single Infusion, and still it faltered. I almost wept I walked away from my test tube and hydrometer in defeat. When I returned a few minutes later my hydrometer measured 1.000!

I really started to loose it. Not only did my beer sugars suck, but the were also decaying at an alarming rate! My wife - with the cooler head - investigated further. Turns out my hydrometer was cracked and leaking wort inside itself. So it bobbed lower due to flooding. Turns out there was nothing terribly wrong with my mash, my measuring device was just defective. I pulled out an extra I had lying around because I never gave it to the friend who asked me to pick it up - sorry Caleb.

I don't know how far back this malfunction goes, but it could explain my mash woes ever since I started Step Mashing. With a new found confidence I tried once again to Step It Up. With the new grains I got from the Brewstock sale and at my wife's requests I combined two of my favorite recipes; the Amber Clone and Andrea's Almond Brow Ale to craft:

Andrea's Almond Amber Ale

Style: American Amber Ale
Type: All Grain
OG: 1.045ABV: 5 %
FG: 1.012IBU's: 42.18
Efficiency: 70 %
Color: 15.7 SRM Batch Size: 5.50 Gal

Fermentation Steps
Primary7 days @ 70.0°F
Secondary14 days @ 70.0°F
Bottle/Keg21 days @ 70.0°F

Grains & Adjuncts
1.00 lbsCaramunich Malt
0.50 lbsCaramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
0.50 lbsCaramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
0.50 lbsBiscuit Malt
8.00 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) UK
0.50 lbsVictory Malt

Hops
1.00 ozsNorthern Brewer - 60 mins
0.67 ozsWilliamette - 20 mins
0.33 ozsWilliamette - 10 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkgSafale S- 05 - Fermentis (null)

Additions
1.00 lbAlmonds - 60 mins / Mash

Mash Profile

Protein Rest15 min @ 130.0°F
Decot 8.00 qt mash & heat to 150.0°F

Light Body Infusion In60 min @ 150.0°F
Add 8.00 qt water @ 200.0°F


Notes
Sparge with 5.5 gal at 170°F

http://www.ibrewmaster.com/ Version: 2.620

I am very pleased with the turn out. By using my propane burner instead of my range oven I was able to bring the second addition of water to 200°F much more quickly, resulting in a shorter protein rest and a faster beginning to the 60 minute sugar rest. Also I hit the money with my temperature. Using my igloo cooler I held it at exactly 50°F for a solid hour.

There were two minor problems. I used too much sparge water so my yield was about 5.5 gallons and the almonds kept getting my lauter tun stuck. I used pre-roasted almonds this time so I am slightly worried about the oil levels, which have been known to cause a loss of head retention. Also, as I said, the almonds kept sticking in the false bottom so that when I cleared it almond chucks would fall into the brew kettle. I am afraid that boiling these slivers might impart some of those oils too.

I plan on doing another Amber soon, sans Almonds, and to keep cranking out the Rouge Huit. I am about done with Pale Ales, save the Rye Pale Ale. You see I can't find a Rye Pale Ale in Baton Rouge. Austin, Texas's Real Ale makes a damn fine one as well as Athens, Georgia's Terrapin. So in the typical American fashion what can't be bought, must be crafted on one's own.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fifty Pounds of Grain and a Pound of Hops

It's been a while and I've been going through brew withdrawals. Besides the extract recipe I made some time back I hadn't brewed like a big boy in some time. Back in January I made a Scotch Ale for my friend's birthday and two months later, just last Friday, I put it in a bottle. It'll bottle age for 7-14 days or more before it's ready for consumption. With the weather somewhat favorable I crafted the Black Lager I alluded to in the same post. I'm leaving it to ferment and age outside in the cool dark of my shed. The temperature outside has been fluctuation between lows in the 40's and highs in the 70's, so I figured the average temperature in my shed would be ideal lager temperatures between 50 and 60. Crafting these fancy beers takes time and attention, not to mention I'm a novice to both styles. What I really wanted was to get back to my roots - to craft a beer I love and drink it! What better way to inspire the spark of creativity while simultaneously resurrecting an old favorite style a brew contest.

The homebrew shop in New Orleans is calling on brewers of South Louisiana to use their experience to craft a recipe kit for a Pale Ale. There will be two winners, an Extract Recipe and an All-Grain Recipe. The winner receives a $125 gift certificate to the store, Brewstock, a Brewstock T-shirt, and a recipe kit sold at the store with the brewer's name on it.

Pale Ales are my favorite beers. I enjoy the hops a little more than most people should and the maltyness can range from deep caramel to golden dry. For some time I've been trying to craft my ideal Pale Ale, but I have never quite gotten it down. I was determined to get it right this time and, if unsuccessful, continue until I do. To accomplish this I dropped some cash and reached a new milestone in my homebrewing adventures, Bulk Grain.

I had to pay a little more than I should plus an arm and a leg for shipping, but instead of a 10 to 12 pound kit I ordered a 50lb sack of basic unmilled 2-row barley. This called for me to pull out an old hand-cranked grinder to mix and mill my grain personally. I got a little carried away and used more than I should have for the first batch, but if I average 10lbs per five gallons, I should have enough for 5 batches. To accomplish this end I bought a few pounds of specialty grains and - get this - a POUND of hops! That's sixteen ounces of whole leaf cascade. I had everything I needed to craft another iteration of my ideal ale:

Istrouma Pale Ale
Style: American Pale Ale
OG: 1.065
FG: 1.019
ABV: 6.03 %
IBU's: 52.33
Primary: 7 days @ 68.0°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72.0°F
Aging: 21 days @ 74.0°F
Color: 8.9 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
11.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US
0.50 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L
1.00 lbs Victory Malt
0.50 lbs Cara-Pils/Dextrine

Hops
1.00 ozs Chinook - 60 mins
1.00 ozs Cascade - 20 mins
0.50 ozs Cascade - 10 mins
0.50 ozs Cascade - 14 days

Yeasts
1.0 pkg Safale S-04 - Fermentis

www.iBrewMaster.com


Using some rudimentary eyeballing skills I measured my grain - poorly. I intended to use ten pounds of 2-row Barley and three pounds of specialty grains for a grainbill of 13 pounds. As I said, I got a little carried away and used 11+ pounds. So I halved the Crystal 40 and Carapils to keep the grainbill constant. Using the grinder I crushed the grain to expose the sweet seed and increase the surface area of hot liquid on the grain in the sugar-to-starch conversion process called Mashing. I used the usual single-infusion mash process, and in this practice my brewing faltered.

With the exception of my first all-grain recipe - a failed pale ale - I've used a mashing process known as single-infusion. In this practice I use a 5 gallon Igloo cooler to hold a set amount of water at or near 155 degrees. This is an ideal temperature for the starches in the grain to react with natural enzymes and convert to fermentable sugars in a process called Mashing. I've had problems with this method in the past, but coupled with too much sparge water, this was an utter disaster.

Perhaps I am being too hard on myself. The beer is fine. It is in my closet, fermenting well. I came out with close to 5.5 gallons of wart, and, with three bottles submitted to the contest, I will have the majority to keg, consume, and enjoy. The problem comes with the Gravity and the final Alcohol By Volume (ABV). Due to improper temperature, too much grain, or some other variable I cannot quite isolate, I was not able to convert all of the starches to sugars. On top of that I watered it down too much. This means a beer that was estimated to have an O.G. of 1.065 with a potential ABV of 6%, turned out to have a measure O.G. of 1.040 with potential ABV around 4%. It's not the end of the world. It's just disappointing, especially in the face of competition.

Also, I used a more potent strand of hops, Chinook, in this batch. In addition to my pound of hops I bought a single ounce of Chinook. Which is a strand similar to Cascade, but on steroids. It was to counteract the higher alcohols somewhat like an India Pale Ale. I plan on brewing this again and submitting it to the competition as well, only with exactly 10lbs 2-row for sugar, one pound of Crystal 40 for color and caramel flavor, one pound of Victory Malt for bready taste, one pound of Carapils for body and head retention, and the same hops profile except all Cascade and no Chinook.

What made this weekend so Brewtastic, despite my shortcomings, is my friend and fellow homebrew-adventurer, Caleb, was ready to brew as well. He had a terrible experience with his first all-grain batch early this month, but was back on the horse. Ironically, he had problems with his mash as well, but he had talked it up and showed me a new method of mashing, Step-Mashing.

In single-infusion, the mash is mixed at a certain temperature and left to its own devices, whereas step-mashing controls the temperatures by gradually adding set amounts of hot water over a course of time. There are formulas and ratios for how much and how hot of water to add to increase the mash x degrees per y pounds of grain. It's something I'll have to experiment with, but the process gives more control of what types of sugars are produced.

It starts at a lower temperature around 130 degrees and held there for a Protein Rest. Then boiling water is added to increase the beer and hold it between 150 to 158 degrees - higher for more body lower for more alcohol, less body. Then, if desired, the temperature can be raised to 168-170 to end all enzymatic activity in a Mash Out before sparging and boiling. For my next beer I plan on using this process to increase the production of sugars. I'll most likely use a protein rest for 20 min and raise the temp to 155 for 15 then up to 158 for 15 shooting for an medium bodied beer. If I am really paranoid I can test the starch conversions with an iodine test.

Caleb tells me that the stuff I used to play with as a kid, purportedly called Monkey's Blood, was a vial of iodine you can pick up at any pharmacy. The iodine will change into a crimson color in the presence of starch. When placed into a small sample of mash - less than an ounce - the iodine will change if any starches are present, but if no color change occurs then all starches are converted. I might not go to such extremes in the near future, but if I wanted to I could. After all, I have Fifty Pounds of Grain and a Pound of Hops!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

First Batches

Unfortunately I did not journal my first experience with home brewing. It started off as a mild curiosity and then fate intervened - my friend Kirk Herrmann, for whom the brewery is named, gave me his unused True Brew Gold Kit. It came with a 6 gallon glass carboy - which I have since destroyed - a 7.8 gallon bottling bucket with a spigot, various tubes, a racking cane, and a three-piece airlock complete with bung for the bunghole! Kirk was moving to Germany and had received the kit for his birthday before making his first recipe, an Octoberfest. So my first beer was Kirktoberfest, and thus began the Herrmann Brew Company. For those of you curious as I was, if you can make pasta, you can brew a beer. The most basic process, and how I started are listed below.

My soon to be brother-in-law-in-law - his fiance is my wife's sister - has been dieing to make a beer and so on a visit to my hometown, Lafayette, I brought most of the equipment listed above and we set out to brew a simple ale.

Trey Wheat #38

Style: American Wheat
OG: 1.060
Type: ExtractFG: 1.018

ABV: 5.50 %
Calories: 198IBU's: 15.16

Primary: 7 days @ 68.0°FVolume: 5.00 Gal

Secondary:
14 days @ 72.0°F
Efficiency: 70 %

Aging:
21 days @ 74.0°F
Color: 5.9 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
3.30 lbsWheat Liquid Extract
3.30 lbsExtra Light Dry Extract
1.00 lbsHoney

Hops
1.00 ozsHallertauer - 60 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkgSafbrew WB-06 - Fermentis

http://www.ibrewmaster.com/









Trey, my b-in-lw-in-lw, and I set out to craft a simple extract recipe. At the inception of this blog I began brewing in the all-grain fashion, which is to extract sugars from the roasted grain itself. This method is time-consuming and requires specialized equipment, but anyone who can make pasta can make an extract recipe. Extract refers to a thick solution that is all of the sugars made by the grain boiled down into a syrup. It is much easier to manage but you limited by the types of grains used by the extractor. It takes:

6.6 lbs of Liquid Malt Extract. This recipe I got a 3.3lb can of Wheat Malt and a 3.3lb can of Extra Light Barley Malt. The Barley comes in grades of Light, Extra Light, Amber, and Dark. This gave me a straight 6.6 lbs of sugar and little Honey rounds it up to 7 and a half pounds.


A Large Stockpot. This one is 5 gallons in which I boiled 4 down to 3.5gallons. I've used pots as small as 3 gallons, but the larger the better.


A Primary Fermentation Vessel. This is a six gallon glass carboy. It can ferment five gallons of beer and leave head room enough for yeast head. A food-grade - plastic or stainless steel vessel will work as well. Doggie not included.


A Spigoted Plastic Bucket or Bottling Bucket is useful, but not essential.

Sanitary Solution, Hops (Hallertau Pellets), Yeast (Fermentis UB-06), Airlock, Hydrometer (non-essential), as well as some tubes and a racking cane (not pictured).

Five Gallons of Pre-Made HomeBrew. Not essential, but it sure does help. For this occasion we drank a classic recipe made with Grapefruit instead of Apricot:

Rouge Huit

Style: WitbierCalories: 177
Type: All GrainIBU's: 18.34

Primary: 7 days @ 68.0°FVolume: 4.00 Gal
Secondary: 14 days @ 72.0°FEfficiency: 70 %
Aging: 21 days @ 74.0°FColor: 4.6 SRM



Estimated
Actual
Brew Date:
-
01/24/2010
Secondary:
01/31/2010
02/25/2010
Bottle/Keg:
03/11/2010
02/25/2010
Serve:
03/18/2010
02/27/2010
Orig. Gravity:
1.054
1.058
Fin. Gravity:
1.014
1.008
ABV:
5.24%
6.55%

Grains & Adjuncts
5.00 lbsWhite Wheat Malt
4.00 lbsPale Malt (2 Row) Bel
1.00 lbsWheat, Flaked
0.50 lbsRice Hulls

Hops
1.00 ozsVanguard - 60 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkgSafbrew WB-06 - Fermentis

Additions
1 WholeGrapefruit Peel - 60 mins / Boil
1.00 lbHoney - 60 mins / Boil

Mash Profile
(none)

Notes


http://www.ibrewmaster.com/

Yum!

Bring to boil as much water you can fit into your stockpot. Mine held approximately 4 gallons - though I did not measure. Remove from heat and add sugars while stirring. It is important to remove from heat because the risk of scorching is great.


Stir thoroughly as to dissolve as much of the sugars as possible and return to a boil.

It will take some time to return this dense sugar solution to a boil so stir sporatically and when it reaches a rolling-boil add your hops.

The hops addition is volatile so be careful. You are introducing cold oils to a boiling concoction and the probability of boil-over is close to certain. Reduce the heat and add the hops slowly, stiring throughout the process. When the concoction returns to a rolling boil start the timer for 1 hour. Use this time to take care to clean and sanitize everything that will come into contact with the beer after the boil is over. This includes the bottling bucket, carboy, and airlock.


Some beers call for secondary hops addition, tertiary hops addition or other additions, but this ale was easy. Sit it and forget it. After an hour create a whirlpool to drag the sediment to the bottom.


The hour of hops boil will pull all the alpha oils from the hops to bitter the beer appropriately and when it is over you want to create a homeostasis environment suitable for yeast proliferation. Adding the yeast to a 212 degree boiling brew will have the same effect as cooking a lobster. The unfermented beer, called wort, needs to be cooled. An ice-bath or a large freezer will bring it down to about 90 degrees in a quick enough manner.


Ninety degrees is a suitable temperature for yeast proliferation. Although I did not measure the rule of thumbs in no steam rising or the pot is touchable.


We poured the wort into the bottling bucket and watered it down to five gallon. We ended up with 2.5 gallons of syrup solution and used 2.5 gallons of Lafayette tap water. Some purist will use distilled or ionized water, but I've learned to care less about purity and enjoy the local color.


The next step in a homeostasis environment is to create an oxygen rich environment. Yeast, like plant, eats oxygen and creates carbon dioxide. On the flip side bacteria exist in the air so it is essential to disperse oxygen throughout the wort. This can be accomplished by shaking the carboy in a process calld "Rock the baby," or , if you have a bottling bucket you can create a cascade.


Pour your watered down wort through the spigot and into your sanitized glass carboy. This will churn the wort into the surrounding air. At about half way through cut the flow and pitch your yeast into the carboy. Pour the rest of the solution and cap your carboy.


From there find a cool dark place - like a closet - with a relatively constant temperature and let the yeast eat the sugar, piss alcohol, fart CO2 and have sex with itself until its eaten all its sugars and falls dormant. This primary fermentation stage should take 5-7 days and you can see the airlock bubbling to be sure.


As the week passes keep an eye on your carboy. You will see the airlock bubble with rapid succession as the fermentation escalates. It is not uncommon for the yeast to emit a bubbly head and if overly violent it could pop the airlock off.


I don't anticipate this to happen, but coming up we'll outline the next steps leading to consumption. It could take as little as one week or up to a year.
Update:
After a few short hours, four or so, we have a healthy yeast head. The airlock is bubbling rapidly and all seems well. This short amount of time is not common and signifies the yeast is happy and healthy. As they say Happy Yeast Makes Happy Beer. Overnight it should cool down and the fermentation should slow, but, unless it gets too cold, the yeast will eat all sugars available.


One thing I am concerned about is if this rapid, violent fermentation continues the yeast head (above) could expand its way up the carboy's neck and leech into the airlock. Worse yet if the CO2 produced reaches too high a pressure for the airlock to handle it could pop off all together and spew yeast head all over my sister-in-law's closet. Yikes!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birthdays

Recently I brought a bottle or two of homebrew to my friend Marty, he's a folksy guy from up north. He will unabashedly pick up a guitar and an impromptu hootenanny invariably ensues. I join in. I'm hip to it. Although in most social situations I attend the capacity to play an instruments decays exponentially with the amount of beer consumed.

Anywhoo, I brought him a Rouge Wheat, a Punkin' Porter this year and last, and he helped my finish off a keg of Kolsch recently. So you know, he's hip to it too. Recently, in Novemeber, he proposed I make a keg of beer for his girlfriend, Nicole's, birthday in October. Yes, it had just past, but Marty, being a considerate guy, didn't want to bother me with time constraints he just asked I make it whenever I was ready.

I knew immediately what Nicole would want. Last April she went gaga when we discussed St. Arnold Brewing Company having a Strong Scotch Ale homebrew contest. I didn't enter as I didn't have time and the brewery is in Houston anyway. So I set out to make Nicole a Scotch Ale which should be ready about the end of February, 7 months before - or 5 months after - her birthday.

Strong Scotch Ale
Style: Strong Scotch Ale
OG: 1.073
FG: 1.021
ABV: 6.81 %
IBU's: 23.52
Primary: 7 days @ 68°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 72°F
Aging: 21 days @ 74°F
Color: 20.8 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
10.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) UK
0.50 lbs Biscuit Malt
1.00 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L
3.00 ozs Peat Smoked Malt
1.00 lbs Invert Sugar
1.00 lbs Caramunich Malt
0.25 lbs Roasted Barley

Hops
0.50 ozs Fuggles - 60 mins
1.00 ozs Goldings, East Kent - 60 mins
0.50 ozs Fuggles - 15 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkg Safale 04 - Fermentis


www.iBrewMaster.com


The O.G. was 10 points off at 1.060, to be expected. I am suspecting inefficiency in my equipment and perhaps it is time to upgrade. The lower O.G. is ok though, as I use single infusion mashing and expect a lower F.G., as most of the sugars will be fermentable. It should still be a very decent 6.5%. They both came over to help me make it and we split a Wee Heavy to mark the occasion. The Scotch Ale, Wee Heavy, is from Belhaven, Scotland's oldest brewery and the only ale of this style that I was familiar with. She had fond memories of it from a brewery back hom in St. Louis, a micro- or smaller brewery.

In my research I found a traditional Scotch Ale is similar to it's southerly cousin, the English Ale. An English Ale would have more of a hops presence, like an Extra Special Bitter or a Pale Ale, but nowhere near the green monsters brewed here in the US. A Scotch Ale would be more malty and ferment at lower temperatures due to the climate. Another key ingredient that set a scotch ale into a genre all its own is Smoked Peat Malt or just Peated Malt.

Scotland is a very barren, rocky country. I visited there in the 10th grade, when I was 16, and we toured the Isle of Wight. It was very pretty country side and we saw a lot of it. It seemed we drove hours and hours in our tour bus to reach our destination, occasionally taking "pee-breaks." We would get out and walk around and pee on a stone wall usually finding a sheep skull or carcass in the process. Well after a few hours we realized these breaks were our destination. We went sight seeing on a flat green island with no trees. No trees means no fire and Scottish people had to roast there malt with whatever they could find. Often the used peat moss and its smoke imparted a particular flavor still favored to this day.

My friends Marty and Nicole quickly became greedy and wanted more beer. So they bought me more. No complaints here.

1554 Black Lager Clone

Style: Dark American Lager
OG: 1.058
FG: 1.013
ABV: 5.90 %
IBU's: 22.51
Primary: 7 days @ 50°F
Secondary: 14 days @ 48°F
Aging: 21 days @ 40°F
Color: 28.3 SRM

Grains & Adjuncts
6.00 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US
4.00 lbs Munich Malt
8.00 ozs Cara-Pils/Dextrine
8.00 ozs Caramunich Malt
6.00 ozs Chocolate Malt
5.00 ozs Black (Patent) Malt

Hops
1.00 ozs Cluster - 60 mins

Yeasts
1.0 pkg American Lager - White Labs WLP840

Additions
1.00 oz Seeds of Paradise - 15 mins / Boil

www.iBrewMaster.com

Nicole and Marty knew about my clone recipes. Nicole even helped me brew a batch of the Fat Tire Clone from New Belgium Brewing, which we still struggle to get here in Louisiana. She wanted the 1554 Enlightened Ale they craft, which is a delicious light-bodied roasty beer with old world charm. Supposedly the recipe was culled from a monk's recipe dating back to, you guessed it, 1554. There is something misleading about this recipe, however. The Enlightened Ale is a Lager.

I've never made a lager, but these friends talked me into it. It will be a challenge especially since the cold pseudo winter weather is waning. A lager ferments at a much lower temperature and uses a particular yeast. It doesn't tolerate temperature variation, and is generally very unforgiving. I will need to use my extra space in my Kegorater and perhaps buy a temp regulator. In addition I will need to chill the wort more efficiently than I am now. This might take two trips through the counter flow chiller, but so be it.

I attended a social gathering the Saturday before MLK day. It was the 14th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Chicken Fry Off. It's been going on for 14 years and is tolerably racist. I was telling my friend about the plans for this beer and he conscripted me to make a similar recipe for next year's Chicken Fry Off and call it Martin Luther King Black Lager.

Friday, January 8, 2010

2009; a Tasting in Remeberance

Ugh. What a Holiday! It's over now, but in that time I imbibed massive amounts of homebrew. All the preparations for my Holiday company paid off in full. The fretting over the Christmas Stout was for naught. Everything went off without a hitch. In addition to finishing off 20 of the 25 gallons made for the occasion, my guests, my wife, and I managed to visit the New Orleans Rum distillery, the Abita brewery, and attend a beer tasting of my own exploits.

Since I began brewing in the All-Grain method last summer, I have saved one 750mL bottle of every beer I made, except those I kegged. In total I had 8 bottles. On one of the last nights of my guests visit we sat down, all eight of us, and I unloaded the vault.

The first beer tasted was made in June. It was a Pale Ale, my first attempt at the yet unperfected Istrouma Pale Ale. This being my first foray into All-Grain methods it was fraught with mistake, inefficiency and frustrations. I mashed in my brew kettle on the burner in a futile attempt to control the heat. My false bottom did not operate in the manner I had suspected so I had to wedge it into place in the lauter tun. I believe now that I am missing a piece to it so I am forced to continue to use this method. The wort chiller my father-in-law and I crafted did not work as suspected and I had to abandon counter-flow methods and opt instead for immersion chilling, a dirty process indeed. The beer itself was drinkable, but lacked any flair and was quite generic. One could almost taste the amateur nature of the brew, or maybe only I could.

Of the next two beers I made that summer one went bad completely due to a chlorine-based sanitizer, and the other was kegged. So the next beer was dated August and it was the summer wheat ale to which I allude to in other posts, Rouge Wheat. I saved two bottles of those so I was fortunate enough to enjoy it twice. I made it often and once in the form of a 10gallon batch. Five gallons I bottled and saved and the other five I kegged and brought to a homebrew/swimming party. Other beers there were an IPA and a very tasty English Old Ale, but being a hot summer day the Rouge Wheat was a smash hit, the smash hit of the summer.

Between those and following later were two more incarnations of the Istrouma Pale Ale. The recipes were similar, but one was created in another 10gallon batch, which I again kegged 5 and bottled 5. The major difference were not what types of hops, but the order to which they were used. It was interesting to notice how Chinook, Centennial, and Cascade hops, all very similar strains save higher Alpha Acids %, used at different point could change the brew. With the first I used Cascade as bittering hops, Centennial as flavor, and Chinook as aroma. In the other I reversed the Order as Chinook has highest Alpha Acid, therefore more bitter, and Cascade the least for more Aroma. The second bottle was a 7.5% ABV monster and the closest I've come to what I desire in an IPA, but only 3 gallons were yielded so I strive to do better next time.

I had saved a bottle of the ill-fated Kolsch, which never met my expectations, from another 10gallon recipe. I believe the failure was due in part to the heat. A Kolsch, unlike an IPA, does not rely on its hops flavors, it is a Malty brew. The types of malt are important, but not as important as the way the yeast uses them. I have since come to find that in the old country summer beers, like a Kolsch, are brewed in the winter and aged in the cold until summer. At lower temperature yeast are more mellow and impart mellower tastes, better esters. Different types of yeast require different temperature, but a good temperature is 68-70 for a malty Kolsch. I couldn't leave my A/C in my house at 65 in a Louisiana summer without going bankrupt. As a result the beer fermented and aged at something more like 80. This produced a rather sour, flat taste. It was drinkable, but this year I am more likely to be brewing Kolsches and Blondes in Late February/Early Spring time.

The last two bottles of the evening you can read about in other posts here on the Herrmann Brew Company Blog. The Punkin' Porter and the Amber Clone. It seems that my Adventures in Homebrew have caught up to my e-jounaling about it. 2010 looks promising for brew in general. I've begun a new vault. The Holiday Hangover is the only resident there now. It is getting lonely and I have to refill it now that the craziness of the Holidays is over. I hope to open it Christmas 2010 as The Ghost of Christmas Past, it has the alcohol to last that long. New Orleans Lager & Ale Brewing Company and its distributor settled their differences (the distributors won), and now the Blonde is flowing again. Their new IPA, Hopitoulas, is amazing, but just starting to flow. Its name is a pun on their brewery's address, 3001 Tchoupitoulas Street. In addition two breweries are starting up in and around my hometown, Parish Brew Company and Bayou Teche Brewing. I wish them the best of luck. I cannot imagine it's easy with all the bull-crap you have to go through to get beer to people and try to make a living doing it. I know I'm discouraged to even dream of it. Good luck to us all.