Monday, March 22, 2010

Irish stout clone

It can't be all work...right?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Started Viognier Kit

I started a batch of kit wine today March 5, 2010. I chose Wine Expert's Vintners Reserve Viognier, which I ordered from Austin Homebrew Supplies.

Viognier is our absolute favorite white wine as it pairs well with just about everything that we eat. It has a spicy and rich flavor that is especially good with spicy foods – especially HOT Asian foods. We like Thai food – Go figure!

In this post, I'll discuss the process/procedures that I used to start the fermentation process. You'll notice that certain terms and abbreviations contain superscripts that correspond with definitions that can be found at the end of this article.

This is the estimated timeline for our Viognier:

March 5, 2010      -    Put the must1 in the Primary2 , check gravity3, and pitch yeast.
March 12, 2010    -    Check gravity and Rack4 wine into the secondary5. Take care not to disturb the lees6.
March 22. 2010    -    Check gravity, stabilize7, add fining8 agents, and agitate to drive off residual CO2
April 5, 2010         -    Wine should be clear – rack to clean secondary.
April 12, 2010       -    Bottle
May 12, 2010        -    Enjoy by the pool J

Step 1
Sanitize all of your equipment, including your fermenter.

Step 2
White wines typically start by mixing hot water with bentonite clay in the bottom of your primary fermenter.

Step 3
Pull the cap from the bag of grape concentrate, and pour it into the primary fermenter. Rinse the back with ½ gallon of warm water. This will ensure that you get all of the sugars out of the bag.

Step 4
Fill primary to the 6 gallon mark with cool water and stir gently. 6 Gallons is crucial because the fining and stabilizing agent amounts are based on 6 gallons. Use your water addition to adjust the final temperature of the must. It should be 65-75°F when pitching the yeast.

Step 5
Check and record the specific gravity of your must. Your kit will tell you the expected gravity range.

Step 6

Pitch the yeast by cutting open the pack, and sprinkling it on the surface of the must.

Step 7Install the cover on your primary fermenter. Install the airlock and fill it with water to the half-way mark.

Step 8
Wait 7 days for the magic to happen.

I'll post more late next week.

Terms used above
  1. Must = Unfermented wine.
  2. Primary = short for primary fermenter. I use a 7.9-gallon bucket and drilled lid to accommodate an airlock. When fermentation begins, the 6 gallons of must will foam vigorously. Since the bucket is almost 8 gallons, there is plenty of room for foaming so that you do not have problems with the airlock blowing out.
  3. Gravity = Short for specific gravity. In this context, it is used to determine the sugar content of beer or wine.
  4. Rack = this is a term used by wine and beer makers which is the process in which the product is transferred from one fermenter to another, taking care not to disturb the sediment and lees.
  5. Secondary = short for secondary fermenter, which is usually a large glass bottle, ranging from 3 to 6.5 gallons. This is normally where the wine completes its fermentation to dryness(specific gravity of ≤ 1.000. This is also where the wine or beer settling phase happens.
  6. Lees = this is the word for the dormant yeast cells that settle out at the bottom of the fermenter.
  7. Stabilize = this is a term used for the process of killing off the residual yeast the wine holds in solution. This is particularly important because certain styles of wine contain residual sugars that reduce the dryness of the wine. Residual sugars and yeast will form CO2, potentially carbonate your wine, and blow the corks from the filled bottles.
  8. Fining agents – these are agents that are added to the wine to ensure that the wine is clear when bottling.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Racked the Fat Tire Clone, and bottled the Belgian Wit Today

I racked the Fat Tire clone to the secondary today. The FG was 1.013. It smells really good, and I tasted the hydrometer sample. It’s really good and I can’t wait until it’s carbonated. It will definitely be a staple brew around here.

I also bottled the Belgian Witbier today. It looks pretty good. The color was a little bit darker than I anticipated, but I think it was because I did a full 60 minute boil on the extract portion of the wort. I spoke with the owner of Brewstock today, and he said that while it may have affected the color, it should not affect the flavor. Time will tell.

Sanitizing bottles sucks! I really want to start kegging, I’m just trying figure out when.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fat Tire Clone

I brewed the Fat Tire clone yesterday afternoon, and I think it’s going to be awesome. I did it as a partial mash and it smells similar to the dead guy clone I did a few weeks ago. When I racked it into the primary, it smelled bready, malty, and well…just friggin awesome. The OG was 1.058, not bad for the test run on the mash tun. It is in the spare bedroom in bubbling away in the primary. I pitched the pacman yeast leftover from the dead guy ale.

I'll put it into the secondary in a week and a half.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Racking day, bottling day, and brewing day

Belgian Witbier
I transferred the Belgian Witbier to the secondary today, and it looks pretty good. Final gravity was 1.007, putting the alcohol by volume at 4.7% which is a little low, but I think it’ll be fine. The color is nice, and smell rolling off was very nice. It was spicy, orange, and bready all at the same time. It should be a really nice brew. Just right for springtime by the pool.

Irish Stout Extract batch
I also bottled the Irish Stout extract batch, and I have to say, “wow! That stuff smells good…I even tasted a little bit of the flat product. It was really good! It’s malty, bitter, with a touch of yeast character. I can’t wait to taste it once it’s carbonated.

Fat Tire – Partial Mash
I’m currently mashing the Fat Tire clone I put together from an extract recipe that a friend gave me. I just took the extract recipe to Aaron at Brewstock New Orleans, and he helped me put together the batch. I’ll post the recipe in a little over a month, when I taste the finished product. This is my trial run on the new mash tun, and low and behold, I’ve got a leak. It’s leaking about 7-8 drops per minute, which isn’t bad really; it’s just annoying. Its sitting at 156°F.  I’ll be doing the vorlauf step and a batch sparge in about 20 minutes.  Wish me luck!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brown Ale is ready to drink - Delicious

Well the Newcastle Brown Ale clone is ready to drink. It’s been in the bottle three weeks, and it’s pretty good. It’s actually much smoother than the commercial version. I actually would have liked it to be a little bit hoppier. I was impatient and tried it last weekend, but it wasn’t quite ready. It’s absolutely delicious today. Very nice!


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Belgian Witbier - and New Mash Tun

I brewed a Belgian Witbier last night, and I'm hoping that it comes out OK. I had problems maintaining the temperature during the partial mash process. My thermometer broke, and spilled BBs all over the stove – what a night.

When I pitched the yeast into the primary, my OG was 1.044. My efficiency suffered! I inspected the grain after I was done, and there seemed to be lots of sugar left. I base that on the internals of the grain pods – there seemed to be lots of gelatin like grain.

Don't get me wrong, I think the beer will be fine – albeit a little low in alcohol. It smelled just like Hoegaarden.

I still would have preferred a more efficient mash, so I've decided to build a Mash Tun. Even for a partial mash, I should get much better beer and higher starch conversion. I picked up the cooler yesterday for $14. That's pretty cheap. I picked up the remaining parts from Ace Hardware today. Here are some pictures of the finished product.
Here is the mash tun with the valve installed.
Here is the mash tun internal screen.

 I plan on using it for the Fat tire clone next Friday.  Wish me luck!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Bottle Cleaning

Before I bottled the Maibock today, I had the pleasure of cleaning beer bottles. It worked out pretty well though – I used Oxy clean.

I filled a cooler with hot water and put in a couple of scoops of Oxy Clean(dollar store version). Then I filled the bottles with not water (so that they wouldn’t float), and set them in the cooler. In about an hour the labels began to float off. I rinsed them off in the dishwasher, then sanitized them and put them on the drying tree.

I had a few different bottles in the mix. See below:

Sam Adams -  Easy – labels floated off, and almost no glue remained
Rogue Dead Guy Ale - Easy – labels floated off, and almost no glue remained

Bass Ale - Easy – labels floated off, and almost no glue remained
Sierra Nevada Moderate – Labels floated off, but the glue remained and need a little bit of scrubbing

I think I'm going to kegging. 


Bottled the Maibock - ala Dead Guy

I bottled the Maibock today and this stuff is going to be really good. I tasted it side by side with Rogue Dead Guy ale, and the color was just about exact. Mine was a tad bit darker, probably because of the boil time. I tasted it flat, and it was phenomenal! I can’t wait until it’s carbonated. This will be one of my staple beers – it’s just too good not to brew again. I’ll probably do the all grain recipe next time.

So far, it’s a success!

The one on the left is the clone, the one on the right is the Rogue.  I'm guessing I'll get the chill haze when its done conditioning.


Racked the Irish Stout into the Secondary

The Irish stout looked great so I racked it to the secondary today. The FG was 1.013. It has a great color and wonderful aroma. Not bad for a kit! I’ll bottle that bad boy next Friday.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Racked the Dead Guy - Brewed an Irish Stout

I racked the Dead Guy Clone to the Secondary today. It looks and smells exactly like the Rogue's version - I hope the taste is spot on too. Aside from the bits of trub that still haven't settled, the color is slightly murky - just like Rogue. Gravity at racking is 1.013, placing my current ABV at 6.3%. - and there is still a bit of activity in the airlock. I'm guessing that it'll end up at around 6.5%. I also saved about 1 cup of the pacman trub/lees from the bottom of the primary for the next batch. According to my local brew shop, the second and third pitching of this culture will give even better results than the first batch.
I also tasted the Newcastle Clone today. It tasted pretty close to the real thing, although it still needs a bit more carbonation. I moved it inside in the hall closet - it is about 70 degrees in that room, so the process should accelerate. I plan to have a few for the Super bowl next weekend.

When I was done with all of that stuff, I brewed an Irish Stout. One of my brewing friends uses the same extract kit with great results. True Brew is the brand, and it could not have been easier. It was a little different from my other recipes so far, in that the boil was only 30 minutes long. I can't wait to see how it turns out.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Bottled Brown Ale - Brewed Maibock

I successfully bottled my Brown Ale on Friday afternoon.  The color was perfect and the smell was unbelievable.  It should be ready to drink on or around January 5, 2010.

I went on to brew a maibock - ala Rogue Dead Guy Ale clone.  The OG was a whopping 1.061.  It's in the garage now in the primary, hooked up to a blowoff tube.  The blowoff tube was a good choice, because the yeast are kicking!  I'll be draining it to the secondary on Friday January 29 for a week.

It looks like my routine brewday will be Friday's.

On another note, one of my brewing buddies brought a couple of pints of True Brue Irish Stout for the game last night (Go Saints!).  That stuff was really----really good! Like butter!  I'll be doing a batch of that soon too.



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Next Batch

The stuff for my next batch came in yesterday. I plan on doing a maibock. In fact, the recipe I'm using is supposed to be a clone of Rogue Dead Guy Ale. I can't wait! I picked up a six at Winn Dixie yesterday just to remind myself of how good this stuff was and all I have to say is WOW! That is some good stuff. This time I chose a mini-mash recipe…this should be interesting.

Fermentation is Complete

After 7 days in the primary, the airlock bubbling slowed to about 2 bubbles per minute. That's slow enough to call it done – or at least done enough to rack to the secondary.
I racked it to the secondary yesterday afternoon and the beer looked pretty good. It did have a little bit of a banana odor when racking which worried me a little. I spoke with a friend and fellow brewer about it, and he said that it was probably from a little bit of trub carryover and that I shouldn't worry – particularly because I used Irish moss at the end of the boil. It's supposed to help tremendously with the settling/clarification process. Time will tell. I plan on bottling next weekend.


Friday, January 8, 2010

I brewed my first batch today

I brewed my first batch today – a Brown Ale – ala Newcastle. It was pretty easy and I will be brewing a batch of something different in a few weeks.

My Newcastle clone is sitting in the primary fermenter, with an OG of 1.048. I followed the recipe with the exception of one thing. This particular recipe requires that you steep the specialty grains at 155F for 25 minutes, drain the grain, then throw it away. I chose to do a grain rinse with 170F water prior to boiling the wort. We’ll see how it works out.

The fermentation should accelerate over the next 24 hours, and I hope that it’ll be complete in a little over a week. At that point I’ll rack the beer to a secondary fermenter(carboy) for settling and clarification prior to bottling.

I should be able to begin clarification phase between Jan 15 and 17, 2010.

Wish me luck!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tips for Better Extract Brewing

I came across this online during my research into extract brewing..... I'm not sure who the author is but I felt this worth a read.

1. Know Thyself (and Thine Brewery)
If an extract brewer wishes to brew consistently quality beer, he (or she) should get to know the details of his system and how they effect his brewing. Brew an extract version of a beer brewed by an all-grain friend or an extract clone of a beer you enjoy. Taste your beer side-by-side with the all-grain or commercial beer and note every difference you can. How do the color, bitterness, malt character and yeast qualities stack up? Once you have this information in hand, use the following information to correct or adjust for any of the problems you may be experiencing.

2. Pump Up the Volume
The biggest improvement most extract brewers can make to their process is to boil their wort in a larger volume. Early homebrewing books instructed brewers to boil the malt extract for a 5-gallon (19-L) batch in as little as 1.5 gallons (5.7 L) of water. Although this is convenient, this convenience comes at a price. Boiling a thick wort is guaranteed to darken it unacceptably and severely limit the amount of hop bitterness. No matter what volume a recipe calls for, always boil your wort at the largest volume you can manage.

These days, most homebrew shops carry relatively inexpensive brewpots. A 16-qt. (4-gallon/15-L) pot will allow you to begin boiling from around 2.75 gallons (10.4 L) down to 2.5 gallons (9.5 L) in an hour, and a little stirring as the wort comes to a boil will prevent boil-overs. At this volume, you will be able to brew light-colored beers with reasonably high levels of hop bitterness — especially if you use the extract late or Texas Two-Step technique. (For more information on these techniques, see the October 2004 issue of BYO).

If your situation permits, the best solution is to get a “turkey fryer” propane cooker and a 7-gallon (26-L) or larger pot. This will allow you to boil 6 gallons (23 L) of wort down to five gallons (19 L) in a typical 60 minute boil. With this setup, the lower color limit you can achieve is determined by the color of your extract and your beers can be as hoppy as any all-grain beer.

Sometimes your brewpot isn’t the limiting factor. Sometimes your kitchen stove doesn’t kick out enough heat to boil much wort vigorously. Two things can help in this regard. First, close the lid on the pot almost all of the way. You should never boil wort in a completely closed pot. However, you really don’t need the lid cracked very much to provide an escape for the volatile chemicals you want to boil off.

A second potential helper in this regard is a coil immersion heater. Many travel places sell these devices (for around US $15), which are just a small heating coil that plugs into the wall. The coil is meant to be placed in water, tea or soup to heat them up. On their own, these would be useless for wort boiling as they don’t produce enough heat. However, used in conjunction with a stove, they can increase either your boil vigor or the amount of wort you can boil vigorously slightly. Just the movement induced in the wort by having a hot spot inside the kettle can be a good thing. Keep in mind, though, the potential shock hazard of these devices. I wouldn’t use one unless it was plugged into an outlet with an interrupt.

3. Other Dark Forces

Boil volume is not the only factor in wort darkening. Another problem is the potential to caramelize partially dissolved malt extract. When you stir malt extract into hot water, it does not dissolve instantly or evenly. Little “blobs” of extract can remain intact for quite awhile, even when everything looks dissolved. These “blobs” will sink to the bottom of your brewpot and can caramelize there. So, whenever you stir in extract, turn off the heat and stir until you don’t see any undissolved bits of extract — then stir for another minute or so.

Two other factors in wort darkening are heat and time. On a commercial scale, most brewers used to aim to evaporate 10% of their wort in an hour (these days, the target is even lower). When boiling a small amount of wort on a stove, it’s easy to evaporate a much higher percentage. If this is happening, turn down the heat or increase the amount of wort you are boiling.

The longer you boil your wort, the darker it gets. So, boil your wort only as long as the longest hop addition requires. And, keep in mind that some liquid extracts have already been boiled (although others have only been evaporated). Liquid malt extract only needs to boil (or steep at temperatures over 160 °F/71 °C) for 15 minutes to sanitize it.

4. Fresh Extract
This point does not need to be elaborated on, but I can’t leave it out, either — always use fresh malt extract.

5. Got Grains?
In order to get the colors and flavors you want from your specialty grains, without extracting excess tannins, you need to do one of two things — either steep in a small amount of water or in weak wort. A small amount of water means 1–3 qts. of water per pound of grains (2.1–6.3 L/kg). If you steep in a larger volume than that, add malt extract until the specific gravity is over 1.010 before adding the grains. And finally, rinse with a very small amount of water — 0.5–1 qts. of water per pound of grain steeped (1–2 L/kg) works well (see “Steeping,” in the May–June 2005 issue of BYO for more on this topic).

In extract brewing, the extract manufacturer collects the wort and concentrates it. When the wort is concentrated into extract, some volatile compounds are lost. To brew the best extract beer possible, you need a way to replace at least a portion of them. The simplest way to do this is to make some wort yourself by doing a partial mash in your brewpot.

To do this, add some 2-row pale malt to your recipe. For every pound (0.45 kg) of pale malt, subtract 0.53 lbs. (0.24 kg) of dried malt extract or 0.73 lbs. (0.33 kg) liquid malt extract. When making a 5-gallon (19-L) extract beer, I usually shoot for “steeping” a total of around 2–2.5 lbs. (0.91–1.1 kg) of grains, including base malt and specialty grains. Steep this liquid in 1.5–

2 qts. of water per pound of grain (3.2–4.2 L/kg) at 148–158 °F (64–70 °C) for 45–60 minutes. After increasing your boil volume, I feel that doing small partial mashes — which are really just glorified grain steeps — is the technique that will help extract brewers brew better beer. Note that partial mash wort is also typically more fermentable than that of malt extract, which can help if your beers consistently finish at a high final gravity.
6. Sugar is Sweet
Another key difference between all-grain and extract brewing is that an all-malt wort made from grains is almost always more fermentable than an all-malt wort made from extract. Early beer kits solved this problem by combining the malt extract with sugar — which is completely fermentable — to yield reasonably dry beers. (And, because sugar is colorless and many of these kits were no-boil kits, the color could actually be fairly light.)

However, because early US homebrewing was largely a negative reaction to pale American lagers, anything that reminded homebrewers of Bud, Miller or Coors was shunned — and this included adding an adjunct like sugar to their beer. Virtually every homebrewing expert told brewers to replace the sugar — all of it, no matter how much or in what style of beer — with darker and less fermentable malt extract. The result? Homebrew that was darker and sweeter than it should have been.

If high final gravities are a problem for you, swapping some sugar (cane or corn) for a portion of the light malt extract in your recipe can help. Swap sugar and dried malt extract on a one-to-one basis. For liquid malt extract, add 13 oz. (0.37 kg) of sugar for every pound (0.45 kg) of extract deleted from the recipe. If you end up with more than 10% sugar in your recipe, consider adding 1/4 tsp yeast nutrients to the beer. You probably won’t want to have sugar occupy more than 30% of your grain bill. Also, be aware that the color of your beer may decrease slightly when you add sugar.

7. Hops
Boiling at a lower wort density does a lot to improve bitterness in extract brews . However, extract brewers should also do everything else they can to get the most from their hops.

Although boiling your hops in a bag is convenient, this decreases the amount of bitter substances (alpha acids) that are extracted from them. Add the hops loose to your brewpot. If you let the wort sit in your brewpot for a half hour after you cool it, the pellet sludge will settle to the bottom and you can siphon clear wort off it. Also, knock down any hop pellet residue clinging to the side of your brewpot as you boil.
Finally, consider “spiking” your wort with a small amount of neutral high-alpha hops to your beer along with your normal hop charge. Magnum hops usually have around 16% alpha acids and don’t have a real strong varietal character. If your beers are normally a little less bitter than you’d like, add a quarter ounce (7 g) or more of Magnum, or any other “strong” hops, along with the specified bittering charge. This will boost your bitterness without changing the hop character of the beer.

8. Cooling
Hot wort carries a lot more heat than you might realize, and the dilution water you add to bring the volume up to 5 gallons (19 L) isn’t cooling your wort down as much as you might think. For example, pouring 2 gallons (7.6 L) of just-boiled wort into 3 gallons (11 L) of water at refrigerator temperature (40 °F/4.4 °C) still leaves you with wort over 110 °F (43 °C). (How far over depends on the gravity of the wort.) Stovetop brewers should take advantage of their smaller wort volume and always cool their wort in their brewpot before transferring it to their fermenter. Use a reliable cooling method and measure the temperature of your wort before pitching.

Getting a wort chiller is the best solution, but many beginners don’t buy this piece of equipment at first. The next best solution is to cool your wort in your sink or bathtub. By changing the cooling water every 5 minutes, you continually draw heat away from the wort. And, during this time, the hop debris and other sediment can settle to the bottom of your brewpot. Once the brewpot is cool to the touch (i.e. below human body temperature), siphon the wort to your fermenter and add the dilution water. Here, the dilution water can cool your wort down effectively if it is below fermentation temperature. A little “temperature strip” on the outside of your fermenter will let you read the temperature of your wort.

9. Water
Malt extract is condensed wort and it contains everything that wort contains, including dissolved minerals. Any minerals in your dilution water are added to the (unknown) amount of minerals in the extract. Unless you have a good reason not to, always use soft water (or even distilled water) for extract brewing. A little bit of calcium in the boil — under 1/2 tsp of gypsum or calcium chloride — might be a good thing in some circumstances. However, if you’re trying to add salts to your brewing water to make “Burton water,” you are ending up with “Burton plus” water due to the minerals already found in your malt extract. Carbon filtering city water is advised.

10. Yeast
Once you’ve made your wort, the yeast will convert it into beer. To make the best beer possible, you need to give your yeast three things — enough “teammates” to get the job done, a stable and reasonable fermentation temperature and adequate aeration. The first of these is where most extract brewers could improve. Either make a yeast starter or get enough yeast from another source (previous fermentation, brewpub) and pitch with it. You’ll want about 1 cup of yeast solids per 5-gallon (19-L) batch.

Some of the best aspects of extract brewing are its simplicity and the fact that you can do it in a relatively short amount of time on your stovetop without a lot of specialized equipment. Improving your beer does not necessarily mean spending much more time brewing it or buying lots of new gadgets. If you follow the advice in this article, you can brew much better homebrew in about the same time as the old, standard method took. 


Friday, January 1, 2010

My First Extra Kit - I went with a Southern Brown Ale Kit

After taking a closer look at my brewing equipment, I realized that some of my equipment had degraded slightly while sitting in the attic. I decided that it would be best to order a few pieces of replacement equipment, prior to getting started. I included the order in with my first extract kit.

The extract kit that I chose was a Newcastle Brown Ale clone kit. It contained everything that I needed to get started with my first batch of beer. I also ordered racking equipment, and bottling supplies, along with an additional 7-gallon plastic fermenter, which will double as a bottling bucket. I also bought a few ounces of Irish Moss and a set of 22 oz brown/amber bottles to get me started.

Irish moss is a species of red algae that grows along the rocky parts of the Atlantic coast of Europe and North America. It is major source of carrageenan, used as a thickener and stabilizer in processed foods like ice cream and processed meats. Irish Moss is also used in home brewing as a clarifier. It acts as a coagulant to pull proteins and small particles out of solution to clarify the beer.

I’ve also begun cleaning the brown beer bottles that I’ve saved, and in just a few short weeks, I will bottle about 5 gallons of Brown Ale.

More to come!