Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great Fermentations

1.094 + 2 vials in a 1.8 L starter = Crazy Fermentation

The Tripel I brewed on Sunday is fermenting violently. I've never had a batch go nuts like this. There is so much C02 that the star san in my blowoff container keeps foaming up and beasting over. Maybe I'll switch to water.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brew Day: Michuda 10

This beer was meant to be. I went to the home brew store on Friday with no idea what I was brewing on Sunday. I looked at the base malts and the yeast available. The freshest things that caught my eye were WLP 530 Abbey Ale and WLP 800 Pilsener Lager. The Belgian pilsener malt was fresh so I went with the Abbey yeast. A couple ounces of Saaz and a couple of Hallertauer. I came home to find the latest issue of BYO. Whats the cover story? A feature article on brewing traitional Tripels. Sweet. Good reading will making sure the 2 L Erlenmeyer doesn't boil over.

Note: I was shooting for 1.081 original gravity. Two things happened. The lady at the homebrew store spilled some cracked malt going from a bucket into the bag. Then she added 4 more lbs. The spilled portion was probably mostly husks. Also I sparged really slow. I was concerned I'd be low on gravity. Good guess.

Michuda 10

OG: 1.091-94 (Depends on whose refractometer calculator you use)
IBU: 35


15 lbs - Belgian Pilsener Malt
2.5 lbs - Dixie Crystals Granulated Cane Sugar


131 F for 10 minutes
141 F for 40 minutes - raised by direct heat
153 F for 20 minutes - raised by direct heat

Could be the reason for the big jump in efficiency.


RO water from machine at grocery store. 4 grams each of SO4 and CaCL added to mash. 2 grams of SO4 added to Boil with 3 grams of CaCL.


1 oz - Hallertauer 85 mins
1 oz - Saaz 85 mins
.5 oz - Hallertauer 30 mins
.5 oz - Saaz 30 mins


WLP 530 Abbey Ale

1860 mL Starter, 1 tastey pint decanted.

Pitched at 62. Free Rise to 66. Raise 2 degrees a day for 3 days. Then temp control off.

This is my first time using my brand new chest freezer and Johnson controller. What a pain in the ass it tape the probe to the side of a better bottle with bubble wrap as insulation. Gotta figure out something better. Maybe I'll go the thermowell route.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tasting Notes: Brownstar

Brewed this at the end of February. Bottle conditioned 4-5 weeks ago.

: Tons of pineapple and peach, slight berry up front. Supported by a slight warm toasted bread smell, and a hint of roast.

Flavor: Fruitiness is a bit more muted by the malt than in the aroma. Still moderate mango & peach flavors. Some citrus appears in the middle. Graham cracker malt flavor mixed with a bit of roast like burnt edges on toast. There is a slight piney resinous flavor hiding out that pops up towards the end.

The head on this beer lasts forever. Its a bit hazy but I don't mind in such a dark beer. Big, full bodied mouth feel with a sweet impression up front that I get from most hoppy beers. The carbonation and bitterness lead to a clean dry lingering piney, bitter, dark toasted bread finish.

A lot going on in this beer. I'd cut back on the dry hop to an ounce of simcoe the next time. The aroma is amazing but makes this beer more of a brown IPA than a brown ale. I'm really happy with the way this one turned out. I'm fired up to brew my next batch. I have so many recipe ideas floating in my head, but I can't decide what I want to drink in a month. Suggestions?

Friday, April 6, 2012


"Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup."

This beer was inspired by the legend that is Mike McDole's Janet's Brown. A big, bad, hoppy, american brown ale. When I got the first inclination to brew this beer, the thought of a touch of roast and chocolate paired with some resinous and floral american hops sounded delicious.

I've been trying to simplify all the recipes I brew lately. I hate using partial pounds of grain ordered from home brew stores. The two local shops only have domestic crystal, and a couple other random specialty malts. I've been blending base malts, but for this one went all Maris Otter.

American Brown Ale

6 Gallons

OG: 1.065
FG: 1.014
IBU: 36
SRM: 22.5

Mash Temp: 152 F

11 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb Simpsons Dark Crystal 70-80L
1 lb Belgian Aromatic
.5 lb Fawcet Chocolate 375-450L


Reverse osmosis water from machine at grocery store.

Cant find my notes but I think I added .5 tsp CaCl, .5 tsp gypsum, and 1/4 tsp baking soda to mash. Added 1 tsp gypsum to boil.

Boil Time: 60 mins

.6 oz - 60 mins German Magnum 13.5%
1 oz - 10 mins Centennial 8.1%
1 oz - 10 mins Cascade 6.4%
2 oz - Dry Hop Simcoe 13%

White Labs WLP001 - California Ale Yeast - 1.6 L starter for 24 hours, refrigerated, decanted 1 pint, pitched the rest @64. When making the starter,

I had to shake the vial vigorously to get the yeast loose. I took the foil off of my flask, and started opening the vial. Bad idea. I should have opened up the yeast slowly first. I lost some yeast due opening too quick. But White Labs sent me a coupon for a free vial. Awesome customer service, and I just like the flavor from WLP001 better than 1056.

Pitched at 64 F
Fermented at 66 F for 4 days
Rested at 69 F for 7 days with dry hops
Chilled to 32 for 3 days

I've been drinking alot of this beer. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I sent a bottle with two other entries into the National Homebrew Competion, but this one broke in transit. I was able to send another which should arrive today. Hopefully they haven't judged category 10 yet.

I'll post some tasting notes when I get a chance to pour another glass.

UPDATE: Scored a 43 in first round of the NHC.  Advanced to mini best of show, but didn't place.  

Hop Gin

Working from home is the best. Whatever stupid spur of the moment beer related idea I have, I do it. So when I saw my ever growing bag of partial ounces of hops in the freezer, I thought, "why not make some hopped gin, strain and compare different hops?"

The participants:

1. UK Brambling Cross - less than 6 months old, still smell great, floral, spicy, pruney, cherry-ey, slight citrusy

2. Amarillo - more than a year old, amazingly still smell good. Loads of citrus, navel orange, and grapefruit. Significantly darker than the others. My guess, higher oil content making the liquid cloudy and not letting light reflect off the white container.

3. East Kent Goldings - probably two years old, pretty weak compared to others. Black tea, woody, floral, very slight orange peel aroma.

4. Hersbrucker - probably two years old, very light aroma, hay, weeds, green tea, stale. Crystal clear gin. Must not have very high oil content.

After adding the gin the brambling cross probably smells the best. The amarillo changed the most, the bright citrus turned into orange juice left out for a day. Smells just like a Gin n' Juice. Snoop dogs favorite. EKG and hersbrucker smell very similar.

Initial Tastes:

Brambling Cross and Amarillo are great, but amarillo bitterness is a bit much. Its kind of crazy, I can put a drop on my tongue and feel it evaporate, but the taste and aroma linger for quite a while. Its pretty interesting. I should tell you, the Hersbrucker tastes pretty bad. It taste like wood and black tea mixed with grass. I think these are defenitely stale. They probably were when I bought them. That pilsener had some similar characteristics.

I think I'll spike some very bland lager (where the hell am I going to find this!) with just enough to see the effects of each. Next up, making hoppy martinis. I wonder if amarillo goes good with vermouth?