Friday, March 06, 2009

Filled Kegs

I'm back to my old shenanigans of not posting to the blog... To be honest, I didn't have much to post until January. After my cardamon wheat beer, I didn't brew until the end of December.
By the way, that wee 1/4 tsp of cardamon I put in the wheat beer was too much! It dominated the taste. If I were to do it again, I would take a single cardamon pod, break it up slightly and leave it at that. Lessons learned.
Anyway, I decided to brew a simple Porter after Christmas. I wanted a dark beer for the winter, and I wanted to keep it simple after the Cardamon Incident of 2008. Here's the recipe:

Porter?! (I barely knew her)

7.0# Munich Liquid Malt Extract (Amber Malt Extract)
0.5# Crisp Chocolate Malt
0.5# Roasted Barley
0.25# Special B
0.25# Belgian Aromatic Malt

0.75 oz Magnum (60 min)
0.75 oz East Kent Goldings (10 min)

White Labs Edinburgh Ale yeast

Steeped the grains ~ 155F for 45 min, boiled, etc.
Standard extract process...

Being Colorado in the Winter (and the fact that I'm a furnace stooge), this beer fermented at ~ 65F, and as a result, took it's sweet time. It was still bubbling after almost a month. But I had other motives for waiting so long. In February, I acquired Kegs!!!

Getting in on a big group buy in Denver (over 300 kegs ordered in total), I got 4 Corny Kegs shipped directly from the great white north. These kegs are retired Pepsi kegs, some of them with some Pepsi and Mug Root Beer leftover. Now that I have kegs, I don't have to bother with bottling (cleaning, sanitizing, filling and capping each bottle by hand). Instead of carbonating in the bottle using priming sugar, I just have to chill my keg (currently in my temp controlled chest freezer), and pressurize it with a CO2 tank.

For a few days, the CO2 slowly dissolves into the beer, carbonating it! And you know what? It's pretty damn good!

Damn good enough that I thought I'd enter it into a local beer competition. While is was local, it still had over 300 beer entries! I entered the Porter?! as a Robust Porter (category 12b). It did not place, but earned a respectable 33 points (mid Very Good), so I was very happy with it. One judge tasted some esters which he believed to be from a high-temp ferment. Since it was definitely not high temp, I'm guessing it was from the beer sitting on the lees for so long, and perhaps the yeast strain.

Anyways, I will post again soon (or will I????) with a new "brew".


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Clever Belgians

It was finally time to put all that money spent on beer equipment to good use. I decided to make a belgian wit so it could be enjoyed before the summer ends. To the recipe! (LME = Liquid Malt Extract, may not have explained that)

0.5 # Flaked Oats
3.5 # Munich LME
3.5 # Wheat LME

0.75 oz Tettnanger (4.8% AAU) 60 min boil
0.75 oz US Saaz (5.8% AAU) 60 min boil
0.25 oz US Saaz End of boil

Spices (end of boil):
0.25 oz Ground Coriander
0.25 tsp Ground Cardamon (freshly mortar & pestled)
0.125 oz Dried Blood Orange Peel
0.125 oz Fresh Orange Zest

White Labs Platinum Series Belgian Wit II Ale Yeast

With 4 gal of rocky mountain water in my awesome new brewpot, I steeped the flaked oats at 150F for 45 min. After removing the mushy oatmeal, I brought the 4 gals up to a boil using all the might of my electric stove.

After adding the bittering hops, I added all 7 lbs of LME 35 min into boil to minimize the darkening of the beer. Lastly did the last bit of Saaz hops and the spices when I turned off the stove.

After getting to use my awesome stockpot, I got to use my awesome immersion chiller and pump! Took me less time to cool 4 gallons of wort down to 70F than it did to cool the meager 1.5 gal I used to do. Say it with me: Awesome!

Brewed on 8/10: Starting gravity 1.040
Gravity on 8/17: 1.018 (fridge is doing it's job!)
Transferred to secondary on 8/20

I'm really hoping it works out. I needs me some decent homebrew in my house...


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Stepping up production

It's been a little while since I posted. Not too much has happened in terms of brewing, and I mean that in all ways. The Jalopy 4 IPA has been in bottle for a good 4 weeks and is still completely flat. It looks like my yeast got cooked a little too much and aren't doing well. I also had my original problem of not finishing at a low enough gravity. So if I'm going to produce anything decently consistent (or drinkable at this point), I decided I need to get another fridge so I can control my fermentation temperatures better. I have a standard Ranco temperature controller coming to me from eBay, and I recently found an open box dorm fridge at Best Buy for pretty cheap. I had to make a few changes. As with most dorm fridges, the one I purchased has a small step in the bottom for the compressor. Though this step is smaller than most, I had to make a modification to the fridge in order for the 6.5 gal carboy to fit. I could either:
1) Place the carboy on the bottom, in front of the step. To do this, I would have to remove the shelving from the inside door.
2) Place the carboy on top of the step, and give it some supporting shelving. To fit it this way, I would have to bend the freezer box coolant element out of the way of the carboy neck and airlock.
I decided removing the shelves would be a safer bet. I hear that if you pinch a coolant line in the freezer shelf, it can mess up the whole thing. Unfortunately, the plastic mold of the inside shelving is what holds the rubber seal in place. So I went out and purchased a sheet of thin wood to replace it. The result actually looks pretty nice, though I'm going to have to give it some hefty sealant so it doesn't hold moisture and mold.

Also, as a utilitarian modification, I decided to turn the door into a chalkboard. That way I can know what's in there (if I never start getting that busy or senile w/ brewing), date started, temperatures, and whatever else seems useful. With a few coats of primer and a couple coats of the chalkboard spray paint, this has also turned out well.

Lastly, to solve the issue of needing to cool 5 gal of wort in the new stockpot, I also purchased an immersion chiller. I'm going to try to recirculate ice-water through the coil instead of just pumping a silly amount of not-so-cold tap water through it. I will also have a food-grade pump coming to be once it's back in stock.

I'm looking forward to getting this working and getting more serious about my beer brewing. I'm expecting the temp controlled fridge to go a long way to creating more consistent beers that will actually get to a decent final gravity! I'm thinking I'll make a Belgian Wit beer again, it would be nice for the summer (you might think I'm a little too late, but it'll be warm here for a while).

Cheers! I hope to post again soon with a new batch!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beer update and an ultimate sin for dinner?

I transferred the Jalopy 4 into another carboy for secondary fermentation. I probably should have transferred it earlier, but I didn't have the time. Once again, the gravity is at ~ 1.020... I can never seem to get my beer to finish at a good gravity. I blame lack of temperature control. I keep my carboys in a large plastic trash can and fill it partially with water to at least make the temp changes a little slower, and even throw some ice in there when I can. It's been pretty warm in Denver as of late, so when I transferred the beer it was >75 F. It might be time to get a chest fridge/freezer or something to control that more, or at least get me more ice production.
As for dinner last night, still excited about my grill (I've been waiting a long time to have a grill again) I got some grilling stuffs from the store. Inspired by the wife and I's favorite restaurant The Linkery (whose food and people we miss), I decided to make mexi-dogs! What are mexican hot dogs? Well, take a normal hot dog, wrap it with bacon and cook it. Then put it in a bun and cover it with salsa and whatever else you want. Like such:

Where does the ultimate sin come from? Well, the few times I get hot dogs, I like to stick to Hebrew Nationals; they're delicious. It occurred to me that I might be committing something very bad by wrapping Hebrew Nationals with bacon...
Oh well, they were awesome. Paired up with some corn also prepared on the grill for a dinner!

That's El Pinto salsa on there as well. mmmm....

Cheers and good eats!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weekend Gifts!

Two fun things came to me this weekend.
First was my new 9 gallon brewpot I got off ebay!
It came with welded on hole and threading for a ball-valve, and a false-bottom (insert inappropriate joke here)! Once I get a wort cooling system setup, I can do full 5 gallon boils instead of the 1.5 - 2 gal I'm doing now. And eventually I can take the step from boy to man with all-grain brewing. First I'll have to get a immersion chiller and maybe a food-grade pump to cool down 5 gallons of near boiling sugar water quickly.
What was the second gift of the weekend? Well my awesome wife picked me up a little gift on her way back from a conference in Costa Mesa, CA. It serves as a small reminder of our time living in San Diego:
He is currently adorning my monitor at work, nodding his head in approval at all I do.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back on the wagon: Jalopy 4 IPA

Well, I've been meaning to startup this blog again for a while. I won't bother going through all that's happened in the last almost 2 years, so back to the beer!

First very important thing. The 'brewery' has a name! Crooked Mouth Brewing. Why Crooked Mouth? Well, my last name means crooked mouth, and I find it an amusingly appropriate name for a beer.

Now that my wife and I are settled into our new jobs and area, the I can spend some time on brewing. So what's going? Well, my first attempt at an IPA a while back didn't turn out well (not enough malt, so it tasted like a hop-tea), so it's time to try again.

One of my favorite beers in San Diego was Bear Republic's Racer 5.
And since it's not easily found in Denver, I went searching for a clone recipe. I found one, but it got changed around due to 1) leftovers I had on hand and 2) hop substitutions due to what my brewshop had (also limited by the hop shortage).
Without further adieu, the recipe.

Jalopy 4:

0.5 # of 2-row
0.5 # of Catastan 20 (15 lovibond)
0.25 # of Carapils
5.5 # Pale LME
3.0 # Munich LME (Amber malt extract)
1.5 # Wheat LME
0.25 # Turbinado Sugar (organic, raw cane sugar)

6.25 AAU Centennial (10% AA) for 90 min boil
8.9 AAU Amarillo (8.9% AA) for 60 min boil

0.375 oz Centennial (10%)
0.25 oz Magnum (13%)
0.75 oz Cascade (whole leaf hops, old in my case, 7.6%)

Steep grains at 155F for 45 min. Etc, etc.

My starting gravity was 1.082! Racer 5 is supposed to start at 1.070. I probably didn't add enough water, but oh well. Why Jalopy 4? Well, it's my slapped together (Jalopy) version of Racer 5 with 4 different hops.
The foam was pushing the top of my 3 gal stockpot for almost the entire boil... I was blowing on it so much to keep it from boiling over (failed once) that I was light-headed for the last 15 min of boiling.

The fermenter is bubbling away as we speak. I hope it turns out better than my last IPA.

More to come! I promise!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Playing Catch-up 2: Der Belgian Wit

For my second brew, I wanted something appropriate for the summer and able to handle the increased temperature in the condo (no A/C in western parts of San Diego) . So on the weekend of June 17th, I went back to American Home Brewing Supply looking for a Wheat beer kit of some sort. After talking with the owner for a bit (who is very friendly and helpful) he told me the lack of Wheat beer kits is due to the fact that they are easy to make, and the kits usually turn out badly. He helped me out and I got setup to do a Belgian Wit (much like Blue Moon by Coors).

Dry Wheat Extract: 6 lbs
Flaked Wheat: 1 lbs
Kent Golding Hops: 1 oz (20 min)
Saaz Hops: 1 oz (5 min)
White Labs Belgian Wit Yeast
Table Sugar: 3/4 cup (carbonation)

Start by boiling the 1.5ish gal. of water and adding the Flaked Wheat in a steeping bag (this will give the beer the cloudiness that is characteristic of wheat beers). Then remove the bag and add the 6 lbs of malt extract to the boiling wort. Once well dissolved, add the Kent Golding hops for a 20 min boil, then the Saaz Hops for the last 5 min. Cool quickly, and add to fermentor along with enought water to get up to 5 gal. Pitch the yeast when the wort is down to about 70° F.
I fermented this for about 3 weeks, used the table sugar as priming sugar (was a little iffy about this, but I didn't have any standard dextrose) and bottled.
Two weeks later I had a delicious wheat beer perfect for summer!