Monday, November 30, 2009

Keeping Things On Track

Ahhhhhhhhh, it's a sweet breath of relief to be back in the swing of things again. I'm back on my 2 beers a month schedule and have a head swimming with ideas for future beers! A few days ago I got my holiday cheer mojo into beer action and put together a recipe for a xmas seasonal. I knew from the start that my intention was to keep the beer at a sessionable level since 1. I've been overwhelmed as of late with ~10% holiday beers and winter warmers (Bifrost, Old Wooly - tomorrow anyways, The Abyss, Anchor's Our Special Ale, Black Butte XXI, ect. ect.) and 2. Xmas is only a month away and I wanted something to celebrate with. So I put together a 5% bready brown ale/red ale and added nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves at 10 minutes into the boil. Brew day went mostly with out a hitch too! Naturally the recipe changed up until it was in the fermenter, but with the exception of a high temperature dough in and a pretty thin mash every thing came together just right. I hope to move it to the secondary tomorrow or the next day, and after tasting it may even add some more of the spices in the secondary to add a tasty nose.
Today I also bottled Black Hole. It was tasting reaaallly astringent with bitterness from the roast malt going into the secondary and less so, but still noticeably too much into the bottle. I'm thinking I really should have added CaCo3. I'm reluctant too though because I didn't with the initial batch and it tasted so good, but naturally different batches will come out differently, especially since I have now made this beer on 3 different 'brewing systems'. Regardless, I'm finally happy that I'll be drinking homebrew on a regular basis again and am excited to get, well excited about beer.
I suppose that's all for now! I'm at a toss up between an Imperial IPA, Belgian Dubbel, Belgian Pale Ale, and Porter for the next brew. I will however be brewing The Penthouse Barley Wine again at the end of December. Last year's batch has been coming along veerrrry nicely. I feel it was best in September, but I'm taking a few to the homebrew meeting on Wednesday and am excited for some feedback.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

(Mostly) Successful Brew Day!

I FINALLY got everything together and brewed Black Hole on Friday! It was a long overdue adventure I'd been (not so) patiently waiting for. I suppose the reason it took me so long to get back to it was my skepticism about whether or not my apartment would even let me do a decent job. My kitchen is actually smaller than my last, and actually even older. So, the stove top didn't look like it would hold my brew pot with 7 gallons of wort it in; my faucet didn't have an easy hook up for my chiller and I couldn't find space to make a decent gravity fed set up. BUT I did it by golly. I got a hook up for my faucet and ran a test boil on the stove. Also fixed up my storage shelving to hold my HLT and Mash Tun.

So, on Friday the 13th at around 11 I made my way down to Bob's Homebrew Shop and it unfortunately, now that I live in Capitol Hill instead of the UD, took me two hours round trip on the bus. Ugh. So at about 1 I got my strike water heating up on the stove and was off! My stove actually surprised the hell out of me. It got hot and I had my water ready in about 20 minutes.
So I ran my mash at 152F for an hour and then sparged with water a little bit hotter than I usually use. At the National Homebrewers Conference I had a discussion with some fellow WAHA brewers about my poor efficiency and it was pointed out that when I sparge I lose a lot of heat transferring my water from the boil pot to the HLT, then in the HLT and also in the transfer to the Mash Tun. So I bumped up the heat and according to my calculations increased efficiency by about 5%! Awesome.
Everything was going great at this point! I was getting things cleaned up and put away. I was ahead of schedule. And even got some video game playing in during the sparge :) BUT it finally happened to me: I had a boil over. Usually when it gets to that point I can just stir super hard and subdue it. Buy alas, not this time. In the long run it looks like I lost about half a gallon of beer and made quite a mess.. At the time it was happening I actually laughed at the fact I had my first boil over in 25 beers on Friday the 13th. I even considered running for the camera! hahaha. But once I got that straightened out everything ran smoothly. I ran my chiller though (which was much slower with the faucet than the hose I used to use) I ended up with a little over 5 gallons of yummy wort at 70 degrees and tossed some Wyeast 1084 in to eat away :)

All together then, it was a great brewday! And now I know it's not only possible, but actually quite accommodating to brew at my new place. Let the beer run like water!

Yum Yum

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Getting it back together

After much much too long it looks like I've got everything back together to brew again! I got a trial gravity fed set up put together in my kitchen and got an adapter for my sink for the chiller. Brew day was scheduled for tomorrow, but it turns out my cute little girlfriend has the day off so we're going to play laser tag, obviously. So now Friday will be brew day. I wanted to have a nice familiar beer to "test" out the new set up so I'll be brewing up a batch of Black Hole. Which I think is a good plan because I love that beer, and haven't had it in far too long. Come back on Saturday and I'll post some pictures and notes on how everything went :)
Wish me luck on getting going again! And come have a beer with me, I'm going to have a lot to give all too soon!

Finally back,