Sunday, March 29, 2009

Red Ale moving

The Barley wine continues to slow. Perhaps in a few weeks it will be time to bottle it. We shall see how things go.

The Irish Red is bubbling the airlock nicely. The smell coming from the airlock is quite nice and laced with Fuggles. Quite a nice, reassuring situation.

No sampling of anything tonight. Maybe later in the week.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Irish Eyes a Smilin'

Today I'm blogging on my wife's MacBook Pro while I am keeping an eye on the boil of the Deep Red Irish Ale. The boil has 17 minutes to go. Irish Moss goes in the pot in two.

So far, the color isn't too red, so I may have to adjust the Crystal malt next time. The color was not out of balance according to BeerSmith, but the extract I use is made by Listermann's and they are not sure of the SRM value. I'll wait to pass judgment till the beer is finished. I guess that the SRM is 8, but it may be darker.

Irish Moss time.

Delivered, including a fork for those eating. 1.5 oz of Fuggles in 3 minutes. I also made taco's during this, so everyone else is stuffing their faces while I watch the brew pot.

I did try the Oatmeal stout last night. At two weeks in the bottle, it needs to age for at least two more. Alcohol is present on the nose and so is a little of hops. The feel is a little better than last week, but the beer is too thin in the malt bitterness and color to be a stout. I will adjust the recipe some the next time I make it. If all goes well, that should be in about 4 weeks.

Fuggles time.

Delivered. Next is Malto Dextrin in 3.5 minutes. Will have to turn heat off and move brew pot to add it. Don't want it burning to the bottom. Having to move the brew pot is a consequence of brewing on an electric stove. The burners don't turn off the instant the nob is turned, so residual heat can burn sugars in the bottom of the pot.

I acquired a Thief today and checked on the barley wine. The SG is now 1.040 which gives about 12.3% from the OG. The fermentation is still going nicely and bubbles out the airlock has slowed down to once per six seconds. The barley wine still smells ok and alcohol is very present on the nose. I can't wait for it to finish.

Had to pause for a moment as I had a slight boil over. I should have left the lid completely off. This does have a tendency to happen as the last few hop pellets go in and they are not in a bag. Waiting now for the wort to return to a boil. Count down timer paused at 7:12.

I am considering a move to full grain. To do so, I need a bit more equipment and know how. There are several sources on-line for building mash tuns out of large chest coolers. I also found a few ideas on making a hop-back. I will have to explore these ideas as time goes on.

Wort nearly back to a boil. Burnt wort really smells bad.

Timer going again.

Once the Malto is in, it will be three minutes till the rest of the Fuggles. Then it is cool down and yeast pitching. I have to clean up some things first and sanitize the sink.

Time for Malto. Boy it didn't want to dissolve. Timer paused again waiting for wort to return to a boil.

The Irish Ale yeast Listermann's had is in a liquid state. It is White Labs brand and comes in what looks like a vial. The item number is WLP004.

Timer going again.

Rest of Fuggles goes in 3 minutes. I also used the leftover 1/2 oz of Willamette at 20 minutes to go. We shall see what results. Now it is time to get everything ready to cool down, get it in the fermentor and pitch the yeast.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Recipes a floatin'

While on a webex today, my mind wondered into another recipe. So now I get to bend a rule and post twice in one day. I'll have to wait till I get home to churn this puppy through BeerSmith. This is an ale, but is a cross of American and English ideals. The name I already have, Cluster Fuggles Ale.

7# Light Canadian Malt Extract (7/9 fermentable)
1# 20L Crystal Malt
1/2# Chocolate malt
1/2# 10L Briess Munich Malt
2oz Cluster Hops pellets (1oz 75min, 1oz 40min)
3oz Fuggles Hops pellets (UK) (1oz 20min, 1oz 10min, 1oz 2 min)

Crack grains and steep 20 minutes at 150 in 1.5 gallons of water. Sparge with 1.5 gallons at 150. Boil hops accordingly. Cool and rack.

Perhaps calmer days

Last night, the Barley wine slowed to pushing a bubble out every 3 seconds. This is more like I would expect and I hope it means it is finally calming down. I bought a thermometer the other day and the temperature has staid a steady 62 F in the room containing the fermenter (ok, it is the space under my steps, not really a room). We shall see what unfolds. It is a bit cooler today.

I had a Black Albert last night. This is a new style called Belgian Royal Stout. This stuff is very good chilled and gets better as it warms up. It will also warm the drinker up a bit as it is 13% ABV. It is definitely a sipping stout. Now chugging a funnel of this stuff. The head is the color of brown sugar and very creamy. I will have to look more into this style. It also has hop bitterness at 70 IBU, which is a bit different for a stout. It all balances well at temperature.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Patience is a virtue

The barley wine is still going, but the zealousness of the fermenting in the secondary has finally toned down a bit. The two chamber airlock still has most of the water in it pushed to the release side, but there doesn't seem to be anything being pushed out it. At least no mess to clean up today. There are still bubbles rising and the beer itself is still cloudy. I am going to acquire The Thief device so that I can measure the gravity. This will also give me a chance to smell the beer and make sure it is going alright. I am most curious as to the ABV level.

I'm going to let the primary soak one more day and then let it breathe overnight. I'm not sure when I will make it to Listermann's to get the supplies for the Red Ale, but it should be on Saturday. I have to get this batch going so that I can start planning for version 2 of the Oatmeal stout.

I tried Founders KBS last night. The nose of this beer is something else. One can really smell the coffee, chocolate and the Bourbon from the barrel. I purchased two bottles last week at Jungle Jim's, so I am letting the second one age for a bit more. The bottle is a twist off, so I will not be reusing the it, but it sure does make me want to experiment with oak wood chips in the secondary. Perhaps if I soaked the chips in Bourbon, I could get a similar result. To be clear, the beer does not contain Bourbon, it was just aged in oak barrels that did. The beer was quite smooth and very nice. I will imbibe again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Barley wine still goin'

Barley wine still pushing through the airlock. Had to clean up a little but on the carboy cap. I sure hope the cap and the airlock have a good seal so nothing drips back in. The airlock contains a mixture of water and bleach. Fermentation still going strong.

I have water and bleach mixture in my plastic primary to try to reduce the scent left by the barley wine. The red I want to make next has a much lighter taste factor and I do not want it influenced unduly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The first day

There are several who follow me on Twitter for homebrewing updates. Though I will still make updates there, I have decided to do a blog devoted to what I am doing with my current batches and to any other beer activities in which I may engage. More than likely, there will not be daily postings, but who knows. My OCD may overtake me and I post every 10 minutes.

The current status of my 4 batches are as follows:
  • The ale I made in December is all but gone. A few 22oz-ers remain of my personal stash. This ale has a nice orange color and is quite dry. Nice hoppy start and finish. The feel was a bit weak.
  • The kit porter (from Listermann's) is done. It is an ok porter and will do in a pinch.
  • The barley wine is 9 days in the secondary and fermentation has been restarted a week now. At racking from the primary, the ABV was ~9.3%. Fermentation is going strong enough that I have to clean out the airlock every 3 days.
  • The oatmeal stout is 9 days in the bottle. Last week I tried some and it needs at least 2 more weeks to condition. Is this a journey of rediscovering the recipe I used 10+ years ago (cannot find my notes), so it will take some time. This version is not sweet enough nor has as good a feel, so something is missing. Cannot wait to try again.
I was asked by some friends of mine to develop a red ale recipe. I have and I plan to brew it Saturday.

This concludes my first beer blog post. Here's to many more.