Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pumpkin Porter Brew Day

It has been a couple weeks since I posted.  I apologize for the delay but I took a wonderful vacation with my family.  Once I got back and settled, I started on the Pumpkin Porter that you all voted for and you can see the recipe here.  There were a couple of modifications, most notably I used 58oz of pumpkin as it came in 29oz cans.  I figured that this was close enough to the 60oz that I called for in the original recipe.  Also I was able to get some great local and organic cascade hops that I wanted to use so I substituted them in.  Here is how my bred day went.

Pumpkin Porter Brew Day
The first part of the process for me was to roast the pumpkin.  I spread the two cans of pumpkin out on a backing sheet and placed it in a 400 degree oven.  After 45 minutes of my house smelling deliciously of pumpkin I removed the pumpkin and took a look.  To be honest I was looking for more of a roast on top.  The sides and the bottom got a bit roasty but I would have liked some more.  If I was not a little pressed for time I would have put it back in on broil to increase the roasty character but I really had to get this brew done.

After the pumpkin was done I brought 2.5 gallons of water to 150 and began to steep my grains.  Thirty minutes later I had some nice dark and roasty wort that smelled fantastic.  I cranked up the heat and added my 7lbs of light malt extract slowly while stirring.  Next came the pumpkin.  This was my first time using pumpkin an I have to say it took a bit of work to get it to incorporate well.  It tended to stay all globed up.  The best method I found was to mush the globs with the back of the spoon on the side of the pot to break them up.

Once the boil started I added 1oz Kent Golding pellet hops and continued the boil for another 45 minutes.  At the 15 minute mark I added 1oz of the organic hole leaf Cascades and 1Tsp of pumpkin pie spice.  After some further reading I should have added the spice later possibly at flame out to get the most out of the spices but I can always add more in the secondary if it needs it.  The last hop addition was another 1oz of the leaf Cascades at the 5 minute mark.

The wort was chilled and transferred to the fermenter where the additional 2.5 gallons of water were waiting.  After a quick stir I pulled a sample for a gravity reading and taste.  The gravity reading came out a little higher than expected at 1.059 vs the expected value of 1.056.  I was expecting this as ibrewmaster did not adjust the gravity to account for the additional sugars in the pumpkin.  The wort tasted pretty darn good, obviously very sweet, but with a nice pumpkin and spice flavor.  I have good hopes that this will turn out pretty well and my become my annual fall beer.  I will update more on the as it progresses and let you know how it turns out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weekend Fresh Pressed Cider

Apples for Cider
Sometime last week our brew club, the Indian Peak Alers, was approached by someone in our local community with an apple orchard on his property.  He had attempted to make a cider last year with the apples but it did not turn out to his liking.  After a brief conversation with a few club members the first, and hopefully annual ,"Indian Peak Alers Cider Festival" was born.  The word went out to the club and on Sunday we had amassed around twenty people to help pick apples and press cider.  It was a great day and and an absolutely beautiful setting.  We ended up pressing around thirty gallons of fresh delicious cider.  I believe that we will be aging this to enjoy at next years festival and there was also talk of getting a fresh rum barrel to age in next year.  It was truly a fantastic time.  I know that I speak for everyone in attendance in expressing our thanks to Bill and Sarah for allowing us to come to there home for this fantastic day.  Here are some pictures of the event.

Making Cider

Making CiderMaking CiderMaking Cider

Making Cider

Making Cider

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

New Yeast Charts Page

I have received a very good response from the yeast charts that I have put together.  I have added a new page dedicated to these charts to make it a bit easier to find them all on one place.  You will see a new link on the top left of this page where you can access all of the completed charts.  I just uploaded the finished Wyeast Ale charts this morning.  I will post the future just to let everyone know when there is something new.  Also feel free to comment on that page if you would like charts for other yeasts that I do not have listed

Friday, August 31, 2012

White Labs Specialty and Belgians Yeast charts

I received quite a response from my previous post providing a link to the Ale yeast charts I created.  I was asked to create similar charts for the other categories of the White Labs yeast strains.  I have just finished up charts for the "Specialty/Belgian" strains that I thought I would share.  You may see an extra file which includes the notes on each strain.  I thought this would be of great importance especially with the Belgian strains as specific ester production and flavors are an important factor in selecting yeast strains for Belgian styles.  I will try and get charts up here for the Lager yeast strains soon and please leave a comment if you would like similar charts for the Wyeast strains.

White Labs Specialty/Belgian Yeast charts

Please let me know if there are any errors and I will get them corrected.  I hope these are as useful to others as they are for me.

You can find the link to the Ale yeast Charts Here

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

White Labs Ale Yeast Charts

As a follow on to my previous post on Yeast selection, I have created some charts that show the yeast strain attributes and how they compare to each other.  The charts show White Labs Ale yeast strains mainly because that is what I use most.  I find that these are a nice way to compare yeast strains quickly and find the one with the attributes that I am looking for.  I Just wanted to share in the hope that these are useful for others.  I will also be creating similar charts for the other White Labs yeast strains, lager and ect.  Feel free to subscribe if you want to be notified when these are posted.  

Here is an example of my attenuation chart.

 You can download all of the charts here

Monday, August 27, 2012

Smoken Blond Ale Final Tasting

Smokin Dirty Blond Ale in a glass
My Smoken Dirty Blond Ale is finally carbonated and ready for the final verdict.    After about two and a half weeks bottle conditioning I pulled one under the pretense of a carbonation test, the real reason being I just couldn't wait anymore.  The pour showed that it is mostly done carbonating, it should be fully carbonated in the next few days.  The color is still around 8 SRM although the picture on the makes it look a bit darker than it is in real life.

The Nose
This has a very traditional English ale smell.  I am not getting the vanilla aroma that I noted in the previous tasting.  There is a slight hint of the smoked malt which is pleasing but very faint.  Over all there is a very nice, lightly sweet, malt smell that mixes very nicely with the earthy hop aroma of the kent goldings.

The Taste
This is a very nicely balanced beer I am actually pretty amazed that it tastes almost nothing like it did two and a half weeks ago.  The distinct vanilla and bourbon flavors that were there when bottling are now gone.  These have been replaced with a nice balance of sweet malt and earthy hops.  The flavors that were very distinct at bottling have now blended and flow nicely from one to another.   If I had to compare it to something I would actually say it tastes like a lighter version of Newcastle.   

The Verdict
If you ask anyone they would say that I am my own worst critic especially when it comes to my beers.  Most beers I make to me are just "OK", while others say they really like them.  That being said, I really like this beer.   This one turned out well and may be my best beer to date.  It is light and easy to drink but still has a distinctive malt character that I find lacking from many lighter beers.   I will defiantly make this recipe again soon and I would encourage others to do so also.  I give this an easy 4 out of 5 stars.  The only bad thing is two cases will not last long at all.

You can find the recipe here
You can also find the previous tasting while bottling here

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Voted, I Brew

The poles are closed and all the votes have been tabulated.  The voting really came down to the wire.  It was a dog fight between the Saison and the Pumpkin ale but in the last few days of voting the Pumpkin ale pulled ahead and took home the checkered flag.

It was really fun watching and trying to formulate recipes for what ever was in the lead at the time.  I will defiantly let everyone vote on what I brew again in the future.  I hope others enjoyed it as well. I spent an hour or so formulating my recipe yesterday.  I wanted to do something a little different than your run of the mill Pumpkin ale, and with my somewhat unhealthy love affair with dark beers,  my Pumpkin Porter recipe was born.  Here is my first draft so there might be some minor changes down the road, stay tuned...

Pumpkin Porter 

Grain Bill
7.0lb Light Liquid extract
0.5lb Crystal Malt -60L
0.75lb Chocolate Malt
0.15lb Black Patent Malt
0.5lb Smoked Malt
60 oz Canned Pumpkin

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sabco Select Sankey 7.75 Fermenter Review

Select Sankey 7.75 Gallon Fermenter
My new house has far more space to spread out and really get down to brewing.  After moving I decided that some of my gear could use an upgrade.  Near the top of the equipment upgrade list was a new primary fermenter.  I really wanted to get away from the classic Ale Pale.  I know it works and there is nothing wrong with it, but it just always felt cheap to me.  I wanted something more durable and preferably stainless.  Around the same time I really started to become interested in pressure fermenting.  The specifics of pressure fermenting is a topic for another post but if I ever wanted to give pressure fermenting a try I would need a fermenter that could hold pressure.

At first I really gravitated to conicals they are stainless and just so damn cool.  In particular I was very interested in a 7 gallon conical from  Stout Tanks and Kettles.  If anyone is interested in a conical I would recommend giving them a look.  Their lead times on some items can be long but prices are great and I only hear good things about quality.   The main problem I had with most conicals, in the size and price range I was comfortable with, is that they were not rated to hold pressure.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cider (Apfelwein)

Apple juce for Aplelwine

After a recent discussion at my local home brew club meeting I was interested in trying my hand at making a cider.  Researching on the Internet lead me to the now fairly famous recipe for Edwort's apfelwein which can be found here.  Edworts Apfelwein 

This thread on homebrewtalk.com is very long but full of great information on many peoples experiences and recipe variations.  I have not read the thread in its entirety but I did read many pages and gathered enough information to give it a try.  I did modify the original recipe slightly based on some of the information I read and this is what I came up with.

Aaron's Edwort  Cider

2 gallons Treetop 100% apple juice (No preservatives or additives)
1 gallon Treetop Three apple 100% cider (No preservatives or additives)
5 Oz's Dextrose (priming sugar)
1 pkg Lalvin 71B-1122

Monday, August 13, 2012

Selecting the Right Yeast

Until a few months ago selecting yeast for my beers was based on style, but after that somewhat arbitrary.  If I were making an Irish stout, for example, I would just pick up a Irish ale yeast and call it a day.  Recently I started venturing outside the normal style guides and there was no “go to” yeast for my beer as it did not really fit any particular style.  These adventures lead to a fair amount of research on different strains.  I also had to understand the differences in the yeasts and how this would effect the beer in the end.  After many hours on the internet I came to think of yeast drastically differently.   I must admit that before I viewed different yeast strains as fairly irrelevant and all (within reason) would make the beer I wanted.  Now I realize that yeasts can provide up to 500 individual flavors into your beer.  There is perhaps no bigger decision to make in you beer than the selection of the right yeast.  Here is some of what I learned that I hope will help others.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Smoken' Dirty Blond Bottling and Tasting

The other night I got around to bottling my Dirty Blond, and grabbed a taste of my gravity sample.  The recipe this beer can be found here.   Here is my final haul from this batch.

Bottled Blond Ale
I ended up a little light with approximately the volume of 45 12oz bottles.  Not too bad once you figure in trub loss and and a few gravity samples.  The Color came in right about where I wanted it, maybe just a touch darker than I had hoped.  I would estimate it came in somewhere between 7-8 SRM.  It turned out actually much clearer that I thought it would given the oats and the wheat in the recipe.  At this point is is pretty close to crystal clear.  After the bottle conditioning It may be be crystal clear by the time its ready to drink in three weeks or so.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

iBrewmaster Review (iPad)

I have been using the iBrewmaster App on my iPad for a few months now and thought it might be time for a review.  My main reason for looking for some brewing software is that I wanted a convenient place to store and develop new recipes.  I also wanted something for my iPad because it is really portable and would not get in the way on a brew day.  So after using this for about four actual brews and creating a dozen or so recipes here are my impressions.

Large database of ingredients (you can also add something in if it is not listed)
Easy to formulate recipes
Instant feedback on how a change to the grain bill or hop schedule will affect your beer
You can compare your beer to BJCP Style Guidelines
Pretty good recipe database if you do not want to make your own
The batch scheduler and calendar are pretty handy if you have multiple batches going at once
All of the auto-calculated values (OG, FG, ect) seem pretty accurate
Pretty Stable App
Just about everything configurable (if you can figure out how)

Price, This is a $15 app which is a bit pricey
Although I haven't tried it I don't see it being too useful on the iPhone's smaller screen
Configuring some values such as boil off rate and mash profiles are not intuitive
Example recipe database is not updated (or hasn't been since I loaded it)
Example recipe database is pretty heavy on certain beer styles (lots of APA's and IPA's)

Overall I am very happy with iBrewmaster.  It is a whole lot better than the old notebook I was using.  Sometimes it can be a little frustrating to navigate to the exact setting you want to change and I would like to see new recipes appear in their database from time to time, but my overall experience has been a good one.  The price is a bit steep.  If this were a $5 App I would tell everyone to run out and buy it right now but at $15 I would say the value is only good, not excellent.  All that said, if I had to do it over I would spend the $15 again, its a pretty handy little App...

First Mead

I have never had a mead before so after a bit of research I decided to try and make one.  I wanted to make a traditional "show" mead.  A show mead  is purely honey water and yeast with no other flavoring.  Having never tasted mead in my life I wanted to know what a true mead tasted like but my research showed that most people making mead are adding some other flavorings to it.  This made me a bit weary about making a full five gallons of "show" mead as it may be an acquired taste.  I at least wanted to make something that was drinkable so I decided to do a full five gallon batch and then split into two secondaries.  One three gallon carboy would remain a "show" mead while the other would get oak cubes apples and a vanilla bean.  Here is the recipe as I remember it...

Smoking Dirty Blond Ale

Smoking Dirty Blond Ale
My loving wife challenged me to come up with a beer that represented her for her birthday in November.  She is mostly English and Scottish, and a smoken' dirty blond. Using this for inspiration I devised a "Smoking Dirty Blond Ale".   Here is my first attempt bringing in the English and Scottish heritage along with some smoked malt in a blond.  I don't think I have heard of anything really like it so it at least should be interesting

Grain Bill
6.00 lbs Pilsner Liquid Extract
0.5 lbs Smoked Malt
1.00 lb Crystal 20L
0.5 lb Flaked Oats
0.5 lb White Wheat

Hop Schedule
1.00 oz East Kent Goldings 60min
0.50 oz East Kent Goldings 15min
0.50 oz East Kent Goldings 5min

Monday, August 6, 2012

I decided to start a blog to share my adventures in brewing.  I have been home brewing on and off for about 5 years. I am also finally about to make the leap to all grain.  I will be sharing this adventure along with building my new brew rig (learning how to weld).  I am also toying with the idea of a challenge for myself to brew all the styles of beer recognized by the BJCP which is over 80 different styles.  It is pretty ambitious so I still need to decide if I am up for it.  I hope I can fill this with content that at least a few people will enjoy.  Until next time...