Sunday, May 17, 2009

Early Morning Amber

Decided to brew an American Amber Ale this morning, and got an early start to avoid the heat (100+).

I based the recipe on the great wiki here, which was incredibly helpful. I ended up getting slightly better efficiency than anticipated, and it looks like it will be slightly too high in the SG to be in style, but hopefully it will be a decent representation of a dark, crystally AAA.

I used the following ingredient list -

Grain -
9lbs Pale Malt
1lb Munich Malt
1lb Crystal 40 (I may have accidentally gotten 60 when I was at the LHBS)
1lb Crystal 80

Hop Schedule -
0.7oz Centennial First Wort Hop
0.6oz Centennial 20 minutes
0.2oz Centennial 5 minutes
o.5oz Centennial 0 minutes

Yeast -
Safale US-05

Mash -
153 F

Details -
SG - 1.062
IBUS - 35.5
SRM - 15.2

I'm going to ferment as close to 60F as possible, which will be fun with the 100F temps we're experiencing.

Edit - Fermentation has been more in the 70F range. I have been bested by the heat.

Update - June 1 2009
Did my first tasting, and measured the FG. Gravity was down to 1.011, which is slightly lower than expected, but still within range. There was not a lot of hop aroma, but the bitterness was about right. The beer was a little alcohol flavored, which I am attributing to the hotter fermentation temps. Hopefully a little time, cold and carbonation will make it less apparent.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why am I not brewing on opening day ale?

Man I should really be brewing today. A small batch of "opening day ale" to be drank when either the A's win the WS, or are eliminated would have been a good idea.

I might have to do this next weekend, and possibly make a tradition out of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Planning a Blackberry Ale

I have had a few pounds of fresh picked blackberries in my freezer for about 9 months, and since it will be blackberry season again soon, I figure now is the time to try an experimental batch of blackberry ale.

I'm planning on starting with a base of a Blonde Ale, fermenting it out, and then racking it onto the pureed blackberries. The base beer will be on the lower end of both the alcohol and bitterness scale for this style. This will be a 3 gallon batch.

4lbs 2-row Pale Malt
12oz Cara-Pils
.25oz Centennial Hops - 60 min boil
3lbs Blackberries

OG (before blackberries) - 1.040
IBUs - 17.9
SRM (before blackberries) - 3.3

I'm thinking I will use S-05 dry yeast with this one, which should keep the aromas from the fermentation down, and allow the blackberries to shine through.

If this batch turns out well, I will scale this up for blackberry season and make 5 gallons to keep on tap.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update - Barleywine

Today marked one month since I brewed my Barleywine, and it was time for it to make the move from primary to secondary.

I decided to add a little extra flavor to the Barleywine in the form of 2oz of medium oak chips that have been soaking in Jack Daniels for a week, and 1oz of Centennial hops (pellets). I'm planning on letting it sit like this for another 2 weeks, and then bottling. After bottling, I'll let it sit as long as I can make myself wait. Hopefully I'll have a nice pipeline by then to keep me from being impatient.

Had another sample, and this time I could taste a little more of the alcohol overtones, although not nearly as much as many commercial Barleywines. There was a slight fruit aroma, although I couldn't quite place what it was.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First Taste of 999 Barleywine

Decided to check the SG of the Barleywine tonight.

First off, let me just say that using a bucket when the fermentation blows out the side sucks. The sweet beer decided to congeal and create the most difficult seal to break that I have ever seen. It took me ~10 minutes to pry an opening at the top of the bucket.

On to the beer...

The gravity was down to 1.022, giving me a current ABV of 9.8%. Sipping on the sample was surprisingly nice, considering the age of the brew (9 days). The brew isn't harsh, not particularly boozy, and a pleasant malt flavor.

I think this is going to be a VERY good brew, especially once I oak and dry-hop it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beer Review - Mendocino Brewing "Talon"

This beer was drank at an initial temp of 47 degrees in a brandy snifter. The flavor/aroma really opened up once it had warmed up a bit.

Appearance - This beer is a wonderful amber/ruby color. Very clear, although with a lot of yeast in the bottom of the bottle. I could see a full pour resulting in a cloudy beer. Small head, retains a bit of foam for the duration. Lacing is good, but not exceptional.

Smell - Malty smell, with little/no hops aroma. Very slight alcohol smell.

Taste - Pleasant alcohol flavor, not too overpowering. Nice bitterness to work with the residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel - Think and creamy, which works quite well with the strength.

Drinkability - This beer scores fairly high here, considering it is a barleywine. The 22oz went went down very easily, and paried well with spent grain chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

First Big All-Grain Brew – 999 Barleywine

So since I've never been one to get into things slowly, I decided that a fun second brew would be a nice big Barleywine. The recipe was so big, I didn't feel confident in the first runnings all fitting in my 10-gal cooler, so I invited my friend Joe over to do a second batch (Ordinary Bitter) from the second runnings, and use his MLT for half of the grain.



Grain -
15lbs Pale 2-row
8lbs Marris Otter
2lbs Munich Malt
6oz Pale Chocolate
4oz Special B - Caramel malt
12oz Crystal Malt 80°L
1 lb White Table Sugar (Sucrose)
.5lb Brown Sugar

Hops -
1.66oz Magnum (14.5%) - 60 min
1oz Centennial (10.0%) - 25 min
1oz Centennial (10.0%) - 0 min
1.5 oz Cascade (5.5%) - 0 min

Yeast -
US-05 yeast cake from ESB

This is a slightly modified recipe that was originally posted on

We ended up overestimating the amount of water that would be retained in the grain, and had about 10 gallons of first runnings. This resulted in a long (~3hr) boil, which may give some nice flavors. The OG got up to 1.100, which was slightly less than I had planned, but should still make for a nice Barleywine.

We ended up with 7 gallons at the end of the boil, and I was originally going to bottle and force carb some of the remaining wort in a 2-gal bottle, but the taste was just way too much of everything to think about drinking. The hops were overpowering, and the sweetness was cloying. But I can see why the unfermented wort soda is made in Mexico.

This was literally fermenting within minutes, and was going crazy for 3 days. Even using a blow-off I thought it was going to blow the lid of the fermenting bucket. The smell during fermentation was amazing, a mixture of the Centennial and Cascade hops that makes me think dry-hopping this will be a very good idea. I also plan to make this the first beer to which I will add oak chips, giving it yet another layer of flavor.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

First All-Grain Brew – ESB

For my first foray into All-Grain brewing, I decided to make a classic English style and brew up an ESB. This beer was brewed January 14, 2009.

The grain bill was fairly simple, 9.5lbs of Maris Otter and ~1lb of Crystal Malt (60L and 20L). Based upon Beersmith, this should put it right in the color range for an ESB, and be somewhat high on the gravity, but in style.

The Hop plan was to go with a combination of Fuggles, and EKG to have that traditional English flavor. Unfortunately the local Homebrew shop had no Fuggles. I ended up going with Warrior instead, since 1oz had more IBUs than 2oz of Fuggles. I ended up only needing 0.7oz for bittering, and I threw in the extra 0.3oz at the end with the EKG

Recipe Specifications -

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.82 gal
Estimated OG: 1.056 SG
Estimated Color: 9.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 44.9 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes


Grain -
9lbs 8oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
11oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
7oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)

Hops -
0.7oz Warrior [15.80 %] (60 min)
0.3oz Warrior [15.80 %] (5 min)
1oz Goldings, East Kent [4.70 %] (5 min)

Yeast -
Safale US-05

The brew session did not go as smoothly as planned. :( The plan was to use my 10-gal cooler as the mashtun, and slowly fly sparge using the other cooler as the hot liquor tank. Unfortunately, the HLT that had not leaked with cold water decided it would let water get everywhere when filled at 170F.

Couple the leaky HLT with misremembering how full to fill the kettle, and you end up with a finishing volume of ~3.5 gallons. In addition to the low volume, the gravity was on the high side at 1.065. I added one gallon of filtered tap water, pitched the yeast, and hoped for the best.

First sample – January 31, 2009
I moved this beer to secondary last night to make room on its yeast cake for a Barleywine, and had a chance to give it a try. This beer finished lower than any of my other beers to date, 1.010, and tasted great! It had a nice amber color, and a good long bitterness. I can't wait to taste it when it is carbed.

Craigslist Find – 10-Gal Cooler

In my desire to go all-grain, and improve my beers, I've been scouring craigslist for weeks hoping to find someone selling a 10-gal Igloo cooler. After no luck, I went to OSH and was all set to buy one for $60. Then as I was walking to the register with the cooler in hand, I decided that I should check online one more time, and buy it tomorrow if I didn't find anything.

When I got home and started watching the Kings lose another game, I hopped onto craigslist on my cell, and what do I see? 10-gallon Coleman cooler for $10!

Picked it up the next day, and it was in great shape. Only problem was the spigot stained pink from red gatorade...but that was getting thrown away anyway. :)