Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brown Ale 1.0 v 2.0

Brown Ale:
  • 12 lbs Pale Ale 2-row (all malts US/American)
  • 1 lb Crystal 40L
  • .5 lb Chocolate
  • .5 lb Wheat
  • 2 oz Fuggle 4% (60 min)
  • 1 oz Fuggle (15 min)
  • US-05

I brewed the 1.0 version of this beer about 3 weeks ago and had many problems. The first problem I had was with the crush. I've been having troubles with my 'maltmill' not working properly and in my efforts to get it working again I didn't realize that the gap was set too wide. I ended up getting something like 50% efficiency, so my beer that was supposed to have a starting gravity of about 1.075 ended up with about 1.044. With a F.G of 1.013 this gives my beer about 4% A.B.V. I'm glad this happened on what was to be a strong ale, otherwise I would have ended up with very light beer.

The second problem I had was that I forgot to turn the water on when I ran the wort through the CFC! I had to wait almost two days before I could pitch the yeast. After I came home from work the day after brewing It was still to hot to pitch. I was then able to put some ice packs in the fermentation cooler and the next night when I came home I was able to pitch. The beer is on tap in my keggerator now and there are no off flavors to speak of.

I played around with the 'maltmill' again and set the gap nice and close (somewhere arount .039) and brewed the exact same recipe again. This time I came out with a S.G of about 1.055 - 1.058. Still not great, but better.

In the process of working on my 'maltmill', which I bought used with a lot of other brewing supplies,I found that the mill I have is one of the earliest models and is about 15 years old. I'm still having problems with it and decided after this last brew to go ahead and purchase a new Barley Crusher mill (it's on it's way now). Hopefully with the new mill I can stop worrying about the crush and spend more time improving my efficiency.

It will be interesting to have both versions on tap to compare side by side with the only difference being the efficiency of the crush.

I also realized that the software that I have been using to calculate how much water to add to the mash/sparge is not giving me the results I should be getting. It's a program that I wrote but I think I must have changed the default settings for the amount of water per pound of grain and the absorption rate. I have been ending the boil with more wort than I can use, so either my absorption setting is wrong, or my boil off rate is wrong. I'm hoping that with the new mill I can focus on getting the right amount of wort at the end of the boil.

So far I've been lucky that no matter what problems I've had during the brewing process, my end result has always been very good and drinkable beers, even it the finished product is not exactly what I set out to brew.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Extract Wheat Experiment

I'm stuck brewing indoors for the winter so I'm trying different ways to make good extract beers. I made an Alt beer that was all extract with steeping grains for my last batch. I just used the cheap and easy Papazian method of putting the grains in a bag and putting the bag in the water as it heats up. I wasn't really happy with the results. It had good flavor, but no body. So for this batch I'm doing a stove top mini-mash.

I'm mashing 1lb of German Wheat with 1lb of German Cara-Aroma, at 150º for 60min. I used about 2.6 quarts of water in the mash and I'll use about the same for the sparge. I plan to boil about 5gal in my old turkey cooker pot. I'll still have to top off to make up for the boil off, but at least most of the wort volume will be in the boil. I have my CFC chiller so I don't need to add cold water to cool the wort down. This allows me to boil more of the wort than I could using some of the traditional stove top methods (i.e. boil 2 to 3 gal on the stove and afterwords top off with enough cold water to bring it up to about 5 - 5.5 gal)

I'm also going to use the partial extract method, adding about 20% of the extract (Wheat DME 6lbs total) at the beginning of the boil and adding the rest in the last 15min. (Doing a partial mash, I could add even less of the extract at the beginning, allowing the mash running's to dominate the character of the wort.)

I've completed the mash and used a strainer to separate the wort from the grains. Then I added about the same 2.6 quarts of hot water (170º~)to the grains and let it rest for 5min.

I put 3gal of water in my brewpot and started to heat at about 10min before the end of the mash. Once I sparge and find out how much volume I've gotten from my mash I'll add that to the 3gal and then top off with water to make 5gal for the boil.

I ended up getting about 1 gallon from the mash with a 12ºBrix (1.047GU). I topped off with one more gallon to give me 5gal to start the boil with. I should have started the initial 3gal of water earlier. I forgot how long it takes to get large amounts of water to boil on my electric stove. I'll have to check to be sure, but I think that I get about 38GU pppg of extract and I'm using 6lbs of Wheat DME. So that with the 47GU from the mash should give me (38 * 6) + 47 = 275 / 5gal = 1.055 SG.

All done. I ended up with about 4.5gal and topped the fermenter off to about 5.5gal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dark Ale

This is a left over batch I made this weekend (11/18/07)

8lb British 2-row
.5lb British Crystal
.5lb Crystal 60L
.25lb Crystal 120L
.5lb Victory
.5lb Aromatic
.25lb British chocolate

1oz Cascade 4.2% 60min
.5oz Cascade 30min
.5oz Cascade 5min

US-05 Dry yeast

Collected 5gal wort (topped off to 5.5gal)

5.5gal batch
O.G. 1.047 (12brix)
Eff ~ 67%
Starting Boil 7.5gal
Mash 3.25gal
Top off 1.8gal
Sparge 3.75gal
(forgot to top off after mash so sparge water was 5.5gal)
Fermenting at 62-65 deg F

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Draft Tower!

I put a draft tower on my keggerator this weekend.

I couldn't have done it without the help of this page
Converting a Sanyo 4912 to be a homebrew kegerator

Here's what I started with:

I picked up the two perlick faucets on ebay and then I got the single faucet stainless steel tower. I had to drill a second hole in the tower.

I came out pretty good.

I took the top of the fridge off and figured out where the coolant line was so I would know where to drill the hole for the tower. I cut the plastic pieced out so I could put an 8" x 8" x 1/2" plywood board under the top. Then I put the top back on and drilled the hole.

Then I put foil tape on the hole.

I put sylicon sealant between the wood and the top and between the wood and the fridge.

I put the tower together and screwed it into the plywood. then I hooked up a hose to one tank and tested it out with hot water.

I had some plywood left over, so I made a shelf for the CO2 tank and a board for the floor.

Afterwards I put some foil on the bottom board to make it easier to clean. I think I will get some contact paper to put on the boards to keep the wood from getting dripped on.

Finished product:

First pour!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Altish Ale

I brewed and Alt recipe but I pitched US-05 yeast so it's not really an Alt.

9lb Pilsner
3lb Munich
1lb Wheat
.125lb Chocolate

2oz Spaltz 60min
2oz Spaltz 15min

1.070 O.G.E

Here's a pick not that it's in the keg:

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Equipment

Well I did my first brew with my new set-up.

I recently got a keggle to replace my 30qt turkey pot.

I picked up 4 cinder blocks and put the top from an old desk to make a table high, and sturdy, enough to drain the keggle with out having to move it after the boil.

Adding mash water to tun:


Hop Bag:


Filling tun with sparge water:

Collecting second runnings:

Flame on:


Left over:

With out the hop bags:


I was brewing a version of Denny's Rye IPA. I thought I had some wheat malt left over at home so I didn't pick any up. When I got home I realized that I didn't have it so I just left it out of the recipe.

Here's the recipe as I brewed it:

11lb pale ale 2-row
4lb Rye malt
1.5lb Crystal 60L
.5lb Cara Pils Dex

1Tbsp Gypsum

1oz Mt Hood FWH
1oz Columbus 14% 60min
.5oz Mt Hood 4.8% 30min
1.5oz Mt Hood 0min
1oz Columbia (dry hop)

I ended up with O.G. of 1.074

Pitched US-05 @ 70º

In cooler now with 66º ambient temp in the cooler box.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Brewby's Homebrew Calculator

I've been playing around with Visual Basic and created this little program to help with some of the math used in making home brew.

You can see it in more detail (and download it) at this page:

I'm currently working on an updated version of this that will allow you to store all your recipes as well.

Heffe Weizen - All Grain

This was my first real 'All-Grain' attempt.

I purchased a bigger mash tun cooler (48qt).

6lb Wheat Malt
6lb Pilsner

2oz Hallertau 4% (8 AAU)

Pitched harvested Weinstephaner yeast from previous batch.

O.G. 1.044

Mash Ratio: 1.25qt/lb
Mash 12lb grain in 3.75gal water at 150º for 60min
Top off with 1/2gal before draining mash
Sparge with 3gal water
5.75gal wort from mash

Ordinary Bitter

6lb British 2-Row Pale Ale
1/3lb British Crystal
1/4 Aromatic Malt
6oz Demerara Raw Cane Sugar

2oz Fuggles (60min)
1oz Kent Goldings (30min)
1/2oz Kent Goldings (Dry-Secondary)

S-04 English Ale Yeast

Mashed 6.58lb grain in 2.5gal water for 60min at 158º

O.G. 1.035
F.G. 1.007
ABV = ~3.8%

The recipe called for Rapiura sugar. I substituted Demerara but that made it a little too dry. It did mellow out after two weeks in the keg.