Monthly Archives: April 2011

Brew 3: An Amber Ale for kegging

For the third brew we are going with Home Brew Mart’s Amber Ale.  It will also mark our first attempt at kegging, hence a simple recipe. This is also our first outside brew with the new burner (Purchased here) and a different location (Beta house). This is going to result in coming up with a slightly different process from before, but since most kegged brews will be brewed at this location, it will be good to have a fresh process.  The cleaning process went well, everything bleached and rinsed, then sanitized with Io-Star. As engineers we both research about beer in our free time and there are some indications that the bleach will eat away at equipment.  It is already visible on the racking tube and its only a matter of time before it is visible on other items.  We are going to start looking for alternative cleaners that are less caustic.

Recipe from Home Brew Mart: Amber Ale
8# pale malt extract
1# 60L Crystal
½# Carapils
1 oz. Challenger (7.9%) 60 min
1 oz. Challenter 5 min
Ferment with W.L. California Ale Yeast

Since nothing ever goes according to plan our recipe is different from the published one.  To start with, we are using Caraform instead of Carapils since HBM was out of Carapils and Caraform would have a similar effect.  We also learned that you need to grind the grains at the store (or at home if you have your own grinder) to crack them and expose their inner goodness.  We didn’t do this last time but will in the future.  They were also out of Challanger hops so we had to select an alternative.  I decided to try to pick his own alternative and compared the properties of Challanger(~7%, mild to moderate and spicy) and made an executive decision to use Santium (5.6%, noble characteristics) instead since I am the super-smart uber brewer and decision maker (Footnote: This is totally not true, I am a total n00b and kind of screwed up a bit on this one, we’ll see how bad later…)

Our recipe:
8# pale malt extract (liquid)
1# 60L Crystal
½# Caraform
1 oz Santium 5.6% 60 min
1 oz Santium 5 min
Ferment with W.L. California Ale Yeast

Again we are following the basic HBM process.  I ‘expertly’ (read: eyeballed) 3 gallons of water into the pot which was outside on our brand new burner.  We put the steeping grains in our grain bag and let it sit soaking in the water as we brought it up to temperature.  Since we were feeling particularly lazy we found a way to hold the bag off the bottom of the pot so we didn’t have to constantly attend it.  In the future we plan on using binder clips to accomplish this.  We monitored the water temperature with the thermometer that came with the burner until it hit about 170.  We then pulled out the grain bag and let the wort come up to a boil.  Once it started boiling we turned off the burner and added our malt extract syrup stirring until it was all dissolved.  We turned the burner back on and brought it back to a boil.  We also got a muslin sock for our hops so we used that this time so we wouldn’t clog up our strainer as much.  We measured out 1 oz and put it in once we saw the beginnings of a boil.  We waited 55 minutes (Full disclosure: this time was taken to finish our beers and eat dinner) then added the other 1 oz of hops to the hop bag for the last 5 min of the boil.  Once 60 min hit we turned off the heat, covered the pot and brought it in to sit in the sink with ice and running cool water to help to cool down the beer.  Once the cooling wort stopped steaming through the slight gap we left in the lid, we knew we were good to add it to the fermenter.  We added 1.5 gallons of water to the carboy then strained/funneled the wort into the carboy.  (Sidenote: it required much less cleaning of the filter screen than last time due to the hop bag.  There were still enough particulates to require a filter cleaning twice in the process but twice for 5 min total was way better than 4-6 times of 5 min apiece.)  We filled the carboy up to just above the 5 gallon mark (we got a little over-zealous on the water pouring), covered the mouth with foil, shook it up, and set it outside to continue cooling down.  We decided that once the colors on the brew temp strip were changing, indicating a temperature in the upper 70s we would pull out a sample for measurements and then pitch the yeast.  We did as such and got the following:
Initial Gravity – 1.066
16.5 deg plato

Once the yeast was pitched and the beer aerated it was transferred to a small trashcan for ease of movement and in case we got spillover.  Since we had a spillover on the last batch we decided to use a blow-off system this time for the first couple days.  We put the racking cane in the rubber stop and the racking tube on the other end.  The tube goes down to a small bucket half full of water.  This should allow for any spillover to be fully contained and not so messy.  I will be checking up on the fermentation and documenting it as best I can with work and everything.

Red Ale? Bottling

The first day of fermentation, there was so much activity it bubbled over.  This was cleaned up and the airlock was replaced.  In the future we will allow for blowoff during the first couple days.  We did not do as well of a job rinsing out the bottles after use, so we had to spend time cleaning the bottles but it was helped by the pressurized bottle washer that was purchased off of Northern Brewer. Sterilization went much quicker this time once we got the flow down. We rinsed out any mold, did a bleach soak and rinse then an Idophor wash.  We used ⅔ cup sugar with a pint of water this time for priming.  The strong initial smell from the bottling bucket was fruity.  Specific Gravity measured to be 1.024 which translates to 6 deg plato and 3.2% ABV, all temperature compensated at 69 degrees. This comes to an estimation of a 7.3% ABV beer which is decently strong.
Observation Notes from tasting glasses: Orange/Red color, Clear, some particulates.  Tasting Notes: Fruity, Citrus, a bit of sweetness, taste a bit of the alcohol, stronger than before. (Not a red ale).  Tasting plan:  taste at specific time intervals.  We waited a bit after syphoning into the bottling container to hopefully let some of the particulate matter settle, we’ll see if it works.  Bottling went smoothly, we filled a number of larger bottles since tastings have been occurring in groups and opening less bottles would be nice.  One note from the process, when filling the hose and bottling wand with beer, the air bubbled out through the 5 gallon container, aerating the beer.  We should probably try to avoid this in the future, even if it wastes some beer.

Second Brew, a Red Ale.

For our second brew we decided to try an Irish Red.  Even though the decision was independent of the upcoming holiday, I think we subconsciously did it in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  (Although, it would have been smart to have started several weeks earlier so we would be cracking the first bottle on the proper holiday).  Since we were a bit last minute in planning we decided to stick with Home Brew Mart for ingredients, so we used their recipe too. (Side note: using the pound(#) sign to indicate pounds is ingenious, much better than lbs.)

Recipe from Home Brew Mart: Red Ale
6# pale malt extract
2#amber malt extract
1# 80L Crystal
1/2 # 120L crystal
1 1/2 oz Cenntenial (9.8%) 60 min
1 oz Cascade (6.2%) 1 min
Ferment with W.L. English Ale Yeast

After talking with the guys down there we ended up going with a slightly modified recipe.  They suggested using primarily the malt syrup with less of the Amber extract.  They were also out of Cascade hops so they suggested using Amarillo instead.  Finally, I suck at weighing proper amounts of grain so instead of re-measuring correctly, we just added it all, we shall see what the effects will be.  We are also using the normal dry ale yeast, not the White Labs yeast, I think it may have been that I only realised that W.L. meant White Labs as I am writing this…

Modified Red Ale Recipe:
8# Briess Liquid Malt Syrup
1# Muntons Amber Dried Malt Extract
420 grams Crystal Malt 80L
310 grams Crystal Malt 120L
1.5 oz Cenntenial 9.0% AAU
1 oz Amarillo 9.1%  AAU
Dry Ale Yest – Safale S-04

We followed the Home Brew Mart malt extract and steeping grain guides for our process.

We put the 730g of grains in a steeping bag and steeped in 3 gallons of water until it came up to 170 F.  We then added the liquid malt extract, then the dried malt extract, and finally the Centennial Hops.  Upon completing this step, we realized that we were suppose to have added these ingredients after the wort had come to a boil.  While we don’t believe that it will ruin anything, we shall see.  We are going to keep our timer at 60 minutes, we are noting that the wort started to boil at 26 minutes.  We’re not quite sure what the effect of the decreased time at boiling will be, but our thoughts are that it will probably only affect the bitterness of the beer.  Since it took so long to get up t a full boil, we are adding 10 minutes to the boil, so 70 minutes total.  We put the Amarillo hops in for 1 minute then turned off the burner.  We then transferred the pot to the sink where we ran water for a couple minutes the added 3 trays of ice cubes to the sink.  After several minutes we plugged the sink and filled it with enough water for the pot to be buoyant.  While we should probably use a Hop bag in the future, but we are planning on straining it when pouring it into the Carboy.  I should add that we are enjoying a Stone Smoked Porter from a growler fill while brewing. As well as our own west coast pale ale homebrew. Tasking the hop sediment, a Hop bag is sooo happening next time.  After pouring the wort into the carboy, we pulled out some to take measurements.  After letting it cool to 70F we measured a (temperature compensated of course) 1.080 Initial Gravity which equates to 20 plato and 10.5% on the ABV scale (pre-fermentation)

We tasted the wort that we pulled out to measure.  It tasted sweet with pronounced hop flavor.  We expect that the yeast will bring the sweetness level down and hopefully round out the flavor, but only time will tell.  Now we wait…and drink a homebrew 🙂


It’s Bottling Time

We bottled our first beer, I was kind of sick so it basically sucked for me, but it went well.  It took forever since we had to clean all of the bottles, de-molding some of them but we ended up with 42.5 bottles of beer, not bad for a first shot at it.  We will try to remember to wash the bottles ahead of time in the future.

We used 3/4 cup of sugar with a pint of water for carbonating in bottle, we kind of forgot to pour the mixture into the bottling bucket first so we had to add it after syphoning and mix it in.  We seemed to be quite successful with syphoning, there was next to no sediment pulled from the carboy.

I know this is a short and super not informative post, but I forgot to write it at the time and am going from memory.  Future bottling posts will be better.