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.

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