Monday, July 28, 2008

Batch #9 - Kölsch

Brew Date: 7/28/08
45 Minute Steep -
.5 lb. Breiss 2 row malt
.75 lb. carapils malt

50 Minute Boil -
4.5 lb. Pale LME
2 oz. Spalt Hops (2.0%)
1 tsp. Irish Moss (15)
1 oz. Spalt Hops (2.0%) (5)
Wyeast 1007 Smack Pack (direct pitch)

Target FG: 1.008
OG: 1.042
8/5: 1.013
8/9: 1.013 (secondary)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Blonde Meets Berries

Batch 7 got racked on to 4 pounds of strawberries yesterday. I prepared the strawberries by removing the stems and slicing them in half. They then took a 15 minute bath in 160 degree water to 'pasteurize' and clean them up a bit and then spent a few hours in the freezer. Freezing the strawberries causes the cell walls in the fruit to rupture, releasing all the goodness inside when they thaw.

Once frozen, I dumped the strawberries in a clean primary and racked the beer on to them. Even though this is a secondary, I used a primary bucket for this operation since jamming four pounds of strawberries in to the 1 1/2 inch mouth of my carboy seemed like a pain - not to mention getting them all out later.

I have high hopes for this batch. The end result is supposed to have just a hint of strawberry flavor in the aftertaste. Jess is a big fan of Pete's Strawberry Blonde, so she is excited about this one as well.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Batch #8 - UFO HefeWeizen

Brew Date: 7/25/08
45 minute steep of -
1 lb. lager malt
1 lb. malted wheat
8 oz. carapils malt

Boil 60 minutes -
5 lbs. Wheat LME
1.5 oz. Hallertau Hops (2.7%)
.85 oz. Hallertau Hops (2.7%) at flame out. Steep for 30 minutes.
Wyeast 3333 (Direct pitch from activated pack)

This is a Harpoon UFO Hefeweizen clone recipe. The weird hop amounts are because the recipe specifies AAUs instead of weight and The Flying Barrel in Frederick sold me the exact right amount of hops - 2.35 oz. This makes the left side of my brain very happy. No late extract addition this time because I want to follow the exact recipe.

Target FG: 1.012
OG: 1.050
8/1: 1.015
8/5: 1.015
8/7: 1.015 (secondary in keg)
Note: Not hitting FG as expected - could be temperature issue? Sample at 74 degrees. Washing the 3333 for later use if the batch turns out good. Having trouble siphoning smoothly from bucket to keg - need a better solution. Had to restart siphon a couple of times and things splashed around a bit.

9/6: Keg is GONE. This is a great beer I can't wait to make it again.

Ding Dong the Bad Batch is Gone

There is nothing like having good friends - especially when you have 5 gallons of less-than-perfect brew to get rid of. Batch #3 fought us the whole way, but we persevered and won the day. Our spirits high, we celebrated with a pitcher (or was it two?) of the Weizen - ah so good! Maybe too good as I discovered the next day that, yes, we had all but killed what was left of that keg as well. I squeezed half a beer out of it before it gave up the ghost. Chalk it up as collateral damage.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I managed to go 6 batches without adding any fruit to my homebrew. As you can see below, batch 7 is incorporating strawberries. I hope it's good because it will be about 6 weeks before we can drink it.

Regarding the American Light Ale we have been making: it sucks. There is nothing wrong with the batches, we just don't like the taste of it. Batch 3 tastes just like batch 1 and I tasted batch 6 on its way to the keg and it's all the same - yuk.

So we have roughly 100 not-very-good beers to drink. I am recruiting friends to come over this week and help us power through it. I'm going to crank the fridge down and get it as cold as possible to ease the pain.

On the upside, the Weizens are great. I mean really great. Refreshing and light. I can't stop drinking them. We even bottled a six pack to take with us to a party over the weekend. Jess likes it better than Flying Dog's Hefe. Nice.

Batch #7 - Strawberry Blonde

Brew Date: 7/20/08
30 Minute Steep of -
1 lb. Rahr 2-Row
1 lb. Cara-Pils
.25 lb. Flaked Oats
.25 lb. White Wheat Malt

Boil -
1 lb. Light DME (Breiss) 60 Minutes
.25 oz. Saaz (4%) 60 Minutes
.50 oz. Saaz (4%) 30 Minutes
5 lbs. Light DME (Breiss) 15 Minutes
.50 oz. EK Goldings (5%) 15 Minutes
1 tsp. Irish Moss 15 minutes
.50 oz. EK Goldings (5%) Flame Out
Wyeast 1056 American Ale (Washed/OJ)

OG: 1.060

Notes: Will secondary on to 4 lbs. fresh strawberries for 2 weeks, then rack off to clean carboy for another 2 weeks.

8/9: 1.016 (Moved off berries into carboy)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Beer Fest!

Yesterday, Jess and I attended the 4th Annual Hagerstown Suns Beer Tasting Festival at the baseball stadium. With your admission price, you get 10 5 oz. samples, so together we got to try 20 different beers. Awesome!

We tried all kinds of stuff that I have not had an opportunity to taste before without committing to a whole pint of it. Barley Wines, Dopple Bocks, etc. All fun to try, even if they are not our style.

Jess found several beers that she really loved, including Ommegang Witte, Ommegang Hennepin Farmhouse Saison, and her absolute favorite (and mine, perhaps influenced by the 90 degree heat): Penn Brewing's Weizen. She loved it so much, that she constructed an ad-hoc Best of Show Award and presented it to the guys from Penn Brewery. They loved it, promised it would end up on thier soon-to-be-released redesigned website, and gave her a free bottle of Weizen. Nice! That is Dale from Penn and Jess in the picture. Jess is holding the "award." So funny. ALL the beers we tried from Penn were great - if you see some in your beer story, buy it.

We also tried beers from local Clipper City. They only brought their BIG beers, so I wasn't really in to them, but the guy from the brewery was cool and we chatted about beer a bit. We hope to get up there for a tour at some point.

We enjoyed the beers from Erie Brewing including their Sunshine Wit and the somewhat famous Railbender Ale.

The cellphone pictures make it look overcast, but it was a very hot evening. The beer went down nice!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm (a) Behind

A week at the ocean and catching up with work has left me behind on brewing duties. This is a good thing, as my current batches are getting a chance to condition before we drink them all.

I can say that the keg of A.L.A. that should have been tasty when we got back from the beach was not. I pulled the tap from it and switched to the wheat beer (which is great!) to give it more time.

I have some kegging, bottling, and brewing (something yummy!) to do this weekend. More updates then.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Greatest Website Ever

Genius! is using the google maps API to build a visual database of every brewery, brewpub, homebrew store, beer bar, and beer store in existence. Here is the DC/Baltimore area map. Finally, someone is doing something meaningful with the internet.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

You Can't Take it With You... or Can You?

The only downside I have found so far of kegging is that you can't take your beer with you. Not without building something anyway, and that is far down on my list of projects. It IS on the list though...

However, I read of a method of bottling beer straight from the keg. This allows you to carbonate your beer with CO2 as usual in the keg and then fill up some bottles as well. The process involves putting together an improvised "beer gun" and filling bottles in a similar manner to the way breweries bottle.

The best part is that my dad gave me two cases of old-school returnables. I haven't seen these kinds of bottles or cases (the real thick cardboard ones) in years. I'm not even sure if they are still made... (UPDATE: All the major breweries have stopped distributing beer in returnable bottles. AB stopped about 2 years ago with the rest following shortly after. This may only apply here in MD, but I doubt it.)

Today I pulled a baker's dozen of them to try to soak the labels off with warm water & one step. I have heard this works really well, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

I'm hoping to bottle a 12 pack tomorrow to take to the beach next week. If it works, I'll detail the method here in the future. Otherwise I'll have 12 really flat beers to drink...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mass Production

To help keep things organized in the brewery corner of the basement, we stenciled numbers on our kegs. I'm going to do the same to the primaries when they are empty and dry. Along with a whiteboard, this should keep us from getting confused about what's what. Without doing this I can guarantee that sooner or later I would rack or keg the wrong batch.

Our dark homebrewless time is almost over. There are four batches in various stages of fermentation downstairs, one of which will be kegged today.