Monday, April 23, 2012

Hop Garden

Here's the hop garden (as of a few weeks ago). I've actually got vines growing now. I just forgot to post this picture at the time.

In the ground:
Left and center mounds are Cascade planted this year. The Right mound is Cascade planted last year.
In Containers:
Left bucket: Chinook planted last year.
Right bucket: Chinook planted this year.
Not pictured: Nugget planted last year (in bucket).
Since this picture, I moved the Nugget container to the far right side.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cascade Pale Ale

This past Sunday I brewed my first extract batch in a while:
6lbs Briess Pilsen light DME
1 lb Caramel 60
1 oz Cascade @ 60, 20, and 7 minutes
1 package US-05
It's fermenting right now (along with the "Big Smoke" on it's diacetyl rest) at 65 degrees. I plan on fermenting for 2 weeks before racking and dry hopping with another ounce of Cascade.
OG: 1.050. Everything went well, with the exception of breaking my front tooth on a bottle during the boil. Maybe I'll give this beer a dental themed name.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Big Smoke

The name fits, too. The OG for my first lager came out really high. I attribute that to boiling off too much volume. Estimated: 1.088 Actual: 1.101 @ 55 degrees F. So, depending on how this Bohemian Lager yeast performs, this will probably be my strongest beer yet.
The fermentation schedule will be something like this:
Primary: 2 weeks @ 50F
Diacetyl rest: 5 days @ 65F
Lager: 2 months @ 35F

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Lager Starter

I just finished making my first yeast starter for a lager. I used one of my growlers. I decided to give my new chest freezer a try There's my yeast starter chillin at 67 degrees.

Update... Chest Freezer

I've got my barleywine in secondary (2 one-gallon jugs). I tasted it and it's really good already. The IPA for the BBR-BYO experiment is done. It's really good, too (both batches). I preferred the "with trub" half over the "without trub" half. But there wasn't a dramatic difference between the two.
In other news, I bought a chest freezer and external thermostat, finally. I bought a 7.0 cubic foot GE chest freezer from Sam's Club for 200 dollars, and the analog temperature controller from Johnson Controls. I can finally brew lagers. Which is good, because I have ingredients waiting to be brewed. The Surly Smoke kit from Northern Brewer. I plan to make a starter tonight and brew this weekend.
I bought the larger of the two freezers because I eventually want to make it into a 3-tap keezer/kegerator. Later, I plan to buy the smaller freezer, too, and dedicate it for fermentation.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Barleywine done... On to the next.

I brewed my half batch 2012 barleywine last weekend. For some reason the gravity came out really low. Which is weird, because the volume seems pretty low too. I was shooting for an OG of 1.104 and 2.5 gallons, but I ended up with an OG of 1.086 and a volume of around 2 gallons. I'm not sure what happened, but here's the recipe:

10 lbs 2-row
1 lb Malted Rye
.5 lb Caramel 40
.5 lb Caramel 80
-Mashed @ 158F for an hour
1 oz Chinook @ 60 min
1 oz Simcoe @ 20 min
1 oz Cascade @ 7 min
I may or may not dry hop with some Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, etc. I'll have plenty of time to decide that.

I fermented at around 68F for the first 3 or 4 days. Then, the temperature dropped when active fermentation was done. Closer to 60F. One thing I learned is that even in a really cold room you can keep your fermemtation temperature stable by wrapping a truck-stop blanket around your carboy. It didn't even drop one degree during active fermentation with that blanket wrapped around it.

Here's my recipe for the IPA I'll be brewing for the BYO-BBR collaborative experiment.
15 lbs 2-row
1 lb Caramel 60
Mash @ 152 for an hour
1 oz Chinook @ 60
1 oz Simcoe @ 20
1 oz Cascade @ 7
(No dry hopping)
1 package of US-05 in each bucket
Ferment @ around 68F for 2 or 3 weeks, then bottle.

IBUs: ~70
Assuming my efficiency is around 62% like it has been, I'll have an OG of 1.069.

In other news, I got The Surly Smoke partial mash kit from Northern Brewer. It was too late when I found out it was a lager... Looks like a chest freezer (with external thermostat) is in my near future.

I was really planning on stepping up my brewing anyway. Hopefully, this year I will:
-Have a dedicated chest freezer for fermentation
-Buy a pH meter (for testing my water, mash pH, and StarSan viability)
-Upgrade the metal parts on my mash tun (to stainless steel)
-Build or buy a stir plate
-Buy a refractometer
-Buy a grain mill (and start buying grains in bulk)
-Start Kegging

Monday, December 5, 2011

Update & Future Brews

It's been about two weeks since I brewed anything. I'll be bottling the oatmeal cookie beer next weekend.
In other news, I have a package en route from Midwest Supplies containing ingredients for two brews: a Sierra Nevada Porter clone, and a pale ale or IPA. I haven't exactly nailed down a recipe yet. I accidentally ordered 20 lbs of base malt instead of 30 (for both beers). And it seems like all the homebrew places are out of Simcoe hops.
I think I'm just going to wait until around Christmas to place another order. I'll get some Simcoe, some more 2-row, ingredients for my (half batch) new years barleywine, and I may or may not buy a grain mill, so I can buy grains in bulk.
So here's my upcoming brew calendar:
Dec 10-11: bottle Ice Cap
Dec 18: brew porter
(around this time I'll place another order)
Dec 23-26: bottle stout
Jan 1: brew barleywine
Jan 8: bottle porter
Jan 14-15: rack barleywine
Jan 15: brew pale ale/IPA

I was planning on fermenting my half batch barleywine in my 5 gallon carboy, but I may do primary in a plastic bucket, and rack to the 5 gallon carboy.