Monday, July 25, 2011

They Think I'm Mexican Brown Ale (All Grain)

Recently my girlfriend wanted to watch a movie and play a drinking game to it.  No reason other than drinking is fun and we didn't have anything else to do.  So as we started to scan through my movie collection for something to watch we debated what the rules should be.  Previously we had enjoyed a game using the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  Those rules had you drink any time of of the following happened:

  1. A shot of The Ring in someones hand
  2. Anyone presents their weapon in front of their face
  3. Sam and Frodo exchange a gay look
  4. A shot of the Eye of Sauron
Over three extended edition movies you get pretty drunk playing with these 4 rules.  Since it was already like 8:00 I didn't want to do that one again.  What we came up with was to watch Super Troopers and everytime they said a line that has been quoted in our group of friends, take a drink.  Since this is one of my all time favorite movies and I have seen it at least 100 times we got pretty wasted.
One such quotable scene is in a diner and Arcot Ramathorne (Indian actor Jay Chandrasekhar) walks up to a group of local police officers.  When they notice him he is greeted with an order for Mexican food.  Confused his partner asks about it to which he replies "They think I'm Mexican."

  • 2 oz Northern Brewer hops (7.0% alpha-acid, whole leaf)
  • 2 oz Cascade hops (7.9% alpha-acid, whole leaf)
  • 2 oz Centennial hops (10.0% alpha-acid, whole leaf)
  • 12.00 lbs. Pale Malt (2 row) (2° L, Crushed )
  • 1.25 lbs. Crystal Malt (40° L, Crushed )
  • 1.25 lbs. Carapils (1.3° L, Crushed )
  • 1.00 lbs. Wheat Malt (2° L, Crushed )
  • 0.50 lbs Chocolate Malt (350° L, Crushed )
  • White Labs California Ale Yeast (WLP001)
  • 1 tab. Whirlfloc
  • 1/2 tsp. Wyeast yeast nutrient
  • 1 tsp. Gypsum
  • 1 Vial White Labs Clairty-Ferm (WLN4000)
Starter Procedure:
I decided to try and and boil the starter wort in a pan this time.  It worked out excellent, no boil-over and started boiling much faster than in the flask.  However, I now had a problem that my flask was not sanitary so I devised a quick solution for that.  I thought "I've got a great idea I'll just heat it up on the stove."  I didnt think this posed a problem since it is borocilicate glass and it can be heated and cooled rapidly without risk of breaking.  I was wrong.
When I heated the glass on the stove everything went splendid.  The glass got really hot killing anything that would risk infecting my beer.  Now I needed to cool it down so that I could pour the wort into it, pitch and begin the starter.  When I placed the flask in the ice bath CRACK! The entire top broke off and the bottom shattered into about 5-6 pieces.  Water is extremely efficient at absorbing heat quickly.  This is why you can boil water in a paper cup. I assume this is also is the case with glass.  I am guessing that since there was no water in the flask it absorbed all of the heat when it was cooled rapidly caused the glass to fracture due to the rapid heat change.  So the moral of the story is don't heat your glassware empty.
I had 1L of wort that didn't have  place to live now.  The only thing I could find on such short notice was a mason jar I quickly sanitized.  Fortunately 1000ml is just a little less than a quart mason jar (940ml=1Qt.)  I left the lid on and unscrewed a little so that air could escape and it would keep most of the bugs out.  Due to the concavity of the jars bottom I was unable to use the stir plate for this starter but it was better than nothing.

Brew Procedure:
I am positive that I did this process incorrectly so I am not going to go into depth about how I did it.  what I did was poured 5 gallons of 155°F water with the grain and let it sit for an hour.  After it mashed for a hour I sparged with 2 1/2 gallons of 170°F water.

Big Brew, Little Brew

Pat also came over to brew his Glutenus Minimus Pale Ale with me so he could get another brew under his belt before diving into homebrewing.  Suddenly the scale my new brewing apparatus became evident to me.
The Mash
Adding Grain
Stirring Mashtun
Hops/Ingredients Schedule:

Boiled for
1 oz.
Northern Brewer
Entire 60 min. boil
1 oz.
Northern Brewer
Last 15 min. of boil
1 tab
Last 15 min. of boil
1/2 tsp.
Yeast Nutrient
Last 15 min. of boil
1 oz.
Last 10 min. of boil
1 oz.
2 oz.
Dry Hop
I cooled the wort, pitched the yeast along with the Clarity-Ferm and put it in one of my new 6 gallon carboys After transfereing the beer to the primary fermenter I realized that there was not enough wort to make 5 gallons of beer.  This was becasue I miscalculated how much water to start off with.  To solve this I filled the carboy up to 5 gallons with water.  This undoubtably lowered my OG but I'll know better next time.

INITIAL WORT GRAVITY: 1.050  Recipes Projected OG 1.066
I obviously screwed something up because the gravity reading is 16 points below the anticipated gravity. This is probably because I didn't use enough water and had to add water after it had been transferred into the primary fermenter.

UPDATE 8/1/11:
Today I transferred the beer into the secondary fermenter.  I thing I have discovered one of the reasons that the beer turned out with such a low gravity.  I filled the carboy up WAYYYY to high.  I must have made 6 gallons of beer with what should have been 5 gallons.  Since I have not used a 6 gallon carboy as a primary fermenter I kind of got over zealous on filling it. This beer was a learning experience so Ill just chock it up to that. I put some of the excess in a sanitized 2 liter bottle but that was all I had laying around but there was still a lot of beer that was poured down the drain.  I also forgot to take a gravity reading so the final gravity will have to suffice.
Transferring Beer
Dry Hops

UPDATE 8/7/11:
I transferred my brown ale into a keg today.  I was a little disappointed at the low alcohol content but that is find since this was a learning experience.  Pat is supposed to come over today to bottle his beer but I don't know if that is going to happen. He is apparently a rock star and was up all night partying after a gig.
Carboy to Keg with one waiting
Final Gravity: 1.020

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

All Grain Brewing System

This weekend I drove to Salem to take a look at an all grain brewing system from craigslist.  When I arrived at the storage center and the guy opened the door I was amazed at what I saw.  The culmination of what looked like a decade of brewing equipment.  What really attracted me to this setup is that it had a 15 gallon capacity which meant that I could brew 15 gallons and use three different yeasts on the same wort.  Producing three very different beers, depending on the yeast strains.
With this all grain setup I can produce higher quality, lower cost beers.  The trade-off is that I will have to surrender an entire day to brewing instead of the usual 4 hours and the chance of the beer coming out ruined is higher.  There is far more things to screw up in all grain brewing as well as smaller margins for error.

The system contained the following items:
  • 1 x brewing tower
    • 1 x hot liquor tank
    • 1 x mash/lautertun with False Bottom
    • 1 x kettle with false bottom and stainless heat exchanger for cooling wort
    • 1 x large propane tank
  • 2 x 5 gallon cornelius kegs
  • 1 x 2.5 gallon cornelius keg
  • 2 x 6 gallon buckets of 2-row malted barley
  • 1 x 18 gallon plastic conical fermenter
  • 3 x decent to cheap hydrometers
  • 1 x nice hydrometer with internal thermometer
  • 1 x 25 lb. CO2 Tank
  • 2 x complete (gas side) cornelius keg lines with manifolds (one 3-line and one 4-line)
  • 4 x 6 gallon car boys
  • 1 x copper cooling coil
  • 1 x wort pump
  • 1 x grain mill pretty nice one that can be drill operated.
  • Lots of little extras: Airlocks, tubes, siphons, spoons, scale, grain bags etc. 
Total Cost: $ 1200.00 
Total Value: Priceless
Total Cliche's used: 1

This is the best picture I have right now but there will be many more to follow during future brew sessions.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fire Crotch Red

Whitney wanted to brew a red for a while now and this weekend seemed like a good enough weekend do such. I have always felt there is a group of people that has been discriminated against and doesn't have a support group. Of course, I am talking about the Gingers. Even child molesters have a legitimate tax exempt group to offer them support; while the lonely ginger has no one to turn to. So it is in their honor, I name this beer Fire Crotch Red. If you have any confusion about what a fire crotch is I have provided a diagram on the right to help explain the situation.

  • 8 lbs Extra-Light Extract
  • 4 oz Cascade hops (7.9% alpha-acid, whole leaf)
  • Wyeast 1764 Rouge Pacman Yeast
  • 4 oz. Carastan (30° L, Crushed )
  • 4 oz. Caramunich (65° L, Crushed )
  • 4 oz. Crystal Malt (80° L, Crushed )
  • 4 oz. Aromatic (26 ° L, Crushed )
  • 4 oz. Melanoidin (30° L, Crushed )
  • 2 oz. Carafa II (430 ° L, Crushed )
  • 1 tsp. Gypsum
After going to MainBrew on Saturday July 9, 2011 to buy ingredients. Since I have a stir plate now I have to buy my ingredients the day before brewing. In the past I ahve always used White Labs Yeast to brew, but while at the brew store I learned Rouge has let Wyeast release their proprietary Pacman yeast. I have have always heard Pacman is an extremely versatile;e and aggressively fermenting yeast, Rouge also uses it exclusively in their beer.

From the Wyeast website:

Wyeast 1764-PC ROGUE Pacman Yeast
Beer Styles: American Pale Ale, American Amber Ale, American Brown Ale, Brown Porter, Cream Ale, Irish Red Ale, Strong Scotch Ale, Dry Stout, American Stout, Russian Imperial Stout, American IPA, Imperial IPA, American Barleywine, Fruit Beer, Spice/Herb/or Vegetable Beer, Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer, Other Smoked Beer, Wood-Aged Beer
Profile: A versatile yeast strain from one of Oregon’s leading craft breweries. Pacman is alcohol tolerant, flocculent, attenuates well and will produce beers with little to no diacetyl. Very mild fruit complements a dry, mineral finish making this a fairly neutral strain. Pacman’s flavor profile and performance makes it a great choice for use in many different beer styles.

Alc. Tolerance 12% ABV
Flocculation med-high
Attenuation 72-78%
Temp. Range 60-72°F (15-22°C)

As you can see Pacman is an appropriate yeast for a variety of styles including a red. I had to try this super yeast for myself.

Starter Procedure:

I learned a few things this time when I made my starter:
  1. The first being that when you bring your wort to a boil it is best to introduce heat SLOWLY otherwise boil overs occur and the stove becomes a sticky mess. I am very happy I figured this out on my second attempt cleaning up wort is not fun.
  2. The second is if you throw some hops into the the flask after completing the 15 minute boil the oils from the hops keep the krausen from overflowing the Erlenmeyer flask and covering the counter top.
  3. Finally instead of cooling the flask in large container like the bowl I used previously I used a much smaller malt bucket that the flask fit in perfectly. Now instead of the ice having to cool the entire volume of water and then the flask, the thermal energy can go mainly to cooling the wort. This resulted in a much faster cooling time and pitching temperature.
Other than those three minor changes the process was exactly the same. This resulted in a 1000 ml starter that could be pitched the next day.

Brew Procedure:

I poured the specialty grains into a grain bag and and steeped them at 190°F for 15 minutes. I got a new thermometer and checked the temperature against the one I have been using and it was off. The grains were already steeping at 190°F so lets hope it wasn't too hot. After sparing I turned the heat back on and started the boil with an ounce of Cascade. After many late boil hop additions it was time to cool and pitch.

Hops/Ingredients Schedule:

QuantityIngredientBoiled for
1 oz.Cascade Entire 60 min. boil
1 oz.CascadeLast 15 min. of boil
1 oz.WhirlflocLast 15 min. of boil
1 tabCascadeLast 10 min. of boil
1 oz.CascadeLast 2 min. of boil

1.054 @ 90°F Adjusted SG for Temperature 1.058
Since I took the gravity as such a hot temperature I had to adjust for that. Specific gravity is closely tied to temperature and when too far from 60°F. This gravity reading is much higher than usual when i use 8 lbs of extract I believe this was due to steeping the grains for 15 minutes and then sparging the sugars off the grains and into the pot to be boiled.

UPDATE 7/17/11:
Transferred beer today I took a gravity reading but I forgot to write it down so I'll have to settle for the final gravity reading to determine alcohol content.

UPDATE 7/22/11:  Final Gravity 1.020
I have decied to stop determining what the Alcohol by Weight is.  Nobody gives a crap what that is so instead of multiplying by 105 to get weight and then by1.25 to get volume.  I am just going to multiply by 131.25 to get the ABV.

131.25*(1.058-1.020)=4.9875% ~5%