Tuesday, October 27, 2015

So, I quit washing yeast.

I quit washing yeast.   Now, I just save the entire yeast cake.   Ok maybe I shouldn't say I quit washing entirely.  But after following the work of Steven Deeds at Woodland Brewing Research, I made the decision to save the part of the yeast cake that had the least bacterial content, and the most viable cells.  And that is the crud I've always left in the bottom.

The elusive creamy layer
of supposedly good yeast.
We have all been taught that you want to go through the process of washing yeast to get that small band of creamy light colored yeast just on top of the trub.    Turns out that isn't the case.   The trub has just as many viable cells, and less bacterial content.  

If you're not following Steven and Woodland Brewing Research.  You need to be.  Along with Marshall Schott (Brulosophy.com). Steven is taking a practical common sense approach to brewing.  He doesn't care what tradition or cannon says.   He follows the science.  He also wrote a book.  I have it, it is somewhat technical, but it is also pretty excellent.  I don't recommend it for brand new brewers, but if you are intermediate or advanced, there is loads of great information in Brewing Engineering.   Steven has also pioneered a 15 minute brewing approach that is truly fascinating.

For me the big take away has been in how I handle yeast.   Any step or process that I can eliminate, gets eliminated.   Not only does this save time, it also reduces the chances of a process error or problem.   12 pint canning jars are $10.00 at your local Target.  This is a way easier way to handle your yeast cake.   Just save it.   The whole thing.   Drain the beer off, add a little pre boiled room temperature water to lower the viscosity, and package the whole thing.   Done.  

If you really want to manage your cell counts, and build starters Steven also has great information about setting up a home laboratory, viability testing, and cell growth testing.  I don't do any of that.   I brew.   So I find that two pint jars of slurry (yeast cake)  will give the same kind of fermentation as a starter, in most of my beers.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

I Didn't brew... Really. I didn't

Shocking as it may seem, I didn't brew this weekend.   I know that sounds weird coming from me, and it felt a little weird too.  But there was too much going on.  But that doesn't mean I didn't do any home brew related stuff, far from it.   I bottled the Belgian Strong Dark Ale, and I hosted a beer tasting at some friends post wedding brunch.

The BSDA bottled up with no issues.  I was helped out by my trusty bottling buddy, my youngest.   She actually enjoys bottling beer.   And she is really good at it.

Pretty Diverse Menu
for a beer loving crowd
On Sunday morning I got to join some friends for their post wedding brunch (Congrats John and Beth).  The food and the company were great.  I was asked to bring a sampling of beers.   I brought 7 gallons.  Confident in the notion that there would be leftovers.   My menu was pretty diverse.  Let me tell you, when John said their friends and family were into beer, he wasn't kidding.  Every one of their friends were into beer.  I mean really into beer with meaningful questions, and opinions.

By far the best casual beer tasting I have ever hosted. They drank all of the beer.   They had great feedback on the beer.   Over all I think they loved the beer.   Grandpa loved the Belgian Strong Dark ale (a bonus beer not on the menu, I force carbonated .5 gallons for fun and brought it along).  Father of the Groom loved the AIPA and he said, he doesn't like IPAs...

A couple of them are already beginning home brewers.   More of them now want to be.   So, I'd call that a win for team home brew.  We powered through from 11:00 AM to 5:30 PM.


Jake evaluating the Sour Blonde
"Barnyard Funkadelic"
The Cider is still bubbling away.   Should clear up by the weekend, the bubbles have really slowed down.

The rescue beer is dead.  Done, The acrid taste wont go away. I've used every trick in the book. So long sailor.   The drain awaits you, I did all I could...UPDATE;  for grins I hit this one with Saison Bret dregs.  It turned into one of the best sours I have ever brewed.  It is almost a year later now.  And we are just about to bottle this amazing beer.  

The scottish export will bottle this coming weekend.

The Centennial Blonde will bottle this weekend if it's at terminal OG.

The old school lager is lagering away at a crisp 38 F.

Miller the Muggle is still percolating, probably bottle next weekend.

Bonus.  I have developed a faster method for carbonating beers in bottles.   I have tried it now with 5 batches with no ill effects.   It works best in two liters, and pet bottles.  So stay tuned sports fans, Ill be posting about that soon.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cider... the counterbrew way...

So this weekend I'm not brewing.  Nope, not brewing, bottling.  4 batches. Yup, two 2.25 gallon batches and 2 five gallon batches.

Well OK,  you all know me... you know I am brewing something.   I have to, it is my relaxation in the storm that is my life.  But I'm not brewing beer. I'm making cider.  Something I haven't done for years.   Sparkling cider is one of my favorite home brew fermentables.

UPDATE:  I just couldn't help myself.  I am brewing a Centennial Blonde.

CIDER: Here is how I do it.

1 gallon of pasteurized apple cider.  (no preservatives except ascorbic acid)
.5 tsp pectic enzyme
.5 lbs of corn sugar
.5 tsp wine tannin
2.5 g of Nottingham ale yeast.
As you can see from the photo above, I use a folded paper plate to put the ingredients into the carboy.

This will ferment fast.   I made 2 gallons.  I aerated the heck out of them by shaking them for 5 Minutes each.  That is sufficient for Cider. Cider hasn't been boiled. So there is still a lot of o2.  The sugars are simple the yeast will thrive.

Day 4 bubbling away
One will be sparkling, the other will be still.  The still version will be ready in a week to 10 days. To make it ferment faster I gently swirl in the first couple of days.   Keeping the yeast in suspension.  I stop swirling at high krausen.   This cider is only 1.060. And will finish at about 1.014.  For the still version I'll bottle in wine bottles and call it good.  For the sparkling version I'll bottle with carbonation tablets and let it get good and fizzy.

That's it. It is that easy. Of course you have to sanitize everything.  But if you are creative, you can just go get an airlock that will fit the apple cider container, that your cider came in.

UPDATE -  Day 11  The cider is still bubbling away.  But very very slowly now.  I used Nottingham Ale yeast rather than cider yeast or a wine yeast.  I think that is why it is taking longer than normal.  On the plus side, it should also be sweeter than a cider made with a wine or champagne yeast.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Centennial Blonde All grain for the MR BEER LBK

I know I said I wasn't going to brew... but well... I'm me.  I couldn't help myself.  The grains called to me.  I have 4 beer tastings coming up.  That was my excuse.  In truth, I have plenty of beers for the tastings, but not the tastings and the holidays.  So my excuse isn't completely bogus.  I know I usually describe my self as a partial mash brewer, but I love these small batches.  Maybe I'm really a small batch all grain brewer.

So yesterday, when I ran to the home brew store.  I got the ingredients for a 2.25 gallon batch of biermuncher's Centennial Blonde. I have never brewed this recipe, but it was Home brew talks #1 recipe last year.  Another lower IBU recipe.  With the holidays coming up and lots of family and friends coming through the door in the next couple of months... I can't have enough muggle friendly beer around.  I am going to make one deviation from the original recipe, I'm going to add a hop tea it to get more aroma, at Bottling.

So I brewed a small batch 2.25 gallon batch.  On the stove top.  All grain. Started as always by organizing my stuff.

Prepped my water with 5 star 5.2 stabilizer.  There is a lot of controversy about 5.2.  It works for me but it is not the only, or even the best way to treat your water.  As for me,  my brewing water is nearly perfect, theoretically.  But something has changed recently.  So I took a sample and sent it in for testing.  As someone who brews a lot, I need to know what is going on with the water.

My computer is my constant companion on brew day.   I keep excellent records of my brew days, and since I started using Brewtoad.com my record keeping has gotten even better.   I can go back to any brew and see exactly what I did.

The beer in the rocks glass is the lager from the "Lager at ale temps"  it is fantastic.  Not even a little off.  The yeast we have today is awesome.
This one was Wyeast Czech Pils but, Fermentis 34/70 also works well.  You'll remember, I primary at ale temps then, into the fridge for 3 to 5 weeks.  Wyeast produces two yeasts that can perform just fine for the entire fermentation at ale temperatures.   2112 California Lager, and 2124 Bohemian Lager (fine up to low 60s F)

Nailed my mash temp.  I used the calculator on brewtoad.com.  It has is adjustable variables, so once you put your variables and mash ratio in it will calculate your strike temperature.  This one was 3 quarts per pound... No sparge BIAB.

Mashed for 60 minutes.  My pre boil extract was at 1.032.  Which was perfect and predicted.

Boiled for 60 minutes.  With hop additions at 60, 35, 10 and 0.   As you can see, I use coffee filters to organize my hop additions.  One had already been added.  Third from the left has 1/2 a whirlfloc tablet in it. You can see I am using Wyeast yeast nutrient again.

Post boil gravity was 1.042.  Spot on. In the photo, It may look like 1.040.   But, the wort was still warm, so I took it's temperature, 135 F.  I did an adjustment for temperature and it came in at 1.042.   Which is exactly where I wanted to be.

Cooled with my small immersion chiller, and ice water in the sink. The batch chilled in less than 15 minutes in the sink.  I don't like wasting water so this was very encouraging.   In part the chilling was made faster by the fact that the groundwater is getting cooler.  But the sink full of ice water certainly helped.

Aerated with my aquarium pump.   Aeration is one of the most important things you can do to improve your beer.

Pitched re hydrated Nottingham by Danstar.   The yeast seems to take off quickly when it is re hydrated.  Nottingham is one of my favorite yeasts.  It always performs well and it is a great flocculator.   I pitched about 6 g of the package.  Yeast calculator said I needed 3 g. So It is an overpitch.  I had used 5 g of Nottingham in my Cider the day before.

Clean up took less than 15 Minutes.  One of my other favorite things about counterbrewing and small batches. When I was done, it was time to sit down and watch some TV, and have a great beer.  In this case it was my "Gumball Drop" east coast APA.  All late hop additions.   Love it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Updates... lager at ale temp, Oktoberfest w/wyeast 2112, session ipa

Ok I got a lot done today,  more to do tomorrow.  5 gallons to bottle up tomorrow, and Ill probably brew a small all grain batch. 

I love the small all grain batches in the Mr beer fermenters.   You can brew them on your stove top and they are easy to move, and they are easy to bottle.   I just don't love the ingredients. I truly hope Coopers continues to make the LBK.   I even love the Mr. Beer bottles, and the carbonation tablets.  Although I ran out of those a long time ago and bought the Brewer's Best tablets.  The only problem is the location of the spigot means you will inevitably pick up some protein foop, and trub when you want to bottle.  But don't worry sports fans,  I have a $10 solution.  (update there is no problem bottling in PET)

I ran to the LHBS this morning.  Now, I am lucky I have 3 home brew stores in close proximity, where they know my name.  But I most frequently shop at one close to work called Bacchus and Barley corn.  I have been buying beer supplies at this store for 25 years.  The owners Big Al ( a petite woman named Alberta) and her husband Jackie are incredibly knowledgeable.  The store is plastered with ribbons from AHA competitions they have won. I purchased 4 lft of tubing, a 2 gallon bucket, a bottling spigot, and a voile hop bag.   

For all three batches I simply transferred from the Mr. Beer LBK to the new miniature bottling bucket.  I clipped the voile bag to the side of the mini bottling bucket, and inserted the tubing.   Boom, poor mans filtering.   The voile bag is an excellent filter.  I was able to bottle all three batches in under 1 hour.  All were filtered through the voile bag.  I got clean clear beer.   Easy. 

Update on the "You can go all grain LAGER with the Mr. Beer"    I brewed this on Sept 5th.  It fermented for 10 days at room temperatures then, on the 15th it went into the fridge at 38 F.    I has been sitting there ever since.    You may recall our not so subtle friend "Tommy Knowitall" sent multiple messages assuring me it wouldn't work.  I bottled it in 2 liter bottles today.   Two of the bottles were forced carbonated with a CO2 gun.  The final bottle got 5 carbonation tablets.  The beer is freaking amazing.
 The beer is crystal clear, the beer has no off flavors or aromas.  There is the very slightest hint of DMS (appropriate and intended)  There is just a wee touch of Diacetyl (again intended). The beer is excellent.   On the left you can see the 1 gallon that I packaged up in 2, two liter bottles.    I have covered that topic before, but by all means feel free to ask questions about it.  It is really an easy way to package your beer. These will sit there under pressure for the week getting ready for John and Beth's wedding brunch.  When you force carb in 2 liter bottles you can try your beer in a couple of hours.  But to get it truly, fully carbed up, you have to let it sit for a couple of days,  occasionally shooting it with more CO2.

I also bottled up the Oktoberfest (made with Wyeast 2112) and the Session AIPA "by grace and banners fallen"  that was originally inspired by Drew Beechum's Pliny the Toddler.  The Oktoberfest is good, not great.  The carbonation might help the malt character come out more.  To me it just tastes like a basic, non hoppy, malty, amber beer.  So Im sure it will be a big hit with the muggles.  The AIPA is fantastic.  It always it.  It is a hop monster.  Hop perception is based on a ratio of hops to specific gravity.   This one delivers.  This batch in particular is very balanced.  About 66 IBUs and only 5% alcohol it is a tongue stinger.  It is a little darker than the last batch, I'm sure that is from the addition of the biscuit malt.   But the beer needed that balance, so I'll take it.

I also made counterbrew cider.   Cider is the easiest thing you'll ever make. Definitely give it a try.  Especially if your SWMBO or SO doesn't prefer beer.   I'll cover this in another post.   Today, Church, Chiefs, a Centennial Blonde, and bottling the Belgian Quad.

UPDATE I let the quad sit for another week.  It had a slight rubber note.  That is acetyl.   As of last night... that was gone... its ready to bottle.  The lesson?   BIG BEERS TAKE WHAT EVER TIME THEY TAKE.

Monday, October 12, 2015

McClouds Kilt Brew day

Well SWMBO was out of town, at a charity softball tournament in Wichita, Ks.   So what else would I do... time to brew.  Scottish Export Brew.  I know I had promised an all grain small batch brew day, but well... I changed my mind.   The decision to change to a 5.5 gallon partial mash was motivated by two factors.  First,  I have a friend who loves 90 shilling, and I wanted to see if I could make it up to his standards.  Second,  when I went to bottle the Oktoberfest, it became clear that it was going to need to be cold crashed for a while.  So, when life hands you lemons... make a 5.5 gallon partial mash batch of beer, and put the lemons on the counter in the fruit basket. (really put them in the fruit basket or you get in trouble...she means it)

Began by organizing my stuff.   As you can see I was using Safale S-04.  One of my all time favorite yeasts.    I also used 5 star pH stabilizer for the mash and for the rinse water.  Thank goodness I had it because something funky is going on with our local water.  The pH out of the tap is very inconsistent.  If you are going to do a lot of all grain brewing, you need to learn a little bit about water chemistry.  You don't have to learn everything.  You don't have to nerd out over the water  book from brewers publications.   But you do need to know what to do when the pH is too low or too high.  The easiest way to handle your water chemistry is to down load Bru'N Water, or EZwater Calculator.  (I actually use EZ). Get your local water report, input the variables.  For each batch you should put it into the calculator and see what adjustments you need to make.  If you are doing a partial mash you need to treat the water adjustments like a BIAB with rinse.  My initial mash pH was coming in at 6.8... what the what?  never seen that before.  I didn't have gypsum, or calcium chloride.   So... I tried 5.2 pH stabilizer.  Now, where I live the water is nearly perfect for brewing.  So I usually use a 1/3 dosage (1/3rd of a teaspoon) of 5.2 as an insurance policy to make sure things stay good, and I don't have to use acidulated malt every time I brew. But today a full teaspoon.  Fortunately, it worked, my pH came up to "5.25ish".  But this week I will go buy some gypsum and some calcium chloride.

The mash was misbehaving.  Had to regulate temperatures a lot more than I usually do.  Think it is time to fill the cavity of the electric turkey fryer with expanding foam.  Fortunately I am a contractor, and I have access to a foam rig.  Should take about 10 seconds to do that this week. Normally, I set it at 150, and it stays at 150.   (Remember for partial mash I don't worry about mashing at any temperature other than 150, if I think it needs more body... I add wheat malt,  more silky texture...oats) You get the picture.

In two other pots I got my rinse water, and my DME water ready.   This procedure is great.   And with it I almost always hit my numbers spot on, or slightly exceed them.   Today was no exception my post mash gravity was 1.035 I knew that the DME,  2 # in 2 gallons was going to be 1.044 Plus rinse water of a gallon. So I would be at about 1.035 pre boil.

Please notice that the pot is off the stove when I add my DME.  It has been heated to about 130 F.  But it is off of the stove.   The DME gets mixed in thoroughly. Nothing is stuck to the bottom.  Normally I bring it very slowly to 190 so that the color is not darkened.  Today I was a little more aggressive with my heating, hey its a dark amber colored beer...  at the end of the mash, I added the DME solution, and rinsed the grains.  This created 6.75 gallons of wort.

So here is the Cajun Injector at maximum capacity. 6.75 gallons of wort.  For a 90 minute boil, at 12.5% boil off rate, I ended up with 5.5 gallons of wort.   I used  Kettle Defoamer 105 from 5 star chemicals.   I knew boil over was a real threat. And I'll tell you, 1 drop was not enough, but 3 drops kept everything kosher.   If you are having troubles with boil overs, this is a great product.   The photo is right after it has started it's boil.

From here on pretty standard brew day.  Hops at 90, 45 and 0 all cascade, the recipe is posted in the previous post.  I rehydrated the safale S 04. Fermentation had started up with in a couple of hours, and is still going strong this morning. Fermenting at 68 F.   This yeast is rated for optimum performance up to 68, so I'm probably on the high side, but I want some of the fruity esters with this scottish beer, so I'm not worrying about it.

Chilling took forever,  I have to get my big chiller back from the knucklehead who currently has it.... I chilled this batch with my 25 lft stainless chiller, and it took 45 Minutes to chill... ouch. Think the next 5.5 gallon batch I'll be heading back to using ice to chill, it is so much faster and I have yet to have a problem with it... but like I said when I posted about it, "check back with me, I've only been doing it for 20 years." But the color was perfect for this style of beer.

Seriously though,  I know there is risk of some microbe getting into my beer when I chill with Ice, But until I can afford a Jaded brewing Hydra... or Talos wort chiller I will probably just chill 5.5 gallon batches with Ice.

Upcoming priorities,  Build the new fermentation chamber.   I'll post all about it.  Then it is time to get a couple of tap a draft systems.   If you, like me are primarily a small batch brewer, the tap a draft is perfect.  Just doing a little quick math.  1.5 gallons fits in each tap a draft.   I brew 2.25 gallons, and generally get 2 gallons to package.  So I'll fill 1 tap a draft and 1 two liter bottle with every batch, perfect.  And with the tap a draft system there is no need to modify anything.

Next up on deck is Raspberry Wheat.  The holidays are coming and I know the family will put down the beer.  Need to have their favorites ready.

Friday, October 9, 2015

McClouds Kilt... Scottish Export...

So, it's almost the weekend... that means brewing.  Tonight means Royals Playoff Baseball, my daughter's choir concert (can't wait they're damned good), and some bottling (the octoberfest, and old school lager), and some yeast washing and collection. So things are busy on the home brew front.

But that in a nutshell is our hobby. You can fill your downtime with something that you love doing, and that produces yummy beer.

Recently, I have fallen in love again with an old friend.  O'dells 90 Shilling. Now I know some of you pooh pooh the big craft breweries.   Some of you only drink "continuously hopped organic chocolate nib pomegranate Saison aged on french oak" and anything less is not worthy of your time. And that is fine, but I ask you to remember if it wasn't for Anchor, Harpoon, Sierra Nevada, Boulevard, O'Dells, Dogfish Head, and Boston Beer Company, there wouldn't be a craft beer revolution.    You wouldn't have your ridiculous glass of deliciousness to drink.

90 Shilling is an american take on Scottish export.  It is all about the malt with just a hint of cascade to make it American in it's interpretation.   Amber in color the beer assaults your tongue with wave after wave of malt complexity.   Perfect for a fall day or a winter's eve.   My recipe has changed over time.  I dropped the Cara 20 for Biscuit Malt.  They are both about 20 Lovibond, and the biscuit adds more malt complexity.  We may all love hop bombs, but the general public does not.  This is a perfect gateway beer for your beer muggle friends.

The recipe is here.  Let me know what you think. I'm always looking to improve my recipes.   But here it is typed out for your viewing pleasure.  Mash at 154 for 60 Minutes.  Boil for 75 minutes adding the first hop addition at 60.  Ferment at 65 F for a week or 10 days, then yes, actually rack this one to secondary, there will be a lot of trub in this, better to get your beer off the trub, not for fear of acetyls, but rather for clarity.   If you want to really geek out, you could do a partial decotion on this.  I probably will.  Just take out a quart of the mash and boil it for 15 minutes.  It adds that shinny shimmering caramel look that you just don't get with out decoction.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

ENOUGH ALREADY... All you really need to make great beer.

OK, here I go again.   Just saw some posts online that set me off.   A guy was claiming he couldn't go all grain until he finished his home water filtration system, and his ridiculous brew rig.  I happen to know this knucklehead, he lives in my neighborhood (you know who you are).  He is a good guy but he has gotten caught up in the whole "the best rigs make the best beer" silliness.  So here we go again...

FACT 1 : The best rigs do not make the best beer...the best brewers do!

The man who taught me to brew all grain beer passed away 10 years ago this month.  We called him Mankind.  Out of respect to his family I reserve his name.  He was a legend in the Kansas City brewing scene.    He was only 51. He died of a brain aneurysm.   But his wisdom and sense of humor stay with me. I have saved every funny email he ever sent out.   He brewed amazing, award winning beer in his garage with jankity equipment he found or sourced for free.   He was legendary for going to closed up restaurants, and churches and getting their pots.

Our mash tun was three 5 gallon buckets, one had the holes drilled in the bottom to be a screen. (some of you have been asking why 3?  He hated valves, valve have to be cleaned.  So with three we could vorlauf the entire volume of wort for each batch)   We spent an entire afternoon drilling little holes to make it.   To keep it warm we would pour a little more nearly boiling water into it... The boil kettle was a turkey fryer, aluminum.  He stirred the mash almost constantly.  He kept his recipes and his process simple.  The only extravagance he owned was a 75' copper 1/2" immersion wort chiller.  He was a wort whisperer.   He could literally see, hear, and feel what was going on in the mash tun and the boil kettle.   No valves or pumps. A bamboo stick was the sight tube... You have probably only tasted beer as good as his once or twice in your life time.  The best brewers make the best beer, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on your gear.  

FACT 2 :  If you can't control fermentation temperatures... your rig doesn't matter.   

Don't spend any additional money on your mash/boil rig until you have a fermentation chamber.   "brewers don't make beer, yeast makes beer". Mankind used to say, "if you aren't controlling your fermentation temperature... you don't love brewing... you just like making wort".   Many people have won major awards with extract brews.   My Champagne lager may actually be better as an extract.  No one I am aware of has won major awards without being able to control fermentation temperatures.  Even Saisons, and Dark Strong Ale, which like higher temps... don't like up and down fluctuations.

FACT 3 :  If you made something that is difficult to clean... you failed. 

Cleaning is the most important thing you do.   And yes it sucks.  So if you build a rig that you don't want to clean... you failed.   If you build a system that is difficult to clean...you failed. Other than the recirculating eBIAB systems, the new systems are bears to clean.   Mankind also used to say "if you don't enjoy cleaning... you don't enjoy brewing".   The late Dr. George Fixx taught us that many of the issues we have with our brews are minor infections.  Not big nasty scary pedio infections, just minor infections.   Other neutral yeasts that were part of your pitch or in your air. They keep your beer from being everything it should be.  I rarely comment on this because I don't want to start the whole infection debate again.   So just read his book.  Many many times when someone is posting about a beer not attenuating all the way... a bell goes off in my mind... "minor infection" but I don't post it because implying that someone was not awesome in their cleaning and sanitation regimine is considered uncouth.

FACT 4 :  All you really need to brew great beer.  And this is a fact.  
  • Knowledge and Experience... get it by brewing, or brew with a friend who knows what they are doing.   Feel free to ask an experienced brewer.  Brewing is fun, we're almost always ready and willing to brew with you. 
  • A large pot, for 5 gallons you need a 8 - 10 gallon pot. Aluminum is fine. Just boil water in it first and let it boil off. 
  • A good brewing thermometer
  • a large stainless spoon.
  • A 1 gallon water pitcher.
  • A brew bag or a voile sheet.
  • A Heat source capable of boiling your wort.
  • A water report and some basic chemicals for pH adjustment.
  • A clean fermentation vessel.
  • An air lock.
  • Scrub brushes and Sanitizer, I prefer starsan. 
That's it.  You need nothing else.  I suggest that before you invest in a fancy wort production machine, you invest in a fermentation chamber, and anything that makes your cleaning easier and better. Before you spend thousands on an "e RIMS 3 vessel system" that is controlled by an ap on your phone... Build a lagering chamber.   Your focus should always be, cleaning, temperature control, and to a slightly lesser degree aeration.

That is all...keep brewing.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ultra light ale... ie...Miller the Muggle Brew Day

Well I did it again.  I brewed beer in a non conventional way.  I made the Miller the muggle ultra light ale, in my kitchen... and gasp, shock... I didn't chill it.  So here is some brew porn for you.  We all love it.

Reasonably clean kitchen.   
The kitchen was a mess.  We had a rough week, with a kid in the hospital. (she's fine)  So things were a little out of control at home.  But home brewing has made me a great cleaner.  So I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.  40 Minutes later the kitchen was ready for brewing.

Organized Ingredients

I always start my brew days by organizing everything I will need. I don't like to miss anything just because I was lazy.  Brewing is my hobby, I want to do it right. In truth, I usually get the strike water started and then organize.   These little tricks are what save so much time in the long run.

Resting nicely at 150

doughed in low... slow rise to
saccrification temp

I dough in low.  My tap water comes out at 132 F, so that is what I generally dough in at.  If I am looking to speed up my brew day, I do a single infusion mash.  When I do this, I boil a quart or two on the stove top, and add it to the kettle.  I use the infusion calculator at brewers friend to make that calculation.   But usually, I don't worry about it.  I just dough in at 132 F, The mash falls to 126, I let it sit for 10 minutes while I keep organizing, then I put the spurs to it.  Note;  a basic principle of thermodynamics... carry over...  If I'm shooting for a 150 mash temp, i turn the heat off when the mash is at about 147 F.   It will get to 150 F.  And on my rig, it stays there no problem.    

I often do a mash out, it seams to help with efficiency.  I know there are varying points of view on mash out.   But when you think it through it really makes sense.  Sugars are hydroscopic, meaning they are attracted to water naturally.   The warmer they are the less viscous they are... until they caramelize.  So if you can warm them up, they come out of the grains easier.   I said often... I don't always do a mash out.  Sometimes I just rinse with 170 F water.   Today I rinsed to volume of 6.5.  My pre boil gravity was high at 1.041... oops.  Keep overshooting.   I boiled in my trusty electric turkey fryer.   With the lid a jar, it boils rigorously.  I have never had problems with DMS doing this.   I get complete breakdown of the DMS precursors.  

Why yes that is a nice big red
This time I no chilled the wort.   I really don't like wasting the water it takes to chill a batch of beer.   I am in the process of building a new double coil 50' immersion chiller.    That should dramatically reduce my water consumption.  I may also get a sump pump, a cooler and some ice.  One planet, one chance.. and all that crap.   So 24 hours later I drained into a PET carboy, aerated, and pitched a full sachet of rehydrated US05.  I rehydrate with previously boiled water that I heat back up to90

Aerated like crazy, yeast pitched
Ready for some action

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Ultra Light American Ale... Amylase Enzyme not just for breakfast anymore.

So we all have friends who don't like craft beer.   I am lucky, my best friend is my SWMBO.  She is amazing.  5'4" of italian sass and frass.   She supports my brewing obsession.  She even tries the beer she knows she will not like.   But she is a beer Muggle.   In other words... she is a non craft beer person.   (although she does like stella... and it is almost a craft beer).  I was determined over the past year to create a beer she would like.   And I did it.   The ultra light american ale.   This is basically a light american lager clone but... and here is the shocker... I actually make it with US05.

You may have seen my earlier post about miller the muggle.   Well that beer is a hit.   It is disappearing from the fridge at record pace.  I can't take credit for the idea.  It is from the godfather of homebrewing Charlie Papazian.  But I will take credit for making a great homebrew with an unusual special ingredient.   Amylase Enzyme.

If you are an all grain brewer, you know what amylase enzyme is,  the enzyme that breaks the starch in your grain into sugars that the yeast can eat. When we think of Amylase we tend to think of alpha and beta.   One makes super simple sugars, the other longer strands (yes Tommy Knowitall, I know that is an oversimplification). Charlie Papazian, in one of his books, had the crazy idea to add amylase enzyme to secondary fermentation.  His goal, was to make an ale that tasted like (dried out) an american lager. And, I have to tell you, as a man who brews lots, of lagers (well really lots of everything)  IT WORKS.

So this weekend, I am brewing Miller the Muggle again.   5.5 gallon, all grain. Damned near a SMASH beer.

The basics
5.5 gallons
4.5 # of Pilsner (2 row)
.3 # of Carapils
Hallertauer 1 oz at 60
Hallertauer .5 oz at 5
Hallertauer Hersbrucker 1 oz 4 days dry hop

Ferment for 10 to 14 days
Transfer to secondary.
Add 1 teaspoon of Amylase Enzyme
A new fermentation will start up.
Let it ferment for another 14 days.
at 4 days to go, dry hop. (trust me it needs the aroma)
Bottle or Keg and enjoy.


Ideas for the future... at some point i will try skipping the amylase and mashing low... like 146 F low (63 - 64 C) for 2 hours.  Others have claimed this has the same effect.