Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Vanilla Bourbon Porter tasting

I popped open the first bottle last night and was unpleasantly surprised. The Vanilla had mellowed A LOT, almost to the point where I couldn't taste it. And, the carbonation was lacking to say the least. I've had it in the bottle for exactly 3 weeks, and the only thing I can think of is that it's too cold in my kitchen where I store them. I moved them into the dinning room right next to the heating vent last week. Hopefully that will have an effect, but I don't know.

I had big hopes for this beer, and it still tastes pretty awesome, but the carbonation sucks and I need more cowbell.........I mean vanilla. Any hints on what went wrong or how to fix it? I primed with 5 oz. of corn sugar. Do you think the addition of the bourbon killed off the remaining yeast which would lead to little or no carbonation??

Let me know what you think!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brewing Calculations site

Marcus over at Final Gravity found a great site on brewing calculations. It has temp corrections for Hydrometers, Refractometer conversions to gravity from Brix/Plato, yeast pitching rate calculator and a fermentation calculator. Very cool site. I'll post the link on the sidebar on the left as well for permanent use.



Sunday, October 19, 2008

First All Grain Batch

Today, I made the jump to all grain brewing. It's been a long time coming. I've been saving up so I could upgrade my equipment to allow me to do all grain. I recently bought a 10 gallon Rubbermaid mash tun from more-beer and a 60,000 BTU propane burner. Added to the blichman brew kettle my wife bought me for my b-day, I'm ready to rock.

I wanted to do a somewhat easy beer, but something I could brew a lot and make my "house" beer. Lately, I've been hooked on Harpoon Brown Ale. It's their rendition on an American Brown, with some good up front bitterness, and balanced malt sweetness. I'd probably tell you it's my favorite beer right now, but that's because I have one in front of me.

My goal for my first batch, was simple.....clone the harpoon Brown and I'm good. So, I went out their site and noted the stats (they don't list malts or hops they use) and hoped to try and match that. I've been listening to Jamil Zainasheff over on the Brewing Network and he had a show on American Brown ales, so I took his recipe and scaled it down to a 6 g batch and reduced the IBU's so it would be closer to Harpoon. I had a problem though, because the day before i was listening to his show on APA's and when I was going through my notes I seem to look at the APA recipe at the last minute and made a change from cara-pils to Munich, why I don't know. Not sure how much of a difference it will make, but we'll see. Below is the recipe and stats.

American Brown Session Ale

OG - 1.052
FG - 1.010
ABV - 5.5%
quarts per lb - 1.3

10 lbs American 2-row
.25 lbs Victory Malt
.5 lbs Munich Dark
.75 lbs Crystal 40L
.25 lbs Crystal 60L
.5 lbs Chocolate Malt

1 oz Phoenix (10% AA - 60 min)
.5 oz Amarillo (7% AA - 15 min)
.5 oz Amarillo (7% AA - Flame out)

Wyeast 1.056 American Ale

Grains were mashed in 4 gallons of water. Dough in was at 164 f and mash stabilized for 60 min at 150. The mash temp dropped to about 148 f by the last few minutes, but I think it was because I had the top to the mash tun off a bit then getting ready for the sparge. Sparge was with 5.5 g of water at 175 f. The wort boiled down to about 6.5 gallons and I collected about 5.5 in the carboy.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Catching up - Christmas Ale

I've been a little distracted lately. I've been on the hunt for a new job, interviewing and traveling almost every weekend for some reason or another, and entertaining family a few weeks ago for my B-day. My B-day was a great one. I was pretty bummed about turning 30 this year, no0t because I think it's old, but because I feel old. I used to be a great athlete back in college (I'm usually modest, but I'm 30...time to be proud), but since then my lazy attitude toward training, and ridiculously busy schedule has led me to gain a ton of weight, and constantly injure myself. So, needless to say, even though I was turning 30, I felt like I was turning 60.

But my attitude changed greatly, when my wife pulled out the best gift a home brewer could ever get....a shiny new Blichman Boilermaker 10g brew kettle complete with the Brewmometer, ball valve spigot and borisilic glass sight gauge (yes, I know...my wife rocks). So, what to do with my new kettle....well, brew DUH!

So this weekend, I spend the few hours of free time I had brewing a Christmas spiced beer. I was always a fan of the Saranac Seasons best beer in college, so I wanted to make a spiced ale for Christmas. My brother has always said he has a Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale every Christmas eve while putting the kid's toys together, so I told him my goal was to make one to replace that. My intention wasn't to clone it, but to make a very big, warm and spicy beer that you can enjoy by the fire on Christmas eve, or anytime during the winter. Hopefully I hit the mark. The recipe is below:

Christmas Spiced Ale (recipe created on tastybrew)

Target OG - 1.082
Actual OG. - 1.084

6 lbs light DME
4 lbs light LME
1 lbs wheat malt
1.5 lbs Munich light
1.54 lbs crystal 80L

2 oz. Kent Goldings pellet (5%AA - 60 min)
1 oz Tettnanger plug (4.5%AA - 2 min)
1 oz Hallertau pellet (4.5%AA - 2 min)

.5 tsp fresh ground cinnamon (10 min)
.25 tsp fresh ground ginger (10 min)
.25 tsp ground nutmeg (10 min)
1.5 cinnamon sticks, 2 inch (secondary)

Wyeast 1056 - American Ale (primary)
Wyeast 1056 - American Ale (secondary)

I was hoping to have a little more aroma and taste from the spices when I racked it to the carboy, but it was very faint. Next time I will definitely shy away from the plug hops too. They broke apart and clogged by auto-siphon and it was a pain in the ass to get it to the carboy. I will add the remaining cinnamon sticks to the secondary to hopefully get some more spice in the beer. That all depends on how it turns out.