Tag Archives: Homebrewing

Sugar Shack Porter

It’s been 2 weeks since I brewed my Sugar Shack Porter, my 8th batch of homebrew. It’s a maple porter, if you didn’t get the reference. I used a quart of Vermont Grade B syrup in the boil for this one. I just racked it to the secondary. After brewing, my original gravity came out 10 points high at 1.076. When I checked my gravity today, it was exactly what it was supposed to be at 1.019. Instead of being just over 6% ABV, it’s going to be about 7.5% ABV. I don’t have a problem with that. Continue reading Sugar Shack Porter

Batch #5: Brewday; Batch #4: Bottling Day; Batch #3: Update

I brewed a yet-to-be-named Brown Ale today. I went a little different with my recipe. When we were in Atlanta, we tried the Red Brick Brown Ale, which had a slight hint of roasted coffee. I included some roasted barley in my recipe to get those flavors. Everything went perfectly today with no boilovers or any issues. This one should come out pretty good. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a little on the dark side, but definitely not as dark as my stout or the dark wheat ale that should’ve been much lighter.

I also bottled my IPA today. Because of some serious floating hops sediment, I only managed to get about 4 gallons bottled. I didn’t think anyone would want to drink a beer with floating hops particles. It tastes a bit on the sweet side, and I did notice it actively ferment today, which is weird since it’s been in fermentation for about 4 weeks now. It had 13 days in primary and it had 2 weeks in secondary. I didn’t rack it until it had stopped bubbling. So I have no idea what’s up with this beer. It’s definitely hoppy and has a great hop aroma, but I have no idea what to expect. We’ll see how it is after it carbonates.

Finally, here’s a little update on my Dark Wheat Ale (or my Wheat Stout, depending on how you look at it). It tastes great. It’s a little acrid, but that should mellow out over time. The only problem is, we opened one up on Thursday night and it was still flat. There was a very slight “psssh” sound, but little to no carbonation was present. I really hope that this batch didn’t get screwed up. This was the one I was really looking forward to. In fact, I’m likely going to be entering it in a homebrew competition. Yes, my third batch of homebrew is going to be entered in a competition. Hopefully by the time they judge, the flavors will balance out a bit and the carbonation will be present. We’ll see how that goes, though. If I don’t drink any that have carbonated by the time I need to hand over the bottle, I’m not entering it. So here’s hoping for the best. I think it could be from the cold spell we’ve had, leaving my house at about 65 and even dipping down lower at night. The warmer weather will hopefully get the yeast to work a bit. I’ve left it in the same room to try to get it warm.

Batch #2: It’s Ready!

Finally, I we tasted my second batch, the chocolate oatmeal stout. We first tried it last weekend. It was good then, but still needed to carbonate. Well, it’s now been in the bottles for 2 weeks. We cracked another bottle today. It’s ready, and it’s absolutely delicious. I think so far this is my favorite, though I do plan on re-working the altbier to get it just right, most likely with cooler fermentation to keep some of the esters away.

This homebrewing adventure has been proving very worthwhile.

Batch #3: Racked to Secondary

I don’t know why I’m writing this after I wrote the other one, but I figured I should write something about it. I finally learned the proper way to use my auto-siphon. Instead of constantly pumping the beer out, I was supposed to just pump until it started flowing. Well, that’s exactly what I did with this one. And you know what? It actually worked a whole lot better. It took longer to move, but there were no air bubbles, and it didn’t suck up as much of the trub at the bottom. In fact, very little came through. I have a feeling this beer is going to be a bit cleaner.

We did taste it again and it seems like the extra 6 days smoothed out the flavor a bit. The yeast did work a bit, but not quite as much as they had been up to that point. This is the one beer I absolute cannot wait to try. Unfortunately, it’s going to be another 4 weeks before it’s actually ready. The waiting is the worst part about brewing.

Batch #4: Brewday

So, what started out as a pretty uneventful brewday ended up with my biggest screw-up to date. I learned my lesson from the last batch’s boil-over and kept a careful eye on the pot. I ended up with a slight boil-over at the beginning of the boil after adding the extract. With something like 8 pounds of extract, I didn’t take into account the fact that I should have used less water to begin with. No biggie there, though. I managed to clean it up pretty well and we continued on with the boil and massive hopping.

The problem didn’t come until the very end. I added the last of the hops with 15 minutes left in the boil, sat down, and started eating lunch. Somewhere in that time, I decided it’d be a good idea to put the cover back on to sterilize it before I chilled the wort. I did that and sat down. Susan noticed the cat looking near the stove, I got up and noticed I had a huge boil-over on my hands. Luckily, it kept on the stovetop. However, I lost a small, but significant amount of my wort. I chilled and from that point on, everything went pretty smoothly. In fact, I’d say it went smoother than any other time.

I decided to take the advice of reader markmier and used the cheap vodka in the airlock. I aerated and pitched the yeast at the correct times. The only thing I did differently was not strain as I poured the wort into the fermentation bucket. I figured I’d let as much get in there as I could (without dumping all the crud at the bottom of the pot) to keep the hops up, since I did lose some. I’m not sure if it’ll affect the flavor or just the difficulty in transferring it to the secondary.

The original gravity was supposed to be about 1.070. Because of the lost wort, it ended up at 1.062, which is about the low end of the scale for this beer. I’m hoping the yeast works overtime. I think the biggest effect of the lower gravity will be in the flavor. I have a feeling it’s gonna be a bit more bitter than I had planned (not that it wasn’t going to be bitter to begin with since the planned IBU’s were about 64-65).

The final recipe is online at my hopville.com account.

Batch #3: Update

This batch has me working hard. First the boilover, then screwing up the aeration and the pitching of the yeast, then the problem with the airlock (which is actually not cracked, I’m not sure how it lost water), then the crazy amount of fermentation.

Well, we had a brief heatwave and to save the beer from getting into the 80’s, I moved it to my basement for a day. Come to find out, the temp dropped from 72-74 to about 68-70. All noticeable action basically stopped. I decided it was time to rack it to secondary (this was yesterday after spending an extra 2 days fermenting). I brought it upstairs, the temp went back up and it started bubbling like crazy again. I had to consult a friend on this one. I decided I’d leave it upstairs where the temps were warmer to let it keep fermenting. I did take a gravity reading. It was at 1.016, the upper end of the range I’m shooting for (though the OG was at the upper range of that as well). Well, it’s slowed down again and I decided I’ll transfer it tomorrow, assuming it’s not fermenting like mad again. At the very latest, I have to transfer it on Saturday. I need the bucket to brew on Sunday (I’m on a schedule, after all).

I decided to follow the footsteps of one of my commenters, markmier, and bought the cheapest 1 liter bottle of vodka I could find at the nearest liquor store. It’s called Crowne Russe. I’ll be using this for my airlock (I’d never drink $7 vodka).

I did find a great substitute for PBW. Oxyclean does a great job at cleaning the crud off of stuff. I had some dried crud on the “cracked” airlock that had filled up with some beer and crud. The oxyclean took it right off. Of course, now that I have delayed transfering it to secondary, I have to pick up another carboy. I’ll be doing that on Friday or Saturday when I pick up the ingredients for my killer IPA.

Homebrew Updates

Batch #3: Murphy’s Dark Wheat Ale

I figured I’d update everyone on how my third batch, Murphy’s Dark Wheat Ale, is coming along. It’s still in primary and still fermenting away. I’m planning on leaving it like this until the bubbling slows down (it’s still going just as strong as it was in the beginning). Because of the color and malts used, I bought a bottle of Dark Force, an imperial double wheat stout, from Haandbryggeriet to do a side-by-side comparison. That ones a little over 8% ABV. Mine was supposed to be about 6% (and of course, nowhere near as dark as it is). I really can’t wait to try this one.

Batch #2: The Chocolate With, an Oatmeal Stout

The Chocolate With, my chocolate oatmeal stout, has been in the bottles for about a week. We decided to open one to try it. It’s coming along quite well. I think I’m going to let this one go 2 more weeks before another tasting and deeming it ready for consumption. It definitely needs to carbonate a bit more (though I’m sure the heat over the weekend helped pick up the speed a bit). It has a nice chocolate flavor, though not too bitter and not too strong. The oatmeal smoothed it out quite nicely. I can’t wait to try it. It’s a little light in body still, though I was told the added carbonation should help fix that. The color is actually not as light as I originally thought. It’s not black, but rather closer to a traditional English stout.

Batch #1: Alt Things Reconsidered

Alt Things Reconsidered is drinking quite nicely now. I try to keep some in the fridge to give it a little cold conditioning before I actually drink it. I should probably be moving the rest of it to the fridge now that my beer room has warmed up a bit with the warmer weather.

Batch #4: Divided SkyPA

Finally, my 4th batch will be brewed this coming Sunday. I know Saturday is technically National Homebrew Day, but to keep to my schedule, it’ll be brewed on Sunday (giving me Saturday to get some other stuff done). It’s going to be a hoppy American IPA. I put together a recipe myself, but we’ll see what changes when I pick up the ingredients. Feel free to critique the recipe.

Batch #3: Brewday; Batch #2: Bottling Day

Today was brewday for my third batch, an American Dark Wheat ale. This one is going to come out very interesting. It’s extremely dark. In fact, it looks about as dark as my stout, if not darker.

I ran into 3 issues. The first, after steeping the grains, I realized I had too much water in the pot. I let it boil for about 20 minutes or so to boil down some of the water before adding the extract. The second issue was my first boilover. I turned around for about 10 seconds after it returned to a boil and it was everywhere. Luckily, it stayed mostly on the stovetop with a tiny bit that dripped over the front (thank god nothing went over the side). The rest of the boil was uneventful.

The third issue is probably the biggest, and hopefully won’t ruin the beer. I pitched the yeast before aerating the beer and then aerated it. I then realized my mistake. I opened it back up and took some beer for my gravity reading. I really hope this wouldn’t have screwed anything up. I really wanted this one to be good.

Other than that, everything went well with brewing.

I also bottled my second batch, the Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (which I named The Chocolate With, after the Phish song “The Curtain With”). That went pretty well. I ended up with 3 22 oz bombers and 38 12 oz bottles.

After a mishap upon opening a bottle of the Alt during which the top of the bottle snapped off, I think in the future, I am going to stop using Anchor bottles. They seem to be a bit thinner and more fragile than the other bottles I’ve used. It’s all fine and well because Anchor costs more anyway.

Now I need to drink more commercial beer to collect more bottles for the Dark Wheat Ale.

Batch #3: Preparations

I went to the homebrew shop the other day with my recipe for the Dark Wheat beer. The owner actually really liked it, but we made a couple changes. We went with all DME instead of dark LME and I switched the light DME to wheat DME. We also changed the dark wheat malt to a chocolate wheat malt and went with 3 oz instead of 4.

Now the cascade hops I got were higher in alpha acids than the what I calculated when I created the recipe (7.3% as opposed to 5.5%). When I re-calculated the recipe I ended up with a more bitter beer. I was originally going to add an ounce at the start of the boil and an ounce at 30 min. I did some playing around and decided I’m going to add half an ounce at the start of the boil and half an ounce every 15 min from then. It drops the IBU’s about 5 points when I do that (the wife doesn’t like hoppy beers).

I’m wondering if it’s ok to do the hops like this or if I should do a full ounce at the start and then half ounce at 30 min and 45 min.

I’m actually going to be quite proud of myself if this comes out as good as I hope. It’s the first recipe I made pretty much entirely on my own.

Batch #1: First Taste (a week early)

After a week of bottle conditioning, I decided to throw a bottle of my Alt Things Reconsidered in the fridge for a taste. I have to say, it’s pretty tasty, though it’s a little estery. It’s also a bit cloudier than I would have liked. Now all this could be because of 2 things.

The first is that I should have waited another week. I was told it should be carbonated after a week. Being my first batch, I had to try it early. It’s definitely carbonated, though it could probably use a bit more (another week may help).

The second thing is that I didn’t want to “waste” one of the cleaner bottles if it ended up not being ready. I opened one of the last 3 bottles we filled. It had a huge layer of sediment on the bottom that wasn’t nicely packed and mixed in. That could definitely explain the cloudiness. I’m not sure if it could also explain some of the estery flavors.

Now that I’m about halfway through the glass and the beer has warmed up a bit more, it’s actually tasting a bit more like an Altbier. I’m really enjoying this. It’s not top notch, but it’s certainly drinkable. I’m just glad it’s not infected.

So, my question to the brewers out there… Most Altbiers are generally fermented at cooler temperatures (closer to a lager, but not quite as cool). The White Labs website suggests that the temps for their Altbier Yeast (WLP036) should still be about the same as most ale yeasts (about 68°F). Should I have fermented it at a lower temperature (say closer to 60°F)? Should I have kept the primary fermentation at 68°F and done the secondary lower? Will it benefit from a cooler conditioning for an extended period of time (my beer cellar is currently between 55° and 60°F)? I’m just looking to make a really tasty Altbier. It’s one of my absolute favorite styles. This is a beer I will be brewing again and will want to perfect.

Regardless of whether or not it’s really close to a true Alt or not, it’s tasty. I’m very happy and proud of my accomplishment. I don’t plan on opening anymore until next weekend. I’m bringing a 4 pack to my mother to share with my family and a 4 pack to bring to my step-father-in-law (who is probably more excited about it than me).