Friday, December 28, 2007

Cream Ale was a hit

Just a quick update, I brought the cream ale over to my in-laws house for Christmas Eve and it was a hit. Plus my brother-in-law took a case I bottled up for him home.
In my opinion, Oktoberfest is still the best gateway beer, but the cream ale is a close second. It's a nice session brew that's easy to make and it can be a little sneaky as well. My brother-in-law emailed and said he thought it was 8% ABV. I wouldn't go that far, but it ain't no Genny Cream Ale.
Happy New Years!
PS- New Years resolution for MNB - Cut the mullet and limit yourselves to 8 tattoos this year (one for each kid you're going to father, that's it).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas!

How appropriate that my 100th post is just a quick "Merry Christmas" message...

Best wishes from all of us at the Look Kinney Brewery.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kegging and bottling the cream ale

So last night I went ahead and kegged/bottled the cream ale. It's been in secondary for about 2 weeks and I decided it was time to do the deed.

Now for this project, I bottle up about a case of the cream ale for some of my "brew bartering" because my brother-in-law offered me his old 5lb CO2 tank for 1 case of cream ale. I was sold on that deal!

I think it's going to need to be inspected and filled, but its well worth it just the same. Now with the 2 tap jockey box Nick and I built (I will put up some pics pretty soon), I will have a travel tank!

Back to the beer at hand; the cream ale. This brew finished off at 1.011 and has a nice sweet flavor to it. It's a really good session beer and I would like to think that its a good example of the style. It needs a little cold store to properly clear out, but in the end, it should be pretty clear.

For bottling, instead of using my bottling bucket, I tried something a guy in my brew club told me about. I primed the whole batch as if I was going to bottle it and put it in the keg. From here I put enough pressure on the keg from the CO2 to seal the keg properly and shook it to mix it.

I turned the keg down to about 4 or 5 PSI and used my party tap with my bottling wand on the end (without the spring loaded tip) and proceeded to fill bottles from the keg. This was a pretty good way to do this I must say. It was not perfect, but it was a nice alternative and allowed me to bottle and keg in two steps.

I also racked over the Harry Porter which should be a very good brew. I took a taste and the anise in it was good. Not a lot of nose or flavor, but there was a bite. Interesting because there was still a very distinct "porter" flavor to the brew that I was concerned the anise might overwhelm.

This is most likely my last post before x-mas so to all you out there; good night now!

To Cletus and the rest of the guys at Monday Night Brewery - Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rain or snow, we brew

In the face of blistering winds, lake effect snow, sleet, and full on up-state winter, we manned up and brewed.



333 PM EST SUN DEC 16 2007



But up here, this is man brewing country, not like the fellas at Monday Night Brewery. Down there the only concern is which Kenny Chesney tape to listen to while they wash down their grits with PBR.

Langunitas IPA Clone

Today we started at 7am and finished at 1:45pm with 16 gallons of brew pitched. We started off with the Lagunitas IPA Clone which went off with out a problem. We struck at about 8:05am with this at 157f. This temp held and we were able to mash out and sparge without a problem. Our pre-boil OG was 1.045 which was right on target.

This brew called for a 90 min boil so it took a little longer than some of of the other brews we have done. It was also a pretty full brew kettle and we had a boil over early on. When it was all said and done though, we were a little low on our expected OG (1.059) and measured out about 1.056. Not a big deal, but there are always places to improve.

Hairy Porter

Yea I know, it was Porterhouse before, but this was Nick's idea for a name and I like it. We also made some changes to the recipe for this one. The biggest change was the use of the kolsch yeast we have from the kolsch and the cream ale we recently brewed. This was after the realization that an Alt and a Porter have a very similar malt bill and we figured the kolsch yeast might make this a more smooth drinking dark beer. We will see.

The other big ingredient in this brew was the star anise (pronounced anus) which we steeped in during the boil for about 25min. We used 25 anis stars with the hope of giving this a really unique flavor that wouldn't fit into a specific category, but we would like.

During the process of brewing the porter, we realized that we didn't have something to steep the hops in so Nick used some screen and his Potsdam education to good use in engineering this masterful creation:

In the end we were able to hit all of our targets with the Hairy Porter and we were both very pleased with the level of anise flavor that the brew had. It should be a very interesting beer in the end.

Two Brew Weekend

One of the many advantages of living in a multi seasonal state like the Empire State is snow. What a great way to use nature to cool down your brews for you!

In the end, the schedule was everything with the two brew day. We started to heat up the water for the porter as soon as we struck for the IPA. This was a start to the process that in the end, worked out really well and allowed us to do two brews with a single mash tun.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another big brew weekend

After the fiasco that was our first attempt at brewing two beers in a single brew session, we decided to go at it more more time. This time we are taking on a Lagunitas IPA clone and a robust porter I am calling Porterhouse.

Now for those of you that don't know, those of us who live north of the Mason-Dixon Line and don't have to plan our brew days around the Sunday NASCAR race like Jonathan (pictured below) and his buddies at Monday Night Brewery, we like to brew on weekends.

This weekend we will be taking on a 10 gallon Lagunitas IPA clone:

Recipe: Lagunitas IPA Clone
Brewer: Travis and Nick
Asst Brewer: Meatball
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 10.00 gal
Boil Size: 13.20 gal
Estimated OG: 1.059 SG
Estimated Color: 7.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 66.2 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
23.25 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 85.2 %
1.55 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.7 %
1.35 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 30L (30.0 SRM) Grain 4.9 %
1.15 lb Munich Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM) Grain 4.2 %
2.00 oz Horizon [12.00%] (60 min) Hops 43.3 IBU
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50%] (30 min) Hops 15.3 IBU
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50%] (30 min) Hops 7.6 IBU
5.00 oz Cascade [5.50%] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 27.30 lb
Name Description
Mash In Add 8.53 gal of water at 170.5 F158.0 F 45 min
Mash Out Add 3.41 gal of water at 196.6 F168.0 F 10 min
We will also be doing a 6 gallon batch of porter:

Recipe: Porterhouse
Brewer: Nick and Travis
Asst Brewer: Meatball
Style: Robust Porter
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (40.0)

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.80 gal
Estimated OG: 1.053 SG
Estimated Color: 48.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.8 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item Type % or IBU
10.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) Bel (3.2 SRM) Grain 70.0 %
1.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 11.7 %
1.25 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 8.3 %
0.75 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 5.0 %
0.75 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 5.0 %
2.00 oz Fuggles [4.50%] (60 min) Hops 26.7 IBU
1.00 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.00%] (30 min) Hops 9.1 IBU
0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1.00 oz Anise, Star (Boil 20.0 min) Misc
10.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 15.00 lb
Name Description
Mash In Add 4.69 gal of water at 174.5 F 158.0 F 45 min
Mash Out Add 1.88 gal of water at 196.6 F 168.0 F 10 min

This is going to be a pretty busy brew day, but should be a lot of fun. The Lagunitas IPA should be a nice and hoppy beer. It uses a pretty crazy amount of hops. With the porter we are going to use the anise sparingly until we get a feel for how strong it will work with the recipe. I learned my lesson with the oak chips on that one.


Blogger Profile: Monday Night Brewery

Today I would like to profile our more primitave members of the blogosphere, Monday Night Brewery

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bottled the Stout

A few days before I made all the changes and moved the kolsch and cream ale around, I bottled my Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout cone. If you remember right, I noted that I was WAY over on the oak chips and it was a little like drinking bark.

To help deal with this, I added some water, about 2qts or so, and let it hang out in secondary for a while.

I had another taste since doing this and I have to say it made a big difference. The oak flavor is still there and pretty strong, but nothing like it was before. I am going to let them mellow out in the bottle for a while. As you can see from the pictures, the watering down did not impact the SRM in anyway.

With this bottling I tried a trick Nick was telling me about for long-term storage. You wrap the threads of the growler with Teflon tape and then screw your top on. With these I am going to be bottle conditioning so I have to be sure not to over tighten the caps because the plastic caps (with the plastic diaphragm in them) will break if you try to over tighten them too much. With the Teflon tape it allows you to tighten them snug, without feeling like you have left them loose.

This weekend we are brewing an IPA and a flavored porter. For the flavors we are looking at anise to do something like the pugnacious porter I did a while back, or perhaps some maple sugar to try something different. Any input would be appreciated!


Friday, December 07, 2007

My Kolsch yeast scares me

So last night I was racking over my Kolsch from the secondary into a keg and I was harvesting the traub to use for an alt in the future. It was just then it happened, I turned my head and my yeast bit me! The goddamn stuff jumped out of the bottle and bit my finger!

I immediately proceeded to shake the beast free from my finger and it took off towards the sum pump. This yeast knew it was strong enough to brave the cold upstate winter and it wanted the freedom of the outdoors. Fearing for my own life and the life of my assistant brewer Meatball, I went after the beast. It was an ugly scene, traub, hops and blood were everywhere, but at the end of the day, I had bagged me a ferocious yeast stain.

Seriously though, that kolsch yeast is a REALLY aggressive yeast. It's pretty unexpected because it's associated with lighter beers, but it flocculates right through the wort like it's nobodies business.

Last night I did some racking. When I went to rack my kolsch over to a keg from a secondary that has been in the fridge for the last 8 days, the yeast was STILL bubbling in the bottle I used for yeast storage.

As you can see from the pictures above, the one on the lest is the kolsch as I am racking it over last night. The one on the right is the cream ale that used the same yeast and is in the fridge now. If you notice the bubbler with the red cap on the left, that's the one where the yeast from the kolsch is and it's already bubbled over since last night!

Anyway, just a word of warning on this dangerous beast, err I mean yeast.

On the kolsch itself it's a very light beer. I actually topped it off with water after the primary which may have lightened it more, but it tastes fine. It's going to need a little time though. There is a definite lager taste to the kolsch yeast which makes it really intriguing. I did some reading last night in Ray Daniels book, Designing Great Beers, and he traces the origin of the kolsch to a time when Germany went crazy for lagers and ales needed to take the edge off in order to preserve the classic ale styles of old. Interesting stuff and a GREAT book if you want to tell your kids or wife something to get you, this is a great choice.

When I kegged the kolsh, I racked over the cream ale into the secondary.

It was pretty light as well. It has a really nice flavor to it, I think I might bring this to x-mas with my in-laws because it's a great gateway beer for people who are into American Pilsners.

In the end, the whole experience was nothing a few band-aids and a beer couldn't fix.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cold but fun brew day

We just finished up a great brew day! By the time things were all said and done, we had 11 gallons of cream ale with an OG of 1.044 making our efficiency 71%!

Now I know that people always say "don't worry about how high your efficiency is as long as you are making good beer, that's all that matters", but as much as I whole heartily agree, in a way it's like Ron Jeremy telling you size doesn't matter. You know it really doesn't matter, but you still want wanting more. But I digress.

Today we fired up our water in a blustery upstate NY day at 7am and were done (pitched, cleaned up and ready to be done) by 12:45pm making this a really enjoyable brew day. This was my first time using my mash tun and sparge arm that I worked on last weekend. Things went really well with both additions. Pictured below on the left you can see that we have the sparge arm up on the top running into the mash tun, the mash tun was running off into the brew kettle and we were running that into a bucket for recirculation.

Our pre-boil gravity was right on with the Beer Smith recommendations at 1.032. We were able to get up to a rolling boil and hold it there without boil over for the full hour. The recipe for the cream ale only called for a 1.5 oz bittering hops and a .5 oz flavor hops making it a very light on hops flavor.

Nick made a .5 gallon starter so we were able to pitch a quart each for our buckets. When we ran the brew off we were at 5.5gallons each and dumped the last quart out.

As I said before, our FG was at 1.044 when our target was 1.040 and we had an extra gallon!

In the end it was nice to have an easy brew day. All the equipment finally works the way I want it to, our efficiency improved, and the whole process has become much less complicated. Things that didn't go the way we wanted were that we did not make mash out temp and we were a little low in the mash at only 154. All things I can live with.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

So maybe I went a little "Chicken Little"

So after my trip to the the brew shop I have to say that MAYBE I jumped the gun on the "apocalypse scenario" about the hops shortage. Ed from my LHBS EJ Wren just got in an unexpected full delivery of hops from his supplier. He has hops in all styles except some of the high alpha hops.

For those hops he is missing, as Ted has suggested, he is using alternative hops as a way to supplement the AAU for a recipe. After talking to Nick about it some more, the idea of learning about some new kinds of hops should be pretty cool.

Just so my WWII style "hops shelter" that I started digging in the back yard doesn't go to waste, I am going to step up my homegrown hops effort so that we can get a nice harvest next year.

In the meantime I am just going to live with the doubling of hops prices and continue down the "lighter" side of homebrewing.

Tomorrow Nick and I are going to be brewing the cream ale. Should be fun.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

You don't wanna why it's 'Cream Ale'

Since we have been brewing a lot of really big and complex beers the last few times out, we decided to lighten things up a little and go for a Cream Ale. If you have been reading for a few months you'll remember that I did a vanilla cream ale (no link because I think I did not blog about this one...interesting, I am brewing so much I forget beers)this summer and was really pleased with the outcome. This time we are going for a more simple brew and we are going to cold store it for a few weeks secondary.

The recipe is pretty straight forward:

You don't wanna why it's 'Cream Ale'
Brewer: Travis&Nick
Asst Brewer: Meatball
Style: Cream Ale
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 10.00 gal
Boil Size: 12.55 gal
Estimated OG: 1.040 SG
Estimated Color: 4.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 15.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 59.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount Item
14.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) 74.7 %
3.00 lb Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM) 16.0 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) 5.3 %
0.75 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) 4.0 %
1.50 oz Saaz [4.00%] (60 min) 12.2 IBU
0.50 oz Saaz [4.00%] (30 min) 3.1 IBU
1 Pkgs Kolsch Yeast (Wyeast Labs #2565) (Yeast Cake from Kolsch)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body
Total Grain Weight: 18.75 lb
Name Description
Mash In Add 5.86 gal of water at 170.5 F158.0 F 45 min
Mash Out Add 2.34 gal of water at 196.6 F168.0 F 10 min

The plan is to fly sparge on this one, flying in the face of the advice from Ted :-) Honestly I have a hard on for fly sparging because I have never done it, I need to get over that hump before I can move on and make an educated decision about which I prefer. (Are the perverse overtones of this post too blatant?)

More info after the weekend brew session...cheers!

PS- Check out my buddy Ben's revamped website. Great upgrade. Ben was the inspiration for my "tap and box" project that is holding my beer at a comfortable 49f! Thanks Ben.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The second beer fridge project

After the success (eventually) of the beer fridge I made with a dorm fridge and a cold plate, Nick decided he was ready to make the plunge into kegging and wanted one himself.

For this project, Nick had a bigger dorm fridge than I had previously used. The fridge that he used looked like a 4.6 cu. ft. fridge where mine was a 1.7 cu. ft. fridge. This will allow him to also store beer, yeast and any other items in it he wants to keep cold in addition to the cold plate.

The setup was very similar to what I had setup before the box and tap which is what I am currently using. The plan was simple; hole in the front of the fridge for 1/2in spur and tap, hose to cold plate, house out of cold plate, house out of fridge to keg, hose from keg to CO2. Pretty simple.

We started with the small hole from the keg into the fridge.

Sorry about the crappy photo. The hole was in the lower part of the fridge near where the motor is. This is a pretty convenient place to drill as long as you are careful. However, it doesn't really matter where you drill with this size fridge because the colling element is the freezer, no freon in the walls like a large fridge.

From here we hooked up the CO2 and ran the line through to the cold plate.

He got the tubes, gages and CO2 tank from EJ Wren. Finally we drilled the hole through the front of the fridge using my handy dandy step drill bit. After we screwed in the tap and ran the hose, we were all done. Easy enough.

Nick said that the system has been working perfectly. He lucked out and was able to tweak the CO2 pressure so that there were no aggressive foam issues.

Again, sorry about the bad pics, next time I will get a real camera, not my camera phone.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tweaking my bru wear

So the title is in reference to the Wu Tang Clan and the Wu Wear they made famous. Though I am am not a crazy Wu fan, I do appreciate their shaolin style, but I digress.

This weekend I spent doing some "fixer uppers" on my brew house. While all this was going on, I kicked the Pumpkin Ale and the Brown Ale. Both will be missed, but the dobblebock is now on tap and that is worth writing about. This post is going to be a mishmash of my projects and drinking so away we go.

Mash Tun

First off, after all of the problems I had with the mash tun, I knew it was time for some adjustments. The way that the false bottom had previously worked was a barbed nut going to a very short piece of rubber hose, from there a small piece of copper slid into a hole in the 1/2in copper tubing that made up the false bottom.

The plan to improve this was to was to create a more permanent connection from the false bottom to the ball lock valve. I started by moving the location of where the liquid exits the false bottom.

As pictured, I relocated the exit point of the runoff from the front of the false bottom to the center. This was to allow me to runner full copper with soldering from the false bottom to the ball valve.

From here, I created a connection from the ball valve to the newly relocated false bottom exit point. For this, I used a 1/2in copper fitting nut and a piece of 1/2in copper pipe. I connected the copper tube to a copper corner piece with solder to create a permanent connection. I did not solder the connection from the corner piece to the false bottom because I wanted to maintain some wiggle room.

In the end, I had a new connection between the ball lock and the false bottom that could still be taken out of the mash tun and properly cleaned.

Sparge Arm...One more time

So after my many, many failed attempts at building a sparge arm that would work, I think I have have something now. In the process of creating a successful sparge arm, I still managed to fail at an attempt to save the previous copper sparge arm that did not work because of the hose. In the long term though, i established that a hanging sparge arm would not work because we are now brewing 10 gallon batches and there is not as much room in the mash tun there once was.

As you can see in the picture below, I attempted to make the copper sparge arm a floating sparge arm instead of the hanging sparge arm it currently is. This was a failed attempt. The foam that I used to make it float was glued on, but the glue did not hold and got all over the copper. There was not saving it.

Starting with a clear slate, I decided to use my bottling bucket for the reservoir, high temp hose to run the water from the reservoir to the sparge arm, and PVC pipe for the actual sparge arm. With the bottling bucket, I had to get a 3/4 ball valve and i used the plastic nut from the bottling setup to secure the ball valve into the bucket. I used 5/8 in inside diameter hot water hose that is rated at boiling temp for the hose. I used barbed nuts for the connection to the ball valve and the connection from the new PVC sparge arm.

Finally I made the sparge arm out of PVC with small holes in it. It's pretty simple, a square with holes in it that goes to a T. PVC is cheaper and easier to work with than copper, I wish I had done this originally. It doesn't float above the water, but it should sit on top of the gain bed without sinking and slowly disburse water. The ball valve is clutch here because you can adjust the flow with relative ease.

In the end, this is what I have:


So now a quick update on my brewing situation. I have a Kolsch and the Yeti clone both in secondary. The Yeti was way too much on the oak side, this concurs with Nick's opinion that splitting the full pound for the 6 gallon batch was overkill. I would have to say that his opinion that we would be good with an ounce in each primary fermenter was correct.

Because of the overwhelming flavor on the yeti and the fact that I lost some quantity, I decided to top the yeti off in the secondary with about two quarts to a 1/2 gallon of water. Hopefully this take some of the extreme flavor off this brew. Otherwise it is close to undrinkable.

The kolsh is good, but cloudy. There was a lot of stuff still floating around. I topped this one off with water in the secondary as well. Currently it's still bubbling in the carboy so I think that I may need to cold store this one for a while to clear it out.

Finally I have my dopplebock on tap now and my red ale still waiting to fully carbonate. The dopplebock is OUTSTANDING. It's totally smooth. All of the roasty malt flavors are really smoothed over during the lagering process. This makes the whole experience really enjoyable. there is no alcohol burn on this brew at all and it about 7% abv, that's pretty impressive.

As you can see, great color, great head retention. I am very happy with how this turned out. It makes the wait all very worth while.

Since I kicked the pumpkin and the brown ale, I think it's time for a brew day!