June 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday is brew day

Today was my brew day for the doppelbock. This 21lb, 7 1/2 hour journey has whipped me out! but I am done and it was a great experience that should yield a great beer. Before I go through some of the high points on the brew day, this was my first time doing a decoction mash so I am going to go through the steps.

For those of you that have not tried a decoct mash, it's not actually that difficult, it's simply VERY time consuming. You can add an extra hour on your mashing for every decoction step in your process. A summary of a decoction is taking 1/3 of your grain out of your mash tun after you have doughed in your mash and putting it into a separate pot. The consistency should be pretty think, it reminded me of oatmeal. You get it up to 152f, give it a 20min rest at that temp and raise it up to a boil, boil it for 20 min and return the grain back to the mash tun. Mix in well and watch for hot spots. Pretty simple, right? Well it actually is. It just takes a while. Here is my time line:

Look inside the Decoc Pot

7:30am wake up, start heating 10 gallons of water for 2qt per lb of grain mix
8:30am(ish) dough in grains at 152f strike temp, 144f grain bed
8:45am take out 1/3 of the grains, add to heat get up to 152, rest 20min
9:30am get the decoc grain up to a boil, boil for 20 min
10:00 am add grains back to mash tun, grain bed temp at 152f, let rest 70min (mowed my lawn)
10:40am draw off grains for 2nd decoc, get onto heat and go straight to boil, wait 20 min
11:10am add grains back to the mash tun, get grain bed temp up above 165f for mashout
11:30am mashout, wait for sparge water to heat up
11:45am start sparge...
And so on...

The left shot is the grains in the decoc pot and the right is the non-decoc grains. It's not easy to see, but the decoc grains got a little darker.

There was a 90min boil to boot. Like I said, this was a very involved beer (did I say that?). In the end it would up being a lot more quantity than I planned, and the OG was not exactly what I wanted either. It was 1.052 before the boil and finished at 1.061. I am not good at checking quantity on my keg kettle, I could have used some more boil, but I am not sure I could have handled another minute of this brew day.

I got the idea to try a doppelbock after reading a great article on it in BYO and they indicated how difficult and time consuming this beer was if brewed in a traditional fashion. I have to agree. However, it was a great experience and I am a fan of the decoction. However, I am not sure there enough days left in my life to make a habit of it.

The other new things about the brew is that I reused my Bohemian yeast from my Oktoberfest. I basically just racked my Oktoberfest to the secondary and left the stuff at the bottom of the bucket. I added my wort and walla! The good news is that it is already bubbling, so I know it worked.

One last note- regarding my comment on the last post about being the smartest man alive; not in fact true. Come to find out my shower head sparge arm sucked ass. Back to the drawing board.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am the smartest man alive!

I decided that I was going to go out and get myself up to speed with a sparge setup that made sense. I wanted to use a cooler that held between 4 and 5 gallons of water, I wanted a sparge arm that had a nice spray and I wanted something that was in expensive.

So after some thinking, I remembered that I had an odd shaped cooler in the shed that my little brother used to use for motor cross races. I planned on drilling a hole and putting a tap in it, but I found that the drain plug pulled completely out and with a few gaskets it sealed up tighter than a dolphins butt hole.

After I had my water reservoir all sealed up, I decided to move to the sparge arm. I considered some PVC contraptions to float on the grain bed and I even thought about making a copper one. However in the process of looking online to see if there were easy DIY instructions on building something like this, I found a few posts with people deciding to use shower heads.

I went to Mr. Seconds and got myself a very basic shower head (that looked chrome but wound up being half plastic, a blessing in disguise it turns out) and used some of my odds and end hose items from my other projects to come up with this.

After I noticed that the shower head as it was did not work because there was not enough water pressure, I took the shower head apart (with the water running through it) and noticed that pressure should not be a big deal. The water was forced through a tiny hole and came through the inside with pretty good force.

After some brainstorming and a 22oz of Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye (awesome!) I decided to cut the shower head in half so that the tight straight stream hit a solid spot thus creating a outward spray. Amazingly it worked.

As you can see in this picture it puts off a nice wide spray (though you cannot see it from the side view).

I am pretty pumped to try out my new device this weekend on my Doppelbock I am brewing, I just hope the plastic can handle the 170f+ temps it's going to get.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stonch's second fermentation video

For anyone like me who uses the plastic buckets, you love to hear and smell the hoppy burps coming out when your brew is fermenting. Well I have always wanted to sit and watch it all unfold, but don't have the time or patience, so Stonch has made it easy for me and everyone else to enjoy without quitting your job.

This video is awesome on so many levels, great addition to the blog Stonch!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brew Day- Oktoberfest

This afternoon I brewed my Oktoberfest and took some pictures of the process. The first shot is while I am heating up the sparge water and waiting for the mashtun to get done doing what it does. I Batch Sparged on this batch because I was feeling lazy. I mashed at 158f, mashed out at 160f and sparged at 170f for about 15-20min. I mashed for 60 min and mashed out for 10. This was off on some of my marks, but close enough!

The second shot here is from the boiling. I made all of my hop additions on the right time and used my grain screen for the hopps. However, there was a little bit of an issue with it this time because it seemed to hold water. This made me a little concerned because if water was not getting in, hops may not have been getting out.

My pre-boil OG was 1.042 qnd my final OG was 1.050. This is way low for my target, but I am not blaiming Beer Smith (yet) because I gave myself a 70% brewhouse effeciency (why I do not know) which would explain coming that short on my gravity reading.

I maintained a heavy boil for 90min and yeilded just shy of 5 gallons. I boiled off only .08 G though. I am not sure what that means.

This is my brewing assistant for the day Meatball. As you can see he is doing what all good homebrew helpers do, check out the neighbors.

After a long brew day, there is only one thing left to do...


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Quick update: Poo Dollar IPA

I brewed my first extract brew in a long time and I used Beer Smith to make the recipe. Here is what I did:

3.00 lb Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry Extract 30.0 %
6.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM) Extract 60.0 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 10.0 %
1.00 oz Chinook [13.00%] (60 min) Hops 44.1 IBU
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50%] (30 min) Hops 28.7 IBU
2.00 oz Glacier [5.60%] (Dry Hop 5 days) Hops
1 Pkgs
American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) [Starter 125 ml]

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.070 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.069 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
Measured Final Gravity: SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.0 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: %
Bitterness: 72.9 IBU
Calories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 14.1 SRM

I named the brew Poo Dollar IPA in memory of my friend Chung B. Hua. Poo Dollar was a game that brought him a lot of joy. I really used to love to hear him laugh.

Cheers Chung, say hello to heaven.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Two Brew weekend

This weekend I am going to be using my Beer Smith generated recipes to brew up two brews. The first will likely be tomorrow night and it's going to be an Extract IPA. I decided that I was in need of a beer to have on tab while I work on the Oktoberfest (yea I know, I am late, oh well) and the Doppelbock in a few weeks.

This brewing session is going to prove to be several big steps for me. First off I am using the Wyeast #2124 (Bohemian Lager) for both the Oktoberfest and the Doppelbock so I am going to reuse my yeast! This was something that I knew nothing about two months ago and since then I had someone from my brew club tell me about it, Ted talked about it, and by LHBS owner Ed said the same thing, it's easy! Which is good news to me.

The second first for me I will get into in greater detail next week, but in my Doppelbock I am going to try for some step infusion. In fact this is going to be like a 5 stepper! But according to BYO it's well worth the effort. Anyway, like I said, I will get into that more next week.

For now, I am brewing my extract tomorrow and my all-grain on Saturday. Should be fun!

BTW- Awesome printer friendly recipes brought to you by Beer Smith, did I mention that I want to make out with that thing?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Great Fermentation video

So one of the many blogs that I watch, Stonch had this awesome time laps video of his fermentation process:

If you look on the left hand side of the page, you can watch the final
video of last week's fermentation. That's six days of yeast orgy condensed into
three minutes of fascinating viewing.

Great stuff from Stonch at Stonch's Beer Blog! This guy always has really funny commentary and great observations from an emerging brewer.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Beer Smith Rules!

I have to say, I was a skeptic about this whole "paying for something", but I have to admit, I am into the first day of my 21 day free trial of Beer Smith and I have to say, they had me at hello.

After another frustrating process of concocting my next recipe on my spreadsheet, I decided I would give the software thing a shot. I downloaded a few apps (I am not going to name them because I honestly gave each one about a 2 sec perusal before I removed it) and was not at all satisfied with what I saw.

So, after listening to James from Basic Brewing Radio and his April 26th report on homebrew software, I decided that I should give Beer Smith a shot. All of the reviews from listeners and other folks gave an image of an application that was built for use, not for learning how to use.

After a few minutes I figured out how to create a recipe and had a nice printer friendly 2 page doc that had my shopping list and brew day essentials all in one place. This was REALLY easy to start using.

They use a Windows based UI that has the feeling of Outlook '98. This provides the user with an "at home" feeling in the app that lets you feel free to roam around and explore. Some of the critics felt the SRM indicator left something to be desired, but to be honest, I hadn't been looking at SRM up until I started with the software so I am totally happy with it.

Overall I was impressed. I like good software and this is a nice little app. Plus I think it's pretty reasonably priced for a lifetime license. I am giving the folks at Brew Smith my enthusiastic thumbs up and I am planning on adding them to my links list.

I will have a few more posts in the next week as I prep for next weekend's two brew weekend, an OktoberFest and an IPA, both concocted on my new buddy software.