July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Great Show on The Works

So tonight I just finished watching "The Works" on The History Channel and I have to say...I'm impressed. They toured Smuttynose. and an AB Brewery, an AWESOME homebrewer setup, a can collection for the ages, and a marketing firm that works for AB.

I was really impressed with how throughly they covered the process and even got into cask ales (Stonch would be proud), how the basic keg works, and all sorts of fun.

If you missed this and can catch it on a rerun, I HIGHLY recommend it. It was pretty good.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking the Fruit Cap

Since this is my first time doing the whole "Melomel" thing, I have been documenting everything pretty extensively. This whole process requires a lot of doctoring throughout. While I know a lot of people do the fruit in the secondary, I went with the BYO article I saw and fruited in the primary. This creates a dynamic where you need to break up the fruit that collects at the top of the fermentor and allow the CO2 to escape while also introducing some O2 to the mix. I made a short YouTube video of the process:

Pretty interesting stuff right? It's actually pretty easy. I have been taking refractometer readings once or twice a day (when I break the fruit cap) and once I get to the proper gravity, I'll rack over into the secondary. So far it's moved about 10 brix since I pitched it. It's at a pace of 1 brix per day. My goal is 18brix (1.025). At this point, I just need to keep those little guys moving to get there! Cheers!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fermentation Friday - Dive right in!

The Brew Dudes are holding court on the now regular Fermentation Friday that started at Beer Bits 2. Good stuff. This weeks topic is:

"What advice would you give people that are getting into beer?"

Well for me, it's just dive right in. The biggest mistake I made in brewing was not getting started soon enough. I have learned so much more from doing than I ever had from reading when it comes to beer.

While I think there are some basics it won't hurt to read about, if you have access to a brew club or you know someone that brews, there is so much more to learn from watching and doing that will be helpful. I made the plunge into all grain only after a guy from my brew club invited me over one Saturday to watch. I had been reading about this FOREVER and suddenly I saw it in action. It was a lot easier than it sounded.

I love reading about beer and brewing, but from my experience, there is a lot of extra information that is not needed in brewing. This is really a pretty simple process; hot water, crushed grain, time, hops and yeast. That's it. It's not fusing atoms. Just breaking down complex sugars into simple sugars and letting yeast eat'em.

Anyway, that's my two cents. Hope it helps. Cheers!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mellow Meatball

Since my last shot at mead was named after my wife (Christa Meth), I figured it was only fair to name my first melomel after our mellow dog Meatball. So now we have Mellow Meatball.

The recipe was pretty basic as I wanted to get this whole mead thing right for once. Last time around it turned out WAY too dry and tastes like diesel fuel. I figure it can't get worse than that. I "brewed" this up last night (it's such a simple process that it's doesn't feel like brewing at all) and it was bubbling this morning so I think things are going well. Here is what I did, let me know if there is anything out of place:

22lbs wild flower honey (bought from the local regional market) $65
20lbs frozen three berry mix (blueberry, raspberry and blackberry) $52
3 gallons of water - free
5tbs of yeast nutrient - had it
2packets of dried yeast (I threw away the yeast pack and didn't write down the type, but it wasn't champagne yeast) - $.89 each

Simple enough, right? I thawed out the frozen berry's in some water and dumped them into one of my buckets. I suddenly realized that there was a ton of extra water and I was concerned that there would not be enough space to have all the honey added so I strained off all the fruit. Once the fruit was strained, I mashed it with my hands to make a chunky puree.

In my second bucket, I sanitized and added the water and honey. I submerged all the honey jars into hot water to loosen up the honey. The honey was pretty loose and I was able to stir it into the water with relative ease. With all 22lbs of honey, there was just shy of 5 gallons of liquid at 1.155. I added that to the fruit and used my drill mixer to aerate the must.

For the yeast, I added both packets to 1/2 cup of water that was at about 106f. After this, I added some of the must to the yeast before dumping the whole thing into the mix. I stirred in the yeast nutrient and the yeast and it was time to cover up. Because the fruit was so close to the top, I decided to use a blow tube instead of a bubbler.

This morning I checked it and it was starting to bubble. According to the reading I have been doing, I am supposed to do something called "capping" which, from what I can tell, consists of popping the bung out once of twice a day to relieve the pressure because of the aggressive fermentation.

More to come on this, but I tasted it last night and it was good! Cheers.


I have been taking the gravity and so far it has moved from 1.155 to 1.131. I am also breaking the fruit cap and I will be posting up a video about that soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Face V2

It's been a few weekends now, but we brewed up our second round of the Red Face Ale and all went well. Nick and Byran were at my place bright and early for the brew day. This was Bryan's second time really brewing the all-grain way and he seems to be getting it down.

For this brew day, instead of doing two different brews, we decided to just brew one kind and make 30 gallons of it so we could each get 10 gallons of Red Face for our selves. To achieve this, we essentially made a 20 gallon batch and a 10 gallon batch. One interesting note was that with the 20 gallon batch we just used cascade for the flavor hops. With the 10 gallon batch, we used only Liberty for the flavor. I wanted to see what the character of each of the hops was.

We made some adjustments to the recipe on this one, replacing the black patent with chocolate and using a 45L crystal instead of the 10L. Both of the batches had the same malt profile:

10 Gal
18.5 lbs 2-row US
3.5 lbs Crystal 45L
3.5 lbs Munich
.25 lbs Chocolate
2oz Pearle (60 min)
.55oz Brewers Gold (60 min)
.55oz Amarillo (40 min)
1oz Liberty (1min to cool down)
Wyeast 1056 (American Ale)

20 Gal
Double the grain bill above and replace the Liberty with 3oz of Cascade

Overall it was a pretty good brew day. The OG for the 20 gal batch was 1.054 and the OG for the 10 gal was 1.048 (I forgot why it worked out that way, this is why I usually do my blog posts right after I brew). Both were spot on and yielded 10 gallons for each of us. I have since racked mine to the keg and tasted the two of them back to back.

The 20gal finished with1.014 and the 10 gallon finished with 1.007 so they are pretty close on ABV, but the 20 gallon (cascade) one is noticeably more full bodied. The 10 gallon (liberty) batch has a lighter mouth feel and lacks a lot of the character of the cascade brew. However, it's a lighter more drinkable brew for the summer.

In any event, they are both pretty good brews. I am going to be happy. On another note, I just picked up 22lbs of wild flower honey from the Regional Market. It's Melomel time!


Friday, July 11, 2008

Still here

I have just been working a lot. I am going to post in the next few days about the brew session we had with the Red Ale. All went well with it and it's currently in secondary. In the meantime I have been working on all sorts of random crap. Here is a little overview:

Hops: My cascade hops took off this year! They are blooming as we speak. I had a minor beetle attack with these strange little guys that had shinny shells and they were very slow moving. My non-chemical solution was to burn them. They sat right on top of the leaf so I just took a butane lighter and burned them. They haven't been back since so I guess it worked!

CO2: My CO2 regulator that I picked up from Harbor Freight seems to run with a little too much pressure. If I don't drink for a night, the pressure gets all heady and is way over pressured. It won't go low enough for serving PSI so I switched that one out to the small tank as that one runs beer more steadily in a single session as opposed to my keggerator which will go on and off from night to night.

New Beer: Finally I have been trying a lot of new brews! Empire brewing company has some great beers on tap. There were two great ones that stood out to me; the Saison and the Doppelbock. Both were great. I also had some Cooperstown Brewing Co. "Special Ale" that tasted like a bock (IMHO) that I thoroughly enjoyed. The brew that takes the cake though is the Southern Tier Uber Sun imperial summer wheat. This thing is a really big beer that is smooth and easy to drink. It's a sipper, but not too heavy and does not make you pay in the end.

It's been busy with work, but not too busy to keep track of Monday Night Brewery. Jonathan, I hope you're feeling better. Best wishes in a speedy recovery.