September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Nameless Christmas Ale

I am still contemplating what the name of this brew is going to be, but I think that I'll get into that more when I start working on a label. Right now, the plan is to load up on bombers (it's a great excuse to stop at Galeville and grab a bomber every now and again) and make some labels for the brew. I'll bottle all or most of it in bombers (30 for 5 gallons) and put a unique label on them. The thought is that I'll wrap up with two goblets (from Syracuse China) each and give them out as Christmas gifts.

I was thinking something with Clark W. Griswold, but we'll see.

Anyway, the brewing went well, I struck at 154f for 45min, decoct for 10 min to get the mash up to 168f. I did a fly sparge for about 35min at 170f and was able to collect about 8 gallons. the recipe called for a 90 min boil, so I did that (especially since I had such a good volume).

All went well. I added the spices at 1min and mixed them all together before adding them to the wort. In the end I had a brew that weighed in at 1.090 and I was able to pitch a very healthy yeast. So much so that it was a problem. It was bubbling out of the cracks between the bucket and the lid! It's the first time I've had that happen. That only lasted about 32hrs. Now it's slowed and it's about ready for secondary. I'll do that later this week.

It was a great brew day. This is a busy time for me, so it's nice to have something that takes my mind off of work and I can focus on brewing.



I racked this over and when I tasted it, the anise was totally overwhelming the spice profile (note to self, no more anise EVER) so I added another teaspoon of apple pie spice and a half teaspoon of ground ginger. After a week like that, I took a taste and STILL wasn't happy so I took Ted's advice and added 2 shots of Appleton rum and another tablespoon of apple pie spice. I had a small sample of that and it was really good, complex, warming and not overpowered by any one flavor or smell. The final spice breakdown was as follows:

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp apple pie spice
2 shots of Appleton rum
a pinch of anise seed (don't add next time)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Christmas in September

For the last few years I have been wanting to brew up a Christmas Spice beer, but I have never been able to fit one in because of my job. I adjusted my schedule so that I will have some time on Sunday to brew up a nice "little" Christmas spice. There will be a name forthcoming.

Here we go:

Batch Size: 5.25 gal
Estimated OG: 1.094 SG
Estimated Color: 20.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.5 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amount Item
12.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM) 52.52 %
9.80 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) 42.89 %
0.81 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM) 3.54 %
0.24 lb Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) 1.05 %
1.00 oz Galena [10.00 %] (60 min) 24.5 IBU
0.26 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min)
1 Pkgs London Ale (Wyeast Labs #1028) [Starter 50Yeast-Ale]
The spices that were added are as follows: Add with 1 min left
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (ground dry)
1/4 tsp Ginger (ground dry)
1/8 tsp Nuteg (ground dry)
1/8 tsp Allspice (ground dry)
*optional - Anise

Single Infusion, Full Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
45 min Mash In Add 28.56 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F
20 min Step Decoct 9.52 qt of mash and boil it 168.0 F

More to come. Cheers!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Big first harvest, now we dry the hops

About half of the hops are ready to go, so now I get to pick and dry them so that I can see how much I'm going to yield. As anyone that has been into drying herbs or anything knows that I'm going to lose 70-80% of the weight of my harvest as the hops dry so keep that in mind when you see the pictures.

This is just a gratuitous hops shot that I thought all the hop heads would enjoy.

After doing some reading, I discovered that there are two basic concepts in drying hops. One is heat based and the other is airflow based. When push comes to shove, it's up to you beyond that. the things to be sure to avoid are situations where your hops are going to be sealed up while still moist as this will lead to everything from off smells to mold. You also want to keep an eye on them because you don't want to over dry them so that they are too brittle to use.

With all that said, it's drying stuff so don't get too worked up about how you do this. Just keep an eye on them and you'll do fine.

As you can see from these pictures, I used the airflow based method where you ensure that there is a steady flow of air going over the hops to remove the moisture. To do this, you are going to need to have the hops in a warm place.

I took a screen out of one of my windows (ghetto?) and placed it over a plastic bin. I have a small fan in the bottom that is face down turned on. My thought here was that the fan air is pretty intense so by facing it down the airflow will be broken up by bouncing off the bottom before flowing over the hops. I also placed another bin over this one to keep anything from landing on the hops from in the air, but it's not a huge ordeal of you left them open.

As you can see, I spread them out so that there were no hops on top of one another and let them be for a few days. They were done within five days and I put them in zip lock bags to store them in the freezer. My total yield for this first picking was 2 ounces so I am a little disappointed, but I sill have another harvest that is about half as much as that so I should wind up with three to three and a half ounces of hops. I was thinking of using all my homegrown hops in a batch with some organic malt and call it hippy juice or something.

One quick note is that with my second set up hops I am going to try and dry them on the vine. I have heard of doing this with other plants and I thought it might work with hops too.