Monday, November 27, 2006

 

Beauty of Burton

Or alternatively titled, "Why I wish I had an open fermenter"... look at this beautiful, bountiful, thick creamy yeast. Sometimes brewing in carboys and demjohns really suck. I would LOVE to be able to top-crop that stuff. Burton does this, the Belgian Abbey Ale (WLP530) does it, and several other strains do too - and that is just 100% good, healthy, ready to be repitched yeast.

YEAH, I know I could just use a bucket. I'm entirely too snotty for that.

Friday, November 24, 2006

 

Save the Belgians!

OK, so really I am talking about saving your empties - the ones that come corked with the wire cage on them. Actually there are a whole bunch that do - and even domestic breweries like Ommegang, Unibroue, and Victory are bottling in these things. Unfortunately I cannot find ANYONE locally that sells them... so I need to get empties and clean / strip them. Reason being is that I am expecting to get an italian floor corker for christmas, with which I will be able to actually cork and cage my brews if desired. So please - if you have empties lying around, or generate some - Please save these bottles for me! I do plan on writing to Ommegang and Victory to see if they're willing to divulge their source... but I'm not holding my breath on getting a response.

I currently have 9 empty belgians I processed today along with 4 new cases of 12oz bottles. They are all now sitting downstairs comfortably, cleaned, de-labeled, and ready for santizing and filling. It took about 3 hours or so, but hey - its cheaper than paying a ton of money at the LHBS for more cases.

Last but not least, some of you may have read my recent mild rant over at the newsgroup about White Labs yeast vitality from HDYB, however I am here to say that starters saved the day. It took over 48 hours for the yeast to revitalize and for the starter to kick in and show signs of activity, however it ultimately did. I ended up having to postpone my brew day a little, however pitching a more healthy and active culture definitely makes me more confident about this batch. I'm sorry, but you just don't screw around with potentially bad yeast when you're brewing 10 gallon batches. And I must say to all of you out there that DON'T do yeast starters - you are playing with fire. This yeast was supposedly still 2 weeks away from the "Use by" date, and it had a 48 hour lag. Do you really want 48 hours to go by before your yeast can start defending that batch of beer you just made? 48 hours for bacteria or wild yeast to kick off first? Yeah, I thought not.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

 

Tower of Power


This photo has been making the rounds on the Internet today! LOL!

Monday, November 06, 2006

 

Choking Sun Stout v2.0

So Sunday I brewed my second 10 gallon batch of Choking Sun Stout. It went VERY well, and I think I have definitely found the source of my stuck sparges - My grain mill was still set to crush wheat malt. It was shredding the crap out of the husks... Why I didn't notice until this batch... I dunno. I haven't changed the mill setting since my last batch of Saison, which was only 3 months (and like 5 batches) ago.

As you can see, I've got alot better crush now - The kernels are broken into several pieces, but the husks are almost completely intact. Yee haw. If only I had noticed back when I was brewing that damn pumpkin stout (which was VERY tasty, BTW).


I also made good use of my false bottom this time around, using whole hops for the complete hop bill - And I have to sincerely apologize to Oliver. He was so right saying that he by far preferred using whole over pellets. The aroma was better, there was significantly less crud in the fermenter, and it just FELT right. Sorry I convinced you to buy all those pellets from North Country Malt Supply, man! We should have just ordered from Freshops last fall too...


Last but not least, I'd say that the results of Project Uberkraeusen were successful - 24 hours, and the damn yeast is ready to blow out of the demijohn (even with 4 gallons of headspace). I fortunately fitted it with a big bore blowoff tube this time around, so I don't need to worry about blown airlocks. I pitched a 1.5L starter from a single White Lab 004 vial after a little more than 24 hours, and I have no worries at all that I've got sufficient yeast in there. If anything... I gotta make sure I keep the temperature down!!!


A very good weekend, all in all... and with my mill back cranking out the good crush and a deep freezer full of whole hops... I can't wait to brew again.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

 

Project Uberkraeusen

OK. So its just a yeast starter... but I just love how much air you can beat into the wort and yeast with a "+" shaped stir bar. Should be some mighty healthy WLP004 Irish Ale yeast for tomorrow's 10 gallon brew of Choking Sun Stout.


 

S^4 Ale Recipe

My last few posts have centered around my experiment using the strong runnings from Stewart's latest batch of barleywine. I had a sudden "AHA!" when I went to get the recipe, and have a much better idea why the beer has such a strong flavor, which until now I've been unable to really nail down... HOPS.

Yeah, I used about double what I thought... so my guess is that many of the flavors are just unincorporated hop flavors that will blend and mellow with age - the brew is more like a low octane english barleywine than maybe a traditional strong ale... not sure. At any rate, for 10 gallons:

Fermentables

Hops (12 oz total):
Yeast: 2 packages Nottingham Dry Ale yeast

Instructions:

Session stats:
Original Gravity: 19.8 brix (~1.079)
Fermentation temperature: 70-73 deg
Final Gravity: 1.016 (hydrometer)
Calculated %ABV: 8.5
Calculated IBUs: 57.5 (Rager)

So there you have it. Lots of hops, but supposedly not an overwhelming amount of IBUs. Despite that - I think the 12oz really packed in alot of hop flavor, which at the moment is hitting my palette as "medicinal". That should mellow with age.

I'm not saying that I don't have fusels in there... cause Jebus knows there probably are... but its probably not as big a deal as I was originally thinking. I think once it ages for 6 months or so, this ought to be a tasty (albeit pretty hoppy) brew.

Friday, November 03, 2006

 

S^4 Ale Update

So tonight I have braved the torrent again, and cracked open my second bottle of Stewart's Sloppy Seconds Strong Ale (S^4 Ale).... and have found it not altogether disagreable. I think that it was definitely way too young last time I tried it... and things appear to be improving as it ages. I suppose I shouldn't be OVERLY suprised by that, but I am nevertheless.

I also actually tried a sample from my keg downstairs early last week and found it to be much better than the bottle I tried at the time, so I am not sure what exactly is at work here... but I am starting to have hope that this beer is gonna be OK given enough aging.

Let me also quantify - It is significantly more carbonated than last time, and I am drinking it at "cellar" temperatures (around 62 degrees) instead of around 40-45. The warmer temperatures probably help enhance the aromatic nature (and let me tell you - this is one seriously aromatic brew) as well as lighten the body, and the carbonation definitely helps lighten the body. I can still taste the background sweetness and some off the "medicinal" flavors from before, but they are greatly reduced...

I strongly suspect it will still leave someone who overimbibes with a whole percussion ensamble thundering away in their skull... but only time will tell.

I will try to bring a bottle to the next meeting in two weeks (Nov 17th) at HDYB for folks to sample... WARM, of course!