Monday, January 29, 2007

 

More belgian fury...

As my post over on the Google group indicated, I brewed more belgian style beer on Sunday morning... 10 gallons of what was supposed to be a somewhat mild brew that could support 3 or 4 in an evening without dropping the hammer... and it didn't turn out that way. Instead I'm probably looking at a 7-8% beer...

It is using a yeast cake from the Heretic Strong Dark Ale I brewed back in early January, meaning the Unibroue strain from Wyeast (3864). It smells absolutely divine as it is fermenting, and once again I am hoping that it tastes as good as it smells.

Check out that monster fermenter - a 12 gallon pyrex solution bottle, loaned to me by Oliver Weatherbee (Thanks, man!!). It weighs a freakin' ton, especially full! I've got it fitted with a BBBOT. I do wonder how accurate that stick-on thermometer is with all that glass - isn't glass an insulator? It might be like 3 or 4 degrees higher inside the bottle than it is on the surface... But hey, this yeast is good to 80 degrees, so I should be fine.

Speaking of the Heretic, here it sits in the secondary, three weeks and many days after primary fermentation subsided... and as you can tell, the yeast is still flocculating. I thought about putting it out in the garage to make it fall faster, but I'm in no hurry, so the yeast can take their time. I just hope there is enough active yeast left to carbonate it - I may end up taking a small measure of the yeast from the 10 gallon batch and pitching it in with the priming sugar.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

 

Coming of War

... of the Worts XII on Feb 17th. I have been looking at my bottled beer inventory (as well as those that I could quickly put into bottles with my counter-pressure filler) and trying to decide what to send into this Feb 17th competition. I have a couple that I know will be dogged by the judges, but I think the $5 entry fee is probably worth it to get feedback. Here are my considerations:

Sirius Black Honey Ale12B - Robust Porter
Ed's Special Reserve Porter12B - Robust Porter
Ed's Special Reserve Porter22C - Wood-aged beer
Choking Sun Stout13D - Foreign Extra Stout
My Wife's Nutty Brown(Undecided - American brown or English Northern?)
Nightmare Stout21A - Spice, Herb, or Veg Beer
The Beer Formerly Known As Hopocalypse14C - Imperial IPA
Saison du Sevier16C - Saison

I entered My Wife's Nutty in the 2006 Buzz-Off competition and got comments that it didn't have enough hop character to balance it in the Northern category, and would be better as a Southern Brown - However this is a new batch and I feel that it *IS* hoppier, so I am torn between putting it in the same category where it only got 31/50 last time or trying a different one entirely - namely the American Brown. It doesn't have American hops, so that is probably a bad idea (used Bullion and Kent Golding, I think) which probably means I should stick to English Northern or Southern.

I am entering my dad's bourbon porter in two categories, both the wood aged and robust porter, because I don't know how best to categorize it. The oak and bourbon flavors only come through in the aftertaste, and it grows slowly as you sip your way through the beer - so the judges are likely not to get much of it with only 2oz. It may end up having too much oak & bourbon for just robust porter, but not enough for the wood-aged category - that would suck.

So if I enter things as listed above, I am looking at losing basically 16 beers and $41 to entry fees, but that's cool with me. Hopefully I'll walk away with a ribbon or two for it, and I'll definitely get lots of good feedback... hopefully constructive and informative, although that isn't always the case.

I think the next competition that has a firm date on the schedule is this year's Buzz-Off in summer, so I'll have several months to build my bottle inventory back up... and I'll have a whole new batch of beers to try out in that competition.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

 

New year brew year

I may have very well brewed my best belgian ever.

Saturday (Jan 6th) was my first beer brewed in 4 weeks. Last was my homegrown ale on December 10th. Amazing that I only brewed 5 gallons in December - but we were gone for 2 weeks on vacation to Atlanta, so I shouldn't be suprised. I brewed 5 gallons of a belgian-style strong dark ale, which I intend to bottle-condition in corked belgian 750mL bottles. I'm pretty excited about it, and am happy as can be brewing again - I almost forgot how much I enjoy it. I used a whole bottle (16 oz) of Dark Candi Syrup and the Unibroue yeast strain (Wyeast 3864) so it should turn out pretty good, and different than anything else I've brewed to date.

I also took a key learning from my last batch of Dubbel and mashed at a higher temperature since I managed to ferment that last batch down to 1.009 (Yikes!!!) Maybe it was the yeast's fault (WLP530 Abbey Ale).... Oliver reported similar results, although he managed to ferment down to 1.006...

It is now 4 days after brewing, and primary fermentation has been winding down for a day or so. Let me tell you - if the aromas that are coming from the fermenter are any indication of how the beer tastes - I am going to be a REALLY happy man.

The floor corker I got for christmas just totally rocks out. I can't wait to use it on this batch of beer... and many others this year. I am more than willing to share if any of you out there are interested in corking one of your batches.

I've got a ton of bottles out in my garage again that need the PBW cleaning and label-stripping treatment... Many of them are belgian-style bottles (Many many thanks to John Biggins!!!!) so I can avoid the exhorbitant $20/case of 12 price that you must buy them for. Unfortunately several of them have some sort of wicked screen printing on them (Corsendonk Brown, Unibroue Terrible, and of course all the Delerium bottles) so I am not sure I can use them. I tried using lacquer thinner to get the paint off, and it was completely ineffective... I am suspecting that the paint is probably some oven-cured enamel that was baked on (and may have fused with the glass). I haven't given up hope on them yet... but I am struggling with what my next step should be. At some point the effort to remove the paint is going to outweigh the cost of buying them new... particularly if I can get them cheap from Victory Brewing Co. in the spring. Anyone out there got new ideas? I've already ruled out paint thinner, lacquer thinner, acetone, and "Goof Off!".

Friday, January 05, 2007

 

Brewing equipment for sale

Gene Diemer needs to sell the following equipment and wants to give us the first chance to buy.

2 EA 14.5 Gal Fementer/Boilers (Keg) with stainless drain fittings
Counter flow chiller
1 Ea 7.5 Gal stainless fermenter (Keg)
1 48Qt cooler converted to mash tun with Copper drain tubing installed
1 5 Gal Glass carboy
4 1.2 L mini kegs with CO2 Tap
5 6.5 Gal Brew Buckets never used
Magnetic Drive mash pump
Temp controller and thermocouple with relay for heater or pump
Heat exchanger for mash