Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's frickin' cold in my basement!

I just made a starter for the lager I plan to brew next weekend. I've decided to brew all my lagers in a row this year for a couple of reasons.

  1. I can reuse the yeast saving some expense and time.
  2. It's frickin' cold in my basement!

In the past, I had made lagers throughout the year. I would time them so I had free space in my freezer chest/converted kegerator to ferment cool and lager cold. It would also guarantee that I always had something on tap because I would alternate a lager which takes a lot longer with some ales that were done fairly quickly. It dawned on me that I was causing myself a lot of extra trouble shifting things in and out of the kegerator, and constantly adjusting the temperature if I was fermenting or lagering. I also realized that my basement in winter is a perfect temperature for fermenting lagers, and that I could keep the kegerator a little colder than normal when lagering, and still be able to use it to serve my other beers. As far as keeping something on tap, I decided to do split lager/ale batches, hence my Anglerman Ale made at the same time as the Johann Sebastian Bock. Next week I'm going to do a split Classic American Pilsner (CAP) and a Cream Ale.

So how frickin' cold is it in my basement? I take two readings, the first of which I call the WOF temperature. WOF stands for water-on-floor, which is exactly what it sounds like, it's the temperature of a 500ml glass bottle of water sitting on the concrete slab floor. WOF today was 46 degrees fahrenheit. I also take a WOT temperature reading. WOT is the temperature of a 500ml glass bottle of water sitting on an approximately 3 foot high wooden table in the basement. (Water-on-table, but you already guessed that, didn't you?) WOT was most recently observed at 50F. I measure water temperature instead of air temperature, because I'm sure the air temperature varies a lot more.

Now the yeast fermenting wort into beer create their own heat, so fermentation temperatures are going to be slightly higher, and I adjust accordingly. I'm going to put the starters and the pilsner on the table, even with the heat of fermentation, they should stay below 55F. I'll ferment the cream ale upstairs in my brew closet. For later lagers, I'll place them on the floor. I should be good until about April 1st, when last year the WOF was 54.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Baja Brewing Company

So this review is a little late, and I'm going from memory, so I'm just going to make a few comments about the beers I tasted from Baja Brewing Company in San Jose del Cabo. I didn't go to the brew pub, because we were about 30 miles away in Cabo San Lucas, but they had a couple of their brews on tap at our resort. After checking out their website I wish I had made it over to the brew pub, because it looks like it would have been a lot of fun and I would have been able to try all their beers.

The photo above is their Escorpion Negro, the Peliroja and a regular ol' Modelo Especial.

As you can see, the Escorpion Negro was very dark in color, but did not taste roasty or bitter at all. It definitely was chocolately in flavor, with little or no detectable hop bitterness or aroma. The body and mouthfeel was medium. It had a lot of residual sweetness, almost like a milk or sweet stout, although they call it a swartzbier on their website. One was enjoyable, but too sweet to have more than one.

The Peliroja immediately reminded me of an American IPA. Medium full bodied, full hop bitterness and aromas. Probably cascade hops, but maybe a touch of columbus and/or chinook. Redder in color than an IPA. Well balanced, it had a nice malty backbone to offset the hops. Definitely an enjoyable beer.

I will also comment on the pictured Modelo Especial. It is probably my favorite Mexican light (colored) lager. Full bodied yet refreshing, lightly hopped but balanced, leaning slightly toward malty. Much better than the other boring Mexican beers we had, Tecate (bad bitterness), Pacifico (watery), and Corona (blandly hopped). I have to say Modelo's other beer, Negro Modelo, is my favorite of the mass produced Mexican beers. I have read that it is the closest modern beer to a traditional Vienna lager, with some local corn added to the Vienna malt to make it slightly lighter in color and body than its European ancestor.

One last side note: the glasses pictured are actually plastic, perfect for enjoying poolside without fear of breakage. Furthermore, the bases of the glasses unscrew, allowing you to easily place them in the ice buckets provided.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

If first you don't succeed...

Well I'm still bummed that none of my entries even placed in the Upper Mississippi Mashout. That means it's time to enter another contest. As mentioned previously, I plan to concentrate on the competitions in the Midwest Homebrewer of the Year circuit. The next competition on the circuit is the Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha. Unfortunately, the deadline for entries is January 30th, and I don't think I'll have everything ready to ship today, which is probably already too late to send without incurring rush shipping charges. So that one is off the list for me.

The MHBOY rules state that you must enter 4 competitions and 10 different categories throughout the year, which should be no problem. The next one is the Babble Brew Off, and you have until February 19th to get entries in. Conviently held in the Chicago 'burbs, I can just drop off my entries. (If you haven't figured it out yet, this blog is based in Chicago, specifically in the Noble Square Neighborhood).

I think I'll enter my Superbowl Stout, J&H Birthday Lager, and possibly Tottenham Mild, depending on how it's scoresheets from UMMO look.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Soy un perdidor...

I'm a loser baby. I entered the Upper Mississippi Mashout with 4 entries, and not a single one placed. I'm not surprised about two of the entries, they were just ok, but I thought that Sloppy Terry's Cream Ale and Tottenham mild were ribbon winners. We'll see what the scoresheets say when I get them back in the mail. The results are listed in a PDF here. Congratulations to the homebrewers who did win.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anglerman Ale ABV

You may have read the last post and realized that I'm calling my bock ale Anglerman Ale instead of Angerman as previously posted. Also when I read back on that previous post, I saw that I hadn't listed the O.G. Good thing I wrote it on the painter's tape that I affixed to the carboy. So it started at 1.059 and ended (well it might drop in secondary) at 1.022, giving it an alcohol by volume reading of approximately 5.1%. I use the following formula if anybody is interested:


where A2 is the O.G. reading, and B2 is the F.G. reading.

I'm baaaack...

I'm back from sunny Cabo San Lucas. The weather was awesome, the food was delicious, and the beer was...Mexican. Actually I had a couple of craft beers from Baja Brewing Company, which I will review in another post.

But I'm back and I racked the Anglerman Ale to secondary this afternoon. It finished a little sweeter than I expected at 1.022, but there was a lot of crystal in the recipe. I'm going to force carbonate it so it will be ready for my Superbowl party on Sunday. That reminds me, I have to pick up CO2 tomorrow since my tank ran out. I hope I used it all up, but since I just reconnected all the lines in my kegerator, I'm concerned that I have a leak. I'll do the soapy water test once I have the new tank.

Since I have been off for a week, I'm going to try to catch up on posts, so stay tuned for:

  • Rock Bottom Alt Beer review
  • Baja Brewing Escorpion Negro and Peliroja reviews
  • Kegerator photos
  • Plus, lots and lots more!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Noble Square Brewing on hiatus

I'm going on vacation where I'll be sampling some Mexican cervezas. I don't plan on sitting behind a computer at all when it is sunny and in the 80s, so this will be my last post for about a week. In the meantime, check out some of the other homebrew blogs I follow:

Ben's thoughts

bier girl blog

Brew Dudes

burr street brew blog

Chibebräu--the Chibes' online homebrew log

Hunington Sachs Brauerei

Ted's Homebrew Journal

Friday, January 16, 2009

Uh-oh, higher barley prices?

An article in Yahoo! Finance News yesterday talked about a company that is attempting to use barley to produce ethanol. Some claim that the use of corn to produce ethanol has led to higher prices of all grains, including barley, because of the substitution effect. If corn is too costly because of demand for it for ethanol production, demand for other grains goes up because they are used in place of corn when possible, for example, for livestock feed.

Now this company wants to produce the ethanol directly from barley. Will this lead to even higher prices for barley for homebrewers?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alt beer on tap

Members of my homebrew club, the Chicago Beer Society, have teamed up with our local Rock Bottom Brewery to brew a Dusseldorf Alt,which they will be tapping tonight at 6pm. Roger Deschner, one of the homebrewers involved, writes in an email,

A proper altbier as found in the brewpubs of Dusseldorf is normal gravity, copper colored, malty but dry, and quite hoppy. It's a wonderful session beer, that can make you happy that you're drinking alot of beer.
Most people make it wrong - brown, sweet, and strong -yuck!

I'll be there at the corner of Grand and State to sample it and post a review here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What I brew on.

My Brew Pot. 15 gallons. Aluminum. Spigot with ball lock valve. Aluminum mesh drain filter on the inside. Propane burner. No idea how many BTUs. The pot only looks precariously balanced from the angle of the photo. Okay, I know this is a lame post, but I have writers block. It's a nice photo though.

Angerman Ale

The Angerman (AmericanEnglishGerman) ale is fermenting quite nicely now. I bet it took off right after I racked it to the Superbowl Stout yeast cake. It looks like I will have 3 beers on tap for my Superbowl party--Angerman, Superbowl Stout, and my Tottenham Mild. YAY!

In hindsight, I could have called it Anglerman ale, and put a picture of a big fish or a dude fishing on the label. Maybe a dude just sitting in a boat drinking beer. I'll have to think about this.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1000 words about Superbowl Stout


I mentioned to Mary, one of my favorite bartenders (don't tell her I have more than one favorite), that I bent my wookie, um, faucet wrench, and she said she thought she had an extra one laying around, and asked if I wanted it. "Yes, please", I answered. Ta-da!!! Brand new faucet wrench (It's a banner spanner):

Then she gave me a free pint of Fuller's ESB. OK, Mary is now my one and only favorite bartender.

Scooters, vacation, fall.

Anybody who uses to blog knows what I'm talking about in the title of this post. For those of you that don't, these are the examples given for labels for any post. In the right column of the blog below the photos are a list of topics, or "labels". You can click those links and pull up any post with that topic. The problem is, I keep adding new labels, and the list keeps growing. I wonder if I should limit these to a set number, using broader labels, for example "equipment" instead of "HLT, mash tun, faucet wrench, etc." What do the other bloggers who are reading this think?

Still still.

No activity on the bock ale this morning. You could say it's still still. I racked a carboy of Superbowl Stout to a secondary, and racked the bock ale on top of the stout yeast cake. I'm guessing it will be bubbling like crazy by the time I get home from work.

Speaking of the bock ale, I have yet to name it. Bock ale sounds lame, and it's not even really true. Any suggestions? It's the third runnings of my bock mash fortified with some light dry malt extract, lightly bittered with columbus, and now fermenting on Wyeast London Ale 1968. German malt, American hops, English yeast--worldwide ale? Nah, not really worldwide. Traveler ale--nah, it didn't travel anywhere, the ingredients did. I've got it, Angerman Ale.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Problems, more problems...

When reading other homebrewing blogs, one thing that I notice right away is that everybody seems to have problems of one sort or another. Almost all the time. I just read about somebody forgetting to hook up his mash tun manifold, the ultimate consequence of which caused him to mash too low. He also lost his carboy brush, realized it and the fact that his carboys were dirty in the middle of the boil. He had to rush off to a friend's house to borrow one, causing his boil to go long. Does it ever go completely smoothly?

So I mentioned that I made a side batch of ale during my Johann Sebastian Bock, which is already fermenting quite nicely. For the ale, I pitched some American Ale yeast slurry that I had saved from a previous batch. It was sitting in the fridge, and I just let it warm up to room temperature and pitched it. No starter, but I wasn't concerned. Well it's about 30 hours later and there's no activity in the fermenter. Slight positive pressure in the airlock, but no bubbles, no yeasty foam, nothing. I'm going to wait until tomorrow and if it still looks dead, pitch it over the yeast cake of the superbowl stout I brewed on New Year's day. That's one problem.

If you read the title of this post carefully, which I know you did, you know there's more. I also wrote in a previous post about a leaky faucet problem I was having. Well when attempting to fix that, I cranked hard on the faucet ring to really try to seal it off. Today, I was attempting to take the faucet off to see if I could try another gasket in there. My faucet wrench kept slipping. I took a look at it, and as you can see from the photo below, I must have bent it "real good" when I was swearing and tightening. New shopping list:

faucet wrench

Johann Sebastian Bock

That's what I calling this one, Johann Sebastian Bock. And here's the recipe:

Batch size: 11.5 gallons


10 lbs vienna malt
10 lbs dark munich malt
2 lbs 2-row (just use 12 lbs vienna if you have it, I did not)
2 lbs caramel 10L
1 lb melanoidin malt
6 oz chocolate malt

1 oz galena 13.1% 60 minutes (use perle if you have it)
1 oz hallertau 3.9% 15 minutes
1.1 oz Saaz (mine was homegrown) 15 minutes

Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager
Make a 1.5 gallon starter with 3 lbs DME ahead of time

Mash type: decoction (a double infusion would work too)
30 minutes 144F
30 minutes 154F

O.G. of 10 gallons wort: 1.062
O.G. of 1.5 gallons starter: 1.084 (I fermented the starter cool, and used the liquid)
estimated total O.G. 1.065
primary fermentation: 2 weeks at 50F
secondary: lager at 33F for 7 weeks

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The bock is done!

I said right in the title that one purpose of this blog is to learn from my mistakes, so instead of describing the whole brewday in detail, I'll just tell you what I did wrong.
  1. Didn't have the right ingredients on hand. I ended up brewing something different than I had planned. (Traditional bock vs. Maibock)
  2. Didn't stir the mash well enough before attempting to adjust the temperature. I checked the mash temp and it was around 160F--I panicked because I thought all my enzymes were starting to denature! I knew my strike water was a little warm, but the mash tun ws coming up from the 50F basement, and I wanted to mash fairly high, so I thought I would be fine. I added cold water to the mash to compensate. Once I did this, I stirred thoroughly and came up with 144F. There was no way I dropped it 16 degrees, meaning that my original temperature wasn't 160F--I just measured a hotspot. Since the mash tun was full, I couldn't add more hot water and I ended up doing a decoction to bring the mash temperature up, which is what you're actually supposed to do for this style. My efficiency was a bit higher than normal with this method too--85%, so it worked out ok.
  3. Didn't have my fermenters cleaned and sanitized by the time I was ready to fill them. I usually do this during the mash or boil, but with the decoction going on, I didn't have time to do it during the mash. Also, I thought a friend was coming over to help brew, so I wasn't that concerned that I only had one fermenter ready to go. I had to rack my superbowl stout from a carboy to a keg, and clean and sanitize it. It added a lot of time to my brewday.
  4. I didn't want to have frozen hozens, so I didn't use my immersion chiller outside. I figured there is an almost unlimited snow on the ground now, so I would draw off about 4 gallons of wort in another pot, and chill it in a snowbank. I would then bring the brewpot with the rest of wort inside, and chill it with the chiller hooked up to the kitchen sink. Well, the snowbank chilling method isn't very fast, and bringing up hoses and connecting up the adapters to the kitchen sink is a big pain in the ass. Also, my brew pot with 8 gallons of wort in it is still very heavy. More work and more time added to the brewday.
  5. I didn't use hopsocks, so of course I clogged the screen on my brewpot. More PITA, more time.

But it's all done now. I've got about 11.5 gallons of bock fermenting. Plus I made about 4 gallons of an ale on the stove with the 3rd runnings from the lauter tun with some malt extract added to up the O.G. (I didn't want to wait 3 months for the lager to be done).

I'm beat now, and have to get ready for a potluck dinner. (I'm bringing homebrew). I'll post the recipe(s) tomorrow.

3 Kilowatt hours

I was thinking about the energy cost of making beer today, probably because I had to switch out a propane tank mid boil. I should track how often I have to switch out the tank, to determine how much is spent on propane for each batch.

It's easy to figure out how much electricity I use to heat my strike water. It's a 1000 watt heater, and it takes 3 hours to heat the water from tap temperature to strike temperature. 3 kilowatt hours. Our rates are about 11 cents a kilowatt hour, so it costs me 33¢ to heat my mash water. Not to bad, it's got to be cheaper than heating it via natural gas on the stove or on the propane burner outside, because it's a lot more efficient. I'm heating the water directly, not the pot, and there's a lot less waste heat.

I should probably buy a cover for my boil kettle, to keep heat in until I get up to boiling temperatures. Insulation for the kettle and HLT are probably a good investment too.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Change of plans

OK, so the LHBS was out of pilsner malt. Can you believe it? It's a brewing staple and they were out. Oh well, they say necessity is the mother of invention. In this case it was scarcity, but regardless, I improvised. I bought up a bunch of vienna and munich malt and am now making a traditional bock instead of the maibock I made the shopping list for below.

I like to prep stuff ahead of time, hence the starter already going. I also ground the grain tonight, and have my hot liquor tun full of water that I've already treated with a half of campdem tab to clear up any chlorine or chloramine. It's got an electric heater in it set up to a timer to go off at 5am, so the water will be at strike temperature when I start the mash about 8am. Speaking of the HLT, why is it called that? You never put liquor in it. I think it should be called the hot water tun.

Also, Ben Spiegel asked for some photos in his last comment, so here they are:

Mill with Drill attached

Hot Liquor Tank

Closeup of the electric heater

Shopping list

I'm about to head down to the LHBS for the ingredients for my maibock. Time to pull out the recipe and see what I need:

18 lbs pilsner malt
5 lbs munich
2 lbs caramel 10L
1 lb crystal 60L
1 lb wheat flakes
1 lb carapils
1 oz nugget
1 oz Hallertauer
1 oz Saaz
3 lbs DME (not needed for the maibock, I'm just out).

That's just what I need to buy, I'll post the actual recipe tomorrow when I brew. Also, I might just buy a 55lb sack of the pilsner if they have it. This post is a perfect example of what makes this blog so exciting, "Look! It's a shopping list!"

Friday, January 9, 2009

Starter Time

I made a starter for my maibock tonight. I actually made two starters, a 1.5 gallon one for the maibock at about 1.080, and a .5 gallon starter at about 1.040 just to grow some yeast for my next lager. I often reuse the yeast cake from one batch to the next, but I have read that it's not good practice to use it from strong batches as the yeast are stressed. The maibock is supposed to have an O.G. of about 1.075, so I won't be reusing that yeast cake. I'll split the big starter into two carboys and fill them the rest of the way with the maibock wort.

A lot of homebrewers will decant the liquid from the starter and just use the yeast slurry, but I figure this is a waste. They will usually grow the starter at very warm fermentation temperatures to promote as much yeast growth as possible. This leads to fuesels and off flavors in the starter, but since they're disposing of the liquid, these don't carry into the finished beer. What I usually do instead is make the starter close in O.G. and color to the beer I'm making, fermenting it at regular temps (low 50s for lagers, low 60s for ales), and then just add the beer wort to the starter wort. For example, I steeped some carafa in the starter for my Superbowl Stout. This way I don't waste, and no bad flavors are carried on the finished beer. I know I don't get optimal yeast growth this way, but using this method I've made award winning beers. I don't hop the starters, so I adjust for the dilution of hops when formulating my recipe for the finished beer.

It has been about 6 hours since I pitched the yeast. No activity on the airlock of the small. I'm too tired to head down to the basement to check the main starter. I'm sure they'll both be going fine when I get up tomorrow. Then it's off to the LHBS for the ingredients for the maibock so I'm ready to brew on Sunday.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast

So Bosworth and I walked down to the LHBS again today. I called ahead to confirm that they got their new shipment of yeast in, but unfortunately they still didn't have the Wyeast Munich Lager that I used in my award winning Maibock last year. I really want to brew it this Sunday, so I broke down and substituted the Bavarian Lager yeast instead. It should be close, I mean Munich is the capital of Bavaria, right?

According to the Wyeast website, the Bavarian's fermentation range is slightly lower, which is good for me, since the basement of my coach house has an on-the-floor temperature right now of about 48F. The Bavarian is also slightly more attenuative, meaning that it ferments more dry, which is also probably fine since there is a high percentage of (less fermentable) cara-malts in my recipe, but I did like the full-bodied malty goodness of last year's brew. Maybe I'll mash a couple of degrees higher to compensate?

Anyway, the pack is smacked and swelling already. (I know that probably sounds dirty to non-homebrewers, but it's not). I'm debating on whether to make the starter tonight or tomorrow. I think I'll have another Tottenham mild, and make the starter tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

At what temperature do you drink your beer?

I'm enjoying a nice Tottenham mild right now, and for the heck of it, I decided to see what temperature it was in the glass. (The kegerator is set to 42F, I just wanted to see how much it warmed up in the glass). 43.5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to my handy dandy digital thermometer. I know, I'm a beer nerd. I think that is perfect, because it will warm slightly by the time I finish the pint. says it should be a little warmer.

Wyeast 2308 Munich Lager Yeast

I wanted to get a starter going for my Maibock which I plan to brew this weekend. I stopped by Brew and Grow, my LHBS (local homebrew shop), to pick up Wyeast Munich Lager Yeast but they were out. Dave there said he expects to get it in tomorrow. I didn't want to substitute another yeast, in fact I want to replicate the recipe as closely as possible since this beer won 1st place in it's category in the Wisconsin State fair as well as placing in a couple of other contests last year. I'll have to walk Bosworth the Wonder Dog down there again tomorrow to pick some up.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Upper Mississippi Mash-Out Beers Shipped!

I walked down to the local UPS store and shipped my entries for the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out. Of course it's about a mile a way, I'm carrying two boxes full of fragile bottles (I shipped some beer to my brother in Southern California too), and I'm walking Bosworth the Wonder Dog at the same time. (See label photos). The boxes had a combined weight of 19 pounds, which doesn't seem like a whole lot, unless you're carrying it precariously balanced with a extremely energetic 60 pound Portuguese Water Dog, who has chosen this very moment to act all crazy psycho, snapping at the leash, pulling as hard as he can, lunging and snapping at other dogs met along the walk. Somehow we made it.

Here's what I entered:

Decemberfest--an Oktoberfest with honey and maple. (Don't ask--actually do ask, I'll post the story how this came about sometime soon).
This was entered in two categories, 23 Specialty Beer, and 26C Other Mead.

Sloppy Terry's Cream Ale--named after my long time (24 years) friend Terry, aka T. Francis. I brewed this beer for his wedding in November and had a few bottles left over. I wish I had saved more, it's a mighty fine cream ale.

Tottenham Mild--Another long time (32 years) friend, Matt, is a big fan of the Tottenham Hotspur soccer club. He helped me brew the first (extract) version of this, and now it's all grain, all grow's up. Tasty, but maybe bittered a little too much to win.

Stay tuned to see how they do in the competition.

Beers of The Times

A New York Times article from January 2 called Beers of The Times - Beers Aged in Oak, Meant to Sip Not Chug talks about beers aged on oak, whether in barrels or chips. Here's the report on the beers they tasted. I have been meaning to homebrew this style. I think I'll do some research and make this my next ale.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Midwest Homebrewer of the Year Competition

The Midwest Homebrewer of the Year Competition is a contest which uses the results from a number of homebrewing competitions around the midwest to determine an overall winner. You need to enter at least 4 contests and 10 different types of brew. I made a half-assed attempt to compete in it last year. I finished in the top third and I really intend to improve that this year.

The first competition, the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out, is this month, and entries need to be by the 10th. I'm going to try to get mine out today. They have a new brewer category, so if you haven't entered a contest before, here's your chance!

Let your yeast breathe!

I was talking with a friend and fellow homebrewer, Bob, yesterday, and he mentioned that one of the bottles he stores his yeast in exploded from the build up of CO2, causing a horrible mess. Imagine the dregs of your carboy splattered off every single surface of the room. So this morning, I made sure to "burp" the caps of all the yeast bottles I have stored. If you save your yeast from one batch to the next, make sure you do this. Don't be like Bob, or your wife will kill you. Luckily for Bob, she wasn't home at the time.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Arrrgh! Leaky Faucet

Well I finished putting the kegerator back together today, and of course one faucet will not sit right. It's leaking and driving me crazy. Actually, under pressure, it shoots beer out all over the place! The gasket is fine, the faucet just won't go all the way in. I've tried tapping it with a rubber mallet, cranking on the faucet ring, it just won't seal. I posted to Brews and Views, a brew forum I'm a member of, maybe somebody will be able to help. I'm going to check Perlick's (the faucet manufacturer) website to see if they have answers or if there is a warranty.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kegerator procrastination

I want to clean and or replace the lines in my homemade kegerator, but I have been putting it off forever. I think I'll actually do it today. I've already purchased new lines, and I can attach the gas manifold to the side of the kegerator so they're not always in the way. I modified a small freezer chest by putting a wooden collar around it. I'll post photos when I have a chance. Very easy to do, I just copied what I saw other people had done and posted to the internet. I've got four taps, although only a 3-way gas manifold, so I split one of the lines using a "T". Again, if I ever get around to it, I'll post the photos here. But first, time to walk the dog.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Airlocks are bubbling!

All three carboys of Superbowl stout are fermenting nicely. The two that reused the yeast cakes from my last batch, Hotspur mild, began activity within 4 hours of pitching, so maybe there's no need to add wort to cakes the day of brewing.

The basement is a little cold for ales right now, so I placed two of the carboys in my homebrew closet. I have to figure out what do with the third; it's sitting on the kitchen counter right now with a sweatshirt over it to block the light.

I also need to take inventory and buy some grain. I used up the last of my 2-row in the stout. There's a malster on the south side of Chicago that sells 55 lb bags for a good price, but they're only open during the week 9-5, and it's pretty far. I might just order from Midwest Supplies over the internet.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New YEAR!!!

What better way to start the new year than by brewing beer? And why start a new blog documenting it while I'm at it? I'm hoping that by keeping this blog, I'll become a better homebrewer. I plan to detail every aspect of my homebrewery--equipment, recipes, process, etc. Call it a new year's resolution if you want, we'll see how it pans out.

Today I'm brewing a stout, specifically my Superbowl Stout, which is a sweet stout which will be ready to drink by Superbowl Sunday. Here's the recipe; I have to figure out a better way to post them than a cut and paste from Excel:

Brew Name
Superbowl Stout
BJCP cat no.
B- Sweet Stout
recipe type
all grain
batch size
13.5 gallons
Grain Bill
18lbs 2 row
3 lb instant corn grits
14 oz Fawcett pale chocolate
27 oz lb 80L caramel
22 oz carafa III special
2 oz roasted barley
18 oz chocolate
Mash type
single infusion
Mash schedule
1 hr 150F with 2.5 tsp baking soda
Sparge type
Total Boil time
100 min
Hop additions
2 oz galena 13% 100 min
3 oz northern brewer 30 min
2 oz northern brewer 0 min
additional ingredients
2 lb lactose sugar last 15 min
Yeast type
Wyeast London 1968
Starter info
1/3 on 1 lb DME 1oz carafa III special 1 gal water, 2/3 on yeast cakes from hotspur mild
Primary fermentation
10 days @ ~70F
1.059 anticipated
1.020 anticipated
5.3 anticipated

The 1/3 that is on the starter is already fermenting vigorously, just 2 hours after pitching. The batches pitched on the yeast cakes haven't started up yet--the yeast must have gone dormant. For future reference, I'll either do a starter for all, or I'll try to wake up the cakes by adding frest wort from dry malt extract first thing in the morning.