Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hot and Sweet

Señor Brew™ just recently brewed another split batch of what was supposed to be delicious frothy malty goodness, but he has to say, he is less than pleased with the results, at least most of the results.

The idea was to brew a Maibock, one of Señor Brew™'s favorite malty styles of beer, and one that he has brewed quite well in the past. Some of you may recall that Señor Brew™ also likes to split his batches, for greater variety in the finished results. Variety is the spice of life.

Señor Brew™ also used a new technique on this batch, called BIAB, short for Big Illiterate A**hole Brews. It can also be short for Brew In A Bag. Señor Brew™ plans another post about this technique in the future, at which time he will travel back in time to the time that he commissioned this post, to include a link to that future post. Confusing? See Back to the Future 2, and tell me why Marty McFly's girlfriend changed appearances from movie 1 to 2. And as long as we're time travelling here, also tell me why Marty's paternal great-great grandma Maggie looks so much like his mother? Again I digress.

So, if any of you BrewBuds are still reading, I'll try to simply explain the brew, and what the problems were. Señor Brew™ put together a recipe that will also be posted separately, that is a little vague. The reason for the vagueness is that the good ol' boys of Enegren brewing, Bo and Luke, err, Chris and Matt (and Joe) gave Señor Brew™ some grain that they kind of flaked up on. No, it wasn't flaked grain, somehow they mixed up some pilsner and munich malt in the same bag. Since they are very exacting in their standards, without knowing the percentage mix, they decided they could not use it in one of their brews. So they donated it to Señor Brew™, who has no standards. I mean, he doesn't brew professionally, so it doesn't matter so much.

Anyway, Señor Brew™ took the first runnings from the mash of this brew, which was the basis of the Maibock. He then split the boiled wort into two batches, one to be fermented on ale yeast, wyeast 1968, and the second on lager yeast White Labs Oktoberfest.  The second runnings were used to make a lower strength ale, we'll call it a Helles, but using the ale yeast.  Are you still with me?

The Helles turned out delicious. In fact it's gone. It only netted about 1.5 gallons of brew, which is basically 12 pints. After sharing it with his benefactors at Enegren, and sampling quite a bit himself, it is long gone. But there are plans to make more--in fact that could be NSB's new slogan--"drink all you want, we'll make more".

The ale version of the Maibock probably fermented a little warm. While the Helles was fermented in two 1 gallon jugs that were easily stuck in the fridge when Señor Brew™ feared they were getting too warm, the ale Maibock was not. Señor Brew™ is tasting a little fuesel alcohol on the batch, which is a consequence of a warm ferment. It's not overpowering, but still noticeable--too "hot". It probably didn't help that the ale Maibock was of a higher original gravity than the ale Helles, 1.072 vs. 1.060, which led to a more vigorous, and warmer ferment. Also, probably not coincidentally, a more attenuated one--the 1.072 beer finished at 1.016 and the 1.060 at 1.015.

The true Maibock, on the other hand, did not attenuate well. In fact, we are going to call it a stuck ferment. The 1.072 only dropped down to 1.034--too sweet! There are numerous possible reasons for this, but most of them are because Señor Brew™ flaked up. Shall we count the ways? Sure, OK:

1.     Possible underpitch of yeast--it was built up in two stages from an old sample Señor Brew™ had in the fridge for a long time. 
2.     Wrong yeast. Señor Brew™ was being thrifty cheap in using the Oktoberfest yeast, which is less attenuative to start with. The recipe he formulated on his brew software showed it would finish too sweet even fully attenuated. It also has a reputation of being a slow starter, and taking a long time to finish out. Señor Brew™'s best bocks have been brewed using Wyeast Bavarian. He had the Oktoberfest on hand, so he went with it.
3.     Temperature control. The beer was fermented in the kegerator, which was sitting outside on the patio. Ideal temperature for this yeast is mid 50s, but there were a number of nights right at the beginning of the fermentation when temperatures went into the mid 40s. Señor Brew™ ended up putting a light bulb in the kegerator at night and switching the temp controller to heat to keep the ferment in the mid 50s.
4.     Impatience. Señor Brew™ hoped to have this beer ready for the California State Fair competition, so he kegged it after a 14 day ferment with a 2 day diacetyl rest. This would allow for a 8 week lagering period before the judging date. 
5.     Incompetence. Señor Brew™ did not take a gravity reading before he kegged the beer, assuming with the diacetyl rest in the upper 60s that it had finished out. Bzzt...wrong. As mentioned above, it's now sitting at 1.034 gravity, off it's yeast cake. In his defense, there was a poor seal in the carboy cover, so no airlock activity ever occurred. If Señor Brew™ had seen it still bubbling away on day 12, he probably would have waited longer to keg.

There is a fix for this however, which Señor Brew™ is working on right now. I think this post is already too long, so I will save that for the next post. YAY! 

Finally, we need suggestions for Noble Square Brewery's slogan. Winning entry wins homebrew!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Let's take Kaley to the Bar for a Bock

Hello Brewbuds! In a recent post dated April 1, 2014, Señor Brew™ asked for help in naming his new kegs. Apparently, most of you thought it was an elaborate April Fool's Day prank because the post got only one response, from our new favorite Brewbud, Soppen.

Señor Brew™ was serious! We need to name these kegs--recap, Señor Brew™ names his kegs for models and actresses, because like homebrew kegs, they are high maintenance. Also, he gets to do research looking at photos of pretty kegs. While Señor Brew™ was sitting patiently at his laptop waiting for comments it occurred to him that he could just go with his two original Kate picks, using their last names to avoid any confusion with his other keg Kate. The problem with this is that Señor Brew™ also attaches the type of beer the keg holds along with the keg name to the top of the keg. One of the Kates is named Bock.  This could cause some confusion.  For those BrewBuds that just read this blog for the pretty keg pictures--I'll explain. There is a type of beer called Bock.

So we are going to go with Soppen's pick "Kaley" for one of the kegs (photo above). I always pictured Kaley as more of the girl-next-door type, and not at all high maintenance, maybe because she is on the small screen, but let's hope that holds true and these new kegs work out well. It also doesn't hurt that Kaley is a resident of Ventura county where Noble Square Brewing is located. Soppen wins the internets, and as many pints of Noble Square Brewing beer he can drink in a 24 hour period (must be present to collect). Since he lives in Norway, Señor Brew™ is not that concerned about this--although apparently Soppen wears medieval armor and weapons, so if he came to collect, he would definitely get his brew.


Señor Brew™ is going to name the other keg "Bar" to go with his precedent for naming some kegs after internationally known supermodels. Plus her name worked out well for the play on words for the title of this post.

For those Brewbuds that actually read this blog for the articles, don't worry, we'll have some new posts about equipment, recipes, techniques, and competitions posted soon. In the meantime, read this other recent post about a new slogan for Noble Square Brewing--we want your suggestions! You too could win the internets, and free homebrew from Noble Square Brewing (must be present to collect).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Noble Square Brewing Needs a Slogan

Señor Brew™ was sampling a flight at Lengthwise Brewery when he noticed their growlers sitting behind the bar.  He also noticed that they had a slogan, a mantra, philosophy, whatever you want to call it printed on each growler.  You can't read it on the photo to the left, Señor Brew™ and the camera were a little blurry.

Then he thought of other breweries.  Enegren has, “For the glory and the power of beer”, or something like that.  MondayNight Brewing has, “Weekends are overrated.” Another homebrew blog, Holz Brewing, has “For the love of Craft”.  Señor Brew™ and Noble Square Brewing have got nada.  The closest we have gotten to a slogan has been, “It’s Wheaty!” which was printed on the labels of Beat the Heat Wheat.  (It was quite wheaty, which meant it probably didn’t need to have “It’s Wheaty!” printed right on the label, but I digress.)

So Brew Buds, (I think we’re up to 35 of you now), please feel free to leave suggestions for a slogan for Noble Square Brewing in the comments section of this post.  All serious suggestions will be considered, and probably rejected.  All non serious suggestions will get serious consideration, and all considered considerations will be considered serious.
Señor Brew™ will throw out his suggestions for your consideration to start us off:

“It’s fun having beer”.
“Your Ma goes to college”.
“We put the aft in craft”
“Because they’re both marsupials!”
“Gambling is illegal at Bushwood sir, and I never slice.”
“Slogans are for losers, beer is eternal”
“We name our kegs!"

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Nice Jugs!

Señor Brew™ mentioned in the last post that he has acquired some new equipment for the brewery, including these two nice shiny new jugs, I mean kegs. These were purchased from Adventures in Homebrewing on a black Friday sale for the low, low price of $69.99 each. Señor Brew™ just checked their website and they're currently on sale for that same price.

Señor Brew™ has taken to brewing some smaller batches, and splitting bigger batches, so these jugs will come in handy for holding a smaller quantity of delicious malty hoppy frothy goodness. They are listed at 2.5 gallons, but Señor Brew™ noticed that they hold slightly more. So of course, being the curious sort, he measured them. They're actually 10 liter kegs, or 2.64 US gallons. This makes sense, since they are manufactured in China.

They stack if you don't have fittings on them, which is great if you're lagering beer in a separate fridge.  They would probably stack with fittings with a small spacer in between. The posts are smaller than a standard corny keg, as is the "nut" part of the post-so you'll need a smaller socket than the 7/8" for regular cornys. I'm guessing it's 3/4", although it might be metric. Unlike a regular corny, there is room to swing a box end wrench on the posts; I just used an adjustable wrench to tighten them, which is why I'm not sure of the size.

The reviews I have read of them were mainly positive, although there have been some complaints of leaking at the posts--something those reviewers easily fixed with a new o-ring. I have not encountered any problems, although I have not been using them that long. You do have to tip them to the beer out side when you get to the bottom of the keg to empty them completely. The existing Noble Square Brewing kegs have had leaks from time to time--which is why Señor Brew™ has named them, to differentiate them and to make sure they are properly maintained.

Because the kegs need proper maintenance and care, Señor Brew™ has named his kegs after actresses and supermodels. So now BrewBuds, we need names for these new kegs. Some names that come to mind are Kate:

and Kate:

The problem is that Señor Brew™ already has a keg named Kate:

Please leave any suggestions for names in the comments section. You can include links to photos if you think it will help, but please none to weird Asian "sites" like I used to get randomly in the comments section of this blog before I started moderating them. Existing keg names are in this post.

Also, Señor Brew™ has no affiliation with Adventures in Homebrewing or the manufacturers of these kegs, and he has received no compensation to review the kegs or link to the A in H site. Although now that he thinks about it, he's going to send them this blog post--maybe they'll send him a coupon or something, especially if they like the name Kate.