Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gumballhead Clone Bottling

I bottled the Gumballhead clone tonight - it had an SG of 1.012. I had to use granulated sugar instead of dextrose (corn sugar), so I will have a slightly more cider-y flavor when this is carbonated than usual.

The Belgian-style tripel is overly sweet, and tastes like it needs another few months, but time is working against me here, and I am attempting to purge bottles in favor of getting a corny keg. Hopefully that works well and occurs soon.         

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hard Lemonade Procedure

Tonight, we dance! And make hard lemonade.

Going off this recipe, we made several modifications to fully utilize our 1-gallon carboys.

We purchased 5 cans of frozen generic brand lemonade concentrate, 2 cans of pink lemonade, 2 cans of limeade, and 1 can of pomegranite raspberry. The recipe called for 2 pounds of sugar, plus or minus to taste, so we added 3. We heated about a gallon and a half of water, and dissolved all the sugar in there, poured it into a 5 gallon carboy, and added enough water to make 5 gallons. At that point the SG was 1.032. Before adding more sugar, we added the DME, which clumped and was a pain to mix in.

We ended up skimming all the clumps off the top and heating them in some wort to help dissolve it. Once that was fully mixed in, the SG was 1.042. We then took the individual cans of frozen concentrate and began putting them in the carboy to spread out the surface area and help warm them up faster.

1 - Blueberry pomegranite lemonade - SG - 1.080 (the really dark one)
2 - Lemonade - SG - 1.082 (has writing 'B Lock' on it)
3 - Lemonade 2 - SG - 1.080 (has letter 'C' on neck)
4 - Limeade - SG - 1.076 (has letter 'A' on neck)
5 - Pink Lemonade - SG - 1.082 (the pink one)

As part of the control, I will be taking 2 home and putting them in my basement - hopefully a more stable, and lower temperature than what Chicago has in for us in the next few days. The other 3 will reside in Nova's closet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beer Review

I've never tried this before, but my brother in law got a box (a literal box full) of 50c beers, and decided to get 2 of everything and share some with me. I'm going to carpe the diem and attempt my own reviews of these beers. There were 4 total:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I rated each on head, color, body, finish, aroma, and overall, trying to describe the taste of the beer with less emphasis on what I did or did not like.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
This was frothy and quick, a very light and pale head that well mirrors the flavor of the beer.

It's a bit orange-y and freaking creepy that the Fringe cutscenes show fetuses (fetii?) in APPLES

Oh, right, it's a cloudy orangish, probably from the bottle conditioning

The body is full, but moves very quickly from hoppy to  fruity - though I'm wondering if I've had enough at this point that I meant that the other way around as hops are usually an aftertaste. Anyway, I do remember the flavory, and I believe it's fruity to hoppy, though I'll try another SNPA later and post. Either way it's almost a scent the first flavor is gone so quickly.

The finish is bitter and biting but still smooth.

The aroma is very faint, but just smells like a generic IPA.

This is where I stop trying to be impartial. As I'm not a huge fan of IPAs, I can't say too much about it - I would certainly drink it over Bud or Miller. Better than Magic Hat's Beet-juice summertime, but I'd almost rather drink a Heineken. Almost. 6.5

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family Time (Bottled and Brewed)

Belgian-style Tripel Update
I took a final specific gravity reading and the tripel ended up at 1.020 - so the OG was a little low (the kit said it should be between 1.083 and 1.086. The alternate tripel recipe I have has an OG of 1.080 - 1.084, and an FG of 1.016 and 1.022, so it's right in between that, which is comforting.

I'm concerned about the two 80 degree weather days we had in the last month, and I hope they don't turn the taste. As its getting into summer, I'm going to move everything down to the storage unit after brewing. This will keep temperature down and stable, especially in the hot summer months.

The tripel spent 9 days in the primary ,and then another 25 days in a secondary before bottling, and the bottles are going to end up down in the storage unit as well to age.

Gumballhead Clone
I brewed the Gumballhead clone - I had 1 lb of Caravienne grains that I needed to crush myself. I started with a rolling pin, until I realized that pushing that hard imprinted on the pin, and my wife would kill me if I started breaking her good kitchen utensils. So I got out a spoon. A teaspoon. That worked better than the rolling pin when crushing the gains, but had a slightly diminished volume it was able to crush at a given time. Finally, I stumbled across my wife's food processor, and having already crushed a separate pound at my "Local Home Brew Supply" (LBHS) store, and compared the two - the food processor did just as good as a manual crushing apparatus.

I was a little slow on the straining, and forgot to get the sieve in place for the first half, so I didn't get all the trub out. It's supposed to sit in the primary carboy for a week, and then strain and transfer to a secondary where its dry-hopped. I've never dry hopped before especially not with pellets, but I'm going to put the last ounce I have in the secondary and let it sit for another week before bottling.  As soon as I make sure that fermentation has started with this clone recipe, I will pull this 5 gallon tub in the basement as well.

So we've actually turned bottling day into a family event - I sanitize everything, ensure the beer is in the carboy with tap, set up the tube and wand, then my wife fills the bottles (usually - we keep a stock of towels nearby), and I cap. This all goes on while we watch a movie or TV show, but it's surprising how this draws my wife (and sometimes my whole family if we need to get something from the kitchen and are bottling while my son's still up) into the beer making process. This led her to brew a batch with me, and now I'm brewing a batch for her specifically - hopefully this one comes out well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Belgian-Style Tripel Ingredients and Procedure

3.3 lbs Light LME          Briess CBW Golden Light
3.3 Amber LME            Briess CBW Sparkling Amber
3 lb Pilsen DME             Pilsen Light Spray Dried Malt
1 lb Light Candi Sugar
8 oz Maltodextrin

Specialty Grains
4 oz Aromatic                Crushed Aromatic Malt

2oz Bittering                   Kent Bittering Hops - 4.5% alpha acid
.5 oz Aroma                   Kent Aroma Hops - 4.5%  alpha acid

1 Sachet                         Nottingham Ale Yeast

IBU's: 24 - 30
ABV %: 8.5 - 9.0
OG: 1.083 - 1086

1) Sanitize everything - 1 carboy, 1 big plastic spoon, 1 airlock, 1 hydrometer (did not sanitize 7 gallon pot or thermometer)
2) Steep grains
I poured about 2.5 gallons of water into the brew pot and set burner to high. I poured the 4 oz of crushed 'aromatic malt' grains into grain bag and tied a knot at the top of the bag. When the water was at 150, I put the grain bag into the brew pot and reduced heat. I steeped grains for approximately 20 minutes and checked water temp about every 3 to 4 min, adjusting as necessary to attempt to keep the water as close to 150 as possible. Removed grain bag and set drain bag in a clean bowl. The water was then wort.
4) Start boil
I set the heat to high to bring the wort to a gentle, rolling boil. As this was heating, I tossed the grain bag, and poured the drained liquid back into the pot. I poured the dried malt extract (DME) - the 3 lb Pilsen Light Spray Malt and Maltodextrin - into a bowl and added that so I could just dump it all at once (as it tends to crust as it leaves the bag. Then I poured the LME - two cans of Briess CBW, one Golden Light and one Sparkling Amber - in and the Candied Sugar as the wort turned into a boil
5) Add hops
I then slowly sprinkled the bittering hops into the boiling wort. I did this extremely slowly as the initial addition of the hops causes a sudden foaming, that goes back down and allows the rest of the hops to be added without that foaming. I then boiled for 50 minutes after which I added the aroma hops and boiled for 5 more minutes.
6) Cool wort and transfer
I then filled my bath tub full of cool water and placed the brew pot in. After about an hour I poured the wort into a carboy, but will probably try to strain next time. I attempted to avoid transferring the heavy sediment (trub) from the brew pot to the carboy.
7) Add water
I then added enough clean water to the carboy to bring the total volume of wort to approximately 5 gallons, stirred, and took an initial specific gravity with the hydrometer.
8) Pitch yeast
I poured the yeast satchet in and stirred it up; capped the carboy, filled the airlock just under halfway with water, and stuck it in.

Monitor and record
9) Fermentation starts
 I left the airlock set up for the first day, and then began to monitor closely. As I suspected - the high specific gravity beers (by proxy, high alcohol beers), there is so much activity that it frequently reaches the airlock and can block or just build a significant amount of pressure. As I'd already had the Russian Imperial Stout explode on me, as soon as I saw the beer overflowing the airlock, I opened it up and pulled the top and inside of the airlock so that the gas could release straight out. As I heard a constant whistle, I had no worry that air was getting in and affecting the taste. This lasted for approximately two to three days, and I put the airlock back together when there was still very active fermentation so I didn't have to worry about oxidation.

10) Wait
I will bottle this as soon as my English Brown Ale is gone, and I have the larger bottles - especially with the bulk aging, the larger canister available, the better (in my experience).

Scratched and Bottled

So we scratched the mead - it was skunky, didn't taste good, and would probably take about a year to age and actually be drinkable. I may try again eventually on the 1 gallon scale, but I probably won't be soon.

The cider is bottled - there is very little taste difference between the wine and champagne yeasts, though they both taste delicious with a bit of sugar right before consumption. It was very easy to set up the siphon with the bottle wand - which is a clear stick with a pressure release at the end, so when it's pushed, it drops whatever liquid is in it to the container it's pushed against - stuck straight into the hose, and then filled up with water. Then the individual bottles can be put lower than the carboy, and even with the small opening, it's easy to start siphoning and stop the liquid to switch bottles.

And that means that all my jugs are free for hard lemonade. I'm thinking we'll do the full 5 gallon recipe, and then we can do differences per-jug. That way we can at least have a full vat - a good standard baseline/ratio of ingredients and yeast before putting them in separate 1 gallon jugs that we can then play with.

Also, I'm going to the Brew and Grow tomorrow to pick up a few grain bags so I can make Gumballhead - and I'm very excited about that, but I need to take a temp reading of my basement first because my condo is starting to get affected by the Chicago warm-up.