So tis the season to make resolutions. Everyone does this on New Beers Eve right? Or is it on New Beers Day? The homebrewer should make some resolutions as well. Let’s take a peak at my brewing resolutions. Continue reading
In the realm of brewing, there are just a few equipment upgrades that really make a big difference in your brewing process. The big thing? A conical fermenter. When you visit a brewery of any commercial scale, they are not using a bucket brewing system like most home brewers. They don’t have carboys lined up. They have large shiny conical fermenters. These pieces of equipment for homebrewers are like vision of sugar plums dancing in children’s heads.
So on my wishlist for the holidays this year was a conical fermenter. I knew that a bright shiny stainless steel one was not an option, so instead I asked for a more affordable and movable one. I went for the FastFerment Concical Fermenter. I chose this one for a few reasons. The price point was right on, there were a bunch of add-on accessories, and it was movable. I will post a full setup and review of it in the future. Continue reading
Today I bottled the Lt. Topper. It is a Heady Topper clone. OG 1.080 and FG 1.020 for a abv of 8.1%. The true Heady Topper rings in at 8%…o not too far off! The 6.5 gallon pre-boil ended up as 4.75 gallons going into the bottling bucket. This left about half a gallon or so of trub between the bottom of the carboy and the bottom of the bottling bucket. It is unfiltered, so there was lots of tasty greens left behind from all those hops additions. Now to wait a few weeks and see how it carbonates!
Drain pour. Ouch. That is the only thing I can say on how I feel. It hurt. I just dumped the remainder of an experimental home brew from a few years ago. Why do we sometimes strike out?
Well, Tommy The Turkey tasted pretty darn good! As you can see, he turned a nice golden roasted color. My homebrew beer brined turkey experiment was a success!
As far as taste, the saltiness of the brine was definitely present. The turkey was juicy. The flavor of the two beers I used, a pilsner and SMASH made with nugget hops, was very present, but not overpowering. My boys loved it. The in-laws definitely liked it. Even my wife, who doesn’t love turkey or beer, said it was good. Leftovers stayed very juicy and moist. When reheated, there was a smell of brew in the air.
Would I do it again? SURE WOULD! Next time, I would definitely get the bigger ziplock bags (5 gallon size). I may soak it for longer. I would definitely go bigger than the 14 pound bird I used this year.
Tis the season to be FOWL…..Ok, maybe you just want to try something different with your fowl. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to showcase your home brewed beer. This year, my 14 pound Tommy the Turkey is making a 2 day swim in a homebrew beer brine before I give him a little roasting.
Today is a brew “maintenance” day. It is these days during homebrewing that make you wish you could speed up time just a bit to get to the final product. Patience, patience, patience.
I added the first batch of hops for dry hopping the Lt. Topper, the first beer in my CLONE WARS series. It is a Heady Topper clone. I will let this first dry hopping of just short of 4 ounces of hops sit for a few days before I transfer it to the secondary and add even more hops. This beer smells wonderful. I have a few cans of Heady Topper off to the side to be able to do a comparison.
Today is also the first of two coconut toasting days. Today I am toasting 14 ounces of coconut to go into RISing Mounds, a chocolate coconut Russian Imperial stout. I will also make a new addition of some more Royal Dutch Chocolate and some Mayan cacao powder. This will all be at the bottom of the 6 gallon glass carboy when I rack it over shortly. I may have to sample a little wort during the transfer for both gravity sake, and taste. Oh yeah, and I will also add two vanilla beans soaking in bourbon….a little extra tastiness!
So the wife went out for a Girl’s Night Out…so I decided to brew once the boys went to bed. I made a yeast starter the night before. I invited over a good friend, Chris, to be an assistant brewer for this batch, and taste a little craft brew (READ – excuse to drink beer together).
Before Chris came over, I did some work ahead of time. I took a pound of oats, and toasted it in the oven. About 15-20 minutes on a bar pan gave it a slightly darker color, and a little more toasty flavor. I tossed that into a muslin bag. I also added the pound and a half of other crushed grains I had for the recipe into another bag. I steeped these for about 70 minutes. I used my new big pot for it’s second brew. I love this pot because of the internal basket. It leaves about 3 inches of space between the basket and the pot, so there really isn’t a way to scorch your grains. I got a nice dark color, and a little bit of oatie goodness in there, and it was time to ramp up the flame.
For the main brew, I remove the basket, as it is no longer needed. Chris showed up just after I added almost 3 pounds of dark dried malt extract, and was in the process of adding the first 6 Continue reading
So I have been brewing for a little over five years. You know what I had never done? Yup, you guessed it by the title…I never had made a yeast starter. Fellow Beer Nerd, Ricky, made a comment about a my batch of Lt. Topper. I had a question about the viability of my yeast and pitched some dry yeast on top. Here is what he posted:
I always make a starter before brew day. Not only does this give you enough yeasties to tackle all that wort, it also gives you an idea of your yeast health. You don’t need anything fancy either, I started with just a clear jug so that I could see the activity.
I had the tools, my wife got me a “little” kit a year back or so. But, alas, I was lazy, and now it was time to put it into practice. Thanks to the nudge from Ricky. According to industry leader, White Labs, a starter is good for the viability of your yeast, getting a lager batch ready, a high gravity brew (over 1.070), or if you want a fast start.
I decided that I was going to brew a Russian Imperial Stout while my wife was out for a girls night….but I decided to brew a little less than 24 hours before I needed my starter to be flying. I smacked a pack of Wyeast Scottish Ale at 10:30 at night. About 1:30 AM, I boiled 1 liter of water, and added 1 cup of dark malt extract (what I had on hand). The boil for this was just 15 minutes. Then, I poured the wort into a glass flask, and did a quick water bath in the sink to cool it down. Once my temp was low enough, I poured the smack pack into the mixture. I gave it some good swirls to move some oxygen in there to aerate it. Then, I put on a #10 stopper, a traditional 3 piece airlock, and filled it with some sanitized water. I then put the beaker into a nice dark place in the cellar.
I noticed a nice “small” krausen layer beginning to form about 12 hours later, with a little activity in the airlock. Another 10 hours later, my starter was ready to pitch into my RISing Mounds. My brew day report will be coming soon about that brew!
So a buddy of mine, Chris, used to REALLY like stouts. He preferred to keep it dark, and was not a “hoppy” guy. Enter in the use of Untappd. Since he started (which was AFTER me), and blew past 1,000 unique check-ins (BEFORE me), Chris has taken a real liking to DIPA beers. For those out there, a DIPA is a double IPA. This is usually a REALLY hoppy beer! Now, in all fairness, I was basically the same way. A few months ago, we had a poker night, which was really more of an epic beer tasting with a card game on the side. That night, we had some Heady Topper, considered by some to be the Holy Grail of DIPAs. Rated extraordinarily well, and not available for purchase outside of the state of Vermont, it is usually a highlight beer for true drinkers.
Fast forward a few months….Chris asks me if I can brew some DIPA beers for him. So, of course I say YES! I start looking into different recipes. After some thought, I decided to go with Northern Brewer’s “Off the Topper” and “Plinian Legacy” kits. I figure that having a clone of each coast’s premier DIPA is not a bad thing. I decided to brew on a Sunday, during the 1 PM NFL games. My team was on a bye week, I had already watched most a of game since it was in London, and I had access to a few cans of Heady Topper to compare it to when I was done.
Time to break out the brand new brewing pot. The kit calls for a 3 or 3.5 gallon boil, but it is always better to do a full boil if possible. So my new 11 gallon pot should do the trick. I steeped the grains in this extract kit with a partial mash. To be sure the grains didn’t rest on the bottom of the pot and possibly scorch, I used to the basket that sits in the pot to keep it up. Pulling out the grains is from the mash in is important to squeeze out those extra drops with all the malty goodness into your wort. I ramped up the flame, and learned a valuable less – big pots with lots of water take lots of time to get to the rolling boil stage.
Once up to a boil, the dried malt was added, and I used a new little brewing ingredient…. hop shots! A few things to think about with hop shots. It is extracted and very potent hop oils. I used 10 mL of the hop oil extract. DO NOT try a little to see what it is like….it is is super strong, and almost seems like it is burning when swallowing, not that I tried it or anything. It is a dark black sticky substance, and my son described it in the boil as me adding pepper to the beer….because it looked like small black dots on the top of the boil. In reality, it really is like an oil slick in a few spots. The pictures just don’t do it justice.
The rest of the brew went off pretty much without hitch. At 15 minutes before flameout, the liquid malt was added. I have been reading lots of things about not putting the liquid malt in until then so it utilizes it best AND it doesn’t over boil it making a darker beer. A larger pot means more time for it to cool, less room for the ice bath in the sink, but these are all first world problems. I decided with a big pot that perhaps a siphon of the wort was a smart idea, much better than attempting to pour it into my big mouth bubbler. Things were going fine until I pumped the siphon a little more after some air got in the tube…..the hose popped out of the bubbler, and sent some of my precious wort all over the floor. Hint, not fun to clean up, and very sticky. I got that fixed, and eventually pitched the yeast. My OG was 1.080, which was above the target that the instructions stated, but right on based on Beersmith software.
This is question of yeast viability now. I got the Omega Labs DIPA yeast. It was packaged on October 6th, so it was fresh. It is in a smack pack like container, but says to shake it for 30 seconds. I did so. There was no huge swelling like I am used to with smack packs. It was out of the fridge for about 5 hours before pitching. I had it shipped to me with an ice pack, so I figured I was all set. 60 hours in, there was no krausen layer or real activity in the airlock. I ended up pitching some S-05 dry yeast this morning, and now I have a nice level of activity, and krausen going on. Lets see how it does. I don’t think it will have an adverse effect on the beer.
- I like a bigger pot. I will do a full review on it soon.
- Bigger pots mean longer times for brewing.
- Always have somebody hold the tube for you. Cleaning up some wort on your floor sucks.
- There is a BOATLOAD of hops in this recipe.
- Hop shots are cool. I have started to look into making my own and using them in IPAs.
- Beersmith is cool to help you track things (review coming).
- I need a bigger spoon.
Questions I have:
- What effect on taste does pitching a second, but alternatively recommended yeast, have on a beer?
- How will the new pot do for a BIAB?
- How would the pot do on an outdoor burner?