So I had to do some brewing. The bug to brew a new batch was there after a trip out to Boston MA where I tasted QUITE a few great beers at four different breweries! So I decided that I needed to fill my new 5 gallon keg with a batch of a style I had not tried before. I figured something that was not crazy, but a good session like beer would be the best choice. A California Common or Steam beer would be a great hang out and drink style. Thus, Steamin’ Kalifornia was born. I also had a few new toys, a 5 gallon keg and a carbonation cap.
The California Common style dates back to the 1800s. It uses lager yeast at higher temps than a normal lager, so it produces a different flavor than a normal lager. Seemed like a great choice for the end of summertime brewing. To be a true “steam” beer, it needs to use Northern Brewer hops, and my recipe included them. I was surprised to see that my recipe and batch came in below the BJCP 2015 guidelines for both my OG and FG, but the IBUs and abv percentage was right in line with the style.
My brew night went off without a hitch. I decided to try a few new things with this batch. I tried a modified version of the Late Extract Addition. I added half of the liquid malt extract at the beginning of the boil, and then the rest at 15 minutes before flameout. I was able to record this in my BeerSmith recipe file, so the IBUs should have been calculated properly. The beer in the end seemed to be right on for color according to the BeerSmith software, so I think I did ok. I have heard about it, and read about this process through the BeerSmith podcast and newsletter series.
For this batch, I also used a yeast that I had not tried before either. Saflager S-23. I properly rehydrated the dry yeast per the instructions and pitched it. I was little worried when I saw no action in the carboy the next morning, but 24 hours later, there was some action at the top level of the wort. By 36 hours, there was a good bit of action and krausen levels – so no worries!
I did not send this beer to a secondary, but rather left it in the primary for a total of 19 days. If I had racked it off to a secondary, I wouldn’t have seen such a nice layering of sediment. When kegging and sending some to a 2 liter bottle, I noticed little to no extra trub heading through the siphon.
For this batch I also decided it was time to try out some new toys. Being homebrewer means there is always something that you can add into your equipment. Some stuff is good…just realize that you may eventually run out of space or patience from your spouse with all the equipment! For this batch, I got to use my new 5 gallon ball lock corny keg and try out the carbonation cap that I got.
The new 5 gallon keg was something that I needed. I had a 2.5 gallon keg, but with the “new” kegerator, I needed something to be able to put in a whole, or close to it, batch of beer. I pondered getting a reconditioned one, but decided when the price dropped on this one on Amazon, it was a no brainer to hit a new keg. The keg was delivered via Amazon Prime, so it was a quick arrival. The keg seems to be doing well. It doesn’t have the rubber handle, but that is no big deal. The ball lock connects are labeled with stickers, but could be discerned without them. The keg was sanitized, then it filled quite easily! Wow! Look Mom! No bottle caps!
The Cabonation Cap. To be fair, I got it at a discount in return for an honest review on Amazon. I got this cap to work alongside my 5 gallon keg. When you brew, sometimes there is more than 5 gallons that ferment. This cap allows you to use a common soda bottle, or other PET bottle, to carbonate some of your brew! I like the fact that the cap allows me to quickly carbonate an amount of my homebrew, rather than waiting a few days to see what the whole batch tastes like. Without any problems, this cap fit directly onto my 2 liter bottle that I had just emptied and sanitized. Be sure to screw it down tight. Don’t worry, it is stainless steel, it can’t break like the plastic ones. I sprayed it down with Star San to check for leaks, and it was not leaking at all. I set the bottle at 25 PSI without any problems. Five hours later, I enjoyed some REALLY fresh beer, as it was just removed from the fermenter earlier that day. Previously, this was not a possibility. I think that suddenly, all those extra Mr. Beer PET bottle I have may come in quite handy! The one suggestion that I have for the manufacturer/seller, is a little FAQ or hints sheet be included in the package. I had to search the Internet to get information on the correct PSI to set the CO2 tank at via the regulator.
Some takeaways from this brewing and kegging:
- Filling a keg is just a wonderful thing! My bottling and cleanup was so amazingly fast!
- The Carbonator Cap is a REALLY cool toy
- It is a wonderful thing to taste such fresh beer two weeks quicker than before!
- I wonder how many force carbing and servings of kegs my tank will provide? I lost a good amount of CO2 due to a bad old regulator before.