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Brewing Homebrew Talk Homebrewing

Brewing Day – SMaSH Stye

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IMG_20151011_140003341So there was a quick change in the weather….so I had to harvest my hops.  I have two Nugget hops bines in the back, in a raised bed garden.  Full sun all day, good soil, and great hops.  With the quick change, some of the bines went straight brown.  So I had to harvest in a hurry.

 

I got home, did some quick snipping, and then just sat and picked hops for almost 2 hours.  In “wet weight”, I got over 4 pounds.  I didn’t pick carefully, as the sun was going down.  I think had I gotten a good harvest time, and picked carefully, I would have gotten 10 pounds easily.

 

Enter the new vacuum sealer!  For a recent birthday present, I got a hop grower’s dream machine, the Sinbo DZ-280.  It seals, and re-seals mylar bags.  I packaged up the hops in roughly 10-12 oz bags using the gallon size mylar bags.

 

Ok, back to brewing.  I made a quick SMaSH recipe.  I used 6 pounds of pale malt dried extract, and just a little over a full pound of my freshly picked wet Nugget hops.  I did hop additions every 10 minutes, starting at 60 minutes of the boil, five ounces at right at the start, and about two ounces each interval.  I added a final ounce at flameout.

IMG_20151011_143038159

I decided to try the SMaSH style, single malt and single hops, to really get the full effect of my homegrown Nugget hops.  I have never made a SMaSH beer before, but figured I would give it a shot.  Let’s let it ferment for a while, then see what is up!  The original gravity was a paltry 1.048, so it will be more of a session beer most likely.

 

 

Bottling Homebrewing

Bottling Day – Choconutty Stout

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Beer.IMG_20150912_153541210

I just bottled a new batch.  My kitchen smells of chocolate and peanut butter.  I got 14 bombers, and 18 regular bottles out of this batch.  So let’s take it back a bit….

A few years ago, I got the Chocolate Covered BEAVR Nuts kit.  Let me just say, I loved it.  Everybody loved the name (wasn’t mine), but enjoyed the beer even more (minus the people who had nut allergies who stayed away).  I kept saying I needed to do another batch.  So, I locally sourced some of the ingredients at a bulk spice place nearby.  Then I got a basic stout kit and did some magic.  Did I change and veer away from the BEAVR Nuts?  Yes.  I added more peanut butter powder.  I used a mass amount of Royal Dutch Chocolate powder.  I used the cacao nibs.  End result?  Super chocolaty.

Where would I go from here?  Up the abv!  Get some more stuff in there to make a Super Choconutty Stout.  Here are the stats for this one:

Choconutty Stout

Brewed 5/23/15

Bottled 9/12/15

OG 1.073

FG 1.020

ABV: 7.1%

 

Things I learned from this batch:IMG_20150912_153757362

  • I love the Big Mouth Bubbler I got for Christmas.  Cleanup was a breeze.  Adding things in was so much easier not using a funnel, or just trying to get it through the small neck.
  • Next time I would be sure there was MUCH more wort.  I lost a lot of beer due to the sediment at the bottom.  I wanted to keep it as clear as possible.IMG_20150912_153801276
  • I need more bomber bottles.  It is so nice to use those, and it makes it easier to share some beer.
  • I may need a new bottling wand.  My current one seemed to stick a bit, and made for some nasty clean-up spots.
Bottling Homebrew Talk Homebrewing

Just Bottled – Hopcinnacidity Hard Cider

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adventuresinhomebrewing.beer

Well, yesterday I bottled a new batch of brew for me…only it wasn’t beer!  It was my first attempt at hard cider.  Well, with a twist.

Let me back this up a bit.  I read an article in Brew Your Own Magazine about making fruit drinks.  I got pretty intrigued by hard cider via apple juice.  IMG_20150822_142150902Only, I had to change things up a bit.  I decided to hop it up a bit.  I added some UK Pilgrim hops right from the get go, as well as 5 cinnamon sticks.  Throw in some yeast nutrient, a little yeast, and let it fly.  7 days in, the fermentation was almost complete, so I tossed in some UK Sovereign hops to add some aroma.  Let it sit for another week and bottled.  Here are the stats for this hard cider brew:

Hopcinnacidity

Brewed 8/22/15

Bottled 9/5/15

OG 1.048

FG 1.002

ABV: 6.1%

 

Some things I learned:

  • I got a great fermentation!  This may be the lowest FG I have had in any of my brews.  If I actually kept notes from the beginning, I would be able to tell.
  • Adding the hops will give the hard cider some character.  I should figure out the best ones to use in the future, not just what do I have here.
  • I decided to use carbonation drops for this batch.  I needed some more, so the trip to the local home brew shop was costly, as I came home with some extra dry malt extract for a future SMASH beer.
  • Next time I need to rack it from the carboy (primary fermenter) to another vessel BEFORE the bottling bucket.  Let’s say there was a bit of hop sediment in there with two ounces of hops in just under 3 gallons of hard cider.
  • I need to use muslin bags for my hops, it would have helped in the clarity of the brew.

I can’t wait to see what it tastes like….

 

Bottling Homebrewing

Just Bottled – Vinn’s Java Tour

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My wife is training for a marathon….she is out on a 20 mile training run.  So what should I do?  Bottle some beer of course!

I brewed this coffee stout back on April 30th.  After the primary fermentation, I transferred it over to the secondary, adding some double brewed coffee .  I added in some bourbon soaked vanilla beans, then just let it sit in the dark.  The OG was not killer, 1.047 at 81 degrees Fahrenheit, just before pitching the yeast.  I wish I had squeaked out a bit more on the FG, but adding in the full pot of double brewed coffee drops things a bit….. 1.018 at 62 degrees Fahrenheit.  Final ABV 4.1%.  I think next time I need to make a more potent wort to drive the abv up a bit.

This brew was a fun batch, as during the boiling process, my dad stopped over.  It was a New Beer Thursday #nbt.  We threw down a Ghost Face Killah, from Twisted Pine Brewing Company and a Saranac Disruption Nitro.   Nothing better than drinking some fun craft beer while brewing.

Downfall to this bottling event?  I have to get more bottles ready for my chocolate peanut butter stout and dry hopped hard cider that are almost ready!  I guess I have some bottle cleaning work to do!

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Beer wort to be tested with a hydrometer

Bottling

Preparing Bottles For Your Homebrew

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A few days ago, I spent over an hour with my least favorite home brewing task… cleaning and preparing bottles.  You could spend some bucks, and buy some fresh bottles.  Over time though, those bottles disappear.  You take some brew to a party, the bottles ultimately get left behind.  You go to a buddy’s house for football….you leave some behind…you get the picture.

 

Anyways, I hate buying bottles without beer in them…..they seem to be a better deal with commercial stuff in them….or craft stuff for that matter.  So I have cases of beer bottles to scrape and sanitize.

 

A few tips I have gotten along the way.  One, start the process soaking in some warm water.  Add some OXICLEAN to the water.  It helps break down the glue a bit, makes it easier to scrape.  I used to use a pampered chef scraper, but now I use a straight blade widget.  If it leave stuff behind, or is a bit stubborn, back in the water for a little while.

 

After the scraping is done, into the dishwasher for the sanitizing cycle.  I talked with another buddy who sometimes wraps the clean bottles in foil, piles them in the oven and sanitizes them by heat in there.  Other times, people fill their bottling bucket with one step cleaner and let them soak a bit.

 

Are there shortcuts?  Yep, get the rounded scraper like this one HERE .  OR just buy the bottles like here.  Ideas?  What do you do?  Leave a comment below.

Ask The Brewmaster Homebrewing

So You Want To Enter A Brewing Competition…

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Every homebrewer’s dream is to win a competition.  We all want to get that medal, or bragging rights telling us our suds are the best.  We want our beer to be the next brew for a larger brewery.  And this happens…..not very very often.  Sorry to burst your bubble.

So what does it take to do well?  Honestly, if I had the full answer, I would be getting medals left and right.  Currently my medal count is ZERO.  Yup, my beer is not world famous.  It is not award winning.  But, it is tasty, fun to make, great to share, and makes for some good conversations.  I don’t brew to win medals.

I remember the anticipation that I had when I entered my first beer into a competition.  I brewed a beer.  I changed my entry as time grew near due to carbonation issues when I checked it (can you say flowing volcano bottles?).  I took an aged brew that I had made previously.  It was different, it was good, but in hindsight, was not my best choice.  From the competition, I got the following feedback from three panels of judges:  sweet, no carbs, oixidated? sherry nose.  Note, the third panel’s sheet got wet and was unreadable.  I got 7 words of feedback.  I was disappointed, but I moved forward.  I keep brewing, and here is what I should do for next time.  Let’s take a look at some helpful advice though….Scouring a bunch of advice, compiling some of the better advice is a good idea.   Here is a sort of min checklist:

 

First and foremost, a lot of judging is based on first impressions. Try to match the all the guidelines for the style you want to submit when brewing beer for competition. Any major brewing book will give characteristics on beer styles.  Some of the more popular books would be  The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition or How to Brew: Everything You Need To Know To Brew Beer Right The First Time.  Don’t want to read a whole book?  Check some major websites http://www.bjcp.org/ or http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/AHA/index.htm

After thinking about style, then the judges should look for the clarity of the beer and the level of carbonation.  If you are doing extract brewing (with or without specialty grains), add half of your liquid malt in the last 10 minutes of your brewing.  It will give you a higher utilization of the hops, a lighter color, and a cleaner, crisper beer flavor, and that should be helpful.

Here is the key – pay attention to the judges.  I wasn’t there for the competition.  I wish I had been able to be there.  I would have loved the opportunity to watch the judges, listen to them, and learn from their behavior.  Volunteering to be a pourer or a server will get you access into that inner sanctum.  The more exposure you have to how the beer is judged, what they are talking about, and seeing how they judge, the better off you’re going to do down the road when you enter your next competition.

When the scoresheets come back for your beer, read them carefully. Then read the scoresheets again. Drink a bottle of your beer that they judges, and see if you can see the things they did.  Dissect their comments, make your own notes, and make your beer better for next time.

The last bit of advice – enter MORE beers.  It is a matter of probability, the more often your beers compete the better chances it has….safety in numbers.

So there you have it, sage advice from the guy who still hasn’t won anything, but is always willing to learn.

So what would you suggest?

 

Homebrew Talk Homebrewing

Experimental Brewing – Vital Blue Draft

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A few years ago, I decided to try my first real, experimental brew.  I took a non-carbonated local energy drink, and tried to see what I could do with it.  Realize, I made it on a small scale, using a Mr. Beer kit.  I am not an employee of Vital Energy or Mr. Beer….just a fan.  A few months later, I tried a Tangerine Wheat with the same type process.

Here is my process:

 

 

Music in the video by http://purple-planet.com

Overall, the beer wasn’t that bad!  It was a purple color, and had quite the kick.  I may have a few bottles still bumping around in my beer cellar.

 

What kind of crazy beers have you tried to concoct?

 

Homebrew Talk

Let The Adventure Begin!

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Cheers! Prohst! Gun bae!

However it may be said, in whatever language, it is good.  It means a beer is about to be tipped.  That is what it is all about here.  The world of homebrewing is big, but we are all about small batches.

We plan to see where this takes me.  We plan to share our successes, our failures, our questions.  We look for your input, your comments, your questions.

Let’s share recipes, stories, pictures, and more.

Oh, and a little housekeeping…..We are not in any way directly affiliated with any store, corporation, or commercial entity.  I may include affiliate links to help cover some costs of the site.

Let’s have some fun.