Friday, January 23, 2009

Up Next. . .the All-American Porter

Tomorrow, I'm thinking about brewing up a porter--on a whim, I've named it the "All-American Porter" (in honor of the new president, the upcoming President's Day holiday, and the fact that I'm going to ignore the British hops in favor of the American ones in my freezer).

Here's what I'm looking at for a preliminary ingredients list. . .it will likely be updated a bit as I shop around at the local home brew shop:

1/2 pound caramel malt (for steeping; I've got some on hand, and need to use it up)
1/2 pound cara-pils malt (for steeping; again, I've got some on hand already)
1/2 pound chocolate malt (I'll have to pick some of this up at the store)
6.6 pounds Briess liquid malt (I'm thinking about 3.3 pounds Golden Light plus 3.3 pounds Sparkling Amber; I'll see what the local brew store has on hand)
2 oz. Cascade hops (bittering)
1 oz. Saaz (aroma)
The usual Nottingham ale yeast

Wheat Beer Update

Tonight I transferred the wheat beer (which has been fermenting for six days now) into the secondary fermenter. The beer has a nice yeasty-sour aroma, which is about what I would expect. Plus, it's tasting pretty good. The gravity at present is 1.010, putting alcohol at right about 3 percent. Can't wait to see what this will be like once it's settled and matured a little!

The Red Ale #1!

Here's my red ale, a month or two after bottling. This has turned into a really nice beer - good head, good flavor, good all around. I'm enjoying drinking this one.

First Taste of KPA

Over the past week or two, I've been (impatiently) cracking open a bottle or two of the Kamikaze Pale Ale. I don't think it has fully carbonated yet - after two weeks, it has a nice fizz, but not quite the level of bubbly that I would prefer. My red ale had similar behavior at first, so I think I'm just being impatient. At any rate, I agitated the bottles a bit tonight to see if that will help the carbonation along. Some brewing sites I've read recommended this procedure to "rouse" the yeast if it's not carbonating at the preferred rate. Mostly, I think I just need to wait a little longer.

On first pouring the beer, I get a mild hops scent. The beer is a nice red color (as mentioned in a previous post), and the carbonation (at this writing) is manifested as a light but steady stream of tiny bubbles along the side of the glass. The taste is smooth, with some definite hops flavor, but not overly bitter. The finish is pretty smooth, too. I don't know if it quite has as much "body" as I'd like on my beers. There is relatively little head, too, but I think this might just be a factor of the present low carbonation.

So what might I do differently next time? I might experiment with steeping another type of malt or two, to add a little extra body (but not too much). Perhaps I just need to crack the pale malt a little finer. I think I'll also try dry-hopping, to give it a more prominent hops aroma (the aroma is just a little milder at present than I might like). Additionally, I'll try boiling with a greater water volume - I only did two gallons (modified after one recipe I saw) for the boil this time, but I suspect I'd get slightly better hops utilization if I used 2.5 or 3 gallons. Next time, I'll also try using dry malt instead.

Despite all these ideas for "next time," I still think it's a pretty drinkable beer. I like the smoothness, and it will be even better once that last bit of carbonation settles in.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wheat Beer

I don't have a clever name for this one yet. . .it's based off of the recipe for Bert Grant's Hefeweizen (by Yakima Brewing and Malting Co.) in the North American Clone Brews book by Scott R. Russell. I brewed it up last night (January 17), with some able assistance from my friend Todd.

Here are the basic ingredients:
1 lb. malted wheat (crushed)
8 oz. light crystal malt (40°L)
8 oz. carapils malt
2 oz. Hallertau hops pellets (3.8% alpha; 1 oz. for the bittering, 1 oz. for the aroma)
4 lbs. wheat dry malt extract
German wheat beer yeast (Wyeast 3333)

Here's what I did:
  • I steeped the malted wheat, crystal malt, and carapils malt in 2 gallons of water for 45 minutes, at 150°F. Then, I sparged the grains with half a gallon of water at about the same temperature.
  • I added the wheat malt extract, and heated the whole thing to boiling.
  • Once the wort was boiling, I added 1 oz. of the hop pellets and boiled for 45 minutes.
  • For the final 15 minutes, I added the last ounce of hops.
  • At the end of the boil, I cooled the wort down with an ice bath in the sink, decanted the wort into my fermenter, and topped the whole thing up to about 4.5 gallons.
  • I pitched the liquid yeast, and now everythings sitting in the closet and hopefully fermenting.
The initial gravity is 1.034, which is quite a bit lower than I expected (1.045 is what the recipe gives). In the end, this will probably give me an alcohol content a little over 3 percent, assuming that it all ferments out as my previous batches have. Part of the low gravity "problem" might be that my grains were bagged too tightly, and so I didn't get as good of utilization out of them. I don't think this explains everything, though. Next time (assuming I like the results), I'm going to go ahead and use a full five pounds of malt extract.

The color on the finished wort is a nice straw-color - the lightest I've brewed to date.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Next up. . .

Sarah has requested a wheat beer, so I'm going to try my hand at one of these next weekend (if everything arrives by then, that is). I'm basing my recipe around a clone of Bert Grant's Hefeweizen, which from the description in my recipe book looks to have all of the characteristics that Sarah likes (citrusy, yeasty, wheaty). Unfortunately, my local homebrew store didn't have any wheat malt. . .so, I placed my order with William's Brewing, and it should all ship out tomorrow afternoon.

KPA Bottled

This evening, I bottled up the KPA. I siphoned it out of the carboy (everything had settled out nicely - there was relatively little sediment, and the beer looked very clear). For primer, I boiled 3/4 cup of corn sugar in 2 cups water, cooled the mix, and stirred it in to the beer. I got 37 12-ounce bottles and 4 16-ounce bottles, for a grand total of 41 bottles. Accounting for the pint bottles, this is a slightly higher bottle count than the last batch (which gave me 41 12-ounce bottles).

The beer has a nice amber color, and tastes pretty good so far (if one can trust flat beer). It's a little darker than I was expecting, so maybe next time I'll use only dry malt extract (which I've read can give a slightly lighter color). Now to wait for carbonation. . .