Monday, February 23, 2009

California Summer Ale

As the winter brew season winds down, I've decided to brew one or two batches of something lighter in color and flavor. So, I poked around on the internet to find a recipe that I could adapt for ingredients on hand as well as those available at the local home brew store (which I'm finding has a pretty decent and reasonably-priced supply of most of the basics). Here's what I came up with!

Ingredients for "California Summer Ale"
  • 1 lb. carapils malt
  • 5 lbs. light dried malt extract (American brand)
  • 1.5 oz. whole Saaz hops (bittering)
  • 0.5 oz. whole Saaz hops (aroma)
  • 4.25 fl. oz. Wyeast American ale yeast 1056 (activator pack)
  1. I heated two and a half gallons of tap water to 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and steeped the carapils malt (in a nylon bag) for 25 minutes.
  2. I rinsed the malt with warm tap water (also approximately at 158 degrees), to bring the volume up to three gallons.
  3. Then, I heated the water to boiling and added the dried malt extract as well as the bittering hops. These were boiled for 58 minutes.
  4. For the final two minutes of the boil, I added the aroma hops.
  5. I stuck the whole pot in a sink of ice water, and let it cool down a fair bit. Once it was cool, I decanted the wort into my primary fermenter, and topped it up to five gallons with cold distilled water.
  6. Then, I pitched the yeast. I activated the pack yesterday afternoon, and found that it swelled up much more quickly than I was expecting! We'll see how it does today. I can't imagine there is any harm from just sitting overnight.
  7. The initial gravity is 1.042. This is a potential alcohol of 5.2 percent or so, but given my usual yield I would predict it will end up being about 3.5 -4 percent in the end.
Ingredients Cost Summary
The light malt extract was $4/lb, for a total cost of $20. The hops were free, the yeast cost $7 for the package, and the carapils malt was $2 for a 1 lb. package. Adding in $2 for the water, and another $2 or so for the ice used to cool this down, I spent approximately $33 on ingredients for this batch. Assuming I'll get around 48 bottles from this batch, that works out to ~69 cents of ingredients per bottle. Of course, this doesn't factor in the equipment costs (which probably about doubles things after five batches of beer), but it's still a pretty good price (under $5 per six-pack!) for what I hope will be good beer.

Other tidbits
For this brew session, I made the leap to purchase a few nylon bags for grain steeping and hops boiling. This is the best brewing investment I've made so date! It's way easier than cheesecloth, ridiculously reusable, and will definitely be cheaper in the long run.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

All-American Porter Brewed and Bottled

I brewed up the All-American Porter exactly as outlined in a previous last post. I steeped the grains for around 45 minutes, and gently rinsed them with warm water. In an effort to keep the gravity up, I only filled the primary fermenter to just under 4.5 gallons. Initial gravity was 1.051--the highest of any I've brewed to date. I let it ferment in the primary for a week, and then transferred it to the secondary fermenter, where it's been aging and settling for the last three weeks. The final gravity was 1.014, giving an alcohol content of approximately 5 percent. Definitely the strongest I've ever brewed!

This afternoon I bottled it up, with a yield of 42 12-oz. bottles. I was a little worried about the flavor initially, because the wort was pretty bitter. But, the flavor has mellowed out really, really nicely in the intervening weeks. I daresay this may be the best I've brewed so far--we'll have to see how it all carbonates up!

Wheat Beer Bottled and Drinkable

Ok, so it's been a long time since the last post. The All-American Porter has been brewed and will get bottled later today. Also, the wheat beer got bottled two weeks ago--we ended up with 41 bottles, if I remember correctly. Some of these were the larger pint-sized bottles, too. I cracked the first bottle earlier this week, and it has carbonated up nicely. It's pretty drinkable, although in hindsight the normal fruity aroma associated with the German wheat beers is not quite to my taste. A little slice of lemon really rounds out the flavor, though. Next time, I think I'll try an American strain of yeast--these seem to lack the fruity aroma/flavors seen in many of the European strains.