Saturday, December 19, 2009

AAA Update

I just transferred the Astro Amber Ale over to the secondary fermenter. The gravity right now is 1.021, down from a starting gravity of 1.052. This provides a current alcohol content of roughly 3.8 percent. I expect that this will go up just a little bit as I let the beer finish fermenting and conditioning in the carboy over Christmas. My plan is to bottle in about two or three weeks.

In the glass, the beer has a nice reddish brown hue, and a pleasantly warm and malty taste with a smooth finish. This is a very, very premature judgement of what the final flavor might be like, of course. Regardless, I can't wait to try out the finished, carbonated product in a month or so!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Astro Amber Ale

Tonight, I decided to try for an amber ale. My buddy Steve came over to assist (in his first brewing experience ever - wow, is he brave!), and we had a great time. The ingredients I had at home lent themselves well to an amber ale (and I was in the mood for one, too), so I did a little searching on-line to find a good base recipe. Once I had that in hand, time to get creative! Here's the recipe I concocted:

Basic ingredients
6.6 lbs Briess Sparkling Amber Liquid Malt
1 lb. dry light malt
8 oz. crushed crystal malt, 40°L
4 oz. crushed crystal malt, 80°L
2 oz. carapils malt
1 oz. crushed chocolate malt
1 oz. whole Cascade hops (South Dakota grown)
1 oz. whole Sterling hops (South Dakota grown)
0.5 oz. whole Hallertauer hops (South Dakota grown)
1 packet Muntons Active Brewing Yeast, prepared according to package directions

Here's what I did:
  1. Steeped crystal malt, carapils malt, and chocolate malt in 2.5 gallons of water at ~155°F for 45 minutes
  2. Sparged malts with 0.5 gallons of water at ~155°F
  3. Heated the tea to a boil, and added the liquid malt extract and then the dry malt extract, and then added the Cascade hops
  4. Boiled for 45 minutes, and then added the Sterling hops
  5. Boiled for 15 minutes, and then added the Hallertauer hops
  6. Removed from heat, removed Cascade and Sterling hops, and then cooled using my cooling coil system (nice!)
  7. Once the wort was cooled down to ~70°F, I decanted it into the primary fermenter and topped up to 5 gallons with chilled distilled water
  8. I added the yeast, sealed up the system, and let it get on to fermenting!
The starting gravity was 1.052, indicating a potential alcohol content of around 6.8 percent. Assuming typical yield, this tasty amber ale will probably end up around 5 percent alcohol by volume. The wort has a nice reddish brown hue right now, and I expect it to lighten up some as the various proteins settle out. Next weekend, I'll transfer it over to the secondary fermenter and let the whole mess condition over the Christmas holiday.

And of course, here's the requisite picture of the wort:

Claremont IPA, The (Semi-)Final Verdict

I've been falling down on the job with updating on the Claremont IPA. After one week, we transferred it over to the secondary fermenter, and added an ounce of whole, dry Sterling hops (weighted with some marbles in the hops baggie) for dry hopping. The beer sat in the secondary fermenter for around three weeks. When we pulled it out to bottle, the uncarbonated beer had a beautiful, subtle hops aroma, and the wonderful bitter taste that we all expect for a good IPA. Final gravity was 1.15, so this means an actual alcohol content of 6.5 percent. Not too shabby!

We ended up with 38 bottles - 11 of the big, 16 oz. Grolsch bottles, and 27 of the regular, 12 oz. bottles.

All signs are pointing to this being a most excellent beer, and a successful first venture into dry hopping. Nice color, nice flavor, nice finish. I'm really looking forward to trying the first carbonated bottle!