Sunday, March 14, 2010

Experimental Golden Ale Bottled

Last night we bottled the Experimental Golden Ale. Final gravity was 1.012, for an estimated alcohol percentage of around 4.75 percent. The beer was a really nice and clear golden color, with the exact flavor (not too malty, not too hoppy) that I was hoping for. I primed the beer with 3/4 cup of corn sugar in one cup of water. Interestingly, the EGA foamed more than any other beer I've encountered previously while bottling. Don't know why this was; I'm curious to see what this will look like when I crack open some of the carbonated bottles.

The final yield was 37 12-oz. bottles and 2 of the big 22-oz. bottles.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Rainy Day IPA Update

We just finished transferring the Rainy Day IPA over to its secondary fermenter. S.G. is 1.014, which from a starting point of 1.056 equals around 5 percent alcohol (as predicted). The beer is a beautiful amber color, with a nice strong and hoppy taste. Later this afternoon we'll throw about 2 ounces of Cascade hop pellets in (with a bag), for a few weeks of dry hopping.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Rainy Day IPA

As we head into the second week of March, the California brewing season is drawing to a close. In order to stock the shelves for next seven or eight months, it's time to put together that final batch. Given the success of the season's first IPA, and my personal affection for a good IPA, I wanted to finish off in that vein. So, I put together this little recipe. We'll see how it turns out! Because I started it on a rainy day, and because I'm going to save some of this "for a rainy day," the recipe gets a creative name.

Ingredients for Rainy Day IPA
  • 10 oz. 20° crystal malt
  • 1 lb. 60° crystal malt
  • 3 lbs. golden light dry malt extract
  • 3 lbs. sparkling amber dry malt extract
  • 2.1 oz. whole Cascade hops (bittering)
  • 1 oz. Cascade hops pellets (5.4% alpha acid; second addition for bittering)
  • 1 oz. Cascade hops pellets (5.4% alpha acid; aroma)
  • 1054 American Ale Yeast (Wyeast brand "smack pack")
  • I heated 2.5 gallons of tap water to 158°, and steeped the crystal malt for 30 minutes.
  • I gently rinsed the malt (in its nylon steeping bag) with warm water, to bring the volume up to 3 gallons
  • I heated the liquid up to boiling, and then turned off the heat. I added the dry malt extract, and stirred it until dissolved. Then, I turned the heat back on. No issues with boil-over! I'll have to try this procedure (rather than just adding the DME to boiling water) again. It probably results in a very slightly darker wort, but I think it's worth the reduction in hassle!
  • Once the wort was back at boiling, I added the whole Cascade hops. I let it boil for around 18 minutes, before realizing I should add a few more hops in order to get to the desired bitterness. So, I then added an ounce of the hops pellets.
  • After 55 minutes of boiling, I added 1 oz. more of Cascade hops (for aroma), and boiled this for 5 minutes more. Then, I chilled, decanted into the secondary fermenter, and topped it up to around 4.5 gallons with distilled water. Finally, I pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.056, calculating out to 7 percent potential alcohol content. This will probably translate, when all is said and done, to about 5 percent alcohol content. The wort is a nice straw color. . .somewhere between amber and golden.
I found a very handy IBU calculator here. Assuming 6 pounds of DME in 3 gallons of water ([6 lbs * 43 points per pound]/3 gallons = 1.086 s.g. during the boil) and 5.4% alpha acids for all hops, the resulting black-box calculation showed an IBU yield of 108.4 for the 3 gallons. By the time this gets diluted out to 5 gallons, I would predict a specific gravity of 1.057 and an IBU of 72. My actual gravity (1.056) was a little higher because I only filled to about 4.5 - 4.75 gallons.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Experimental Golden Ale Update

I just transferred the EGA over to the secondary fermenter. The transfer happened a little later than normal (12 days, rather than the 7 days I usually aim for) on account of travel and other stuff going on during the past week.

I had hoped to measure the s.g., but my little plastic sampling tube (in which the hydrometer floats) broke. So, it will have to wait until bottling time.

As always (at least in my biased opinion), this looks like it's going to be a pretty good batch. The color is nice and light (as I had aimed for), and the brew is tasting OK so far. I now understand why Windsor ale yeast is considered to be of lower flocculation than Nottingham. . .there was far less sediment in the bottom of the primary than I'm usually used to! So, it will probably sit for at least three weeks before getting bottled.

A sample glass of the Experimental Golden Ale

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Experimental Golden Ale

  • 5 oz. carapils malt
  • 5 oz. 20 degree crystal malt
  • 6 lbs. BrewMaster golden light dried malt extract
  • 1.5 oz. whole Saaz hops (bittering)
  • 0.5 oz. whole Saaz hops (aroma)
  • 1 packet Windsor Ale dry yeast
I steeped the grains for 25 minutes in 2.5 gallons of tap water at 158 degrees and sparged them with half a gallon of water. Then, I heated the mixture up to boiling, adding the malt extract and bittering hops. These boiled for 55 minutes, and then I added the aroma hops. After five more minutes of boiling, I removed the wort from the stove and chilled it down to about 75 degrees. I put the wort in the bucket, and topped it up with distilled water to around 4.5 gallons. Finally, I sprinkled the yeast on top before sealing it up. The brew is fermenting at around 65-68 degrees (ambient air temperature in my apartment these days).

Starting gravity was 1.050, or 6 percent potential alcohol. The Windsor yeast strain is supposed to ferment to a lower alcohol content, so maybe I'll get around 4-4.5 percent in the end. The wort is a nice golden color right now, and the beer should be quite pretty by the time it's finished. I put the brew in the primary fermenter on Saturday, February 6, and by the next day it had already started bubbling along. Can't wait!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Premium Oatmeal Stout

  • 1 lb. flaked oats
  • 8 oz. roasted barley
  • 12.5 oz. 80° crystal malt
  • 8 oz. chocolate malt
  • 1.5 lbs. amber dry malt extract
  • 6 lbs. traditional dark liquid malt extract
  • 2 oz. American Fuggles hops pellets (bittering)
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer whole hops (aroma)
  • 1 packet Nottingham dry yeast
Unfortunately, I only realized at the last minute that I didn't have any roasted barley! Luckily, I found this page on how to roast your own. It was pretty easy - I took 12 oz. of pearl barley (straight from the grocery store), and spread them out as a single layer on a cookie sheet. I roasted the barley at 450° for 35 minutes, and it ended up with a nice, black color on the outside with a dark brown inside. The end weight was about 9 or 10 ounces, just the right amount for my recipe.

I steeped the grains in 2.5 gallons of water at 150 degrees for 45 minutes, and then sparged them with a half gallon of water. Once I heated it to a boil, I added the malt extract and bittering hops. After 55 minutes of boiling, I added the aroma hops for a final five minutes.

I chilled the wort, and topped it up with distilled water to around 4.5 gallons. The starting gravity was 1.052, or 7 percent potential. This is a very thick, rich wort - probably on account of the oats. It is almost slippery in feel!

After one week, I transferred the beer from the primary to the secondary. The beer had separated out into layers, with a very sludgy layer in the middle in addition to the usual one at the bottom. I wonder if this was some of the unfermentables from the oats. . .next time, I'll probably use a kit. I only transferred about 2.5 gallons, and dumped the rest - it was just too sludgy to deal with! The stuff I transferred tasted just fine (in fact, rather good, like a stout should). . .so, I'm not sure what the deal was.

At this point, the gravity was 1.032, or 4 percent potential. After the transfer into the carboy, fermentation picked right back up at a very vigorous rate. I waited another two weeks, and then bottled. The final gravity was 1.020 (2.5 percent potential), meaning I've got a brew with 4.5 percent alcohol (right about where I want it). I used a little over 1/3 cup corn sugar for carbonation. Because I had to discard so much during the transfer to the secondary, I ended up with but 18 12-oz. bottles in the end. Hence the name, "Premium Oatmeal Stout."

At the time of bottling (February 5, 2010), it's tasting pretty good. A nice toasty flavor and a really beautiful, dark hue. Thus, I'm really looking forward to trying out the carbonated product in a few weeks!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

AAA Bottled

Tonight I bottled the Astro Amber Ale (AAA, or A-Cubed, for short), getting 39 of the 12-oz. bottles and 4 of the pint bottles. Not too bad of a yield! The uncarbonated brew is a nicely mild amber, but I will eagerly await to see how it matures over the next week or two.

The final specific gravity was 1.021, no change from when it was transferred to the secondary. Thus, we have a final alcohol content estimated at 3.8 percent, making it a moderately lightweight amber ale. I must confess that I'm a little surprised by this - perhaps it is a result of using a different brand of yeast?

AAA, all bottled up and ready to carbonate.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Claremont IPA, The Final Verdict

The Claremont India Pale Ale, after bottle conditioning for a few weeks

Tonight I tried a bottle or two of the Claremont IPA that I bottled a few weeks ago. It has conditioned nicely, with a good malty flavor and definite hops flavor. I'm quite pleased with the level of bitterness in the initial taste and aftertaste. Head retention is nice, the brew is well-carbonated, and the color is gorgeous. My only disappointment is that the dry-hopped aroma seems to have gotten lost since bottling; perhaps next time I'll try Cascade or a similar stronger hop. Every batch is an experiment! There will definitely be at least one more IPA before the brewing season is out.