November 11, 2011

Beer here!

Well, after a two year delay, brew day is almost upon me again (the third child kind of put a crimp in my brewing area- it became a nursery). The beer to brew? A Delirium Tremens clone. If you haven't had it yet -look for the bottle with the pink elephants on it- I strongly suggest that you go out and get a bottle. Drive back home, crack it open and sip it. Do not attempt to drive afterwards, as it is more than little potent.

Where was I? Oh yeah: ingredients. Turns out that mice really, really like malt sugar and since I don't enjoy poop and pee in my beer (kind of why I don't like Budweiser), I had to chuck it and order more. And here's where it gets funny: my supplier didn't ship it because one of the two yeasts I ordered was back ordered. They didn't bother to inform in time. Nice, huh? Anyway, I started scrambling for substitutes.

1) Grains of paradise: use cardamom or black peppercorns
2) Belgian candi sugar: use table sugar. Really.
3) Biscuit malt and aromatic malt? Well, this one is trickier because I cannot get the usual substitutes. However, I'm going to modify the amount of Cara-Pils I had planned to use and toss in some other crystal and chocolate malt. It'll be close enough.
4) Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale or Belgian Strong Ale? Don't have them (thanks guys!), so I'm going to mix Belgian Abbey Ale II and some dry yeast.

Instead of brewing Delirium Tremens, I'm brewing Delirious Geek. My guess is that it will turn out just fine, albeit slightly different than what I was expecting. As with all brewing, ahem, experiments, I'm curious to see just how good the alternative recipe will be.

Bottling day will be a few weeks in the future. I'll provide an update then.

Oh, maybe you'd like to see the actual recipe? Here goes most of what I'll toss into the pot:

15 oz. mixed cara-pils, chocolate and Munich malt steeped in pot at 150F for 30 minutes. Strain water into brew pot. Sparge grains (fancy word for pouring water over/through grain) with 1/2 gallon of 150F water. Bring water to a boil, remove from the heat and add:

7.5 lb. M&F light dry malt extract
1.5 lbs table sugar (candi sugar substitute)
1 lb. Lyle's Golden Syrup
1.5 oz Williamette hops @ 4.7% AA (7.1 HBU) (bittering hop)

Add water in brew pot until the volume is 3.5 gallons. Boil for 45 minutes then add:

1/4 oz Williamette hops (flavor)
1/4 oz Cascade hops (flavor)
1 tsp Irish Moss

Boil for 11 minutes then add

1/4 oz. Cascade hops (aroma)
1/4 tsp cardamom or black peppercorns

Boil for 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and chill the wort for 20 minutes. Strain the cooled wort into the primary fermenter and add cold water to obtain 5-1/8 gallons. When temperature drops below 80F, pitch the yeast:

Wyeast Belgian Abbey Ale II
1 packet dry yeast

Ferment in the primary for 7 days or until fermentation slows, then rack (siphon) into the secondary stage fermenter (5 gallon glass carboy). Prime the beer win the second stage with another dose of the same strain of fresh yeast. In my case, I'll prime with Belgian Abbey Ale yeast, assuming it's sent to me. Bottle when fermentation is complete and beer has cleared (approximately 6 weeks) with:

1/2 cup corn sugar and 1/3 cup table sugar (candi sugar) that has been boiled in 2 cups water.

Happy brewing.

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July 14, 2009

Okay, so I was bit slow to finish my series

But Popular Mechanics could have waited another couple of weeks before publishing its guide to brewing beer. It would have been the polite thing to do.

Thanks to that Puppy Blending monster.

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July 05, 2009

Well, now I know what he uses to wash down a puppy aperitif

So, the Instamonster brews, or has brewed, beer. Who knew? Excerpt:

Brewing is kind of social, and the two guys I used to brew with puppies I used to sip moved away were all in my belly.

Ah well, he at least links to this article on brewing rigs, some of which I had planned to cover anyway, once I got around to advanced brewing concepts. Which reminds me: keep reading for installment #4 of Brewing Your First Beer. After I -finally- finish that series, I'll move on to intermediate brewing techniques, and eventually to advanced ones. Hopefully my readers (bless you both) will stay on board throughout.

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June 24, 2009

Brewing your first beer, post II: the ingredients

Our first beer is going to be an extract only brew and, to simply things even further, we're going to use what's called a beer kit. We will, however, discard the directions that come with the kit. Following those instructions reduces the chance of making a decent beer. Anyway.

So what kind of beer kit should you buy? Like anything else, it depends on what kind of beer you like. Stouts, pale ales, bitters, nut brown ale. For my part, I'm going to pick a nice, crisp, refreshing beer, one that will quench my summertime thirst. I'm not usually in the mood for a Guinness just after I've mowed the lawn. To that end, I've decided to brew my next beer using Coopers Draught malt extract kit. It comes in a 3.75 pound can, which isn't sufficient for a 5-gallon batch, meaning that I'll have to buy two. On to the next ingredient.

To magically transform malt sugar into alcohol, you're going to need yeast. Once again, we'll take the path of least resistance and use dried yeast. It's economical and easy to use. I've had good success using both Coopers Ale yeast and Doric ale yeast. The Munton's Ale yeast worked okay, too, but I've had more success with the other two. I recommend the Coopers Ale yeast because it ferments fairly well, even if the temperature climbs up out of the optimal range, which is certainly possible during the summer months.

The next ingredient is obvious: water. What may not be obvious, though, is that you shouldn't use plain old water straight out of the tap. Most municipal water systems are chlorinated and that stuff will make your beer taste like a child's wading pool. However, if your water is charcoal-filtered, you're all set. You could purchase 5-gallons of drinking water(not distilled) from the grocery store if you like, but I think it's unnecessary. Up to you, of course.

After your beer has fermented and you're ready to bottle, you'll have to add a little bit more yeast food to the beer so that it will carbonate in the bottle. So you'll need a little bit of corn sugar, about 3/4 cup or so. This is NOT table sugar and you won't find it in your grocery store. Just add it to your shopping cart when you're purchasing your other ingredients at the local homebrew supply shop.

Optional ingredient: some hop pellets for aroma/flavoring.

The kit you'll buy contains hops already, but these are bittering hops. There will be essentially no hop aroma from this kit unless you add some of your own. If you enjoy a nice hoppy aroma, you might consider tossing in 1/2 ounce of Cascade hop pellets. They have a great floral, citrusy aroma, which I really enjoy. Again, though, it's not necessary. Completely up to you.

To recap:

1) 2 x 3-4 pound cans of any hopped malt extract beer kit. I've chosen Coopers Draught kit for my brew; it comes in a 3.75 pound can.
NOTE: If your kit comes in a 6-7 pound can, you will only need one can. Just an FYI.

2) 5-gallons of water, with all of that nasty chlorine filtered out.

3) 1 package dried ale yeast, purchased separately from what's included with your beer kit

4) Optional: 1-ounce packet of Cascade hop pellets.

Up next in the series: brewing the darned thing.

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February 23, 2009

Beer en route

Here is an update to my previous post about the Breckenridge Christmas Ale clone:

1) Alexander does NOT make a 5.25 lb. can of liquid malt extract. Instead, I added a 4-lb. can of LME plus 1 pound of light dried malt extract dissolved in 1 quart of cold water at the 45-minute mark. The reason I didn't add the dry malt extract directly into the boiling wort is due to the fact that the dried malt extract would instantly develop a melted, hardened shell and not conclude melting for about hour or so. Not that this has ever happened to me, of course. It's just something that I've heard about. ::cough-cough::

2) American Ale yeast II doesn't act like most other ale yeasts I've used. Most of the rest quickly ramp up from zero activity to Old Faithful style fermentation locks within 24-48 hours of pitching the yeast. After that peak activity, things quickly subside to a more normal level of ferementation. Contrast this with what I've observed of the American Ale yeast II, which started slowly and then gradually increased it's activity over 6 days, popping my fermentation lock off of the carboy twice in one day; no, it did not rest on the seventh day. The third fermentation lock didn't blow it's top, but the lock did fill with dirty-colored water bubbling up from inside the carboy, which kind of negates the sanitary effect of using such a device.

3) I have to check my last batch of beer to see if any of the bottles are salvageable. If so, great: more to drink. If not, well, not so bad: I'll now have empty bottles to use. However, there's something inherently wrong about pouring bottles of lovingly crafted beer down the drain just because it's trying to win an Oscar for it's performance in the role of horse urine.

In any event, I'll probably rack (transfer via siphon) the beer to a secondary carboy, which will buy me some time before bottling. Since the arrival of child #3 is more or less imminent, I'm in favor of anything which pushes back due dates on activities.

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February 11, 2009

Brew time

Well, the yeast packet has almost swelled enough to be used. Time to brew this beer and see just how close I can get to the real thing. Here's hoping that I can avoid dumping two gallons of chlorinated water in this time.

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January 11, 2007

On to the next batch

Well, since my previous posts on brewing were so widely read, I've decided to post more stuff that will be of interest to one person only. Fortunately, that's the only person whose opinion I care about so, you know, I've got that goin' for me.


I just received the ingredients to make two batches of beer. One will be a clone of Breckenridge Brewery's Christmas Ale which, I expect, many of you have not tried as yet. I highly recommend it. Hopefully, my batch will turn out alright; I have no desire for more Swimming Pool Ale. The other batch will be a Fosters Lager clone, albeit one brewed at ale temperatures because no lagering ability at my house. I think that I'll call it the Fosters Steamer, in reference to brewing lagers at ale temperatures, a method popularized by Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco in the production of its fabulous Anchor Steam Ale.

Which one will I brew first? It's hard to say, but I'm leaning towards the Steamer because it will become drinkable more quickly, giving me plenty of homebrew to drink while the Christmas Ale ages. Regardless, I'll post my recipes and brewing logs as I go along. Feedback and/or questions are welcome.

See y'all soon.

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September 06, 2006

Support from an unexpected source

Michelle Malkin joins the legion of folks like me by advocating that you should Brew Your Own Beer.

Oh wait, it's a political post that mentions Miller and Anheuser Busch's support of illegal immigration. Since I don't drink their beer anyway, my new lack of support will go largely unnoticed by the two brewing giants. But my point still stands: brew your own beer. If you want some info, this archive is as good a place to start as any, in my humble opinion.

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July 27, 2006

A holiday for all of us

At least, for those of us who like alcohol. I give you Mead Day, courtesy of the American Homebrewers Association. Excerpt:

How to Celebrate

Before the event
• Invite non-brewing and brewing/meadmaking friends to help make mead.
• Hold a special pre-event mead dinner for Mead Day friends or family.

During the event
• Brew the Official Mead Day Recipe
• Tell friends and family about other American Homebrewers Association fun events – Big Brew, National Homebrewers Conference, Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day
• Bring out meadmaking literature for your friends to read– Compleat Meadmaker other meadmaking books
• Drink mead, pair your mead with food and HAVE FUN
• Bottle the mead you made together
• Buy an American Homebrewers Association membership as a gift for new homebrewers or meadmakers
• Have new homebrewers or meadmakers check out for up-to-date brewing informatio

I have some bottles of mead that are about 14 years old now, so they're just rounding into shape. For the record, smoked tea(lapsang) is a poor mead additive. Bleah.

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June 20, 2006

Wheat beer mashing

A commenter to this post asked me about mashing wheat grains in with the barley. My initial response was that it shouldn't be more than 50% or of the total grain bill. However, I forgot one or two things in the couple of years since I made an all-grain wheat beer. Here's an update:

Most malted barleys these days are modified to the point where a simple infusion mash will work just fine(except for beers requiring a decoction mash like a dopplebock). However, adding wheat malt to the mix alters things somewhat, owing to wheat malt's extremely high protein content. You should therefore add a protein rest to mashes containing wheat malt. 30 minutes or so at 122F should be sufficient. This rest will break down the largest proteins, while leaving some of the smaller ones, which will contribute to head retention.

What, you want more details? Okay, here's an example mashing schedule for a wheat beer:

1) Add 1 quart plus 1 cup water around 127F to every pound of grain(all types) and stir with a paddle of some type. The temperature should level off around 122F. Keep at that temp for about 20-30 minutes by sticking the whole mess in an over on low, keeping a low flame under your mash kettle, or my tossing the whole mess into an insulated cooler for the required duration. This is called the protein rest.

2) Heat the mash up to between 150-155 degrees and hold there for 60-70 minutes. This is the sacharification rest, where the long branch-chain sugars get converted into smaller, fermentable sugars.

3) Mash out by bringing the temperature of the mash to 170F for about 5 minutes. This stopped the enzymatic conversion of the starches into fermentable sugars.

I'll stop there for now, as I have no desire to go into sparging and lautering.

I'm reminded that I haven't posted anything in my Brewing Your Beer series lately. I promise to get back to it soon.

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April 07, 2006

Big Brew is coming...

What is Big Brew?

Each year on the first Saturday in May, homebrewers unite non-brewing and brewing friends and family to celebrate National Homebrew Day, joining with thousands of homebrewers from around the world in brewing the same recipes and sharing a simultaneous toast at noon Central Time.

Before the event, participants that are planning BIG BREW events register their site on this web site. These registered sites help the American Homebrewers Association track how many participants celebrated the event. Event results will be posted on this page a few weeks after the event.

To participate, you first have to register your Big Brew Site, or see if there's one already registered near where you live. Then decide which of the two selected recipes you'll actually brew. Since I don't actually enjoy Kölsch, I guess that I'll be brewing the Poor Richard's colonial ale. However, brew what you like; after all, the whole point of this exercise is to participate in homebrewing, which is a hobby that I wholeheartedly endorse. Finally, people around the globe will share a simultaneous toast at 12:00 noon, US Central Time.

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November 14, 2005

More beer blogging

Tim F. over at Balloon Juice posted his weekly Friday beer blogging post. Reading someone else who suffers from the same obsession as me is always a hoot, but I especially like his description of the boiling wort smell from a batch of pumpkin beer. Excerpt:

A short story; bear with me. Picture a freshman dorm in Colorado. Two friends have to run out to the homebrew supplier so it’s up to me to watch ten gallons of boiling, stinking pumpkin beer mash. For those of you who aren’t brewers, that’s roughly what it would smell like if Halloween died in a hot, sealed room and stayed there for a week. Rachel, a feared RA who loved nothing more than to bust students doing outlawed things like brewing beer, wanders in holding her nose.

“Whad are you doing?”
“Uh, ”
“Cooking dinner.”
“Seembs like a lod…”
“Whad is dat?”
“...Gazpacho. Ukranian pumpkin stew. It’s a family specialty. Want to try some?”
“Your loss. Sorry about the smell.”

I like to think that some day in the future she grabbed a waiter at a fine restaurant and declared, “I’ve seen gazpacho, and THAT’S NOT GAZPACHO.” Or something to that effect. The beer was worth the wait.

Tum actually reminds me that I still haven't written the Bottling Your Beer post in my Brewing Your First Beer series. I really want to finish that series and move on to intermediate brewing.

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September 14, 2005

Got mead?

A mead competition is upcoming. I've reprinted the ad from here in full:

If you've got mead, prepare to enter the 1st annual Valhalla - The Meading of Life !
Mead-Only Competition to be held Saturday, October 15 at the Mt. Pleasant Café 311 W. Mt. Pleasant Ave in Philadelphia, 19119 . This competition will judge meads in BJCP categories 24--traditional meads, 25--melomel and 26--other mead. One entry per subcategory per entrant, with a $5 per entry fee. The equivalent of at least 3 12-ounce bottles is required for judging, although bottle size and shape are not restricted. No identifying markings however can appear on the bottles. Any standard competition entry from may be used. It is the responsibility of the
entrant to properly identify the category and sub-category based on the
2004 BJCP Style Guidelines.

Meads may be mailed or dropped off at Home Sweet Homebrew, 2008 Sansom
Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 by Friday, October 7th
. Additional drop off
locations include Keystone Homebrew locations and Iron Hill Brewery and
Restaurant in West Chester, PA.

The competition would like to encourage knowledgeable mead judges to
commit to judging this event. Judges will receive breakfast and lunch.

The judging will take place from 9am to 1pm. Awards will be given out beginning at 1:30. There will also be a tasting with numerous commercial meads as well as the remainder of the meads from the competition following the judging. Following the competition there will be 2 seatings for a Medieval dinner at 4 and 7pm, reservations required call 215-242-1500 to make them.

Suzanne McMurphy, Competition Organizer
David Houseman, Judge Coordinator
Vince Galet, Asst. Competition Organize

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