Monday, March 2, 2009

Oh man. . . . has it really been over a year since I've brewed? It looks that way, but I have all my ducks in a row now and hopefully it won't be another year. So I went to the brew shop yesterday and didn't have recipe in mind (was kind of shooting for an IPA) so I just kind of winged it. I ended up with what's going to be an Old Ale. Here's the ingredients and boil times.

Amount Item Type % or IBU
5 lbs Amber Liquid Extract (12.5 SRM) Extract 48.78 %
4 lbs Pale Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM) Extract 39.02 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
8.0 oz Belgian Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
4.0 oz Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
1.00 oz Nugget [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 25.4 IBU
1.00 oz Nugget [13.00 %] (45 min) Hops 23.3 IBU
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops 5.9 IBU
1.00 oz Williamette [5.50 %] (5 min) Hops 2.4 IBU
5.00 gal Portland OR Water
1 Pkgs SafAle American Ale (DCL Yeast #S-05) Yeast-Ale

I also made a 500ml yeast starter with 2 ounces of the LME mixture and left on stir plate over night. I put starter in fridge at beginning of brew day to allow yeast to drop out. After the yeast dropped out I ended up with almost no wort to decant off and almost all yeast. I also finally got an immersion chiller so it's going to make brew day so much easier. Last night I boiled the chiller in about 3/4 of a gallon of vinegar and 3 gallons of water to clean and test it and it worked great. My water is very cold and it chilled the vinegar and water to pitching temp in about 15 minutes.

My brew day started off with a minor glitch, as I was putting the grains in the grain bag (which I was holding over the brew pot) I dropped one side of it and all the grain went straight into the sparge water. So I just poured it through a sieve into another pot and then back into the brew pot after it was done sparging.

After chilling I poured wort through a sieve and into the fermenter and added water which I let sit out over night with a sanitized paper towel over it to dechlorinate. I brought it to 5 gallons, pitched the yeast and put it in my brew closet.

I will be posting updates so keep checking back

Friday, March 14, 2008

Busy Brewer

Man I've been busy with brewing stuff. After getting the cider racked to secondary I decided that it was time to start gathering the necessary stuff to get going with all grain brewing so I have been putting together a mash tun. I was lucky enough to find a guy selling coolers on Craigslist for pretty cheap so I picked up two for $6. One to make a mash tun and another to use as a cooler. I ended up getting a 48qt Coleman and a 24qt Rubbermaid (both were chest coolers) and I decided to use the larger one for the project. For the manifold I used 1/2" CPVC pipe and a combination of brass and stainless steel hardware (i.e. ball valve, coupler, washers etc.). The cooler I used was an older model so the drain was just a hole with an attached plastic cork on a hinge type thing so I didn't have to remove a valve, or drill any holes. Anyway there's not a whole lot that goes into making one, the most time consuming thing was getting all the parts. So here are a couple pics so you can see how it goes together. Feel free to leave any comments or questions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Secondary Cider

Ok so I racked the cider into secondary today mainly because well. . . .I was bored, and I wanted to free up my primary fermenter in case I feel like making something else. I took a gravity reading of 1.001 which gives me about 8% ABV, but it's still fermenting. I also tasted it and it is quite dry as I expected. I'm considering sweetening it with lactose when I bottle because lactose is unfermentable and will not cause bottle explosions. It looks like the formula should be about 2lb of lactose and 3/4 cup of brown sugar for priming since I'm planning to make it sparkling. Bottling is a long way off so I might just leave it dry, I like it nice and tart personally.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Big Bad Bottling Day

I just got finished bottling the Barley wine today. I primed with 3/4 cup of corn sugar and a packet of re-hydrated Safale US-05 since it was such a high gravity beer. FG is still at 1.015. I actually tried a little while bottling and I cant wait for it to finish. The little bit I tasted actually made my ears warm. This recipe may become a staple in my line up. Christi tasted a little sip and she didn't think it was bad either, and that's impressive since she doesn't like beer. I think she's a little afraid of it though because when she was helping me bottle she said "one of these big bottles is gonna get me drunk isn't it?". He he he. . . . Anyway I ended up with 12/22oz bottles, 13/20oz bottles, and 12/12oz bottles. Looks like I'm gonna need some more bottles for the cider since I only have about a dozen twelve ouncers left.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yummy Cider!

So I wanted to get something going so when the barley wine was aging we had some good home brew to drink, so I decided to make a cider since Christi isn't much of a beer drinker. I picked up 4 gallons of fresh cider and 3 cans of frozen condensed apple juice. I added 6oz of brown sugar and 2.5lbs of white sugar, some ginger and cinnamon to the reconstituted apple juice and brought it to a boil. I cooled it down and added it to the cider. I reconstituted the apple juice with less water than recommended to help increase the gravity. I only used 3 of the gallons of the cider because I decided to drink one fresh, so we only ended up with 4 gallons in the fermenter. I added everything in the fermenter took a gravity reading of 1.060 and pitched the yeast (red star champagne yeast because I wanted a drier cider). Anyway, this was a totally improvised recipe so we'll see what happens, keep checking back for updates.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Red Kettle Big Bad Barley Wine Update

I took a gravity reading today and since racking to the secondary fermenter the FG dropped another 5 points from 1.020 (which was awesome) to 1.015. I started with 1.116 so this gives me a total attenuation of 85.95% and the ABV is about 13.5%. All I can say is HOLY SHIT! So far this beer is living up to it's "Big Bad" name.

Stir Plate Parts and Pics

Here are some photos of the internals and wiring of my home made stir plate. It's a pretty simple build even for beginners, I've never even soldered before (not successfully anyway) and I got it to work on my first try. It's made with 2 neodymium magnets which are glued to the center hub on an 80mm PC cooling fan, a project enclosure, and some various parts from RadioShack. I saw a lot of people online making these that were just twisting wires together, and using wire-nuts to insulate connections. But I wanted it to last so I decided to solder all of the connections. I had never had much luck with soldering so I found some videos online that explained how to do it, and from that I managed to pull it together. I soldered everything before I put it in the case, and after doing so I realized that the power jack had to be inserted from the outside. So I had to cut the wires, then install the jack, and re-solder the wires back together, no biggie just a beginners mistake. Anyway speaking of power jacks, I also saw a lot of other people's designs they cut the power plug off of an AC adapter and hard wired it into the controls. I had a few ac adapters laying around but they also went with other devices so I didn't want to eliminate my ability to use them with the device they belonged too. So I installed the power jack which allowed me to do this and it also gave me the ability to use other adapters with different voltages to vary speed beyond what the rheostat can provide.

As you've already read I have a batch of barley wine going in it's 2nd week in the secondary fermenter once it is racked to bottles I plan on harvesting some of the yeast form the carboy to rinse and save for future brews. My plan is that since the secondary fermenter doesn't generally have as heavy of a yeast deposit as the primary I'm planning to gather what yeast I can and use my new stir plate to make a starter just to get the cell count up, then put it in the fridge to hibernate so I can dip into this culture for future brews.

Ok so enough of my yammering. . . . . on with the pictures:

Below is a view of the front of the stirrer. The case came from RadioShack along with most of the parts. It is the 6x9x3 enclosure Catalog #: 270-1809. The power switch is Catalog #: 275-711, and the Rheostat (Speed Control) is Catalog #: 271-265, with the control knob being Catalog #: 274-402. The material on top of it is just an old mouse pad that I cut and glued in place with the rubber side up to provide a non-slip surface and to help level the surface with the protruding bolt heads. It also helps absorb some of the vibration and control some of the noise. I also cut squares from the mouse pad and glued them to the bottom of the case for the same purposes. By the way those bolts are temporary, they're just what I had around the house. I do plan to replace them with ones that sit flush with the surface eventually.

This picture is an overview of the open case showing the wiring. I harvested the fan from an old computer power supply that I had lying around, all the wire came from it also. You can also see that I used plastic soda bottle caps for spacers to mount the fan to the top of the enclosure. You can't see the magnets but they are a pair of 3/8"x3/8" round neodymium magnets which are glued as far apart as I could get them on the center hub of the fan. I had to pick these up at an industrial magnet store (Northwest Magnet) for $3, Radioshack didn't have any that were strong enough at the time.

The next picture is of the back of the case showing the power jack with the adapter plugged in. You can see it gives it a nice finished look along with providing the flexibility of being able to use different AC adapters.

So that's pretty much it there's not much to it. If you are even slightly mechanically inclined you can most likely make one too. It cost me around $15 to make and I used as many improvised/recycled parts as possible to keep cost down. My only advice is be careful with the neodymium magnets, those little bastards are strong and can hurt if you get a finger, or skin pinched between them when they're flying together.