Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Beer Runneth Over. Not Good.

To an experienced brewer this photo says it all.  You open the bottle and out comes a gentle fountain of foam.  This beer got infected somehow and since every bottle suffered in the same way I'd guess the beer wasn't the greatest when I put it in there.
This is the last of a batch of Steam Beer I made some time ago.
I'm still not having much luck making this beer well since we moved from Memphis 4 and a half years ago.  A bad fermentation is just an added insult.  This does not happen often in my brewery.  But every once in a while I'm reminded to pay more attention to sanitation. 
I can't help but to try and make this beer again.
Maybe in the Spring.
My beer is plentiful, though.
I have kegged (and already drank about half of) a great tasting English Pale.  And I'm lagering an Oktoberfest for a few weeks in the keg for the Winter.
Out of CO2 right now.  But I'll get filled up by the weekend.
I just bottled an Oktoberfest I made right after the first one and put it in the stock room along with the Amber I bottled last weekend.
I made a Pale today using the yeast I harvested by racking the IPA I made a week ago.
The IPA, surprisingly, is taking a bit longer for visible fermentation to fall off.
The Pale (on the left) is just getting started.
I'm going to have a lot of packaging to do in the next couple of weeks.
Good Beer To You.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bitter October

I decided to make the best use of my yeast.
I made a Best Bitter right before we went on vacation.
This is a good beer.  I find myself rationing it over time as my supply diminishes.
So I thought, why not make two batches so I can enjoy it throughout the year as I continue to make my core group of American Ales. 
I have the yeast, after all. since I bottled Bellevue's Best Bitter yesterday.
So I made it again.
 Good mash temperature.  Decent efficiency.
I think I'll drop this one into the keg and save the bottles I packaged yesterday for the Winter/Spring drinking season.
Same with the Oktoberfest I made nearly a month ago.
My good neighbor, Eric likes this beer so I'll keg the batch I've got in the fermenter now and turn the yeast around this weekend for a batch of bottles to make Eric happy for the Winter.
He has mowed my yard twice when I have been out of town or out of sorts.
I think he deserves a well made beer.
 And, as always, Good Beer To You too.

Monday, September 28, 2015

It's October. Where's The Maerzen?

Yes, I know this beer is normally made in March and lagered until it is ready to be consumed in the Fall but I like to make it around the time it gets cool enough here to ferment ales in the basement leaving the fermentation vault in the garage available for the month it takes to finish a lager like this one.  There are other beers to be made in the interim.  Bitters, Alts, probably another Amber and an IPA.  Maybe even a Rye IPA.
Anyway here it is.
Good krausen on top despite the vault holding the temperature to around 51 degrees.
I had made a starter from a fresh pack of Bavarian Lager yeast a couple of weeks ago.  It started a little slow and I didn't get to brew anyway so I held it for a week and stepped it up a few days before I pitched it on Saturday.  I didn't forget to crash it to about 53 degrees before I poured it into the wort, which I chilled accordingly.
I did a decoction for this beer.  That is, I mashed the wort at about 122 degrees for about 30 minutes and brought a portion of it to a boil before I put it back in the mash tun to bring the mash to a rest temperature of 155.
This is an old technique that has been used historically with malts that might need a bit of help converting their starches to sugars.
The malts I'm using probably don't need the benefits of this step, but, you know, it's a bit of a lost art and I believe that making great beer is a creative act, so I did it anyway.
If this beer is competition worthy I'll enter it and, of course, post the result.
Until then.  Good Beer To You.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Slow Yeast

First, the Pale that fell on the floor tastes fantastic.
One of my best versions of it.  Just in time for a couple of competitions coming up.
Since then I've made a Blonde, a Stout and a Brown.
Today I'd like to make an Oktoberfest.
But the Bavarian Starter I made last night is not as active as I'd prefer.
I'm sure this will eventually get going but if I'm going to make beer during the next two weeks I need to make it today.
It's early in the day so I'm going to wait til this afternoon to hopefully see more bubbles in this airlock.
If not, I'm unwilling to risk the grain and hops.
Good Beer To You

Monday, August 3, 2015

Accident? Maybe. I Doubt It. I Guess We'll See.

The picture says it all.
I was getting ready to crack a carefully measured Pale grist and...
Well, I don't really know what happened but I looked and saw the heart of my beer on the floor.
I have to admit I wasn't really perturbed by this.  I mean the grain is a bit 'dirty' anyway being malted on an open floor at a malt house somewhere.
So I swept it up and weighed the total to see how much I lost.
As it turns out, I lost only about 1.6 ounces of the total.
I added a pinch of this and a pinch of that and made up the loss.
The variance from the recipe percentages will be negligible.
I made beer twice this weekend and my fermentation vault door will only shut when a large 6.5 gallon carboy and a 6 gallon carboy are inside.
Nothing more.
So on Sunday I made a short batch of Pale (5.2 gallons) so I could fit both in the same fridge.
I prepared a starter for the Amber I made on Saturday and used about 2/3 of it for the beer.
This left about12 ounces of good California Ale yeast (combined with a bit of saved Amber wort) to be started for the Pale I made on Sunday.
The beer started well and I can't wait to see if scraping spilled grain off of my garage floor will become a great tasting Pale Ale.
I pledge to be honest with the results.

Good Beer To You.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Late To The Party

No.  I'm not talking about lagging behind on a busy social calendar.
I'm promoting my wife's blog.
If you're a runner, or you like Disney, or both, you might tune in to Late To The Party.
It's a regular discussion of tips, tricks and happenings at the intersection of the two most passionate interests of the love of my life.
On to beer.
I'm planning an Amber for this weekend.  Jenny loves it more than I do so I need to keep plenty of it around.
I checked my log and was surprised to find that I just made it on June 1st.
I only have four bottles left.
That probably says something bad about my level of consumption.
Good Beer To You.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Getting Re-Supplied

I'm planning several beers for the remainder of the Summer and on through the holiday season so this weekend I stocked up on raw materials. 
I want to make a Bock, an Octoberfest, an Altbier, English Pales and, of course my whole line of American Ales.  Blonde, Pale, Amber, Brown, Stout and Steam Beer.  An English IPA and a Porter will likely make an appearance as well.
I've got 21 grains and 5 yeasts.  I will need a couple of ounces of hops here and there but that will be a minimal expense.  I already have a couple of pounds of my core hops.  Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, Citra, Northern Brewer, Magnum, Glacier, Amarillo and Hallertauer.  A half pound of Kent Goldings and Saaz will round me out for the cool brewing season. 
I should be able to make a dozen batches with what I've got here and that will take nearly 6 months.  The savings will be felt in the price per pound of grain.
I'm excited.
The IPA is almost finished and ready to be packaged.  I think I'll keg it up later this week.
The other batch is in bottles on the right in this photo.
Good Beer To You.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Happened To All My Beer?

I drank a good deal of it, of course.
But I gave a substantial amount away too.
It's OK, I'm glad to do it.  Particularly so if it leads me to a like minded soul who also can't stop thinking about doing this professionally.
Craft is still on the rise.  The market is still there and going strong.
Still, it's not a big deal.
I have a good job.
I'm not unhappy. Etc, etc.
Anyway I decided to make another IPA today, even though I just made one two weeks ago.
 I have been working on this recipe for a few months now.  I mean my IPA was technically correct, I guess.
I won a couple of medals with it.  But it wasn't really very good.
I want an IPA that people gush over.  My old one wasn't it.
So I re-thought the recipe and came up with this.
It's better.  But it still needs work.
One thing I found was that using London ESB yeast improved it a bit.  I tried the same grist with 1056 and it wasn't as good so I went back to 1098.  Now I want to mess with the hops to arrive at a new, more appealing flavor..
Don't pay attention to the Cascade at the start.  I needed some hop oils to keep the foam down for a few minutes before the main bittering addition.  But I did want to account for the effect on the finished beer.
I had all the other hops and decided to give this blend a try.
We'll see, in a few2 weeks, how the two batches compare.
In case you're wondering, the Bohemian Pilsener was a success.
 The beer is delicious and I'll make it again.  But not for a while.  There are several others I want to make before Winter.
I still want to make a Bock, a Belgian Blonde and an Altbier.
Unfortunately, I have a few household objectives to achieve while I try to get these beers made.
I got the lower deck painted before we went on vacation but another deck awaits and the job is mine to do.
And that deck now has hop bines wrapped around it.

My hops are a disappointment.

No cones this year.
Second year in a row.
I guess I need more study on this too.
Good Beer To You.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bohemian Pilsener

I decided to try a new style today.
I have enjoyed a few Bohemian Pilseners and  happen to have a few ounces of aging Chech Saaz so I decided to use it up and make one.
I hit the mash well at 155 degrees.  It lost only one degree after an hour.
This beer can stand a longer boil to drive off DMS (Di-Methyl-Sulfide).  I threw in a bit of hops at the start to attenuate the foam that occurs when un-hopped wort comes to a boil.
I hope this beer is good.  The Bohemian Lager yeast I'm using will need to work for about a month before I can  package the beer.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pale For The Keg

My supervisor jacked my schedule this week and I have to work Saturday.  But the silver lining is that I have Monday off and thus, a day to make beer.
I'm going to try one more time, to make one of my old leaky kegs work.  Right now I have to pressurize the beer too much just to get a tight seal.  Then the beer develops carbonic acid, which does not taste good.
Anyway, I cleaned it up and applied a good deal of Keg Lube so it's ready to go.
All I have to do is make a good beer to put in it.
The Pale I'm making today is going well.

I hit the mash well and I feel like the beer will hit all the essential parameters within a point or two.
If the kegging goes well I'm going to finally convert this fridge into a kegerator.
 The draft tower for the top isn't more than $100 and I already have the CO2 set up.
I have been using picnic taps for several years now and I want to make the leap toward being able to get right out of the car in my brewery (I mean) garage and get a beer as I go into the house.
This fridge fits two kegs so I'd like to get a 2 faucet draft tower. 
If these kegs do not hold pressure well I'm going to buy a couple of commercial kegs with Sanke fittings.

 Good Beer To You

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I bottled my re-invented IPA today and it tasted really good.  I can't wait for it to condition so I can drink it.
There was a bit of trub so I only got 5.2 gallons in the bottles.
Yesterday I finally brewed Moose Highland, my alleged Goose Island IPA clone.
It's a good beer but doesn't really taste like Goose Island.
And with a fresh starter of London ESB yeast, it's fermenting vigorously at 69.5 degrees.
This should yield enough IPA to get me into the Summer months.
Right now I've got  lots off beer at my house.

Irish Red,
a nearly 2-year-old Hefeweizen,
Steam Beer,
two English Pales,
a Stout,
and six bottles of American Pale.
My beer room runneth over.
I had every intention of entering Homebrew Extravaganza, in Memphis, again this year.  But at the last minute I decided I couldn't afford it.
I hope it was a success again this year, as it always has been.  I miss the fellowship and support of my homebrew friends down there.
Time now to clean the garage, I mean the brewery, and my warm weather fermenting chamber.
Next, I'm going to make a Pale for the keg.
Good Beer To You.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bitter Valentine

Despite the title, yesterday was wonderful at my house.  Steak, asparagus, chocolate covered strawberries and a nice sparkling wine followed by a liter of Amber.
But I'm making an IPA today and I need a clever name.
I'm not sure about Bitter Valentine but that's what it's going to be.
 The brewery is cold.  Arctic air has covered Nashville so problems with hoses freezing and kettle cleaning will persist.  No worries.
This is a completely new IPA.  The old recipe was OK, decent I guess.  But I really want to make one that shines, so I started from scratch.  Here's the recipe.
 A couple of new grains but new hops too.  I'm switching from California Ale yeast to London ESB to give it more of a British groove.
I hit the mash temp well and only lost one degree by the end of it.  150 was the target.  I want this beer to be a little thinner.  I increased the boil to 70 minutes to drive off DMS.
 I'd like to fill a couple of spots in the beer room with IPA to round out my available inventory.

Next I'll make Moose Highland, my Goose Island IPA clone.
Good beer to you.

Monday, January 26, 2015

New Year, Fresh Beer

The holiday season and a couple of illnesses have kept me from brewing regularly these last months.
But I'm back with a weekday to myself making a Stout to appease my wife.

 She loves this beer so it's good to have plenty available.
This version will be a bit different than the last one.  I'm changing up the finishing hops a bit to use up some Columbus and Chinook.
I'd also like to get a large entry together for the Memphis beer competition.  It's one of the oldest beer clubs in the nation and the competition is always good.
As I've often said, it's the score sheets I'm after. 
Comments from good judges are usually the best way to better beer.  I hope to show up down there to volunteer but my job might make me unable to fully commit.
My brewery project went nowhere in 2014.  It's not dead.  Just on hold.
I, again, apologize for the record time between posts.  I endeavor to be a more regular blogger.
Good beer to you.