Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wort Chiller

I use a 25ft copper immersion wort chiller, with a faucet stainless sink adapter. When I received it, the vinyl connections to the copper arms leaked at the stainless clamps. I tightened, but water slowly trickeld at the connection points. WTF. Thinking that I wasn't getting enough focal pressure to create a water tight seal, I pulled the tubing out to the edge of the stainless clamp, and tighened as much as I could muscle. problem solved.

takes about 10-25 minutes to chill work to pitching temps, depending on the time of year. I place the chiller in the kettle at flame out to sanitize, if not doing a flame out hop addition. If doing a flame out hop addition, then I'll add with 5 minutes left in the boil. I wish there was a way for me to use the hot/warm water that is dumped out the other end of the chiller, but I don't have a garden to water (well, not one that's close enough for this to be feasible), I don't have a washing machine to load up. Something I'll do when I get out of the condo.

7.5 Gallon Mash/Lauter Tun, 11 Gallon Brew Kettle

44 quart (11 gallon) Bayou Classic from amazon.com serves as my brew kettle. ships for free with super saver shipping. that's tough to beat. Brought to my uncle's shop to drill a hole for a weldless spigot. He used a hole bit, with a long piece of scrap 2x4 on the workbench, extending in to the inside of the kettle. Worked great. Attached the weldless spigot, and held water, no problem. Able to bring ~8-9 gallons of 165F wort up to a boil in about 40 minutes. suprises me that it would boil at all, but it does.

7.5 gallon stainless turkey fryer serves as my mash/lauter tun (got it for ~$66 bucks, swear to god, now its showing me a price of $189.99) was made in the same way, but with the addition of a bazooka screen. no problems with the screen collapsing at all, and I have LOADED that puppy with up to 18lbs of grain, thus far. I haven't used the burner from the turkey fryer kit, that's packed away, until I can brew outside.
I do wish these had aluminum clad bottoms for better heat distribution, but the heating elements in the electric stove seem to disperse heat pretty well. wonder if scorching will be more of an issue when I finally get to use the outdoor burner...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Belgian Quad

12.05.09 Souring

12.27.08 Bottling

Racked the imperial stout for secondary conditioning today, figured it wouldn't hurt to bottle the quad now...its been a few months. Finished pretty high. not sure why. FG of 1.035ish. Puttyman's came in high too. He was around 1.040. dammit. it still tastes great, just will not be particularly adherant to style. dammit. I carbed w/ a relatively large amount of priming sugar, hoping to get a crisp mouthfeel, that might enhance the perception of dryness. If you click on the pic, you'll see the nice russet/red color of the beer through the autosiphon. nice.

figured I'd post a bit how I cork and cage the belgian bottles...i use the colonna corker/capper.

It can be used to cork regular wine bottles, and I've found that with a few extra steps, it can cork belgian bottles nicely. I tried the slightly larger/more rigid champagne corks...not sure if you'd want to risk forcing the cork through the plastic iris. I think it would break. thankfully, belgian corks are also sufficient for corking champagne bottles. But today, I corked Belgians.

You start with sanitized belgian bottles, I prefer the dishwasher heat cycle for this, just need to plan a bit ahead, the full cycle time takes about 2hrs from the time I press the start button.

I get the belgian corks and cages from morebeer.com. I think the last time I did the math, this enclosure method costs about 40cents/bottle. so, several times more pricey than capping. The colonna capper contains a bell housing that fits the larger euro caps, so that's an option for most champagne bottles (not belgian bottles). A nice finishing touch would be a champagne foil...I've searched for black foils, but they just don't seem to be available to the homebrewer.

You set the adjustable level bottom plate to appropriate height (just underneath the spring loaded corking iris) and depress the lever until the cork is maybe 1/3 in to the neck of the bottle.

Here's the rigged part...remove the bottom plate, and continue pushing the cork all the way through. this method leads to a bit of variability in the depth of the cork, but with the cage eventually in place, I think it looks just fine.

The cage is placed over the top of the cork, pressing down initially with the palm of your hand and pulling back two of the wires with your thumb and middlefinger, holding the cage down with your forefinger, insert a smooth plastic pen in to the open loop. Holding the wires in place with your left hand, twist the pen with your right, five and 1/2 times. Dont' over tighten, it doesn't add anything, and you'll break the wire. Remove the pen, and fold the loop upward toward the cork. Make sure the wire eventually is seated below the bottom of the second lip of glass on the neck.

A freshly bottled box of quad ready to be stuck in storage and forgotten about for a year or so.


I went to a trappist tasting at the brookline wine gallery with my buddy and fellow BA, puttyman.

Kai took us on a tour through the wonderful world, sampling a bevy of the trappist's finest, accompanying the tasting with some information that satisfied the beer nerds among us and did a nice job of keeping the unitiated entertained. We had the 'standards' and they surprise me every time. As a homebrewer, tastings like these renew my interest in trying my hand at these styles. I sampled Westy12 for the first time in my life. Unbelievable. Truly. Was it head and shoulders over the other brews we tasted? no, it was maybe a forehead + some eyebrows..definitely better/more enjoyable, but...not incrementally so. Hopefully I'll be able to extend one of my frequent work trips to the Netherlands to go see a trappist brewery or two. I wonder how many bottles I could fit in my return luggage...
So, of course, I bought a few quads with the intention of cellaring.

Kai actually sent me a beermail before the event, asking if I had any belgian style homebrews that I'd like to share with the group, to bring a few along. I was more than happy to grab a few 750Belgian bottles of my 'tripel', (made from another midwest recipe kit)which had spent about 9 months in the bottles at that point. Was happy I had these in the proper cork + cage for a group who'd likely appreciate it (they did).

Side by side with the trappist stuff...well, uh, obviously mine did not achieve monkitude. Gotta say, though, it was still tasty, and all who sampled, had that look on their face all homebrewers hope for (you know, the one where the eyebrows raise up after the first taste, subtle nodding in approvement, the glass gets raised up a bit for closer inspection/sniff). I offered the following critique...too high of a FG (don't have the numbers)/not dry enough for a true tripel, color a bit too dark, which aligned with up front evidence of the caramalized flavors...I attribute both to the fact that it was made with LME in a concentrated boil in my earlier brew days. Not dry/light/'digestible' enough to be considered a proper tripel. This one was fermented with a healthy 500ml starter from yeast cultured and stepped up several times from two 750s of Duvel (thanks Brendan). A recent tasting (on 12/13/08) has this one expressing a little green apple on the nose, along with caramel...again, still a bit too sweet for a true tripel, but delicious in its own right. Only a few bottles of this left, they are out of my arms reach in storage, so I'll revisit these in a year or so. Probably time to brew a proper all grain tripel, use some WLP trappist. but that's still on the to-brew list, there were still other styles that i want to try my hand at before revisiting prior style attempts.

Anyhow, I sought out the D2 (based on recipe from BYO's clone recipe of st. bernadus12). Supply is a bit tough on this, so on the order that was originally placed, the D2 was put on backorder. Delayed the eventual brewing...first attempt was with puttyman, we went in together on an ingredient order. Subsequent brewday was on 09.23.08.

this is the recipe and output from beersmith, sorry I don't have any data on the mash schedule/temps, but I generally do a single mash temp, 1.25quarts/lb. Batch sparged this, as I hadn't received my stainless sparge arm at this point.

Belgian Dark Strong Ale

Type: All Grain
Date: 9/23/2008
Batch Size: 5.50 gal

10 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 53.11 %
3 lbs Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) Grain 15.93 %
1 lbs Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 5.31 %
8.0 oz Carafa III (525.0 SRM) Grain 2.66 %
5.3 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.75 %
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (60 min) Hops 10.1 IBU
0.25 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (15 min) Hops 1.8 IBU
3 lbs Candi Sugar, D2 (80.0 SRM) Sugar 15.93 %
1 lbs Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM) Sugar 5.31 %
1 Pkgs Abbey Ale (White Labs #WLP530) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.096 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.110 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.022 SG
Measured Final Gravity: 1.035 SG (ug...really high...)
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 9.71 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 9.87 %
Bitterness: 11.9 IBU
Calories: 529 cal/pint
Est Color: 42.8 SRM

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Imperial Cream Stout 12.22.07

This was the third or four homebrew I made...the following details are from memory, as I try to reconstruct my homebrew history. The details are a little thin, as are the tasting notes, but in an effort to try to be as complete as possible w/ my brewing history, I present you with the following...

Ordered the extract + specialty grains kit from Midwest, w/ dry yeast. Brew day was likely sometime in late October. Did a concentrated boil in my 5 gallon stockpot, and likely didn't get as much utilization due to this. Added 1lb of lactose at flameout, chilled to pitching temp, poured through funnel, topped up to 5.5 gallons w/ cold tap water (which served as my only aeration), pitched the dry yeast of Munton's ale yeast that was included, put the fermenter in the living room, so I could keep an eye on the airlock. Noticed just a little movement the following morning. Happy that fermentation had started quickly on this high gravity brew.

Went away for a few days to visit family, to return on a Sunday early evening to a beerxplosion.
The 6.5 gallon plastic fermentation vessel blew its top, and was now proudly seated in the middle of the sofa, gunk side up (thank god). Found the airlock, completely clogged with crystallized wort, trub and yeast...also on the sofa. There was krausen/beer up the wall, on the HDTV, floor, stone tile coffee table, CEILING. it was everywhere. The krausen looked like it had fallen. I considered for a minute just dumping it, figuring that it was probably infected (open air/gone stale, lactose, etc.), and ruined.
I didn't. Thought, if nothing else, would be a good learning experience to see where I might be able to detect when/where things would turn for the worse. I replaced the cover, fixed a clean airlock, wiped everything down in the living room (several times) with a cloth soaked in warm water. Thank the lord the beerxplosion trajectory somehow avoided most soft/fabric surfaces, save a few malty spots on the sofa. There is still a faint spot on the ceiling that bears the mark of that day.

A few days later, I added the packet of dry champagne yeast, as contained in the kit, to close out any remaining fermentables. No action in the airlock, so I don't think this actually added anything. Consulting the various homebrew forums as well as Designing Great Beers come to this consensus. Racked to secondary about a week later, conditioned until the bottling date.
As this was early in my homebrew career, I didn't have enough bottles. So I went to the Modern Homebrew Emporium to pick up some 22oz bottles. this hurt me, but I didn't know how long it would take me to get/clean enough larger bottles. I bit the bullet and laid down the cash for this and an additional case of 12oz bottles. I felt like a total dick walking out of the store with three cases of empty bottles, less ~50 bucks, but still happy that I was going to get to bottle the batch.

Racked to bottling bucket w/ the included corn sugar from the kit, which was boiled w/ ~1 cup of water. Bottled on 12.22.07.

Popped a few about a month later. Carbonation was good (sorry to not be more descriptive, it was a year ago...). Flavor was...well, ok, not what I was hoping for. Some evidence of hot alcohol, great hop bitterness, but not on the level of what was expecting, given comparison tasting of old rasputin. Lactose sweetness lent a great creaminess, different than the sweetness that is provided by the malt. Given the recommendation for extended aging, I was semi-pleased, but hoping for so much more.

Tried some bottles mid-summer, some improvement, hops were hanging in the background, but lacked the real complexity I was hoping for.

~One year later, I opened a few bottles at the yearly Greene family Christmas party, on ...they are quite good now.

A thick dark tan/light brown head rises about 1.5 fingers on a 10 oz pour. Persists for a good while, settles to a small cap, never totally receding. Always present, but doesn't indicate overcarbonation. This beer is black. Of course it is, its an imperial stout. maybe faint red highlights at the edges, can't really tell.

Raisiny up front on the nose (Esther was the first to say this), some malty sweetness. Hints of coffee, bakers chocolate as well. Little hairs raised up on the back of my neck in anticipation...the complexity I hoped for had clearly developed with time, not to mention...no infection has taken hold.

First sip reveals excellent body, no doubt from that lactose, and the lower fermentability of the darker LME. Mostly dark chocolate flavor, back up prominently by stewed prunes, lightly boozed soaked dark cherries on the palate balances by a smooth hop bitterness, low level of flavor, minimal aroma. Just a whisper of alcohol, which helped with the drinkability. Poured this twice for myself. Had a moutful of Brendan's glass of perspective (a fine session dry stout, nitro can of Guinness), then back to my glass of the ICS, to revel in what might not have been, if I had just dumped this a year ago. Couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

This really revitalized the in process batch of RIS, and renewed my confidence in using dry yeast. I had to 'talk' to people about this, as it consumed my thoughts.

Trillium Inventory/Yeast Bank






Thursday, December 18, 2008

drafted labels

Here's a draft/basic outline for the labels I've been working on. Just wanted to get something down in the computer to help organize my thoughts. want to keep things looking very clean, contemporary, etc.

keep in mind, the current space occupied by 'green street brewery' will be updated to trillium brewing + a logo...I'd like continuity across the labels. gubment warning + UPC code (fake) in there to enhance the illusion/impression.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Imperial Stout-12.12.08 additional pics

Imperial Stout-12.12.08

03.22.09-Bottled with 4oz of cane sugar + 1/2 packet of rehydrated US-05 dry yeast.
FG: 1.038, so an abv of 11.75%.

Appearance: completely opaque, viscous, you could probably tell someone it was used motor oil with a straight face.

Aroma: wasn't getting much, as there's no carbonation. a little sweet on the nose at this point, maybe a touch of alcohol, some chocolate/coffee.

Esther and I tasted the hydrometer sample, malty sweet, smooth roasted chocolate, fine freshly brewed italian espresso, but with minimal acridity plus hint of dark fruits on the back, just a touch of vanilla from the oak (dammit, wanted more) and ended with whiff of alcohol on the breath. Hops supported and balanced the big malt bomb.

Mouthfeel matched the appearance, completely coating every last nook in my head.

Ended with 4.25 gallons of this black gold. Bottled 1.5 cases of 12 oz. bottles plus 5-500ml Sam Smith bottles (no, not the clear ones). Now the waiting begins.

I have one clear newcastle brown ale bottle that I'll typically use as a 'taster/tester' for opening early. I like to be able to visualize carbonation, sedimentation formation/clearing (well, not in this case). A gentle shake five days after bottling reveals a creamy dark tan/brown foam forming, and tell tale small bubbles showing the first signs of yeast activity/bottle carbonation.

02.19.09-Added 2 oz of medium-heavy toast Hungarian oak that's been soaking in port (Dona Antonia Reserva) for 5 days. Going for dark fruit flavor profile that's the trademark of KtG. Really wish I put some Special B in this go around. But for now, planning to hurry up and wait for ~6 weeks til bottling/freeing up a secondary til I get a peak at the progress here, as I forgot to taste it AGAIN, and I don't really want to open up the airlock again to introduce more air in to the carboy headspace. Guess I'll have to wait til bottling. I already want to brew another RIS. This time, w/ that Special B. I think I have a problem.

12.27.08-Racked to secondary. oh yeah. this stuff has got some body to it. super black. no light peeking through. usually when transferring, you can see some red highlights through the tubing. not even a subltle hint of red. just black. planning to let this one sit in the secondary for a couple months before bottling.

12.12.08-Finally putting together a brewing blog...really a placeholder until I get a bit more time to post more content/details.
imperial stout brewed today, 12.12.08
3 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM) 13.95 %
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 46.51 %
1 lbs Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM) Grain 4.65 %
1 lbs Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 4.65 %
1 lbs Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 4.65 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 4.65 %
1 lbs de bittered Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 4.65 %
8.0 oz Black Barley (Stout) (500.0 SRM) Grain 2.33 %
8.0 oz Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 2.33 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz D2 syrup (80.0 SRM) Sugar 6.98 %
4.0 oz Maltodextrine (0.0 SRM) Sugar 1.16 %
8.0 oz Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM) Sugar 2.33 %
2 Pkgs Nottingham Yeast (Lallemand #-) Yeast-Ale
2.00 oz Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] (90 min) Hops 33.9 IBU
2.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (90 min) Hops 31.3 IBU
0.50 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (90 min) Hops 21.9 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (15 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops
1.00 oz Glacier [6.00 %] (15 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops
Est Original Gravity: 1.119 SG
Actual OG: 1.120SG
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.027 SG
Estimated Final Gravity: 1.038 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 12.13 %
Actual Abv: 11.75%
Bitterness: 87.1 IBU
bitterness ratio of 1.065
Est Color: 73.0 SRM
Notes: Mashed at 152-3, 60 minutes,
did a late D2 candy syrup, malt extract, maltodextrin, lactose addition w/ 15 minutes left in the boil to enhance hop utilization.

BA discussion here:

pictures from the day:

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