Ask and it is Given

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 10.04.10 under All-Grain, Bock, Brewing, BYO, Extract

So I was looking at my upcoming brew days schedule. I saw that I have a Doppelbock-style beer coming up. Now it’s to be done as an ale, but it’s generally a brown malty low-hop-character clean high-gravity beer. I made one before, but it was meant to be a bock that just came out with incredible efficiency and jumped into the doppel range. So in other words, I don’t know how to build the right recipe. I decided I needed to look up a recipe. I took a quick look on the forums, and found a few arguments about many unrelated topics, and gave up for the time being. I then sent myself an email and forgot all about it.

Then tonight I decided to finish going through the latest Brew Your Own magazine while watching the Patriots struggle through the first half. The main theme of the magazine is brewing with extract. While interesting, it’s not really tuned to where I’m at with my brewing.

First thing I found was an article about adding body to beer. This culminated in a recipe for “Small IPA”. A low alcohol IPA-flavored beer is something I’ve been interested in for a while. But after many attempts, I had pretty much given up on it. I rationalized this, deeming it “pointless” to make a beer under 4% ABV when I could just as easily make one 50% stronger. But thanks to this article, now I have a recipe concept (1/3 Munich, 1/3 Vienna, and 1/3 Victory malts) to work from for the next revision of my “Small IPA”. Cool!

Flipping forward through the magazine some more, I get to one of those stupid ad cards that makes the pages not fold back quite right. The front of the card was a call to subscribe for a discount, but the back of the card is what caught my eye. It was a few recipes. Normally I barely even glance at these recipes, but as I was ripping it out, I just figured I’d see what the nonsense was all about.

Lo and behold, it’s a recipe for a Doppelbock. Now I don’t think I’ll necessarily follow it verbatim, but it at least gives me some sort of clue as to how to proceed. It uses mostly plain old 2-row, with some Munich, Victory Wheat (?), and Crystal 120 to 1.084 and 20L with Hallertau hops to 21 IBU. It’s a starting point that I can work with. Actually nothing too fancy. I have Munich. I can use my  normal wheat malt. I might get some of that C-120, but I can handle that.

It’s amazing sometimes when you just want something and then forget all about it, and all of a sudden you find it!

Brew Day – Yeast Growers

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 10.10.09 under Brewing, Extract, Yeast

When last I brewed on August 29th, I planned to save the yeast. I was intent on making a couple of big beers – an IIPA and an RIS. But now that the dry yeast costs $4 a pack instead of $2 a pack, I’m not so eager to just buy a few packets to get my cell count up for a big 1.095 wort. A natural solution was to save all my yeast from that brew day. So on kegging day, I packed up a few mason jars full of yeast sludge and thought I was good to go

Since then, the yeast has been acting funny. One has been very active, even though its beer finished at 1.008. I got two jars from the other batch. One has been dormant and the other overflowed with activity. I admit that I don’t know how to interpret this. Is the dormant one dead or normal? Is that 1.008 one infected or what? I have no confidence in these yeasts ability to make a nice clean beer.

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[ Comments Off ] Posted on 07.23.08 under All-Grain, Brewing, Extract

Adjuncts are sugars other than those derived from malted barley used in brewing beer. Germans hate adjuncts. Due to the restrictions of the Rheinheitsgebot adjuncts are actually forbidden, except for wheat, go figure. Belgians love adjuncts. Practically every Belgian beer probably has some adjuncts, either beet sugar or corn sugar.

From a practical homebrewing perspective, adjuncts are useful for a lot of reasons:

1. First and foremost, corn sugar is the primary fermentable used for priming beer at bottling time. Corn sugar is completely fermentable, so it’s easy to tell how much to use to get your target carbonation.

2. This high degree of fermentability makes corn sugar the big beer brewer’s friend. If you want a beer with a high starting gravity (say, over 1.070) but a normal finishing gravity (say, around 1.015), a bit of corn sugar can go a long way to that goal.

3. Finally, simple sugars are a quick and easy way to boost the gravity of your all-grain recipe. I can only mash about 12 pounds of grain in my system, so I can only get about 1.060 for five gallons of beer using grains only. Adding some adjunct sugars lets me boost that up as far as I want. Of course, adding malt extact gives me the same capability, but remember item 2 above: high gravity beer enjoys some highly fermentable simple sugars, and malt extract is not the most fermentable substance you can brew with.

I would encourage anyone making beer to feel free to use adjuncts, in moderation.

Brew Day Impending

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 07.11.08 under All-Grain, Brewing, Extract, Hops, IPA, Stout

It has been a while since I brewed. Nearly two months, in fact. That’s just way too long. With all this working and stuff, it’s hard sometimes to muster up the energy to brew on one of your precious two days off during a long week of commuting and programming. For seven of the past eight weekends I have decided that spending time with the family was more aligned with my happiness than brewing pursuits (though I did bottle two batches one weekend).

But this weekend I have taken Monday off and it is the time for making beer.

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Is Extract Really THAT Unfermentable?

[ 2 Comments ] Posted on 06.26.08 under Brewing, Extract

A few weeks ago, I made an extract brew for the first time in a while. I got an OG of 1.058, and BeerSmith told me that US-05 should produce a FG of 1.011. Normally I get more attenuation than that, and I would have expected like 1.009 or even lower. But this one stopped at 1.019. I thought I did something terribly wrong, and the yeast wasn’t fully viable.

At bottling time, I thought one of two things would happen. 1) The yeast was spent, and would not consume the priming sugar, resulting in flat beer. 2) The yeast was just sleeping, and would become invigorated by the mini fermentation of the priming sugar, and keep going, resulting in bottle bombs.

Neither happened. The beer’s perfectly carbonated as intended by my priming sugar dosage. Or as perfectly as I get. I even had some bottles that have been warm for an extra few weeks. I’ve been giving these ones away, and I suddenly got worried that they might be bottle bomb candidates, since most of the ones I’ve been drinking were put in the fridge after precisely two weeks of conditioning, and would be basically yeast-inactive at this point.

So I put one of the warm bottles in the fridge yesterday. Popping it today, it is not overcarbonated at all. It’s pretty much the same as the cold bottles. If anything, the flavor is a bit richer. Even the decline of hop flavor and aroma seems less severe in this bottle than in the ones that have been cold longer. Which is the opposite of what I would have thought. I guess that’s why those brewboard guys are always talking about long secondaries.

I’m forced to wonder: is extract really that unfermentable? Or do I just mash at way too low of a temperature normally? Maybe somewhere in the middle. Next time I’ll try mashing at like 154 instead of 152.

Extract Twang

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 06.14.08 under Brewing, Extract, Troubleshooting

BanjoOn the homebrewing forums you read a lot about “extract twang”. It’s supposed to be a certain type of off flavor that comes as a result of using extracts in your homebrewing. Many say it’s a myth. But when you taste enough homebrewed beers that have that certain “something” to them, you start to believe in extract twang. Logic tells you it must be a process issue, but your gut replies, “no, it’s the extract twang.” And you just move on with your life. Here’s an exploration of some potential causes of so-called “extract twang.”

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How I Started Homebrewing

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 05.30.08 under All-Grain, Brewing, Extract, Homebrew Blogging Day, IPA, Lager, Stories

I’ve participated in the Session since I first found out about it several months ago. Now there’s a new type of a group beer blogging project, with a homebrew focus. It comes to us from the mind of Beer Bits 2. I just love these group blogging dates, and I’m really excited for a homebrewing version. While I haven’t been brewing for a very long time, I’ve made it a point to try to gain as much knowledge as possible as quickly as possible about brewing. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the day, I was a timid would-be-brewer. This is the story of my long road of procrastination and excuses that eventually led to me actually making beer.

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High Gravity Brewing

[ 6 Comments ] Posted on 05.01.08 under Alcohol, All-Grain, Bottle Conditioning, Brewing, Extract, Troubleshooting, Yeast

I wrote a post a while back about calories in beer. It was really fun to write, and even more exciting when Bob Skilnik called me out on a few ambiguous and incorrect statements I made. But just having Bob Skilnik reading my site was cool!

The other day, I got a new comment on there, with a commentor named Kiwi asking the following question:

So my question is, your 10%ABV russian stout (sounds most excellent) got to that % by the recipe…which has more… sugars? and a better yeast? I am trying to up my alcohol %, but not ruin my homebrew.

Such a great question deserves front page answers, not some answer hidden in the comments of an old post. So, Kiwi, this one’s for you!

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Brewing With Extracts – Part 3: Bottling and Conditioning

[ Comments Off ] Posted on 11.13.07 under Brewing, Extract

Finished HomebrewFirst I introduced you to the concept of brewing your own beer. Then I told you about how to make the beer. Today I finish the series with a post on bottling, conditioning, storing, and drinking your beer. Your beer will ferment vigorously for a few days, maybe up to a week. After that, the apparent activity will trail off, but it is not quite done yet. The only sure way to know it is done is to measure the gravity two or three days in a row, and if the gravity doesn’t change, then it’s done. The other way is just to give it about three weeks. This pretty much ensures that fermentation will be done for most beers.

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Brewing With Extracts – Part 2: Materials and Process

[ 1 Comment ] Posted on 11.08.07 under Brewing, Extract

Extract, Grains, Hops, and YeastLast time I introduced you to the fact that you need to make your own beer. I also told you what to get and where you might be able to get it. You now have everything you need to make beer… except for ingredients. Today I’ll tell you about the raw materials and process you’ll use on brew day.

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