Sunday, August 8, 2010


Been really busy brewing for a friend's wedding the last few months.  Wedding was last weekend, went great, got a lot of compliments.  I'll hopefully have some time to catch up on my backlog of posts over the past four months...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lots to do.

I picked up grain bills for two more beers.  I'll be making a Cascade Pale Ale this week as well as another batch of the Stone IPA which turned out rather amazing.  Both of these are for my friend Kelly O'Brien's upcoming nuptials.  I also finally picked up the grain bill for the Two Hearted and will be brewing that up sometime in the next week and a half.  I should also bottle the oatmeal and coconut stouts this week, probably thursday or friday.  It'll be a busy week, but I am done with school and only have one exam.  I'm gonna have a lot of beer in the basement.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


I brought some of my beers to a party tonight, the Apricot Wheat and the B.O.T.  I was pretty nervous due to the fact that I don't really know what taste in beer most of the people have, and also am not horribly close to anyone who attended the party other than my wife, who doesn't drink beer.  Happily, I received very positive feedback, and encouragement that I am welcome to bring more of my beer to future gatherings.
Hooray for ego boosts!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A few notes on Parti-Gyle

I have previously alluded to using the English Parti-Gyle method of sparging, not necessarily on purpose, but more because of lazy calculations.  For a good article on Parti-Gyle brewing, follow this link.  Or this one.  I don't really follow a hard and fast method for parti-gyle brewing, but my "invented" style usually nets me about two gallons of extra beer to experiment with.  I have so far made three secondary small batches in this way.  The first was an Apricot Wheat which went along with the B.O.T., my first all-grain.  Next I brewed a Strawberry Blonde from the second runnings of the Stone IPA, and finally I have about two gallons left over from my Oatmeal Stout that I will be turning into a Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Stout tomorrow.  The nice thing about this brew method is that it raises my efficiency significantly, and allows me to satisfy my desire to experiment, without risking the loss of a whole five gallon batch of beer if something goes horribly wrong.
I also usually end up with six to seven and a half gallons of beer for the price of one five gallon batch, and it provides immediate usage for any hops that I don't use in the main batch.  Since I usually reclaim my yeast I have extra on hand to pitch and don't spend any extra money on a potentially costly ingredient.
Anyway, just my two cents on an easy way to get some extra life out of your grain and give yourself some low-cost beer to experiment with.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oatmeal Stout

Nick and I brewed an Oatmeal Stout on Thursday.

Grain Bill

  • 9 lb. Pale Malt
  • 1 lb. Roasted Barley
  • 1 lb. Rolled Oats
  • .25 lb. Rice Hulls
  • 1.75 oz. Chinook (60 min.)
  • California Ale Yeast
OG: 1.050 FG:

Had to use a two-stage mash in this one, and had to mash-out.  I hit my target temp for stage one exactly on, but missed my temp for stage two by at least 5 degrees.  Not really sure how this will affect the beer, but I am not too worried.  I also missed my target gravity by .004.  I was a little bummed about that since lately I have been overshooting my target gravities.  I am not worried that this will have too terrible of an impact on the beer though, just a little less alcohol, but if I were going for alcohol content I would have made another IPA.

Anyway, here are some pics.

Here Nick is prepping the strike water.
Here I am adding the grain bill.
Here I am adding the strike water.
First Runnings.
Hops Addition.
Chilling the wort.
Filling the Carboy.
Yeast pitched and airlocked.
The smaller carboy is leftover second runnings, I will siphon it onto toasted coconut in a week just for fun.

Had a lot of fun making this one, can't wait to taste in about a month and a half.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I brewed a Hefeweizen for a friend last Friday.  It went well, here are some pics.

Adding the strike water.
Stirring the mash.
First runnings.Hops.Yeast.
Left to right: Hefeweizen, Stone IPA, Bloody Orange-Tastrophe, and Strawberry Blonde.

Bottling the B.O.T.

I bottled the B.O.T. yesterday, here are a few pics.
The final gravity reading, 1.004. 
Filling the bottling bucket.

Roll down your pant legs you hipster doofus!

Transferring Stone IPA to Secondary

Transferring the Stone IPA from the primary to the secondary fermentor, as well as my dry hops addition, 2 oz. of Centennial.
Close up of the secondary.
Fully transferred.
The beer I used for the gravity reading, delicious!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Just a couple pictures of the Bloody Orange-Tastrophe.

Here it is ready for transfer to secondary.

And here we have a shot of the beer I used to take the gravity reading.  Pretty cloudy, of course this is a wheat beer so that is to be expected, but nice light color.  I'll update with another picture after it is carbonated.

Stone IPA

Brewed up my first IPA on Sunday.  Ned and Dan came over to "help".  Started brewing a little after 1 pm and finished around 6 pm.  Pretty good time for a 75 min boil and my second all-grain.  Anyway, here is the recipe.

All Grain Recipe - Stone IPA::: 1.063/1.010 (5 Gal)

Grain Bill
  • 13 lbs. - 2 Row Pale Malt
  • 1/2 lb. - Crystal Malt (10L)
  • 1/2 lb. - Crystal Malt (20L)

Hop Schedule
  • 1 oz - Magnum (75 Min.)
  • 1 oz - Centennial - at Flameout 
  • 2 oz - Centennial - Dry Hop in secondary
  • White Labs California Ale Yeast (WLP001) - 1800 ml starter
With about a pound of malt dextrine cause we wanted to experiment.


Mash at 150° to 152° for 60 min.
Sparge as usual
Boil for 75 minutes
Cool and ferment at 66° to 68°

I always forget to take enough pictures, but here are a few.

This is pretty much what Ned and Dan did for the majority of the five hours that we brewed.

Here is our grain after it has been mashed and sparged.

Here is the brew just before the first Hops addition.

Little tough to add a blow-off tube to this air-lock.

And finally, a shot of all of my beer.

Original gravity ended up at about 1.072.
That is all for now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Next Recipe

Update: I'm putting this recipe on hold for the time being and have decided on a couple simpler batches in the meantime.  I'll post them separately later.

I'll be waiting until my friend Nick gets back form Arizona to brew this batch, but it is definitely next on my list.  

Bell's Two Hearted Clone

Grain Bill
  • 10 lbs. - 2 Row Pale Malt
  • 2 lb. - Vienna Malt
  • .5 lb. - Caramel/Crystal Malt (15L)
  • .5 lb. - CaraPils
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (first wort)
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (60 min.)
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (45 min.)
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (30 min.)
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (15 min.)
  • .5 oz. - Centennial (flameout)
  • 1 oz. - Centennial (added secondary)
Four ounces of hops, ladies and gentleman, this will not be a cheap beer.

  • Wyeast American Ale II Yeast (#1272) - 1800 ml starter

Mash at 153° for 60 min.
Sparge as usual (first wort hops addition)
Boil for 90 min.
Cool and ferment at 65° to 68°

I'm getting excited already.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First All-Grain

Update: Transferred the B.O.T. to secondary along with another oranges worth of zest.  I have decided on a tentative name: Bloody Orange-Tastrophe.  Gravity has gone from 1.060 OG to 1.007 tentative FG.  I probably won't play with this batch any more than I already have, but in the future I may make some adjustments for more flavor.

I brewed my first all-grain beer on friday! I had a fantastic time brewing, much thanks to Aaron and Peter.  I ended up using the recipe for the orange whit in my previous post as the basis for this beer, but with a few tweaks in an attempt to make it mine. (and because I wanted more orange flavor).

Grain Bill

  • 6.5 lbs Maris Otter
  • 4.5 lbs Flaked Wheat
  • .5 lbs Rice Hulls
  • 1 oz U.K. Kent Goldings (added at boil)
  • Wheat Beer Yeast SW 06 (I plan on recovering this yeast after secondary fermentation)
  • 3/4 lbs light candy sugar
  • 1 oz Coriander, crushed (added with five minutes left in boil)
  • Zest from 1 lemon (added at flameout)
  • Zest from 2 blood oranges (added at flameout)
  • Zest from 1 blood orange (added to secondary fermentation)
  • 3 oz. orange marmalade (added at flameout)

 This is just a shot of the equipment I used for this batch, sans brew pots.

My grains, crushed and ready for mashing.

I forgot to take pictures until after I started mashing the grains, but here is the mash tun, all warm and cozy in a comforter.

It was about this time that Peter showed up, so we just stood around and drank some homebrew while waiting for conversion.  After about an hour (during which I heated my sparge water, and boiled about 1.5 gallons of mashout water) we were ready to recirculate and drain off the mash.

Here we have already recirculated, and are just draining the mash. Next we added the sparge water and let it sit for another 30 min. to dissolve any remaining sugars.

Once I had filled my brew pot to 6 gallons it was time to boil.    This beer was designed to be a 5 gallon batch, but I miscalculated the amount of sparge water I would need, and as a result ended up with about 3 gallons of wort left in my mash tun.  Rather than just dump this extra, I decided to brew it up and see what would happen.  I added just a little bit of the Kent Goldings hops during boil, and about 3 oz. of apricot preserves at flameout.  After the boil I had about 2 gallons of beer left for fermentation.  I pitched with recovered and washed Nottingham yeast that I had in my fridge.

Here is a picture just after I added the hops, and another from a different angle. The graniteware pot has about 3 gallons of wort from my over estimation of the volume of sparge water needed.

My boil lasted for about an hour and a half, based on a recommendation from Aaron that this style of beer could really benefit from a half hour pre-boil as well as also to boil off excess moisture.  I wanted 5 gallons for my main batch, and between 2 and 2.5 for the smaller batch.

Once I had reduced the wort to 5 gallons I was ready to chill it and pitch the yeast.  I originally thought that the larger carboy had a 6 gallon capacity, but after filling it with wort I realized that it must be over 7 gallons.

Original gravity for each beer: Main batch 1.060 mini batch 1.040.

The main batch is actually a little higher than I was aiming for so I am pretty excited to see how that turns out.  I expect the mini batch will be a pretty good beer to have with meals, although it is really just an experiment so I won't be too terribly miffed if it doesn't turn out.  However, if it works out well, I may try to duplicate my process in order to end up with extra wort for smaller easier drinking batches in the future.  Two items to add to my wish list: a 3 gallon carboy and a 6.5 gallon carboy.

I have already pitched the yeast in my main batch here, and am filling the 5 gallon carboy

After pitching the yeast I brought both carboys down to my fermentation room (aka my furnace room) and their they will sit for the next couple of weeks.  The mini batch will stay in primary until it is ready to bottle, while the main batch will go in to secondary fermentation after about one week.  Once it goes into secondary I will add another orange worth of zest and bottle about two weeks after that.

Here are a 2 shots of my beer happily fermenting away.

Now it is time to play the waiting game.  Maybe I will pass the time by brewing another beer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Mash Tun

Update: After some extensive internet research I have decided that three oranges and one lemon will provide me with enough zest for this beer. I will be adding my zest at flameout instead of the last five min, however, and I will reserve one oranges worth for primary fermentation. I haven't read anything that would lead me to believe that my ph will be radically unbalanced by the orange or lemon, and will probably forego the usage of any gypsum.

Thursday Nick dropped off a cooler to be used as a mash tun. I thought that I had all of the equipment I would need for conversion, but quickly found that my drainage valve was not water tight with the recommended pipe fittings. I think I have the right set now, but still need some 7/8" stainless steel washers. It is my understanding that these are notoriously difficult to find outside of a specialty supply store. Guess what I am going to try and track down tomorrow morning... Anyway, the plan is to brew the Orange Wit (my first AG!!!) this coming Friday using the following recipe.

Grain Bill
  • 6.5 lbs Maris Otter
  • 4.5 lbs Flaked Wheat
  • .5 lbs Rice Hulls
Everything Else
  • Zest from 1-3 Blood Oranges (last five minutes of boil, plus some added to primary) (need to do some more research on the amount required)
  • 1 oz. Coriander (crushed and added last five minutes of boil)
  • 1 oz. UK Kent Goldings Hops pellets. (Half during boil and half during that last five min.) (5% AA)
  • Wheat Beer Yeast SW 06
  • Possibly some gypsum to balance the ph, the zest adds a lot of acidity
I based this recipe on the Orange Wit recipe from my post a couple days back, but made some modifications for batch sparging, as well as following the advice of my friend Aaron Rossell on the Maris over the Pilsner. I am very excited about this beer.

I plan on a 148-150 Degree mash for 60 min. Due to the high volume of wheat in this beer I will perform a mashout. Because I am using Maris Otter as my base malt I will raise the temp to 168 degrees at mashout, and plan on sparging at 168 as well. This should be hot enough to halt any enzyme activity, but not too hot that I start extracting tannins. The Maris Otter can't take temperatures any higher than 170, and even that is a degree or two too high.

With my 11.5 lbs grain bill I will need at least 17.25 quarts of water for my mash and another 24 quarts for sparging. Then I will just keep and eye on my wort level as I fill the brew kettle. Once I have hit that magic 6 gallon mark it'll be time to boil.

In other news, I started washing my own yeast this weekend. I now have a great starter for Nottingham Ale yeast. This is actually a cultured from a dry yeast, so I don't know how it will work, but it'll be a learning experience at the very least. I will be harvesting the SW 06 from the Orange Wit as well.

(Haven't decided on a name for this beer yet, leaning towards something blood related due to the Blood Orange zest)

P.S. I still need a 33 quart brew kettle, I have my eye on one from Bed Bath & Beyond, but I'm not sure I'll have the money for it by the end of the week. If anyone wants to buy it for me I would be greatly indebted... Otherwise, I'm looking at you for a loaner pot Rossell.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Learned the hard way that you can't use old ingredients to brew beer. Ten gallons of homebrew down the drain. Well... lesson learned I guess. On to the next batch, which I have decided on and purchased the grains for. All-grain Orange Whit here I come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Next Beer

I plan on brewing an All-Grain next. Than means I won't be brewing again until I have made several purchases. I need to build myself a mash tun and I need a brew pot with at least an 8 gallon capacity. Hopefully I will be able to afford these items by the time my next pay check comes in. I have picked a cooler to convert and I the local Bed Bath&Beyond carries a 33 quart graniteware stockpot which will work great for brewing. I really want a stainless steel brew pot, but this is far more economical. Anyway, I have decided that I will be brewing some type of orange beer next. I am deciding between the following recipes, listed in no particular order.

Recipe #1 - Belgian Blonde - I would probably adjust the orange peel content for more of a punch than this beer typically carries, also there is no wheat in the grain bill and I want to do a wheat beer as I feel that wheat and orange are incredibly complimentary.

Grain Bill

  • 9.6lb Belgian Pilsner
  • 1lb US 6-row
  • .9lb Caramel-pilsner
  • 1lb Vienna
  • 1.5lb Wheat Malt

Everything Else

  • 1oz hallertau hops (pellet) 10 min 3.0% aa
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (whole leaf) 60 min 3.7% aa
  • few dashes of Corriander 10 min boil
  • 4 tablespoons dried orange peel, 10 min boil
  • WLP400 Belgian Wit yeast (suspension)
Recipe #2 - Orange Wit - I like this one for the simplicity factor as this will be my first all grain, it does seem a bit boring though, I may increase the wheat and decrease the pilsner.

Grain Bill
  • 5 lbs Pilsner
  • 4 lbs Flaked Wheat
Everything Else
  • 1 oz. coriander (crush and add with 5 min left in boil)
  • Zest from one orange (5 min)
  • 1 oz. Goldings (6%AA boil 60 min)

Recipe #3 - Belgian Orange - I am really interested in this, although the recipe is terribly involved and I don't know if I can tackle it quite yet. I also really like the high wheat content.

Grain Bill
  • 5 lb Belgian wheat malt
  • 3 lb Belgian pale malt
  • 2 lb rolled oats
Everything Else
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz Styrian Golding hops
  • 1/2 oz Kent Golding hops
  • 3/4 oz Mediterranean orange peel
  • 3/4 oz crushed coriander
  • Wyeast Weihenstephen (#3068)
  • Gypsum or calcium carbonate
and finally

Recipe #4 - Cascades Orange/Coriander Pale Ale - This one sounds like a lot of fun, but it doesn't use any wheat and like I said, I like orange and wheat together.

Grain Bill
  • 9 lbs Maris Otter
  • 1 lbs Vienna Malt
  • 1 lbs Crystal Malt 10°L
Everything Else
  • 1 oz Cascade (5.5%) - added first wort, boiled 60 min
  • 1 oz Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min
  • 1 oz Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 5 min
  • 1 oz Cascade (5.5%) - added during boil, boiled 1 min
  • 2 ea Fermentis S-04 Safale S-04
  • 2.0 oz Cascade (5.5%) - added dry to secondary fermenter
  • 2.0 oz Orange zest - added during boil, boiled 10.0 min
  • 1 oz Coriander crushed - added during boil, boiled 10 min
  • Whirlfloc - added during boil, boiled 15 min

I'll be making a decision in the next week or so, and hope to make my purchases (both equipment and ingredients) by the end of the month.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mystery Batch Update

Update 03-08-2010 - I bottled the mystery batch on Friday. It actually smelled pretty good. I noticed a very pronounced alcohol sent, almost like a barley wine. I am not sure how to feel about this since my gravity readings would indicate a rather low alcohol content... Guess I will find out in a week or so.

I decided to take a gravity reading on the mystery batch today in hopes of bottling tomorrow. My OG was 1.046 on this beer and it has settled at 1.02 currently. Taking into consideration how incredibly dark this beer turned out, I am inclined to believe that their are quite a few un-fermentable solids and it has finished fermenting. I plan on bottling tomorrow, as planned. I did drink the beer that I used to for the gravity reading... I am not really sure that I want to pass judgement on it before carbonation. It does taste similar to the Wheat Beer that I brewed from a kit, and I ended up really liking that beer once it was bottled so we will see. Guess that is all for now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Update Beer #4

When I checked on my beer today I noticed that there was little to no activity in the Oatmeal Stout. I decided to transfer it to a secondary fermentor in order to rack off of any old dead yeast, and encourage further fermentation. I did strain this beer into the primary so initially there should have been very little sediment, however after only four days in the primary at least two inches of yeast and sediment had settled to the bottom of the bucket. Hopefully the absence of all that build up will give the yeast some new life. I did not take a gravity reading today, only because I am sure that it is nowhere near my target yet. I noticed that this beer has an interesting fruity aroma that I was not expecting, but it smells great and looks pretty good too. I am getting pretty excited for this beer, although I am not really expecting anything to fabulous due to my less that stellar efficiency, but I guess I'll find out in about three weeks!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beer #4 Oatmeal Stout

Brewed my first partial grain on Saturday, the 27th. I picked an oatmeal stout recipe from my brew book and slightly tweaked to meet the grain bill that I had on hand. This was my fist foray into true sparging and while I may have been fairly inefficient I had a blast brewing this batch. I missed my OG by quite a bit, but I am still hopeful for a rich, full-flavored beer. I'll be leaving this one in the primary for two weeks, and then switching to secondary if I don't like my gravity reading. I learned a ton while brewing this batch and feel that the time has come to try my hand at an all-grain. I'll be finishing my mash tun tomorrow, and if everything goes well I'll be brewing an all grain sometime next week.

Update: Beer #3. All visible signs of fermentation seem to have stopped. I will be taking a gravity reading this weekend. That reading will determine wether or not I bottle. Of course with all of the family stuff going on this weekend I may not have time.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

American Wheat Update

American wheat turned out well. I've been drinking it for almost a week, but I am trying to make it last. Since we left the hops in during the primary fermentation we ended up with a distinctly more prominent hops flavor. I feel that it has made what would have otherwise been a pretty boring beer into a more complex and interesting beer. I would compare it to full bodied I.P.A.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

"Mystery Batch" update

So far no visible signs of fermentation :( I have adjusted the temperature in my fermentation room (aka. my furnace room) as I fear it may have been a tad chilly. Hopefully I'll have some bubble by the morning. I had the same problem last time I fermented at my house. Perhaps it is time to reconsider the temperature at which I have my thermostat locked in... Anyway, I think I'll start posting pics of my beers once they go into secondary fermentation.

Update 02-15-2010
-Had to rig up a blow-off tube to keep up with the rate of fermentation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

BEER #3 "Mystery Batch"

I didn't want to have to wait so long between the time when my current batch will be ready and my next batch will be ready so I started another batch today. I was feeling adventurous so I cobbled together my own recipe from ingredients that a friend who no longer brews had given me. I was aiming for a Belgian Pale Ale, but I at this point have no clue what I will end up with. Another friend who brews came over for about an hours during the beginning of the brew process, but I pretty much made this one on my own. I started by grinding my own specialty grains in a burr grinder that I borrowed from work. I planned to use 1# of Crystal Malt, but ended up using almost a pound and a half. I used a mixture of light and dark liquid malts because that is what I had on hand and they were free. The key ingredient for this recipe is my choice of yeast. I went with a yeast typically used in Belgian Whites. I am pretty excited to see how this one turns out. Once again, I will update as I progress through the brewing process.

Beer #2 American Wheat Ale

We started beer number two on January 23rd. It was also made from a kit. This beer only took about two and half hours to brew due to its lack of specialty grains and only one hops addition. Almost too simple even for a beginner such as myself, I found the extreme simplicity of making this beer almost disappointing. We decided to transfer this beer to a secondary fermentor after the initial fermentation period, which lasted 12 days. We are hoping to bottle on Thursday the 18th. I will update this post after it is ready to drinking.

Beer #1 English Brown Ale

First beer was an English Brown Ale. A buddy of mine and I made this from a pretty nice kit. I was happy to find that in addition to the extracts it also contained some specialty grains for steeping. From my minimal amount of research I have deduced that this will give the beer more and better flavor than the extracts alone. We strained this beer after brewing to remove the trub from the wort and planned on a 4-6 day fermentation period. Over the course of the next several days I found that fermentation had stalled due to my furnace blowing a breaker. Once fermentation started we allowed for a seven day fermentation period after which we immediately bottled. One week after bottling we opened our first bottles. The beer had a wonderful depth of flavor, although it had not finished carbonation and the sugar levels were a little high leading to a distinct caramel flavor accompanying the expected smokey flavor. By the time the recommended three weeks had passed of bottling time had passed the I found the beer to have a pronounced hoppiness that complimented the smokey flavor very well. While this beer was not necessarily an outstanding example of what a homebrew can be, it was definitely worth the time and effort, and a very good go for my first attempt. My only real complaint was a slight yeasty flavor which I attributed to no transferring the beer to a secondary fermenter for clarification before bottling.


I've decided to take my blog in a new direction and therefore have given it a complete renovation. My new aims for this are basically less complaining, and more talking about my new hobby... brewing beer. Also possible blurbs about how I bike year round in state that has winter for nine months out of the year. Hooray for new directions.