Monday, July 1, 2013

About what I said earlier.....

Yeah, so that whole "I'm going to post more" thing didn't happen.  It needs too.  I have been outstandingly lazy the last few weeks and need to bottle, a lot.  Tomorrow I am getting started on that and working on my first in a series of lab styled tests.  I will be using my small batches as a way to test out a couple theories, challenge some of the myths out there, and just have a little fun and do some crazy things.  I need ideas however.  I will be posting a couple places around the internet looking for some ideas for benchmark tests and such.  If you happen to be reading this and think of a cool idea, fill in a comment below.

So, on to actually getting on with all of this.

Until next time, cheers!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Why I One Gallon Brew: An Unsolicited Rebuttal

Over the weekend someone showed me a blog post about one gallon brewing. ( I was excited to see that more and more people are accepting the fact that smaller batches are feasible.  That was until I was catching up on some reading online last night and stumbled onto the reddit post about this blog post. (

Let me preface this rant response by saying that I love reddit and I am always giving people suggestions and asking questions myself.  It is a great little community.  I love that it is a small place that is more restrained than some of the bigger forums that are just 10,000 people thinking their opinion is right.  Usually on the homebrewing subreddit people are open to discussion about why a particular method works or doesn't and what it best for that situation.  Now on to the fun part.

I will just post a response that article got and then my response to that.  If anyone wants to respond there is a comment section below and I will happily talk about why I like one gallon brewing.

  • The only problem is.. you end up with 8 pints.. for nearly the same amount of work.
The same can be said the other why around.  Why not brew 10 gal? 15? 20?  The reason that I homebrew is not so that I have a lot of beer.  Trust me, for a lot less work, time, and money I can go buy beer at the store down the street. (and I still do)  I am brewing to learn how to make the best beer possible, not the most.

  • Might work for some people, but at the end of the day, why brew if you don't have enough to share with family and friends? Also, there is less room for error in smaller batches, e.g. more fluctuation of mash temps, more exacting measuring is required, caramelization may make more as there is much more surface area per gallon of wort, etc....
I have plenty to share with family and friends.  The fact that I am brewing smaller batches doesn't mean that I am brewing less.  I make between 1-3 batches a week right now.  While I may not be able to give out a 6 pack of my brew to a friend, I can give them a 6 pack of 6 different batches.  Variety is the spice of life.  When I got into craft beer, once a week and I would spend the afternoon making a nice dinner and grab what ever sampler pack we hadn't tried yet. When we ran out of samplers, we moved to mix sixes.  I would rather have 6 different beers than 6 of the same.  So variety is nice when you can brew this many different batches at a time.
There are some things that you have to take into consideration when brewing one gallon batches.  More precise measurements is one of them.  Measure carefully, but you don't have to pull out the microscope to do it.  For water I use a 1 quart measuring cup.  I use a simple analog scale for my grain that I use at work for every other customer buying grain.  I have a jeweler's scale (or a dealer's scale if you ask Amazon's "User's also bought:" list) for my hops.  My oven's warm setting is at 160F and if I am mashing even as low as 148F, I don't see a significant rise in temps over 90 minutes (less than 0.5F).  If you are using your 5-10 gallon kettle to boil your one gallon batch, then yes your boil off will be insane and you will caramelize the wort much quicker.  As with anything though, the right tool for the job is required.  I use a 3 gallon stainless kettle I bought from Walmart for under $10.  The height to width ratio is comparable to my 7.5 gallon kettle (yes I still do 5 gallon batches from time to time, but most do 1 gallon).

  • This article is insane. What type of crazy person spends that long brewing beer in such a small yield... AND THEN CAN'T GET RID OF IT?!
Can't speak for the original author here.  Only going to say that if you brew often enough to have a variety of beer, it is quite easy to accidentally start a stockpile and have too much just sitting around.

  • I brew at least once a week and still cannot keep up with home much beer I drink. This is ridiculous. 
Then 5 or 10 gallons works better for you.  That doesn't mean the idea is ridiculous.  Some people a dozen cookies when they bake, others make 200.  It all depends on your needs.  Just because someone else's needs are different doesn't make it a bad idea, just not something for you.

  • I can only laugh after reading this. I'm in the process of going towards 10 gallon batches instead of 5.
As said before, then 1 gallon batches aren't for you.  Many one gallon brewers would laugh at you for making 10 gallons of IPA that will most likely fade before you are done drinking it.  I still brew 5 gallons and am working on my 10 gallon system right now.  However that is only used for long term aging beers such as Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, and sours.  I still even brew 1 gallon test batches first to make sure that it is a sound recipe for me (except the sours).

  • When you make a great beer you only have 1 gallon of it! Possibly less if tested gravity. You spend nearly the same amount of time making 1 gallon as you would making 5 gallons.
Yes, you do only have 1 gallon of it, however you should be able to replicate that process and make more.  If you can't rebrew a beer and have it come on with some semblance of consistency then you really need to take a look at how you are brewing and make some changes. That way you also get fresh beer.
Yes it is nearly the same amount of time, what difference does that make?  It takes nearly the same amount of time to brew 30bbl of beer also.  Still doing a mash and boil.  I really don't understand this argument at all.  I brew because I like to brew.  If I get to do it twice a week I could spend $30 a batch to make 5 gallons at a time, or $5 to brew one gallon.  I'm not going to drink 10 gallons in a week, but I want to brew more than once.  So I drop my batch size.  The time spent doing it isn't wasted, its spent doing a hobby that I love and am passionate about.  If people want to clock themselves into their homebrewery and work while brewing and make a big deal about how much they are getting for the time, go ahead.  I, on the other had, will just brew to brew and I don't need stacks of cases lining my house to still enjoy the hobby.

  • So, how exactly does one all-grain at that scale? BIAB? Just mash in the boil kettle and remove the bag before boiling? A side note, for those worried about yeast costs: starters! You could do a bunch of small batches from one packet of yeast.
THANK YOU!  A smart question about it that isn't just berating the idea.  And an intelligent thought about how to do it!  Now to actually answer the question.  I do a BIAB, but have seen people convert 1-3 gallon drink coolers to be little mash tuns.  Just because it is small doesn't mean anything has to be different.

That is enough of a rant for this post.  So the moral of the story is: brew to brew, whether it be 1 gallon or 1 bbl.  I do highly suggest that people try out 1 gallon brewing if only for your craziest ideas.  I could never have afforded my IIPA braggot recipes at a 5 gallon scale do to the massive amount of hops and honey.  However, at 1 gallon I could do them and rebrew them when the time came and I wanted more.  It also gives you a chance to play around with new ingredients.  Any time when get something new to the store that I want to play with, I can without worrying about making 5 gallons of weird beer.  My smoked porter, honestly tastes like I'm licking a fire pit and I have dumped both bottles I have opened.  I will probably end up dumping most of the batch.  Had that been 5 gallons it would have sucked.  So go brew a 1 gallon test batch.  Do some single hop IPA's with new hops to see what they taste like.  Do a sahti, do a mead, do whatever sounds good.  Want to put a bunch of juniper berries in an Irish Red, go for it.

We are in this hobby because we have fun doing it.  So go have fun.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Batch 30: Lemon Green Tea Mead and a note about the future

Tonight  I started my latest batch of mead.  I decided to go for a lemon green tea mix.   It was a fairly uneventful process tonight that just involved me adding 3# of wildflower honey to a 1 gallon jug and topping it up with water a bit of nutrient and shaking the snot out of it for a while.  Came out to 25.8 Plato.  Added some Lavlin 71-B to it and will add some nutrient for the next couple days to make sure it goes alright.  In secondary, I will add some very strong green tea and a lemon zest/fruit tincture that I need to put together this week.  I may toss just a bit of sweetener in this, but want to make it very green tea like (but then again, honey goes great in green tea).

As for the future of this blog.  I started out saying I was going to discus the ups and downs of brewing 1 gallon batches.   I haven't really done that.  This is basically just a log for my brews.  That will change.  I will try to dissect a topic fairly often and run some test batches to show of some different ways of doing things.  I want this to be a place where people will decide that 1 gallon batches aren't a waste of time and energy.  In the process I can talk about things such as brew in a bag vs a traditional mash, high sugar worts, different hopping techniques, and anything else I (or you) can think of.

If you have an idea for one of these topics, let me know.  Other wise I will just come up with stuff on my own.  I also want to work on trying to do some more videos too, but thats a few steps away still.

Until next time,

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Busy Busy Bee

I brewed twice this week, along with bottling three batches.  So let's just get started.

Batch 028: C'est What?

That's right, another saison.  This time a black saison.  I wanted something similar to the last but with a touch of roast and a nice black color.  I went with Pils again for the base and a bit a wheat, but threw in just a bit of midnight wheat and debittered black for color and a touch of roastiness.   Kept the hopping schedule the same as the last for a bit on consistency.  I was a little high on my OG: 15.8 instead of 13.9, but that's alright.

Batch 029: The Wee One

Yes, another rebrew.  This was tasty though, so I'm doing it again.  Same recipe (kind of....).  Everything started out great.  It was also my first day brewing outside this year.  Still did a 1 gallon batch, just used the little 3 gallon pot on my propane burner.  This was fun because I had to turn my regulator all the way down to keep the wort from jumping out of the pot.  It was a nice day out and I got to just sit back and read for a while during the boil.

 As I was mashing I noticed that my preboil gravity was extremely high.  I added 2 qts of water to help lower it, but it was still high.  Later, I found out that I had multipled the recipe by 1.5 to give me a bigger batch.  I had forgotten that and brewed it as a 1 gallon batch instead.  So my nice light 2% scottish 60/- is more like a big scottish 80/-.  I'm ok with that though too. 


Last night I bottled up three batches to free up some fermenters.  I bottled up the C'est San, the 15 min IPA and my brown sugar cider.  I don't think I will do three batches in one night again.  The bottling isn't so bad, just resetting everything sucks.  I am working on something to fix that though.  If it works out, details will be here.

To come this week:

This week I am making another mead and a special beer.  Look forward to that.

Until then, Cheers!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Alright so it has been a while since I've brewed.  Mainly because I am too lazy to bottle and have more than a few batches that should be bottled soon.  Up until recently I wanted to brew, but saw it as a chore more than the relaxing hobby it was.  This scared me a lot since I am throwing myself into this with a leap of faith.  The last couple days have thrown me back and reminded me why I do this.  I spent 14 hours at a beer fest Saturday pouring mead and talking to brewers about beers.  It was nice to be considered a colleague for once.  I was happy to be cold and yelling over obnoxious music to talk about about mead to people.  Then this morning as I was mashing in my latest batch (a full post will come on that later) I watched the video Goose Island put out for their 25th anniversary and it lit a fire in my heart again.  Heart and Soul is back and expect more posts, more detailed posts, and a wider range of brews to come in the next few months. 

Welcome back and cheers!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Batch 26: C'est San and Batch 27: Brown Sugar, How Come You Taste So Good

Well I made up two batches this week.  I straight up stole a saison recipe from a coworker, swapped out the hops for my EXP 6300's hoping that they give a nice flavor to it and used the dry Belle Saison yeast from Danstar.  I haven't tried that yeast yet so it should be fun, and actually this is my first saison.  I already have a couple more in the works so thats nice.  I was a little high on my gravity (OG of 18Plato), hopefully that isn't too bad, but I did mash at 151F so it should attenuate out. 

I also mixed up the second gallon of apple cider.  For this one I just added 8oz of light brown sugar.  Both are going crazy in the fermenter and looking good.

Side note: not really sure why I am still posting here.  I see hits and that's cool.  I hope that I am helping someone out, but I think I am just using it mostly as a (poor) back up of brewing notes.  Oh well, if you are reading see you in a couple of days.  Bottling the dark chocolate stout and brewing the scottish 60/- again.


Recipe for C'est San:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Batch 26: Cranberry Cider

I haven't really had too much time to do anything recently, but I did pick up a couple gallons of apple juice today to make up some cider to help with the hot summer coming up.  Went simple with 1 gallon of juice, 8oz of dried cranberries and some nutrient.  Even this post is quick and dirty, but my to brew list keeps growing and I am out of space/time/money/etc so I'm scraping by and doing what I can.  Should be brewing this weekend.  Probably going to do another cider along with an American Wheat using my EXP 6300 hops since they didn't go too well in the IPA, maybe this will work.

Until next time, Cheers.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bottling Tomorrow

I spent tonight cleaning out some really old, neglected bottles in preparation to bottle soon.  I have my Bumble Bee IIPA braggot that needs to be bottled along with the dark chocolate stout.  It is also about time to bottle one of the berliner weiss's and fruit the other.  All the time thats going on I am going to brew a porter to throw on the berliner cake, a flanders red for 5 gallons of soury goodness in a couple years, a scottish, a lawnmower beer, and a triple IPA (just because I can).

Lots to do, slowed down this week to prepare.  Look out for lots of brews to come.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Batch 23: Dark Chocolate Stout and Batch 24: 15 Minute IPA

Batch 23: Dark Chocolate Stout
Well I've been busy again.  Sunday I brewed up an Imperial Stout using some dark chocolate malt.  First time using this one.  It is basically a 420 lovibond chocolate malt as opposed to the normal 350.  I went a little big on this one at 19.5Plato for my OG, but I think that this will age well too so I'll have to hide a few bottles from myself until next year.  I also threw a decent amount of cascade and centennial at this and was reminded how much I love centennial hops in a stout.  The smell put the biggest smile on my face as I tossed them in.
I also bottled up Ignorance and Smoked Porter while brewing.  The pipeline is always moving around here.

Batch 24: 15 Minute IPA
I did brew today, but was feeling a little lazy and wanted to kill off some of the hops in my freezer so I went for a quick brew.  All extract, no steeping grains, 15 minute boil, and insane amounts of hops.  I went with one pound of sparkling amber extract and one pound of pilsen light.  Once boiling I threw in 1/4oz of each cascade and centennial (can you tell which hops I buy in bulk?) every 3 minutes until flameout.  All in all, 3 oz of hops went into 1.25 gallons of wort, in 15 minutes.  77 IBUs calculated, but we'll see what actually comes out of this.  I am just hoping for a fun thing to talk about with people while pouring it.

The Bumble Bee will be racked to secondary with dry hops this weekend and I will be thinking about whats next in line to brew.  Thinking something light to drink as it warms up.  Also will be bottling one of the berliner weiss's soon and adding fruit to the other.  Just have to decide on the fruit.

Until next time, Cheers!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Batches 020, 021, and 022 or How I've Learned to Stop Worrying and Brew

Well, it's been a busy last few days in terms of brewing.  I'll do my best to keep this somewhat short.

Batch 020: Smoked Porter
Late last week we got some nice smoked malt in from Briess at work and I had to try it out.  So I went with a smoked porter since that is a fairly nice platform for the smoke malt without brewing a rauchbier.  Sunday night I started this brew.  I did jack the gravity up a bit to make things more interesting.  If you have never smelled smoke malt it is an amazing experience.  I love that smell, but did learn one valuable lesson while brewing this.  Never brew smoke beers inside.  The smell is great, but not when that is the only thing that you can smell during the 3 hours it takes to brew and the next 2 hours to cycle the air out of your house.  By the end of the brew I was getting a bit of a headache from the pure intensity of the smell.  I did have a nice brew day and aside from being high on my OG and short on my volume (which both were fixed with an extra qt of water to top off).


Batch 021: Skeeter Pee
Ok this one was just for fun.  I have seen this recipe around for a while and decided it was easy enough to throw together that I should try it.  If you haven't heard of this, it is a lemon wine.  A bit different from hard lemonade, but the same idea.  There is a nice website about it at I did drop the sugar for fermenting a little bit to make it a bit lighter.  This was placed in a 1 gallon jug with some Cote de Blanc wine yeast and within 24 hours I had to rig up a blowoff tube to prevent my airlock from clogging.  I'm interested to see how this one turns out.

Batch 022: The Bumble Bee
 If the name of this brew sounds a little familiar that is because it is.  This is a rebrew of Batch 013, The Killer Bee.  That beer went over so well that I wanted to play with it some more.  First major change is that I am step feeding the honey into the beer as opposed to throwing it in all at the beginning.  I am giving the beer from brewday Tuesday until Saturday night to ferment just the malt and then mixing in the 1.5 lbs of orange blossom honey.  The other change I did in this was swapping out the Citra hops for NZ Galaxy.  Just playing around with flavors to see what blends well with the honey.  Hopefully this comes out as well as the last, but only time will tell.


Until next time, add some comments below and Cheers!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Batch 019: Ignorance

So this week I brewed up a beer that was closely based on the beer that made me realize what flavors could actually be in beer.  This beer was my "lightbulb" moment as far as beer goes.  I had drank some craft beers before trying this, but everything else paled in comparison.  That beer was Arrogant Bastard.  The beer was this amazing red color, with a malty chewiness to it and a giant hop punch to keep things in check. (not to mention the name was really fun to order at the local hookah bar)

So I went with a version of the Can You Brew It? recipe for this with a few tweeks for my system.  91% Pale Ale malt and 9% Special B are the only malts used and only Chinook as a hop.  And to be honest this is my first time using Chinook, I have known that I love that hop for a long time, but have always gone with other hops for some reason.

I did have one hang up during brew day that is a step in the wrong direction for me.  I hit my Pre-boil Gravity dead on, but came up short on my original gravity and realized when I moved the wort to the fermenter that I had way too much wort, meaning my boil off rate wasn't as high as I was expecting.  My thought is that since it was a 90 min boil as opposed to my normal 60 min boils, the stove's burner could not keep as vigorous of a boil for the extra volume to compensate for the extra boil time.  I'm not entirely sure that actually makes sense or its just a self said justification for a screw up.  Anyway, now I have about 1.5 gallons of Arrogant Bastard "lite" that I am sure I will be happy with anyway.

I keep looking at berliner weisses, but refuse to touch them.  My 5 gallons of sour from last year will be getting some fun things thrown at it soon, and I am planning my next batch of sours.  Going to try to brew up 3 of them this summer so that I have stuff going in the sour pipeline at all times.  First to brew is a Flander's Red, then a Lambic or two, maybe a Gueze, maybe not.

Enough day dreaming,  until next time.


P.S. Any comments, just hit the button below.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Batches 017 & 018: EXPIPA 6300 & 1210

I'm back!  The last two weeks have been a bit crazy and I was able to brew again.  So naturally I jumped in head first with a double brew day.  Same grain, same bittering hops, same mash, same yeast.  Only difference was the hops thrown in at 10, 5 and 0 minutes. release 4 new hop strains a few weeks back and I picked up two of them.  I wanted a nice easy test for the flavors and aromas. For the base beer I went with the malt from Papa's Pale Ale and a small charge of warrior hops to bitter.  I threw in .2 oz of the EXP hops in at 10 min, 5 min, and knockout.  Batch 017 used EXP 6300 which is described as having 6.4%AA Blackberry, "Super Cascade", Grapefruit, Orange, "Amarillo Like", Lemon and Pine Bred from Cascade and USDA 19058.  Batch 018 used EXP 1210, 14.6%AA Dill / Lemon, Jolly Rancher, Passion fruit, Cocoa, Coconut, Peach, Stone Fruit and Vanilla Bred from Galena, Eastern Gold, 98005.

I am really interested in how these will come out.  Only time will tell.  Still prepping and researching for my first 5 gallon batch in a while so that will keep me busy.

Until next time, cheers!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Short Hiatus, but Coming Back Soon

I brewed those last 3 batches in such a short time that I ran out of fermenter space.  I finally got around to bottling the triple berry cyser this week along with the blood orange hefeweizen, freeing up 2 of my fermenters.  That means that this week I will brew twice, identical recipes, different hops.  I bought a couple packs of experimental hops from Farmhouse Brewing Supply a few weeks ago and I want to test them out.  So I will be brewing a couple pale ale/ipa batches with a neutral bittering hop and then single hopping the end with each of the experimentals just to see what kind of flavors and aromas come out of these.  I will work on an equipment run down here soon too.  I know I have been saying that for a while, but its coming I promise.  Unfortunately, life doesn't like to let you do things when you want to do them.  So, this week, 2 "single" hops brews, a clone of a popular beer soon after that, with plenty of other stuff in the works after that.  To much brewing to do, not enough time/fermenters/patience/space/etc.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bottling Batch 013: The Killer Bee

Well, I bottled up batch 013, my honey based IIPA braggot that I brewed about 3 weeks ago.  Lots of honey, lots of hops, lots of flavor.  I figured since I had done a step by step on how I brewed my 1 gallon batches, I would do a step by step on how I bottle my 1 gallon batches.  I didn't get pictures of racking it to secondary and dry hopping, but that is fairly standard.  I racked to a 1 gallon glass jug and dry hopped in a muslin bag.

So on to the pictures, and as always, if you have any questions I am more than happy to answer them.

First things first, collect your beer, bottles, siphon, and sanitizer.

Next, I rack sanitizer into my clean bottles.  I fill them about half way and give them a good shake to coat the inside.  I will shake again before they get filled.

 I heat up about 4oz of water to a boil in the microwave with priming sugar mixed in.  I used 0.9oz of corn sugar for this batch.  I will use less or more depending on the size of the batch and style of the beer.  Be careful boiling water in the microwave because the water can become superheated and flash boil.  It happened to me on this batch for the first time in a long time.  If it does flash boil while you are holding on to it, it can and will burn you severely.  Its not a pretty site, so take care.

I pour that sugar solution into the empty, sanitized jug and then rack the beer to the new jug.  Carefully leave the sediment behind.

As you rack the beer, it will swirl in your jug mixing in the priming sugar.  If you are worried about it not being evenly distributed, you can gently stir the beer, but be careful to not agitate the top too much to avoid oxidation.

 As you are racking pull off another sample to test the gravity.  The reading it 11.2 Plato, but this is misleading.  Readings from refractometers get skewed in an alcohol solution, so you have to adjust for that.  Knowing that my original gravity was 23 Plato, I plug that 11.2 Plato into BeerSmith and get an actual reading of 3.2 Plato.  A very nice dry IIPA.  I am glad that I mashed as high as I did in anticipation of the honey drying it out.  The reading when I racked it to secondary my gravity was 4.8 Plato so I am glad I got those extra points out before I bottled.  After all is said and done. I have myself an 11.3% ABV IIPA.  It is a bit stronger than I was anticipating, but its not unheard of for the style.

 When you are done racking you will be left with a layer of yeast sediment and your bag of hops.  Leave those there and clean up when you are done with everything else.

 Here is the tip of the autosiphon.  The tip on the end prevents it from sucking up the sediment.

 I take the tip off when I go to bottle so that I get all of the beer out of the jug when I am actually racking to the bottles.

 Now, I shake the bottles up one more time and dump the sanitizer out.

 Attach the bottling wand to the siphon hose and start filling.  Some people will use a bottling bucket with a spigot at the bottom, but I just rack out of the jug.  I still get every drop out and don't have to have another bucket.
I fill up all of my bottles, placing a cap on each bottle as I go.  When I have all of the bottles filled I go back and crimp the caps.  I got 10 bottles out of this batch which is fairly normal.  It may not seem like much, but if you brew often that means you can always have a nice assortment of beers on hand.

Now I just have to wait two weeks or so for them to carb up.  I may have to stir the bottles up every once in a while to make sure they carb, but I will coax them there.

Hopefully, these posts have been helpful to people who are thinking of trying out 1 gallon batches.  I will be happy to help anyone interesting in getting started with 1 gallon batches or brewing in general.

Until I brew again,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Batches 014, 015, and 016: AKA The Brewganza

About two weeks ago at work, we got a shipment from White Labs with a random variety of yeast strains for us to sell.  We got a vial of Berliner Weiss and were thinking that it would probably just sit in the fridge until one of us bought it.  So I did.  Now, one vial is too much for a 1 gallon batch of Berliner Weiss, but I could reseal the vial and pitch into two different batches.  I thought that if I did this I would have to brew them fairly close together to lessen the risk of the yeast going bad, which had been opened and exposed to the air.  So I bought the yeast and enough grain for what I thought would be two batches.  I messed this part up.  I had written in my notes that I needed 1.5# of Pilsner malt and 1.5# of white wheat.  When I went to bought them I thought that was for 1 batch and bought two sets of those ingredients.  I was wrong.  I only needed 3/4# of each for a 1 gallon batch.  So I upped my batch size to 1.75 gallons.  I also combined my bags of grain and split them into 2# batches (1# of wheat, 1# of Pils each). So Saturday I brewed my first batch.

Batch 014: Icht Bin Ein Bierassenseiter (I am a beer outsider)
Berliner Weiss beers are fairly simple to brew.  Equal part of wheat and pils, keep it around 8 plato (~1.030 sg), and hop as little as possible, in this case 5 IBU's.  I used Hallertau Hersberker hops since they are the lowest alpha acid we had (and frankly I have ever seen) at 2.3%.  I mashed at 154 for an hour.  Now for the different part, boil for 15 minutes.  Thats it.  Hops go in at the beginning of the boil and pitch the yeast blend when it is cool.  You want this beer to be as light as possible and any issues with DMS from the pils in such a short boil will be counteracted by the lactic bacteria in the yeast blend.  So I pitch half of my vial of yeast and set it back in the fridge until the next day.

Batch 015: Icht Bin Ein Bierassenseiter II
Thats right, I brewed the exact same beer the next day.  Everything went exactly the same except for one small hiccup.  I didn't realize it had started boiling when it did, so it boiled for an extra 5 minutes or so resulting in it being half a degree plato higher in OG.  Not an issue.  This one will get a fruit addition in secondary, I just haven't decided yet.  Anyone have any suggestions?  It may just come down to walking around the market for what looks good at the time I rack.  I used the other half of the vial of yeast and set this next to the other to ferment and sour.

Batch 016: Hunter's Harvest
This was one of the first beers that I ever brewed.  I am thinking it was my 4th batch.  I had read of this recipe online and wanted to try it.  I loved the result so I am finally getting around to rebrewing this with a couple tweeks.  I used the same grain bill that I used for the last two brews because that is what I had on hand and it fit the style.  I did lower the batch size back down to the normal 1.25 gallons to up the gravity a bit though.  Now the fun part about this is that this is a hefeweizen, but with blood oranges in it.  For those who don't know blood oranges are a cross between oranges and grapefruit and are a deep ruby color and are packed with antioxidants.  They are a very nice berry flavor and fit perfectly with the hefeweizen style.

I mashed this one a little lower at 152 and measured out some more Hersberker for hopping.  As the wort was boiling I started dissecting the fruit.  I used two oranges, which is more than the original recipe called for, but if I put fruit in a beer, I want to be able to know that its there.  I want it to be balanced, but I don't want to have to search for it.  First thing you do is to zest the oranges.  Be careful to avoid the pith (tough white rind) as it is really bitter tasting and will bitter your beer.

 Next you peel the oranges and separate the sections.

 After I separated the sections I butterflyed them open to make getting the flesh out easier.
 As you can see there is still a skin like membrane around each section.  I pulled the fruit out of this to make it easier to extract the flavors and colors into the beer.
 All of the flesh and zest gets added to a small pot with a little bit of water and heated to about 165 to sanitize it.  Avoid going higher than 170 or else you will just make orange jelly.  I let this mixture steep in the pot while the wort finished boiling.  When it was ready to cool my wort I poured the flesh into a nylon bag and added the water and fruit to the wort and cooled the whole batch.  The fruit will remain in the beer during primary fermentation.  I will not be doing a secondary on this so the oranges need some time to impact the beer.

So for now, all of my primaries are full, and so are most of my secondaries.  I need to bottle up the Killer Bee this week along with the Triple Berry Cyser.  Now that I have knocked a decent chunk off of my to-brew list, I need to come up with some new ideas.  I still have a long list, but am always looking for something else that is fun.  If you have heard of any fun beers lately, let me know in the comments below

Until I bottle later this week,


Friday, February 1, 2013

Bottling, racking, and finning.

So I missed a week of brewing, but I will be making that up this week.  I was sick and made up some work on my day off so my schedule got mixed around.

Anyway, on to what I did tonight.  I bottled up the GF brown (Alterna) I brewed up a few weeks ago.  A lot of honey flavor left from the caramelizing process and a bit sweet, but I'm surprised how much flavor is it for what it is.  I also racked my honey IIPA (The Killer Bee) to secondary with dry hops and gave it a taste.  Wow, its amazing, everything I could have hoped for.  Really bitter, super hoppy and with a twinge of honey flavor still peaking through.  Lastly, I added some Chitosan to my Triple Berry Cyser (Berry Cyser).  A few more weeks then bottling for that.

I will be brewing tomorrow night and possibly Sunday night as well.

Until tomorrow,


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Batch 013: The Killer Bee

Fair warning, this is going to be a really long post.  I decided it was time to go through and document the whole process from start to finish so there are a lot of pictures and there will be a lot of explanation behind them.

A week ago I was harvesting honey from the combs in preparation to make the next batches of mead at work and was talking to my boss about honey and beer.  He mentioned that it would be nice to have a honey IPA out there that showcased the honey.  I brought up Bell's Hopslam, but he was thinking even more honey forward than that.  So I accepted the challenge and a week later I was brewing up The Killer Bee Honey IIPA.

The recipe: Being honey forward that is where I started.  I really enjoy the taste of orange blossom honey so that is what I went with.  I wanted half of my fermentables to come from the honey so I grabbed a pound and a half of honey.  This will give me 47 points or 1.047 if I only put the honey in.  Two pounds of pale ale malt will give me the rest of my fermentables with 4oz of crystal 40L and 4oz of cara-pils to boost the body.  I am mashing high to get me a lot of body, which is usually avoided in IIPA's, but due to the amount of honey that is in this and how dry honey ferments I am trying to keep some body to the beer.  At this point I am throwing an obscene amount of hops at this beer with a calculated IBU of about 140 which I still thought was slightly conservative.  White Labs WLP001 will hopefully work its way through this beast.

The process:
 First things first, gather all of your ingredients and, if available, some inspiration beer.
 I started heating up 8qts of strike water to 162.5F, almost there in this picture, just a little farther.
 When you reach your strike temp, add your bag to the pot and toss in your grains.  Make sure to stir very well to wet all of the grains, which isn't as hard when doing a full volume mash.  Check your mash temps to make sure you hit your numbers.  Aiming for 156F, so I am happy with this.
 Place the lid on your pot and tuck the extra bag on top for safe storage during the mash.
 The pot then goes into the oven, set to warm.  If you put the pot directly on the bottom of the oven it will heat up too much, but if suspended on a rack it will hold its temperature for the whole mash.
 During the mash I go ahead and measure out my hop additions.  I use butter tub lids as weigh trays.
 60 minute bittering addition: half an ounce of Centennial and half an ounce of Simcoe.
 Left to right: 60 min(1/2oz Centennnial, 1/2oz Simcoe), 10 min(1/4oz Simcoe, 1/4oz Citra), Knockout(1/2oz Simcoe, 1/2oz Citra), and dry hop(1/4oz Simcoe, 1/4oz Citra).
 I weigh out my dry hops while weighing the rest so that I don't have to dig them out of the freezer when it comes time to dry hop.  So I bag them up then too.
 I take that bag and put them into a clean White Labs vial and place them on my freezer door for easy access, but still storing them cold and sealed to keep them fresh.

After an hour long mash, the pot comes back out of the oven and gets stirred up one last time.
  Pull the grain bag out and place it on a strainer to drain for a few minutes.  After it has drained you can discard the grains and begin heating to a boil.  Stir very well at this point.
The reason to stir very well is the make sure that your wort is uniform and will allow for a more accurate gravity reading.  I had a pre-boil gravity of 9.5P when I was expecting 8.7P.  A little high, but that's alright for this beer.
 As we reach a boil the first hop addition gets thrown in.
 Yummy hop break.
 Don't forget to start your timer.
 Pull the yeast out of the fridge to warm up to room temperature.  Since it is only one gallon, there is no need for a starter, but we will need the whole vial of yeast to fight the Killer Bee.
 During the boil is a good time to clean and sanitize your fermentor.  In this case a 2 gallon bucket that will allow for plenty of kreuson without blowing the lid off.
 If you can drink something similar to what you are brewing, the beer gods will look kindly upon you for this.
 10 minute addition of hops, my house reeks of Simcoe by now and I'm loving it.
 Knockout hops, kettle off and lots more hops going in.
 The kettle goes into a sink full of cold water to chill.  Stir the inside while moving to the pot to keep both the water and the wort moving.  When your sink is full leave it sit for 5 minutes.
 After 5 minutes the sink water should be hot, so drain it and replace it with fresh cold water.  Also this is the time to add a sanitized lid to keep the wort safe while it chills.  I usually change the water 2-3 times to chill a batch down to below 80F.
 Below 80F, good enough for me.
 Time to check the gravity again.  It is now up to 13.5P, with an estimated OG(pre honey) or 12.3P.  So I did overshoot my gravity, but as I said before, that isn't exactly a bad thing for this beer.
 Now I rack to my fermenter and try to leave the massive amount of hops and break material behind in the kettle.
 Nice cake of hops left in the bottom of the kettle.
 Time to get the honey ready.  A pound and a half of orange blossom honey going in.
 Make sure that everything is sanitized, including the container that the honey is in.
 Mix the honey in with a whisk and while you are doing that so ahead and aerate the wort like crazy.
 Last gravity check.  23P or 1.094 SG.
 Pitch your yeast and watch out for the exploding vials.
 Finally tag your fermentor so you don't loose track of what is in each bucket.
Don't forget to take notes.  Here is my note sheet that I use.

Crazy brew night for sure.  Nothing went wrong and finally got a step by step walk through of my brewing process for anyone interested.  Bottling two batches this week, adding clearing agents to my berry cyser and impatiently waiting on this and Alterna to finish.

Got the stuff to brew a few more batches up, but I am currently stocked up in the fermentor department so once I bottle I can brew again.  Time to check on the bottle supply.

If anyone has any questions about how I brew, or just want to leave a message, hit the comment button below.

Until next time,

Cheers everyone!