Wednesday, May 25, 2011

AHS Memorial day sale

Austin Homebrewing Supply is have a 10% off sale on the top 10 most popular recipes. Which includes the new kit Apocalypso, a hoppy golden ale featuring a Calypso hops (a new breed). This sale will be over on Tuesday, May 31st so jump on this one.

 - Jay

Monday, May 23, 2011

Update: Belgian Pale Ale

Primary fermentation of the Belgian Pale Ale appeared to be finished last Thursday. The airlock was inactive so I gave it one more day (for a total of seven). When I returned home from work on Friday I racked the brew to a 6.5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. 

I was nervous that with all of the little glitches I had on brew day that it may be undrinkable. Fortunately at the time of racking everything appeared to be great. The aroma, flavor, and color all were spot on. The attenuation wasn't as high as I would have liked to see. Specific gravity hadn't fallen as much as I had hoped (the sample that I measured was 1.021 @ 73 degrees). This leaves the ABV hovering right around 3%. 



Of course this has just as much to do with the original gravity as it does the current gravity. I had trouble maintaining a high enough temp while mashing which in turn didn't allow me to reach the target original gravity of 1.050. This is the weak link in the process right now but I have a few ideas to improve the situation next time around. Hopefully the gravity will drop further. I would like to reach an ABV of around 4.5%, if not it should prove to be a very drinkable session beer that I'll enjoy in this warm weather.

 - Jay

In Secondary:
  • Belgian Pale Ale

Friday, May 20, 2011

Round beverage cooler sale

After a few happy hour libations and several sushi rolls my wife and I took a short walk around the Domain. While taking a short cut through Dick's Sporting Goods I noticed these 7 gallon round beverage coolers on sale for $29.97. They're shorter and wider than the normal 10 gallon coolers. I think that this would make the ideal for mashing All Grain 5 gallon batches. They should be large enough to mash 15lbs of grain yet small enough to maintain temperature rather well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Austin Homebrew Supply Stainless steel kettle sale

Austin Home Brew Supply has stainless steel kettles (including Polar Ware) on sale until the end of the month. Direct link can be found here.

 - Jay

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Belgian Pale Ale partial mash brew

For the first time in over six months I had the opportunity to brew. I had all of my equipment rounded up, the sight glass and thermometer installed in my kettle (thanks Kevin), the ingredients, and most importantly the time needed. So when I got home from work this past Friday afternoon I went straight to it. For my first batch in Texas I decided on a Belgian Pale Ale (one of my favorite styles). The recipe is my own and is loosely based on Ommegangs BPA. Here is what I came up with:

2.25lbs Belgian Pale Ale malt
0.5lbs Caravienne malt
0.5lbs Caramunich malt
0.25lbs Aromatic malt
0.125lbs Biscuit malt
3.625lbs Total

4.00lbs Extra Pale liquid extract
1.00lbs Munich liquid extract
5.00lbs Total

1.00oz Columbus (bittering)
0.5oz Styrian Golding (flavoring)
0.5oz Styrian Golding (aroma)
2.00oz Total

0.125oz Sweet Orange Peel

Wyeast Belgian Ardennes

I've decided to step back from All Grain brewing for a bit. Now that I'm on my own the already time consuming all grain method is compounded by not having a second (or third) set of hands to help. Yet extract brewing just isn't challenging enough anymore. So this leaves me in the partial mash neighborhood. The brew in a bag method just doesn't appeal to me. It feels too close to steeping specialty grains for an extract brew. I know that it is an actual mash but I need more control.

I have spent much of my free time (of which there has been plenty) since moving to Texas researching and developing a process for partial mash brewing. So after weeks of reading and picking the brains of co-workers I developed a method of mashing in a 5 gallon converted igloo cooler and doing a single batch sparge. Here is the process:

Day before:
  • Filter and pre-boil 7 gallons of H2O
  • Record ph of water (adjust if necessary for the style)
  • Create yeast starter
Brew day:
  • Sanitize all equipment
  • Heat up liquid extract to improve viscosity
  • Preheat mash tun
  • Heat mash water to 168 degrees
  • Mash in in at 166 degrees at ratio of 1.5 qts / 1lb of grain (target temp is 152 degrees)
  • Stir to insure that there are no dry pockets
  • Mash for 60 minutes stirring every 20 minutes record temp each time
  • Heat sparge water to 170 degrees
  • Batch sparge a single time with a ratio of 1.75 qts / 1lb of grain
  • Vorlauf
  • Drain to boil kettle
  • Add H2O to bring boil volume to 6 gallons
  • Add liquid extract and stir for several minutes
  • Increase temp and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 90 minutes
  • Add bittering hops at boil
  • Add flavor hops at 15 minutes left
  • Add aroma hops at 5 minutes left
  • Chill wort to < 78 degrees
  • Transfer to primary fermenter
  • Aerate for 20 minutes
  • Pitch yeast

Seeing as this was the first time that I brewed this recipe, the first time using my partial mash method, and the first time I used 90% of my equipment, I was expecting a few hiccups. Well, I got them.

The first issue was difficulty maintaining mash temperature. When I checked the temp after 20 minutes it has dropped down to 139 degrees. Much lower than I was aiming for. Mashing in any higher wasn't an option either. Next time I may mash out doors the entire time instead of starting in my kitchen where it is 72 degrees.

The next issue I ran into was the newly installed sight glass on my boil kettle kept boiling over even though the kettle itself never even came close to doing so. There was also a minor leak in the sight glass compression fitting. Should be a simple fix. I have to take it apart to clean it anyway.

The last real issue I had was scorching the wort. I thought that I was stirring frequently enough but Clearly I wasn't. I fished out as much of the scorched extract that was floating in the wort as I could and the rest was filter out by the strainer as I transferred to my primary fermenter. So hopefully it doesn't cause a terrible off flavor.

Some of the scorched extract from the bottom of the kettle.

Despite the issues I really enjoyed myself. I think that the process is solid and only needs a few minor tweaks. The biggest issue was reaching my target original gravity of 1.050. The actual O.G. was 1.044. I'm not terribly disappointed with that number but I know that it can be improved. Maintaing a higher mash temp and not losing fermentable sugars by burning them to the bottom of the kettle should do the trick. The yeast seems to be very healthy, the airlock is bubbling away at a vigorous rate.

It was a blast using all of my new toys. I especially like my new refractometer and 30' Immersion chiller. Both worked exceptionally well. I was able to cool the wort down to 75 degrees from 218 in under 25 minutes with an ambient air temp of 80 degrees.

I'll have an update in a few weeks once this batch has finished fermenting. I'm dying to try it so I can brew another batch and refine the recipe (and technique). I have a ton of styles lined up and am looking forward to brewing them all but I'm not in a race. I'm really concentrating on the quality of both the brew and the process. So the next batch I brew will be another BPA. After that I'm going to cover Amercan and English pale ales.

As always I'm open to any feedback so feel free to post comments or questions.
- Jay
In Primary:
  • Belgian Pale Ale

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale

So, I've finally gathered enough equipment to brew my first batch since making the move to Texas (Working at Austin Homebrew Supply for the past month has definitely helped the cause). I have been debating about which style to brew first. With summer on the way and temperatures already climbing into the mid 90's here in central Texas I don't want to brew anything that would be to big and heavy. I want to keep it refreshing. So I have decide to brew a series of Pale Ales. The first being a Belgian Pale Ale, with English and American styles to follow.

My new low-tech equipment and work table in the garage.

I've picked next Saturday (5/14/11) as my brew date for my first batch of BPA. I've spent the past few weeks developing a partial mash process that I am extremely excited to try out. I've also been pouring over several BPA recipes and weighing their strong and weak points against what I enjoy about the style. More on all of this in a few days.

My favorite example of a Belgian Pale Ale is Ommegang Belgian-style Pale Ale (even though it is brewed in Cooperstown, New York about 4 1/2 hours drive east of Buffalo). Not only is it a great example of the BJCP style (16B) it is a great beer in general, one of my favorites in fact. So today I'm going to spend some time with Ommegang BPA as it is the bench mark for my own brew.

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

ABV: 6.2%

IBU: Unknown

Vessel: Nonic (poured from an 12 oz bottle)

Appearance: The first thing that grabs your attention is the tremendous fluffy bone white head (which has impressive retention). As you drink the glass down there is a moderate amount of lacing left behind. This brew pours a clear golden color which appears to me to be around the 7 -8 SRM. Clarity is very good. It's a handsome pint. (5/5)

Aroma: Slightly sour yeast dominates. Biscuity malt blends moderate citrus notes. Low citrusy hop aroma  (4.0/5)

Flavor: Fruity with just a hint of peppery flavor as I first sip brew. Orange and grape fruit flavors begin sweet and finish just slightly sour. Smooth, sweet and toasty malt that finishes with a strong biscuit flavor that lingers on the palate. There is little hop flavor ( a taste a bit of cascade citrus likely from their addition as a dry hop). A nice hoppy bitterness finishes the sip and balances the malt perfectly(4.5/5)

Mouth Feel: Medium-light bodied. Perfect carbonation level for the style. Ever so slightly warming but no detectable alcohol. Clean and refreshing.(4.5/5)

Overall: I love this beer. Its balanced perfectly which is a rare treat. I can't wait to cool down with this in the July heat of central Texas. Usually I'm not a fan of lingering flavors but the biscuit left between sips is really nice. It's just sweet enough, just bitter enough and has a wonderful mouth feel. It is one handsome fellow when poured into a glass. (18/20) 90%

I'm excited to put my skills as a home brewer to the test next weekend. This isn't a big beer or anything off the wall. In fact Belgian Pale Ale is a wonderful style that is just the opposite. It is balanced in a way that is uncommon and that is where the challenge lies. Its takes a steady and light hand to create a delicately balanced beer. By using Ommergangs BPA as a benchmark I feel that over the course of a few batches I will be able to create an outstanding beer. Stay tuned for a post about the brew session, recipe and techniques next week.

 - Jay

P.S. Happy Mothers day