Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Homebrewing Meets Pinterest

Homebrewing and Pinterest. At first glance you might not think these two have much in common and most of the time you would be right. At the heart of both of these is simple solution to problems and after fully stocking the kegerator an interesting problem presented itself. One of Rachel’s friends was getting married and several people would be staying with us. The problem I saw was, how was everyone going to tell which beer was which? Luckily Rachel had a very good solution thanks to the popular website Pinterest, magnetic chalkboards. The idea seemed simple enough, spray paint some chalkboard paint on some store bought boards, glue on magnets and boom, magnetic chalkboards. All the supplies were bought from Wal-Mart for about 10 bucks.

Spray painting was a breeze. Applied two coats and called it good enough. The magnets were a breeze too.

Once the boards were done it was time for my “art skills” to shine through

The finished product.
Now that all the taps were installed and identified it was apparent that one last thing was missing. A new drip pan to finish it out (for now) and make it look professional. That was too much work for this day so, till then, Prost!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tapping the Stout

After the Stout had been in the keg it was time for a taste test. It pours very dark, almost pure black. It has a nice dark brown head to it, although it disappears quickly. It has a great taste, a little bit of roasty-ness to it. Overall a great tasting beer!

Now this has lef tme with an interesting problem. With four beers on tap how will guests be able to tell which beer they are about to pour? More on that next time. Prost!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kegging the Stout

After brewing the stout it sat and fermented for four weeks. Once there the fermentation stage was complete it was time for my second favorite thing about brewing, kegging. Why is kegging my second favorite? Because drinking is my first and this is the last active step before that can happen. Transferring from the fermentation bucket to the keg presented a new challenge this time around. Typically when you are transferring you want to stop before you get to the “Yeast Cake”. The yeast cake is where all the byproducts of fermentation settle out. When you are bottling or kegging you don’t typically want to have any in your beer. It isn’t bad or bad for you but it can make cloudy beer. The easy way to not get any into your beer is to stop just before you get there. Unfortunately that is hard to do when your beer is pitch black.
The simple solution to this is to tip the bucket before you start to drain. So with that done it was time to transfer.
It’s always easier to transfer with a homebrew (or two)
Tipping the bucket allowed me to stop just before the sediment got sucked out.
With all the beer in the keg into the fridge it went. This was a bit more challenging because, drumroll please, the fridge had finally been filled.
It was a little bit of a squeeze but all the kegs fit in there just perfectly, now it was time to wait while the beer carbonated. Till then, Prost!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stupidly Simple Stout Brewday

Wow, time flies when work is so much fun. Although my blog has fallen behind a little bit, luckily my brewing has not. Going to try and catch up in the next few weeks and to get started I need to go back in time to February. As I thought about my next brew I looked at the weather and a cold snap was coming so I decided that the best beer for the cold was a stout. After searching on Homebrew Talk I found a fairly simple stout recipe, so simply it was Stupidly Simple.

After getting the grains and supplies from Austin Homebrew it was time to brew. After letting the grains mash for an hour it was time to drain.

After the initial drain and sparge were complete, I set about for the boil. It was pretty cold but I had the fire and some coffee to keep me warm
There is an old adage that a watched pot never boils. I proved that wrong, way wrong. Just as I was about to get comfortable in my folding chair the foam from the wort started to reach the top of the pot. After removing the wort from the flame I turned to another old remedy, a wooden spoon on the top of the pot to avoid a boil over. Not sure if it worked but I did not have another problem with a boil over.
Once the boil was done it was into the fermenter but not before a sample gravity reading.
Now it was time to wait for the fermentation to complete, more on that soon though.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Adventures in Cold Crashing

Since my last post the weather here had warmed up, the beer had completed fermentation and that could only mean one thing, it was time to keg and have a round of Kolsch. This time I was going to try something a little different, it was called “cold crashing”. Cold crashing is the process of cooling your beer before you bottle or keg it. What this does is it causes yeast particles that are floating in your beer to cool down and “crash” to the bottom of the ferementer. This will allow for clearer bear when taking the beer from the fermenter to the keg since more particles are at the bottom of the fermenter. Now you are probably asking, how do you cool a 7 gallon bucket? Easy, you put it in the fridge.

After two days in the fridge it was time to keg.

After draining the beer into the keg it was pretty apparent that the cold crashing had worked just by the amount of sediment in the bottom of the fermenter. It looks green because of the hops, hops are green.

After filling the keg, it went in the fridge and about a week later it was carbed up and ready to drink.

So how did it taste? At first sip the beer had a very pronounced grain taste (duh, its all grain) but this was something more as if you took a scoop of grain and put it in your mouth. Luckily this has mellowed out since then and now this is great light and crisp beer perfect after mowing the yard or just sitting around with friends. Till the next brew, Prost!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Family Portrait

Not a lot is going on right now, one beer is in the fermenter and another is on the way. The bridge the gap I am posting this picture from when my brother visited me a couple of weeks ago. I was able to snap a picture of my first three beers. From left to right, Ryen's Pale Ale, Basic Brown Ale (RIP), WTF Winter Warmer,

Saturday, February 11, 2012

All Grain, No Pain

My beginner’s journey of extract and partial mashing was over and it was time to put on my big boy brewing pants and take a try at all grain brewing. For those unfamiliar with AG (All Grain), it is a brewing process where you extract the sugar directly from the grains (Barley, Rye, etc.). This is different from Extract and Partial Mash because in those brewing techniques the majority of the sugars is extracted from the grain and delivered to you ready to boil and brew. Think of it as Hamburger Helper vs. made from scratch pasta. There is a step up in equipment when it comes to doing AG but this was helped by a brewing friend in McKinney who graciously let me take his Mash Tun, but more on that later.

For my first AG beer I decided to go with a Saint Arnold’s Lawnmower Clone. This is a Kolsch style and with spring approaching it sounded great.

The first part of AG brewing is to extract the sugars from the grains. This is done by letting the grains steep in hot water similar to what happens when you make tea. For this recipe the grains needed to steep for one hour. For that hour you need to keep them at approximately 155 degrees Fahrenheit. The easiest way to do this is take an orange water cooler and let the grains sit in there. This was something I didn’t have but thanks to Chris, he let me have his.

After letting the grains steep you need to drain the mash water. Before you can really let it flow out you have to “Vorlauf”. This lets you take the sediment that is at the bottom of the cooler out and put them onto the top.

After draining the mash water there is still some sugars left on the grains. To remove these you need to “wash” the grains. This is done through a process called Sparging. I prefer to batch sparge, or dump a lot of hot water in. After adding more hot water, vorlaufing and draining it was time to boil.

Due to large amount of water used for AG I made the switch to using a propane burner. Also due to large amount of water was my first experience with a near boil over. Luckily I got the brewpot off just in time.
Don't worry, the green is from the hops

After boiling and cooling the wort, I took my gravity reading. Unfortunately I missed the target OG by a couple of points, nothing too crazy though. I then pitched the yeast and said goodbye to the Kolsch for a couple of weeks.

I was fairly impressed with how simply my first AG batch went. Several lessons were learned but overall it wasn’t too bad. Can’t wait to try this one out!.