Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Warmer – High Gravity, Bye Extract

Thanks to a fellow home brewer I finally have all the equipment necessary to do All Grain brewing, but before I could attempt this I had one more extract brew to complete.  I had ordered a Winter Warmer kit from Austin Homebrew Supply after being inspired by Rahr’s Winter Warmer. The kit came complete with lots of grain and lots of extract, nine lbs of Extract to be exact.
This brew was similar to others that I had done before but with one small change. For this beer I would use the oven. Why the oven you ask? During a partial mash you need to soak specialty grains in hot water (150° F) for 45 minutes to extract sugar and flavors from the grain. Instead of trying to regulate the temperature on the open stove for 45 minutes I decided to cheat and put my brewpot in the oven after warming it to 150°. Turns out this was a lot easier than trying to regulate on the stove.

After this was done it was time for the boil and the addition of hops and the liquid malt extract. It was a big surprise to me when I read the package to see that the LME was a light extract. This surprised me because the Rahr version of this beer was a Dark English Ale and adding the Light LME would make this beer more copperish. Oh well, in it went.
Once the boil was over and the Wort was chilled I took a gravity reading (OG). The Hydrometer read 1.077; this was going to be a strong beer. In simple beer terms the higher the gravity after boil the stronger the beer. For math types use this formula: (OG-FG)*131=ABV, in my case (1.077-1.019)*131= 7.6% ABV. For reference a Miller Lite is 4.2%.

After putting in the yeast I sealed up the fermenter along with my extract brewing days because up next was the coveted All Grain method of brewing, but more on that later. Prost!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ryen’s Pale Ale Kegging and Tapping

Been awhile since the last post, unfortunately work is getting in the way of my writing, funny how that happens. Luckily it hasn’t stopped any of the activities associated with brewing. In this case the kegging and tapping of my Rye Pale Ale (RPA).
I knew this was going be a great beer when I took the first final gravity reading three weeks after putting it in the fermenter. The recipe had called for a FG of 1.012 and it was hit perfectly!

 With the FG reached it was time to keg!

MMMMmmmm... Yeast Cake
Since so much time has passed since my last post I was able to go ahead and sample the RPA

What a great beer! It’s crisp, light, hoppy, just wow! Now its on to the next brew, since it is starting to get cold outside, I think I am going to need a nice dark beer to warm up with. Till then, Prost!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Homebrew Home Improvement Part II

This is a big post, not just in size but in what it means to me as a homebrewer. At the end of this post I would have completed the list from this post and completed the first Homebrew Home Improvement post. This post also represents the culmination of a lot of hard work and planning. Being able to have multiple taps pouring delicious beer has been a pipe dream ever since I started. In other words, this is kind of a big deal. So without any further interruption let’s get started!
The goal of this post was to rig my fridge to dispense, not one batch of homebrew but four. In order to do this I would need four kegs, a way to run air from a central CO2 tank to all four kegs (via a four way manifold), a tap for each keg, connection for the in and out lines and the hardest part, the lines themselves. I know this is a little difficult to imagine so I have included a great picture from Keg Connection:

Unfortunately, I did not by this kit and it did not come fully assembled. This was a bit of a problem since I had never attempted anything like this.
The first and most obvious issue I ran into was that the beer line is 3/16 of an inch, the metal barb that it needed to fit over was 1/4 of an inch. For those like me, the issue is that 3/16 is smaller than 1/4. So how do we fit this? The fine folks at Homebrew HQ suggested dipping the ends in hot water to make them more flexible to fit around the barbs. After 3 or four attempts there was zero success. Then my beautiful wife had an idea, what about a hair dryer? It sounded crazy but the concentrated heat made the hoses into putty, easily fitting over the barbs.

Soon enough all hoses were connected. All that remained was to hookup up the newly redesigned system to the CO2, turn it on and cross my fingers there were no leaks. With the gas on the most wonderful noise was heard, absolutely none. With the gas good to go it was time to install some new taps.
The tap installed similar to the first, simply drill a hole in the fridge door and attach the hose. This was just as simple as the first time and soon enough the second tap was installed.

It was at this time that I had a revelation, why install taps for beer that isn’t there? Since I currently only had one keg in the fridge with another on the way I would not be using any of the other taps soon. So I put away my tools and called it a day. There would be more to do soon as I had to fill a keg for my new tap. Till the next post, Prost!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Kegs

What a fantastic whirlwind the holidays are. SWMBO and I went all over the great state of Texas. Visiting our families in South, North East, West and Central Texas as well as visiting friends in Houston, really put a ton of miles on our vehicles and gave us the opportunity to get some quality time with people we haven’t seen in a while. While all this traveling was amazing it didn’t lend itself to brewing or any beer related activities (save for drinking of course).  
With the New Year here I had a list of three things to accomplish while I was off of work:
1.       Find Kegs
2.       Complete the 4 Keg Setup
3.       Brew a new beer.
Number one sounded easy enough but after 3 weeks of searching and finding 0 (ZERO!) corny kegs in the DFW Metroplex I was beginning to worry. I was finally able to get on a waiting a list at Homebrew HQ. On New Year’s Eve I got the call and picked up 3 used corny kegs!
I swear, the grass froze and that is why its brown.

By scratching off number one I had completed two of my goals from This Post. Now all I needed was to complete #2 from my list to completely take care of the old post. Unfortunately, I found out that the task of expanding was much more difficult and that will require another post. Till then, Prost!