Cask Ale Blowout

It was warm in central Pennsylvania on the weekend after Christmas. Highs in the 50s. Warm enough that I was able to get in a brew session. I decided to brew a batch of CJ’s House of the Rising Sun JPA using the extract recipe on Homebrew Adventures.

It was the first time I used the Wyeast 1026 PC British Cask Ale. I bought two packs as soon as they became available. Manufactured 14-oct-08.

I smacked and the pack did almost nothing. It filled some, but did not swell. There was some yeast in there, but not terribly active.

I made a starter — 7 oz Light DME in 2 quarts of water with a pinch of Wyeast Nutrient — and the starter did almost nothing. Some effervescence but not very active bubbling. Some yeast, but not terribly active.

When I brewed I added a ½-teaspoon of Wyeast Nutrient 10 minutes before the end of the boil. After cooling, I rocked the carboy back and forth for a good five minutes to aerate before pitching. I pitched that afternoon and the next morning I had to switch from a 3-piece airlock to a blow off tube and the bubbling sounded like a damned minigun.

I guess the next time I use the Cask Ale yeast I will keep in mind that it may be a little slow to start.

Getting Reminders

I have already made some incremental progress on my Brew Year Goals. An important thing about goals is remembering them, so I put them all into my Remember The Milk account. I have it configured to send me reminders several weeks before and again on the day when a task is due. I have it send reminders to my email, as well as my Twitter account. I also have the iPhone App on my iPod Touch, so I can see my task list whenever I want.

Who knew Web 2.0 could help you brew?

2009 Brew Year Goals

I believe that people are more successful when they have goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound goals. I also believe that most people make completely bogus New Years resolutions and quickly forget them. It is no surprise when the year ends and they have not accomplished them. That is why I am defining my 2009 Brewing Goals, not my New Years resolutions.

Here are my goals for the coming brew year:

  1. Reuse the yeast cake from a previous batch
    • Some folks pitch right on top of a previous cake. Others wash and save. I bought some Wyeast British Cask Ale Yeast from the private collection that just ended, it would be nice to get more than one batch out of it. Since I just made a batch of CJ’s JPA after Christmas with it this would be a great time to start.
    • Here is the goal: Figure out how to get more than one batch out of a pack of yeast.
    • Do it by Groundhog Day (2/2/2009)
  2. Organize a group buy for equipment and ingredients amongst your brewing friends to save on shipping
    • There is no homebrew shop close to me. I order my equipment and ingredients from the Internet. Sometimes the shipping charge is more than the cost of what I am buying.
    • I do know a couple other home brewers in the area. If we pool our orders maybe we can share the pain on the shipping.
    • It might even be possible to go in with one of the local brew pubs.
    • Here is the goal: When you are going to place an order, let your brewing friends know and have them let you know what they want to buy from the same places and order it all together.
    • Do it by Saint Patrick’s Day (3/17/2009)
  3. Plant some hops
    • Who wants to get caught paying too much or stuck in a shortage when hops grows on trees… uh… bines?
    • Look over some of your favorite beers and determine what hops are your favorite.
    • Select a few hop varieties to grow. Think bitter, flavor, aroma, style.
    • Order some hop rhizomes.
    • Plant and care for them.
    • Do it by the first day of Spring (3/21/2009)
  4. Put together a “toolbox” for brewing stuff
    • I have all my brewing stuff stashed in cardboard boxes around the house. When I need to do something, I search through all of them to find what I am looking for.
    • Here is the goal: Figure out what brewing equipment you need on a typical brew day and buy a toolbox from the hardware store that will hold it all. Do the same thing for bottling day. If it will all fit, great! If not, get a second one for that stuff.
    • Do it by National Homebrew Day (5/2/2009)
  5. Completely nail at least one brew
    • Thorough cleaning and sanitation
    • Proven recipe
    • Quality ingredients
    • Good grain crush
    • Proper steeping
    • Full boil
    • Correct hop schedule
    • Rapid wort chilling
    • Adequate aeration
    • Sufficient quantity of healthy yeast with ample nutrition
    • Proper and stable fermentation temperature
    • Appropriate priming and conditioning
    • Do it by Memorial Day (5/25/2009)
  6. Start whirlpool chilling
    • When I bought my immersion chiller, I got the optional recirculation package. It is not doing me any good sitting in the box it came in.
    • Here is the goal: Buy a high temperature rated, food grade pump and the appropriate plumbing and fittings to be able to recirculate during chilling.
    • Be ready to try it on a brew by the first day of Summer (6/21/2009)
  7. Develop a house beer
    • It will probably be somewhere between Saranac Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Something that Gretchen will like as well as I do. Hoppy with a good malt backbone and a clean finish.
    • Have a draft recipe and brew it by Independence Day (7/4/2009)
    • Work on making it consistently.
    • Make two consecutive consistent batches by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  8. Get the water tested
    • Water chemistry effects mash pH as well as hop utilization.
    • Everybody says to go to Ward Labs and ask for the W-6 Household Mineral Test for $16.50.
    • Do it by Mead Day (8/1/2009)
  9. Brew a partial mash beer
    • There is no magic here. I just want to try partial mash brewing to get my feet wet with base grains.
    • Find a partial mash recipe, or even a kit, and try it out.
    • Follow the instructions to the letter and see how you think it compares to extract with steeped grains.
    • Do it by Labor Day (9/7/2009)
  10. Attend a regional brewfest and do a write-up
    • Gretchen and I attended several festivals last year and had a great time. At the Selinsgrove Brewfest we had the honor of chatting with Hugh from Clipper City Brewing and he even served us Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale. Awesome stuff and we had a great time.
    • It also served as a nice opportunity for the wife and I to get away from things here on the farm and see a little bit of the world outside and enjoy some time together.
    • Here is the goal: Identify brewfests within a reasonable driving distance. Consider the breweries that will attend and the beers that you like. Look at the area where it is being held and see whether there are other things to see in the area — Parks, museums, battlefields, and so on. Book a motel room nearby so you do not need to drive afterwards. Make an overnight trip out of it. After you get back, share the joy with the brewing community on the Internet.
    • Do it by the end of Summer (9/21/2009)
  11. Get more flip-top bottles
    • I have 5 — count ’em, five — Grolsch bottles. I have had them since I got into home brewing the first time in the early ’90s. They are great. If I have got a little more beer to bottle than I expected, I just pop it in those. The rubber seals are reusable and cheap to replace when they wear out. The problem is I only have five of them.
    • Option 1: Buy a case of Grolsch from the local distributor and save the bottles.
    • Option 2: Buy a case of generic brown flip-top bottles from a homebrew supply store.
      • Pro: They are brown so the beer is less likely to go skunky.
      • Con: They are expensive and glass sometimes carries extra shipping charges.
    • Here is the goal: Get at least 12 more flip-top bottles.
    • Do it by Columbus Day (10/12/2009)
  12. Dial in the system
    • A consistent brew is all about knowing how your system works. While you are starting out, measure everything.
    • How much water per pound does your steeping grain absorb?
    • How long does it take your burner to heat a given volume at a given temperature to a boil?
    • How much boils off in an hour?
    • How much gas does it take to boil for an hour?
    • How long does it take to cool from a boil to a given pitching temperature?
    • How much water do you use during cooling?
    • If you know these things it is easier to formulate recipes and know whether you are brewing consistently.
    • Do it by Thanksgiving (11/26/2009)
  13. Make at least one step further on the brewing path
    • All grain brewing
      • I do not know how attainable this one is given that I still have it as a goal to nail one extract brew.
    • Kegging
      • This seems reasonable. In fact, I understand that it will make brewing easier and more enjoyable.
    • Here is the goal: Invest in the equipment needed to get started with kegging and keg at least one batch of beer.
    • Do it by Christmas (12/25/2009)
  14. Work on a logo for the brewery
    • Everybody else has one. Why not me?
    • Something with rolling hills (Hey! It’s a valley for Pete’s sake!). Low rounded ones to reflect the Appalachian foothills where I live.
    • Something memorable that will make a nice backdrop or accent for beer bottle labels, glassware, and clothing.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  15. Visit a brewery or brewpub and do a write-up
    • Who needs an excuse to go to a brewery or brewpub? Nobody, but here’s one anyway.
    • Here is the goal: Go to a brewery or brewpub and write up a post about your experience.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)
  16. Volunteer to help out at a brewery or brewpub in your area
    • While you are at that brewery or brewpub let them know you are a budding home brewer and see if you could help out. They’ll probably put you on clean up duty, but everybody needs to start somewhere and you still get to watch.
    • Do it by the end of the year (12/31/2009)

<

p>There! Those are by brew goals for the new year.

What are yours?

How many beer bottles do I need?

128 ounces per gallon × 5 gallons = 640 ounces

640 ounces ÷ X ounces per bottle = Y bottles

Here are some numbers for bottle sizes you can order online.

  • 6 oz = 106
  • 187 mL = 101
  • 12 oz = 53
  • 375 mL = 50
  • 16 oz = 40
  • 500 mL = 37
  • 22 oz = 29
  • 750 mL = 25
  • 32 oz = 20
  • 1 L = 18
  • 1.5 L = 12
  • 64 oz = 10
  • 2 L = 9

Brush Valley Brewer’s Imperial Celebration Extract IPA

Gretchen and I really like Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. We stock up on it every winter. To celebrate July 4th this year, I decided to make a bigger version of it. I looked at a few clone recipes and what Sierra Nevada had to say, then I converted it to extract and cranked it up a bit. Here is my recipe:

Makes four 22-ounce bottles

OG: 1.082 SG
FG: 1.020 SG
ABV: 8.4%
IBU: 79.4
SRM: 8.6 (Amber)

Ingredients

  • 1.4 pounds Alexander’s Pale Malt Kicker (end of boil)
  • 0.5 pounds Simpson’s Caramalt (steeped)
  • 0.1 ounce Chinook pellets (60 minutes)
  • 0.1 ounce Centennial pellets (60 minutes)
  • 0.1 ounce Centennial pellets (15 minutes)
  • 0.1 ounce Cascade pellets (5 minutes)
  • 0.15 ounce Chinook pellets (in primary)
  • 0.15 ounce Centennial pellets (in primary)
  • 0.15 ounce Cascade pellets (in primary)
  • Wyeast American Ale propagator pack (1056)

Directions

  1. Make a 1-quart starter several days in advance.
  2. Crush the CaraMalt and place it in a disposable grain bag. Bring 1 quart of water to 165°F in a 12-quart pot. Place the grain bag into the pot and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Bring another quart of water to 165°F and use it to rinse the grain bag. Dispose of the steeped grain.
  4. Add sufficient water to make 5 quarts in the 12 quart pot. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add 0.1 ounces Chinook pellets and 0.1 ounces Centennial pellets. Continue boil for 45 minutes.
  6. Add 0.1 ounces Chinook pellets. Continue boil for 10 minutes.
  7. Add 0.1 ounces Cascade pellets. Remove from heat and add 1.4 pounds of malt extract. Stir to dissolve. Return to heat. Boil for 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat. Cover. Place pot in a sink of cold water. Stir wort with a sanitized spoon. Be careful to not aerate the wort while hot. Change the water occasionally as it warms up. Continue until wort reaches 70°F.
  9. Pour wort into a sanitized 1-gallon jug through a sanitized funnel with a screen to remove the sediment.
  10. Swirl the starter to suspend the yeast. Measure out 0.5 cups into a sanitized measuring cup. Pitch. Cap the jug with a sanitized stopper and shake to aerate. Affix a sanitized 3-piece airlock and drilled stopper. Place in a 65–75°F dark place for 1 week.
  11. Place 0.15 ounces Cascade pellets, 0.15 ounces Chinook pellets, and 0.15 ounces Centennial pellets in enough warm (less than 167°F) water to just cover. Steep covered for 20 minutes. Add the hop tea and hops to a sanitized 1-gallon jug.
  12. Using a sanitized siphon, racking cane, and siphon hose, transfer the beer from the primary fermenter to the secondary onto the hop tea. Affix a sanitized 1-piece airlock and drilled stopper. Place in a 65–75°F dark place for 1 week.
  13. Combine 0.7 ounces DME with 12 fluid ounces of water. Bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 70°F. Add to a sanitized bottling bucket.
  14. Using a sanitized racking cane and siphon hose, transfer the beer from the secondary to the bottling bucket.
  15. Using a sanitized siphon hose and bottling wand, fill four 22-ounce bottles. Cap and store in a 65–75°F dark place for 2 weeks before sampling.

<

p>Notes

This was kind of fun. Though based on other clone recipes of a well known beer, I enjoyed trying to crank up the gravity and hops to make an imperial version that I could make with standard sized available ingredients. We enjoyed the beer. It was a bit sweet for me, but the two batches we made disappeared soon enough.

Shorter "Top 10 Steps to Better Beer"

From Chris Colby’s September 2005 article Top 10 Steps to Better Beer, annotated with my own notes:

  1. Cleaning (PBW)
  2. Sanitation (Star San)
  3. Quality Ingredients (Vacuum-packed hop pellets stored in the freezer, DME)
  4. Pitch Enough Healthy Yeast (Liquid yeast with starters)
  5. Proper and Stable Fermentation Temperature (Son of fermentation chiller, fermwrap, stopper thermowell, and a digital thermostat)
  6. Wort Aeration (Rock for 5 minutes)
  7. Avoid Excess Tannins (steep in 1–3 quarts per pound, rinse with the same volume or less, stay under 170°F)
  8. Keep Oxygen Away (move beer gently)
  9. Vigorous, Full-Wort Boil (A 10-gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker™ Brew Pot on a Camp Chef Explorer. Woo hoo!)
  10. Proper pH (Hmmm…)

<

p>What about proper wort chilling? What would another be? Maybe pitching at your fermentation temperature, though that might be part of proper wort chilling.

Brush Valley Brewer’s Northwest Golden Cascade Extract IPA

I brewed this beer back in April after seeing the “Six-pack IPA” episode of the Basic Brewing Video podcast.

Makes four 22-ounce bottles

OG: 1.060 SG
FG: 1.018 SG
ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 66
SRM: 4.7 (Dark Straw)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Briess Golden Light DME (end of boil)
  • 0.3 ounces Cascade pellets (60 minutes)
  • 0.1 ounces Cascade pellets (15 minutes)
  • 0.1 ounces Cascade pellets (5 minutes)
  • 0.25 ounces Cascade whole (in primary)
  • Wyeast Northwest Ale yeast propagator pack (1332)

Directions

  1. Make a 1-quart starter several days in advance.
  2. Put 5 quarts of water into a 12 quart pot. Cover. Bring to a boil. Remove cover.
  3. Add 0.3 ounces Cascade pellets. Continue boil for 45 minutes.
  4. Add 0.1 ounces Cascade pellets. Continue boil for 10 minutes.
  5. Add 0.1 ounces Cascade pellets. Remove from heat and add 1 pound of dry malt extract. Stir to dissolve. Return to heat. Boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat. Cover. Place pot in a sink of cold water. Stir wort with a sanitized spoon. Be careful to not aerate the wort while hot. Change the water occasionally as it warms up. Continue until wort reaches 70°F.
  7. Pour wort into a sanitized 1-gallon jug through a sanitized funnel with a screen to remove the sediment.
  8. Swirl the starter to suspend the yeast. Measure out 0.5 cups into a sanitized measuring cup. Pitch. Cap the jug with a sanitized stopper and shake to aerate. Affix a sanitized 3-piece airlock and drilled stopper. Place in a 65–75°F dark place for 1 week.
  9. Place 0.25 ounces whole Cascade hops in enough warm (less than 167°F) water to just cover. Steep covered for 20 minutes. Add the hop tea and hops to a sanitized 1-gallon jug.
  10. Using a sanitized siphon, racking cane, and siphon hose, transfer the beer from the primary fermenter to the secondary onto the hop tea. Affix a sanitized 1-piece airlock and drilled stopper. Place in a 65–75°F dark place for 1 week.
  11. Combine 0.7 ounces DME with 12 fluid ounces of water. Bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 70°F. Add to a sanitized bottling bucket.
  12. Using a sanitized racking cane and siphon hose, transfer the beer from the secondary to the bottling bucket.
  13. Using a sanitized siphon hose and bottling wand, fill four 22-ounce bottles. Cap and store in a 65–75°F dark place for 2 weeks before sampling.

<

p>Notes

Good clarity. Color of dark straw — not quite amber. Well carbonated. Good citrus aroma. Slightly “green” taste — could age longer. Served a bit too cold. Citrus flavor. Good bitterness. Not thin. Success! This was my first brew after a 14 year break. While it is not terribly complex, it was quite good and a good confidence builder.

Wort Chilling Time

I used my immersion chiller for the first time over Thanksgiving. I hear there are a couple of important temperatures to be concerned with, so I measured how long it took to get from one to the next. This is using MoreBeer’s Efficient Wort Chiller, 55°F ground water, and whirlpooling with a big ass stainless steel spoon, for 6 gallons of wort in a 10-gallon Blichmann BoilerMaker™ Brew Pot.

Seconds °F
0 212
153 140
380 100
594 80
845 68

<

p>The upsot is that I got down to pitching temperature in just over 14 minutes.

Also, I drained the cooling water into a 5-gallon bucket. I had to empty it 6 times. So, it took about 30 gallons of water to do the cooling.

Brush Valley Brewer’s 2008 Red Cap Cider

Gretchen and I have been growing our own apples for years now. We bought a cider press a few years back and have been making ourselves sweet cider every fall. As I get back into home brewing, after a fourteen year hiatus, I thought I would try a hard cider. I decided to go for a medium-dry, petillant English cider. This is my first attempt at a hard cider.

Here is my recipe:



Ingredients

  • 2 bushels Apples from several varieties
  • White Labs English Cider Yeast (WL775)
  • ½ teaspoon plus a pinch Wyeast Nutrient Blend
  • 5 Campden Tablets
  • 2 pounds Lactose (Milk Sugar)
  • 0.75 ounces Malic Acid
  • 0.25 ounces Wine Tannins
  • 5 ounces Corn Sugar (for priming)

Directions

  1. Pick the apples and allow them to sit at cellar temperature for one week.
  2. Press the apples. You should end with something in excess of 5 gallons of juice. Measure the Brix and Gravity of the juice. Mine turned out to be 13.6/1.054 this year.
  3. Make a starter by mixing 1 quart of juice with a pinch of yeast nutrient and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F. Place in a suitable container. I used a half-gallon growler. Shake to aerate. Pitch yeast. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 2 days.
  4. After pressing, place the juice in a bucket. Add 5 crushed Campden Tablets (one per gallon). Affix an airlock. Allow to sit at cellar temperature for 2 days.
  5. Vigorously stir the juice to disperse any remaining Sulfur Dioxide gas resulting from the Campden tablets. Transfer the juice to a 6½-gallon glass carboy. Add ½-teaspoon of yeast nutrient. Rock to aerate. Pitch the yeast starter. Affix an airlock. Ferment at 72°F for 4 weeks.
  6. Measure the Brix and Gravity of the cider. Mine turned out to be 5.3/1.001 (7% ABV) this year. Rack the cider to a 5-gallon glass carboy and allow to mature at 72°F for 8 weeks.
  7. Mix the lactose, malic acid, tannin, and corn sugar in 5 pints of water and bring to a boil for several minutes. Cool to 72°F.
  8. Add the mixture to the bottling bucket. Rack the cider to the bottling bucket. Bottle. Allow the cider to bottle condition at 72°F for 3 weeks before sampling.

Just for fun I measured the gravity after back-sweetening with the lactose. It brought it back to 1.014, which would be about as sweet as a typical finished ale.