Monday, August 8, 2011

Ahtanum the hoppy

Since the last post the "SkateRat Brown Ale" has been bottled and is well on its way to being completely gone.  It is probably the best beer I have made in the last year.  I ended up dry-hopping it with an ounce of Columbus hops as well, and I am very glad I did.  What started out as a mostly traditional English brown is anything but that now.  It pours nice, has a head that sits around for a very, VERY long time, and is (in my oh so humble opinion) a perfect balance of malty, sweet, and hoppy. This will be made again, and soon.

Next we have "Ahtanum."  Ahtanum is well, weird.  I haven't had a chance to taste it yet but this is how it came into being.  I couldn't sleep one night and decided to formulate a beer that embodied my girlfriend.  In retrospect; that is possibly a bad idea if it turns out bad, but we will just hope that it doesn't for now.  The recipe is as follows:

8 lb Vienna Malt
2 lb Munich Malt
1 lb Flaked Rye Malt
0.5 lb Briess Special Roast
0.25 lb CaraRed Malt
0.25 lb Smoked Malt
1 tsp gypsum in start of boil
1 oz Ahtanum Hops (60 min)
1 oz Northern Brewer Hops (45 min)
1 oz Ahtanum Hops (30 min)
0.5 oz Northern Brewer Hops (15 min)
0.5 oz Ahtanum Hops (10 min)
0.5 oz Northern Brewer Hops (5 min)
0.5 oz Ahtanum Hops (1 min)
DRY HOPS - 1 oz Ahtanum (7 days)
                      1 oz Northern Brewer  (7 days)

Wyeast Scottish Ale Yeast (1728)

This is a very strange beer but everything has its reason and purpose.  It is even bipolar in a sense in that it doesn't know whether to be hoppy or smoky/malty.  It should come out fairly red for her red hair.  Scottish yeast for her Scottish ancestry.  so on, so on, blah blah...

Brewing Ahtanum
I also designed a cool logo for this one's label.  She has raven wings tattoed on her back, so I turned some feathers into hops and this is how it came out.

Label on bottle

Actual artwork
Flock of Ahtanum!
That does it for the beers.  But I also made my first soda yesterday morning. I made 5 gallons of root beer!  I took the easy route and made it from an extract, but this was not meant to be a very arduous endeavor.  Recipe is very simple:

4 oz Root Beer extract
2 lb Brown Sugar
1.5 lb Sugar
1 cup Molasses

Root Beer ingredients
After mixing it all up in a warm pot, I transferred it all into my 5 gal keg and hooked it up to the CO2.  After having done this and tasted it, the next batch will be better.  The next batch won't have any molasses and I'll move up to 6 ounces of extract.  It is really good though, and tastes most like a root beer from an old soda fountain.  The PSI of the CO2 is also a bit hard to judge, I currently have it at about 30psi.  I started much lower, but didn't get the carbonation that I wanted.  So I keep creeping up on it and have settled at 30 for now.  I don't know the math for how many volumes of CO2 or carbonation, so any fellow beer geeks can just deal.  This root beer has been dubbed "Maximum Possibility Root Beer."  It is named after a sign a friend had in my photobooth recently saying "Maximum Possibility Zone."

Maximum Possibility Root Beer
As usual comment with any thoughts, questions, suggestions etc.  After checking the "hits" this blog has had recently I find it pretty awesome that it has readers from 6 continents... so man up Antarctica!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

SkateRat Brown Ale, Fion Eorna (Barleywine), Sterling Hop Project, and so on...

I have brewed a number of beers since my last post and I feel like sharing a bit while I wait for some wort to cool.  I am currently brewing "SkateRat Brown Ale."  It is one of the smaller beers I make with an original gravity of 1.044, or about 4.5% ABV.  SkateRat makes for a great session style English nut brown ale.  The only difference in this beer from its English brethren is an additional half an ounce of American Cascade hops with 10 minutes left in the boil.  So um, not soo English.  I brewed it this time as an all-grain beer featuring Maris Otter, Belgian special B, Belgian biscuit, chocolate, and Briess special roast malts.  With only 8.5 lbs of grain for a 5 gal batch it is very doable on my set-up.  As for the label seen above, it is extremely edited.  I am a skateboarder, but there is no chance I could ever get that high off a 5 ft quarter pipe.

The previous beer(s) were designed to feature sterling hops and a very unusual base malt arrangement.  I realized I had never used the hops before and wanted to experiment with them a bit.  The base malt(s) is comprised of Vienna, Maris Otter, and CaraMunich malts with some Aromatic and Biscuit malts to round things out.  The beers were made by brewing a single 6 gal batch, splitting it into 2 separate fermenters, and pitching the different yeasts.  The were both dry-hopped with exactly them same amounts of Sterling and Mt. Hood hops as well.  So far I have only opened one of these beers, but it wasn't carbonated yet.  These should be perfectly drinkable within a week.

Finally, there is "Fion Eorna."  A monster of a barleywine.  A lot of grains, a lot of malt extract, and a crap-ton of honey.  She was brewed on St. Patrick's Day.  A brew session that I will make an annual event wherever I am living.  This beer is also only to be drunk on St. Patrick's Day.  That is aside from a few bottles set apart to check on tastes in the first year.  Fion Eorna has nearly 3/4 pound of hops and just over 5 1/2 pounds of honey.  The honey was added at different stages of fermentation to keep the yeast as healthy and vibrant as possible.  She was also dry-hopped with an insane amount of Cascade and Willamette hops in what ended up being the tertiary fermenter.  I have only had one so far, but I can't wait until next year when I get to open the first 4-pack! At a rate of a 4-pack each year, it will last me TEN!    

Wort is cooled. YAY!! Time for me to tranfer to a carboy, clean up my patio of random brewing equipment/mess, and carry everything back upstairs. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brew Parade and Rally

The past couple of months have been productive ones! After making the Red Rye IPA (WhyNottaWryRye), several more beers came to be in a fairly short amount of time.  First was the Oatmeal Stout.  I used two pounds of flaked oats in this one in order to taste a beer with too much oat.  I also decided to mash at a slightly lower temperature to keep the beer tasting dry, which is very unusual for the commonly sweet and smooth beer style.  It turned out great, and even has a bit of a bite from the oats in the finish.  The next time I make this beer I plan to use about half of the oats and step up on the roasted grains a bit.

Next to come was a new version of the Vanilla Cream Ale.  I used more grains in this extract version than any previous beer I have made.  I also used a little less vanilla than usual.  It finished conditioning in the bottles a couple weeks ago, and I have to say for my taste it is way too sweet.  This could be from a number of things, but I am quite certain it comes from using the Euro Blend Ale Yeast.  This yeast strain tends to leave more residual sugars in the beer; I underestimated this greatly.  All is not lost however, Mel seems to really like it and I am extremely capable of having one every now and then.

The same day as making the VCA, I made my first Cascadian Dark Ale.  It consists of a simple malt bill plus a small amount of debittered black malt to give the beer its dark color while not adding too much body, or a heavy taste.  Total amount of hops in this one is about half a pound, and after adding the dry hops to the secondary last night it smells amazing!

Finally, I made a Juniper beer.  This is a bit of a wild one.  In total there a half pound of Juniper Berries in the five gallon batch.  Four ounces in the mash, two in the boil, and two just after the boil (flame out).  The recipe is as follows:

  • 4 oz Juniper Berries, crushed
  • 2 lb flaked Rye
  • 1 lb Aromatic Malt
  • 1 lb Crystal Malt 80L
  • 4 oz flaked Wheat
  • 4 oz CaraPils
  • 4 lb extra light/pilsen Dried Malt Extract
  • 2 oz Hallertau Hops (90 min)
  • 2 oz Juniper Berries, crushed (90 min)
  • 2 oz Juniper Berries, crushed (flame out)
As if this beer isn't strange enough, I used Belgian Ardennes Ale Yeast.  Which should give the beer some interesting fruity and spicy notes.  Also, it is really really difficult to crush dried juniper berries.  So, add water and use a blender.  It looks gross and gets a very pungent smell/taste.  It is however, fun.

This Juniper beer dubbed "Jumpin' Juniper" will be bottled tomorrow.  In the spirit of this experimental beer, I will use honey to prime the bottles for conditioning.

Last week I returned from Houston, TX where I visited family and attended the American Homebrewers Association Rally at Saint Arnold's Brewery.  It was an educational and inspiring trip to the brewery.  I met a lot of homebrewers and everyone was friendly.  Instead of boring you with words, how about some pictures?

Saint Arnold Parade Car
Mash-tun, Lauter-tun, and Kettle
 Weather permitting, I will be brewing another Imperial Stout in the next week.  Any of you who read this should suggest what other beer should be made next.  I see you, I know you read this, say hi sometime.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Yay Fire!

I finally got to make beer again! Yay! Mel got me the propane burner for xmas and two propane tanks for my birthday. Thank you! I also purchased a wort chiller and enough ingredients to make four beers. These beers are: (drumroll please)
1. "WhyNottaWryRye" - Red Rye IPA
2. Vanilla Cream Ale V
3. Cascadian Dark Ale - or American India Dark Ale, or Black IPA, or whatever
4. Oatmeal Stout VII

With all of this new stuff I now at least have the ability to make partial mash beers, or brewing with about half grain and half extract. I made the WhyNottaWryRye the other night on what turned out to be one of the coldest nights I have had in New Orleans. It was worth it and fun. And I drank a lot. The biggest obstacle I had was trying to figure out the most efficient way to use all this new stuff. But hey, now I know the efficiency rates of my new system, and how to work out the bugs before the next brew. Here is what happened, enjoy.

 The burner and tank

 Brought the kitchen table out for a clean surface

 Mash in

 Mash temperature

Ghetto sparger

 Spent grains

Spent grains as fertilizer


Chill it!

I had fun.  Can't wait to have a drink of it.