Sunday, November 22, 2009

Belgian Chocolate Stout Brew Day

I forgot to snap some pictures fromm the brew day so no pictures to go along with this post. Jesse came over yesterday so we could bottle up our Belgian Single (we realized it's probalby more of a Belgian Imperial Single if there is such a thing since it ended up at 7% abv). That beer was tasting good and it will be nice to see what the carbonation brings to it. We also decided that we should try to re-use the yeast from the batch and figured a nice Belgian Chocolate Stout would be the perfect beer to experiment with. Here is the recipe and notes from the day.

10 Gallon Batch

Target OG = 1.074
Target FG = 1.019
Target ABV = 7.3%
Target IBU = 31

26 lbs of 2-Row
2 lb of Carafa II
1.5 lb of Chocolate Malt
1 lb of Roasted Barley
1 lb of Flaked Oats

1 bottle of Dark Belgian Candy Sugar – 10 minutes
1 lb of Hershey Cocoa Powder Unsweetened – 0 Minutes

1.75 oz of Simcoe @ 60 Minutes
1 oz of Amarillo @ 5 Minutes

Wyeast 1214 Belgian Ale (re-pitch)

We mashed with 8 gallons of spring water. Held the mash for about an hour at 151-152 degrees F.

Fly Sparge with 10 gallons of water of 200 degree water. Sparged for about an hour.

ActualOG = 19 brix or 1.073

We split the batch into two 6 gallon ferementors and plan to keep one half "normal" and then for the other half we plan to use three pounds of cherry puree and let that sit for about a month in secondary.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Ale Brings Home a Silver

Sure it's not the GABF, heck it's not even the Sam Adams Long Shot Competition or the AHA Nationals (those can maybe be long term goals...yeah right), but it is still my first award winning beer. After some much needed encouragement from my friend and co-worker Blake I decided to enter some of my beers into a local homebrew competition. The 2nd Annual Stoney Creek Homebrewers Amateur Brewing Championship was held on Saturday November 14th at the General Lafayette Inn & Brewery and was the only local competition that would be judging in the next few months. I had entered a total of 3 beers and came away with 2 ribbons. A second place finish in the Spice, Herb/Christmas Winter Speciality beer category with Rock City Christmas Ale and a third place in the Belgian Specialty category with my Chouffe de Sauvin (pilsner malt, Chouffe yeast and Nelson Sauvin hops). The Russian Imperial Stout I entered got good feedback from the judges but did not walk away with a ribbon. I entered it into the Specialty Beer category due to the use of vanilla beans, molasses and coffee but should have just stuck with the RIS category based on the feedback I got on the beer.

I'm typically not one to brag but I have to admit it's kind of cool to get the email from a local homebrew competition letting you know your beers took home some awards. Plus I'm writing up a blog primarily focused on my various adventures in homebrewing and thought I would share. Most likely if you are reading this you will be getting a bottle of the Christmas Ale to try out. Another interesting fact about the Christmas Ale. This is the 2nd beer I ever brewed and I have been brewing it each year with my good friend Tom. 2009 will be the 4th version of this beer and to be honest...we haven't changed a whole lot since that original recipe.

My friend Jesse is coming up tomorrow and we plan to bottle our Belgian Single and brew a Belgian Chocolate Stout (reusing the yeast from the Single). If you are in the area and want to hang out in the garage, give a hand and share some beers feel free to stop by.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Belgian Wit Brew Day

This Saturday I brewed the Belgian Wit that I wrote about in my previous blog post. This was the first time that I brewed an all grain batch 100% solo. I usually have someone or multiple guests stop by during a brew session, but not this time around. All in all things went well. This was also my first time brewing a beer in which over 50% of the grain bill was wheat or oats. I heard the "rumors" of stuck sparges with this amount of wheat/oats and thought I had planned ahead enough and introduced enough rice hulls into the mash to help avoid this. Turns out that was not the case. I struggled with a stuck sparge for about 30-40 minutes. Finally got things figured out, basically just stirred the whole mash about again and added more rice hulls. Hopefully the stuck sparge and time spent messing around with it doesn't have a negative impact on the finished product.

In my previous post I mentioned that I had ordered all my supplies from the Brewmasters Warehouse, a new online homebrew shop out of Georgia. I have to say I was very pleased with their service. The ingredients were ordered on a Saturday, they shipped on a Tuesday and the package was on my front porch when I got in from work on Friday. The ice packs were still cold helping to keep the yeast/hops at about fridge temps. This probably won't be the case in the middle of the summer but for this time of the year it seemed to work out well. Everything was packaged nicely in the box, appropriately labeled and ready to be used on brew day. I will be using the Brewmasters Warehouse in the future for sure.

As for the recipe, I kept it the same as outlined in the previous post, with one minor adjustment. As I mentioned before this beer was being brewed for my Dad for Christmas. He is a big fan of Wit beers and also really likes the orange notes in them. I decided to go a little heavy on the orange zest. About 2 ounce of freshly zested navel oranges went into this one (9 oranges).

One other thing to note. Since this my first time going solo on an all grain brew sessions, one other challenged I came across was transferring the wort from the brew kettle to the fermentator. I'll let the picture explain how I accomplished that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Belgian Wit Recipe

My dad is a big fan of Belgian Witbier. He enjoys Hoegaarden, but is more of a fan of some of the locally brewed Wit's that you can't always find fresh during the winter months. I always have a hard time figuring out what to get him for Christmas so I figured I would attempt my first Belgian Witbier and give it to him as a Christmas present this year. The recipe is largerly based on Jamil Zainasheffs Belgian Wit recipe that is found is his amazing book Brewing Classic Styles.

5 Gallon Batch
90 Minute Boil

Brew Day = 11/14/09

6.5 lbs of Belgian Pilsner Malt
6 lbs of Briess Flaked Wheat
¼ lb of Weyerman Light Munich Malt
1 lb of Flaked Oats

2 oz of German Hallertau Hops (3% AA) for 60 minutes

Wyeast 3944 Belgian Witbier

Spice Additions (at 5 minutes remaining in boil)
Zest from 6 oranges (might adjust this still)
1.2 ounce of crushed Coriander

Target OG = 1.058
Target FG = 1.105
Target ABV = 5.6%
Target IBU's = 16

I also decided to order all my supplies from a new online homebrew supply company called the Brewmasters Warehouse. Their website is pretty cool, they use what they refer to as a Brew Builder which allows you to go in and build your own recipe or view various base recipes and then make changes to those recipes. They are based out of Marietta Georgia so hopefully they will get the shipment quicker to me than some of the West Coast based homebrew supply shops. I put my order in on Saturday and hope to have the package by Friday so that I can get the yeast starter going. Fingers are crossed and I'll post another blog update once I see how things go. They offer $6.99 flat rate shipping and are currently offering a 10% discount if you use the passcode BN ARMY at checkout.

If you don't have any plans for this Saturday and feel like hanging out in the garage, lending a hand with the brewing activities and sharing a few beers feel free to stop by. I plan to get this one started early (around 8-9 am).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Belgian Single/Sour Brewed & 2 Year Sour Bottled

Jesse came up today and we got the Belgian Single/Sour split batched brewed and our two year old sour finally in bottles. The above picture is from our fly sparge for the Belgian Single. Our mash and sparge went well. We ended up fitting about 28 lbs of grain along with 8 gallons of water into my 10 gallon cooler mash tun. Our one hour plus mash started out around 152 degrees F and ended around 149 which is right around where we wanted to be. Our fly sparge took about 1 hour and used roughly 10 gallons of water, our pre-boil gravity came in at 1.063.

With the 10 lbs of Pilsner malt we decide to go with a 90 minute boil to burn off any DMS that might have stuck around with a shorter boil. The original recipe was based on a 60 minute boil so we held the bittering hops until 30 minutes into the boil and the only other adjust we had to make was to add some additional water to the boil at around 10 minutes. We didn't exaclty know how to go about making the calculations to make up the difference and just decided to wing it and go with adding an extra gallon of water. It turns out that decision was the right one since our OG ended up at 1.072 (I'll take it since our original target original gravity was 1.067). While this new Belgian Single was brewing we were also busy bottling the two year old sour along with two other sour beers that my friend Eric stopped by to bottle. I'll go into more detail about the 2 year old sour beer in a future blog post once it's all carbonated and I'm able to post some tasting notes.

We plan to ferment the Belgian Single in two seperate Better Bottle carboys. The "regular" version will spend about three weeks under temperature control (approx 68 degrees F) at which point we will bottle as long as we hit our target FG (roughly 1.016). The "sour" version will spend about a week in a Better Bottle carboy (primary fermentation) at which point we will transfer the beer into a glass carboy and pitch a vial of White Labs Belgian Sour Mix (WLP 655). It will remain in that glass carboy for at least a year if not longer. Here are a few more pictures from the day.