Saturday, February 8, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Stout

The stout went into the kegs today. I cooked up two quarts of liquor with 100 grams of corn sugar for priming. While it was heating I steeped two ounces of 550ºL black malt to get some color in it as the beer looked a little too close to dark brown (and I like stouts to be black). I split that between each 2-1/2 gallon keg and then drained the carboy and sealed them up. I always top the kegs with a blast of CO2 (at 10 psi) to seat the lids. Then I hauled them into the closet where it has been holding steadily in the low 60s. A week to condition, perhaps ten days, and then they'll go to the fridge for a few weeks. The beer should be perfect for St. Patrick's Day!

a.d. VI Id. Feb.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Stout!

It was sunny and relatively warm today, and I spent most of it making an all-grain stout. Ten pounds of Irish Ale Malt, a half pound of Golden Naked Oats, and a quarter pound each of roast barley and chocolate malt made up the grist. I also tossed in a pound of flaked barley. Although my strike heat was 170ºF, I could barely manage 148ºF in the mash (I used three gallons of liquor). It was cold outside, and it's always hard to do a proper mash on these short winter days. I scooped out two quarts of the stuff, put it in a pan, and brought that to a boil with another quart of liquor and tossed that back into the mash and managed to get 152-154 ºF after a thorough mixing. A half-assed decoction saved the day! I gave it an hour and it finished at 150ºF. I sparged with three more gallons of liquor and managed about four gallons of wort at 16ºP (1.064) which I diluted to seven gallons, giving me 10ºP (1.040). After a 70-minute boil that included an hour of bittering hops (one ounce of Ivanhoe cones at 8% α-acids) I finished with about 4-1/2 gallons with an original gravity of 13ºP (1.052).

I pitched Safale-05 (American Ale yeast) and stashed the carboy in the closet at 64ºF. The previous batch, the New Year Stout, went into the keg today, and is sharing the fermenting space. The new brew is for St. Patrick's Day. I think it turned out great. It might be a little too light, dark brown more than black, but I've an easy fix for that. When I mix the priming sugar at kegging time, I use a "tea" made of black malt rather than just water which adds the necessary color. Regardless of how one defines a stout, I think it has to be a black beer. I know St. Patrick's Day is eight weeks from now, but just about every beer I've ever made has gotten better with time. So, let's not rush things.

a.d. XII Kal. Feb.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year Stout

It was a beautiful day in the State of Jefferson. I enjoyed the sunshine all afternoon while I brewed a batch of stout. It was a simple one, with six pounds of extract, but I used the dry stuff, the powder, not the syrup. The result was a robust original gravity, 14.5 ºP or 1.059, high compared to the 12 ºP or 1.048 I usually get. I always forget that the powder gives you more yield per pound--makes sense, the syrup has all that water still in it--but I never think that way. I also reduced my brew length a bit, from 28 Liters to 26, which meant I had to tip the kettle to get all the wort, there was no excess. That pushed up the gravity a bit, too. I suppose I made the equivalent of a seven pound syrup batch, which is fine for stouts, they can handle it. I used a half pound apiece of black malt and roast barley, which I steeped in the kettle while it was heating. An ounce of Ivanhoe hops (8% α-acids) for an hour (in the 70-minute boil) provided the bittering. I don't typically add hops after that, I want the grain flavors to dominate in a stout.

The extract came from Briess, which I bought at Grains, Beans & Things in Medford. I pitched a sachet of Safale-05 from Fermentis.

Happy New Year 2014!

prid. Non. Jan.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

XXX Homegrown Golden Ale

It has been months since I brewed a batch, and I was itching to get back in the groove. It was a gorgeous autumn afternoon here in the State of Jefferson*, and I was happy to be outdoors with my cooker, kettle, and the aromas of malt and hops. I harvested about 3/4 pound (dry) of mostly Cascade hops from my bines last month, and I used them for flavor in my formulation. I kept it simple: six pounds of organic Briess pale extract, and an ounce of organic whole Ivanhoe hops (8% α-acids) for bittering. I used the homegrown cones to jazz things up, tossing in a huge heap (3 ounces!) for the last 15 minutes of the boil. I know that's a ridiculous amount, but my garden hops don't have the same density as the commercial ones, and even though they have a nice aroma they are rather loose and flaky, not tightly packed. I figured I would get very little bittering and I wanted as much of the essential oils as I could squeeze out of them. We'll see how the brew comes together. I used Safale-04 yeast and had the fermenter in the closet by 1400. By the time I'd finished cleanup the wind started howling and dumped a mountain of leaves into the brew area! Got it done just in time. Should ferment out pretty quickly and be ready for quaffing next month.

a.d. VI Kal Nov.

*I have nothing to do with the Siskiyou County nut-jobs who want to secede from California. (Memo to them: please stop.) I've always thought the State of Jefferson was a lovely nickname for our beautiful and remote slice of the Pacific Northwest. I'm happy to be a born-and-bred Californian!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Magnum, Indeed

Check out how tall the Magnum hops are already (taken yesterday):

That horizontal piece in the V is just about six feet above the soil. It grew at least another six inches today while I was at work! That's a Deodar Cedar in the background. We planted it in 1996. Here's another angle:

And finally a look at all three:

The Cascades (middle) are doing fine. The Nuggets are just getting started. Spring has arrived, so we've turned on the irrigation to the garden. Those bines will really take off now.

a.d. III Kal.Mai