Sunday, November 30, 2008

Winterfest IV

The kegs went into the fridge last night after we returned from our holiday sojourn. The house had dropped to 55º F, about 10 degrees lower than normal. I'm glad I put the kegs out in the warmth for a few days before we left. I should be using the so-called "CA/SF Lager" yeast variety these days (Wyeast 2112 or White Labs 810)--it works well at cooler temperatures. Maybe I'll order a few for the holiday brew sessions. I've made some lovely stouts with this strain. And I'm going to take another shot at an amber beer, which always gets me thinking of Anchor Steam. Supposedly that superb brew is made from this yeast.

prid. Kal. Dec.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winterfest III

It was a little cool, not getting above 65º F in the closet, so I moved the kegs out into the dining room were it hovered mostly around 70º F (with high of 74º). I kept the kegs there from Thurday evening until yesterday (Sunday) afternoon. Then I returned the kegs to the closet. We'll be off for the week and out of town so the house will drop quite a bit. I wanted to make sure the priming would have a chance to succeed before the cooler temperatures stopped it completely. The beer will go to the refrigerator when we are back on the weekend.


a.d. VIII Kal. Dec.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winterfest II

The Winterfest Ale went to the keg today. I primed two 2.5-gallon (half-sized corny) kegs with 50 grams of corn sugar each and added the beer. I'll take one to Andrei's and keep one for personal consumption.

Check the bottom of the page for a change: adverts. Yes, advertising. I said "yes" to AdSense! I'm curious, and wanted to experiment. This site has very little traffic, so I don't expect much, as you need thousands of hits to generate money. But this blog is narrow in scope, and I figured the ads would be targeted to brewing, so I felt better about plugging them in here than my other sites.

a.d. XVI Kal. Dec.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rack 'em

The beer had fermented out nicely by Tuesday and so I siphoned it to another carboy.  When the yeast is that fast-acting, I figure the beer shouldn't sit on all that sludgy stuff.  It looked and smelled good, very bright and clean.  Amber is a stretch, perhaps dark honey would better describe the color.  I think we'll be kegging the whole batch up soon and hauling it down to Andrei's killer bash.

Na Zydorovye!

Prid. Id. Nov.

Monday, November 3, 2008



. . . from Gr zume, leaven, and in Sci, denoting '(of, by or with) ferment'. . .

From Eric Partridge of course. I'm an Origins groupie.

The yeast was pitched about 1620 yesterday. At 0500 this morning there was an inch-thick head of foam and the closet reeked with the rich aromas of fermenting wort!
(There's supposed to be a macron over the e in zume but I can't figure out how to do that with Alt-codes.)

a.d. III Non. Nov.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It's About Time

Today we moved the clocks back an hour and got rid of summer time. I remember an outfit of amateur astronomers that referred to Daylight Savings Time as Darkness Squandering Time. It's all a matter of perspective, eh? I lost a faithful companion as well. My Casio Twincept digital timepiece with analog display ceased working. I've had this watch for at least 15 years--using its features like stopwatch and timer in the classroom in my science teaching days. I used those same features on brew days to keep track of mashes, boil times, hop additions, sanitizing regimes, etc. This humble apparatus has been a part of dozens of lessons and lectures, as well as over 100 brews. I carried it with me and used its alarm clock and dual time feature for our summer odysseys overseas as well as our recent trip to Mexico. I replaced the battery in June, probably the third one of its lifetime. The watch was dead, the battery drained when I went to use it this morning. Time to get something new, I think I got my money's worth from this one.

Speaking of money, honey, I hit it right on the money today. I was hoping for a final gravity of 1.055 and I hit 1.056, 14º Plato. That was perfect! I tasted the sweet wort and I think we have a winner. Everything went according to plan. It was a gorgeous autumnal afternoon, cool and wet with intermittent sunshine and warmth. I followed my Winterfest formulation and didn't have any complications or setbacks. I did try to have a higher initial mash temperature, raising the strike heat to 172º F, but still only managed a 150º F mash. I let that go for 40 minutes, the 12 pounds of grain soaking in 12 quarts of liquor, then added a gallon of boiling liquor which brought things up to 156º F. I was hoping to start the mash up high like that and try to get a more dextrinous wort. But that's OK, like I said, it looked and smelled delicious. I tend to overshoot the color on my brown ales, pushing them almost to black, and I also tend to undershoot my ambers, winding up with sort of a dark honey color rather than a true red. I think I should have used a whole pound of the 60º L caramel, or maybe tossed in a 1/4 pound of something a little darker. We'll see. I had a great time today cookin' up a batch and I'm real happy with the result so far. Of course, only time will tell.

a.d. IV Non. Nov.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


31 Oct Hallowe'en. 01 Nov All Hallows. 02 Nov All Souls. 06 Nov Samhain.

That says winter to me. Not to mention the (welcome) rain here in the State of Jefferson.

Tomorrow I'm cooking up my annual Winterfest. I don't go in for weird, spicy brews, so my moniker reflects the season. Lots of spiced winter ales and barleywines out there, something to have in a snifter around the fireplace, but not something for quotidian quaffing. I'm a practical brewer, I need to replenish my stocks. Here's the plan:

9-1/2 lbs Great Western 2-row
1 lb Weyermann Munich
1/2 lb Weyermann CaraMunich
1/2 lb Weyermann CaraHell
1/2 lb Briess Caramel (60 ºL)

All organic stuff from 7 Bridges. The hops were from William's, lovely whole Northern Brewer, not organic. (It is hard to "go organic" and miss out on the superb hops they always have there.) I decided to go with 1-oz for 60 mins, 1/2-oz for 30 mins, and 1/2-oz for 15 mins. Dr. Bob says between 40-49 IBUs. If I get a good yield that ought to balance the big malt flavors. Damn, I'm tasting it already!

Going with the quick, easy and foolproof Safale dry yeast: number 05 "American Ale." Dry yeast has come a long way. These guys have a very clean, fast-acting product. Check for an update tomorrow evening.

Kal. Nov.