Sunday, February 24, 2008

OSP: T + 115 hrs

Approaching noon here at FSB, the OSP is apparently done fermenting, finishing out at 1.012 (3º Plato). With the OG around 1.050, I think this one has come out OK. It wouldn't be homebrewing without the fretting and worrying, but I should probably have more confidence in my skills. At least I should realize that these modern, well-modified malts are pretty damn idiot-proof. Next time I will dough-in with much warmer liquor in the small pot on the hot plate, then dump it in the mash tun. With the higher start point, adding boiling liquor should bring the whole thing up closer to the conversion temperatures, then I can "de-coct" a much smaller portion. That way I can play with the old-fashioned technique but not depend on it quite so much. If I can thoroughly soak and pre-heat 2 pounds of grain or so at a time (in 1-1/2 pints of water) and slowy build up a full mash, I think I will finally start to see some better yields and more consistent malt flavor. I'm going to try the bazooka screen in the bottom of my horizontal cooler. Then I can mash and lauter in the same vessel, and can "no-sparge," "batch-sparge," or just plain sparge to my heart's content. Here's the picture from William's Brewing:

a.d. VII Kal. Mar.

Friday, February 22, 2008

OSP: T + 86 hrs

It is 0700 and I figure it is about 86 hours since the yeast was pitched (1700 Monday). The closet has dropped to 61 ºF after reaching a high of 65 ºF. The head on the beer is gone. Looks like the primary fermentation is done. I should probably dig out my "thief" and take a sample.

Mine is a clunkier, over-sized version, but it will do the trick.

a.d. IX Kal. Mar.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

OSP: T + 24 hrs

It is 63 ºF in the hall closet and there is a quarter-inch head of ferment on the brew. The wort looks like it has been covered with an opaque brown bubble-wrap, but a creamy, undulating one. It's alive! It's alive! The fire is going tonight, and I expect the house will warm up a wee bit, that will probably be good with an ale yeast. Stay tuned for more on OSP here at FSB.

a.d. XII Kal. Mar.

Monday, February 18, 2008

O'Connor's Stout Porter

a.k.a. "What a cluster-fuck!"

Perhaps not. But I am entranced by the notion of decoction mashing, and I blame that on Greg Noonan's excellent New Brewing Lager Beer. So I stumble into the wilderness and wander dazedly, and, in the end, I think I got beer. I doughed-in with cold water, and was never able to get enough thermal mass into the mash to bring it up to saccharification. I must have pulled out and brought to boil every quart in there, and then I finally gave up. I could taste sweet wort, but I think I had a hell of a lot of other stuff swimming around, too. I wonder specifically if there was a surplus of enzyme-deprived starches, and a shortage of fermentable sugars. I went ahead and batch-sparged it with my half-assed system, resisting the temptation to chuck the whole shit-a-roo into the compost heap. It was a stout-ish combination of adjuncts to the pale malt: Weyerman Carafa 2, Briess roast barley, flaked barley, and Extra Special malt (just a touch), and a heap of oat flakes (I suppose they could be a source of hazy debris). Organic German Perle hops and White Labs Irish Ale yeast completed the package. Stay tuned for improvements here at FSB. These forays into new techniques are starting to pay off, even if this beer turns out to be lousy. I can see what I need, and I think I know how to get there. It was beautiful today, reaching the low 60s with lots of sun, a great day to have the brew paddle in hand and the brewpot raging.

a.d. XII Kal. Mar.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Stouts

The St. Patricks Day Stout was refrigerated this past Friday (the 15th). Tomorrow is Washington's Birthday, another holiday here at FSB. I'm planning to brew another stout, but something a little lighter and drier. We'll see. It hit 60 ºF today with lots of sun. I hope we get more of the same.

a.d. XIV Kal. Mar.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog Day

We don't have groundhogs here in the State of Jefferson, but we do have rockchucks, which naturalists consider a cousin, I believe. All are kinds of marmots. Our local fellow, Montague Charlie, is not as well known as his famous relation Punxsatawney Phil. The report from Gobbler's Knob for 2008 is "6 more weeks of winter." Here in our alpine wonderland, it snowed from dawn to dusk. I'm willing to bet there were no shadows to be found today anywhere in the State of Jefferson. That means this raging winter we've been experiencing is set to finish early. A beautiful spring is just around the corner! Even if M.C. is a lousy predictor of the weather, one thing is for sure: a fabulous brew is just a few weeks from peak consumption. Today we bottled and kegged the St. Patrick's Day Stout here at FSB. The yield was about 4-3/4 gallons from the batch with final gravity of 4º Plato (1.016). That works out to just shy of 7% abv. The opaque black beer had a thick, chewy softness and a sweet roasted flavor with a hint of raisins (the Extra Special Malt?). I think this is going to be one hell of a stout. It has at least a week, maybe two, to spend in the 60-64 ºF closet before refrigerating. Besides the 2-1/2 gallon corny keg (primed at 50 g dextrose), we got 7 Etna bottles (22 oz.) and a sixpack of 12-ouncers. These were primed at 1 ounce per gallon. We also put together a special 4-pack of "original" Guinness bottles--we've had these bottles for twenty years, and this is the first time we've used them! They are tall, thick brown glass with small ridges on the neck, and come in at a wee bit less than 12 ounces. Guinness Extra Stout used to come in these back in the 1970s and 1980s. It is fitting--these were all scrounged by Ken, the man who taught me to brew, and came in the batch of stuff I bought from him. This January marks 20 years of homebrewing. We also pounded some more of batch number 157, the New Year Beer (Aught-Eight Ale). It is very light and drinkable despite its deep coppery-brown hue, with a full but not bitter hop flavor on top of a mild malt sweetness. I've got it flowing from the keg at about 8 PSI and it is almost gone! Damn tasty!!

a.d. IV Non. Mar.