Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kegging Time

Here's a picture of the blow off hose I rigged up to help the IPA finish up. Its still bubbling away, this morning stilll had some krausen foaming up into the hose so I left it on.

Today's real task was to rack my Jubelale Clone into a keg and get it into the kegerator to chill and carbonate. Sure feels like winter ale time this week.

I tried the hydrometer sample of this and although it turned out tasting great, It doesn't really taste like the Jubelale this year. This years seems like it has a more prominant roasted barley taste to it. Mine almost tastes more like a Cascadian Dark Ale. Tastes great none the less. I'm exited to let it age a couple weeks on CO2 to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Story of the Monster Fermentation

Before I get into the story I'll begin with an introduction. I live on Bainbridge Island which is a 35 minute ferry ride west of Seattle, WA. I grew up here, moved to Idaho for a decade or so, and have now returned older, wiser, calmer, and married.

I started brewing in college. I bought all the stuff that Tri-State "Idaho's Most Interesting Store" told me I needed including The Complete Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian. My roommate and I brewed the what I think was suppose to be a Pale Ale from this book. Long story short it didn't turn out well. The other three batches to round out college before I gave up included a batch of over carbonated bottle bombing brown ales which we found covering the bathroom after a month long age during Christmas break, and a batch that had a case of gusher infection that we drank anyways. The rule was just to make sure you opened them either in the bathtub or over the deck railing.

Since then I came back to brewing with the help of the internet and online forums like I started with extract only batches, then moved up to extract with steeping grains, and finally to all grain brewing.

Introductions aside, on to present day. This weekend I brewed up my house West Coast IPA. I made up this recipe after my brother in law gave me a cereal box filled with hop bags for Christmas. Here's the recipe I used this time. It has evolved from an extract with steeping grains recipe to an all-grain recipe.

Est Original Gravity: 1.067 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.018 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.015 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.5 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.9 %
Bitterness: 68.5 IBUs Calories: 202.1 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 6.6 SRM


Amt Name Type # %/IBU
11 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 75.9 %
2 lbs Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 2 13.8 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.4 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4 3.4 %
8.0 oz Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 5 3.4 %
1.00 oz Chinook [11.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 36.6 IBUs
0.50 oz Simcoe [13.35 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 15.8 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [8.90 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 8 5.5 IBUs
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.40 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 9 8.8 IBUs
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.40 %] - Boil 1.0 min Hop 10 1.9 IBUs
1.0 pkg Northwest Ale (Wyeast Labs #1332) [4.23 oz] Yeast 11 -
1.00 oz Centennial [11.60 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.40 %] - Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 13 0.0 IBUs

Brew day went pretty well. I've changed a few too many things in my system so I'm trying to diagnose and fix why my starting gravity and starting volumes are so off. For my brew day entertainment I chose to watch Tron: Legacy (the new one). Good show, easy to pause and get back into during the many interruptions of a brew day. For yeast I used Wyeast's #1332 Northwest Ale. I first used this yeast back in May for a batch of this IPA. I then washed the yeast, which means I essentially rinsed most of the beer off the yeast and stored it in sealed mason jars in the fridge until I need them. I used the illustrated instructions here. The yeast starter I used was 1 liter and hadn't really shown a ton of life in the day that I had it going. I did my usual shake, swirl, and agitate every time I walked into the kitchen to keep it moving. After pitching I went to sleep dreaming of airlocks dancing in my head all night. In the morning to my dismay I saw that nothing was going on in the airlock. No dancing. I plugged in my brew belt heater to get the temp back up to 68* while I was at work. I started to doubt the yeast. I had almost given up hope and was convincing myself that I would have to break the glass on my emergency dried yeast packet to get things moving. When I rode my bicycle off the ferry I thought happy thoughts of happy hoppy IPA flowing from my kegerator. To my relief when I opened the garage I saw the airlock moving a bit and the telltale krausen (yeast foam) line in the bucket. I went inside to get some stuff done before the wife came home. I went back to the garage about an hour later for a non beer related task and happened to glance at the fermenter. Confusion, shock, bewilderment crept into my brain as I tried to make sense of what was happening. Across the garage on my brew bench, aka my childhood dresser drawers, I saw the airlock over flowing with foam! This is an 8.5 gallon BrewCraft bucket with a little less than 6 gallons of beer in it. I dropped what I was doing and ran to the rescue. Quickly sanitizing a blow off hose to vent the volcanic pressures building from within the fermenter. I opened the lid just to be sure I was seeing things correctly and sure enough just below the rim of the bucket was a quivering wall of foam. I left for another hour and upon returning I realized the tube wasn't venting the pressure well enough. There must have been a blockage on the other end! The lid was bowed, ready to blast off covering my wife's wedding dress storage box with sticky hoppy under-fermented beer (I should probably move that now that I think about it.). I got the tube working properly and saved the day, although I didn't tell my wife about the potential doom to her dress. I have seen a lot of primary fermenting beer but I have never had such a big one as this. Even my Imperial IPAs haven't produced that much chaos. I always thought my buckets were space overkill. I have NEVER had to use a blow off tube since I switch my primary from carboys to buckets. I'm still shocked, confused and bewildered. Next up from the brewery is the keg the Jubelale I've got dry hopping right now. Pictures to come soon!