Saturday, April 28, 2012

Outside Brewing

I took the brewery outdoors for the day last weekend. The plan was to brew a beer with a group of guys who aren't home brewers, but who like beer. I asked what they would like to brew, and I got 1 answer from 1 person. Stella Artois. There were 6 guys invited. So I put together a recipe to try and make a premium commercial lager. So I took the brewery across the house to the deck. I had to brew a beer for Memorial Day weekend and decided to re-make the Sunset Pale Ale that turned out so well. By the time the guys had showed up around lunch I had the Pale Ale finished and pitched. The Lager was mashing while everyone showed up. We dodged dog attacks, child attacks, and wife attacks throughout the brew day. In the end all things turned out well. I finally got the fridge dialed in at 50 degrees to ferment the lager. In a couple weeks I'll shift it to secondary and turn down the temp. The Ale is doing great, it seems the ambient temps are perfect for ales in the garage right now. It should be just right for memorial day weekend.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Sunset Pale Ale

So I'm back in the swing of things and have made up another beer. I was trying to think of a nice beer to enjoy during Spring. I was looking for a hoppy Pale Ale with a sort of twist. I though citrus would be a nice addition to the beer so I decided to us Cascade Hops for the bittering, flavor, aroma, and dry hop additions. I also decided to add orange peel zest to the boil. Here is the final recipe:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 1 76.9 %
2 lbs Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 2 15.4 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 3 7.7 %
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] - First Wort 60.0 min Hop 4 23.6 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 5 -
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 6 7.8 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 7 4.3 IBUs
2.00 oz Orange Peel, Sweet (Boil 5.0 mins) Spice 8 -
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] - Boil 1.0 min Hop 9 0.9 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [1.70 oz] Yeast 10 -
1.00 oz Cascade [7.10 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

The garage / brewery smelled amazing after I added the orange peel. I racked this beer on top of a SA-05 yeast cake from a previous batch and it started fermenting heavily withing 2 hours. I have never had a fermentation start that fast, and it was exciting to see it running so quickly. I let this ferment in primary for about 10 days and then I transfered to secondary and dry hopped for another 10 days. This beer has been kegged a for a week or so now, and I'm happy to say it tastes amazing. The Cascade hops definitely bring out a new hefty citrus flavor and as I had hoped the orange peel can be detected lightly in the background and really comes through in the after taste. I have heard people say that citrus does not ferment well, but perhaps they are refering to people actually putting the peel into the primary or using it as a secondary addition. This turned out great and I'll be making this again in a week or two for Memorial Day.

Getting Caught Up

Well, it has been along 4 months since my last post. My job usually gets in the way and I let my brewery become unproductive for a while during the winter. Actually the brewery just goes into conditioning mode. Last winter I made a Pilsner, taking advantage of the cold temperatures. I actually fermented and lagered it in our downstairs bathroom. I opened the window a bit, and put a towel under the door to keep the cold air out of the house. It turned the room into a pretty good lagering fermentation room until my wife tried to go in and discovered what I was doing. I then had to take it out to the garage and figure out how to keep it from freezing. It turned out pretty good. A little bit of sulfur flavor, but I learned a lot about lager brewing. This is the F/T Seafisher and the object of all my efforts during the winter when it is back here in Seattle for our annual maintenance. The other 10 - 11 months she is fishing in the Bearing Sea and Western Aleutian Islands off Alaska.

Since my last post I have done a little brewing and have had to work out a few more kinks in the brewery. For Christmas my wife's uncle Patrick sent me an extract with steeping grain kit in the mail. This kit was called Sympathy for The Devil Red Ale from Bluff Street Brew Haus in Dubuque, Iowa. My wife is a red head, but I'm sure this was just a coincidental name... Anyhow, I brewed this up as soon as the Seafisher left town. Since it was an extract kit and I decided to just follow the instructions I was able to brew this on my kitchen stove This was a half boil, meaning I only was going to be boiling 3 gallons, then topping off with 2.5 gallons of cold water to reach my 5 gallons for fermentation. I had just gotten back from snowy, windy, cold Dutch Harbor and had the house all to myself. The brew day went very quickly, I am always shocked at how quickly extract brew days are compared to the 4 - 6 hour all grain brew days I'm use to. Nothing very notable happened during the boil. I was able to try my new refractometer that I got for Christmas from my wife. I had always used my hydrometer for my original gravity readings and all readings after that. This means I'm dumping 3 or 4 beers worth of wort and beer throughout the whole Process! This refractometer allows me to take my initial readings using only 2 drops of wort. Really easy to use. I know my Beersmith brewing software has a tool which I think will help me use the refractometer after the fermentation. Alcohol refracts differently than water which will cause the readings to be off. Generally its better and more accurate to use the old hydrometer for later gravity checks. 

This fermentation went without any problems. I was done with it after a few weeks and then it went straight to the keg. I had thawed out my kegerator while I wasn't using it to get rid of the built up ice over to coils. After the ice was gone I discovered the thermostat dial on the back wall. Since I had been having some problems previously with the beer freezing inside the kegs I decided to turn the dial down. After a day or two in the kegerator I decided that I had set the dial way too low since it was almost colder outside the fridge than it was inside. I turned the dial a little bit colder and left the keg in there for a few more days. I hadn't hooked up the air just yet to carbonate which as it turns out seems to have been a good thing. I opened the fridge to find this little beauty staring back at me! FROZEN SOLID! Shocked, I couldn't believe it. So the keg got to spend the night in our living room for the next couple nights while it thawed out. I hooked up the CO2 to make sure the keg hadn't been damaged and it held the pressure for another day before I put it back into the fridge. In the meantime I had put a thermometer into the fridge to get the stupid thermostat figured out. I put the beer in again and set it to carbonate. After a week, I pulled a pint off. Flat. No carbonation what so ever. I stuck it back in and cranked the pressure up to 30 PSI. I checked the valves to make sure the keg was actually pressurizing, all seemed to be normal. I checked the beer again in about another week. Flat. I set another keg I had laying around that had been conditioning for a while and let it carbonate in the fridge for a week while I left the Red Ale keg on another connection outside the fridge. Within the week the second keg had carbed up perfectly, but the Red was still flat. tasted great, but flat. The only thing I can figure is that something must have been damaged in the freeze. Now I will be transferring this beer into a different keg, and looking at all the parts of the keg to see what is happening. This keg might just get turned into a lagering fermenter that I can fit into my new larger fridge.