Today was my first experience with an all-grain brew! I took a class and got supplies a couple of weeks ago and today was a beautiful day for brewing. I probably wouldn’t get another chance for a couple of weeks, so I went for it. Everything went surprisingly well. The target temperature for the mash in was 150 F. That was supposed to be accomplished by adding the grain to the full volume of water ( 6.25 gallons) heated to 158F. The temperature actually went to 155 and didn’t get down to 150 until the last 15 out of 60 minutes with no heat on.
I dunked and drained the bag a few times. The refractometer showed an SG of around 1.042…supposed to end up at 1.053, so I was a little worried. I put the bag back down in and raised the temp to 168F to mash out.
Next, I cut the flame and allowed the bag to drain well…SG still looked low.
I went ahead with the 60 minute boil and hop additions at 60, 15, 5 and 1 minutes. I also added 1 teaspoon Irish Moss with 15 minutes left to boil. With the concentration from the boil, the SG was up to about 1.062.
I did the ice tub chill-down of the wort and it went reasonably quickly. I rehydrated the dry yeast in water while I finished cooling the wort. I then transferred the wort to a bottling bucket for primary fermentation. I wound up with just under 5 gallons. I added water to bring it up to about 5-1/2 gallons and the FG nailed the 1.053 target! (Using my hydrometer and correcting for temperature.) The sample was malty/sweet (which will convert) and very tasty. It actually separated pretty quickly and the wort is a nice color.
I put the sample in the fridge to look at/taste again later. I pitched the yeast at about 1:45 pm. Over the next few hours, I did not see any action in the airlock and I noticed a small drip around the spigot. I decided around 7:00 pm, that I should go ahead and transfer to another bucket, since efforts to tighten the spigot did not stop the leak. I took advantage of the opportunity to aerate some more in the process of the transfer. I also realized that the temperature in the house had gone up to 77F, so I turned on the A/C. Crossing my fingers that I get some action overnight. I am a little concerned with the temperature fluctuations. The wife will complain about the house being too cold and how much it costs, when she gets home from a business trip in a couple of days. Then the temp will go up again. The yeast’s upper range is up to 71F for fermentation temps, ideally. It could have an effect, but it should be ok, at worst. (I hope!)
At this point, I’m not going to go into all the cleaning, bottle washing, setting up stuff. I’ve gone over all that before…don’t skip it, it’s important! Sample of the final product has an FG of 1.022 and is a nice deep cola color with good clarity. I calculate the ABV to be 5.38%.
I used 2-1/2 oz of corn sugar in 8 oz of very hot water to the bottling bucket. (Trying to adjust the carb level to the beer style…I hope this turns out well!) I topped that with 1 quart of cold brewed Kona blend coffee concentrate and then racked the beer from secondary off of the cocoa nibs and into the bottling bucket, blending well.
I decided to do half the batch in 22 oz “bombers” and the rest in regular 12 oz bottles. Unfortunately, my bench style capper messed up on my first bottle. I haven’t tried to figure it out yet. All my beer was in the bottles and I didn’t want to take too long and risk contamination, so I used the handheld capper. It wasn’t too bad. I wound up with 1 case of 12 oz bottles plus 2 extra bottles (26) and 1 case of 22 oz bottles plus one extra bottle (lucky 13).
To celebrate, I popped open a bottle of Troegs Java Head. Dayum, this stuff is good! My Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout will be sweeter and include chocolate with the coffee…and I think it will be very good; but let’s be honest, it’s not going to be Java Head good!
It’s time. Racked the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout onto the Costa Rican cocoa nibs that I have had soaking in vodka for a few days, after I toasted them briefly to bring out the flavors. The primary bucket had a bunch of coagulated looking trub that looked like browned hamburger in grease.
But the beer is coming along nicely, I believe. Secondary should go a week or so and then it will be on to bottling with the cold brewed Kona blend coffee concentrate (4 cups).
I’m a bit bugged by a little mystery. I keep an inventory of what I have on hand in brews. Last night, I pulled a few things to refrigerate and drink and I adjusted my inventory. I looked in the fridge tonight and found a bottle I thought I had drunk last night. I checked my inventory and it is accurate. What I have left in the fridge is accurate, except for this extra bottle. So, what the heck was that bottle I drank? I have this single bottle of a strawberry lemon experiment that I did. I also did one that was just lemon. I didn’t even put them in the journal, because they were just single bottles. It was fresh lemon juice, water, sugar and a little yeast. I somehow had some small amount of strawberry for the second bottle…can’t even remember now. I thought I drank the strawberry one last night. It was weird because it was kinda crazy carbed…
and heavier on the strawberry than I expected. I also thought I was getting some hops, which I did not use on this cider-like fermentation. If I didn’t know better, I would think that I had opened a strawberry blonde that I just bottled a couple of days before…but they’re all accounted for…unless I had a brain fart and stuck one in the fridge when I was bottling or put one back in the inventory stuff without counting it. Anyway, it’s a mystery…but I have the strawberry lemon experiment right here. It’s clear, light golden and lemony, but dry with a fairly strong sparkle. Clean and fresh.
Not getting the strawberry, but it doesn’t really suffer without it. I really should have documented this, even though it was a tiny experiment. Ah well…live and learn. Relax…and have a home brew (or ferment)!
Yes, a busy day today! I had a class at my HBS today on BIAB–Brew in a Bag, all grain brewing. It’s like a partial mash extract brew, except the grain steep is MUCH bigger and there’s no liquid or powdered extract. A little more to it than that, but that’s the basic idea. I got a recipe kit for brewing a batch of pale ale using the BIAB method and bought the bag accessory. Also bought some Safale s-04 to use with ciders.
Back at home, I set to bottle the strawberry blonde. I siphoned it from the 6 gallon carboy into a bottling bucket to clear for a few more hours. My siphon did not reach, so I need to look into another solution for that, but I managed the old fashioned way today…risky, but I sanitized the hose, put one end in the carboy and sanitized my mouth (!) and sucked on the other end to start the flow and drop that end of the hose into the bottling bucket. Went out to dinner and gave it a couple of hours. Then I realized that I was going to have to stir to evenly distribute the priming sugar anyway! Oh well. As it turns out, the racking was very successful in clearing the beer anyway! (I would have racked onto the priming sugar to mix it, but I wasn’t quite ready to bottle and I wasn’t sure how the siphoning was going to go.) Surprisingly, the pinkish color seems to have gone away.
The flavor is a little weak maybe, but the strawberries are there. Maybe I should have tried dry hopping for the first time! It will be drinkable though. The FG is 1.006@72F corrected to 1.007, resulting in an ABV of 4.46%.
Later, I finished getting ready and sanitizing everything for bottling. I mixed 3 oz corn sugar and 4 oz hot water to dissolve. I added that to the beer and stirred well. Note: my bottling instructions have all been calling for “3.93 oz” priming/corn sugar for bottling. I have done some research and discussed this with the HBS folks and found that I need to be taking charge of that particular specification and correcting it to style, thus the 3 oz for this batch. My stout will be bottled with 2 oz corn sugar. Back to business: Bottling went well. I had my younger daughter help with capping for the first time. It was nice to get her involved!
The batch of strawberry blonde ale yielded 2 cases of 12 oz bottles plus one 22 oz bomber. I’m considering naming it “Amy Adams Ale”…my favorite strawberry blonde.
After we got the strawberry blonde cases dated and stored, I showed my daughter how I do the 1/2 gallon carboy of Murray’s Cider.
I call it Murray’s Super Easy Cider. Basically, it’s rehydrating 3 grams of Safale s-04 yeast in a couple ounces of 75F water, sanitizing around the cap and pitching the yeast. Shake the jug for a minute or two and then replace the cap with an airlock. Boom! Done! The refractometer put the OG at 1.053 @ 72F. (The refractometer is supposed to compensate for temperature.)
The next project is to rack the Costa Kona Mocha Latte Stout onto the Costa Rican cocoa nibs in secondary for a week or so.
I need to do a little more research on the treatment of the nibs for sanitizing and drawing out the flavors. Ideally, I could soak them for a few days in a little vodka, but I don’t have any and tomorrow is Sunday…maybe I can borrow a little from the in-laws and push the racking back a day. I’ve heard that heating the nibs in the oven briefly might bring out the flavor a little more…like toasting spices. more research!
I had a little time this evening and decided to go ahead and get the bottling chores done for the Plain Jane Blonde Ale. There’s about a gallon and a half…looks nice and clear. When I got closer to the bottom, I could see that I could bottle just about every bit. There wound up being just a film of trub on the bottom of the bucket. Taste is pretty good, as far as I can tell…just had a very small taste. I didn’t want to waste any, since there is so little. Color is clear, but a tad dark for the style, due to the late addition of extra DME to bump the weak OG, the day after brewing.
(This little plain blonde batch is the result of not measuring my water properly on brew day and I wound up with too much wort for the strawberry blonde that I had planned. So, it’s a bonus batch, but it weakened the OG. To review, I added 1 gallon of the strawberry blonde wort to 3lbs DME and boiled 15 minutes. Of the 17 cups that resulted, 13-1/2 cups went back to the strawberry batch and 3-1/2 cups went into the plain batch. The OG went up to about 1.041; still short of the target, but with a FG of 1.010, I got a decent session beer range of 4.07 % ABV.
I prepared 1.5 oz corn sugar dissolved in about 6 oz hot water, put that in my bottling bucket and racked onto it. I came up with the 1.5 oz amount using an online calculator. I hope it comes out right. Since this is a small batch and I anticipated very little sediment, I racked into another 2 gallon bucket, using a siphon.
Bottling went smoothly, using the siphon and bottling cane. I did have to quickly sanitize 3 more bottles/caps, because I had a little more than I anticipated. I finished up with eighteen 12 oz bottles.
The strawberry Blonde batch…almost 6 gallons…is in a glass carboy and clearing. It should be ready to bottle this weekend. The Costa Kona Mocha Latte stout should be ready to rack onto the cocoa nibs for secondary by Sunday.
My birthday was yesterday and I was not at home until today to celebrate with extended family. I received some excellent brew related gifts at our family gathering (thank you everyone!). There were some non-brew related gifts that were just as appreciated, but this is a brew journal, so that is what I’m going to talk about here!
I received a brew ingredients kit for a chocolate stout that will be fun. It includes cocoa husks and nibs and some lactose…so I’ll be using some new things. Also, I received my first 6 gallon, glass carboy and a handle and carrier strap for it. I’m looking forward to trying it out! My last piece of hardware is a refractometer…woo hoo!!! The refractometer will give me a specific gravity reading with just a few drops of wort and I wont have to worry about the temperature so much. It will be easier to read than a hydrometer floating in a sample tube…and less wasteful. I tested it with some bottled Culligan water, not distilled, but it read zero, so calibration should be good. I tested a sample of some Newton’s Folly Granny Smith Hard Cider and it read 1.025…cool!
I’ll check my Strawberry Blonde Ale and Plain Jane Blonde Ale’s SG’s tomorrow…maybe rack them, depending on readings. Need to find my racking siphon pieces, if I’m going to use the big carboy.
My final brew-related gift is a brewing class on March 15 for “Brew in a Bag” (BIAB) brewing at Atlantic Brew Supply…includes brewing a batch in class too! Should be interesting.
Finally, at my birthday gathering, I tasted two of my brews. One was my Bavarian style Hefeweizen (the Great Weisse)…I had one in reserve that I didn’t give away to my friend for the Megalodon shark tooth. I really kept this one for my own benefit to see how it would taste this far out from bottling.
The head was aggressive, but died down to a nice soft one and the flavor/aroma/color were all nice and appropriate for the style…very pleased with the beer. The second beer I tasted tonight is my Citra Citrus Wheat …this beer is a-MAZE-ing!!! A home run. in my opinion. It was bottled one week ago and it is VERY drinkable. I can’t wait to show this one off and get some feedback! The family members that got a sip were all very impressed. Today has been a good day.