Sunday, May 5, 2013

Kelburn IPA: 6 Days In

I put two of the beers in the fridge right after bottling and got around to trying one yesterday, 6 days after bottling.

-quite dark
-nice "unoffensive flavor"
-no carbonation at all
-great aroma from the dry hopping

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kelburn IPA: Bottling

It wasn't easy.

This was probably my worst bottling experience, and by the end of it I honestly didn't even want to get the beer into bottles, I more just wanted it to be over with.  Let's start with simultaneously dropping ten bottles onto the floor at once:

You'll note that the offending box does not have a bottom.  Whoops.
As if that wasn't enough, I only moments later discovered that my bottle caps had completely rusted.  I ordered some new ones for about $6 on Amazon, and with Prime I got them in two days.

Fast forward to about 4-5 days later when I finally got around to bottling.  I didn't have nearly enough bottles (probably around 24 empties, including one 22 oz bottle - more on that later).  However, I didn't have the patience to wait any longer, as it had already been three weeks, and my cooling method includes putting frozen water bottles into the "swamp cooler" every day, which got tiresome.

I started by cleaning and sanitizing out all the equipment that I would need for the day, and then dropped about 3/4 of the provided sugar (I think they provide 5 oz) into some water and boiled that mixture for 7-ish minutes, and then covered it with a sanitized lid and let it cool.  I didn't use the entire bag of sugar this time as in the past, this has caused problems (i.e. over carbonation).

Sanitized caps, ready to go!

My co-brewer Chelsea helped me out big time with this process as as I find it is much easier to bottle with a second person (actually, I've never tried it alone).  First, I put the fermented beer up on a microwave so it would be high up in the room, and then put the bottling bucket down low.  Next, Chelsea (using the really useful auto-siphon, which I would highly recommend buying) started the siphoning process.  Thus began the transfer of beer into bottling bucket.
The Siphon.

Beer on top, bottling bucket below.

I had previously removed all the labels on the bottles by soaking them in an Oxyclean Free (i.e. odorless) + hot water mixture and then scrubbing the labels (though many of them simply fall off after sitting in this mixture for a bit).  Then, I ran them through a dishwasher rinse and hot dry cycle without any detergent to sanitize the bottles.

With the beer in the bottling bucket, and the bottling hose (which fills the bottle when the small bit at the end is being pushed into the bottom of the bottle), one of us would fill the bottle and the other would do the capping.  Unfortunately, the 22 oz bottle did not have a standard mouth (go figure) so I had to not use it, thus bringing my bottle count even lower.  I wound up pouring out a decent bit of homebrew and I'm sure that I could have done something a lot better with it but I was honestly pretty fed up with the whole bottling process at that point, as you may imagine.

Bottling at its finest.
I put two bottles instantly into the fridge and the rest are sitting in a dark place, though it probably is not cool enough as it should be (ideally).  Now, it's one more two week wait and then I can taste the fruit of my labor.  It better be worth it!

Finished product - note the small amount of bottles there.
Some more pictures:

The equipment drying.
Beer going into the bottling bucket.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kelburn IPA: Dry Hopping

Yesterday I dry hopped the IPA I brewed two weeks ago.  I was initially going to put the hops in the fermenter after a week, but after some Internet sleuthing I decided on a two week period.  To do this, I took a (way oversized) nylon straining bag and boiled it in water to clean/sanitize.  Then, I took 1/2 oz of Pacifico(a)? and 1/2 oz of Motueka that had been in the refrigerator since brew day and put them in the bag.  I tied off the top, opened the fermenter, and dropped it in.

I've heard things about adding a weight so the hops go to the bottom and maybe I should have but this was my first dry hopping experience and I went simple.  I'm going to wait a week and then bottle next Sunday.  Hopefully I've collected enough bottles by then...
The bag.

The cooler.

The beer.  Dark!

In it goes.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kelburn IPA: Brew Day

Some of the ingredients.  No, George Forman was not useful in this endeavor.
Today I brewed my newest extract creation - I'm calling it the Kelburn IPA.  That's because all of the hops (and there are a LOT of hops) are from New Zealand, and when I spent five awesome months there, I lived in the Kelburn neighborhood of Wellington (if you ever go to NZ, try Monteiths beer).  It's Midwest Supplies newest kit - you can see it here.  Here are the ingredients:


6 lbs. Gold Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
2 lbs. Amber Dry Malt Extract (DME)
4 oz. Caramel 80°
4 oz. Crystal 50-60°
2 oz. Chocolate Malt
1 oz. Super Alpha
2 oz. Motueka
2 oz. Pacifica
Wyeast London ESB Ale #1968

The first step, as always, was cleaning and sanitizing the shit out of everything.  I used One Step for the first time as my cleaning agent.  It's a no rinse solution and did the job fine (I hope - we'll find out in a few weeks).
One Step.  Cheesy garlic bread Lays in the background, as part of their new contest.  I am voting for Chicken and Waffles flavor.  Just 'cause.

Cleaning and sanitizing is extremely important.  I've found an easy way to sanitize everything after it is clean is through the use of a spray bottle containing a StarSan mixture.  From what I've read, StarSan is the best sanitizing solution for your money, and the spray bottle allows you to be lazy and spray everything rather than make a mixture and dump everything in it.

Prior to beginning the brew, I smacked my smack pack, which is one of the most entertaining aspects of brewing beer.  The smack pack is the Wyeast liquid yeast, which is awesome.  There are ONE BILLION YEAST CELLS.  That's a lot of alcohol made from farts.  Anyway, you take the pack and locate the inner nutrient packet, smack it, and wait a few hours for the package to swell up.  Naturally, I forgot to do this until this point, so it didn't sit for three hours as the packet instructs, but I'm sure it'll be fine.  Also, due to my superhuman strength, I managed to smack the pack so hard that I cut a little hole in the pack.  I transferred the pack to a big ziploc so as to not make a huge mess and lose too much yeast.  More on the yeast later.

With all my equipment ready to go, it was time to crush the grains, which my trusty soux-brew(er) accomplished:

Action shot!
The next step was to steep the grains in water.  We're talking about three gallons of water here.  The water is supposed to be at 155 F.  I meant to order a thermometer ever since I lost my original one but I forgot, of course, and was left to judge the temperature.  It's only important not to boil the grains, so I am not too worried.  The aroma of the grains was dominated by the smell of chocolate.  Being stupid, I didn't know there was chocolate on the grain bill until now, so that explains the delicious smell coming from the mixture.
This was halfway in to the steeping process.
I steeped the grain for approximately 20 minutes.  The instructions give you a time frame of 15-30, but I honestly thought the mixture was getting too dark so I pulled out the grains at that point. With the grains steeped and the pot off of the heat, I added the DME first and then the LME, stirring vigorously of course the entire time so as not to burn the malt.  I had the help of my soux-brew(er) once more for this task.

Once you add the malt, the mixture turns from looking like tea to looking like beer.  Probably because of the amount of foam added, I'd guess.  However, it doesn't smell like beer yet.  Need the hops for that.  Good thing this recipe calls for five freakin' ounces of them.
Stirring the malt vigorously.

OK, so the pot went back on the burner and after a while I saw the first bubble.  The next step was to dump in one ounce of the Super Alpha hops for the entirety of the boil (60 minutes).  The way I understand it, a typical boil (i.e. after grains and malt have been added and you are constantly boiling this mixture while adding hops for 60 minutes) lasts 60 minutes, and the timing of the "hop drop"©  determines the flavoring.  The longer the hops stay in the boil, the more bitter the taste.  If you add hops at the end of a boil, it's really more for aroma than it is taste.  I may be wrong, but that's how I understand it.

Hops + malt + grain + water.

That being cleared up, the point of the Super Alpha hops then is to make this beer an IPA - that is to say, to give it that bitter flavor we all expect in an IPA.  Of course, you also expect a strong "hoppy" nose to dominate the beer, and that's what the later additions are for.  After 45 minutes, I added one ounce of the Motueka hops.  It seems these hops are used for a little bit of bittering and some aroma as well.  Five minutes later, I added one ounce of Pacifica.  For those counting at home, that's three ounces of hops, and 10 minutes left in the boil.  This mixture stayed the same until the 10 minutes were up, at which point it was taken off the heat.  However, this was simply not enough hops, so half an ounce of Pacific and half an ounce of Motueka were added at this point, purely for aroma.

Now, for the cooling and aerating of the "wort," which is the mixture that I have been referring to.  It's important to get the wort down to below 80 degrees F as quickly as possible.  There are a few ways to do this, the best being a wort chiller, which is this crazy (not really that crazy) tube system that cools the fuck out of the wort in a matter of minutes.  I don't have one, needless to say.  I went with the ol' ice-in-sink method.  With a sanitized lid over the top of the pot and the pot in the ice bath, I stirred with a sanitized spoon every 15 minutes.  This happened three times, for a total of 45 minutes.  While I don't have a thermometer, three times has been the right amount of time in my past brews, and the wort seemed cool enough, so I decided it was time to get this thing fermenting.
The trusty BrewDog.

With the help of my soux-brew(er), I poured the wort through a handy strainer since I threw the hops right into the wort (some people will keep them in a mesh bag thingy as was done with the grains) and then into the fermenting bucket stirring and removing the excess hops as I went.

Earlier, I had set up my interesting cooling system.  It's hot here in Florida, and we're not using our A/C since we are cheap, so it's hot in the house.  My solution is a large blue bucket that you get when you purchase a keg of beer, some water, and some ice.  It keeps the beer cool enough (it needs to be under 76 or so degrees, I try and keep it around 70 if I can), and is cheap.  With the beer (can I call it that yet?) in the fermenter, I put on the sanitized lid and the sanitized airlock and transferred the beer to the aforementioned blue bucket.  Bam.  Beer brewed, or at least started.
My awesome cooling system.
Next task - drink some more beer, because I am way short on bottles for bottling day, which should be in about two weeks.  Also, this will be my first time dry hopping (adding hops straight into the fermenter in about a week), and I don't have another carboy or fermenter, so I can't use a primary-secondary system as is recommended.  We'll see how it goes, but it's all one big fun experiment anyway.

Here are some more pictures:

Grain in a bag.  Yum.
The LME.

Stir, stir, stir.

Gettin' foamy.
Start of the boil - 1 hour on the timer.
10 minutes left in the boil.
Red Beans & Rice side by side with the beer.  Delicious combo, I'm sure.
Ugh.  Cleaning that strainer...
 Another shot of the cooling system.
The pot post initial rinse-out.

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC