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Homebrewing Personal

Two turntables and a pint of beer

Today was a good day. The perfect lazy Sunday. I bottled 5 gallons of beer and listened to a bunch of vinyl records—a mix of those I’ve bought myself and my grandfather’s collection—while Sara was out at a friend’s baby shower.

I don’t really have much more to say, except that my title is inaccurate. It was actually one turntable and two LBKs of beer, but I wanted a more obvious reference to the Beck song.

Categories
Homebrewing

Brew the beer you like, the way you like: a rant

I just wanted to share this little rant about home brewing, from a guy who’s been doing it for 20 years.

I enjoyed this video, mainly because I have very similar opinions. (The full video is over 20 minutes long, but the rant starts at about the 13-minute mark and the embedded version should start just before the beginning of Craig’s rant.)

I’ve added my own thoughts below the video.

A lot of people, at least online, talk shit about extract brewers—especially kit brewers. Frankly, that’s bullshit.

People use different brewing methods for different reasons. I’m an extract brewer and I mostly use kits. This is partly because I’m still relatively new to the hobby, but also because I like the simplicity of kits and/or simple extract-only recipes.

I tend not to have a lot of time or space to do even partial-mash recipes. But that’s fine! I brew simple recipes in small batches because that’s what works for me. It fits my lifestyle and still allows me to have fun making and drinking my own beer.

It boils down to this: make the beer you like to make, the way you like to make it. Don’t let anyone make you feel crappy for not brewing beer the way they say you should.

Categories
Homebrewing

Modified Muntons Red Ale

Today was another successful brew day. I made a simple red ale—a slightly modified version of the Muntons Red Ale.

In place of the kilogram of dextrose called for in the instructions, I used a kilogram of amber dried malt extract (DME). Using malt extract instead of corn sugar will boost the flavour profile, while still maintaining the proper amount of sugars for the yeast to feast on.

I also split the wort between my two MrBeer little brown kegs (LBKs). I used the Muntons yeast in one and a packet of Coopers ale yeast in the other. I’m curious to see how much of an impact the yeast has on the flavour of the finished beer.

I’m told that the yeast used can dramatically alter an otherwise identical recipe, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to not only test that theory, but to have a sample of each version ready for tasting at the exact same time.

I’ll report my results in roughly seven weeks when the two brews are ready.

As usual, for those interested, the recipe is below.

Modified Muntons Red Ale

————————
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Irish Red Ale
Batch: 5.00 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.044 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 21 IBU
Recipe Color: 11° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.011
Alcohol by Volume: 4.2%
Alcohol by Weight: 3.3%

Ingredients
———–
Amber DME 2.20 lb, Extract, Extract
Muntons Premium HME – Old Ale 3.30 lb, Extract, Extract

Muntons Premium HME – Old Ale 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes

Coopers Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS
Muntons Standard 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 66.2°-69.8° F 6 GRAMS

Notes
—–
Recipe Notes:

None so far.

Batch Notes:
Splitting between two LBKs, using Muntons yeast in one and Coopers yeast in the other.

Actual OG = 1.048
Actual FG = TBD
Actual ABV = TBD

Categories
Homebrewing

Brown Cow Chocolate Milk Stout

I promised Darcy a beer post. It’s a bit later than originally planned, but here it is.

I bottled my chocolate milk stout this evening. It’s a low alcohol, session ale. But damn if it isn’t going to taste good.

While you can’t really tell what the final character of a beer is going to be until it’s finished conditioning, the pre-bottling sample I tasted is good. The plan is to let this bottle condition for at least two months—stouts require a long time to condition, in my limited experience.

The timing works out nicely, as it should be done conditioning just in time for my birthday.

For those who are interested, the recipe is below. It’s pretty basic—just a modification of an extract kit—but I’m looking forward to it. Mr. Beer’s St. Patrick’s Irish Stout HME makes a solid beer without any modifications, so it’s a nice base to work from.

It’s worth noting that, despite the name, the kit actually makes an American stout, rather than an Irish one, if made without any modifications. I guess Mr. Beer figured “St. Patrick’s Irish Stout” would sell better.

Brown Cow Chocolate Milk Stout

Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Milk Stout
Batch: 2.13 gal Extract

Characteristics

Recipe Gravity: 1.032 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 46 IBU
Recipe Color: 40° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.008
Alcohol by Volume: 3.1%
Alcohol by Weight: 2.4%

Ingredients

Mr. Beer/Coopers St. Patrick’s Irish Stout 1.87 lb, Extract, Extract
Mr. Beer/Coopers St. Patrick’s Irish Stout 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes
Cocoa Powder 0.50 unit, Other, Unit = Cup
Lactose 0.25 unit, Other, Unit = Pound; FG & OG calcs will be off because of this unfermentable
Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS

Notes

Recipe Notes:
1. Bring 1.25L water to a boil and remove from heat.
2. Add lactose and stir until dissolved.
3. Add cocoa and stir until dissolved.
4. Add LME and stir well.
5. Add wort to 4L water already in LBK.
6. Top up with cold tap water, add yeast and let it feast

Batch Notes:
Actual OG = 1.042
Expected FG, accounting for unfermentable lactose = 1.018
Actual FG = 1.018 (28-Sept-14)
Bottle date = 29-Sept-14

**Adjusted expected FG is based on the difference between the Recipe Gravity and the actual OG.

Categories
Homebrewing

Taste Tests

Many homebrewers subscribe to a “leave the yeast alone to do it’s thing” theory. I tend to follow this rule, only “disturbing” my LBKs to take hydrometer readings.

Once in a while, though, I like to take a sample.

Often, I will drink my hydro samples. But sometimes I’ll just pour a small shot of the beer to see how it’s coming along.

Right now, I’ve got two batches fermenting: a honey red and a chili lime beer. After sampling each, I’m really looking forward to the final product.

The honey red is a bit sweeter than I expected, possibly due to poor hop utilization, but I’ve chatted with a few other homebrewers and it sounds like this may condition out in the bottle and that I shouldn’t worry too much about it. Worst case scenario, I learn from the mistake and adjust the recipe for next time.

The chili lime beer tastes amazing. I wasn’t sure how this one was going to turn out (and I’m still not, since it’s not done fermenting and may change as it bottle-conditions), but the sample I took was great. The jalapeno flavour is noticeable but not overpowering, and the lime zest gives it a pleasing aroma without affecting the flavour too much.

I’m really looking forward to drinking the first bottle of the chili lime in about 6 weeks. It’ll be ready just in time for summer, which is great. I think this will be a perfect beer for a hot summer day.

Categories
Homebrewing

Homebrew Batch No. 8 – Sara’s Honey Red

Sara’s Honey Red
—————-
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Irish Red Ale
Batch: 2.40 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.054 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 28 IBU
Recipe Color: 11° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.014
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
Alcohol by Weight: 4.1%

Ingredients
———–
Amber DME 1.00 lb, Extract, Extract
Honey 0.50 lb, Sugar, Other
Mr. Beer/Coopers Oktoberfest Lager 1.87 lb, Extract, Extract

Kent Goldings (U.K.) – Aroma and dry hop intensely resiny, candy-like, sweet, slightly floral and spicy 0.25 oz, Pellet, 50 minutes
Mr. Beer/Coopers Oktoberfest Lager 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes

Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 5.0 GRAMS

Notes
—–
Recipe Notes:
Bring 1/2# DME to a boil in 4 cups of water. Add hops after hot break has ended and boil for 60 minutes.

Flame out and add remainder of DME and HME.

Add pasteurized honey after 1 week of fermentation.

Batch Notes:
Forgot to take OG reading – assume software estimate is accurate and measure FG as normal. Hopefully, OG was accurate and FG will be on target.

Categories
Homebrewing

Adam’s Lawnmower Ale

I brewed my lawnmower ale today. It’s based on Mr. Beer’s Classic American Light refill. I’ve pumped it up with some light dried malt extract (DME) and sterling hops.

I mentioned it in a post earlier this month, but I made a few slight modifications since then. The updated recipe is below.

Adam’s Lawnmower Ale
——————–
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Premium American Lager
Batch: 2.25 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.050 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 23 IBU
Recipe Color: 5° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.012
Alcohol by Volume: 4.8%
Alcohol by Weight: 3.8%

Ingredients
———–
Light DME 1.00 lb, Extract, Extract
Mr. Beer/Coopers Classic American Light 1.87 lb, Extract, Extract

Mr. Beer/Coopers Classic American Light 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes
Sterling – Zpicy, herbal hop with a hint of citrus. Can be used as both a bittering and aroma hop 0.25 oz, Pellet, 23 minutes
Sterling – Zpicy, herbal hop with a hint of citrus. Can be used as both a bittering and aroma hop 0.25 oz, Pellet, 37 minutes

Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS

Notes
—–
Recipe Notes:
Still debating whether or not to do a dry hop with 0.50 oz of sterling pellets for the last 5 days in the fermenter.
Batch Notes:
Actual OG = 1.049

Categories
Homebrewing

Whispering Wheat Weizenbier

Today was bottling day at the Snider Homebrew Shop. I bottled a batch of Mr.Beer’s Whispering Wheat Weizenbier.

Whispering Wheat is one of the older recipes, from before the company was purchased by Coopers. It’s no longer being produced but it looks like the inventory hasn’t been completely cleared out from all of the stores that stock Mr.Beer, so you may still be able to find this refill if you’re interested.

If you can’t find it, the new Mr.Beer wheat beer is the Bavarian Weissbier.

Brew day for this batch was a bit of a disaster. I spilled a fairly significant amount of wort as I was pouring it from the pot into the LBK. It went everywhere and we were finding sticky spots on the kitchen floor for days afterward (despite having mopped the floor twice in light of the mess).

I also knocked over my hydrometer sample, causing more of a mess.

So, yeah, it was a bit of a disaster. But I managed to eyeball the amount of lost wort and adjust my top-up water accordingly and ended up with an original gravity (OG) reading that was pretty darn close to what QBrew had predicted, so I guess I managed to adjust the water correctly.

Bottling day went a lot smoother than brew day. I had cleaned all of my bottles earlier this week, so all I had to do was rinse and sanitize them. I added my priming sugar, filled my bottles, and capped without problems.

I didn’t get as many bottles as I’d guess that I would. I figured I’d get about 7L worth of beer out of this batch (instead of the usual 8), but ended up being a few ounces short of that. I managed to fill eleven 12oz bottles, four 450mL bottles, and two 650mL bottles.

I figured I’d have been able to fill a full 12 of the 12-ouncers, but I didn’t quite manage it. The 11th bottle is my trub bottle (the final bottle tends to have a lot more sediment (aka: trub) in it); I’m a little bit worried about a bottle bomb, since it’s a glass bottle, but I’m probably just being paranoid.

In any case, I managed to get my wheat beer bottled up without incident. I’m looking forward to opening the first bottle in a few weeks. I’m told that wheat beers condition a lot faster than others, and so it should be ready to drink in 2 or 2.5 weeks instead of the usual 4.

If you’re looking to build up your pipeline as a homebrewer, the shorter conditioning time means that wheat beers are a good way to do it.

For those who are interested, here’s the recipe for the Whispering Wheat Weizenbier, along with my notes.

Whispering Wheat Weizenbier
—————————
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Weizen/Weissbier
Batch: 2.00 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.040 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 17 IBU
Recipe Color: 4° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.010
Alcohol by Volume: 3.8%
Alcohol by Weight: 3.0%

Ingredients
———–
Mr. Beer Booster 0.78 lb, Sugar, Other
Mr. Beer Whispering Wheat Weizenbier 1.21 lb, Extract, Extract

Mr. Beer Whispering Wheat Weizenbier 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5
minutes

Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature
Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS

Notes
—–
Batch Notes:

Spilled significant amount of wort; reduced water to
compensate. Approximately 7 litres in total (1.85 gallons). As
a result of reducing the batch size, OG was 1.039, so the
final product should come out according to the recipe, despite
the loss of wort.

Actual OG = 1.039
Actual FG = 1.012
Actual ABV = 3.5%

Categories
Homebrewing

A Successful Brew Day

Today was brewing day. I brewed the St. Patrick’s Irish Stout refill I mentioned in my previous post.

Everything went according to plan and I managed to transfer the wort from the pot to the LBK without issue. Unfortunately, I have a habit of spilling the wort during the transfer, resulting in a loss of future beer and a sticky mess all over the kitchen. I’ve been on the search for a 3qt. (or larger) pot with a spout to avoid this problem.

While I didn’t manage to find a pot today, I managed to avoid spilling by first transfering some of the wort from the pot to the LBK using my sanitized measuring cup. Once I had the volume down a bit, I carefully poured the rest directly from the pot into the fermentation vessel.

My stout-wort is now sitting on a shelf waiting for the yeast to wake up and make beer. I’m really looking forward to tasting this when it’s ready to go.

In case you’re interested, I’ve posted the recipe below.

Interestingly, QBrew pegs the ABV at 3.3% even though the published materials from Mr. Beer put it at 3.7%. Based on my measurements, it may come in as low as 3%.

Regardless of the alcohol content, I’m happy as long as the final product tastes good. As they say on the forums: don’t chase ABV; shoot for flavour and ABV will naturally follow.

St. Patrick’s Irish Stout
————————-
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Irish Stout
Batch: 2.00 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.034 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 49 IBU
Recipe Color: 42° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.008
Alcohol by Volume: 3.3%
Alcohol by Weight: 2.6%

Ingredients
———–
Mr. Beer/Coopers St. Patrick’s Irish Stout 1.87 lb, Extract, Extract

Mr. Beer/Coopers St. Patrick’s Irish Stout 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes

Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS

Notes
—–
Recipe Notes:
n/a

Batch Notes:
Actual OG = 1.031

Categories
Homebrewing

Brewing Beer in a Little Brown Keg

I’m a home brewer. I’m very new to the hobby, and I definitely don’t do all grain or even partial mash brewing.

I’m an extract brewer and I’m fine with that. Because I’m just a beginner, and because it fits into my small home, I use a Mr. Beer Home Brew Kit for brewing my beer.

So far, all of my actual beers have been made using Mr. Beer ingredients as the base, but that will probably change as I gain more experience. I’ll continue to use the Mr. Beer little brown kegs (LBK), though, because they’re a convenient size and fit nicely onto the shelves in my office.

I received my first LBK as a birthday gift from Sara and I was hooked on homebrewing immediately.

Recently, I ordered a second LBK. It arrived today and included a Classic American Light (CAL) refill. I also ordered a St. Patrick’s Irish Stout refill.

I’m really looking forward to making the Irish Stout as-is, but I think I’ll add some light malt extract and sterling hops to the CAL to beef it up a bit, since I’m not really a fan of light beer.

I’ve put something together in QBrew, based on the ingredients I have at hand, and have come up with something that I think should turn out pretty well. I’m calling it Adam’s Lawnmower Ale.

Adam’s Lawnmower Ale
——————–
Brewer: Adam Snider
Style: Premium American Lager[1]
Batch: 2.00 gal Extract

Characteristics
—————
Recipe Gravity: 1.056 OG
Recipe Bitterness: 25 IBU
Recipe Color: 6° SRM
Estimated FG: 1.014
Alcohol by Volume: 5.4%
Alcohol by Weight: 4.3%

Ingredients
———–
Light DME 1.00 lb, Extract, Extract
Mr. Beer/Coopers Classic American Light 1.87 lb, Extract, Extract

Mr. Beer/Coopers Classic American Light 1.00 oz, Pellet, 5 minutes
Sterling – Zpicy, herbal hop with a hint of citrus. Can be used as both a bittering and aroma hop 0.25 oz, Pellet, 37 minutes
Sterling – Zpicy, herbal hop with a hint of citrus. Can be used as both a bittering and aroma hop 0.25 oz, Pellet, 23 minutes

Mr. Beer Dry Ale Yeast 1.00 unit, Yeast, Temperature Range: 68°-76° F 2.0 GRAMS

[1] This beer is not actually a lager; I’m simply aiming to make an ale that is “lager-like.”