Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Hardest Part

It's been a week since I brewed the porter, and the primary fermentation, after a vigorous start that spat some foam and yeast out the airlock, has settled and my krauesen is subsiding. I would rack to a secondary but for the lack of additional carboys. In the meantime, I added a couple recipe links to the sidebar.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Water Dog

The specialty malts smelled fantastic while steeping and I suspect it's going to a be a long few weeks waiting for this brew. The Fonz had his first real workout today and did a pretty good job, cooling the hot wort in about 20 minutes.

Batch #2
Porter (extract kit), American Ale Yeast (Wyeast)
--7 lbs Ultralight Malt Extract
--4 oz Maltodextrin
--1 lb Crystal 40L
--8 oz Black Patent
--4 oz Chocolate
--1 oz Northern Brewer 6.8%AA (60min)
--1 oz Cascade (1min)
OG: 1.050-1.051 (temp corrected from 1.048)
FG: 1.010-1.012
ABV: ~5%
Calc. IBUs: 28.6

Porters always remind me of a Portuguese water dog named 'Porter' and his curly mop of hair. His person was a friend of mine in high school, but I haven't seen much of either of them since then.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How to build a wort chiller, Part II

I cleaned and tested the chiller today. Copper Fonzie I cooled five gallons of water mixed with half a gallon of vinegar from boiling to 80ºF in about 15 minutes. No leaks on the inlet or outlet, but the faucet hookup was having some trouble. I neglected to clamp the vinyl hose onto the nylon barbs and the force of the water pulled the hose off a couple times. That's a problem easily solved for less than a dollar tomorrow, though. Hopefully I'll be home from work in time to brew.

All told, the chiller cost more than I would have liked. Not counting the pipe bender, faucet aerator, and Teflon tape, I spent $85 to make two chillers. Subtracting the $40 I made off of the Fonz' younger brother, I saved $10. I'm canceling the time and labor costs with the DIY enjoyment factor so that I still feel like I came out ahead. The moral of the story, which applies to homebrewing in general, it seems, is: unless you like to make it yourself, it is almost always cheaper to go to the store and just buy it. That said, I'll keep brewing and will make my next chiller, too.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How to build a wort chiller

After one full boil, we've decided that cooling hot wort just plain requires a chiller. End of story. Wort chillers start at about $50 for a 5 gallon batch, but cost slightly less to make yourself. The catch is, you might have to make two of them. You may have to go to a store that specializes in plumbing for some of the parts, as certain orange-themed retailers don't carry fittings for my faucet. John Palmer, my first brewing idol who is not called Arthur, wrote a fantastic book that runs the gamut from beginning to advanced understanding of brewing and includes an appendix on chillers. He has the book published here, but you should buy the paperback because it makes good reading material for the beach.

Making your own chiller is fun and easy, so long as you can find a like-minded soul to split the cost of the parts. I'll be testing mine and will post the results of its performance later this week.

The First Batch

Welcome! This blog will be dedicated to our foray into the world of homebrewed beer. For me it started when the ladyfriend and I slipped into a brew supply store a few months back and decided to give it a go. As our first attempt, we brewed an irish red ale from an extract kit. A month later and a tasty red was in our glasses. Onward and upward...

The Beer
Batch #1
Irish Red Ale (MoreBeer Kit145), English Ale Yeast (White Labs)
Fermented in primary for 2 weeks, no secondary.
OG: 1.048 (temp. corrected from 1.046)
FG: 1.010
ABV: 4.7%-5%
I lost my original notes on this one, so no recipe or calculated IBUs.

This is a good one. There's a reason the kit's a top seller. MoreBeer recommends the Irish Ale yeast, but the English Ale yeast was suggested to me by an employee at the shop and it does not disappoint.