Saturday, July 25, 2009

Strawberry Corn Flakes?

Update 8/16 - Most of the berries have fallen to the bottom, a little fermentation still going. I did figure out how to account for the berries, though. Strawberries are around 5% sugar by weight (maybe a little more since these were so ripe), so let's be generous and say I added 0.5# of sugar as berry puree, 100% fermentable at ~40ppg, so we'll call it at ~0.5% ABV added by the fruit.
Update 8/9 - Racked to secondary with berry puree. SG ~1.012

Some of the ripest strawberries I'd ever seen were $7 a flat a month or so ago. I bought a few, and we ate lots of them with shortcake, sparkling wine, in salads, etc. And I pureed and froze about 8.5lbs of the ripest, reddest berries. The lactose is to give the beer a little body, since it should ferment out pretty well (and will dry out with the berries, although crash cooling should help there). I considered using the frozen berries to help chill the wort quickly, but decided against it because fruit in primary is a good way to guarantee blowing out your airlock. 8.5lbs should give this cream ale a moderate berry flavor, since it's such a pale base brew. Ray Daniels recommends closer to 2#/gal in his book, but we'll start here and see what happens.

Batch #41
Strawberry Cream Ale
--10lbs Am 2-row (RAHR)
--1lb Flaked Corn
--0.25lb Lactose (15min)
--8.5lbs Ripe strawberries, pureed, frozen (secondary)
--1.5oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (60min)
--0.5oz Willamette 4.3%AA, whole (30min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (10min)
--Wyeast 1450 "Denny's Favorite", 1L starter.
OG: 1.058
FG: ~1.008
ABV: ~6.5-7%
IBU: 20ish

Mash in 19qts to 150F, hold for 60 min. Batch sparge with 3.5gal to collect 6.75gal total. Boil 60 minutes. Ferment in low 60s to minimize esters. Crash out the yeast, rack onto berry puree in secondary. Going into the fermenter, this does actually taste a lot like a bowl of corn flakes :D

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More brewing furniture

Based on the write-up of "Son of Fermentation Chiller" (PDF). I constructed an end table for my living room that houses not one, but two, independently controlled carboy chillers. I scaled down the interior dimensions to ~14"W x 21"L x 22.5"H (or thereabouts, I'd have to measure again) so that there's around 1" or less of wiggle room for a carboy horizontally, and actually about -1/4" of space vertically for a carboy with a 1/2"OD vinyl hose running to a jar of sanitizer. In other words, it's just barely big enough. The extra space behind the carboy houses the fan and gallon jug of ice. Everything is inside a simple wooden frame, and I used 4 pieces of 24" x 48" x 1-1/2" foam insulation (not the extruded stuff...wasn't going to be able to get it home as a 4' x 8' sheet). The table top is split down the middle so I can open one side at a time (coming soon: hinges in the back), and the front is held on by magnets. All of the foam that doesn't move (the top and front panels come out for loading/unloading) is caulked in with silicone. I plan to add some weather stripping to seal the top and front, as it's all a little leaky now. Two thermostats control the fans, the wiring is identical to the basic diagram in the pdf above, just with an additional thermostat and fan in parallel. So, here's my parts list followed by pictures.

-2 thermostats, low voltage, bimetal coil nonprogrammable heat/cool, $30 (eBay)
(as it says in the PDF, these things say "24V" on the package, but you want 12V for the fans)
-2x 80mm muffin fans, $2 (thanks, craigslist!)
-12V 500mA power adapter, $9 (Fry's)
-Extra wires from old cell phone chargers, $0
-Scrap wood from an old couch for the frame, $0
-2x 24" x 48" x 1/4" plywood sheets, ~$10 (Home Depot)
-1x 24" x 48" x 1/8" MDF for base ~$5? (Home Depot)
-2x 8' strips of moulding, ~$20 (?...don't remember exact cost, Home Depot)
-8x 1/2"ish disc magnets, $2 (home depot)
-L brackets for frame, ~$10 (Ace)
-Old worktable for top surface, $20 (craigslist again)
-Assorted finishing nails and whatnot, ~$5
-4x 24" x 48" x 1-1/2" foam insulation, $20 (Home Depot)
-Silicone caulk left over from kegerator construction, $0
-2x Plastic hose barb T-joint for blow-off hoses, $4 (Home Depot)
-3/8" ID vinyl hose for blow offs, ~$5 (MoreBeer)
-Stick on thermometers for carboys, ~$6 (MoreBeer, "fermometers")
-Stain for wood (already had primer and clear coat), $10

Easy enough to put together: build frame, add panels, cut and insert insulation (my middle panel had to be two pieces), wire it up, caulk it up, stain the wood, make girlfriend happy it doesn't look like a box made of foam insulation. Oh, and it works. I've got a DIPA fermenting at 68F inside the box and an uncontrolled saison at 74F (at 8am, higher at 5pm I'm sure).

All told, about as much as I would end up spending, if not more, for a chest freezer and temp control. BUT this has several advantages over a chest freezer: it's smaller, it uses less power (although freezing the ice might negate that), it looks nice in my living room, I can independently control the temperature on two separate fermentations. The ice is a pain to change all the time, but that's okay with me.

Pictures HERE.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fresh hops

Update 8/8 - racked to secondary, SG 1.009-1.010, 2oz centennial, 2oz simcoe added.
Update 8/4 - SG 1.010, 2oz Cascade pellets added. Temperature no longer controlled.

Two things. I owe Rachel a big IPA because she likes them a lot and I keep adding to the equipment list (post on that fermentation cabinet on its way). Now, before you read the recipe and crunch some numbers to find that you get something like 200IBU, let me yammer on a bit about hops and isomerization. First, I'm using a whole pound of fresh hops. Fresh, as in I picked them from someone's garden yesterday and they haven't been dried. Like herbs in cooking, fresh hops are less potent than dry ones, and ~8oz of fresh hop flowers dry to about 3oz. To compensate, I'm approximating the AA in my calculations as 3% instead of 7-10%. Second, all (ALL) of the models for calculating IBU fall apart at high concentrations of alpha acid in the wort. I could link to some papers but you won't read them...hell, I barely did. The point: it's hard to get more than about 120IBU short of using isoalpha extract. Example, running the numbers on the recipe(s) for Pliny the Elder that Vinnie Cilurzo has published (Zymurgy, Brew Your Own, AHA conference,...) the Rager or Tinseth (Palmer uses Tinseth in How to Brew) methods will give you something like 150-250IBU, and labs that actually measure these things find 95-99 IBU (it is a measurable characteristic of beer). [/geek]

Second, as you may have gleaned from the previous paragraph, I picked a pound of fresh hops yesterday! It was a lot of fun, and the guy who grew the plants is from Minnetonka, so, that's cool. Fresh hops are a bit sticky, and the resin gets all over your fingers. I do not advise chewing on the hops. They taste like lettuce, and then like the most bitter thing you've ever eaten.

Batch #40
Fresh Hop DIPA
--12.5lbs 2-row (RAHR)
--0.5lb Amer. Munich
--0.5lb Crystal 40L
--0.5lb CaraPils
--1lb table sugar as syrup (late kraüsen)
--4oz Cascade, wet, (FWH)
--2oz Magnum 14.3%AA (60min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (45min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (30min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (20min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (15min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (10min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA, (7min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (5min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (2min)
--1oz Centennial 8%AA (1min)
--2oz Cascade, wet, (Flameout)
--2oz Cascade pellets (dry)
--2oz Centennial pellets (dry)
--2oz Simcoe pellets (dry)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--WLP001 California Ale Yeast, 2L starter (2nd generation).
OG: 1.063 (1.071 effective)
FG: 1.010
ABV: ~8%
IBU: ~100+

Mash in at 149F, hold between 145 and 149 for 90minutes. Batch sparge to collect 7 gallons wort. Add hops as listed. Ferment at 68F...more details to come (such as how I added the dry hops, 2ndary temp, crashing, etc). Other useful advice: don't break your mill with 3lbs of malt left to go, make sure you know whether or not you've previously made plans for brew day, and use fresh yeast or you'll worry about the damn starter all day.

Monday, July 6, 2009

...and we're back.

Update 9/1 -- 2nd Place ribbon in Belgian/French Ales at 5th Annual MoreBeer Forum Comp. Rest of results here:
Update 7/19 -- Added 500mL active starter of WLP001 and 1lb table sugar as thick syrup to help dry out the beer.

How novel, a few consecutive hours of free time in one day. I started this batch around 6pm, finishing up just before 11, although I batch sparged to help speed things up a bit. This was the first run on my propane burner that I picked up from a Worts of Wisdom member who recently packed up and moved out of state (thanks, Jim!) and I've learned I need to pull more wort from my mash thanks to a higher evaporation rate outside - I lost 2 gallons in 90 minutes versus the roughly 1 gal/hr rate in the kitchen. Stupid wind. Saison! Saison, saison, saison,....dry, crisp, effervescent summer farmhouse ale. It's hot out, so it's the right time. But there's a trick...fermentation needs to start at normal temperatures (~68F) and then slowly come up to 80F or higher. The latter is a piece of cake in July here, but the former requires some cooling. I'll talk about that in the next post. On to the recipe. Pretty close to JZ's Raison d'Saison ("Brewing Classic Styles"...or the Jamil Show, which I recommend giving a listen), but with a smaller volume, so slightly higher gravity. I'm also going to skip the sugar if my yeast brings the gravity down far enough.

Batch #39
Saison d'Jason
--10lbs Ger. Pilsner
--0.75lb Ger. Pale Wheat Malt
--0.75lb Belg. Aromatic Malt
--1lb Cane Sugar (after primary winds down)
--1.5oz Liberty 4.5%AA (60min)
--0.5oz Liberty 4.5%AA (15min)
--1/4tsp supermoss (15min)
--1/4tsp gypsum (mash water addition)
--pinch of grains of paradise, whole - not cracked (5min)
--WLP565 Saison Ale Yeast, 1L starter.
OG: 1.059 (1.068eff)
FG: 1.012
ABV: ~7.3%
IBU: 20ish

Mash in with 16qts at 147F, hold for 90 minutes. That's what I intended. Instead, it was in at 149, fell to 142, came back up to 145, fell to 142...annoying. Oh well, close enough for my first outdoor mash at home, at night. I hit ~76%, so I'm happy. Collect 7 gallons wort, boil 90 minutes. I had more boil off than expected and ended just shy of 5 gallons. I felt like it, so I threw in some grains of paradise...the yeast will probably give more pepper flavor than a few uncracked peppercorns, though. IBUs ended on the low end...another AAU on each addition would probably help. Ferment starting ~68F, bring up to 80s after a couple days (to avoid fusels during early alcohol production)