Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My first Beer post...

Since my blog title is Brews and Notes, and I haven't posted any brew stuff yet (at least I don't believe I have), I figured the time is right...

I haven't brewed a beer in almost two and a half years, and I am sick about it. In May of 2006, I brewed an Oktoberfest beer and fortunately, I still have a few bottles left... well I did until Thanksgiving weekend.

The week before Thanksgiving, I found two gift certificates that were given to me... one was a Christmas present from 2006, and the other a birthday present from May of 2007. The certificates were from Norther Brewer. I called them up and asked them if they were still valid. Fortunately for me, they were. I now had $100 to spend on beer stuff.

I've got three kits to make, that were given to me at Christmas 2007. I knew that the yeast, which had been properly stored in the brewery fridge, were probably not viable, so I used the "free money" to buy new yeast. There were some other things that I needed/wanted, so I ordered enough to use up the $100 and then some.

Now, the three kits, being they were almost a year old, had been stored in my basement brewery, which keeps a constant 62-64 degrees year round. The crushed grains and malt extract were not stored in the fridge, but on a shelf. I figured that even if things were stale and the beers didn't come out good, I wasn't really going to care, as it would allow me to get back into the swing of things again, and start this hobby up again in full force.

On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), I did go shopping, like the millions of other people that day. I woke up at my leisure, and got things around to make the first beer of the weekend... a Schwarzbier (Black Lager). I love the dark beers. I'll pick a dark beer over anything else, other than maybe a good, hoppy IPA. Surprisingly, the crushed grains did not smell stale, and there was no mold in the non-vacuumed sealed bag. No mold or other nasty stuff in the malt extract, so I felt I was good to go. About three hours later, I had my black lager in my 7 gallon glass carboy, tossed my Bavarian yeast starter into the carboy, gave it a few good shakes, and put the carboy into my brewery fridge at around 46-48 degrees... a good lagering temp. Got everything cleaned up and ready for the next day. Oh... and those Oktoberfest beers I mentioned at the beginning of this post... I now have fewer of them.

On Saturday, I started a little earlier in my brewing. This day, I would make a Spiced Winter Ale. The kit came with a little 1 ounce vacuumed sealed bag of Mulling Spice. As with the black lager, the crushed grains and malt extract, as well as the spices all smelled and looked ok, so I began my second day of brewing. After another three hours or so, the beer was in the other 7 gallon glass carboy, and I tossed in my Scotch Ale yeast starter, gave things a good shaking, and then covered the carboy with a black plastic garbage bag (light is not a beer's best friend, you know.)

After cleaning everything up and putting most everything away, including the rest of the empty Oktoberfest bottles that were consumed during this brewing day, I checked on my black lager. Things were percolating away nicely already, after only about 24 hours. It was a good start of things to come.

On Sunday, I checked on my Spiced Winter Ale, and the yeast had already begun it's wonderful work. The krausen was getting high in the carboy. I knew I should have put a blow-off hose in, but I didn't do it. Late Sunday evening, I went down to the brewery to check on my beers, and the Spiced Winter Ale was pushing the krausen into the airlock. I took it out, cleaned it up, and put it back into its place. Did the same thing on Monday morning, and then again at Noon on Monday afternoon. By Monday night, things slowed down and I didn't have to do anymore clean up.

It's now Wednesday, and things are still fermenting away. This weekend, I'll probably be ready to transfer my Spiced Winter Ale to a seconday fermenter (a 5 gallon glass carboy), but the black lager will need a few more days to fully ferment. I'll let the Winter Ale sit in secondary until I'm ready to bottle it. I'm not a kegger, so all my beers go into bottles, of which I have quite a collection. I'm thinking the Winter Ale may be ready to consume around Christmas, or shortly after New Year's Day. The black lager will be ready sometime late in January, early February.

The third and final beer kit that I have is a Rauchbier (Smoked Beer), which I have yet to make. I need to order some additional items for my yeast starter (dry malt extract), but I haven't done that yet. I must not procrastinate on this one...

I guess I should post the recipes, in case anyone is interested...

Spiced Winter Ale (courtesy of Northern Brewer)
O.G: 1047 / Ready: 6 weeks

We started with a malty, medium-bodied Scottish-style ale. We added a hand-mixed blend of mulling spices: Ceylon cloves, cracked cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and mace. The result is a pleasant, festive holiday ale, perfect to share with friends and family.

Specialty Grains
* 1 lbs. Simpsons Dark Crystal

* 6.3 lbs. Gold Malt Syrup

Boil Additions
* 1 oz. Argentina Cascade (60 min)
* 0.25 oz. Mulling Spices (60 min)
* 0.5 oz. Mulling Spices (0 min)

Special Ingredients
* 1/4 oz. Mulling Spices (add to secondary)

If you choose dry yeast
* Safale S-04. Optimum temperature: 64-75° F.

If you choose liquid yeast
* Wyeast #1728 Scottish Ale Yeast. Optimum temperature: 55-70° F.

Schwarzbier (courtesy of Northern Brewer)
O.G: 1052 / Ready: 2 months

The lager world's answer to porter and stout, this black beer from German is roasty, malty, and crisp. Debittered black malt gives a sharp, clean dryness, underscored by a rich, malty sweetness from Munich and German crystal malts. Since Schwarzbiers are more assertively hopped than many dark lagers, our kit loads up on hops. Not too bitter, not too sweet, Schwarzbier is very drinkable and forgiving to brew.

Specialty Grains
* 0.5 lbs. German Dark Crystal
* 0.5 lbs. Dingemans Debittered Black

* 6 lbs. Dark Malt Syrup
* 1 lbs. Dark Dry Malt Extract

Boil Additions
* 1 oz. Argentina Cascade (60 min)
* 1 oz. Argentina Cascade (30 min)

If you choose dry yeast
* Saflager S-23. Optimum temperature: 60-72° F.

If you choose liquid yeast
* Wyeast #2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast. Optimum temperature: 46-56° F.

Rauchbier (courtesy of Northern Brewer)
O.G: 1055 / Ready: 2 months

German for "smoke beer", this lager style is a specialty of the Bavarian city of Bamberg. They're often based on an Oktoberfest recipe, but brewed with a proportion of beechwood-smoked malt to create a rich, warm smoke aroma and flavor. Our Rauchbier kit yields an amber-red beer with an off-white head, substantial maltiness, and woodsy smokiness (the secret is authentic German beechwood-smoked rauchmalt from the heart of Rauchbier country). Enjoy this one in front of a blazing fire.

Specialty Grains
* 1.5 lbs. Rauchmalt
* 0.5 lbs. Weyermann CaraMunich I

* 6 lbs. Amber Malt Syrup
* 1 lb. Amber DME

Boil Additions
* 0.5 oz. Northern Brewer (60 min)
* 0.5 oz. Argentina Cascade (60 min)
* 0.5 oz. Argentina Cascade (30 min)

If you choose dry yeast
* Saflager W-34/70. Optimum temperature: 48-59° F.

If you choose liquid yeast
* Wyeast #2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast. Optimum temperature: 46-56° F.

1 comment:

Improvedliving said...

This is really good freakin beer post.

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