Saturday, April 28, 2007

Trip to Pittsburgh

Starting tomorrow, I'll be spending 3 days in Pittsburgh, PA. I am planning on taking my camera and documenting the whole thing for posting on the blog. I hope to try out some new picture sharing tools I have found recently, but needed an event with a bunch of picture to make it work. I expect to attend at least 2 of the 3 Cubs / Pirates games that will be going on then, so I should have some great pictures of the ball park.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #4: Tasting

The moment of truth finally came. I chilled a a bottle of my brew overnight and sat down to try it with dinner. My primary fear was that carbonation might not have taken. I cracked the bottle and heard the expected pop and started to get my hopes up. I grabbed a pint glass and poured it in and immediately ended up with a 3 inch head. I had successfully bottle conditioned my beer, in fact this was a bit excessive. I poured as second on a few day later and, remembering to pour gently, it was fine. The clarity was perfect. There was absolutely no noticeable cloudiness, although it is a rather dark beer, so this is a bit hard to see. As far a color, I feel that it could afford to be even darker, but the head pours a light brown color and it is clearly a darker color than Ruby Guinness. The taste was a touch on the bitter side. I blame this on my not filtering.straining my wort before dumping it into the fermenter. For my next brew, I will actually use the strainer that I bought just for this purpose. Other than that it tasted like a hoppy stout. I liked the greater hop flavor that it had over Guinness. In the end, it was a drinkable beer with a lot of flavor and convinced me to keep on brewing. As I get feedback from folks I'll post them as comments to this post.

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Cider Update #3

Quick note on the cider. I pulled a taste out using my thief, and tried it out. Almost all of the tartness is gone now. The flavor is that of champagne with an apple finish. I chilled my taste and tried it again and it was nearly perfect. I still think I am going to want to sweeten it up with some lactose, and the apple flavor will be given a tweak with the use of AJ concentrate to carb it. Sharon liked it and was quite pleased with the progress. I am going to give it another 4 weeks. As of today it has been 8 weeks. If it is all done by the end of this period, with the 3 week carbing, it will mean a 15 week total process. At this rate I can produce 15 gallons a year. I have a feeling keeping up with bottles for it may become an issue, with competing for them with my beers.

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Imperial IPA

First, it's definition time. What is an Imperial IPA? Also known as a Double IPA or 90minute IPA, it is simply an IPA with 2 as much hops and 50% more malt that a standard IPA. It has a much higher ABV and a different finish than an IPA. Often these can be described as finishing sweet, in large part due to the effects of the long boil. I wanted to go with this brew as it is a nice summer beer, a real great thing to drink around the grill, with the flavors opening up as the beer warms, something that will defiantly happen when grilling in the Phoenix summer.

Changes I made for this brew: I made a starter. Big beers like this demand a starter, to ensure that the high sugar content doesn't shock the yeast. Plus you need the yeast to fully attenuate to get the nice high ABV that this comes with. I used a Wyeast smack pack that it technically a small starter in its own right and added it to a quart of water and cup of LME the night before. As you can see from the picture on the right, it was quite active before I pitched it and I was nearly guaranteed a quick start. The other change I made was to move my brewing outside to the burner on the side of my grill. I saw this done on a few YouTube videos and is a cheap alternative to buying a dedicated burner for this. This keeps me from adding the odors of brewing to the house (not a problem for me, but not a very popular move with the wife). This also keeps me from heating up the house, which is very important for summer brewing. The unwanted impact from this was somewhat self correcting. The gas burner is a lot more touchy than my electric on and I ruined my no boil over record, but at least I didn't gunk up the kitchen, only my patio and grill.

I brewed it up and remembered to use cold water to mix with my wort concentrate, helping to cool the mix much quicker. I still think that for my next brew, I'll need to invest in a wort chiller. I was able to pitch 2 hours after brewing and by the time I went to bed, there was a very active fermentation going on. The fan in my fermentation chiller died, so I picked up a new on from WalMart this morning and should have it cooled down by tomorrow. 72 degrees when I left the house this morning.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Dry Irish Stout Update #3: Bottling

Sunday morning was bottling time. I sanitized my bottles by filling up my plastic fermenter and my bottling bucket with 5 gallons of water each and my no rise sanitizer. I found that I could get 18 bottles in each bucket so it was going to take a third bucket's worth of sanitizing. I set them aside and did some yard work. 2 hours later I was ready to bottle. I dumped my priming sugar into a pot along with a cup of water, and heated it just enough to dissolve the sugar. I took the bottles out of the 2 buckets an topped each bottle with a piece of aluminum foil. I set these aside and emptied out the bottling bucket in the street and put the rest of my bottles in my now empty fermenter. I racked the beer out of my glass fermenter into my bottling bucket and noted first that I now had less than 5 gallons, it was now closer to 4 gallons. There was still a bunch of crap sitting at the bottom of the bucket, which made me glad for the racking to secondary. I hooked my hose into the spigot on my bottling bucket with my bottling cane on the end. About this time Mary came out into the garage, so I taught her to grab me a bottle, remove the foil and hand m the bottle. This worked pretty well, and I had it bottled in no time. It only produced around 44 bottles, so it was a bit short of my expectations, but this means that I have a good jump on bottles for my next batch, assuming I loose much of what I just used.

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