September 29, 2017: Apple Pie Update

Fermentation Record: 20170929FL

Comments:

Fermentation log details when we added apples, cinnamon, and dry hopped our oatmeal apple pie cream ale (brew day post).

What is with the funky fermentation profile? To conserve wort, a refractometer was used for the first few days of fermentation. We forgot brewing 101 where the refractometer is only good for wort. The alcohol that is present once fermentation starts throws off the values. Day 5 we used different equipment.

The cinnamon aroma is strong, but it does not come through in the flavor profile. The Pink Lady apples are delicious for eating, but when we brew this again – Honey Crisp is the way to go. This was our original plan, but the apples were neglected on the stove and the sugars went past caramelization to ash. Of the apple varietals the local grocery had, Pink Lady was the choice we made.

The flavor of the beer is close to what we wanted, but not quite there. Because we were low on mash temperature, it is a drier beer than desired. A higher mash temperature would have resulted in a residual sweetness that would better evoke apple pie.

Sent this to cold crash – looking forward to transferring it to a keg, carbonating, and drinking in a couple weeks.

September 16, 2017: Apple Pie Brew Day

Ah, winter is coming. So it is time to brew before the weather is too cold and the wind is too sharp to monitor our brew kettle outside. The amber we brewed back in July kicked a couple of weeks ago and Jess had to bring a 1/6 home from work to fill the void (The Post Brewing Company, Big Rosie Porter).

This time around we are trying an oatmeal cream-style ale. Adjuncts will be apples and cinnamon added at secondary to provide some traditional apple pie flavors. A slightly higher mash temperature, closer to what one would expect of porters, will provide a sweetness on the palate due to unfermentable sugars.

Grain bill:

  • 7 lb 2-Row (domestic)
  • 1.5 lb flaked oats
  • 1 lb Maris Otter
  • 1 lb Caramunich I

Hops (Pellet) and other boil/whirlpool additions:

  • 0.5 oz  Magnum 10.8% alpha acids (60 minutes)
  • 0.5 oz Centennial 6.3% alpha acids (Whrilpool)
  • 1 oz Calypso 8.6% alpha acids (Whirlpool)

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 2565 Kolsch; Lot #: 0637206; mfg: 07/25/17

Brew Record: 20170916BR

Comments:

Check out the brew record linked above for the nitty gritty brew day details.

The mash tun has found a new home – a shop cart. The mash tun is very heavy and we struggled to lift it to the top of the brew tree in July. Better to leave it lower and use the pumps.

We lost more heat than we expected during mash-in. The mash temperature, which was 4 degrees lower than the desired target, will result in more fermentable sugars and a drier beer. Not the end of the world, but there will be some sweetness lost that would help emulate apple pie flavors.

Whirfloc was not added. It listed on the brew sheet, but was completely overlooked.

We also lost more volume to the bottom of the brew kettle – approximately 1 gallon. This is something to keep in mind for our future recipe calculations.

Malt can be used as prop on model train tables.

Efficiency:

72.9%, lower than the 75% for the Amber. These are significant drop-offs from what we experienced in Loveland. So what gives? An educated guess points to the water profile, with solid money betting on low calcium (check out this post on why water matters). A water testing kit may be on the to purchase list.

What the future (does not) holds

  • The brew shed has been postponed. We brewed in the mouth of the garage and kept the door open. The wind issues we experienced when we brewed the amber were eliminated and we were not overcome with propane exhaust fumes (woohoo!). So for the time being, money shall be saved and the brew shed will not be built.
  • Water analysis. Because if there is a way to be nerdier about home brewing, this is it.
  • Purchase more valves. Still needs to be done. The requisition department is slow.

Gallery

June 18, 2017: Amber Ale Brew Day

With a the vast majority of the house projects started since purchase completed, it is back to brewing beer! We are starting with our tried and true Alex’s Amber Ale. This recipe is dialed in and it is extremely consistent. That being said, some substitutions were made due to sourcing limitations on home brew supply shopping day. Specialty grains and hops were purchased from CO Brew in Denver.

Brew Record: BrewLog

Grain bill:

  • 10 lb 2-Row (domestic)
  • 1 lb Pale (German) << Substitution for domestic
  • 1 lbs C-80 <<Substitution for C-75

Hops (Pellet) and other boil additions:

  • 2 oz German Magnum 13.3% alpha acids (60 minutes) <<Substitution for Magnum
  • 2 oz Cascade 6.3% alpha acids 6.6% beta acids(5 minutes)
  • 2 oz Amarillo 8.6% alpha acids 6.5% beta acids (5 minutes)
  • 1 table Whirlfloc (5 minutes)

Yeast:

  • Inland Island INISH007 American Ale blend package date 5/30/2017

New Equipment:

Admittedly, making this many changes to the recipe is not ideal, but combined with the brew equipment changes, this just may be a disastrous day.

Our day started late because we didn’t dry fit any of the equipment. If we had done this, we would have realized we needed some extra parts to make everything work. This set back our day and resulted in the extension of some steps of the process.

The day was also a wee bit windy and the propane burners could not maintain the desired vigorous boil. Evaporation was reduced, resulting in a higher volume of lower gravity wort.

Efficiency:

 

Why the low efficiency? Our sparge was too fast. As seen in the gallery pictures, our brew space is set up under out deck on the some of the rare flat space on our property. We were unable to mount the sparge arm due to the low clearance and sparged through the vorlauf port. The fast sparge likely resulted in poor sugar extraction from the grain bed.

Other Issues:

We discovered the thermometer on the HLT reads 4 degrees high and the thermometer on the mash tun reads 4 degrees low. We completely undershot our target mash temp, but not nearly as bad as initially thought.

What the future holds

  • A brew shed. Currently our brew equipment is buried and it is a fight to set everything up. We could brew on the deck and have sufficient room for our sparge arm, but we would have to disassemble the brew tree to get it up the stairs. It would be nice to have a dedicated space to brewing.
  • Thermometer calibration
  • Purchased more valves. Goal was to use the whirlpool port on the boil kettle, but after thinking about the set-up, we realized we failed to purchase a valve that would help prevent the back flow of hot wort. This is a peril of failing to dry fit a new set up at least a week in advance.

Gallery

2016 in Review

No better way to start the new year than to reminisce about 2016 and plan a trip (or two) for 2017.

Some quick stats for 2016

  • Miles traveled in Abby: ~ 13,800
  • Time spent in Abby: ~12 weeks
  • Longest stretch of time in Abby: ~ 4 weeks
  • National Parks/Monuments visited: 18
  • State Parks visited: 13
  • BLM lands camped on: 8
  • Private campground: 6
  • Family members/friends imposed on: 6
  • Canadian Provinces visited: 2
  • States visited: 22
  • Home brews: 12
  • Home brews dumped: 1
  • New pieces of brewing equipment purchased: 2

Looking back 2016 was a chaotic year. We didn’t travel in California as much as we had hoped when we were living there. Our move to Colorado involved two too many visits to emergency rooms. We didn’t spend as much time in any one of many amazing locations as we would have liked. But we had a lot of fun and saw some truly amazing sights. We’ve watched Alex grow and develop an enjoyment of the outdoors.

Our 2017 RV travel schedule is complicated by the fact that Jess is now employed. The copious free time of unemployment has vanished. We also need to consider visits with family so Alex can continue to develop a close relationship with his Mimi and Papa and uncles and aunts and cousins. We also hope to change our trips slightly. Instead of the wheels are always rollin’ mentality where we average 250 miles of driving per day of a trip, we want to focus on a deeper exploration of an area.

This means we will have to stop using a shoe horn to add destinations into our itinerary that are *only* 150 miles away. We will have to leave some amazing destinations off our list, for a future trip (or when we win the lottery).

And to add to the list, we found a house that we liked and are in the final stages of the purchasing process. Remodeling fun also awaits us in 2017 (and 2018 and 2019).

2016 Gallery

Tasting Notes: Brown Ale, Version 1

We brewed our Brown Ale November 20, hoping to add another well done beer to our taps. During fermentation we were concerned due to the thin mouth feel and non-existent hop character. Brown ales are not traditionally big, hoppy beers, but we were not happy with what we were tasting.

We decided to dry hop with 1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.6% alpha acids) upon transfer to the conical fermentation vessel, 72 hours prior to cold crash.

Our Brown Ale, Version 1.
Our Brown Ale, Version 1.

We were very pleasantly surprised with this beer. This is not a big beer; it has hints of malt and hops on the aroma. The flavor was malty. The color has a hint of red and the clarity is good. Head an foam lacing are fantastic. It is also nice to have beer on tap at approximately 5% ABV (rather than 8 – 9%).

We are will look to make some changes to the recipe. Initial thoughts include increasing the flaked oats to 1 lb and the Caramunich III 60L to 1.5 – 2.0 lbs. The Crystal 75L will be decreased and perhaps changed to a different malt. Although, it will be a pleasure to drink this brown ale in its current incarnation.

 

December 4, 2016: White Stout, version 2

With our brown ale cruising along, and the temperatures looking to be warmer, we decided to brew, in all likelihood for the last time in 2016. This time, we are revisiting the disaster that was our white stout.

Grain bill:

  • 15 lbs Maris Otter
  • 0.5 lbs Crystal 40L
  • 1 lbs flaked oats
  • 1 lbs flaked barley

Hops (Pellet) and other boil additions:

  • 1 oz Magnum 14.2% alpha acids (60 minutes)
  • 1 oz Crystal 4.8% alpha acids (5 minutes)
  • 3 oz cocoa powder (5 minutes)
  • 1 table Whirlfloc (5 minutes)

Additions at packaging:

  • Lactose (amount to be determined)
  • Coffee (much less than our last attempt)
  • Chocolate tincture?

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (#1058314, 11/09/2016 mfg)

    fermentation_ws2
    We cannot sing the praises of Wyeast 1272 enough.

Stats:

  • Starting gravity: 1.079
  • Brew house efficiency: 75%
  • Final gravity: 1.009
  • Approximate % ABV: 8.9
  • Approximate IBUs: 56.4 (Rager)/46.2 (Tinseth) as determined using the Brewer’s Friend Recipe Calculator.

Procedure Highlights: Our first brew with our new 20 gallon mash tun from SS Brewing Technologies! We cleaned manufacturing oils off according to instructions received with the mash tun (take apart that butterfly valve – it is well worth it). Things were going smoothly, until we realized, after we added our striker water, we were forgot to put the false bottom in. DOH! False bottom in place, we proceeded with our mash in.

Alex checking out the new mash tun.
Alex checking out the new mash tun.

A cooler day, we lost more heat from the strike water than anticipated on mashing in (part due to temperatures, part due to rectifying our false bottom oversight). We pre-heated our mash tun (as recommended by the manufacturer). Our strike water temperature was 77 degrees Celsius, our target mash in temperature of 69 degrees Celsius. Our actual mash in temperature was 65 degrees Celsius, 4 degrees shy of our target. We brought the mash temperature up by adding more strike water.

The wort was oxygenated for 40 seconds prior to pitching the yeast slurry. The yeast starter culture was cold crashed after approximately 14 hours of growth in 10% DME (w/v) media. The cold crash was to arrest metabolism and settle the yeast so excess liquid could be decanted.

After a eight days in the primary fermentation vessel (Spiedel), the beer was transferred to a metal conical bottom fermentation vessel and kept at approximately 19 degrees Celsius (ambient temperature) for 72 hours. At the time of transfer, the beer was dry hopped with 1 oz of Great Northern Brewer hops (7.6% alpha-acids) in an attempt to increase the aroma profile. The beer was sampled after 72 hours and no acetaldehyde character was detected; there was an improvement in aroma and flavor after the dry hopping. Mouth feel is still thin. Lactose will be added at packaging to determine if this issue can be corrected. The fermentation vessel was then transferred to -2 degrees Celsius freezer for the cold crash.

Comments:

  • Sweet wort boil volume was high due to an excessive amount of sparge water used.
  • Our efficiency was similar to our last two amber ale brews (brew 1 and brew 2).
  • The wort is darker than anticipated; premature panic set in. Beer turned out to be lighter than feared. Grain bill will be left alone.
  • If it hasn’t be obvious with our last few posts, WYeast #1272, American Ale II is becoming our go to work horse.
  • Lower mash in temperature resulted in over attenuation during fermentation. Sampled beer during gravity checks, thin mouth feel and poor hop character. Next time we brew this beer we need to ensure our actual mash in temperature matches our target.

November 20, 2016: Brown Ale v. 1

With a rather delicious Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter and fine Alex’s Amber Ale on tap, we decided to brew a new beer. Survey said – Brown Ale!

Grain bill:

  • 8 lbs 2-row domestic
  • 2 lbs Crystal 75 L
  • 1 lbs Caramunich III 60 L
  • 0.5 lbs chocolate malt
  • 0.5 lbs flaked oats

Hops (Pellet):

  • 0.625 11.1% alpha acids (60 minutes)
  • 1.25 oz Crystal 4.8% alpha acids (5 minutes)

Yeast:

  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II (#1455294, 10/20/2016 mfg )

    Another beautiful fermentation profile from WYEAST 1272.
    Another beautiful fermentation profile from WYEAST 1272.

Stats:

  • Starting gravity: 1.044
  • Brew house efficiency: 75%
  • Final gravity: 1.005
  • Approximate % ABV: 5
  • Approximate IBUs: 22.9 (Rager)/23.0 (Tinseth) as determined using the Brewer’s Friend Recipe Calculator.

Procedure Highlights: A cooler day, we lost more heat from the strike water than anticipated on mashing in. Our strike water was heated to 76 degrees Celsius, 7 degrees our target mash in temperature of 69 degrees Celsius. Our actual mash in temperature was 67 degrees Celsius, 2 degrees shy of our target.

The wort was oxygenated for 40 seconds prior to pitching the yeast slurry. The yeast starter culture was cold crashed after approximately 14 hours of growth in 10% DME (w/v) media. The cold crash was to arrest metabolism and settle the yeast so excess liquid could be decanted.

After a eight days in the primary fermentation vessel (Spiedel), the beer was transferred to a metal conical bottom fermentation vessel and kept at approximately 19 degrees Celsius (ambient temperature) for 72 hours. At the time of transfer, the beer was dry hopped with 1 oz of Great Northern Brewer hops (7.6% alpha-acids) in an attempt to increase the aroma profile. The beer was sampled after 72 hours and no acetaldehyde character was detected; there was an improvement in aroma and flavor after the dry hopping. Mouth feel is still thin. Lactose will be added at packaging to determine if this issue can be corrected. The fermentation vessel was then transferred to -2 degrees Celsius freezer for the cold crash.

Comments:

  • Sweet wort boil volume was high due to an excessive amount of sparge water used.
  • Our efficiency was similar to our last two amber ale brews (brew 1 and brew 2).
  • The wort is darker than anticipated; premature panic set in. Beer turned out to be lighter than feared. Grain bill will be left alone.
  • If it hasn’t be obvious with our last few posts, WYeast #1272, American Ale II is becoming our go to work horse.
  • Lower mash in temperature resulted in over attenuation during fermentation. Sampled beer during gravity checks, thin mouth feel and poor hop character. Next time we brew this beer we need to ensure our actual mash in temperature matches our target.