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bierblog: May 2008 Archives

May 28, 2008

saison tasting 2008

may 24th saw the return of jan's successful summer saison tasting. we all had a blast last year and were looking forward to it again.

as always, jan had assembled a huge pile of food and snacks to compliment the excellent lineup of saisons and other fine beers, most pulled directly from his own cellar.

first bottle of the day. brooklyn local 1.

a few shots of the tasty food and snacks that jan had on hand. a little something for everyone.

the growing pile of bottles...

everybody and some desserts.

more bottles...

still growing...

towards the end of the day most folks started leaving to head back into the city.

one of jan's cats. it was pretty much hanging out with us for most of the afternoon.

jan and eric


georgia, jan and eric.

badger badger badger badger.

jan's dad ron and i.

once the sun went down it got a little cooler, but that didn't stop us from enjoying more beer!

georgia and jan. georgia was enjoying some new glarus wisconsin belgian red.

more shots of everyone.

the bottles for the day...many fine brews...

we eventually moved inside for more sampling and euchre. i was also pretty excited to watch the celtics knocking the pistons around in game 3 of the nba eastern conference finals.

me enjoying the game.

eric looking a little tired.

jan busting out one of the last beers of the night.

when the day was done we'd gone through a great assortment of excellent beers:

thanks jan for another great year!

Posted by grub at 3:59 PM

May 17, 2008

Biergotter Philly is up and running!

After a long hiatus, I'm back to brewing. A few things sort of got in the way, namely switching jobs, moving to the US, having a baby, and buying a house. Once all of that was done, it was time to start thinking about making beer again rather than just buying it (though the commercial selection here is fantastic). Here's what's been happening since the beginning of the year....

The first job after Xmas was to pick up some new gear, since I sold off a lot to the boys in TO. I grabbed some stuff from morebeer, including a couple of Better Bottles, and ordered myself a Barley Crusher. Both of these items are highly recommended. I also stopped in at Keystone Homebrew Supply for ingredients and a variety of other necessities. I also needed a mash paddle for 10 gallon batches, so I used grub's design and cut one out of a piece of red oak.

I also made a new bucket tun. These things are wicked for smaller batches, easy to use and clean up, plus the sparge seems to run super fast with them.

Robust Porter

First up was a porter (brewed on 23/02/2008), English style and a little on the robust side. It was a beautiful morning for brewing, but a little colder than I was hoping for.

The equipment was all assembled and ready to go.

Time to break in the Barley Crusher. Only 11.5# of grain for this batch. The drill just flies through the grain, so there's no way I'm going back to hand cranking.

Mashing went smoothly, single step infusion at 154F. Sparging was a snap using the bucket tun. After a short vorlauf, it seemed like the sugars were extracted faster than I'm used to - the gravity had dropped to dangerously low levels by the time I had ~4.5 gallons collected. That's an approximate figure, since I hadn't planned ahead and figured out how to measure volumes of liquid in any of my vessels. I've since corrected that oversight.

Once the wort was boiling, it was time for the hops. 3/4 oz of Magnum for bittering, 1/2 oz Willamette at flameout. No problems with boilovers due to skimming the hot break as it came up to a boil.

Time to cool the wort. Took about 15 minutes and I got to water the (frozen) grass.

I ended up collecting ~3.5 gallons in the carboy at a much higher gravity than I needed - way more liquid boiled off than I expected. So I topped it up with 1.5 gallons of water. My yeast starter had been going for a couple of days, so there was plenty of slurry. I hit it with about 90 seconds of pure O2, pitched the yeast, and brought it downstairs to the beer cellar.

By the next morning things had definitely taken off.

FG was a little higher than I wanted, but that's OK. It went into bottles on March 17 and has been drinking great for a while now. Not bad for my first solo brew day in forever and with a bunch of new, untested equipment. I started at 9am and finished everything (including cleanup) by 4pm. That also included finishing up the manifold for my bucket tun.

English Porter

Next up was another porter on 09/03/2008. No pics, but that's OK. The setup is pretty much the same as last time. I planned the brewday so that I could transfer my first porter into secondary and put the new one right on top of the yeast cake. I didn't change much this time around, just dropped the amount of black malt and pulled back on the hops a bit. I was aiming more for something between a robust and brown porter here. Things went a little smoother this time around. Though I still undershot my collected volume, it wasn't as bad this time. My attenuation was a little better too. This one got bottled on 30/03/2008 and took no time to carbonate. Tastes fine!

Pineapple Kolsch

I figured that was enough porter for a while, so I moved on to something else for my next batch. I also wanted to try my hand at a 10 gallon batch to see how it would go with only one person, since I had no trouble with the previous two 5 gallon batches by myself. This time I brewed a new version of my pineapple ale recipe, based more on a kolsch rather than pale ale base. I found out that the only time I needed another person was when I lifted the brew kettle onto the table to get it high enough for siphoning. Not bad!

I figured I'd give my bucket tun a real workout and see if it could handle the 17.5# of malt in this recipe. It worked, but it was a close fit. I ended up collecting less runoff at higher gravity than expected again (I think this has to do with the bucket tun), so diluted a bit before the boil. 6 chopped pineapples went into the brewpot towards the end of the boil in order to denature the bromelain (this enzyme will continue to degrade protein during and after fermentation). In hindsight, this was a bad idea and I wish I would have taken some pics, since I won't be doing it this way again. The pineapple flesh dropped the brewpot temp significantly and it took a long time to bring back up to a boil. It also got clogged in my racking cane and I just gave up on the last gallon or so of wort in the brewpot. Next time I'll try collecting the juice from the pineapples and just adding that. Since I boiled the fruit, I set the pectin, and that makes your beer hazy. Fortunately, this is easily fixed by adding pectic enzyme to the primary, which is exactly what I did. I also stepped my starter up a couple of times so that I'd have enough slurry for two carboys.

Fermentation was pretty vigourous, but the basement temperature got a little cold for the yeasties, so I brought them upstairs for the rest of primary fermentation. Active fermentation was constant and took quite a while - noticeable activity finished after about 3 weeks. The carboys went back downstairs for secondary, since the German Ale yeast likes cooler temperatures for conditioning.

By the beginning of May the carboys were crystal clear, sort of eerie when you're used to making dark beers. Final gravity was lower than I expected, at 1.005. That's easily the lowest terminal gravity that I've gotten for a beer and the highest attenuation at ~90%. They were bottled 04/05/2008. I was a little worried the yeast would be tired by this point, but I had nothing to worry about - the bottles were fully carbonated within 10 days. And they're pretty delicious too. There's still a very slight haze that I need to deal with, but I'm hoping some of that will continue to settle out in the bottle. I was also amazed at how light in colour it is, even though that's what I was aiming for. Just not used to brewing beers that light I guess. All in all, I think this recipe warrants continued refinement.

So not a bad start to the year! Next up is probably an ESB, (maybe) followed by English IPA, followed by an Old Ale.

Posted by beerbaron at 9:52 AM

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