HOMEBREWING

This page is basically my page to record whatever I'm up to
in homebrewing. Hopefully some pics of my equipment
and the brews that come out of it.

This should also include recipes , and since I hate writing
down what I do, this should help. Not hard to keep track of
a web page, you always know where it is.

Well, its some time later and no pics. Why? Because
my stuff looks like its about as sophisticated as an Afghani
heroin lab down in some dried up wadi under a discarded Rusian tent circa 1989.
But I do have a nice 7 gallon propane burner outfit and an old freezer that this winter
should become a keezer, soon as I get some kegs...man, I hate bottling.
As with many things in life, it's not what you think at first. Making fantastic beer
is the easy part. You know why the country isn't awash in bootleg homebrew?
Bottles. Where do you hide all the bottles?

All that said, after years and years of brewing (egads, since 1979),
and keeping it all in my head, I have written down the last half dozen or so brews,
for your edification.

As a critical aside, I have wondered why people record their brewing recipies. To impress? As proof? Of what and for whom? Maybe to look professional, detailed and methodological?
But as a memory aid? I ask, what kind of memory do you possess if you have to keep writing down important points so you can remember? Isn't it like cooking or fine art, or physics? Once you learn how to do something, how to mix that exact exotic colour, how just the tiniest pinch of a spice changes everything, how a certain temperature is the point of chemical reaction, why would you not be able to remember?

Of course, maybe at the beginning you want to replicate
something exactly so you have to follow the steps until
memorized. I certainly followed beer recipies religiously
at first, but I didn't journal those recipies, they were already
written down. And I will concede that possibly it is
performance related. A worker bee thing. Like sight reading
piano music, you don't memorize the whole score
because you don't have to and don't need to.
Sheet music, recipies, colour studies, same shirt.

But I will never forget what I heard Bobby Hull say, in a bar in Toronto, where they were filming an interview for some local sports show (I never found out which one, probably cable...), and he was asked "Out of almost a thousand goals, which stands out the most, which ones do you remember?" And Hull answered: "Every one. I remember each and every goal I ever scored."

There you go.

So, for posterity, and sharing, and for those who want to brew something slightly off the wall, here are some recipies:


NOTES: On equipment and basic practices.

First, I apologize for mixing British Imperial units and metric units. It's whatever is on the package or how I purchase my supplies, or something I've picked out of a recipe or whatever my scale happens to be set at, at that moment.

These are all five gallon batches. I am not set up for ten gallons.
I confess that the only reason I use liquid extract is convenience.
Once you double up to ten gallons you should go all grain. A little more work
for sure but generally consistently better results on the malt side.

I use seven gallon steel and aluminum pots for extra boiling room.
And a bunch of big plastic pails.
I use a propane burner.
When possible I use rain water straight from my rain barrel and add brewing nutrients
and salts as needed. You can absolutely tell the difference.
I use a floating thermometer, a turkey fryer thermometer, a hygrometer (obviously), and a 2.5 gallon lauter tun.
Generally I batch sparge these days. I like recirculating the wort gently until it runs clear
but I don't have the equipment anymore. Gotta get me a another stand and a pot with a drain.
I ferment in a six gallon plastic pail without a lid or air lock. I stretch two large unused
hardware store or grocery store plastic bags over the top. These make a tight enough seal
and are pretty much guaranteed to be sterile.

I have a 24 litre and two 22 litre glass carboys for secondary, but don't do the primary
in them, they're too big a pain to clean.
I made a chiller that drops 7 gallons from 100 C to 22 C (212F to about 72F) in 15 mins.


When priming home-brew, I always use about a litre of the beer and a cup of dextrose or DME brought to a boil first.
This step does make a difference. Not only is the priming sugar evenly distributed but it is hot,
which I believe aids in the conditioning process.

And now, the Brews:

The Rye Ale

A brewing fiasco.

Notes: I purchased canned rye extract from Toronto Brewing
(located in North York, GTA). Not their fault that
I didn't read the label. Presumed it was converted (diastatic),
as virtually all extracts are, but it was not. Which meant that I
was way under in terms of malt. Do I pump in several kilos of dextrose
(the only thing I had at brew time) or just go with a lite beer. I went lite.
Got about 3.5% out of it. It was still a good brew. Later discovered
why they pasteurized the rye extract. Ergot.

Everything touched by the wort and not sterilized (like the outside of my fermenter) grew black mould. The beer itself was unaffected, yah!, and of course I sterilized everything twice.

Here's the details:

The Grain Bill:
470 grams of munich malt
333 grams of full flake oatmeal
1.5 kg of Briess non-Diastatic CBW Rye Malt extract (the cheap bastards...)
Hops:
25 grams of tettnanger for aroma
37 gr. of bullion
10 gr. of fresh picked, Mount Hood hops (from my vines)for dry hopping.
Yeast: Safbrews - 33 top fermenting special yeast for Belgian wheat, Specialty European and Trappist Beers

Steps:

boil 6 imperial gallons of rain water
add 4 tsp. of yeast nutrient / brewing salts

The cooking:
mash the malt and oatmeal for 60 min. at 150 F. in 2 gallons.
Sparge with the 4 gallons
Add the extract. And 37 gr. of bullion for 60 minutes on boil.
add Tettnanger for the last 15 mins. of boil
Chill. Pitch yeast at 65 F. Add the Mount Hood for dry hopping.
You should get a nice, crisp, very light rye ale, balanced with a very nice nose and lingering rye finish. Pain in the arse, tho. Won't bother again.


The Copper Ale

A dirty little Ale.

The "Grain Bill" :
2 litres of pale malt extract
2.8 kg of dextrose
382 grams of daemerarra (as dark as you can get it...)
2 cups of chocolate malt
Hops:
50 gr. of Willamette
50 gr. of cascade
30 gr. of goldings
2 oz. of mount hood, full cones, dry hopping.

The cooking:
In 5 gallons of rain water with brewing salts, add the 'grains'.
put the chocolate malt in a boiling bag.
Boil the Cascade for 90 mins.
boil the willamette for 60 mins.
boil the Goldings for about 15 mins.
Chill quickly, pitch yeast.
Yeast was Coopers Ale Yeast, pumped up with a starter.

After the first 24 hrs. of ferment, dry hop with the 2 oz of Mount Hood.

This is a high gravity, very hop forward beer. There is no malt fullness or balance from malt.
"Balance" comes from the ABV that clocked in around 8% and the choco malt and smoky bite of the daemerarra.
Could have used a better yeast, but didn't.
This beer was a sleeper...two and you were tipsy.


Black Coffee Stout

This was nice.

Grain bill:
1 lb of chocolate malt
2 cups of fresh ground medium roast coffee (I used Aribica )
2 litres of dark malt extract
1 kilo of dextrose

Hops:
1 oz bullion
1 oz cascade
1 oz mount Hood
Yeast: some ten year old packet that I got from my stash. Munton or John Bull or whatever.
Steps:
In 4 gallons of rain water with 3 tsp. of brewing salts boil the dark malt (in a bag), bullion and cascade for 60 mins.
SEPARATELY, mash the Choco malt and ground coffee in 1.5 gal. 150 F strike water for 30 mins. DO NOT continue to heat.
Add this through a filter / gauze to the wort, return to boil, add the Mount Hood for the last 15 mins.
Cool quickly, pitch yeast. Pray to the coffee Gods.
Result:
OG was 7.8, Final was 6.5 . Delicious!!


A Coffee Porter

Similar to the Stout above.

Grain Bill:

500 gr. Chocolate Malt
1 kg of daemerarra
6 kg (2 lts) dark English malt extract (basically English 2 row...)
110 gr. med ground roast coffee

Hops:
30 gr. Cluster
50 gr. Cascade
30 gr. Goldings

Yeast:
Made a starter from two litres of fermenting wort taken from the Black Coffee Stout, above.

The Cooking:

No rain water this time, just tap water.
Steep the med roast coffee and chocolate malt in 2 gallons of water at 140 F strike temp. for 40 mins.
At same time, boil the daemerarra and extract in 4 gallons of water. Boil Cluster and Cascade IN BAGS for 60 mins.
Boil the Goldings IN A BAG for 30 mins.
Add the steeped coffee malt mix, remove the hops, bring to boil for 5 mins.
Chill quickly, pitch the yeast starter.

Result: Not enough malt. Didn't take gravity readings but it was over 5%. Smooth, very coffee, nice hops, (maybe too much cascade), but thin. English extract wasn't as malty as I'd hoped.


English Dark Ale

A nice, balanced beer

Grain Bill:

4 gr. of dark malt
40 gr. of crystal malt
2 litres pale malt extract
2 lbs (1 kg) golden brown sugar

Hops:

All hops in bags.
1.5 gr. Holdings
1.1 gr. Cluster
1.1 gr. tettnanger

In JUST WATER (2 gallons) Boil Cluster and tettnanger for 1 hour.
Mash the dark malt and crystal malt separately from the hops, for 40 mins in 140 F water, about 2 gallons.
Sparge with 2 gallons boiled water, and the 2 gallons of hops water, just off the boil.
add extract and brown sugar and bring to boil
Boil Goldings for 45 mins.

Chill quickly.

Yeast

from a starter, White Labs English bottom fermenting Ale yeast. A big flocker!
Not sure why I boiled the Goldings for so long, but it made a very complex hop finish. OG was 5.9, final was 5 %.

Surprisingly nice, well rounded beer.


Vanilla dark Ale

A basic beer.

The Brain: "Charlie Sheen, Ben Vereen, shrink to the size of a lima bean..."
Well, I used a vanilla bean.

The Grain bill:

8 lbs of pale malt
50 grams of chocolate malt
two cups of tapioca starch

One fresh vanilla bean.

The Hops:

1 oz of willamette
1 oz of tettnanger

Water: 7 gallons Rain water with 3 tsp of brewing salts.

Tapioca Starch: In a half gallon of COLD rain water whisk in the tapioca starch. Slowly raise to about 50 C. Do not boil. cover and set aside.
Do a simple mash with a rest at 90 F for ten mins. on the way to 140 F. for 60 mins in at least 4 gallons of water.
Sparge with the boiled rain water to 7 gallons.
Add the tapioca water.

boil the willamette for 50 mins. boil the tett for 35 mins.
Chill quickly and pitch a starter of top fermenting lager yeast.
Once going well, slice the vanilla bean down the length and add to the fermenter.

If all goes well with the tapioca, there will be a different mouth feel and a little more alcohol.
OG was 5.7 and final was 4.5 . Not the greatest yield but a delicious
brew where the vanilla balances well with the hops.


Authentic Czech Lager

This was a splendid old world lager, crisp and light.

Malt Bill:

4 lbs. German Pilsner malt
1/2 lb. German wheat malt
2 litres light malt extract
1 kilo of light dry malt extract.

Hops:

7 grams Cascade
50 grams Czech Saaz hops

Wyeast 2633 - German pilsner yeast.
make a yeast starter.

Water:

Soft water is needed and I did not have rain water. Use tap water and 1 tsp of gypsum salt for brewing added to soften the water.

Method:

Boil in a bag.
Mash the malts in a bag in 3 gallons of water with the 1 tsp. of gypsum brewing salts added.
DO an acid rest at 90 - 95 F for at least 20 mins. to help the ph along.
Raise to 156 F for 45 mins.
Raise to 170 F and hold for 10 mins.
(This should definitely get all those enzymes going.)

Boil two more gallons of water, put the bag in a colander (didn't have my lauder tun) and slowly pour the 2 gallons
water just off the boil into the grain bag. (Not boiling and not too fast, don't want to
scorch the grains!) If you have to, re-circulate the wort through
until you feel it's clear and sparged and then gently squeeze out as much of the malt liquids from the bag
as possible, without getting the cloudy stuff. Use heavy rubber gloves.

Add in the extracts and bring to boil.
also in bags: 7 grams of cascade and 20 grams of Saaz. for 60 mins.
20 grams of Saaz for 45 mins.
10 grams of Saaz for 15 mins.

Give these hop bags a good squeeze too.

Chill quickly. Pitch.

After fermentation starts keep the fermenter around 65 F.
After fermentation rack off for a week, and then rack off again.
Keep the secondary fermenters cool. Bottle after a month.

As always, best to use a small amount of beer and a cup
of dextrose or DME brought to a boil to prime

Made a superb old world style Czech lager.
Wonderfully crisp and clean with that lovely Saaz hoppiness.

Strong Chocolate Molasses Ale

Yummy!...I think. It's still fermenting.

Malt Bill:

3 lbs Munich Pale 2 row
2 litres Munich Pale extract
1.5 lbs Molasses
1.28 lbs Chocolate Malt
1 lb Crystal malt

Hops:

1.75 Bullion 1.25 Fuggles

Yeast:

Wyeast - Londan Ale 1028

Method:

Mash the grains in 2.5 gallons at 150 F for 75 minutes and sparge with water at 150 F to reach 6 gallons.

Add the extract and molasses and bring to boil. Boil the Bullion hops for 60 mins.

Boil the Fuggles for 30 mins.

Chill quickly down to 70 F . Original Gravity was 9.1. Pitch the yeast without a starter.

This brew is still in the fermenter, so it's a month away.

The idea with this beer is to see what happens to a pale ale malt base layered with the rich Choco malt and molasses and then the old world hops for a more complex finish than a hard hopped IPA.

Will update when the first bottle is popped.

That's all for now!