Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fresh Old Ale

Enough is enough! Something has got to be done about that Ancient Old Ale hiding in the corner, behind a dark wooden chair collecting layers of dust in our tiny foyer. It's been sitting around for over 14 months! The Lambic blend of yeasts and bacteria have finally had their fill and are completely exhausted. I'm glad there is a nice thin & slimy pellicle protecting this precious brew, because time and again, I forget to refill an evaporated airlock.

Truth is, I really didn't know how to go about bottling a beer that's aged so long, especially under a more acidic & alcoholic environment. Until very recently, I've come to meet a new visitor to my blog who was dealing with a very similar old ale. I simply wanted to bottle this beer, but he suggested brewing a new batch of old ale to blend with the old batch of old ale. I thought, this is the more historical thing to do. Without hesitation, this beer fresh batch of old ale budged its way into my busy brewing schedule.

I must express my complete appreciation for Mikey's help today. I really couldn't have done it without you. I ran into technical difficulties with a borrowed carboy that seemed to be scratched on the inside, and decided not to use it. We had to keg and bottle the Copper Lager 2 in order to use it's carboy for this ale's primary fermenter. Then we bottled the Raisin Toast Stout for the yeast sediment resting at the bottom. Overall, the brewday went over very well, and wrapped up by 1:30pm. The mash temp started pretty high, so I got it down, and combined with a fairly thick mash, the efficiency suffered a little bit.

After this ferments and is ready for blending, I'll write about the bottling procedure and plans for extended aging of a blended portion. Take a look at the Ancient Ale for it's original post and recipe. Read about the final results of the blended old ale. The photo to the right shows the Ancient Ale's thin pellicle. If you like pellicles, click here for more photos.

Fresh Old Ale

7.00 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale
2.00 lbs. Vienna Malt
1.00 lbs. British Crystal 60L
0.75 lbs. Crisp Amber Malt
o.75 lbs. Flaked Barley
0.46 lbs. Torrified Wheat
0.35 lbs. Special B

.60 oz. Pheonix, 10%, pellet, 90min
.60 oz. Progress, 6%, pellet, 90min
.40 oz. Pheonix, 10%, pellet, 10min
.40 oz. Progress, 6%, pellet, 5min

Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale (slurry from 1gal starter)

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 2/28/08
Racked blend w/Ancient Ale: 3/11/08
Bottled straight: 3/11/08
Bottled blend w/Ancient Ale: 3/11/08

Water Adjustment: added to only strike water...
.375 tsp. CaCl, .625 tsp. Gypsum, .25 tsp. acid blend

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.20qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 160-158-156-153°F/1 hour
Mash Out Temp/Time: 166°F/15min
1st Batch SG: 1.066

2nd Batch Sparge Vol/Temp: 2.75 gal/180°F water & hit 170°F
2nd Batch SG: n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 6 gal
Pre-Boil SG: 1.055
Boil Time: 2 hours
Post-Boil Vol: 4.55 gal
Mash Efficiency: 79.6%

OG: 1.070
IBU: 48
Color/SRM: Amber Brown/15-19
Ferment Temp: 67-70°F

FG: 1.022
ABW: 5.78%
ABV: 7.2%

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Styro-Igloo for Windowsill Lagering

While most people complain and grow weary of our frigid Chicago Winter weather, I am quite pleased. I'll begin to strike up a boring conversation about how my lagers depend on the weather they despise, and how cool my styro-igloo is. Luckily this year has been consistently cold, and it has worked out marvelously.

A space heater thermostat is utilized to control primary fermentation temps in an unheated porch. After the first batch of lager beer is racked into lagering stage, I need a way to control two temperatures in the same space...primary (40's) and lagering (30's-40). The setup for primary temp, basically fills the whole porch with 40°F ambient air. But then I've built a box out of large styro-foam panels (previously packaging material for shelving units) to surround 1 to 3 carboys on a windowsill. Two carboys get a trapezoidal shaped box, and 1 or 3 carboys get a triangular shaped box.

This box is the styro-igloo for lagering beer on a windowsill. One wall of this box is the window. Light guarded carboys rest half-way on the windowsill, and half-way on a section of kitchen cabinet & counter-top. The styro-foam panels are simply held together by light weights like boxes of empty bottles, or books or whatever (not shown in photos) It really works well and keeps consistent lower temperatures.

Take a look at an old post about my first lager to see a picture of the 10-gallon mashtun cooler converted into a lagering icebox.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Raisin Toast Stout

As a yeast starter for an upcoming Fresh/New Old Ale, this will be one gallon of jet black stout. Since I haven't brewed any in a long time, I've been enjoying a lot of commercial stouts during this exceptionally long and cold Winter season. Two that I've become particularly fond of are North Coast Old #38 and Left Hand Milk Stout. They both have opened up my imagination, and here I want to play around with some ideas all at once.

The pronounced dry & toasted quality in Old #38 is great, so there's lots of biscuit malt. The intense roasted flavor in the Milk Stout is just that...intense! I've added enough roasted barley to create a good roasted edge. I also hope a generous portion of Special B will offer a deep, dark raisin-like taste, so there's a bunch of that too. A hand-full of flaked barley should help build some body. All of these grains were strung up in a cheese cloth teabag, and steeped in hot water slowly rising to 170°F, then rinsed and squeezed with the remaining hot water from a tea kettle. Half way through the boil, one pound of pale DME stirred in.

There's a bunch of left-over hops in the frig, so this is a good place for it. Centennial seems to really want to go in this one. Cascade on the finish might be nice. Bitterness may be a bit high at a level close to 40 IBU's. Both solid bittering and late additions should support the malt's intense flavors.

I've found that brewing 1 gallon starters, as test batches, is the perfect use of time and old ingredients. I'd like to know if any one else is doing this as a way to make larger yeast slurries for full batches. Please, feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Raisin Toast Stout

1.0 lb Briess Pale DME
.45 lb Biscuit Malt
.25 lb Special B
.25 lb Roast Barley
.20 lb Flaked Barley

.15 oz Centennial, 9.5%, pellet, 90min
.10 oz Centennial, 9.5%, pellet, 10min
.20 oz Cascade, 7.6%, whole, KO

Wyeast 1099: Whitbread Ale

After only one week in primary, and still looking only mildly active, it got bottled instead of transfered into a secondary. Also, I revisited 3 bottles a few hours later to pour in freshly pulled espresso (cooled). One with 10mL, one with 20mL, and the 3rd (¾ filled bottle) with about 30mL. The stout beer came out quite sweet, and the espresso came out fairly bitter, so it might be a good addition. Never added any coffee to beer before, so I'm looking forward to these.

Tasting Notes & Photo

Appearance: Pours black, some cloudiness makes it pitch black, with a full & deep tan head that hangs around, and later diminishes to a nice ring around the glass wall
Aroma: Rich and classic stout roast aromas, with a mild hop scent within (spiked version has mild coffee scent), overall a balancing of aromas and very inviting
Taste: Full flavored stout with good roast edge and light biscuit quality and light supporting sweetness, hop taste is also nicely sharp/accurate and balanced (spiked version has a wonderful dark espresso taste that is balanced at both 10 & 20 mL per 12oz.)
Mouthfeel: Moderately full bodied, and the carbonation came out great at a medium level
Aftertaste: Overall it has a clean finish, some toasty flavors with a roast and hop bitterness that lingers, but its not at all overwhelming
Drinkability: Very drinkable, and satisfying. Considering that it was a 1 gallon test batch, I am very pleased. In fact, it may be my best stout yet, and I now see that more roasted barley needs support with toasted and dark crystal malts. The spiked version is a definite candidate for my brothers wedding.

Click here to see a full list of one gallon batches.
And here to see the Mint Stout.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dogfish Head & Fine Cheese

Two nights ago the Half Acre Beer Co. crew, my brother and I, had a great time joining Sam Calagione and David Phillips for an exclusive beer and cheese tasting at Sheffield's. Our taste buds were in bliss experiencing 12 excellent Dogfish Head craft beers on tap (many of which I had never tasted before). The cheese pairings were absolutely fantastic.

One beer was totally unexpected...Johnny Rawton, a hopped up pilsner style. It was super clean in both malts and hop bitterness. The hop flavors and aromas were also upfront and extremely clean, not what you would typically find with German varietals.

Having the chance to talk with Sam Calagione one-on-one was cool. He's totally rad, approachable, and had good advise about a brewing business model I have stewing in my mind. Randy Mosher was there, and it was great to sit and talk with him during the tasting. These are two brewers who have lots of experience, and enjoy talking about the craft.

David Phillips brought 10 cheeses (from The Cheese Stands Alone) that all paired very well with their respective beer. One in particular was outstanding...Humboldt Fog from California is an aged, two-layer, soft goat milk cheese, separated by vegetable ash with an attractive white rind.

While I was talking and tasting, tasting and talking, my brother jotted down excellent notes. Thanks David for letting me post them here. Below is a scan of the line-up sheet with scribbly notes and chili stains.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Excess Water: Collection and Dispersal

After reading a blog post from the Bearded Brewing Co. about water conservation, and having a little dialog about it, I got inspired and decided it was time for action. The Bearded Brewer has been taking measures to be an environmentally responsible brewer, and I highly encourage a visit to his site.

Roughly 25 gallons flows through the immersion chiller to get 5-6 gallons of scalding hot wort down to fermentation temperatures. At my residence, a 6-unit 1920's building, there are many ways I can reuse this excess water.

I like how the Bearded Brewer collects his in large 7 gallon jugs, which can then be used at a later date. Living on the 2nd floor, and having a parking spot directly outside the back porch, I could easily fill a large jug and run a long hose out the window to wash the car or water the surrounding plants. There is also a garden along the west side of the building, and my next door neighbor would be able to utilize a collection jug from his 2nd story porch for watering the vegetables, herbs and flowers. Also, my top floor neighbor already collects numerous 2-3 gallon jugs for hydrating some 300+ plants, and perhaps I could make her chore a little easier.

As a way to get started I have been utilizing all of the excess water to run a load of laundry. So far it has been working great. I collect it with a 6 gallon bucket, and walk it over to the machine. Its a cold load of laundry, but I'm so excited to be using every last drop.

The best way to limit the total amount is to decrease the water pressure going through the coil. No matter how fast the flow, near boiling wort will transfer its heat into the running water within a few inches of coil. The flow only needs to be about half as strong as we think. Until I get collection jugs, I will use this method of reuse.

There are many ways we can lighten our impact on global destruction from excess waste. I would love to believe that most home brewers eventually take action in reducing their environmental footstep within their home brewing process. I highly encourage everyone to give it some thought, and to give those thoughts a try.

Sustainability 2008

Upcoming Planet Saving Projects

1. Carbon dioxide harvesting, compressing
2. Plant growth in carbon dioxide bubble
3. Grain waste mgt: compost, fertilizer, animal feed, etc.
4. Saving and recirculating cleaning/sterilizing solutions
5. Additional coolant water reuse
6. Buy organic/local ingredients
7. Grow brewing herbs, spices and hops
8. Yeast mgt: reuse, disposal

Let me know if this topic interests you.
I'll post more as these projects are completed.
I'd love to hear more ideas for home brewery sustainability.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quinoa Lager

Quinoa is a wonderful little seed. It's flavor is very unique, being earthy, nutty and slightly sweet. I thought it would make an interesting addition in a pale lager. Its presence may act like other adjuncts and lighten this beer to a purely dangerous level of drinkability.

For this unique beer, the majority of the grist will consist of pale lager malts. Pilsner, Munich, and Carapils. Then at almost 20%, a blend of organic golden and red quinoa. Ancient Harvest Red Quinoa is by far the best I've ever had, and it is certified organic. Visit there site for cool photos and more info, especially on its interesting nutrition facts. The high protein content doesn't concern me, and its moderately high fat content might offer a silky effect much like oats do. Other than lightening the flavor of this lager, I'm hoping the grain taste will be and clean, nutty, with a mild grainy sweetness.

The quinoa is precooked in a rice cooker as the strike water is heaed. The barley mash will begin while the temperature of the quinoa is adjusted (with hot water/microwave) to match the mash temperature. Then it gets stirred into the main mash.

The hopping will be kept to a minimum. The overall style is somewhere between a Helles and a Vienna lager. Hop bitterness will come in at about 21. Because the malts are super light, I didn't want a lot of bitterness, nor any imposing late aromatic additions.

Quinoa Lager

5.50 lbs. German Pilsner
1.75 lbs. Golden & Red Quinoa
1.00 lbs. Munich Dark
0.37 lbs. CaraPils
0.25 lbs. Acid Malt

.75 oz. Vanguard, 4.8%, pellets, 60min
.40 oz. Vanguard, 4.8%, pellets, 40min
.30 oz. Vanguard, 4.8%, pellets, 20min

Wyeast Bavarian Lager
Wort poured over a 2nd generation yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 2/15/08
Racked: lowered temp in primary, and bottles/keg
Bottled: 3/13/08

Water Adjustment:
1 gram Gypsum/gallon, 2 gal Distilled (Mashout & 2nd sparge),
¼tsp. acid blend in mash & 2nd sparge

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.7 (5.5 w/ acid blend)
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 153°F/75min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 164°F/10min
1st Batch SG: 1.049

2nd Batch Sparge Vol/Temp: 3.5gal/170°F
2nd Batch SG: 1.020

Pre-Boil Vol: 7 gallons perfect
Pre-Boil SG: 1.037
Boil Time: 90min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.5 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 83.4% (input "rice" for quinoa)

OG: 1.050 1 point above target
IBU: approx. 21
Color/SRM: Straw-yellow/4-5
Ferment Temp: 46-48°F

FG: 1.014
ABW: 3.78%
ABV: 4.7%

Cost: $18.77, .35¢/12oz, $2.09/6-pack

1. Brewday wrapped up by 12noon.
2. Planned for .75 lb Carapils, but didn't find it until later. OG would have been higher if it was in the grain bill.
3. Lautering went smooth and vorlaufed slightly hazy.
4. Fermenting within 2 hours.
5. Fermentation doesn't seem to be as vigorous, with less foam, and much more particulate, but the temp is a couple degrees lower.
6. Just dropped the temp while in primary for a about a week.
7. No extended secondary lagering, but will drop temp after bottle/keg carbonation.

Tasting Notes & Photo
photo coming soon

Appearance: Quite pale, bright golden color, decent clarity with some particulate haze, full white 1-2" head, medium carbonation
Aroma: Clean lager scent, subtle hops
Taste: Clean & balanced Continental lager taste, delicate bittering hops just balances soft sweetness, slightly nutty, light citrus, perhaps a perception of saltiness, attenuated
Mouthfeel: Good body and carbonation
Aftertaste: Little bitter and perhaps from an quinoa induced astringency, some sweetness comes through
Drinkability: Great clean & refreshing lager beer, quinoa definitely did lighten the taste and overall perception of this beer and didn't create any undesirable nor unique flavors or aromas
Changes: Perhaps take to OG down a few points, or alter the mash to make it more fermentable so the FG drops a couple more points, could see the percentage of quinoa rising to at least 50% with a richer barley malt blend (Vienna/Munich)