Friday, January 30, 2009

Fermentation Friday - 1/09 - Brew Year Resolutions

I've been reading many of these Fermentation Friday posts over the past year. They really are a wonderful way to see where our fellow brewer/bloggers around the country/world are coming from in their brew-lives. Last year seemed too hectic to participate, but this year I am shifting my attention from brewing to more meaningful connections in just about every area of my life.

The range of topics has been fun and interesting. For those visiting, who don't know about these special group postings, please visit lootcorp 3.0, this months host for a description, and this month's theme..."Brew Year Resolutions for 2009."

This is my first time chiming in here, and it is the first one on my list...

Brew Year Resolutions - 2009

1. Participate in Fermentation Friday Postings
2. Host a Fermentation Friday
3. Increase awareness of my initiated Northside Homebrewers Connection
4. Brew better English Bitters and Scottish Ales
5. Attempt my first Wheat beers
6. Host more tastings, contract brews and pub style socials
7. Finish kegerator, restore vintage faucets, finish hand made tap handles
8. Build wooden pub games

Golden Rauchbier

Ah, once again its time to brew another smoked malt lager beer. As you may know by now, I love smoke flavor in beer. I love how some people get completely turned off by it. I get to look at them as if they were from a different planet. Simply, it means there's more for me. But by now, I do have a nice handful of friends who have come to appreciate the rauchmalt flavor and aroma, so this beer is for them.

Last year's Rauch Bock was absolutely fantastic! Perfectly nestled within the deep & dark, rich & sweet bock beer, there was a moderate amount of smoke character. Three pounds of German rauchmalt provided the right level smokiness.

In this year's Golden Rauchbier, 80% of the grist is rauchmalt, which should drop the ultimate smoke bomb on a full flavored Continental style lager. Using the Pilsen Lager yeast might create an interesting dryness, so there's a touch of sweet malts to balance it out. Munich and CaraMunich should add sweetness and a more saturated golden color.

The hops may be a tad aggressive for the style, but the overall IBU's at 27 are spread out a bit over three additions. Actually, this hop schedule is much like my Copper Lagers where there's a nice hop presence throughout. I've wanted to do a hopped-up smokey pale ale before, so this might clue me in to whether its a good or bad idea. Already the wort doesn't smell as smokey with all the hops in there.

Everything about the brewday went smooth except when adding the first addition bittering hops. It was boiling more vigorously than usual, and I accidentally dumped in half the hops. An instant volcanic-like eruption of foamy & hoppy wort flowed out and killed the flames and the whole electrical system of the stove.
Super frustrating to say the very least. But I got it cleaned up, and Sarah had already found a new/used oven for sale with free delivery, at a very good price. So that's good.

The two ways to prevent these boil-overs from happening on our new range are...
1. Brew less volume:( 2. Boiling outdoors:)

Golden Rauchbier

11.0 lbs. German Rauchmalt
2.0 lbs. Munich
.75 lbs. CaraMunich

1.5 oz. Hallertau, 3.9%, pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Hallertau, 3.9%, pellet, 30min
.50 oz. Hallertau, 4.4%, pellet, 15min

Wyeast Pilsen lager yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 1/30/09
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 3/13/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: .25 tsp Epsom, .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.15 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5-5.1
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 153°F/65min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 168°F/---
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4gal/1.070

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 182°F/170°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.4gal/1.032

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.4
Pre-Boil SG: 1.054
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: 6gal
Mash Efficiency: 76%

OG: 1.064
IBU: 27
Color/SRM: Golden/7-10
Ferment Temp: 48-->56°F

FG: 1.021
ABW: 4.5%
ABV: 5.64%


1. The boil-over was very frustrating in deed. Gotta find a better way to boil these worts. I'm wondering what propane costs per batch? I would also like to see if a portable solar heated kettle would work.
2. My daughter had a sniff of the lautering mash, and said "it smells like fire."
3. Already fermenting within a few hours!
4. Fermentation smells mostly malty without much hops nor smoke.
5. At bottling and kegging, this brew was quite clear and had a pretty full smoke flavor. Without carbonation, not much aroma, but it had decent body and finishing on the high side, it should have some nice residual sweetness to balance everything out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Inauguration Libations

My friends over at the Brew & Grow are once again offering up a handful of killer brews to taste, and in perfect time to celebrate the importance of the day. It's history in the making and it just feels right holding up high a drink in honor of the occasion. I'll be there with my brother and a couple close friends, sampling some aged homebrews and the Half Acre Over Ale on draught. The Small Bar has really become one of my non-local favorite spots to have fantastic beers with friendly service. Swing by if you're in the area or don't have anything else going on. Peace.

Tasters Union Event Info

The Tasters Union will be meeting once again to celebrate the great beverage of beer and... provide real material for throwing off the binding chains of the average and everyday. Change has come....and can we say it all together now? Yes, we can!

Beers for breaking the shackles and capable of bearing the righteous struggle against oppression will be: American IPA, Wood and Scotch aged Scotch Ale, Wood and Bourbon aged Belgian Dubbel, German Pilsner and a long lagered Baltic Porter.

Rejoice for the Defeat of evil is nigh! We have seized the means of production and the struggle for liberation begins:

7:00 PM on January 20th!

@ SmallBar!

Located: 2049 W. Division Street nearly one block west of Damen!

Hope to see you all there,

Larry and David, your humble hosts for smashing the reactionary forces of the potable.

Tasting Notes

It was a very good round of beers. My brother & I started out by sharing our first round. The Wood & Bourbon Aged Belgian Dubbel had a nice bourbon edge to a good Dubbel base brew. The Baltic Porter was very nice, it had a good alcohol presence with a rich sweetness and a bit heartier mouthfeel. The IPA was also very good with just the right amount of bitterness and loads of hops in the nose. The German Pils was also clean and hoppy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

German Pils

One of the most refreshing beers is a bright & hoppy pilsner. German style pilsners are lighter and dryer than bohemian styles and can have a fairly sharp and clean bitterness.

The recipe is very simple. Pilsner malt and a little Carahell for rounding out the malt flavor a bit. Some recipes have other German malts like Vienna & Munich, but I wanted mine super clean, pale and dry. Hops were selected for clean bitterness, and a smooth hop flavor. I haven't used Tettnanger in a long time, in fact, I can't remember using them ever before. They smelled really fresh in the package, and while in the boil they gave off a bold and pleasant scent of fresh squeezed lemon and/or lemongrass. The Hallertau Select really has a smooth scent all around.

This should be the palest brew to date, second to last year's Belgian Tripel or Quinoa Lager. For some reason boiling these pale simple worts are much more satisfying. They give off a super clean and light malty aroma. After fermentation, these pale brews really highlight yeasty characters. I'm excited to see how this Pilsen Lager strain attenuates, and if it provides enough dryness for this style.

Lastly, this one goes out to my Mom, which happens to be her birthday today. Happy Birthday Mom! I know it seems impossible at this point in time, but imagine a late Spring BBQ with a tall pint of Ted brewed German Pils on the side. Mmmmm! Lets plan on it...shall we?

German Pils

9.0 lb. German Pilsner Malt
0.5 lb. German Carahell

1.25 oz. Tettnanger, 4.4%, pellet, 60min
1.25 oz. Tettnanger, 4.4%, pellet, 30min
1.00 oz. Hallertau Select, 1.5%, pellet, 10min

Wyeast 2007: Pilsen Lager
decanted 1.5qt starter & revitalized w/ pint wort

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 1/16/09
Racked: 1/30/09
Bottled & Kegged: 3/13/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: .5 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: .25 tsp Kosher Salt, .25 tsp Epsom Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.4 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3-5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp: 166°F
1st Batch Vol/SG: 3.75gal/1.058

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 184°F/171°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.75gal/1.024

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.5 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.040
Boil Time: 100min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.75 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 80% lowerOG + more sparge h2o = higher %

OG: 1.050
IBU: 36
Color/SRM: Pale Straw Yellow/3
Ferment Temp: 50°F

FG: 1.014
ABW: 3.8%
ABV: 4.73%

Cost: $27.70, .48¢/12oz, $2.88/6-pack


1. The wort had an interesting cloudy/milky appearance from lautering to pitching. First, it occurred to me that a protein rest may have been useful in breaking down haze, but the Rhino Rye had a very similar viscous/hazy wort while undergoing this protein rest. I'm confused. Go figure.
2. The wort was just about to boil before taking my daughter to school. Yes, this means I get it all started at around 5am. Upon getting back (about 20min.) there was some excellent hot break (coagulated proteins) material floating around. This always seems to happen when I cut off the heat to run an errand or grab a coffee when there's none left in the house, and then return to proceed with the boil.
3. Fermentation temperature have been held very constant at 50°F.
4. Slight sulfuric scents after a few days of fermentation. Overall it smells clean.
5. At racking, it was very bright and clear. Three bottles capped, with a very small tasting (pretty clean). Can't wait to pour a pint of this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

79 Degree Lager!

My best intentions turned South...way South. It's as if I tried brewing this lager in some equatorial region like Brazil. The Awktoberfest may have become the most awkward lager of all times, and it's name may be best suited for its experimental state.

After pithing the wort over a large yeast cake at about noon, it started out nice and low at 42°F, then slowely rose to 50°F by late night or even the next morning. Mid day Monday it was churning inside and ferneting smoothly. Since it was getting colder out, I decided to loosely wrap the carboy with a rug and a fanned heater aimed at it. With the thermostat on, I didn't think it would get very warm at all. But...

In the morning, the fermometer (stick on thermometer) seemed to be broken. There wasn't any indication of a temperature. I almost had a heart attack! Then I noticed a faint coloration by the highest readout...78°F, and just about had a heart attack! After feeling the side of the carboy, I knew right away what had happened. It rose about 29 degrees to 79°F. In other terms, it's like fermenting an ale (normally around 70°F) at 99°F! Darn.

By the time I came back from work at 4pm, it had already settled down a lot, and the temperature was sitting at about 60°F. So in short, this has become a very unexpected experiment in fermenting a lager at the highest temperature possible. I'll let ya'll know how it turns out. Who knows, it might become a new technique. So far, it doesn't smell all that bad.

Monday, January 5, 2009


What is an Awktoberfest? It's really an Octoberfest brewed for the wrong season. It's a bit awkward, so this is the name I give it. And in this case, for the Spring. Some friends find it to be a bit of a problem that this beer is being brewed for my enjoyment in the wrong season, but I love the style and can't really picture the Spring of 2009 without it. So, I did it. Yesterday, it was brewed, and today it ferments!

My intention to brew this style comes from a few vantage points. First, I only had one import Octoberfest on draft (& no bottles) this past year, which is simply far too few. Also, I haven't brewed a style like this since two years ago, which was a wonderful Munich Dunkel with almost 100% Munich malt. And, it has an interesting mix of pale malts, and I'm dying to know what it will taste like.

I have no idea how this will turn out. I imagine it will be somewhat sweet, but there is enough bittering hops to make it moderately bitter. I like the clean bitterness in most true Octoberfest styles, and hope mine will resemble that. Telling from the taste in the Copper Lager 3, there is a decent amount of diacetyl coming from this yeast strain. This could be due in part by the long lag time of almost 2 full days. I hope this brew doesn't get all buttery, and I'll try out a solid diacetyl rest, and then keep it in primary as the temp goes down.


6.00 lb. Vienna Malt
1.75 lb. Munich Dark
1.00 lb. Munich Light
2.00 lb. Pilsener Malt
0.50 lb. Ger. CaraHell
0.50 lb. CaraMunich
0.75 lb. CaraPils

2.0 oz. Hallertau, 3.9%, pellet, 90min
.75 oz. Hallertau Select, 1.5%, pellet, 15min

Wyeast 2633: Octoberfest Lager Blend yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 1/4/09
Racked: 1/11/09
Bottled & Kegged: 3/13/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1 tsp CaCl, .5 tsp Chalk, .75 Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: .5 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.1-5.2
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 153°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 165°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 3.7/1.068

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 184°F/171°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.65/1.028

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.25 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.047
Boil Time: 90+min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.8ish gallons
Mash Efficiency: 76%

OG: 1.058
IBU: 29
Color/SRM: Orange/11
Ferment Temp: 50°F

FG: 1.017
ABW: 4.3%
ABV: 5.37%

1. It's become the 79 Degree about it here.
2. At racking, it smelled and tasted decent. There is hope yet.
3. The SG at racking was a tad high (1.017), and another week with yeast agitation would have been better, but it's sitting pretty darn cold right now, and until I get around to it in another month or two.