Doppelbock 2019

>> Sunday, November 03, 2019

1st - pre - post boil
Today I'm brewing another Doppelbock. My last Doppelbock ending up taking a silver medal in one comp, and gold medal in another. My only complaint with that beer was that the finishing gravity was a bit high, resulting in a fairly sweet beer; it wasn't cloying, but it was close. I want something big and rich, but also drinkable, so I'm hoping to counter too much sweetness by reducing the grain bill a bit (resulting in an overall lower starting gravity) and using a yeast that has a higher alcohol tolerance. I'm also going to skip the decoction mash and go with a simple single infusion mash. I'm using Wyeast 2487-PC Hella Bock Lager for this batch and the description is as follows:
Direct from the Austrian Alps, this strain will produce rich, full-bodied and malty beers with a complex flavor profile and a great mouth feel. Attenuates well while still leaving plenty of malt character and body. Beers fermented with this strain will benefit from a temperature rise for a diacetyl rest at the end of primary fermentation.
Flocculation: Medium
Attenuation: 70-74%
Temp: 48-56F
ABV Tolerance: 12%
Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. Please note, this is a 5 gallon batch-sized recipe, whereas the last Doppelbock was only 2.5 gallons:

12# 1oz Weyermann Barke Munich Malt*
3# 7oz Viking Pilsner Malt
1.75# Weyermann® CARAMUNICH® Type 3
1.0g BrewTan B (mash)
40g German Hallertau Mittelfrüh (60 min)
8.2g German Hallertau Mittelfrüh (30 min)
Wyeast Nutrient
Whirlfloc
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water, 5 min)
Wyeast 2487-PC Hella Bock Lager, 2 packs

Water - To 11 gallons distilled water, add:
1.89g - Epsom salt
5.03g - Baking soda
11.16g - Chalk

Mash at 155F, 90 minute boil, chill to 50F then ramp up to 55F over 5 days. Start diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.025.

*My LHBS was running low on the Barke Munich so I had to substitute in 3.72# Weyermann Munich I

Brewing Notes
No issues. OG came in at ~22.7 brix (1.092). The wort is currently chilling down to my pitching temp of 50F.

Update 11/3/2019 8pm
I was able to chill down to 50F and pitch yeast by 8pm.

Update 11/4/2019 6:30pm
Gravity is down a couple points to 1.090. I'm also seeing positive pressure in the fermenter. 

Update 11/5/2019 2:30PM
Gravity is down to 1.083, so almost 10 points from the starting gravity of 1.092. This yeast seems to be doing a great job of tackling this beer, especially considering it has a relatively high starting gravity. 

Update 11/6/2019 6:00AM
Gravity is reading ~1.076 this morning, still chugging along.

Update 11/7/2019 9AM
Tilt is currently reading 1.070. it dawned on me this morning...this may not be the correct gravity. I changed the battery in the Tilt right before using it for this beer. The initial reading was high, so I calibrated the high reading to match the refractometer reading, but since it was already in the fermenter, I wasn't able to calibrate the low reading (in water). So, there's a good chance this isn't correct. I'll probably let it go until the weekend, then pull a sample for a refractometer reading.

Update 11/8/2019
The Tilt is reading 1.066 this morning.

Update 11/20/2019
Fermentation is going slower than I was expecting, but it's still plugging along. My Tilt is currently reading 1.038. I'm going to let it keep going until gravity is stable over a few days' time.

Read more...

Port Road Pilsner - NZ Pilsner

>> Sunday, October 27, 2019

I had two kegs kick in the past week and haven't brewed since before Beehive Brew-off, so it's time to get a batch going. Today I'm brewing another New Zealand Pilsner, but this one is based on a recipe I found on a New Zealand homebrew site. This recipe is a clone attempt for Panhead Port Road Pilsner which is cited as one of the commercial examples that defines the NZ Pilsner style in the BJCP Guidelines.

Here's the description of the beer from the brewery:

Pilsner is famously Czech in origin, but here we've gone for a South Pacific hop profile in keeping with the people who brew it and drink it. Passionfruit, grapefruit and sauvignon blanc characters abound, stacked up on a robust malt base that's partly German, partly Kiwi.
Key to this recipe is the Riwaka hops. Judging by my perusing of NZ homebrew sites, Riwaka hops are readily available in their home country, but they reportedly just made their first ever appearance in the U.S. homebrew market, and I recently order a bunch from Yakima Valley Hops. I'd been stalking the YVH site for weeks, and literally bought the hops minutes after they were listed in stock, so it's safe to say I was anxiously awaiting their release in the U.S. and I'm super excited to try them out in this beer.

The recipe for this beer is a bit different than the one I've been tweaking and refining. The last couple versions of mine have incorporated varying amounts of Weyermann Cara Red to give it a deep golden color. Color-wise, this recipe today is going to be at the lighter end of the spectrum based on the BJCP Guidelines. The base malt for this beer is Root Shoot Pilsner Malt from neighboring Colorado. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today:

7# 7oz - Root Shoot Pilsner Malt (93.7%)
6oz - Weyermann Carahell Malt (4.7%)
2oz - Weyermann Acidulated Malt (1.6 %)
3ml Hopshot (60 min)
10g - NZ Motueka (10 min)
20g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (10 min)
30g - NZ Riwaka (10 min)
20g - NZ Motueka Pallet (Flame Out)
30g - NZ Nelson Sauvin (Flame Out)
30g - NZ Riwaka (FlameOut)
40g - NZ Riwaka (Dry Hop)
Whirlfloc
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in water or wort, 5 min)
S04 or Saflager W-34/70

Mash at 151F, 90 min boil, start fermentation at 46F, ramp up to 52F over 6 days, diacetyl rest when gravity ~1.016.

Water Profile
To 11 gallons of distilled water, add:
4.0g Gypsum
2.8g Epsom Salt
4.8g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
I collected a bit more mash liquor than I was planning on. Usually I shoot for about 6.75 gallons per-boil volume, and I ended up with a little more than 7.25. In cases like this, I'll tend to boil a little harder. No other issues. OG came in ~11.8 brix (1.046). I was able to chill down to about 58F, so the beer will chill overnight before pitching yeast.
L to R, 1st runnings, pre-boil, post-boil
Update 10/28/2019
Temps were down to ~46.5F this morning, so I was able to aerate and pitch before heading into work this morning.

Update 10/29/2019
Gravity is down to 1.039 this morning.

Update 10/30/2019
Things seem to be rolling right along this morning with readings varying between 1.034 and 1.038. this is a sign that the fermentation is active enough that it's causing the Tilt to rock back and forth a bit, so while it's hard to get an accurate gravity measurement, it's a good thing because it implies there's a good healthy fermentation taking place.

Update 10/31/2019
Gravity is down to ~1.028 this morning. 

Update 11/4/2019
I forgot to log it, but gravity was down to 1.018 on Friday 11/1, so I started ramping the temp up to 63F for the diacetyl rest. Gravity is down to 1.014 today.

Update 11/6/2019
Dry hops were added today. I'll let these go until probably 11/10, then start cold crashing in preparation of kegging.

Update 11/10/2019
I started cold crashing today. 

Update 11/15/2019
I kegged this beer tonight. Gravity was down from 1.046 to 1.011, for an ABV ~4.6%.

Read more...

Rauchbier 2019

>> Sunday, August 11, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Rauchbier, a style I've brewed several times before. For this version, I'm starting off with what is essentially an Oktoberfest/Märzen grain bill. In order to add the smokey component, I cold-smoked the entire grain bill, except for the Carafa III, with Pecan... that's correct, the entire grain bill. Pecan isn't quite traditional, but I really liked the character that the Pecan contributed to my Lichtenhainer, so I'm going with it.

Like the Lichtenhainer, I added 9.5ml RO water per pound of grain before cold-smoking. This helps the smoke "stick" to the grain. The grain was cold-smoked for about 3 hours with Pecan. I ran into a bit of an issue during the smoking process; both drive wheels on my drum smoker broke loose from the epoxy that held them to the drive shaft. I ended up drilling some holes in the drive shaft, then pinning the wheels with finish nails. The initial smoke was about an hour followed by about two additional hours after the fix. The grain was then allowed to rest/condition/mellow for a week before the beer brewday.

Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today. As I mentioned above, all grain except the Carafa was cold-smoked.

6.0 # Viking Pilsner
4.4375 Weyermann Munich Type I
0.4375 Weyermann Vienna
0.125 Weyermann Caramunich Type III
0.125 Weyermann Melanoidin
0.250 Weyermann Carafa Special III (lauter)
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
4ml Hopshot (60 min)
28g Tradition (Flameout)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in warm water/wort, 5 min)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager

Mash at 155F, 90 minute boil, chill to 51F then ramp temps up to 55F over 4 days. Perform a diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.020.

Water Profile
Use distilled or RO water. You do not want any chlorine or chloramine present or you'll almost certainly have chlorophenol problems. To 10 gallons distilled water, add:

  • 2.0g Gypsum
  • 2.4g Epsom Salt
  • 5.2g Calcium Chloride
  • 2.0g Baking Soda
Brewing Notes
No issues. First Runnings, Pre, and Post-boil came in at 21.1 brix (1.085), 13.3 (1.052) and 17 (1.068) respectively. Gravity-wise, it's a tad higher than I was shooting for, but not too far off from style guidelines. I tasted the first runnings and it was pretty intensely smoky. I'm ok with that though because the Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is one of my favorites and is also intensely smoky. It mellowed a bit by the end off the boil, and will mellow more by the end of fermentation, but it's definitely going to be more assertive than most of my smoked beers. I'm hoping this beer is finished in time for me to enter it in Beehive Brew-off. I'm interested in seeing how judges will receive an assertive smoked beer like this.

Update 8/12/2019 - AM
Like most of my summertime lagers, this beer chilled overnight. It's down to 51F this morning so I aerated and pitched the yeast. The Tilt has been logging back and forth between 1.067 and 1.068, so it's probably right at 1.0675.

Update 8/12/2019 - PM
Forgot to mention, the yeast I pitched for this beer was the cake from my Keller-rado beer, which was the cake from my Czech Pils. This will be the last beer I pitch this yeast into, but I definitely have a ton of healthy yeast. By lunchtime today, I was already seeing the gravity starting to drop, and after work it's already dropped almost 10 points to ~1.059. If it continues at this rate, it should definitely be done in time for Beehive.

Update 8/13/2019
I may have been a little too optimistic yesterday as the gravity is actually reading a little higher this morning. The low readings yesterday were likely caused by yeast buildup on the Tilt, causing it to read lower than the actual gravity. The gravity is currently reading 1.063, which is more realistic than the drop I saw yesterday (the low was all the way down to 1.048 on one reading).

Update 8/15/2019
Tilt gravity readings are down to ~1.032 this morning. I've been slowly ramping the temps up to 55F. It'll remain here until gravity gets in the neighborhood of 1.020, when I'll start ramping the temps up for the diacetyl rest.

Update 10/13/2019
I finally got around to kegging this beer today. I was going to enter it in Beehive Brew-off, but after tasting it before the comp, I realized it was way too smoky to do well in a competition. So, I decided to let it ride for a while. It's still on the assertive side, but it has mellowed a bit and I expect it to continue to do so.

Read more...

Pale Ale with Medusa

>> Saturday, August 10, 2019

Today I'm brewing an American Pale Ale. This is a new recipe I'm trying out. Like my recent Kellerbier, the majority of the base malt is from Root Shoot Malting out of Colorado. This beer will also feature another ingredient native to Colorado, Multi-head hops, also known under the brand name Medusa. These hops are a Neomexicanus variety, which are hops that are native to the Southwest and reportedly thrive in dry and hot climates. I planted some in my yard earlier this spring, and they almost didn't make it due to the abnormally cool and wet spring we had in Utah. It'll be at least another year before I can harvest any, so the hops in this recipe were all purchased.


Descriptions for Medusa indicate it has quite a bit of tropical and citrus character, but also a substantial dank component. I'm pairing it with some other hop varieties that will hopefully emphasize the fruity character and keep the dank in check.  Additionally,  the I'm using Imperial's Kveiking blend which is said to also contribute bright tropical notes in the finished beer.  Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

6.1875# Root Shoot Pale Malt
2.25# Crisp Organic Pale Malt
12oz Weyermann Barke Munich Malt 
6oz Weyermann Cara Munich II
1g BrewTan B (mash)
2.5ml Hopshot (45 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (20 min)
14g Medusa (15 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (5 min)
14 g Medusa (5 min)
4.66g BCAA (5 min)
7g Medusa (0 min)
3.5g Mosaic Cryo (Whirlpool 170F)
3.5g Amarillo Cryo (Whirlpool 170F)
7g Medusa (Whirlpool 170F)
7g Amarillo Cryo (0 min)
57g Medusa (dry hop 3 days)
28g Citra Cryo (dry hop 3 days)
14g Mosaic Cryo (dry hop 3 days)
Kveiking Yeast Blend
Whirfloc
Wyeast Nutrient

Mash at 154F, 90 min boil, ferment warm.

Water Profile
To 10 gallons RO water, add:
10.0g Gypsum
0.3g Epsom Salt
5.4g Calcium Chloride

Additional Notes
I've been playing around with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) in my lagers because it's supposed to minimize diacetyl production and speed the uptake of what is produced. I hadn't planned on using BCAA in ale recipes because yeast clean up diacetyl just fine at warmer ale temperatures.  However, I read something (can't seem to find it now) about how kveik strains may struggle if BCAA levels are low, and/or have a hard time utilizing BCAA compared to more domesticated yeast. As a precaution, I'm supplementing the wort with a low dosage of BCAA in addition to Wyeast Nutrient.I

Brewing Notes
No issues. First runnings came in about 18.5 brix (~1.074), pre-boil at 11.9 brix (1.047), and post-boil at 14.9 brix (~1.059), so a couple points higher than target (1.055). The hop blend smelled really nice going into the boil. I chilled down to about 92F before transferring to fermenter, aerating well, and pitching yeast.

Update 8/12/2019
I forgot to post an update yesterday, but it was very actively fermenting by yesterday morning. A lot of people report some of the kveik strains finishing fermentation within a couple days. I don't have a Tilt for this one, so I haven't been able to plot the fermentation. I just checked it (8/12 7am) and it's still fermenting away with a bubble about out the blow-off about every .75 seconds.

Update 10/17/2019
I just realized I never posted comments about the finished beer. This beer turned out really nice. Notes for next time, it could use a bit more bittering but I really enjoyed the hop flavor and aroma which was citrusy, tropical, basically all the good things that are typical of modern American hops. One interesting note, this beer turned out extremely hazy, very similar to NEIPAs.  In fact, some of the feedback I got from this entry in 2019 Beehive Brewoff was asking the lines of judges assuming this was entered as a pale ale by mistake, and that it was really a hazy IPA. I know that certain kviek strains are very flocculant, sometimes presenting challenges keeping them in suspension, but this blend seems to have at least one strain that doesn't flocc well. I'd like to try brewing this beer again, probably with US-05 and see if it clears better.

Read more...

Purple Corn Pre-Prohibition Pilsner

>> Sunday, August 04, 2019

Today I'm brewing a variation of the Pre-Prohibition Pilsner that I brewed a few years back. I'm incorporating some home-malted purple corn in place of the flaked corn used in the original recipe. You may ask, why am I doing a purple corn Pilsner? Is it because purple corn Pilsners are all the rage outside of Utah, and Utah has been slow to catch on? Well no, it's just because it's fun to experiment with different ingredients. One note: when using corn malt, you need to crack it before you can mill it. I put mine in the blender on its lowest speed for 10-20 seconds. You want tho crack the kernels, not make flour. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today.

7.25# Rahr Standard 6-Row
1.75# Home-Malted Purple Corn
0.25# Cara-Pils
1.0g BrewTan B (dissolved in warm water, mash)
4ml Hopshot (60 min)
11g Cluster (10 min)
0.5 Whirlfloc
0.5t Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (dissolved in warm water or wort, 5 min)
Saflager W-34/70

Step mash: 30 min at 122F, 45 min at 158F, mashout at 168F for 10 min. 90  minute boil. Chill to 51F then ramp up to 55F over 48 hours. Perform a diacetyl rest when gravity is ~1.020.

Water Profile
To 10 gallons of distilled water, add:

  • 0.8g Gypsum
  • 0.2g Pickling Salt
  • 2.2g Epsom Salt
  • 0.8g Calcium Chloride
  • 0.8g Baking Soda
  • 0.4g Chalk
Brewing Notes
I was a little high on the initial step; about 130F. I added some ice cubes to my heat exchanger to drop the temps. The rest of the brew day went well with no issues. The wort looks like grape soda. OG came in at 1.052 (~13.7 brix). I was able to chill down to 65F, and it'll continue to chill down to 51F overnight before I aerate and pitch yeast.
1st Runnings; Pre-boil; Post-boil
Update 8/7/2019
The yeast took a little bit to get going, but gravity is down to 1.044 this morning.

Update 8/8/2019
Gravity is down to 1.035 this morning per Tilt. I should be able to start ramping temps up for a diacetyl rest Friday night or Saturday morning.

Update 8/15/2019
I hooked up my CO2 reservoir this morning and have started dropping temps for the cold crash. On that note, I used to ramp temps down for the cold crash because the school of thought was that too rapid of a drop could cause off flavors (from yeast releasing compounds). However, a recent Brulosophy experiment seemed to show that quick vs. slow temp drops doesn't have a negative impact, so I've been letting it go as fast a my little ferm chambers will go.

Read more...

Keller-rado Kellerbier

>> Saturday, July 27, 2019

First runnings - Pre-boil - Post-boil
Today I'm brewing a Pale Kellerbier, first time brewing the style. We recently went to Denver for my youngest daughter's grad trip, and while there, I picked up some Pilsner Malt from Root Shoot Malting. I think it's fun to mix in unique ingredients when I can get my hands on them, so this malt will be the basis for my Kellerbier.

The BJCP guidelines describe the style as follows:
A very common seasonal summer beer brewed by many of the Munich area breweries and served in the beer gardens, where they are very popular 
A young, fresh Helles, so while still a malty, fully-attenuated Pils malt showcase, the hop character (aroma, flavor and bitterness) is more pronounced, and the beer is cloudy, often with some level of diacetyl, and possibly has some green apple and/or other yeast-derived notes. As with the traditional Helles, the Keller version is still a beer intended to be drunk by the liter, so overall it should remain a light, refreshing, easy drinking golden lager
Most Pale Kellerbiers are young, unfiltered, unpasteurized versions of Munich Helles beer, although Pils or a different, custom golden lager beer designed specifically for serving young could also be used. The best examples are served only on tap at many of the Munich area breweries. Bottled versions are not likely to have the freshness, hop character and young beer notes exhibited by the draft versions.
Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today, which is based on Homebrewer Chris Allen's award-winning recipe. I'm upping the hops a bit by adding a 0 minute addition, hoping it comes out close to STS Pils from Russian River.

OG: 1.048
IBU: 17

8.70# Root Shoot Pilsner
0.25# Weyermann Munich I
1g BrewTan B in mash
17g Hallertauer Mittelfruh (FWH)
11g Blend of Aramis and Saphir (60 min)
17g Blend of Aramis and Saphir (0 min)
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager
Whirlfloc
Wyeast Nutrient
4.66g BCAA (Dissolved in water or wort, 5 min)

Single Decoction Mash - Decoction mashes add a level of complexity to the brew day. Fortunately, this recipe only employs a single Decoction.
  1. Mash in at 132°F and hold for 10 minutes.
  2. Increase mash temps to 147°F, then pull 1/3 of mash for decoction. 
  3. Heat the decoction to 156–158°F, hold for 10 minutes.
  4. Bring Decoction to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes
  5. Raise mash to 156–158°F.
  6. Return decoction to mash and mashout at 168F.
90 minute boil, ferment at 49°F

Water Recipe
This is a very soft profile. To 10 gallons of distilled water, add:
3g Epsom Salts
3g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
No major issues. Similar to when we brewed with Solstice Malt, the Root Shoot malt seemed a little smaller or less plump, so I had to tighten up my mill gap. I didn't adjust the grain bill for my efficiency, so my OG came in a bit high at 1.056.

The BCAA was hard to dissolve the first time I used it in the Czech Pils so, this time i dissolved it in warm RO water in a coffee mug. It was still kind of a bitch, but it was better than trying to dissolve it on the fly in the boil kettle.I

Wort was chilled to ~62F and will continue to chill down to 49F before the yeast will be pitched. I'm essentially pitching the whole yeast cake from the Czech Pils.

Update 7/28/2019
Temps were down to 49F this morning, so I went ahead and aerated then pitched the yeast.

Update 7/29/2019
As I mentioned above, I pitched the yeast cake from my Czech Pils for this beer. Because of the high cell count, there really wasn't much of a lag phase. Per Tilt, my gravity is down to 1.039 this morning.

Update 7/31/2019
Per Tilt, gravity is down to 1.022 this morning. I'll begin ramping the temps up to mid-60s for the diacetyl rest. Even the the style guidelines indicate a bit of diacetyl and acetaldehyde are ok for the style, I prefer my beers without either. Here's a screen capture of the fermentation graph so far.
Update 8/7/2019
I've started cold crashing to get as much yeast to drop out as possible. Some haze is appropriate for the style, so I'm not too concerned about clarity. Gravity is down to 1.010 (from 1.056) putting this beer at ~6.17% ABV.

Update 10/14/2019
Just a quick note, this beer took 3rd place Amber Bitter European Lager in the 2019 Beehive Brew-off.

Read more...

Czech Premium Pale Lager 2019

>> Sunday, July 07, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Czech Premium Pale Lager. I've brewed this beer three times now, with somewhat mixed results. The first time I brewed it, it won gold in competition. The next time, it got a brett infection from my counter-pressure bottle filler (the reason why I now always pasteurize the bottle filler before and after using). The third attempt had an acetaldehyde issue, a problem I had on a couple beers I was trying to rush to get ready for competition last year. For this beer, I'm hoping for a return to the gold medal example.

I'm changing the recipe slightly, using a different base malt and different yeast this time. I always like to experiment with new I'm ingredients, so that's the reason for changing up the malt.  Yeast-wise,  I want to try out 2124 in a few beers, so I'm hoping to reuse the yeast cake. I'm also doing a little experimenting based on comments in a recent Brewing Network podcast.

In S1 E12 of Hop and Brew School from The Brewing Network, Nick mentions using a small amount of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) as a yeast supplement to reduce the chance of diacetyl in finished beer. The only problem is he didn't provide much info with respect to usage/dosage. I sent a question to The BN on this subject, but it will likely be a while before their next Q&A show. I also posted a question about this subject on Reddit, and I was directed to a research paper titled, Influence of valine and other amino acids on total diacetyl and 2,3-pentanedione levels during fermentation of brewer’s wort.

Assuming I'm interpreting the findings correctly from this paper, supplementing between 100-300mg Valine per liter of wort, can reduce the overall amount of diacetyl produced, and seemingly increase the uptake of diacetyl at the end of fermentation. In my layman's interpretation, it basically means extra insurance against diacetyl issues and it could shorten the turnaround time when brewing lagers.

I went ahead and ordered some unflavored BCAA 2:1:1 from MyProtien and I'm going to try using it in this recipe. I'm planning on shooting for the low end of the 100-300mg/l dosage. Per the nutrition label on my package, each 7g of BCAA 2:1:1 contains:

  • 2.5g Leucine
  • 1.25g Isoleucine
  • 1.25g Valine
  • 2g Carbohydrates
That means at a dosage rate of 560mg/l BCAA, we're getting 200mg Leucine, 100mg Isoleucine, 100mg Valine, and 160mg Carbohydrates. A 5 gallon batch is ~19l, so 19*560 = 10640mg/5 gallons or 10.64g/5 gallons of BCAA would be the proper dosage to yield 100mg/l Valine. I could only find one other reference of a Homebrewer using BCAA, and that was with gluten-free brewing. The dosage rate mentioned was 0.5 tablespoon per 5 gallons. I weighed 0.5T and it came out to 4.66g. I decided it would be better to be a little low than too high, so on this first round, I'm going with 1T (9.32g).

If you're brewing a Czech Lager, you definitely want soft water. If you're in the same situation as me and your tap water is hard, plan on getting some distilled or RO water Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

5 Gallons

8.0# 11 oz. Weyermann Barke Pilsner
9 oz Briess Carapils
1.0g BrewTan B in mash
34g Czech Saaz (60 min)
41g Czech Saaz (30 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (10 min)
20.5g Czech Saaz (0 min)
Wyeast 2124
Whirlfloc
Wyeast Nutrient (5 min)
9.32g BCAA (5 min)

Mash at 154F. Start fermentation at 45F, ramping temps up to ~50F over 5 days. Start diacetyl rest when gravity is down to around 1.020. For the d-rest, I tend to bump it up a couple of degrees morning and night until I got about 65F. I leave it there for a couple of days before I start cold crashing.

Water Recipe
10 gallons distilled water
0.55g Epsom Salt
0.33g Calcium Chloride
0.44g Baking Soda
0.44g Chalk

Brewing Notes
No major issues. I was also kegging my latest batch of NZ Pilsner and had a very minor boil-over while attending to that. I would guesstimate I lost about 6-12 ounces of wort. I was only able to chill down to 70F, so it'll have to chill a while before I pitch the yeast. Gravity measured 1.055 per the Tilt.

Update 7/9/2019
I aerated and pitched the yeast last night. I also finally got logging working on my Tilt Hydrometer. I'm not sure exactly what the problem was, but I could never get it to write to the Google Sheets when I was hosting it on my own Google account. I ended up doing a couple things. First, I did some tweaks on my Nexus 6P to enable Always On Display and prevent it from going into sleep mode when charging. Then I upgraded to the Tilt 2 app, and now I'm successfully logging to the cloud using the default logging option. It'll be nice to be able to check gravity and temp from anywhere, especially with lagers and timing the diacetyl rest.

Update 7/10/2019 AM
I'm starting to get a little worried, I haven't seen any change to gravity yet and no signs obvious signs of fermentation. I'm crossing my fingers that we see something tonight.

Update 7/10/2019 PM
When I got home from work tonight, I was finally seeing signs of fermentation.

This is pure speculation, but I'm wondering if the higher concentration of amino acids could have contributed to an increase in the lag time as the yeast were trying to absorb all of the available nutrients. It would be impossible to confirm that at home without access to specialized equipment. About the only option I have is to repeat the conditions as closely as possible on another batch, and see if I experience similar results.

Update 7/12/2019
Gravity is down to 1.041 this morning.

Update 7/16/2019
Gravity was down to 1.020 yesterday, so I started ramping the temps up. Gravity is down to 1.014 today.

Update 7/27/2019
This beer went into a keg today along with gelatin for fining. The gravity finished at about 1.007, putting the ABV at 6.3%.

Read more...

Dickel-barrel Barleywine Project

>> Sunday, June 30, 2019

Today I'm brewing a Barleywine for a club barrel project. This is recipe is based on a medal-winning recipe from Mike Hahn, one of the very talented Homebrewers in the ZZHOPS homebrewing club. This beer will be going into a Dickel Bourbon barrel for aging and should be ready just in time for winter. Here's the recipe as I'm brewing it today for 5 gallons:

18# Maris Otter Crisp
2# Crisp Dark Crystal
2# Cristp Medium Crystal
1# Dingmanns Aromatic
1# Weyermann Melanoidin
1# Dingmanns Biscuit
6ml Hopshot (60 min)
28g EKG (20 min)
28g EKG (2 min)
Imperial House
Wyeast Nutrient

Mash 155F, 90min boil, ferment at 62F

Brewing Notes
No issues during this session.  Post-boil gravity came in at 1.115 according to my Tilt Hydrometer. That's a little higher than I was anticipating. I'm hoping everyone else's contribution is a bit lower gravity than mine, or this is going to be a huge beer.

First runnings off mash
Pre-boil
Update 7/1/2019
I was a little concerned whether my yeast starter was big enough for this beer. I was very much relieved this morning when I could see it was showing active signs of fermentation. Gravity is down to about  1.101 tonight.

Update 7/7/2019
Gravity is down to 1.036. The published alcohol tolerance for this yeast is 10%, and it's currently sitting at 10.8%. I'm not sure how much further it will go, but it seems like it's still working on the sugars, as it's dropped four points since yesterday.

Update 7/9/2019
Gravity is down to 1.032 today, so things are slowing down, but the yeast still seem to be "working".

Update 7/12/2019
Gravity is down to 1.031, and has been holding there for about 48 hours. I'm still seeing some positive pressure, but I think that's just off-gassing residual CO2, so I suspect I won't see any additional gravity drop. I'm fairly sure there are still unfermented sugars present, it's just that we've reached the alcohol tolerance limit for this yeast. I think there's a really good chance we'll see some fermentation activity in the barrel since some of the other batches had lower OGs. Once they're all blended and the alcohol level from my contribution is diluted, the residual yeast will most likely chew up additional sugars.

Update 7/16/2019
Gravity is now reading 1.030. We're planning on filling the barrel on 7/28, so I'll be transferring this to keg soon.

Read more...

Malting Corn

>> Friday, June 28, 2019

Last year I brewed my interpretation of a Wari Chicha, incorporating home malted purple corn. I've been tossing some ideas around in my head in regards to using the corn malt in another beer, so I figured I'd document my process. Here it is:

  1. Step 1, acquire some purple corn for malting. Really, any corn should work as long as it's not too old or been treated in some way to keep it from germinating. Here's the brand I bought at my local international market.
    Inca's Food, Maid Morado
  2. If your corn came on the cob like mine did, the next step is to remove the kernels from the cob. 
  3. Next, transfer your kernels to a colander and wash the corn with cool tap water. My pre-soaking weight of my dried corn was 966g.
  4. Transfer the kernels to a suitable container, such as a bucket. Top off with cool tap water, about 1" over the kernels. Soak for about five hours.
  5. Transfer corn to colander to drain. Leave it in the colander for about two hours.
    Kernels are more translucent after a soak
  6. Transfer back to a suitable container and top up with fresh water. Leave to soak overnight.
  7. Transfer back to colander and rinse well with cool tap water.  Transfer back to suitable container and top up with fresh water.
  8. 24-28 hours after starting first soak, transfer corn to your colander and rinse well. At this point, the soaked kernels weighed in at 1154g, so an increase of 188g.
    Looks like purple pomegranate
  9. Line a large shallow dish/pan with damp paper towels or dampened dish towel. Transfer corn to the dish and spread it out into a thin layer. Cover with another dampened towel and set it in a warm place.
  10. Check your corn at least a couple times per day. Both times I've done this, they've grown extremely fast. Once the shoots are about 2x the length of the kernel, it's time to dry them.
    Sprouted corn
  11. I use a food dehydrator to dry the malted corn and stop the germination process. Set food dehydrator to between 100 and 125F. Once the kernels have lost 14.2g per .45kg, it's time to increase the temps. In my case, this meant when the weight was down from 1154g to ~1118g.
  12. Increase food dehydrator temp to between 140 and 160F. It's done when the kernels have lost 85g per .45kg of its original weight. In my case, this meant down from 1154 to ~936g.
  13. Next, preheat oven to 176F. 
  14. Kiln corn malt for about four hours at 176F.
  15. Lastly, transfer corn malt to a pillow case and put it in the clothes tumble dryer for about 10 minutes to knock the shoots off.
At this point, the malt is ready to use. I store it same as I would any other grain. When it's time to mill, it seems to mill more easily if you partially crack/crush the grain first. That's about all there is to it. Cheers!

Read more...

Keezer 2.0

Keezer 2.0
I can't remember the exact date, but my old keezer (keezer 1.0) died in the early winter or late fall last year (2018). The manufacture date on it was 1994, so it definitely had a good run. Out of necessity, I started running ideas through my head on a replacement. I kept going back and forth on whether to try to get my hands on a commercial kegorator this time, or build a new one based on a residential freezer. On the residential front, I was going back and forth between chest freezer and upright. The insulating properties of chest freezers are hard to beat, but the smaller footprint of an upright would work better in my already crowded garage, where the keezer will live. At one point I stumbled upon an all stainless commercial fridge at an incredible price...then I noticed a huge hole on the back caused by a careless forklift driver, and it looked like it had damaged one of the copper cooling lines connected to the compressor (hard pass). After a whole bunch of hemming and hawing, I finally decided to buy my wife a new upright freezer (for frozen food) then repurpose our couple year old chest freezer for my new keezer (keezer 2.0).

The design of keezer 2.0 is similar to the old one. Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are a few words along with a bunch of pictures.

Key Features
  • 9.0cf Chest Freezer - Holds five ball-lock kegs (four 5-gallon, plus one 3-gallon) plus one 1-gallon mini-keg used for carbonated water. It has a 4" collar and the main purpose of it is to add a bit of height and also provide a way to route CO2 lines, temp probe, and DC power into the fridge. The top is made from 3/4" maple plywood, 1/4" cement backer board, and ceramic mosaic tile. The top plus the tower is quite heavy, definitely heavier than the thin glass tile on v1.0. The top and collar are joined using a standard piano hinge and so far it's holding up to the weight just fine. I insulated the insides of the top and collar using 1" rigid foam insulation.
  • Six Tap Tower - For keezer 1.0, I built a wooden coffin designed for five taps. This time I went with a pre-built stainless tower with built-in glycol chilling capability. I really only wanted five beer taps, but I couldn't find any five tap towers for a decent price. I got this six tap one used off of eBay for an incredible price, so the sixth tap is being used for carbonated water. My wife digs having the carbonated water for cocktails or just drinking straight, and so far I'm really liking it too. It's even handy for rinsing your glass between beers. The taps that came with the tower were chrome plated brass, and were completely worn out. All the old faucets and shanks were removed and replaced with stainless equivalents. The glycol cooling loop (copper tubing plus aluminum blocks) was retained for use with the stainless hardware. The tower was re-insulated using 1" rigid foam insulation. One last note, this tower is unbranded, but it's a really nice tower, very solid and pretty easy to service.
  • Glycol Chilling - Anyone that's built a keezer using a coffin or tower knows you have to figure out a way to chill the taps. If you don't, the first pour of the day tends to foam. This is caused by the beer hitting the warm shanks and faucets resulting in CO2 breaking out of solution. Once those parts cool down from the cold beer flowing through them, they tend to pour well. However, if the time between pours is long enough for the tap to warm back up, it'll foam again. Blowing cold air into the tower is one solution and is what I did for keezer 1.0, but most commercial towers use a glycol loop for chilling Since this tower came with a glycol loop, I decided to take advantage of it. My glycol chiller uses computer hardware intended for water-cooled CPUs. It consists of a small combination pump/reservoir coupled with a 120mm computer fan mounted to an aluminum radiator. Both fan and pump run on 12VDC power. I made some brackets out of aluminum flat stock and mounted everything to the brackets, so it's a fairly self-contained unit that resides on the compressor hump inside the keezer. The fan and pump have separate power connections, so the fan runs 24/7, helping to circulate cold air throughout the keezer. The pump gets switched on (plugged in) whenever it's time to pour a beer. The pump circulates the chilled glycol through the radiator, up to the taps (chilling them), then it flows back to the reservoir. The fan blows through the radiator, thus re-chilling the glycol before it's sent back up to the taps in a continuous loop. When I was piecing this together, I was a little worried the reservoir might not be big enough and it might result in foaming beer out of the taps. I may have gotten lucky, but so far it's working great.
  • Drip tray - On keezer 1.0, I installed the drip tray somewhat permanently. Basically I set it in place in some silicone caulking, tiled around it, then caulked the edges. This looked really good but it was a pain to clean. I would have to swab out the nasty spilled beer, then wipe, wipe, wipe, until it was clean. This time the drip tray sits, surface-mount style, on top of the tile. Whenever there are spills, I just carefully pick up the tray and empty it into the sink. I added some adhesive rubber strips to the bottom which prevents it from slipping on the tile top. This drip tray is from American Coffee Urn Manufacturing. It's a really nice tray and it was way cheaper than a lot of the other options out there. I the bought the 5" x 24" version. They also sell some of their trays on Amazon, often available with free Prime shipping.
  • Digital Controller - I re-used the temp controller from keezer 1.0, which is a Willhi model WH7016C controller. This controller isn't super common anymore, at least not in the configuration I have. I really like it because the relay on my particular unit is rated for 30 amps, and, contrary to what you may read in online forums, my unit reads in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius. Good beer shouldn't be too cold, so I usually have it set at 40-42F.
  • Beverage line - I went with Accuflex's Bev Seal Ultra 235 tubing. This is the same tubing used in trunk bundles in a lot of commercial draught systems and it is awesome stuff. It's basically impervious to oxygen, so there's no need to dump oxidized line beer on the first pour of the day. It also has a flavorless and odorless liner that doesn't retain flavors/odors and is reportedly very easily cleaned. The only downside is it's definitely stiffer than standard vinyl tubing so it can be a little harder to work with. Also, the liner offers less flow resistance compared to standard tubing, so you usually have to go with longer lines to keep things balanced.  I'm running 18' lines on my setup. Previously, I used ~13' lines for standard tubing. Did I mention Bev Seal is cheap? I got mine for $0.39 per foot at BrewHardware.
Those are the highlights, and those were more words than I'd planned, so now onto the pictures.
Test fitting kegs

Reassembling the tower after teardown

Original brass shanks that came with the tower; #buystainless!

Test fitting the top

Checking tile and tower layout

After painting wood and grouting tile


Tower innards - copper glycol loop held in place by aluminum cooling blocks

Lines running up to faucets

Glycol pump and radiator; still need some split loom to cover the wires
Rear panel; first six are CO2 inputs, then pump power, fan power, and temp probe

Read more...

Hoppy NZ-ish Pils

>> Sunday, June 16, 2019

Today I'm brewing a variation of my New Zealand Pilsner. The biggest change is I'm trying out some Viking Pilsner malt. I'm also trying out a new ingredient, BrewTan B (more info here). Long story short, it's supposed to help with a few things, including "improve the shelf life and enhance the flavor and colloidal stability of your beer". Dosage/usage info from Wyeast:

Dosage rate: In the mash: 8 grams per barrel of mash liquor (8 g/1.17 hL). In the boiler: 5 grams per barrel of wort (5 g/1.17 hL).
Usage: Dissolve powder in warm water; add solution to mash, boil, or both.
In the mash: Add solution to mash water prior to dough-in.
On the homebrew scale, that translates to .25g per gallon of mash liquor.

Other changes, I'm going with a bit more Carared, and I'm experimenting with some Loral cryohops in the mix. Lastly, I'm swapping the amounts of the late hop additions. Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

6.75# Viking Pilsner Malt
0.75# Avangard German Pale
0.3125# Weyermann Cara Red
0.25# Pale Wheat Malt
3ml Hopshot (60 min)
14g Motueka (1 min)
14g Rakau (1 min)
14g Waimea (1 min)
7g Loral Cryohops (1 min)
21g Motueka (Whirlpool @170F)
21g Rakau (Whirlpool @170F)
21g Waimea (Whirlpool @170F)
7g Loral Cryohops (Whirlpool @170F)
(2) Global Yeast
Whirlfloc
Yeast Nutrient
28g Motueka (Dryhop)
28g Rakau (Dryhop)
28g Waimea (Dryhop)
14g Loral Cryohops (Dryhop)

Mash at 151F, 90 min boil, start fermentation at 46F, ramp up to 52F over 6 days, diacetyl rest when gravity ~1.016.

Water Profile
To 11 gallons of distilled water, add:
  • 4.0g Gypsum
  • 2.8g Epsom Salt
  • 4.8g Calcium Chloride
Brewing Notes
No major issues. One minor issue, I over-sparged and wasn't paying attention, and ran off about 8.25 gallons rather than my normal 6.75 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. I ended up boiling longer in order to concentrate the wort down to the appropriate volume. So, I likely have a little more caramelization and a bit more mineral content than I was planning on. Time will tell how close this version is to the previous versions.  OG into the fermenter was 1.052.

Update 6/18/2019
Gravity is down to 1.044 tonight, roughly 24 hours after pitching.

Update 6/28/2019
I went to Denver last weekend (6/21 - 6/24) and I set my temp controller to slowly ramp the temps up for a diacetyl rest. It's been sitting at about 65F since 6/25 and I added the dry hops today. I'll leave it there for about 48 hours, then hook up my CO2 reservoir and start lowering the temps in preparation for kegging.

Update 7/1/2019
I swapped out the blow-off for my CO2 reservoir yesterday, and started cold crashing.

Update 7/16/2019
I pulled a couple samples of this beer. I think the color is perfect now, exactly where I want it. Flavor and aroma are always really nice, but there is a touch of diesel character from the hops. I didn't notice this character at all in the previous batch, so I'm assuming it's from the Loral, or the Loral is bringing this character out. Some people love this character, but I'm not a huge fan. It's not bad by any means, it's just not something I really like. There's also some bright grapefruit character. The next time I brew this beer, I'll probably cut the Loral in half and see what happens.

Update 10/14/2019
Just a quick note, this beer took 1st place for Czech and New Zealand Lager, plus 2nd place Best in Show in the 2019 Beehive Brew-off.

Read more...

Lichtenhainer 2019

Yesterday I got started on my second a attempt at a Lichtenhainer. I brewed one last year, but it had a horrible acetaldehyde problem. I'm 99% sure this was caused by a timing/cellaring issue (it was cold crashed twice).

For this attempt, I changed the malts slightly, and will be using US-05 yeast.

Full grain bill was cold-smoked over Pecan
4.25 # Avangard German Pale Malt
4.25 # Spelt Malt
14g Aged hops (60 mins)
GoodBelly SuperShot for kettle-souring
US-05 yeast after kettle-souring
Whirlfloc
Yeast nutrient

Mash at 150F, transfer to boil kettle and raise temps to 175F for 15 minutes to pasteurize. Chill to 100F and acidify wort to 4.5 before pitching GoodBelly. Sour to a target pH of 3.4-ish. After target pH is reached, proceed with boil, 90 minutes. Ferment at 63F.

Brewing Notes

  • Day 1 (6/15/2019) - No major issues.
  • Day 2 (6/18/2019) - No major issues. Gravity into the fermenter is 1.039, so this will be a nice sessionable beer.
Update 7/1/2019
I kegged this beer yesterday. I'm ingested to see what it's like after carbing. Out of the fermenter, the smoke is pleasant but also quite noticeable. The aroma hits you first and is a bit more intense than the flavor. Flavor-wise, I get mellow smoke up front, then noticeable acidity, then a trailing smokey finish. I love having sours with fatty foods like BBQ because I feel like the acidity in the beer helps cut through the fat. It might just be that association in my mind, but this beer seems similar, but everything is in one package. And I'm happy to say, I didn't pick up on any acetaldehyde this time.

Update 10/14/2019
Just a quick note, this beer took 1st place for Historical Beer in the 2019 Beehive Brew-off.

Read more...

Tequila-barrel Tripel

>> Sunday, May 19, 2019

Filled, happy barrel
Today I'm brewing for a club project I'm organizing. I got my hands on a 59 gallon 1 year Añejo tequila barrel from Madrileña Distillery. This barrel originated as a whiskey barrel, then was used for aging tequila right before we got our hands on it.

Based on characteristics we thought would work well with the tequila, we narrowed the options down to Belgian Blonde, Saison, or Tripel. Votes were taken and the Tripel narrowly edged out the Belgian Blonde.

We wanted to do something ABV-wise, at the lower end of the style, so we're brewing the following recipe which is based on this one from Craft Beer & Brewing. We're also fermenting on the cooler side to keep the "Belgian" character in check. Long story short, we want some fruity character to compliment the tequila character, but we're trying to avoid a phenolic bomb.

10 gallon Recipe

24.0# Viking Pilsner malt
1.0# Briess Victory malt
1.0# Briess Aromatic malt
2.0# Demera cane sugar (boil)
46g Nugget (60 minutes)
6g Ground coriander (60 minutes)
52g Crystal (5 minutes)
Imperial Gnome Yeast
Whirlfloc
Wyeast Nutrient
Carbon-filtered West Jordan, UT water

Mash at 152F, 90 minute boil, ferment at 65F

Brewing Notes
No major issues. I was trying to tidy up my messy garage because my buddy Jeff was coming over to brew his 5 gallons as well. I looked away a couple times and had two minor boil overs. I also forgot to add the sugar until after I'd just started chilling. So, the sugar was added to the whirlpool at 185F. Apparently my whirlpool was a little too good because it left a little pile of crystalized sugar at the bottom of my kettle. We ended up leaving it there for my buddy Jeff's batch.
P.S. Forgot to mention, I bought a new stainless counterflow chiller, and this was the first time using it. It's the Kegco branded one and I've fitted it with camlocks via short sections of silicone tubing in order to connect the male barbed camlocks. It's slightly less efficient compared to my plate chiller, but it still chills fairly quickly when used in conjunction with my whirlpool setup. The best thing about it is I don't have to worry about using a hop spider and inline filter (AKA, no more worries of plugging up the plate chiller with hop debris).
Update 6/15/2019
We filled the barrel today.

Update 7/1/2019
You often get fermentation activity after transferring young beer to a barrel, so I was holding off adding the last 5 gallons (5 of my 10) to the barrel in hopes of avoiding a messy blow-off. After seeing positive pressure on the barrel for about two weeks, it finally seemed to be subsiding a bit, so I topped it up yesterday. I checked it last night and it seemed to be foaming a bit. Now, this could be partially due to the fact that it was topped off with Tripel from a keg, where it likely picked up a bit of CO2. Too be safe and avoid a potential mess, I added a blow-off assembly.

Read more...

Altiplano Blend Roast #1

>> Sunday, March 24, 2019

I'm roasting up another batch of coffee today, this time Altiplano Blend from Sweet Maria's. This blend is described as follows:
Altiplano is extremely versatile in both roast level and brew applications. Lighter roasts show convincing levels of brightness and sweetness, with faint fruit and cocoa top notes. FC and beyond boosts body, sweetness, and chocolate roast complexity. City+ to Full City+. Great for espresso
I figured I'd do a similar roast as last time. The timing is slightly different as noted below, because it seemed like it took a bit longer to achieve full yellowing than on the previous batch.


# Description Time Behmor Button(s)
1 Pre-heat without drum for 1 minute 1:00 1 > P1 > Start
2 Install drum loaded with 8 ounces of green coffee
3 Begin Roast 20:15 1 > Start > P1 > D > P5
Press + button to max time
4 Reduce power to maintain temps around 310F
Fully yellowing
13:00 P2
5 Increase power to maintain temps around 320F
Barely tan
12:00 P5
6 Reduce power and slow drum 10:00 P3 > D
7 Cool at end of first crack
Very first pop ~ 9:15. First crack rolling ~7:30
5:00 Cool

Read more...

Coffee Stuff

>> Sunday, February 24, 2019

I've really gotten into coffee the past year-ish, so I decided to add a coffee section to my site. I'll be the first to admit, I'm still a bit of a coffee newbie, and my coffee knowledge isn't anywhere near the level of my brewing knowledge. I found with my homebrewing hobby that it really helped to document recipes, notes, mishaps, etc. So I'm thinking a similar approach should help as I work towards increasing my coffee knowledge.

The story of how I got interested in coffee is kind of silly, but keep in mind I was raised in the Mormon church where coffee is just as, if not more taboo than beer. One time when I was a kid, my mom accidentally bought coffee ice cream. I remember telling my mom that the ice cream tasted funny, kind of burnt. Fast forward to adulthood and I never really had an interest in trying coffee (still clinging to my Mormon upbringing) but my lovely never-Mormon wife drank it all the time. Fast forward a little more to when I started getting into beer, I'd often comment to my wife about how I really enjoyed the roasty toasty notes in stouts and porters, and she'd always point out that those flavors were very similar to coffee. On a trip to SoCal about three or four years ago, I ordered a pint of Naughty Sauce from Noble Ale Works. Naughty Sauce is a golden milk stout infused with coffee and I absolutely love it. So long story short, beer kind of gets credit for getting me into coffee.

For Christmas in 2017, my wife bought me a Whirly-Pop coffee roasting kit from Morebeer. Kind of like with homebrewing, I was hooked and I was able to roast some really tasty coffee. Now I should mention, I prefer iced coffee with milk and some sweet cream. My daughters like to tease me that I drink "white girl coffee". I don't like it too sweet, but I definitely do like a touch of creamer. And it doesn't matter if it's the middle of summer or the middle of winter, I prefer my coffee iced.

As I said, my wife bought me a Whirly-Pop coffee roaster and they work great, plus they're a relatively cheap way to get into coffee roasting; kind off the equivalent of the starter beer brewing kits. There are some downsides though, such as it can be challenging to get consistent repeatable results. Also, you have to crank the handle during the entire roast so as not to scorch the beans. Being the geeky guy I am, I motorized mine which improved the experience quite a bit and let me focus on the roasting process rather than cranking the handle.

Fast forward to Christmas 2018, and my wife surprised me with a Behmor 1600 Plus coffee roaster. I've roasted a couple batches so far and I'm super pleased with the consistency of the roast between batches, and how evenly the beans in a single run are roasted. This got me to thinking, I should document the process for each batch so that I can hopefully repeat the results on a regular basis.
Here's my first documented "roasting profile" for the Behmor 1600. This one is a Full City Roast based on one outlined on Sweet Mariah's website. I just used the following roast for Sumatra Wet Process Gunung Tujuh.

This variety is described as follows:
City+ yields a sweet foundation of burned sugar and caramel/toffee, a yellow custard note, dried apple, tamarind, a basil hint, and a vibrant rindy orange flavor. A clean, wet processed Sumatran coffee. City to Full City. Good for espresso.
Here's the roast process I used:

# Description Time Behmor Button(s)
1 Pre-heat without drum for 1 minute 1:00 1 > P1 > Start
2 Install drum loaded with 8 ounces of green coffee
3 Begin Roast 20:15 1 > Start > P1 > D > P5
Press + button to max time
4 Reduce power to maintain temps around 310F
Fully yellowing
13:45 P2
5 Increase power to maintain temps around 320F
Barely tan
12:45 P5
6 Reduce power and slow drum 10:00 P3 > D
7 Cool at end of first crack
First crack started ~7:30
4:30 Cool

Read more...

Wild Red 2019

>> Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another wild red today. I managed to get my hands on some 30 gallon barrels a ways back. I'm considering brewing this recipe 3xs, in order to fill one of these barrels, effectively starting a new solera project. Here's the recipe I'm planning on brewing today.

10 Gallon Recipe
11.0# California Select
3.0# Weyermann Vienna
3.25# Spelt
14oz Crisp Crystal 77L
14oz Flaked Oats
14oz Special Aromatic
4oz Carafa Special III
28g Aged Hops (60 min)
Whirfloc
Wyeast Nutrient
Inland Island Brett Barrel III (Primary)
Bootleg Biology - Sour Solera Blend - Fall 2018 (Secondary)

Mash at 160F for 60 mins, 90 min boil, primary and secondary at room temp.

Brewing Notes
No issues. Gravity came in at 14.4P (1.057). 

Update 2/19/2019
Fermentation has slowed down quite bit and the krausen has started dropping. There's still quite a bit of yeast in suspension. As expected, the aroma coming off the fermenters is kind of fruity.

Update 2/24/2019
As I indicated on 2/19, fermentation has slowed. It's still plugging along with a thin film of bubbles and a burp in the airlock about once every 20 seconds.

Update 4/14/2019
I finally got around to brewing the second third (10 gallons) for the barrel today. I temporarily transferred the first 10 gallons to kegs then racked right on top of the yeast cake. No issues other than a little but if a boil over when I wasn't paying attention.

Update 4/15/2019
Batch #2 is actively fermenting this morning. Currently, it has a couple of inches of Krausen. I'll double check it before I leave for work, just in case I need to add a blow-off.

Read more...

New Zealand Pilsner 2019

>> Saturday, February 02, 2019

I loved the way my first take on a New Zealand Pilsner turned out, enough to brew another one. I'm making a couple tweaks to try to get it closer to the BJCP style description. The first version's color was a bit on the light side, and I felt it could definitely use more of the classic NZ hop flavor and aroma characteristics. The bitterness seemed pretty much on point, so the only thing I'm going different there is to swap out pellet hops for hop resin. This gives you bitterness without adding a bunch of debris to the boil. I'm switching up the late addition hops to try to get more of the fruity, citrusy, flavors and aromas associated with NZ hops. Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

6.75# Weyermann Bohemian Floor Malted Pilsner
0.75# Avangard German Pale
0.3125# Weyermann Cara Red
0.25# Pale Wheat Malt
3ml Hopshot (60 min)
21g Motueka (1 min)
21g Rakau (1 min)
21g Waimea (1 min)
14g Motueka (Whirlpool @170F)
14g Rakau (Whirlpool @170F)
14g Waimea (Whirlpool @170F)
Imperial Global Yeast - I got my hands on a very fresh pack. I decided to try splitting it in half and doing (2) 1L starters on my shaker table. On the first round, I pitched two packs.
Whirlfloc
Yeast Nutrient
28g Motueka (Dryhop)
28g Rakau (Dryhop)
28g Waimea (Dryhop)

Mash at 151F, 90 min boil, start fermentation at 46F, ramp up to 52F over 6 days, diacetyl rest when gravity ~1.016.

Water Profile
I'm using the same ratio of salts as last time, but slightly more diluted. To 11 gallons of distilled water, add:

  • 4.0g Gypsum
  • 2.8g Epsom Salt
  • 4.8g Calcium Chloride

Brewing Notes
No issues. This beer is the first one to go into my new ferm chamber. OG came in at 13.9 brix (1.055). I was able to chill down to about 51F before moving it into the ferm chamber.

Update 2/5/2019
Fermentation was fairly active the morning after pitching and is still chugging along. As of this evening, the gravity is down to ~1.027. I may be ramping the temp up for the diacetyl rest in the next 24-ish hours.

Update 2/6/2019
Gravity is down to 1.019 tonight, so I'm starting to ramp the temp up for the diacetyl rest.

Update 2/10/2019
Dry hops went in this morning. I'll leave them in for a few days before cold crashing, then kegging and fining.

Update 2/13/2019
I started cold crashing tonight. I'm not sure how fast these new ferm fridges will be able to chill, so this is a little bit of an experiment. I usually prefer to drop the temps, maybe 5F at a time, over a few days time. This is based on advice from Jamil, I believe in either a Brew Strong or Brewing With Style podcast. Regardless, Jamil indicated the yeast will sometimes release compounds that can lead to off flavors and flaws in the finished beer if the temps drop too rapidly. I'm also using the Mylar balloon filled with CO2 as it should help reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the finished beer.

Update 2/19/2019
I kegged this beer tonight. Gelatin was added to the keg, then the beer was racked on top. I have a low O2 transfer kit I've assembled that I'm using for the first time. I also tried a small sample and it definitely seems to have noticeably more hop flavor and aroma than batch #1 ever did.

Update 5/20/2019
This keg kicked last night. It's so nice and easy drinking, that it's turned into a favorite if mine. I submitted this one to NHC and it scored well including going to Mini-BOS for experimental beers, although it didn't advance to the final round of the competition. This beer is definitely going into my standard rotation and I'm interested to see how it will do once NZ Pils is a recognized category.

Read more...

Tramontina Fermentation Chamber Builds

>> Sunday, January 27, 2019

Ferm chambers
Warning: This post involves electrical work and other modifications that will void fridge warranties and could potentially result in bodily harm and/or property damage. Do Not attempt this build unless you fully understand the risks and are willing to accept the responsibility for those risks.

There are a couple of HBT threads that talk about how the Tramontina 126 Can Beverage Center makes a great fermentation chamber, including this one. These fridges are the perfect size for five gallon and smaller batches. I just got done building two of these, so in the spirit of sharing, I figured I'd share how I built mine in case it can help others. Each ferm fridge consists of:
  • Tramontina 126 Can Beverage Fridge - provides the insulated environment plus the cooling mechanism when current temperature exceeds the set temperature. The model I have is 80109/102.
  • Ink-Bird ITC-310T-B Temp Controller -automatically switches on/off heating and cooling circuits in order to maintain desired temps.
  • Brewers Edge Space Heater - provides gentle heat when current temperature drops below set temperature.
Drilling Holes
The temp controller is mounted on the outside of the fridge, so I needed to find a way to get the probe inside. Likewise, the power cord for the heater needs to be outside of the fridge. Some people run their cords between the door and the body of the fridge, but this runs the risk of a leaky door seal and making the compressor work harder that it needs to, likely shortening compressor life.

I prefer a clean look and tight seals, so I decided to drill two small holes in the back of the fridge, one for the temp probe, and one for the heater cord.

Please note: This is where things can go horribly wrong if you're not careful. Long story short, you have to figure out a place where it's safe to make the holes while not damaging any cooling lines or wiring.
To figure out where it was safest to drill, I visually inspected the fridge to get an idea of where the wiring and refrigeration lines were located. Next, I powered on the fridge and felt around the top and sides of the fridge to identify the location of the condenser lines.

These fridges are similar to chest freezers; rather than having condenser coils on the back or bottom of the fridge, the condenser lines run just under the surface of the outer metal skin. Heat dissipates through the metal skin, resulting in warm zones on the fridge exterior.

Feeling the exterior of the fridge, it was easy to feel the warmth coming off the upper sides of the fridge but nowhere else. So, based on my observations, there didn't appear to be any lines running through the top, the back, or the lower half of the side walls. For an added sense of security, I even used my laser thermometer to double-check and it was very easy to spot the temperature differential which was ~70F in the cool zone and ~90F in the warm zone just after just a few minutes.

Now that I knew there weren't any lines running through the back of the fridge (other than the main ones coming right off the compressor) I just had to make sure I cleared the evaporator inside the fridge. Measuring from the rear of the fridge, I drilled the hole for my temp probe 18.75" down from the top, and 3.5" in from the right edge of the fridge. The hole for the heater cord was also drilled 18.75" down from the top, and 2.5" in from the side. These positions proved to easily clear the evaporator.
A couple notes on drilling a fridge. Use sharp drill bits and start small. Drill carefully, just enough to pierce the metal exterior, then use a toothpick or a wooden skewer to probe the hole you just made. Make sure there are no wires or cooling lines present before you drill larger holes and/or all the way through. This is one time that it really pays to be cautious. Also, manufacturers sometimes make minor changes to fridge designs, so don't take the measurements I've provided as gospel; measure for yourself to make sure the size and positioning of components hasn't changed.
I used two grommets to protect the probe wire where it passes through the inner and outer wall of the fridge. A little bit of Armor-all on the probe and heater wires will provide lubrication and help the wires pass through the grommets more easily. Likewise, I used two slightly larger grommets for the heater wires. For these I actually used grommets without holes, and made my own figure 8 shaped hole using a hollow punch. If you don't have a hollow punch, I'd probably recommend using a sharp exacto knife to make a small slit.

Bypassing the Thermostat
In order to allow the ITC-310T-B to control the cooling, we have to bypass the fridge's internal thermostat. Often people will do this by setting the thermostat to the coldest setting, then simply plugging the fridge/freezer into the controller. In this scenario, the controller cuts off all power to the fridge when it isn't actively cooling. The only problem with this approach is it doesn't allow you to use the LED or the digital temp display inside the fridge when the fridge is powered down. To get around this, I chose to completely bypass the internal thermostsat.

I accomplished this by adding a new/second power cord that is connected directly to the compressor and switched on/off by the ITC-310T-B. The compressor has two wires going to it, a white (neutral) and a black (hot), so this connection is really easy. Removing the black plastic electrical box cover at the back off the fridge revealed a circuit board where all wiring connections are made using spade terminals. The black wire connected to the compressor is connected to the COMP terminal, and the white wire is connected to the ACN1 terminal. Disconnect these two wires from the circuit board and separate them from the rest of the wiring harness.

Next, connect the corresponding white and black wires from the new power cord to the white and black wires that run to the compressor. In order to maintain the OEM wiring, I simply crimped on male spade terminals into the new cord. The new cord was then secured in the stress relief fitting next to the original cord.

For safety, don't forget to ground the new cord (green wire). Also don't forget to reinstall the black plastic electrical box so that the circuit board is protected.
Plug the new cord into your temp controller, and plug the original cord into an always-on power supply. With this setup, you'll be able to use the blingy blue LEDs and digital temp display in your fridge in conjunction with the temp controller. Also, because it didn't destroy any connections, the whole process is reversible in case you decide you want to return the fridge to its original state (minus any holes you've drilled).

It should be obvious, but Do Not plug the new cord directly into an always-on power supply...because this will mean the compressor will always be running, or at least until it suffers a premature death.

Summary
That's about all there it's to it. I probably spent twice as much time measuring and making sure I wasn't going to damage anything as I did making actual connections. I know I sound like a broken record here, but be careful with the drilling. It would be a shame to lose a brand new fridge to a mistake. Also, if you're unsure of any of the wiring connections, consult someone that has electrical experience.

To use the setup:
  1. Original fridge cord is plugged into an always-on power supply.
  2. New fridge cord it's plugged into the Cooling circuit of the ITC-310T-B.
  3. The power cord for the heater is plugged into the Heating circuit of the ITC-310T-B.
  4. The ITC-310T-B is plugged into an always-on power supply.
  5. Set your temp controller to the desired fermentation temperature.
Here are a few more pictures. Cheers!

Interior layout
Upper ferm chamber
  Interior close-up 

Update 10/28/2019 These fridges have worked great, but there's always room for improvement, right? I had some leftover 110v 80mm case fans from my old keezer and fermentation fridges. I made some simple brackets/stands and have the fans pointed at the evaporator plates. It's a similar concept to a regular oven versus a convention oven. This should improve cooling efficiency within the fridges when chilling wort to pitching temps or cold crashing before kegging. The fans are wired into the compressor circuit, so they only run when the fridges are actively cooling. Here are a couple pics of the stands and fans.


Read more...