Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not Success!

Just when I open my mouth (see previous post), I go and screw something up. The California Common I brewed is in no great danger, but I made a little mistake. In my great excitement at anything related to brewing, I transferred it to the secondary fermentor a little too early. I transferred after ten days, a pretty normal times for ales. This, however, was not an ale. It was a lager. Looking back at the original recipe, I should have given it at least 14 days, if not longer. I brewed using the same recipe a while back, and I gave that one 18 days in primary.

Now, you might be asking yourself, what's the problem? Well...under attenuation? If that means nothing to you, how about less alcohol and more residual sweetness? Incomplete fermentation. Not to worry, though. As it turns out, the yeast were just moving a little slower because the fermentation temperature was around 50 F, and that whole transferring too early thing. There are still yeast, and they are still working, but slowly. I was planning on 2 weeks in secondary. It may be three now. Which is fine. Conditioning time never hurt anybody, or any beer, for that matter.

So why the hell did I write all this if there's no real problem?! Cause I felt kinda dumb, and I wanted everybody to know.

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


03/06/2008: History is made. For me at least. This was the day I bottled a coffee porter I brewed, thinking myself a veritable genius. Well, it turns out that everyone and their mother has brewed a coffee porter, or coffee stout-people always bring up the other when in the presence of either-and I ran the risk of being just another homebrewer. Then, over continuous and consecutive months later, it occurred to me that mine was the best. Ever. Why? Because I'm awesome, and decent looking, and a nice guy(for the most part). I'm pretty sure, once again, that I can do no wrong.

XX/XX/2008: Numerous praises for my coffee porter, and from people who don't even like porters, nonetheless.

XX/XX/2009: Manager at my employing restaurant, after much hounding, gets to try the coffee porter. He approves, and suggests I leave a bottle for the head chef, who presides over the two different locations and works in the corporate office.

01/27/2009: Head chef takes the beer home. Says he really liked it, and he's someone who only drinks darker styles, at least on a regular basis. How stoked am I? I swear I'm gonna get a license to be a contract brewer.

So, I know I've tooted my horn a lot here, but I feel I should at least be a little proud of myself. I have yet to hear anything negative, except for one suggestion to use a bit less coffee, or maybe some more chocolate malt.

P.S. HUGE thanks to Palmer, for providing me with a recipe that I would modify slightly. I'm such a cheater.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's with the pale ale thing, anyway?

Something's been bugging me a bit recently. Bugging me a lot, actually. What constitutes a Pale Ale? I have a general idea in my mind, but half of the pales I try shoot down my preconceptions. With a 10 gauge.

Anyone out there have any ideas? I want to know if there are certain guidelines to be met, or can, as it seems, thirty hundred vastly different beers be lumped into one category? If not based on color, is it based on malt used? I don't think this is likely, since even the darker styles still use a majority of pale malt. I have this inkling that it may have more to do with hops than with the color itself. If a pale blurs into the amber color range, are hops the remaining determinant? Does gravity have anything to do with it?

Somebody please answer me. At least lie to me, and make up some entertaining history lesson of how the name came to be.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

California UNcommon

I brewed a California Common, but with different hops than I was supposed to use. That's why I came up with the name. Clever, ain't it? The store was out of Northern Brewer, so they recommended Centennial instead. We'll see how it turns out.

Brewing day went off without a hitch, despite the fact that I completely forgot to measure the amount of water for the initial mash. No measuring, just a lot of dumping hot water, and me realizing my potenital mistake, and then damning it all to hell and going with it. All I had to do was adjust the amount of sparge water, no big deal.

This is why I love winter. It's cold enough that I can do a lager in the garage, without proper cooling equipment. The yeast for this batch is specifically bred to be able to ferment a little higher than lager yeast usually does, so it can handle the 60 degrees during the day, and the super cold nights.

The recipe, in case anyone is interested, is as follows:

8.5 lbs Pale two row
.75 lb Caramel 40
.5 lb Carapils

1 oz Centennial @ 60 min
1 oz Centennial @ 15 min

WLP-810 San Francisco Lager Yeast

Cheers, brothers, and Happy Brewing!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Adventure Time!

With the long-awaited Christmas money lingering in my account, I've decided to go out and, hopefully, buy a kegging setup tomorrow. Goodbye, tedious bottling of beer. Goodbye, two week waiting period for carbonation. However, as with everything I encounter, I have found a dilemma. Specifically, should I purchase a 3 gallon keg or a 5 gallon keg? My typical batch size is around five gallons, so the 5 gal keg would seem perfect. However, I want to do a few bottles of each batch, to see how it ages over time, and to take places a keg should not, or cannot, go. If I bottle part of the batch, I have excess head space, and might need more gas. I know nothing about the subject, however, so this could be a negligable amount. And if I force myself into the 3 gal keg, I also force myself to bottle 2 gal of each batch, which is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

Maybe I'll just buy both sizes. I could use the 3 gal for small experimental batches. Thanks for the help, bloggy thing! Writing this just helped me solve the enigma that was my situation.

Cheers, brothers, and happy brewing!

P.S. Hanukkah was great.

Super P.S. Try not to set unrealistic resolutions for the new year, if you're into that sort of thing. We don't all want to be disappointed, now, do we?