For the longest time

– Chris

Well, we definitely made it through the brewing of all twenty gallons of Poztulator Wit this past Sunday, and it only took (somehow) about ten hours. Some details:

  • The recipe is close, but not quite the same, as we bought out the total stock of German malted wheat at Beer Necessities and had to substitute some other things for the remainder. Slight hop substitution as well.
  • We decided a bit on-the-fly to throw some peaches into the first ten-gallon batch. Question marks abound.
  • Somehow our hydrometer broke, so we have no OG readings for anything.
  • Extremely slow starts in all four fermenters, despite the use of yeast starters. In fact, nothing doing in two of them, after two whole days.
  • Bought new hydrometer last night along with two new yeast vials, but, two of the same kind of yeast were not available, so there you go.

It effectively looks at this point like we’ve made three different batches of beer, then. One ten-gallon with peaches in it, one five-gallon without, and another five-gallon without (but with different yeast). Dividing that all out yields an average of 3 hours 20 mins per batch, which is incredible, but cheating, and none of the three are the same as our original! Yay. Screw this…next weekend we’re making wine.

An experiment in science

– Chris

Last Sunday was the first day we’ve pitched lager yeast into our brew. The brew? Our second go at an American Pale. I’ll take the word “ale” off the end, for the time being….see first sentence. The dog? That’s Roscoe, an extended-stay visitor. Anyway, the recipe for this round is very, very different from the one used last time, most notably including a little bit of “American Victory” malt for body and completely changing (and demystifying) the hop selection and schedule. Amarillo hops were used in place of two others; hopefully this will lead to a more balanced aroma and attractive aftertaste in the final product.

All that said, after the boil we separated the wort into two fermenters (this was a ten-gallon batch) and pitched some Pacific Ale yeast into one, and some White Labs San Francisco Lager yeast into the other. The latter should result in more of a California Common-style brew. The San Francisco yeast works well all the way up to about 65 degrees fermentation temperature, which is great for us, as we’ve discovered a certain corner in our basement that stays at about 64. So, we get to ferment both versions in the same room:

See how full they are?! That’s the result of careful planning not dragging the brew session out until 11pm. In fact, Jamie and I started brewing at 930am on Sunday…amazing! We decided to set up a bin for the blow-off tubes to empty into this time; a wise decision for avoiding a mess. Four days in, they’re still going strong, and we’re really looking forward to tasting the differences between the two. My hope is that the lagered brew will have a bit of summer crispness that our other ales have lacked. OG 1.044, if you’d like to know.

I do not know as of right now what we’re brewing this weekend…what they’re brewing this weekend. NEW YORK HERE I COME

Turn it…down?

– Chris

We’ve been getting unusually high attenuations lately from our yeast(s). Like, in the 80% range for our last three batches:

  • Oatmeal Stout version 2: OG 1.050, FG 1.010, 79.3% AA, 5.2% ABV
  • Steve Brown Ale: OG 1.048, FG 1.009, 80.6% AA, 5.1% ABV
  • American Pale Ale: OG 1.041, FG 1.007, 82.4% AA, 4.5% ABV

I mean, I’m a big fan of the 80’s, but didn’t really expect to make it that apparent in this part of my life. Our temperatures have stayed fairly consistent, and we’re not getting any real off flavors in the beer that suggests a hot or overly-vigorous fermentation. I guess it is the fact that we’ve switched to using starters for/harvesting our yeast? Is this a good thing or not? I mean, it seems good to me, but it also suggests we’re maybe using too much yeast now…also, I’d maybe like to create a beer that is outside the 4.5-5.5% ABV range; am I not destined for this? I reckon time will tell with the next runs of these beers (yes Steve, we’ll make your brown ale again) if they’re to be consistent. Maybe I should go read now.

Hey, yeah, we’re still here

– Chris

There’s been a visible lack of posting lately, again. Sorry friends. I’m not exactly sure why this is, since there has been beer stuff going on, but it either has something to do with my general forgetfulness/procrastination or Eileen’s maybe-becoming-permanent unpaid leave from our blog. Actually, it’s not really leave, since she’s sitting across from me right now. I think she’s pretty wrapped up in a new venture though, something I like to call “pairing my food with web browsing for anything else”. I’M CALLING YOU OUT, VIA RSS FEED.

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We’ve actually brewed up two batches since last report, with the help of some Trivial Pursuit 80’s Edition, and another one’s on the way this afternoon. We’ve been double-timing it a bit to tweak our existing recipes and create some new ones. So, last Wednesday we went about a 5-gallon batch of Steve. That’s the best way to describe it, since no one really knows what it is. It’s brown, and it has about a pound of honey in it. So it’s a honey brown Steve. Truth is that I wasn’t around for a lot of the brewing so I probably shouldn’t be writing about it. Hey Steve, what was the OG and approximate IBU count? “1.047 and 15, according to this piece of paper in my wallet.” Confirmation by telegram should be available shortly.

Our second batch for the week is a new American Pale Ale recipe that I came up with a couple of weeks ago. It’s similar to some other recipes I’ve examined, as most Pales require a simple grain bill, but it uses no less than five different kinds of hops. Why five? Because that’s what was in the fridge as leftovers…we’ll see what happens. Hey Chris, what was the OG and approximate IBU count? Oh that’s right, you forgot to write those things down, again. I promise we’ll get better, as soon as:

We have a software program that I’m happy with. We’d been using BeerSmith, which is very nice but not very Mac-friendly, or, Mac-available. So, instead of relying on the Windows box in the office (ewww gross/where’s my latte?), I discovered, thanks to an episode of Basic Brewing Radio, a FREE Mac program called Homebrew Formulator. It does just about all the things that BeerSmith will do, but in a bit of a different format, and I’m in the process of learning it. I like the layout and recommend this program to other Mac users out there, it just takes some getting used to…once I get it down I’ll be much more consistent with my recipe info, which I’d say is pretty important, wouldn’t you? The only drawback to Homebrew Formulator is that the folks that created it are no longer issuing updates or revisions, but like I said, it’s free.

Today we brew Oatmeal Stout 2.0. I’m no longer going to refer to it as a Sam Smith clone, as we’ve changed the recipe up quite a bit. It’s bigger but hopefully not bad(der). Sam Smith inspired, maybe…that telegram joke wasn’t funny, was it?

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