Thursday, October 8, 2009

state of the brew - updated

Since my last post, I've kegged the Oktoberfest and it's carbonating fine.

The Belgian though.. oh those Belgians.. sometimes they can be easy, and sometimes they can be a pain. It doesn't help that I tried to use the tripple/trippel method for the first time.

Last week I transferred it into another carboy to begin the 'third fermentation' cycle. On Tuesday, it was still under heavy krausen and bubbling away at the airlock.

Last night I transferred it to my big (6.5 gal) carboy once more to try to get it to settle out and to check the gravity.

This beer:
Original Gravity: 1.086
Gravity at secondary racking: 1.018
Gravity at tertiary racking: 1.011
Gravity at quadriary racking: 1.008 (!!)

At this point, this is a quadrippel ale, which is not what I intended, but clearly I over-sugared it.

I didn't really believe that quadriary gravity, so I took three readings and averaged. It's lost a lot of body.

As of this morning, the krausen had finally fallen and the beer is starting to look clear. Hopefully the mid-day warmth (I've moved it out of the cottage and into the laundry room, which will not stay as temp-stable) doesn't cause activity to resume.

Given the calculations, currently this is 10.31% ABV - one of the strongest (but not THE strongest) beers I've brewed.

I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm a little concerned that it's going to be thin and harsh.

Makes me consider blending...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

state of the brew

I've been busy lately - work is scary as always, hardware issues from our supplier have made life more interesting than is tolerable, and the next generation machines that we're evaluating look promising, but since we're seeking quotes from all-new suppliers, it makes for an uncertain future.

However, that's of less importance than the current State of the Brew!

For the first time in a long time, I have a surplus of beer.

I've been brewing for a few good reasons:

A) I'm in the process of building a HERMs brewery, so I wanted to be rid of all my extract to make room for the all-grain future!

2) I'm planning an open house to celebrate the new place and thought it might as well be an Octoberfestish event.

***) I wanted to see if the back house got cool enough to brew a lager without using refrigeration (it does!)

0100) I have three kegs, and I recently bought a three way gas manifold - it doesn't make sense to have less ready when the equipment is there, does it?

So - I currently have three beers in various states:

1) Irish Red Ale - KEGGED!:

IBU: 39
Original gravity*: 1.050
Final Gravity: 1.011
ABV: 5.1%

This is my first attempt at a Killian's clone type of beer. It's a very drinkable beer, not too high in alcohol or hops, nice color, good clarity, but a little thin for my tastes. I'll leave it up to the Irish Ale enthusiasts to see how close I got to the style.

This was a partial extract brew on the stovetop - like just about everything else I've done over the past 6-7 years. I used all the same methods I've used over the years with this one (including the sink full of ice and a bucket method of cooling the wort prior to pitching.)

* The original gravity was artificially selected. Normally I'd mix and mash and record the final gravity instead of mashing and then mixing until I reached a particular number, but this particular batch had some problems..

For some reason, despite mashing at 150* for almost two hours, I still got starch when I tested for it, so I never fully converted the grain component. I even ramped up to 165* for about 15 mins to try to 'mash out' before adding the extract, but I still had some residual starch. I was worried that this would produce a cloudy, weak beer. That didn't happen, fortunately, but I did reserve some of the extra water, yielding a bit more than 4 gallons instead of the usual 5 to get an ABV over 5% (I know anything over 3.5% is safe, but I know I'll be keeping this around for a couple of months so I wanted to keep it above 5% for the sake of shelf stability.)

I've tasted it since then, and it's a fine beer. Not my best, and it's unlikely to win any contests, but I'll still be happy to drink it.

2) Oktoberfest style lager - in secondary

IBU: 24
Original gravity: 1.056
Gravity after primary fermentation: 1.013
Current ABV: 5.64%

This was the first beer to be put through my ice-fed recirculating wort chiller.

There are pictures HERE.

With an ABV this high and a german lager yeast working on it, I doubt there's very much fermentation still happening in this beer, but it's settling out and waiting to be kegged this weekend.

And finally..

3) Belgian style trippel - in secondary (will move to tertiary for third cycle ferment soon)

IBU: 24
Original gravity: 1.086 (!!)
Gravity after primary: 1.018
Current ABV: 9.0%

I plan to ferment this beer three times. I actually pitched a new strain of champagne yeast when I transferred to secondary. It's very possible that this yeast, along with the attenuation of my original strain of rocket-fuel inspiring yeast that I've been cultivating, that this could reach 11 or 12% ABV.

There was still krausen on top of the beer when I moved it to secondary. I left the krausen behind though in favor of the new yeast.

This one could be interesting, or it might just be a dried out husk of a beer that's become potent enough to power my car. We shall see..

Saturday, September 12, 2009

one ring - part two

So, in doing some investigation, it's clear that there are two ways that I can get my phone to give me the information that I need.

As always, one of these ways is more open to generalization and requires more effort - the other way is a quick hack that will probably work and will only work for this particular application.

As usual, I'm going to code both methods, starting with the hack.

So - the hack: I connect to WiFi networks in both my home and workplace automatically when my phone gets in range. Once this connection occurs, I'll set a bit on my home webserver that tells it what SSID I'm connected to, then I'll issue the appropriate GET and POST commands, and do some XML magic (which I haven't figured out yet) to tell Google Voice where I am, and have it ring the appropriate number.

Sounds easy - now I just need to learn PHP and Cocoa and Objective C.

The more complicated and more generalizable method will involve more HTTP server code to create an interface to geotag locations and have the phone let it know when I get within a certain distance of the them - either by automatically running as a background process - by pushing requests to the phone via APC, or by invoking it manually.. that part will be fun. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

one ring to rule them all!

Unfortunately, no, I don't mean the One Ring.

I'm talking about Google Voice. I have a GV number and it's great! I can give out one phone number and receive calls on whatever phone I happen to be nearest, but to do so requires either a bit of monkeying with a webUI, or knowing what days and times I'll be at certain locations.

Seems a bit, well, low tech to me.

I have an iPhone that is pretty much with me all the time, but my cell reception is terrible in my house. I could still use my SIP account and my WiFi to make/take calls on my iPhone, but mostly I just use my landline. It would be nifty if GV knew I was at home (I know, a little creepy too, but bear with me) and automagically routed calls my way.

Such a thing is possible, I'm sure, but it'll require some code, and a few hacks that are likely to be specific to my GV account - unless there is a GV API that I'm unaware of.

This blog doesn't get a lot of readers, but if you happen to know, drop me a line, I'll send some interesting code your way when I get it working.

FWIW, I've already found some bits here:
google-voice-add-on-development - but that's not really suitable to my needs. It still might help you if you're trying to do something similar, but different.

Friday, August 28, 2009

brewing again

Okay - so I've moved to a new place.

I have a yard, which means I have some outdoor space to do constructive and destructive things.

It's time to get serious about brewing. Really serious.

Over the course of the past 7 years (gees, has it been that long?) I've been content with stovetop partial mash brewing. My fitful attempts at full mash brewing have been less than adequate. Hell - even in my most recent partial mash brew I achieved less than total conversion of the grain component. I had no extra extract to throw in, so I had to adjust the gravity by adding less than the total 5 gallons of water that my recipe originally called for... tragic, but probably better than risking a really weak beer. As it is, this is an Irish red ale, which will be considerably lower gravity than the Belgian style ales that I've been brewing most recently.

Assuming I get close to perfect attenuation for the yeast strain I got (which isn't guaranteed - I didn't cultivate this strain) I'll end up with an ABV around 5.2%. Good enough for beer, but nowhere near the 9-15% that I've been cooking up with the past few batches.

But beer isn't all about the alcohol..

So - I'm designing a HERMS (Heat Exchanged Recirculating Mash System) - but find myself wondering if I should be investing in a brewery, or just get a burner and do some 10 gallon full mash brews in the yard first and invest in a kegerator instead..

Sunday, January 4, 2009

One of my other domain names forwards here now. I intended to do something different with at one point, but I've not got around to it, and I intend to blog about beer a lot more this year, so this seemed like as good a place to start as any.

I've got ingredients on order for 10 gallons of Belgian Dubble Dubbel, minus the Belgian candy, which it seems they don't supply any more at 7 Bridges, at least not through the website, so I'm going to make it myself this time. That should be interesting, and another thing to blog about!!

This time, I'll take pictures.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008



I'm terrified of what my future holds..