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..

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