Thursday, July 2, 2015

I'm Back

After nearly a 2 year hiatus due to a bum back and the resulting surgery, I'm back in the brewing scene.  I've built myself a brewing rig on wheels so I'm not lugging around my equipment and spending time setting it up every time I brew and can get right to the good stuff.  Still needs some work, but its functional.  

I completed my first brew on the rig two weeks ago. I decided to go with a personal favorite, my Citra Pale Ale.  It is a full flavored pale ale that uses citra hops for my flavoring and aroma and dry hop.  It is delightfully refreshing on a hot summer day.  

I decided to do something  new (to me, I'm sure many homebrewers do the same) to  get my yeast going. I was using Safale 05, and decided to hydrate my yeast using some leftover second runnings from my mash. Let it sit and do its magic during my boil and chill. By the time it was time to pitch, I had some nice active yeast.

I hit my gravity spot on, and my fermentation chamber smells amazing. I can't wait to try this guy. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

As the end of August approaches, it seams as though the dog days of summer will never end.  Here in Houston i think we have demolished a record for consecutive tripple digit temperature days.  It has been a long time since I've posted any news on here, so I guess its time to catch you up.  Although, with the hot days, brewing has been brutal this summer and I have only done 5 brews since May.

Those 5 brews have been all-grain brews thanks to my friend Paul.  He made me a mash tun for my birthday and I waved goodbye to extract brewing.  My first attempt was supposed to be an american amber ale to try to create an all grain version of my first beer I brewed.  Well, i knew even as I was milling the ingredients that the recipie I had in my hand was not the recipie I had intended to make.  I went along with the instructions that I recieved from Defalco's and all I could do was Pray It Came Out.  Thus was born the PICO pale ale. 

An attempt at a centenial blonde was my second brew of the summer. I tried to do a little experiementing with the hops.  I used some different varieties than what the recipies called for.  Fast foward 3 weeks...the beer is still very young, but even now I can tell there is something off.  I'm not sure if it was my choice of hops for such a light beer, or if my high fermentation temps were to blame, but the blonde had very distinct esters present in the flavor.  It is drinkable, but only just.

After that debocle, I really had my heart set on doing something special.  I had an idea...dangerous, I know...but I wanted to know what would happen if I took a recipie originally intended for a stout or porter and hopped the hell out of it like an IPA.  I searched and searched and eventually found a recipie I wanted to
try, if for nothing else, the name.  The recipie was for the Darth Vader IPA.  I'm going to skip right to the point that I played with the recipie a little, brewed it, and it is mine, and several other of my brewing counterparts favorites now.  I actually like it enough that I want to dedicate a post just to it, so i'll save that for next time.

And finally, I was sitting around, SWMBO was out with her friends and I picked up some bombers at the store.  Stuff I'd never heard of...even though I should have.  I picked up a bottle of Bear Republic's Red Rocket Ale.  I instantly loved it and right then and there decided to do a nice big heavy red ale.  The funny thing is, even though my brew came in a bit watered down from what the recipie was intended to be, it was still a pretty big beer with a ton of flavor. 

That is the story of how I spent my summer filling my kegerator with my own beer.  It really needs to cool down so that I can get back to a regular brew schedule. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Keeze is pouring beer!

The keezer, kegerator, or whatever you want to call it, now referred to as "Black Betty" is working.  it pours fantastic beer.  I can't wait to get brewing so that I can fill it up.  Right now it has the APA and American Amber Ale on tap. I'm hoping to add in a nice blonde ale, and maybe a brown ale of some sort. I'd like to have a spectrum of beers being served. Kind of what are you in the mood for.  Here is a link to the forum that I posted my progress along the build. You can see how it was created every step of the way.

Here is the finished product!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Kegging Time!

Alright! I picked up my kegerator kit last Wednesday.  I ended up going ahead and springing for a full 4 taps, plus the kegs. I upgraded my taps to the Perlick 525ss faucets.  I have all the shanks, hoses, quick disconnects, manifolds, and regulators I needed.  I immediately consulted Paul and kegged up the two batches i had waiting in fermenters for this momentous occasion. That was soooooo much nicer than rinsing out 48 individual bottles, loading them into the dishwasher, waiting for them to cool and then filling 48 individual bottles.  I just risned the kegs out with oxyclean, sanitized them and racked in my beer. So much less hassle.

I spent all Saturday looking around for a suitable freezer.  I came home with nothing.  On Sunday evening I took a look at craigslist to see if anything new had popped up.  There were two promising posts that I saw.  Monday around lunch time I called them up. One was already gone.  The other...Bingo!  Available.  The guy on the phone described the freezer to be much larger than it actually was, so when i got there, I was a little discouraged.  I put in my cardboard rounds that I made so that I could see if the freezer would be large enough.  The fit was tight, but I said, the hell with it.  I'll make it work.  When I got the freezer home popped in my kegs and they fit like a glove.  I couldn't have asked for a better freezer. 

Now I've got the task of actually converting this thing into a Kegerator.  I've got an amazing plan in my head.  I've just got to figure out how to execute it.  I'll keep posting with pictures along the progress.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hops? Yes please!

I do not consider my self a fan of super hoppy beers by any means.  Paul over at 12 Paws brewed up his Hop Bomb beer a while back.  Man was that thing hoppy.  My exact words when I first tried it were "I respect it, I respect that beer, but damn, I do not like it."  I was also well into the middle of our Halloween party, so probably not the best time to try it.  I tried it again a few weeks later and didn't mind it as much.  It actually has a nice malty undertone.  His 30th birthday was just the other day so my friends and I all pitched in and picked him up a Blichmann Hop Rocket.  I'm actually a little exited to taste beers that use it as an in-line hop infuser and one that uses it as a Randalizer. 

All this talk about hoppy beer made me want to take my first venture into something with a bit more bite in my own brewing.  I decided it was time for me to brew an American Pale Ale.  I wanted something that was distinctly a hoppy pale ale, but not too overpowering.  I brewed it up about 13 days ago. I racked it over to the secondary earlier this week.  When I tasted it, at the test, it was spot on.  Very crisp flavors with a nice floral hoppy bite at the end.  I'm excited about this beer because I will most likely be the first of my brews to go into a keg.  I'm excited about that.  I'll have to go pick up all the stuff to do that sometime over the next week or so.  Then its on to building my ultimate beer dispensing apparatus.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday beer update

So...I went to the store yesteday, picked up some dried Ancho chilis from the produce dept, but since they were just laying out, i figured I needed to sterilize them first.  I also wanted to add in some more cocoa powder. It was evident by looking at the fermenting bucket that most of what I put in during the boil was lon longer there. So I boiled up some water and added in the cocoa powder so that it wouldn't clump when I added it to the beer. I poured this over the chilis in a mixing bowl and let it sit for a while. I put all that into the secondary and then racked in on top of that.  I had enough beer i was all the way up to the neck of the secondary.  MISTAKE.  I remember reading that when you rack into the secondary you will see a little bit of fermentation action because it kind of reacitvates the yeast a bit. Well...when i was taking the dogs out this morning I noticed it smelled like beer in the man cave so I decided to check on the brew. Definitely had beer coming out of the air lock and a nice puddle siting on the floor.  Its going to be some good beer I think.  I wonder if the cocoa powder or the Ancho chilies had extra fermentable sugars that boosted this. (The cocoa powder shouldn') I'll bottle this when I get back from Christmas and I'm betting its going to be a fantastic beer. 
On a secondary note, I had, prematurely I might add, pulled one of my holiday spiced ales and put it in the fridge. It had only been in the bottle a week at that point.  I tasted it last night and let me say that it is definitely an interesting beer. It almost taste like a ginger beer, which is weird considering there's no ginger in it.  I believe it was the nutmeg coming through, and I wished it was a bit more subdued in that regard.  You can tell it is a high alcohol beer too!  It wasn't very well carbed but that might be a result of prematurely opening it.  I think with a bit of aging, this beer could be good. As it is, its drinkable, in small doses. 
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good weekend in Jake's beerland

Firs off, as an update, I bottled my Holiday Spiced Ale last night. It had great color, good clarity. The flavors were there, its a little heavy on the nutmeg, but I can handle that. I only got 38 beers out of the batch so this will be called a "limited" beer from Two Dogs Brewery.  But hey, its got about 7.5% ABV so i guess in the end, you don't actually need as much.

Saturday afternoon Paul and I got together for a joint brew day again. He once again took on the task of an all grain recipe, while I stuck with a partial mash.  I had been toying with the idea of a Chocolate Chili Stout.  My last attempt at a stout, I have deemed undrinkable. It had a good aroma and mouthfeel, with a nice thick head, but when I drank it, it had a bitter astringent flavor.  So, with great remorse, I have decided to pour them out. I'm going to keep a cople bottles around for a few more months and just see if anything develops in them.  But I digress.  Since my first stout was a miserable failure, I've decided it was time to try another. This time I knew I wanted to do a Chocolate stout, but I wanted to add some flair. So I debated, researched, and debated some more on how I was going to achieve the chili flavor in the chocolate stout.  I used a couple of different methods actually. 

I picked a handfull of cayanne peppers that had turned red from my personal pepper garden and slightly dried them in the oven, just to remove that raw pepper flavor. I cut them up and removed some seeds. I let them steep in boiling hot water to extract the flavor. The first time I did this, it wasn't strong enough so I added in some more and did another batch.  I added in this tea at the boil.  at 10 minutes left in the boil I also added in a dried Ancho and some other dried chilis to try and get a bit more chili flavor into the brew.  I immediately started to smell the chili aroma. I will admit I got a little scared when I started to smell the chilis. I didn't want it to get too spicy, so I pulled out a couple of the hotter chili pods.  I figure if I test the taste at 1 week in the primary and the chili isn't coming through, I'll just rack into the secondary on top of some more chilis to pick up some more flavors. I'm not sure, but I might have to do this with the cocoa as well. So...I will keep my fingers crossed on this one. I have high hopes and if it comes out good. I'd like to make it an annual batch. 

I also finally got around to making myself and immersion chiller on saturday. Until now, i've been borrowing others or just using an ice bath.  It cost me about $43 bucks, but it is only a 20 ft coil.  I would really like to make a 50 ft. coil. Maybe one day I'll pull the money together when I think I've run out of stuff to buy for brewing.  Good news is, that I do have enough input hose that i can make a prechiller out of that to help the process next time. 

So, now that I seem to have ramped up production and am starting to get my pipeline going, I'm going to need to get a label together. I'm thinking i'm just going to do one label for all normal beers. I might make special labels for seasonal or annual batch beers.  I'll post once I have something to show.  Most likely it will look similar to the Lazy Dog Stout label.