Thursday, December 20, 2007

Preparing for the break

Alright, so it's almost Christmas break and I'm trying to make room for the inaugural batches that I hope to brew on my new burner. Here's what I've been up to:
  • Last Friday I bottled my Abbey Blonde Ale. Originally this was Northern Brewer's Lefse Blonde kit but I dropped it down to 4 gallons because my 6 gallon primary was occupied and I wanted to bump up the gravity. I think this was the first beer I ever brewed that I didn't rack to secondary. At the time I was reading on various forums that many brewers do this to let the yeast finish the job, so I figured what the heck. When I was bottling it didn't look super clear, but the yeast was pretty flocculant so I didn't bring too much of the cake to the bottling bucket when I racked it. We'll see what happens after conditioning. Has anyone out there skipped the secondary? Do you do it often? Just curious.
  • On Sunday I racked my British Bitter to secondary on top of some cherries. This beer started out as Northern Brewer's British Bitter kit but I added an extra half pound of DME and a pound of brown sugar just for fun. I didn't feel like springing for the Oregon beer-specific can of cherries, and was worried that the cherry juice I was eyeing would dilute my precious brew, so I ended up using 4 14.5 ounce cans of Oregon Fruit Products Tart Cherry pie filling. They're Montmorency cherries packed in water, no preservatives, no added sugar. I'm going to call this one "The Full Monty". I made a stupid mistake though: when I racked into the secondary I filled it up pretty much to the top and after a few hours I noticed that the beer has now traveled about 6 inches up my blowoff tube. Whoops! I'm pretty happy that I did think ahead and throw the blowoff tube on instead of the airlock though, otherwise I'd have a pretty big mess on my hands. I'm hoping to bottle this one right after Christmas.
  • Last weekend I picked up "Designing Great Beers" by Ray Daniels. Wow. What. An. Awesome. Book. It has a ridiculous amount of information and charts and graphs that are way over my head, but the second part of the book breaks down each individual style, gives a history of how the style evolved, and then analyzes beers from that style that made it to the second round of the National Homebrew Competition in 1993 and 1994. That makes it a little dated, but not enough to detract from the book's value. Daniels then looks at all those recipes and tells you that X% used X malt in X quantity, and X% of the beers used X ounces of X hops at X time during the boil, etc. It's a really cool book. I can see using this for the rest of my brewing career. It's got a ton of information that I can use right now to get away from kits with some confidence, but enough technical information to keep me busy if I ever figure out what the hell he's talking about. I strongly recommend you pick this up, you won't be disappointed.

What brews do you have on deck?


bri said...

The first 2 or 3 batches I ever brewed, I had no choice but to bottle after the primary. There will be sediment at the bottom of each bottle. If you want a very yeasty taste with some chuncks, then bottoms up. I usually would pour into a glass, unless I was out fishing.

Thanks for the tip on the book. I'll be picking that one up.

SWART said...

The first few batches I did were also straight from the primary and I had the same issue with sediment. I dont think it affected the taste though.

I havent brewed since the last post but I just recieved my Trippel kit and today (Christmas) got an outdoor cooker/fryer. Im looking forward to using it. Rich, how do you like yours? Any advice?


rich.tessler said...

Jeremy, aren't you a dad yet?

As far as secondaries go, I'm going to give up on them except for beers that need lots of aging or weird additions to secondary (wood, fruit, etc.). The abbey blonde is mostly carbed now and tastes awesome! When I pour it there's no issue with sediment and it is actually pretty clear. Maybe I'll post pictures later.

As far as the fryer goes, first, you're welcome. Sara called me to ask what you would want, I suggested the valve on the bottom. You owe me some beer. Congratulations though. Second, I haven't actually used mine yet. I am planning on going to Northern Brewer tomorrow or Friday to get the Wee Heavy kit and also ingredients for an American Brown that I am formulating right now.

I am going to start a new post about the fryer right now.

Bri said...

I didn't get to brew during the Christmas break, but I kegged my Fat Tire Clone. I'm stoked to give that one a try. I've got a few more glasses of Oktoberfest left. That was an ok batch, easy to drink but no exciting flavors or aroma. I might get around to brewing an Anchor Steam knock off this coming weekend. I've tested the temperature in my basement and it's perfect for lager yeast right now. So this will be my first.