Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mission Aborted

Happy New Year!

My original plan for this break was to bottle my cherry beer (The Full Monty) first, then brew my Bourbon Brown and a Wee Heavy. I was dying to finally test the new turkey fryer and the immersion chiller and new glass primary (#2) that Santa brought me. Because of family stuff and food induced laziness, the bottling was put off even before Kris Kringle visited. To get in the brewing spirit, Eli and I made a pilgrimage to Northern Brewer last Friday, where I picked up their Wee Heavy kit and the ingredients for an American Brown Ale that I designed. He's an awesome little helper; he had a lot of fun helping me pick out my grains and run the mill in the grain room. I made both yeast starters on Saturday morning and also steamed an ounce of oak chips that are steeping in 5 ounces of Makers Mark right now, waiting to be tossed in the secondary of the brown ale. The plan was to brew both batches on New Year's Day, but the temp never got above 5 degrees today. That's too cold for me to stand outside and brew 2 batches, so I bitched out. Instead, I bottled The Full Monty today, and set up my turkey fryer stand and the hoses and fittings for the immersion chiller. So, brew day has been moved to Saturday.

I do have 2 questions for the loyal readers of this blog (all 2 of you): Do you use yeast starters? If so, how often? I'm trying to figure out what to do with the starters I made. They'll be 7 days old by the time they're pitched, so they'll be dormant I'm guessing. Should I let them ferment out for another day, then toss them in the fridge and maybe add some more DME on Friday? Or, should I just let them hang out and pitch them as is?


bri said...

I tried a yeast starter once because it was a dry yeast pack that came with the ingrediants. I think I only let it go for a few hours. I would check in your new homebrew book. I've been using the smack packs and have had the best success with those. I tried white labs viles once and didn't care for that at all.

I received a burner stand for christmas. It's called the big kahuna. It's a really nice one with telescoping legs up to 30" and it's really wide for a large pot. I think I'll be waiting until it gets above 40 to be standing outside for 2 hrs though and need to pick up a 30 liter pot.

I brewed on New years eve. I had to switch from the Anchor steam to coffee stout due to shortage in the correct yeast. Even for the coffee stout I had to make substitutions for yeast and hops. But figured this beer wouldn't be affected as much as the other with different ingrediants. One question for you guys is the recipe called for steeping coffee beans after the boil. I had never done this before and directions sucked to say the least, so I ground up some beans, bagged them and tossed in the wort at 200 deg for 15 minutes. Then I cooled the wort and piched the yeast. So, I'm not sure if I should have cooled the wort more to about 160 / 170 like steeping grains. I'm more curious what the correct procedure is for this.

rich.tessler said...

Bri, I was just reading up on this at the tastybrew forum (http://tastybrew.com/forum/search.html - search "coffee" subjects only). It seems like you generally want to stay away from boiling coffee, but if you had it at 200 that's less than the boiling point so you might not get the acidic flavors the guys on the forum warned about. It sounds like the best way to go about it is to add some strong brewed coffee to the secondary or add dry grounds like you would dry hop. How much coffee did you add? I guess if it was mine, I would relax, let the yeast do their thing, then rack it into secondary, taste a sample, and add more to secondary if you need to mask any off flavors. Even if it tastes like crap, you can just add more coffee and end up with stout flavored coffee instead of coffee flavored stout.

I've been making yeast starters for the last few batches and have made them in the past for higher gravity beers. The more I read, the more it seems like they are a good idea - shorter lag time means less chance of infection and healthier larger yeast populations means fewer off flavors (combine with proper ferm temps), and it isn't much work. The 2IPA and Abbey I'm drinking right now were both made with starters (plus close attention to fermentation temps), and I think they are 2 of the best beers I've made. I think I'm going to keep making them from now on. FWIW, I ended up crashing the 2 starters in the fridge and if I have time I'll decant the spent wort and add some fresh food to step up the starters and make them active tomorrow night. If I get lazy though I'll just decant on Saturday and pitch the cake.

rich.tessler said...

Just to clarify, I don't think your stout is going to end up tasting like crap. If it doesn't taste the way you want though, you can always add more coffee. Not trying to insult you dude.

Also, what yeast are you using for the steam beer?

SWART said...

Well, at least I made it to the third post before a lot of the language was over my head. I obviously dont have as much experience as you guys at this. I am not at all familiar with yeast starters and certainly have not tried adding wood to my wort. Ive been meaning to open Dave Millers Handbook for Homebrewing again to brush up on the science behind everything and this seems like a good time.

Tomorrow though, I will be brewing my Trippel after a morning of snowshoeing at Tahoe. So far the baby is either sleeping or breastfeeding, neither one needs me, so I am free for at least one more day. Thanks to the baby, temps in the house are maintained at about 72 degrees which should work fine for fermentation.

rich.tessler said...

72 should be awesome for a tripel! I just brewed 2 batches outside today, breaking in the turkey fryer. I'll do a full write up tomorrow. How's that baby of yours? Keep me posted on the tripel, I'm thinking that might be my next brew.

Bri, you out there? Seriously man, I think your beer will be fine...

rich.tessler said...

Jeremy, what's the Miller book like? Worth picking up?

Bri said...

I'm hear, just been pretty busy lately. I've been reading but haven't had enough time to post.

For the coffee stout, I will be racking to secondary tomorrow, so I'll give it a smell/taste test at that point. I plan on dumping whole coffee beans into the secondary. I'm hesitant to add brewed coffee into it, but glad you suggested it; cool idea.

As for the Anchor Steam clone, my homebrew store should have the yeast in this week. It's the wyeast lager California #2112.

I tapped the Fat Tire today. It tastes great and even has the typical belgium subtle fruit flavor.

Jeremy, the Tripple sounds awesome. I was thinking of doing a dubble sometime soon as well.

How did you like brewing outdoors Rich? With your deck, it's probably not much different than in the kitchen.