Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Fever

Well, spring is here, and with the upcoming birth of my second son, the extra stress that goes with my job in the spring, and the unfortunate disaster of dumping my dubbel, not to mention that Wee Heavy that refuses to carbonate, I am looking at building up my reserves.

On Saturday I brewed up a Cascade and Amarillo APA (Cascarillo). The quick recipe:
  • 6 pounds Pilsen DME
  • 8 ounces Victory malt
  • 6 ounces Crystal 40
  • 2 ounces Crystal 10
  • 1 oz Cascade (60 min.)
  • 1 oz Cascade plus .5 oz Amarillo (10 min.)
  • 1 oz Cascade plus .5 oz Amarillo (flameout)
The Crystal 40 and 10 and the Amarillo were leftovers from the Hopslam project. I've been really digging Cascade hops and APAs lately, so I'm planning on brewing the same beer over and over this summer and just swapping out the hops to see if I can detect any differences. After the Hopslam I only had an ounce each of Simcoe, Columbus, and Amarillo, which isn't much, but I decided that I would separate those and combine them with Cascade, which I bought cheap at my LHBS. I really want to stick to the same recipe as much as possible, but I will just be using Crystal 40 for the next 2 batches. This was also my first batch with Safale US-05 dry yeast, and so far I like it. No messing with starters, just open and dump it into the wort. 12 hours later I had fermenting wort. For my next several batches I intend to use this (I bought 9 packs) and put the money I saved on yeast into hops.

The Hopslam clone is well on its way to completion. While the Cascarillo was boiling away, I racked the Hopslam into secondary on top of an ounce of Cascades for dryhopping. The sample I pulled had dropped down to 1.017, which I think puts this beer at about 9% alcohol. The big yeast cake I pitched really helped with the attenuation. The sample was almost orange with a nice hop aroma, not huge though, which is why I dryhopped. The taste was obviously hop forward, citrusy, a little grapefruit, and a little sweetness underneath. It was much drier than the sample I pulled 2 weeks ago, so I think this thing will be drinkable as soon as it carbs up. Here's a few pics that I finally pulled off the camera from brew day and fermentation:

Check out this blowoff, I had to dump the gallon pitcher 4 times!

2 Saturdays ago I attended my second RAZE (Rochester Area Zymurgy Enthusiasts) homebrew club meeting. One of the members had it at his house and we helped him put up a new trellis system for his hops. I had written off the idea of growing hops this year, but after seeing his setup and getting hooked up with some rhizomes, I got pretty fired up about planting my own hopyard. As soon as I got home I started looking for any rhizomes that were still available online and managed to find Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus from Zeus is apparently the same as Columbus and Tomahawk, just not trademarked. I ordered on Sunday and Friday night I planted. I had to scale back my original plans, but now I've got 3 mounds in rich Minnesota soil and I've got high hopes. I dug a hole about 2 feet square and about 6 inches down, mixed in a few shovelfuls of composted manure, and then built up a mound and put the rhizomes on top. I used an 8 foot 2x2 buried 2 feet in the ground to get them started, and then I'm going to run twine from the top of the stakes to eye bolts that I'll screw into the top of the barn. This should give me at least 20 feet of room to run. There's more pictures below. So to all of my loyal readers (haha), what's brewing? Did anybody else get rhizomes in the ground?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Death of the Dubbel

It's been awhile since I've posted, I guess I've been busy with work and being sick all last week so I haven't been doing too much brewing related stuff lately. On Sunday I finally got around to checking the gravity of the Dubbel and the Hopslam clone. The dubbel had dropped down to 1.016, lower than the target. I thought that was interesting since it took 3 yeast additions to get the dang thing going and then it crapped out after about 3 days, so I was curious what it would taste like. Now, granted, I had just gotten over the stomach flu so it was the first taste of beer I had in about a week, but that was the single worst taste I have ever had in my mouth. I couldn't even force it down. After an hour of hemming and hawing I finally did what had to be done, I dumped it. This was the first time I ever dumped a batch and it was probably the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life.

The Hopslam clone is coming along nicely. The sample I tasted smelled awesome, super citrusy and delicious, but the taste was a liiiitle rough around the edges. Hopefully it will be an awesome beer, just going to take a little time to let the big bastard mellow. The gravity had dropped to 1.022, which is only a few points away from the target, but it is still bubbling every 10 seconds or so after more than 2 weeks in the fermenter, so I've still got hopes that it will continue to drop. I did bring it upstairs into slightly warmer temps to prevent the yeast from pooping out early.

In other news, I stopped at a homebrew shop in Stevens Point 2 weeks ago when I went to visit my folks and picked up 9 packs of Safale US-05 dry yeast to experiment with this summer. I've heard good things about it so I'm hoping that it works well for the APAs, brown ales, and ambers I have planned for the summer. I figured that it will save me some time and messing around with starters, while also being easier on the wallet. Of course, any savings will be reinvested in hops! I'm still holding out hope to be kegging by the time the next baby comes, but I have to save some dough, not an easy thing now that golf and fishing season have finally started. Finally, my wee heavy has still not carbed up! It has been almost a month now. I've got the bottles sitting on a heating pad right now and I swirled them up to hopefully wake up any yeast that's left. What's the longest you've waited to have a carbonated beer?