Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big News!

I am now kegging! Here's the setup I got:

My current setup will be to toss these guys in a wine fridge I got from HomeDespot a few years ago, it's about the size of the infamous 4912. I went with the double regulator though because down the road I'm thinking I'll go the chest freezer route and put a keg of soda on for the kids which will require a different serving pressure (I think), and this was the same price as a single regulator with a splitter/manifold, so I figured it was worth it. For now I'll be able to serve one and force carb the other without having to mess around too much, important because the CO2 is going to be stuck behind the kegs without a whole lot of room to maneuver.

The first batch that I'll keg is currently fermenting. Last Saturday night I got all my stuff together, put grains into bags, filled the brewpot with filtered water, and got everything to go for an early morning brew session on Sunday. I woke up at 5:30 and my boil was going by 6:30. The recipe was Jamil's American Amber/Red Rocket clone. Here's the specs:

  • 6.75 lbs Briess Pilsen DME
  • 1 lb Briess Amber DME
  • 1 lb American Crystal 40
  • .5 lb American Crystal 120
  • .5 lb American Victory
  • 3 oz British Pale Chocolate
  • 1 oz Columbus - 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Cascade - 10 minutes
  • 1 oz Centennial - 10 minutes
  • 1 oz Cascade - flameout
  • 1 oz Centennial - flameout

I came up with an OG of 1.070 and 60 IBUs. I'm really hoping this one turns out, since I am growing all of these hops, so if I like the hop combo I can keep making this beer for cheap. I tried to do a mini mash on the stove of the grains, but it was sort of hard to keep them at the right temp and I ended up undershooting the estimated OG. I might have added a little too much water or something since my 32 quart pot isn't quite enough to do a full 6 gallon boil once I start adding DME. I'm thinking after I get my kegging system running I might rig up a mini mashtun out of a 2 or 3 gallon cooler with a valve and a stainless braid. If it works I might be able to get rid of some of my DME costs by making some of my own fermentables out of much cheaper grains. We'll see though.

While I was at Midwest Homebrewing Supplies picking up my kegging system I also scored some Simcoe, Columbus, and Amarillo for cheap (although they limit you to 3 ounces of a variety), so now I've got over a pound of hops in the freezer. I think my next batch is going the be the AHA Big Brew's Fill in the Hop Blonde (maybe with Willamette?) to have a gateway beer for people who come over after the new baby comes that might not dig hopmonsters, and then I'll brew up my American Brown ale and after that it will be all APAs and IPAs for a while. I think I'll try to do single hop batches this summer so I can get a really good feel for bittering, flavor, and aroma qualities.

My Wee Heavy is finally carbed and tastes pretty good. It's a nice dark brown with ruby highlights and a nice malty sweet aroma. Not much hop presence obviously, but it's a big chewy beer, just a little alcohol warming (not fusels though). This one tastes a little young, so I'm looking forward to how it tastes in the fall and winter.

The Cascarillo is carbed too and super tasty. This one just had an ounce of Cascade and half ounce of Amarillo at 10 minutes and then the same at flameout, bittered with an ounce of Cascade, and it is awesome. Nice pale gold color, good citrus and flowery hop aroma, and a nice grapefruit hop flavor. I'll be brewing this later this summer with more Amarillo to see what happens. After tasting this I wish I would have put more Amarillo late in the boil on my Hopslam clone.


Matt Andrews said...

I want a sign that says, Gone Keggin! I love having beer on tap, it really is the best thing I ever did other than moving to all grain. Good purchase! I used to want a dual regulator, but when I moved to ten gallons, it didn't really matter. I would like it if I ever do try to have 2 beer varieties on tap. I however found that I could carb and pour at 12 psi, but it would take longer to carb, so that was the downfall.

I don't think I've used Amarillo hops. I have heard good things about this hop, I think I need to find a way to get her in a beer. I am still hooked on the grapefruit aroma that I found in Hopslam.

So if you woke up at 5:30 to brew, did that mean you were drinking at 5:30? haha! I try to make it a rule to pay homage to the beer gods when working with my homwbrew! Which can lead to trouble if I pay a little too much homage...

Sounds good! Keep on brewing and now kegging!

rich.tessler said...

Yup, I'm pretty stoked. I've had a minikeg system for a few years but I could never quite get the carbonation level dialed. I am super excited to not have to rely on natural carbonation anymore. No more waiting and uneven results.

You should definitely try to get some Amarillo. I am really liking the Cascade/Amarillo blend, it's got such a nice aroma and flavor to it. This beer tastes quite grapefruity too, which is why the next time I use it I'm throwing more in. I think I got a 2 oz package of plugs, so I'll probably throw an ounce in at 10 minutes and then another at flameout. I'm not sure what I'll bitter with. I've got 4 or 5 ounces of Columbus in the freezer, plus a bunch of Simcoe and Cascade, but I've been kicking myself all day for not filling my 10 ounce maximum at Midwest yesterday with 2 ounces of Galena or some other high alpha bittering hop, especially since I wouldn't have to pay shipping (my lhbs doesn't carry much of the good stuff for a hophead like me). Stupid!

And yes, of course, I was drinking at 5:30. I actually started off with a Bourbon Barrel Brown, you know, a light breakfast beer.