Thursday, September 4, 2008

Union Brew - Big Bill's Brown Ale

With my last weekend of the summer I decided to spend Labor Day brewing and drinking homebrew and decided a big American style brown ale was in order. Being Labor Day and a union man, I just had to name it after Big Bill Haywood, labor organizer and one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. This batch is a second shot at the Bourbon Barrel Brown, but without the bourbon or oak. I envisioned this as having a little more chocolate but also some more residual sweetness than the first attempt, so I added a little more caramel malts in 3 different lovibonds for complexity, more chocolate for flavor and color, and some pale chocolate for a little toastiness. I kept the hop varieties (Galena for bittering, Ahtanum for flavor/aroma) and schedule the same, but IBUs decreased just a little. Just like I did with the Columbus APA, I brewed with 6 gallons of unsoftened and untreated tap water from outside that I treated with a campden tablet to remove chlorine and chloramine. Big Bill's Brown came in at 1.066 OG and 52 IBUs. I'll leave this in the primary for 3 or 4 weeks and then it's going straight to keg.

While I was brewing this I poured the last pint of my Raspberry Wheat. It's pretty depressing to have a kegging setup with no beer to put in it :( For the first time since June (aside from beer for camping, which doesn't count) I had to buy beer that somebody else made. Bummer. This brew shortage got me motivated so I'm brewing again Saturday morning. On deck I've got Jamil Zainasheff's Mild ale from his book "Brewing Classic Styles." If you don't have this book already, go get it. Now. 80 award winning recipes (1 or 2 for each BJCP category) that have all won ribbons for one of the best homebrewers in the country. So far I've done the IPA and American Amber and they've been 2 of my best beers, so I've got high hopes for this one. It's a very small beer - the OG is only 1.036 - so it will be kind of weird to brew this, but I've heard good things about the recipe and it should be done fast so I'll be able to go right to keg quickly and start drinking a nice session beer for football season.

In other homebrew news, I picked up some more hops (Simcoe and Argentina Cascade) and a spare keg on a recent trip to Midwest Supplies. I just saw today that Freshops has some of the 08 hop crop in and they've got some varieties for pretty cheap, so I'm deciding if I should pull the trigger or not. One thing that complicates the decision is I just dropped a big chunk of change on a 50 pound bag of dry malt extract. I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to store it without it getting chunky, but buying in bulk will save me about 8 bucks a batch for a standard 1.056 beer with 6 pounds of DME in it, so if it works out I figure it's worth it.


Bri said...

Hey Rich,
That's pretty cool you bought DME in bulk. I'm interested in how you store it as well. Did you break it up into small ziplock bags and tupperware? Maybe 6 lbs each bag?

My CO2 tank finally went empty. I'm not sure exactly what batch I started the keg system with, but it was a minimum of (6) 5-gal kegs on a 5 lb tank.

richt said...

I was thinking about breaking it up into 2 and 4 pound bags or something but figured it would be a hassle. I asked about it on the northernbrewer forum and it sounds like it might be alright just storing it in the original bag. I'll try that for awhile and see what happens. I'll probably go through it in about 3 months so I'm hoping I don't have to rebag into smaller packs.

I'm on my 5th keg I think on my first CO2 and force carbed everything. Looks like I'll have to figure out where to refill here. Thanks for the reminder!

Bri said...

Friday night I went to fill a glass and she was dead. Checked the guages and everything was at zero. I did force carb 2 more kegs on top of the 6 I drank out of. So It's around 6 or 7 kegs. I would just let the beer flow until you go empty.