Monday, April 13, 2009

What a Weekend!

I had Friday and Monday off so I decided to get some brewing chores done.
  • On Friday I cleaned and sanitized 2 kegs, kegged my Patersbier, harvested the yeast from the Patersbier for a tripel I'll brew sometime, and built a 50 foot immersion chiller for less than 50 bucks.  Copper has gotten really cheap!
  • I spent Saturday and Sunday putting up the new hop towers, transplanting my Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus, and planting my new Saaz and Horizon rhizomes.  I used PVC for the towers, one tower per plant.  I sank a 5 foot section of 2 inch PVC into the ground, then put a 10 foot 1.5 inch pipe inside the 2 incher.  That gave me 7 feet above ground, so I added another 5 feet to get a total of 12.  Not super high, but good enough.  It does sway a little, but hopefully they'll stay standing in the wind.  I went with the individual towers because I thought this would be the easiest way to keep the different varieties separate.
  • On Monday morning I brewed my first 10 gallon batch, an APA.  Getting 12 gallons of wort to boil didn't take as long as anticipated, and I chilled to 52 in 25 minutes with my new ugly chiller (a little too cold!), but siphoning was a pain.  My burner stand isn't high enough to get a good siphon going so the large amount of pellet and whole hops kept stopping the siphon.  I'm going to get some concrete blocks to elevate my rig a little for next time.  I'm also looking into installing a ball valve, pickup tube, and thermometer.  Ten gallons took me about 4 and a half hours from dragging out my gear to putting everything away, but the siphoning and racking to primary took a half hour!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?

Since I haven't posted in awhile, here's a quick rundown of what I've been up to beerwise.
  • Kicked the Oatmeal Stout keg.  Overall this was a nice beer.  Good roasted barley character, a little toasted flavor, and a nice and smooth mouthfeel.  May have been just a bit too bitter, so I'll probably use a little less at 60 minutes.  While I enjoyed drinking this beer, I got a little sick of it by the end.  Not a real session beer.
  • Brewed the Double IPA with almost 2 ounces of Warrior at 60 to bitter.  I split 2 ounces of Simcoe and 2 ounces of Summit into three piles and added each pile at 15, 5, and flameout.  I was going to use the yeast cake from the VSS Imperial Blend but the starter beer I brewed and attempted to FWH for the first time, did it wrong, and mistreated the yeast somehow so it tasted too estery.  I just pitched 2 packets of US05 instead.  This beer did finish too sweet, so next time I'll use more sugar instead of malt to get it dryer, but it tasted drier than it measured.  At 10% ABV and 125 IBUs, this beer is really deceiving and dangerously drinkable.
  • Brewed a Patersbier with Wyeast 3787 and all Saaz hops.  I'm hoping to use the yeast cake for a tripel in a month or so.
  • I have converted my keg into a kettle, but I still need to clean it up and do a test run.  I'm not real confident in how fast I'll be able to boil with my current burner.  I think that I'll also probably need to build a new immersion chiller for 10 gallon batches, which reminds me that I need to do that soon since I'm having a Big Brew Day club event and was going to split a batch of Saison with a friend.  I'm thinking about giving the Brew in a Bag all grain method a try this summer once I finish the upgrade.
  • Last Saturday the RAZE club toured the Mantorville Brewing Company.  The owner, Tod Fyten, started as a homebrewer and gave us the full on beer geek version of the tour.  It was awesome!  He really had a lot of insight into the history of beer and brewing, especially in Minnesota, and also gave us a detailed talk of his brewing process.  We finished it off with some samples of his Maple Ale, Blonde, and Smoked Porter.  I got a growler of the Smoked Porter and had no problem finishing it. 
This weekend the club is meeting at a member's house to get rhizomes, but it's been pretty cold here lately so I think we might get frozen out.  I'd like to get the keggle cleaned up and do a test boil at some point too.  At some point I need to brew again too, probably an APA.