Tag Archive for 'Homebrew'

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Kegged the spruce ale

I kegged the spruce ale tonight and was very pleased with the results. I crash-cooled one of the carboys to see if that helped with the abundance of yeast still in solution when I racked to secondary. Just from a visual check, there wasn’t any noticable difference, but the flavor of the warm carboy was much more interesting. No surprise there, but both had a really nice, unique citrus sweetness. The warmer beer had much more of it, and as luck would have it, that’s the keg that I’ll be bottling from for gifts.

Now, we just need to find a name. “Just the tip” won’t work since I obviously used more than just spruce tips, and, well, it’s a little crass for something that we’ll pour at Christmas dinner. Michelle is looking for alliteration, so we’ll see soon what the name is. Current favorite? Santa’s Sprucey Sauce.

Spruce Ale update

I racked the spruce tip ale to secondary fermentation. I’m a little surprised at all the foam – it’s been a long time since I’ve had krausen push foam out the airlock. There was a ton of trub, and lots of stringy protein, so hopefully everything is still in order. The gravity at the time of transfer was already down to 1.014, so my precious Safale US-05 is on the spot again.

The taste, while very yeasty still, has a nice, fairly big but not off-putting spruce taste. Good. I think I’ll have it in secondary through this week then crash cool it to drop some of the yeast out for the beer that will be kegged. We’ll see about the beer bound for bottles. I may actually keg both batches and bottle from the keg to have it carbonated in time for Christmas.

Spruce Tip Brew

holding some frozen blue spruce tips

Handful of spruce tips

While planning for a holiday brew, I discovered that spruce tips can only be gotten in the spring when the trees are budding. While I read of some folks experiences using old needles (and branches), the result wasn’t something I wanted to shoot for. So I started formulating for a bigger dark winter beer. Then a coworker posted a comment about completing a spruce beer, so I pinged him to see where he’d collected the spruce from. He’d harvested in the spring then frozen it, and he offered what he had left. Score! The following day he showed up with a frozen bag of adorable green buds that had a wonderful citrus aroma. He also shared some tips for brewing with them, such as the decay rate of the pleasant flavors coming from the spruce tips.

Anyway, I reformulated my beer and tried to bring the body down to much paler malt profile as to not overwhelm the spruce tips.

Grain bill

  • 14 lbs 2-row
  • 8 lbs Gambrinus pils
  • 2 lbs Munich
  • 1 lbs Crystal 10L
  • 1 lbs Victory

Hops

  • 2 oz Newport  (8% alpha) @ 60
  • 2 oz Crystal (4% alpha) @ 10
  • 1 oz Crystal @ 5 & 2 min

Other

  • Unknown quantity of spruce tips (Tim, where’s my scale?)
  • 2 packs for Safale us – 05
  • 2ish tablespoons of Spruce essence (use sparingly)

I also picked up some spruce essence to bolster the fresh tips if needed, as well as two packets of dry Safale, which Steinbarts seems to have marked up significantly from the last time I purchased any. The price increase can’t have had anything to do with a shortage (yeast, exponential growth…), so I think it was just realization that the product is great and (used to) cost $5 less per unit than the liquid yeast. But I’m rambling.

Anyway, day of the brew, I mashed in  at around 6:30 am, and Alan showed up with some treats for later. My strike temp was on pretty well for a change and we mashed for 45 min @ 156F. After sparging, the kettle had just over 10 gal of wort, and we proceeded with a normal boil until around 10 minutes, at which point we gradually added the bag of spruce tips in over the total of ten minutes until flameout. I also added between 2-3 tablespoons of spruce essence at around 30 minutes hoping that the boil my eradicate the sodium benzoate. On Scott’s advice, I used less than 1/4 what the bottle recommended.

The wort actually tastes pretty good. It’s got a nice sprucely flavor, and my samples all had needles in them, but the flavor was clean, citrusy and hopefully, that carries to the final product.

Again, thanks to Gabriel for the tips (spruce), Scott for the tips (advice), and Alan for the help and company.

Nugget Please!

I just finished brewing an IPA for my friends’ wedding at the end of the month. Scott is also brewing several beers for the occasion and I offered to take on one of the batches to lighten his burned a bit. I love brewing for people’s weddings – people I know anyway – and love it when the beer actually turns out well. Normally I’ve just brewed pales or hoppy ambers to have something that was accessible for guests. This time I’m brewing an IPA that’d I’d drink. It highlights Nugget hops for the sole reason that I could name it “Nugget Please,” which is a play on an ODB album from back in college when Tom and I met. He and I both enjoy our hip-hop, and while ODB is neither of our favorites, it was much better than the other name I’d come up with that I’ll tell you in private at some time in the future if you’re curious.

Anyway, ( I start a paragraph with “anyway” when it becomes apparent that I need to be doing something other than blogging) the beer finished at 1.060 and will probably finish around 6% abv (a little high for weddings…forgive me..) but also clocks in at around 80 IBU, which is also a little high for a wedding. Oh well, Nugget please.

malt bill

  • 12 lbs 2-row
  • 1 lbs domestic Munich
  • 1 lbs domestic wheat
  • 1 lbs domestic crystal 20L

hop bill

  • 1.5 oz Nugget (14% aa) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Nugget @ 15 min
  • 0.5 Nugget @ 10 min
  • 1 oz Amarillo (8% aa) @ 5 min
  • 1 oz Amarillo @ 2 min
  • 2 oz Nugget in the keg

I got some Safale S-05 for the yeast. Couldn’t bring myself to put Chimay yeast in to something that promises to be raw and crude.

December's Fermentation Friday Topic

I’m pinch hitting for this month’s Fermentation Friday.

It’s time to start thinking about the new year, and I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on starting a new beer. Specifically, the yeast. There are dozens of ways to inoculate your beer, and I’m sure everyone has some story behind their method. Are you a smack-packer, a pitchable vial user, a dry yeast re-hydrator, or do you let nature take it’s course? Do you make a starter, or do you pitch from the package? Do you cultivate your own strain of yeast that you salvaged from some special bottle smuggled from some distant land? Is there any dogma attached to your methods, or do you go where the wind carries you?

Please share by the last Friday of the month, December 26th. Don’t let November happen to you – post early and post often!

Behold…. K2

Kegerator version 2, that is. Ever since I had to leave the previous kegerator with our old house, I’ve been pining for its replacement. It was not an easy task though, because I’m a bit frugal and tend to wait a long time to make any decisions. Recently, with a porter in secondary and no desire to bottle, I hit craigslist again with new clarity.

Finding a top and bottom fridge in good shape at a reasonable price can be a bit of a challenge. I managed to find a relatively new (<10 years old) Amana that was energy efficient for $180 and pounced on it. There was a pronounced thawed fish smell that occurred between when I purchased it and when I got it home (24 hours outdoors will do that) which I was able to wash out. And I had to remove all the doors and brackets to get it in to the basement, but it’s a nice fit, it’s quiet, and it now has two taps in the door.

K2’s Facade K2’s Door, inside K2’s Keg and Gas

This time around I ordered the kegging equipment online from Micro-Matic, which has both inexpensive parts and a wealth of information on kegging and conversions. I’m really impressed with their site and the deliverables. I got my equipment quickly, and the conversion kit came with a very useful set of instructions. The only problem I found was that the instructions suggest using a 1” hole saw bit, then using a piece of PVC pipe as a spacer, but the PVC they included has a 1” inside diameter, not outside, so it doesn’t actually fit. I’m going to bring this up with them. I don’t particularly care, but they probably want to fix that.

Something is currently wrong with my regulator, so my porter didn’t carbonate quite right, but I was still able to pour a growler to take over to dinner at my parents. I’m very pleased with it. The porter, that is. But I’m also quite pleased with K2. It’s larger, quieter, frost free, and has 2 taps. By this weekend I should have a pumpkin beer on tap as well. I only had 30 minutes to make the conversion before going to dinner, so I didn’t have time to take pictures of the process. I don’t think I could have improved on the instructions in the Micro-matic manual either.

Max C Imperial IPA

Here’s a recipe for the Imperial IPA I’m brewing this weekend. It’ll be an 8 gallon batch (5 keg, 3 bottled) and the hop bill is still under scrutiny.

Malt bill

  • 16 lbs Domestic 2-row malt
  • 1 lbs Domestic Munich
  • 1.5 lbs CaraPils
  • 0.5 lbs Crystal 40L

Hops

  • 2 oz Chinook (12.5% alpha) @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ 30 minutes
  • 1 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ 20 minutes
  • 1 oz Chinook (12.5% alpha) @ 15 minutes
  • 1 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ 10 minutes
  • 1.5 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ 5 minutes
  • 1.5 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ 2 minutes
  • 1.5 oz Centennial (10% alpha) @ Dry Hopped

Misc. Ingredients

  • Fermentis Safale S-05 dry yeast
  • Irish Moss @ 15 minutes

Seems like I should be able to fit some more more hops in there. I can’t find any information on whether S-05 will ferment enough to hit my target gravity.

Edit: I changed the name of the beer at the last minute celebration of our friend’s newest, Maximus Charles Walz, born on Friday, October 5th. Nate’ll have get a batch as well, but a Scottish seems more appropriate.