When I bottled my Dry Hopped Dead Guy Ale last week I ran into a problem. Bottling was almost a failure. Let me start off with the fact that this way my first dry hopped beer that didn’t have the hop leaves contained in a bag. Needless to say there were a lot of hop leaves floating around in the carboy. I didn’t think that this was going to be a problem, but my auto-siphon was continually getting clogged wit the leaves.
This clogging had two negative effects. The first was that it took forever to transfer from the carboy to the bottling bucket. The second was that it introduced a lot of air/bubbles into the line from the auto-siphon to the bottling bucket. Air is great when beer is just starting it’s fermentation, but not so good when it is finished. In fact, it is downright bad to have that much air introduced into the beer. The beer did turn out pretty tasty (at least what I tasted from the bottling bucket) but we will have to wait a few week for it to carbonate to see how it really turned out.
Next time I think about dry hopping I am going to be getting a stainless steel sleeve that hops the flowers and also fits perfectly into a carboy. It was a fun experiment and hopefully the results will reflect the fun.
About three weeks ago I brewed my version of a Winter Warmer. You can find the recipe here. I had a new mash tun setup going into this brew day because my last beer, Pumpkin Ale, had a stuck sparge and resulted in a bunch of other issues. While the Pumpkin Ale still turned out decent, it was not as good as it should of beer do to the loss of sugar/wort from the stuck sparge. With everything revamped in the mash tun, the Winter Warm was the first recipe to make sure everything was working properly.
I heated up my mash water and dumped the grain into the mash tun. I also had another piece of new equipment, a 3 foot metal slotted spoon, that I got for 2 bucks at a local restaurant supply store. It might not sound like a lot, but it really helps break up those dough balls and insure that I get all of the sugar I can out of the grain. Once the water hit the proper temp, I poured it in and started mixing everything together. My target mash temp was around 158, I was reading slightly above that. I waited a bit for it to cool down and added a touch of cold water, but it was still a little high. Not being an exact kind of person, I put the lid on and started the timer.
An hour later I opened the mash tun to find a wonderful sight. Lots of light and dark colored grain laying all over the place. Equally mixed and everything. MLK would of been proud. After positioning my boil kettle, I opened the ball value leading from my mash tun to watch a thick black liquid run out. I think this is by far the darkest beer I have ever made. I couldn’t tell if it was running clear at all becasue it was so dark.
After collecting my first runnings I added the strike water for the second, let it sit in there for about 10 minutes and let it run out into the kettle as well. This round was much lighter. It was still dark by beer standards, but you could see through it and had a nice nut brown ale color to it. I also added the pound of molasses during this time, using the hot second runnings to clean out the jar for me as molasses is very sticky.
The wort then boiled for an hour with all of the hop additions happening when they were supposed to. I did not add any Irish Moss to this batch because the beer was so dark, and there is no chance of seeing through it as is. Once it was all cooled down and the yeast pitched, I took a gravity reading. Holy smokes! I hit it right on the head. I wanted to get a gravity of 1.075 and that is exactly what I got. Never before have I hit a target gravity. I always fall a few points below. It fermented for a week and then was racked to the secondary. I will be bottling it later this week and let it condition for a bit. It should be ready for New Years if all goes well and those carbonation problems don’t keep happening. Continue reading
The Pumpkin Ale has been fermenting for the last two weeks now and my measurements show that everything has ended with the process. I will probably be bottling the beer this afternoon but before I do that, I wanted to give a quick update. My mini-fermenter has fully cleared and the beer looks beautiful. The color is exactly what I was hoping it would be. There is a lot of sediment on the bottom. I am not sure if it is due to the two different yeasts used, the extra amount of sugar in the wort, or if the yeast just multiplied like crazy. There is also the big chance that the bottom is a lot of pumpkin puree that clogged my mash tun. In any case, there is a lot of it.
I took my gravity readings and it comes in at 1.010. If you remember correctly this beer had a starting gravity of 1.082, so it finished out in the 10% ABV range for my quantity of wort. I pretty surprised it went that high as both of my yeasts are not known for having a high tolerance. I also took a test taste from the extra drops left over from my refractometer reading. The upfront taste is distinctly pumpkin. Score. The back is all spiciness. I is a bit harsher than I wanted and I think it would of been totally dead on if there was a full 5 gallons. The cinnamon and nutmeg come through the most with some all-spice hints. Overall I am pretty happy with how it has turned out thus far (minus the over spicy) I can’t wait to get it carbonated and have it ready to drink in a few weeks.
As a side note, sorry for the lack of posting this week. I started a new job and I’m getting used to the whole work/life balance again.
I finally got around to bottling the Belgian Tripel that I brewed back in the first week in August. It was a pretty standard bottling day and I got it all done in just under an hour. The Belgian Dubbel that I bottled a few weeks ago still has yet to fully carbonate. I blame the carbonation tabs that I used. I decided to give them another shot (mainly because I didn’t have any other options).
The carbonation tabs say to use five for high carbonation, four for normal, and three for low. On the Dubbel I used four to try and stretch it so that I could use it on this batch as well. I went with five this time and I thought about even going six. Tripel’s are supposed to be highly carbonated and I am worried that five was just not enough. I guess we will see in a few weeks when they should be ready.
I tasted a bit of the beer just to see if the correct flavors were in it. Man was it good. As a homebrewer you learn to love room temperature, zero carbonation beer. It had the Belgian spice with a good malty backbone and just the right amount of heat. If this carbonates correctly I think it will be a winner. Judging from my past experiences with tasting beforehand, this could be my most favorite homebrew to date. That is certainly excited but I’m hoping the pumpkin ale blows it out of the water. I did buy all of the ingredients and made sure I got some dried malt extract (DME) as well so that I can carbonate it correctly. I will give a tasting of the Tripel once it fully carbonates (hopefully) and I need to give a review of the Dubbel. Continue reading
The Tripel has come along nicely. Since the last update, the beer has finished fermenting full and is now sitting at 9% ABV. I am very pleased with that result. While the efficiency was terrible, you almost expect that in a big beer. As I said before I wish I would of made a session beer out of the excess sugars.
It is still sitting in the carboy waiting to be bottled. My only problem right now is having enough bottles. I refuse to buy bottles as they are expensive and the shipping is usually pretty bad. It also depresses me to think of all of the new beers I could of tried if I would of just bought a few six-packs. I might of considered buying them if there was a homebrew store in Lubbock, but that is not the case. The Dubbel got most of my collection of bottles becasue it finished first, but I am slowing adding back to the collection. Hopefully by next weekend I will have collected enough to bottle.
On a side note I tired one of the Dubbels’ and it wasn’t terrible. The carbonation is still lacking, but the taste is right there. With proper carbonation I think it could be an excellent Dubbel.