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New look

I decided to revamp the site a bit. The old layout was getting a little stale for me and to be honest, I never was really sold on it. In particular I have always hated how the sidebar links were setup and there were some coding issues that I didn’t want to go in and fix. This layout is much cleaner and overall I like it more. Hopefully you will enjoy it as well. With that said, the site will remain much the same, and attempt to follow the same posting schedule, which you can see below.

  • Monday: Random posts
  • Tuesday: Beer related gadget
  • Wednesday: Wasted Wednesday
  • Thursday: Beer Review
  • Friday: Homebrewing
  • Weekends: We are drinking or brewing, no time for posting

Thanks for coming and I hope you like the new look of the site.

Moving?

My buddy recently moved into a new apartment and he had to move his homebrew along with him. A 5 gallon batch of beer is no easy matter to move, let alone in a carboy. This is the solution he came up with.

Click it or ticket
Click it or ticket

I wonder what would of happened if he got pulled over.

SB Birthday Beer

09-02-16-01One of my dear friends is turning 21 soon and she asked if I could make a homemade beer for her. Naturally I was thrilled that someone other than my roommate and I wanted to drink my beer, so I accepted the challenge. She is a big tea freak and wanted some tea flavor in the beer. I decided that a wheat beer would be ideal for a tea flavored beer. Wheat beers carry a lot of complex flavors that I thought would compliment the beer nicely.

I made a trip out to my homebrew store last week and got all of the necessary supplies. Below is a list of everything I picked up:

  • 3 pounds American 2-Row Pale malt
  • 3 pounds Wheat malt
  • 1 pound 60 Crystal malt
  • 1 oz Saaz hops (3.6%)
  • 1 tube liquid American Hefeweizen Ale yeast

I know that most wheat beers generally have a 50% wheat grain bill, but I wanted to make this an amber colored wheat beer and the homebrew store was running a bit low on wheat malt. This is supposed to make about 4 gallons worth of beer. I started my mash trying to get the grains to 110 degrees for 15 minutes, then 125 degrees for 15 minutes, and then finally 153 degrees for 45 minutes. All of these different temperatures are an attempt to release different characteristics from the wheat.

I boiled for the normal 60 with a half ounce of the Saaz going for the full boil and the other half ounce going for the last 15. I took the beer off the burner and put two teabags into wort leaving them there for only a minute or so. the  Everything went well and I cooled down the wort and pitched the yeast. The next day I took a look at my airlock and bubbles were firing away.

09-02-17-02I was unsure of the tea she wanted to use when I got my supplies. The day before brew day she gave me Chi Tea. I’m not a big tea guy so I made up a cup and found it to be very gingery. Not something I would put with a wheat beer with hefeweizen yeast. That’s the reason for such a short time in wort. I think the Chi would of gone great with a winter warmer type beer as the flavors are those I typically taste in a winter beer. At first glance I achieved an effieceny of 75% from my batch sparge and we are looking at an ABV of 4.3%. I’m pretty happy with that and I’m looking forward to trying this beer as it ages through and finally is ready to drink out of a bottle on her birthday in March.

Brew pots

Anyone who homebrews needs a brew pot. The basic process of brewing involves boiling your wort for an hour or so. Without a pot, this is pretty tough. There are a few options to consider when you are choosing a pot; what is it made of, how big does it need to be, what is my price range.

What is it made of?

09-02-13-01There are three basic types of pots out there to us for your homebrewing. The first is an aluminum pot. It is a pretty typical kitchen accessory and they are readability available. Aluminum has a few key advantages. The first is that aluminum does an excellent job of distributing heat. This means that as you heat the bottom of the pot, the heat is spread to the rest of the pot efficiently. This is good for you becasue it means no burned wort on the bottom. Another great thing about these pots are that they are easy to find, and can be found in large sizes.  The biggest deterrent for these pots is that the wort will actually leach some of the aluminum off of the pot during the boil, causing aluminum to be in your beer. A few recent studies have found that this will happen for the first or second time using to pot, but an oxidized layer will form on the surface of the pot and the wort will no long leach.

Another common pot used is an enamel coated pot. They are easy to find and can be found in various sizes. The biggest problem is that the pot is iron coated in enamel. If you scratch or chip off some of the enamel, the iron will be exposed to the wort. Not a big deal at first, but the iron will eventually rust (another type of oxidation) and you will be boiling your wort in rust, not the most favorable of conditions.

The last type of pot is stainless steel. Like the others they can be found in many sizes and are pretty easy to find. They do not distribute heat very well but do a decent enough job at it. The biggest thing is that stainless steel does not rust, stain, or do anything bad to your beer. It is food safe and durable. Lets take a look at sizing.

Pot Sizing

A brew pot needs to fit your wort and still provide head space for the hot break foam that occurs during boiling. I personally have a 20 qt stainless steel pot that does a fine job of making 4 gallon all grain batches or 5 gallon extract batches. The reason for the difference is that your generally want to do a full boil in all grain brewing and in extract you can do a partial boil and add water in the fermenter to get to your final volume. Your pots height and width are things to take into consideration for how much you can boil. If you wanted to do a full boil 5 gallon batch you would mostlikely want a 7.5 gallon pot. I’ve heard of people getting away with 6 gallons, but the chance for a boil over is much higher this way.

Pot Pricing

While all of the pot types can be easily found and come in a great number of sizes, you may want to look at the price tag. Enamel pots are generally your cheapest, with a 5 gallon pot going between $15-25. Just remember that if any of that enamel chips, you need to get another pot. The middle pot is the aluminum pot that can be found anywhere from $25-35 a pot. The most expensive is the stainless steel pot coming in at $40-55 for a 5 gallon pot. The thing is, you will never need to buy a new one ever again (unless you start doing higher volumes). You could always try yard sales or asking around, sometimes people have the perfect brewing pot, just sitting there. A friend of mine recently got a 20 qt stainless steel pot for $5 at a yard sale.

Well there you have it, the basics on brew pots. They can be very simple or very complex, but I’ll get into that at a later time.

2 gallons of badness

As I’ve noted I got my start to homebrewing with Mr. Beer. That got old pretty quick as all of the beers had the same after taste and there wasn’t a ton of useful things you could do with Mr. Beer. I’ve seen people make a ton of different “styles” with Mr. Beer, and I don’t know how they turned out, but to me it seemed like a weak attempt at homebrewing.

So one day during the summer, I decided to upgrade everything and start formulating my own recipies a bit more. I went down to the homebrew shop and bought most of the basic brewing equipment, including two 2 gallon buckets. I talked to the guy at the store and told him I wanted to make a simple American Lager. He loaded me up with yeast, hops, speciality grains, and 4 pounds of dry malt extract (DME). This all for a 2 gallon batch.

I didn’t really have a good sense of what I was doing, but I went for it anyway. I now know better. 4 pounds of DME for 2 gallons of beer is way, way, way too much. I’ll explain later. I did the normal procedure, let it ferment in my basement for 4 weeks, and then bottled it.

A week or so went by for carboniation and then I tried it. The stuff was terrible. The beer was so unbelievely full of alachol that the hyrdometer couldn’t give a reading. There was just too much sugar for such a small batch. Usually, I tend to use about 7-8 pounds of DME for a typical 5 gallon extract brew. I had half of the amount of that for less than half of the total liquid. The flavor was a strong carmel and the smell was just aweful. I do have a bit of the stuff laying around just to see if I could get a real ABV reading on it one of these days. When I do, I will let you know.

The point of this is, understand what you are getting into. Don’t solely rely on other peoples opinions when brewing, do what works for you. I didn’t do enough research and listened to someone who didn’t have as good of an idea of homebrewing as I thought they did. My result was an undrinkable beer. The only positive thing I took away from this was that I had good sanitation and learned some technique.