Beer #21: APA with Home-Grown Centennial & Willamette Hops

August 27, 2011

This morning I brewed an American Pale Ale using the Centennial and Willamette hops I harvested from our back yard in early July. The recipe came from Brewing Classic Styles, though I altered the hop schedule a bit to work with my home-grown cones.

On the left is the 60-minute bittering addition: Horizon hop pellets. In the middle is Cascade pellets, home-grown Centennial cones, and some yeast nutrient and Irish moss, all to be added with 10 minutes remaining in the boil. On the right is more Cascade pellets, more Centennial cones, and the Willamette cones, to be added at flame-out.

After adding the 10-minute addition:

And here we are after adding the flame-out hops:

I have never used anything other than pellets before, so I thought it was neat to see the whole cones swimming around in the wort.

After chilling the wort (immersion chillers suck in the summer when the ground water is near 80°F) and racking to the carboy, I pitched some re-hyrdated US-05 (warning, PDF). The wort is in the chamber now, working its way towards the start of fermentation.

That’s one of the new 6-gallon carboys that I got for $25 on Amazon.

Once again the numbers came in on target. Target pre-boil gravity was 1.048. Measured: 1.048. Target post-boil gravity was 1.056. Measured: 1.057. Unfortunately, I can’t compute my efficiency because I haven’t come up with a way to measture my pre-and-post-boil volumes. Without knowing that, you can’t know your efficiency. However, I’ve found that when I tell BeerSmith to expect a 64% total efficiency, my measured numbers match what it predicts.


The Great East Coast Earthquake of 2011

August 23, 2011

Did your beer and wine survive the great east coast earthquake of 2011? Mine did. It was a bit hairy there for a minute, but it all survived:

In that pic is two carboys of syrah, one of brown porter, a bunch of traminette, and some noiret. The earthquake was significant here in Pittsburgh in that my office building downtown was swaying rather unnervingly. I got away from the windows because they were bowing and making noise. In all seriousness, I wasn’t really worried about the beer and wine, except that I thought those 750ml bottles might have fallen over in the shaking. Had the wine not been in the basement, it might have.

On the plus side, the four carboys I ordered for a steal from amazon ($25.50, shipped) arrived:

Unfortunately, one of them didn’t survive the earthquake.

Well, either the earthquake or the brown delivery company. One of those things wreaked havoc upon one of the carboys. Amazon has already created a new order to ship me a replacement.


Beer #20: Brown Porter

August 21, 2011

It has been four and a half months since the last time we brewed. That’s too long. This is why we can’t have nice things. To break the spell, this past Friday Jess brewed the Brown Porter recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. It’s a clone of Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter.

I served as Jess’s assistant brewer on this one – meaning I got to clean things, lift heavy things, and maybe help remind her what to do at each step.

We got started at about 6:30PM and finished up around 11:00. That didn’t include cleaning out the mash tun or brew kettle; I did that the next morning. The brew process went smoothly. We targeted a mash temperature of 152°F and hit it on the nose. Estimated pre-boil gravity was 1.047. We hit 1.044. Estimated original gravity was 1.052, we got 1.053. Gravity measurements were taken with a refractometer then we used a table to convert from degrees Brix to specific gravity.

The beer is currently fermenting away in the chamber. We pitched the active starter of Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast Friday night at about 10:30 and it was fully active at 7:00 Saturday morning.

Update – 8/21/2011, 9:45 PM: This beer is already done fermenting, 48 hours after pitching the yeast. My first instinct was the believe it was done. The OG wasn’t very high, the yeast is a known fast worker, and we pitched an active starter. Still, I wanted to check for a stuck fermentation because I know that the temperature was held in check at 67°F, so 48 hours seemed a little quick to my inexperienced self. After checking the SG: nope, it’s not stuck. 1.012. It’s done. We’ll give it a few days (or however long it needs) to clear, then into the keg it goes. That’s right – keg. Jess got me a corny keg starter kit for my birthday and this beer will be the first one to go that route.

The beer smells like sweet milk chocolate. It dominant flavor, though, is a roasted nuttiness. I’m thinking hazelnuts and chestnuts. Even though it’s yeasty, it’s very clean tasting. I can’t wait for this beer to be finished.