Update

May 28, 2010

Hey everyone. It’s been a while. I was too busy brewing over the holidays to update the blog, then I had to finish up my research and write my dissertation, get my Ph.D., get a job, look for a new place where said job is, move, get engaged, and become an uncle all within a 2 month period. I’ve been busy.

Anyway all the brews over the holidays came out great. I think the Simple Pole was really good, I’d like to try the recipe w/o the pumpkin just to see what the base beer is like. The Alpha this time was phenomenal. Definitely a keeper, no more tweeking needed for that one. The Triple Beam was amazing as well. I’m planning on brewing it again this weekend, with a few minor tweaks to the grain bill. I’ll be using Belgian pils for the base instead of the pale I used last time. This will afford me some lattitude in the color to use some Belgian aromatic. I really like this malt and use it in just about all of my recipes.

Last weekend I brewed the Super Gamma Ray IPA. I substituted some Biscuit malt for the Victory, which is the same thing, I believe, as Victory is a trade name for Biscuit. I also omitted the wheat malt. It’s been bubbling away happily with some WLP001. I’m keeping it fairly warm at about 69-70F for some ester production and to dry it out a bit. I’m not really a fan of chewy IPA’s.

The weekend before last I brewed my innaugural Seattle beer. After getting the brewery all set up and scouting the local homebrew stores (Bob’s Homebrew is within walking distance and is awesome) I brewed a Saison. This too has been happily fermenting, but with the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. I held it in the mid 70’s for 3-4 days then ramped it up to about 80F and held it there for about a week. I’m pretty sure it’s done, but I’m waiting on some mail order kegs before I do anything with it. This beer will hopefully be served at my wedding in the Fall, along with the 35 gallons of American Pale Ale I’ll be brewing in collaboration with my brother at Pinelands Brewing Company. Stay tuned…

Simple Pole label

November 4, 2009

Here’s a label for the Simple Pole Pumpkin ale. Brewed with freshly roasted white pumpkin.pole

Triple Beam

November 4, 2009

The Rare Earth is in the secondary. It ended up being more along the lines of a barley wine, though. It came out with 80% AA and 8.9% ABV. The late hop additions lend a very strong piney/resiny hop aroma. It’s moderately strong bittering is a bit stronger than the malt character right now, but it’ll mellow with a little aging.
I finally got around to brewing the Belgian IPA. This too turned out a bit strong, with 92% mash efficiency. I did a batch instead of fly sparge this time and thought my efficiency would go down. On the contrary it went UP a couple of points. I don’t know what the heck is going on. I actually try to decrease my efficiency and end up raising it. Anyway, this had an OG of 1.082 w/ 82 IBU. Maybe I’ll call it ‘The Big 82’ So I think I’ll classify it as an Imperial Belgian IPA. I’m really curious to see how it turns out.
Also brewed a batch of Beta Blocker ESB. Suffered from the same high efficiency noted above and ended up with an OG of 1.064. A few points higher than usual. I used wlp002 w/ a starter, as I read that’s the same as wyeast’s 1968 that I’ve had such great success with. We’ll see how they turn out…

Here’s the label for the Belgian:
triplebeamlabel

Just got back from my LHBS. The moment I opened the door I was blasted in the face with that wonderful citrusy, floral aroma that is American hops. That’s right folks, the 2009 harvest is in. Well just about, they’re still waiting on the hop union, but all the cascade, amarillo, chinook, etc… are in and super fresh. I even got to dig my hands into a bale of citra. I could’ve died. I picked up a few ounces of it and plan to brew a special version of the Gamma Ray IPA with it soon. Right now I’m brewing an Imperial Brown ale for my friend’s Christmas beer. I’m calling it Rare Earth. It’s heavy and brown, kind of like the earth. And the rare earth elements have always been my favorite. Those wacky f-series metals.

Update

October 20, 2009

It’s been a while, but I really haven’t brewed since my last post. As a matter of fact I haven’t even thought about it since February. Unfortunately this includes neglecting my batches of Normalizer IPA and Beta Blocker ESB. I just bottled the Normalizer and the Beta Blocker is on deck. I think some brett may have gone to town on the Normalizer, and the Beta Blocker smells pretty cidery. A colder/mild/hot/mild season cycle will do that. bummer.
But fear not, I’ve been brewing like crazy in preparation for christmas. I’ve done some research, read a lot of recipes and books, and retooled a bunch of my recipes. So much so that I’m considering some of them to be all-new brews. I’ve also brewed a couple brand new recipes for styles I haven’t tried before. I’ll go through them in the next few posts. As it stands I have two batches in bottles, including a slightly chlorophenolic Normalizer IPA and a roasty delicious Omega Oatmeal Stout. In primaries I have the Adiabatic Black Ale, Simple Pole Pumpkin Ale, and the Dephaser Amber Ale, as well as a Beta Blocker ESB. Stay Tuned…

Normalizer, take 2:

February 25, 2009

After screwing the pooch last weekend on the Normalizer IPA, I decided to give it another shot. I really want to get a good house IPA recipe going that I can brew reliably. After getting my sea legs back it shouldn’t have been a problem. And it wasn’t. Everything went swimmingly. I hit my mash temp spot on at 65C, and blew all of my previous efficiencies out of the water with 90%. I hadn’t really planned on it being so high, so I had to dilute the wort a bit to bring the OG down to 1.064. I altered the grain bill and hop schedule by a tiny amount. The grain changes were inspired by Jamil’s American IPA recipe which includes a bit of Munich, and the extra 1/4 oz of bittering hops were left over and I thought would be need to stand up to the malt backbone. After 24 hrs. rapid fermentation was achieved. The airlock was bubbling so much it kept me awake last night! Then again I keep the fermenter close to my head so I can smell it in my sleep and dream of sweet fermenting homebrew. I felt the fermenter this morning and it was warm to the touch. The US05 was really going to town, I hope the temporarily high temp doesn’t alter the flavor profile too much. We’ll see.
The last batch of Normalizer never reached such a crazed fermentation, and the airlock only mildly bubbled for a day or two. I’ll probably bottle it this coming weekend.
On deck I’ll take a shot at the Beta ESB, but all grain of course. This beer won 2nd place at the sasquatch brewfest a few years back and it’s coming up again so I’ll see if I can improve it. I think I might formulate and try another IPA and enter them both in the contest this year to see which gets higher marks.
Here’s the recipe from this weekend:

Normalizer IPA
Recipe Normalizer IPA Style American IPA
Brewer Chemical Craig / Rigid Rotor Batch 6.25 gal
All Grain

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.064 OG Estimated FG 1.016 FG
Recipe Bitterness 62 IBU Alcohol by Volume 6.2%
Recipe Color 10° SRM Alcohol by Weight 4.9%

Ingredients

Quantity Grain Type Use
0.75 lb American Munich Grain Mashed
11.00 lb American two-row Other Mashed
0.75 lb Crystal 10L Other Mashed
0.50 lb Crystal 40L Other Mashed
0.50 lb Wheat malt Other Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Amarillo Whole 0 minutes
1.00 oz Glacier Whole 0 minutes
1.00 oz Glacier Whole 20 minutes
1.00 oz Magnum Whole 60 minutes
0.25 oz Magnum Whole 60 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit American Ale yeast dry Other safale us-05
1.00 unit whirfloc Other

Batch Notes

Poured water night before to drive off Cl.

New Year, New Name, New Brew

February 18, 2009

The Whiteaker Arms brewery is no more. I’ve officially changed names to Rigid Rotor Brewing partly because I don’t plan on being in this neighborhood for much longer and partly because I wanted a name that reflects the scientist in me. To celebrate the new identity I formulated a new IPA and brewed it on sunday. I’m calling it Normalizer IPA. I haven’t brewed in about a year and was definitely rusty. My efficiency was horrible at around 60%, but I think it’s because I used a grain bag (why?) in the mash tun and the mash was too thick. Now I know for next time. It’s fermenting nicely now. QBrew predicts about 5.3% ABV, which is pretty weak for an IPA, but we’ll see how it turns out. Maybe it’s more of a really bitter pale ale. I think I’ll try the recipe again next week and see if I can’t get the efficiency up a bit. Here’s the recipe:

Normalizer IPA
Recipe Normalizer IPA Style American IPA
Brewer Chemical Craig/Rigid Rotor Batch 5.00 gal

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.055 OG Estimated FG 1.014 FG
Recipe Bitterness 57 IBU Alcohol by Volume 5.3%
Recipe Color 10° SRM Alcohol by Weight 4.2%

Ingredients

Quantity Grain Type Use
10.00 lb American two-row Other Mashed
1.00 lb Crystal 10L Other Mashed
0.50 lb Crystal 40L Other Mashed
0.50 lb Light D.M.E. Extract Extract
0.50 lb Wheat malt Other Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Amarillo Whole 0 minutes
1.00 oz Glacier Whole 0 minutes
1.00 oz Glacier Whole 20 minutes
1.00 oz Magnum Whole 60 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit American Ale yeast dry Other safale us-05
1.00 unit Brewing Salts Other tsp.
1.00 unit whirfloc Other

Batch Notes
Mash at 65C for 1 hour.

Current Setup

April 8, 2008

So here’s my current setup.

It can handle all grain brews maxing out at ~11-12 lbs of grain, which is fine for me. If I want to brew anything higher, I’ll just add a little bit of DME. I can handle just about anything under 1.070. The cooler didn’t have a spigot in it so I just drilled a 1/2″ hole near the bottom and made one myself. It’s the standard 3/8″ ball valve on one side and stainless hose braid on the inside. People complain that the stainless hose can float up into the mash and flop around, so they’ll turn to some other method. Well they don’t know much about fluid dynamics. The only crucial part of the straining mechanism is the part over the outlet. It doesn’t matter if the thing is flopping all over the place, as long as it strains near the outlet it’s perfectly fine. And mine does. It drips once every 10 seconds or so, which over an hour builds up to about a 10 ml. or so of wort. The insulation in this thing is incredibly stable, I’m amazed. It doesn’t drop more than 1/2 degree over an hour.

The boiling kettle is 30 qts. and was a christmas gift from my brother over at Pinelands Brewing Company that got me started. As you can see there was a bit of a boilover. It’s just that there was still a lot of sugar still being sparged and I wanted to get it all.

Here’s the mash tun with the spent grain.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you need a 10 gallon cooler to do all grain. This thing is 6 gallons and just brewed a high gravity Belgian just fine. When the wort was in the cooler the liquid level came up to just below the big line.

Zeta Fermenting

April 8, 2008

I brewed the Zeta after work on friday. Everything went well for the most part. My roommate and I just built a covered deck out back so now I can brew in the rain, which is a big plus here in Oregon. We have plenty of chairs and even a bar on it, so keeping everything compartmentalised is really easy. This was my first all grain batch, and I was a little nervous my mash tun wouldn’t fit all the grain as it’s only a 22L cooler. Well it was just about perfect for 11 lbs. I could probably fit another 1 or 2 lbs. in there. Awesome. If I want to do anything bigger than, say, 1.065 or so, I’ll just add some DME to the boil.

I hit the mash temp on the nose @62C, but it dropped pretty quickly to 61-61.5C and stayed there for 90 minutes. This thing is going to be a bit thin if it attenuates out even close to 80% or so. Everything else went almost according to plan. I didn’t anticipate my efficiency being so high (~85%), which isn’t necessarily a bad things, but I also over estimated my boil-off rate. So I ended up with 5 gallons of wort in the fermenter @ 1.082, when I had anticipated 1.088. And with two measley hop additions I get kind of paranoid. The northwesterner in me wants to dump more in. But hey this stuff will still knock your socks off.

This is also the first time I made a starter. I’ve had good results with dry yeast so haven’t needed to do anything besides rip open a packet and toss it in, no questions asked. But this being such a unique style I was forced to get liquid yeast, which doesn’t have nearly enough viable cells to eat a whole batch of high gravity wort. I pitched a White Labs Abbey IV (this is Rochefort trappist strain) vial into 1 pint of 1.040 wort and let it ferment. I think I had it at too high of a temp, but got a nice cake out of it, then put it in the fridge after krausening. On brew day I took it out of the fridge and put it on the counter. When the chilled Zeta wort and starter were at the same temp I swirled and pitched the yeast with high hopes of rapid and thorough fermentation. This was at midnight. The next morning at ~8 AM, there were very little signs of fermentation. So I despondantly departed on my northbound train to Seattle. I just got back tonigh and opened my door to the sweet smell of stale runoff. At last rigorous fermentation has been achieved.

The temp was a bit low @ 62F. But I planned on ramping up the temp anyway to keep the fusel alcohols down, so I guess it’s a good thing. I turned the mini space heater on it and am aiming for around 72F. I also gave the fermenter an encouraging jostling. More pics from brew day to come. Hey, I’m lazy.

The fruity, slightly citrusy nose from the dry hopping really hits you hard after pouring this. The color is, well you can see for yourself to the left. This is my second attempt at this IPA, with a few small changes. I traded up more of the extract for grain, altered the hop schedule a bit by adding some late addition palisades, and used a different yeast. I have to say the first attempt may have been more balanced. I had been having trouble with low attenuation and a lot of residual sugars, so this time I mashed at 63C and put a space heater a few feet from the fermenter to keep the proper temp (never controlled this before). I also pitched a packet of Safale US05 instead of a Wyeast slap pack of Rogue’s Pacman like the first attempt, though word on the street is that Pacman is just a US05 mutant. Let’s just say that did the trick.

I got the just about the same ABV from both (5.8 and 5.9) but the gravity of first attempt started and stopped a few points higher than this time. Next time I’ll do it all grain, mash at 65C, and pitch a starter of WLP001 or just use the US05 again. I may cut out the palisades too, for cost’s sake.
Here’s the recipe:

Super Gamma ray IPA

Super Gamma ray IPA
Recipe Super Gamma ray IPA Style American IPA
Brewer Chemical Craig Batch 5.00 gal
Partial Mash

Recipe Characteristics

Recipe Gravity 1.060 OG Estimated FG 1.015 FG
Recipe Bitterness 66 IBU Alcohol by Volume 5.8%
Recipe Color 14° SRM Alcohol by Weight 4.5%

Ingredients

Quantity Grain Type Use
5.00 lb American two-row Other Mashed
4.13 lb Light malt extract Other Extract
1.00 lb Crystal 80L Other Mashed
0.75 lb Light D.M.E. Other Extract
0.50 lb Belgian Aromatic Other Mashed
0.25 lb Amber D.M.E. Other Extract
0.25 lb American wheat Other Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Cascade whole 60 minutes
0.50 oz Simcoe whole 40 minutes
0.50 oz Simcoe whole 20 minutes
1.00 oz Amarillo whole 7 minutes
0.50 oz Palisades whole 7 minutes
0.50 oz Cascade whole 0 minutes
1.50 oz Palisades whole 0 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit Brewing Salts Other tsp.
1.00 unit Irish Moss Other clarifying
1.00 unit Safale US05 Other package

Recipe Notes

Mash at 63C for 60 min.

Batch Notes

Dry hop with 1 oz. Palisades and 1 oz. glacier
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.014