Monday, April 20, 2015

I'm Alive!

So, it seems that my posts on here have slowed down quite a bit since I started.  I’ll try to be more frequent with updates, at least post some recipes up for anyone who is actually reading this and interested.

In my last update, I posted the recipe for the IPA I wanted to enter into Brew Riot.  Well, good news and bad news, and a small screw up.  Good news, beer got brewed on 2/28.  Bad news, I put off entering Brew Riot too long, and it was full when I finally got around to it.  The screw up I’ll talk about in just a second.

So, for those of you in the DFW Metroplex, you might remember that on 2/28 we were in the middle of our snow/ice-pocalypse of 2015.  It was a balmy 25°F on brew day.  I had a few brave souls make the trek from around the neighborhood (and one from all the way down in Bedford) to join me in the garage.  As you can imagine, on a brisk day like that one, it took a bit to get my mash water heated up.  Finally got it done though, and had no more issues through the mash and boil.  The one small hiccup came when I accidentally knocked over the table and spilled sanitizer all over the garage.  Unfortunately, the hops that were set aside for dry hopping were also on the table, and they got pretty much ruined, so there were no dry hops in this batch.  Everything else went fine, though, and to wort cooled to pitching temps very quickly, thanks to the cold weather.  Lesson learned: don’t try to lift one leg of the table to get a dog leash attached to it.  The dog can stay warm and lonely inside on brew day.

This beer was the first to use the new chest freezer fermentation chamber.  Man, how did I ever make beer without this?  It simplifies that process so much.  All I had to do was set the temperature controller and let the beer ferment happily away at 63°F, regardless of how hot or cold it was outside.  The cool side was hooked to the freezer, and the heating side to a lightbulb-inside-a-paint-can setup.  It never got more than a degree away from the target any time that I saw it, and was usually within a half degree.
Once it hit FG, I cold crashed for a few days to help with clarity, then racked over to a cleaned and sanitized keg, and into the fridge and onto CO2 to carbonate up for a few weeks.  Sampled it after a week, and it still needed more carbonation, but the flavor was awesome.  Let it sit until last weekend when we went to a Cards Against Humanity (awesomely un-PC game) party, and I took a growler full.  It was very well-received.

Meanwhile, during my March drill weekend, some neighbors had a crawfish boil, and Erin went.  The host, Scott, and his neighbor, Lloyd, were at the 2/28 brew day, and both raved about all three beers I had on tap at the time (hefe, stout, IIPA), so Erin came back and got a growler of both the stout and the hefe (the IIPA keg had kicked a week or so earlier) to take back.  That finished off the hefe keg, so I was down to one keg (two, once Killer Junior IPA was ready).

I figured it was about time for another brew day.  I asked Facebook what to brew, putting forward a few options.  By far, the favorite was the red lager idea.  I really wanted to brew a lager, since I haven’t done one yet, and with the chest freezer fermentation chamber, I’ll have no problems getting down into the low-50s needed for lager fermentation.  I came up with this for a red Vienna-style lager:

7lbs Vienna malt
3lbs Dark Munich malt
0.25lbs Carafa II Special malt

The Vienna and Munich malts are pretty standard for the style, and are both give a good malty flavor to the finished beer, with the Munich being a little darker, and giving a little more pronounced malty and grainy flavor.  The Carafa II Special is a dehusked version of Weyermann’s Carafa II malt.  Since it’s dehusked, it add the rick color, flavor, and aroma of the husked version, but without the harsh flavors and astringency you typically see with darker grains.  It’s supposed to contribute to a nice reddish-brown color when used in smaller amounts, and that’s what I’m hoping for from it.

The hop schedule is pretty straight forward:

1.5oz Tettnanger @ 60 minutes
1.5oz Tettnanger @ 10 minutes

Yeast is the Saflager W34/70 dry yeast.  2 11.5g packets rehydrated and pitched at 50°F.

Brew day was 4/18, and had a good-sized group come out this time-both neighbors and friends who live in other parts of the Metroplex came.  Erin made some awesome mint chocolate chip brownies, as well.  The only issue with the day’s activities was that I overshot my strike temperature by about 10° since I wasn’t paying attention.  It was solved by getting rid of a gallon of hot water, and adding in a gallon of cold water.  Mashed for 60 minutes at 152°, then removed the grains and heated to boiling.  Added the hops (forgot the Whifloc, I’m just realizing, but hopefully the cold crash and lagering will help clear the beer) and cooled the wort down to around 60°.  Racked to the carboy and into the fermentation chamber it went, set at 50°.  Once it got to about 52°, I pitched the yeast and left it to do its thing.  Once it’s close to FG, I’ll bump it up to 60° to 65° for a quick diacetyl rest, then I’ll cold crash and keg, and let it carbonate and lager at the same time.  I’ll probably check on it around Memorial Day to see if it’s ready to drink yet or not.

I’m definitely learning more and more every time I brew.  Using different grains allows me to see how they affect a beer’s taste, aroma, and color.  Next up, I’m thinking I’ll do something darker and a little higher ABV to replace the stout once it’s gone.  Something I can age until the fall or winter.  Maybe a Belgian quad, or even a tripel, even though it’s a paler beer.  After that, I’d like to do a saison that will be ready for the heat of July and August.  Depends on how long the IPA and stout last.  The IPA turned out so good, it might just become a sort of “house” beer, and on constant rotation!

Well, that’s it for now, hope you enjoyed reading.

SlĂ inte!