Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Converting recipes to small batches

I was looking at one of the recipes from Northern Brewer this morning...the one for the Bavarian Hefeweizen (5 gal volume. extract brew).  I was looking at it to see which yeast is recommended for the recipe, and wanted to compare it to the 1 gallon recipe I had brewed.

The end result of the 1 gallon recipe was a drinkable beer, but something so light that I wouldn't likely brew that one again.  However, I started doing a comparison of the amount of extract between the two batches:

5 gallon - 6 lbs wheat malt syrup (LME - split) + 1 lb wheat DME
1 gallon - 1 lb wheat DME

If you reduce the 5 gallon recipe, the extract comes to 1.25 lbs wheat LME (or 1lb wheat DME), followed by 0.2 lb wheat DME late addition.   For a 1 gallon recipe, that late addition can very likely make a difference in the end result.

The 1 gallon recipes available from sites such as Northern Brewer offer a great gateway into home brewing, particularly for someone who wants to try it out without a huge, up-front investment.  However, I would definitely consider upping the fermentables a bit for a more full-bodied beer, and if you find extract brewing to be your thing, then maybe make a move into partial mashing, possibly using this YouTube video as a guide (the investment of a 1-to-2 gallon cooler with a spigot can be less than $20).

My initial foray into small batches was via the Wil Wheaton VandalEyesPA recipe.  This one turned out really well, a very drinkable and enjoyable IPA (although I forgot to dry hop it).  Notice that the amount of extract is 1.5 lb of gold malt LME.  That's a good bit of extract for a 1 gallon batch, and gives you an idea of how much is needed for a fuller-bodied brew.  If you're working with something like the Pilsen DME, which is lighter in color as well as in the resulting body and "mouth feel" of the beer, you may want to add more DME (either Pilsen or gold).

Take a look at this 5 gallon recipe for a French-Belgian style ale.  The recipe calls for 6 lbs Pilsen malt syrup + 3.15 lbs Munich malt syrup + 1 lb of Belgian candy sugar.  Converting this to a 1 gallon small batch recipe would make it about 1.25 lb of Pilsen LME (or 1 lb of Pilsen DME) + 0.63 lb Munich LME (0.5 lb DME) + 0.2 lb Belgian candy sugar.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grapefruit IPA Recipe #2

Brew Date: 22 May

45 min boil/5 qt water

1.5lb Maillard Malt Gold Malt Extract Syrup (@ 45 min)
7g FFC7 hops (@ 45 min - bittering)

0.6lb SuperStructure Syrup (@ 15 min)
7g Amarillo + 7g German Perle hops (@ 15 min)

Zest of 2 lg grapefruit (in a mesh bag) (@ 10 min)

7g Cascade + 4g Amarillo + 4g Jarrylo + 4g German Perle (@ 0 min - flame out)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Cool wort in ice bath to ~ 80 deg F.  Transfer to fermenter, aerate wort.  Pitch ~ 1/2 pack Safale US-05 yeast.

In about 10 days (~ 2 Jun), I'll check on it, and decide at that point to either let it go in primary for another week or so, or rack to secondary, with a dry hop of about 7 days.

Addendum, 1 Jun: Racked to secondary, dry hopped with 7g German Perle + 8g Amarillo.  I'll leave it there for a week.

Addendum, 8 Jun: Bottled today, got just a bit over 8 1/2 bottles.  Strong scent of grapefruit during bottling process.  May try a bottle around 22 June, but won't really expect this one to really be ready until 29 June.

Addendum, 22 Jun: Nice golden amber color when poured, moderate head.  Carbonation is persistent (doesn't go flat quickly), with a very small amount of lacing.  Citrus in the nose, followed by some complex flavors. Does not come across as super hoppy as you'd expect from an IPA, as if the hops is evened out by the malt.  Good citrus bitterness, not overly bitter.  Good mouth feel with a nice body, not a light beer at all; definitely a "bulky" beer.  Backing off a bit on the amount of extract syrup would definitely let the hops come out more.  This is a complex beer with a lot going on, so I'm going to name this one "Friday Evening Retreat Parade IPA", because at VMI, during our parades, there is a lot of activity, and a lot of moving parts.

For this one, I would definitely back off of the malt, and maybe even move some of the malt bill to a partial extract, depending upon what I was trying for.  I don't think that "dense" really describes the body well, as it's not so much "heavy" as it is "bulky".  I also need to keep in mind that backing off of the malt will bring out more of the hops, as a result.

Addendum, 2 Aug: Tasting notes similar to those noted on 22 June.  Persistent, mild lacing, good flavor, and good body.

Addendum, 7 Aug: I had another one of these tonight; mild head, excellent lacing.  I really enjoyed this one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brewing TV

I watched Brewing TV tonight, episode 1 of "Brewing with Wil Wheaton"...entertaining, educational, something definitely to aspire to (as far as a brew house goes).

One of the things I like about having Wil Wheaton in the episode...aside from the brewing part...is that he had pop culture references that I get!  "That'll do, pig..."

Jarrylo IPA - 29 Apr (JM Hall Pale Ale)

Brew day: 29 Apr
60 min boil, 5 qt water in brew pot

Steep 0.5 lb crystal rye, 15 min

1.25 lb SuperStructure Syrup (@ 60 min)
3 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)
0.6 lb SuperStructure syrup (@ 15 min)

3.5 g Centennial (@ 60 min, bittering)
7 g Jarrylo (@ 15 min)
7 g Jarrylo (@ 5 min)

At the end of the boil, moved wort to ice bath to cool to ~80 deg F.  Transferred to fermenter, aerated, pitched ~ 1/2 packet of Safale US-05 yeast.

9 May - racked to secondary, dry hopped with 11g Medusa hops

19 May - dry hopping in secondary

Jarrylo IPA

Addendum, 21 May - bottled; wasn't a full  2 wks because of my schedule, but should work out just fine.  I ended up with 2 flip-top bottles and 6 regular 11 oz bottles.

For my undergraduate degree, I attended the Virginia Military Institute, and on a whim, my wife suggested that I name the beers I brew based on my experiences at VMI.  For example, one idea of a name for the grapefruit IPA was "Room 157 grapefruit IPA", and another was "Get Your Chin In Grapefruit IPA".  For the Jarrylo IPA, I use Jarrylo hops for aroma, and dry hopped with Medusa hops, which gives me the initials "JM".  The cadet chapel at VMI is named "JM Hall", so it's only right that I call this brew "JM Hall IPA".

Addendum, 11 June - Tasting Notes
Put one bottle in the fridge on 9 June, tried it tonight. Golden amber color in the glass, light, non-persistent head.  Full nose of tropical fruits.  Malt forward, good body (maybe a tiny bit heavy), spice in the mouth.  A keeper, but won't be able to fully replicate until Medusa becomes available...this brew was to use up the Medusa that I had left.  What I may end up doing is just keeping the name and use just Jarrylo hops, or use Mosaic for bittering, and then again for aroma.  My wife really liked this one.  It's definitely a pale ale, not an IPA.

Addendum, 3 Aug - Chilled and tried another bottle, to refresh my memory from the last time.   The beer pours with a beige head that thins out a bit, but hangs around.  Lots of lacing.  Kind of a reddish-amber color.  Still malt forward just a bit, and didn't get that rush of tropical fruits in the nose with this one. Good flavor, I still like this one (Terri's very happy with the rye ale!)...I'm definitely looking forward to sharing this one during the tasting at the end of the month.

Addendum, 8 Sept: The last bottle of my JM Hall pale ale.


Brew day: 10 May (based on Northern Brewer Belgian Tripel recipe, reduced to 1 gal)

Partial mash (stove top): 0.5 lb 2-row, 0.5 lb carapils

Heat 1 qt water to 168 deg F, add loose grains.  Maintain temp of ~152-156 deg for an hour.  Place fine mesh strainer over brew kettle, pour wort through the strainer.  Heat 1 qt water to 168 deg F, for use in sparging.  Add water to bring total volume to 5 qt.

Note: This is the one and only time I tried to do a partial mash on the stove top; from this point out, I'll be using a cooler.

60 min boil

0.5 lb Golden malt DME (@ 60 min)
0.2 lb Belgian candy sugar (@ 60 min)
1 lb Pilsen malt DME (@ 15 min)

7 g German Perle (@ 60 min)
7 g Saaz (@ 15 min)

Cooled wort to ~80 deg F (ice bath), transferred to fermenter, aerated.  Pitched ~1/2 packet (maybe a little more) of Safbrew Abbaye dry yeast.

Proposed schedule:
primary: ~ 10 days (20 May)
secondary: 4 wks (17 June)
bottle: ~3 wks

Tripel, 19 May

20 May: Racked to secondary.
16 Jun: Bottled

Addendum, 1 Jul: This was my first attempt at a partial mash, trying it on the stove top (I didn't use the cooler for this one).  Opened the bottle, not much carbonation, no head on the beer when poured.  Full nose of bread, but the beer had a sour taste.

I'm thinking something may have happened to the beer, perhaps when I transferred it to secondary. I'm going to redo this one, using my current partial mash methodology, as well as reducing the time that the beer is in the fermenter.  The blog page for the beer shows it in the fermenter, as a nice golden color.  By the time the beer was bottled, sitting in the fermenter it was a brown color near the top, transitioning into a reddish hue, then golden near the bottom.  As far as the yeast goes, I can try the Abbaye again, or look at maybe the Safbrew T-58, based on the thoughts shared here.

Rye Pale Ale #1 - 18 May

Brew Day - 18 May

Grains - 1lb total 
0.5 lb 2-row
0.35 lb crystal rye
0.15 lb Rahr red wheat

Partial mash method (approx 1 hr)

Using the partial mash method outlined above, I heated 1.5 qt of water to 168 deg F, placed it in the cooler, and added the grains in a mesh bag.  I ensured that the grains were covered, put the top on the cooler, and let it set for almost an hour.

Near the end of the hour, I removed a sample of the wort from the cooler...it was a bit dark, due to the rye, and had a nice aroma.  I heated 3 qts of water to 168 deg F in the brew pot, and removed the bag of grains to rinse and steep for 10 min.  The resulting wort in the cooler was just about exactly 1 qt; I added that to brew pot, plus an additional quart of water for a total of 5 qt.

0.5 lb Golden DME (@ 60 min)
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 15 min)

4 g Cascade (@ 60 min, bittering)
7 g German Tettnang (@ 15 min)
7 g German Tettnang + 7 g Jarrylo (@ 0 min)

Cool wort to 80 deg F (ice bath), transfer to fermenter.  Aerate, pitch ~1/2 packet Safale US-05.

Malt and hops, ready to go
9 hrs after putting the beer in the fermenter

Addendum, 19 May: ~23 hrs in, gas is bubbling through the blow-off tube nicely...

Addendum, 1 Jun: Bottled today; got 9 bottles, but I broke on with a little too much effort on the capper.  As this one is a pale ale, I didn't dry hop it.  I'm trying to come up with a VMI-related name for this one...

Addendum, 15 Jun: Light floral nose when opening bottle.  Pours to an amber color, with a full, persistent golden head.  Very malt forward, with a spice palette and good mouth feel. Very good flavor.  Some of the head clings to the edges of the glass (lacing; indicates that the grains converted).  For future versions, I might drop the 1/2 lb of golden DME.

Addendum, 7 Aug:  Enjoyed another sample of this beer tonight.  Similar to my previous tasting notes for this beer, the beer was malt-forward, but this time I noted something a bit more caramel in the malt.  Still very good lacing from the beer.  Most of the darker color comes from the rye, clearly, but I'm not sure where the caramel flavor comes from; it could be a combination the flavor from the malt and the late hop additions.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Grapefruit IPA Recipe

Brew date: 27 Mar
0.1875 lbs specialty grains (provided with Dead Ringer IPA recipe), steeped 15 min

45 min boil

1.5lb Maillard Malts Gold Malt Extract Syrup (@ 45 min)
6 oz corn sugar (@ 45 min)
3.5 g Centennial hops (@ 45 min - bittering)
7 g Cascade hops + 4 g FF C7 hops (@ 15 min)
7 g Cascade hops + zest of 1 large grapefruit (@ 5 min)

Cool wort in ice bath (sink) to ~ 80 deg.  Transfer to fermenter, aerate wort.  Pitch ~1/2 pack of Safale US-05 yeast.

6 Apr: Transfer to secondary, dry hop (4 g FF C7 + 7 g Cascade in a muslin bag)
10 Apr: Bottle
26 Apr: Tried first bottle; good body and flavor, would've liked more carbonation

Future Improvements:
- Partial mash vs steep (grains)
- Additional malt extract (?)
- More grapefruit zest, but put it in a bag (to keep bits of the zest from making it through to bottling
- Use Cascade and Amarillo hops
- Dry hop longer

First Post

Why have a blog?

As I stated in the description of this blog, I started home brewing recently (beginning of 2015).  My lovely wife got me a 5 gallon kit from Northern Brewer for my birthday, and I marked a date on my calendar when I'd actually brew my first beer (the kit came with a wheat beer recipe and all of the ingredients).  Everything went fine, and the beer turned out pretty well, but the bottling operation was a bit of a handful.

I decided that I liked this home brewing thing, and I wanted something a bit more manageable, so I purchased the 1 gallon kit, with the Wil Wheaton VandalEyesPA recipe kit.  I really enjoyed the process, and the beer was pretty good, as well.  More than anything else, I had been doing some research and was learning a bit more about the overall process, as well as where I might be able to make changes and experiment a bit.  My wife also got me a notebook so that I could write down recipes, make notes about the process (dates of brewing, racking to secondary, bottling, etc.), as well as document what I thought about the beers as I tried them.

One of the things I found about the recipe kits from Northern Brewer is that they provide a really good place to start.  I have found that the recipes are good, but I tend to want more body in my beers...more on that in a future post.  Suffice to say that Northern Brewer is a great resource...not just for kits, but also for other recipes (it's pretty easy to reduce a 5 gal recipe to a 1 gal small batch), so that you can see things like malts used, hopping schedules, etc.

Ingredients are pretty easy to get.  I've relied on Northern Brewer for most of my ingredients, but I found a really sweet (no pun intended) deal on corn sugar on Amazon...I got 4 lbs @ $1.79/lb.  I picked up some grains from one of the local home brew supply stores (I have yet to visit the other one).  Other things you may want to try are likely available at your local supermarket.  Maple syrup apparently makes a really good sugar for beers, and you can get different sugars (agave, honey, etc.), fruits (grapefruit, blood oranges, etc.), and more.

Something else that really helped me was having a friend who had been home brewing for a while; he let me in on some really important tips (which I'll be documenting in a page associated with this blog in the near future), and was also able to help me see past some of what appeared to be mixed or contradictory messages from different resources.

Making small batches of beer is a lot of fun.  Overall, the equipment required is smaller; I found a nice 8 qt brew pot on sale at Target.  The amount of ingredients is more manageable, and the space required is much smaller.  We have a bathroom in the basement of our house, and with my first 5 gallon batch, I decided that was the best (in terms of constant temperature) and safest (in terms of making a mess) place to let the brew ferment.  So, I brew in the kitchen, move everything downstairs into the basement to ferment, and handle transferring brews to secondary, as well as bottling, behind the wet bar that we had built into our basement.  I have a storage tub that I put the bottled beer into, and I just follow the calendar to see when I can try one of the first bottles of the beer.

Grapefruit IPA
The first batch I made completely on my own, from a recipe I tweaked a bit, based on my limited experience, was a grapefruit IPA (see the image to the left).  I don't know what it was about grapefruit, but I really, really, REALLY wanted to try my hand at a grapefruit IPA.  And you know what?  It turned out really well...my wife doesn't like IPAs but she did like this one.  I based the recipe on the Northern Brewer Dead Ringer IPA Extract recipe, reducing it from 5 to 1 gallon, adding some corn sugar, using different hop additions, and adding the zest of one grapefruit to the boil.

Anyway, there's more to come...stay tuned...