Friday, September 14, 2018

Batch 218, Oktoberfest

Last year's batch was not good. Drinkable, I guess, but no one really liked it. Not sure why it didn't come out as well as the year before.

10 gallons

There is a slight change in the grain bill from last time, the home brew store was out of Vienna, so I use more Munich in its place. There should have been 8 lb of Munich, 7 of Vienna, I used 15 lbs Munich this time.

10 lb 2-row
15 lb Munich
1.5 lb White Wheat
1.0 lb Crystal 60

Mashed at 142F for 1 hour, then a 10 min recirc per sparge. I wasn't aiming that low, but that's what it was and I didn't adjust the temp. Adjusted pH to 5.2

1.25 oz Magnum, 60 min
2.25 oz Mt Hood, 5 min
1.25 Hallertau, 5 min

90 minute boil

Used 1 quart of the same yeast as in Batch 217.

OG: 1.060 actual
FG: 1.015
IBU: 28.7
SRM: 10.0
ABV: 6.0%

Batch 217, Leeser

A double batch day, doing lagers so they can sit and lager while we head to Mexico for the winter.

10 gallons

21.5 lb pilsner
1.5 lb white wheat

Mashed at 146F, adjusted pH to 5.2.

1.5 oz Magnum, 60 min
3.0 oz Saaz, 5 min

90 minute boil

Used a combination of 2 packs of Wyeast Bohemian Lager yeast and 1 pack of White Labs Oktoberfest. I made a 2 quart starter with these, 1 quart went into this batch, the other into the next batch. Fermenting at 55F.

OG: 1.052 actual
FG: 1.014
IBU: 33.8
SRM: 4.0
ABV: 5.6%

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

batch 216, Mosaic IPA

A friend got some fresh Mosaic hops from right down the road on Sunday, I dried them on Monday and brewed with them today. Really fresh, awesome smell from the brew shed today!

10 Gallon batch

25 lb 2-row
1.5 lb Biscuit malt
1.5 lb white wheat
1.5 OUNCES Chocolate malt, this is just for color

Mashed low, I forgot to look at the temp, but I'm guessing around 149F or 150F. 60 minutes, long vorlauf, 5.2 pH, etc.

90 minute boil

2 oz brand new super fresh Mosiac, FWH
2 oz Magnum, 60 min, only because I didn't have quite enough Mosaic
2 tsp Irish moss, 15 min
4 oz of that same super fresh Mosaic at 0 min, plus a 30 min hop stand before kicking on the chiller.

Wyeast 1272, the usual 2 quarts of recycled yeast

That is all, I've been drinking  raspberry cider all day, so nothing more.

Wait, there was a picture:

Those! Those are super fresh Mosaic hops!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Batch 215, Berry Cider

The berry cider I made earlier this year turned out to be a big hit, so I made another batch. The process was a little different this time, instead of making beer and running off an extra gallon of wort, I soaked 4 lb 2-row in 1 gallon of water. I didn't think about it and didn't do the math, but 4 lb of crushed grain will absorb 4 pints of water, so I ended up with just a half gallon of wort. Duh! So I batch sparged with another half gallon to get a full gallon of wort.


1 gallon of wort, more or less
11 cans of Winco frozen apple cider juice

Put that into the fermenter, add 2 gallons of water to make 4 gallons, pitched a quart of thick slurry of Wyeast 1272. Another gallon of liquid gets added later to make a 5 gallon batch.

Like last time, the plan is to let this ferment out, then heat 4 lbs of berries (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry mix) in 1 gallon of water, and add it to the fermenter. The sugar from the berries should cause fermentation to restart, let it go for another week, then rack and keg. The idea here is by adding the fruit later on, the fermentation is less likely to drive off the fruit flavors, which worked well last time.

As usual, I don't have an OG for this, but it's tasty and definitely has some alcohol in it. I'd guess around 5%, but that's just a guess.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Batch 214, a pale ale

I just sort of made this up on the spot. I was going to rerun the Arrogant Bastard sort of clone that I did earlier this summer, but it's hot, so I thought a nice pale ale would be better. Just some grain and some C hops, should be good!

10 gallon batch

22 lb 2-row
1.5 lb white wheat
1 lb biscuit, just because I wanted a little malt flavor to show through

Mashed in with 8 gallons at 165F, hit mash temp of 150F, so this should have a somewhat dry finish, at least, that's what I'm aiming for. Adjusted pH to 5.25.

90 minute boil, since I think that helps with clarity.

2 oz Chinook, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 1/8 oz Cascade, 5 min
1 7/8 oz Centennial, 5 min

I was going to go 2 and 2 on the 5 minute addition, but I didn't quite have enough Centennial. I don't think it will make a difference.

Oxygenated, pitched 2 quarts Wyeast 1272 from a previous batch at 72F, fermenting at 65F.

OG: 1.054 est, 1.058 actual, I think I boiled a little harder than usual
FG: 1.014 est
IBU: 60.7
SRM: 5.2
ABV: 5.4%

It was a real easy brew day, in spite of the temperatures hitting 100F today. Made a couple of gallons of salsa at the same time using tomatoes, peppers, and onions from our garden.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Batch 213, Panama Red, of course

Just another batch of Panama Red.

10 gallon batch

22.5 lb 2-row
1.5 lb crystal 60
4 oz chocolate malt
1.5 lb white wheat

Mashed in with 7.5 gallons at 168F to hit mash temp at 154F. Adjusted pH to 5.29. Collected 12.5 gallons in the boil kettle

90 minute boil

2 oz Mt Hood, FWH
2 oz Centennial, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hoos, 5 min

2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min

2 quarts Wyeast 1272 from previous batch, pitched at 72F, ferment at 65F

OG: 1.063 actual
FG: 1.016 (est)
ABV: 6.4%
IBU: 66
SRM 11.8

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Batch 212, Yet another variation on the Guava IPA

I didn't have enough grain to do a full 10 gallon batch, so this one is only 7.5, plus I changed up the hops, just because that's what I had on hand.

7.5 gallon batch

15.5 lb 2-row
2.5 lb white wheat
3 lb guava juice concentrate (4 cans Winco frozen guava juice)

Mashed at 156F with 7 gallons 165F water, pH adjusted to 5.3. I did get some calibration liquids for my pH meter, so this should be dead on. I've never calibrated it in the 5 years I've had it, but I think it was pretty accurate the whole time.

2.5 oz Magnum, 60 min
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min
2 oz Citra pellets, 5 min
1 oz Cascade, 5 min

60 minute boil. I usually do 90 minute boils since I think it helps with clarity, but the guava IPAs are never clear, so I just did a 60 minute boil. Plus, I didn't start brewing until 6 pm, and wanted to get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Added the guava juice directly to the fermenter, then oxygenated and pitched

Wyeast 1272 from previous batch, 2 quarts.

OG before adding guava: 1.054, after: 1.060
IBUs should be right at 80.

4 Sep 18: Did a side-by-side tasting of this versus Short Brewing's Freedom of '78. Theirs is prettier in that is was nice and clear, whereas mine always comes out cloudy. Color-wise, they were very similar. Both are a medium body and neither have a  particularly high IBU. Theirs also had a more prominent guava aroma. So here are a few notes for when I make this next:

1) use the guava paste in addition to the Winco frozen concentrate. I think the paste gave a better guava flavor. Add the paste just before pitching the yeast, or maybe add it to the boil kettle at the end so the paste can dissolve in the hot wort.
2) add the frozen concentrate at the end of fermentation rather than at the start. That should cause the fermentation to continue and let the guava aroma be retained rather than being blown off as it is when added at the start, similar to how I add fruit to cider.
3) do a full 90 minute boil, and after kegging, let it settle for a couple of weeks then transfer to a new keg, leaving as much debris behind as possible. Pay attention to my notes about clarity.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Batch 211, Panama Red with modifications

I love my Panama Red, and I haven't tweaked the recipe in quite a while. This time I made a couple of changes just to see if I like it better. I added more hops at the beginning, so it should be a little more bitter, and I reduced the Crystal 60 so it shouldn't be quite as sweet.

10 gallon batch

23 lb 2-row (up from 22.25 to compensate for reducing the Crystal 60)
1.5 lb white wheat
1 lb Crystal 60 (down from 1.5 so it won't be quite as sweet)
4 oz chocolate malt

I mashed with 10 gallons at 165F, which hit 154F in the tun. Adjusted pH to 5.2.

4 oz Mt Hood, FWH (up from 2 oz)
3 oz Centennial, 60 min (up from 2 oz)
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

90 minute boil.

Wyeast 1272 from Batch 209, pitched 2 quarts.

OG: 1.064, 1.056 actual, not sure what happened here...
FG: 1.017
ABV: 6.5%
IBU: 98.6 (Tinseth)
SRM: 10.8

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A Refrigerator Modification

I bought a couple of wine coolers from Home Depot a few years ago. They look nice, the inside is big enough to hold 2 of my kegs, and it was pretty easy to put a tap tower on top.

However, these are wine coolers. I'm actually using one for wine, so it's just fine, the other I'm using for beer. The problem with the wine cooler part is the temperature really only has two settings, one for red and one for white. The lowest the temp will go is 39F, which is just okay for beer. Personally (and this is definitely an area of personal preference), I like my beer served at 34F. It will warm soon enough in the glass all on its own, especially on hot summer days. So -- I modded it to run at a lower temperature. This was a pretty straightforward project after a little internet search.

My approach is to replace the built-in temperature controller with an Inkbird:

These go for about $35 on Amazon. I have one just like this that I use to run the freezer I use for fermentation. They are very easy to set up and work very well. There are 3 wires, the one on the left is for the temperature sensor, the middle turns on electricity to both a hot and a cold device, and the third is for the power. In this case, I don't need the hot, just the cold. In my fermentation freezer, I have the power cord for the freezer plugged into the cold and a terrarium heater for the hot.

Next, I found the circuit diagram for the wine cooler pasted to the back, it looks like this:

Wine cooler circuit diagram

If you look closely, the wires are labeled with colors, so all I have to do is cut the brown and red wires from the circuit board and connect them, which bypasses the built-in controller completely. This does mean that the internal light and temperature display won't work, but I don't care. The built-in controller is located on the inside ceiling of the wine cooler, and it's held in place by 2 screws. Inside is the circuit board, which looks like this:

Wine cooler circuit board

The brown and red wires are in the lower left corner of the picture. I just cut them and used a wire nut to connect them. The blue wire powers the compressor, so it's essential to leave it alone or the fridge won't cool at all.

There is a drain hole inside the fridge right above the compressor. I widened it a little with a drill and was able to push the Inkbird sensor inside with no problem, so no chance of hitting a cooling line. I ran the sensor up to the built-in controller and used some black gorilla tape to hold it in place.

That's it. I set the temp on the Inkbird and since there is plenty of room behind the rear access panel, I put all the wires and the Inkbird behind the panel, so it all looks like it was never modified.

April 24, 2020: Both of the coolers have crapped out.
The beer fridge needed 2 parts:
HQRP QP2-4R7 4.7 Ohm 3-Pin PTC Starter/Start Relay Replacement for Mini Fridges, Compact Refrigerators, Beverage & Wine/Beer coolers, Deep Freezers, Beer/Wine Refrigerators
These were both pretty easy to install.

The wine fridge is showing an EEF code. The beer fridge didn't show any code because I've done the modification above. Those parts look fine on the wine fridge, so I'm going to attempt the same modification as the beer fridge to see if it's the temperature controller that is out. Update -- that didn't work. It seems the best the fridge can do is about 53 or 54F, and it runs all day to keep it there.  A new fridge is on the way.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Batch 210, another cider, but with berries

I guess this counts as a double batch day, sort of. I made a cider to go along with the Arrogant Bastard wannabe clone that I made today. I had some trouble, and ended up with extra wort, which I wanted anyway to be able to feed the yeast for a cider. This is pretty much the same as the cider I've made before, but this time I'm planning to add berries.


1 gallon of wort from Batch 209
11 cans of Winco frozen apple cider juice

Put that into the fermenter, add 2 gallons of water, pitched 1 cup of thick slurry of Wyeast 1272.

The plan is to let this ferment out, then heat 4 lbs of berries (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry mix) in 1 gallon of water, and add it to the fermenter. The sugar from the berries should cause fermentation to restart, let it go for another week, then rack and keg. The idea here is by adding the fruit later on, the fermentation is less likely to drive off the fruit flavors.

As usual, I don't have an OG for this.

Update, May 15, 2018, racked into a keg today. The hydrometer sample tastes like fruit juice, no hot alcohol flavors at all. Lots of berries left behind:

And it looks really clear coming out of the bucket:

One more picture, this is one of the most useful pieces of equipment I have for brewing:

It's a solid brass nozzle, with a solid brass shutoff. It's easy to use this one-handed.

Batch 209, some sort of Arrogant Bastard clone

I still have a lot (a lot!) of those hops from Libby's wedding a year and a half ago. These are the hops that went into the Hoppily Ever After beer, which has an astoundingly strong flavor of peaches. I started with an Arrogant Bastard clone beer, since it's a strong beer with a single hop. Arrogant Bastard uses all Chinook, which is what I was originally told these hops were, but these are definitely NOT Chinook. Plus I didn't actually have exactly the right grains for an AB clone, so here it is...

10 gallon batch

28 lb 2 row
1.5 lb white wheat (see side note below)
2.25 oz Crystal 120
8 0z roasted barley
8 oz british brown
14 oz Crystal 60

Those last 4 are an attempt to substitute for 2 lb of Special B. I thought I could just use the Crystal 120, but I had nowhere close to 2 lb, hence the rest.

Adjusted pH to 5.3, mashed at 154F for 60 minutes, more or less, because bad things happened -- the SS braid in my mash tun disconnected. What a pain in the ass! I thought my pump had died on me, so I tore it apart, and cleaned and lubed it, but it turned out that it was just clogged by grain. I had to empty the mash tun into buckets, then get the braid reattached. Lots of vorlauf today to make sure things were good. That only added about 30 minutes to my brew day, so really not a big deal, just a pain.

I'm calling this hop "Peaches" since I don't know what it's real name is... (update, they are definitely Mosaic hops)

90 minute boil

3 oz Peaches, 90 min
2 oz Peaches, 45 min
2 oz Peaches, 15 min
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min
2 oz Peaches, 5 min

As I'm writing this, I realized two things -- I forgot to filter the water, and I forgot to get an OG. I did remember to oxygenate and pitch the yeast, which was 2 cups of 1272 from the last batch of Panama Red.

Specs per Brewtarget:

OG: 1.068
FG: 1.018
SRM: 13.9
IBU: 110

Update, 21 May 2018: the hydrometer sample left me thinking this was not going to be a very good beer, but once it's on tap and carbonated, it is actually quite good. I would make this again, if I happen to have any of these hops again.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Batch 208, Panama Red

We returned from warm and sunny Baja last week, so it's time to get back to brewing. There was a little Panama Red left over from last year, and it was still delicious, although the hops had faded, of course. Now it's gone, so time to make some more!

10 gallon batch

A slightly different grain bill this time, I didn't realize I am completely out of wheat, so I used some extra 2 row:

23.75 lb 2-row
1.5 lb Crystal 60
4 oz Chocolate malt

Mashed at 152F for 60 minutes. pH adjusted to 5.25. Collected 12.5 gallons in the boil kettle.

Hops, 90 min boil:

2 oz Mt Hood, FWH
2 oz Centennial, 60 min
2 oz Cascade, 30 min
2 oz Cascade, 5 min
2 oz Mt Hood, 5 min

2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 min

2 new packs of Wyeast 1272 in a 2 quart starter. Pitched at 70F, ferment at 65F.

OG: 1.063, 1.062 actual
FG: 1.016
ABV: 6.4%
IBU: 66
SRM: 11.8