Tag Archives: Carboy

Making beer at home, again.

It’s been too long. Way too long. Last brew day for me was on 1 September!  Over a month between brews. Just over six weeks!

In my defence there were a lot of things going on. The bottling day that was meant to include a brew was just bottling as I couldn’t sort out a time with Ian. Plus the only brew I was set up to do would of been another 23L batch and that wasn’t smart as I had just run out of bottles.

Then a whole lot of important-life-things happened. This isn’t really the place for that stuff, so I’ll just say home brewing had to take a back seat.

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale

Aussie Wattle Pale Ale on the stove.

Anyway, I finally got back to brewing and there’s nothing like something relatively easy to get you back into it. I ordered a couple kits from BrewSmith. The was the IPA which have done before, and is good as it has dry hopping. Also picked up the new Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, for this brew.

Kit was simple enough but still managed to make a couple mistakes. We kind of jumped in a little to quick into this. Which is odd because I prepared a whole lot of stuff before Chas turned up. Kit contained:

  • Dry Malt Extract
  • Grain (mixture of stuff) for steeping
  • Wattle Seeds
  • Hops x3
  • Yeast

First mistake was not adding the Wattle Seeds to the grain when we put that into steep. Just clean overlooked that. Only missed a few mins, so hopefully that doesn’t change things much. Used a grain bag and tried to shake in the seeds, not sure if that really did anything.

Next up, the grains steeped longer than the 30 mins. This was two fold. One, it went on early and the boil wasn’t ready as quickly as I though. Second, we didn’t put the steeped liquid into the boil when we were meant to. Again, oversight by not reading the instructions from top to bottom.

So, Wattle Seeds went in late. But steeping was longer, about 50 mins rather than 30 mins. That meant it only had 5 mins in the boil rather than 15 mins. My gut tells me that this will make a difference as the (middle) hops didn’t have as much to be absorbed into . This might mean a lighter hop flavour and more aroma hops. But that’s just a guess.

Finally there was the cold break. I’ve been reading up a lot on brewing lately. Will be sharing some of that stuff once I get back into the 101 pages. Yes, I know they’re well overdue. I might move to fortnightly rather than weekly as there’s only a few more ‘basics’ to cover before diving into heavy detail.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the cold break. To really get a good break without fancy equipment I decided to step up the work on the cold bath. Yep, still doing that as don’t have any funky equipment. First up was two 1.25L soft drink bottles that were full of frozen water. These acted as giant ice cubes in the ‘bath’ water to cool it down. Then also dropped in a tray of ice direct into the wort, it’s okay the water was filtered. Still did the second bath, but no extra ice into the wort. After that transferred the wort into the carboy, while straining out the hops.

The temperature was still up a bit so put the carboy in the big boil pot and filled with ice cold water, from those bottles that were used as ice cubes earlier. After about 10 mins half the carboy was cold and the rest warm. Pitched the yeast and shaken up, for airation.

The OG came in at 1.042 which was a little lower than I expected for a BrewSmith kit. That might be due to the stuff up with the steeped grains going in late. Or maybe too much water added. But it could just as easily be the right OG.

The day was a pretty short with no bottling to do. And that was really nice for a change. Final thing for the day was getting the temperature control set up, but I’ll cover that in another post.

-Mikey

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Same-same, but different

Brewing day. Ah, nice to have one that doesn’t involve having to fill 80+ bottles. Due to craziness, ie doing other stuff, brew day was moved to Saturday. Plus there was no need to do a supply run which always saves a fair bit of time.

Australian Pale Ale #1

Australian Pale Ale #1 in carboy with separation after 2 weeks.

In the last brew we made the Australian Pale Ale #1. This was an experiment to see what could be done with just a can of liquid malt and hops. It was an attempt to make a very simple but still tasty home brew beer. Last time it was a can of light malt, this time amber malt. Rest of the recipe was the same. Same hops, same boil time, same yeast. Well, the yeast was slight different combination and I’ll explain a bit further down.

So, bottling the Australian Pale Ale #1 was quick. Only 12 bottles used, and the last one wasn’t a full one. There was a huge amount of sediment on the bottom and the brew looked like it had separated at the half way point. Not sure what that was about. There’s the pic to the side here. Anyway, we did a quick stir to mix the two half’s together before bottling. Due to the massive amount of yeast the bottles were very cloudy. I’m not sure how much sugar wasn’t fermented and this is the first time I’m a bit concerned about exploding bottles. Very interesting that the final gravity reading came in at 1.040. That’s high, very high. I’m thinking it’s mainly to do with the huge amounts of yeast. Anyway it means the beer will be 8.6% after bottled. Yay, finally a strong beer.

After that was all done it was onto making the Australian Amber Ale #1. Yes, I know the names are basic and Chas comes up with some great ones. I just can’t be bothered until I get one that I’m happy to continually remake. Plus, the name says what it is.

Started with three litre boil and threw in the can of liquid amber malt. Start of boil added 3 grams of Warrior hops. Twenty mins latter added 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Then 15 mins later another 2 grams of Galaxy hops. Five more mins then flame out and into the sink for a cool bath. Once temperature was close to what was needed it was pored into the carboy and topped up with cold water. Chas got shaking with the carboy and gravity readying was done, 1.097. That’s less then the Australian Pale Ale #1 and I think it’s because a bit more water went into this at the end.

Australian Amber Ale #1

Australian Amber Ale #1 in carboy.

Yeast for the last beer was an issue. There was too much left and the SN9 wine yeast was only put in after 10 days which didn’t do much. So, for the Australian Amber Ale #1 there was a change in what was done. Only half of a kit yeast pack was put in, and the SN9 wine yeast was put in at the same time.

  • Black Rock Amber Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 2.5g
  • ‘Premium Wine Yeast’ SN9 – 1g-ish

A good brew day was had. We busted out the Newcastle Brown and had a couple. Chas put up the review yesterday. Had a couple of the lagers, but one bottle was flat (no sugars in the bottle?). And opened a stout, but it’s not ready yet.

-Mikey

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Bottle day now with 20% more bottles, and a brew

Sunday was another brew day, of sorts. Really it was more of a bottling day with a brew at the end.

Australian Pale Ale 1

Australian Pale Ale 1 in the carboy

First order of business was to pick up some new supplies and equipment. My hydrometer broke last brew day and needed another. Needed some more no-rinse sanitizer. Plus picked up some liquid malt, hops (Warrior & Galaxy) and carbonation drops. Decided to go for more carbonation drops as I didn’t want to prime by measuring sugar, and was too lazy to work out how to do bulk priming.

Once back, it was onwards to the bottling. First up was the last 5 odd litres of the Newcastle brown. That was okay. Got 15 bottles in.

Next was the Stout. Gravity reading came in at 1.020 which means after bottling it will only be 4.0% ABV. That’s pretty low for a Stout. Might even need to call it a dark porter. Anyway, we needed to bottle all of it. ALL 23 litres! That’s 68 stubbies! Needless to say, this took most of the day.

Had a couple of breaks along the way. Got to try Chas’s coffee porter. Cracked open a bottle off the Newcastle brown, but it wasn’t ready yet.

Finally after bottling was done we moved onto brewing. For the past couple if weeks I’ve been thinking about how to get a very strong beer and still keep it easy. There’s a couple ways you can go about doing that, and hopefully over the next few months we’ll try as many of those options as we can. To make sure nothing too crazy is done I’m using a home brewing spreadsheet that let’s you put in ingredients and it tells you what characteristics of the beer will be. It’s amazing and I highly recommend getting your hands on it. You will need to sign up to Aussie Home Brewer if you haven’t already.

Anyway, this time around the brew was going to be a 4.5 litres batch for the carboy. Was using liquid malt extract that hadn’t been hopped and doing a 40 min boil with three hop additions.There was a whole 1.5kg can of liquid malt that went in. For a brew this small that’s right on the edge of madness, but I was keen to do this as a real test if a few things.

For lack of a better name, this is getting called Australian Pale Ale #1.

A big pot was filled with 3 litres of water, set to heat and LME was added. After the hot break added 3g of the Warrior hops. Twenty mins later added 2g of Galaxy hops, then last 2g of Galaxy was added 5 mins to the end. When the liquid malt went in the can was washed out with some boiled water. Not sure how much, but originally I was concerned we had to much liquid. In the end a lot boiled off leaving something just over four litres left. Given there was so much heat it took quite some time for the wort to cool down. The pot went through two long cold baths to get down to 22C. As there was a lot more liquid boiled off, I needed to top up the carboy with some extra water. Then I took a sample for a gravity reading.

Yeast was pitched. Used a whole pack of kit yeast as I had some spare lying around. Then give the whole thing a good shake, BrewSmith style.

Then, I checked my gravity reading and it was much lower than expected. Ahhh! I didn’t mix my wort properly. So, get rid of the sample and took another, which took out some of the yeast. But, that’s okay ‘cos there was a huge amount of yeast. Anyway the gravity came in a whopping 1.102!!

  • Black Light Liquid Malt Extract – 1.5kg
  • Warrior hops – 3g
  • Galaxy – 4g (split)
  • Kit ‘Premium Brewing Yeast’ – 5g

So, a few days in and the brew its going well. Huge amount of activity, but no blow out (lucky). From what’s coming out of the airlock, it smells great. Thanks to Chas in about 4-5 days I’m going to throw in some SN9 ‘Premium Wine Yeast’. This will eat up the last of the sugars, and have something to carbonate the bottles.

-Mikey

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Malted cider or un-hopped apple ale?

Hi everyone,

So as I mentioned in my last few posts, I have a juicer, and I have a bit of extra malt.  So why not try throwing some malt into some apple juice and see what happens?

20130518_145533I went down to my local market and found a pretty good deal on organic juicing apples, i.e. apples that aren’t pretty enough to sell as eating apples.  I bought a hell of a lot – about 7 kilograms!

I had read in various places that you get about 1 litre of juice from 1-2 kilograms of apples, so I thought that this would be enough for about 4 or 5 litres of juice.  Unfortunately I was pretty wrong and only got about 2 litres.  I’ve since found out that this ratio works better for apple pressing, which is a much more efficient method of extracting juice.  Using a juicer like I have tends to lose a lot of juice to the pulp it creates.

I’m not going to go out and buy a juice press, but next time I may try squeezing out the pulp.  We’ll see.

Anyway, after cutting up a whole bunch of apples and juicing them, I wasn’t left with the amount of juice I thought I’d get.  So from there, things began to turn into an un-hopped apple beer rather than a malted cider.

I set my 2 litres of juice to boil and added a cup of golden light liquid malt extract.  The hot break was huge on this one; the pot was only about a third full, and it still nearly boiled over!  Once that was under control, I let it boil for 15 minutes while I did some cleaning.

After the boil, I let the bottle sit in a sink full of ice water for 10 minutes, emptied the sink, and then filled it up again for another 10 minute bath.

Once this wort was in the carboy, I topped it up with about 2 litres of water – so this batch is going to be 4 litres in total.

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

Two litres juice, one cup malt, two litres water

The yeast i used was an SN9 wine yeast.  It’s what I had on hand, but, considering there’s malt in there, I probably should have gone and used an ale yeast. That’s something to experiment with later.

The wort was tasty.  It wasn’t overwhelmingly apple-y or beer-y, but had good hints of each.  So I’m confident I’ll get something interesting out this.

The OSG was 1.028, which is a little lower than I would have liked.  As a lot of that sugar is fructose, I should be able to get a final gravity pretty close to 1, so that’s promising.  Alcohol content should be around 4% after bottling.

I’d like to see if I can push the alcohol content a bit higher, so I might add some dextrose next time.  Of course the other option is adding more malt or juice, but, assuming the mixture of flavours is good, I don’t want to upset this balance.  Dextrose won’t alter the flavour.

Assuming this turns out tasty, I’ll also look at hopping it, which will make it a proper beer.

So we’ll give this a week and see what happens!

-Chas

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Summer Citrus, first attempt

Summer Citrus in fermenter

Summer Citrus Blond Ale #1 in fermenter. Just before yeast added.

Didn’t look like we were going to be able to do a brew last weekend. But shuffled a few things around and did a brew on Saturday. Another Brew Smith kit, this time the Summer Citrus Blonde Ale.

Was expecting another partial boil with grain, needing two pots. Not the case. This was a simple one with malt, hops and extras added straight into the wort. Two lots of malt, three hop additions, coriander seeds and lemon rind. Yeah, I was thinking the last two were a bit odd. But hey, it is a citrus blond.

Did add in a bit more water than meant to at a couple of stages. For example washing out the malt bags to get all the powder out, and into the wort. For this one had to grate lemon rind in. We did it directly over the pot and used some boiled water to rinse the bits off the grater. Anyway, as a result we didn’t need to do any extra top up of water into the glass carboy fermenter. A side effect was that the wort was about 29 degrees Celsius. Plastic wrap went over the top of the carboy until the temperature could be dropped. The photo above was taken at this point. Extra cooling was done, but after another 20 minutes we could only get it down to 27 C. Not ideal, but needed to get the yeast in. Airlock went on and stored away to brew.

This is the second time we got a proper gravity reading on these small batches. Came out at 1.054 which is more or less in the range I was expecting. Means the beer will be around 5% to 5.5% alcohol, if all goes well.

We’ve done a few of these Brew Smith kits now and this was the easiest by far. Bottling will be in about two weeks, just after good beer week (www.goodbeerweek.com.au). Then another two weeks in the bottle before tasting and review.

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Starting small, but not dumbing it down.

Choc Paradise Porter #1

Chocolate Paradise Porter #1 in the carboy with airlock

I promised Chas that I’d put something up about my first few brews. And here we are. The whole home brewing thing has been a journey that started about two years ago. Won’t go into all that today, that’s another story.

Back in October 2012 I decided that it was time to try this brewing at home thing. I requested a brew kit for my birthday from my wife. But I couldn’t really decide on what type. Presents didn’t turn up until start of January 2013 because of my inability to chose. So I got both.

I could launch into the different kits, but again, that’s for another time.

My first brew was on 5 Jan 2013. It was a ‘Chocolate Paradise Porter’ from Brew Smith. The team at BrewSmith take a lot of complexity out of making beer, and still allow you to make some good quality beer. You use a 5 liter carboy. This is like a giant glass bottle. End result is 12+ stubbies (330ml-375ml) of beer. Due to the size of the carboy and amount of beer, this is sometimes referred to as apartment brewing.

Anyway, back to the beer. This Porter is made with a partial boil so it means making wort yourself with malt, hops and grain. The whole brew process on the stove takes an hour. Prep work is about 10 mins before. Then there’s about 30-40 mins of cool down and getting it into the carboy. All up you should be done under two hours.

Bottling was on the 12th. That was probably too early. Cracked open to drink on the 26th.

How did it turn out? Pretty good. Without telling my wife the beer was ready I gave her a taste test. She didn’t even pick that it was home brew. The beer did lack body and the chocolate flavor was a bit light, but everything else was there.

Overall this was really easy. Beer was really good and happy with the outcome.

-Mikey

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