Tag Archives: chilling

When you don’t brew, go brew

Chas is still overseas having fun and tasting beers. I’m still naively waiting on the Super Stout. So… what to do when not brewing? Help a mate with his brew!

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparge

Strong Belgian Golden Ale sparging away with hot liqueur pot, mash tun, pump and boiling pot

Last weekend here in Melbourne was a long weekend thanks to Queen’s Birthday public holiday. No, it’s not her Birthday, the holiday is about something else. Anyway.

On Saturday I went around to my mate Michael‘s place. He’s been doing all grain for a while. Last time I was there I had to leave early and missed a few things. This time I was there from start to (nearly) the very end. This was a very long day. Started at 10:30 am and at 5:15 pm both the airing of the wort and pitching of the yeast were still left to do. That’s one very long brew day for a home brew.

Like last time Michael was doing a Belgian quad, which didn’t work out that well. This time a Strong Belgian Golden Ale, which hopefully turns out well. The process was mainly the same. Fist heat the water for the mash and then put that in the mash tun. Grain goes in, stir and wait. Recirculate the liquid to settle the grain bed. Next was a bit different. Fly sparge rather than batch sparge. What you do is slowly drip water over the top while letting the liquid drain out the bottom. Apparently, if done right you get a better conversion (getting sugars from the grains) than batch sparing.

Hop leaf

Hop leaf in a hop bag

Boil was next. A long boil as Michael needed to reduce volume. After that was done a hop bag with loose leaf hop flowers went in. I’ve never seen loose leaf hops before. Most people I know use pellets. Had a taste and wasn’t sure what to think about them. Interesting, but not sure if it’s for me.

The chilling was very cool (pun fully intended). Michael has a counter flow plate chiller. Brew goes in one end and out the other, while cold tap water goes in the reverse direction in a different channel. Long story short, lots of liquid moves really quickly and your brew gets chilled a lot.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled

Strong Belgian Golden Ale chilled with pot and plate chiller

Like I said, had to leave before the brew was aerated or the yeast pitched. But, you can get an idea from the photos how much goes on. Lots of steps and lots of equipment. I have to say, I’m slightly jealous of all the equipment. But that’s offset by the idea of having to (a) take so long to make a beer and (b) that thought of cleaning all that equipment.

Then Monday went around to my good mate Ian‘s place. He wanted to do An American Brown Ale. Something nice to have over the cooler months. And, to be completely different to the all grain brew, it was an all extract brew.

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done

Strong Belgian Golden Ale done, except aeration and yeast

For this brew I was there from the very start to the very end. Plus it was a lot quicker. Dry malt extract and hop pellets measured out. Boil the water, first addition of dry malt, hot break, add hops 1, add hops 2, add hops 3 and the last of the dry malt. Then onto chilling, which went a lot quicker than expected. We chilled it so well that it was almost too cool to pitch the yeats. But before the yeast went in I made Ian take a gravity reading. Hopefully this means we’ll known the alcohol percentage on his beer.

An American Brown done

An American Brown done and ready to start fermenting

Thinking back on the long weekend, I’m not sure which brew day I enjoyed more. They were both laid back in their own way. Ian’s was pretty easy, but a fair few things on one after the other. And once it was all done we hung out for a while which was fun. The brew day at Michael’s was a lot longer. And as a lot of steps took a chunk of time there was plenty of down time. That said it was also a lot more complex and a few things were nearly missed. One thing I know for sure, brew days are fun.

-Mikey

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Sneaky cider, keeping it cool

Exactly two weeks ago I made another cider. Yeah, I know I’ve been complaining that I haven’t done a beer for a while and then I go make a cider! This was a little experiment in keeping something cool enough over summer months. While it hasn’t really been that hot, or even warm, things have gone well.

The cider itself is a real basic one. One litre of apple juice and 1.4 litres of apple & pear juice. Added in sugar, yeast and yeast nutrient. Whole thing done in about 10-15 mins. To speed up the process I used the blender to mix sugar into juice, one litre at a time. As there’s no boil everything has to be sanitised, including the blender.

What’s in Sneaky Cider #1?

  • 2.4-2.5 litres of apple and pear juice (Berri)
  • 1-1.1 litres of apple juice (Golden Circle)
  • 180 grams of white table sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Premium Brewer’s Yeast (Pat Mack’s)
  • 1 teaspoon of yeast nutrient

Learning from the mistakes of the last cider attempt, I kept sugar levels low. Worked out being only 20 grams per litre rather than the 120 grams per litre or 200 grams per litre of the last attempts. This should help in two ways. First it will keep the alcohol levels down to something considered normal. Second there shouldn’t be anywhere near as much left over sugar which will keep the sweetness down. It’s the second if theses that I’m really interested in. Last time it was undrinkable when first sampled. Then only just drinkable when it was done, but not for everyone.

Sneaky Cider #1

Sneaky Cider #1, in the carboy, in the water, in the pot

The really exciting part of the cider isn’t the recipe or how it might turn out. No, the real thing is the makeshift cooling set up. I’ve got my new big pot with water then put the carboy into it. The water goes up to about the same hight as the liquid in the carboy which means it works as insulation. That’s pretty sweet. But the best part is that I can drop ice packs into the water to chill the water back down, like during the day. And that’s what I did. For about a week and a bit I dropped 2-4 ice packs into the water every day. Well, nearly every day. The result was that the temperature ranged from about 17 degrees Celsius up to about 19 degrees Celsius. Not great control but, still good.

Now just gone two weeks I’m leaving the whole thing to do it’s thing before bottling this weekend. I’m half hoping as it gets warmer it encourages the last of the yeast to kick in or drop out. Not really sure how that stuff works, even after over a year of mucking around with the stuff. Then I’ll give it two weeks before we try and let you know how it turns out.

-Mikey

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Bulk and Pale, finally there

Whoops, this was meant to go up a couple days ago! Anyway, here it is…

Last Sunday was another brew day at my place. It was a bit of a milestone date as I finally got around to doing bulk priming. Was also able to kick off what I hope is a series of pale ales. Chas made it over and we did a number if tastings through the arvo.

First up was bottling the Baltic Porter #2. As I promised, this was to be my first bulk priming attempt. There was about 15 litres of useable beer. Problem was that I didn’t have another vessel that could hold that much. Ended up using the 9 litre pot that’s normally reserved for the boil. Did two lots of 6 litres and one lot of 3 litres.

Bulk priming set up

First attempt at bulk priming with fermenter, scales, pot and sample in the back.

Used an online calculator to work out how much sugar to add. Sugar was put direct into the pot and beer was released over the top. Then stirred slowly to dissolve the sugar completely. In hindsight it would of been good to dissolve the sugar in some water first. Having just one vessel with one transfer would of been a lot easier. Bottling 15 litres with a syphon wasn’t fun. Most was done into 500 ml bottles which saved a fair bit of time.

The final gravity came in at 1.032 which is a lot higher than expected. After bottle conditioning it should be 5.6% alcohol. That’s a lower than was hoping for. Really wanted this to be above 6%. That said it tasted pretty good when we sampled it. Time will tell.

After bottling was finally done it was on to the brew. Plus there was a few brews up for tasting. The Aussie Wattle Pale Ale, Hoppy Heart IPA 2 and the two apple ciders I made. Chas will be posting about those over the next few days.

I’ve been wanting to build out a range of lighter beers that can be enjoyed on the warmer days coming up. Not everyone in the house likes IPA’s and I’m not ready for doing a proper lager. Pale ale was the only good option. Given the failure of the last attempt I decided to avoid using liquid malt. So, dry malt was used and hops kept tame. As I used up a few things last brew this ended up as a single hop beer. That’s pretty exciting and will be a great benchmark, if it ferments out well.

Before the brew started the yeast and a teaspoon of dry malt extract were thrown into a cup of water for rehydration. Realised after that should have waited before putting in the DME. Hopefully that doesn’t make much if a difference.

Basic brew this one. Only a thirty minute boil.

Australian Pale Ale #2
Boil size 3 litres
500 grams of Light Dry Malt Extract
3 grams Galaxy hops at 30 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 15 mins
2 grams Galaxy hops at 1 min /flameout.
1 & 1/2 teaspoons if US 05 yeast.

Australian Pale Ale #2

Australian Pale Ale 2 in the carboy after one week.

As this was a small boil it was a lot easier to lower the temperature. Three trays of ice and some half frozen water went into the wort while sitting in the water bath. In less than 20 mins we were already down to 24°C and ready to pitch yeast. Last bit of water put in to get it up to four litres then given a good shake before gravity reading done. Original Gravity came in at 1.044. Airlock on, and done.

Day was a good one. Had a late start and didn’t think it would be a long one. Turns out the bulk priming and bottling took a fair bit longer than I thought. Looks like I’ll need a proper vessel for the priming when I do it again.

Really happy to finally get around to these two things. Next few brews will also be pale ales. But might need to slow down as we come into Christmas.

-Mikey

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