Tag Archives: fermentation

New and old, recipe and brewer mix up

Saturday brew day was a long one, nearly 5 hours. I wanted to have another crack at the Baltic Porter. Chas wasn’t available so my mate Kilan came over to give me a hand.

Kilan has done a bit of home brewing over the last few years. Most of his equipment is in storage. He’s still been able to make some cider and brought over a bottle to share. Will talk about that later.

Was fun to have Kilan over for the arvo. We worked on a few things that neither of us had done before. Had a couple near misses and a whole heap of improvisation. By the end of the day we had bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA and brewed what we felt would be a really good beer.

The last time I did the Baltic Porter it was a 10 litre batch. The beer came out nice enough but lacked some body. The beer had a little too much sweetness. There was room to adds more complexity. In short, there was a lot that could be tweaked.

Baltic Porter #2 Mash

Baltic Porter #2
Grains in bag, in pot and mashing

Given the relative ease of the full grain mash at Chas’s last week I thought of trying a mini mash. The recipe was upping to a 17 litre batch and ingredients to match. That meant a lot more grain. Last time the recipe only had Crystal grains, which can’t mass by themselves. With advice from Chas I decided to include some Chocolate malt, which I believe can mash. So all 2kg of the grain went in to mash.

Kilian was a champ and crushed the chocolate malt grain. The only thing I had was a mortar and pestal which meant some grain got crushed. Hope that doesn’t make much difference.

The Crystal grain went into a grain bag and into the pot. The Chocolate grain got thrown into the bag then all was stirred in. Mash was done at 68°C and had 5 litres of water. Wow, that grain soaked it all up and expanded like a balloon! Mash went for a full sixty mins.

While waiting for the mash to finish we bottled the Hoppy Heart IPA. The final gravity came in at 1.019. With the carbonation drops it will be 6.4% alcohol. And before you ask, yes I will move to bulk priming soon.

We opened the apple cider that Kilan brought. That was an interesting drink, and I mean that in all ways. We chilled it right down and was cold most of the time. First up it tasted like alcoholic orange juice, not like apple. Sort of super sweet and slightly tart. The smell was pretty bad, almost like something off. As it warmed up the cider became more like apple and more dry. Much better cold. I think something might have gone wrong with the yeast and / or fermentation. Let’s see euchre same thing happens to my cider.

Back to the brew, and mash was done. Only problem now was how to sparge the grain. And there was a huge amount. Was fortunate that the kettle we have at home has different temperature settings with the lowest being 75°C. So we used that and poured the water over the bag of grains. Each time we tried to press out as much liquid as possible, but we didn’t really have the right set up. After a few kettle’s worth of water at said temperature there was a lot of volume for the boil. I would have liked to do more sparging, but the boil pot just wouldn’t hold it all.

Baltic Porter #2 Grains

Baltic Porter #2
Grains ready for more sparging

So onto the boil. Earlier I realised that I didn’t have the exact amount of hops to do what I wanted. There wasn’t as much Warrior and that was suppose to be the bittering. As a compromise I moved some of the Fuggles from aroma stage to taste. By moving them earlier it should add a bit more bitterness, and hopefully balance. Will have to wait and see.

Once the boil started we re-hydrated the yeast. It’s the first time I’ve done this. It was pretty easy. The only problem is the water that was boiled so early on it cooled down too much. A quick zap in the microwave brought it back up to temperature. The yeast sat in the water while we dissolved the tea spoon of dry malt in half a glass of boiled water. Then waited half an hour before adding that in and gave it a mix.

I held off on adding the dry malt for a bit. Have been getting advice not to add all malt at the start of boils and wanted to try it out. As a result we didn’t get a hot break, it just came to a boil. Bittering hops went in at start, then taste hops at thirty minutes with the first 800 grams of dry malt a five minutes later. Another fifteen minutes later added in the last 400 grams of dry malt. Five mins after that the aroma hops. Then only five more mins before flame out.

Pot was transferred to an ice bath. Some ice cubes went directly into the wort, water previously boiled before frozen. A second bath for the pot. Then into the fermenter. Added a little more sparged grain liquid, that might not have been the best idea as I’m not sure if that could have lead to contamination. Too late now! The liquid malt only went in at this stage, note that it wasn’t part of the boil. Not sure if that will make much difference. Let me know what you think with a comment below.

The wort was still quite hot. That was even after adding about four litres of very cold water. Will need more ice if I’m going to do something this large and this method again. After a couple hours the temperature was down to something close to what I wanted. Yeast was pitched at about 25°C. I forgot to put the yeast nutrient in at the same time. So, went back an hour later and put in four heaped teaspoons and sealed back up.

 

Baltic Porter #2 Yeast

Baltic Porter #2
Re-hydrated Yeast in the jug

60 min mash at 68°C

– 1.5 kg of Crystal 120
– 500 grams of Chocolate Malt 600

Boil wort from mash
60 min
add 8 grams of Warrior hops
30 min
add 14 grams of Fuggels hops
25 min
add 800 grams of light malt extract
10 min
add 400 grams of light malt extract
5 mins
add 5 grams of Fuggels hops

Into ferment:
– wort
– 1.7 kg of Amber liquid malt extract (Black Rock)
– water & ice to bring to 17 litres

Once at 25°C
add 7 grams of yeast, 5g Windsor & 2g kit yeast (previously re-hydrated)
add 4 heaped teaspoons of yeast nutrient

A bit of a strange brew. Some new techniques and processes. Some corrections from previous brews. Some ingredients just thrown together, like hops and yeast. The final gravity came in at 1.071 which is pretty good given the calculated was only 0.002 higher than that. If fermentation can take it down to 1.025 that will mean about 6.5% alcohol before bottling. And this one will be bulk primed.

-Mikey

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Brewing alone, and making a mess

Chas is still overseas, and will be for a couple more weeks. So this week’s brew, and next one in two weeks time, will be sans Chas. Next brew I hope to be joined by Ian, but this week it was just by my lonesome.

Like any normal brew day first thing is to bottle the last batch. So, most if the 10 litres of Baltic Porter #1 made it’s way into bottles. I say most because, (1) there was a gravity reading sample to be taken, and (2) there was an accident. The little thing that regulates the flow of beer (aka the bottling valve) fell off into one if the bottles as I was filling it. I freaked out a bit, thinking to get as much as possible into bottles before remembering there was a tap! Once things were under control again I reattached the bottling valve and had no more problems. Needless to say I’ve got some bottles that I’m not sure how they’ll condition, and they all marked with a question mark.

Final gravity came in at 1.021. That means after bottle fermentation it will sit at 7.2%. I’m very happy with that.

Mildly Dark #1

The Mildly Dark #1 sitting in the fermenter.

As this was a solo affair, had a sizeable break before brewing.
Back a few weeks ago when I picked up the ingredients for the Baltic Porter #1 there were a couple other things I picked up as they were on special. The main thing was the Mangrove Jack’s Mild kit. It’s a liquid malt extract and known for having some decent quality.
I also picked up some “factory second” dry malt. It was recommended to boil up the stuff for use. I just threw it into boiled water, and had a little problem getting it to dissolve.
Finally, had a can of dark liquid malt extract that I bought by mistake earlier on.

All up this was a kit with a lot of malt additions, both dry and liquid. Given the mistakes of the Australian Pale Ale #1 and Australian Amber Ale #1, I’m feeling a lot better about this brew. Given the extra dark malt I’ve dubbed this beer Mildly Dark #1.

Ingredients:

  • Mangrove Jack’s Mild kit
  • 500g “factory second” DME
  • 1.5kg Black Rock LME

Gravity ended at 1.056. Happy with that. If it ferments down to around 1.020 then the final ABV will come in around 5%, and that’s something to look forward to.

-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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First adventures – keeping things warm

Howdy!

So it’s been about five days since we did the brew I talked about in my last post, and I’ve been relatively happy with the progress.

As I mentioned in my previous post, there was some concern about keeping everything warm enough during the fermentation process.  We were also worried about the morning sun hitting the fermenting tub: the UV can harm your yeast and make generally bad flavours.  To solve these two problems, the brew spent the week wrapped in a blanket:

Beer needs to me tucked in nice and tight when it gets sleepy.

Beer needs to be tucked in nice and tight when it gets sleepy.

This worked surprisingly well.  The yeast manages to produce some of its own heat during the fermentation process, so this blanket kept everything in.  Although my house got as low as about 13 degrees C over night, the wort consistently sat at about 22 degrees C when I checked it in the morning.  It could be a little warmer, but this is still a great temperature. And it was relatively constant, so that’s great.

Another alternative I’ve heard being used is to place your fermenter in an old bar fridge (not on). Refrigerators are extremely well insulated, so this method will keep everything warm (or cool), and more importantly constant.

In warmer months, this method can also be used to keep things cool, just don’t leave the refrigerator on constantly, otherwise things will be too cool.  If you get a fancy enough fridge (or a wine fridge), you may even be able to set it to work at a higher temperature.

Generally, the higher the temperature, the faster the fermentation process is – to a point obviously; if things get too hot, you’ll kill your yeast.  According to the packet, the yeast we used has an optimal temperature range of 21-28 degrees C.  So since the we’re running on the lower end of that scale, the fermentation process will probably take about eight or nine days.

So next step: bottling!  But that’s still a few days away…

-Chas

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