Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm Back!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I finally found some time to brew, helped by the fact that I took off this last week of 2011.   It was a busy brewing week, and here are the (quick) highlights:

On Tuesday my friend Wayne came over with some honey from his bee hives to make some mead.  Wayne gave me honey previously, and I used it two beers, a honey porter, and a tripel.  This year's crop was apparently excellent (the sample I had was very good), so we made a dry mead.  The process was incredibly simple, and today (Friday) the airlock is bubbling along merrily, so fermentation is going well from what I can see.  I am looking forward to seeing how this turns out, as my previous attempt at a mead was a sweet mead, and came out quite well, but is a bit sweeter than I like it.

On Wednesday I brewed an IPA.  I used the Stone IPA clone recipe as a staring point, but changed some significant things:
  • I used English Maris Otter as the base malt instead of US 2-Row pale ale malt
  • I used Safale US05 as the yeast, rather than the WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast that Stone specified (still not their house yeast, I gather)
  • I swapped out an ounce of the Centennial aroma hop for an ounce of Citra.  The Citra smelled heavenly, and I think I'll dry hop with that as well.
Now  it is no longer the Stone IPA clone, and my son recommended that I name it after our dog, Shayna.  so it is now Shayna's All American IPA!

On Thursday I brewed an Oktoberfest / Maerzen.  The recipe is 46% Pilsner, 46% Munich, 8% CaraMunich, and it smells fantastic!  I am fermenting with natural refridgeration, so I hope that Mother Nature helps me out, and keeps the temperatures below 50 for January, and below 30 for February.  It is tough to count on that, as she is fickle this year, and it has been unseasonably warm!  In fact, my starter needed some additional time, so I let it go overnight, and then racked the beer onto the yeast cake this morning after I oxygenated it.  As of now (Friday evening), it looks like fermentation is starting, but it is not yet at high krausen. 

Last, today I picked up more malt (I feel like I am swimming in it) from the Malt of the Month club (see Valley Malt in Western MA), so I'll have to keep brewing or really be in trouble!  BTW, Valley Malt is a really cool local maltster, and I'm happy to support them since they are doing some interesting things locally.  The malts I have used have all been interesting. I used one of them in an American Amber ale in November, and I'm pleased with the results.

That's it for now. Hoppy New Year to all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Belgian Blondes, and more....

It has been a while since I last posted, and thought I would catch up a little bit.  I have not been brewing too much this year, in fact I think I have only made three batches in 2011:
  • Honey Porter (using some local honey from my friend Wayne)
  • Wit (a summer favorite that didn't last the summer)
  • Belgian Blonde
The Blonde was quite an adventure in fermentation, as I brewed it on July 7th.  Since I live in Boston, summertime brewing is a risky thing, unless you have pretty good temperature control for your fermentation.  I really don't, nor do I have a conveniently cool basement (I live in an apartment), so I have to do without or brew Saisons.  Not that I don't like Saisons (I do), but I brewed them the past two summers, so I wanted something different.  I ended up with the Blond, as I have a fair amount of Pilsner malt, and not so much Maris Otter (pale ale malt), and the Blonde is a nice light style.

My original intent was to make a fermentation chamber out of rigid foam insulation, as was described in a BYO magazine article.  Finding the materials wasn't as easy as I hoped, and I bailed out on that for lack of time before my brew day.  Instead, I improvised a fermentation chamber with a large cardboard box, an air conditioner, and a temperature controller--and a sleeping bag.  It worked as well as I could have hoped, and the temp of the wort stayed on target through the fermentation, and there were no off flavors when I kegged the beer.  Hooray!

Next up, is an experiment with locally grown malt from Valley Malt, located in Western Massachusetts. I joined the Malt of the Month Club with another BFD member, and got my first shipment a while ago.  I now have 25 lbs of 2-row pale ale malt to work with, and I'm dying to try it out--but I'm waiting for the cooler weather first! Next post: the results!