We reached two milestones this weekend.
Milestone 1: Keith and I both completed the Golden Leaf Half-Marathon in Aspen. We’d trained for this all summer and it was a great race but who really cares because….
Milestone 2: We celebrated the run by drinking our first homebrew. And it was good.
Enjoying homebrew in Snowmass Village after a trail race
Both beers (Pale Ale and Nut Brown Ale) could use some more carbonation (and the Pale Ale could use more hops) – but overall we’re happy with the results. Thanks to everyone who helped us with these first two batches. Please stop by to help us drink them.
We discovered that there is nothing better than a super cold homebrew after a long trail run.
Hoppy wort flows down the side of Mount Carboy. Where the heck is FEMA?
So I left for a few days on a business trip, leaving SumoCitrus2 happily fermenting away. Upon my return, however, she done went and blowed up on us. We messed up by not tubing this one out – but I’m not even sure that could have saved it.
That’s a lot of green.
I think there were two other big problems – and I would appreciated anyone’s feedback on these:
1. We left too many hops in the wort. The wort in this batch was an absolute beast to strain because of the 8oz of hops that had been added to the wort. We should have strained it again. And then maybe again.
2. We should have used a 6.5 gallon carboy instead of a 5-gallon.
Maybe it’ll turn out okay? I’m doubtful…
Keith’s head fiendishly inspects the ingredients for SumoCitrus2 IPA
Why say no, when it feels so good to say yes? Less than 24 hours after bottling our first two batches of beer, the Sirens posing as empty carboys were calling our names. So we did what any self-respecting person would do – we brewed more beer. This time we decided to try our hand at an IPA – a recipe called SumoCitrus 2 our friend Jereme concocted and which I had the opportunity to taste a week ago at his house.
Night-brewing on the deck. We almost decided to name this beer, “The Mothman Cometh”
Our first batch of beer had 1 oz of hops. Our second batch of beer had 2 oz of hops. This puppy calls for 8 – EIGHT! – ounces of hops. We measured them out in bowls on the counter and quickly found ourselves engulfed in hop aroma. It was glorious.
A crap-ton of Magnum and Cascade hops yearning to be added to boiling Wort.
We had our first major boil-over when we first added the hops to the wort – learning a valuable lesson about how FAST these things can get out of control. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a more worthy reason for a deck-stain though.
Ye must respect the wort, or it shall runneth over.
Finally, we also learned a valuable lesson in straining into the fermenter when you have a wort so full of hops. Our funnel and strainers kept getting clogged.
Hops clog the siphon as we try to get the wort into the fermenter.
Any advice out there on a better way to get wort out of the kettle when it’s this full of hops is extremely welcome. It took us a long time.
Recipe by: Jereme R
Specialty Grain: 2 lbs 40L Crystal Malt, 2 lbs 2-Row
Extract: 10 lbs Light Malt Extract
1 oz Magnum (60 minutes)
1 oz Magnum (50 minutes)
2 oz Cascade (45 minutes)
0.5 oz Magnum (20 minutes)
1 oz Cascade (10 minutes)
1 oz Cascade (5 minutes)
1 oz Cascade (0 minutes)
Yeast: Safale US-05 (dried) – Belgium
Misc: The original version of this recipe can also be found on the Brewer’s Friend website.
Fermentation Temperature: 68 F
Original Gravity: 1.091
Final Gravity: 1.026
Notes: The bung popped out of the fermenter on day 3 – causing a hop-lava flow. Cleaned the fermentation lock and re-inserted. When we bottled the beer, it tasted great, but we did not re-rack or dry-hop it.
Brewed September 9, 2012, Bottled on: September 28, 2012
Beer-making gear cleaned and ready for another round
Did I really do that last night? I’ve never done that before – that was pretty cool. I wonder if it was just a dream. Well, waking up to a kitchen of clean homebrewing equipment (thankful that it didn’t just leave in the middle of the night without saying goodbye) means that we can brew again today, right?
86 12oz bottles and 6 bombers (22oz) of ale
After a day of bottle-cleaning, siphoning, cleaning, bottling, cleaning, capping and cleaning, we are pround to announce that we will soon by the proud parents of 90 bottles of homebrew (including 6 bombers).
Nut Brown Ale (left) and American Pale Ale ready to bottle.
We started with the Nut Brown Ale and were pleased with the taste prior to bottling. It was a little watery, but had good flavor that we hope will only continues to develop as is continues its fermentation journey in the bottles. The Pale Ale followed suit – watery but solid.
The worst part of the day was prepping the bottles – but it was still kind of fun. Soaking the bottles to get the old labels off, washing them out, and sanitizing them took considerably longer than anticipated. The next time we do this, we may have to invite the neighbors over to help – free homebrew provided of course.
Siphoning Nut Brown Ale into bottling bucket
Now we wait about 10 days and pop one of these open to check it out. Keith and I are both running the Golden Leaf Half Marathon later this month and we’re looking forward to celebrating with our first batch of beer. Special thanks to our pal Michael who helped us cap the bottles tonight.
Day 12 on the Pale Ale – specific gravity at 1.030
Last night I measured the specific gravity of the Pale Ale that we brewed on August 25th. It was the first reading for that beer since we didn’t have the right gear when we originally brewed. It measured 1.030 – which from everything I’ve read means it should be ready to bottle. I’ll measure it again tonight, but we’ll be bottling Saturday nonetheless.
That being said, I’m not sure we did this correctly. Since I poured out of the top of the fermented, it seems that the beer sample would be less dense than the beer at the bottom, right?
I also tasted it – good hop aroma and nice bitterness, but also quite watery. Hopefully this is normal at this stage in the process and the beer will get stronger while it continues to ferment in the bottles over the next couple of weeks.
Finally – the hydrometer that we have also has an estimator on alcohol % – and this read just about 1%. No idea if that’s where it should be at this point – but it seems crazy low to me.
So the vigorous fermentation appears to have subsided and our beginner’s luck is holding out for now – neither beer exploded…yet. It does appear that the greatest risk is now behind us. After some extensive on-line research on blow-off tubes, and some kind advice from a more experienced brewer (thanks Andrew), an extra blow-off tube is on our list for the next excursion to Hops & Berries, along with another carboy: 6 gallons this time to help stave off overflows, and upset wives…better safe than sorry…think of the room we have the Nut Brown stored in…
Both beers have settled and the foam has subsided and started to sink. The Pale Ale has turned a golden amber hue similar to caramel, and the Nut Brown is, well…brown. That’s good, right?!?!
Now we continue to wait. Like the anticipation before a long trip, all the different possibilities and outcomes are running through our heads. The biggest questions – did we filter enough? Did we sanitize everything properly? Steve is pretty confident that they will turn out great. Me…not so much. I was told that there’s no bacteria that can grow in beer that will kill you..so we’ve got that going for us.
Next steps – density tests later this week.