Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Tun of Fun

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I know I did…and here’s what I’m thankful for:

A few months ago we started Taft Canyon Brewers over a bottle of bourbon as an experiment to see if two guys who majored in their native tongue could figure out the art and science behind brewing beer. After some successful batches, our thirst for knowledge (and high quality home brew) began to grow. Deeper and deeper research lead us to recipes involving the mysterious MASH. Being the ambitious scholars we are, we studied the various steps involved in mashing grains and after much discussion, decided to skip it…home brewing is supposed to be fun right? Mashing uses terms like “sparge” and “vorlauf”, plus there was math involved!!! So we happily continued on in our mash ignorance and “steeped” our grains. Heck, so far so good.

But the seeds of all-grain brewing had started to germinate. So after many hours of ignoring my family to scour the internet for information around all-grain brewing and mashing, I decided to make the investment in a 10 gallon mash tun. Now, I could have just ordered one from the Internet and spent the Thanksgiving weekend with my family…but where’s the fun in that???
So after multiple trips to the hardware store (apparently not all 5/8″ stainless steel washers are created equal…), I am now the proud owner of a 10 gallon cooler converted to a Mash/Lauter Tun. Now it was time to try our hand at an all-grain recipe. The first lucky contestant for our Mash Tun – Taft Canyon’s own St. Brigid Red Ale – 11.5 ponds of grains and 2 ounces of hops…this is going to be interesting.

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Home Depot Special – 10 gallon garage Mash Tun

For the mash, I pored 16 quarts of 170°f water into the tun, and then added the grains. a quick stir to get the grain wet, then covered and let rest for 60 minutes. Target mash temp was 154° and I figured the tun and grains would absorb about 15°…Of course I forgot to preheat the tun…Temp after 60 min was about 150° so I was not too far off. I then drained the wort into my brew pot and attempted a batch sparge with 20 quarts at 165°f. I poured the 20 quarts over the grains, gently stired, covered, and let the grains settle for about 10 minutes, and then drained into my pot. This made a lot of wort…too much for my pot, so I used about 6.5 gallons and put 1 gallon back into the tun.

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11.5 pounds of grain in the tun after the mash…smelled like a brewery

After bringing the really full pot of wort to a boil, I added 1 oz of hop pellets…and had the first boil over of the night. The pot was just too full. I took the heat down to a low boil for another 50 minutes, and then added the final oz of hops and Irish Moss. After a full 60 minute boil, it was time for the handy dandy wort chiller to do its work.

All said and done, the original gravity was a bit lower than I was hoping for – target was 1.064 and it came out at 1.030. So, here are my thoughts:
1- I didn’t stir the grains enough at the start if the sparge. I did a fairly gentle stir, but didn’t make sure all the grains were stored up from the bottom to release the sugars

2- I might have drained both mash and sparge too fast. I pretty much opened the valve full blast.

3- Too much wort in the pot. I was never able to get to a good rapid boil, so the wort never really concentrated.

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St Brigid Red Ale Original Gravity

I hope this red turns out, but I am already looking forward to trying this recipe again soon…with a couple modifications of course…

While I was wrestling with this red, Steve was brewing the next incarnation of the soon to be world famous Taft Canyon Hop Titties IPA.

Cheers,
Keith

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Filed under Beer Recipes, Making Beer, Red Ale

St. Brigid Red Ale

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

Specialty Grains:
9 lbs America Pale 2-Row Malt
1 lb American Caramel/Crystal Malt 60L
1 lb Flaked Maize
0.25 lb German CaraRed
0.25 lb American Roasted Barley

Hops:
1oz Fuggles Pellet (60 minutes)
1 oz Fuggles Pellet (10 minutes)

Yeast:
Irish Ale (Wyeast #1084)

Misc: 1 tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)

Fermentation Temperature: 70 F

Original Gravity: 1.030
Potential ABV: 4.00%
Final Gravity: TBD
Final ABV: TBD

Mash Steps:
60 minutes at 154 degrees (16 quarts)
Sparge at 165 degrees (20 quarts)

Notes:

Brew History: Brewed November 25, 2012 by Keith and Steve

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TCB IPA – Version 2

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

Grains:
3 lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
3 lbs British Crystal Malt

Extract: 10 lbs Pale Malt Extract

Hops:
2 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (60 minutes)
1 oz Magnum hops pellets (40 minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (40 minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (20 Minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (10 minutes)
1 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (0 minutes)
2 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (dry hop for 8 days)

Yeast:
American Ale (Wyeast #1056)

Misc: 1/4 tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)

Fermentation Temperature: 70 F

Mash Steps:

45 minutes at 158 degrees (9 quarts)
Sparge at 170 degrees (11 quarts)

Notes:

Brew History:

Changes from previous brew are in italics.

November 25, 2012 by Keith and Steve
Original Gravity: 1.090
Potential ABV: 11.75%
Final Gravity: TBD
Final ABV: TBD

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A love letter to brewing.

Since I started brewing beer in my home a few months ago, I’ve been amazed at just how much I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning how to make beer.  Yes, it’s fun to drink delicious, homemade beer – but the chemistry, the art, the technique, the patience, the uncertainty, the sense of tradition – all of these aspects of brewing have been meaningful to me.  I’m not sure how to accurately explain it, so I will simply say that I have fallen head over heels in love with brewing.  You know the feelings you have when you meet someone new – wanting to know everything about them, spend as much time as you can with them, tell everyone you know how “this is the one”?  Well, yeah – it’s that bad. And before you even go there – the answer is yes, I’ve even awoken in the morning with an open homebrewing book beside me.

To me, at this early point in my brewing life, homebrewing feels like a combination of cooking, gardening, and parenting. The cooking part is the experimental part – art and science combine to make something that tastes wonderful that can be share with family and friends. The gardening part is the patience and understanding of something that is alive – that relies on mother nature to do her work to help a living thing reach it’s full potential. The parenting part is similar to the gardening part – but with the love, concern and fear amplified. It’s the difference between checking on your garden every afternoon versus sitting by the bedside of a child, making sure that they are safe, warm, and comfortable.

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to meet up with a friend of mine who happens to be one of the premier craft brewers in Colorado (and arguably the entire country).  He’s been watching our homebrewing charade from afar, imparting choice pieces of wisdom and advice now and again – and we’ve appreciated every single bit of it. Yesterday, we started talking about the process of making the mash and how, not to mince words, I’d been doing it mostly wrong. And then he went on to explain the chemical make-ups of starches, the ideal temperature to extract the fermentable sugars from grains, and the danger in ending up with too much starch in your beer – something that bacteria can feed on, but yeast cannot. It was a fascinating, five-minute discussion that left me wanting to brew immediately.  (Let me apologize in advance to my family who will now have to hear me blather about enzymes and monosaccharides).

You see, up to this point, I’ve been relying pretty much solely on one book and a couple of websites to learn to brew.  They’ve served their purpose and have allowed me to build a strong-enough foundation so that advice like the advice I got yesterday will stick, be meaningful, and I can act on it immediately. And so begins the next chapter in my love affair with brewing – making this love public. It’s time to talk to other brewers – learn from them, watch what they do – and get better. This homebrewing infatuation needs to be tested, forced to grow, its boundaries pushed to see if we’re really as compatible as I hope and pray we are.

Cheers,

Steve

P.S. Another of my favorite bi-products of my decision to learn to brew beer a few months ago is this – the way that beer-brewing brings people together.  What began as a couple of us deciding to try our hand at making beer that doesn’t completely suck has turned into Sunday night event for anyone who wants to take part. Not including kids and spouses, there are now six of us who have been involved in brewing day – and I love it.

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And then there were kegs.

Christmas came early to Taft Canyon this year.  For only a couple hundred bucks, we’re now the proud owners of a kegging system. Three 5-gallon kegs, converted fridge, taps, CO2 tank, gauges – it’s a beautiful thing.

We should be able to get four 5-gallon kegs in here...

We should be able to get four 5-gallon kegs in here…

So, last night when it came time to bottle the Redbeard Magee Oatmeal Stout – we opted for keg instead of bottles.

After reading as much as possible online on how the hell we use these things now that we have them, we took apart the kegs and soaked the bits in oxyclean overnight. The kegs I also filled to the brim with hot water and a scoop of oxyclean and let them soak for 12 hours. While we had been told the kegs were clean by the guy who sold them to us – this step turned out to be critical. There was a lot of old crap clinging to the inside of the kegs – now they sparkle beautifully. Next we sanitized them with StarSan and pressurized them to test them for leaks before filling two of them with delicious beer.

What a pleasure siphoning through a strainer straight into the keg instead of re-racking to get out the hops and then bottling. A quick taste of this stuff tell us that it’s one of the weaker beers we’ve made, but it also has good flavor. Hoping that carbonation helps.

Two taps - with room for more.

Two taps – with room for more. And yeah, we need better handles.

Looking forward to drinking draft homebrew this weekend…

Cheers,

Steve

P.S. We also dry-hopped the new IPA…looking strong.

Two ounces of Cascade hops in the secondary fermenter.

Two ounces of Cascade hops in the secondary fermenter.

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Our first IPA home recipe – 12.5% potential ABV. Whole hops everywhere.

Tonight we brewed another IPA – this time our own recipe. There’s something about adding copious amounts of hops to beer that makes me giddy – I literally giggle as I add them to the wort.   6 pounds of specialty grains and 10 pounds of malt extract should make this a deep flavored IPA with plenty of aroma and kick. Fellow hombrewer James joined me for this round of brewing and brought some of his own tasty P38 IPA along to sample.

Potential ABV coming in at almost 13%. Giddy up.

Potential ABV coming in at almost 13%. Giddy up.

The hydrometer registered a potential alcohol of over 12%, so if we end up in the 10% range, this will be a treat.

6 pounds of specialty grains is the most we’ve ever used up to this point, and we’re still learning how to get the water/grains ratio correct. I’ve been using tools like Beersmith and BrewersFriend and both are good for different things – but neither totally addressed this (at least not that I could find). I also couldn’t find anything in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing that talked about these ratios, but I think we’re getting close.

This time around we started with 3 gallons for 6 pounds of grains and it seemed about right, keeping the grains suspended in water so that they wouldn’t burn on the bottom (accompanied by frequent stirring). We added another gallon of water when we raised the temp and then another when we sparged- resulting in 5 gallons of wort that we brought to a boil and then added the extract. The extract raised the volume in the kettle, which then cooked back down to almost exactly 5 gallons after 60 minutes of boiling.

The first two ounces of hops get added to the wort.

The first two ounces of hops get added to the wort.

We also bottled the High Plains Saison tonight and dry hopped the Redbeard Magee Oatmeal Stout and the Hop Warrior IPA. There’s a lot of beer in this house.

Cheers,

Steve

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TCB IPA – Version 1

Recipe by: Taft Canyon Brewers

Grains:
3 lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
3lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt 20L

Extract: 10 lbs Light Malt Extract

Hops:
2 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (60 minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (40 minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (30 minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (20 Minutes)
1 oz Chinook Organic Whole Leaf (10 minutes)
1 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (0 minutes)
2 oz Cascade Whole Leaf (dry hop for 8 days)

Yeast:
American Ale (Wyeast #1056)

Misc: 1/4 tsp Irish Moss (10 minutes)

Fermentation Temperature: 70 F

Mash Steps:

40 minutes at 135 degrees (12 quarts)
30 minutes at 160 degrees (4 quarts)
Sparge at 170 degrees (4 quarts)

Notes:

Brew History:

November 4, 2012 by James and Steve
Original Gravity: 1.125
Potential ABV: 12.75%
Final Gravity: 1.021
Final ABV: 11%

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Filed under India Pale Ale, Making Beer