Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brewing part 2: 2nd Fermentation

After 4 days, my beer's 1st stage of fermentation was complete so I siphoned it into the 2nd fermentor. All went without a hitch. Too early to say how it's going to turn out, but the aroma is great. It's got a very rich hoppy smell, so I'm going to keep my fingers crossed. You can see more photos of the siphon below.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stone's Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout

This is Stone's limited edition, 12th anniversary beer that supposedly combines two of their recipes for an oatmeal stout with an imperial stout made with oaxacan chocolate. I was excited to try this beer since it's probably the closest mix to what I've created with my first brew. At 9.2% alc/vl it certainly carries its weight as an imperial stout. They've done a great job with the bitters and the chocolate flavor really stands out well and mixes nicely in the body. I only wish I could taste the oatmeal more distinctly, otherwise, really great.

My Beer Rating
Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout: ****

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Anderson Valley's Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema

This summer beer is meant to be the seasonal polar opposite of Anderson Valley's famed Winter Solstice, which is increasingly becoming one of the most popular seasonal beers. Summer beers are hard to get right, partially because hot weather doesn't always lend itself to heavier beers with lots of hops. Because of this, most beer makers try to make their summer beers lighter, which ends up tasting a bit like a watered down brew.

As for this brew, it tastes perhaps a bit too much like the Winter Solstice, which is a good beer, however, it has peppermint flavoring that is great for winter, but is perhaps the wrong taste for summer. It does seem to have a more creamy flavor than the Winter Solstice-- perhaps a bit of honey-- but it's not enough to make this stand out in my mind.

My beer rating: ***1/2

Best things always come in the smallest portions

So, I took a rather long hiatus after my last post... A combination of a busy work schedule, laziness, and unfavorable Asiatic trade winds have kept me from blogging for, oh maybe a year and half. However, I am happy to say that I plan to do regular updates from here on out; probably not weekly, but enough to impart some enjoyable beer drinking experiences.

So picking right up where I never left off... I'm happy to announce that after 15 or so years of drinking beer, I brewed my first batch of home brew yesterday. Andrea bought me organic stout ingredients several months ago and ever since I've been waiting to find some spare time to buy the right equipment and spend a day brewing.

The ingredients I had were for an organic stout with a sort of chocolaty overtone based on the grain. I decided to take it a step further by adding oatmeal; here are the ingredients I used:

grain mix:
1/4 lb caramel malt
1/2 lb chocolate malt
1/2 lb carafa II malt
1/4 lb roasted barley
1 lb rolled oats

1 oz New Zealand Hallertaur hops- 40 IBU
1/2 oz New Zealand Pacific Gem hops- 9 IBU
1/2 oz German Spalt Select hops

Irish Moss
Irish Ale Yeast WLP004

Since this was my first batch and I pretty much stumbled my way through the process, I've decided to call this batch "Dave's Clumsy Chocolate Oatmeal Stout."

No matter how much prep and reading I did beforehand, there was no way of getting away from the fact that this was my first brew and mistakes were bound to happen.

The first issue was the grain tea getting too hot, it had just topped 180 degrees when I caught and brought it right down, but I'm worried that it may have added some burned flavor.

Straining the tea also presented problems. When I added the oatmeal, I didn't realize that it would thicken the tea, which made it very difficult to strain. Instead, I ran 170 degree water over the strainer, which worked pretty well.

After getting the tea in, boiling was pretty straight forward. It took a while because I used the full five gallons in a 30 qt pot. It was great smelling the hops and getting to drop them into the wort.

Chilling the wort proved to be really difficult. The recipe I used, said I should get it chilled to between 65 - 75 degrees. I used an ice bath in our bathtub and was able to get the wort down to 82 degrees. However, after an hour and a half of cooling, the thermometer wasn't dropping any lower. I decided to go ahead with the fermentation hoping that it would work anyway.

Luckily, it was ok and the transfer into the carboy knocked a couple more degrees off the wort. I added the yeast and used an airlock with a vodka in it to keep it sterile. Then the whole thing went into the garage for fermentation.

Despite all the errors, the brew had a pretty nice smell coming off it, bitter and very oatey with some caramel compliments. The whole thing was much more tiring than I would have imagined, but all and all it was a lot of fun; I can't wait to finish this batch and taste it. However, there are disadvantages to brewing....

... cleaning.

I'll post more as the process continues.