Sunday, August 24, 2008

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.

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