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Showing posts from April, 2016

Cool Zone Cooling Jacket - Review

As I suspect most home brewers do, I've constantly worked to improve my knowledge, equipment, and processes.  I've gone from extract to all-grain, from my kitchen stove to a dedicated RIMS system, from plastic bucket fermenters to stainless steel fermenters, from pre-crushed grain to freshly-crushed.  I've even made efforts to alter my water chemistry to better match the style I'm brewing.  I think my beer's gotten better as a result of all that.

One aspect I've not controlled well so far is fermentation temperature.  In part, this has been because I didn't think I needed to.  I brew primarily Belgian beer styles, and most of the Belgian abbey brewers let the yeast ferment at whatever temperature it wants to.  They don't try to cool it, because they claim this can make the yeast stall out.  They don't heat it unless it drops below the yeast's tolerance range.

That has been changing lately.  Earlier this year, I added a dual-stage temperature co…

Westvleteren XII Clone Recipe

Like most craft beer fans, I've read for years about the amazing Westvleteren XII beer.  It's said to be one of the best beers in the world, and certainly one of the best of the Belgian monastery beers. Unfortunately, I've never seen a bottle of it for sale in Ohio.  Ordering it over the Internet would mean spending as much as $25 per bottle plus shipping, which seems a bit excessive.  What's a home brewer to do?  Brew his own, of course.

A number of people have told me that the folks at the CandiSyrup.com site have done a great job figuring out how to clone and brew many of the world's best beers.  What follows here is their recipe for a Westvleteren XII clone beer, adjusted slightly because I discovered at the last minute I was missing one of the ingredients.

The Recipe

10 pounds of Belgian Pilsen Malt
5.5 pounds of Belgian Pale Malt
2 pounds of D-180 Candi Syrup
10 ounces of D-90 Candi Syrup
0.8 ounces of Brewer's Gold hops pellets 10.5% AA
1 ounce of Hallert…

How to Determine if Your Fermentation Temperature Control System Works

If you've been home brewing for any length of time, you know the importance of maintaining an appropriate and consistent temperature during the fermentation of your beer.  The goal is to keep the beer within a temperature range that allows your yeast to work its magic without getting too hot (and thus generating off-flavors) or too cold (and going dormant before finishing the job).

I do all of my fermentation in my basement, which maintains a year-round temperature in the low-to-mid 60's (note:  all temperatures referenced in the post are in Fahrenheit unless otherwise stated).  I also have switched to only stainless steel fermenters, which I personally prefer to glass or plastic.

A few months ago, I acquired a fermwrap heater ($23.99) and an Inkbird temperature controller ($38.99 or less when on sale periodically).  I'd been using these to keep my fermentation temperatures from getting too low, but worried that during vigorous fermentation that the yeast could be gettin…

InkBird ITC-308 Temperature Controller Review

Like most home brewers, I've been gradually learning more and improving my skills over time.  One of the areas I've been trying to improve is temperature control during fermentation and bottle conditioning.

I'd ordered an expensive controller online which looked like the ultimate gadget.  I found that its temperature probe was many degrees off and that it couldn't be calibrated to read accurately.  I abandoned that model.

Then I found an inexpensive one on eBay.  That arrived from China.  Its temperature unit was Celsius, which required conversion to Fahrenheit when I used it.  That one seemed to be pretty accurate but wasn't so well-made.  I used it for a while until I saw this InkBird unit on sale.

The InkBird ITC-308 has been a joy to use.  It's met several of my criteria for a fermentation temperature controller:

It can use Fahrenheit for temperature display and settingIt can be calibrated to read accurately against a known-accurate thermometerIt's not …

Trappistes Rochefort 10 Clone Recipe and Brewing Experience

While seeking a good Belgian Dubbel recipe, I encountered a recipe on the Home Brew Talk forum for "Award Winning Dubbel XL" by forum member DubbelDach.  The recipe's author says it took third place overall in Appalachian Brewing Company's 2009 Homebrew Contest.  The author described it as having deep dark fruit and chocolate tones, and very much like Trappistes Rochefort 10.  I made some adjustments based on ingredients I had or could easily get locally.

In last week's post, you'll notice that I used Fast Pitch Starter Wort to grow a batch of actual Rochefort yeast from a bottle of Rochefort 10.  That's the yeast we'll be using here.

The photo at the left is of my first round of starters for the yeast.  I began with a 1 liter starter, then graduated to a one gallon starter to further grow the yeast.

If you don't have that or don't want to grow your own yeast, the original recipe recommended White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale yeast.  I'm sure th…