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Showing posts from 2019

La Trappe Quad Clone 2.0

One of the best batches of beer I've made in recent memory was a La Trappe Quad clone recipe.  I had a couple of ideas that I thought would improve it, so I'm re-brewing it today.

I decided to swap the corn sugar for Demerara Sugar and add a couple of ounces of Special B Malt to darken the color and punch up the dark fruit flavor a little.  I'm extending using a step mash to generate some ferulic acid to help the Belgian yeast express itself, and to improve malt complexity.  A 90-minute boil is also being used to help improve malt complexity in the finished beer.

Ingredients
5 pounds Belgian Pale Ale Malt
3 pounds Belgian Pilsen Malt
8 ounces English Medium Crystal Malt (60L)
4 ounces Acid Malt
3 ounces Belgian Biscuit Malt
2 ounces Belgian Aromatic Malt
2 ounces Belgian Special B Malt
1 pound Demerara Sugar (15 min.)
0.50 ounces Styrian Goldings 6.2% AA (60 min.) 0.30 ounces Styrian Goldings 6.2% AA (20 min.) 0.25 ounces Styrian Goldings 6.2% AA (5 min.) 1/4 tsp. Yeast Nut…

Pseudo Dubbel 1.0

After a semi-successful brew last weekend with the sous vide setup, I altered a few components to try to get a smoother and more efficient process.  Today's setup included:
19 quart plastic binAnova sous vide cooker3 gallon potInstant Pot sous vide cookerMesh basket made by Arbor Fabricating for the PicoBrew Zymatic4 gallon kettleTwo one-gallon plastic pitchers My goal for today's brew was to see if I could improve on the efficiency of the previous brew while also making brewing and cleanup easier.

I also wanted to see if I could create something like a Belgian style Dubbel with intense dark fruit flavors.  I'm calling it a Pseudo Dubbel because it mixes Belgian yeast, candi syrup, and Special B malt with British hops, British malt, and Viking Malt from Finland.  The Viking Pale Ale malt gives us a somewhat European base. Special B and D-90 syrup should provide some dark fruit flavor.  Caramel 120L should also provide some dark caramel and dark fruit flavors.  The Bramling …

Viking Pale Ale SMASH 1.0

With the demise of the Brewie, I wanted an easy enough alternative for producing small pilot batches of beer (2.5 gallons or less) with as little hands on effort necessary as possible with maintaining what will hopefully be some reliability (and easy repair/replacement upon failure).  Toward that end, today I decided to try brewing a SMASH beer using the following setup:
Anova Sous Vide Recirculating Heater3 gallon sous vide plastic container with lidGrain bag from the Brewie+ system4 gallon induction-ready kettle1800W Induction cooktopStainless steel immersion chiller Since I couldn't be sure this combination would work (though, from what I've seen published online, I wouldn't be the first to attempt something similar), I decided to do a SMASH beer (single malt and single hop) to keep things simple and inexpensive.
Ingredients
5 pounds Viking Pale Ale malt 0.45 ounces Mandarina Bavaria Hops pellets @ 9.6% AA (15 min.) 0.55 ounces Mandarina Bavaria Hops pellets @ 9.6% AA (5 …

Acerglyn 1.0

I've never encountered an acerglyn at local bars, beer stores, or anywhere else.  After reading about this style of mead, I decided I would like to try making some.  I looked at a few recipes and built my own based on them.

Ingredients
7 ounces of Grade B Dark Maple Syrup
2 pounds of Wildflower Honey
1 packet of Lalvin 1116 yeast
1/2 tsp. Fermaid K
Enough bottled spring water to reach 1.75 gallons of volume

Original Gravity: 1.082 SG actual
Final Gravity: 0.995 SG estimated (0.994 actual)
ABV: 12% estimated (12.1% actual)
Bottling Wand:  Stainless #1

Combined some water, the honey, the maple syrup, and Fermaid into a 2-gallon fermenter. Using a drill and a wine degasser, combined the ingredients and aerated the wort. Dropped in a sanitized Tilt Hydrometer which read the gravity at 1.082 SG.  Pitched the yeast, sealed the fermenter, and added a sanitized airlock. Placed the fermenter in the coolest corner of the basement.

Notes and Observations
10/05/2019:  The must went together easily …

Cyser 1.0

With the Brewie+ down for the count again, this weekend I decided to do a couple of mead-based beverages.  First up is a Cyser, which is a combination of apple cider and mead.

Ingredients 64 ounces Honeycrisp Apple Juice
64 ounces of a generic Organic Apple Juice
4 ounces Orange Blossom honey
2 pounds Wildflower honey (plus enough to reach 1.089 gravity)
1 packet Lalvin K1V 1116 yeast
1/2 tsp. Fermaid K
1/4 tsp. DAP
Enough spring water to reach 1.75 gallons after addition of the above

Original Gravity: 1.089 SG
Batch Volume: 1.75 gallons
Final Gravity: 0.995 SG estimated (1.000 actual)
ABV: 12% estimated (12.4% actual)
Bottling Wand:  Stainless #2

Mixed apple juice, honey, and nutrients in a 2 gallon bucket fermenter until well blended using a drill and wine degasser. Dropped in a Tilt Hydrometer to measure gravity and track throughout fermentation.  Gravity registered 1.089 SG and temperature registered 70F.  Sprinkled on the yeast, sealed the fermenter, inserted an airlock, and placed the…

Making Alton Brown's Immersion Cooker Fennel Cardamon Cordial

Alton Brown's "Good Eats" series is my favorite cooking show.  I love the way he explains the "why" and "how" of a recipe in detail, which helps you understand (if things don't go right) where you may have gone wrong.  In his episode on immersion cooking (also known as sous vide), he shows you how to make a cordial in an hour using an immersion cooker.

It took me a while to locate all the ingredients here in Columbus.  I ended up getting the fennel and vodka at Giant Eagle. The cardamom seeds, pods, and anise stars came from Amazon.  The Fennel fronds and bulb came from Trader Joe's at Easton.

Ingredients
32 ounces of 80-proof vodka
2 cups of fennel fronds
10 green cardamom pods
3 ounces granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds
1 whole star anise

Begin by loading your sous vide vessel with hot water and set your immersion cooker to 140F.

While the cooker is getting up to that temperature, measure out the spices…

Pilsner Mandarina SMASH 1.0

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to bring my recipe creation skills up a level is to focus a bit on the flavor contribution of various malts. There is a lot out there on the subject already, but most experts will tell you that each of us has a slightly different sense of taste and smell. What may seem dry and lemony to me could seem very different to you.  The best way to know what the different base malts contribute to a recipe is to build a single-malt and single-hop (SMASH) beer.  To fairly compare the malts to one another, you will want to use the same water profile, mash and sparge steps, same hops, same yeast, etc.  Your only change should be the base malt.

I have a fair amount of a number of base malts in stock, along with a decent quantity of Mandarina Bavaria hops pellets, and some Coopers dry ale yeast.  With the Brewie+ functional again, I should be able to create a number of SMASH beers which are nearly identical apart from their base malts.  At least this…

Santa's Reward Ale 1.0 (Tart Cherry Ale)

Some time ago, I picked up a recipe for a Christmas ale called Bad Santa.  Thinking I had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to brew it, only to find that I did not have at least one of them - Munich Malt.  Since I'd already crushed some of the grains and mostly wanted to brew this to confirm that the Brewie+ is once again functional after recent repairs, I made some substitutions.  Given that I was no longer following the original recipe, I decided to rename it so as not to dishonor the original recipe's creator if this batch doesn't turn out.

Ingredients
6 pounds Swaen Pilsner Malt 2 pounds Briess Pale Ale Malt 10 ounces Honey Malt 7 ounces Vienna Malt 1 ounce Aromatic Malt 4 ounces Crystal/Caramel 10L Malt 4 ounces Caramunich I Malt 0.3 ounces English Black Malt 7 ounces Maple Syrup (post-boil, pre-chill addition) 1 ounce German Northern Brewer hops @ 4.8% AA (60 min.) 1 packet Safale S-04 English Ale yeast 1/8 tsp. Brewtan B (mash water) 1/4 tsp. Brewtan B (20 min.) …

Brewie+ Repair Update (fixed on 9/21/2019, failed again 9/29/2019)

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, my Brewie+ quit working properly on July 12.  I reached out to the manufacturer and was told that new wiring would be shipped to me for installation.  Unfortunately, it's now two months later and there is no wiring. There are also rumors online of the manufacturer going out of business, supported by the fact that their web site seems to go online and offline randomly and (last time I tried) I could not submit trouble tickets or send an email inquiring about the status of my repair part order.

Fearing the worst, I ordered some high-temperature wire, high temperature connectors, high-temperature silicone tape, and thermal switches of the kind used in the Brewie and Brewie+.  Earlier today, a friend and I created replacement wiring for the Brewie+ heating element and thermal switch.  We also removed the failed thermal switch and replaced it with a new one.

After reassembling the Brewie+, it booted up fine and looked to be working. Since it was …

Brewie and Brewie+ Internals

The last time I brewed with my Brewie+ was July 12, 2019.  The machine failed during that brew, leaving wort slowly cooling in the boil kettle.  I saved the batch by pumping it to another kettle and finishing it out there, but the Brewie itself was out of commission.  I contacted the manufacturer that evening for help. Two days later, I was told that parts were on the way to repair it.  It's now September 7, and those parts haven't arrived.

In the meantime, there are strong indications that the company making the Brewie has gone out of business.  I'm hopeful those are just rumors, but there are a number of facts that suggest otherwise. Although their web site is still active, their tech support system reports "Account suspended" if you try to post a case or ask a question.  Their support email address, if you email it, comes back as non-existent.  Right now, eBay is filled with a number of broken "customer return" systems that you can purchase inexpensi…

Thoughts on the Brewie+ After 8 Months

I've been brewing now for at least 7 years. Over that time, I've brewed well over 100 batches and used several different configurations of equipment. Most of the batches were brewed with iMake's The Grainfather all-in-one system. Many were brewed with PicoBrew's Zymatic.  For the last 8 months, I've brewed exclusively with the Brewie+.  For home brewers considering purchasing a Grainfather, Zymatic, or Brewie+, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some thoughts and experiences since I've been fortunate enough to use all three.

Let's start with a quick comparison of high-level features: iMake's The Grainfather:Uses 110 volt (for the US model) electrical outletsBrews up 8 gallons in a single batchHas a grain bill limit of X poundsProvides good temperature control through the mashWith the "Connect" controller, you can control temperature and pump activation remotely with their app, provided you are in Bluetooth rangeHandles almost all of the …