Saturday, January 29, 2005

Adventures in racking

Went out and got a 6.5 gallon carboy for secondary fermentation. I know it's not ideal, with the extra headroom, but it is a bit more versatile. If i decide to go the two carboy route, i'll get a 5 gallon. For now, tho', i like my brew bucket. And this way i could have two batches brewing and then go to secondary in the keg instead.

I opened up the bucket to encounter a bit of an odd smell. Racking the wort into the carboy I yielded about 4 gallons. There was almost two inches of trub in there... looked like chocolate pudding. Figures, with the pound of chocolate that went into the batch.

At this point i released CO2 into the carboy, to try to reduce the oxygen content in the headspace. I then tried to put the rubber stopper in the top for the airlock and it kept popping back out. Trying to properly seat it, i managed to push the stopper through and into the carboy. Argh! Not wanting to contaminate the batch, i racked it back into the brew bucket, got the stopper out and then racked it back again. I hope i didn't damage it too much will all the airation. We'll see.

I did set aside about half a cup of the wort for tasting. And while the the smell seemed off, the taste was about right. I compared it to one of bmd's Stouts and you could tell that mine was based off the same recipe, just with a bit more coffee and chocolate aroma.

Also picked up the Nitrogen gear today. I like the look of the guiness tap on my tower. It's cool. Decided to get a dedicated nitrogen tank and regulator, since i'm going to keep using the spare CO2 for racking and as a portable source, should i take a keg somewhere. Now i just need to track down a supplier for the beer gas. The ones i checked out were closed on Saturday, which is about right for industrial supplies like that.

Well, we'll see if i'm too impatient next weekend and end up kegging the Stout. Either way, i'll probably try my hand at cloning Paulaner Hefeweizen next weekend.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


By midnight last night, the Stout was already quite lively, bubbling through the airlock at a fast, constant pace. Hope there's enough headroom in the bucket. Be nice to use a carboy, so I could see what's happening. I guess I'll do that with the next brew.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

In preparation for getting my Nitro setup, I just started a new beer. It's going to be a Chocolote Coffee Stout and it's a bit of an experiment, so wish me luck.

It's based on HomeBrewMart's Dry Stout with some modifications:

  • 3/4 lb. Coarse Ground Sumatra
  • 1/4 lb. Roast Barley
  • 1/4 lb. Black Malt
  • 1/2 lb. Chocolate Malt
Steeped in about 1.5 gallons of water until just boiling.
  • 7 lbs. Light Malt Extract
  • 3/4 lb. Penzey's Natural Cocoa (although it may be a bit much on the cocoa
After that settled to a nice stable boil:
  • 1 1/2 ox. Northern Brewer Hops (8.6%) for 60 minutes
  • 1 oz. Fuggles Hops for 5 minutes
Combined with cold water to create 5 gallons of Wort at room temperature. Then pitched White Labs Irish Ale Yeast.

Planning to let it ferment for a week, then go to secondary for at least two weeks. So at least 3 weeks before i can find out whether the experiment worked. Also 3 weeks to assemble my nitro gear.

I had the unmodified version on Wednesday. Bmd had made a batch and it was most excellent, even bottled. And usually carbonated Stout doesn't get me excited. But this one was just fantastic. I hope my modifications to the recipe don't run it.

We'll see in 3 weeks.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Great Carbonation Calculator

Fellow brewer bmd just gave me a link to a cool calculator for carbonation. Going to have to recarbonate my Red Ale.. Now that it's had a chance to settle, the carbonation is a little low.

Nitro that Beer

I decided that a further rationalization for the Kegerator was to do the one thing i could not have down without one: Brew some honest to god Nitrogenated Beer. You know that thick smooth taste that you get from Guiness? Well, it doesn't just come from their specific recipe. No, there's more magic at work, precisely, instead of just pumping CO2 into it, they use a mix of Nitrogen and CO2, which produced that thick head and awesome mouthfeel.

After digging around a bit, I found some decent info on how to keg nitro beer. Seems like there are two key ingredients for this:
The former basically aerates the beer as it is poured, which is necessary because nitrogen isn't water soluble like CO2. This is also the reason, why Guinness had to invent the rocket widget to nitrogenated their bottled and canned beer at time of serving, because otherwise the Nitrogen wouldn have stayed in solution.

The beer gas is basically a 75% Nitrogen, 25% CO2 blend, which you can either mix on the fly using some fancy Gas Blender or you can just get your gas pre-blended in a single bottle. This latter path is the one I'm going to go down. From what I've been able to divine from various web pages, Nitrogen usually comes in a higher PSI rated bottle. You can use a regular CO2 regulator with the proper adapter. I also gather that you can use your plain CO2 bottle with the regular regulator if you can find a gas provider which will fill your lower PSI rated bottle with a nitrogen mix. We'll see where along this line of options i end up

Kegerator Ho!

Last weekend started out innocently enough. I was going to buy a mini fridge, then order a single tap tower and build a kegerator. I decided against tracking down a used one, since I wanted to make it sure it was energy star compliant. I'm sucking up enough power as it is already.

After looking at a number of mini fridges, I determined that they pretty much all had the compressor built into the bottom so that here was only enough room for a Cornelius keg if i built something to extend it into the door. Plus I'd have to relocate the freezer compartment for the top clearance. Basically a bunch of work that could end up in a destroyed mini fridge.

Home Depot was selling a Danby Kegerator which would fit a single Cornelious keg, even a pony keg, which I actually have no need for. But it looked cheap and had a plastic tower, so I've have to replace that as well.

Around that time I lost all reason, and decided, if i'm going to get a kegerator, i might as well get one that can fit two kegs. And to compound my madness, I noticed that Beverage Factory is located in town. So my wife and I headed over there and ended up with a Summit Kegerator with a stainless dual tap. It's a beauty.

I did spend the night with some serious buyers remorse, partly because the damn thing is pretty loud and because I kept thinking on how innocently the day had started. But once I kegged my Red Ale the next day and pulled a nice cold pint, all was forgotten. Ah, happiness!

Still, I woke up the other night and heard the cool cycle kick in. And from the distance it sounded just like the new "sweeping eye" noise the Cylons make on Sci-Fi's re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica

Yet another blog

Why not just have one blog and use it for all my ramblings. Well, the blogs aren't about me, they are about my hobbies, so i like to keep them separate for organization. I mean, really, this mostly serves to let me go back and look up the things I forgot about the hobby.