Sunday, February 27, 2005

Chili Beer

Bottled the Chili Beer yesterday, with a serano pepper per bottle. Let's see what this turns out like in a couple of weeks. Just tasting the pre-bottled Ale was pretty damn tasty tho.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Fermentation update

Kegged the Paulaner today. It's perfect. A bit of a banana nut aroma and just damn tasty. It's gotten it's first pressure-and-shake treatment and is sitting in the kegerator chilling to let the CO2 dissolve.

The American Pale Ale né Chili Beer got racked to secondary and i snuck a taste of it. It was rather different than I anticipated having a fruity, almost guava aroma. We'll see how it comes out after being bottled with a chili pepper for a while. Either way, i think it's going to be quite good.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Changing of the Brew

It's a winter day in San Diego--i.e. it's around 60F and it's raining. Perfect day to spend brewing.

The Paulaner clone is the most active fermentor to date. I mean, my first Hefeweizen--where i mistakenly pitched the yeast at about 95F, where the wort bubbled up, clogged the Airlock and then blew the top of the fermentation bucket--was very active, but it subsided within a week. And so far every Hefeweizen has been more active than other beers. But the clone is now a week old and it was still bubbling through the airlock line. A blubblub every 10 seconds or so, but still going. But i went to secondary anyhow, since i needed the bucket for another brew. And within 30 minutes of transfer, it's bubbling through the Airlock again. I'll give that at least a week (read: it'll be a week) before kegging that one, despite the lack of keg on the the CO2 faucet. Yeah, the Red Ale gave out a couple of days ago.

Currently, I'm boiling the wort for an American Pale Ale, following the Home Brew Mart recipe. They told me that it's pretty much a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone. I checked Clone Brews and it's similar to their recipe. A little simplified in the Hop timing, a bit more complex in the Steep, but I can see both being similar. It's supposed to become a chili beer, so i chopped up some Jalapeno and put them in the boil. This Ale is going to get bottled and I'll bottle some with Jalapeno's, some with Habanero and some just plain as a control. All in all it'll get a nice proper aging, since it's going to be my Cinco de Mayo Chili Beer.

Kegerator tip:

Now, i know this isn't going to be feasible for most line cleaning, but i discovered having a spare keg and being willing to spend some CO2 makes for easy beer line cleaning. After doing some general cleaning of the Red Ale keg, i filled it with about a gallon of hot water and beer line cleaner to sanitize the keg. After shaking that around for a bit, I hooked it up to each tap in turn and pumped out some quarts. Then i washed out the keg, filled it with cold water and pumped another couple of quarts for each tap. Definititely simpler and less messy than using the cleaning pump i have.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Carbonation stone

Just put the Stout back in the kegerator with my carbonation stone attached.

Got the stone from Austin Home Brew. Well, it's not really a stone, it's stainless steel and the pores are so tiny, you can't even tell the cylinder is porous at all. Pretty cool stuff.

To get it installed, i got a spare syphon tube for the Pinlock keg. Had to cut some of the length off to make it fit with the stone attached to its bottom. The real fun was in attaching the stone after the tube went into the keg, since the hole it goes through just clears the tube's diameter. So i had to reach into the keg, push the hose attached to the stone over the end of the tube, then maneuver a ratched in there to tighten the hoseclamps, all without compromising the stout already in the keg. Lucky that the batch only yielded 4 gallons.

After that, i pressurized it to 30 psi and listened to the lovely bubbling. Then shut the gas down and slow bled the pressure. Rinse repeat 2 times. Finally i put it in the kegerator. Pulled a pint, really only to flush the lines, since it really needs to sit overnight first. But even that quick pint had a much more Guinness like flow and a smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Yeah, we got stout!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

State of the Stout

So the taste is pretty good, but the carbonation is not quite right.

Next time I'll probably add the coffee in the form of espresso at Primary or Secondary Fermentation. The chocolate flaver is rather subdued. Don't know if the coffee is overpowering or whether it just settled out of solution, since the traub of primary and secondary looked a lot like chocolate pudding.

As for the carbonation, when i tried it first last night, it produced a nice thick Guiness style head, but the beer itself was flat. I had it set to 30 psi (seems crazy high compared to CO2), and it felt like it was flowing way too fast, even though the amount of head was just right. So i tried to turn down the regulator, but the pressure didn't drop (i know i needs to be released to have chance).

Anyway, tried it again just now to see if settling helped. This time, no head. I checked the pressure and it had dropped to 15psi. So I cranked it back to 25psi. The stout itself had gotten a bit more nitrogenated, but not properly

If I understand the theory right, having CO2 sitting in the headspace will force some CO2 into solution over time. However the same is not true for Nitrogen. So letting it set, the best i can hope for is the CO2 content of the Beer gas to get into the beer, but not the nitrogen. That means, it's time to track down a carbonation stone and see if that takes care of the problem.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Paulaner Clone

As I was prepping the Kegerator to fit two Kegs and two Air bottles, I noticed that the Red Ale keg was dangerously light. Uh oh.. That's gonna be tapped soon and I have no secondary fermenting. Sure i got the Stout, but that's not a simple drinking beer--it's a task unto itself. So i decided to move up the schedule and go ahead and start on my Paulaner clone.

I'm basing mine on the recipe from Clone Brews, so i won't post the full recipe here.

Suffice it to say, that the Hersbrucker Hop I was able to get here was 2.2% AA instead of the prescribed 3%, so i went to 1.5oz. instead of 2oz. And I'm using White Labs' Hefeweizen Ale Yeast #WLP300.

Just like my previous Hefeweizen batches, based on the Home Brew Mart recipe, this one is an active brewer, i.e. I had to turn off the boil several times and stir it back down so it wouldn't escape from the pot. I presume that means it'll be an active fermenter as well, so no airlock, but a hose and waterbucket instead.

Kegging the Stout

As predicted, i did not have teh patience for a two week secondary fermentation on the Chocolate Coffee Stout.

I racked the Stout to the keg filled the headspace with Beer gas and in the fridge it went for 1-2 hours so settle. After that I did the normal kegging procedure, i.e. put 30 psi of pressure on the keg and shake the shit out of it. Now, Nitrogen is not water soluble like CO2 and i don't have a carbonation stone, so i don't know if that will do the trick.

With the CO2 kegging, as i shook th keg i could hear more CO2 entering the keg. With the N/CO2, i heard no such noise and some of the stout even backed into the line going to the regulator. So, it went back in the fridge to settle. Gonna slowl bleed the pressure off and then repeat the same procedure. Then another hour of settling before tasting.

More than likely, I'll repeat this again tomorrow, as i really should let it settle longer. Impatience, i told you, don't make me tell you again...

Adventures in Gasland, Part II

Called WestAir several times yesterday trying to determine the status of my bottle. Kept promising to call me back and didn't. So at 4pm, they put me on hold for a while and came back with the news that the bottle was filled but still at the El Cajon store. Since that's the only WestAir that's open on weekends, he suggested that I could pick it up there today, otherwise it be at their location on Monday.

Bright and early, Gisela and I headed down to El Cajon to get our Beer gas. Well, i should have guessed that the Miramar store guy did not tell them that I was going to pick it up. They had no idea where the bottle was. After about 30 minutes of digging around they decided that it was probably loaded on a truck already. But they offered to give me a loaner 5lb bottle for the weekend. Didn't charge me either, so it all turned out well.

Ran out, got another keg, this one came with a pressure relief valve!

Later, prepping the second keg, my auxilliary CO2 bottle ran out. Figures, with all the air stores closed for the weekend. So i used the N/CO2 bottle to pump water through for cleaning. At least I have everything for the Stout kegging.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Trouble in Gasland

Took my Nitrogen bottle to AirGas on Clairemont Blvd this morning. Friends have used them to get their CO2 refilled and I called and they said they could fill the N/CO2 mix.

I get there and the look at my valve and say, "that's all wrong". Kept referring to it as Guiness Gas, which is correct, but it made me wonder if they just meant it wouldn't fit on a Guinesses setup or something. But that wasn't it. They said I needed a CO2 valve (320) and a syphon tube. Basically convert my Nitrogen bottle into a CO2 bottle.

So I went back to BeverageFactory and asked them what the deal was. They said the setup I had was fine and he had just filled up a bottle for that purpose at WestAir. I headed over there and, sure thing, not a question, they took the bottle and will call me when it's ready.

It does raise the question... If CO2 normally needs a syphon tube that means, the gas is basically heavy. And the Nitrogen bottle doesn't have one so it's lighter. Then what happens to the mix? If it stays mixed, i guess, no problem, since with 75% Nitrogen it'll still be a lighter gas. Hrm...