Friday, February 25, 2011

Bottled my Fat Tire Clone

Last night I bottled my Fat Tire clone! It had been sitting in my primary for a little over 3 weeks now and I was to be able to drink it in 2 weeks, so last night was the night! I wanted to try something a little different though.....typically, after I rack my beer into my bottling bucket, I just wash out all the leftover yeast and trub. I used Nottingham yeast to do the fermenting of the FTC (getting sick of writing out FAT TIRE CLONE) and I have heard that Nottingham is a really good yeast to use and a lot of people use it as their "go to" yeast. So I will have a little writeup at the end about my first experience with yeast washing.

I got all my equipment ready, started boiling my priming sugar, and mixed up 2.5 gallons of one-step to sanitize 2 TAD bottles and 16-20 10 ounce bottles. I have decided that with every batch I do I am not going to TAD it ALL, only because I like to give some people a bottle or two where dragging a 1.5 gallon TAD bottle is just a little much!

Everything is ready to go!

I'm just giddy to pop the lid off my primary because I really want this beer to turn out. It is the first beer I have let sit in the primary for 3 weeks so I had no idea what I would find. I got it opened up and the smell was pretty good and the beer looked pretty clean (not a bunch of stuff floating around). I grabbed my sanitized hydrometer and placed it in the bucket. 1.011 was my reading which was exactly what the FG was suppose to be!

I racked it into my bottling bucket, adding the priming sugar about halfway through. The beer was looking pretty clear at this point so it looks like leaving it in the primary for 3 weeks really help to clean it up. I then attached the bottling wand and filled the TAD bottles first. I like to fill the TAD's first because it takes the longest so with the bottling bucket full, it comes out a little quicker. But man, do those TAD bottles get heavy when holding them for a while waiting for it to fill!

Filled the 2 tad bottles and moved to the 12 ouncers.

All in all I got 2 TAD bottles and 18 12 ounce bottles. I had about 5 ounces left that i put in a bottle, but that was for sampling! It was good, pretty flat, but good. You can tell it is still young, but I think 2+ weeks in the bottles and it should be perfect!

Now to clean up my mess!

I mentioned that I was going to wash the used uesd to make this beer. I forgot to take picture of this process so I will make it short and sweet. If your interested in the process though, you can literally find 100 threads on forums that explain it step by step. But I before I started bottling I boiled some water, let it cool, then poured it onto the yeast cake after I raked off the beer. I then swirled it around a bit and covered it with the lid while I bottled. After bottling, I poured the yeast/water mix, minus the bottom trub, into a large, plastic Arnold Palmer drink container. I didn't have a large jar, but I did sanitize it first! I then let that sit for about an hour to separate out.again. I only had 2 mason jar so I sanitized those and poured the washed yeast into them, then put them in the fridge.

I don't know if I'll use these again when I brew beer, but I have an idea, an experiment if you will, to use these yeast on. I hope to try it on Saturday or Sunday.....I'll keep you posted!

Lastly, I need to give a shout of thanks to my amazing wife for taking Eva so I could bottle, while at the same time was making us diner!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Racked My Cream Ale.....on Vanilla!!!

Saturday was the 7 day fermenting mark for the Liberty Cream Ale. It was looking good and my airlock was bubbling all week. I had an itch though.......and not the kind that burns! But an itch to change something with my brew. Something to make it mine. I wanted to add a little uniqueness that I've never tried before so I decided to add some vanilla to it.

I got 2 vanilla beans from a local store on Friday. I did some researching on some beer brewing forums about adding vanilla to beers and found a few topics where guys would add them to porters but not really anything else. I PM'd a guy for advice who had added vanilla to a couple different beers. After getting some hints and tips from him, I had my method planned out in my head and was ready to give it a shot.

Saturday morning I took both vanilla beans and split them open lengthwise. For those of you that have never messed with vanilla beans (like myself), on the inside is a paste-like substance. I scraped out the paste and put it in a small mason jar, then cut the beans into quarters and added those to the jar as well. I then added a couple ounces of vodka, put the lid on, and swirled it around ever once in a while. Some people suggested using vodka to help sterilize the beans, others claimed it isn't needed because the alcohol content of the beer is usually enough to kill off anything the beans might carry with them. I decided I'd rather be safe than sorry, so I soaked the vanilla for a couple hours before I put it the beer.

A couple hours later, I popped the lid on my bucket and took a gravity reading. I was sitting at a 1.009, estimated was between 1.010 and 1.014. It was a little low but I could still see some CO2 bubbles coming to the surface. I figured transferring it to my secondary at this time might be a good thing cause the CO2 that was still forming would purge any O2 that would occupy my head space. I then put the vanilla/vodka mix straight into the secondary and racked my beer right on top. I'm probably gonna give it another 2 weeks before I bottle and see how it turns out, but I'm pretty excited to see if this little experiment will turn out! Comment below if you've ever added vanilla to one of your brews to let me know how it turned out.

This Wednesday will be bottling day for my Fat Tire Clone! It's been sitting for almost 3 weeks untouched. I'm really excited for this one!

On a side note.....I bought some Miller Light this weekend. I know, I know.....but I had a good reason. Have you guys seen the new party kegs that Miller and Coors are making?

I picked one up because I read that they basically use the Tap-a-Draft system with a modified tap. In some forum posts, people have used the tap and empty containers with their existing tap-a-drafts. The only real difference is the Miller and Coors system uses a 16 gram CO2 cylinder and the TAD uses 2 - 8 grams cartridges. I have a bunch of TAD bottles but only 1 tap, which will be a bummer when I have 3 different beers in TAD bottles. I looked at getting another tap, but they are $50! I picked up the Miller system for $20 at the local liqueur store so I'll have an extra bottle and tap! All I have to do is suffer through the jug of Miller Lite! But anyone looking for a cheaper, smaller alternative to kegging, this could be your answer! FYI, each TAD bottle will hold approx. 1.5 gallons, so 3 will hold most of your batch with a couple bottles to spare. When I bottled my Dunkelweizen, I filled 2 TAD bottles and put the rest in 12 ounce bottles. Ended up with about 16 bottles.

Off little girl is now smiling!

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Brew Day - Liberty Cream Ale from Midwest Supplies

This weekend was a good weekend for me. My mom was in town so she told me she'd watch our 2 month old (Eva) while I did some beer brewing and while my wife did some studying. I planned on starting around 9:30 am and figured it would take me around 3 hours to get the job done. I was brewing a Liberty Cream Ale from Midwest Supplies (LINK). It was an extract kit I had in my fridge that the in-laws got me for Christmas. So at 9:30 I got to work!

If you read my first post, you'll may remember I said that sometimes I love out house, sometimes I hate it. We'll, on brew day, I always love it because we have a second kitchen downstairs. This let me have my "brew-cave" totally separate from the rest of the house.

The picture below is when I started steeping the grains. for 30 minutes. It also gives a view of the kitchen we have in our basement.

Done steeping, time to get it up to a boil, add my extract, and add the hops. On the Midwest website, they list 2 oz's on Cascade hops. the first ounce is for a 60 minute boil. The second ounce is for the last couple minutes of the boil. The instructions suggest adjusting the amount of the first addition of hops (only use .5 - 1 ounce) depending on how hoppy you like your beer. Well, I would like to get some friends into brewing, so I figured if I tried to tone down the hops a little, they might enjoy a nice, medium hopped, light beer better than something a little stronger. So I decided to only add about .75 ounces of hops for the 60 minute boil. 

60 minute boil.

55 minutes later, added the second set of hops. At that point, my mom wanted to take a shower, so I got a little helper. I think I have a little future brewer!

Finished up the boil and moved the pot to the sink to use the wort chiller.

Chilling the wort.

I have a funnel that I can put a little screen in that was included in the brewing kit I have. I've tried using it when getting my beer from the pot to the fermenting bucket but when I pour 1/4 of the wort into the funnel placed over the bucket, it gets really clogged and everything turns into a mess! I was to try and filter out some sediment cause I get a good cold break with the wort chiller. So, this time I was gonna win that battle! I saw on Homebrew Forums that some people have used a paint strainer made for 5 gallon buckets. I picked on up a pack of 2 have Lowe's for a couple buck and it worked slick!

Has elastic around the top that hold it to the bucket, I pouted my wort in and lifted it out slowly. Had a bunch of sediment left in the strainer. Worked awesome!

So I added the rest of my water to get it up to 5 gallons and took a gravity reading. OG is suppose to be between 42 and 46. I ended up right at 44! Pretty happy about that too. Pitched my yeast and shook the daemons out of that bucket! Got my workout for the day it! Check it before I went to bed that night and already my airlock was going crazy. I think I'm gonna give this one 7 days in the primary, rack it to the secondary, and give it another 7 before I bottle.

The pail on the right is the Liberty Cream Ale I just brewed. On the left is the Fat Tire clone I brewed on Feb. 2. I think I'm gonna go straight to bottle with that next weekend.

That night, the wife and I had our FIRST date night since the arrival of Eva, thanks to my mom agreeing to babysit! We went to a new restaurant across the river in East Grand Forks called Little Bangkok. Had some Pad Thia (my fav!) and some sushi. After that we went to the Sioux hockey game against Alaska Anchorage. We had lower bowl tickets about 7 rows up that I got from a guy I work with. Great seats, awesome game!

Lastly, yesterday I stuck one of my Dunkelweizen in the fridge that I had bottled on Jan. 28th, so about 2 weeks ago. I tried it last weekend but it definitely wasn't ready. I was pretty sure it still wouldn't be, but I wanted to try it. Popped it open about an hour ago and it wasn't bad. Good carbonation, the taste was really coming around, and had OK lacing on the glass. I think at least one more week and it'll be good to go!

So all in all a pretty good weekend! Had a pretty lazy Sunday with church and hanging out with Eva. She was watching daddy blog and listening to some My Chemical Romance, but I think she got bored.....

I guess she likes watching me play COD Black Ops more!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Big Day for Football Fans!

It Superbowl Time!!! Packers and Steelers baby! Honestly, I'm really not much of a football fan. Hockey is my sport of choice, but I typically watch 1 game of football during the today's the big day!

My one big problem for the day is the I don't have a home brew to sip on. I was hoping my Dunkel would have been ready by today, but I only bottled it 8 days ago. I did throw one in the fridge yesterday and popped the top last night. It was decently carbed but still tasted pretty green and had a bit of a funky taste at the end. I need to get to a brew club meeting so other people can taste my beer and give it a good critique. I don't know how to accurately describe them yet.

So, Steelers or Packers? And what kind of home brew are you drinking today? Leave a comment below!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So I decided to start a blog......

I decided to start a may ask why? I am not a writer, by any means. In fact, if you frequent this blog, you will often find that I CONSISTENTLY use incorrect punctuation, use word forms incorrectly (their, they're, there), and misspell words (not as often anymore thanks to Chrome's built in spell check!). My wife is always the first person to call me out on that! I blame it on my oversized brain. When I'm thinking of what to write, my fingers just can't keep up with what I'm thinking. Feel free to call me out!

I got into brewing about a year ago thanks to my father-in-law. He had a brewing kit that he purchased a long time ago. I knew nothing about brewing but he said that I could borrow the supplies he had in order to give it a shot. I gathered up his supplies and scoured the internet in search of the ingredients I would need to brew my first batch.

I found out quickly there are MANY sites to get ingredients from but I settled on Homebrewers Outpost (LINK) for a Honey Ale kit. Me not know the difference, I figured, "Hey, I like Honey Weiss, probably similar."  The ingredients showed up and I got to work. Steeped some grains, added some extract, and threw in some hops. When I finished, my brew area had water all over and the house was perfumed with the smell of hops!

Side story (this will happen often).....we bought our house 2 years ago, and though at times we REALLY dislike it, there are certain times I am glad we have it. One of those times is for brewing beer. The people that owned the house before us tried making the basement a rental unit. They soon found out the zone the house is in says you can't have rental units. I don't understand all the rules and laws that foiled their plan so don't expect much detail, but before they found out this information, they had built a smaller, second kitchen! Complete with fridge, sink, cupboards, and stove, I was all set to start my new hobby with little disturbance to my wifes domain!

I brewed 2 batches when I first started brewing in the fall of 2009. The honey ale and a red ale. I can't remember much of my brewing process, but I know I was happy with the end result. To a beer connoisseur it was probably sub par, but to me, it was MINE! I had crafted this little taste of heaven all by myself and had felt a sense of ownership with every sip. I am always a little worried when someone else tries my beer, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

My brewing then slowed down for a while because I was coaching hockey at the time and it was eating up most of my spare time. Then this last Christmas (2010), my mother-in-law got me another beer kit and a tap-a-draft mini kegging system (LINK). So even though my brew bucket had been in the closet for about a year, it was time to pull it back out. My free time hasn't increased even though I have retired from coaching hockey because my wife Erin and I welcomed our beautiful daughter Eva on December 13th. Having a little one at home can be a chore, but with the help of my wife and family, I have still managed to squeeze in two brewing days!

I now have a Dunkelweizen that I just bottled on January 28th and on Wednesday (Feb. 2nd) I brewed a Fat Tire clone that I purchased from Austin Homebrew Supply (AHS). It's on day 3 in my fermentation bucket and has been bubbling like crazy! I'm a little worried about my Dunkelweizen because I couldn't get my SG down to where I wanted it even after pitching some new yeast, but I'll find out in a week or more! I'm SUPER excited for the Fat Tire clone because I have heard some good reviews and I finally going to do what every noob SHOULD do when it comes to brewing......GIVE IT TIME! Not gonna rush this one.

So...I started this blog as a way to document my brewing experiences. Most of my posts will be about brewing beer from the time it hits the fermenter till I get to taste my concoction, but there may be some randomness about hockey, gaming, and diaper changing! I hope you enjoy!