Progress, plans, and news

The Friday Brew Update

After brewing on Friday (March 26th), the A peTit APA is moving along nicely. Since I used previously washed yeast, I expected for fermentation to really begin at around the 48 hour mark like it did with my blonde beer. The APA got started a little earlier, starting activity around 36 hours. Here is what my carboy looked  like this morning:

A decent size krausen and nice activity

I have yet to take a reading but expect to sometime Friday to check the gravity reading. With the S-05 yeast that I used, I expect it to be ready to secondary and dry hop on Friday or Saturday. After dry hopping for 7 days, I plan to bottle at least half, maybe more. If I bottle, I feel like my carbonation is more manageable and meets expectations regularly in comparison to kegging…which I have yet to truly master (more on that later). Overall, I have pretty high expectations for this brew but not as much as I had previously. With what will end up being a rather high ABV of 7.1%, I’m not very confident in the aroma dry-hopping will impart. The last hoppy beer I brewed was an IPA with an ABV of 6.8%. I dry hopped that beer with 4oz of cascade hops for 7 days and ended up being incredibly disappointed in the hop aroma. I guess we’ll see, and I’ll continue to write about what I end up with.

Upcoming Competition and Beer Fest

The St. Louis Microfest is coming up at the end of April. I previously haven’t been to the Micro Fest but have been told that it’s the best beer fest of the year. I have ended up going to the Forest Park Heritage Festival the last two years which I’ve really enjoyed…so if the MicroFest even comes close to the Heritage Festival, it will be something I’ll be excited to attend. In addition to the 60+ beers at MicroFest, they’re sponsoring a homebrew competition that I plan to enter. Right now, I don’t have a variety of beers to enter, so it appears I’ll be entering my first APA which I finished in December. I ended up bottling 5 gallons and kegging 5 gallons and luckily saved 3 bottles in case a competition came up. They require two bottles for competition, leaving me with one to try to make sure the beer has aged well in the last 2+ months. Once I decide for sure on whether to enter, I’ll post my recipe on here for critiquing or just to satisfy the curiosity of anyone interested.

Other Random Info

It looks like tomorrow I’m going to be helping the brew master of a commercial brewery brew two different batches of beer. I’ll be waking up early to make sure I’m able to show up at Crown Valley Brewery at 7AM to help/watch Brewmaster Carl Wiersma turn water and grain into something special. I’ll probably make a post about the experience in the very near future.

Upcoming Plans

So after brewing my SNL Parody A peTit APA, I’m already looking to the future. After doing a bit of research and what not, I have decided to branch off some by trying to brew a stout. To this point, I have yet to brew a stout or porter but am looking forward to the challenge and the result. While I’m still unsure as to my exact recipe, here is an idea of what I’m thinking:

Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Nottingham
Yeast Starter: no
Batch Size (Gallons): 10
Original Gravity: 1.052
Final Gravity: 1.011
IBU: 22
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 42 SRM
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 14 @ 65F

Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00%

16lbs Pale Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 75.7 %
1.8 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt – 80L (87.0 SRM) Grain 9.70 %
1.8 lbs Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 9.70 %
14.0 oz Roasted Barley (500.0 SRM) Grain 4.90 %

.8 oz Magnum [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 18 IBU
0.60 oz Cluster [5.00 %] (30 min) Hops 4 IBU

1.2 oz Chocolate Extract (Bottling 0.0 min)
14 oz Cocoa Powder (Boil 0.0 min)
22.0 oz Milk Sugar (Lactose) (0.0 SRM) (Boil 5.0 min)

2 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) Yeast-Ale

Mash Profile

Single Infusion
60 min Mash In Add 7 gallons of water at 168 F 156.0 F
10 min Mash Out Add 7 gallons of water at 176 F 168.0 F

My obvious plan here is to try and get this upcoming beer to taste as close to actual dark chocolate as possible. I’ve researched stouts, chocolate addition, etc quite a bit and have decided this is probably the way to go. There is still a slight chance I use the trifecta of cocoa nibs, cocoa power, and chocolate extract…I guess we’ll see. I’m leaning toward adding to the SNL series and calling this: Turd Fergeson’s Dark Chocolate Stout.


A successful brew day

So yesterday I ended up brewing about 9 gallons of what I anticipated being an APA (American Pale Ale). I ran into a couple of issues that were unforeseen. My grain bill ended up being close to 25lbs, the most grain I’ve ever used. When I sparged, I could only sparge 6 gallons rather than the close to 8 gallons that was called for. So what was initially an APA turns out to be a light IPA.

I ended up striking with 7.4 gallons (water initially into the grain mash tun), and sparged with 6 gallons for a total 13.4 gallons of water. I ended up getting 10.85 gallons of wort runoff, giving me a total of about 9.25 gallons of wort after the boil. Since I was shooting for a 10 gallon batch, the numbers ended up changing…giving me a much higher alcohol content, a higher IBU (bitterness), and a darker beer overall.

Here are the differences:

Planned SRM: 8.5

Actual SRM: 9.2

Planned ABV: 5.7%

Actual ABV: ~6.4%

Planned IBU: 49

Actual IBU: 52

A peTit APA

Batch size 9 gallons
Boil size 11.1 gallons
Boil time 60 minutes
Grain weight 24.45 pounds
Efficiency 70%
Original gravity 1.065
Final gravity 1.011
Alcohol (by volume) 7.1% (with a FG of 1.010)
Bitterness (IBU) 52
Color (SRM) 9.2°L
43 dry grams
Fermentis (washed yeast)
Safale US-05
24.45 pounds
2 Row Base
28ppg, 1.5°L
10 pounds
Pale Ale
38ppg, 2.5°L
10 pounds
Munich (Light)
34ppg, 8.5°L
2 pounds
Crystal 40L
34ppg, 40°L
0.75 pounds
30ppg, 20°L
0.72 pounds
33ppg, 1.5°L
0.68 pounds
Crystal 80L
34ppg, 85°L
0.3 pounds
8.6 ounces
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
6.2 ounces
Chinook hops
11.4%, Pellet
2.4 ounces
0.2 ounces
Irish moss
0.1 ounces
60 minutes, 15.2 gallons
Target 152°F
7.6 gallons
60 minutes (+0)
Target 170°F
7.6 gallons
Chinook hops
11.4%, Pellet
1 ounces
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
0.5 ounces
60 minutes, 11.1 gallons
Chinook hops
11.4%, Pellet
0.9 ounces
60 minutes (+0)
Chinook hops
11.4%, Pellet
0.5 ounces
20 minutes (+40)
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
0.5 ounces
20 minutes (+40)
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
1.5 ounces
15 minutes (+45)
Irish moss
0.1 ounces
15 minutes (+45)
Wort chiller 15 minutes (+45)
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
0.7 ounces
10 minutes (+50)
14 days @ 59-75°F
Cascade hops
6.3%, Pellet
3 ounces
7 days (+7)
7.4 gallons of strike at 153 for 70 minutes. 6 gallons of sparge at 178. original gravity of wort was 1.052 before boil.

I forgot to take pictures throughout the brew day, but will try and get better in the future. Overall, I had about 10-12 people over while I brewed with 4 of those people incredibly interested in helping while learning the process. The more local homebrewers, the better!

My big ass pot, mash tun, and burner

Almost 25 pounds of milled grain

The sweet smell of boiling wort

Overall, the brew day went well. I maxed out my mash tun, meaning I may look to upgrade into something a bit bigger. The wort had a very nice aroma throughout the process and I’m looking forward to the finished product.

A Day Off

So I was in Florida for the last 9 days watching minor league baseball. For anyone that is curious, I was down there with Adam Foster, the founder of a site called Project Prospect. I have written a variety of articles for the site and continued to write or help write 3 in the last week, all of which are published at the link above.

While down in Florda, I think I saw 8 or 9 different minor league camps and hundreds of different players. Overall I had a solid trip but am happy to be home. I’m worn out after getting in late last night and am not 100% sure I’ll be brewing tomorrow as I had planned. Either way, I’ll make a post describing my final recipe…and if I feel well enough to go ahead and brew, I’ll be posting a few pictures.

Beer Review: Lagunitas IPA (Indian Pale Ale)

Had so much promise and Macaulay Culkin's career

Lagunitas IPA
ABV: 5.7%
SRM: 7 (estimate)

As before, I ended up having a half-assed bartender pouring my beer down the side of the glass. I guess I just assume that a bartender in a bar with a nice selection of beers would at least ask your preference…but I’ve been wrong about everytime. So, I guess I can talk about the head even though it was obviously mangled by this Richard Simmons of a barkeep. The beer poured a bit more than a finger of white head which stuck around for quite a while. As I drank, it became evident that water leaves more glass lace than this IPA.

The aroma was probably my biggest disappointment. With an IPA of this nature, I fully expected an almost punch in the face of badass hop aroma…which wasn’t the case here. If you were to lineup this beer with a Miller Lite, and blindfolded me, I could have only picked the IPA by practically snorting the actual liquid…that’s how close my nose had to come to the actual beer. When my nose was disgustingly close, the beer had a floral, cascade driven aroma. If it were multiplied by 25, we would have had a stellar hop aroma.

The flavor was mediocre as well. There wasn’t any noticable maltyness as the somewhat harsh bitterness was the only real flavor powering through. The bitterness stuck around for quite sometime as well…which I usually like, but the lack of real flavor here made the end bitterness a bit much.

I can’t complain on the mouthfeel or the body as it was rather smooth. I almost want to say I felt the bottle was under-carbonated…thus possibly affecting the head, rentention, lacing, and aroma.

With that being said, I wasn’t a big fan of this Lagunitas IPA. I would like to try another as the barkeep started this one off the wrong way. The beer may have been well outdated since he threw away the bottle before I could take a look. Mix that with some possible under carbonation, and I feel I owe this IPA a second chance to pull up the score. As of now, I can’t recommend it for any event or situation unless you love bitter ass beers with no aroma, head, lacing, or flavor. If that’s your gig, I say jump right in and drink the night away.

Overall: 3/10 (D)

Upcoming beer reviews

So far I have a few beers already reviewed and not yet posted. I just need to write them up and publish the things. Here is what to expect in the coming days:

Dale’s Pale Ale

Ybor Gold Amber Lager

Holy Mackeral Mack in Black Imperial Black Ale

Old Rasputin Stout

Dunedin Brewery’s Red Head Ale

Cigar City Brewing Maduro Oatmeal Brown Stout Ale

Lagunatas IPA

I know you’re probably as excited as a small child on Christmas morning, but you’ll just have to wait another day to get another review…come back as I plan to continue posting something everyday if at all possible.

Beer Review: Newcastle Brown Ale

An ok beer here...but why the clear bottles?

Newcastle Brown Ale

ABV: 4.7%

SRM: 23 (estimate)

Ok, so I know Newcastle doesn’t really fit the mold when reviewing beer. When a particular beer sells over 100 million bottles each year, most people who like beer have given it a shot at some point. Either way, I’ve decided to give it a review partly because it is so prevalent and people can decide to agree or disagree with me as they most likely have an idea of what this particular beer tastes like.

On with the review…so, once again, it has become rather evident that most places in Florida don’t utilize bottles (in this case that isn’t a bad thing) or when they do have bottles, the server feels the need to do the pouring.r I ended up with a draft here, rather than a bottle. I previously mentioned that in this particular case I would have rather had a draft, which I say because Newcastle Brown Ale – American comes in clear bottles. Clear bottles are incredibly worthless for beer because it doesn’t block any of the UV light once it leaves the bottling facility and light is allowed to hit the bottles…UV light causes skunky-ass beer…so beers like Newcastle (American), Corona, etc can be good or terribly bad depending on how much light accessed a particular bottle.

So now that the introduction is out of the way, and I explained why I hate clear bottles, I can actually discuss the beer.

First off, the beer I received was poured with very little to no head, and with no head, there’s no ability to retain that head. I have had Newcastle before and know that it actually does end up with a little less than a finger of head when poured correctly. I won’t fault the beer, just the bartender in this case.

The aroma I picked up was a faint nutty smell along with a bit of caramel…neither came through very well…but I did notice an aroma was present. The taste was once again a mix of some nutty flavors, some caramel, maybe a little toffee or mollasses…none of which were overpowering by themselves or all together. For the deep copper color (not really a brown), it was very light in flavor and body and was well carbonated, making it rather easy to drink. I didn’t notice any hop flavors or aromas making it a pretty solid beer for anyone who likes a somewhat flavorful beer without the hop bitterness.

Overall, this beer is a very easy drinking brown with a simple flavor profile. I can say I like Newcastle but never take the risk in buying it in bottles as it’s too expensive for what it is, especially when there’s a good chance you get a skunked bottle. I think I’d recommend this to any person who is starting to get into beer and trying to move their palate from the standard BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) selections. I say that because it has a decent but light flavor while not overpowering to anyone who may be used to something watery. I think this particular beer is overpriced for what it is, but who am I to say…they sell their beer by the millions.

Overall: 5/10 (C+) — not enough flavor profile, very faint aroma, somewhat watery…this is a grade 5 that would be a grade 9 or 10 to those moving from Michelob Ultra, Bud Light, etc.

Upcoming brew plans

As I stated earlier, I mentioned I’ll be brewing an APA (American Pale Ale) next Friday at my place. I’ve thought about what I’m wanting to go for and have made a few decisions regarding this brew.

1. I’m going with 10 gallons…I could make up some cool reason but I think everyone knows that 10 gallons of kick ass APA is better than 5. That alone seems to be reason enough to double output.

2. I’m going to use Chinook and Cascade hops, with a first wort hop of Chinook to dial down the harsh bitterness (first wort hop=adding the hops into the wort before the boil). This should make the bitterness a bit more smooth rather than an “in your face” type of hop flavor.

3. I think I’m going to name it ApeTit APA. This will be somewhat comical to anyone that has seem the Jeopardy spoof on SNL. I’m going with ApeTIt because it brings a little laugh, should be rather bitter (not that I would expect an ape tit to be bitter…ugh), and is a play on the word appetite (the show suggests a-petit but I’m going my own route) which seems to sound positive when talking about anything food or drink related.

Check out the video:

4. On brew day, I should have a small amount of people over who are interested in brewing. If you’re around and want to come by, just let me know. It looks like it’ll be Friday around 1 or so.
Other brews on the horizon:

I guess I’ll just say, A LOT. Why? Because I’m now brewing beer for the annual rib fest, held on July 31st. I expect I’ll need to have a minimum of 120 bottles brewed and ready to rock, with a goal of 200. In addition, I’ll be brewing for my wedding weekend (July 9th weekend), as my parents are wanting to have some homebrew at their place for family, friends, strangers, etc. My goal for that weekend is going to sit at 125. So overall, it seems that I’m going to be brewing over 30 gallons of beer in the upcoming months (will need to be all bottled by the end of June), and probably more as I have to keep my own tongue wet for the spring/summer season. As I get a better idea of a brew plan, I’ll make sure I keep this up to date with recipes, my process, and reviews of the finished beers.