Double Chocolate Update

I just pulled my first Double Chocolate Stout sample after 4 days of fermentation. The airlocks stopped some point yesterday, so I figure I’d check it out and see where I’m at. I figured I’d have trouble getting this thing below the 1.020 mark because of the lactose, chocolate additions, etc but I’m happy to report it has come in quite a bit lower than that. The Nottingham yeast I used went to town on the sugars, knocking my gravity from 1.056 to 1.015 in about 4 complete days. Those two readings give me a rough alcohol ABV of 5.4%…not bad. The aroma of the sample has a bit of roasted coffee scent but not near as much as most of the stouts I’ve had. The color looks to be right where I wanted it…a very dark brown. Most stouts will be close to black by the book but because I was going for a dark chocolate flavor, I wanted the beer to resemble that same color. The flavor has a dark chocolately bitterness to it, but has the light coffee taste I was trying to avoid if at all possible. The coffee taste is on the front but the flavor moves into a nice chocolate with a very nice dark chocolate after taste (it actually tastes the same as though I just had a piece of 70% dark chocolate). Overall, the beer has a nice flavor but needs a bit more chocolate flavor on the front which I think would come with some nice chocolate aroma. The bitterness seems to be balanced okay with the sweetness. I’d say this should end up being a very solid beer. I plan on giving it a couple of weeks in the fermenters to clean everything up and then racking to secondaries where I plan to put in some ‘Creme de Cacoa’ for some aroma. Ideally I’d like to use some chocolate extract but I can’t really find it anywhere locally. I guess we shall see…

In addition, I dry hopped my A peTit APA on Monday. I have two fermenters and I did two different dry hops.

Fermenter #1: 1oz of Cascade and 1oz of Willamette
Fermenter #2: 1oz of Cascade and 1oz of Citra

This should give me a nice idea on the differences of the two completely different hops (Willamette and Citra) and how they do when used to dry hop. My favorite hop, Cascade, was added because well, it’s my favorite pale ale aroma hop.

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Current brew situation

So I bottled my strawberry blonde a fee days ago and after a taste test it’s already carbonated and tasted pretty good, better than expected. From what I had, I may even enter it into a competition at some point. The first taste had a nice light strawberry flavor with a bit of tart along with a sweet strawberry aroma. I ended up brewing a blonde, fermenting for 14 days, racked half to a secondary with 3.5lbs of previously frozen strawberries that I pasteurized, and let it sit for 3.5 weeks. I ended up getting 48 bottles, which carbed quickly.

I should be getting some hops in the mail shortly. I ordered 7 pounds of various hops from hopsdirect.com which was by far the cheapest place I found at about $12.50/lb of hops shipped. I’m splitting 3 lbs of these with a friend, which is always the best way to go. Another plus I have found is that hopsdirect has been known to actually send ~20oz of hops rather than the 16oz purchased…here’s to hoping. I also was able to finally find 2lbs of lactose for my upcoming dark chocolate stout, which was harder than you’d think. Now I just need some chocolate extract and some pure cocoa powder. Just for some random info, these are hops I ordered, each are in 1lb quantity.

Citra – leaf

Centennial – pellet

Magnum – pellet

Saaz – pellet

Hallertau – pellet

Willamette – pellet

Galena – pellet

As far as the summer brew tally, I’m up to 9 gallons that should be available for the Rib Fest/Wedding extravaganzas that I’ve posted about previously. I plan to keep maybe 2 gallons of the A peTit APA for myself if it turns out well, meaning I’ll have about 7 gallons (about 74 bottles) to add to the total I need (~325). I’ll probably add about 36 of my strawberry blondes as well, giving me a total of 110 bottles at this point. My goal is 325, so I need to brew at least 21 more gallons of various beers to get me there…which should be easy. My plans continue to change but here is what I should have for the fest/wedding:

To be named Strawberry Blonde: 36 bottles

A peTit APA: 74 bottles

Terd Ferguson’s Dark Chocolate Stout: 64

Rachel’s Blonde: 96 bottles

Hassel the Hoff Hefeweizen: 42

To be named American Wheat: 72

If I do each of the above, I’ll end up with 384 bottles..well above my goal which is always nice.

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.

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.

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: http://www.milkandcookies.com/link/12178/detail/

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.

The next brew day, etc

So right now I’m in Florida watching baseball, scouting players, helping with video taping, etc for the website ProjectProspect.com. It’s going well currently, although I’m already both wind and sun burnt. As of yet I’ve seen the Astros, the Phillies, and the Blue Jays, with another 6-8 teams left to see. So…I obviously can’t brew until I’m back in Festus. I’m currently scheduled to be back sometime next Wednesday night.

The night before I left for Florida I bottled my “Rachel’s Blonde,” and ended up with 52 total bottles. The sample I tasted was light, somewhat grainy, but overall pretty satisfying. I think this is going to be a great summer beer once it’s carbonated. On a side note, I brewed 10 gallons of this particular beer and split the batches. The first 5 gallons, I fermented for 2 weeks,racked to a secondary, added gelatin, crash cooled, and bottled. The second 5 gallons, I fermented for 2 weeks before changing some things up. I decided to pasteurize 3.25lbs of previously frozen strawberries, lightly smashed them in water, and added them to the secondary. I have let the secondary sit untouched for about 1.5 weeks thus far and plan to let it sit for another 1.5 weeks before adding gelatin and crash cooling. I’ll make a post with the recipe and the results of the two beers.

With it being about 3 weeks since my last brew day, I’m getting the itch (which seems to be coming more and more often these days). I’ve already been trying to find a great day to brew and it seems that the next big day will land on Friday, March 26th. It seems that I may have a small group over to watch the process to see if they want to jump headfirst into this very addicting hobby. So, if you’re around the STL area and want to hang out, brew, have couple of beers, and maybe even grill, let me know.

My current plan is to brew another American Pale Ale. I started working on my recipe last night and this is what I have so far:

Target Style 		American Pale Ale
Volume 		        10 gallons
Efficiency 		        70%

Recipe Statistics (Cat/StyleRange/Est)
Pre-Boil        1.045
OG		1.055
FG		1.008-1.011
IBU		47
SRM		7-9
ABV		5.60%		

Ingredient Name		        Amount		%
2-Row Base       		10 lbs   	42.0%
Pale Ale         		9 lbs		37.8%
Honey Malt          	        12 oz		3.2%
Munich (Light)         	        2 lbs		8.4%
Malted Wheat                    1 lb            4.2%
Crystal 40L                     12 oz           3.2%
Crystal 80L                     5 oz            1.3%

Cascade, Pellets 6.3%AA	        3.7 oz @ 60 mins
Cascade, Pellets 6.3%AA 	2.3 oz @ 10 mins
Cascade, Pellets 6.3%AA 	1.5 oz @ flameout (end of boil)

Safale US-05, washed yeast

This is the beginning…

So I’ve decided to start a blog. Basically my plan is to use this as a forum to discuss about anything but mainly focus on a couple of my hobbies — home brewing beer and cooking/grilling. I was initially going to just focus on beer brewing but see no reason not to throw in the occasional recipe or grilled creation…because nothing really pairs better with grilling than a nice beer. I guess my overall plan is to talk about my brewing set up, future plans, my brew days, my results, and anything else that may be of interest.

I think the main reason I’ve decided to jump into blogging is two-fold. First, I really enjoy writing and think this will be a great avenue to get me back into something I’ve always enjoyed. Secondly, as a rather new home brewer, I feel like this blog will be a huge help to anyone who is thinking about starting to brew, has any questions, or has already started brewing. I had trouble really finding anything out there that really spelled things out. Forums and everything were a huge help but it took quite a few hours to really understand the costs, equipment, procedures, etc. While I’m not expert, I think my rather new jump into all-grain brewing (which is pretty much “from scratch” brewing) is a benefit to those interested as I feel like I have a grasp on things any new brewer may not understand fully.

A few other things I may throw in on occasion would be beer reviews, event notifications, maybe even an occasion blip on my beloved Cubs or even a quick comment on a can’t miss or equally awful movie …who knows really. I guess I’ll start this thing and see where it heads from there. One thing I can assure you is I won’t be delving into politics…that’s a beast better left alone.

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