Tag Archives: cooking/brewing

Aftermath

15 gal, ready to go.

15 gal, ready to go.

As I mentioned last week, I wanted to make some beer for Kristen’s wedding, coming up in July.  In order to ensure the beer gets produced on time and that I can taste it and produce more if the first batch doesn’t work out, then a February start-date for fermentation is required.  Thus, with the help of Mom, Dad and Brooke, I set out this past Saturday to make lots o’ beer.

This is the first time I tried making this much in one day.  I’ve tried two batches in a day before, but one of them didn’t work out as well (for various reasons, not just because I tried two in a day).  Regardless, having all the additional help available to keep Meg occupied and watch the boiling kettle while I take care of cleaning the carboys, etc. is very useful and makes the day go more smoothly.

Overall, the day went pretty well.  I used up one of the propane tanks I had, so Dad and I went and got another one mid-way through the day.  Once the sun poked out, the weather got a bit more comfortable, though it was only out for a few hours before going behind the house, leaving us in the shade with a brisk, chilly wind.  Dad assembled Brooke’s new IKEA 3-drawer dresser while we brewed the second batch later in the afternoon, so we kept ourselves busy.

After we went out to dinner, I went ahead and took care of the third brew on my own (though Brooke held the funnel for me so I could pour the wort into the second carboy).  All in all, it ended up taking about 11 hrs, start to finish, to do the three beers with a few hour+ long breaks in there.  I’d guess that the act of brewing, itself, “only” took 6-7 hrs.

IMAG0178_0

Active fermentation warrants blow-off tubing, especially in carboys.

The beers were all pretty close to the target original gravity, so I expect the final alcohol content to arrive at a similar level to the first time I did these beers.  Fermentation began relatively quickly and, as you can see in the image above, the limited headspace in the carboys required the addition of blow-off tubing to allow the foam to escape.  I can probably remove the tubes in a few days.

In about two weeks, I’ll dry-hop the Chinook IPA, which was put in the bucket specifically so dry-hopping wouldn’t be a huge pain.  It can be done in the carboys, but getting the hops in there, wrapped in cheesecloth, and then removed again from the carboy can be difficult.  After another week (so, 3 weeks total in the fermentation vessels), I’ll bottle the beer.

Now that will be time-consuming.  I’ll probably queue up something to watch on the Kindle while I take care of that.

Regardless, the day was a success!  Hopefully the flavor reflects that in a few months. :-)

Projects

Beer...

So, my little sister is getting married in July and I offered to make a contribution of homebrew to the festivities.  She’s going to design labels for them and will make them available as people leave the reception, rather than making it available during the reception, which would require us to deal with some logistical hurdles…and make a lot more…

Regardless, I picked two of the better varieties I’ve made before.  The Cream Ale batch I made was light, highly drinkable, and can be enjoyed by folks with a range of tastes, including those with only a taste for yellow fizzy water (e.g. Bud Light).  The Chinook IPA is something quite a bit different, as it is a hoppier pale ale.  It probably won’t suit as many tastes, but will still allow for some variety between beer styles.  Kristen’s fiancé, Jake, who has also started homebrewing recently, will make a batch of something “in the middle,” so perhaps something like a honey brown, for example, or a wheat beer.

In total, we should end up producing around 20 gal of beer which, assuming we actually got that volume (and we won’t), would net 213 bottles.  Not too shabby.

Part of doing the brewing now, though, is to ensure the beer is actually somewhat decent.  I’ll bottle it in early-March, and it can then condition and age into April.  If it isn’t great (or at least good) by April, then I can brew some more and still have it ready by mid-July.  I don’t want to take any chances in beer quality here: I don’t mind drinking my own batches I’ve screwed up, but I wouldn’t want to impart them upon others.

Still, this Saturday, I’ll brew 15 gal of beer, all in one day.  I’ve done two batches in one day before, but this will be the first time I attempt three.  Mom and Dad are going to drive in to help out (and by “help,” I mean entertain a certain almost-3-year-old so I can focus on making 15 gal of beer).  The forecast says that it should be 47 F and partly cloudy, so likely a pretty good day for some outdoor brewing.