Monday, December 10, 2012

“Californee Way" Common Lager

Brew date: December 2, 2012
#12 - 3.5 gal

'Tis the season... for lager! With the average temperature of my basement now hovering around 57 'F, I am finally able to get down to business and brew my first lager -- albeit one that ferments at a relatively high temp. Hence the California Common. I based the recipe off of the one found in John Palmer's How to Brew, while scaling the final batch size down to 3.5 gal and making a few other allowances for the lower efficiency that comes with a no-sparge BIAB.

The end result? A higher than expected efficieny -- thanks to the multi-rest mash schedule. In fact, I was counting on an efficiency of around 62-65%, but was probably nearer 69%. Maybe I over did it? Meh. In the end, I added about a quarter gallon of water to the fermentor as I was a little low on my target batch size, while my gravity was substantially higher than the recipe called for.

Since then, it's been crusing "Califonee way." I expect to rack to a secondary around two weeks after pitching, and then bottle sometime after Christmas.

  • 7 lb 2-Row Pale malt (Briess)
  • 0.7 lb Caramel 40L malt
  • 0.6 lb 2-Row Carapils malt (dextrine)
  • 0.5 oz Northern Brewer (60 min)
  • 0.25 oz Northern Brewer (15 min)
  • 0.25 oz Northern Brewer (1 min)
  • ⅛ tsp Irish moss (15 min)
  • Wyeast 2112 California Lager*
*Yeast starter made on 11/29. Bring 1200 mL water to boil. Add 1 c DME and ⅛ tsp Wyeast nutrient. Boil 10 min. Chill and pitch yeast. Keep at ~60-64 'F.


Add 4.5 gal water to kettle. Heat to 130 'F. Add malt. Stabilize temp at 122 'F. Rest for 30 min. Raise temp to 140 'F and rest for 30 min. Raise temp to 158 'F and rest for 30 min. Mash out at 170 'F for 10 min. No sparge. Lauter. Bring wort to boil. Add N. Brewer bittering hops and boil for 60 min. Add N. Brewer and Irish moss 15 min before end of boil. Add N. Brewer hops 1 min before end of boil. Cut heat and let sit for 10 min. Chill wort to ~59-60 'F. Top off fermenter to 3.5 gal. Pitch yeast starter. Ferment at 55-61 'F.


Pre-boil gravity: ~1.060
OG: 1.057 (?) (added ¼ gal water to fermenter, 1.061)
Color: Tangerine, orangish-yellow, golden rod, good clarity
Taste: Biscuit, sweet, moderate hop bitterness


The wife wanted to name this beer based on a misheard lyric from "California Love" by Tupac and Dr. Dre. I didn't. You're welcome.

Monday, November 26, 2012

“Dubble Rainbow" [Bottled]

Bottle date: October 5, 2012

  • 128 g Light DME
  • 16 oz water
Desired CO2: Belgian Dubble - 3.0 vol.
Temperature: 65 'F

FG: 1.018

ABV: 4.3%

Color: Red brown, fairly clear
Smell: Roasted chocolate, biscuit
Taste: Belgian flavors, slight bitter hop, flowery, very roasty, chocolate, warm

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

“Dubble Rainbow"

Brew date: October 21, 2012
#11 - 3 gal

This beer could easily also be called "Lost in Translation" Dubble or "I'm an Idiot" Dubble. (Don't really like the ring of that last one...) Basically, I set out to brew a Chimay Red clone featured on the American Homebrewers Association's website, but scaled down to a 3-gallon batch and as an all-grain Brew-in-a-Bag (BIAB). In this, I failed. Utterly. Not only did I mis-transcribe some of the grain bill (e.g. 1 oz of chocolate malt somehow became 1 lb!), but I couldn't find several of the hop varieties I was looking for, and my efficiency was much lower than I expected (even though I made some adjustments since I wasn't planning to sparge the BIAB). In the end, I decided to just roll with the (largely self-inflicted) punches and see what happens. I decided to call it "Dubble Rainbow" since, well, the dude in that video was ridiculous -- as could be this beer.

This was my first BIAB attempt. I tried to do ample research beforehand and found these videos from Northern Brewer to be helpful (and reassuring), Episode 54: Jake's Got a Brand New Bag and Brewing the "Brew in a Bag" Way. I did my best to keep the mashing temp a constant 154 'F, although I know that it was probably closer to 160 'F a few times when I had to kick the heat back on. After a 60 min mash, I brought the temp up to approx 170 'F and completed a 15 min mash-out before beginning the boil.


  • 5.5 lb Belgian Pale
  • 0.5 lb Cara 20
  • 0.3 lb American 2-Row (Pale)
  • 0.5 lb Chocolate
  • 0.5 lb Clear Candi Sugar
  • 1 oz Willamette leaf (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Willamette leaf (30 min)
  • 0.75 oz Strisslespalt (5 min)
  • Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey*
*Yeast starter the day before. Boil 2 c water. Remove from heat. Add ½ c Light DME. Boil 10 min. Cool and pitch yeast. Aerate on and off.


Add 5.5 gal cold water to brew kettle. Heat to 164 'F. Add grains. Mash temp should stabilize around 154 'F. Mash for 60 min. At 60 min, heat wort to 168-170 'F and Mash-out for 15 min. Lauter (remove grain bag). Bring wort to boil. Add candi sugar and Willamette hops. Boil 60 min. Add Willamette hops 30 min before end of boil. Add Strisslespalt 5 min before end of boil. Cut heat and let sit for 10 min. Chill wort to 68-70 'F. Transfer to carboy and pitch yeast. Ferment at 68 'F. Transfer to secondary fermentor after 7-10 days. Condition 1-2 wks. Bottle.


OG: 1.051
Target Gravity: 1.062
Color: Deep brown-red, ruddy hew
Smell: Roasted/toasted biscuit
Taste: Sweet, spicy, light-to-moderate hop bitterness

Monday, October 22, 2012

“Kiss My Black" IPA [Bottled]

Bottle date: October 20, 2012

After worrying that I oxidized my beer for almost two weeks, I decided to bottle. No readily apparent off-flavors. Taste remains quite bitter, and doesn't have the sweet malty strength I was hoping would balance that bitterness. The Simcoe definitely imparted a pungent hop aroma. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that as the beer bottle conditions, both the aroma and bitterness will mellow. There is a decent undertone of roastiness in there. It remains to be seen if I will come out and play well with a (slightly) toned down hoppiness.

  • 95 oz Light DME
  • 16 oz water
Desired CO2 Volume: ~2.4.
Temp: 66 'F

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

“Kiss My Black" IPA [Dry Hop]

Transfer date: October 9, 2012

Racked to my new PLASTIC (to prevent future knee-mishap) 5 gallon carboy to dry-hop for a week or two on 1 oz of Simcoe whole hops.

It went smoothly enough, but in my enthusiasm to avoid destroying my leg for a second time, I didn't take into consideration the amount of headroom in the 5 gallon carboy with only 3 gallons of beer. This worries me. Oxidation = bad.

After the racking was complete, I decided to swirl the beer on and off a little (again, maybe not a good idea) to try to draw some of the CO2 out of the beer to hopefully push the oxygen out of the carboy. It remains to be seen how effective this strategy was or if I totally fucked up the flavor.


Terminal gravity: 1.022
Smell: Roasty, bitter chocolate
Taste: Bitter, bitter chocolate, spicy

Monday, October 8, 2012

“Kiss My Black" IPA

Brew date: Sept. 30, 2012
3 gal

A thrilling brew day! Packers are on (they won) and brewing a black IPA with brand new equipment: A 10 gallon Megapot and wort chiller.

It took some adjusting. The megapot rests over two burners. This allows it to heat quickly, but given the size of the pot and that I was trying to do a full wort boil, it was difficult to reach a rolling boil. I was forced to keep the lid partially on. I did my best to open it up from time to time to keep too much evaporated water condensing and falling back into the boil. I hope that this helps reduce any potential for off-flavors later on.

The wort chiller was a BIG help. I was able to get the wort down to pitching temp within about 20 minutes. I'm glad I went with the hose attachments, but the male/female adapter on one end still leaks a little. I wrapped it with some teflon tape, which helped, but it's not perfect.

Using the ball spout was great! Easiest wort transfer to my carboy ever. And I know that it aerated the wort well before pitching -- another bonus.


Steeping Grain
  • 5 oz Amber Malt
  • 5 oz Crystal 60L Malt
  • 5 oz Debittered Black Malt
  • 2 oz Chocolate Malt
Malt Extract
  • 1.875 kg Golden Light LME
  • 455 g Amber DME
  • 363 g Light DME
  • ½ oz Warrior hops (60 min)
  • ½ oz Centennial hops (60 min)
  • ¼ oz Mt. Hood hops (10 min)
  • ½ oz Cascade hops (5 min)
  • Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale*
*Yeast starter two days before. Boil 2 c water. Remove from heat. Add ½ c light DME. Boil 5-10 min. Cool and pitch yeast. Aerate on and off.


Two days before brew date, make yeast starter.

Add amber, crystal, debittered, and chocolate malts to 4 gal cold water. Heat to 150-160 'F and steep for 30 min. Strain. Bring water to boil. Remove kettle from heat and add all malt extract. Bring to boil. Add Warrior and Centennial hops. Boil 60 min. Add Mt. Hood hops 10 min before end of boil. Add Cascade hops 5 min before end of boil. Chill wort to 72 'F. Add to fermentor. Top off fermentor with cold water to 3 gal if needed. Pitch yeast. Hold temp between 65-75 'F.


OG: 1.083
Color: Deep brown
Smell: Not much, slight roasty chocolate, slight bitterness
Taste: Rich, thick, bitter

Saturday, September 29, 2012

“Peter Peter Porter Eater" Pumpkin Porter [Bottled]

Bottle date: Sept. 28, 2012

  • 16 oz water
  • 87 g Light DME

Bring water to boil. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in DME. Boil 5-10 min. Slowly add priming solution to bottling bucket while still racking beer from carboy. Stir priming solution into beer. Bottle.

  • FG: 1.020 (1.019 @ 70 'F) - A little higher than I wanted but its been almost two weeks and the flavor and mouth-feel is good now.
  • Desired vol. of CO2: 2.3
  • Desired conditioning temp: 66 'F
  • Taste: Pumpkin, but not over-powering at all. Nice roasty balance against hop bitterness
  • Color: Black. Nice clarity
  • Smell: Pumpkin, allspice, roasty, hint of hop

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“Peter Peter Porter Eater" Pumpkin Porter

Brew date: September 16, 2012
3 gal

I will be the first to admit that I'm not big on pumpkin beers. Scratch that. I hate pumpkin beers -- too sweet, too malty, too much allspice, whatever. Then, last fall, the wife and I dropped by one of our favorite bars in Madison, the Mason. They always have a great selection of craft beers on tap, many of which I've never tasted and seldom less than delicious. So, low and behold, on that particular visit, there was a pumpkin porter listed.

Now, given my tastes, I wasn't about to sample this particular brew. But Jenny, in keeping with the season, decided to give it a go. Afterwards, you'd think she never tasted anything so good in her life. And she rarely gushes about a beer. Obviously I had to try this... Disbelief. Here, at last, was a pumpkin seasonal that I could enjoy. Great balance from the roastiness and bitter coffee against the otherwise sweetness. A light touch on the spice additions. And a bit of hoppy bite to cut through it all.

Unfortunately, we no longer remember the name of beer we tried that night. (Obviously we suffered some sort of pumpkin-induced shell shock.) But, since then, I've been on the lookout for a promising recipe. I found it in the Extreme Brewing book I recently picked up. The recipe below is a fairly faithful reproduction.

  • 15 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 t gypsum
  • 10 oz Black Patent Malt (Briess)
  • 16 oz Pale 6-row Malt
  • 1.252 kg Golden Light LME
  • 1.85 lb Amber DME
  • 273 g Dark DME
  • ⅔ oz Hallertau hops
  • ½ oz Cascade hops
  • 1.5 t Irish Moss
  • ⅓ oz Hallertau hops
  • ½ t Cinnamon
  • ½ t Nutmeg
  • ½ t Allspice
  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast

Add black patent and pale 6-row malts, and pumpkin to 2.5 g cold water. Heat to 150-160 'F for 45 min. Strain. Add malt extracts and bring to boil for 5 min. Add ⅔ oz of hallertau hops. Boil 60 min. 20 min prior to end of boil, add Cascade hops and Irish Moss. 10 min before end of boil, add rest of Hallertau hops. 5 min before end of boil add spices. Chill wort to pitching temp. Transfer to carboy, top off to 3 gal. Pitch yeast.


OG: 1.073 (1.070 at 86 'F)
Target Gravity: 1.078
Smell: Gingerbread cookies, roastiness, hint of pumpkin
Color: black, deep brown foam
Taste: think, sweet, cinnamon, nutmeg, slight bitter spice

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

“27 Stitches" IBA [Bottled]

Bottle date: Sept. 10, 2012

Due to my brewing mishap, I am only now finally getting around to bottling the India Brown Ale. Overall, the process went smoothly -- no problems siphoning this time.

  • 16 oz water
  • 100 g Light DME

Bring water to boil. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in DME. Boil 5-10 min. Slowly add priming solution to bottling bucket while still racking beer from carboy. Stir priming solution into beer. Bottle.

  • Complete sanitation of bottling bucket, all racking equipment BEFORE beginning boil of priming sugar.
  • Get bottling tree?
  • Get shorter length of hose for bottling.

Monday, September 3, 2012

27 Stitches for Homebrew

Date: Aug. 23, 2012
Let it never be said that I haven't bled for homebrewing...

While rinsing my carboy in the bathtub, I managed to lose my grip, destroying it (and my knee) in the process. How could this happen? Well, let me tell you...

I was hunched over the tub emptying the last of the water out of my carboy. Somehow, my hand slipped off the bottom. Under normal circumstances, this would send the vessel crashing into the center of the tub. However, since I was still holding onto the handle, the carboy swung towards the edge where I was leaning, and into my knee. 

It shattered, slicing a 5 inch long gash in my knee. Ironically, in the shape of a "7". Nothing like looking down and seeing a bloody pulp where your knee should be. Thankfully, the wife was home! After she determined that I wasn't just swearing because I broke the carboy, she called the paramedics and I was on my way to the ER.

27 stitches, a partially cut knee joint, a leg immobilizer, and a LOT of pain. Thankfully, it turned out that I didn't broken my knee cap.

I've been pretty much laid up since. No brewing. :(

But, I do have a name for the Indian Brown Ale: 27 Stitches IBA. And, one hell of a story. :D

Great Taste of the Midwest beerfest

Date: Aug. 11, 2012
My dribble of cognac barrel-aged Dark Lord

My buddy and his girlfriend managed to score me an extra ticket (at face value!) to the Great Taste of the Midwest beerfest! Awesome time. Tons of beers. Very good beers. The sheer number and diversity is mind-boggling.

Best beer: Dark Horse Brewery's Reserve Special Black Ale.

I did manage to get a dribble of Three Floyds' 2012 Cognac-Barrel Aged Dark Lord. It was spectacular, but waiting almost an hour to get it, was probably not worth it. I had managed to get a taste of the Dark Lord a few years ago at the same beerfest. Although it's arguably the best beer I've ever had, the extremely limited release makes people a little crazy to get it. I thought the people behind us in line were going to go ape-shit when they learned they weren't going to get any.

Also had a blast checking out some of the pre-parties the night before.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Harvesting yeast

Date: Aug. 22, 2012

Tonight marks my first foray into harvesting the yeast cake from my fermentor. I'll be harvesting Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale.

I'm basing the process off of a few videos I've seen on YouTube. This one was the most straight-forward:

Using two large mason jars: One for cleaning the yeast, and one for storage.

Indian Brown Ale [Secondary]

Racking date: Aug. 22, 2012

Racked the Indian Brown Ale into my new 3 gal carboy to further condition. Also able to get a read on the final gravity, flavor, smell, etc.


FG: 1.019 (1.018 at 75 'F)
Taste: Nicely sweet and malty, bitterness prominent, alcohol-ish on the end. Tastes like the offspring of a sweet nut brown and bitter IPA. Excellent. Strong too.
Smell: Nuttiness
Color: Medium brown, not cloudy

TBD Indian Brown Ale

Brew Date: Aug. 10, 2012
3 gal

Much has happened since my last batch. But in the interest of keeping this posting short, suffice it to say that it's been a VERY long, HOT summer. With temps hitting 95+ F in the house at 8 pm throughout most of June and July, brewing anything was totally out of the question. This, of course, made me sad. And itching to brew. No longer! Here, at last, is the latest batch. The recipe is from "Extreme Brewing" by Sam Calagione, p. 142.

I recently purchased a copy of Beer Tools Pro, a software program for homebrewing. It worked great for loading all the ingredients and then scaling down the recipe.


  • 6-8 oz Amber Malt (Fawcett)
  • 6-8 oz Caramel Malt 60L (Briess)
  • 5-6 oz Chocolate Malt (Briess)
  • 1-2 oz Roasted Barley (Briess)
  • 1.92 kg Light DME (Golden Light) (Briess)
  • 138 g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 0.5 oz Warrior pellets (A: 16%)
  • 0.6 oz Mt. Hood hop pellets (A: 6.1%)
  • Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale*
*Yeast starter the night before. Boil 2 c water. Remove from heat. Add ½ c (109 g) light DME. Boil 10 min. Cool and pitch yeast. Aerate on and off for approx 1 hr.


In a grain bag, add amber, caramel, and chocolate malts, and roasted barley to 2 gal water heated to 150-160 F. Steep for 30 min. Remove grain bag and bring water to boil. Remove from heat and add DME. Return to boil. After 15 min, add the Warrior hops in a nylon bag and boil 60 min. 30 min before end of boil, in a separate pot, boil 1 gal water for 10 min and add to brew kettle to compensate for evaporation loss. 10 min before end of boil, add dark brown sugar. Add Mt. Hood hops at end of boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 20 min. Cool wort to 70 F. Rack to fermentor. Add cold water and top off to 3 gal. Transfer to secondary fermentor after 7-10 days to condition. Condition 2-3 weeks.

OG: 1.072 (1.070 at 78 'F)
Smell: Roasted, slight hint of chocolate
Taste: Thick, sweet, rich, chocolate, balanced bitterness, brown sugar?
Color: Deep brown

Original recipe called for OG 1.070. Pretty darn close! Looking for a FG of around 1.015 and ABV of 7.2%. 50 IBUs.


With Taj Mahal's "The Natch'l Blues" spinning in the background, a half day at work, and my first brew day in over two months, I was feeling fine. Not to mention a buddy of mine had managed to land me a ticket to the Great Taste of the Midwest beerfest that afternoon. All in all, I'd call it a mighty fine day. Cheers!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

“Red Baron" German Alt - Exploded Bottle, Tastes Great!

Just a brief note on the "Red Baron" German Alt. I found one exploded bottle in the basement this weekend -- totally shattered. It must have blown at least a few days ago since all the beer had already evaporated. I had to throw the (by now) moldy box away and wipe down all the bottles. With the hot weather over the past few weeks, the temperature downstairs has risen to 75-80 °F instead of the more typical 60-70 °F during the summer.

On a positive note, I pulled a few of the 16 oz EZ cap bottles and 22 oz bombers to share at our family campout. I hadn't tried any of the larger bottles, and none that have continued to condition in the basement for some time at the higher temps. The taste was MUCH improved. The Alt has taken on a more mellowed smoothness. Even the carbonation seems better. Several of the 12 oz bottles have been over-carbonated up till now. The beer was also several at just cooler than room temperature as well. Chilled in a cooler for a few hours.

I am dying to get cracking on another batch, but it's still too hot here. I simply can't justify having the stove on for an hour or two, to say nothing of the havoc the yeast would go through at the higher room temps.

I hate not having AC.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

“Green Eyed" (I)PA [Bottled]

Bottle date: June 3, 2012 (5+ weeks since brew date)

Got a helping hand from my dad for bottling. Thanks, Pops! All in all, it went smoothly enough (except for one spilled beer). Took approximately 2 hours to bottle. Conditioning the bottles in our basement at roughly 68-72 'F for at least three weeks before sharing. Decided to use Northern Brewer's priming sugar calculator this time around. My Red Baron German Alt seems over-carbonated...

  • 6 oz Light DME
  • 16 oz cold water

Add DME to16 oz cold water and boil for 5-10 min. Remove from heat. Slowly add to fermented beer in bottling bucket. Siphon into bottles.


FG: 1.010 (1.008 @ 76 'F)
Smell: Spicy
Taste: Spicy with hint of citrus, nice hop bitterness but not too much bite

“Green Eyed" (I)PA [dry hop]

Dry Hopping Date: May 6, 2012

A little dry hopping while we wait...

Fermentation is complete. Time to rack to a secondary. The recipe calls for dry hopping 4-6 weeks to add flavor and aroma to the beer (without adding bitterness). This is my first attempt.

  • 1 oz Willamette (A: 5.7%) flowers

FG: 1.016 (a little higher than the recipe maintains, but close)
Color: Goldenrod yellowish-orange, slightly cloudy
Smell: Spicy, sweet, Belgian-ish
Taste: Spicy, slight citrus, good hop bite, well-balanced


Racking went quickly (for once). Although I opted to use hop flowers, it was a pain to force them into the fermentor through its neck. I may use pellets for future dry hopping. To maintain sanitation, I did my best to crush the hop flowers a bit while still enclosed in their packaging. I used a funnel to get the hops through the neck.

The best part of racking: Getting a chance to taste the (nearly) finished product. I predict this will be my best beer yet! Great hop flavor. Well balanced. Here's hoping the dry hop adds a touch more spiciness and aroma. Not much more is needed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

“Green Eyed" (I)PA

 Brew date: April 26, 2012
First yeast starter!
5 gal.

We begin this batch with my first attempt at a yeast starter the day prior to brewing. I've heard a lot about how much a starter improves the quality of the initial fermentation, and since Kraemer Brew is all about quality (:D) it was really a no-brainer. I read up on the process -- it's quite simple, straight-forward -- but still found this video from Beer Geek Nation a relief, Once I had the process down, I simply used Mr.Malty's yeast calculator,, to give me the precise pitching rate.

Starter Ingredients:
  • 109 g DME (light)
  • 1 L water
  • Wyeast 1099 Whitbread English Ale

Steeping the crystal malt
Add DME to water. Boil 10 min. Chill to 75 'F. Agitate wort to aerate. Pitch yeast. Cover with tinfoil. Agitate intermittently. Keep at room temperature.

With the yeast starter in place, it was time to tackle my planned IPA. The recipe is adapted from John Palmer's "Victory and Chaos India Pale Ale" published in How to Brew, I did my best to maintain the IBU count, OG, and FG.

  • 4.083 kg (~9 lb) Pale Ale Liquid Malt Extract
  • 280 g (~9 ⅞ oz) Crystal Malt 120L
  • 2 oz Galena (A: 13.4%) - 60 min
  • 1 oz UK Kent Golding (A: 5.8%) - 15 min
  • ⅞ oz UK Fuggles (A: 4.2%) - 15 min
  • ¾ oz Cascade (A: 6.4%) - 5 min
  • 1 oz Williamette (A: 5.7%) flowers - dry hop 

Add grain to 2 gal cold water and steep at 150-160 'F for 30 min. Add LME and Galena hops and boil for 60 min. Add UK Kent Golding and UK Fuggles hops with 15 min left. Add Cascade hops with 5 min left. Strain. Chill wort to 120 'F. Add to fermentor with 2 gal cold water. Top off to 5 gal. Pitch yeast starter at 75 'F.
My ghetto, post-strain setup to ensure sanitization


OG: 1.056 (1.053 @ 72 'F)
Color: Sunburn yellowish-orange
Smell: Hop
Taste: Sweet, spicy, citrus

Extremely excited for this batch! The flavors are excellent; I love the fine spicyness that I got from the Kent Golding. The bitterness is strong but balanced.


The entire brewing process continues to become more comfortable with every batch I add under my belt (and probably to my gut). I can actually manage to put on a record and trust that I can flip it and get back without a boil-over. Speaking of which, the soundtrack for this batch consisted of several albums I picked up from Record Store Day. FYI: The new Black Keys album, "El Camino," frickin' rocks. I must have cranked that one at least three times during the day. Sincerest apologies to my neighbors. I suppose that means this batch should have been a "black" IPA, but that's getting too literal even for a guy that has now named more than a few beers after what he's been listening to. Guilty as charged. So instead, I'm simply going to name this one after my wife's beautiful green eyes -- which were sorely missed during brew day. If that's too sappy for you (and it is pretty fucking sappy) you can chalk the name up to the amazing color of the Willamette whole hops which will be used to dry hop this batch; or, barring that, envy (for this this delicious batch).

The main difficulty -- the source of headache and spills alike -- remains the strain and sparge at the end of boiling. My brew pot is only 3 gallons. (I wish I had a 5-7 gal pot.) We have no other vessel that can hold more than 2 gal. This makes it a huge pain in the ass to strain. In short, I am forced to split the wort between two other pots and bring them both back up to a boil to ensure sanitation. As you can see by the picture, this system is more than a little "ghetto."

Overall, the yeast starter seemed to produce a vigorous fermentation, and the batch now sits dry hopping in a secondary fermentor. I'll post another blog entry to cover that experience. I expect to bottle sometime in early June.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

“Red Baron" German Alt [Bottled]

Bottle date: April 14, 2012 (3 weeks since brew date)

Having done considerable more research on priming sugar (my God that sounds lame) I approached bottling with a new attitude (lame-r). Although I checked out multiple sources, two of the most helpful were John Palmer's How to Brew ( and information posted on Northern Brewer's website.

Using the bottle priming calculator from (, I attempted to carbonate within style guidelines:

Northern German Altbier (2.16-3.09)

Perhaps since my triple landed so flat – more on that later – I aimed on the high side:

Volume of CO2 = 2.80
DME 70% Apparent Attenuation (AA)

That calculation called for 9.2 oz Light DME.

However, since I had always measured DME by volume rather than weight, I can honestly say I got a little nervous with the amount. It looks to be a lot more than 1¼ c. I ended up only adding 8.175 oz. That still within style, but now that I've tried the final product (10 days after bottling) there was nothing to be worried about. As it continues to condition in the bottle it will have a nice amount of carbonation, but adding that extra 1 oz of DME wouldn't have hurt the final product.

Bottling went fairly quickly. I'm still having issues with slow siphoning. Racking the beer from the secondary fermentor into my new bottling bucket took FOREVER. However, once that was complete, filling the bottles was a breeze. I love having a bottling bucket. Best $12 I've spent in awhile.

A few observations on the altbier:

Color: Deep brown, clear
Smell: Toasty
Taste: Rich, earthy, semi-bitter chocolate, a faint nuttiness.

Even before bottling, the beer in the secondary fermentor had a decent residual CO2. I'm very excited to share this batch with family and friends. I really do hope my parents go through with the German dinner. This would be the perfect addition.

In keeping with this beer's name, we capped with bright red caps. Would von Richthofen approve? Who cares. Snoopy would. Billy Cobham too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Update: “[Triple] Button Hand Me Down" aka “Triple Jump"

Tried the first bottle from my triple tonight. Not at all what I was expecting or hoping for. We'll have to see how they turn out over time, but for now, they are largely a complete disappointment. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Taste: Sweet, alcohol, citrus, coriander
Color: Amber-orange with slight golden hue at edge, cloudy, murky
Smell: Sweet, alcohol
Body: Very little carbonation, heavy

Just way too sweet and too heavy. The prominent alcohol flavor and smell is the final strike. BOO!

Update: “Red Baron" German Alt [Secondary Fermentor]

Transfer Date: March 31, 2012

Transferred my now fermented German Alt to a secondary fermentor to condition for a week or two before bottling. Siphoning took forever again. I'm seriously considering a bottling bucket if this keeps up.

Final Gravity = 1.014 (1.010 @ 74 'F)

Color: Deep brown, clear
Smell: Bitter baking chocolate, earthy, soy sauce
Taste: Bitter, moderately malty, soy, bitter chocolate
Body: Medium

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“Red Baron" German Alt

Brew Date: March 24, 2012
5 gal

YES! It's been less than three weeks since I last brewed! One of my ongoing goals is to brew more often. (You can't improve if you don't practice -- am I right?!) So here we are.

Given how unsure I was (am?) about my last batch, a Triple, I felt the need to invest more time reading up on various types of malt, especially what grains are available for steeping. John Palmer's How to Brew and the Northern Brewer website were good resources. In the end, I wanted to find a straightforward ale. I landed on the Osmosis Amoebas German Alt in The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, p. 199.

My parents recently mentioned hosting a German heritage dinner with some relatives in the coming months, so an alt bier would be perfect. I hope it's good enough to share. Moreover, the recipe seemed especially fortuitous as my music choice turned out to be drummer extraordinaire Bill Cobham's "Spectrum." The final track: "Snoopy's Search/Red Baron." Perfect. We have a name.
Adding wort to carboy

  • 3.240 kg (~7.5 lb) Amber Malt Extract Syrup
  • ~⅜ Chocolate malt (Briess) (~350L)
  • ~⅛ Black malt (Briess) (~500L)
  • 1 oz German Northern Brewer (boiling) [A: 9.6%, B: 5.5%]
  • ~½ oz German Perle (boiling) [A: 7.8%, B: 4.0%]
  • Wyeast 1007 German Ale
  • 1¼ c Light Dried Malt Extract (for bottling)

Add crushed chocolate and black malts to 2 gal cold water and steep at 150-160 'F for 30 min. Strain. Add Amber MES and hops and boil for 60 min. Strain. Add two gal cold water to fermentor. Chill wort to 180 'F and add to fermentor. Top off fermentor with cold water to 5 gal. Pitch yeast at 65 'F. Ferment at 60-70 'F. After primary fermentation is complete, siphon into secondary fermenter. Age two weeks at 55-60 'F. Bottle.

Pitched yeast 3+ hrs after activation. Placed yeast packet in warm water to speed activation.

Krausen pushing out the tube.

The overall brewing experience was almost zen-like. Almost. Everything was going smoothly -- I had Billy Cobham playing in the background, and the whole process was speeding along -- until I needed to strain the hops from the wort at the end of the boil. As per usual, this meant that I had to pour the hot wort into two separate containers (I don't have another boiling pot large enough for all the wort.) Once this was done, I brought the wort in the two separate containers back up to a boil one last time to ensure sanitation. However, because one pot is substantially larger than the other, the smaller came to a boil MUCH faster than the other. I took my eyes off it for a second and it boiled over. I managed to catch it pretty fast, so I didn't lose too much of the precious wort. Somehow, though, I didn't turn the heat down enough, and when I took my eyes off it again to tend to the larger pot, the smaller boiled over again. Damnit. In the end, I wound up with a very dirty stove. At least the rest of the transfer went fine.

As mentioned above, I placed the yeast packet in a pot of warm water to fully activate by the time I needed to pitch. It was definitely good and ready. I pitched at a solid 70-75 'F, attached the blow-off tube, covered with a blanket (to limit exposure to light), and left for a few hours. By the time I returned, maybe 7 hours later, the yeast was more active than any I've experienced before. The krausen had traveled the full length of the tube and was coming out the other end (thankfully into the cup of water I submerge that side of the tube in for sanitation purposes.) Thinking that had to be as active as the yeast was going to get, I decided to leave the fermentor alone until morning. Wrong. The next day, I found that fully two or more inches of wort and yeast had pushed out of the fermentor, into the tube and down, and overflowed the water cup. Thankfully, I had the whole mess contained in the large plastic party tub I keep the fermentor in.
Close up of the krausen. No picture of the next day's mess.

We are now in uncharted territory. Should I have pulled out the blow-off tube entirely? Would this have allowed CO2 to escape without losing the wort and yeast? Or would such an action threaten sanitation? At the very least I didn't afix a fermentation lock. May have had an explosion on my hands. I guess the yeast was activated. That, and I had more than enough sugar from the malt, even with losing some during the boil.

As of today, the fermentation is still cruising along. I use the heat wrap in the evenings. During the day it's been comfortably warm. I'd estimate the air temp averages around 60-65'F.

Once signs of fermentation end, I plan to transfer the beer to a secondary fermentor to condition for a few weeks.


Original gravity: 1.022 (1.020 @ 68 'F). Beer has a rich nut-brown color. Sweet taste, light chocolate coffee flavor. Fairly clear.

  • Use 15% less hop pellets for recipes not specifying hop pellets.
  • Use 20% more malt extract syrup if substituting for DME.