Sunday, January 29, 2012

“Loving Cup" Porter

Brew date: Jan. 22, 2012
5 gal.

"Exile On Main St" - The Rolling Stones
First batch of the new year! Decided to do it right, with a (hopefully) delicious porter. I crafted it based on the "Goat Scrotum Ale" in "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, 3rd Ed." Does that mean I should call it something like "Water-on-the-Nut" porter, "Sweatin' Bag," or just "Testicles"? I'm going to let it hang for now... :D

I'm also inaugurating a new feature to my blog. Hence forth, I will highlight the album that I listen to while brewing. Because it's a first, it should be one of the best. That's why I spun the Rolling Stones' "Exile On Main St" on vinyl throughout the brewing process. Hearing Keith sing "Happy" while boiling the wort and drinking a homebrew really can't be beat. Think I'll name this porter something in honor of the Stones. "Loving Cup" porter – "What a beautiful buzz."

Not-so-secret ingredient.
  • 2.38 kg (~5 lbs) Dark Malt Extract Syrup
  • 739 g (~1 ½  lbs) Amber Malt Extract Syrup
  • ¾ lb Caramel Malt 80 L
  • ¼ lb Caramel Malt 120 L
  • ½ lb (203 g) Black Patent Malt (Briess)
  • ½ lb (248 g) Roaster Barley (Briess)
  • ½ lb (248 g) Chocolate Malt (Briess)
  • ¾ oz German Northern Brewer hops (boiling)
  • ¾ oz German Perle hops (boiling)
  • ¼ oz Cascade hops (aroma)
  • ¼ oz Fuggles hops (aroma)
  • 1 c Blackstrap Molassas (unsulphured)
  • 2 tsp gypsum (LD Carlson)
  • Wyeast 1272 American Ale II
  • 1 ¼ c Briess Dark Dried Malt Extract (for bottling)

Add crushed grain malt to 2 gal cold water and steep (in bag) at 150-160 'F for 30 min. Strain. Add malt extract, molassas, gypsum, and boiling hops. Boil for 60 min. Add finishing hops during final 2 min of the boil. Strain. Place boiling pot with wort in sink and cool with cold water and ice. At ~150 'F add to 2 gal cold water in fermentor. Top off to 5 gal with cold water. Pitch yeast.

Pitched yeast approx 4.5 hrs after activation.
Specific gravity (before pitch) = 1.028 (~1.026 @ 66 'F)

Familiar "are you brewing beer or boiling your socks" stage.
First impressions:

Beer a deep, dark brown/black color, fairly clear; light hop scent; tastes slightly smokey with a hints of bitter chocolate and light molasses finish.

I am hoping for a powerful porter: full-bodied, thick, with a well-balanced sweetness. Medium to high alcohol content.

Quick hydometer reading.
I'm sure I did it wrong, again.
My biggest concern at this point is temperature. Specifically, after cooling the wort and adding it to the fermentor, the temperature was easily below 60 'F when I pitched my yeast. Since then, I've been storing the covered fermentor in our backroom (the warmest spot in the house), next to the air vent with the door closed to keep as much heat in the room as possible. This probably brough the air temperature up to 68 'F or so. For several days, I have also wrapped the fermentor with an electric blanket. Either way, it was enough to get the yeast re-activated and fermenting. But I want it to be cruising for strength. I should probably consider purchasing a heat-wrap to ensure temperature regulation in the future. It's just that I have fears of stuff like that starting a fire. Would a house fire be worth it for better beer? I'm not going to answer that. (Yes.)

I have also determined that I either need an additional boiling pot, or a large, deep strainer that could fit in the pot I currently have throughout the boiling process. Basically, I need to be able to quickly and easily strain the hops and any other material from the hot wort at the end of boiling to prevent it from over-asserting itself in the beer. Currently, I am forced to strain the hot wort into one or more other containers, which is a huge pain in the ass and potentially opens the beer up to contamination. But I don't want to add the wort directly to my fermentor for fear it will crack the glass carboy. Will have to look into possibilities.

NOTE: Name a pumpkin porter "Peter Peter Porter Drinker"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Update: “Kraemer is paler than you” American Pale Ale [First Beer]

Taste test: Dec. 19, 2011 (7 days after bottling)

Wish I had gotten around to writing this blog post sooner! I had to go back to a few notes that I quickly jotted down. The beer has really developed since my first taste test and I've gotten many compliments from friends and family (even though they're probably just lying to make me feel better about myself). But, I digress...

Color: Amber, golden hue, slightly cloudy
Smell: Light hoppiness, crisp, faint citrus
Taste: Medium hops, dry, slight sweetness, citrus, malted grain
Decent carbonation

Now that a few weeks have past, the beer has really come into itself. It has continued to clear, carbonation is smooth, and the flavor is less dry (but also less hoppy). It is best served moderately chilled.

I really want to brew a hoppy beer that combines the strength of the hops, but also sweetness and is full-bodied. I guess the dream is to be able to brew something like Two Brothers' Hop Juice. Now THAT'S a fantastic beer! Someday... maybe.