Sunday, January 20, 2013

“Jenny's Ginger" Beer

Brew date: January 20, 2013
1 gal

Waiting for my chocolate porter to condition, I decided to submit to my wife's repeated requests to brew a ginger beer. This being my first "soda," I adapted my recipe from this one at Overall, the batch probably took about an hour.

As an experiment, I decided to follow the bottling recommendation from Jeffrey Morgenthaler's website and ferment one 16-oz bottle's worth of ginger beer in the bottle for 48 hrs before transferring it to the refrigerator to cease fermentation. Since the bottle is capped, I pray it doesn't explode. It was very difficult to decide how much yeast to add. His recipe calls for "25 granules." I more likely wound up with 50.


  • 15 g cream of tartar (boil)
  • 1.5 lemon zest (10 min)
  • 1 lime zest (10 min)
  • 31 g ginger grated (10 min)
  • 350 g brown sugar (10 min)
  • 1.5 lemon juice (primary)
  • 1 lime juice (primary)
  • 1 packet Red Star Pasteur Champagne dry yeast

Add cream of tartar to a little over 1 gal cold water. Bring to boil. Add lemon and lime zest, grated ginger, and brown sugar. Boil 10 min. Chill mixture to 70 'F. Add fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice. Transfer to 1 gal carboy/jug. Pitch packet of dry yeast. Gently swirl to mix in yeast. Ferment at 64-66 'F for 1-2 weeks.

OG: 1.035
TG: 1.008-1.010

Saturday, January 19, 2013

“Sexual Chocolate" Porter [secondary]

Date: January 15, 2013

We learn something new everyday. Today I learned that my brand spanking new refractometer will not give an accurate gravity reading once fermentation has commenced. It's great for sampling wort, not beer.

I was getting worried that I had a stuck fermentation since the gravity reading using the refractometer hadn't budged in days. That's when I turned to the Internets! And found a very helpful discussion on on just this very topic (hydrometer vs refractometer).

Use a hydrometer for measuring specific gravity post-fermentation. That, or try this helpful refractometer calculator, which estimates gravity based on your brix readings.

I racked the porter to my 3 gal carboy, where it will now sit on 4 oz of cacao nibs that have been soaking in 3 oz of Jack Daniels for two weeks. Hopefully after a week or two of conditioning, the beer will absorb some of the natural bitterness of the cacao to offset the sweetness of the chocolate malt, and maybe even take on some of the "warmth" from the whiskey.

With a little more than a half gallon of porter remaining, I decided to rack it to a small, one-gallon glass jug. This should offer a nice juxtaposition of how much the cacao/whiskey conditioning altered the flavor.


SG: 1.020
Color: Ruddy, mud-black brown, deep red color at edges
Smell: Chocolate, malt sweetness, some roastiness
Taste: Dark chocolate, burned brownies, hop backbone but not distracting, coffee bitterness aftertaste, moderate mouth feel

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

“Sexual Chocolate" Porter

Brew date: January 6, 2013
#13 - 4 gal BIAB

Ok, I admit the name is ridiculous. But there's a perfectly legitimate funny reference. I give you Eddie Murphy's "Sexual Chocolate":

And, what does this have to do with brewing? Nothing. I'm not even sure why it came to mind. I haven't seen "Coming to America" in years. But there it is. Now that's cleared up, on to the brew day...

It was a long one. A few quick observations:
  1. Utilizing a multi-rest mash schedule adds significant time to the brew day. (Obviously.) Is the extra 1.5-2 hours worth it?
  2. A multi-rest mash vastly improves efficiency. I was surprised once again by fermentability similar to that of wort that had been sparged. This heightened efficiency was in addition to the added grain of the scaled recipe.
  3. I need a better lautering system. I divided my 10 lbs of grain between two grain bags to make them more manageable. However, I could only strain one bag at a time over my 3 gallon brew kettle to collect the wort runnings.
  4. I need to do a better job calculating my grist-to-water ratio. After I removed the grain, I was down to a little over 3 gallons of wort. An hour long boil reduced it further. I was forced to add water to increase my batch to the desired size. I added an additional gallon of water when I found that my gravity was hovering near 1.080. My target was 1.070.
  5. Cooking while brewing is a bad idea. I was making borscht. I didn't leave the kitchen for hours and the house was a sauna.
I've been wanting to brew up another porter for sometime. It's the perfect winter beverage. Some of my favorites are Great Lakes's Edmund Fitzgerald and Lake Louie's Tommys Porter. I did a fair amount of recipe research and synthesized several to distill my own. I drew a lot of inspiration from Rocket Rod Romanak's Positively Porter. I hope that the addition of cacao nibs soaked in a little Jack Daniels to the secondary will add a nice, warm, chocolaty finish.

  • 8 lb 2-row Pale Ale Malt (Briess)
  • 1.25 lb Special B Malt (Dingemans)
  • 0.5 lb Chocolate Malt (Briess)
  • 0.25 lb Black Malt (Briess)
  • 0.5 oz Nugget (60 min)
  • 0.25 oz Chinook (30 min)
  • 0.375 oz Willamette (5 min)
  • 0.5 t Irish Moss (15 min)
  • 4 oz Cacao Nibs (Secondary)
  • 3 oz Jack Daniels (Secondary)
  • Wyeast 1056 American Ale
*Yeast starter made on 1/4. Bring 1200 mL water to boil. Add 1 c DME and ⅛ t Wyeast nutrient. Boil 10 min. Chill and pitch yeast. Keep at 60-64 'F.


Add 4.25 gal water to kettle. Heat to 104 'F. Add malt. Stabilize temp at 104 'F. Rest for 30 min. Raise temp to 140 'F and rest for 20 min. Raise temp to 158 'F and rest for 40 min. Mash out at 170 'F for 10 min. No sparge. Lauter. Bring wort to boil. Add Nugget bittering hops and boil for 60 min. Add Chinook hops 30 min before end of boil. Add Irish moss 15 min before end of boil. Add Willamette hops 5 min before end of boil. Cut heat and let sit for 10 min. Chill wort to 64 'F. Pitch yeast starter. Ferment at 64-66 'F.

OG: 1.072

Friday, January 4, 2013

“Californee Way" Common Lager [bottled]

Bottle date: January 3, 2012

After racking to a secondary two weeks ago, my lager has continued to settle out and really has cleared up nicely. Sadly it also looks to have darkened somewhat to an orangish golden rod color -- I was hoping for more of a yellow gold.

A quick taste test again detected the upfront biscuit, bready flavor with a moderate dry hop at the tail.
Although it is now the depth of winter, I might even call it "refreshing."

I tried to play it a little safe with bottling this time around. Several of my batches have turned out overly primed, with maybe half a pint glass full of foam during the initial pour. This is the first time since my very first batch that I opted to use corn sugar and am trying to stick to a colder-than-likely conditioning temperture. I'll let you know how it goes.

Bright yellow caps just seemed to scream "Californee."

  • 69 g corn sugar
  • 16 oz water
Desired CO2: 2.6 vol California Common
Temperature: 58 'F