Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Ale

Just transferred the Pumpkin Patch Ale to the secondary today. Took A Final Gravity Reading of 1.010 which puts this delicious ale in the 6.56% ABV Range. I also sampled the reading and got a really great Pumpkin Pie flavor from the sample. I am really excited about this one. I only wish that I had got a lot more beer from this batch. It will go fast. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Witches, Goblins and Pumpkin Patch Ale Oh my

 The summer has passed by ever so quickly this year. The cool breeze is moving in and the leaves are starting to show some color. We start seeing Pumpkin coffees and lattes being served at Dunkin Donuts (which happens to be one of my favorites) along with their pumpkin donuts and muffins. The grocery stores (In the Granite State) stock their shelves full of seasonal beers like Shipyards Pumpkin head, Dogfish heads Punkin Ale, or even Anheuser-Busch's Jacks Pumpkin Spice Ale to name a few. This is a great season for beers and beer drinkers! If you haven't grabbed yourself any of these great seasonal beers you might as well do it soon.

  Shipyards Pumpkin Head Ale became so much in demand that they even extended it this year: “We usually stop brewing Pumpkinhead around Halloween,” said Master Brewer Alan Pugsley. “This year, we began brewing it a bit earlier and will end after Thanksgiving.”

Gutting the Pumpkin to be roasted in the oven
 For this season I created my own Pumpkin beer which is called "Pumpkin Patch Ale". An english inspired Ale using premium English malts like Marris Otter, Caramel Malt, and a Special roast malt. I also had used some German munich malt for its color an unique flavor it imparts. I picked up a Pumpkin locally and Roasted it in my oven for an hour at 400 degrees (talk about making your home smell like a pumpkin pie). I did add a little more Hops than I normally do but stuck with only English hops such as East Kent Golding for its spicy/ floral aroma and I also threw in some Fuggles for its earthy flavors. The spice profile is pretty much the same as if you are eating a Pumpkin Pie at home some cinnamon sticks, crushed allspice, whole cloves and a dash of nutmeg. Brown sugar was also used in the making of this Pumpkin Patch ale for a touch uniqueness. This was all put together today and is currently sitting in the fermenter with Wyeast 1335 British Ale II which should attenuate very well especially since its OG was at 1.060.

Here it is a stuck mash!
 Overall making this batch was a little bit tricky this time. I had the pleasure of experiencing a Stuck mash! Too much Pumpkin particles clogged up the grain bed and the wort was not draining out properly. This took up a lot of time trying to get my wort collected. Next time I will just cut them up into bigger chunks. Hopefully this turns out good though. It smells fantastic! 


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Blueberry Muffin Stout

This stout came out really good. pours out really nice from the bottle with a nice frothy brown head on top. I get instant blueberry aroma from this beer but in no way is it overpowering. I did add lactose to this beer but I do not get any sweetness on the tongue. Maybe next time I will up the amount to get a more residual sweetness going on. I used 1/2 a pound for a 2.5 gallon batch of beer. That way the next blueberry muffin stout will be more like a sweet stout. I apologize for the picture quality it is definitely not one of the best. No picture will do this beer justice but I wanted to share the end product. Its just enlightening to see beer go from grains to glass.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A tale of two Stouts

Over the course of a few weeks I had a batch of Stout fermenting up until the point of where I split it into two. The first one I left untouched as the "Oatmeal Stout" the second I fermented it on some fresh Blueberries to create "Blueberry Muffin Stout." Sounds good doesn't? Just from my test samples they both tasted great. Finishing in at an ABV of 5.25%.

Now a long time ago when I started venturing off from drinking tasteless beers like Bud Light and Budweiser I still did not ever try any dark beers like this. Stouts were considered a strong beer in my mind just because of the color. The same with Porters.  Eventually I found the courage and tried some and man I had no idea that some could taste so creamy. Guinness is great! Especially when its on tap. I mean if you have never tried some you most definitely should! Its actually mixed with Nitro and Co2 which helps with that great creamy mouth feel.  Then I really moved into the whole craft beer movement and became quite a beer connoisseur by trying small time breweries stouts. One of my favorite stouts locally in the Granite state so far has got to be Millys Tavern's ( Oatmeal Stout. Even so I helped them out for a couple days brewing some of their own beer. They even use this stout in their own chilli.

Fermenting Oatmeal Stout
Fermenting on Blueberries

Well this tale of two stouts has just begun. since they both just made their ways into bottles today. I love everything with blueberries and cannot wait to try both of these stouts!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Farmhouse Saison is Finished!

I finally got to pride myself after the first sip of my Farmhouse Saison. That's right I cracked one bottle open today just a week and a half after bottling them. The first pour was tremendously carbonated which is definitely not a bad thing since saisons are suppose to be highly carbonated beers. The flavor was incredible! Lots of great fruity flavors come through at the nose with a VERY dry finish. Some of the fruity flavors I do get from this are alot of Pear and some slight bubblegum type flavors are present. I can definitely taste the German influence from the grains I used in this one. Even my wife really enjoyed this one. I dont have my book in front of me right now but I believe it finished right around 6% ABV. This is a GREAT beer for the summer! Cheers

Friday, July 15, 2011

'Tis the season for Saison

The title says it all in this one. I recently just made a Saison or to some a Farmhouse Ale which was actually my first time making one. The high temps complement this styles yeast just wonderfully. I ended up going with Wyeast's 3724 Begian Saison strain. Which when I was building this recipe and started brewing it up I actually didn't do enough research to know of its well...lets say interesting reputation.
"This strain is notorious for a rapid and vigorous start to fermentation, only to stick around 1.035 S.G. Fermentation will finish, given time and warm temperatures. "

Carboy with warming blanket
Straight from Wyeast's own descripion of the yeast strain it is true! It generally hangs around 1.030 or so then picks back up. So, if anyone out there goes to use this bad boy of a yeast strain make sure its hot out and I mean hot! It generally likes temps in the low 90s. Wyeast says it works best in the ranges of 70-95 degrees. Thats a pretty big range but I would primarily try to keep it in the high 80's to low 90's for the first few weeks if you can. Temperature control is a real pain for most home brewers mostly trying to keep it at a very precise temperature. I use the common methods of temp control like the old swamp cooler method. Thats just keeping a cooler filled with water and changing out bottles of ice packs/ frozen bottles with the fermentation carboy inside. Others also use a towel and a fan as well. Wyeast 3724 likes it hot! So I did just that. I kept it hot by fermenting the saison in a warming blanket. It actually only took about 3 weeks for complete fermentation. Sometimes it can take up to several weeks from what I have heard.

I will share my Farmhouse Saison recipe for a 2.5 gallon batch:

Grains in the Mash tun
  • 4.5 lbs of German 2-Row
  • 1 lb Vienna
  • 5 oz honey Malt
  • 6 oz Belgian Aromatic malt
  • @ 60 min .6oz Spalt
  • @ 10 min .2 oz spalt and .3oz Perle
  • @ 5 min 2 tablespoons of crushed coriander
  • @ 0 min 1 tsp Irish Moss
  • Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison
There it is. I mash in at 148 degrees for 60 minutes and batch sparge at 170 degrees. I do use 1.5 quarts of water per a pound of grain. Just bottled them on July 11th using 2.5 ounces of priming sugar. The OG was 1.050 and ended at FG 1.014.

Fermentation taking off
This should come out really nice and I cannot wait to share it with family and friends. Especially with the summer heat still among us. I hope all my fellow home brewers enjoy this summer with a beautiful hand-crafted Saison like myself because 'tis the season for Saison.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beer Bottling

   So just this past Sunday I went ahead and decided it was time to bottle up my Kolsch that has been cold conditioning in my refrigerator. To let you guys know I have been working on small two gallon batches which is plenty for myself especially if it becomes a bad batch. I don't feel as bad throwing away two gallons opposed to the normal five gallons. Plus all of my batches are in that experimental stage so that means as of right now no flagship beers. Don't worry though once I come across a batch so good I am sure you will here about it here without a doubt in my mind.
   Well anyways on to the tedious part of bottling beers by hand. Those of you who do homebrew know about this fun and ever so addicting hobby and its downsides to it as well. Bottling beer has got to be one of those downsides. First there is the preparation washing and sanitizing the bottles and bottle caps. Second you have to prime your beer with some type of sugar solution to get the amount of carbonation you want. Third comes filling them up with beer and capping each one. Finally the waiting period. Depending on the beer you just bottled it can be between 2-4 weeks until you can enjoy your final product. The conditioning phase is sometimes the hardest phase. Having a pipeline is advised.
Sanitizing bottles
   Now the Kolsch that I just bottle has been in the bottle for almost a week now I will probably give it another day or two until I set them back in my refrigerator to cold condition. The cold conditioning phase is to help out with the clarity for one and give it that nice crisp and clean taste that makes this style resemble a lager. This is a great craft ale for anyone who is still stuck drinking Buds! You may notice in the picture above that I have a Mr. Beer fermentation vessel behind me. I love using this vessel its small fits in my refrigerator does not take up much space at all. I use other vessels to but usually I bottle from the Mr. Beer. All I can say is that it works great for the small batches.  

Tedious work
  I have had some great luck not having any bottle bombs so far. This is when either a) Your wort has not finished fermenting or b) You used to much sugar when you bottled the beer. So much pressure builds up inside the bottle that it turns that bottle into a grenade (in a nutshell). This must be a mess to clean up and something I hope to never need to clean up. Just make sure you have the patience for this hobby. If you pay attention to the details then accidents like this can be avoided but none the less we are only human. Eventually I will move to a keg setup but we all start from somewhere. Even when I do start using kegs there will always be some bottled beers too.