Sunday, March 23, 2008

Filthy Frenchman Stout

Brewed: 03/30/2008
Status: Consumed
This stout is my first off-the-wall type brew. The recipe is based on Austin Homebrew's "Coffee Malt Stout" kit, but with one major addition: elderberries. From what I've read (and smelled), elderberries are quite tart, and would pair nicely with a stout. Since raw elderberries contain a bit of cyanide (apparently cooking them breaks it down), I'm going to have to make sure they're cooked before they enter the brew. Based on what I've read from recipes calling for dried elderberries versus those calling for fresh elderberries, one ounce of dried berries seems to equal roughly six ounces of fresh ones. I boiled two ounces of dried elderberries in the last 15 minutes of the boil. For the berries in the secondary, I soaked them in enough water to cover them overnight, and then simmered them in that water for about ten minutes. I tasted this batch when taking the final gravity, and I'm quite pleased. There is little (if any) hint of a distinct "berry" taste to it, just a mild tartness in the aftertaste. Despite coming out about 1% short of the intended ABV, I didn't find it to be particularly weak. It should be tasty once it carbonates. Instead of doing the 2-day force carbonation @ 25 psi, I decided to do it at 12 psi for 2 weeks (roughly 2.5 vols of CO2 @ 40° F). This recipe turned out exceptionally well, and it disappeared pretty quickly. The elderberry taste was fairly subtle, so I was happy with the estimates made in their addition.

  • 1.75 lbs. Marris Otter Pale Malt
  • 0.75 lbs. Coffee Malt
  • 0.25 lbs. 40L Crystal Malt
  • 0.125lbs. Black (Patent) Malt
  • 0.125lbs. Black Roasted Barley
  • 0.5 lbs. Malto Dextrin
  • 2.0 lbs. Amber Liquid Malt Extract
  • 4.0 lbs. Dark Liquid Malt Extract
  • 1.0 oz. Galena Hop Pellets (Bittering, 60 min, 13.1% AA)
  • White Labs London Ale 013 Liquid Pitchable Tube Yeast
  • 2 oz. Dehydrated elderberries (mash)
  • 1 oz. Dehydrated elderberries (secondary)
OG/FG/ABV: 1.061/1.023/4.91%
Primary Fermentation in 6.5 gallon glass carboy @ 75° F for 9 days.
Secondary Fermentation in 5 gallon glass carboy @ 75° F for 11 days.
Force Carbonation in 5 gallon cornelius keg @ 40° F, 12 psi.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Moosbeere-Apfel Verrücktheit

Started: 03/22/2008
Status: Bottled and Collecting Dust

This batch is somewhat of a spin-off of the Apfelwein recipe that I made last month. I used a different brand of apple juice, added more sugar, and put in a bit of Cranberry juice cocktail to give a different little bite to it. I dissolved the turbinado sugar in a saucepan of apple juice to make sure it mixed in well. It tastes vaguely similar to the first Apfelwein, but the added sugars gave it a boozy flavor, and the cranberry juice didn't particularly ferment well. It's barely drinkable and taking up space.


  • 4.5 Gallons HEB Central Market Organics Unfiltered Apple Juice
  • 0.5 Gallon Organic Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 2 lbs. Dextrose Monohydrate
  • 1.25 lbs. Turbinado Sugar (AKA Sugar in the Raw)
  • 5 oz. RedStar Montrachet Dry Wine Yeast
ABV: 9.25%
Force Carbonation in 5 gallon cornelius keg @ 40° F, 12 psi.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

EdWort's Apfelwein

Started: 02/07/2008
Status: Consumed

This "Apfelwein" is a popular brew at a brewing message board that I've been spending a bit of time on. It's very similar to an alcoholic apple cider, but since it uses wine yeast, it finishes very dry and tart. It tastes quite a bit like wine, and packs a pretty good punch.

  • 5 Gallons TreeTop Apple Juice
  • RedStar Montrachet Wine Yeast (5 oz)
  • 2 lbs. Dextrose Monohydrate
Primary Fermentation @ 70°F for 38 days.
Force Carbonation @ 40°F & 28psi for 2 days.
Served @ 38°F & 7 psi.

ABV: 8.0%

Friday, February 1, 2008

König Starkbiber I

Brewed: 02/03/2008
Status: Consumed
This recipe is the first high ABV brew I've done; it is based on a recipe for an Imperial Pale Ale in Extreme Brewing. The calculations are all approximate. After about 20 hours in the primary, the krausen started bubbling furiously through the dainty airlock. I ended up using what tubing I had to rig a blowoff. I'm fairly disappointed with the recipe itself; I've used several recipe calculators, and none of them come close to yielding the OG specified in the book. It has pretty pictures, but as far as the basics go, giving a totally wrong target OG is just plain sloppy. I don't think I'll do another one of its recipes. I put 2 oz. of Amarillo Hop leaves + 1.5 oz of Cascade Hop pellets in the bucket toward the end of primary fermentation. This being my first dry-hop attempt, I used a bag. The bulk of the hops floated, and I have a feeling that it didn't do much. I put 1.5 oz of the Amarillos and 1 oz. of Cascades in the secondary without a bag. I tasted it while bottling, and I must say that it is maniacally hoppy--so much that I couldn't even tell that it had a high ABV.

Target OG/FG: 1.078*/1.015
Target ABV: 8.5%

  • 1 lb. 60°L Caramel Malt
  • 8 lbs. Pale Liquid Malt Extract
  • 18 oz. Light Brown Sugar
  • 14 oz. BrewVint Alcohol Booster (55% Maltose, 45% Glucose)
  • 2.0 oz. Chinook Leaf Hops (14.4% AA-bittering)
  • 1 oz. Amarillo Leaf Hops (8.9% AA-flavoring)
  • 0.5 oz. Cascade Pellet Hops-aroma
  • 2.5 oz. Cascade Pellet Hops-dry
  • 2.0 oz. Amarillo Leaf Hops- dry
  • Wyeast American Ale II Yeast (1272, 100 billion cell activator pack)
*The sampled OG does not include the brown sugar, which was not added until the second day of fermentation (the sampled OG was taken before the start of fermentation.).

Sampled OG/Approximate Actual OG/FG: 1.068/1.078/1.012
Final ABV: 8.8%
Primary Fermentation in 6.5 gallon bucket @ 67° F for 12 days.
Secondary Fermentation in 6.5 gallon glass carboy @ 67° F for 30 days.

El Castor Oscuro

Brewed: 01/27/2008
Status: Muerto

This dark, german-style lager was brewed using an Austin Hombrew Supply recipe. Waco tap water was also used in brewing this batch. It is my first lager, and everything seemed to go well, but it appears that the Diacetyl rest was insufficient. This batch had a very distinct buttery aftertaste that pretty well ruined it, in my opinion. It was taking up room in a needed keg, so it went the way of Old Yeller.

  • 1.125 lbs. Caramunich Malt
  • 0.5 lb. Munich Malt
  • 2.5 lb. German Pilsner Malt
  • 2.5 oz. Chocolate Malt
  • 5 lbs. Amber Malt Extract Syrup
  • 1 oz. Spalt Pellet Hops (bittering)
  • 0.5 oz. Northern Brewer Pellet Hops (bittering)
  • White Labs German Lager Yeast (WLP830 Pitchable Tube)
Primary Fermentation in 6.5 gallon glass carboy @ 52° F for 10 days.
Diacetyl Rest @ 60° F for 2 days (Gravity @ 1.014 on transfer).
Secondary Fermentation/Lagering in 5 gallon glass carboy @ 38° F for 37 days.
Force Carbonation @ 40°F & 28psi for 2 days.

OG/FG: 1.051/1.009
ABV: 5.6%

Honigbiber Bitter

Brewed: 01/21/2008
Status: Consumed

This honey bitter ale is the frontrunner of a series of four beers brewed to kick off 2008, each brewed a week after the previous. Austin Homebrew Supply's "English Honey Bitter" recipe was used to put this brew together. It is also the first of my brews to use Waco, TX tap water. I figured it couldn't hurt to use a mineral rich water in brewing an English ale. Glass carboys were used in both primary and secondary fermentation.

  • 2.5 lbs. Light Crystal Malt
  • 0.5 lb. Honey Malt
  • 0.5 lb. Cara-pils
  • 4.0 lbs. Extra Pale Malt Extract
  • 2.0 lbs. Clover Honey
  • 1 oz. Challenger Pellet Hops (bittering)
  • 1 oz. Styrian Goldings Pellet Hops (flavoring)
  • 1 oz. Fuggles Pellet Hops (finishing)
  • White Labs English Ale Yeast (WLP002 Pitchable Tube)
Primary Fermentation in 6.5 gallon glass carboy @ 67° F for 5 days.
Secondary Fermentation in 5 gallon glass carboy @ 67°F for 7 days.

OG/FG: 1.056/1.014
ABV: 5.46%

The Verdict
Appearance: Deep gold/copper color (≈8-9 SRM), thick & moderately rich white head, steady lacing, moderate chill haze (no clarifying agent used)
Smell: Slightly sweet pale malty aroma, faint touch of fruity esters, similar to a pale ale, but without as much hoppiness.
Taste: Distinct flavors present: light crystal maltiness with a hint of hop bitterness, and the honey leaves a touch of sweetness in the aftertaste.
Mouthfeel: Very light feel, almost too light. Not necessarily creamy.

Overall very easy to drink and refreshing. I'll have to do this one again.

Holiday Ale

Brewed: 11/21/2007
Status: Taking Up Space

This ale was done back in GA when I was home for Thanksgiving. While it had all the right ingredients, it fell way short somewhere. The OG was depressingly low, likely due to a couple boilovers onto the stove. The recipe that this was based on is in The Brewmaster's Bible (pp. 335-337). Instead of splurging for purified water, tap water was used. The ingredients were purchased from Winecraft in Atlanta. Despite my optimism, this brew ended out disappointingly thin. The spices were boiled with the wort instead of being introduced in a fermentation vessel.

  • 6.6 lbs. Light Malt Extract Syrup
  • 1.0 lb. Light Dry Malt Extract
  • 1.0 lb. Clover Honey
  • 2.5 oz. Cascade Hop Pellets (6.9% AA)
  • 8 oz. Crystal Malt
  • 2 oz. Black Patent Malt
  • 1 tsp. Irish Moss
  • 1 ¼ oz. Fresh Sliced Ginger Root
  • 2 Whole Cinnamon Sticks, crushed
  • 2 Whole Nutmegs, crushed
  • 0.5 oz. Dried Orange Peel
  • White Labs California Ale Yeast (WLP001 Pitchable Tube)
OG: 1.034

Thoughts & Notes
  1. Spices worked magnificently. If this batch were to have had more body, this would've been an excellent brew.
  2. Still not a fan of stovetop brewing.
  3. I'll have to try this one again.

Honey Weizen

Brewed: 10/20/2007
Status: Consumed

The honey wheat was brewed in much the same way that the pale ale was brewed, but with one notable exception: propane burner. The ingredients were from Midwest Homebrewing Supplies. It was another extract-based recipe, but it also included specialty grains. Purified water was also used in this batch. Although it produced a bit of
H2S during primary fermentation, the "rotten eggs" smell dissipated and left no trace in the final product. Minor equipment upgrades like bottle-filling attachment, floating thermometer, and a steel wash basin (for wort chilling) made this batch a bit easier and less stressful than the first brew I had done.

  • 6 lbs. Wheat Malt Extract Syrup
  • 2 lbs. Minnesota Clover Honey
  • 8 oz. Cara-pils
  • 2 oz. Saaz Pellet Hops (3.2% AA)
  • 5 oz. Corn Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Irish Moss
  • 1 pk. Lallemand Nottingham Ale Yeast (11 grams)
Fermented 10 days @ 68-77° F
Bottled: 10/30/2007
First Tasted: 11/17/2007
OG/FG: 1.056/1.015
ABV: 5.33%

Thoughts & Notes
  1. Full volume boil should only be done after steeping grains. Too much water can put the pH in an undesirable range for key reactions to occur.
  2. I love propane. I hope I never have to brew on a stovetop again.
  3. Did not taste much like it was supposed to, and I didn't much care for the flavor; people seemed to enjoy it, though.

Cincinnati Pale Ale

Brewed: 10/05/2007
Status: All Consumed

This pale ale was my first homebrew, and it turned out quite decently. This particular recipe is from John Palmer's How to Brew. I boiled it on my kitchen stove and fermented it in a 6.5 gallon plastic bucket. I bottled it after 7 days in the primary. At first it had a bit of a chill haze, but after an extra month of conditioning or so, it turned out quite clear. I did not test the original or final gravities of this batch, so I have no exact ABV figure. Instead of testing out Waco tap water's luck in brewing, I used purified water dispensed from a machine outside a local supermarket.

  • 3.3 lbs. Pale Malt Extract Syrup
  • 2.5 lbs. Amber Dry Malt Extract
  • 0.70 oz. Amarillo Hop Pellets (8.9% AA)
  • 0.75 oz Cascade Hop Pellets (6.9% AA)
  • 2 Packages Safeale US-56 Yeast (11.5g ea.)
  • 2/3 cup table sugar (for priming)
Fermented 7 days @ 75° F
Bottled: 10/13/2007
First Tasted: 10/27/2007

Thoughts & Notes
  1. Kitchen sink not big enough to cool wort in 11 gallon pot.
  2. Too much yeast & trub in bottles.
  3. Using all 22 oz. bottles is not ideal.
  4. Bottle-filler attachment would be handy.