Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bottled a butter bomb

So I bottled up Van Den Heuv Ale yesterday. While I don't think the beer got infected, I'm not sure it's going to turn out ok... it was laden with diacetyl. Diacetyl is a normal by-product of yeast, but one that the yeast should re-absorb on their own. It is likely that I racked the beer to secondary too soon, resulting in the remaining yeast being unable to re-absorb the remaining diacetyl. The problems is... diacetly can also be a side affect of a Pediococcu or Lactobacillus infection. So it's entirely possible that this beer did get infected... though I have a tendency to doubt that, mainly because all of my previous infections have been very obvious in primary and resulted in very vinegary/sour flavors. At least if this was an infection, it's a different one! On the off-chance that this is infected though, I need to be very careful with the bottles, they could be "bottle-bombs" waiting to go off! I really should put them in a plastic tub...

I did ask for some advice regarding whether there is anything I can do to reduce or eliminate the diacetyl on It seems that if I keep the bottles in the 70°F range the yeast should be able to re-absorb some of the diacetyl while they eat up the priming sugar and carbonate, assuming the yeast is still healthy... which brings me to another point...

While I was at the Red Salamander the other day I was asking Karl how much sugar exactly to use, since it's been quite a while since I've bottled a beer. He said 5oz is the magic number for 5 gallons of beer. So I asked him, since I only had 4.5 gallons of beer, tops, should I use 4.5oz? He suggested that instead of reducing the amount of sugar, I should increase the amount of water I boil the sugar in to increase the total volume of beer... not a bad idea I thought! Well now I'm not so sure... I siphoned my beer into the bottling bucket after pouring my 3 or so quarts of boiling sugar water into the bottling bucket. Well obviously the beer was much cooler than the boiling water, and I'm afraid I may have killed off some of my yeast! I mean there were still wisps of steam coming off of the top of the beer after it had all siphoned in... By the math, my beer should have been a little less than 80°F when it was all mixed, but I'm a little worried. Oh well, not much I can do now but wait!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Raspberries, cherries, and my next recipe?

I found out that one of good buddy co-workers has many pounds of frozen raspberries in her freezer. Homegrown berry goodness! I think that this just begs for a raspberry beer... but I don't know what kind to make! I'm actually thinking about modifying my River Grand Brown Ale recipe to use the raspberries... maybe accentuate the chocolate malt flavor a little so the beer has kind of a chocolate and rapsberry thing going on... Hmm, actually, that sounds really interesting, perhaps I will do that... a name will come later, but here's a concept recipe:

9lbs Maris Otter
.5lbs Crystal 40L
.5lbs Victory
.75lbs Chocolate Malt

1oz Sterling 5%AA FWH


4lbs Frozen Raspberries in Secondary

Obviously... this is basically exactly my brown ale recipe. I hope to get a little higher ABV on this than the first go around, I think I'm getting better efficiencies now. if not by much.

I just don't know much about making raspberry beer... I'm going to have to look for some help in some forums. The raspberries will be going into secondary... but the question is, do I need to puree them? Sanitize them? (There's already alcohol by secondary... shouldn't it be ok?) Just put them in and crush them a little? Since they've been frozen... I would think they would be fairly mushy already...

And what about flavor? Hopefully I've got a good amount of berry... I don't want to overpower the malt, I'd like a balance between malt (with bitter dark chocolate being a predominant malt flavor) and tart raspberry. Will 3/4# of chocolate malt and 4# of raspberry achieve that? And the hops... Sterling are apparently a decent replacement for Saaz... is that a good choice? A rough guess on IBU is 20 for one ounce of Sterling... is that too much? Founders Cerise comes in at 15... so I would think 20 would be ok, since I'm hoping to have a beer that is less fruity than Cerise! Otherwise, I have a couple of ounces of Glacier at 7.4%AA, would be a little more IBU but Glacier is such a smooth hop...

Another co-worker has asked me to help her husband brew his very first beer... so I might be popping a guys brewing cherry! He mentioned that he might like a Honey Wheat style brew... and I've never done that exact kind of thing. I did try a honey beer with wheat in it a summer or two ago... but that's when I was having much trouble getting a decent brew... so I won't even look to that. I know honey should be added as late to the boil as possible for maximum aroma... so I'm thinking about something like this:

4# 2-row
2# White Wheat
3# honey (55 min? Add then bring to boil for 5 min?)

1oz Glacier 7.4% FWH

US-05 (Do I use anything else? Bah... no!)

I'll work more on this recipe later... totally off the top of my head with no research and no basis in anything. I'm more interested in the raspberry brew, and making sure my Pale Ale came out ok at the moment!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Van Den Heuv Ale ok?

It's been over a week since I actually brewed this beer, and I didn't do my normal brewday summary post. Whoops.

Brewday went well overall though. Collected over 6 gallons of wort, and appear to have gotten a good gravity. I used my 5.2 ph Stabilizer for the first time, and from what I can tell it kept my mash at almost exactly 5.2. While definitely not the most scientific method for calculating mash and sparge efficiency... my spent grains were the least sweet they have ever been. I still don't think I broke the 70% efficiency mark though... so I think I'll have Karl double-grind my grains next time, and maybe I'll use some rice hulls to prevent the possibility of a stuck mash because of the extra fine grind.

Hot liquor tank was ok... it leaked a little bit, but it was passable. I think when I've got spare cash (not anytime soon...) I'll replace it with a new cooler.

Boil went great, no boil-overs and kept it rolling pretty hard the whole time.

The new wort chiller was a thing of beauty. It cooled 4.5 gallons of wort from boiling to UNDER my target temp of 65° in about 15 minutes! I actually hit close to 55°!! Absolutely spectacular, and for less than $25, AMAZING.

I did only end up with 4.5 gallons of wort after the boil... which doesn't bother me. As John Palmer says... the goal is to brew good beer, not brew 5 gallons of beer! If I get 5 gallons of good beer, all the better.... but that's secondary. Gravity into the fermenter was 14° (technically) balling, but close enough to Plato or Brix to use any of them.

Of course the real question of all questions here was... would I end up with an infected mess? And I don't think I did! I did things a little different this time... different wort chiller, poured my wort into the fermenter outside, and something appears to have made the difference. I wasn't too sure a few days ago when I checked the gravity (approximately 2.5°), as there was some definite off-flavor... but it's been a while since I've tasted such a young beer so I might have just been tasting early yeast by-products. Today it seemed better.

I racked to a glass carboy for secondary fermentation today. With the OG of 14 and FG of ~2.5, I'm looking at about 6% abv on this one, right at the top of the APA range. The bitterness, which was very strong before primary, has subdued a bit, so that I think this will make a good APA, pushing the limits on all counts but not quite an IPA.

I'm a happy guy right now. Which means I'm already planning my next beer ;-) I think I will brew River Grand Brown Ale again, it was my best, and I would love to have some more of it!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Brewday, Van Den Heuv Ale

This morning I was up early for an appointment that was actually next week... oops. Oh well! It got me going early enough that I'll be started setting up and pre-brew cleaning by noon, which is pretty decent.

I also got 8.5 gallons of Absopure Spring Water and 4 gallons of propane this morning, so I should now be all set for brewing!

Yay! It's been too long...