Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Keggle

So we just added a new piece to the arsenal. It's not the most beautiful kettle out there but it will get the job done. I had to add an extra washer to the outside of the ball valve because I accidentally drilled the hole too large. I compressed the gasket on the outside of the keg and no leaks. Brewed with this kettle last Sunday and it works like a champ.
Converted Keg
Angle grinder to make the cut
Ball Valve and Sight Glass
Drilled Holes
Installed valve and siphon tube.
Installed valve and sight glass

All conversion hardware was purchased from for a VERY reasonable price. They don't have the weldless valve kits up yet, but let Bobby know what you're trying to do and he can probably help you out. Check out his YouTube channel as well. Brewing with Bobby from NJ. He has some great videos on brewing and installation of his hardware.

My total investment for this kettle was around $75.00! Not bad at all.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Duchess - IPA

This India Pale Ale is definately not your traditioanly American version. It was designed to have distinct american hop aroma with a gentle bitterness that is present but not overwhelming. This a very pleasant and delicate beer with a deep orange color and sweet floral aroma. It's also "untraditional" in the fact that it calls for a whopping 38% of vienna malt in the grain bill. This supplies the deep orange color and the sweet malty aroma.

Appearance- Deep burnt orange with a two finger off-white head. Hazy and unfiltered.
Aroma - A subtle balance of sweet/floral/citrus.
Taste - Up-front, smooth, resiny bitterness quickly followed by a mild caramel sweetness.
Mouthfeel - A little thicker than your normal IPA. Lacks the traditional crispness.

BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Duchess
Brewer: Christopher Vaught
Asst Brewer: Andrew Campbell
Style: American IPA
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (50.0) Pleasant aroma of slight floral and citrus. Up front bitterness but very delicate. Mild maltiness. All around good IPA. On the soft side of the IPA spectrum.

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 5.00 gal    
Boil Size: 6.19 gal
Estimated OG: 1.071 SG
Estimated Color: 12.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 46.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU    
6 lbs         Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)          Grain        46.15 %    
5 lbs         Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                     Grain        38.46 %    
2 lbs         Carastan (35.0 SRM)                       Grain        15.38 %    
0.50 oz       Pearle [7.00 %]  (60 min)                 Hops         11.1 IBU    
1.00 oz       Saaz [5.50 %]  (60 min)                   Hops         17.5 IBU    
1.00 oz       Cascade [5.40 %]  (30 min)                Hops         13.2 IBU    
1.25 oz       Cascade [5.40 %]  (5 min)                 Hops         4.3 IBU    
1 Pkgs        Safale American  (DCL Yeast #US-05)       Yeast-Ale                

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13.00 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp  
60 min        Mash In            Add 13.00 qt of water at 168.9 F    154.0 F    

Mash has been calculated at 1:1 grist to water ratio for a maltier wort that will compensate for a high hop rate thus giving more balance.

Sparge volume is a little conservative for our system. A minimum of 4.51gal for sparge volume has been calculated for our system.

Bitttering hops for a delicate and clean bitterness.

Flavor and aroma hops have been selected for their floral and citrusy characteristics.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Consistency in Brewing

We've already had one post on keeping good records and that's targeted at batch to batch records. Another problem home brewers may face is consistency in a single batch. We bottled an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) in February that is simply a conundrum.

The good bottles are very good with that nice malty flavor and crisp hop notes that really made a very good beer. Some bottles have the flavor pretty much right but carbonated badly with little to no head and near zero carbonation. Other bottles have carbonated alright but have a slight solvent off flavor.

Racking the brain for possible causes of thes wide varying bottle to bottle differences has not revealed much. Carbonation has rarely been an issue before this batch (if we used the right amount of priming sugar, which we did here). It was cold crashed pretty hard so maybe there wasn't enough yeast left in suspension and some bottles did not get a good dose. Maybe the priming sugar (light DME in this case) was not evenly distributed in the bottling bucket. As for the solvent flavor it could be from some oxidation. It's a possibility that some of the bottles later in the batch were swished around in the bottling bucket a bit. Another possibility is wild yeast in some of the bottles even though they were all starsan cleaned.

It really makes you want to get a keg, even if something's wrong at least it's even across the whole batch.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What to Store Beer In?

So we've finished an excellent homebrew, now the question is what what do I store it in?


Pros - Everyone is used to bottles. They're cheap and reusable. They come free with many types of beer. Easy to sanitize. Reliable. Easy to Transport. Come in a variety of sizes.

Cons - They are a pain to fill. They take up quite a bit of room to store. They must be clean (note this is not the same as sanitized) and are really difficult to get hard crud out of. They can break.


Pros - Easy to fill, you have beer on tap, easy to clean, small storage footprint.

Cons- require a larger financial investment, require dedicated fridge space or a kegerator, lots of auxiliary parts (hoses and such).

Those are the basics but there are plenty more pros and cons to each type. What else can you store beer in? I'm looking for any great ideas way outside the two normal listed above. Wooden cask like the Brits? Old clay jars like the ancient Egyptians? What does anyone think of a two gallon or so stainless vessel for the fridge? You could condition and carbonate in it or just run some CO2 to it like a keg. I'm thinking it might be a fun experiment if I can find the right container for a proof of concept.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Homebrew Record Keeping

Our brew logs have slacked off, way off. To the point where we haven't been writing a single thing that we've done with homebrewing down. It has gotten to the point where we've brewed enough to where processes have started becoming second nature. But we recently brewed a Belgian Trappist style beer that ended up being one of the best beers we've ever brewed. I mean almost Chimay good from winging it! One happy accident i must admit. No documentation on it what so ever. How do I brew it again? Where do I start?

It starts with keeping better records. This is where the blog comes in. I want to document everything I do in regards to home brewing beer and put it here. Not only to keep records but maybe even get some feedback as well. From recipe formulation to process and beyond.

Delicious unfiltered homebrewed Belgian.