Monday, July 24, 2017

Revamping the Brewing Process

It's been quite some time since I have updated this blog and with good reason. I stopped brewing. Life got in the way. Home brewing is a hobby that I have enjoyed right from the start and i didnt caught up in every tiny aspect of it to make my beer perfect. I just enjoyed making beer, sitting outside watching the boil, hitting temps, FG, etc. The piece I didn't quite enjoy was all of the cleaning and the large amount of equipment that I managed to either build or buy over the years. Switching to BIAB was a nice change which did indeed make the brew day a little easier but I found myself a little short on gravity at times and had to hold the heavy wet bag for a while to get all the wort out of the bag properly. I know people have come up with solutions for this problem with pulleys and ropes, etc but that seemed like a lot of work.
Enter the new line of machines designed for automated brewing. There are several on the market these days, most notably the Picobrew Zymatic, the Grainfather, and the latest one called the Robobrew. All three of these are touted as All Grain brewing systems and in the research I have done so far, they all seem like they actually measure up. A lot of purists in the homebrew community have been snubbing their noses at these systems calling them Keurigs for homebrew and how it takes all the fun out homebrewing. I've heard all of them at this point I think but in the end what most people fail to think about is that this is a hobby and it's ok to have multiple levels of enthusiasts. There are people who play golf with custom fitted clubs and gear. There are others who use the same old set of irons that their dad gave them when they were 8. Neither are better than the other and as long as the golfer enjoys what they're doing, who cares what kind of clubs they use? They still both chase the little white ball around the course the same way.
Picobrew Zymatic
In researching these brewing systems cost certainly plays a factor. The Zymatic retails for around $2,000, the Grainfather around $900, and the Robobrew around $500. With the Granfather and the Robobrew you still need to have fermenters to ferment the beer out. With the Zymatic, it looks like you ferment right in that keg making it a completely closed system. The Zymatic also has some software that goes with it for recipe calculation and watching the mash process from beginning to end. I haven't quite decided which one I will end up going with but with the space issues that constantly plague me, one of these will certainly be in my future.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

In the Hopper

I've been brewing but neglecting to blog about it for several reasons. Time, time, and time. If anyone would have told me that adulating was this hard I would have probably just tried to be a kid forever. Deadlines, issues, conflicts, schedules, they all just get in the way of one of the most important things in life - brewing. I've been on a kit kick recently mainly due to the time factor and I have to say that it's not really been that bad. My tastes seem to revolve around IPA's and stronger Ales these days and I find myself wanting to brew a lot of variety in this area. I have an IPA on tap and a Brown Ale right now and both were kit beers with extract. Over the holidays I got some gift cards to Northern Brewer so of course I was going to use them on some beer recipes. They had a sale for certain kits for $20.16 so I jumped on that. The kits I got were all grain as I'm trying to force myself back to doing BIAB and get back away from extract. I migrated away when my bag was slightly wet and I put it in a rubbermaid and it got moldy. Had to make a new bag at that point. The kits I got are all fairly decent looking:

  • Irish Red Ale (for St. Patrick's Day hopefully)
  • Black IPA
  • Regular IPA (brewed the extract and have on tap now, good brew)
  • Vanilla Porter
I am really excited about the Vanilla Porter as that was my first ever real homebrew. I don't know what they'll send in the kit but I may go to Trader Joe's and get the nice real vanilla beans to use in secondary for that hint of vanilla. The weather needs to improve though soon or I wont be able to brew outside anytime in the neat future. The 3 feet of snow we received two weeks ago is still hampering efforts to get outside and brew. Plus, with it being winter I need to use the outside water tap when I BIAB and that's currently turned off so the pipes don't freeze. As soon as I see a Saturday or Sunday with weather in the 50's or above I am all over it. Until then, Slainte.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ace of Spades IPA

I brewed up a batch of Northern Brewers Ace of Spades IPA a few weeks ago. It was a short ferment and only took about 14 days to get down to the 1.011 range. I racked to a keg, set the gas on and let it sit for another week. The first pull was very tasty. It has a nice balance of roast but with the bite of an IPA. I didn't think that I would quite like that balance but it really turned out to be a great brew. After a few days I noticed that I completely forgot to dry hop it with the 2 hops it came with so I threw those into a paint strainer bag and tossed them into the keg. I don't normally remove dry hops after a week or two like some, and have had good success not doing so. I could tell just a few hours later that the dry hopping really makes this beer. Great nose, good lace on the glass, and just a really nice overall beer. I will brew this again sometime soon. Time to order a few more kits as my all grain brewing is on hold at the moment due to time constraints. I love to brew AG but with spring sports, kids, and work it becomes hard to carve out 4-5 hours on a Saturday. With the Northern Brewer extract kits I can still make great beer but do it inside while doing other things around the house.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One day I will keep up on my brewing

Quick refresh - been brewing some decent Northern Brewer extract kits over the winter to keep some supply up. Made the Dead Ringer which was awesome, a single hop double IPA, and getting ready to brew up Ace of Spades Black IPA. I am in the process of procuring a new bag for BIAB brewing since my other one didn't dry right one day and got moldy. More brewing adventures to come. Stay tuned......