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......

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Selection Wine Kits

I've never blogged on wine kits before so I figure I would give it a shot to lend some information on the process for beginners. These kits come in tons of varieties. I'll plug MD Homebrew here as usual as they have a nice selection of these kits and everything you will need to be successful at wine making. I have only done a few random kits over the years because wine making typically takes longer than making beer in terms of aging. In terms of the brewing or making process it is much easier. There is no boiling involved, just a bunch of racking back and forth into clean fermenters from time to time and putting in some additives here and there.

To get started I used a Pinot Grigio kit. I chose this kit because it's a white wine and they usually can be consumed a lot earlier than red wines. Most reds need to age at least 6 months before you open one and try it. The Pinot kit was a little over $100 but it makes thirst 750ml bottles of good table wine so it works out to be between $3-4 per bottle which isn't too shabby considering you'll pay double that at a wine shop for the cheapest stuff they have. Now, this wine will not sit up against a $50 bottle. It will however hold its on in the $15-$20 range.

The process is rather simple. Clean and sanitize a fermenter that is at least 6 gallons. You need the headspace for fermentation and also for some additional water later on. Once you have a clean and sanitized fermenter, you just add the juice from the bag in and add whatever water the instructions tell you. To be honest the instructions actually are quite good with these kits. Add in the packet of dry yeast and seal the bucket with a lid and airlock full of sanitizer. At this point just let the bucket sit for a week or so at room temperature. Fermentation will begin and you'll notice air bubbles coming from the airlock and you'll be able to smell the wine through the airlock usually.

The instructions say after a week or so to check the gravity with a hydrometer. The next step (which is the step I am on right no with this kit) is to transfer the wine off the yeast into another clean and sanitized fermenter. I did that Sunday and it ended up looking pretty cloudy. In a day or two however so far this week the top half of the wine has cleared and looks more polished. I will do the next steps this weekend which involve adding a little water and then some of the stabilizers and clarifiers. One thing I really like about these kits is they have little to no sulfates for preservatives. That's the stuff that usually gives you a headache when you drink wine. I'll post up again when I do the next racking with some pictures of the product.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Boiling Grump IPA - What a day!

Had an interesting day on Saturday brewing up a clone of Flying Dog's Raging Bitch. I have been wanting to brew this beer for quite some time but never got around to it. Flying Dog actually puts out kits now for their beers monthly, Raging Bitch was earlier this year so I missed it. You have to head up to their brewery to get them but I will do that hopefully in the next few months to try one. I had to resort to crafting my own recipe for this and I had some help. There is a podcast on the Brewing Network that actually did a session to see if they could replicate Raging Bitch so that was the basis of my recipe. The consensus was that they did clone it and it was pretty close to the original. Here is the recipe that I ended up following as best I could. My hops came in at slightly different alpha acids so I had to adjust a little for that but otherwise I just went with what they did:

OG 1.074
SRM 9.8
IBU 73.2
FG 1.013

90 minute boil

16.50lb US 2-row 94% (did not specify the maltster)
1.0lb Crystal 60 6%

Mash at
1.0oz  Warrior 17% at 90'
0.25oz Amarillo 11% at 15'
0.25oz CTZ 15% at 15' (Columbus, Tomahawk or Zeus)
0.67oz Amarillo at 0'
0.67oz CTZ at 0' (Columbus, Tomahawk, Zeus)

WLP400 - Belgian Wit Ale Yeast

Ferment at

The brewer added 0.21oz gypsum to the mash and 0.42oz gypsum to the boil.
Brew Day:
My brew day started two days earlier with making up my yeast starter. I visited Maryland Homebrew for my ingredients as usual and came home and made up a starter. I used the Belgian Wit yeast and I made a serious mistake with this one. I usually make a starter with half a cup of DME and 1000ml of water. This time I used a full cup by accident. I just grabbed the wrong measuring cup and wasn't paying full attention to what I was doing. The next morning I had yeast all over the counter that violently went over the sides of the flask. I figured it wouldn't be a huge problem but on brew day morning I crash cooled it and looked like I had little to no yeast left.
I started milling my grains and heating water and ended up using my cooler cheap N easy mash tun since the grain bill here was 17.5 pounds. I tried putting my tubing back through the cooler spigot and it wasn't going in easy so I had to trim a little off. I have been using the BIAB method so I haven't used the cooler in a long time. Once I mashed in it was time for another run to MD Homebrew. Since this is a bigger beer I ended up getting 2 vials of White Labs 400 Belgian Wit yeast because there was no time for a new starter.
When it was time to run the wort off into the kettle everything went as planned and I didn't end up needing much sparge water at all, maybe 2 gallons and I was up to 7.5 in the kettle. I was getting ready to start the boil and picked up my propane tank to move it over a little from my walking path and noticed that the damn tank was empty. I checked my tank attached to my smoker and that was also dangerously low. No way would I survive a 90 minute boil with that little bit of propane. So, off to Lowes I went to get a tank exchange.
The boil went fine and hop schedule was easy. When it was time to chill the wort I hooked up my plate chiller as usual and notice I was missing a hose. I looked high and low in the house and couldn't find one anywhere. So my luck changed then a little as I had some high temp tubing and miraculously had a stainless steel fitting for the chiller and a hose bard. I was able to make it work. The chiller works great, boiling water essentially goes in and then comes out around 75 this time. I think I was running the worth through a little too fast. I pitched both vials of yeast and then the next morning the beer was off and running with a huge head of krausen on top.