Monday, December 31, 2007

Super Bowl Special

Last time I posted I had brewed a Wheat Beer which came out really nice. It was my first brew and I was surprised how simple it was. It was only one can and it was pre hopped so there was little I could do wrong. This time I brewed a Russian Imperial Stout. I used a recipe I found in a book but adapted it with ingredients at Keystone Home Brew in Montgomeryville.
This recipe called for 2 kinds of barley, 3 different malt extracts, gypsum, and tons of hops. I boiled it with Magnum Hops, which had a strong aroma and finished it with Cascade Hops during the last minute. The wort was basically black and with all the sugar content, the ABV should be about 9. Since 2 extract kits came with yeast I threw them both in dry. This was so sugary it was already fermenting 4 hrs after I added it.
On my wheat beer I used 12 oz bottles and yielded about 40 bottles. This time to speed up the process I used 22 ox bottles. I would recommend this for 2 reasons: 1) it was much quicker and easier to fill and cap 24 bottles than 40. 2) I plan to age a few of the bottles and it is easier to store the larger bottles. The obvious 3rd benefit is the "Oh well I opened it so now I have to finish all 22 oz. "
I bottled on 12/28 and plan to try it on Super Bowl Sunday, which would give it over a month to age. This Stout is ready to drink after 2 weeks but is supposed to age nicely for months. I had a healthy taste when I bottled it and it was really good flat at room temp, so I can't wait until it carbonates. Since the Eagles are out I can at least look forward to my beer on Super Bowl Sunday.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beer running through my veins..

Its getting a little brew crazy in my little northeast philly basement. Here goes..

From the Slow-mo Honey Wheat - With Love
The last time I blogged about my on-again off-again relationship with my honey wheat, it reached a climax, where I was finally able to transfer it to a secondary carboy. Its been pretty uneventful since, we're working on about day 10 in secondary and will probably be bottled as soon as I get some time. I was contemplating adding a touch of honey to the bottling bucket, but not sure if it will lead to exploding bottles... Hey Jeff and/or anyone else who might read this junk, what do you think?

The One-Armed Chinook IPA
This one has been fun from the start. Though I did brew this one with a dislocated shoulder and couldn't master the boil without a couple overflows, but beside the early issues this beer has been great. Moved it to secondary and did my first ever dry hopping just over a week ago. Probably going to let it sit for another week before I start to bottle. I cant help putting my nose up the airlock every couple of days. That floral hoppy aroma is heavenly, cant wait to drink this biotch!

Un-named Saison
This is my first time blogging about my Belgian style Saison. This is another recipe I purchased from Surprisingly its the most hoppy beer I've made so far. Using a total of 4 oz in the boil, 2oz of Yakima Magnum and 2oz of Striezelspalt (sp?). I also used a newer and larger kettle, it's much easier to brew when you don't have stand over the boil every minute. The fermentation started quick and as of this morning (6 1/2 days) primary its just about done. Probably going to have keep this one in secondary for awhile, but I have a feeling this might be a classic!

Robust Vanilla Porter
My next beer has been chosen and I purchased all the ingredients from Barry's Homebrew, using the kick ass self serve grain section! Found this recipie from that semi-famous Jamil guy from California, but tweaked it slightly. I plan on brewing probably tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Cheers and Happy Holidays,

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Basement Update: The Slow-mo Hoppy Honey Wheat

Its been a dramatic week to say the least.

Being this was the first recipe I designed on my own, I had a lot riding on this one. The wort was boiled on Sunday night and I didn't see any movement in the air lock until after work Wednesday night. Three full days it sat before fermenting! Its a very scary thought to think you might have to add more yeast or heaven forbid scrap the beer. But sure enough, after I purchase additional yeast(for no reason), it started to ferment.

Well, tonight will make 9 days in the primary fermenter. After checking last night the beer still has a heavy foam layer on top. Its almost a week longer than I thought, I wonder how this will effect the secondary and future fermenting? I was thinking that possibly my basement was having trouble staying warm at night, but the thermometer is always at 68°. I've read articles saying honey is a slower fermenter, but this is torturous.

My goal is to get this baby into secondary by the end of the week. No later than Monday, or else I'll start getting worried again.

I'll keep ya posted.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Brewing Software For Macintosh

I’m pretty new to brewing, but not to computers. I am a Web Developer and a SEO Engineer by trade. I’d love to be able to bring my love of computer into the home brewing world. I’ve read about some brewing software, but most of the software is for Windows. The big ones seem to be Beer Tools Pro and Pro Mash. The issue..., I switched to a Macintosh earlier this year. I also have windows installed through a virtual machine, but I prefer to use Mac software natively.

After surfing for a while, I found Beer Alchemy by Kent Place Software. Since I am new to brewing, I don’t understand 80% of what the software can do. It does support importing some popular formats such as BeerXML, and Rec files. The software also has some other features I will find very useful. One is its collection of calculators. From SG corrections to evaporation calculations, this is worth it alone.

The software has an inventory database and shopping list generator. This is great to know what you have on hand and what you will need to brew a specific beer style and recipe. It contains a large database of products and also has a Mash Editor. Of course you can import, export, and print recipes. It will also recalculate a recipe for larger or smaller batch sizes.

I don’t know how it compares to the big PC apps out there, but I found Beer Alchemy to be simple to use. It was also written with the Universal Binary so that my mac can run it at top speed.

Who else uses Beer Alchemy? If you don’t which application do you use and why do you like it? I’m using the demo of Beer Alchemy, but before I buy it, I would like to see what everyone thought.

Also, send me some good recipe's. I would love to try some good ale recipes from other home brewers.

Monday, December 3, 2007

My Nameless, Hoppy Honey Wheat...

I had a mini-brewfest at the house on Sunday. Managed to bottle the infamous German style Alt-bier as well as brew my first ever home made recipe.

The bottling of the Alt went really smooth. Though I'm slightly afraid I didn’t use enough sugar, had so much stuff on mind.. but I think it should be okay. I used 22 oz bottles this time, filled in half the time and they look pretty cool. Should be ready the end of the month, very exciting. Possibly a good holiday gift, we'll see...

As for the new brew.. I’ve been doing research for the last week or so for an easy to make Wheat that would be fairly tasty. In the end I decided on a honey recipe on a Northern Brewer, recipe but added my own twist to make it more hoppy. I used the Sterling as my Flavoring/Finishing hop, it smelled really good and I’m excited to see what becomes of it. The recipe is below, Its got a lot of potential, hopefully this turns out well..

I'll keep ya posted on my progress..


Hoppy Honey Wheat
6.6 lbs Wheat Extract
1.0 oz. Tettenang (60 min)
.5 oz. Sterling (30 min)
.5 oz. Sterling (15 min)
1 lbs Orange Blossom Honey (1 min)
White Labs - California Ale Yeast

Bottling of My Dunkel Weizen

Sunday morning was bottling time for me. My DunkelWeizen reached a specific gravity (SG) of 1.011. By doing the math, that would make my Dunkel Weizen a respectable 5.32% ABV (Alcohol by Volume). The bottling process when pretty smooth and only took me about 2 hours.

I first made sure all my equipment was sanitized properly. I used a second Better Bottle Carboy as my bottling bucket. I heated up about 2 cups of water in a tea kettle then added the 5oz of priming sugar to the pot. I used the tea kettle because it had a pouring spout. Since I was using the carboy, I didn’t think I could pour a normal pot into the mouth of a carboy without spilling it. And for some reason, I couldn’t find a funnel in the house, so a tea kettle it was.

I siphoned out the brew from the secondary fermentor into the bottling carboy. The smell of the brew was nice and semi sweet. Since I used a brew belt during fermentation to keep the temperature at 73-75 degrees, the weizen yeast create more of a banana aroma. If I didn’t, the aroma would have come out more like cloves. I prefer the banana over the clove.

Once the brew was in the bottling carboy, I pour in the priming sugar solution I created. I gave it a little swirly mix with the auto siphon I was using to bottle to make sure the sugar solution was evenly distributed. Bottling was pretty easy. I filled 46 full bottles out of the wort I created. I am guessing that I didn’t have exactly 5 gallons in the fermentor to start, but I don’t mind. When I placed the wort into the fermentor to start, I didn’t measure the level by gallons. I measured wort level by the specific gravity. I was looking for a target of 1.050. Anything less would make the beer’s alcohol level lower.

Capping the bottles was extremely simple. I have made a couple of batches of wine in the past and always had an issue corking the bottles with a hand corker. The $15 hand capper I bought worked like a charm.

Now that my 46 bottles are all capped, I just need to wait about two weeks for the live yeast to carbonate the brew. By adding the priming sugar, the live yeast will feed on the sugar and produce natural CO2. This is what makes the beer bubbly and creates the head on the beer. It only takes about 2 weeks in the bottle to achieve this in the Dunkel Weizen. Some higher gravity beers take up to 6 months. This helps to smooth out the high levels of alcohol. Since the beer contains live yeast, it will improve in complexity with time. A DunkelWeizen will not improve tremendously, but it will keep improving after a couple months. After that, all improvements are minimal.

In 2 weeks, will be pouring my first homebrewed beer. I will review it then. In the mean time, I will be researching recipes for my next beer.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Hardest Step in Brewing..

What the hell do I brew next?
Now that my German Style Alt is in the secondary fermenter, I started researching which styles I'm going to attack next.

The home brews stores around me are either too expensive or don't carry quality products. So I started doing searches online and was pretty impressed with They have a very large selection of cheap pre-made ingredient kits, as well as an extensive catalog of extracts and any other flavor you can possibly put in your beer. (sorry Jeff not that flavor) Im pretty sure I'm going with the Chinook IPA next, but after that its any body guess... Any suggestions?

Probably going to start following my own recipes soon. So if you want to impress me with a your favorite, please indulge.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This is my first batch of beer. I choose a simple kit to get familiar with the process. Just a simple wheat beer. I'm not too mechanically inclined so when I first opened my kit I was pretty overwhelmed by all the fancy equipment, Hydrometers, bags of grains, buckets. I've used buckets while drinking but never this early in the process...

So I mixed the wort, sanitized, boiled, poured... and just 30 hours later...bubbles. My beer is actually fermenting. I feel like a proud father. I was pretty sure my beer would be screwed up, that I somehow contaminated it but it seems to be OK... so far. Will be bottling next week and drinking shortly after.

If all goes right I will have my own beer for the holidays and what could be better when surrounded by family, then a secret stash of beer in the basement.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Secondary Fermentation of My DunkelWeizen

I moved my homebrewed DunkelWeizen into the secondary fermentor today. Though I know this step isn’t 100% necessary on wheat beers, I decided to do it. My concern was the size of my primary fermentor. Being 9.5 gallons large and my beer level at 5 gallons, there was a lot of air space that could end up contaminating the beer. The only downside to this move for me is my secondary fermentor is a 6 gallon carboy left over from my wine making kit. But after some thought, I decided that 1 gallon of extra space versus 4.5 gallons was a good move.

Moving beer or wine into a secondary fermentor help with the clearing process. Since DunkelWeizen is a naturally cloudy brew, a lot of people skip this step. Besides clearing up the brew, the secondary fermentation removes the brew from the dead yeast (lees). This may help increase the flavor of the brew and make it less yeasty tasting. Some styles of beers taste better a little yeasty. This is the fun of brewing, finding that perfect combination.

I also tested the specific gravity. I am around a 1.022. I started at a 1.054 and need to get down around a 1.010 before I bottle. This should be by next weekend. I am hoping for next Friday night.

Here are some photos of the move to secondary fermentation.

Moving the Brew from Primary to Secondary FermentorThe Secondary Fermentor Filling UpThe Hydrometer Reading. Around a 1.022The Secondary Fermentor with Brew Belt To Keep It Warm

Monday, November 19, 2007

DunkelWeizen Basement Brewing Recipe


  • 6.6lbs of Muntons Wheat Liquid Malt Extract
  • 8oz Malted White Wheat
  • 8oz Crystal 80°L
  • 4oz Black Patent Malt 470-560°L
  • 4oz Chocolate Malt 340-450°L
  • 1oz Hallertauer hops (60min)(Bittering)
  • .5oz Tettnag hops (15min)(Flavor)
  • 1 capsule of “Sevomyces” yeast nutrient
  • White Labs “Hefeweizen” yeast WLP300

  1. Combine and crack the grains and place in a muslin grain bag. This keeps the grains all together.
  2. Bring 2 Gallons of water up to 160°-165°. Then place the grain bags in the water and steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Lift the grain bags out of the water and let them drain. Do not squeeze the bags, just let them drain until the dripping slows.
  4. Bring the water to a boil
  5. Remove the kettle from the heat and add the malt extract. Stir it in until it is dissolved. It may be easier if you soak the malt in hot water while the grains are steeping.
  6. Place the kettle back on the burner and bring back to a boil.
  7. Add the 1oz Hallertauer hops to the boiling wort and let cook for 45 minutes. Be careful that the wort doesn’t boil over the kettle.
  8. After 45 minutes add the .5oz Tettnag hops. Let boil for 5 minutes.
  9. After 5 minutes add the Sevomyces yeast nutrient. Let boil for 10 minutes more.
  10. After the last 10 minutes are up, strain the hops out.
  11. After the hops are out, immediately place the whole kettle in a tub of ice. The temperature of the wort needs to drop down to 85° - 90°. Keep a cover on the kettle to avoid anything from entering the kettle.
  12. Once wort cools, pour it into the fermentation bucket. Place a fine grain steel strainer over the bucket to strain while you pour. All left over debris need to be removed before fermentation.
  13. Bring the wort level up until it reached 5 gallons. Make sure the temperature of the wort is around 70°.
  14. At this time, take a reading with your Hydrometer. The Specific Gravity should be around 1.052 - 1.054.
  15. Take a sanitized spoon and stir and splash the wort around to help get oxygen into the wort. This will help the yeast grow.
  16. Crack and pour the yeast into the wort and stir it in.
  17. Cover the fermentor and add the air lock.
  18. Fermentation should start in 18 - 24hours and should last 10 - 12 days.

Photo's of the Process
The Secret RecipeAll The IngredientsThe Grains In Their Soaking BagsBoiling Up The WortSoaking The Malt In Hot Water To Loosen It UpSome Of The HopsAdding The 2nd Whole Leaf HopsThe Strained Out HopsCooling Down The WortWhite Labs HefeWeizen Live YeastMy 9 Gallon Primary Fermentor With Brew Belt24 Hours Later - Fermentation Has Begun.

I will post again once the fermentation stops and I bottle with bottling instructions.

I Got My Ingredients For A DunkelWeizen

On Sunday, I went to the local Feasterville Home Brew Store and I got the ingredients to make a fabulous DunkelWeizen. DunkelWeiz is a dark (dunkel) wheat (weizen) beer with deliciously complex malts and a low balancing bitterness. I brewed it last night. I will add the recipe and the photo I took during the process later on.

Overall the process went smooth. This was my first brew and I enjoyed the process. I have about 10 – 12 days before I can bottle and can’t wait.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

This is only the beginning

I'm new to home brewing. In fact, I have never even done it yet. I have fermented 2 batches of wine this year and feel beer would be more fulfilling. I love wine, but the batches I have made won't be in their prime until a year or so from now. I have patients, but while I wait I feel it is time to try something new.

I've been reading a lot on the subject and I think I have a firm understanding of the process. As with everything, the best way to learn is to do. Right now i am deciding what type of beer I would like to brew. I personally like IPA's, Stouts, and some other strong varieties, so I think an IPA will be the first on my list. Does anyone else have a suggestion?

When I pick up the kit, I will post the details. May not be for a week or so.

Until then.