Adventures in Homebrew 2

Victory

Victory

Victory at last

March 30? Really, that was the first and only post for my home brewing adventures?  Well, happy new year indeed, here is the stunning sequel.  We’ve done more than a dozen batches since then, tweaking our recipes, tools, and equipment, and I must say that things are starting to get good.  Yes, that is right.  Starting.

To be honest, I’ve lost track of all the minute changes (and the big ones), but its safe to say our knowledge and skill at brewing beer in the comfort of my home has developed greatly.  And it is also safe to say that I still have a long way to go.  A long way.  Really, this process is full of so many subtle variables.

burner

12 Gallons on our Bayou Classic burner

After four or five failed attempts, which were only just drinkable, things were looking bad.  We were contemplating stopping, but every time we brewed we had purchased something new for our set-up.  A new burner, sight gauge, yeast starters.  That, and we’d just bought enough grains and hops for several sessions.  So, despite wanting to quit and head back inside to play video games, we continued on.  We’ve made an oatmeal stout.  We made a dry-hopped IPA, called Victory because of the type of hops we used.  We made a chocolate porter, but had to use some stout grain and changes on the fly.  And slowly, things began to change.  We began to anticipate the slight changes to temperature, controlling any boil overs, ready for the hot breaks and knowing how to adjust for heat loss during the brewing process.  I’m not sure exactly when, but by the tenth or eleventh, or maybe the twelfth batch, we had something that we were excited for our friends to try.

After the boil, into the carboy.

After the boil, into the carboy.

Generally, we brew 12 gallons at a time.  We have two 6 gallon glass carboys, and to get this final volume means starting with 14 or 15 gallons of water.  This accounts for any loss during the process, though it means having to adjust the quantity of initial grains for the recipe.  The wort is boiled all together, then split into the two carboys for fermenting.

The terms are making sense now (mostly) though anyone I’ve spoken with who has years of experience seems to understand that this is a long process.  After this first year we feel we’re beginning to get consistency in our brews, though really our consistency has been for three batches.  More testing needed!

We’ve taken care of the slight infections, though better equipment helped a ton with that.  Occasionally there were hints of green apple, which is a trait of a young beer, still in need of conditioning.  Making your own yeast starters seems to be key as well, though to be honest I don’t have much of a grasp on that yet.  Slowly, but surely.

Our most recent batch was a milk stout.  So far, it seems to be a bit thin, but it has only been in the bottle for a week.  Tried one last night, definitely early, but I wanted something to compare it to later.  We use a priming sugar after fermenting, and not a lot happens when its only got a week to bottle condition.  I’ll let it sit for another month, or two, and see how it changes.  So far, the waiting seems to be the hardest bit.  Hopefully, it won’t take another 9 months for me to write another post, but no promises.

After the hot break.

After the hot break.

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