Sunday, October 10, 2010

Batch #1 - Cream Ale

We have now made a batch of Wort. It went well but we did have a few mishaps. It was a kit that we purchased from Point Brew Supply. While we were there the owners helped answer our questions and recommended a good starter beer for us. It will be great to pick their brains as we get more involved in brewing. If you are thinking of starting check out their website or stop on in if you are close enough. We choose to make a Cream Ale as our first beer. It is supposed to be a light beer without a lot of hoppy-ness. Jared and I have decided that we have to work on liking the hoppy-ness of beer. We also chose to do extract brewing for the first time.

Cream Ale Stats

Min OG 1.044 Max 1.055
Batch size 5 1/2 gallons (Ours made 5 gallons, Not sure if we had a lot of boil off)
6 pounds Muntons DME- Extra Light
.50 Pounds Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt (The store ground this as we were using it with in a few days of grinding)
1 oz Cascade Hops
Yeast Danstar Nottingham (dry yeast)
Jared getting ready to boil the water. We used bottled water as we were not sure of our tap water
Our Ale Pail. We will upgrade this to a glass carboy if we have a few successes
We used a powered sanitizer that does not hurt the brew if some is left in. It is safe to drink. Above is the bucket that we used to sanitize our tools in
We put our grains in a sock and steeped them in the water at 155 degrees and did not let it boil. The picture above is after the sock was taken out. No, I did not use a real sock we used what came with the kit.
This is after we added the malt. This is also before the break. We had a bit of trouble controlling the break. We had a bit of a boil over. We did get it under control.
This is during the break.
The mess on the stove
After the break and after the hops were in. This was taken just before we went to cool it. Also, we wanted to see how much boil off we had. But, since we had a boil over it is not very accurate
Cooling wort. We did get it down to 69.5 degrees. This is another thing we will be updating when we have done a few batches
Moving the wort into the first fermenter
A better view
The water and ice bath that we used to cool the beer. We also used it to cool the boiling water that we used to get the wort up to the correct hydrometer reading.
The wort fermenting
The mess on the stove. It is a sticky mess. I guess it is a small price to pay for our own home brew.

Now I would like to make a few notes on the batch so that we may refer back to it when we can drink it and see if it is any good.

-Sanitized everything from beginning to end
-Great Value Drinking water
-Pot had some rust on bottom - we're a little worried about this. The enamel looks to have chipped in a few places... This pot is normally used for canning where that doesn't matter much.
-Temp during steep ranged from 153 to 163 degrees
-Boiled over at malt stage (spray bottle needed to control better? perhaps a taller pot?)
-Gravity just before we pitched the yeast: 1.050
-stirred yeast in after pouring.
-No other yeast prep per recommendation of owner of Point Brew Supply.
-Temp at yeast pitch 68 degrees
-topped off to 5 gallons with boiled cooled water
-the recipe calls for Danstar Nottingham dry yeast, but this was recalled. Danstar Windsor dry yeast was substituted.

Later notes:
- The ideal temperature for this batch is supposed to be 64-74 degrees F.
- The first few days of the fermenting cycle, we ran right at the top end of 74 degrees.
- We used some ice to cool things down a bit, and over the next few days, the temperature dropped down to 63-64. It hovered there solidly until Monday (8 days into the cycle) when I moved it to a slightly warmer room. The temp now sticks at 65.

Bottling Notes:
- The lid was a challenge to remove from the fermenting bucket. I damaged the outside of the lid with pliers while removing, but no scratches on the inner surface so all good.
- There seemed to be no issues with creating the sugar solution to mix the beer in for bottling carbonation. Per directions, 1 cup water heated, sugar added, brought to a boil for 5 minutes, cooled to 70 degrees while covered (not rapid cooled). Poured sugar solution into bottom of second bucket (cleaned and sterilized) and drained beer into it. We didn't mix beyond the mixing action of pouring the beer into the secondary vessel via the spigot on the primary.
- Sterilizing the bottles was interesting and made me worry. I know the idea is as little contact with anything between sanitation and contact with beer, but I had to sanitize 48 bottles which takes some time. Hopefully, we didn't get any contamination. We'll be looking for a more efficient way to do this in the future if possible. As it was, we rinsed each bottle in sanitizer solution and set them on the counter to wait for filling. Total cleaning time was around 30 minutes so the longest exposure for one bottle was 30 minutes.
- The final gravity of the beer was 1.016 at around 68 degrees. This gives us a 4.45% Alcohol By Volume (abv) if I used the calculator correctly.
- The beer tasted like beer, but in general was a little mild for both our tastes. We assume that carbonation and a little more time will add something to it, but for a first effort, we are so far pleased.

After bottling notes:
- At first, carbonation didn't take at all. We waited two weeks, tried it and had very little carbonation. There was some, but not nearly enough. Another week, same results. Another week, same again. We asked around and figured out that we were already storing the beer too cold. We moved the Cream Ale and the Pumpkin Beer both in front of the heat register. Three days later, we had carbonation! Thankfully, we didn't kill the yeast, just suspended it.
- The carbonation in the Cream Ale is inconsistent. We didn't stir the corn-sugar solution in so it wasn't distributed evenly between bottles. Some bottles have little carbonation, some have too much.
- Overall, I like the way this beer turned out. It's a mild beer, but has more flavor than your average light lager. Again, for a first effort, in my mind, it's phenomenal.

What I Hope!

I just wanted to make a post as to what I hope this blog can do for me and anyone else interested in Home Brewing. I was hoping that I could see how far we have come. I also want to share recipes that we have tried and maybe get some new ones.

I am also hoping that the reader will get something out of this blog also. I was hoping that you could see our mistakes and maybe avoid doing the same thing. Also, I wanted a place that you could watch us to see what we are doing. How are we upgrading our equipment and how our beers turn out.

I want to tell you a little about my husband and I as we start this journey of Home Brewing.
Jared, is a thirty something guy. He has grown to appreciate beer more as he has grown up. This was a step that we needed to take to achieve another one of our goals (not going to be mentioned until it happens). Jared works full time for the hospital in the city where we live. April, is a thirty something woman. She stays home throughout the day to be home for their two boys, ages 11 and 8. April is not as fond of beer but is learning. They hope to bring the boys in to the brewing process by brewing root beer and other sodas. But first they have to master beer..

So stay tuned for all of our mistakes and mess ups. Should be fun to watch!