Remember when you were in school, and the first day back from Summer vacation you had to write an essay about what you did over the summer. I always hated doing that. So why am I doing it now for my Christmas Vacation when (1) I hated doing that and (2) I didn’t really have a vacation? Because I got to brew beer.
Or, at least, I got to start the process of brewing beer. So, yea, my amazing fiancée Julie gave me a home brewing kit for Christmas, which pretty much makes her amazing. (The fact that she also bought me two pairs of thick wool socks removes any remaining doubt.) So, I took the time last night to read through all of the instructions and get myself familiar with how this was all going to go, and then this evening set about working on the first batch, which would be a West Coast Pale Ale.
While I was preparing the wart, I was absolutely stunned by how awful it smelled. I don’t know if this is a smell you eventually get used to, or perhaps even grow to like, but to me it smelled really sickeningly sweet. Imagine you have a fresh cherry pie. Then imagine you put that cherry pie in the trunk of your car. You know, the car the windows don’t roll down in. And then you took the car, with pie still in the trunk, on vacation. To Florida. In August. For three months. That’s about what it smelled like.
But, all in all, I think it went pretty smooth. I learned a few things, like make sure you have a whisk sanitized, and that water is pretty heavy, but there were no major bumps.
The fermentation process is supposed to take 7 to 14 days, then an additional 7 to 14 days of carbonation, and then about 7 days for conditioning, but we’ll see how it goes. For those of you who are local and might be interested in trying some, the window for completion is between January 16th and 30th, so keep this in mind when filling in your social calendars. Also, I’m trying to decide what the next batch is going to be, so any of you that have home-brewed before have any suggestions, let me know.
It’s bottling day! After almost two weeks of sitting and watching my West Coast Pale Ale bubble and bubble (and bubble), bottling day has finally arrived. I’m hoping that everything went alright with the fermenting process, being as this is my first batch I have no reference as to if I did everything right or not. At the very least, the bit that I tried today tasted like flat, warm beer. (Flat, warm, good beer, actually.) So, now it’s all bottled up and hopefully working away at carbonating.
For my next trick, or at least my next beer, I’ve decided on a Blueberry Bock. In fact, I just ordered the fixings.
It’s been a while since I posted an update on the home brewing adventure, so I though I would take a few minutes now and do so.
The pale ale is completely finished, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It’s much better than I thought that a first attempt at brewing my own beer would be. Unfortunately, it’s about half way gone, and the next beer, the blueberry bock, is still in the process of carbonating and still needs two weeks of lagering, so it won’t be ready for about three more weeks.
I’ve also ordered the fixings for the next two beers, which are going to be a witbier and a good-old, American lager. They should hopefully be shipped in the next day or two. Trying to get a little bit ahead of the seasons so that this summer, I can brew an Oktoberfest and a hard cider that can both be ready for the fall.
After weeks of waiting, my second home brewed beer, Blueberry Bock, is finally ready to crack open. This home brewing thing is really making me learn self-patience. I hate waiting.
First impressions is that it’s pretty good. I was expecting a bit more blueberry flavor, nothing that I was going to be knocked over by, but figured it would be relatively noticeable. It’s a pretty subtle blueberry taste, though. If i didn’t know what was in it, I probably wouldn’t be able to pick blueberries. Still, all in all, pretty good.
The nice part is that the bock is bottled in pint bottles, as opposed to the quart bottles that the Pale Ale was bottled in, so it’s a little easier to have a beer and not commit myself to having to drink two pints. I think that when I bottle the Witbeir, I’m going to bottle a couple in quart bottles, but most in pint bottles.
Looks like the first of my Twelve for Twelve that’s going to get completed is brewing five beers. The pale ale is gone, but not forgotten. The blueberry bock is very close to being gone as well, which is good, because the witbier is ready to drink. The lager has been put into lager, and the raspberry wheat has been ordered.
I can’t thank Julie enough for buying me the kit to get me started on this. I’m loving it and want to upgrade to a 5 gallon kit. Austin Homebrew Supply seems to have what I want, but if anyone has any suggestions as to any other place I should look/consider, let me know. I don’t want to drop a couple hundred bucks just to be disappointed that I didn’t get what I needed. Specifically, I think I want the Deluxe Brewing Equipment Kit. Any thoughts?
Ah, beer, my one weakness. My Achille’s heel, if you will.
This year for Christmas I thought I’d take a swing at a Columbus hopped Christmas IPA, flavored with walnut infused bourbon, cinnamon, and nutmeg. With any luck, they’ll be ready just in time for the family Christmas party. Here’s the recipe.
- 4 pounds 2-row
- 2 pounds, 8 ounces Crystal 20L
- 8 ounces Red Wheat
- White Labs WLP001 California Ale
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Whirlfloc tablet
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 cups bourbon
Place walnuts into a clean jar, cover with the bourbon, and seal. Set aside for bottling.
Mash & Sparge
Bring 14 quarts of strike water to 163º F. Mash all grains for 60 minutes at 153º F. First runnings will be approximately 11 quarts. Sparge with 7 quarts for 20 minutes at 163º F. Total pre-boil volume will be 4 ½ gallons.
Boil for 60 minutes following this addition schedule:
- 60 minutes remaining: ⅓ ounce Columbus hops
- 20 minutes remaining: ⅓ ounce Columbus hops
- 15 minutes remaining: 1 Whirlfloc tablet
- 1 minute remaining: ⅓ ounce Columbus hops
Cool, Test & Pitch
Cool wort to 75º F, take OG measurement, and pitch yeast. Final volume should be 3 gallons.
||Racked to secondary
||Secondary Complete. 5.6% ABV
- ¾ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup priming sugar
- ⅓ cup water
Strain the bourbon through a fine mesh filter and into a medium sauce pan. Add ground cinnamon, priming sugar, and water. Boil and cool to 70º F. Mix in with beer and bottle.