“Improve Your Wit” Beer: Yeast Starter

Yes!  The Yeast starter is working.  I had a slight temperature problem (my Man Cave is too cold right now).  Once I moved the yeast starter down to my bar area, it started going crazy (see pictures).  I will definitely be ready for the “brewing fest” on Sunday!  Hopefully I won’t have to add any DME to this before Sunday.

Beer Mentor

First Brew of 2011: “Improve your Wit” Beer

In celebration of my friend Ray’s birthday today, I started work on my first brewing project for 2011: A Belgian Witbier.  In his honor, it will be spiced up with Coriander, Bitter Orange Peel, and Chamomile!  The first thing I did was to go to beertools.com and put together (actually modified) a (previous) recipe.  What a great site beertools is!

I had already ordered the ingredients I needed from Northern Brewer.  Those guys are fast and efficient!  Here’s my stash–all I needed was some orange peel and 10 lbs of grain … I already had the hops, coriander, chamomile, and yeast.

Although I already had the yeast, it was in my refrigerator.  I harvested it from a previous brew.  Here’s a shot of my stash and the yeast I picked to use.  This is a 2nd generation sample — I made a Witbier previously, and then a Belgian Session beer, so this yeast is perfect for my style!

The next part of the process was to get a yeast starter going — I’m brewing on Sunday, so it should be ready by then!  Here are some pictures of the process … first, everything should be sanitary–so, a big bucket of sanitizer (I use Star San).

I sanitized my flask and went ahead and pitched my yeast in!

Next, I combined 1/2 cup of Dry Malt Extract with 2 cups of water and boiled it for 10 minutes (to make sure it was sanitized as well!)

While waiting for it to finish, I enjoyed a nice Schneider-Weisse Hefe-Weizen … Yumm!

Next, I chilled my starter in a cold water bath … then put it in with the yeast!

Here it is … ready to begin “fermenting.”  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is a still active batch, or I might have to pull another vial … stand by for further updates.

Beer Mentor

Imperial Walker IPA

I’ve had my Imperial Walker IPA on tap now for about 6 weeks … and I’m underwhelmed to say the least.  Don’t get me wrong … this is a good beer … it’s just not great.  I used both my homegrown hops AND the hops I brought back from my visit to Belgium.  I think I picked my homegrown hops to early last year and they just didn’t have the alpha acid to give them the kick I wanted.

This is a balanced (high octane) beer … it just doesn’t have the hops kick I was expecting.  It is actually over 9% ABV … so it is an Imperial … it needed more kick from the hops.  Here are some pictures of the transfer from secondary fermentation to kegging.  Notice the picture that shows the final gravity … yes… I had an excellent mash efficiency (78.2%) and a great attenuation (82.2%) … OG was 1.082 and FG was 1.013.  Wow.

Oh … and check out the “spent hops” picture … I did dry hop this beer … and, although (as I stated earlier) it didn’t come out quite how I wanted it to, the spent hops still looked great!  Great effect … just not great results!  Oh well … it is still a very nice beer when I come home from work!  Next brew: A Wit Bier!


Beer Mentor

Transferring Imperial Walker IPA to Secondary

Found the time this afternoon to transfer my beer from primary fermentation to secondary.    If you recall, my Original Gravity was 1.081 corrected.  When I transferred it to secondary, the gravity was 1.029 corrected.  So, according to my calculation (via beertools.com) it is sitting at 6.9% ABV right now … I’d like for it to go up a little higher (over 7% would be sweet) but I think the yeast is really stressed.  The higher Final Gravity might make it more of an east coast IPA with a good malt balance.  When I tasted it, I definitely got plenty of hops in the mouth.  I added my 1 oz of Cascade for dry hopping — I’ll probably leave it in secondary for two more weeks and then keg it!  Yes!  It should be good …

1) Here it is waiting for transfer to secondary.  When I popped off the top, you can tell that it was really active — thank goodness for extra room in this bucket!

2) Here’s the next bucket being prepped for secondary.  Since I’m dry hopping, I decided to use a bag to hold the hops and am using a secondary bucket instead of my normal carboy.

3) Here are the hops as I prepare them for secondary fermentation.  I decided to go ahead and dunk them in my sanitation solution on the off chance there might be some wild yeast floating around — oh, and here’s also a picture of some sweet lupulin I lost … darn it.

4) Finally, since I had the time and desire, I decided to capture a few vials of yeast (1056 American Ale) to try and save myself some money.  We’ll see if the alcohol content was too high and suffocated all the remaining yeast.

Beer Mentor

Happy Father’s Day: Imperial Walker IPA!

Today for Father’s day I was able to do two of the things I love.  I got in a nice Mountain Bike ride … and I brewed an IPA!  Because I’m a geek, I named it “Imperial Walker IPA.” Ha!  See the recipe below …)

What is special about this beer is that I used the hops from my garden — so the Nugget and Cascade hops that are in this beer came from my backyard.  Oh, and the Kent Golding hops came from the Hop Farm in Belgium I visited last November.  Here’s hoping that it turns out well.  I’m also including some pictures of the brew day today.  If Star Wars decides to sue me over the name, I can always change it to “Imperial Stumbler IPA” to match my other nickname … stumblingpiper.  Ha ha!

From the initial specific gravity measurement, I think I pegged my 1.079 OG.  Here’s hoping it starts bubbling tonight …

Beer Mentor

Imperial Walker IPA

                    Category: India Pale Ale (IPA)
                 Subcategory: American IPA
                 Recipe Type: All Grain
                  Batch Size: 5 gal.
               Volume Boiled: 6 gal.
             Mash Efficiency: 75.0 %
         Total Grain/Extract: 15.00 lbs.
                  Total Hops: 3.6 oz.
       Calories (12 fl. oz.): 313.6
                Cost to Brew: $51.55 (USD)
Cost per Bottle (12 fl. oz.): $0.97 (USD)

           13 lbs. 2-Row Brewers Malt
            1 lbs. Munich Malt
            1 lbs. American Caramel 60°L
          1.25 oz. Nugget (Whole, 13 %AA) boiled 60 minutes.
             1 oz. Goldings (Pellets, 5 %AA) boiled 15 minutes.
           0.5 oz. Goldings (Pellets, 5 %AA) boiled 3 minutes.
          0.35 oz. Cascade (Whole, 5.5 %AA) boiled 3 minutes.
           0.5 oz. Simcoe (Pellets, 11.9 %AA) boiled 60 minutes.
             1 oz. Cascade (Whole, 5.50 %AA) added to Secondary.
            Yeast: WYeast 1056 American Ale


Vital Statistics
  Original Gravity: 1.079
  Terminal Gravity: 1.016
             Color: 13.72 SRM
        Bitterness: 100.8 IBU
 Alcohol (%volume): 8.3 %

Results prepared by BeerTools.com

Next brew session: 20 Jun 2010. Style: IPA

Now that I’m home, settled in, and back in a routine, I’ve put together a nice IPA recipe.  I built it out at BeerTools.  This beer is special for a couple of reasons: 1) First beer brewed in 2010, and 2) I’m brewing it on Father’s Day.   I decided I wanted to brew a beer where I could use my homegrown hops …

Soooo … without knowing the Alpha Acid, I’m taking 15 lbs of malt and using the following hops for my brew: 1) Simcoe (0.5 oz) – bittering (leftovers), 2) Nugget (1.25 oz) – bittering (homegrown), 3) Golding (1 oz) – flavor (I got these while in Belgium (see this post)), 4) Golding (0.5 oz) – aroma, 5) Cascade (0.35 oz) – aroma (homegrown), 6 Cascade (1 oz) – Dry Hop (homegrown).

That leaves me with some Chinook homegrown to use in my next brew … I’m really looking forward to this brew!

Beer Mentor