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On September 27th, we brewed an amber ale featuring fresh, whole hops on the Maltose Falcons 40 gallon brewery.

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After some grain mill problems, we were underway.

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The star of the show:

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The hops were brought by a hop farmer friend of the club’s president.

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The grain bill is above. The other hops employed are below.  We did not find the second bag of golden promise, so we substituted with 14lbs Maris Otter.

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Cascade was used as a mash hop.  

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Mash-in at 152° 75 lbs into 80 quarts.  1.060 OG was the goal. Nailed it.

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We added the big sack of fresh hops as a late addition.

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The process was fun and the equipment was excellent.  The HERMS setup was very cool and automatic temperature control made things very easy.

Took home two carboys of ~4 gallons each.

One was WLP 090 San Diego Super and the other WLP 013 London Ale.  The 090 was much better.  Hops on display.

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Today’s brew was a Scottish 70 shilling, built on Jamil’s Brewing Classic Styles recipe.

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All numbers were hit except mash temp, which was undershot by a few degrees.

Further improvements were made to the brewery, including new hoses, three new 3 piece valves and all new quick disconnects.  The stainless was all Blichmann

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The brew day went pretty smoothly.  The fresh hop red ale was kegged, with some overflow onto the garage floor.  4 gallons into a3 gallon keg will do that…

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Had an odd assortment of beers while brewing…

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Filled the fermenters, cleaned up and were done in 6.5 hours.

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Well. I know. It’s been quite a while since we brewed. I’m sorry. We had more than enough beer to keep us going deep into the summer. And we have not run dry yet.

But all slow times must come to an end, so we decided on a whim to fire up the brew rig and get brewing again. After many fine beers at the LA Beer Week Kick-Off party, we decided on a session beer with Moteka hops. We went on a hop buying binge earlier in the spring and had 4 oz of this and a few other hops in the freezer. On the shelf was 20 plus pounds of 2-row, some odd grains and some wheat. We sat down with our favorite software, BeerSmith, and wrote up a simple recipe with what we had on hand. It turned out to be 17 lbs of Western Malting 2-row and 1 lb of wheat. Simple. A nice starting  point for what we believe will be an evolving recipe. We added the single hop, but with a twist. We had a bunch of hop extract left over from the Blind Pig Clone in June. That became the bittering 60 minute hop. In the Blind Pig Clone, the flavor was perfect. time to try it in a much lighter and lower IBU beer. We plugged in all of the hops and this is what we got… 13 IBU’s from the extract,  and a few more from a super late charge at 10 min, 1 min and whirlpool. When we went to the shop to get a few more hops for the dry hop, the instinct was to go with 2 oz for the whole dry hop. The aroma is so good on this hops and the alcohol is so low, we decided to double that and go short on the contact time. We shall see how this works.

The brew day went super smooth. No issues at all and we ended up with 11.5 gallons at the end in which we used the new White Labs Clarity Ferm in the fermenter. This is the second time that we have used this product and we were super impressed with the last attempt. We only used it in one fermenter on our normal 10 gallon batch and there was almost no difference between the two as far as taste went. I can’t wait to use this a bit more and see if some of our gluten free friends like the beer.

We will probably keg the beer very soon and from the samples so far, it seems to be on the right track. We might add to the super simple grain bill, but only one grain at a time.  Fermentation was quick and the beer now sits at 1.005 SG from a start of 1.042. Yeast was the hard working US-05 and the Dry 97.IMG_3685 IMG_3686 IMG_3688

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We are brewing a Helles.  We will ferment half on Munich Helles yeast and half on Mexican lager yeast. 

We softened our water by cutting it in half with distilled.

Pretty straightforward brew day except we missed our pre-boil gravity by a few points. All fixed by a 90 minute boil.

Recipe variation from a pure Helles (other than the 5 gallons on Mexi yeast) includes Hallertau Mittelfrueh (straight-up Hallertau was unavailable) and a pound of Cara-Pils to add body/head retention.

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1.070 OG meets some Yeast it Loves

This is what happens when a nice 1.070 wort meets some WLP 001 Cal Ale Yeast it loves. This was after 2 days of fermentation at 60 degrees F.

We brewed a double IPA with $85 worth of hops. 

Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe to the tune of 28 ounces and 215 IBU.  Two row, a tiny amount of dextrine and Crystal 40 make up the grain bill.

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We added 2 pounds of candi sugar to bring it up to 1.069 OG. 
We will pitch WLP001 and WLP090 in the two fermenters.  We also added Fermencap and Clarityferm as well. 

We hit all our numbers and, with a 90 minute mash and a 90 minute boil, it was a very mellow brew day. Only one problem, when carrying one of the fermenters it slipped out of the carrying handle and crashed onto the floor. Fortunately, it was a plastic “Better Bottle” and we righted it with a loss of only a quart of wort.

Two doses of dry hopping lay ahead. Then glorious hop heaven!

We finally got around to brewing an Oktoberfest.   Given our modern yeasts and highly modified malts, we should be okay with the timing (but probably should have done this at least a month ago).

We used 23 lbs of malt including a bunch of Vienna as base two other malts that I can’t remember, some caramel 80, a pound of wheat and two pounds of candi sugar (one light and one dark).

The mash was thinner than our usual at 1.7 quarts per pound and we got complicated again with the schedule.  Originally designed to infuse at 143, decoct to 155 and then sparge at 168, we ended up with a double infusion and double decoction,  We ended up with an intermediate rest at 149 (our decoction calculator failed us).

We hit our original gravity (1.055) exactly.  Our ground water was 76 degrees and our Blichmann therminator brought our wort to 78 degrees with a very fast pump.

oktoberfest 2013

Pretty good brew day (except for our mash miss).

One bummer, however.  One of our California Lager fermenters got infected with Chlorophenols.  Bad-aid flavor was painful to taste.   It was the Kolsch yeast fermenter that went bad.  Perhaps we failed somewhere in washing the yeast, cleaning the fermenter or blow-off valve, or some other task.  This is the second beer in the past couple of months, and third all time, that has been infected in this way.   Time to focus on these issues.

Cal Lager Fail

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We decided to use the hours before the traditional Thanksgiving feast to brew a beer.  It had been a month and that feels like too long.

First,  however,  we had to meddle with the brewery.

New burners!

Big banjo style burners were purchased to replace the old high pressure turkey fryer style burners we had before.

The idea was to apply higher and more even heat to shorten the brew day and avoid hot spots in the boil kettle.

Hard plumbing, a nifty manifold and some beefier heat shields complimented the addition.

So a little looking around and we found out that a Belgian Wit is much different than we thought.  We had been inspired by New Belgian’s Organic Wit and though that all the tart and spicy was a product of the yeast.  Well, only partially.  Organic Wit is an awesome beer, but a smarter pair of brewers would have actually read the bottle. On the bottle it says it’s brewed with spices. Duh. We were still inspired and not deterred. Time for a brew session.

We started with yet another brewing classic styles recipe. This was going to be fun. Ingredients we had not used before and a mash that called for 2 stops.  The first at 122 degrees and the second at 154.  In addition to pilsner malt, wheat flakes and flaked oats, it called for coriander and orange zest. We added some lemon zest on top of the orange and the wort tasted great.  A pitch of yeast (WLP 400) from a starter grown up from the last wit attempt, worked very well so far, with both carboys staring to ferment after 24 hours. We have read that the WLP 400 might take a little while to ferment out but it is the correct yeast for the job.

One of the smoothest brew days yet we hope will lead to a wonderful Indian Summer beer in the next few weeks.  We shall see.

We are also excited to try some of the beers that we did last year and see if we can brew them better, a second or third time around.

till next time, cheers.

 

We broke out the hydrometer and took a look at the two different wheat beers that we are fermenting right now. The same base beer, 50% pilsner malt, 50% wheat malt, but two different yeast strains. We tossed in WLP 300 in one and WLP 400 in the other. That’s the beauty of always having to split your batches. We went with a lower than normal fermentation temp for the first week, 62 F, and that was fine for the WLP 300 which was sitting at 1.013 gravity after 10 days. The WLP 400 did not like the lower temp and was only at 1.022. We turned up the temp controler and bam! the whole place went nuts. bubbles from the WLP 400! Huge movement. We are going to brew a proper Wit tomorrow with spices, oats, and all. More updates from the brew kettle.