Archive for February, 2012

Bottling: Quesnel Ale Update

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Bottling Notes, Recipes

Just a quick update as I finished bottling the Quesnel. This is my first attempt at glass bottles (recycling from Sam Adams, Great Lakes, and Southern Tier bottles). It’s also my first attempt at batch priming. I followed the directions I found here, but used 1/4 table sugar instead of 1/2 cup of corn sugar like Mike does.

To do the batch prime, I had to improv a bit. Since my new spigot is not yet in, I rigged a 3/8″ (inside) hose to the LBK. I ran the wort through this into a 2.5 gallon slimline water container I found at Walmart (as recommended on the Mr. Beer Community). This seemed to have worked to minimize the air.

The bottling wand I bought fit into the slimline container, so the actual bottling part was pretty easy and quick (about 30 minutes).

The sanitation of the bottles took the longest amount of time and will need revision. I used the sanitizer in the Slimline and threw in the bottle caps, wand, and a small bowl to dip the spigot of the LBK. After 10-20 minutes, I then filled all the bottles with that, taking about 1 hour. Two hours for the entire bottling process is much too long, so if I can cut down on the filling, dumping, then refilling, I think I can get it down to an hour.

So what’s the plan? My dishwasher has a sanitation cycle, which I used when I cleaned the bottles. If I run them through again before bottling, I can relax and have clean, sanitized bottles when I start filling instead of doing this as part of the process. I also think I may use the corn sugar if I can find it.

At least the wort still smells amazing. I think this beer will turn out great in four weeks!

Two weeks ago, I saw this video and thought, “Hey, I can do that.” I researched partial mashing a bit more, then visited my local home brew store (LHBS) to learn how to buy grain. I replaced the video’s Vienna Lager with the High Country Canadian Draft, since the guys mentioned they preferred it. Otherwise, I interpreted it the same.

I learned a few things along the way. First, the guys over at my LHBS are super nice and helpful. They didn’t question my fumbling around at all, and were happy I found what I needed. Secondly, I learned that “resting the mash” means to take it off the heat and wrap it in a towel to retain temperature. For this one, I mistakenly lowered the heat, which caused a spike in my steeping temperature. We’ll see in a few weeks how badly I messed that up, as the grain is supposed to release bad tannins over 170. Oops.

All it all, though, I really enjoyed the process and think that steeping and partial mashing opens up a big world of possibilities in brewing.

By the way, who’s Quesnel? He’s a famous Canadian composer of opera.

2 lbs. of 2-row Pale malt

4 oz. of 60L Crystal malt

.5 oz Amarillo hops

.5 oz Simcoe hops

1 can of Mr. Beer High Canadian Country Draft

Heat 3 quarts water to 165 degrees (on my stove, 7)

Add milled grains:

2 lbs of 2-row, 4 oz. of 60L Crystal

Mix well, cover, let mash for 60 minutes @ 152 degrees (this means to take it off the heat, and wrap the pot in towels to maintain temperature). Stir every 10 minutes

Bring 2 quarts water to 170 degrees in 2nd pot

If not using steeping bag:

Scoop grain into colander over 3rd pot

Pour wort from 1st pot over grains in 3rd pot

Sparge with water from 2nd pot over grains to get about 1 gallon total. If using steeping bag, remove steeping bag.

Boil wort, stirring, for 1 hour

Sanitize LBK, add ½ gallon of water

During last 5 minutes, add hops

At end of boil, remove from heat and add extract

Chill pot in ice bath, stirring occasionally

When wort reaches room temperature, let trub settle, and add to LBK. Do not pour all contents in the LBK (keep the trub out).

Top with water and stir with sanitized spoon to aerate.

Boil, then cool (to 80 degrees) 1 cup of water. Add packet of Saffel US-05 yeast to hydrate.

Add yeast to LBK and stir.

I fermented for 2 weeks at 71 degrees (house temp). I plan to batch prime this one, too (my first attempt at that!).

Tasting: West Coast Pale Ale

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Tasting Notes

So, ideally my notes will be more spread out than they are now. But, because I just started this blog, they are a bit crammed up today.

At any rate, I popped open a West Coast last weekend to give it a try after 2 weeks of carbing, but only 1 week of conditioning. This is the recommended time according to Mr. B, but most everyone suggests giving it 2 weeks. They also suggest taste testing early, though, to learn what “young” beer tastes like, so this is what I did.

Upon opening up the bottle, we heard a refreshing fizz. The carbing worked…good news! Then we poured it. Good color, but half the glass was head! There was also lots of bubble action. Once it settled, I noticed a nice amount of head formed in the bottle as well. The head seemed to subside after about 30 minutes (in the bottle) and my 3rd pour hardly had a head at all. So, lots of carb, but it didn’t last long.

The taste is best described as “yeasty.” It tasted okay (my wife really liked it), but it definitely was like bread, and had a weird bitter aftertaste. Now the experienced guys describe a Mr. B “twang”, so maybe that’s what that was. The yeasty taste is due to being young, so I definitely learned something!

I enjoyed my second glass last evening, 13 days into conditioning. The head was still big on the pour, but worked it’s way to a normal size and remained for the remainder of the bottle. The twang was mostly gone, as was the overpowering yeast flavor. Now it had a more mellow flavor, although still a bit young. The beer seemed to be rounding out to a smooth, drinkable beer probably in another week. But, at least it’s drinkable now.

Remember, I’m not an expert, so my tasting notes do NOT conform to the “standard tasting” concepts of whatever international association. I also don’t intend to describe every bottle I have, but I do want to note how the beer changes with time. I’ll probably update this tasting one more time before this batch is gone.

I wanted to make a note that I bottle conditioned this first brew, following Mr. Beer directions. It has since been suggested to use 2/3 of the sugar in the directions, but I think I’ll try batch carbing the next brew. I’ve also purchased a bottle wand and capper, so I’m going to try using glass bottles instead of the included 1 liter plastic bottles I used for the WCPA.

Recipe: West Coast Pale Ale

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Recipes

The Mr. Beer Premium kit comes with the West Coast Pale Ale. Our friends over at Mr. Beer Fans describe it as a good start to brewing that is hard to mess up. I’d have to agree. To brew it, I followed the directions precisely, using the Booster. It took about 60 minutes from start to finish, but that’s only because I was really careful and slow, reading the directions and all. I won’t go into the details about my method because you can find that on the Mr. Beer site.

I placed the LBK (little brown keg) in a plastic bin in the closet. We keep the house at 71 during the winter, so it should be close to that in that room for 2 weeks.

Welcome to my new home on the inter webs! This site is here primarily to keep my brewing notes as I learn to brew beer at home.

A bit of background for you: I started brewing in January 2012 with the Mr. Beer system that I purchased on a whim at woot.com. For now, I’m going to stick with the extracts to learn my way around the brewhouse…err, kitchen. I started with the included West Coast Pale Ale, following the directions precisely, except for the timing. I used the 2-2-2 method as recommended at mrbeerfans.com (that’s 2 weeks fermenting, 2 weeks carbing, and 2 weeks conditioning).

During the wait time, I’ve already discovered a great deal about home brewing from reading up online. I’m excited to start the new hobby and see where it leads! I welcome your input as I begin this adventure, and certainly welcome you to borrow any recipe you find interesting!