Archive for February, 2010

Couldn’t wait any longer

Well 9 days in bottles isn’t very long, but I couldn’t wait any longer. Knowing that the beer will improve as it ages just makes leaving it alone that much harder. It tastes pretty excellent already!

American Amber Ale

American Amber Ale

YouTube Video

German Kölsch

Monday proved an excellent day for my second 5 gallon brewday. On deck was a German Kölsch from Austin Homebrew Supply. This was from their Haitian Restoration Recipe kit line, to help out the people who lost everything in Haiti.

The Ingredients

  • 5 pounds pale malt extract
  • 2 pounds wheat malt extract
  • .5 pound Carapils® malt
  • 1 ounce Palisade hops (bittering)
  • .5 ounce Hersbrucker hops (flavoring)
  • .5 ounce Hersbrucker hops (finishing)
  • 1 vial White Labs German Ale/Kölsch (WLP029) yeast
  • 1 package BruVint (yeast food)
  • .75 cup corn sugar (priming)

The Process

This time I did a few things different from my first 5 gallon brew, mostly because I needed to save as much time as possible. As always, clean and sanitize everything. Yes, everything. Just do it, stop arguing. It doesn’t take that much time, nor does it cost that much.

Faced with at time crunch, I did not do a full boil this time. 2.5 gallons of drinking water was heated to 155°F in my main brew kettle. In went the half-pound of Carapils® malt to steep for half an hour. The instructions this time around said to cut the heat, but when I did that the cold air outside managed to cool the pot down below 150°F very quickly. Right then, low heat it is.

Steeping specialty grains

Steeping Carapils® malt

When my steep time elapsed, I used let the grains drain and added my liquid malt extract. Boil time! A 110,000 BTU jet burner will bring 2.5 gallons of wort to a massive boil very quickly. When I say a massive boil, I mean one so large you end up facing a boilover from 2.5 gallons in a 10.5 gallon pot. Yeah, full power was a bad idea. Good thing I move quickly, and managed to cut heat and get the foaming under control before I had a large problem.

A few short minutes after I cut the heat on, there was a very pronounced hot break. Cue the addition of an ounce of palisade hops for bittering, and the start of my timer. 40 minutes later, I would add half an ounce of hersbrucker hops for flavor. The final 5 minutes of my hour-long boil would see another half ounce of hersbrucker hops for aroma.

Hot Break

Full Boil

Once I had the pot off the burner and in the house, I put my sanitized wort chiller in the pot and stirred with one hand and poured in another 2.5 gallons of water with the other. Temperature dropped quickly. The 8″ strainer I picked up for a few bucks did a great job of keeping the sludge at the bottom of the pot from making its way into my fermentation bucket. With everything properly cooled, and in the bucket, I brought my volume up to the full 5 gallons and gave everything a healthy shake to make sure I had plenty of oxygen in my wort. A gravity reading was also taken, and temperature corrected to 1.049 (a point shy of my target of 1.050). In went the yeast, on went the lid, and in went the airlock.

Right now, the fermentation bucket is under the stairs sitting at a fairly stable (though still too warm) temperature. The job is now in the hands of some White Labs yeast. As Tom Petty once said “the waiting is the hardest part.” Good thing the American Amber Ale is just about ready to chill and drink!

American Amber Ale – Bottled

Today, I bottled the American Amber Ale I started a few weeks ago. This is probably the last beer, at least of the 5 gallon variety, of which I bottle the full volume. Kegging is in my future, without a doubt. I will still bottle for transportation, but cleaning and sanitizing that many bottles is just not my idea of a good time at all!

Final gravity was 1.007, down from an original gravity of 1.055. My American Amber Ale will pack a little more punch than is typical of the style, at 6.3% ABV. That, my friends, is not a complaint.

The clarity is pretty excellent, thanks to extra time in secondary (and an auto-siphon rather than tipping it out a spigot). My favorite part is the taste. Unlike my West Coast Pale Ale experiment from Mr. Beer, this beer actually has a nice balance between hop and malt character.

To say I plan on waiting a few weeks to try this with carbonation would be to tell a most uncool lie. I have one bottle that filled enough to get decent carbonation, but not the full monty. In a week or so, it will be popped open and enjoyed. Good chance I take some video of the first pour, like I did last time, as well.

American Amber Ale

American Amber Ale, with great clarity.


It’s been a long while since I last got together with a model and took photos. Since that dry spell has been broken, I think another Flickr slideshow is in order.

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