Keg cleaning day!

I kind of feel like a sheriff that just shot the last bullet in his gun right now.  All of my kegs have run empty so I need to get brewing again!  Know that this day was quickly approaching, I have been giving some thought to what I would refill my home brewing kegs with and here is my plan so far for my four potential kegs.

Beer Tap #1: An easy drinking beer, either a blonde ale, pilsner, American wheat, lager, session pale, brown ale or Oktoberfest style beer.

Beer Tap #2: An IPA, Double IPA or Hazy IPA.  I have been craving hazy IPA’s lately so I will more than likely go that route.

Beer Tap #3: Something dark and robust, either a Porter, Stout or Russian Imperial Stout. Perhaps even a Russian Imperial Coffee Stout!

Beer Tap #4: This will be my rotator beer. Currently I have a cider fermenting in the fridge, so that will fall in to this 4th slot for now, but after that I will fill it with seasonal favorites and experimental beers.

Hopefully I can fit a brew day in over the next week or two!

 

Coming home to brewing equipment on your doorstep is always a great feeling!

Home Brewing Delivery

Home Brewing Delivery

One of the best things after a long days work is coming home to some new home brewing equipment waiting for you on your doorstep! I had just placed my order with More Beer 2 days ago and the packages already arrived!  I picked up a new 10 gallon BrewBuilt homebrew kettle for small homebrew batches ( I have been using my 20 Gallon Blichmann which is a great kettle, but not really designed for 5 gallon batches), a Hop Gatherer all grain beer kit which uses the new hop oil extract and I am really looking forward to trying that out! Lastly, I picked up a More Beer Deluxe homebrew starter kit which is a Christmas gift for one of my good buddies.  I figure I will try to get some of my Christmas shopping done early before things start selling out! Hopefully he will enjoy it and we will add another home brewer to the home brewing community!

The kit is pretty awesome, especially for the price.  I wish that the kits were this good when I first started home brewing. This is MoreBeer’s Deluxe home brewing starter kit  and it comes with everything that a home brewing needs for their first batch of home made beer, minus the bottles. It even comes with a 5 gallon stainless steel kettle and everything is packaged in to one box with easy to follow directions. I figure I will do a ride along on his first batch to make sure everything goes as well as it can.

Deluxe Home Beer Brewing Kit #homebrew #homebrewing

Deluxe Home Beer Brewing Kit #homebrew #homebrewing

Here is what the home brewing kit includes:

  • 6 Gallon Fermonster fermenter with spigot, stopper and airlock
  • Five Gallon Stainless Steel Kettle
  • Food-Greade Bottling Bucket with spigot
  • Mesh Bags for steeping grain and hops on brew day
  • Thermometer for easy temperature management
  • Hydrometer for making key sugar readings
  • Transfer Tubing
  • Bottling Wand with shut off valve
  •  Homebrew Bottle Capper
  • Bottle Caps
  • Bottle Cleaning Brush
  • Star San Homebrewing Sanitizer
  • Large Stainless Steel Spoon for mixing
  • Craftmeister Cleaning Tablets for easy cleaning
  • American Pale Ale recipe kit with yeast

You get all of that, including the 5 gallon American Pale Ale beer kit for just $129.  I think I may have paid close to the for my first 5 gallon brew kettle! I know that I would have been thrilled to receive it as a Christmas gift before I got in to home brewing, so hopefully he will do.  I get to check one person off of my list at least. I have my best guard dog on the job to keep everything safe until the Holidays arrive.

 

Recirculating in the mash tun!

Recirculating in the mash tun! For my home brewing mash tun I use a Blichmann 20 Gallon Boiler Maker Brew Kettle with the Blichmann false bottom.  I use a home brewing march pump that then recirculates my wort through a digital RIMS unit that I made which maintain the mash temp for me.  Since I am brewing in a stainless steel kettle and not an insulated cooler, I need to regulate the mash temperature.  During the 60 minute mash process I constantly have the wort circulating which helps clear it as well as boosts efficiency by circulating the hot wort (typically at 151F ) over the grain bed. I use the MoreBeer Ultimate Sparge Arm for my wort recirculation .  Is is the best sparge arm that I have ever used and never jams up!

Experimental Oktoberfest Ale Recipe

Oktoberfest Ale Homebrewing Recipe

Oktoberfest Ale Homebrewing Recipe

Some people like IPA’s and some people hate them, some folks out there will only drink lagers while others like barrel aged stouts. It is rare when you find a beer that just about everyone will enjoy.  I am not sure if I have accomplished that, but so far everyone that has tried this experimental Oktoberfest has liked it!

So why do I call it experimental?  Well, about a month ago some friends and I were sitting at a brewery having beers and one suggested that we should brew up an Oktoberfest since October was approaching.  I chimed in that we did not really have enough time to pull off a traditional lager.  So we discussed it and decided that maybe we should do an Oktoberfest Ale, and in stead of stopping there, perhaps we can do an American twist on it and celebrate both German and American brewing heritage with it.  So I worked on a recipe that did just that.  I used both German and American grains and a single German hop, with higher than normal IBU’s and an American Ale Yeast!  The results were a beautifully balanced beer, with a rich color and notable flavor!

Oktoberfest Ale All Grain Home Brewing Recipe

Oktoberfest Ale All Grain Home Brewing Recipe

 

So here is my crazy recipe.  One of the only tweaks I would make is removing the 2oz’s of roasted wheat ( I removed it from the home brewing recipe listed here) .  I added it for some additional color at the last minute and I probably should not have.  The color is beautiful but a little too dark for an Oktoberfest.

Beer Name: Kaiser Washington Oktoberfest Ale
Style: American Oktoberfest Ale
Estimated OG: 1.056
IBUs: 40.0
Color: 16.2 SRM
ABV: 5.6

Mash Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 76.2 %
2 lbs Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 2 15.2 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 3 7.6 %
Boil Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.00 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 26.7 IBUs
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins) Fining 6
1.00 oz Mandarina Bavaria [8.50 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 7 13.3 IBUs

I fermented with Wyeast 1056 American Ale and used a touch of biofin clarifier to really make it shine after fementation completed.  Just make sure you cold condition it for at least 2 weeks before passing judgement!

If anyone decides to brew it, please let me know what you think!

Beer Boiling In A Brew Kettle

Beer Boiling In A Brew Kettle

Cleaning the stainless steel conical fermenter

I have been brewing for quite a while now and over the years I have purchased a lot of home beer brewing equipment.  This 7 gallon stainless steel conical fermenter may be my best home brew purchase.  Initially when I started out home brewing, I was fermenting in 6 gallon glass carboys.  I would use two of them, one for primary fermentation and the other for secondary fermentation.  They were heavy, took up a lot of space, were difficult to move around, did not shield my homebrew from light, were a pain in the ass to clean and I had broken at least 2 of them over the years when they either cracked or the top sheared off when coming in contact with the ground.  Worst of all was knowing that if I had dropped one while relocating it that I was probably in for a trip to the hospital because those broken fragments of glass are sharper than knives.

This SSBrewTech conical fermenter on the other hand is honestly the perfect fermentation vessel for home beer brewing in my opinion.  It holds 7 gallons of fermenting beer, wine or cider; which is the perfect size for a 5 gallon batch.  It allows you to both dump trub and harvest yeast via its large 1.5″ valve at the conical base, it has a rotating racking arm, which I upgraded to MoreBeer’s ultimate racking arm. That is an upgrade that I would highly recommend.

More Beer Conical Fermenter Racking Arm Upgrade

More Beer Conical Fermenter Racking Arm Upgrade

It does not allow light to come in contact with your home brew, you can conduct CO2 transfers to eliminate any contact with oxygen, comes with a thermowell for temperature regulation, fits in most chest freezers (if you reduce the leg size) and is incredible easy to clean. In addition to that it is inexpensive for a high end piece of stainless steel home brewing equipment.  MoreBeer currently has them on sale for just $399 and they ship for free! If you are looking to buy a stainless steel conical fermenter, they can be purchased here.

7 Gallon Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter Best Price

7 Gallon Stainless Steel Conical Fermenter Best Price

I have been using mine for I think right about 2 1/2 years now and it has been worth every penny that I paid for it.  It is high quality and the handles on the side are welded strong, so I never need to worry about one busting off, even when it is fully loaded!

SS Brew Tech 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Home Brewing Fermenter

SS Brew Tech 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Home Brewing Fermenter

Transferring the cider to the keg

The cider wrapped up its fermentation, so I transferred the cider from the stainless steel conical fermenter over to a 5 gallon keg.  I also moved the oak cubes to the keg to let them age and condition with the cider.  It can take months for the oak to impart any significant flavors upon the cider, so as the cider ages the flavor should become more complex.  As of right now the cider is extremely hazy as you can see from the photos.  Hopefully after a week or so in the kegerator at low temperature, the yeast will fall out and the cider will become clear!

Home Cider Making

Home Cider Making

After transferring to the keg, I connected the CO2 line, purged any oxygen that I could from the keg and connected the out line to the new tap that I created. If all goes well I will have some delicious cider to enjoy here in about 1-2 weeks. I am already contemplating ways to make it better. For my next batch, I want to eliminate the dextrose in exchange for a purely apple base, try to round out the body, add in some Oregon sour cherries and do a little research on the best way to back sweeten a cider.  If all goes well, I can eliminate the need for a kit all together!  I will keep you posted on my progress on making hard apple cider at home!

Home Brewing Video – Loading up the mash tun with my batch of Oktoberfest homebrew grains and water from the HLT

Loading up the grain mill for my latest batch of homebrew.  This is my experimental Oktoberfest All Grain recipe.  For this batch, I only used Mandarina Bavaria hops!  I should know shortly how it came out and will be posting the recipe if it works well!  I brewed it on a home built brewing rig and use 20 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker kettles, gas fired burners and an electric home built RIMS system.