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wacky1980

firing up the home brewery

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it's time to start brewing some beer once again. we're blowing out the cobwebs tonight with a brown ale extract kit. nothing too difficult, mostly just to remember how to ride that bike. then if the weekend plays out like we hope it will, i've got ingredients coming to make a chocolate cherry porter:

https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/homebrew-recipe/choc-full-o-cherry-porter/

might even try to barrel-age it. it will depend on whether it's ready for xmas or not. if it's not ready to bottle at least 3 weeks before the holidays, it won't be done in time. so if that happens, there's no deadline on it, and it won't hurt to age it a couple more months in a barrel.

after that, i want to try doing a black ipa. it's a tough style to pull off, but i built a recipe over the summer that might be decent. and i have like 5+ pounds of hops in the freezer that need to get used up soon. 

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Ever friend I ever had me sample their homegrown sht I wanted to puke but too polite so just sip it like mmmmhmmmm yeah is greaaaaat then pour it out when they go t o check on something... but urs is prob fine totally I believe in u!

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23 hours ago, Lytbryt said:

Ever friend I ever had me sample their homegrown sht I wanted to puke but too polite so just sip it like mmmmhmmmm yeah is greaaaaat then pour it out when they go t o check on something... but urs is prob fine totally I believe in u!

our first several beers were ... not good. it's one of those things. anyone can play poker, but it takes a lot of practice to be good at playing poker. we've been doing this for 4 years now, and we've got the process down pretty well, but always improving our equipment and technique. 

we took a bit of a break from brewing over the last year while my wife and i built our new location from the ground up (literally). but now that we're into the off-season and i have my weekends and evenings back for the most part, i plan on really diving back in. eyeing approx $2500 in equipment upgrades this winter. i'd like to be able to brew 1/2 barrel batches by the spring. it's enough work to make one 5-gallon batch of beer, so if you can double or triple (or more) the batch size in a single session, you end up with a lot more product for pretty much the same amount of work. the idea is to scale up the home-brewing to the point where we can apply for a license and convert the new location into a commercial brewery/brewpub.

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5 minutes ago, SwimModSponges said:

Somebody i used to know brewed their own beer. They were aiming for something like o'so's night rain.

It was decent. 

never had o'so night rain, but i've seen it on people's lists. a really good, malty porter is kinda hard to find these days. i really like edmund fitzgerald from great lakes. 

another season of making small batches and zeroing in some recipes, and i'll be ready to start sending out samples. not sure how this cherry porter will turn out, but i'm hopeful. it's got a pretty big grain bill for the batch size, and should clock in over 7% abv if we nail the mash and it ferments out properly (it ought to, because i replaced the english ale yeast from the recipe with a belgian ale yeast that's supposed to be good up to like 10%). damn, i get excited from just talking about it. 

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1 hour ago, wacky1980 said:

our first several beers were ... not good. it's one of those things. anyone can play poker, but it takes a lot of practice to be good at playing poker. we've been doing this for 4 years now, and we've got the process down pretty well, but always improving our equipment and technique. 

we took a bit of a break from brewing over the last year while my wife and i built our new location from the ground up (literally). but now that we're into the off-season and i have my weekends and evenings back for the most part, i plan on really diving back in. eyeing approx $2500 in equipment upgrades this winter. i'd like to be able to brew 1/2 barrel batches by the spring. it's enough work to make one 5-gallon batch of beer, so if you can double or triple (or more) the batch size in a single session, you end up with a lot more product for pretty much the same amount of work. the idea is to scale up the home-brewing to the point where we can apply for a license and convert the new location into a commercial brewery/brewpub.

Okay yeah sounds like u know ur stuff but people that just buy a kit cuz they saw it on YouTube and then they sit there and HAVE to convince themselves its alright because they poured so much effort into it ugh

  • Haha 1

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1 hour ago, SwimModSponges said:

Cherry porter sounds tasty. 

Bow when you say "sending out samples," is there a bottle with my name on it?

of course

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bottled up the brown ale last night. nailed our expected gravity, and ended up at about 4.5% ABV. flavor wasn't spectacular, but it's hard to judge flavor when it's still warm and flat. we'll see what it tastes like in a couple weeks, after it's carbed up and ready for prime time.

still haven't found the time to brew that porter either. harvest season is finally in full swing now, so my brew partner is pretty busy. we're looking at maybe sunday/monday if the weather takes a turn like the forecast says it might. in the meantime, we got in A LOT of good beers at the bar over the last few days. a few imperial stouts, a couple belgians, and some other goodies. gonna spend the next couple evenings sampling them with the wife. life is tough.

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the brown ale was disappoint at first taste. some diacetyl off-flavor in there, i'm thinking from poor aeration of the wort prior to fermentation (this has been a recurring issue for us). luckily enough, i recently picked up some parts and built an aeration kit from scratch, so we can eliminate that variable from future batches. diacetyl is one of the off-flavors that a lot of homebrewers fight, and is one of the main reasons homebrew gets dismissed as tasting crappy. sometimes it "bakes out" (my term) in the bottle after a few weeks, and i'm hoping that's the case with this brown ale. if not, oh well. the reason we brewed this batch was to test our process before getting back into the habit. we might actually get to brew the porter tomorrow night, so fingers are crossed...

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13 hours ago, Lytbryt said:

Diacetyl? So it tasts like rubbing alcohols? 🤢

it actually presents like a butter / butterscotch off-flavor in beer. it can diminish over time as a beer ages and continues consuming different compounds, but it's not a guarantee. that beer is probably gonna end up getting dumped if it doesn't shape up in the next month. 

~~~

we brewed our chocolate cherry porter over the weekend. we missed our intended gravity out of the mash by ~a lot~ for whatever reason (no idea why, perhaps the grains weren't properly malted or something) so we won't get all the way up to 8% ABV, but i boiled it an extra 30 minutes to give it some help. if fermentation completes as intended, it should come out to around 6.5% ABV which is still good enough for a first attempt. we will add the cocoa nibs and cherries on probably wednesday, and let it ferment an additional week before bottling. i'm still hopeful we're gonna end up with a real good beer on this one.

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it's about done. after we transferred to secondary and added in the cherries, the fermentation reignited off the sugars in the fruit and we had to wait an additional week for that to wind itself down. i wasn't expecting it to eat thru all the sugar like that, so now it's pretty dry...and unmeasurably boozier than the 6.5% we were expecting after the weak mash. i'm guessing as high as 8% but we'll never know. and since it's so dry, we'll have to add maybe 4oz of lactose to back-sweeten it. we kegged and carbonated about 10 days ago, and once we add the lactose, it should be ready to go. it could probably do well by another week or two of aging before it's in the sweet spot. we'll just have to drink some now and then drink some more then and see.

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Posted (edited)

I need to start brewing again, I had a constant flow of triple distilled 190 proof vodka filling every bottle and mason jar in my house until about 6 months ago when I had to move. I haven't touched my still since. I miss it.

I also didn't make any wine last year.

Edited by GaiusIuliusCaesar

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Got an elder scrolls cook book for christmas, it's got a whole section on making different meads.

So I'mma have to bust that out at some point.

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18 hours ago, SwimModSponges said:

Got an elder scrolls cook book for christmas, it's got a whole section on making different meads.

So I'mma have to bust that out at some point.

mead is one of those things where i just can't decide. i've had a couple that were good, but it seems like most of them are just kinda nasty. and i've never had a good homebrew mead (but my experiences there are few). that being said, it's about the easiest thing you can ferment at home (hard cider might be easier, depending on what you're after). give it a shot!

so this porter didn't pass muster for me. my brewing buddy was satisfied with it, but the cherries fermented off too much sugar and made the beer dry and bitter. couple that with an almost overwhelming cherry flavor giving it a bit of a medicine aftertaste, and i call it a fail. i might try it again with half as many cherries, or just some cherry puree, to make it more subtle. i'd kick the fruit altogether, but the point of brewing this beer is to learn how to use fruit effectively. oh well!

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On 1/14/2020 at 10:22 AM, SwimModSponges said:

A guy at work made mead once I guess.

Says there's a brewing supply store in town I should check out.

i wish we had a brew supply store around. i have to drive 90 minutes to get to one. or buy stuff online, which is a pain because shipping 20lb of grain or a 15-gallon kettle can get pricey.

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19 hours ago, SwimModSponges said:

Ooof, I can imagine.

I guess that's a huge benefit of living in WI, there's like 2 or 3 breweries per town.

breweries are popping up around here, but we're a small enough town that none have landed in town just yet. i was planning on opening one myself in about 3 years or so, but now there's a rumor of some old asshole going to open one up right next door to our bar...in the space i was eyeballing for our brewery. and he knew that. what a cock.

anyways. breweries are easy enough to get to around here (i'm actually taking all my bartenders on a 3-brewery field trip sunday), but i'm not in well enough with any of them yet that i can walk in and just buy up a sack of grain. one of them, i'm getting cozy with to the point that he's committed to dropping in sometime this summer for a tap takeover. they have a beer that i'm confident will carry them onto the national scene in the next couple years. we've been pouring it for almost 2 years now, and it's our most popular draft......wait, i'm on a tangent now. 

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