Murphy Visits Again When I Bottle the Roggenbier

Posted by Olan on 9/10/2014 at 08:16:23 PM

 
This weekend, I finally got around to bottling my roggenbier. I had planned to do so two weeks after pitching yeast (provided that gravity was stable), but then, I discovered that my old friend Bottle Infection was still hanging around, so I put it off.

I won't go into everything I have done in the past (read my last post if you want the gory details), but I did purchase a brand new bottling bucket (with lid), a new spigot, and a new autosiphon. I had planned to purchase new silicone tubing, but my LHBS only had vinyl... and I just can't see going back to vinyl. Instead, I rinsed that tubing very well, then boiled it for a little over fifteen minutes. Theoretially, that should have come very close to actually sterilizing it (not just sanitizing). I purchased a bottle washer, so prior to sanitizing the bottles, I gave them all a liberal jet rinsing of hot water.

Furthermore, I have decided to add in a couple of extra precautions to my bottling - namely, I am keeping a lid on my bucket the entire time, and am placing a sanitized bottle cap down onto the beer bottles the moment they are filled (in the past, I would fill them in one pass, then cap in another pass).

Saturday night, I started the process. In the past, I have always boiled my priming solution first, then racked the beer on top of it. I have marks on my fermentor to help me estimate volume, but this time, I decided to be precise - so I racked the beer first, planning to stir the priming sugar solution in after.

It was about the time that I started racking that I realized that dear old Murphy had decided to join me for yet another beer-related activity.

First off, I noticed just how much trub was at the bottom of this batch. Man, rye is weird. In fact, I started to worry a little at just how much trub I saw...

My old autosiphon was amazing. If it ever bubbled, I'd add a litle sanitizer solution to the inner valve, and that would be that. The new one bubbled like crazy; the sanitizer helped, but it became apparent that my tubing wasn't a perfect fit at the top (perhaps still expanded a bit due to the heat?). I thinkered with it and got it going... for a half gallon. Several times, the stupid thing stopped altogether, forcing me to re-start the siphon. Yay for potential oxidation!

When the racking was done, my fears were realized - I had the tiniest hair over four gallons in my bucket, with barely any left behind in the fermentor. How on earth did that happen?

Yes, I had overshot my OG (1.071, target was 1.065), but I had nailed the volume. Seeing as how this was a dedoction mash, a small overrun in gravity was not unexpected. That being said, I had literaly lost an entire extra gallon to the trub (I really should have taken a picture).

Four weeks in, gravity at this point was also high - to the tune of 1.019 (target OG ws 1.012). 73% attenutation for WLP300 was within specs, but I was pretty worried. Number one, I was going to be a gallon short; number two, all I have heard about is how thick and chewy rye beers are. If I had an under attenuated product, as well? I was afraid the beer would just be gross.

So, I did some research, then made what may prove to be a ruinously foolish decision - I decided to top off to reach five gallons and get down to a FG of 1.014.

I took a little over a gallon of water, added campden and priming sugar, then boiled for a little over fifteen minutes. I cooled this, then carefully added it to the bottling bucket (which, thankfully, had been covered this entire time), and stirred like crazy (which being careful to not splash). In the end, I had my five gallons.

I started bottling, being sure to place a cap after every filled bottle. I stirred the solution during the process, just to be sure that everything stayed as consistent as possible. Then, all were capped, and I was done.

So, what now? Wait until two weeks after bottling, then taste the beer... that's really all I can do. I can say that the bottling bucket sample was delicious - rye truly does make for a unique, spicy flavor; I could see this becoming a "secret ingredient" that I go to on a regular basis. The sample didn't seem particularly watery (to me, bottling samples are always a bit watery), but who knows?

Hopefully, I'll still end up with some great beer. I'm going to be quite annoyed with myself if I just ruined it with that kind of decicion.

Time will tell.

Tags for this post: bottling, roggenbier, rye, screw-ups

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Tags for this post: bottling, roggenbier, rye, screw-ups

I'm Discouraged - Bottle Infections Suck

Posted by Olan on 9/02/2014 at 03:34:09 PM

 
As I look back over my time in the hobby, I realize that I have come a long way - if you'd like to confirm, I dare you to jump back to my first few posts on this blog (man, they hurt to read). Back then, I was as green as any newbie brewer, but I immersed myself in the craft, and I have learned a lot.

If I objectively consider my beer, I can state without a bit of exaggeration that it is consistently quite good. It's been more than a year since I've brewed a beer that I felt was anything less than very good, and that one was a freebie kit with some suspect ingredients (apparently expired dry yeast, for one).

Recipe design is one of my absolute favorite aspects of brewing, and I feel like I have a real knack for it - by and large, the beers I create seem to flirt with excellence; even my failures seem to turn out to be pretty tasty, though they may be not quite the beer that I intended to brew. My flaws seem to be in small details; maybe a beer has a bit of a chill haze or a head rentention issue, but by and large, I can find and correct the causes behind these flaws pretty easily.

When I share beer (and I give away a good bit more beer than I drink), the reviews are consistently extremely positive. I've had multiple...
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Tags for this post: infection, infections, bottle, beer, brewing

Friday Fluff Post: Video of a WLP037 Yeast Starter

Posted by Olan on 8/29/2014 at 02:37:52 PM

 
I know, I know. It's just a yeast starter. It's hardly a unique sight in and of itself. Still, I thought that the WLP037 (Yorkshire Square Ale) yeast was pretty mesmerizing to look at.

After my recent experiences with Conan yeast - which apparently views flocculation as a cardinal sin - the 037 is absolutely miraculous in this department.

As you can see in the video, even while being fairly vigorously stirred in my erlenmeyer flask, the yeast continues to form visible chunks that result in a cool "stormy" effect.

If you bump the Conan starter, the yeast will jump back up into solution even after more than a week in the fridge; this makes it a pain to harvest.

On the other hand, after just eight hours in the fridge, the 037 flocced out into an almost concrete like substance on the bottom. I was able to decant my 3 liter starter down to a half liter, and even after vigorous shaking, I had massive chunks of solid yeast left (it took effort to get my stirbar to unstick from the bottom of the flask). I did have to use a little plain water to rinse all of the chunks out, but to me, that's way easier to work with than being afraid to decant almost any liquid for concern over losing yeast.

At any rate, enjoy this short, grainy video of a yeast starter. If you're a homebrewer, this may appeal to you on...
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Tags for this post: fluff post, yeast, starter, wlp037, Yorkshire square

A Big Day - I've Been Asked to Brew for my Company

Posted by Olan on 8/20/2014 at 03:36:13 PM

 

As you probably know if you read much of my blog, I love to brew but don't actually drink that much.  I'll have a single beer on most evenings, though there are often days that I don't drink even that.  As a result, I end up sharing a lot of my beer.

Presentation is important to me; I feel like if I'm going to spend hours researching and brewing a beer, I want it to be impressive from the moment the bottle is in someone's hand.  To this end, I purchase custom bottle caps from bottlemark.com, and an artist friend of mine creates custom labels for me.  People seem to appreciate the effort; they are usually surprised to get what is darned close to commercial quality packaging in their hands.

Of course, that wouldn't matter if the beer wasn't good.., but I digress. 

At any rate, I have been sharing bottles with my company's owner for some time, now.  While not a homebrewer, he does enjoy craft beer - so much so that he apparently came very close to opening his own brewpub a little over a decade ago.  He doesn't give me deep analysis of my beers, but he's always appreciative of them, and will politely let me know what he enjoys and what isn't his favorite. 

Yesterday, I mentioned to him that I would probably be bottling my roggenbier this weekend, and that I would be bringing him some soon after.  It was at this point that...
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Tags for this post: company, event, brewing, boss, homebrew, craft special

Brewing with My Pal, Murphy

Posted by Olan on 8/11/2014 at 04:48:07 PM

 
Yesterday was a much anticipated brewday for me - I would be tackling my roggenbier. I had done my homework, had listened to multiple horror stories about how sticky rye is, and had (I hoped) prepared for that.

And so, yesterday morning arrived. I had planned for this to be a solo brewday, but my good friend Murphy dropped by unannounced and decided to hang with me for the duration. If you are the sort of person who enjoys gawking at a train wreck as you drive past one, then by all means, please read on.

10:15 AM: It has become a weekly tradition that I fry bacon and my wife bakes blueberry muffins on Sunday morning. I usually heat my strike water on the stovetop to save on propane, but I figured it would be no issue to do so while cooking breakfast. However, my wife also decided to do hash browns this week, so I sat my pot to the side (there wouldn't be enough room for three large items on the stove). Minor delay here, no big deal.

11:10 AM: Breakfast is done. I take the lid off my six gallon stainless steel pot that serves as my HLT - and also does dual duty as storage for various brewing chemicals, smaller pieces of gear, etc. Why, hello there, disaster!

The bottom of the pot is covered in a sticky liquid. Plastic on my scale is discolored, a couple of baggies of brewing salts are essentially...
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Tags for this post: roggenbier, brewday, decoction, mash, homebrew, beer, mistakes, issues, errors

Musings on Creativity and Brewing

Posted by Olan on 8/10/2014 at 03:27:32 PM

 

I've always been a bit envious of creative people.  Some people can take a blank canvas and a brush and bring a portrait to life.  Others can put pen to paper and spin a witty tale or clever verse.  Some can pick up a musical instrument and speak to your very soul with the songs they conjure.  Creative people can be found in so many different areas, bringing art and enrichment to lives of those around them.

I have never really been one of these people.

I, on the other hand, am more of a "logic guy".  I tend to be task based, compartmentalizing life in an effort to get from point A to point B.  That's not to say that I don't have certain skills; when dealing with a subject that interests me, I am thorough in preparation, I work to learn from the advice and experience of others, and I do diligently try to apply that knowledge to the job at hand.  That being said, I've always been the sort of person to follow a blueprint, to apply known techniques to a problem.  I can often see the big picture, and have been known to apply unique approaches to problem solving... but when push comes to shove, I have always been more analytical than creative.

Interestingly enough, brewing is one area in my life that I find this to not be the case.  Oh, to be sure, I am still very analytical in my approach; I take precise measurements, I...
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Tags for this post: creativity, brewing, homebrewing, beer, roggenbier, recipes

Conan Yeast Giveaway Winners

Posted by Olan on 8/05/2014 at 03:01:20 PM

 
After much adieu, I am happy to announce the winners of the Homebrew Dad ECY29 (Conan) yeast giveaway.

First off, please do allow me to thank everyone who entered. I said this before, but there were quite a few entries that legitimately deserved to win. Pruning the seventy-six entries down to the seven finalists was extremely difficult; further pruning those down to three winners was even harder.   If you'd like to see, there is a map representing all of the entries

Thank you to everyone who voted. All told, we ended up with a truly impressive total of one hundred and seventy-six votes cast, which is about twice what I was expecting given the number of participants.

To recap, my plan was to select one winner on my own, to allow the votes to select one winner, and to then compare the two lists to come up with a third winner. As it so happens, one winner not only jumped out as the most deserving to my way of thinking, but also happend to win the largest percentage of the votes - by quite a fair margin. That winner is Bret of Warsaw, Poland.

Bret did not submit a recipe idea; instead, his submission was that he would like to pick up the yeast when he returns to the US in a couple of weeks. He will then take the yeast back with him to Poland, where he will share it with other homebrewers there. According to...
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Tags for this post: yeast, giveaway, winners, contest, conan

Conan Yeast Giveaway Finalists

Posted by Olan on 8/01/2014 at 02:53:13 PM

 
After a week, we have received a whopping seventy-six entries to the ECY29 (Conan yeast) contest! If you'd like to see, there is a map representing all of the entries. I've done a lot of deliberating, and let me tell you - there were a *ton* of great ideas.

I pared down the list once, then pared it down again, and am now down to seven finalists.

If you did not make the list, please don't take it personally - I had a really difficult time narrowing down the finalists, and I had to leave out several entries that I feel that would have been worthy winners. It might sound cheesy or fake, but it's absolutely true that I would like to have given away even more vials. However, I had to draw a line somewhere; I simply can't afford to ship tons of yeast all around the continent.

Homebrewers, here is where you come in. Please cast your vote for your favorite idea of the finalists from the table below. Click the button next to their name, then click the "Process Vote" button at the bottom of the entry. No stuffing the ballot box, folks - one vote per person, please!  Also, please do note that comments to this blog post will not count as official votes - you must use the voting mechanism below.

I will personally select one winner from these finalists, and a second winner will come from the top vote getter. A combined method will...
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Tags for this post: finalists, homebrew, contest, yeast, Conan, ecy29, recipes, ideas

Review: Ruddles County Clone (Best Bitter)

Posted by Olan on 7/30/2014 at 04:00:03 AM

 

Today's beer review is one I have been looking forward to; it comes to us from my good friend Greg, of High Point, North Carolina.  Greg is an active member of the /r/homebrewing community, and goes by the screen name of /u/vinpaysdoc - give him a shout sometime!  Greg drove through Birmingham recently on the way to visit one of his kids at the University of Alabama, and was kind enough to swap beers with me (as well as hook me up with several vials of yeast).

Greg's beer is a best bitter - specifically, a Ruddles County Clone.  I haven't had the pleasure of trying this beer myself, though it's a real favorite of Greg's. 

This particular bottle spent a good week in my fridge prior to me taking it out for this review.  Since this is an English style, I did let it warm a good bit before I did the review (though it was probably still cooler than it would be served in a UK pub). 

You'll notice that this video is noticeably shorter than my first effort; I decided to do my actual sipping and note taking off camera in an effort to spare the viewer from my strange faces and long pauses.  The "uhs" and "ahs" are drastically reduced, for which I am proud.  I also feel like the sound quality is improved, thanks to my use of a directional mike - but beware, you will still hear my kids in a couple of spots.  Sadly,...
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Tags for this post: best, bitter, review, video, beer, homebrew, ruddles county, clone

The Winds of Change are Blowing at Homebrew Dad

Posted by Olan on 7/28/2014 at 08:10:29 PM

 

When I first created the Homebrew Dad website, the idea was pretty simple - I wanted a place to chronicle my own growth as a brewer.  I had this idea of sharing the steps that I took from complete and utter beginner to... well, to wherever I might take this hobby.

Along the way, the website has grown and evolved with me.  I learned that recipe sharing is a pretty big aspect of brewing; rather than post a recipe once, as most blogs do, I decided to set up a central repository to keep them in, which would allow me to embed the recipe again and again, and would also allow people a simple, convenient way to refer back to a given beer recipe.  I then had an idea about perhaps expanding that repository one day, so I set it up in such a way as to make the recipes fully searchable - for instance, if you had, say, Munich malt and wanted to see all of the recipes that I had posted that used it, you could do so with a simple search.

I became interested in some of the more technical aspects of brewing, and have always enjoyed programming.  I ended up creating a series of utilities - the priming sugar calculator, the ABV calculator, the beer calorie calculator, the grain and hop databases, etc.  Wherever possible, I have tried to keep an eye on scalability and flexibility for these, as well.

I set up an area of the site for...
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Tags for this post: homebrew, brewing, beer, community, forum, content

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