It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. It’s also been a while since I’ve brewed. I’ll admit, I had a bad run there for a while. I had a bad batch that I dumped. I had a batch that got infected. I had a batch that the grain sat so long it ended up kind of stale. Add to that the fact I got a new job and transplanted to another city, brewing unfortunately had to take a spot on the back burner.

I was determined to start 2015 off right though. In mid-December I started looking at what I could brew next. I had put together a recipe for a big beer I initially wanted to brew for Christmas, but since that didn’t happen I have decided to hold off on that until next year. Then I thought about doing a basic Pale Ale. Then my WhIPA it Good IPA. I thought I finally settled on a nice Dubbel, I created a solid recipe, and did my research on the fermentation profile. Then, at the last minute I switched it all up again.

I hadn’t really mastered using my mash tun yet. I didn’t really have a chance to set up my brew area the way I wanted – most of my worldly possessions are still stacked in boxes. I was going to go back to my tried and true BIAB brew method. I dusted off my chest freezer and temp controller and tested it with a bucket of water and an old thermowell stopper. Then, in talking to my brew buddy Tom over the Christmas holiday – we realized we were coming up on our 1 year anniversary of our brew quest. We even dug up a bottle each of our original 1st brews and shared them over Christmas dinner. It was great reminiscing on how much we didn’t know, how much we learned in just a year, and how much beer we’ve consumed for “research”. (By the way, we’ve both committed to writing more reviews on the many breweries we visit.

I decided on another Maple Brown Ale. This time, I was going to bump it up to Imperial status Oh yeah – a big, nutty, sweet maple brown ale would be perfect to close out the winter, while celebrating my 1st brew as well. That’s where my success stopped… Let’s talk about brew day.

It was weird brewing with a new layout and environment. I found myself getting turned around and bumping into stuff. I was brewing minimum twice a month from Jan – Oct 2014, so I had a routine. I probably could have brewed blindfolded with my old setup, not so much now. But all in all, the setup went ok, and I wash mashing in no time.

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Brewing outdoors made it hard to heat up and keep a rolling boil in the winter weather.

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My target gravity was 1.075. Sadly I fell short… (1.065)

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Then, as I took this gravity reading – I noticed this wasn’t really brown. As a matter of fact, I poured a Karl Strauss Amber Lager, and the colors were almost identical.

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But, on the bright side, I tasted the wort and it was bold and sweet. I made a last minute decision to increase my hop profile. It was a big malty beer, with a pound of Maple Syrup added at flameout. If I didn’t add the extra hops, it would have been unbalanced. And, I think I figured out the color issue. I accidentally grabbed Pale Chocolate Malt, instead of regular Chocolate Malt. That really affected the color, and probably won’t bring the roasted undertones I was going for. Plus – part of what I used to get my beer OG up there was extra light dry extract. Knowing that I should have compensated with more brown and chocolate malt.

Plus, I think the efficiency suffered because I was trying to push the limits of my 10 gallon pot. Not enough water to grain ratio for proper conversion. Next time I’ll use less base malt and up the extract to 2 lbs.

I got my ingredients from a new LHBS as I am 3 hours away from the Bearded Brewer. I was generally not impressed and a little disappointed. I’ll write about that later this week. Let’s just say that due to their inventory, I made additional last minute changes to my recipe by replacing my hops AND yeast since they were out of what I originally selected.

At the end of the day, I finally have a beer bubbling away in the garage. In about 3 weeks I’ll transfer to secondary, and let it condition for another 2-3 weeks after that. At that time I will also be brewing my 2nd batch of 2015. I’ll keep you guys posted…

Happy New Year! Prost!

 

 

 

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