This week on Brewzasters: Brewing A Small Batch not Small Beer

Beer Brewing Supplies and Ingredients

You can brew beer in a small apartment  (Photo credit: billread)

Last weekend I gathered some brewing gear up and headed out to show some friends how to brew beer.

But, I didn’t grab any large pots or big burners. I needed no pot larger than two gallons and could have done my boil on a camp stove. In fact, everything I needed fit into a six-gallon bucket (the list is toward the bottom of the page.)

We were brewing a one-gallon batch of beer.

This size is perfect:

  • If you want to try your hand at brewing beer without spending wads of cash on a five or ten gallon set-up.
  • If you don’t want to spend wads of cash only to find you don’t like drinking five to ten gallons of the same thing.
  • If you have an apartment with little space.
  • If you want to experiment and not commit to five or ten gallons.

We made the batch using a German Blonde kit from Northern Brewer. (If you are interested in creating your own, you can find a similar recipe farther down this post.)

We started with putting the grain (for added flavor and color) into the kit’s muslin sack and putting that in 3/4-gallons of warm (~140 – 160F) water. We steeped the bag filled with grains for 10-15 minutes and then removed it and brought the wort to a boil. Once the weak wort began to boil we added the 1-pound of NB’s dry light pilsen malt extract and the hops they provided in the kit. The boil lasted 45 minutes.

My brewzaster happened with my hoping that adding four pounds of ice would cool and melt after the boil (assumption being a 1/4 gallon loss to evaporation which leave 1/2 gallon of hot wort). The ice worked well at cooling…it was the melting that didn’t happen–it looked like a pot of iced coffee with cubes of ice filling the pot. So, I transferred the wort to the carboy and added some bottled water to bring the wort up to one gallon. (The original gravity was 1.040SG)

Once we had a gallon of cooled wort, we added one-half package of yeast (no need for a starter with a one-gallon batch) and put the cap and air lock in place.

We plan to bottle it next week.

Call Me Irresponsible Blonde recipe

  • Est Original Gravity: 1.045 SG
  • Est Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
  • Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.5 %
  • Bitterness: 20.0 IBUs
  • Est Color: 3.9 SRM

Ingredients

  • 3 oz  Caramel/Crystal Malt – 10L (10.0 SRM)
  • 16 oz Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)
  • 0.23 oz Willamette hops [5.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min
  • 1/2 package of Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) Yeast

Steep grains for 10-15 minutes at ~150-160F (65-71C). Remove grain bag and bring to a boil. Once a boil has started, add hops (watch out for boil over). Boil for 60 minutes and cool. Transfer to a fermenter and add 1/2 package of yeast. Put air-lock (partially fill air-lock with water and sanitizer or vodka) or blow-off apparatus (tube on air lock opening and the other end of the tube in a jar of water and sanitizer) on the carboy and put in a cool (about 66F) and dark place for 10-14 days. Check daily to watch for over-active fermentation.

What you need to brew a one-gallon batch

  • Beer kit or beer recipe ingredients
  • One to two gallon pot (i.e., your brew kettle)
  • One-half gallon of sterile ice
  • One-gallon carboy fermenter with airlock
  • Stirring spoon
  • Scale (optional)[1]
  • Meat or candy Thermometer
  • Hydrometer (optional)
  • Cleaner (e.g., PBW – Powdered Brewery Wash)
  • Sanitizer (e.g.,Star San)
  • Mini-siphon or sterile flexible tubing
  • Large measuring cup
  • One gallon bottled water
  • Stuff for after fermentation has completed:
    • 11 sanitized 12-oz bottles (to be used in 10-14 days after brewing)
    • Bottle capper
    • Bottle caps (if you don’t want to mess with capping, you can use swing-style cap bottles)
    • ¼ cup corn sugar or sugar tablets (e.g., NorthernBrewer.com’s 8 oz Fizz Drops)

[1] For small batches we can estimate ~0.25-0.30 ounces of pellet hops per tablespoon.

California Craft Brewers newest video: Support Your Local Brewery

Great to see one of my favorite breweries (Triple Rock of Berkeley at around the 1:50 mark) on this new video, Support Your Local Brewery,” produced by the California Craft Brewers Association.

I do support my local brewery, Kelsey Creek Brewing. The brewer, Ron Chips, has a new wet-hopped beer, the Wet Willie, (named after?) that tastes great. I was a little hesitant to try it, since I thought it might be like drinking fermented grass clippings (wet-hopped beers can harbor vegetal flavors). Those worries ceased with the first sip. It’s a great West Coast style ale–hop forward. Try it while supplies last!

There are a bunch of great craft breweries in California. Support them all.

Carboys: Glass or Plastic. Which is better?

I have always used plastic carboys for my homebrewing. The first was a plastic bucket. After that came the PET plastic carboys that are shown in the Northern Brewer video below.

The PET carboy is easy to clean because it is hydrophobic, so a soaking solution of Five Star’s PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash) usually does the trick to clean up the fermenter. They are easy to grip when wet and much easier to lift when full and wet. And, because they are unbreakable (e.g. pouring hot wort into a cold carboy is not a concern for shattering a plastic carboy, but is for glass), they provide one less reason to go to the local emergency room.

So, I am a bit prejudiced on which carboy you should use. Here’s Northern Brewers take on the pro and cons of each:

Cheers!

Related articles

BrewingTV visits Dogfish Head Brewing

I am completely jealous. Northern Brewer‘s BrewingTV got a great tour of Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton, Delaware and their brewpub in Rehoboth Beach.

Last summer, my wife and I toured Dogfish Head Brewing on September 1 (note: you need to make reservations in advance). Dogfish’s motto is “Off-centered beers for off-centered people.”We had a great time and enjoyed conversing with the employees and our fellow tour-groupers. After the tour, we tasted 90 Minute IPA, Indian Brown Ale, Punkin’ Ale, and Midas Touch; and then went to lunch at their brewpub and tasted their Lawnmower, Shelter Pale Ale, 60 Minute IPACask-aged 75 Minute IPA, and Midas Touch.

I’m not head-over-heels in love with Dogfish’s beers; I prefer our west coast style ales. I must be more centered than I knew.

Yeast Ranching notes

These are some notes I took when the owner/brewer of the soon-to-be-opened Kelsey Creek Brewing gave a seminar on yeast ranching to some members of the Lake County Homebrewers club.

=====

To grow and cultivate (aka “ranch”) yeast you want clean clear wort with the trub precipitated out to mix with agar to put on the petri dishes. You will also need inoculation loops and  inoculation needles.

Required for yeast ranching:

Process:

Sprinkle agar over the top of the cooled wort. Do not dump the agar rather sprinkle in around (7g/250ml). No need to stir. Sanitation is not critical yet, since it will go into a pressure cooker which serves as an autoclave. Be sure to add nutrient to your wort.
After it has been used, every time you touch something in the pressure cooker you spray it with isopropyl 70 alcohol.

Pour the agar & wort solution using the “pacman” technique
Make sure the agar sets up ~45min before flipping over to lessen the condensation

Place a drop of diluted yeast solution on the dish with the agar. Then remember the spot and drop sterile saline on the yeast’s spot.

Then use the needle to drag the drop to streak it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nice to haves:

  • Hemocytometer (local veterinary offices may have these lying around)
  • microscope

To check yeast viability a bulb flask is used (9 ml of sterile and 1 ml of yeast and 1 drop of methylene blue) and .0001 ml of of solution is placed on hemocytometer slide

Resources:

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale…the bottling

It’s been nearly a month since we at Flog This Dead Brewing avoided injuring even though we boiled 10 gallons of wort for over 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children and tipsy people. We were able to move the wort into fermenting carboys and added yeast at which point the wort changed (legally at least) into beer. A week later we took a sample (using a wine thief, essentially a long plastic pipette)  and its specific gravity measured 1.023.  Though there were some “dish soap” tastes–probably phenols produced by the yeast.

Hydrometer shows the finishing specific gravity of 1.014

After one month in the primary and secondary combined, and two weeks after dry-hopping with an ounce of cascade hops, the specific gravity has reached its final gravity of 1.014.

So today, the beer will be bottled and set aside for bottle conditioning. Bottle conditioning is the process of adding sugars to the beer to awaken the yeast and get them working again. Their burping of carbon dioxide inside the bottle will carbonate the beer.

But, first we will taste the month-old beer to see how it’s doing so far. The beer has a deep red color with a floral nose and taste (reminiscent of rose petals). The soapiness is gone and hoppiness jumps out at you but it is still slightly sweet. In future batches, I think the malt might use a little more presence. Since this was an extract brew there was not much we could do about that. The yeast ate the extract and left the beer a little drier. In an all-grain batch I might try mashing in the 155F (68C) range which will leave some more unfermentable sugars that the yeast can’t digest.

I’ve decided to experiment  with the flavor profile by bottle conditioning half of the batch with corn sugar (0.46  oz/gal) and half with honey (0.56 oz/gal). I’m interested to see how the honey will play with the already great flavors. It may be too much of a good thing. We will know in a few more weeks which method was the right choice.

Carbonation calculation for a brown ale.

Here’s the recipe for the Big Irish American Red beer:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale follow-up/Taste and Specific Gravity

Here's Big Red at 1 week old

Last week in brew disasters at the Rhythm and Brews festival in Lakeport, CA on Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012, Paul and Norm avoided scalding anyone while producing 10 gallons of Big Irish American Red beer wort in 30 minutes 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children people unaware that we were boiling liquid.

Today, I took my first sample of the wort beer (That’s it on the right ==>). The specific gravity measured at 1.023. That’s after one week in the fermenter at 64F. I tasted it too. It’s okay. Though there are some “dish soap” tastes–probably phenols produced by the yeast. I’m hoping that a week or two longer in the carboy helps. Unless, it really is dish soap then there’s no hope for it.

Should I add more yeast to try to get the specific gravity down to 1.015 and clean up some of those phenol tastes?

Ingredients:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale (after the Rhythm & Brews event)

In this photograph, emergency medical technici...

Fortunately these guys weren't needed. No one got hurt too badly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week in brew disasters:Paul and Norm were up to the challenge of producing 10 gallons of beer wort in 30 minutes 3 hours inside a drafty hall filled with randomly running children and less than sober people who have no idea that we were boiling liquid at the Rhythm and Brews festival in Lakeport, CA on Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012.

Speaking of no ideas. I have no idea of how many health and safety codes we might have violated. I love brewing. Brew days just stoke me with excitement. But, if we were to do this again, I would like to see: signs to caution people to the dangers of boiling liquids, first aid supplies for burns and emergency medical technicians close by, cordons around the boil kettles, in other words a decent incident action plan (IAP).

Thankfully, no one was injured.

The yeast joined the wort at 6:45pm on Saturday and by 6am on Sunday the beer showed active fermentation.

Ingredients for Big Irish American Ale:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG (Measured 1.060)
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

This Week in Brew Disasters: Big Irish American Red Ale

Hop cone in the Hallertau, Germany, hop yard

Hang out with me at Rhythm & Brews. (Image via Wikipedia)

This week in brew disasters: will Paul and Norm be up to the challenge of producing a beer in 30 minutes inside a drafty hall filled with people who have no idea what the boiling liquid is for and why hops smell like pot?

Maybe not.

But, you can find out how easy brewing beer really is. Come join me and others from the Lake County Homebrewers group at the Rhythm and Brews festival in Lakeport, CA on Saturday, Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2012.

“Cervesariis Feliciter.” (“Long live the Brewsters”) — Ancient Roman Blessing

At 1:30 pm, we will boiling 12 1/2 gallons of wort (the raw beer before yeast is added) for 10 1/2 gallons of what we are calling a Big Irish American Red Ale. We only have 30 minutes on the schedule so we’ll be using liquid malt extract instead of soaking (mashing)  two-row malted barley in hot water to extract the starches and sugars. We will be steeping some specialty grains to add color (Lovibond–L–denotes darkness) and flavor. The specialty grains are: 40 L crystal malt, 120 L crystal malt, 300 L roasted barley. [Update: boiling liquids and drunk people dancing…should be fun!]

Ingredients:

17.00 lb Pale Liquid Extract (4.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)
2 oz Columbus hops (added at 20 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Centennial hops (added at 10 minutes before flame off)
2 oz Citra hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
2 oz Amarillo Gold hops (added at 1 minute before flame off)
California Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP001)

After the yeast has been added and two weeks of fermentation here is the expected beer profile:
Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.3 %
Bitterness: 44.5 IBU
Calories: 278 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.2 SRM

Update [2/15/2012]: I’m working on a starter yeast for this beer using John Palmer’s How to Brew.