Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Butternut Brown Autumn Ale

After all the pumpkin brews I downed during my last double brew session, I wanted to do a pumpkin beer really bad.  We made one at adam's place last week using canned pumpkin.  It didn't cause any issues with sparging and seems very promising, but it wasn't mine and I had to have my own in order to retain control of all aspects of the brew.  I like to do as much as possible without using pre-made products and thus did not want to use canned pumpkin, which I hear is actually not pumpkin but some field squash called dickensen. Really its all pretty darn close to the same thing but whatever, I want to prepare my own.  Pumpkins are not available here yet...I mean, there are a few, but right now its all about the butternut squash, a breed of neck pumpkin, that is very in season.  I picked up three large butternut squash from the grocery and went to work peeling and cubing them.  Let me be the first to tell you this is no easy task, and going into this next year, I will probably revert to using the canned pumpkin.  After peeling and cubing the squash, I pre-heated the oven to 350 and spread out a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkled some brown sugar over the top of them.  Why?  I don't know, cause I wanted to and it made the house smell awesome.  It took three batches and by the time I was done, not only was the weather very much autumnal, it was a little too autumnal for me to be outside brewing.  Lower fifties spitting the coldest rain of the season.  I did not want to and did not have enough time left in the day to brew a batch of beer so into the fridge went the squash pieces (cooked) where they have sat for the last two days.

That brings us up to pace and up to right now, about 4:45 pm on a very nice september day.  I struck in about a half hour ago @ about 154 with a grain bill I concocted to be similar to a northern english brown.  I've been drinking quite a bit of newcastle for some unknown reason* at the bar and thought it would accept the spices and squash well...I've never used squash in beer so we'll just have to see how it works out!  I put two and a half pounds of the mashed up butternut squash in the mash with about a half a pound of rice hulls when taking into consideration all the info about stuck pumpkin mashes.  This is about 24% of the mash.  FYI and mine for next year, that left me with about a pound of butternut squash leftover, maybe more, so it looks like I'll be making some pumpkin bread, which is fine by me.  I love that shit.  I don't know exactly how many pounds I started out with...maybe 10-12 lbs raw unpeeled squash, I forgot to write that down.  I'm wondering if I could do this without the rice hulls and then just use the spent grain/squash mix to make bread with?

Man was that awesome.  Adam stopped over to drink/brew beer and eat food.  We made habanero cream cheese stuffed jalepenos and ribeyes on the grill with sauteed garlic n' onions and twice baked mashed potatoes.  I think I have ate eight whole jalepenos at this point in time.  The brew went off with out a hitch. The only problem I encountered with sparging is when I had to stop to regain my focus because hot pepper hands and peeing do not mix.  I really need to keep some gloves around when I do these things.

For spices, I put in one vanilla bean (scraped and chopped up), 4 cloves, a half a mexican cinnamon stick, and about 5 or so grams of semi crushed jamaican allspice berries.  I will be adding 2 more vanilla beans in the secondary.  This one smells and tastes awesome!  I just hope this yeast kicks in.  The only thing left to note is that the smack pack I got from the HBS was slow to swell and after about 10 hours in the fermenter, I still see no signs of life.  I'm sure it will be fine but I'm a little irked as I've had bad luck with semi-outdated yeast lately.  Its so much easier and always more viable when I grow it out myself first.  I need to start a yeast library.

*it was free

UPDATE 10/26/10 - Kinda fell out of the blogosphere? the last month and a half or so.  Being unemployed got to me and I got a bit depressed.  The boil order imperial porter has helped but I want to let it age!!!  Anyway, I have a new job and I'm back.  I haven't really done much lately but put off bottling any chance I can get.  This beer fermented out fine and was aged for two weeks on two more vanilla beans (scraped and chopped up).  I was hoping to have this done for halloween but that's not gonna happen.  I finally bottled it up on 10/24/10 and I'm extremely excited.  The taste is exactly where I wanted it to be and if I don't overcarbonate it, this one is going to be excellent.

UPDATE 11/06/10 - Sampled this one over the last couple days.  Despite the excitement in the last update, I'm relatively disappointed with what I have here.  Disappointed, but not upset or uninspired.  I'm relatively new to using spices in beer.  This is a learning process.  The base beer itself is good, and the spices are good, its the amount of allspice that is the problem.  If I can stress anything I've ever read about brewing with spices its that they need to be used in extreme moderation.  I always feel like I'm not adding enough when I brew with spices and beings that by the time spice additions roll around during brewday, I'm pretty juiced up and historically I decide to put more in than I previously determined was necessary.  Not anymore, lesson learned for sure.  What really impresses me is the body that the butternut squash gave this beer.  It has a very smooth well rounded mouthfeel that I think would be pretty tough to get by any other means.  The spices are spot on too, exactly the flavor I wanted but TOO much.  If I halved or even used only 1/3 of the allspice, this beer would be exactly what I envisioned.  It's definitely getting another go-round next year.  

Butternut Brown
Northern English Brown Ale


Type: All Grain
Date: 9/20/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.57 gal Asst Brewer: Adam Clark
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
8 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 82.93 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
8.0 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
4.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
4.0 oz Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 2.44 %
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 16.3 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (1 min) Hops 0.7 IBU
0.20 oz Allspice (Boil 10.0 min)* Misc *1/3 next year!
0.50 items Cinnamon Stick (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1.00 items Vanilla (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
2.00 items Vanilla (Secondary 7.0 days) Misc
2.50 lb Squash/Pumpkin (Mash 60.0 min) Misc
4.00 items Clove (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
 Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.052 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.054 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity:1.015
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.00 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.08 %
Bitterness: 17.0 IBU Calories: 242 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.5 SRM Color:
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 10.25 lb
Sparge Water: 4.85 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
 60 min Mash In Add 12.81 qt of water at 169.6 F 154.0 F 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Boil Order Imperial Porter - Double Brew Day All The Way Part 2

The following is a tale of a brew inspired by both tragedy and triumph.  Tragedy because the events that caused this beer to be possible, have also caused me and several others to no longer have jobs.  Triumph because these same events allowed me to have a double brew day, put all that "job" stuff behind me, and put an interesting spin on this imperial porter I've been meaning to do.  It's kind of a "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" sorta deal, only this time life gave me flood water and I'm gonna make beer out of it.

I live in Ames, IA and during the months of June and August, we have had lots and lots of rain.  The pizza restaurant I manage(d), Happy Joe's, sits along the squaw creek and is the first business to be affected by flooding in Ames if and when flooding happens.  I had a strange, certain feeling when I came in to work that night that it would be my last day working at this restaurant.

When I came into work at 5 pm, the water was already halfway up the back parking lot and rising quickly.  There was no rain in the forecast, and the rising water was from rain we had gotten earlier that day north of us.  The creek was predicted to crest below what would put water in the store, so we had not sandbagged.  Beings that we have a flood wall in place around the restaurant that was built after the floods of 93', sandbagging and keeping the water out of the store is a fairly simple and easy process...if you do it BEFORE it starts flooding...

About 8 pm that evening the forecast changed.  It went from no rain to 2 inches of rain overnight.  This would definitely be enough rain for the water to get in the store, so the flood wall was put in place 2' up along the back and sump pumps were readied.  Shortly after that they changed the forecast again to 2"-7" and the calvary was called in to finish assembling the flood wall in the back and begin work on the front.

The storm arrived around 9:45 pm and the rain was even more heavy than predicted.  I don't know what the total rainfall was for the evening, but by 10:00 pm, the water had already come around to the front of the building and was entering the front doors of the store.   Long story short, we sandbagged until 2 am in one of the most amazing storms in terms of wind, rain, and lightning that I had ever witnessed.  Probably one of the dumber things I've ever done in my life considering that I was waste deep in flood water with lightning striking literally across the street every other minute.

After 2 AM, with the flood wall built up completely in both the front and the back, with the sump pumps all running as best they could, it was just a matter of waiting for the rain to stop and seeing how high the flood water would rise.  The owner and a couple family members stayed in the store to man the sump pumps overnight.  I waded out of the store, which at this point in time was surrounded by 3-4' of water on all sides, and went home.  I was tired, soaked, covered in dirty flood water, and ready for a beer.

I stayed up that night watching the river gauge and knew that things were not going to be well the next morning.  I guess the call was made at 3:30 am to abandon ship when the water was an inch away from topping the flood wall.  The owner had recently had hip surgery so I was tasked with going in to break down the flood wall, let the water out, and see what the damage was.  This gallery is what I found.  Happy Joe's After Flood 2010

I spent the next few hours biking around town, checking out how the rest of Ames faired.  Here is a link to that gallery.  Ames Flood 2010

In addition to the flooding, all the water mains in Ames broke that night, draining the town's water towers and causing flood/river water to back up into the system.  A boil order was put into place for the safety of everyone in town that lasted about a week.  I've been interested in doing goofy things with beer recently and one of my first thoughts was that I should make beer with this water.  Being faced with unemployment in this job market, I figured one of the last things I should be spending my money on now was making beer and pushed the idea out of my head.  That afternoon, I was carrying the burner out to my car to deliver it to Adam, who was brewing that evening, when Devon rolled up outside the house and said with a very serious, but sarcastic tone of voice,

"So have you thought about it?"
"Thought about what?" I responded.
"Making beer out of Ames Flood water."

I laughed and told him that I had but didn't I didn't give it much more thought.  I dropped the brewing equipment off at Adam's and went home.  Adam came back later that night to get something I forgot to drop off, and the idea was once again brought up to use the boil order water to make beer.  This got me thinking.  Three beer guys thinking it would be proper to take this opportunity and use the events of the flood for the good of the land and make beer?  Gotta be some sorta sign.   I forgot that I had all the ingredients to do an imperial porter.  All I had been waiting for was carboy space due to lack of carboys caused by a recent obsession over sour beers.  Despite the thought of no incoming income, the plan was put into action.  I would go get more carboys and brew beer with the boil order water.  It had to be done,  So I did it.

boil order imperial porter
Imperial Stout


Type: All Grain/DME boost
Date: 7/13/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.91 gal Asst Brewer: johnny walker
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
2 lbs 8.0 oz Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) Dry Extract 15.15 %
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 60.61 %
2 lbs 8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM) Grain 15.15 %
1 lbs Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 6.06 %
8.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 3.03 %
0.50 oz Chinook [11.50 %] (90 min) Hops 15.9 IBU
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (60 min) Hops 36.1 IBU
1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] (30 min) Hops 27.7 IBU
4.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops -
0.50 oz Chinook [11.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
3.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Pkgs Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.086 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.084 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.022 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.019 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 8.41 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 8.51 %
Bitterness: 79.7 IBU Calories: 378 cal/pint
Est Color: 53.5 SRM Color:


3:00 PM  Heated up strike water.  I'm pounding pumpkin beers like its my job.  O'Fallen's pumpkin beer is awesome.  I should top my glass with some whipped cream.  It's like pumpkin pie in a bottle.  Speaking of pounding pumpkin beer, I screwed up and didn't pre-heat my mash tun and ended up mashing in low @ 149.  I immediately ran about 2 gallons of the strike water off (its PURPLE!?) and heated up to ~170 then re-mashed-in and mash temp is @ 154.  More proof that I'm awesome.

3:20 PM  Mash is underway.  I have a feeling this beer is going to prove to be difficult.  Time to relax.  More pumpkin beer while them enzymes do their thing.

4:50 PM  Hungry.  Upstairs Wendy's friend, Diana, is bringing over some chicken breasts to grill.  Sparging is slow going, but it's not getting stuck like I originally thought it would with as thick of a mash as I had going.  We need more pumpkin beer.

5:08 PM  Going to get more pumpkin beers.

6:00 PM Coals are going.  Steaks, taters, n' chicken going on shortly.  STILL sparging.  STILL drinking pumpkin beer.

7:05 PM Slowly bringing wort to a boil.  I need to evap some of this.  The wort is all the way to the top of my kettle...  If I'm gonna get thru this one, I better switch back to coffee.

8:30 PM  Oh double brew day all the way.  What does it mean?  It means I'm an idiot.  Why do I do this?  I've done this before and said never again...yet here we are, 30 minutes into the 90 minute boil on my second batch.  Surprisingly I did not have a boil over.  I'm ready for bed and I'm supposed to go to a tee pee party tonight?  I don't even really know what that means, but I can pow wow with the best of them.

10:00 PM 1.078 OG.  Pitching london 3 yeast slurry along with the irish ale yeast starter.  I originally planned on using the irish ale, but the tube i got was waaaay past the best by date and took 24 hours to start going in the 4 liter starter.  It didn't appear to create that much new yeast and I don't want to underpitch this beast.

11:29 PM  Rest of the cleanup can wait till tomorrow.  Looks like a meth lab in my house.

9/04/10 Racked to secondary on top of 4 ounces of cascades. gravity is @ 1.020

9/15/10 Bottling Day Notes

Lots of hops in there, I don't know how many gallons I'm going to get.  This is causing me to question how much sugar to use for carbonation.  I'm going to target carbonation for 4 gallons @ 2.4 volumes.  I can't imagine I'd leave behind much more than a gallon.  Hopefully I'll get more, either way it happens I shouldn't under or over carbonate shooting for 2.4 @ 4.

FG reads 1.019 I'm very satisfied with the taste.  When I tasted it initially, before racking onto 4 ounces of hops, it was immensely bitter and acrid...not balanced at all.  The 4 oz of cascade has really balanced that bitterness leaving the beer really smooth with lots of roasty, malty deliciousness that is surprisingly not at all boozy for the 8.5% abv advertised.  I think this is going to be really really good.

UPDATE 11/6/10 These are great.  I'm having a hard time letting these age as long as they should.  This beer is not for someone who doesn't enjoy a good amount of hops either.  It pours a thick opaque black with a nice dark tan head on it that hangs on all the way down the glass.  I swear the tan head is tinged green from the 4 oz of dry hop cascades but I'm sure that's just my imagination or a hallucination brought on by something in the boil order water.  This beer sings hops, perhaps a bit too much but it's still young and I'm sure within six months, some of that hoppyness will subside.  Some would prob say its too carbed for a porter but I say to them, fuck you.  I like it.  Definately brewing this again.  Call/email/text me or whatever if you're under a boil order!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Groundhog's Shadow - Double Brew Day All The Way Part 1

I'm getting a bit ambitious today.  Its 7:30 AM and I already have the mash going for my winter warmer.  I'm planning on doing two batches today...this could get rough :)

I'm starting out with The Groundhog's Shadow, a winter warmer that I brewed last year.  It was one of my last, and most tasty extract batches and I'm really excited to do it again this year, with some changes.  I've converted it to all-grain and added some honey malt, bumped up the OG a bit.  I can't find the buckwheat honey I used last year so I'm gonna sub some local dark honey available at the co-op and throw in a half cup or so of molasses.  Other adjustments are being made to use up hops in my freezer and compensate for me being an idiot and not getting the hops I wanted while I was at the HBS yesterday.  We bought a pound magnum a few months back and haven't used but an ounce or two. While I know bittering substitutions are fine for the most part, I have a certain phobia about it doing it.  I haven't decided what I'll be using for spices yet, but I'm resting easy knowing that in such a heavily spiced brew, even my imagination won't be able to tell the difference in bittering hop used.

My efficiency has been all over the place recently and I can only attribute it to how I'm mashing.  I'll be paying particular attention to the grain bed temperature today.  I don't think I've been mashing out properly and getting my grain bed hot enough to extract all the sugars?  I don't know but ya gotta start somewhere so today I'll pull a gallon or two of my first runnings and heat them up before adding it back to the grain bed to help get it up to 170.

groundhog's shadow 2010
Christmas/Winter Specialty Spice Beer


Type: Partial Mash
Date: 8/19/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.57 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
8 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 59.79 %
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 7.47 %
1 lbs Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM) Grain 7.47 %
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) Grain 3.74 %
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 3.74 %
3.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) Grain 1.42 %
3.0 oz Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 1.42 %
1.00 oz Magnum [12.50 %] (60 min) Hops 39.6 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (Dry Hop 3 days) Hops -
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (30 min) Hops 12.2 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (5 min) Hops 3.2 IBU
2 lbs Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 14.95 %
 1 Pkgs London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.068 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.067 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.018 SG Measured Final Gravity: TBD
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.61 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: TBD %
Bitterness: 55.0 IBU Calories: 300 cal/pint
Est Color: 19.6 SRM Color:


6:20 AM  Up way too early.  Might as well get started.  Stretch, Coffee, Smoke.  Strike water is on.  Mashed in @ 154.  Time for more coffee.

8:00 AM  and the mash is @ the halfway mark.  Doing some dishes before I destroy the kitchen today.  Decided it is still too early to HAHB, more coffee it is.

8:50 AM  Mash out success.  Brought ~2 gallons on the first runnings up to ~198 and added back to mash tun.  Grain bed is reading 170.  Damn I'm good.

9:45 AM Sparge is done.  Brian, aka Johnny Walker, a homebrewer from work just showed up.  I'm trying to convince him to go to all-grain.  Running to the co-op to get honey.

10:30 AM  Honey's in the kettle and the burner is ragin'.  Looks like rain.  It always rains when I brew...

1:30 PM  Started drinking sometime in the last couple hours.  Adam stopped by to give me a bung for a better bottle I bought yesterday.  Batch one is done.  1.067 SG.  Not bad, not bad at all.  Only one point off of my target.  I pitched about a cup and a half of slurry from the london 3 yeast cake of the oatmeal stout for novy and erica's wedding.

10/15/10 Racked to secondary.  Left in primary too long because I could not figure out what I wanted to do with the spices and I've been being lazy lately.  The base beer tastes really good as it is, very sweet and nutty, but bitter...I love it like it is but the aroma leaves a lot to be desired and its my holiday ale so I have to put some sort of spice in it.  The bitterness is what left me questioning how to spice this thing as most winter beers are not so heavy on the hops.  I decided to keep it simple, and just use one spice, cardamom. We'll just have to wait and see how it works out.

Dry hopped with 1 oz EKG and 7 split cardamom pods.

UPDATE ??? Fuck cardamom.  Shits nasty.  Adam's wife likes it. All I can taste is cardamom.  It is overwhelming in the nose and taste.  If you ever use cardamom in the future, add 1/4 the amount you come up with you moron.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Novy & Erica's Oatmeal Stout

About six months to a year ago, I agreed to brew a batch of "dark beer that you can chew on" for a friend's wedding.  I had forgotten all about it until we had a bad storm that downed a bunch of trees around my house and I needed to borrow Novy's chainsaw to cut up the mess.  After using the chainsaw, they were kind enough to remind me of my promise and that their wedding is coming up in 2 months.  I had to push some of my brewing plans back to do this because of the carboy's being used long-term for sour beers, but I'm happy that I did.  I think they will enjoy this Oatmeal Stout I came up with.

novy & erica's oatmeal stout
Oatmeal Stout


Type: All Grain
Date: 8/3/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.57 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 73.37 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 11.01 %
14.1 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 6.46 %
12.0 oz Chocolate Rye (Weyermann) (245.0 SRM) Grain 5.50 %
8.0 oz Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 3.67 %
0.75 oz Chinook [11.50 %] (60 min) Hops 25.1 IBU
0.25 oz Chinook [11.50 %] (20 min) Hops 5.1 IBU
0.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops
1 package     Wyeast 1318 London III Ale                            Yeast

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.066 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.066 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.014 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.42 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.79 %
Bitterness: 30.2 IBU Calories: 291 cal/pint
Est Color: 28.6 SRM Color:

Brewdate 08/05/10.  It was kind of a hectic brew.  This evening was the night of the employee summer bowling party with the after-party, as usual, being held at my place.  I left work early at 2:00 pm figuring that, with my vow to stay sober during this batch, I would have no problem getting it done in plenty of time to get ready for the party,which started at 10:00 PM.  I really should know myself better than this by now.  I have never, and probably will never, be able to brew a batch without digging into my stash of homebrew.  Even more-so of an issue was my neighbor Wendy's boyfriend, Devon, who is a homebrewer who has recently become interested in my brewing escapades.  At Wendy's notification that I was mid-brew, he brought over several of his beers for me to try while we brewed.  He isn't one to make normal everyday brews either.  We sampled an oaked pale, some belgian concoction, an ancho chili chocolate porter, and a few others he had made.  He also told me of his "butt pump" ale, a butternut squash pumpkin ale that I am looking forward to trying.  

All the drinking aside, which definitely made me less efficient, I had my first stuck sparge ever due to the large amount of oats I used in the recipe.  I grabbed some rice hulls to use in this batch in anticipation of this, but neglected to note the amount of grain (13.66 lbs) used in this recipe and the fact that my mash tun can only hold 14 lbs.  I decided to go forward without the rice hulls, but ended up adding a little more than half a pound after blowing the stuck sparge out and getting a mouthful of waaaay too hot yet extremely tasty first runnings of this stout.  I also had to use more sparge water than anticipated to achieve my pre-boil volume.  I don't know if this was just because of the extremely thick mash or what, I still need to learn more about grain to water ratio in the mash tun.  All said and done, I pitched the yeast at 9:45 pm before rushing off to the party.

The party was pretty awesome, from what I remember.  This is Brad.  Brad humped our pet lion before passing out on the sidewalk...where I'm pretty sure he was humped.  Ahh...to be young(er) again :)


08/05/10 - Mashed in right on target @ 154.  I kinda prefer my stouts a bit on the dryer side, but Novy wanted something thick and an oatmeal stout should have a nice rounded, kinda thick mouthfeel IMO.  I figured 154 with all them oats will be just fine.

This mash is thick!  I am really concerned about sticking my sparge.

Yup.  Got my sparge stuck.  Wendy operated the mash paddle while I blew up the tube in hopes of unsticking the sparge.  I got a mouthful of pretty effin' hot, but super tasty wort.  Added a half pound + of rice hulls and retopped with sparge water.

It's slow going, but it's going.

The calculated sparge water has not been enough to hit my pre-boil volume.  I'll be fermenting this in a 5 gallon carboy, as opposed to the 6.5 that I usually use so if I don't have my estimated volume, no problem, but I have a feeling about this mash and hitting my target OSG so I'm currently heating up some extra water to sparge with and hit my pre-boil volume.

Boil goes without issue, and BOO-YA!  OSG is measured @ 1.066! 

Placed in water bath and yeast pitched @ 9:45.  Ferment evident when I got home at 12:30 pm-ish.

08/07/10 - The krausen and malty aroma of this beer has got me half mast.  I can't wait for this to be done.  You can smell the creamyness!

08/09/10 - I'ts super hot here in Iowa.  Brewing in the summer is really not advised if you can't babysit your carboy.  I've done a good job keeping this one iced down but I think I filled this 'boy up a bit too high.  The fermentation blew a good amount of healthy, super thick, yeast out of the air lock.  I've had blow-off before, and generally use a blowoff tube, but its always just some beer and hops.  This blowoff is thick yeast and it left a 1/8" to 1/4" layer of yeast sediment in the bottom of my waterbath tub (Like the kind you see on the bottom of your secondary).  I hope I didn't lose too much yeast to finish the ferment.  Time will tell.

08/10/10 - Fermentation has slowed quite a bit, but there is still a 1/4" layer of krausen.  I wonder where my FG will end up...

08/20/10 - Racked to secondary.  FG sitting @ 1.012.  Really smooth and roasty.  Lots of coffee action here and definately some oatmeal in there.  Delicious.

9/04/10 - Bottled this today. FG actually read 1.014 this time and I'm stone cold sober right now so i'm going to trust this reading :)  Not as dark as I wanted it to be but its a nice deep brown, very smooth, very tasty.

10/15/10 - This beer got better and better over the last month.  I had a hard time dropping all that remained off @ the wedding to be drank by those possibly unworthy of its tastyness.  The compliments and enjoyment of all those involved, and the new beer snob friends I found made it all worth while.  Congrats Novy & Erica!  It was quite the spectacle! Notes for next oatmeal stout brew - sub some crystal rye for some of the crystal 60.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hohe Feuchtigkeitssäure Donner Braunbeir

I made this recipe up this morning. I need something to rack onto the yeast cake of my last roeselare brew, a flander's red.  It was concocted after reading several posts about sours and many questionable sour brown recipes that I have found scattered across the internet.  The rye substitutions were inspired by The Mad Fermentationist's Funky Mild Rye and my inability to brew things that do not include rye.  Ever since I have switched to all grain I have put rye in just about all of my beers.  I've done a couple american ryes, a rye pale, and a rye ipa.  I have a stout that has some chocolate rye in the grist in queue.  I have a hard time passing up the opportunity to use rye in anything I brew, and really wanted this sour brown to be unique and not a copy of someone else's recipe as I did with my first sour.  All or part of this will be aged on top of cherries, variety to be determined when I find some at the farmer's markets.  Heres the recipe.

I am still learning a lot about brewing sours and brewing in general so as always, with all of my posts, please feel free to comment and give feedback. Thanks!

Hohe Feuchtigkeitssäure Donner Braunbeir
Flanders Brown Ale/Oud Bruin


Type: All Grain
Date: 8/3/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.91 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
10 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 76.92 %
1 lbs Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 7.69 %
12.0 oz Caramunich III (Weyermann) (71.0 SRM) Grain 5.77 %
8.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 3.85 %
8.0 oz Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 3.85 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Rye (Weyermann) (245.0 SRM) Grain 1.92 %
1.50 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 23.0 IBU
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.063 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.010 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.09 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 0.65 %
Bitterness: 23.0 IBU Calories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 20.0 SRM Color:

This was a really fun brew night.  A couple days ago my little brother moved in with me and it was the first time he has ever been around for a brew session, which was very nice.  Also present were his girlfriend Alli and a fellow brewer and friend, Adam.

On the way back from the brew store we stopped by home depot and Adam picked up a piece of maple for .53 that was quickly made into a mash paddle to replace the plastic spoon we had been using.  I can't believe for .53 we hadn't done this already.

The locusts are out in force here in Iowa.  A few beers into this brew, we were under attack so Adam went after one with the mash paddle to no avail.  Fate, however, had other plans for this particular locust.  This bug was destined to burn for its attacks on humanity.  What happened next was one of the most disturbing things I have ever had to listen to/witness.  The locust flew into an open porch light and got caught between the bulb and the glass where it proceeded to screech for a good 10 minutes before it stopped and we assumed it was dead.  I would have turned the light off but it was the neighbor's and she was gone.  Ten minutes later it started screeching again.  Our level of intoxication made it laughable but everyone was still a little disturbed by the unfortunate demise of the screeching, burning locust.

All in all it was a great brewing session.  Everything went relatively smooth and I had probably the most fun I've had brewing in a while.  Thats what happens when you're with good people tho I suppose.  I live in a college town and have met a lot of great people here.  After ten years, however, most of my good friends have gone.  Lately its been becoming more and more of a bummer to see them leave.  Our numbers are diminishing and it kinda makes me feel like I'm spinning my tires and not getting anywhere in life, seeing them all starting families and doing the things they have always dreamt about doing.  Oh well.  I'm happy to have my brother living with me.  He's an awesome dude and I'm looking forward to the trouble we'll get in over the next year.  I also realized tonight that Adam has gone from a friend of a friend to a friend of a friend who wants to learn how to brew to good friend.  He has renewed my interest in brewing and pushes me to brew more and further my knowledge.  I'm really looking forward to brewing all of the crazy beers we have talked about doing.

Brew Notes:

Mashed in a little high @ 157.  Stirred till 155, was aiming for 154.
11:16 pm.  Pre-boil gravity measured @1.048.  Humidity is very high, I'm sweating bad, skeeters are biting, thunder is rolling in.  All the locusts have left for now or are dead heh.  Blog post and beer re-named to Hohe Feuchtigkeitssäure Donner Braunbeir.  (Don't ask.  We thought then, and still do think now, that german is funny :) )

12:35 AM Chilling the wort.  Its raining now pretty good now.  I had to borrow a hose from Adam so I could chill under the awning.  Racked the flanders red to a secondary to make way for the brown.  I forgot to take an sg reading or a taste...oh well.  I've been spending too much time brewing so one of the reasons behind making this beer and future sours is to be like ronco is to turkey/chicken/hams.  I want to just set it, and forget it...for at least a year.  Having drank the Goose Island Fleur, which I know nothing about but the homebrew store guy said something about it being fermented with a kombucha scoby??? (Looked into this, it is blended with kombucha tea, something I drink often.  It was good IMO and I would like to get a bottle or two to cellar) and the New Belgium Lips of Faith La Folie 2010 this evening, my palate would probably not discern any minor sourness or funk that is developing in the brew.  (<---This is beer snob talk for "whoops i drank too much beer and forgot to do something I should have")

1:10 AM OSG = 1.055. my efficiency is waaay down recently.  the last few batches have ended up about 5-7 points below where i was shooting.

2 ish AM.  "Pitched" wort onto cake and gave it about 30 mins on the aerator.  I've never pitched onto a cake before and I swear the fermentation was well on its way before all the wort was racked.  Also, I added the dregs of the Fleur and the La Folie.

Edited on 9-1-10 to note:  The new bomber style La Folie's have been pasteurized so nothing was gained by pitching it's dregs.


6:30AM.  Time for work.  The carboy is rockin'.  Full ferment going in under 4 hours.
11:30 pm  Time for bed.  Ferment is going strong and is sitting around 68 degrees.

08/06/10  I'm starting to wonder if pitching onto that cake was a good idea.  It seemed like a very violent fermentation and its damn near done.  Krausen has subsided and yeast are dropping out.  Theres still definately some funky stuff going on on top of this brew :)  My main concern is that it smells really really boozy and that fermented real quick despite me keeping the temp around 68.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Flander's Red


This will be my first try at a flander's red style beer. The yeast blend will be roeselare from wyeast (2 liter starter) and it will be directly pitched into the wort. I am using The Mad Fermentationist's Flander's Red Again recipe. I'm going to be speed brewing
this as I have to be to work by 4:30 pm. I got a janky propane tank from lowe's so after re-exchanging tanks, I'm gonna be real pressed for time.

Here's my Beersmith file

flanders red
Flanders Red Ale

Type: Partial Mash
Date: 7/21/2010
Batch Size: 5.50 gal
Brewer: Raymond Wagner
Boil Size: 6.79 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 80 min Equipment: Brew Pot (6+gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (5 Gal)
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:
Amount Item Type % or IBU
3 lbs 12.0 oz Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 29.26 %
3 lbs Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 23.41 %
3 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 23.41 %
1 lbs Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 7.80 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 7.80 %
10.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 4.88 %
4.0 oz Carahell (Weyermann) (13.0 SRM) Grain 1.95 %
3.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 1.48 %
0.50 oz Crystal [4.90 %] (80 min) Hops 7.2 IBU
1.00 oz Crystal [4.90 %] (80 min) Hops 14.5 IBU

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.063 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.010 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.016 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.07 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 0.65 %
Bitterness: 21.7 IBU Calories: 43 cal/pint
Est Color: 13.1 SRM Color:

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 12.82 lb
Sparge Water: 4.57 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Mashed In a bit high for some reason, around 158. Corrected with some cold water, mash holding steady @ 154. Mash tun is COMPLETELY Full. Time to do some laundry and weed the garden.

Pre-boil gravity is 1.048. missed my mark by .005. I'm attributing this to not really understanding my friend's grain mill. Haven't quite figured out or learned enough about the grind of the grain.

I'm going to be late to work. Oh well.  RDWHAHB right?  I can't believe I just used that acronym, but I will and I did.  I just called into work "brewing".  Seriously.

Wow....gonna be really late to work. I'm surprised I haven't gotten the time down to a science by now. Lesson learned, maybe...

OSG = 1.058. missed target by .005. Oh well, it falls within the style guidelines here I guess.

Aerating as the wort pours into the pot because i'm late. Also, no whirlpool.

Pitched @ 74 f. Into waterbath. Off to work! Only an hour and two beers late :)  I'm gonna be "in the office" for a little bit tonight!

7/22/10 Fermentation was off and going 8 hours in by midnight with a fully active fermentation by morning. None of the lag time I read about a lot with roeselare. Fermentation sitting steady @ 70 degrees. A bit of ice and the night will cool it down.

7/26/10 Fermentation visually slowing, removed from water bath and brought up to ambient temp, around 72/74 degrees.

8/04/10 Racked to secondary.  Forgot to take SG reading or taste it.  See my brew-day notes for my Hohe Feuchtigkeitssäure Donner Braunbeir for an explanation.  We'll check back with this one in six months to a year.