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. 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.