Tim Brom's Homepage

I purchased a homebrewing kit for Christmas last year (2010). I made a couple of beers from kits (Brewer's Best Red Ale, followed by a Brewer's Best Irish Stout). They both came out very nicely, but I decided that it was time to move past the kits and actually start making the beer from scratch (for some value of scratch, I'm not about to start growing my own barley :). Granted I am still brewing using extracts, whole grain is still a little bit daunting and I don't have the time to do it right now, but it's a start.

Now that I am actually playing with recipies, it's time to start actually documenting my beers. My latest efforts (for each kind of beer) are documented on this page, archives (once I have them) will be to the left.

Creamy Vanilla Stout

7.5 Lbs  Dark LME
8 ozCaramel Malt 80L
8 ozBlack Malt
4 ozChocolate Malt
8 ozLactose
1 ozUK Northdown Hops (bittering)
???Vanilla (TBD)
1 packetWyeast - London Ale (1028)

I found this basic recipe at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/cream-stout-recipe-suggestions-adding-chocolate-coffee-flavor-265822/ and modified it slightly for my needs. I wanted a little bit more complex flavor so I decided to add the Chocolate Malt, and I increased the total LME at the suggestion of the guy at the local homebrew supply store because I wanted a fairly strong alcohol content. I'm also using a completely different hop than that recipe, and I frankly have no idea if it's a good hop for this or not. It said all ales or porters on the package, but according to Brewtarget the bitterness isn't going to be very high at all (13.9 IBU, and suggested for a stout is 25-40). I don't like my beers real hoppy, but this might not be enough. I also debated adding some roasted barley, but decided not to mess around too much right off the bat.

Brew Day: 2011-09-14 3:00pm

I brought 2.5 gallons of water to 160°F and added the grains in a grain sock, let them seep with the lid on and the heat off for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I added another half gallon of water to bring the total up to 3 gallons, turned the heat back on and slowly added the LME. Once the wort started boiling I added the hops and let the whole thing boil for 60 minutes, adding the lactose when 10 minutes remained on the boil. After cooling the wort down to 80°F (I need to get a wort chiller...) I added enough water to bring the total up to just a little over five gallons which left me with a specific gravity of 1.062 @75°F (1.064 @60°F). This was a hair higher than I was expecting (Brewtarget estimated 1.061) but since I was going for a higher alcohol content, I am OK with that. My only concern is that the yeast I am using doesn't suggest using it at above 1.060, hopefully it will still ferment well. If not I can just re-pitch it. I sealed the fermenter at about 8pm on 2011-09-14, can't wait to look at it in the morning. The temperature was 75°F when I pitched the yeast.

Fermentation Begins: 2011-09-16 10:00am

I had been keeping an eye on the beer, and wasn't seeing any activity in the airlock until just now, about 36 hours in. The brews I had made before all started bubbling prety quickly, so I cracked the lid last night and there was no krausen, which worried me a little, but it is going now. I need to learn to exercise some patience with my yeast. Temperature was 70°F when I went to bed on brew day, but has been pretty steady around 66°F since yesterday morning. The yeast I used says 60-72°F, so I am hitting that right in the middle.

Still Fermenting: 2011-09-20 8:00pm

The airlock is still bubbling, albeit slowly. Fermentation will probably be done in the next day or two, although I need to monitor SG to know for sure. I am planning on racking to secondary on Saturday, while I am making my Red Ale. The weather has gotten a little bit warmer over the last week, my beer has slowly gone up in temperature from 66° to 70°F since brew day.

Racking to Secondary: 2011-09-24 2:00pm

No airlock activity for several days, so I racked this to secondary while brewing up my Irish Red (below). The specific gravity was 1.026 @72°F (1.028 @60°F) which gives me an ABV of 4.8%, quite a bit less than the 6%+ I was shooting for. I aerated it well before racking to secondary, I'm hoping a little bit more actual fermentation happens in secondary. I racked on top of three vanilla beans that I split open, planning on secondarying for three weeks right now. Update: some bubbles in the airlock at 8:30pm, hopefully fermentation picks back up a bit. Another note: it tasted amazing (well, as amazing as warm, flat beer gets).

Another Reading: 2011-09-26 3:00pm

Took another SG reading, it was down to 1.027. So it had dropped ever so slightly. I agitated the wort gently to bring any yeast that dropped out back into suspension and I am just going to leave it alone until Saturday and take another measurement. I may end up dumping a little corn sugar in there if the SG is unchanged at that point, but for now it seems like there is still at least a little fermentation happening. If I can get down under 1.020 I will be pretty happy. I didn't detect any hints of vanilla in my sample, but it has only been in there for two days. I also found out today that it is not good to aerate an already fermented beer (oops...) so I hope I don't have any ill effects from that mistake.

Still stuck: 2011-10-01 12:00pm

Took another SG reading and things were still unchanged. I had been agitating the wort gently every couple of days, and apparantly waiting was not the correct option. I dropped by the LHBS and they suggested pitching some S-04 or S-05 to try to kick-start things. I had most of a packet of S-05 from an earlier, disastrous attempt at root beer (nothing exploded, but it turned out so nasty...). Pitched that in, see what happens

Still stuck part 2: 2011-10-08 10:00am

SG is still at 1.027. Decided to pitch some more corn sugar and some more yeast. Boiled 10 oz of corn sugar in a couple cups of water, cooled it and poured it into the carboy along with a half a packet of S-04 left over from my cider that I also made today. If this doesn't get things going I am not sure what to do. Keeping my fingers crossed. The beer tastes good still, I think I am starting to get a hint of the vanilla, it's just a bit too sweet. I also don't want to make any bottle bombs. Update: 2:00 am next morning and I am getting a bubble in the airlock every five seconds or so. Progress? Or just burning up the corn sugar I added? Only time will tell.

Irish Red Ale

6 Lbs  Amber LME
4 ozSpecial Roast
4 ozCara-Pils
4 ozCrystal Malt - 10L
2 ozBiscuit Malt
2 ozChocolate Malt
1 ozWillamette Hops (60 min)
0.5 ozUK Golding (15 min)
1 packetWyeast - American Ale II (1272)

I got this recipe from here, I made the recommended substitution for the 8 oz Caramel Pils in the original recipe by using 4 oz each of Cara-Pils and Crystal Malt 10L. I also got Amber LME, they didn't have the Gold America, and judging by the final color a pale may have been better. It's a bit dark for a Red, but still has a good reddish tone to it. The big news is that I got a 30 quart pot, so I can do a full boil, and I made a wort chiller so I don't have to mess around with ice baths.

Brew Day: 2011-09-24 11:30am

I brought 2.5 gallons of water to 160°F and added the grains in a grain sock, let them seep with the lid on and the heat off or on low for 30 minutes (temperature ranged from 150°-160°F). I did this in a 3-gallon stock pot and also had 3.5 gallons of water heating up in my new big-ass 7.5 gallon pot. I figured this way, since I am just doing this on my kitchen stove boiling 6 gallons of water wouldn't take as long. The stove has like a 13,000 or 14,000 BTU gas burner, which isn't bad, but that alone would take a while to get six gallons going. After 30 minutes the big pot was boiling and I added the wort to the big pot to bring the total up to 6 gallons and let it get back up close to boiling. Once it was almost boiling I added the LME. Once the wort started boiling and I get the hot break I added the hops and let the whole thing boil for 60 minutes, adding the UK Golding hops, irish moss and the wort chiller (to sanitize it) when 15 minutes remained on the boil. After cooling the wort down to 70°F (16 minutes with the wort chiller, I love that thing) I transfered it into a carboy, making sure to splash plenty for aeration. I then splashed it from the carboy into a fermentation bucket, and then siphoned back into the carboy and then shook the carboy to aerate some more. I lost more than I thought in the boil, I only ended up with 4.75 gallons after boiling, so the SG was a little higher at 1.049 than the 1.046 brewtarget calculated, but still close. I pitched the yeast at 70°F (the smack pack had swelled nicely, something which didn't happen with my stout). The fermentor was sealed at about 3:00pm.

Fermentation Starts: 2011-09-24 8:30pm

That didn't take long, already getting some very slow bubbling in the airlock. There was some krausen at 4:30, just an hour and a half after I sealed the thing, so this fermentation is off to a great start. I was hoping on collecting and washing the yeast from this ferment, so I am quite glad it seems to be healthy.

Still Fermenting: 2011-09-26 3:00pm

I think this is my fastest fermentation. After a day there were a couple inches of krausen and the airlock was bubbling like crazy, and by now just 48 hours after I sealed the fermentor it is already starting to slow down. The krausen got up almost to the bottom of the airlock, but not quite. Temperature has been right around 70°F. I need to start taking pictures of my brews.

First reading: 2011-10-01 12:00pm

Took a SG reading, it is at 1.016. A hair higher than the 1.012 brewtarget predicted, but within range. Especially since my OG was also a little bit higher than that. My plan right now is to keep it in primary for two more weeks and then bottle.

Bottling Day: 2001-10-08 11:30pm

Decided to move bottling up a week. A friend is throwing a party in three weeks, and I want to bring this along, and I figured 2 weeks in primary and three in bottles beats three in primary and two conditioning. SG was unchanged from the week before at 1.016, giving me an ABV of 4.4% which is right what I was targeting. Besides almost forgetting my priming sugar (oops...) bottling went really smoothly, just under two hours for the whole ordeal (including cleanup). Got twenty-six 12 oz bottles and nine 22-oz bombers out of 4.5 gallons in the bucket. Anyone who bottles must read this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/bottling-tips-homebrewer-94812/. Having the bottling cane right on the spigot and using the dishwasher door as a drip collector are both incredibly good ideas. I just need a dip tube for my bucket (even though tipping it isn't that hard) and I will be all set. The beer seems really clear and I love how it is tasting, looking forward to cracking open the first cold one in a couple of weeks! Edit: I just realized looking back that I was going to collect the yeast from this one. It's a little late for that. Oops :(. Oh well, buying yeast is easier anyhow, right?

Hard Cider

Since it is fall, I decided to try making a simple, still hard cider. Robinette's apple orchard has fresh squeezed cider that is UV treated for pasteurization with no other preservatives, so I went ahead and used that. They actually have a press there that you can see, and they were actively making cider when I was there. A guy was standing there with a spigot filling plastic cider jugs and putting them up on the counter for people to buy. I thought the whole operation looked pretty slick, and the cider I got had been apples fifteen minutes before I bought it.

Brew Day: 2011-10-08 10:30pm

After sanitizing a 2-gallon fermentation bucket I poured nearly two gallons of cider and a half-cup of brown sugar into the bucket. OG is 1.048. Pitched some S-04 yeast, and I was done. Much easier than making beer. The plan is to let the cider ferment out dry, cold crash and rack it, add some pottassium sorbate to kill the remaining yeast and backsweeten to taste. Might do honey for half of it and brown sugar for the other half.