First brew 2010
So finally after some 90 days of what felt like each and every day was over 90 degrees, the Summer weather has finally broke. While still technically Summer, there are now ‘cool’ nights that are not in the 70s (or those few that were 80). I can now open the garage in the morning and not break into a sweat. I couldn’t imagine standing on a hot pot of wort with a propane burner blaring while it’s 90F outside. More importantly, I don’t want to drink a homebrew that fermented at 80F either. Most ales are safe to ferment in the 65F – 75F range without giving out off esters. People often ask what enjoyment I get out of brewing. Only assuming that it’s just to drink beer. While brewing can take anywhere from six to eight hours a session and involve lots of tedious work, it’s a relaxation for me. Just waking up knowing that while I have that first cup of coffee I’m starting to sanitize and the rest of my day is planned is a relief. This brew was a pleasant one also in the fact that Sarah sat outside reading in the cool morning air while I stirred my mash and wort. My advice to anyone that wants to get into homebrewing? You must have patience. You can’t rush any step of the process. And why would you? The beer is only better with time.
To start the brew season off right, I’m brewing our yearly pumpkin ale. Ok, so I only started brewing last November. But I did brew a pumpkin ale, although it was a kit. Which everyone raved about. I never once took credit for it like most people do. I simply say thanks, glad you enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my recipe. However this year I can absolutely say, “That’s my pumpkin ale.” Innocently stealing a phrase from a famous chicken joint, it’s an original recipe. As with most of my brews so far, I did experience a few hiccups. The first glitch happening before I even sanitized the first fermenter bucket. Going off of a friend’s suggestion, I’ve ordered almost everything from Midwest Supplies. (I would normally link to promote their site, however I’m not promoting here.) Well they don’t get my shipment out of their door for almost 60 hours. Knowing if I order on Monday before noon, it’ll make it from Minnesota to Athens by Friday. So we return from vacation (see Mini beer vacay) on Wednesday to find a message on our machine. This being after a couple of nasty-grams to them. They tell me that now the wort chiller I ordered on Monday is back ordered by Wednesday. Thankfully all the ingredients show up Saturday during the UGA home opener, needlessly to say without the wort chiller.
Finally I can start my brewing pre-work! Making a yeast starter. I smack the Wyeast pack of 1099 Whitbread then begin to boil some DME (dry malt extract) to make the starter. This is done to multiply the 25 billion yeast cells to create enough to ferment an entire 5 gallon batch of sweet wort and convert it into alcohol. Yeast is like the national deficit, never large enough I’spose. Hours later after the DME, now wort, has chilled I’m still waiting on the smack pack to swell. I’m realizing the April 2010 date and hot Fed Ex ride to Georgia is enough time to kill almost any living creature. Thankfully after tweeting the #homebrew #helpdesk on Twitter, asking if anyone agrees that it’s dead I get a reply from none other than #Wyeastlabs themselves. Frankly apologizing and offering to kindly send me a replacement. I’m still waiting, but it is coming from Oregon. So on Tuesday I go down and hit up the local homebrew shop for a replacement smack pack. Under new ownership, and thankfully so, Blockader is caring much more stuff. Also being a fresher date of August and $4 cheaper doesn’t hurt much either. I even pick up some bottle caps to go ahead and tear up a $10 bill. Which would be accomplished on yeast solely from Midwest.
Other hiccups include a stuck thermometer during the mash around the 45 minute mark. Thankfully I thought it before it went over 170F mark. So I cut things off there and consider this my mash out. This may or not contributed to me missing the OG of 1.062 goal by -.002. It might have been the fact that when I had the hydrometer in place, there was no yeast present. So then I forget to take another measurement when I finally pitch the yeast. It’s been five nights now and I’m still getting some action out of the airlock.
Since the brew is no further along that primary fermentation we won’t dwell too much on it. Now it’s time to decide on the next brew. A DIPA or sweet stout? I’m leaning more towards the stout since I know it takes anywhere from six to eight weeks for a single fermentation stage. This will put it ready during winter. Planning on having some coffee, lactose (milk, duh) and possibly oatmeal and/or vanilla, all in the same batch. Long description title to follow suit. Brewing the double India Pale Ale will have it ready for consumption sometime in late winter or early spring. Right about the time when we’re begging for short britches weather again.