Clone Wars

So over the holidays I got a clone recipe book from my mother in law, inside this book were 200 clone recipes.

As I flipped thru the book I went to the Belgian section and found one of my all time favorites,  Chimay Red.

I went over the weekend to a new brewstore called Wine makers toy shop. I expected to find mostly wine gear but the owner told me that they just got deeper into the homebrew beer side and were looking for more market share. Needless to say I asked if he had fresh ingredients, which luckily he did.

I found all the stuff I was looking for and walked out the door approximately $60 lighter in the pocketbook. (That’s a price I’ll pay for 5 gallons of a Chimay Red clone if all goes well)

I get home and begin the process of cleaning and sanitizing all my gear, ready for the nights brew.

I begin brewing around 8 when I get my 18 month old son to bed.

It takes the better part of 2-3 hours to brew this batch and even longer to cool the stuff down. ( I REALLY need to invest in an immersion cooler)

At any rate the clone is in the 1st fermentation stage and should be ready for testing by this weekend.

Lets hope the batch turns out better than my Oktoberfest did.

More soon.

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Huge Breakthrough/Oktoberfest

So over the past couple of weeks or so I’ve made huge strides with my wife and her willingness to drink beer. Now this is a huge step for her, she generally only likes to drink very fruity type drinks.

It started with a trip to BJ’s Brewhouse in Allen, where I had ordered a seasonal they had brewed and she asked the waitress what she would recommend for someone who doesn’t drink beer. Right away the waitress suggested a cider beer, this one was a berry cider they brewed in house that she quickly became a fan of.

So last weekend we stopped at Kroger and decided to build our own six pack. This was in part to the blog of my fellow homebrewer “Cavalierbeer”
http://cavalierbeer.wordpress.com/ who is doing his beer a day blog. At any rate, she was also interested in trying some beers that looked interesting to her. So we took a peek at the selections that were available and she was very interested in a couple of Cider Beers which was a great start in my opinion. She quickly grabbed a pear, apple and a berry beer/cider. She quickly put those down without any complaints and I knew I had her hooked.

So tonight we went to Market Center and stocked up on some more beers. I quickly reached for a Lindemens Kriek Lambic, which is their black cherry Lambic.

Here is a picture of the Kriek after it’s been poured with a beautiful head.

She very quickly put this down and asked for another glass and I without hesitation pour another. Woohoo, she loves this stuff and could drink it like koolaid.

So that is her start into the great world of beer and I couldn’t be more pleased.

In other news, we should have an update at some point tomorrow as I begin brewing my 1st Oktoberfest! Can’t wait!!

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Irish Red Ale

This is the 3rd in the batch of homebrew’s that I have chosen to take on. After much (2-3 weeks) of consideration I have decided that I am going to brew a grain brew and for this choice I have selected an Irish Red Ale for this project.

Spent about 10-15 minutes at the homebrew store late on Saturday night selecting the grains, malt extract and yeast we would use for this recipe. The staff at this homebrew store by the way are amazing, knowledgeable and always willing to help out. I picked up several variety of grains, one malt extract, a tube of liquid yeast (which is much easier to use), 2 varieties of hops, several sacks and a bucket (for the malt extract).

Upon arriving home I left the tube of yeast out to reach room temperature, since they refrigerator it, so as not to shock them when placed in the cool (75F wort). I then took the hops and placed those in the fridge till needed in the brewing process.

I’ve decided since my last brew that I will be using a smaller more concentrated starter batch of wort than in the last brew. This time I only started with 2 gallons (8qts) of fresh water for the brew. Instructions used were simple enough, get the water to 160 degrees and then steep the grains for 30 mins, covered.

Woohoo, grains are steeped and ready for removal, time to get the malt ready for cooking… remove grains and get the wort boiling before we add in the malt extract.  Now that we have the malt mixed in it’s time to add our Cascade bittering hops. 2/3oz of these guys in the hop sack and its time to boil for 50 minutes, a perfect break for another homebrew.

Alright, time for the last 2 hop additions. 1st is the 1/2oz of the flavoring, boil for 5 minutes then add the 2nd 1/2oz for the finishing. Now we have 2ish gallons of hot wort ready for quick cooldown.

Using my mistake from last time I’ve now got 2 gallons of hot wart ready for a cold sink and 3 gallons of fresh tap water that is ICE COLD to help chill the wort quickly, since last time took almost an hour to cool down. This time we only spent approx 10-15 mins of chill time to reach 73F which was a perfect temp to pitch our liquid yeast. Time to move to the carboy for 1st fermentation.

Before I moved the wort over and pitched I took a gravity read of the wort which read at 1.061, which was right in line with was the recipe called for, although a little high but nothing I’m concerned with.

Moved the wort over, pitched the English Ale yeast and time to shake like crazy for 5 mins, gotta make sure our little yeasties have lots of oxygen to live and grow.

I’ll come back to this as we progress in the project but here is where we stand for the time being.

*Update* Today I moved/racked the beer to the secondary fermentation carboy for holding till I’m ready to bottle. The final gravity on this was 1.021 at 69F which leaves us with a final and approx ABV or ~5% for this brew. We should be ready for bottling in about 2-3 days once I get more bottles cleaned out and ready to go but this already has a wonderful taste to it.

Slainte!

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Rootbeer

Time for another installment in my brewing collection, and while yes this isn’t technically a BEER, it’s still something that can be homebrewed. I didn’t say this would always be about beer.

Onto the “brewing” process. First things first as with all brewing… cleaning and sterilizing. I had already picked up the necessary ingredients on the last run to the store when I went to pick up bottles so all I needed to buy this time was a 4lb bag of sugar.

Brewing rootbeer from an extract is quick and easy. Start your yeast in warm water to wake them up and while that is going get a large pot and dissolve the 4lbs of sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved in the warm water it’s time to add the extract and yeast.

Last step is bottling which with our original kit is easy as cherry pie. I bottled mine in the old bottles of Ozarka water we use to prep the kids formula. 5 of those filled it’s now time to sit back and wait.

3-4 days in the room temp air will do and once we feel that we are getting the carbonation needed we will move to a cooler/darker place for another week or so. Then it’s time to chill and enjoy.

I’ll be sure to update this post with the results of our efforts.

Till then,

Drink what ya brew and brew what ya drink.

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Rhar Snowmagedon

So I received an email from my favorite local beer depot that indicated they had received a shipment of the limited edition Rhar Snowmagedon!! Needless to say, I made a b-line after work.

Arrive at the store about an hour later and ask the clerk if they have it in stock and they confirm they do, but limit 2 a person. I pull aside 2 and grab a 6 pack of the new Shinier 102 release. Im in heaven at this point.

Back home and its time to open the first bottle, now this was bottled as a 22oz, so its either enjoy it or be sad about the purchase.

Get over to my buddies joint and pop the bottle after dinner. This beer is amazing. Its a dark beer, which I enjoy a lot. Not too heavy or filling and tastes great. Nice spice, hops and flavor.

Im going to save the 2nd bottle for another special occassion, but hopefully not too far out.

Just remember,
A beer a day keeps the doctor away.

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Australian Pale Ale

So our first brew was and is an Australian Pale Ale, from Coopers. Since this is my first brew I figured it would be easiest to use a Malt Extract from a can. That and the kit I purchased provided a can mix as part of the pricing.

First things first, take inventory of what we have and see what we need. The kit purchased had everything that would be needed for brewing just short of a stock pot/kettle to start the wort, so off to the store. We just happened to be over at Kroger getting groceries and I decided to take a stroll through the kitchen department. I stumbled across a stainless steel 20 qt stock pot, figured sure why the hell not looks like a good pot, let’s give it a run.

Back to the house, time to unpack the pot and get it sanitized and ready for it’s first boil. 15 mins later and we are ready to go. During this time I’ve read through the books, magazines and instructions included with the kit to ensure that I make this first run as successful as possible.

Alright here we go, two sources say start with the most water possible to make a full wort, one source tells me to use just 2 gallons… I’m going to go with gut instinct and do 3 gallons of water. Boy was that a bad idea… anyone have any idea how long it takes to boil 3 gallons of water in a stainless steel stock pot over an induction burner?? TOO DAMN LONG! 1st note for next time, lets just use 2 gallons and we can add a lot more cool water after this thing boils. So now, almost 1 1/2 hours later I finally have boiling water, time to add the malt canned extract… remember… you have to stir as you pour or you risk burning it on the bottom of the pot.

Alright, we now have a boiling pot of wort… WOOHOO!! Instructions say to boil for 30-45 mins, books say boil for 1 hour… time to split the difference at 50ish mins. Next it’s time to cool off the wort… filled the sink full with cool water and placed the pot into the water, loud hissing abounds; now to fill it with ice to get this sucker down to 65 f so I can take measurements and pitch the yeast.

Boiling Wort

It’s now almost 2 hours later and the wort is still relatively hot, and by this I mean 90-90 f, which is a little warm to pitch yeast. I give it another hour or so and it’s finally down to 80-85 f… time to take measurements and pitch the yeast.

Here are the measurements that I took just before pitching the yeast:

Original Gravity was 1.045; Yeast pitched at 87 f

Now for the short wait of the brewing process.

8 days later and its now time to move the wort over from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter to keep the dead yeast from throwing the flavors off. This was moved at a temp of 67 f.

After 10 days it’s time to get final measurements and see where this thing ended at:

Final Gravity was 1.012 @ 67 f.

Final potential ABV is 4.5%

Now it’s time to bottle our beer and make the longest wait of the process.  Bottling went fairly smoothly, just racked it over from the secondary fermenter to the bottling bucket and bottled away. Caps are now on and beer is boxed and put in the pantry to ensure no light leakage.

2 weeks later and we finally have carbonated and finished beer.

I popped my first bottle on Friday night when I got home and it couldn’t have been better. Very full flavored beer, smooth with a nice bit of spice and bite on the end of it. I’ve since taken 2 bottled and chilled them down and took one over to my buddy to give it a taste and his opinion. (he’s not too big into beer anymore, but he loved this stuff)

I’m stoked by the results of this first batch. I need to get a bottle over to CavilerBeer (http://cavalierbeer.wordpress.com/) for his review on this for his posts.

I plan on brewing a lot more in the near future and providing the results here on this page.

Should you wish to try some of my brews let me know and I’ll save you a bottle or two.

Beer a day, keeps the doctor away!

Update: So I’ve passed this beer along to a couple of people to taste and so far people are loving it! I’m stoked! One co-worker said it tasted like a mix of Dos Equis and Shiner… interesting mix in my opinion but if he enjoys it, why the hell not!

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