Sunday, September 30, 2012

#3 Blonde Ale

As my Pale Ale dwindled away, I started searching for a suitable replacement for the easy-drinking light ale, since it's still quite hot in Austin, TX through the end of October.  I'm not quite ready to try my hand at a lager, so I thought about some of my favorite light ales.  There are two in particular from Texas that I enjoy -- Real Ale's Fireman's #4 and Southern Star's Blonde Bombshell.

I settled on this recipe from Austin Homebrew.

This particular Sunday was absolutely gorgeous in Austin, Texas, so Josh and I brewed outdoors, on my back deck.  Brewing inside in the kitchen, in the air conditioning, is perhaps necessary on a 100 degree summer day, but it does make a bit of a mess.

I'm actually set up pretty well on my back deck, with two huge utility sinks, easy access to a garden hose, and plenty of room for a couple of propane burners.

Once again, we used prepackaged, purified, bottled sprint water.  Our last few beers turned out pretty good, so we opted to do this again.  It does require a bit of preparation, as you need to return the jug to the grocery store, and it does add a bit of expense (about $7 for a 5-gallon refill/exchange).

As neither Josh nor I have a wort chiller (yet!), we're always on a quest to speed up our wort chilling (you must take a 212oF wort down to 80oF in 20 minutes or less).  Typically, we just fill the huge, deep utility sink with about 30 pounds of ice (another $5 per batch), and drop our pot down into it.  This typically does the trick.  However, this time we tried something new...  Josh picked up a couple of blocks of dry ice, which we dropped in the sink water.  Besides being effective, it was also a ton of fun!

My original specific gravity was about 1.031.  The blonde ale (obviously?) is the one on the left.  Josh tried his second lager, this time a dark lager recipe.

As I had some blowoff trouble previously, you can see I now have a blowoff tube for my primary fermentation :-)

I kegged this beer about 2.5 weeks later.

Once carbonated, it was quite a nice beer to follow that pale ale.  Smooth, crisp, and surprisingly clear.  I was very pleased with how this beer turned out to close out Austin's hot summer and fall!


Sunday, September 2, 2012

#2 Northwest Cascadian Dark Ale

I kegged my Pale Ale after about 3 weeks (Mid August 2012) in a primary fermenter.  It's pretty awesome having homebrew on tap, and I am quite happy with my Pale Ale, but, having just one beer on tap is, well, just a little monotonous.  Now that I have a full size fridge in the garage, dedicated to beer, I bought a second ball lock keg.  Obviously, I need to get something in that keg!

So I headed over to Austin Homebrew and thumbed through their catalog looking for something that would complement that Pale Ale.  I landed on a Northwest Cascadian Dark Ale, a nice, hoppy, dark beer that would compare and contrast nicely!

For the second time, I brewed again with my brother-in-law, Josh.  Still pretty hot in Austin, we opted to brew indoors again, in his kitchen.  And I got some quality time with my daughter while Mom got a few hours off.

We found that drawing 10 gallons of filtered water (5 for each of us) from Josh's fridge just took way too long.  So instead, we each bought a 5-gallon jug of water at the grocery story.

This time, I bought my own glass carboy.  I found the plastic bucket a little difficult to deal with, getting the top on and off.  The original specific gravity was 1.055.  Josh actually brewed his first Pilsner Lager (on the right), as he's breaking in his new deep freezer for lagering.

I had a minor blowoff and a bit of a mess in my fermenting closet.  A little too much activity for the rubber-bung-and-stopper valve on this carboy.  I switched to a tube in my batch and that worked much better!  Rookie mistake ;-)

I kegged this one after about 3 weeks in a primary fermenter (no secondary, again).

It took quite a while to carbonate (at least a week).  Once carbonated, though, it turned out quite nice.  Very smooth, but also very dark and hoppy.