Saturday, September 29, 2012

My First Mead

A friend of mine has discovered that he has a gluten sensitivity, and wanted me to try making a mead.  I decided to go with this recipe.  Compared to making beer, this looks like it should be pretty easy!


  • 15 lbs of honey (I used a local wildflower honey available at my local homebrew store)
  • 5 tsp acid blend
  • 5 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 packet of champagne yeast
I made a starter the day before.  On brew day, I mixed the 15 lbs of honey with water into the boil kettle for a total of 5 gallons.  Mix it up and slowly bring the temperature up to 170 deg F.  Hold the temperature for 20 minutes. (there is some disagreement here between those who make mead - some say the heating is unnecessary due to the antibiotic properties of the honey, and claim the temperature affects the taste.  Others say the heating is necessary to pasteurize it.  Since this is my first mead, I just decided to play it safe and go ahead and heat it).  Chill the mixture to 70 deg F.  Then add 5 tsp of acid blend and 5 tsp of yeast nutrient.  Finally, pitch the yeast.  After 3 months, you are supposed to transfer to a secondary carboy to finish fermenting.  Looking forward to seeing how this one comes out!  Could be a long wait, though - honey is a slow fermenter, and apparently can take 6 mos to a year to fully ferment!

1/13 update: racked to secondary carboy.  Checked gravity: 1.104 SG.

6/18 update: Checked gravity: 1.074 SG.  This is clearly taking longer than anticipated.  I think I will pitch some new yeast.

6/27 update: pitched packet of LALVIN EC-1118 yeast and 1 tsp of yeast nutrient.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Taddy Porter Clone

Well, today is both Father's Day and my birthday.  My wife surprised me this morning with the sweetest pictures and cards from my daughters.  She also suggested that I have a brew-day this weekend, so I decided to make a Taddy Porter clone which I've been thinking about doing for some time.  I've been reading some old brewing texts lately, and reading up on the history of Porter.  Very interesting beer (and one of my favorites!).  It seems that historically porter was made primarily with brown malt.  Most modern porters, however, use pale malt as the base, and varying amounts of roasted malts (black, chocolate, patent, etc.) to get the color and flavor.  Some recipes I saw also used treacle or blackstrap molasses.  These sound intriguing, but I settled on the following recipe without molasses:

Recipe: Taddy Porter Clone
Style: Brown Porter
TYPE: All Grain

Recipe Specifications --------------------------
Boil Size: 7.74 gal
Post Boil Volume: 6.24 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Bottling Volume: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.052 SG
Estimated Color: 23.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 27.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 76.4 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients: ------------
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
8 lbs 8.9 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 3 77.9 %
14.8 oz Brown Malt (65.0 SRM) Grain 4 8.4 %
14.8 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5
8.4 % 9.2 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 6 5.3 %
1.63 oz Fuggles [4.20 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 23.6 IBUs
0.65 oz Fuggles [4.20 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 8 3.4 IBUs
0.9 pkg London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028) [12 Yeast 9 -
Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 15.7 oz
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
 Mash In Add 15.73 qt of water at 166.1 F 152.0 F 60 min
Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.51gal, 4.12gal) of 168.0 F water

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Second Year Hops (Cascade)

We moved the hops to the back yard this year.  We lost a couple trees in the back yard due to last year's drought, which is unfortunate, but also provided an opportunity because now I think there is enough light in the back yard for the hops to grow!  I moved our raised garden bed close to the house, and ran some twine up the the eve of the second-story roof.  That should give the vines plenty of room to grow.  The biggest problem this year seems to be caterpillars.  Specifically, hop merchants!  I have to check them pretty much daily to pick them off.  They can eat some leaves pretty quick...
The hops are sharing the garden bed with arugula (bottom) and peas (right).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stir Plate Build

OK, so I've been doing all-grain for a while now, and have been looking for new ways to improve the quality of my brews.  The things I've identified are: making starters, better oxygenation of wort, better temperature control (the peltier thermoelectric fermentation chamber turned out to be a bit under-powered, but we'll save that for another post).  I think making starters will have the greatest impact on my beer quality, and it may also save me money since, at the same time, I think I may start "washing" and re-using yeast, which is by far the most expensive ingredient.  I've done small starters before, using a mason jar covered w/ foil that I just shake periodically, but I'm looking to do a little better, so I built a stir-plate.  Parts list as follows:
(1) computer fan
(1) potentiometer
(1) DC spst lighted switch
(1) dial knob
(1) cigar box
(1) DC adapter
(4) bolts w/ nuts
(4) nylon washers
(2) neodymium (rare-earth) magnets
hot glue
(1) teflon magnetic stir bar
I bought all of the electrical components, switches, knobs, etc at radioshack.  I picked up the wooden cigar box for free from my local liquor store.  And, I found an old DC adapter in my box of wiring junk.  I bought the magnets at Ace Hardware, and I bought the stir bar at Austin Homebrew Supply.

I drilled four holes in the top of the cigar box for mounting the fan, and holes in the front for the switch and speed knob.

 The fan is mounted on the under-side of the box lid.  The two rare-earth magnets are hot-glued to the spinning hub of the fan.  Notice I ended up using a different fan than what I started with.  The first one spun too quickly, and kept throwing the stir-bar.
 My first yeast starter on the stir-plate!