Homebrewing, Thoughts

Paler than Paul Ale: Fail

I bombed on this batch. The bottles were gushers. I focused on everything but cleanliness. I hate cleaning and it cost me.


I have taken two months off from brewing. My wife hated seeing me mad about my bad batches and said if i’m not having fun then I need to quit. She is right. She also made the point that if I am going to brew, I need to be more serious. I reread everything I have, and looked for new material. I am inspired again and confident that I can brew a great batch. It also helps that summer is over and that I moved to a house with a mud room that is consistently 58-62 degrees.


I will brew my pale ale until I perfect my technique. Then move to Belgians for summer – 70+ fermentation temperature time – and finally prepare for some Russian Imperial Stouts or Strong Ales when it gets cold again.


It’s on. Look out for my next post on Pale Ale II this weekend.

American Ale, Homebrewing

Paler then Paul Ale : A Sierra Nevada Clone

I posted a 1 gallon recipe for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale from BYO Magazine – subscribe! I finally got around to trying it. I had put it off because I needed a scale and I was not thrilled about wasting ingredients. One night, while running errands, I found myself at Target, so I picked one up for under $30. It works to 0.1 ounce or gram -which is close enough for me- and it goes up to 11 pounds. I went to Southwest Grape and Grain for my ingredients and finally went in their grain room.  This is only the specialty grains – the base grains are on the left of the wall.

The specialty grains at Southwest Grape and Grain.

The specialty grains at Southwest Grape and Grain.

I got 2 pounds of 2 row and Crystal 60L. I only needed 2.2 ounces so I weighed it out on my new scale.

Crystal 60L on my new scale.

Crystal 60L on my new scale.

I made a thick mash for this batch. MY smoked wheat batch was thin and since I was not thrilled with that brew I went back to a thick mash with more sparge water.

Mashing at 1:1

Mashing at 1:1

I kept my drinking to a minimum while brewing this beer. It looked good so I am optimistic. One thing that went wrong or not to plan was that the final wort was just over half gallon. The 90 minute boil time really increased the amount lost to evaporation – and I didn’t take this in to account. I topped off the wort with tap water once in the carboy.  I had to make a change to the recipe. My LHBS was out of S-05 yeast, which I wanted because it seemed to work well at higher temperatures without too much off flavor. Instead I picked up a Danstar Nottingham yeast. It says it is a neutral for ale yeast so we will see. I think this will be my go to recipe for experimentation and for fine tuning my techniques. In an ideal world, I would brew this repeatedly until it was second nature and I could breeze through the process. The recipe cost me about $13 with left over Crystal, Hops and Yeast. For $3.99 I could whip up another batch. It sure beats the $20+ I was paying for one gallon kits.

Need a mesh bag for the hop pellets, these things break up like crazy.

Hops make a mess

Hops make a mess

The yeast went to work and it smelled good in the closet – a bit fruity but I am not worried yet.



Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Smoked Wheat was not a Success

My smoked wheat brew did not turn out well. It tastes perfectly fine but for some reason it makes me feel bloated after drinking. I wonder if i’m getting yeast in my cup. You can see the yeast at the bottom of the bottle.

Yeast on the bottom of the bottle.

Yeast on the bottom of the bottle.


The beer looks good too. Lighter than I think it should have been- but looks like beer and smells like it too.

Smoked wheat looking a bit light.

Smoked wheat looking a bit light.


I am not a huge wheat beer drinker so maybe that has something to do with it – not much reference. I still have some in the fridge and will try again. Maybe it was me and not the beer.

Whether the beer is good or not, I will implement a new policy of two beers while brewing – one while mashing and one while boiling. I think we might have overdone it while brewing this one and our mash suffered – as well as a less than vigorous boil.

Chalk it up to experience. I will boil sausages in it if I don’t drink it. Learned that from a buddy who homebrews – cook with bad batches.


Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Bottling Smoked Wheat

Bottling day is judgement day. Unless something went terribly wrong, it is now that you can tell if this batch fermented properly. I tried a few new things with this batch- using a blowoff tube for the entire fermentation and a strictly controlled temperature-as strict as a bucket of water and ice can be. So I am justifiably nervous. We transferred the wort to a pot that had 1/2cup water and 3Tbsp of honey. It looked good, smelled like beer, nothing out of the ordinary.



I could count the wheat beers I have drunk on one hand. What a shame. I have really started to appreciate and enjoy them. I know I posted on my weekend beers and these were not on the list but brew and bottling day beers don’t count-that’s what I tell my wife. These are working beers required by my homebrew union.

I have seen these bottles at the store and they have always caught my attention so time to give them a try. The Ur-Weisse was sweet and refreshing. Just under 6% ABV made it a good working beer.

I also had to try the Altbairisch Dunkel. Hops are great but sometimes you want a nice malty beer and this hit the spot.

Beer wasn’t the only thing on the menu on bottling day. While I was cleaning and sanitizing everything, we peeled some freshly roasted green chile. Fresh green chile on a tortilla with a wheat beer…..one good Labor Day weekend.


Homebrewing, Smoked, Wheat

Smoked Wheat Brewday

Batch #2: Smoked Wheat from Brooklyn Brew Shop. I told myself I would make some changes in this batch – hydrate the yeast, more water, and better fermentation temperature control. I did two of these. I added an extra 16 ounces to my mash and used a thicker walled pot. The temperature held much better than my first batch in an aluminum pot.

Sparging went well, but it looked like a lot of wort. And it turned out to be. I don’t know if the boil was not as high as the first batch or if the addition of wheat reduced the amount of water lost to the grain or a combination of both.


After pouring in the carboy we had what looked like 32 ounces of wort left. So sad to see it dumped down the drain. A little for my hommies I guess. It was at this point I felt things were taking a turn for the worst. Side note: limit your alcohol consumption while brewing. My Brother In Law and I may have had a few too many. It didn’t seem like too many but forgot to account for the average ABV of 6.5-7.5 of the brews we bought.


Because of the high fill, I used a blowoff tube. This made me very nervous. For one, how do I replace the hose with my airlock? If I pull the hose, air will get in, right? I decided to leave the blowoff hose on permanently. This makes sense since the end of the tube is in sterilizer it should be the same as an airlock. Thank goodness I did because the tube is full of gunk. But I did not lose any beer! Here it is, in my messy closet, with the blowoff tube. I put the cup of sanitizer in a bucket so if it makes a mess my wife doesn’t kill me. I placed the carboy in a pot and filled it with cool water and a thermometer. I check it constantly and add ice if necessary. It has always read between 69-72.


I didn’t rehydrate the yeast. It worked so well last time I figured why mess with it. After my initial fear that this beer would be a disaster, watching the fermentation has put my mind at ease. Bottling this weekend – I wrote this post almost 2 weeks late – and will take a taste to kill the last lingering doubts I have.

American Ale, Homebrewing, Recipe

Fat Tire Clone

FatTireI found a recipe for Fat Tire in the December 2010 BYO Magazine – a subscription is a must, this magazine is full of recipes and information – and put it through BrewTarget for a One Gallon batch to see how close the OG, FG, IBU, ABV and SRM matched the original – it was very close.

Here is the one gallon recipe. When I try it I will let you know if it is any good. If you try it, let us know.

1.725 lb Pale Malt

3.2 oz Munich

1.6 oz Victory

1.6 oz Crystal 80L

.08 oz Target (60 min)

.1 oz Willamette (10 min)

.1 oz Goldings (0 min)

WLP051 California Ale V Yeast (I am going to use Safale US-05)

Mash at 154 for 90 min. Ferment at 68.