Monday, February 21, 2011

He's a big ol' beer named Townie Brown

Yesterday, Jeff and I brewed one hell of a beer. We made 10 gallons of an imperial brown! What's that you say?, "You'll NEVER drink 10 gallons of an imperial beer". Yes, we least not quickly. 5 gallons of this beer is going into the oak barrel I have and will be aged for about 6-9 months. The other five will be kegged and served. The brew day went great, though the mash was a beast this time around. The mash tun was about maxed about, check out the picture below. The beer will finish at 12.1% theoretically (OG was 1.114) and was made up of Marris Otter malt, 2-row, crystal, special roast, and a wee bit of chocolate malt. Also, we added maple syrup and dark brown sugar. We topped of our numbers with some light malt extract and corn sugar as well. It smelled and tasted delicious, strong toasted caramel and nutty flavors. The hops used were Columbus for bittering and East Kent Golding for aroma and flavor. The 10 gallons of wort is currently bubbling away in the room next to me!

Say when...

While we were brewing, we also kegged Pliny the Brother and Sally's Lil' Slice of Heaven. They both finished up at around 1.010. That is perfect for Pliny, but maybe a little too low for the barleywine. The lower OG might make the barleywine a little more drinkable, but hopefully some of the body was retained. We'll see, they both tasted fantastic and I can't wait to try them in a week or so. I have been imbibing Kitchen Sink Ale and it tastes great! It turned out like an English Old Ale (think Great Divide Hibernation Ale). The color is great and the head on it sticks around for a good while. I really like it.

Kitchen Sink Ale, freshly poured from the tap
So, the taps will now be full in a couple of weeks and the feverish brewing schedule will calm a bit, though I'm not sure I want it to. I'll have to start focusing on some more sessionable (drink more than one in a sitting) ales after this. Any suggestions? I was thinking of starting with an Amber. I'm probably going to have a Lowell.Brewing Strong Ale Festival to start clearing the taps! Stay tuned, things are rolling and I'm loving the brews off the new system...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lil' Slice of Heaven

Last Friday, I brewed an Avery Hog Heaven clone. This one was for my wife, Sally! She LOVES this beer...and so do I. Named it "Sally's Lil' Slice of Heaven". Man, the brew day was a long one! This was due to the fact that I didn't get a chance to clean the brewery after brewing Pliny the Brother last time. I was late for dinner at the in-laws' house and had to just rinse and run. Therefore, I had to spend a couple of hours cleaning the brewery before I could even start the new brew! Everything went fairly smooth. I used Whirlfloc in the boil kettle and that seemed to help flocculate the proteins and break and keep it on top of the false bottom when draining. Therefore, no clogging of the plate chiller! I still need to compensate for the holdup volume of my system when transferring out of the brewery into a fermentor. I always seem to boil down to 5 gallons and only get 4.5 in the fermentor. This may also be because the hot wort has expanded and the 5 gallons is really 4.5 in the Boil Kettle anyway. Maybe I'll just up my markings on my sight glass by 0.5 gallons. The gravity was a little lower than expected on the wort (probably b/c I had to chase the wort with water to reach 5 gallons and then I overfilled a little bit...whoops). Besides that, the beer has been fermenting quickly. I just threw the cooled wort on top of the Cal Ale yeast cake from Kitchen Sink Ale. I know some will poo-poo this move, but I had never done it and I want to see how it turns out. Once fermentation is close to complete I will add 4.5 oz. of Columbus hop pellets to dry hop...mmmmmmmm!

The Kitchen Sink Ale is on tap now, but I have not sampled it yet. It has to carb a little bit more. I put the keezer (kegerator made from chest freezer) on casters too, so I can easily roll it out to load kegs. I also hooked up a cooling system for the keezer. I have a glycol plate at the front of my tap tower with inlets and outlets. I used a liquid cooled computer processor cooler from CoolerMaster (Aquagate 80/120). I got it cheap off ebay and just ran new hoses and filled it with more coolant. There is also a small radiator and fan hooked up to the pump as well. This allows the fan to circulate the cool air around the keezer while at the same time cooling the taps. I hooked up a switch to the cooling unit, so I have the option of not running the thing all the time. Hopefully this means no more foaming beer when you pour! Check out the pictures below of the cooling system.

Cooling plate at front of the tap tower, glycol goes in one way and out the other
 Cooling radiator and fan in front pulling air through and out into the keezer. Cooling pump on right with hoses leading to the tap tower. CO2 manifold below with the Eva-Dry unit below to control moisture.

Top view of pump, radiator, and fan