Monday, January 29, 2007

Shut out at the Mash-Out

Well, we went 0 for 3 up in Minnesota (I guess we have something in common with the White Sox!). There were over 900 entries overall, so I can't really complain. We'll definitely enter the Christmas Ale and the Eisweizen in the BABBLE Brew-Off. If I get feedback on our Dunkel/Vienna Lager (so I can decide if I entered it in the right category), I might enter that as well. And I'll have to figure out whether I want to enter the Scottish Ale, and if so if I should enter it as a Scottish Export or as a smoked beer. Ah, decisions, decisions...

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Brew day: Road House (aka Wildcat) Red

Today we brewed our Road House Red (see label in the last post), which is being brewed for a party hosted by somebody affiliated with Northwestern University. As such, this particular batch is being christened Wildcat Red. Anyway, it's an Irish Red Ale, and it will be consumed during the South Side Irish Parade. I did a partial mash, mashing in at 168°F with an intended target mash temp of 157°F. Unfortunately our mash tended to end up around 150°F; I don't know if it's because we have a lot of head space when we make smaller beers, but this seems to be a recurring problem. Bottom line is I added boiling water a couple times and it seemed to be okay. Thanks to Marta for stopping by and keeping me company, even though there wasn't much to do at that point.

After a 40-minute mash, we sparged with 182°F liquor and collected the wort. After an hour-long boil we ended up hitting our target gravity exactly! (NOTE: this may be because I'm using an initial volume of 6.25 gallons instead of 6.5 for calculating gravity contributions at the beginning of the boil). For the record, that target gravity would be 1048. I pitched the yeast around 1:30pm and the carboy is now sitting in our basement around 68°F. Overall a very smooth brew day, especially considering it was around 30°F outside.

Oh, this brew also marked the debut of our new water filter that I assembled based on instructions from BYO Magazine.

I guess the only other thing to report is that the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out should be going on as we speak. The results should be up by tomorrow night... My buddy Rich also entered, so here's hoping we score a few ribbons for our homebrew club, HOPS!

Monday, January 22, 2007

New label for all you Road House fans!

I just got done designing the label for our soon-to-be-brewed Irish Red, which I am christening Road House Red in honor of one of my favorite movies, Road House. For any and all Road House fans out there, enjoy!

Scottish Export update

I finally racked our North Kilttown Scottish Export to the keg today. The gravity is at 1014, two points lower than the target FG, so I hope it's done fermenting. I'll keep it at 68°F for one more week and then cold condition it for at least a couple weeks. At this point it has a little residual sweetness and tastes very clean, so I'm pretty happy with it. My only concern is it's a bit smoky. I went with 4 oz. of peat-smoked malt. It's a lot less than one recipe I found called for, but at the high end of what my buddy (and former professional brewer) Bob said. Hopefully serving it at the proper temperature will kill the smoke flavor a bit, but I guess the moral of the story is listen to Bob.

Next up: our Road House Red (which, on St. Patrick's Day, will be served as Wildcat Red for reasons I'll keep to myself), our first stab at an Irish Red Ale. I'm getting thirsty already!


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


So, Brew Your Own has a label competition every April, and I'm trying to decide what to send in. Here are some I'm considering:

Any favorites?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Brew Day: North Kilttown Scottish Export Ale

So, it's been a while, but we figured we'd take advantage of the relatively mild weather and brew today. We decided to go with a Scottish Export Ale, which we're calling North Kilttown. We did a partial mash, mashing in with 1 qt./lb. water at 167° F with a target mash temp of 156°. We mashed for 1/2 hour, adding water at 15 minutes to get the temperature back up (though we still ended up with a final mash temp in the upper 140's). We used 185° F sparge water, and began boiling the first runnings as soon as they were collected. After collecting all the wort and adding the liquid extract, we boiled for another 15 minutes to get some caramelization before topping off with water. Once all the water and extract was added, we only boiled for an hour, but we had already been boiling on and off for at least an hour since sparging. We ended up at 1054, two points short of our target. We also went with some Bulldog Liquid Extract and a mild ale malt to try and get the sweetness up (since the dry extract is rather dry and our mashes tend to come out dry as well), so I hope it doesn't end up too sweet and full. I guess we'll see.

In competition news, we sent three entries to the Upper Mississippi Mash-Out: our Nimbostratus Dunkel (which we re-categorized as a Vienna Lager, christening it "Nimbostratus Amber"), Snow Squall Christmas Ale, and Winter Lightning Eisweizen (for their special "Eis-Anything!" category). Several Chicagoland competitions are coming up in the next couple months, so we'll see what happens at the Mash-Out and decide what we want to enter in those (hopefully the North Kilttown will be ready for those). Here's to a 2007 full of good beer!