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Monday, September 9, 2013

Yeast Wrangling: Part II

My efforts at collecting some yeast from the air in my back yard was unsuccessful to say the least.  All the plates I made were covered with various types of bacteria and other microbes as you can see in the picture below.  There were a couple spots that looked like they could be yeast, but inoculating two starters with them yielded very little if any growth and they smelled bad, so I knew they weren't yeast.  Or if they were yeast, they weren't any yeast I'd want to put in my beer.  I'm going to try this again some day, except next time I will take the suggestion of a friend and use some locally grown fruit as my source rather than try to collect the yeast from the air.  It won't be back yard local, but it will be local enough for me.

This was one I thought might be yeast.  Note to self: that's not what yeast looks like on an agar plate.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Yeast Wrangling: Part I

I finally got my lazy ass around to ordering the agar-agar I needed to get this project rolling.  For the last couple months I've had everything I needed except the agar-agar, which I just got in the mail today.  So without further ado, I'll detail the process I used tonight for the first part of this project.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Dry malt extract x 1 oz
Petri dishes x 1-10
Agar-agar x 1 tbsp
Turkey baster
Container for sanitizer water

Step 2: Prepare Sanitizer

Should be pretty straightforward.  Follow mixing directions on the bottle of sanitizer.

Step 3: Measure out DME and Agar-agar

I used 1 oz of DME in 2 cups of water for an approximate wort gravity of 1.020.  As stated earlier, I used 1 tbsp of agar-agar.

Step 4: Heat Water and Add Ingredients

After bringing the water to a boil add the DME and mix thoroughly.  Be very careful to avoid boil overs at this point.  I had a hard time getting the boil to settle down after adding the DME.  Once the DME is fully mixed in, add the agar-agar.  The agar-agar will clump up a lot, but enough should be immediately dissolved to set properly once the temperature comes down.  I would still try to get as much dissolved as possible, though.  Continue boiling for about 5 minutes after adding the agar-agar.

Step 5: Transfer to Petri Dishes

Remove the  mixture from the heat and use the sanitized turkey baster to transfer the mixture to the sanitized petri dishes. I used plastic petri dishes so I was able to transfer straight away without the need for cooling the mixture.  If you're using glass petri dishes, make sure the mixture is sufficiently cooled.  You don't want it too cool, though, since agar-agar will set at room temperature.  At this point I placed my petri dishes on a cookie sheet and into the refrigerator so they would set faster.  Even in the fridge I was surprised they had set within 15 minutes. 

Step 6: Try to Catch Some Yeast

I placed my petri dishes next to an open window to minimize the chance of a bug getting in there and messing things up, but you could set them outside if you wanted to.  Just be sure to make some sort of protective barrier that will allow air (and therefore yeast) in but keep bugs out.  I left the dishes by the window for 2.5 hours.

Step 7: Incubate

The last step is to place the sanitized lids on top of the dishes and place them in area that will have temperatures suitable for incubating anything that landed on your dishes.  I have a tool box in my garage where it gets to around 80-90 F during the day so I set my dishes on top to wait for a week or so.

Hopefully this works since my last attempt at local yeast wrangling went horribly awry.  We'll find out soon and I will report back when I start seeing some growth.  Until then, happy brewing and happy drinking!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beer Review - Blue Point Brewing Sour Cherry Imperial Stout

As promised I am back making an honest to goodness effort at making more consistent posts.  To start things off I am doing a review of Sour Cherry Imperial Stout by Blue Point brewing out of Patchogue, NY.  The aroma is soft roast, a little chocolate a just hint of tartness from sour cherries.  It's initially sweet with the chocolate notes translating well from the aroma.  The medium-full body coats the mouth well and allows the flavor to develop beautifully as it warms in the mouth.  The finish is sweet with the faint flavor cherries coming through as well as a slight tartness that gives the impression of a slight dryness.  Overall an excellent variation on the sometimes uninspired imperial stouts that are out there.  That's not to say those beers aren't good or excellent examples of the style, it's just nice to see something different.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

It's Been A While

Wow, it has been a long time since I made a post.  I started taking college classes so I can finish my degree before I get out of the Navy, so I sincerely apologize for this hiatus.  I will try to start posting more often starting with doing more beer reviews when I am running low on brewing related topics about which to post.  In the next couple months, though, I am planning a couple single hop brews with relatively new hops, so I will be able to report my review of those.  I am also planning on culturing some wild yeast from my area in a much more scientific fashion than the last time I tried it, which was, more or less, just letting some wort sit out in the open air for a few weeks.  This time I'll be using petri dishes, microscopes, the whole nine yards and I will be doing a series of posts about that.  So there's quite a bit to look forward to and I look forward to sharing my beer and brewing experiences with you.  Cheers!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Style Series #1: American IPA

Arguably one of the most popular styles in the U.S. and most definitely my favorite style, an expertly brewed American IPA is quite the beer indeed. I'm going to cover a couple things I've learned about brewing American IPAs with that will hopefully help you to brew better IPAs.

1. Mash Temperature

A great IPA, American or otherwise, is quite dry.  American IPAs are very dry while English and Imperial IPAs have a bit more body, albeit for different reasons.  When I first started brewing IPAs I was scared that I would make the beer too dry so I would mash at somewhere around 152 F, but the reality is that a lower temperature is required to get the appropriate level of dryness.  149 F is a much better temperature to mash at, but anywhere in the 148 - 151 F range should get you where you need to be.

2. Hops

Obviously, hops are the showcase of the IPA style and there are a myriad of factors to account for.  Most brewing texts will tell you that the beer needs to be hop forward, but balanced by a supporting malt character, which is true, but it's not the whole story.  There also needs to be a balance within the hop profile itself. The bitterness can't be too harsh or strong, otherwise the beer will be intensely grassy and unenjoyable.  Too much hop flavor will drown out the supporting maltiness.  Fortunately it's quite easy to achieve the proper balance with some alternatives to the traditional hopping schedule.  For IPAs first wort hopping is great technique to get a smooth bitterness and a pleasant flavor/aroma component.  Combined with late and dry hopping it creates a complex hop profile with several layers of depth to explore.

There are other topics that will help contribute to a great IPA, but I believe these two things are the keys.  For a more in depth analysis of the IPA style check out IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.  Cheers and happy brewing!  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Early Morning Brew Day

Well, it's 5:25 am as I start heating my strike water for my first brew day in over two weeks. Being on 12 hour night shifts makes it hard to find time to brew, but I have resolved to make time. That, I think, is the essence of passion not just for brewing but for anything. Making time to brew that you really don't have speaks volumes about one's dedication to brewing. I really should be waiting until I get an actual day off, but this can't wait any longer. If I am to brew this American stout with enough time for it to condition properly to be ready for the National Homebrew Competition it needs to be done before January is over and now is as good a time as any. Accompanying my brew day is a fantastic Imperial Red Ale from Oskar Blues called G'Knight in honor of their dearly departed Gordon Knight. I never knew Mr. Knight, but it is my hope that I can bring his apparent passion for finely crafted beer into my brewing and this brew day is dedicated to him.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Featured Recipe: Dust Devil IIPA

I had the distinct pleasure of tasting this beer a few days ago.  It was brewed by my good friend Mike Stauffer, an excellent homebrewer in Texas.  I tasted ten of his brews and this is the one I loved the most.  Intense hop character both in the aroma and the flavor, a solid but smooth hop bitterness supported by a medium-light body.  Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present Dust Devil IIPA by Mike Stauffer:

13 lbs American 2-row
.5 lbs Rye malt
.75 lbs Crystal Malt 20°L
.5 lbs Crystal Malt 40°L
.5 lbs Cara-Pils® Malt; Briess

.6 oz Warrior (Pellets, 16.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
.5 oz Cascade (Pellets, 5.50 %AA) boiled 20 min.
1 oz Cascade (Pellets, 5.50 %AA) boiled 5 min.
1 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.

Yeast :WYeast 1056 American Ale from slurry (2nd Gen.)
Ferment at 64F for 21 days then dry hop

1.00 oz Simcoe [Pellets 13 %] (Dry Hop 7 days)
1.00 oz Summit [Pellets 17.60 %] (Dry Hop 7 days)
1.00 oz Chinook[Pellets 10.00 %] (Dry Hop 7 days)

Mash Temp; 151F
Batch Size; 6 gal
Volume Boiled; 7.2 gal
Measured Brewhouse Efficiency; 71%
Measured OG; 1.068
Measured FG; 1.006
Measured ABV; 8.1%

I can't make you brew this, but all I can say is that if you're a hop head you won't be disappointed by this brew.  Enjoy!