Tag Archives: homebrew

Pale Ale Brewing Adventure Part 3: The Finale

14 Dec

Forgive my use of flash but my apartment has some of the worst lighting for photographs at night.

Well, just as hoped:  I successfully created beer.

I was surprised with my results:

I predicted that the beers that would go wrong would be the pumpkin ale and the IPA.  The grapefruit beer I had no way of really knowing what to expect with and the pale ale I thought would be pretty solid.

The pumpkin ale is delicious.  The 1 gallon batch only yielded a small amount of beer do the large amount lost from sediment.  The final product still has a lot of sediment in it even after pouring from the bottle straight through a wire mesh into my pint glass.  The taste is full of strong pumpkin flavors with light spices.  I am fairly satisfied with this brew, though I would definitely do some tweaking before attempting it again.

The IPA did not turn out very strong.  It tastes different from the pale ale, but not in a good way.  I am pretty sure that adding the additional cascade hops during the secondary introduced some new yeast/microbes.  I feared this, but at the same time not enough to prevent it.  The beer is drinkable and fortunately I do not have a lot of it to get through.

The grapefruit beer is very interesting.  It is alarmingly bitter but the malt provide a subtle balance of sweetness.  I don’t want to give the impression that this is a complex beer: it is straight grapefruit flavor punching you in the tongue.  It’s weird, and could use some tweaking in future batches but it is interesting enough to try and doesn’t make for a bad beer at all.

The pale ale was surprisingly nice.  Nothing spectacular, it is very typical and doesn’t overpower or shock in any way.

Overall, this experiment should be labeled a success.  I got to try out breaking a recipe up and altering secondary fermentations to make some unique beers.  This was a good first batch that could lead to some nice beers with changes made in the future.

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Pale Ale Brewing Adventure [part 2]

24 Nov

My pale ales have completed their primary fermentation stages and are ready to be re-racked for their secondary.

The pumpkin ale has maintained it’s pumpkin aroma and a beautiful orange hue, however, we added a tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice for some added flavors.  A lot of this beer has been sacrificed to sediment, and after re-racking to a new fermentor we had what seemed like a half gallon left.

The 4 gallon batch of pale ale has gone it’s separate ways for the secondary: 1 gallon to become grapefruit ale, 1 gallon to be an IPA, and 2 gallons to remain pale ale.  The grapefruit flavor was added by means of a fruit extract.  We only added half of the container we purchased for fear of making our beer too bitter or overpowering.  The IPA got some wet cascade hops thrown in to impart some citrusy-hop flavors.  Lastly, the 2 gallons of pale ale was simply re-racked and left unaltered.  The secondary for this batch will add clarity to the beer, but probably not much of anything new as far as flavor.

After another week of fermenting these beers were ready to be bottled.  At this point sugar is added to the beer then it is capped and allotted time to carbonate.  The final result was 3 large bottles of our pumpkin ale, about ten beers each of the grapefruit and IPA variations and around 20 bottles of straight-up pale ale.

On the 30th our beer will be ready to drink.  At the time of bottling we tasted the IPA and the grapefruit ale.  The grapefruit ale was very interesting: the first sip tasted peppery and buttery, as you continued to sip, however, the citrus taste began to come through.  Over all this one was quite bitter and will hopefully take on enough sweetness during bottle conditioning.  The IPA was nice, the added hop flavors were subtle and the beer tasted balanced and not too overpowering.  I look forward to trying them all at the end of the month, look for a post on the results!

Recycle your Bottles at Home

22 Nov

Every Homebrewer is faced with a slight dilemma: after brewing 5 gallons of beer you have to put it somewhere.  If you’re small-time like me then you are probably not set up with a kegging system and have to rely on bottling.

There are several options on how to go about this: you can buy bottles from homebrew stores that come without labels, or you can reuse empty bottles that you have drained yourself.  I do the latter because, number one it is cheaper and, number two it becomes a game to find cool bottles that I can reuse for my own beer.

Coolest shaped bottles I have found: Samuel Smith bottles are larger and darker; Sierra Nevada bottles are more stout shaped, same as Anchor Brewing Co,; Schneider weisse bottles are taller but pretty narrow and elegant looking; larger, almost wine-sized bottles can be found but you have to make sure that a regular sized bottle cap will fit, wine bottles won’t work but a nice fit is any larger bottle put out by Dogfish head; I have a lot of really old Genesee pint bottles that are tough to come by nowadays; I also have a really nice, older Sapporo bottle that is pretty large and most definitely in charge.

Don’t bother with twist-offs, there are of no use and should be returned for deposit money.

I have tried various ways of getting labels off and I haven’t noticed much difference in effectiveness.  I have tried baking soda and soap mixtures which seem to work fine and I hear the Oxyclean really does the trick, but that isn’t a product that I own so soap, hot water and maybe some baking soda is my solution.  What I can tell you is what brand’s labels come off the easiest and the toughest.

Tough Ones: Brooklyn labels are, in my opinion, the worst.  You can let them soak in your solution overnight and they are still incredibly resistant to leaving the bottle.  I don’t bother with them anymore, I would rather have the deposit than deal with that headache.  In general, American craft beers are tougher.  I am not sure if we use more adhesive, or just superior adhesive but the labels are stubborn.  Samuel Adams is not the best, but can be done.  If you don’t mind scraping some paper and scrubbing off some glue residue then grab some Sam.  Any beer bottle with foil on it presents some scraping, but is very doable.  Bottles in which the label has been etched or adhered in some other way present problems as well.  Stone Brewing Company’s bottles must remain with their demonic icons in place, I don’t bother trying to make those bottles naked.

Easy Ones: For the most part, when German brand beer bottles are soaked the labels just slide off.  Leave the bottles in the solution for about an hour and when you return the labels will be floating on the surface waiting for you.  Brand’s I have tried: Paulaner, Spaten, Ayinger.  Goose Island is the same way, again I don’t know if it is less adhesive or inferior adhesive but the labels just jump right off of the bottles.

Something I am trying right now is retrieving the labels that come off in one piece, drying them out and adhering them to a piece of hard board to make coasters.  Look for a post on that in the future and I hope that this was helpful in some way.