Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Decorating - The Cauldron

From Blogger Pictures
The neighbors "threw down the gauntlet" so to speak with decorating for Halloween. Instead of buying a bunch of stuff made in China I made a cauldron out of a 50 gallon drum, sill seal, and about a dozen styromfoam balls.
After I finished with the housing unit I added a red lightbulb for a chilling glow effect. I added orange lights around the base for burning embers and made a chilling sound loop for playback. Come Halloween I'll add the music and some dry ice for a boiling cauldron of doom! If anyone is interested in the complete project let me know.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Oktoberfest cont'd - I have KRAUSEN!

Krausen (pronounced KROY-zen) is the foam that appears on top of fermenting beer, proving that the little yeasties are performing as ordered.
I had to mess around the last couple days with the temperature. The frig I was using keeps it too cold and I can't put a thermostat on the frig because I'm using the freezer. I haven't been able to work on getting the fermenter chiller I built a few months ago down to 50 degrees so that's out of the question. I took the top of a plastic 50 gallon drum I used for a Halloween decoration (seen in the following post) and filled it with water and frozen Folgers coffee bins/containers. The last time I looked the beer was around 54 degrees. I'd like it around 50 but 54 is better than 64 so I'll take it for now.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Oktoberfest is never too late

I started an Oktoberfest this weekend. Grain bill is as follows:
44.9% Pilsner LME
44.9% Munich LME
10.2% Crystal (60)
I hopped it with traditional 2oz Hallertau. 1.5oz for 60, and the other .5 at 20 minutes.

I steeped the crystal in 3 gallons cold water and 1teaspoon of gypsum until I hit 170 degrees. It took the water about 25 minutes to hit the right temperature before I pulled out. I added a little too much water (about 3.5 gallons) then brought it to a boil before adding the pilsner and Munich which brought the boil volume to about 7 gallons. Once the wort was boiling again I added the first hop addition. At the 20 minute mark the other .5 oz went in. Still thinking I had too much water I let the it continue to rapid boil for another 40 minutes. This brought the total volume to 5 gallons which I think is a little less then what I wanted. Normally I like 5.5 gallons to make up for the hop and other "sludge" at the bottom of the fermenter. This way I get a full 5 gallons of beer (53 pints). I was able to bring the temp down to 69 degrees in about 10 minutes using a friends (thanks Brett) wort chiller. Tested the original gravity at 1.055 (my goal was 1.060). Pitched the yeast (White Labs 820 ) starter and brought it home to roost for 4 or so weeks in a waiting frig. Last time I checked the beer was at 49 degrees. A little too cold. I have to raise the temp soon or the yeast may act a little funny.
When it's finished I should have a nice amber lager that has 5.4% alcohol by volume.
In about one or two weeks I'm going to start a massive Imperial IPA that should blow the roof off any other IPA I've ever done. I'll be using 15oz of hops. My largest hop usage to date is 8oz. After that's started I'll make a Christmas Ale for the holidays.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Oktoberfest another round

Slick, oily pour with a nice orange/sienna hue holding a two-fingered beige head. It has a slight nutty aroma and a small hop profile. I'll guess some magnum hops but the rest I can't even guess. Several toasty flavors hide the big 9.3 ABV. Don't get fooled by it's subtlty. It's still a bit sweet for an Oktoberfest but since it's an Imperial style I can't fault it that much. Smooth and creamy with a velevety texture, it leaves a little of itself behind after every drink. Overall this is an exceptional brew from Avery and probably one of my favorites.
Not a bad buy for $7.99 I'll have it again sometime but it doesn't beat Great Lakes.