I haven’t updated the blog in a bit, but have brewed a couple beers. The last brew I blogged about was my Bell’s Two Hearted clone, which turned out a little less hoppy than I was hoping, but is still very drinkable. Since then I have rebrewed my Sweet Stout (Milk of the Poppy) and brewed a small batch (a gallon and a half) pale ale recipe (similar to Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale). At least, it was supposed to be a gallon and a half.
The thing about brewing (and much of what I do in life), revolves around learning from my mistakes. Two of my last four batches are no exception, and I’ll point out a few mistakes and maybe prevent others from making them?!
Mistake 1 – always check your equipment setup in BeerSmith (or whatever software you regular use). My pale ale was supposed to be a gallon and a half, but ended up being 3 gallons due to an equipment error. I do my small batches as brew in a bag (which you can read about here), but in this case, I didn’t select my BIAB equipment profile, and ended up with WAY too much water, which dragged my original gravity WAY down. So, to adjust I had to add a pound of dry malt extract to the end of the boil, adjust my late hop additions, and ended up with 3 gallons into the fermenter. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing if it turns out the way I hope it will, it just means double the amount of beers in the end….right?!
Mistake 2 – and I know this, but got lazy: always ferment at the appropriate temperature for your yeast strain. Ugh. I rebrewed my Robust Porter (one of my BKBH personal favorites) using Nottingham yeast, which you typically want to ferment in the low 60’s. I just set the fermenter off to the side and let it go, and boy did it go. It was a very aggressive fermentation that almost blew the top off the fermenter, and got into the mid-70’s temperature wise. Nottingham gives off some not so nice fruity esters about 68 or so, and more so when your in the 70’s. Now I have 5 gallons of robust porter with a bad taste to it….not fun. So, to punish myself, I am forcing myself to drink a glass occasionally from the keg as a constant reminder to ferment at the right temperature. In reality, that is one of the best (and most fundamental) things you can do to improve the quality of your beers, and to reach a level of repeatability in brewing a recipe over again!
As for what’s coming up, in addition to another batch of my stout (which I also submitted for the American Homebrewers Association National Competition), I’ve ordered the ingredients for my Pliny the Elder clone (largely for my wife), the ingredients for my robust porter (to be fermented properly this time…I hope), Norther Brewer’s Dundalk Irish Heavy (a seasonal ale), and the ingredients to experiment with a Strawberry Rhubarb Saison. That should be plenty to ring in spring?!