As I mentioned in my previous post, I was contacted about reviewing a brew kit from Midwest Supplies and agreed (on the condition that I could make a minor tweak!). The brew kit came with instructions and all the ingredients I needed for a nut brown ale. The recipe said the brew would produce between 1.042 and 1.046 SG and 46.8 IBU.
At the bottom of the post, I have pictures in chronological order of how and what the steps are for brewing a kit brew. As you can see, its easy and just required a couple of hours to complete (unlike my 5-6hr all grain brewing sessions) and I am able to set up and brew right on my back deck.
With this brew kit, everything went off without a hitch. The extract our of the milk jug works a lot better than the cans (IMO) and I thought it worked well. One note that Midwest may or may not endorse is I immerse the jug partially in the water to help get some of the extract out. It’s pretty sticky and thick, swashing some of that 150f water in there helps knock it out.
The hops smelled great, as you can see, the recipe called for 1.5oz at 60 min (meaning that the hops will boil for 60 minutes) and .5 oz at flame out. I don’t get too crazy with this, I just eye the .5 oz. Look for the wort to create s think milky foam (picture below), that’s usually a sign there is a potential boil over coming. This is especially important to look for if your brewing in your kitchen as it’s a mess when there is a boil over. You can stir, but watch out because it comes on quick, I usually look to take it off the heat at the point where the boil over looks like its coming. After its off the heat, I let it settle down and then return it to the heat, after that there usually isn’t much threat of boil over.
Once you reach boil and add your hops, you’re on easy street. Just watch the pot and make sure nothing crazy happens. If you’re using an immersion chiller, put it in the pot at about 15 min and make sure the hoses don’t hit anything hot and melt. Once you’re done, just hook up the hoses and be cautious because the water exiting the chiller is REALLY hot (I know, it seems obvious, but I burned my hand pretty good when I forgot the basics of physics).
You want to chill to 70, but in my experience you’re usually good anywhere under 90f. In this brew, I wasn’t in a hurry and I let it get down to 70.
Sanitizing is another important part of brewing. One thing to think about is before and after the boil. The boiling itself is a cleansing agent, but once the wort is cooled, it’s important to ensure that everything the wort is exposed to is sanitized.
Once that’s done, add your yeast and wait for the fun to happen. I will follow up with more on this.
**Quick thought on the brew kit itself. This was a good product with good parts. You’ll note that there were a lot of styles to chose from. With that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend utilizing your local brew shop (assuming you have one and its hours fit your life). As a new brewer, visiting EJ Wren really helped my get the confidence I needed to move along in brewing. I can honestly say I am not sure I would have followed through with brewing if I hadn’t visited my local brew shop.
However, some folks may not have the convenience of a local brew shop or also might benefit from the increased selection online suppliers like Midwest have. I just hope you consider all the options for brew supplies as this is a wonderful hobby and having access to supplies is only made possible by us brewing and purchasing. There, I am off my soapbox.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Midwest Supplies about reviewing a brew kit for them. It’s been a while since I brewed (or blogged for that matter, sorry about that) and I figured why not? So I asked them to send me their “Hex Nut Brown Ale” kit because I’ve been wanting to do a vanilla nut brown ale like Landmark Brewing used to do (my wife ordered some bourbon vanilla beans so that was my motivation). It arrived last week and this was what was in the box:
It was Wyeast 1056, (worked like a charm, one of my fears of mail order supplies has always been how will the yeast make the trip, but this was great), amber malt extract, mix of un-crushed grains, priming sugar, a grain steeping bag and directions.
Just some quick review for anyone that hasn’t brewed before, a kit beer is simply a set of supplies that come together and make a pre-figured kind of beer. It’s not like Mr. Beer kits or anything, this kit requires some of the brewing supplies in a beginners brew kit (here is one from Midwest), but it’s a great way to get started. I for one have been brewing primarily all-grain beer for the last four or five years, but when I am pressed for time, I like to do an extract brew. Beer kits are not much different than following a recipe, the only difference is everything is in the box. The people that come up kit types know their beer so it’s a safe bet and cost effective.
There are basically two different ways to brew extract beer; partial boil or full boil. This is determined by your personal situation, a partial boil works well for a stove top brewing and does a fine job. It consists of brewing in a smaller volume (8-12 quart pot) and adding the concentrate into your bucket with cold water. This acts to get your volume where it needs to be and also cools the mix pretty much to the point of being ready to pitch.
Full boil consists of brewing everything in a pot large enough to safely boil 5 gallons of wort. The trick here is you have to both have the vessel to boil in and a means to cool the brew. These chillers can be an expensive addition to a brew buy for someone that is just getting started, but worth it if you intend on brewing long-term.
With me, I have all the supplies for full boil that these instructions are based on that. Here is my summary of extract brewing steps:
- Heat 5 gallons of water to 150-160f
- Steep your crushed grains (in the grain steeping bag of course) in the heated water like a tea bag for about a half hour
- Remove the grains, squeeze out what liquid you can, pour the malt extract into the pot stirring to ensure that it dissolves into the liquid
- Return to heat and bring to a boil
- Once you reach a boil, add the first hops (watch out for boil overs)
- Continue to boil for an hour adding your second (and third and fourth…as needed) hops at the times indicated by the recipe
- Chill, sanitize (your equipment), pitch, and wait
That’s it. Simple enough. In the next post I’ll follow up with my notes on the brew day with this kit. More to come, cheers.
Gravity Before Boil: 1.045 SG (12.0 Brix)
Original Gravity: 1.047 SG (12.5 Brix)
Final Gravity: 1.011 SG (6.7 Brix)
Volume Of Finished Beer: 20.02 US gals
Total Water Required: 26.27 US gals
19lb 2oz of US 2-Row Malt
12lb 8oz of Belgian Pale Wheat Malt
2lb 9oz of UK Flaked Oats
1lb 6oz of Belgian Biscuit Malt
3.00 oz of UK Golding (60 Min From End)
2.00 oz of UK Golding (10 Min From End)
4.00 oz of Orange Peel, Bitter
2.00 oz of Coriander Seed
Grains of paradise
(below is a pic of the cracked coriander seed, cracked grains of paradise, and bitter orange peel)
Strike at 8am, done brewing and went about our day at 1, 20 gal in the books, all points hit, although we were at 13.3 brix. While this was Big Brew Day 2012, one day late, I had Bryan over for the brew day and fired up a 20 gallon batch. It’s been a while since I brewed anything of this volume, probably the last time I brewed with Bryan.
One point to note, we did well time wise considering the first few times I brewed 20gal batches it took 6-7hrs for a brew day. There wasn’t one specific thing that we did to keep the day on schedule, it was more of a series of observations and moves to keep things moving along. For example, we struck with 10gal and there was 16 more gallons that were needed. Instead of waiting, we started heating the 16 gal at strike because we were aware of the time needed to heat that much water.
One other brew day move was running off into buckets, then sparging and adding the wort to the brew pots and get them back on the heat. All things considered, it was a smooth brew day and it reminds me that we’ve come a long way over the years. Brewing is smooth and relaxing.
This past weekend I decided to get back at brewing the 10gal size brews. In this case, I was thinking IPA as I like to keep a hoppy beer on tap at all times. In this case I had a bunch of cascade hops left over from last year so i decided to use as much of them up as possible. In this case, I decided copy the idea of copying cascazella by Ithaca brewing company which is a red ale with mostly cascade that ends out at 7% ABV.
So here is the brew:
22lbs US 2-row pale malt
1lb 12oz 60L Carmel Malt
11oz 120L Carmel Malt
3oz Carafa Special II
8oz cascade 60min
2oz cascade 45min
1oz cascade 30min
1oz cascade 15 min
2oz cascade whole leaf flame out
2oz cascade whole leaf dry hop
Wyeast 1084-Irish Ale Yeast
This brew went really well, it came in at 79% mash efficiency (thanks to my grain mill). The pre-boil gravity 1.057 with the OG being 1.068. I pitched a double starter for the ten gallons.
It all went well, I just tasted the brew at rack over, it’s pretty damn good.
It’s been a while since I brewed this beer, so here it is in a quick overview;
5 Gal batch brewed on March 3rd
11lb 11oz Belgian pilsner malt
2lbs 8oz table sugar (I know sounds weird, but it’s what everyone says)
2oz Czech Saaz 60 min
Wyeast 1388 – Belgian Strong Ale
The pre-boil gravity on this bad boy was 1.056, which s before the sugar was added. The OG was 1.078 and it’s still in a long secondary so we’ll see where it gets, but it should get low, as low as 1.009.
I just looked through my notes and there wasn’t much to talk about, it’s a pretty straight forward beer.
We’ll see where it goes…
So I made a Christmas spice beer some years ago and it was not good. It was over carbonated, offensively spiced and super alcoholic. Given two years plus to age, it’s actually pretty damn good! I just cracked a bottle and I’m very pleased with the beer. Might need to have a shin-dig with these hoss’.
I’ve brewed a few Belgian Dubbels over the years. To be honest, I haven’t been totally “in love” with the recipe I’ve been using. I have practicing minimalism in brewing recently, but for this brew I decided to build a more complex recipe.
Here is what I came up with:
11lb 15oz of Belgian Pilsner Malt
2lb 4oz Belgian Cara Malt 15L
2lb Biscuit malt
2lb cara Munich malt 50L
2.4oz Chocolate malt
6oz Belgian candy sugar – dark
1oz German Norther Brewer 60min
1.5 oz styrian 30min
.5 oz German tettneng 20min
Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abby II
I struck a little later than usual, getting rolling at 10am. I held 150f (target was 149) for an hour and sparged with 3.5 gallons at 175. The grain bed got up to 168, but not the whole time and I did not mash out.
The volume was low so I needed to add 1qt at cool down. The pre-boil gravity was 1.066 and the OG was set for 1.080, but after the addition of the 1qt of water is was 1.074, right on my target. My efficiency was 65% so I’m happy.
At the end, I had plenty of wort at the end, but decided to hit my target and water the volume down. The color looked good and I’m excited for this brew. I was lazy and skipped my starter so we’ll see what impact that has. I have a spot in my house that should get 75+ for temp so I should have a good environment for those yeast.
Since it’s been a while, I figured why not get back on the horse with an old faithful. Californication, a California Common I’ve brewed a few times. This is a simple enough recipe:
20.12 lbs Canadian 2row pale
3lbs 45L Caramel malt
1oz Northern Brewer – 60 min
2oz Centennial – 30 min
1oz Northern Brewer – 10 min
Wyeast 2112 – California Lager
As with the last few brew days I’ve had, my new grain mill made a big difference on my efficiency (Thanks to Pete for getting through to me on that one). I had 70.1% on this batch, made a large 32oz starter, and MIT my target of 1.056 for my OG. All good things.
My mash was a single in fusion at 151 held for 1 hour with two batch sparges. The brew was cloudy when I racked it over, but I was really pleased at how much it had cleared up when I just kegged it.
The brew is now kegged up and should be on tap in the next week.
So it’s great to see the New York Times showing some respect to Upstate New York and Madison County. Hops was once a booming industry here in CNY and some dedicated farmers and brewers are responsible for the rebirth of this craft. Great story and great beers!