Monday, April 27, 2009

Mike and Jim's Excellent Adventure

Last Sunday (4/19/09), Jimmy and I decided to make a new batch after bottling the first set, but we wanted to be a little creative. None of this "stick to the recipe" stuff; you've got to go big or go home, we said. This...probably wasn't the greatest way to go about it, considering we sat at the table with the ingredients staring at us in the face without their flavor profiles and just thinking "Hey, that might be good". In retrospect, it turned out to be a true Frankenstein monster, but it was late Sunday night, we were beat, both had a long week of work ahead of us, and said screw it.
Our ingredients were Octoberfest Vienna Lager, Bewitched Red Ale, and High Country Canadian Draft (all Hopped Malt Extracts), 1/2 oz. of Cascade Hop Pellets, and 3 packs of Dry Ale Yeast.

One thing you'll notice missing is the Booster. With three cans of malt extract planned, there is no need to add the flavorless Booster since there is already enough fermentable ingredients involved. Another change from the previous batch is we will actually boil the ingredients for a few minutes. Last time, the water was brought to a boil, removed from heat, and then the extracts were added; however, I feel this did not allow the extracts to be reconstituted because the water did not remain hot long enough. So now that we plan on adding 3 extracts, we want to be sure the water is warm enough. Also, we want to have the hops being added boiled just a tad to get some of the acids released from the pellets. The order of the extracts added were as shown above from left to right, followed by the 1/2 oz. of Cascade hops. Then it was left to boil for a couple minutes to finish making the wort. We had originally planned for 5 to maybe 10 minutes of boiling, but you'll see in a minute why we cut this short.

Jimmy adding some extract, trying hard not to screw it up. He didn't.

Jimmy adding the hops. When we first popped open the bag, Jimmy popped something else...

Stirring the wort. Notice how it is ominously getting close to the top...

...aaaand we spilled the wort while pouring into the fermenter. Note: when you use more extract, you are adding more volume and need a bigger boiling pot. Whodathunkit?

Jimmy adding the yeast. Look at the concentration on that man!

Our batch is complete! Nothing to do but wait a few weeks until this monster is done fermenting.

Gut-check time: although Jimmy and I had a lot of fun making this batch together, we definitely need better planning in the future in terms of what kind of beer we are going for. Looking back, throwing those three extracts and hops together without thinking truly about what it would result in was a poor choice. I don't really have high expectations with this batch either and will chalk it up to the learning curve. However, that doesn't mean we aren't going to go through the motions and bottle this baby. I did sample the fermenter about a week and a half into fermentation, and although it tasted better than the first batch (with the alcohol definitely more noticeable this time, as expected), it's still not very good. We shall see after it finishes fermenting and bottling.

Another difference from the last batch I wanted to mention was the change from using tap water to bottled water. From what I've read the quality of water makes a huge difference and is often overlooked. I think this applies more to those with hard water, but I wanted to give it a try. Might not be able to tell with this batch if it made a difference, probably better to compare two identical recipes with the different waters, but that's for another day.

Happy home brewing!


Jimmy said...

The smell of hops makes me . No more high hopes eh? Let me smell the hops more next time before you throw it in the batch. Perhaps let the wort cool first before adding to the fermenter. throw in some pine needles and grapefruit zest

Mike said...

Actually, I wrote this prior to tasting the first batch, which completely changed my view on what the beer tastes like during fermentation and what it tastes like after the carbonation step and settling in the bottles for a couple weeks. Letting the beer settle definitely allows for the beer to grow into itself, whether its keeping it in the fermenter or in the bottles. I'm debating on whether to bottle our batch now before vacation or let it sit in the fermenter and bottle it next weekend, the difference being either a fermentation of 2.5 weeks or 4 weeks. We shall see...

Mike said...

So yes, I do have higher hopes for our batch now, haha.