Sunday, May 18, 2008

The DRB Goes All-Grain!

I started brewing partial extract recipes around August of 2007. I've been very pleased with almost all of my batches, and doing 10 or more of them really taught me about the process of brewing. I kept hearing about this "all-grain" method, and began hanging around anyone that was doing it. I watched several people do it and researched it as much as I could. I finally became comfortable enough to make a plan to start getting equipment.. (the George Bush check came at the right time too!).
I'm using one keg as my hot liquor tank (water), an orange rubbermaid cylinder cooler for my mash-tun and another keg for my brew kettle.
I started getting things prepared around 8 a.m. this morning. Cleaning, sanitizing, getting the water heated, etc. I think I finally started mashing around 10 a.m. - that water took quite a while to heat up. In the mean time, I installed another television in the DRB - the old one finally died (I think my family got that t.v. when I was like 10 years old).

I also did my first yeast starter.. hoping that turns out ok! I hung out this past week at Adventures in Homebrewing. Jason was a huge help, schooling me in the odds and ends that I wasn't aware of yet. The main thing he said was: "Don't make it more complicated than it really is." Which is helpful advice. I think I've read so many different things about all-grain brewing, that I wanted to try every technique on this first batch and get things perfect.

One last thing I did, was research and purchase beer brewing software. I ended up with Beer Alchemy - a program designed specifically for Macintosh computers. The software is pretty sweet, it acts as a journal for keeping track of batches. It has several recipes already built into it. It has a nice selection of calculators - one I've been using to calculate my refractometer readings to try and hit my 1.044 to 1.055 gravity, and a ton of other cool features.

I think between the beer store and craigslist, I've probably spent about $250.00 on all of the equipment I have that took me to all-grain. And, since George sent me $600.00, I have some left for a couple future batches.. :)

Well, to sum this post up - it's 2:30 p.m., and the wort is about to boil. This definitely is a much longer process than extract brewing, but it's been fun. I think I did everything right, so I'm going to be extra anxious to see how this batch turns out. I don't think I mentioned it either, I brewed a cream ale - should be a good kick-back summer beer. :)

Almost forgot to thank Brian @ HomebrewingAdventures for letting me pick his brain about all-grain. I feel like I owe him some consulting fees!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brews and news

Well, if judging by my blog posts, it would appear that the DRB has been on vacation. Just the opposite, but I have been busy with work, well, and brewing.
A few weeks back I brewed a Amarillo Ale. A pale ale with 4 oz of amarillo hops. One of the ounces was dry hopped.
Not even a week later, I brewed a Belgian Wit, which fermented like a son-of-a-gun, and just stopped, I swear it was a two solid week ferment, that thing bubbled forever.
Next up, we had a guest brewer, actually someone who kind of got me started in brewing.. a buddy that nudged me into it with the ol "just do it, it's easy dude" comment, and I thank him for it. Bryan, brewed the Kolsch recipe from Adventures in Homebrewing. We've heard it is some awesome beer. Our plan is to bottle it up in the next couple of weeks.

New equipment: I have a few RSS feeds set up on Craigslist for homebrew equipment. One came across last week with some stuff I was looking for in Ferndale, MI. I couldn't make the trip there, so I kind of gave up on it. Tuesday, I shot the guy an email asking if he sold the equipment. A speedy reply said no, it's mostly all still there. I made plans to head up and meet him tonight (Tuesday). Here's what I ended up with (photo above): 1 10 gallon mash tun cooler with false bottom. Another smaller mash tun, false bottom cooler. A plastic fermenter, a bunch of odds and ends.. like cleaning solutions, wood chips, bottling wand, sanky tap (score!), other things I can't even remember right now.. a 5 gallon glass carboy.. and best of all, a grain mill, a really nice big one that looks pretty solid; all of this, for $80 bucks. I planned on spending a hundred, or possibly going back to the bank for more if needed, but the dude selling the stuff didn't have any idea what the stuff was worth, and got what he needed out of it, so we both walked away happy... maybe me happier, but, what the heck, he wasn't using it all!

And so begins.. the DRB is about to go all grain.... to be continued. :)