25 November, 2008

Quickie: Do they blend?

I am drinking a blend of half Costa Rican, half Yemeni beans roasted to full city. This blend has the deep notes I like from the Yemeni, but lacks the smooth Costa Rican flavors. Not sure if the South American bean is the right complement to the Arabian bean. Next I will try an even split between the Javanese and Yemeni beans.

The people at Sweet Maria's are right about Yemeni beans — they really take 48 hours to rest after roasting. Yesterday, the first day after roasting, this blend was not nearly as full.

22 November, 2008

Kegged Evil Brown

On ITAFtHD I made a brown ale from AHS. Readers will know that I really messed that one up using RO water. I came out with 15 gallons when I expected only 10 - meaning that the beers were weak. Beer #2 was a slow starter, taking two days and some krasuen from beer #1 to get going. I kegged the beers today.

Number 2 was totally spoiled. Might get it through my head now to slow down the rate at which I pass the beer through the CFC. I suspect I pitched my starter into hot wort, killing the yeast. In the end, I came out with the same volume I was expecting (10 gallons) but the wrong strength. Evil Brown #1 ought to be ready for Thanksgiving when we have company over to celebrate.

Final Gravity: 5% brix.

I also ran out of the totally delicious Rye of the Hurricane today. Gonna make that one again. The beer came out with a great dry earthy bitterness from the rye malt and Mt Hood hops. It needed a little more body so I think I will increase the ratio of Munich to pale malts.

15 November, 2008

Bifurcated Blog Content — Coffee

It is about time I start recording my coffee roasting experience. Instead of creating another blog will use this space for that purpose.

I started roasting in January of '08, almost a year ago, thanks to my in-laws. They gave me an i-Roast (mark 1) for Christmas and some green beans. In a later post I will do a review of the machine. It serves its purpose pretty well in the hands of a noob.

One bean, Costa Rican La Alianza from 7 Bridges, will likely become a staple. At city roast it has a smooth medium bitterness with just a little unsweetened chocolate flavor.

I am now experimenting with Java Kajumas Curah Tatal and Yemen Mokah Mattari, both from Sweet Maria's. I over-roasted the Javanese bean the first time, but the Yemeni bean was right on at city roast. It possesses a woody aroma and subdued bitterness.

I have about 3 pounds of new beans (and 5 pounds of the Costa Rican) to work my way through. I think I will end up in an African bean, then try my hand at blending.

01 November, 2008

International Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day

Today is International Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day so I had a few friends over and made beer. Some of them knew how to brew, some of them did not, and one of the latter is gonna give it a try. I ended up making about 15 gallons of beer in two batches. Allow me to elaborate.

I bought ingredients for 10 gallons of AHS Evil Brown ale and everything was set to go at 10 o'clock this morning. There was one flaw in my plan, you see at the last club meeting we discussed Bryan/College Station water quality. It turns out that our water is simply awful for brewing - there's too much sodium and hardness. With this in mind I went down to Jacob's Well and got 20 gallons of reverse osmosis filtered water.

I know better than to brew with only RO water, and thought I had some Burton salts in my box of homebrew supplies. I did not. Nor did I use any tap water in my mash like I should have. My efficiency suffered severely because of this and I extracted 10 gallons of 1.022 wort where I should have seen 1.050-ish.

The remaining grains were still sweet so some of the other homebrews convinced me to do another batch. This time I added about a gallon of tap water to 5 gallons of RO. The mash went through starch conversion in about 15 minutes and I mashed for a total of 40. The resulting wort came out around 1.031 SG. I tossed some left-over Magnum and Goldings hops in the boil and split my yeast starter between the two fermenters. They are in the duck-in cooler right now.

So it took me two mashes and 15 gallons to get all the sugar out of my grains, but I like low-alcohol session beers. I'm curious to tast the brews.

The recipe:


  • 18 lbs 2-row
  • 1 lbs Crystal 60
  • 0.5 lbs Chocolate Malt
  • 2 oz 7.6% AA Brewer's Gold 60 mins
  • 1 oz 4.2% AA Goldings 15 mins
White Labs 005 English Ale yeast

Batch two used
  • 0.5 oz 14% AA German Magnum hops for 90 minutes
  • 1 oz 4.2% AA Goldings for 15 mins
I had those nagging cooling problems. Next time I will run my pump at a slower speed.

It was a great day. I even found the time to grill two racks of spare ribs and Adrienne made mozzarella. Other folks brought home and commercial brew meaning everyone was well fed and well drunk.