Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Big # Ten...mess with success

After the collander incident, I went back to Vegas Home Brew and asked Steve if he had a solution - of course...a grain bag.  I'd also managed to break my hydrometer, so got another.  After sanitzing everything with bleach, I lay the stuff I'm not using right away out on paper towels.  When I put the measuring cup on the towel, it stuck.  When I picked it up again the hydrometer went flying....apparently a not uncommon component to break in that or a similar manner. 

Everyone, including me liked the porter so much, I decided I better make it a regular and make some more.  No changes to the recipe, except that this time I threw the licorice into the boil for 15 minutes instead of 5 and I used Centennial hops instead of Cascade.

The new grain bag stopped any mishaps and really made for a much clearer wort.  Couple of bungee cords kept it in place.  Still used the collander to spray the water and wort during sparging over the whole grain bed. I actually used more water than I planned to sparge it and ended up with 2 and a half gallons after the boil.  So I called up Steve and asked him if he thought I could ferment it in the bucket even though it would be less than half full.  He said to go for it, so I just popped an airlock on it since the lid already had a hole and grommet to accommodate it.  Worked out great, although I missed being able to see the kreusen.  At least I didn't lose a quart blowing out through the hose like I usually did.

The result was terrific again, using the bucket as a fermenter and wrapped in towels and later the bottles in the cooler again.  The Fermentis Safale S-04 dry British Ale Yeast has proven to be very reliable.  This time the brew tasted much stronger due to the extended boiling of the licorice.  Maybe too strong for some people's taste, but I really enjoyed it.  Might try 10 mins next time.  Or something different.

Had another annoying problem when I was cleaning up.  Trying to dry the racking cane, I decided to get the water out, and shake it down like a thermometer.  SNAP.  Broke it right below the elbow.  Another trip back to Steve and I got one long enough to fit in the 6 gallon bucket instead of just the glass one gallon jugs.

During July, my wife, son and I went to the third Saturday's tour at the Joseph James Brewery in Henderson, NV.  Very inventive guys, and Matt give a great tour and great brews.  They had just gotten in a bunch of old bourbon barrels that had some leftovers in them.  They used them to brew a monster Russian Imperial Stout that had an extra kick, plus an anniversary brew for Aces and Ales pub, both of which were absolutely kickass.  After we left, we had to spend a while at the Subway in the complex for the effects to wear off.

I also contacted Anthony Gibson over at Tenaya Creek Brewery.  They don't have regular tours, but he gave my son and I a personal tour for over an hour and a half.  By now with all my reading, I peppered him with bunches of questions.  Great guy and a much more controlled process than Joseph James, but some of that is due to zoning issues.  Tenaya Creek has a grain silo outside that feeds right into their mill and on into the mash tun.  Joseph James' guys have to lug the bags of grain into the tun.  Anyway, an absolutely fascinating tour and he treated me to their seasonal Oatmeal Stout, that was totally off the hook.  They have a pub attached to the brewery, so soon they want to expand the brewery into a new building so they can also get a brewery license instead of a brewpub license.  Otherwise in NV they are subject to a 15,000 bbl limit.  Problem is that when they split the two, they will have to bring in a distributor just to move their kegs from the brewery to their own pub.  Another weird NV law - no doubt from lobbying by the few distributors in the state that have a lock on the business.  Not saying NV government is corrupt or anything....<ahem>.

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