Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fourth and Fifth Brews..or Damn you Dave Miller

I don't even remember how I ended up starting with Dave Miller's books, but somewhere I saw that he was the end-all, be-all of brewing.  Little did I know how dated his stuff was.  Probably can't blame it all on him, but for the life of me, I still haven't figured out what happened to my next two brews.  I thought I'd return to a pale ale, perhaps an American pale ale, not overly hoppy, just something simple and drinkable.  I picked Miller's Pale Ale recipe - 1.4 lbs of Pale Ale malt, .2 oz of crystal malt, for a one gallon brew. One third of an ounce of Fuggles for the bittering hops and 1/5 of an ounce of UK First Gold for the aroma hops.  Safaele S-04 Dry Yeast. 


I picked up all the ingredients at Vegas Home Brew (www.vegashomebrew.com) and got a hydrometer so I could check the gravity, having learned the need for that from the book.  Besides the 3 gallon brew kettle, that was my first additon to the original kit.  I had been scrounging stuff from the kitchen - a measuring cup, a scale, funnel, spoon, strainer, pots for heating water, lautering and starting yeast, a pair of hemostats that I used to use for clamping soldering projects, now used for clamping the siphon hose (the clamp that came with the kit was worthless), and a cup for catching the kreusen when it blew out the hose.

Everything seemed to go fine.  Of course I had not done any calculations on the expected gravity or IBUs, since I hadn't gotten that far in my studies.  Miller didn't cover those little technicalities, and I'm not so sure I was ready for them anyway.

The first gallon came out very bitter and low in ABV - 3.9%.  I eventually managed to finish all 10 bottles, but surely didn't share it with anyone.  So I tried again and increased the crystal malt to .4 ounces.  This time the ABV only made it to 1.3% and tasted so nasty that I managed to down two bottles and dumped the rest.  This after babying it through reracking into a secondary, adding isinglass finings to get more stuff to settle out, carefully racking into bottles and controlling the temperature. 

Seriously, I needed to do some more studying, so I got the Kindle version of  "The Complete Joy of Home Brewing" by Charles Papazian.  I also needed a more forgiving recipe.

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