Sunday, August 10, 2014

ACES Anniversary Ales

So, at work we have this project called ACES which is a package based software implementation.  However, the client decided to hack the crap out of the package to shoehorn it into their business.  It has been going on for 7 years. We haven't implemented yet and we are on Work Pack 23 - that's 23 software releases of modifications to the base package just in the last two years.  Looks possible we will go live with it next month such as it is.  In honor of this ridiculous endeavor, I started on a recipe for an Irish Red Ale I called ACES Anniversary Ale.  Each batch took on another work pack number, starting with WP-01.  There really isn't any anniversary, but I figured I was brewing it for the go live date. 

The first batch had a bit too much crystal malts. I was shooting for an Imperial Irish Ale.  Although you could see the reddish tint when held up to a bright light, it appeared fairly dark brown.  I had dry hopped it with a quarter ounce each of Simcoe and Williamette pellets, so it had a nice bitter finish, but not too bad.  It came out pretty malty, and the ABV wasn't as high as expected.  I looked at the specs for the Irish Ale yeast and realized it only attenuates to 70%, so it left behind a lot of sugar and resulted in 5.6% ABV instead of 8%.

WP-02 was brewed about a month later and I reduced some of the crystal, but kept the flaked barley and Carared malt.  Still came out a bit dark, but the red was showing better.  ABV came out about the same.

WP-03 was very different, took out all the Munich and extra crystal, exc for the Carared.  I screwed up the mash with too high of temperature of strike water and didn't detect it soon enough.  I was doing a single infusion mash and the temperature gradients in the tun were pretty wide.  I only managed to get 3.5% out of it.  So as a hail mary, I threw in a bottle of Jameson's to get it over 5%.  I skipped the dry hopping this time.  I popped a bottle after a week and thought that if it didn't get better, I'd dump the lot.

After another week and a half, it really matured.  Over two weeks after bottling it was actually damn good enough bring it in to work to distribute.  I called it WP-03 Hot Fix as a tribute to the Jameson's fix.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Full steam ahead

Well, got the bug back, upgraded my equipment to make it easier to brew, reworked all my recipes to handle 5 gallons and take into consideration the remarks in the Southern Nevada Ale Fermenters Union (SNAFU) competition.  I built a yeast stirrer from an old PC and a couple of Radio Shack pots and resistors.  Tore up a cooler..since we had a bunch of them and put in a filter hose and a drain valve.  Found a few other shortcuts using two food buckets.  Got a Victoria mill and ground my grains to a pulp...not the best choice, but it works.  Just have to be real careful that you get enough hulls intact to ensure a non-stuck sparge.  Made a 72 bottle tree out of scrap wood and quarter round plastic molding and about 5 coats of paint to seal it well for disinfecting.

I kicked off this round of brewing with a son loves BJs Porter, but I decided on a Baltic Porter heavily laced with anice that I happened to have on hand. 

Stupid the last minute during setting up the carbonation, I decided to deviate from my carefully crafted recipe and add more honey.  Totally forgot what it would do to the carbonation...was hoping for more honey flavor...rookie mistake.  Ended up with a bunch of bottle bombs.

But once it was allowed to settle down was pretty awesome porter...if you like anise.

So next was a stout...another of my son's favorites.  Brewed a great stout, and decided to add hickory chips soaked in a bottle of Bourbon to the wort.  Ok for me, but ended up at 12.6% and a kick ass brew.  I liked it, so did  my son. But gave a bunch of it out and most people weren't prepared. That's Bailey on the label in a Tennessee hillbilly's hat.  Had one like that when I was a kid.  My mother called it a pea-picker's hat.

One guy who was a former drunk, really liked it . :-P  Maybe I should be more careful about screening those I give samples to.  Should probably create a questionnaire and see if they are qualified to drink this stuff.  If you don't like Bourbon, coffee, roasted flavors, you won't like it.  But Steve, at Vegas Home Brew thought I was on to something and told me to save some till August to let it mellow a bit.  That's going to take some willpower.  One of my Untappd friends put in a request for a couple bottles.

Just started an Imperial Red Ale today. Calling it ACES Anniversary Ale for a project going live next month at work called ACES.  Everything seemed to go to plan so we will see where we end up next month. But it's off to a good start.

And now the next day:

Love that sound!  Seems like a miracle that those tiny yeast cells can do that.