First Taste – Rusty Coil IPA

Homebrew Tasting

First Taste – Rusty Coil IPA

2 Comments By Blake November 26, 2009

I hosted a homebrew session a while back to show some friends the process and we got to sample the fruit of our labor on Sunday.  We set out to make an IPA based loosely on a Victory Hop Devil recipe I gleaned from the Beer Captured book. We overloaded the malt extract by about a pound during the boil and overshot the target OG by .008 at 1.074.  It had an adventurous fermentation to say the least.

I didn’t think about the consequences of overshooting the OG and put a bubbler in the carboy cap instead of a blowoff tube, an oversight undoubtedly related to the number of beers we put away during the brew session. The next morning, half asleep, I found the carboy cap in a laundry basket and looked up to see wort all over the ceiling.  Yeah, you heard right, I am teaching friends how to homebrew.

What can you do? I put the cap back on, set up a blowoff tube and said a little prayer to the beer gods to stave off bacteria. When I transferred to secondary a week later, I was relieved to discover there were no off odors. I thought I had gotten lucky, but the fun was just starting. One of the troubles of brewing in Florida is maintaining the wort in an optimal temperature range so that the yeasties can do their work.  Most ale yeast ferments in the mid 70s and it was still 90 outside in late September.

So, yeah, our AC went out. The stupid thing is less than 3 years old and apparently the coils had rusted and were leaking. My carboy thermometer doesn’t register above 80 so I don’t know exactly how hot the wort got,  but I think its safe to assume it was well above 80 for the better part of 4 days. I’m pretty sure the fermentation stalled at some point as the final gravity is  a little high.

To add to the adventure, and because I needed to easily share this batch with Paul and Jay, I had decided that this would be the first batch that I would bottle.  I’ve always kegged homebrew before and never really had to worry about priming the beer. However, after weighing the options, I decided on using Munton’s tablets. We had to put 8 of them in each bottle. They’ve been in there for three weeks and look to be mostly dissolved.

We decided to name the adventurous little beer Rusty Coil IPA to commemorate its crazy fermentation. We poured it from the bomber for the first taste and I have to say, I’m not happy with it. Its not ruined by any means, but its a little too malty (which I expected) and my main complaint is that its unbelievably cloudy. Like I said, I have never bottled before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the amount of sediment floating in the beer is downright unappetizing. Three weeks in the keg would have produced a much better beer.

I’m not giving up on Rusty Coil by any means. I’m going to try it again this weekend and the week after, but it needs to get better or I am going to figure out another means of carbonating the Christmas porter I brewed last week.

Holiday Homebrew Session

Homebrew Journal

Holiday Homebrew Session

No Comments By Blake November 17, 2009

There are about a dozen or so friends and family expecting homebrew for the holidays. With only six weeks left until Christmas, I had little choice but to brew Sunday. I have been homebrewing for about 4 years now. I’m an extract brewer and proud of it. I understand the tendency for experienced brewers to “graduate” to all grain, but I really don’t have the space for the extra gear and grains. I flipped through my recipe list and a few homebrew books before deciding to re-create a Smoked Porter I made a few years back, a recipe borrowed from my brewing partner Lauren.

These are my tasting notes from the first batch in 2007:

“Kegged while at home during work hours. Happily consumed Hydrometer test jar of uncarbonated beer. This is generally a very good sign. The only thing I would change is the smoke. The beer could use another pound of smoked malts… (as the recipe called for anyway. I cut back because I was unable to get wood smoked malts and didn’t want the peat smoked variety to overpower the beer)”

Of course, I didn’t read that before the trip to BX Beer Depot, so I came back with the 2 lbs of smoked malts listed in my Beer Smith entry. Oh well, my procrastination is going to force me to make other substitutions as well, so I might as well go for it.

Last weekend was teach a friend to homebrew day at the BX Beer Depot, so they were short inventory of a few items. I couldn’t find Wyeast American Ale (#1056) or American Ale II(#1272), so I chose Northwest Ale (#1332). I was an ounce short of East Kent Goldings Hops, so I had to substitute. Instead of going to the substitution table, and because it’s a Christmas beer I swapped out the bittering hops for an ounce of Pearle that I had been saving for a different porter recipe. I went ahead and tossed in an extra half ounce of Willamette in the flavor hop stage. The color and the smoked grains are all that this beer has in common with the original.

The recipe calls for a 90 minute boil, but since it was 80 degrees out without a cloud in sight, I didn’t really mind. I had to hustle to prevent a few boil overs, but for the most part the boil went off without a hitch.

The cardinal rule of homebrewing is you have to drink homebrew while brewing, so I tried to polish off a keg I am less than proud of. I made a pale ale for my dad’s 60th birthday. It’s not one of my best. It’s been under C02 for three months and has cleared nicely, but I don’t like the hop profile, and the finish is ever so slightly sour. I’m not sure where the recipe came from, but I know that I didn’t keep it.

Anyway, 90 minutes later I put the Chillzilla to work. If you’ve never used a counterflow chiller, you really have to make the investment. I cooled 5 gallons of wort from 212 degrees to 78 degrees in less than 10 minutes. It basically saves me an hour per brew session over the ice bath method. I used a thief to fill the hydrometer jar. Original gravity is 1.072, about .004 above my target OG which is a sign of a winning batch. I pitched the Northwest Ale yeast at 76 degrees, charged it with oxygen for about 90 seconds and capped the carboy.

I had a few sips of the hydrometer before cleaning up. I’m a little worried about jacking up the bittering hops. The hops are pretty bold right now and I don’t know if they work with the smoke profile.

Hard to know anything definitive at this point, so we will have to let the yeast do their job and wait to see how it comes out. Stay tuned.


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