Saturday, June 16, 2007


Primary fermentation was done yesterday, so today I rack into the secondary fermenter. The beer looks and smells good with plenty of yeast. Must have been very well aerated and produced a huge crop. Sanetized everything and completed the transfer smoothly.

T = 72 C
SG = 1.014
adj. SG = 1.015

Friday, June 15, 2007


As of this morning, fermentation is still underway, but slowing down.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Fermentation is going along nicely at this point. Just slow getting started. We'll see.


Well fermentation was underway this morning and going pretty well. I'll keep an eye on it.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Nearly 48 hours and still no sign of fermentation. This is a first for me. I've got some backup years, Nottingham Ale yeast so I'm re-hydrating that and will pitch it shortly. I took it out of the fridge just a short while ago. I'm letting it come to room temperature before re-hydrating it.

Ok, well before I got the Nottingham warmed up fermentation did start, albeit very slowly. I'll watch this and see how it goes tomorrow.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Started a new brew, recipe name Amerikoelsch.

I started with 6 gallons of our well water and started to boil

When the water came to boil (5:15 pm) I added the
3.3 lbs Cooper's Light malt extract
2.0 lbs Munton's Extra light DME (note I used extra light although the recipe calls for light, e la vita)
1.0 lbs Corn Sugar

5:19 boil back up
5:29 Add 0.8 oz Pearl hops, 7% AA
5:44 Add 0.5 oz Cascade hops, 6% AA
6:18 Add 1 tsp Irish Moss
6:26 0.5 oz Cascade hops, 6% AA
6:31 end boil
Immediately after the boil ended I added
2 tsp yeast energizer
2 tsp yeast nutrient

Ok, so my times were off, the Irish Moss should have gone in a bit later and the last bit of Cascade was late. I extended the biol by a few minutes to get five minutes of aroma hops. We'll see how it goes.

I have no immersion chiller so I put the boil kettle in ice water. So it takes awhile to chill
8:23 Add 0.5 lb (well probably a bit more than half the one pound jar) Honey
T = 76 F
OG = 1.050
adj OG = 1.052 This is a little higher than expected, but not far out of range.

8:31 Aerate thoroughly and pitch yeast, White Labs WLP029 German Koelsch Yeast

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sweet Summer Ale

Bottle up the Sweet Summer Ale after 4 weeks in the secondary. A long time I know. The beer was very dark in the secondary, but fairly light, the expected color, in the bottle.

Before bottling SG = 1.018 and T = 68 F, so adj. FG =

Dissolve 5 oz of priming sugar in 2 cups of water for the priming. I got nearly all the beer this time. Produced 51 bottles of beer.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sweet Summer Ale

The secondary fermentation is definitely active. It was still bubbling slowly as of last night.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Red Ale

Mix 5 oz of priming sugar with 2.5 cups of water and boil for 10 minutes. Add to bottling bucket, add Red Ale and bottle. I left behind a fair bit of beer in the secondary fermenter to make sure that I did not get too much yeast. As a result I got 3 bottles short of 2 cases.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sweet Summer Ale

Rack to secondary fermenter. The primary fermentation went well, starting on the second day and running through Thursday. It was nearly complete, very slowly continuing, on Thursday.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sweet Summer Ale

Starting a new brew called Sweet Summer Ale. The recipe can be found here. The grains have been cracked, put into a bag and set in the brew pot. Around 9:00 am or so, I started the boil. As with the Red Ale, I'm brewing all 5 gallons at once in the large brew pot. I start with 6 gallons and we'll see how much I end up with.

9:50 Water is boiling. Remove grains. Add Malt.

10:03 Boil restarts. Add Willamette hops (4.5% AA) and cover.

10:40 Add 1 tsp of Irish Moss

10:43 Add Saaz hops (3.1% AA)

10:53 Remove from heat and allow to cool.

11:30 Temperature = 100 F, add 2 tsp Yeast nutrient and 1 tsp Yeast energizer. Transfer the wort to the fermenter for further cooling.

Ok, my temperature measurement during the cool down need to be reviewed. I'm using a floating thermometer in the wort which should be fine, and I don't think the thermometer is inaccurate, however, my temperature measurements are fluctuating wildly. It must be due to temperature variations within the wort given the way I'm cooling it. I'm cooling it by leaving it in the brew pot, which remains covered, and is placed in a tub of cold water. I've seen the temperature fluctuate between 90 F and 110 F just while checking the wort and transferring it to the fermenter. So, right now the wort is perhaps as warm as 110 F and is in the Fermenter, which is sealed with an air-lock, which is in turn sitting in a tub of cold water. I will check the temperature again in about a half-hour or so.

I need to consider purchasing an immersion chiller.

12:25 Wort Temperature = 84 F. Needs to cool longer.

2:00 And Wort Temperature still reads 84 F, using a second thermometer as well. Ok, pitch the yeast (Wyeast 1272 prepared according to directions on packet).
Original Gravity 1.044
Adjusted OG 1.047

That is substantially higher than expected. I do not know what is going on with this batch.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Red Ale

Rack to secondary fermenter.
T = 68 F
FG = 1.012
Adjusted FG = 1.013

Looks good! The specific gravity is a bit high, the expected value was 1.008 to 1.010. The fermentation did go very quickly, it was really done by Tuesday night, only about 48 hours after pitching. On the other hand, there was no shortage of yeast at the bottom of the primary fermenter. I had it in the back room for the fermentation and the back room is a little cold. As the final temperature indicates it was probably below 70 F throughout the primary fermentation. We'll see.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Red Ale

6:00 am - fermentation well under way.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Brewer's Best - Red Ale

Ok, I'm starting to brew again, using a boxed recipe, Brewer's Best Red Ale.

I'm using a big, 30 qt, brew kettle for this one. Therefore, instead of the usual add the malt to 2 gal for the boil, then add 3 gal to cool, I'm doing all 5 gal in the one brew pot from the start. Also, before I used municipal water so I could assume it was chlorinated, but now I've got well water. All the more reason to boil it all.

So I start with the crushed grains in the bag provided and heat the water from cold for about 30 minutes until at 1:20 the water temperature is 165 F. By 1:35 I notice that the water temperature is over 170, though I tried to control it, so the grains come out. Drained and squeezed the bag. Put the heat back on and let it boil.

2:05 boil starts, add Malt (2 lbs. Munton's light dry, 3.3 lbs Cooper's light liquid)

2:20 boil up again, add bittering hops (Willamette, 1 oz, 4.5% AA).

3:15 Add finishing hops, (Willamette, 1 oz, 4.5% AA).

3:20 Pull brew pot off of flame and start to cool. I don't have an immersion chiller so the brew pot is sitting in a tub of cold water. It's a cold day outside so it should cool down fairly quickly.

4:42 Following the instructions on the Danstar "Nottingham" dry yeast packet I rehydrate the yeast at 86 F.

5:00 Gently stir the rehydrating yeast. Looks good. Nice even dsitribution of yeast throughout the water. Yeast temperature is 86 F, Wort temperature is 90 F, add a little wort to the yeast and wait. Meanwhile the original gravity is 1.040. Corrected O.G. = 1.044

5:11 The thermometer in the yeast still says 86 F and I've added a lot more wort. I think I need to check my thermometers, do they all agree? In any case, pitch the yeast, add the airlock and seal the fermentor.

Note: I started with 6 gallons in the original boil and ended with just 5 gallons in the fermentor.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Limonchello + six weeks

Well today I filter and bottle my concoction. Now, as I said at the start, I'm mixing and matching recipes I found on the web to come up with the recipe I'm using for this batch. I have left the lemon peel in the concoction after adding the syrup two weeks ago. The first step then was to pour the concoction trough a metal strainer to remove the peel. The remaining liquid was then filtered through coffee filters to remove whatever remaining sediment I could. That did clog up the filters and the gallon or so of liquid required some 10 filters, or more. The filtered liquid was finally poured into bottles to go back in the basement for another week or two.

The color was darker than I expected limoncello to be. Perhaps leaving the peel in the alcohol plus syrup was not such a good idea. Also, the taste, while good, was not fantastic. (First batch, what can I expect). I did not have quite as strong a lemon flavor as I expected. Perhaps, I need to steep the peel longer before adding the syrup.

On the suggestion of my lovely wife Kate, I may try something unorthodox with one of the bottles that this brew will produce. I plan to add a little alcohol and a small additional amount of syrup to the liquid I have produced. The plan is to lighten the color but retain the character of the liquor. Possibly a disaster, but I'll still have three bottles done the standard way.

One bottle was going to be short anyway so that's the experimental. I added about 200 ml of alcohol and I've prepared about 200 ml of syrup. Once the syrup cools I will add it to the bottle and store them all in the basement for another two weeks.

Well everything is all packed up. The special bottle is marked with a blue label.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Limonchello + five weeks

Ok, the lemon peel has steeped long enough in the alcohol, on to the next step.

Make the Syrup

To make the syrup I took 1.5 liters of water and brought it to a boil. To this I added 700 g (30 oz actually, my balance does not indicate grams) of sugar and boiled the mixture for about 5 minutes. Take the syrup off the stove top and leave it to cool starting at 8:30 in the evening.

Add the Syrup

At 11:40 the syrup had cooled to about 84 F so I added it to the alcohol and lemon peel. Everything seemed to go well. The mixture is now a kind of cloudy yellow color. I put it back in the basement to sit for another couple of weeks.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Limoncello + four weeks

Swirl again. Looks good. Next week the sugar.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Limoncello + three weeks

Swirl the limoncello another time. It is definitely picking up a bit of the color. Another week or two and I will add the sugar water.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

On the Web

Well I've started to make the limoncello, and I'm getting together the gear I'll need to start up homebrewing. That is I'm going through my old gear, throwing stuff out and replacing things as need be. Also, I'm acquiring a few new things. And, of course, I'm blogging it, using the blog to store my brew logs. I'd also like to store recipes on-line and keep track of them via the web.

This has led to an expanded education on computer systems. I'd like to store the recipes, in BeerXML format, on my own web space provided by Earthlink. This has turned out to be difficult because when I put my recipes on the web site in XML format, Firefox sees them as pure text files, has no idea they are XML. This, it turns out, is because the server has to be configured to report that the MIME type is either text/xml or better yet application/xml and apparently Earthlink is reporting the MIME type to be text/plain. So I need get Earthlink to change this. This should be fun.

Limoncello + two weeks

Ok, it's been two weeks since I peeled the lemons and added them to the grain alcohol. I swished the liquor around a bit to mix things up a bit. It does seem to be picking up a bit of the yellow color, although that is hard to tell, what with all the lemon peel.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Homebrew Software

Well as I start to get ready to resume beer brewing I'm also going to be evaluating a few different software tools for developing, storing and tracking recipes. I've got Qbrew, BeerSmith and ProMash. Now Qbrew has the advantage of being Open Source and is therefore free. A hard price to beat. So far it is also the one I've looked at the most. It seems to be a bit less extensive in its abilities than the other two. ProMash, in particular, would seem to be able to do anything. Qbrew also has an annoying behavior in that changes to the database (what malts or hops are available) do not immediately show up in the program. When I add something I have to shut down and restart. It is, however, easy to use and will output the recipe in BeerXML format, which I like. I want to try a put together a set of tools, (XML, XSL and the like, perhaps including a MySQL database) for storing and displaying recipes. Using the BeerXML standard would be cool.

ProMash seems almost too complex, even intimidating, but I haven't looked at it very much so far. ProMash is billed as being usable for professional brewing, so it's imposing nature shouldn't be surprising. Also, it does not output in any XML format, although there exists a VB tool for converting ProMash text format into BeerXML format. ProMash also costs about $20, it is not free.

The BeerSmith tool also costs about $20. I've only started looking at it today. BeerSmith seems to be pretty easy to use, somewhat less imposing than ProMash. It also, like Qbrew, will output into BeerXML format. It has a nice feature of keeping up with inventory and putting together a shopping list. ProMash can do much the same.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


Limoncello is an Italian liquor originally from the Amalfi region, near Naples. I lived for a couple of years in Naples and was introduced to it there. It is a wonderful drink, best served chilled, cold really, after dinner. The flavor comes from the zest of fresh lemons, so it has a strong, lemony flavor. It is also easy to make.

I remember somewhat the recipe told to me by my neighbor in Italy, but I'm also basing my first run on a few recipes I got off the net. To see the source I'm deriving this from go here, here and here.

I actually started this recipe last week, but did not get the blog up until today. So much for timing.

Batch started on Thursday, February 1, 2007.
So first you peel the zest off of 15 lemons. This is no minor feat. Especially as all the recipes say that you need to leave no white on the zest. For someone inexperienced at peeling lemons, this is pretty much impossible. If by no white, they really mean no white, this batch will not turn out well. I left very little, but I'm only human. That will be something to note in the final product. One good thing about the whole enterprise is that you end up with 15 peeled lemons. This is perfect for fresh lemonade, which is, in fact, wonderful. Once excellent tip for making lemonade was to add the sugar by mixing it into hot water, letting that cool and then adding it to the juiced lemons. This makes for excellent lemonade.

Back to the limoncello. After peeling the lemons the zest is put into a sealed glass jar with 750 ml of grain alcohol. I used Gem Clear brand 190 proof. Some recipes use vodka, but I don't think that is really authentic. Grain alcohol is right.

Thursday, February 8, 2007
Tonight I stir the mixture up a bit. This should be done about once a week for the first four weeks of sitting. After four weeks or so, I'll add the sugar water.