Saturday, January 8, 2011

Brew Year In Review

It was just a few short hours before the ball dropped on New Year's Eve and I was rushing to complete my brew day that started early in the AM. I needed to get two cases of Black Friday Milk Stout bottled, quickly clean the last of my equipment, shower, pack some home brews in the cooler and get movin'. I guess you can say the craft of home brewing has sucked me in hook, line and sinker. Luckily Jen likes beer because I'm not sure she'd be able to constantly put up with scenes like this:

All said and done, I brewed a total of 65 gallons of beer in 2010. Due to "the porter incident" only 60 will be consumed (mental note: glass carboys don't bounce). The last batch of the year ended up being a personal milestone as I graduated to all grain. This was the first 5 gallon batch I brewed free of extract. The gradual step doing partial mashes definitely helped. I'm no expert, but I have noticed the quality of my beers getting better with each batch.

The recipe was taken from compliments of explosivebeer. I decided to use this as the base for my recipe. Since i couldn't find any hazelnut extract I opted to do a vanilla bean porter. My grain bill ended up being right around 11.25# which is very close to the max for my 5 gallon MLT. I went with 3.5 gallons of strike water. The mash started @ 152F and after 60 minutes was still right around 151F. I batch sparged at 170F and collected close to 7 gallons. Here's a couple shots to mark my the official move to all grain:

Doughing in


Sean watching the boil

The final couple minutes of the last boil in 2010

Overall, I had very little problems with this batch and got some great fermentation for about 6 days at 62F using just a smack pack of Wyeast London Ale 1028. I'll definitely be washing some of this before the Birds game tomorrow for use in other batches. I have decided to transfer this one for secondary fermentation so I can add whole vanilla beans for flavoring. I bought two whole beans, cut them in half lengthwise, and scraped all the gunk out as suggested by many who have made a similar porter:

Cutting the beans

I decided to use some really good spiced rum to sterilize the beans and extract some of the flavor. They've been sitting in the rum since Thursday.

I'm really excited for this batch to be finished to see how it turns out. In the meantime I still have an IPA and a couple 2.5 gallon batches of Kolsch to bottle. There's a lot more on the horizon for 2011. Some big things in the works. But for now I'll leave you with a quote from a book I just picked up entitled Radical Brewing: Recipes, Tales & World-Altering Meditations In A Glass. It states, " is an art form, a gastronomic treasure, a political act, a mystical ritual, a food, and a fundamental craft." Randy Mosher, author of the book, offers this advice to help one become a better brewer and I couldn't agree more. Cheers to all of you who share in the quest for the perfect pint and here's to a great Brew Year 2011!

1 comment:

  1. This one sounds really tasty!! Looking forward to it!! Your other two got rave reviews here at the house! The pumpkin was excellent...and loved by those who claim not to like that type of brew!! Well done!