Klassic Kolsch is Fermenting Away…

On July 18, 2008, in Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

The Klassic Kolsch brew day was uneventful.  I got up early to beat the heat, and everything fell into place.  I hit my mash temp exactly at 150 degrees, with no fooling around with water additions.  I enjoyed the change in hops from what I regularly brew with.  The Hallertaus have a nice earthy aroma and the Tettnangers have a wonderful, spicy – almost peppery, aroma.  They smelled wonderful during the ninety minute boil.

My Brew Sculpture in Action

My Brew Sculpture in Action

The Kolsch is in the conditioning fridge, at 60 degrees, and actively fermenting.  I checked it when I got home from the Leon Russell show, and it was ready for air locks.  I always worry about putting air locks on too early when putting carboys in the fridge.  My early lagers would suck the air lock’s liquid (cheap vodka) back into the carboys if I put them on too early and the temps dropped, before it started off gassing CO2.  Once the positive pressure of the CO2 is blowing out of the carboys, it doesn’t matter if the temp drops a few degrees.

I’m excited to have a Kolsch in glass again.  It is easily six to eight  weeks away from drinkability, but September should be a good month for brews at Sociables.

Now I just need to finish cleaning six dirty kegs, and then cleaning and rebuilding the six kegs Steve recently picked up for for me.  Cleaning kegs is probably my least favorite brewing task.  I have thirty gallons of hoppy ale in glass that needs to be kegged up soon…

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Time to Keg Up!

On April 19, 2008, in Homebrew Gadgets, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

I had three different batches to keg up today – twenty gallons total. There were 10 gallons of Colona (a clone of Corona Mexican Lager:), 5 gallons of Blue Flame Imperial IPA, and 5 gallons of Mark’s Big Foot Barleywine. Originally I hadn’t planned on kegging the Lazy Barleywine, but I took a reading using B3’s refractometer spreadsheet and was generally pleased with what I saw, but the real test would be a hydrometer reading. Kegging with CO2My brewbuddy, Wade, had asked that I take some pictures of my kegging process. I think it is different than the way most people keg their beer in that I use CO2 to push the beer out of the carboys, rather than siphoning into the kegs using gravity. I use one of B3’s Sterile Siphon Starters, attaching a line from my CO2 regulator to the sanitary filter and then push the beer with 1-2 pounds of pressure. The beauty of this is twofold. First, it reduces the amount of oxygen, as well as spoiling agents, the beer comes in contact with, thereby reducing potential oxidation of the beer during the kegging process. Secondly, and more important from the Lazy Brewer’s point of view, the racking process goes quickly because you are not relying on a slow gravity siphon. The beer flies out of the carboy because it is pushed by CO2!

I’ve been kegging this way since I started brewing and it seems to be working. My barleywines, that often age for over a year, show no signs of oxidation. I also like the fact that I’m not introducing any bacterial or fungal stuff from my mouth as I don’t have to blow into carboy to start the siphon.

Mark's Big Foot Barleywine LabelAlthough I was really worried about the barleywine finishing way too high, it seems that somewhere along the line, the yeast chewed through most of the maltose. I’m not sure if it was the champagne yeast starter I added a couple weeks back, but the final gravity was 1.031. It seems kind of high, but it is important to remember that this barleywine started with an original gravity of 1.134. This is going to be one big ‘ole barleywine! Here’s the particulars on the barleywine:

Mark’s Big Foot Barleywine

Brewed 02/14/08 (Valentines Day:)
Original Gravity, 1.134
Final Gravity, 1.031
Alcohol by Volume, 13.86%

Colona Mexican Lager LabelI also kegged up ten gallons of Colona Mexican Lager. This is a clone of Corona – hence the name Colona. It is always well received by the masses and is the beer of choice for those folks that visit my bar, but are not craft brew drinkers. Often, after couple Colonas, they are willing to try some of the other ales I have on tap. It is a clean lawnmower beer for the summer. The two kegs will lager for another month or so before serving. Here are the details:

Colona Mexican Lager

Brewed 03/02/08
Original Gravity, 1.060
Final Gravity, 1.015
Alcohol by Volume, 5.91%

Blue Flame Imperial IPA LabelFinally, I also kegged up five gallons of Blue Flame Imperial IPA. This is the third time I’ve brewed this in the last eight months, and I’m hoping it turns out as good as the first batch. The last time I brewed the IIPA, it just didn’t have the same hop brilliance as the first batch. The sample I tasted from the hydrometer jar leads me to believe this round is as good as the first:) Here’s the info on this ale:

Blue Flame Imperial IPA

Brewed 03/15/08
Original Gravity, 1.096
Final Gravity, 1.021
Alcohol by Volume, 9.96%

Four kegs of fresh beer!

Ahh, the beauty of twenty gallons of freshly kegged beer!

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