TAFTBD IPA Chugging Along…

On April 23, 2008, in Brew Pubs, Craft Beer, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

The Teach a Friend to Brew Day IPA is happily fermenting away.  I started the ferment cool and it has picked up a few degrees from the fermentation process, but it is still working at a nice cool temperature.  My beer might as well enjoy the cool weather while it can.  Soon the summer heat in California’s Central Valley will make for problematic fermentations.  I was surprised that  the TAFTBD IPA didn’t ferment wildly and come shooting out the blow-off tubes.  It did slightly trickle out of one of the BOTs, but nothing like I’ve been seeing in recent months with my ale fermentations.  The krausen has peaked right at the top of the 6.5 gallon carboy’s neck, so I know things are going well.  The difference in this fermentation might be the White Labs Pacific Ale yeast.  It does attenuate less than the Cal Ale yeast I usually use.

I have several brews on the horizon.  I need to brew my Klassic Kolsch again, an English Bitter, a standard Pale Ale and finally, I want to brew an American Style wheat – possibly with some fresh watermelon in the secondary.  I have the yeast for all of these brews, so time is ticking on their shelf life.  Unfortunately, the Kolsch will require the use of my conditioning fridge for the necessary cool fermentation, so I’ll need to find a home for those five kegs for a month – or have a party and drink down the brews that I have on hand:)

River City Brewing\'s Woodenhead Ale Pint

I recently found this picture I’d taken with my cell phone while waiting for my daughter’s plane to arrive at the Sacramento Airport.  Her flight was delayed for an extra hour (and I arrived early anyway), so I dropped by one of my favorite pubs in Sacramento, River City Brewing Company for a pint of Woodenhead Ale.  They’ve had a cask ale the last few times I’ve been in, and I’ve tasted it each time, but it always seems thin and lacking the body I like in an ale.

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Lazy Barleywine

On April 16, 2008, in Homebrew Gadgets, Homebrewing, by Mark Ranes

I brewed a big ‘ole barleywine on Valentines Day this year (isn’t that romantic:).

It was the biggest beer I’ve ever brewed and came in at OG 1.134!  It was like syrup when I put it in the fermentor.  Obviously I was worried about the yeast’s ability to chew through the wort, but I made a huge 1600 ml starter, with 2 vials of White Labs Cal Ale yeast, WLP001.  It took off with a huge ferment, with a massive krausen, that put a ton of yeast in the bucket holding the blowoff tube.  I was hopeful.  After about 25 days I took a hydrometer reading and the hydrometer bottomed out -meaning that it was still way too high.  I added a properly rehydrated packet of Safale US-05 in hopes that it could wake up the lazy barleywine.  All the while, I’d been performing my standard late fermentation carboy swirling on a daily basis, in hopes of rousing the yeast.  I tested it again after a week and it had dropped a bit, but not enough.  A couple weeks ago, I had Stephen pick up a vial of White Labs Champagne yeast, WLP715, in hopes that its high tolerance for alcohol might help finish off the barleywine.  Additionally I put a heating pad on the carboy, insulated by a Carboy Cover, and hoped for the best.  There was some activity in the airlock, and I’ve continued to swirl the carboy on a daily basis.  I’ll take another hydrometer reading soon to see how much progress I’ve made toward the final gravity.

I’d like to give a plug to Carboy Covers.  I’ve been using them since I started brewing and I gave a couple to Stephen because he taught me so much about brewing (even though I’m now a better brewer than he is:). Basically, most brewers know that light is an enemy to your fermenting, as well as finished, beers.  Carboy Covers keep the light out of your carboys.  They are made of soft fleece-like material and come in a variety of fashionable colors.  You can get them for 1, 3, 5, 6 and 6.5 gallon carboys and I can attest to the fact that they do hold up over time.

The green Carboy Cover in this picture is over three years old and does have a nasty yeast overflow stain on it, but I’m sure with a simple rinsing, it will clean up nicely:)

Originally, I picked all of my Carboy Covers up on eBay, but there were no auctions running when I wanted my last batch, so I paid full retail at $11.00 a pop – still a good deal in my book.  There are currently a couple eBay auctions running right now.  I recently had to resort to using bath sheets to cover my carboys since I had so much beer in glass.  Now, with four additional Carboy Covers, I can have up to 40 gallons in glass, and protected from light!



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