Monday, May 16, 2016

Sous Vide Supreme... Why Not HERMS?

About a month ago or so this thread popped up over on /r/homebrewing.

That got me thinkin. Why not?

Initially I was going to drill holes in the lid, but I opted to skip that step and use foil to cover it up. Much less of an expensive modification this way.

I've used it twice now. Run #1: Pump controlled by temp with sous vide circulating at 170F. So if the temperature drops below the set point (~152F was the set point here) it would start circulating until it got back up to temp.

This was fine, but I lost out on a lot of the efficiency I gained by constantly recirculating. Not a huge problem, but also not ideal. Worked great, but I wasn't satisfied.
Run #2: Constant pumping, sous vide set 2F above set point (same 152F set point).

It wasn't particularly cold on attempt one or two, so heat loss in the tubing was minimal and the runs aren't particularly long anyway. Run #2 was far more successful, though I did eventually bump the sous vide to 5F above set point which resulted in a fairly consistent 152-153F reading. I imagine I'll have to work on it over a few more batches to get it exactly the way I want it, and that's fine. But it's way more consistent this way.

I also got back to my normal efficiency numbers, which was really nice. Makes life easier when you know what to expect, and though the first test worked fine, it added another variable in pump run time that just... wasn't what I wanted.

For good measure, here is the IPA I made on run #2:

2row - 13#
Carafoam - 8oz

Citra, Galaxy, Mosaic @ 9, 7, 5, 2oz each addition for about 65IBU.

GY054 (Vermont IPA Gigayeast) fermented for 10 days @ 66F ramped to 72F for 4 days. Cold crashed and kegged. No fining. Gloriously hazy, hop juicy as hell and I love it. Simple is better.

“Traditional” Vienna - A Review

Back on 2/16 /u/KidMoxie over on the homebrewing subreddit posted his Geburtstagsparty – “Traditional” Vienna.

I was intrigued and inspired.

So I did it. I followed his outline more or less. The ingredients I followed exactly, because why bother making it if I can't at least do that much.

Vienna Malt (Weyermann) 9.5 lbs
Melanoidin (Weyermann) 4 oz
Blackprinz (Briess) 2 oz
Carafoam (Weyermann) 2 oz

1.25oz Hallertauer @ 60
0.5oz Hallertauer @ 10

Used a healthy starter of WLP830.

Simple, straight forward. Exactly the kind of beer I like to brew lately.

Mashed @152F for 60. Skipped the mash out step because lazy/time constraints, and I really just don't normally mash out.

OG: 1.047   FG: 1.012, ABV comes in a little over 4.5% which for me is perfect.

I fermented 7 days at 52F followed by a gradual rise (~4F per 24hrs) to 68F where it sat for 5 days for a diacetyl rest and to finish up completely.

At that point I cold crashed it for 3 weeks in primary and then racked it into the keg & added gelatin to fine it.

This picture is of the third pint pulled from the keg and I really don't think I can be happier with the result here:

The color isn't quite the same as what KidMoxie got. I attribute that partially to the glassware, and partially to just brewing it on a different system. Either way, I love the color and the clarity is great.

Moderate/high toasty malt. I think I get a tiny bit of noble hop, but my nose for hops isn't particularly good and I could be wrong. I mostly get malt, malt, and more malt.

Very clean aroma, no detectable baddies far as I can tell.

Crystal clear, leaning more towards copper than reddish for me but I'll take it. Fluffy white head that sticks around forever, laces the glass all the way to the last gulp.

Toasty, malty, awesomeness. Low floral hop notes and just enough bitterness to balance out the malt. Not overly sweet at all, just pleasantly malty. Finishes dry, clean, and leaving me wanting another. Or three.

Medium/light body, I carbonated it to around 2.6vols because that's where I like most of my beers anyway.

I am a huge fan of this style and certainly this recipe. I have had people tell me now that I need to make sure this is always on tap at my house.

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Ghetto HERMS + Flanders Red

A while back I posted about my ghetto HERMS system. Here she is.

The hot plate is controlled by the Inkbird ITC-308. That coil there goes into the pot on the hot plate that gets filled with hot water (I just heat 2gal extra with the strike water).

Chugger pump was $93.46 total thanks to a sale at Morebeer San Leandro.
All the fittings & tubing came out to around $110.
The hot plate was $25 on Amazon when I got it.
I already had an immersion chiller that I modified for this, and the 2gal pot I used as well I already had. The ITC-308 was $35.

This is a siphon sprayer and a hose clamp. Channeling is a non-issue with this here. It's lovely. Also incredibly cheap.

On 1/17 it was about 60F outside, great brewing weather. Better still, the ground water was coming out around 50F because of the cold weather we had been having. "Cold" weather. Haha. Suckers where it snows.

Pictures were taken about 45 seconds apart. I just recirculate through a small plate chiller, back into the kettle. It works so much faster than the immersion chiller I used to use.

The plate chiller I got from Morebeer as well, the Shirron. Works if you circulate it through the kettle for ~5mins or so, gets me down to lager temps with the ground water as cold as it is now.

All 'n all, I spent roughly $370 in upgrades last year. I did spread it out a bit, so it wasn't all at one time, and that certainly made it easier. I also had a few things that would have added to the cost, and that's also nice.

That picture is from 1/17, a great day for me. It was the day I decided I wanted to brew a Flanders Red. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. One, I love the style. Two, I've never done it before. And last but certainly not least, my son is due in March and I may not get to brew for a while after he is born. So I decided I'm brewing several batches before he's born, but just in case it takes a while until I can brew after, I'll have this in the works.

That's most of the gravity sample I took. Brewed 1/17, sampled 2/8, from 1.048 to 1.012. I transferred it into a keg with some medium toast french oak cubes and hit it with a bit of gas to seal it. I'll check on it in a couple weeks and see if I need to hit it with more gas or not, but I'm betting not.

I'll need to bleed off pressure I'm guessing to keep it from being over carbonated, but if things go as planned I should be able to bottle from the keg and not need to prime at all.

Currently it is quite promising. I get a tiny bit of tart in the flavor, which surprised me for two reasons. One was the aroma (suggesting more) and the other being the age (expecting none). Pleasant malty/grainy and a bit of dark fruit flavors in there. Going to be interesting and I'm really glad I decided to do this batch.