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Late Night with a Blonde, or Bottling my Leffe Blonde Clone

Posted by homebrewdad on 5/08/2012 at 03:28:26 AM

A week ago on Saturday night, I decided that I had waited long enough; it was time to bottle my Leffe Blonde clone. As you may recall, this brew was a partial mash adaption of Revvy's original recipe for an excellent Belgian blonde ale. If you want to see the recipe for my partial mash version, click here.

I have been bulk aging my imperial nut brown ale in secondary, and since I unfortunately broke my other secondary a couple of months ago, I didn't have another vessel to rack the Leffe clone into from primary. However, it had spent four full weeks there; I did not plan to rack it onto fruit, dry hop, add wood, or do anything else odd, so technically, a secondary was really not needed for this beer. Secondaries have fallen out of favor with a lot of homebrewers, and while I have used one in each of my first two brews, I decided to skip this optional step for the Leffe clone.

At 8:00 PM, I brought my carboy upstairs, placed it on the kitchen counter, and wrapped a sheet over it (just to be absolutely sure that I ran no risk of skunkage). I didn't plan to actually bottle until later that night, so I figured that this would give plenty of time for any sediment that I might have stirred up to settle. I was very careful to minimize splashing or shaking the beer, but despite my best efforts, I did notice that a decent amount of trub had been kicked up during my move. This worried me slightly, but I figured that it would settle, and that the cap on my auto siphon would help me keep...
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Tags for this post: bottling, beer, Leffe, blonde, Belgian, ale, bottle, primary, secondary

Ten Lessons Learned from Ten Batches of Homebrewed Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 4/26/2012 at 09:18:21 PM


The following article is courtesy of WarbyTremolo at homebrewtalk.  Follow him on twitter.

I'm fairly new to home brewing and just finished bottling my tenth beer and wanted to share ten lessons I've learned from this process. In no particular order:

1. It's just beer! Sometimes your efficiency is low, sometimes you miss the timing of a hop addition, sometimes your final volume is low - whatever! It's still gonna be beer!

2. When your airlock is making a menacing hissing noise and is filled with krausen, remove the airlock so that the spray fires away from you, and not at you.

3. Carbonation level can make a beer amazing, or terrible. IPAs don't belong at 3.2 volumes of CO2, and dunkelweizens shouldn't be at 1.5. Using the appropriate amount of priming sugar is important!

4. Don't assume you have full conversion without testing/tasting your wort. Let's face it, starch molecules in your finished beer aren't delicious or welcome.

5. Even if the beer comes out poorly, your parents/spouse/etc will probably still love it.

6. When turning the spigot on your bottling bucket, always turn clockwise...unless, of course, you want beer leaking all over your kitchen floor while you aren't looking.

7. Whirlfloc.  One tablet per batch goes a long, long way to making prettier beer. And it's dirt cheap.

8. Don't ask your beer nerd friends for their honest opinion unless you're willing to hear some ugly truths about your brew. In turn, be prepared to take their criticism and learn from it to become a

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Tags for this post: homebrewed, beer, ten, lessons

Reviewing a Homebrewed Munich Dunkel Lager

Posted by homebrewdad on 4/21/2012 at 11:11:56 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a user on homebrewtalk (Stonehands, or just Rob, as the rest of the world knows him) who had seen my posts there, which then led him to this blog. He let me know that he had enjoyed reading along, that he was local to me, and that he wondered if I'd be interested in doing a bottle swap... he had three or four beers he could trade.

Do boilovers happen at inopportune moments? Of course I'd be happy to do a bottle swap!

I warned him that I only had one beer ready for trade, but he was unconcerned. Rob let me know that honest feedback was more of what he wanted; his friends seldom say anything but that the beer is good (apparently out of fear that they will lose their source of free beer if they hurt his feelings). He let me know that he had to bottle some from where it was kegged, and we agreed to meet.

I was pretty excited at the prospect; I knew that at least two of Rob's beers were styles I have never tried before. I was also a little worried, since the bottle I would be swapping was my very first beer, but he had let me know that he'd made good beers and bad beers - including some, in his words, that he felt sorry for the drains he'd poured them down. After one final assurane that he...
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Tags for this post: beer, review, munich, dunkel, lager

Brewing Until 4:00 AM, or, a First Partial Mash (Leffe Blond clone)

Posted by homebrewdad on 3/28/2012 at 08:14:14 PM

After two batches of extract brewing under my belt - both with speciality grains, one of them a kit - I had already been severely bitten by the bug of wanting to move toward all grain brewing. I enjoy recipes, I enjoy experimentation, and I see that a lot of grains - even adjunct and speciality grains - would simply be unavailable to me, as a brewer, if I only did extract. I would like to eventually have a few beers that I consider to be "my own", and I feel that extract brewing would limit my ability to do so. Unformtunately, I don't have the equipment or the disposable income to move to all grain yet, so I decided to take the intermediate step of a partial mash recipe (specifially, using the "beer in a bag" method).

Since my first two beers were so dark, I decided to go in a new direction with this one, settling on Revvy's Leffe Blonde clone recipe. Unfortunatey, Austin Homebrew was out of the hops called for in the original recipe, so I ended up substituting them as best I could. Also, the original recipe is a complete all-grain deal; I used BeerSmith to help me convert it to partial mash. The recipe follows:

Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Yeast: WLP530 White Labs Abbey Ale
Yeast Starter: Yes
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.25 gallons
Original Gravity: 1.075
Final Gravity: 1.017
ABV: 7.6%
IBU: 33.6
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Color: 6.5 SRM

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Tags for this post: partial, mash, leffe, blonde, clone, belgian, late, night, brewing, brew, beer, ale

Common Sense for Homebrewers - Some Basics Everyone Should Know

Posted by homebrewdad on 3/13/2012 at 07:14:48 PM

I have gotten fairly active on the forums; I find it liberating to be able to communicate with others who share this hobby/obsession of homebrewing beer. Since I've recently been going through a job search and have been unable to justify the spending of money on beer making equipment or ingredients, I have used that forum as a way to vicariously live through others.

In fact, before I ever started actually brewing my own beer - back when I was trying to get a handle on the process of homebrewing, and figuring out what equipment I needed - I spent a fair amount of time reading the various threads there. They have a complete subforum dedicated to newbie brewing questions, and believe me, the newbies there make great use of it.

Understand, I have only brewed two batches of my own beer to date. I am still very much a newbie, myself, and I have a ridiculous amount left to learn. Even so, I sometimes think that my desire to educate myself makes me something of an exception to the rule; I am amazed at how many people ask the same questions day in and day out, and am even more amazed at how many rush into the process and cut silly corners. If you are willing to spend the time and money to brew your own beer, why would you not want to do it right? Sure, even a moron in a hurry can probably make decent beer,...
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Tags for this post: newbie, mistake, mistakes, fermentation, homebrew, homebrewing, carb, temp, temperature, beer, brewing

Day of Reckoning: Trying my First Homebrewed Beer

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/19/2012 at 07:52:42 PM

After a full seven weeks of waiting - fifteen days in primary, fifteen days in secondary, and three weeks in bottles - I couldn't wait any longer...  it was finally time to try my Yorkshire square brown ale.  I expected it to still be slightly green; as I understand, normal gravity beers typically take three weeks at seventy degrees to fully carb up.  The closet where my beer lives usually stays in the sixty-four to sixty-eight degree range, and I pulled my first bottle to the fridge two days before the full three weeks had elapsed.  That being said, this was my very first homebrewed beer, and I believe that I have been far more than patient. 

As a recap, this ale came from an Austin Homebrew Supply extract kit with specialty grains.  It uses a White Labs limited edition yeast (whatever that means).  I opted for the dry extract version... and after dealing with liquid extract (and the associated mess and hassle) on another recipe, I think that I'll go with dry whenever possible in the future.

I had a little trepidation as I took the bottle out of the fridge.  On brew day, my original gravity measurement had been very high - though I now know that it had to be very close to correct; my samples were simply a bit concentrated.  The beer had fermented in that same closet that I would use for bottle conditioning, which meant that my fermentation temperature certainly got into the high end...
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Tags for this post: taste, tasting, first, beer, homebrew, homebrewing, yorkshire, brown, ale

Another Brunette? A Blonde? A Redhead?

Posted by homebrewdad on 2/08/2012 at 05:28:52 AM


While my homebrew pipeline is far from rolling along at full power, I do have a nice start on it.  My first batch - the Yorkshire brown ale - is bottled and sitting in my closet while undergoing the process of carbonating; in another two weeks or so, it shold be ready to drink.  My second batch - the imperial nut brown ale - is enjoying the cooler locale of my basement, and is two and a half weeks into primary fermentation.  This is a big beer that will take some time to mellow out, so at the four week mark, I'll rack it to a secondary fermenter and leave it for at least another month before bottling. 

Once I siphon the imperial out, I'll have an empty six and a half gallon carboy... that will never do.  If I hadn't broken one of my five gallon carboys, I'd have even more room to brew... but that is a moan for another day.  My brthday is coming up this weekend; I'll surely be asking for beer making supplies so that I can get my next batch going. 

I've spent a good deal of time wondering about what that next beer should be.  Since my own beer intake level is pretty low, my intention has always been to share my brews with neighbors and coworkers; some variety might be a helpful thing there (and I would like to experiment some with different styles of beer).  Brown ales are my favorite

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Tags for this post: brunette, blonde, redhead, beer, ale, chimay, leffe, irish, red, style, homebrew, brew, homebrewing

Custom Labels for my Yorkshire Brown Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/31/2012 at 05:46:11 AM

I make this post knowing full well that it was created in the light of me successfully bottling my very first batch of homebrewed beer (my Yorkshire brown ale).  Time, wisdom, and/or cynicism may eventually change my point of view, but today, I am excited, and I'd like to share that excitement with the rest of the homebrewing world.

I have become fairly active at the forums, and I'd say that the vocal majority of members there do not bother with fancy labels (to say nothing of those who look down their noses at those who do).  Many of the members there reuse commercial bottles, and they do no labelling at all beyond some sharpie with a lot number, or perhaps a colored sticker on their bottle caps.  I have no problem with any of the above, but I want to be able to place a bottle of beer into someone's hand and have them react positvely to the appearance.  I want people to get the impression that I care about this hobby, and I feel like a nice package really helps to convey that.

A few months ago, back when homebrewing was only an abstract concept for me, I began to think about what I might call the beers that I created; after all any brewery has a name, right?  After musing on this for a few days, a name hit me, one that gave a nod to my Southern heritage while still allowing me to honor my geeky love...
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Tags for this post: custom, labels, label, bottle, caps, art, yorkshire, brown, ale

Bottling the Yorkshire Square Brown Ale

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/30/2012 at 03:41:13 AM

After thirty days of fermentation and clarifying (fifteen days in primary, followed by fifteen more in secondary), the day had come to bottle my Yorkshire square brown ale.  

 I will admit to being a bit worried about the process.  I have done a lot of reading about bottling, and have read quite a few gripes about bottling homebrewed beer.  It's a tiresome process, it can be tricky, it's messy, caps don't always seal correctly - and on and on and on.  

My personal verdict?  Bottling is no big deal.  It's clearly a repetitive process to fill and seal forty-eight bottles of beer in one sitting, but I didn't find it to be an unenjoyable (or complicated) process at all.  Rather, I found it to be rather rewarding - I've put time and effort into creating this beer, and now, I finally have the chance to see it safely in bottles.  While it's cool to see your beer in a carboy, it's even better to see two full cases of YOUR brew in bottles. 

The prep and cleanup phases were honestly much more of a pain that the actual bottling.  I rinsed off and sanitized my bottles (fourteen at a time, as this was all my bucket would hold at one), then placed them into my dishwaser to fully drain (where I ran them through the drying cycle to...
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Tags for this post: bottling, bottle, cap, capper, wing capper, homebrew, ale, beer, sanitizing, carboy, broken

Imperial Nut Brown Ale: my Second Homebrewed Beer Attempt

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/25/2012 at 08:31:49 PM

This past Saturday, I completed my second brewing session.  My target this time around was to be an imperial nut brown ale. This was my first recipe to follow (my earlier effort was a kit from Austin Homebrew), and the beer was supposed to be bigger and more complex than my first brew. 

My little boys (ages four and two) were excited to help.  They are both young enough that anything Daddy is excited about, they are excited about, and they love to get involved.  Sometimes, that "help" wasn't always terribly helpful - such as when they would yet again stick fingers into the opening of my sanitized carboy, requiring me to sanitize the rassafracking thing one more flipping time - but I wouldn't have traded the time with them for anything. All told, it was a fun process.

I started off by taking my previously made yeast starter out of the fridge, decanting it (which,in layman's terms, means that I poured most of the "beer" off of my yeast, leaving just enough to swirl the yeast solids back in for pitching), and setting it aside to reach pitching temperature.  I took my second smack pack of yeast (Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale) out...
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Tags for this post: imperial, nut, brown, ale, brewing, home, homebrewing, kids, yeast, yeast issues, malt extract

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