Honey Mead

I’ve always wanted to make a Mead.  A true mead is nothing but honey, water and yeast.  You can add in various things like fruit, spices, chilis, etc.  I want a basic Mead that I will then add to my Bourbon barrel.  With time I think the flavors will meld nicely with each other.  For the honey I wanted to get something local and special to me.  At my parents/grandparents place there is a guy who has some bees being kept there for quite some time.  I ended up buying around 15 lbs of Honey from the guy thinking that I would only use around 9 or 10, but I ended up using all 15 lbs hoping for a med/dry Mead in the end.

As for fermentation I wanted to employ using the staggered nutrient additions  to ensure that I get proper attenuation from the yeast and that it’s fermented out in a month or three and not a year or three.  I used the Lavlin 71B yeast which is a wine yeast that is used among the better Mead home brewers and Moonlight Meadery.

For the staggered nutrient additions (SNA), I used Fermaid-K and DAP (diammonium phosphate).  One teaspoon of Fermaid-K and two teaspoons of DAP should be efficient enough to keep a good healthy fermentation.  The lack of oxygen will keep fermentation slow, so make sure that when you add the SNA that you give the mead a nice 30-60 seconds of rousing to introduce more oxygen.  Ill put in the schedule of additions in the recipe below.  

Honey Mead

15 lbs: Local Wildflower Honey (Leeds, AL)
4 gal: RO Water (Publix)

Yeast Additions:
3/4 tsp: SNA after pitching yeast
3/4 tsp: SNA after 24 hours of fermentation start
3/4 tsp: SNA 48 hours into fermentation (24 hours after the last addition)
3/4 tsp: SNA once you have 30% of the sugar left.

Actual OG: 1.122
Actual FG:1.004


Lavlin 71B 2 packets bloomed in hot water

Update 8.31.2012: Mead “brewed” on 8.18.2012.  As of today noticeable fermentation has stopped.  Took gravity reading on 8.25.2012 which was 1.016 and still fermenting.  I would like for this to get down below 1.010 in hopes to keep the sweetness out and have a more low-mid sweet mead.

Update 9.2.2012: Mead has hit terminal gravity. I ended up with more attenuation than I really wanted. After tasting I think it will be fine. All sweetness has subsided with a gravity of 1.004. I added sorbate to stop any further fermentation. I will be adding this to my Balcones Barrel in a few weeks.

Bourbon Barel Aged Russian Imperial Stout

A few weeks ago I purchased a 5 gallon Bourbon barrel from a website.  The barrel it turned out if from a distillery out of Waco Texas.  Balcones Distilling is an all blue corn distillery, they are a craft distillery and love giving their used barrels to home brewers, as I think its a natural fit for us.  I wanted to go big on this one pushing the 10-11abv range with a nice RIS.  Something that can hold up over time and also something that would go well with the strong flavors from the barrel.

The barrel was really wet when I received it, so I thought it would be fine keeping it plugged up for the next week or so until the beer was ready to go in.  When I was ready to move the beer over I brought some water up to around 190 degF and poured it in.  I wanted to accomplish 2 things with this, one was to sanitize anything that might have made it in there and two to remove some of the strong bourbon flavors that would have over powered my RIS.  I let it sit for about 20 minutes then dumped everything out.  Once the barrel cooled off I racked 5 gallons of the RIS over to it.  It’s been sitting in the barrel for about a month now (5/19/2012).  It won’t take “long” for this to take on a ton of barrel characteristics due to the increased surface area in a smaller barrel.  From the way it’s tasting I would say another 1-1.5 months are still needed.  I did drill a hole in the side of the barrel to get samples out easy.  This method is used quite a bit especially at Russian River.

Once I get some use out of this, maybe 2-3 batches, I’m going to add bugs and lets beers age for up to a year or more.  Now about the recipe, I had planned to use 4 lbs of DME to get the gravity up, but I failed to notice that I had only about 1.5 lbs at home and didn’t check till I was ready to put it in the boil.  So the gravity is a bit lower than I wanted or expected.  All this said now onto the recipe.

Raceway RIS
17 lbs: Hugh Baird Pale Ale Malt
1.75 lbs: Briess Crystal 40L
1.4 lbs: DME
1.25 lbs: Castle De-Bittered Black Malt
1.25 lbs: Briess Chocolate Malt

2oz: Nuggett 11.3aa @ 90min
2oz: Liberty 5.4aa @ 60min
1oz: Liberty 5.4aa @ 30min

1 Whirlfloc Tablet

Anticipated OG: 1.101
Anticipated FG: 1.027
IBU: ~95

Actual OG: 1.090
Actual FG: 1.021
Apparent Attenuation: 75.3%

ABV: 9.2%
ABW: 7%

Yeast: White Labs San Diego Super Yeast (WLP090)


Update 8.29.2012: Bottled out of the barrel on 7.31.2012.  Ended up with around ~17 bottles, lost a ton of volume to evaporation.  Before bottling I added in 3oz of Finer Grind Guatemala Carrizal and let it sit for 24 hours.  Opened a bottle at a homebrew club meeting on Sunday and the results are pretty good.  Will have to do a full tasting later and post it up.

Wheat Porter

After a conversation with a friend of mine about Porters, he mentioned “well what about a Wheat Porter”.  What a novel thought, a Wheat Porter.  Never heard of one, or seen one or would even begin to think how it would taste.  To my surprise while looking if there was such a thing, one pops up in Radical Brewing.  Now I have read Radical Brewing front to back, back to front many times over and don’t recall a Wheat Porter.  I no longer have the book (lost in a move), so I can’t go and look without re-buying the book.  So looking at some posted recipes from the book, I set out to make my own Wheat Porter.  The book apparently says that when the beer is finished and done correctly it will have a chocolate milk texture to it…. Ok so I am now hooked.  Lets see how this beer turns out.

Wheat Porter

6.75 lbs: Weyermann Floor Malted Wheat
5.25 lbs: Weyermann Munich Malt 9L
3.25 lbs: Rahr 6-Row Malt
1.75lbs: American Crystal 60L
10 oz: Flaked Oats (Tosted @300F till they smell like cookies)
6 oz: Weyermann Crafa II

1 oz: Nugget Hops 11.3AA @90min

1 lb: Rice Hulls

Anticipated OG: 1.072
Anticipated FG: 1.019
IBU: ~33

Actual OG: 1.072
Actual FG: 1.022
Apparent Attenuation: 68%

ABV: 6.7%
ABW: 5.2%

White Labs Irish Ale (WLP004)

Update 4.23.2012: Beer is kegged and carbed. Taste is a tad sweet for my liking but the base beer is great and the mouth feel is wonderful. Will make again but will mash lower for a much dryer finishing gravity.

Dry English Cider

I have been wanting to do a nice dry cider for quite sometime.  Actually brewing ciders isn’t that easy, there are a multitude of ways to do this on the internet, neither fo witch seemed enjoyable to me.  Buying cheap Apple Juice and adding in Table sugar and yeast just seems like cheating, plus the fact it might be too sweet and not taste very good.  I was recently in Pigeon Forge Tennessee and went to the Apple Barn.  They have raw apple cider pressed from their own apples there.  It comes by the gallon frozen cause well its raw and does not contain preservatives.  When I found out about this, I had to jump at the chance to get some, as there aren’t many Apple Orchards in Alabama that I know of.  So at ~$6 a gallon, I loaded up 5 gallons and headed home.  After they thawed out over night I transferred them to a carboy and added in 5 crushed up campten tablets.  I then boiled down 2 lbs of dark brown sugar and added it in.  I let that sit for 24 hours and then added in WLP775 English Cider yeast.  Here’s hoping that it takes off and I have a wonderful cider in the end.

Dry English Cider

5 Gallons: Apple Barn Brand Raw Cider
2 lbs: Dark Brown Sugar

5 – Campten Tablets

Actual OG: 1.064
Final OG: 0.998
ABV: 8.9%
ABW: 7.1%

White Labs English Cider (WLP775)

Update 4.3.2012: Had to add in 2 packs of Champagne Yeast to jump start fermentation again.  Cider yeast stalled out at 1.020.

Update 4.9.2012: Fermentation is complete.  Gravity is down to a very dry 0.998 which is around 9% abv.  I am letting it sit at the moment in hopes that the yeast will clear up the sulfur smell in the cider.  Will check back in a few weeks.  I also need to decide if I plan on back sweeten it in any way or just go with a basic dry cider.

Update 4.23.2012: Added 1 1/4 tsb of grape tannin and 1 1/4 tab of Potassium Sorbate to halt any further yeast fermentation. Tannin was added for some tartness. I will add more later. I am still deciding on how to back sweeten for more apple flavor.

Update 5.6.2012: Added in 1 can of apple juice concentrate, this is an attempt to back sweeten the cider.  It has mainly dropped clear with a nice cider aroma and flavor.  Just a bit dry for my taste at 9% abv.

Columbus IPA

It’s been quite sometime since I have brewed anything or posted on here for that matter.  The main reason was that I was gearing up to move.  Once the move was over I decided on a few things to brew up next.  First was a Classic American Pilsner, using some basic 2-Row and Corn, hopped with Liberty hops and fermented with WLP810.  All started off great till fermentation stopped at 1.025, after raising the temp and repitching some lager dry yeast, nothing happened.  I then diluted it with water in hops of create a “light lager” that I can drink this summer, no idea how that will turn out.

As for my second batch I decided on one of my favorite IPA recipes I have done and expand on it a bit.  Using all Columbus hops (leaf and pellets), I went with really good malts hoping to provide a tasty backbone to this beer.  Hugh Baird malts are some of the best malts I have used to date, so I went with some 2-Row and Carastan malts.  While I would have liked to use some Pale Crystal malt they provide, I was unable to source it.  I have read that Carastan is a 35L British Crystal malt that provides a different flavor than American Crystal Malts.  What those different flavors are I guess time will tell.

Columbus IPA
10 lbs: Hugh Baird Pale Ale Malt
2 lbs: Light Munich Malt 9L
1 lb: Hugh Baird Carastan 35L
8 oz: Flaked Barley
2 oz: Flaked Wheat

.25 oz: Columbus Hops 16.5aa 60 minutes (Leaf)
.50 oz: Columbus Hops 16.5aa 30 minutes (Leaf)
2 oz: Columbus Hops 15.4aa 10 minutes (Pellets)
4 oz: Columbus Hops 15.4aa Flame Out (Pellets)
3 oz: Columbus Hops 15.4aa Dry Hops
2 oz: Nelson Souvin Hops 11aa Dry Hops

1 – Whirlfloc Tablet
2gr: Gypsum
1gr: Chalk

Target OG: 1.058
Target FG: 1.014
IBU: ~71.5

Actual OG: 1.061
Actual FG: 1.014
Apparent Attenuation: 76.1%

ABV: 6.3%
ABW: 5%

Wyeast 1056 American Ale

Update 3.20.2012: Fermentation has ended.  Had to raise temp to ~80 for it to finish out at 1.014.  Would have liked to seen it at 1.012.  Added in 3 oz of Columbus Hops for Dry Hop cause that’s all I had left.  Also added in 2oz of Nelson Souvin cause I needed to get rid of it.  It shouldn’t add much to the beer.

Update 4.3.2012: Moved to keg last Thursday.