The Discovery Channel is premiering a series tonight (11/21/10) at 10 pm ET/PT called Brew Masters. Here is an excerpt from the Discovery description:
"It's cold, it's comforting, it's beer ... but for Sam Calagione, founder of one of America's leading craft brewers Dogfish Head Brewery, beer is a passion, a business and a personal quest for best, most imaginative brews. BREW MASTERS follows Sam and his partners in suds as they travel the country and the world sourcing exotic ingredients and discovering ancient techniques to produce beers of astounding originality."
That show sounds awesome. Are you a home brewer? I have been reading up on the subject and am looking to start my first batch sometime at the end of the year.
I would love to meet others in the home brew "business"!
Yes, I do a little brewing at home. I just brewed a couple of batches last weekend, to give as Christmas presents. I hope they turn out OK! I am preparing to add some sugar syrups to a Belgian style strong dark ale I brewed Sunday, an invert syrup I made from turbinado sugar and 0.1% w/w citric acid to hydrolyze the sucrose (~85% or so) into its fructose and glucose components, D2 dark caramel syrup, and a little homemade caramel syrup. I like to add sugars to the primary fermentor so the yeast have a chance to ferment down the wort a bit and so that the wort will have a lower than planned original gravity when I pitch the yeast. They don't have to work so hard at the beginning that way and don't suffer the same degree of osmotic shock in, say, a 1.075 wort than they would in a 1.090 wort if I had added the sugars to the kettle. It also makes it easier to oxygenate the wort if you don't have oxygen and have to aerate by splashing or the like.
Brewing can be a lot of fun, especially if you like to experiment. Winter can be a good time to brew, too, depending on where you live and where you brew. In LA the weather is too warm most of the summer unless you have refrigeration or some other means to keep the fermentation temps in line, but now is OK, even with the (relative) cold. I use a temperature controller and thermocouple probe that goes into the wort in the fermentor, with a heating element wrapped around the fermentor to keep the temp within a degree or so (+/-) of where I want it to be. So far, so good...
Good luck with your first batch. What are you thinking about brewing? What brewing literature are you reading?
I viewed the existing four episodes in a marathon session over the holidays and I loved it. I actually had a bottle of the B!tches Brew a few months back and it was amazing. I don't think the episode made me appreciate it anymore, but it certainly made me wish I could get some more of it...which I can't. Dogfish Head is one of my favorite breweries, and so far I like the inside look at the "corporate" culture at the company and plan to continue watching, but I could see the whole "we're doing this experimental beer this week" schtick getting old before long. Thank goodness they mix in the side stories like the bad batch of 120 minute. Lastly, I'll pass on the Chicha.
edit: Wow! Big Brother edited the proper name of the product, taken from the Miles Davis album of same name. Let's see if I can subvert his efforts...
Message was edited by: Luke Toney
Thanks for sharing! I'm still in the research phase -- got a little off track for the holidays -- but I hope to be brewing my first batch next month. I'm really looking forward to all the tweaking and experimenting that's involved in the brewing process. I live in Seattle, WA so the weather is pretty cold now and I'm not sure if I'm going to need something to warm up my fermenter at home since it's around 50 degrees F right now. Did you build your own heating element/temp controller setup or did you purchase one from a brew store? I'm looking to construct my own copper cooling coil to cool the wort after it's boiled, but I don't have anything in place for temperature control during the fermentation stage. Space is also a concern with apartment living, so I may have to time my brewing with the seasons if I don't have enough room for a temperature control setup.
I would love to bounce ideas off of you when I get started, if that's OK with you. It's always nice to get advice from someone who's been there before!
Luke, Hi, Big Brother here. We have a profanity filter in place that automatically searches for profane words and replaces the offending terms with asterisks. I'll tell you that I got quite an education when I had to review the list of words that we filter against. Oh my.
Miles Davis was one of my favorites Jazz musicians and I really got interested in his electric period when I was coming out of college. I collected and still have most of his records from this period on vinyl. I was really happy to this particular episode, however, I really wish I could have tried the Brew.
I'm with you on the Chica.
Just brew a Lager... downside is you may have to COOL IT DOWN.
I usually do ales, but I did one Lager I called Parkhaus Versuch (Garage Experiment) because I left the secondary ferment 'lagering' phase in the garage where the temps were mostly in the 35-45 degree F range (still actually a tad high) after a Primary in the basement at around 50 degrees.
Used the Saflager S-23 yeast and it came out very well. As the temps are low again here in the Northeast, I need to get another batch going soon if I can find the time. The Nottingham Ale Yeast (which I like a lot) will also ferment at lower temperatures.
You can make your own equipment on some stuff, but remember one thing: a lot
of the stuff they sell you from the home brew catalogs is overkill. They are
selling the small scale versions of what industrial breweries use - which is
needed for the thousands of gallons they brew. Example: you dont need an
immersion chiller for average 5 gal batches. You boil about 2 gal of wort,
and have about 2 gal of clean, fresh water in your fermenter. Add ice cubes
to equal about the last gallon. Let the hot wort/kettle cool in a sink full
of cold running water for a few min, then dump the whole thing in your
fermenter. That also does an excellent job of aerating. It is really quite
sanitary, assuming you dont have a problem in your plumbing (copper is a
natural germicide). The keys are that ice is fairly sterile and adding your
pitched yeast to the wort at the proper temp assures nothing else can get a
chance to grow.
Also, a fermenter heater may not be necessary. Run a test w/ bowls of water
and a thermometer in a few spots for 24 hr to see where you get a good
range. You can always wrap the fermenter in a blanket. Keep in mind the
yeast can tolerate a good range of temp, and may just need a little more
time to complete the ferment. If in doubt, brew lager.
Hehe. Yeah, I'm quite familiar with profanity filters. I just think the bot is a poor judge of context. I will say that when I first heard of the show, I was unaware whether the entire series was about Dogfish or whether a different brewery would be featured every week. There are a lot of other microbrewers of whose operations I would like to catch a glimpse. As far as the Bitches Brew (now that it's referenced once, I'll let the bot do its job), it is available for purchase on ebay...for a fair upcharge, of course.
I'd argue that parial wort boils, as you described (boil ~2 gal., and dilute with water to make 5 gal.) are OK for the first batch or two to see if you like the hobby, but the difference in quality in moving up to full wort boils is huge. The higher sugar concentration in the 2 gallon boil tends to scorch more, doesn't precipitate out as much protein, and messes up the utilization of hops.
The wort chiller also helps precipitate out more cold break protein, which we then try to leave behind in the boil kettle. Chilling with ice water puts all of this protein into the primary fermenter.