Friday, April 30, 2010


I discovered a recipe for a German Hard Cider on and also found a good deal on a used carboy. Last night I brewed .. assembled this easy award winning Apfelwein recipe posted to the Home Brew Forums by Edwort. Click HERE to check out the thread including the recipe. I could not find the yeast or the particular Apple Juice it calls for, so I used a wine yeast 1118 and PC Fancy grade 100% Apple Juice.

Apfelwein (Germanapple wine) is a German variant of cider made out of apples. It is also regionally known as EbbelwoiÄpplerStöffsche,Apfelmost (apple must), Viez (from Latin vice, the second or substitute wine), and Saurer Most (sour must). It has an alcohol content of 5.5%–7% and a tart, sour taste. The name Äppler, mainly propagated by large producers, is generally not used in restaurants or by smaller manufacturers who instead call the beverage Schoppen or Schoppe which refers to the measure of the glass.

The Easy Blonde was also racked to the secondary and the final gravity reading was 1012 putting it at 4.6% ABV. When it is in the carboy it appears really dark, but in a glass you can see its true color. I would have liked this to be even lighter. I am going to start experimenting with adding the extract late in the boil to achieve lighter colored beer. Here are some pictures:

Primary opened shows evidence of a vigorous fermentation

Hydrometer showing a 1012

A little taste - nice color

Monday, April 26, 2010

Brew Day April 22nd, 2010 - "Easy Blonde Ale"

I started this home brew thing with an American Brown Ale and went right into a Chocolate Stout and everyone is asking me to keep it simple. I like to drink beers with high hop bitterness and a lot of complex flavours, but unfortunately, not many of the people I know have the same taste as me. So for my third batch, I took a few steps back. I originally was going to brew a Pale Ale, but after reading a little more, I discovered a style that is an easy drinking summer type brew that would cater more to the non-beer drinker. It was decided to brew a Blonde Ale, because this one had an ingredient list half the size of my previous two brews, I decided that this was easy and therefore the brew has already been named "Easy Blonde" Ale. I would find out on brew day however, that nothing is easy. I discovered I forgot to pick up a grain sock ..... I will get to that later.

Here is the recipe:

2.5 L - Pale Extract
1 lbs – Carastan Malt
1.5oz – Hallertau (60mins)
0.5oz – Hallertau (20mins)
6g  - Irish Moss (20mins)
0.5oz – Cascade (10mins)
10g - Mauri ale Yeast

Primary – 6days @60
Secondary – 10days @60

Seems easy enough right? I had already sanitized my equipment when I realized that I forgot to pick up a grain sock so I had to improvise. I hit the home brew forums and it was suggested to use cheese cloth or paint straining bags, I even briefly thought about using a real sock.....mmmm "Sweat Sock Ale" I decided to just steep the grains directly submersed in the water in a steeping pot, then I would strain the steeped water into the brewpot. I don't know how much of a difference this makes as far as extracting fermentable sugars and colors etc. I didn't want this beer to be too dark in color, so I only steeped for 20 minutes.


Steeping the grains without a grain bag

Straining the steep water into the brew pot

After the 20 minutes of steeping, I added water and the Malt Extract. I have been reading about adding the extract, or a portion of it, later in the boil. This will give a lighter colored finished beer. This method will also make the hops come through stronger, so the hop amount may have to be cut back. I didn't want to experiment too much, I will first see how the color turns out and make changes if needed for the next time I brew a blonde. I forgot to include pictures of the extract on my first two brew day posts, so here they are for this one.

I used 2.5L of extract because the gravity readings on the Chocolate Stout were quite low. The Brown Ale seemed to be just right, but this is suppossed to be a lighter beer. Hopefully I can target in on the proper amount of extract for future brews, I think this time it will be where I want it. The wort was brought to a boil and the hops were added as per the schedule.

I have been doing some research on the effects of temperature on gravity readings and it turns out, there is quite an effect. I knew my wort was still warm when I pitched the yeast on my first two batches, and I also know I cooled the brew pot and filled up the fermenter the same way. I took the temperature and was surprised to see it was 106F The Hydrometer read 1040 and with the temperature correction, the real gravity is a 1046.
Hydrometer showing a 1040 @ 106F

I made the mistake of assuming that adding all that cold water to the wort when topping up the primary would have cooled the wort much more. I can now go back and correct my original gravity reading on my first two batches. I will assume I took the readings at 100F

Brown Ale: 
OG - 1048 FG - 1014 ABV= 4.6%
corrected to 100F
OG - 1053 FG - 1014 ABV= 5.3%
Now that seems more like, although, I still think this beer is stronger that 5.3 based on the way my body reacts to it.

Chocolate Stout:
OG - 1043 FG - 1020 ABV= 3.1%
corrected to 100F
OG - 1048 FG - 1020 ABV= 3.8%
I would like to see this beer a little higher and I still think it is, there is something i'm not doing right with my hydrometer readings. Also with this beer, the 1020 FG leads me to believe the fermentation wasn't complete and I should have left a few days longer. I will make sure the Easy Blonde is left alone until she's ready!

I also have to start reading up on the temperature effect on the yeast when pitching at high temperatures. I have a feeling that I should be allowing the wort to cool more before pitching.

I decided to brew a Blonde for others to enjoy, as it will hopefully be an easy drinking light tasting beer. If it is a success, I would like to take the recipe to the next level and add some fruit to the secondary fermenter, and then age it in a third.

I never really thought of it before, but I am now looking forward to doing a Strawberry Blonde.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aged to Perfection - Moonstone Brown Ale

Moonstone Brown Ale, the brewery's first beer is officially a success! This beer was left for just one more week and the "off taste" has mellowed out, this brew has a high hop bitterness and the after taste reminds me of Guinness. By no means am I claiming that my home brewed brown ale is as good as the legendary Guinness, i'm just saying that this beer finishes near the same, but not quite as strong. The Brown Ale is too dark in color for my liking as the brown pours almost black. When tilted and pointed to the light, a dark brownish - red is visible. One day i will tweak this recipe for another shot. One change that is a definite is the elimination of any dark malt extract, I will use all light and pale malts and rely on the grains for color. This should lighten it up just enough. I will also experiment with decreasing the hop quantity to tone it down a bit on the bitterness. i have set 12 bottles aside to see if it improves any further, however I have already purchased the ingredients for my next batch of beer out of fear that my current supply wont last much longer.

Moonstone Chocolate Stout is bottled - This beer looks like its going to turn out great. I had a taste and it is already amazing. It has a beautiful chocolaty aroma and finished wish a faint taste of cocoa (not sweet) It is dark pale brown in color.

Because no one is eager to taste my beer, my next recipe will be something that I am not super excited about, but this one will be for the non beer lovers and the ladies. I have scrapped the Pale Ale and decided on a Blonde Ale as the Pale Ale may still be too hoppy for most of my friends and family.

Blonde Ale - also called golden ales range in color from that of straw to golden blond. They are clear, crisp, and dry, with low-to-medium bitterness and aroma from hops, and some sweetness from malt. Fruitiness from esters may be perceived but do not dominate the flavor or aroma. A lighter body from higher carbonation may be noticed. The lightness in the use of hops and malt can make blonde ales a good introduction to craft industry beers for consumers only familiar with mass-marketed beers.

Because I have no idea what i'm doing with this brewing thing, I think the name I have come up with is both cheesy, and appropriate - "Moonstone Dumb Blonde Ale"

**UPDATE** April 23rd - I am not happy with the name Dumb Blonde Ale, so based on how simple and easy this recipe was, I am switching it to "Easy Blonde Ale"

Brew day post and recipe coming soon!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


American Brown Ale-

I popped two bottles in the fridge on Saturday morning as it was now officially ready for tasting. I tried one Saturday night and was disappointed. The carbonation was complete, however, the off taste that has been there throughout the staged of the brew has not mellowed out, so i'm starting to think something went wrong. I also wasn't feeling the greatest after a week of Hot Sun, Corona, and Tequila. I didn't even feel like drinking beer this particular Saturday night. (which is very odd for me) The beer did look good, it was very dark brown that appears red in the light, very clear with a nice foamy head.

I tried one Sunday, It tasted better, but not much, so I decided to give it another week for conditioning.

Wednesday night rolled around and the NHL playoffs were starting. I had 5 while watching the game and I admit, it has improved in a few short days. I will continue to wait on this batch as I do not want to give up on it quite yet.

It is a drinkable beer, not bad .... however, I don't think I would brew it again, unless I can determine if I made a mistake and what it was.

There are some possibilities since I have been reading and learning more-
1) The grains were steeped at 170F - was this too hot? Did I extract tannins?
2) I am reading my hydrometer wrong and the alcohol content is through the roof making the off taste excessive alcohol? After three on Wednesday night, I had quite the full body buzz, and this beer is only supposed to be 4.5% alcohol.
3) tossed in my bittering hops too soon. I only learned to wait for the hot break after this brewday.

This is a learning process and I will keep my fingers crossed and hope that it tastes better by Saturday.

Chocolate Stout-

The Chocolate Stout was racked to the secondary on The 10th, giving it 9 days in the primary. The gravity has only dropped to 1019 putting it at around just over 3% - hopefully some more fermentation takes place in the secondary, and perhaps I should have left in the primary for a few more days? I'm learning that I should not follow the recipe when it comes to the amount of days in the fermenter, especially when the yeast I am using is different than the original recipe. I may have racked this beer before the fermentation was complete. I will not make this mistake the next time. On the bright side, this beer already tastes great. Here are some pictures:
Lid removed from primary

The Kids don't think this one will be good

Delicious chocolaty Beer in the secondary fermenter.

Brew Day April 1st, 2010 - Chocolate Stout

I was all packed and the kids were in bed, so I fired up the Brewpot and went to work. With the Brown Ale still one week away from tasting, was I jumping into a second batch too soon?

This recipe had plenty of grains and therefore had to be loaded into two grain socks for steeping. Before loading however, this time I blended all of the grains together.
460g Caramal Malt, 460g Pale Malt, 230g Chocolate Malt, 115g Roasted Barley

All of the grains blended

Two grain socks loaded up

The temperature was brought up to a steady 160F and the I added the grain socks for a 30 minute steep. Then I sparged each sock individually with 2L of cold water each to try and extract the most color and sugar as possible from the grains.

Steeping at 160F for 30 minutes

Sparging the socks

This recipe does not call for very much hops, in fact, the addition of finishing hops is replaced with cocoa. After the hot break, 28g of Northern Brewer were tossed in for bittering, 14g of Fuggles for flavoring with 10 minutes left, and to finish, 3/4 cup of Fry's Cocoa after the pot was removed from the heat.

The hops with a can of Fry's Cocoa

The brewpot was cooled and strained into the fermenter, cool water added to top it off and mixed well. I took the initial gravity reading and was disappointed that it only came in at 1043 when the recipe calls for a 1049. My concerns about the amount of Malt extract were validated as it turns out my sugar extraction through the process of steeping is very inefficient. I no doubt will be researching how to improve efficiency while steeping. If that cant be figured out, then I need to take a step backwards and rely on the extracts for sugars to be converted to alcohol and simply use grains only for color, flavor, and mouth feel until I become more experienced.

The yeast was activated and pitched in and the fermenter was closed. What did surprise me was that the fermentation started aggressively within half an hour. I had to remove the airlock twice before bed, and once again in the morning before flying out, to clean it. The yeast was so active that the krausen was pushing right through the airlock.

I am excited about this brew, however quite worried that the alcohol content is much too low.

*I realize some of the pictures are sideways, but I don't know how to fix it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adios and Vaya con Dios!

Even though tonight is a brew night (Chocolate Stout) I will not have time to post before we "hopefully" leave for Mexico. Click here to learn about Skyservice

I have been reading about the effect of temperatures on bottle carbonation because I have not seen any activity in the bottles of Brown Ale. The Brown Ale has since been moved to a warmer upstairs closet for the remainder of the bottle conditioning.

There will not be any posts for at least a week.....

I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand 
Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand 
Life is good today. Life is good today.