Monday, January 9, 2012

The New Brew

Sometimes when I do something I jump in feet first, well ok I always do that, and I did it this time too. Well when you do that, you get so excited and moving so fast that you make mistakes. At work we say that if you're not making mistakes than you're not doing anything and that's true but usually I do enough research to minimize the mistakes. Not this time, this time I jumped the gun. The mistake came while making the decision on the carboy. My friend was at the brew store buying a carboy and I told him it would be ok to get a 3 gallon carboy, I was wrong. Yeah it works, and it did work for the first batch of beer but it wasn't enough. So I was going to buy another carboy, a 5 gallon carboy... Then I thought about it, and decided that I needed to do more research before I buy it. So I did the research and I found out that I don't really need to spend a ton of money on the carboy when I can buy two fermenting buckets and, from what I read, it will turn out exactly the same. Then, I went to the online brew store to buy one when I realized all it is is a food grade bucket with a hole drilled in the lid and a gromet installed. This would have cost me about $18 dollars a piece, or I could go to Lowes and make the fermenting buckets for about $6.50 a piece. That's what it would have cost me, but it cost me an extra $1.50 because I drilled the wrong size hole for the gromet. It happens.

After getting everything ready and the stuff showing up in the mail it was time for another brew day. As I said the last time this needs to be done on a day when you don't have to worry about working the next day, this way you can enjoy a few beers and not have to be in a rush. We did take our time, and we had a 6 pack of our first beer left over to drink while we were brewing. I think that I'll try to turn this into a brew day tradition. There's something gratifing about drinking your own beer while working on the next batch. Below is the last of the Centennial Blonde.

So this time we did a kit. The first time we did a recipie and it turned out great, the main difference between this batch and the last was that last time we used powdered malt and this time it was a syurup. Oh, and last time we had to add dextrine to give body to the beer.

The Wort

The Fermentor

Chilling The Wort

Starting The Year Right

Eastern PA
Western PA
Since I was in touch last, I have managed to fish twice, drink all the beer I made, and brew some more. Lets start with the first fishing trip. I went over to Spring Creek on new years day to meet up with a couple guys from Eastern PA and Western PA, we had the state diversely represented that day. It turned out to be a great day, even if I was out-fished by both of them. It was chilly when we first got there but really warmed up as the day went on. I really can't complain about the temperature I think it hit 50 degrees on the the first of January. We stuck pretty close together had some laughs and caught some fish, it didn't take long at all before we all had a fish to hand. This makes the rest of they day easier because getting skunked sucks. I mean yeah it's great to get out and fish and enjoy the scenery, but the whole purpose is to catch fish. It doesn't have to be a lot of fish, as long as it's a fish. We fished the whole day and had a great time. After that, we ended the day at Champs for something to eat. I really enjoy eating there, the food and atmosphere is good and they may have the best beer menu in the area. It's kind of funny, I don't remember what I ate that day (I think it was a burger) but I do remember that I had a couple Stone IPA's. Yum! This was a great way to finish off a tremendous day, and a perfect way to start the new year.

Second Biggest (not caught this trip)
The next trip came to a local freestone stream. This stream is close to home, maybe 4 miles, and reminds me of Slate Run so much it's scary. I think that if others found out about this stream it would be in big trouble, thankfully they haven't. This trip kind of came out of nowhere, I just got a hold of one my local fly fishing friends to see if he wanted to go. The plan was to fish the river for stockies, but when we got there it was too high and dangerous to wade. After talking it over we both decided to hit a stream we had fished many times. Now, I have fished this stream above, (caught the biggest native of my life 12") and below (caught second biggest native of my life 11" picture to the left), and he had fished the top end, but neither of us had fished the middle section of this stream. Man have I been missing out! If I were a trout this is where I would live, it has all the perfect ingredients for a stream to hold big and numerous fish. And being a fly fisherman this is the perfect stream. Ok, so after talking it up I have to point out that we both got skunked, but I learned a couple of lessons. First, there are places close to me as good as places that I have traveled across the state to fish, and second, don't fish for brookies when the water is 38 degrees. I know the fish were there, they just weren't moving on anything that I was offering. I think that if we would have went in the afternoon instead of the morning we would have been ok. But..... that's why they call it fishing and not catching. Either way we had a good time and some some beautiful sections of stream. Needless to say we will be going back.

One Of Many Nice Runs
A 15' Deep Pool

Yesterday was also brew day and I was going to put that into this blog too, but I can only do so much on my break and I have run out of time so I'll add that later.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Finish

  by coty_soult
, a photo by coty_soult on Flickr.

After the fermentation was done I still wasn't sure if we got it right or not. It had the right color and everything it's just that this was our first time brewing and I was sure that we messed up somewhere along the line. Well we took the carboy into the bathroom to siphon the beer out of the carboy and into a keg. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I got a kegerator for free from my brother in law..... Awesome, and it could not have come at a better time. So anyway back to kegging, well bottling first, it took us a while to figure out how to get the siphon going but eventually we got it and sent it through a strainer that although the holes were a little big did the job just fine. After siphoning a six pack worth into some bottles, we put the rest of it into a keg. Now came the hard part, the waiting as Tom Petty says.

So I figured that if we waited two weeks it would be close to being ready. Naturally, I went down to check it the next day. Unfortunately I found the CO2 tank was empty. I thought for sure I checked all my connections properly, but I figured that it had to be one of the hose fittings that that I put on. Well, as it turns out it was the only crimp-on connection that I ordered. So I had to cut the crimp-on off and put on a hose clamp. It did cost me a full tank of CO2 though. I wrote the company an e-mail and they refunded me my shipping, which didn't even cover the cost of the tank, needless to say, I won't be using that company any more. Oh well no worries, I've got beer in the keg and I am nervous but hopeful.

Tap day came and man was I nervous. My friend for the first pour... Wow pleasant surprise, it was excellent! We both had a few beers and waited till we could get together again before we really put a hurting on it. About a week later him and a few other friends came over and the keg didn't last very long that night. Every body loved it, and wanted to know what was brewing next. I hadn't given it that much thought but my buddy that I brewed with wanted to do a wheat beer, so we decided on a honey wheat heffe. I'll keep you posted on that one. Until then I'll leave you with the picture of the first pour.