New Year’s Eve Beer Musings

With a week off from work and no travel plans on the calendar the holidays became the perfect time to do some beer stuff.

Belgian Wit

My attempt at a Belgian wit is in bottles after spending approximately four weeks in a primary fermentation vessel.  The color and aroma seemed to be in line with my expectations.  However, the proof will be when the bottles are opened.  I though my honey kolsch was all right until I opened the first bottle.  Nothing like an epic fail to make you reconsider everything you do for the subsequent batches.

New American Wheat Recipe

Through five batches of beer (three worked out, one was an epic fail, and one is still conditioning in bottles) I have come out a fan of the wheat style.  So, for my next recipe I decided to start with 6 pounds of wheat malt extract.  For hops I chose U.S. Saaz and U.S. Tettnang.  The U.S. Tettnang were boiled for 45 minutes and the U.S. Saaz for twenty minutes.

An addition to the process this time was a Whirlfloc tablet at fifteen minutes.  The tablets are a blend of finings to help clarify the beer.

Another departure from prior recipes is a new strain of yeast.  I realize I am getting into the whole homebrew thing when I started thinking about yeast and its properties.  Is it highly floculant?  How is its attenuation?  For this batch I chose Wyeast 1272 American Ale II.  As opposed to the very popular Wyeast 1056 American Ale II, Wyeast 1272 is supposed to be more floculant, attenuate better, and have a different flavor profile.  We shall see.

Another improvement to the process was an attempt to cool the wort faster in order to get a cold break in my beer.  A cold break is when a certain class of proteins coagulate and precipitate out your beer.  In the past I have used the ice bath method in the kitchen sink with mixed results.  This time I decided to take advantage of near freezing outdoor temperatures to cool my wort quickly.  Here is the setup:

The wort got down to a pitchable temperature in about 45 minutes.  A new record for me.  While cleaning out my mother-in-law’s basement over the break I found a self-priming pump that will work real well with an immersion chiller.  My birthday is coming up…

Why I Homebrew

One of the reasons I brew my own beer is the dramatic reduction in waste.  Here is the waste from brewing one batch:

Three foil packs and one plastic jug.  Add to that approximately 24 bottle caps and you have the sum total of what I throw into the garbage from each batch since the bottles are reused.  Pretty convincing argument for homebrew from an ecological perspective.

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