Monday, March 28, 2011

Batch 4!

Oi! What a year so far.

For the first time in almost three months I brewed beer again! Finally! I'd catch you all up on batches two and three and their processes and what I learned etc.... but honestly it's been so long I've forgotten. Hence the reason they say to write things down as soon as you can.
What I can remember is that batch number 2 tasted too much like a Belgian, and I don't like Belgian beer. Not sure if it turned out that way because I didn't bring my added DME to it's 'heat break' or 'boil point' or whatever it's called, or if it's because I had too much malt, and not enough hops. Either way, I didn't like it until I drank the last two bottles about 3 weeks after drinking the first bottle. Lesson learned..... let it sit in the bottles longer.
As for batch 3.... wasted. And I don't mean it got me wasted, I mean it got wasted. I brewed batch 3 in early January and marked my calendar on my phone and my computer so I would bottle 3 weeks after brewing. Problem was 3 weeks later I was so sick I could barely hold a glass of water, and I slept 20 hours a day. The weekend after I was looking after my sick wife as she suffered through the same thing, only without the sleep. Then our days became overly busy and the next thing I knew batch 3 had been in the fermenter for 9 weeks!!! I didn't even bother to try bottling it, everything I had read said the same thing... do NOT let it sit on the turbo for too long or your beer will go sour! I didn't like the thoughts of sour beer so, I poured it down the drain. I'm glad it was just 2 gallons and not 5, I probably would've cried if it had been 5.
After posting the loss of batch 3 on the Mr Beer forums, the more experienced brewers there asked if I had tasted it first. Tasted it? Why would I taste it? Obvious answer.... to see if it had indeed gone bad! I'M an IDIOT! Why the hell didn't I think of that?!? I may have just wasted 2 gallons of beer for nothing! Lesson learned... taste test!

So... batch 4. For the first time in a long time I actually had a weekend where, besides the usual chores, I had nothing to do and nothing planned for me to do! Which made Sunday evening BREW NIGHT!

The only can of LME I had left was my Whispering Wheat Weizenbier so that was the beer I was making. I decided to add the Amber DME I still had on hand so I could have a beer with a little more abv to it. That and I wanted to try this method of taking the DME to it's boil point and see if it improved overall taste and mouthfeel at all. I understand that I should make my beer from the base level, i.e. not using any additives, and then improve from there. But to be perfectly honest, I don't really like wheat beers, and I had the DME on hand with only one can of LME left.

I sanitized the fermenter and utensils and pot first. Then, after emptying the pot of the sanitized water, I added 4 cups of cold water to my pot and slowly stirred in the package of booster.
Now, the instructions that come with Mr Beer say to stir the booster into the water until it's fully dissolved. The problem with that is that booster is corn sugar, which means it clumps in cold water, and yes it will dissolve over time, but it takes a LONG time. I turned the burner on low and slowly moved it up to medium to help the booster dissolve a little faster without actually boiling it.

First I should let you know that our stove top dials go from low/simmer to 8 and then high. By the time I had the booster dissolved I was at 6 and a half, and from the lesson learned with my last DME experience I decided this was a good temp to start adding my DME. That way it wouldn't clump up like last time and it might dissolve a little faster. That plan actually worked! I slowly stirred in the DME I had measured out, and once it was all in the pot I turned the dial on the stove up in small increments, until the DME was fully dissolved, by this time I had the burner at 7.
After reading about how to add DME on a few posts on the Mr Beer forums I had gathered enough info to come to the conclusion that I needed to get the DME to it's boil point, but not take it past that, and apparently the boil point is 212 degrees fahrenheit. I don't have a candy/liquid thermometer. I also read a post by a guy who said he boiled the DME until the foam was almost overflowing the pot and then removed it from the heat so it would settle and then returned it to the heat again, repeating this process until the amount of foam in the pot became almost non existent. I decided to combine these two trains of thought and left the burner at 7. The DME - booster combo started to 'roll', but there were no bubbles breaking the surface, which indicated to me that I had the mixture hot enough that it was ready to boil, but not so hot that it actually did start to boil. I allowed this to go on for a few minutes while noticing that while the liquid was not actually at a full boil, it was rising. I decided to employ the heat/no heat part of my plan and turned the burner to high. The wort mixture quickly began to rise and boil, at which point I removed it foam the heat so it would settle, and then returned it to the heat again to get the foam rising again. I repeated this process a few times until I noticed the foam was almost non existent.
I removed the wort from the heat for the last time and opened my can of Whispering Wheat LME and stirred that in to my DME/booster wort mixture.
I then followed the rest of the Mr Beer directions and poured the completed wort mixture into the waiting fermenter that I had already added 4 quarts of cold water to, and like it says to do in the instructions, I added more water until the liquid was at the 8.5 quart mark on the side of the fermenter. I stirred the wort in the fermenter and added the Mr Beer dry yeast, and let that sit for 5 minutes (yes I set a timer) before stirring it vigorously.

The completed Wort now sits in my step-daughters bedroom (she doesn't live with us) and will sit there for the next three weeks, at which time I will bottle it.
I REALLY hope this turns out well!