Monday, December 15, 2008

Homebrewing Adventures (misadventures?)

I've been on kind of a homebrewing kick recently, probably because of the new beer fridge, and hoping that some day, I'll be filling it up with soda-kegs of homebrew. Two weeks ago, Paddy and I tried an ex-beer-iment with some water that was used to boil beans... we thought about trying to drink it Saturday, but when we took off the air lock, it smelled like a carboy full of vomit.

So we fertilized one of my trees with it (yes, it's a tree I hope to kill).

Also on Saturday, we transferred a kit Russian Imperial Stout into secondary. That one had an starting gravity of 1.080 and when we transferred it, it went to 1.030. We re-pitched yeast in it, and will let it sit for another couple of weeks, and hope if drops a little lower.

Additionally on Saturday, for the first time, I made a yeast starter. I was mesmerized watching it create carbon-dioxide. So many bubble from only 650 ml of wort and yeast.

Sunday was brewing day. This one was going to wind up being an Imperial Blueberry Wheat. I had purchased the supplies for this last weekend. We went with 2 cans of Muton and Fison Wheat syrup, and 4 lbs of wheat dme. We used an ounce of hops at the boil, and another for finishing (I'll get the names later). After the brewing hour was done, Paddy used a potato smasher to pulverize the blueberries.

We chilled the wort down to about 80, and added the rest of the water, topped off to 5 gallons. I stirred up the yeast that I had started on Saturday, and poured it into the beer. Paddy added the blueberries, and we took a gravity reading of 1.087. This was thicker than the stout from the week before.

We capped it, and set it on the kitchen table, this was about 6 p.m. We went to our beds around 10:30, and there was no activity in the bucket. I woke up, for no reason, around 2:30 and checked, still no activity, I wondered if I had killed the yeast somehow.

When I got up at 6:30, this is what I found.

The lid had blown off the bucket. It was actually (conveniently) in the box, with the airlock still in place.

So, I cleaned off the lid, and took a foam paper plate and scooped off the krausen. Then put the lid back on... it foamed up and out of the airlock.

I left for work at 9. Before leaving, I removed the lid about 4 times, and scooped out the krausen. Before I left, I moved the pail into the bathtub. If this thing was gonna blow up, I'd feel bad about losing the beer, but I'd feel worse about having 5 gallons of blueberry sugar water on my kitchen floor for 9 hours.

When I get home, I'll update the status of my bathtub, and what the hops varieties were.

Coincidentally, Paddy asked what the clever name for this was gonna be, after we finished brewing.

He came up with BleWit.

Blew (blueberry) Wit (wheat).

As to the lid, the beer BLEWIT off the pail.

*update* I got off work at 3:30 today and ran home to check the beer. Hoping that the pail didn't asplode. Well, the lid had blown off, at some point. My bathtub looks like someone had bad diarrhea and shat all over it, but that's just from the foam.

I don't know how long the lid was off for, but here's a pic.

I cleaned up the lid and the rim of the pail, and with another paper plate, scraped off the top of the krausen (don't worry, it'll make more). Then I moved it back onto the kitchen table, put the lid on it, and re-set the airlock. (Not that it really matters now, does it?) Within seconds, the airlock started bubbling, so it's been about 20 hours since this thing was first pitched, and it's blown the lid twice, and had 2-3 inches of foam scraped off five times. It's a little aggressive.

The foam does smell nicely of blueberries, so that's good. It also has some blueberry chunks in it, I feel a bit bad about washing that away, but we'll be putting more into it later.

I'll get another gravity reading, should it ever stop blowing up.

Hops were Wilamette (bittering) and Spalt (finishing).


The Beerbuddha said...

Man, all this talk of homebrewing makes me want to start it up. It's time!!! Love the name by the way!!


The Beerbuddha

vgrid said...

It's still going, this ones a lot of cleaning.

You should start, it's not horribly expensive to get an extract kit put together.

Anonymous said...

Awsome. Love to hear people getting into homebrewing. However, you should use a blow off tube and not put papper plates into your wort. The other thing is if you do a fruit beer in the future, put your fruit into the secondary not the primary. You'll end up with a better tasting beer as the primary fermentation won't "scrub" out the taste. Excellent Blog though. Just found you today.

vgrid said...

We'll be adding more fruit into the secondary.

Thanks for the advise on the blow-off, do you have any recommendations on how to implement one using buckets?

delarob said...

Sure. Blowoff tubes are easy. You already have the rubber stopper that the airlock goes into, all you need is a long 3 foot or so piece of tubing. Push it into the stopper and run the other end into the bucket that has a bit of sterilizing solution. You want the end of the hose to saty below the level of solution. Your co2 and foam will blow off into the bucket and you won't risk contamination of the beer with the lid blowing off.

Out of curiosity, what temperature did you have the beer fermenting at? Room I assume, but how warm was it? Too high a temp can give you an off flavor. It soulds like it was warm with the quick fermentation, but then again it could have been the sugars in the fruit. I did a Blackberry wheat and she bubbled like crazy. Tasted pretty good, but I should have used my spare fridge to keep the temp down.

vgrid said...

My house is kept at around 62-65. So there's wasn't that much heat for it.

There was just a lot of sugars in it; it had a higher OG than the stout I brewed the week before. The addition of the blueberries added more sugar as well. We'll be moving it to secondary this weekend, and will be adding some more fruit to it. (I've read where people add fruit early, and late; so i figure, why not do both).

I'm not too worried about contamination, as it still was fermenting after the last time it blew the lid off. So the yeasts that I wanted were the ones in charge.

delarob said...

Awesome. Can't wait to hear how it turns out!