Batch 130: Hefeweizen (All-Grain) – Redo!

I brewed this Hefeweizen a month after the previous batch.  I wasn’t thrilled with how Batch 129 came out, so I decided to mail order the grains, hops, and my preferred Hefeweizen yeast (White Labs 351).

Here are the ingredients:


Batch 130 – Hefeweizen Ingredients

One thing that bugs me about ordering hops online is that most web sites don’t give a precise alpha acid for the hops.  I’m used to the Halleterau hops that I use in my Hefeweizen being about 3.8% alpha acid when I previously purchased them at the local homebrew store.  These hops arrived and were 2.4% alpha acid!  Granted, I ordered the more authentic Hallertau Mittelfruh hops, but I was lucky I held back an ounce from the previous batch of Hefeweizen.

So this batch included the following:

  • 5.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 5.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 1.0 ounces Hallertau Mittelfruh Hops (2.4%)
  • 0.5 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%)
  • White Labs 351 (Bavarian Weizen Ale yeast)

I decided to cut out the half-pound of Munich Light malt that I had previously used since I could only order in one pound increments and I wasn’t sure when I would next have use of the remaining half pound of malt.

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.054
  • Final Gravity:  1.013
  • ABV:  5.3%
  • 8 IBU
  • 3.5 Lovibond

I was happier with the color of the first runnings during the vorlauf than I was with the previous batch.


Batch 130 – first runnings

I was once more under my targeted original gravity.  I was at 1.051 instead of 1.054.  But final gravity (1.009) was a bit below the targeted final gravity (1.013), so the beer came out a little higher in alcohol content (5.6%) than the targeted ABV (5.3%).


First draft of Batch 130

Overall, I preferred this batch over the previous batch.  In fact, I finished the last of the keg of this beer tonight before I started writing this.

I am embarking on another experiment.  I harvested the yeast from the bottom of the fermenter from this beer.  I didn’t go through extravagant sterilization techniques though.  I dropped a mason jar and a pot scraper into my usual sanitizing fluid and stirred things up with enough cold (ha!) tap water to get the yeast in suspension.  I crimped some foil around the mouth of the jar and set it in my beer fridge.  Two months on, I still haven’t used it, but I’m thinking I’ll through together a Dunkelweizen batch this weekend (and see if the home brew store owner can get the grain bill I give him straight!) and pitch this holdover yeast.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Hefeweizen, Homebrewing, Style | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Batch 129 – Hefeweizen (All-Grain)

With some trepidation, I embarked on making this year’s batch of Hefeweizen.  The last batch I made, my first all-grain Hefeweizen, was a bit of a disappointment.  It was almost too hoppy, and didn’t have the flavor/aroma profile I prefer (even though I used White Labs 351 Bavarian Weizen yeast).

I was also on the fence about doing my annual weizen experiment for the fourth straight year.  I usually brew a Hefeweizen, followed by a Dunkelweizen, followed by a Weizenbock – all fermented on the previous batches yeast.

I also have been less than pleased with the grain I had been getting from my local home brew store.  This was heightened when the owner told me he had a new Pilsen malt in stock that he was going to give me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t care to ask more about what he had – I just knew it put me on my guard.

A slight change in ingredients since the last batch:

  • 5.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 5.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 0.5 pounds Munich (10°)
  • 1.0 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%) – reduced by 0.5 ounces because the last batch was too hoppy
  • White Labs 300 (Hefeweizen Ale yeast) – instead of White Labs 351, which the store didn’t carry any more!!
2016_05_21_iPhone 675

Batch 129 ingredients

First running were the right color…

2016_05_21_iPhone 677

First runnings Batch 129

…but the final runnings were a bit…gray.

2016_05_21_iPhone 680

I blame the Pilsner malt.

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1.056
  • Final Gravity:  1.014
  • ABV:  5.5%
  • 12 IBU
  • 4.2 Lovibond

I hit 1.054 on the original gravity, but it didn’t ferment down to the target of 1.014 (I hit 1.018) which left me roughly at around 4.7 percent ABV.

It had a pretty vigorous fermentation, with quite a bit of foam through the airlock.

2016_05_21_iPhone 710

Maybe I need a bigger bucket…

The beer was kegged and carbonated.  The first draft looked like this:

2016_05_21_iPhone 801

First draft from Batch 129 – Hefeweizen

I was a little disappointed in how weak this came out.  So I did something I had never done before:  I decided to make the same batch again immediately.  This time, I decided I was going to try a different mail order supply chain instead of the one I used for the All-grain Kölsch.  This would allow me to try the same grain bill from a different source, as well as allow me to compare the crush of the grain and how the two mail order sources compare.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Beer, Hefeweizen, Hefeweizen, Homebrewing, Style | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Batch 128 – Kölsch (All-Grain)

In preparation for summer, I thought I’d make a good “lawnmower” beer – something lighter and more refreshing to drink after doing yard work in the hot South Carolina sun.

Originally, I mulled over making an Imperial Kölsch – something a little higher in alcohol content but, like my Weizenbock, deceptively so.  But I decided to make a more traditional Kölsch that would be more of a session beer.

I also was becoming increasingly more disenchanted with the product I was getting from my local homebrew store.  When I go into the store, I hand over a small slip of paper that has the quantity and type of grain I want to purchase on it.  All the store owner has to do is weigh out the grain and mill it for me.  This has not always seemed to be as easy as it sounds.  Additionally, I have asked the homebrew store owner to back off on his mill settings, as he crushes grain too fine and no matte how slower I sparge, too many pieces of grain get through the false bottom of the mash tun.  Plus, the availability of the grain I want, the hops I want, and most importantly, the yeast I want, is hit or miss.  The store owner is fond of saying “tell me what you need and I’ll order it for you”, but if I need to order something, why not just have it shipped directly to my house?

So I decided to mail order my ingredients (except the hops – the homebrew store had what I wanted), which consisted of:

  • 7.0 pounds of Kölsch Malt (4.5° L)
  • 3 .0 pounds of Pilsner Malt (2.2° L)
  • 2.0 ounces Spalt Hops (3.2%)
  • Wyeast 2565 (Kölsch Yeast)

Normally, I prefer White Labs yeast.  But the last few times I made and extract and grains Kölsch and used the White Labs yeast, I was not happy with the results.  There was just something off about the flavor.  Since the homebrew store owner didn’t have the White Labs Kölsch yeast anyway (and generally doesn’t carry Wyeast – which he said would be difficult for him to get), I figured I’d go with the Wyeast Kölsch yeast from mail order.

2016_05_21_iPhone 522

Kölsch ingredients

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1053
  • Final Gravity:  1012
  • ABV:  5.4%
  • 22 IBU
  • 5.9° Lovibond

Because of the color of the Kölsch Malt, the predicted color of the beer was a little bit above style, but the guidelines are a bit stringent, so I wasn’t too worried about it.  First runnings bore this out.

2016_05_21_iPhone 524

First runnings from the Kölsch

Primary fermentation was for two weeks at about 56°.  The beer was racked off the yeast and spent four weeks in secondary fermentation lagering at about 36°. Actual original gravity was 1.060 and final gravity was 1.015 for a 5.9% ABV.

When I filtered the beer, I used my plate filter.  I was a little annoyed because I forget to check which filters I had.  Normally I use 1 micron bright filter pads, but all I had were some 4 micron pads.  I thought “Oh well.  Hopefully it will be clear and bright when I’m finished.”

It sure looked good when I transferred it to the first keg prior to pushing it through the filter!


Unfiltered and Uncarbonated – looks good, tastes great!!

Filtering took a long, long time.  I started pushing the beer at about 5 psi from the system  and after about 15 minutes upped it to 10 psi because the flow was so slow into the post-filter keg.  I didn’t time it, but I’m estimating it took between 60 and 90 minutes for all the beer to be pushed through the filter.

I force carbonated the beer (30 psi rolling the keg on its side for 2:30) and set it in the chest freezer to settle.

When I dismantled the plate filter and removed the filter, I was surprised at how much yeast had been trapped.  I don’t think I ever had this much yeast trapped on the 1 micron pad!  It might also explain why it took so long for the beer to be filtered.  Flow must have been greatly reduced!

Filter Pads

Filter pads caked with yeast

Looking at this, it occurs to me that I normally have the plate filter turned so it is resting on its side (kind of like a coin standing on edge).  This time, I had the plate filter flat.  I’m guessing the more heaving caked filter pad was on the bottom of the plate filter, so it accumulated more yeast.  The other filter really only has yeast on half of the pad.  It makes me think that I should flip the plate filter over half-way through filtering.

I pulled the first draft of the about an hour later.  It came out excellent!  Looks great too!

Konfrontational Kölsch!

Konfrontational Kölsch!




Posted in All-grain Brewing, Beer, Homebrewing, Kölsch, Kolsch, Kolsch, Style | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Batch 127 – Weihnachtsbier (All-Grain)

This Thanksgiving, I decided to brew an all-grain version of my Christmas Ale or Weihnahctsbier.  I had converted, along with a bunch of other recipes, my extract and grain recipe of Weihnachtsbier to an all-grain recipe.  This is what the all-grain recipe consisted of:

  • 9 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 1.5 pounds of Caramunich 1 (35°L)
  • 0.5 pounds of Caramunich 3 (56°L)
  • 0.8 ounces of Perle hops (8.9 percent alpha acid)
  • 0.50 ounces of Hallertau hops (3.8 percent alpha acid)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 grams of cinnamon stick
  • White Labs WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast

Here are the assembled ingredients:

2016_05_21_iPhone 010

Weihnacthsbier Ingredients

I wasn’t thrilled that the homebrew store didn’t have any European Ale Yeast (WLP 011) and that I had to settle on a slightly out-of-date East Coast Ale tube.  I’m getting increasingly disenchanted by the local homebrew store.

My wife was also out of cinnamon sticks, so I did a quick grab of these Baria cinnamon sticks.  Big mistake.  They were totally lacking in aroma.  When I last made this batch, I was cautious because the smell of the cinnamon sticks were so strong and I didn’t want to overpower the beer.  This time, the cinnamon ended up being barely perceptible except for a slight hint at the end.

Brew day was unremarkable.  My homebrewing software predicted that the original gravity would be around 1.056 or 1.058.  I ended up at 1.062 at 70 degrees, which again left me pleased with the efficiency I get from a single mash and sparge regimen.

I let it ferment for about two weeks before I transferred it for what I intended to be a short secondary before I would keg and carbonate it.  On December 11 when I was going to transfer it, the final gravity was still a bit too high (1.022 against a target of 1.018).  So I let the beer sit out at room temperature for a few days.  I then put it into the chest freezer at about 36°.

I finally kegged and carbonated the beer on January 2, 2016.  A little late for Christmas, but then I figured I was early for Russian Christmas!!

2016_05_21_iPhone 145

First of the 2015/2016 Weihnachtsbier

I was a little slow on everything this Christmas.  I didn’t even get around to making my kapustnica until New Year’s Eve.  But it was still good!

2016_05_21_iPhone 139

Kapustnica – Good Stuff!!

Overall, it came out pretty well, but the spices were a bit subdued.  Oh well.  I’ll give it another shot again this November.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Beer, Christmas Beer, Homebrewing, Style, Weihnachtsbier | Leave a comment

I Want to Visit this Brewery!

The Lanius Brewery in Trenčín, Slovakia caught my eye.  We visited Trenčín some years ago, but the brewery wasn’t there at the time.

I like the stained glass windows for each of the beers and the way they have a rotating roster of beers.  It is what I strive for in my homebrewing – doing different styles that go with the seasons and trying different styles now and then.

Posted in Breweries | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Batch 126 – Weizenbock (All-Grain): Part 3 of a Messed Up Experiment

Weizenbock brew day came around when it was time  to transfer the Schwarzeweizenbock off its yeast.  Like the other beers I have made since I started all-grain brewing, this recipe was converted from my extract and grain Weizenbock recipe (most successfully executed last year).

The converted recipe consists of:

  • 7.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 7.0 pounds Wheat Malt
  • 1.0 pound Rice Hulls
  • 0.5 pounds Munich (10°)
  • 4 ounces Melanoidin Malt (20°)
  • White Labs 351 (Bavarian Weizen Yeast) reused from Batches 122 and 124
2015_11_25_iPhone 168

Batch 126 – Weizenbock

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1079
  • Final Gravity:  1020
  • ABV:  7.9%
  • 18 IBU
  • 4.8° Lovibond

The brew day went smoothly (I think I’m starting to get the hang of this).  But I again ended up undershooting my target original gravity, with this batch coming in at 1.070.

After two weeks of primary fermentation, the beer, having been put on the substantial yeast bed remaining after the Schwarzeweizenbock was done fermenting, had an actual final gravity of 1.008, well below the target gravity of 1.020.  Like the previous Weizenbock batch (Batch 112), the finish results in a ABV of around 8.1 percent.  Again, I was very pleased with the color and flavor.

2015_11_25_iPhone 280

Happily, the color was not affected by being put on the yeast from the Schwarzeweizenbock

Since the end of September, this beer has been lagering in the chest freezer waiting for the substantial inventory of kegged beer to be consumed.  My chest freezer was a little full at this point.

2015_11_25_iPhone 308

I might be able to squeeze one more keg in there…

Now, nearly two months later, I’m down to two kegs and the Weizenbock still in the carboy.  Once I put a dent in the Schwarzeweizenbock, it will be time to keg and carbonate the Weizenbock.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Homebrewing, Weizenbock, Weizenbock | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Batch 125 – Munich Dunkel Lager (All-Grain)

A few weeks after the Dunkelweizen Schwarzeweizenbock brewday, I made the last of the three batches that I would be serving at a scaled back Oktoberfest party that we had decided to hold the first weekend of October.  I first had to decide what beer would accompany the Festbier and the Märzen.  For previous Oktoberfest parties, I would serve a Märzen, and usually a hefeweizen and a Bavarian-style lager.  But with the Festbier, I decided I would make a beer more along the lines of a Munich Dunkel Lager.

As I recall, this recipe is mostly my creation and includes:

  • 7.0 pounds of Pilsner Malt
  • 2.75 pounds Munich Malt (20°)
  • 6 ounces of Crystal Malt (60º)
  • 4 ounces Cara-Munich Malt (40º)
  • 2 ounces Cara-Munich Malt (60º)
  • 2 ounces Chocolate Malt (350°)
  • 2.0 ounces Hallertau Hops (3.8%)
  • SafLager W34/70 Yeast (reused from the Märzen)
Batch 125 - Munich Dunkel Lager

Batch 125 – Munich Dunkel Lager

My targets, based on Brew Pal, are:

  • Original Gravity:  1055
  • Final Gravity:  1013
  • ABV:  5.5%
  • 25 IBU
  • 15.0 Lovibond

Brew day was, happily, uneventful.  The original gravity came out a little below target at 1.050.  Putting the beer on the left over Märzen yeast resulting in a pretty quick fermentation.  After about 10 days in primary, the gravity was at 1.012.  When I transferred the beer to secondary two weeks later, the gravity measurement of 1.010 was below the target final gravity.  The beer had a short lagering period of a little more than two weeks at 45 degrees.  When I filtered, kegged and carbonated the beer, the color and flavor of the beer was better than I hoped.

Nice color for the Dunkel Lager

Nice color for the Dunkel Lager

Now everything was ready for the Oktoberfest party.  But that is a post for another day.

Posted in All-grain Brewing, Dunkel Lager, Homebrewing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment