Mix and go graff

My cider cider keg is getting low so need to get it filled soon. The black graff went over well so I’ll make another one. 

This time I’ll go back to the lighter version I used to make. Like today’s Reds Apple ale. 

  • 1 prehopped extract beer kit
  • 4 gallons apple juice or cider
  • Yeast of your choice  

I wanted to used an ESB kit but they were out, so I grabbed this old ale kit. I’m guessing it will be a bit more raisiny but that should be just fine. I’ll just be using the enclosed yeast packet this time around. 

Easy stuff here. I just heated up a gallon of water and stirred in the extract. Just wanna get it liquid enough to pour into the carboy
(If your extract is still hot that’s fine, but pour in a gallon of your juice first to buffer the heat or you’ll probably break the carboy)

Pour in the rest of the juice and add your yeast. That’s it.

Take your graff home and let it ferment.

I have a cider keg and line now, but used to bottle this Same carbonation as beer so prime how ever you normally do. 

This came out with an OG of 1.06o



Lets face it. Brewing beer is easy. Real easy. Once you find your groove you sometimes go on autopilot.

You know your basic flight path, take off and landing routines. And if something minor occurs you can quickly course adjust and get back on track.

But then there are days when autopilot mode goes off course, but because you have become so trusting, you dont see the problem until its too late to turn back.

This past weekend was one of those situations.

I was brewing my Russian Imperial. Not a regular brew of mine, but one I’ve done a few times, so I used my regular recipe. Everything seem was normal except that I got a new phone and didnt have my app installed yet. So I get the app loaded on the new phone and put in the details.

I take a quick glance compare old phone recipe to new one to make sure they match up, and they appear to do so. Well ok, they are off a few points, but nothing much.

Probably have a setting off a bit, but they are very very close, it will be ok. (first warning sign)

Read the recipe, heat the water, start the mash.. Blah blah blah.

Hmmm this mash seems pretty damn thin,, that must be where the setting is off.

(second warning sign)

But looks like it will even out.

Right here I knew something was wrong. And even when I was getting ready to start heating the sparge water, I looked again because the amounts just seemed off. (third warning) But I ran the water calcs thru my head and they did come out reasonably close. So,, keep going.

During sparge I emptied, and filled once and was done. Again right here I knew,, I KNEW,,, Something was not right. I actually said to my to myself that it seems weird that I’m not rinsing more. (fourth warning) But, I wrote it off as being a big beer, so might be a bit different.

But I keep on going. Starting to heat to boil. But AGAIN, my flight alarm is flashing, and I run the volumes thru calculation again because something in the back of my head is saying something is not right. (fifth warning)

But, I end up with the right amount. So with a good to go signal from the pre boil volume,, I continued on.

Boil. Chill. All good. As I’m draining into fermenter I literally say out loud to myself, “hey, I never took any readings” I better get one now.

WTF! I’m supposed to be about 1.105 and I’m sitting at 1.085! Holy hell,, thats a lot to be off. And not a whole lot I can do now.

Immediately, my brain says “the mash” I knew it. I KNEW IT! I knew when it was happening that I somehow got water volumes messed up.

It should been a thicker mash with less water upfront, leaving more water to rinse and sparge with, to get those loose sugars out.

And I knew that,, but I just left it go without thinking. Even after 5 warnings that something was wrong.

But you how I could have realized my mistake? Thats right. Checking my gravity.


If I had checked my pre boil gravity, I would have seen right then and there what was going on. Although the mash process was already messed up, I still could have taken action and fixed it,, or at least gotten closer.

I could have quickly heated some more sparge water did another sparge and took some more heavy wort off. Sure my volume would have been over, but a slightly longer boil fixes that too.

Brewing is easy,, but you still have to pay attention.

My mistake here wasn’t my entering the recipe into the app wrong so much as it was that I didn’t follow the simple procedures.

Check those numbers when you’re supposed to check those numbers. And don’t get complacent.  

Setting up the Imperial

Russian Imperial–

Our Local contest has a “special” category each year. One that forgoes any style guidelines, and is judged solely on taste and impressions.

This year,, 2017,, is Russian Imperial Stout.

And once again I’m a bit behind. But still a good 6 months out so If I can get it in the can now,, we should be alright.

(this is how I thought it out and came to my recipe after a few trials and errors)

Now this is a style that I am familiar with. Familiar with,, not expert with. These bigger beers are a tough brew. Its very easy to over compensate. Especially when you read the descriptions of this RIS

“Overall Impression: An intensely-flavored, big, dark ale

with a wide range of flavor balances and regional

interpretations. Roasty-burnt malt with deep dark or dried

fruit flavors, and a warming, bittersweet finish. Despite the

intense flavors, the components need to meld together to create

a complex, harmonious beer, not a hot mess.”

A lot of people see the “intense” and “roasty burnt”, but don’t see that last part,, meld together. The most often overlooked part of the entire guideline. So many Imp stouts I’ve had are ashtray roasted grained to deth, or hop bombed, or sickening sweet. All of that needs to play together not one standing out over the other. All while being it stouty self.


And I think most of those things are interconnected. Mostly starting with the over sweetness. These beers have huge starting gravities. 1.075 and usually alot higher.  This means that even though the alcohol is high, so is the final gravity. 1.020 to 1.030 or even higher! That’s a lot of sweet left behind.

But when one reads the guidelines you will see it reads,, full or extremely full body,, and try to equate this to high mash temps when there really is no need to. Those high final gravities are more than enough body. The high mash usually leads to that over sweetness. Keeping mash temps in the 150 range really helps the sweet problem with not much worry about being thin.

So now that the sweet is under control, you don’t need to boost the roast to overcome it.

While the black malts will still be used more than your average low baller like a Dry Irish stout, they don’t need to rip your face off.  And the kind of black malts does make a difference. Especially in a beer like this that’s going to aged for a while.

Normally I wouldn’t use much, if any chocolate malt or black patent in my every day stouts that are drank fairly quickly because they tend to be overly harsh and sharp tasting in the short term. So I prefer to use roast barley in with those young beers.


But ones that are gonna sit a few months I personally think you need those other black malts. Maybe not a full replacement,, but in greater percentage anyway.

Over a few months of aging the roast seems fall out a bit. Not disappear, but lose its edge a bit and be “softer”  Roast barley starts out much “softer” to begin with, so when it drops out, you notice it.

The harsher black patents and chocolate malts drop out somewhat as well, but they do keep their burnt characteristics much better. So over the course of aging you’ll still have a bit of  those coffee and burnt notes.

So I need to be a bit more aggressive with the roast, but still cant go overboard or I find a wet charcoal flavor.

Hops are a bit easier to figure on such a big, roasty beer like this. Easier because during the aging they really drop out of contention. The bittering level may round off slightly to be smoother with less bite, but will still be there. Its the later hops that do most of the changing.

I personally use very little in the flavoring range (10-15 min) and put the majority of late hops in at flame out to steep for 15, plus a day or two of dry hopping, if you want any kind of hop character at all. Those roasted grains do cover up alot of the hop aroma, so late hopping is what I want.

Now yeast is you biggest concern. You need your yeast to be ready and roaring to go. You dont want it stalling out or dying off and leaving you with black syrup. If you havent mess with starters,, you might wanna think about them here. Or pitch a couple packs of dry yeast.

Or like me,, brew a smaller beer a couple of weeks a head. Keg that beer same day as your brew day and put the stout right on top of that yeast cake. (Warning! Doing this also make for explosive fermentations. Be prepared).

I prefer a British style yeast, but that is personal choice. I usually use Windsor, but have also used US-04.

I usually make 5 gallons of this,, but I am going 3 gallons this time.

Imperial Disruptor Stout. 3 gallon:  ABV 11.36%, IBU 80, OG 1.106, FG 1.021

  • 10lbs pale malt
  • 12oz roast barley
  • 8oz chocolate malt (or black pat)
  • 4oz carapils
  • 4oz crystal 80 (just because I put 80 in nearly everything)
  • 1.5oz centennial @60 min
  • .5oz centennial @10 min
  • 1.5oz centennial@ FO

    Mash @ 150       Windsor yeast cake

The strong ale

Got the British Strong ale brewed yesterday. Had no issues withe the actual brewing. But had to do some quick mods to it. 

I lost like about 1 1/2 pounds of grain in the back seat of the jeep. (Just the Maris Otter. I had the other grain in separate bag.) I had no other grain to make up for it, so I went with less volume. 

I ended up with about 4 1/2 gallons into fermenter. But the numbers were on. Looking at an OG of 1.070

The Windsor yeast explodes in to action as usual. 

Up next.. Brit Strong Ale

Coming up on the next brew. The British Strong ale.

When this category first hit the books for the 2015 styles, I was anxious to brew one. But with no examples to be found, I had to go by the written description only. Which is a fairly non specific scribbling.


Mmmkay.  So, as long as its strong enough, and is “British”-y enough we are good. I have taken all of this to mean something that’s in between a bunch of other beers. Something stronger than a brown ale, well hopped, but not as hoppy as an IPA, and not as strong as a barleywine.

Along the lines of an ESB, but with much darker flavors, (slight roasts, raisin, figs…) But fresh.

So like an Old ale, that’s not aged.  The name is Strong Ale, but by todays standards it more a medium ale. 6-8% with mid range bitterness 30-60.

My first attempt at this beer last year gave me some insight on how some of those flavors work earlier on in the life of a beer. Because normally when I have brewed “old ales” I plan for the long haul.Over hopping and over dark graining a brown ale, because I know by the time the aged qualities start to happen, the hops and some of the malt flavors will have started to fall out.

But keep in mind that unlike an old ale, this is supposed to be drank sooner than later, we needed to subdue some of that. Crystal 80 instead of 120, Lower srm chocolate malts instead of black malt for restrained roasty. Less late hops over all, and moving them twards the flavor zone rather than flameouts. And moving the mash temp down a few degrees as these will be consumed before the body starts to go.

And the biggest improvement is going to be using a British yeast. I used a clean yeast the first time around. But that was mostly on purpose. As I wanted to be able to see which way I needed to adjust the malts, as I was surely expecting for such a little amount of the 80L to have such an effect. But surprisingly I was happy with the result across the board. So I am going to keep things the same except a bit higher mash temp and good old Windsor yeast.

Akatosh- British Strong Ale 17A  6.5% – 55 IBU

  • 10lbs Maris Otter
  • 12oz 80L
  • 1lb aromatic
  • 1oz chocolate malt (350L)
  • 1oz galena 60
  • 2oz east Kent goldings 10
  • Windsor yeast
  • 156 mash temp

Time for the Woot!zenbock

Back in March I brewed a weissenbock.  Been waiting patiently for this one. During OKTOBERFEST this year I finally got into it. 

The last time I made this beer it took quite a few months to develop its profile. 

Did a few tweaks to it this time. Tweaks is a bad word  because most changes were pretty big. Including using all malt instead of half extract. And yeast change. Used S-23 instead of Munich yeast. 

This beer turned out very good. Malty but not over sweet. Just enough hopping to barely notice them. But I think I should go back to the Munich yeast. This S-23 just don’t have the right taste for a bock. 

Still doesn’t have a pronounced wheat to it. And am now considering going rye or partly rye to get some of that bite. 

Halloween beer

Finally got around to brewing after a few months. Had to get the backyard hops used. But I may have waited a bit too long.  But Halloween is closing in and this beer needs to get done one way or another. 

They are a bit dry but not bad and still smell very good. So I picked about a half of a 5 gallon bucket to use as the late hops. 

Backyard IPA. 

  • 1o lbs pale
  • 1 lb 60L
  • 1.5 Oz magnum @60
  • 1/2 bucket of the Mt Hoods @5
  • 1 Oz falconer flight at flame out
  • 05 yeast and mashed at 158

Always hard to get a read on how much extra water to add with homegrown hops, so I used 3/4 gallon more. 

And seemed to be pretty close. Just a tad too much. But shouldn’t be bad. 

Ended up with an OG of 1.058.  And will be ready for Halloween.