@elsux0r: Mos Def, Ruination is one of my Fav IPA's as well. Come to think of it, its been a while since i've had some, i'll have to pick some up soon.
@Vampir: The mash itself takes an hour. Technically conversion from starch to sugar can occur around 45 minutes in, but the hour provides a safety buffer. As for milling my grain, I used to have a local homebrew store that had a fantastic electric mill, but since I moved out of the city I order my ingredients through Austin Homebrew Supply. Their prices are good and their milled grain is pretty good. I just ask for a fine crush with my order and they usually accommodate. I have hit my numbers spot on with all of my brews using their grain, so they are doing something right. I can get around 83% efficiency from my grain based on that crush and my own methods.
That's awesome. I like in an apartment so space is tight for all of the equipment, but I have fermented my own beer using a kit before (the wet kits, not the dry ones). You can still tweak them a bit to your liking (adding oats or coffee and cloves to a stout or a handful of varieties of hops to an IPA) but you get to skip the wort step and cooldown which is where most of the mess happens, in my experience.
Like a decent wine kit, the wet kits aren't cheap, though. But you still get about 23L of beer (maybe 60 bottles) for about $40. Here in Canada, at least, that's significantly less than beer from a liquor store, and as long as you don't screw up the sanitizing process, it'll taste far better too.
I only stopped doing it because I found that having so much beer lying around was an incredible temptation...plus, I didn't have adequate cold storage for all the beer, which cut down on its shelf life a bit. I do miss it, though, that kit made a fantastic stout.
Late to the party, but this is an amazing read and an amazing thread. I haven't had much of a taste for beer over the last week or two, but looking at those pics and the process...yeah, turned that around. Those brews look delicious.
I was hoping to try some of your brews at PAX East this year, but didn't realize that you were the guy supplying the staff at the Rock Band party until I asked Jeff at JJ Foley's and the beer was long gone. Hopefully I'll be able to make it to PAX East next year...
I am already planning to have a batch of chocolate mint stout this year!
...because this sounds so damn good and I want to try some.
@elsux0r: How many different brews do you make or are you just regularly coming up with completely new flavors? I think my favorite part of this process is that it seems like you can kind of just throw in all kinds of ingredients and come up with something delicious and completely unique.
What are you planning for PAX East? I live in Massachusetts and I am thinking about checking out some of this stuff.
@thebroken: I try to do a new recipe every time I brew, but I archive everything I make so that I can make it again if it turns out really well. Sometimes I will stick with a fairly similar base style and just change small things about the recipe, like varietal of hops, smaller malt additions, etc. It's fun to experiment but it is also fun to know a recipe is popular and make more of it. Most of my "new" recipes start as variations on recipes I already made and enjoyed, with subtle tweaks. Sometimes I brew the same beer with a new name (my Badass President Centennial Amber was re-named My Notebook: Amber for PAX).
This year for PAX East, my current plan is to have a batch of chocolate mint stout (a standby recipe that I have brewed a bunch) and a new IPA custom-made for the guys. My stout is around 6% ABV, the IPA will probably be a double IPA and clock in around 8% ABV. Scoring a taste of the brews is tough at PAX - I will likely be getting a hotel room this year and thus will bring both kegs with me, but we'll see what the situation is come PAX time. It may be in limited supply, but expect that the gentlemen will be drinking out of suspicious red cups at this year's panel just like they were last year, haha
Hopefully we can finagle a more wide-spread tasting this year!
As for your other question, brewing is just a hobby of mine. I'm a full time English teacher at a local high school, so that keeps me pretty busy. Brewing is my weekend thing!
I made the 1800+ mile trek from NE Mississippi (a state with awfully backwards "blue" laws) to PAX Prime last weekend. The only locally available IPA is Sam Adams' Latitude 48. It tastes pretty good, I think, though it's almost too floral. There are a few places locally here that have decent beer selections, but for the most part you're lucky if the place you're buying at has anything outside the Big Three (Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Coors). Anyway, While in Seattle, I had what may be my current favorite IPA. There was a place called Rock Bottom that had its own microbrews, 2 of which were IPA's. The one I enjoyed most was called the Hop Bomb. It actually wasn't ridiculously hoppy, I think the IBU was somewhere in the 70s. It was nice to go somewhere with some variety in selection beyond the norms. I'm hoping to be at PAX East next year and I would love to try out your brew!
SUPER UPDATE WITH PICTURES!
So, I kegged the beer today! Some of you may have actually heard me announce that to Patrick over the Big Red Phone, in fact, and it is no less true! Vinny's beer is kegged and in the kegerator carbonating! I took some photos to show the process. It isn't very exciting but I wanted to document as much as I could so people could see. Enjoy!
First, I fill my kegs with sanitizer. I kegged three different beers today, hence the pile of kegs!
Once the beer is in the keg, I bring the whole thing into my bar room and hook the keg up to the CO2. The beer goes into the kegerator after the pressure is set.
After that, it's basically a waiting game as the beer carbonates. However, a good brewer always samples his brew at every stage in the process. At this point, it's beer. It tastes very close to the final product, only without any carbonation. Here's the first pour through of Vinny's beer!
I hope you guys are enjoying these updates!
This is an awesome looking setup elsux0r. How long have you been brewing for? And what's the best way you find to go about sanitizing and cleaning everything you're using?
I ask because I'm about 1.5 weeks into the primary fermentation of my first batch of mead, and I'm going to be moving on to beer after that's banged out. The hardest thing, the most annoying perhaps, but also the thing that I paid the most attention to, was making sure everything had boiling water poured on it, and was sanitized with sodium metabisulfite.
@GPink: I use an acid sanitizer called Star San. You can get about 32 oz. of it for 15 bucks. It is the BEST, and when it foams up the foam breaks down into yeast nutrient. It's kinda pricey but it saves a huge amount of hassle.
I have been brewing for a few years, but it is a hobby that I fell headlong into, so I pretty much go for broke with each batch.
TASTE TEST UPDATE:
Second day on the CO2 and I am starting to taste some small hints of bubbles. Great flavor on the beer, although it is a little more roasty and a little less hoppy than I had planned for. Once it's fully carbonated and cleared I'll have a better idea, but so far so good!
Your kegorator looks homemade. Do you have a link to instructions on how to do that? I brew beer, too, but I've only ever bottled my stuff. Having a kegorator available would be awesome. Plus the carbonating seems like it goes faster (4 days instead of 1 to 2 weeks).
It takes a lot of the problems out of bottling - you carbonate your beer faster (four to seven days), your beer carbonates more evenly, and you can store the beer easier. And, if you want bottles, you can build a cheap contraption that allows you to bottle from your keg tap to share beer. I have growlers that I can fill from my tap and bring to parties, and I can also bottle a six pack to ship (like I will be doing for Vinny). Do it!
I've heard multiple stories and watched multiple TV shows and movies where brewing beer results in bottles exploding and making gunshot noises in the middle of the night. I don't need that...
My dad has been brewing beer for over 10 years and that has never happened.. lol. He did, however, have a glass carboy explode.. lmao
So did you use the Vanilla and Cinnamon during the primary boil, or did you let it ferment with the wort? I'm going to make a citrus Canadian for the first time and am thinking of adding some spice to it, just would like to know what stage would be good for a hint of flavor like you did. Thanks again ;D