Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Time to fill them kegs!

My last successful brew was August of last year. American Stout is a style I had wanted to tackle for awhile. Compared to Irish Stout, American Stout is higher in alcohol and often has an American hop presence. Once a staple of American craft brewing stalwarts like Sierra Nevada, the style is a bit harder to find these days. This was an example of designing a recipe and nailing it on the first try.

My next attempted brew was several months later. I designed a Christmas Ale recipe using Muntons Connoisseurs Nut Brown Ale extract beer kit as my base. The samples I pulled from the fermenter missed the mark. Then before I could keg the beer, a pelicile formed and the beer was infected. 

Earlier this year I had a double brew day: an all grain Hazy IPA and extract Irish Stout. The IPA was super grassy and undrinkable. I blame this on using old hops and dry hopping for too long. I procrastinated kegging the Irish Stout, and that ended up getting infected like my Christmas Ale. Both batches were drain-pours. I also made a yeast starter for a saison I never brewed, and bought a pitch of yeast for the 2022 Summer Somewhere that is still in my fridge. 

As summer began, my kegs were empty. My favorite time of year and I had no beer to drink. One reason why I brewed so little, and was so unmotivated to package what beers I did make was how cluttered my basement had become. Come May I had to make beer for the Muntons booth at Homebrew Con. That meant I had to do some long overdue spring cleaning and make some beer.

For the booth I made the following:

  • Two Muntons Flagship Hazy IPA kits. These hopped extract kits were easy to make on brew day, just dissolve the kits in water.
  • A ten gallon, partial-mash Hazy IPA made with Muntons new Oat Malt Extract. This was a fun brew. I brewed this with a 5-gallon partial boil, added the Oat Extract at the end of the boil to sterilize, and topped off with 5 gallons of water to get 10 gallons.
  • A 10 gallon all grain Hazy IPA. This was actually my first 10 gallon all grain batch I've brewed at home. 
  • A 5 gallon partial mash Passion fruit Sour made with Muntons new Sour Malt Extract
  • A 5 gallon Vienna Lager made with Muntons new Vienna Malt Extract
In all it took me four days to brew all of this beer. The idea for the three different Hazy IPAs was to do a side-by-side at the booth. This beer needed to be in kegs three weeks before the show to have time to keg condition. After I was done brewing all of these beers for work, I gave my cooler mash tun, Brewers Edge Mash & Boil, 15 gallon kettle, and 8 gallon kettle a deep clean. Four days to make 40 gallons of beer for our booth. That wasn't all the beer I made for Homebrew Con either.

Earlier this year I submitted a seminar proposal to the American Homebrewers Association, which was accepted! If you follow my social media you may have seen that I will be giving a seminar on brewing English Ales. The rationale and motivation behind the seminar deserve it's own post, so I won't go into it here. As part of my seminar I could request beer service. Being able to taste recipes from the seminar, that apply my philosophy in brewing English Ales made too much sense not to do. Lets be honest, a seminar with beer is usually better than a seminar without beer.

Hearkening back to my days brewing in an apartment on an electric stove, I brewed four different 3 gallon brew-in-a-bag batches. I was able to brew these over two separate double brew days. Not sparging did impact my mash efficiency, but the time savings was worth it in this case. I will package these in my three gallon kegs and force carbonate them before driving from the Boston area to Pittsburgh. 

That is 52 gallons of beer, in 12 corny kegs, that I made for and will be driving to Pittsburgh in my Hyundai Elantra. Hopefully I have room for my suitcase, CO2 tank, and jockey box. After all that, when I wanted a beer I had to go to the store. What a sorry state of affairs.

At least all this brewing gave me the impetus to clear out my brewing area and get back into a groove with brewing. If I want homebrew to drink for Independence Day and the rest of the summer, now is the time. Time unfortunately is not on my side. My VP wasn't thrilled I needed as much time to make all this beer for our homebrew team based in the UK. I can squeeze in one more brew day before the show. To make the most of that time I came up with a plan. 

If there is one lesson that was reinforced brewing all of those beers for Muntons was how much of a time saver beer kits and extract brewing can be. I bought the Conneseurs Wheat Beer Kit and a can of Extra Light Malt Extract to re-brew a version of one of my favorite batches from a few years ago. I also have an extra can of the Muntons Sour Malt Extract I will combine with the Extra Light for another batch. Finally I will brew the 2022 vintage of my annual Summer Ale, Summer Somewhere.

By getting these in fermenters before the show, they will be ready to keg when I get back. No need to load up on Summer Shandy, Narragansett or Gennessee Cream Ale. 

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