Sunday, August 10, 2014

Full Kegerator

Finally. We have a full kegerator. We kegged the porter earlier this week and it is slowly carbonating now. We usually force carbonate and I can get a beer pretty close to all the way carbonated in about 36 hours. This time though, since all the taps are full, we'll slowly carbonate over 10-14 days. The Not Oberon is the closest beer to being empty, so as soon as that one is out, we'll hook up the porter.

The porter finished at 6%, but the samples tasted a little boozier than that. Hopefully when it's carbonated it will mellow out a bit. The English yeast did a good job though, and the samples were nice and malty. Looking forward to tapping it. We'll brew the Gose in the next couple of weeks hopefully, and since we are at capacity now, maybe we'll do some experimenting with Brett in that batch. We'll see

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Porter Beer

Now that we've got several light beers on tap, I thought we would mix it up and brew something dark. I love porters, and I found an interesting looking recipe in BYO from Icicle brewing in Leavenworth Washington called Priebe Porter.

My gravity was a little lower than expected (likely from not get my mash pH high enough) but we need up with a little over 5 gallons at 1064. I decided to use an English Ale yeast despite the recipe being for an American Porter as I had such good results with the first porter I made using the London Ale III strain. It's a good attenuating, high flocculating strain which should help showcase the malty flavors. It was brewed about 12 days ago and I just started cold crashing it down today. Hopefully we'll keg it in a few days and start carbonating.

This will be the first time we've had a beer "on deck" in the aspect that as soon as one keg kicks, we'll be able to hook up another carbonated keg right away and not have any empty tap. I haven't felt many of the kegs lately, but I bet the Not Oberon or the American Pale will the next one to kick. Hopefully it's soon, or I'll have to attach the picnic tap to try some porter beer.

Next up will be a Gose. Gose is an old German style of beer that is slightly sour and salty. Yes salty. It was originally brewed in the early 16th century in Goslar, Germany, which had a higher than average salt content in their water supply. Its light, refreshing, and the tart acidity will make for a great summer beer. We've had a few examples of the style and I am very excited to try and make one myself.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

4 on Tap

Finally, we have 4 beers on tap. The first 2 (Belgian and Not Oberon) are just so-so, but the APA is tasting really good and the Saison is looking promising so far.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Back For Real

Long time since our last post. I could bore you with the same old reasons of being busy, new job, 2 kids, yada yada yada. We'll stick with whats going on now.

We've brewed twice in the last two weeks! We've joined a homebrew club!

First, about the club. We've joined Special Hoperations, a AHA sanctioned club in Tampa. They are newer (with B.E.E.R.S being the older club in the area) but are climbing the ranks quickly in terms of Florida's homebrewing circuit. We've gone to 1 meeting so far with another planned for this weekend. The clubs meets twice a month to discuss styles, upcoming events, and taste each other's beers. I can't wait to bring some of our beers in to get feedback on ways to improve our brews. We are also looking forward to meeting a great group of people who share a passion for homebrewing as well.Elise and I are really excited to start improving in our beer, our brewing process, and our equipment. There are a few things we have in mind like a new cooler, but are also toying with the idea of getting a second fermentation fridge. We'll see what happens with all of that.

As for the beers, the first brew was a Pale Ale with Columbus and Cascade that will be dry hopped with Citra. Should be about 6% and be ready in a couple of weeks. We've been out of hoppy beer on tap, so this will definitely be a big welcome to our draft lineup.

The second beer (brewed last night) was a Saison modeled after Great Divide's Colette. This was a lower gravity saison, with the OG only at 1050, but since the saison yeast attenuates so well, it will still probably be close to 6%. Can't wait to try this one as it will be the hottest we've ever fermented a beer before. We're starting off at about 72 (beer temp) and will increase to probably 75 by the end. Hopefully we'll get some good spicy notes from the yeast to make a great saison.

We've been brewing at night after the boys have gone to bed for the last 2 brews. It's a little bit easier and allows us some time to actually hang out (as opposed to me getting up at the crack of dawn). Needless to say, the photos are a little darker and we've been getting some good use out of our flashlight.

The next batch will be a porter, which is perfect of course for the insanely hot temperatures of Florida. But, I always like to sip on some dark beers at the end of the night, so I want some porter on tap. We'll have to wait for that one until after the saison is done and the pale ale is finished cold-crashing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oberon Clone

We're in Florida now, and Spring is here. It's already pretty warm and feeling like Summer. Luckily, Bell's Brewery brews their Summer beer, Oberon Ale, year-round for Florida. It's a light, refreshing, citrusy wheat beer that we both love to drink outside. I found a clone recipe online and decided to give it a shot.

It was a smooth brew day that started pretty early. I was able to get the grains crushed and my water measured out the night before, so the brew day was very smooth. I actually bought extra ice to assist in the cooling process and with the extra cold water in my immersion chiller, I probably shaved 10-15 minutes off of my day and cooled my beer down to 60 quite easily.

This one will probably end up around 6% and we'll dry hop it with Saaz for some herbal/spicy notes, and then a good amount of Cascade to help provide the citrus aromas. It should be ready in a couple of weeks.

In other news, we're drinking the pale ales and they are both tasting pretty good. Most people so far are preferring the American version (myself included), but I think the Belgian just needs a little more time to mellow out. I am hoping to post some tasting notes, and I'm off this weekend, so we'll see.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New Digs

Finally got around to making our first batch of beer in Tampa. It's been a busy month since we got here, and we are officially out of beer on tap. Seeing as though the kegerator was empty I came up with the idea to brew 10 gallons and use the kegerator as another fermentation fridge. I wanted to do a Pale Ale and Elise came up with the idea to split the batch and use 2 different yeasts. We haven't done a Belgian Pale Ale in forever, so we did 5 gallons with Belgian yeast and 5 gallons with American.

It was a relatively smooth brew day, some of the equipment was still in boxes, but other than that my table worked great and there weren't any hiccups in the garage. The ground water is a lot warmer in Tampa, so I will need to start getting more ice for the chilling phase, but that shouldn't be too big of an issue.

I will dry the American Pale with 2 oz of Citra hop which will be a new one for us. I am going to dry hop in primary, as opposed to the keg, as I think some of the off flavors were actually coming from the bags I was using to hold the hops in the kegs. We'll see. I'll be kegging on Thursday and hopefully we'll be able to drink some early samples on Saturday in time for the Final Four.

18 lbs 2-row
1.7 lb CaraPils
1.3 lb C40
0.2 lb C60

1 oz CTZ at 60
2 oz Cascade at 20
1 oz Cascade at 10
2 oz Citra + 1 oz Cascade at 5 min

Dry Hop (American) 2 oz Citra

Friday, January 24, 2014

2013 Year in Review

2013 was definitely a down year at Rowdy Reptile. Life was exceedingly busy during my residency, add 2 kids on top of that, and there's very little time to drink beer, let alone brew it. As a result, we brewed less than half the volume we've done in the previous 3 years. A total of 9 beers were made in 2013, most being very standard beers: 3 Pale Ales, 3 IPAs, and 3 dark beers; no experimental brews, no seasonal brews, and no Barleywine. Including ingredients and supplies (minus the chest freezer upgrade), our cost per bottle this year was $1.12 or $6.72/6-pack; not bad when you compare that to the $9-11/6-packs you see in the store.


As for the quality of the beers, there were definitely some highs and lows. Our Schwarzbier came out fantastic. It was dark, malty, and very very smooth, and probably my favorite beer of the year. Cody's Panda Watch Pale Ale was another very good beer that we've re-brewed as the first beer of 2014. Unfortunately, not everything was great, and for the first time in 3 years we had to dump a batch of beer for taste reasons. The aluminum monster (aka our boil kettle) built up a scorch/grime over time and since I was under the impression to not scrub aluminum for fear of scratching and ruining the surface, the build up grew enough to eventually impart off flavors into our beer. Darker brews could hide the flavors, but a simple beer, like the SMaSH, was overpowered with an unbearable bitterness rendering it undrinkable.


It seems like every year we also make major equipment upgrades, and this year was no different. Our first year we ugraded to all grain, the 2nd year saw the original kegerator, which we've now ugraded again in year 3. In the Summer we sold our old kegerator and upgraded to an indoor chest freezer, added a 4-tap tower, and tiled the lid to complete the look. More importantly (probably), we got rid of the aluminum monster and are now using a keg as our boil kettle. The stainless steel allows me to scrub as much as I want, and the large capacity (15.5 gallons) will allow me to have the option for 10-gallons batches if needed. It was a very easy switch because the keg was free, and I used the money from the kettle sale to go towards the conversion (i.e., making a hole in the top and drilling/welding fittings near the bottom), so it cost $0 to make a very needed upgrade. Compare that with at least $300 for a 10-gallon stainless steel brewpot, and you can see why I jumped at the opportunity as fast as I did. Also, we finally started buying hops in bulk. The savings are incredible (up to $1/oz less than from the homebrew store) and definitely make brewing hoppy beers easier as I am not afraid to add a lot of hops. Already having a Food Saver helped too, because all we needed to buy were some mason jars and a lid attachment and we were set to go.


Looking ahead in 2014, I have a few goals in mind:

1. Brew more

2. Keep all 4 taps full of beer as much as possible

3. Improve in IPAs (we're finally making some progress)

4. Experiment more (another Brett beer at least)

5. Join a homebrew club


Thanks to anyone who is reading this. Looking forward to another interesting year at Rowdy with hopefully more up's than down's in 2014.