Yesterday I stepped outside of the box. Granted it was a baby step, but step none the less. For the first time I brewed a batch of beer without buying a brewing kit. With a brewing kit you have everything measured for you and all the grains, sugars and hops chosen. Yesterday I brewed 5 gallons of an Anchor Steam Beer clone from a recipe I found online.
It was an odd recipe. There was a relatively small amount of grains and LOTS of malt extract (sugar.) This made mixing the two with only one gallon of water somewhat bothersome, but not too difficult. (It required a lot of stirring.) What was unexpected was the amount of foam this created. The foam caused the ingredients to double in size. (I use a 5 gallon stainless steel brew tank.) This size tank provides adequate room for 2 gallons of a good rolling boil. But this time because my ingredients doubled and then increased again when they started to boil the surface of the boil was within an inch of the rim of the brewing tank for the entire first boil with hops. What was even odder was if I stirred it the foam increased. I had to control the boil with temperature only. Very strange. After adding the second hops the foam settled down and with the third it was boiling and brewing normally.
So, now it ferments for two weeks (until the specific gravity stabilizes,) then 10 days of conditioning as the beer carbonates in the bottle. So, check back in about a month and see the results of this experiment.
Oh!! I almost forgot. The big experiment here is the use of lager (bottom fermenting) yeast rather than ale (top fermenting) yeast. As you no doubt know lager fermentation temperature ranges 50-65 deg F and Ale yeasts thrive in the range of 55 – 80 F. (well within Florida room temperature.) It turns out the yeast (San Francisco Lager Yeast) used for Anchor Steam (California Common) type beers will ferment in the range of 55-75 F which happens to be right about where my office (and fermentation room) temperature is maintained. This is the first time i will try a lager yeast at room temperature. Wish me luck!
For any hop heads who may stop by there is the recipe:
- 7 pounds, John Bull plain light malt extract
- 1/4-1/2 pound, crystal malt
- 2 ounces, Northern Brewer hops (11 alpha) (boil)
- 1 ounce, Cascade hops (5.6 alpha) (finish)
- 2 packs, lager yeast
With 7 lbs of malt extract (that is a lot!) I went with the higher range (1/2 lb) of crystal malt (the grains.) The local brew supply shop did not have any Northern Brewer hops so i substituted Challenger for the Northern. Both are similar in alpha acids (Norther Brewer range from 6-10% and the Challenger range from 6.5-8.5%)
I used 1/3 of the Challenger for each the bitter, flavor and aromatic hops. (20 min boil for each.) Usually the finishing hops are added for the last 5 minutes or so of the boil, but this recipe called for them to be added at the end, after the boil time is over and between the time the wort is removed from the heat and cooled.
I also added 1/2 teaspoon of Irish Moss where there was 30 min left in the boil. I haven’t used this before but it is supposed to coagulate the unstable malt proteins so they will settle out of the wort. Presumably this will result in a cleaner less bitter beer.