Archive | September, 2011

Fermentation Chamber Update

25 Sep

We’re (I’m) building a fermentation chamber. There’s a lot of options out there, from buying old fridges or freezers, to building your own. I wanted the flexibility of building your own, with hopefully some of the cost savings. My goal in particular was to build a chamber that could be used for 2 purposes: one chamber to ferment ales in, and one chamber to lager beers and cold-condition kegs. Rather than hunt for 2 freezers or fridges, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it work by building a single chamber with dual temperature controls.

I also wanted it to be big enough to be able to fit up to 4 carboys and/or buckets, and I also wanted it to be tall enough so that it could fit a 14 gallon conical fermentor down the road. Lots of people cool their boxes with refrigerators, but that takes up a lot of space, and the compressor on a fridge might not be able to handle a bigger box. I’d read about people using window A/C units for their fermentation boxes, and since summer was ending I thought I’d be able to get a good deal on one.

So the final design is two separate boxes made out of 2×4 framing and plywood sheathing that will be insulated with 2″ foam sheathing, tape and spray foam. It’s around 45″ high and 35″ by 35″ , a little bigger than I was thinking but it’s going to be perfect to ferment and store lots of beer. The side with the A/C unit will be the cold side, and I’ll find a way to bypass the A/C’s thermostat to be able to bring it down to lagering temps. The second box will be hooked up to the first, and connected with air baffles and computer fans that’ll be activated to pull cold air in as needed.

This weekend I build the first (the cold side) box. I haven’t insulated it yet, but the box is in and the A/C unit is in place.

Pretty exciting!

-The Brewmaster

The frame with the A/C unit installed

This is the frame I built, out of 2x4s

And finally, the fermentation box waiting to be sealed and insulated. And to get a door, of course.

What should we brew next?

22 Sep

Next Brew Day: 10/3 and 10/15

22 Sep

Next two brew days are scheduled.

Monday, 10/3, 6pm. Rookie Night!
On 10/3 we’re instituting a new feature of the CDBC: Rookie Night!
If you haven’t yet brewed, and are interested in brewing your own beer, or if you’re still getting a handle on the process and don’t want to dive into all-grain brewing, we’re going to get together on the first Monday of every month to help you. We’ll brew an extract batch, which is FAR easier than all-grain. New and beginning brewers will be invited to pick the recipe and brew the beer, with as much help and guidance from the experienced brewers as they want! We’ll bottle three weeks later at the next all grain-day, and you can take it all home with you (less a small donation to the CDBC). It’s your chance to learn to brew!
So we need a volunteer, preferably a beginner. Who’s up for learning to brew?

Saturday, 10/15, 10am. All grain brew, TBA. 
We’ve been making lots of IPAs and CDAs and such. I think it’d be fun to go towards a different style, so let’s make a Brown Porter or some other dark, malty beer. Recipe suggestions?

See you soon!
The Brewmaster

Shot o’ the Dark Recipe

19 Sep
BeerSmith Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Shot o' the Dark
Brewer: Central District Brewer's Collective
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Oatmeal Stout
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.00 gal      
Boil Size: 8.24 gal
Estimated OG: 1.071 SG
Estimated Color: 37.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 23.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
12 lbs        Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        74.07 %       
1 lbs 3.2 oz  Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        7.41 %        
14.4 oz       Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        5.56 %        
9.6 oz        Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM)                Grain        3.70 %        
9.6 oz        Roasted Barley (500.0 SRM)                Grain        3.70 %        
9.6 oz        Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        3.70 %        
4.8 oz        Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)                Grain        1.85 %        
0.53 oz       Magnum [14.00 %]  (90 min)                Hops         20.9 IBU      
0.53 oz       Saaz [4.00 %]  (10 min)                   Hops         2.0 IBU       
0.60 oz       Saaz [4.00 %]  (0 min)                    Hops          -            
1.00 T        Pumkin Pie Spice (Boil 5.0 min)           Misc                       
1.20 items    Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 min)          Misc                       
1.20 tsp      Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days)         Misc                       
29.00 oz      Canned Pumpkin (Boil 60.0 min)            Misc                       
29.00 oz      Canned Pumpkin (Mash 60.0 min)            Misc   

Actual Pre Boil Gravity: 1.046
Actual OG: 1.062
Efficiency: 65%
Final Batch size: 5 gallons

Brew Day Report: Shot o’ the Dark Pumpkin Stout

19 Sep

Hi all,

Great brew day on Saturday! We successfully made around 5 gallons of our Shot o’ the Dark Pumpkin Stout, which is fermenting away in the brewery as I write this.

We used the recipe pasted below, but scaled to aim for 6 gallons at the end of the boil (which usually gives us at least 5 gallons that make it into the carboy).

We started the day by setting up the new brew tent, to shelter us from the rain.

We added a can of pumpkin to our strike water (shown with head brewer/brewer's head) and another can to the boil.

We added roasted pumpkin seeds to the mash, too.

This was a pretty cool beer to design and brew. We started with a basic oatmeal stout recipe, in terms of proportions of grains and hop scheduled, and then adjusted the ingredients based on what Elysian posted on their website about their Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout. The hitch: 1) I’ve never had one of those beers and 2) I have no idea what proportions to use for that beer. So it was cool trying to guesstimate what we should use in the brew.

We ended up with the recipe below, and added pumpkin spice and vanilla at the end of the boil to try to give it a little (but not too much) pumpkin pie flavor.

Kylene also roasted the pumpkin seeds for us and carved our first CDBC pumpkin, which was pretty awesome to have it watching over the brew.

We finally pitched the beer over a yeast cake and trub from the Count’s Red Ale, and it was already fermenting within a couple of hours.

A few puzzles for us, though. Our our pre-boil gravity was around 1.046 (target was 1.059), so we got substantially less conversion than we’d expected. We mashed at around 156 or so, although some time was spent at >160ish waiting for the tun to cool down (our strike water was around 183, which was probably too hot). We ended up with around 8.50 gallons pre-boil, and had measurements of 7.75 gallons (and 1.055) at 30 minutes, 7.5 gallons (and 1.058 ish) at 45 minutes, so we increased our boil time to 75 minutes hoping to get the gravity up. But the hydrometer reading at the end was only 1.062 in the carboy, although the reading from the pot was more like 1.066. So we undershot our gravity, which was unexpected. It could be that the trub from the Count’s ale actually lowered our gravity reading, but it’s not entirely clear. At any rate, it was a good brew day! The checklist was super helpful; we had very few incidents due to the checklist.

The CDBC Pumpkin oversaw the boil, and an indoor/outdoor cornhole tournament.

Jack looks upon the mash with approval.We got a nice rolling boil going.

The CDBC Pumpkin oversees the mash

The great pumpkin got the fermentation going in no time!

Updates from the Brewmaster

14 Sep

Every once in a while (especially when I’m trying to put off other work), I’ll try to update you all on what I’ve been doing with the brewery when you’re not around.

Adventures in Dry Hopping with Simcoe: Tragically Hopped Amber Ale

We’re lucky enough to live in a part of the country that is really close to where the majority of hops are produced. That means that when the hops are harvested, we often get first dibs on the hops, and can make “fresh hop” beers more easily than almost anywhere else.

So I ordered a pound of fresh Simcoe hops (because they are a CDBC favorite). You’re supposed to use them within a few days of when you get them. Unfortunately for me, Mountain Homebrew emailed me to say that my hops would be arriving on Friday, 9/5, the exact day I was leaving for a trip to Winthrop. Luckily for us, you can dry-hop with fresh hops, and we’d just brewed round #2 of the Tragically Hopped Amber Ale the week before. So, BLAMMO, those hops got pwned right into the Amber:
One half pound of fresh Simcoe awesomeness. Apparently the water content of fresh hops makes them equivalent to about 20% the same weight of dried whole or pellet hops, so this was like adding around 2 ounces of dried Simcoe.

Kegging Update

I spent some time cleaning the whole kegerator system and the kegs themselves.

I also kegged the amber ales (coming in at 7% ABV)  last night so we can bottle them off of the BeerGun, and added a half gallon of “hop tea” to one keg. I did this by making a light wort with 6 ounces of DME and a half gallon of water, boiling it, and then adding 1 ounce each of Amarillo, Warrior and Centennial to the “tea” in a hop bag after I turned the flame off. I let it steep for about 10 minutes, then cooled the wort and added it to the bottom of the keg before filling the keg up. This may add some nice hop aroma to the beer, or it may completely kill the beer. We’ll see!

Right now we have 4 kegs of beer in the kegerator, almost all of which are scheduled for bottling: the Brown Ale and IPA from the Pork n Pie (ready to bottle this Saturday), and the 2 kegs of Amber Ale.

The Count’s Red Ale

Finally, we’ve been commissioned by The Count vonAbbittstein himself to brew a beer for his annual Halloween Spooktacular (or something). Scott and I met last Wednesday to conduct this mission, trying out a new Red Ale Recipe (adapted from

The brew went well, with no major hiccups. We achieved an efficiency in the low 70s, and hit most of our targets spot on. It’s fermented quite nicely already, and is in the final week or so of conditioning before it’ll be ready to be kegged.

Recipe: The Count’s Red Ale (Mojave Red)

Brewer: Central District Brewer's Collective
Asst Brewer:
Style: American Amber Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 8.24 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 18.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 39.7 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU
11 lbs 5.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        83.54 %
11.0 oz       Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)     Grain        5.06 %
11.0 oz       Caramel/Crystal Malt - 80L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        5.06 %
5.5 oz        Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        2.53 %
5.5 oz        Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        2.53 %
2.7 oz        Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                     Grain        1.27 %
0.53 oz       Warrior [18.20 %]  (60 min)               Hops         28.6 IBU
0.53 oz       Columbus (Tomahawk) [13.00 %]  (10 min)   Hops         6.7 IBU
0.53 oz       Amarillo Gold [8.50 %]  (10 min)          Hops         4.4 IBU
0.60 oz       Citra [12.00 %]  (0 min)                  Hops          -
0.60 oz       Columbus (Tomahawk) [13.00 %]  (0 min)    Hops          -
0.60 oz       Amarillo Gold [8.50 %]  (0 min)           Hops          -
2.68 gm       Salt (Mash 60.0 min)                      Misc
8.05 gm       Epsom Salt (MgSO4) (Mash 60.0 min)        Misc
13.41 gm      Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min)  Misc
10.73 gal     Randy Mosher Adjustment to Seattle Water  Water
1 Pkgs        American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)          Yeast-Ale                  

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13.54 lb
Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp
60 min        Mash In            Add 16.93 qt of water at 165.9 F    154.0 F

Brew Day: September 17th: Now Tripel-Dubbel Header Day!!

9 Sep

Just a little update, we will be brewing a Pumpkin beer. I don’t think we have the final recipe yet. Brew day is Sunday September 18th, Saturday, September 17th at 11am.  it’s a Sunday during football season, but we all have smart phones to follow the games right?

Let’s celebrate (or mourn) the end of summer and the coming of Fall and Winter with a festival of beer, cornhole and soccer.

This Tripel-Dubbel Header Day will try to combine sports AND beer.
This includes:
1. Backyard Cornhole Tournament. Set up teams, keep score, try to keep Indy from eating the bags.
2. Belgian Beer Tasting. Go to the store and find any Dubbels, Tripels, Quadruppels, and any other Belgian Beer that you think looks interesting. Bring a bottle or two to share. As always, there will also be CDBC beer on tap, and possible some Lucille IPA if enough people RSVP.
3. Sounders Game. We can all bus or cab or drive to the Sounders game around 5:30pm

After that, in the following weeks we are looking to brew a porter and some high gravity beers. If you haven’t brewed for a while, you really should come on by and checkout our full stationary system. No more lifting pots of boiling wort!

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