Tag Archives: hops

McKinley Park Wee Heavy

Got home from going out to breakfast plus a half hour walk. Thought I had nothing else to do today. Had milled grain sitting around from a postponed batch, so I decided to brew up a Wee Heavy. Except this wee heavy is going to have an American twinge to it. This was probably the most grain I’ve ever used at one time. All approximately 20 pounds of grain went into the mash tun with 5 gallons of water. My temp was right around 154, but I did not have complete conversion. I added another gallon to bump the temp up and let it sit for another 30 min. This time was good. I got about 3 gallons in the brew pot and added 5 more gallons to the tun for the sparge. After an hour, I drained off about another 3 gallons and began the boil. While that started I added another gallon of water to the mash and let that sit. My first runnings were 1.093 at 140 deg with refactometer. To start the boil I had a 1.080 initial reading on the refractometer. Below is the recipe. I had some business to conduct so the boil went a little over 1 hour. I also pulled off another gallon from the tun and boiled that separately.

  • 18#  Marris Otter
  • 1# Crystal 40
  • 1# Munich Light
  • 8 oz Special B
  • 2 oz Roasted Barley
  • 1 oz Nugget (14.9% AA) at 60 min
  • 3/8 oz Fuggles (4.2%) at 60 min
  • 1 oz Hallertau (2.7%) at 20 min
  • 3 gallon freezer bags full of homegrown Cascade and Nugget hops at 15 min

Did not get done with the boil until around 7:00 PM and had plans to go out. So, I stuck the brew pot in an ice bath after the wife helped me squeeze wort out of the bag of hop cones. Got home at around midnight. Due to the boil and use of whole cone (or miscalulations) I ended up with only 4 gallons, so I had to add the gallon from the separate boil. This may knock down the IBUs. I pitched Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale yeast. OG was 1.090.

Update 4/3: Bottled after 6 days of dry-hopping with 1 oz of Cascade pellets. Had to use detrose and DME. FG 1.018 so about 9.5% ABV. End of the bottling bucket was fruity, smokey/spicy and bitter.


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Four Hop IPA

I brewed up my American IPA with 4 different kinds of C-hops. I tried to do a “regular” brew with a sparge but could not get mash temp above 150 with the original 3.5 gallons. So I ended up with 4.5-5 in the tun. This have me a gravity reading of 1.058 at 140 deg F and 3.75 gallons in the brew pot. I poured 3.5-4 gallons in tun for sparge. I got about 7 total gallons in the brew pot after an hour plus sparge. The gravity was 1.042 at 120+ degrees. This only comes to a gravity of about 1.050, so I’ve decided to do a 90 minute boil. I’ve got far more that 5 gallons in the pot, and I’d like to get a higher gravity. Even though I’m using some whole hops, I don’t think I’ll loose too much.


  • 12# Two-row
  • 0.45# Crystal 40L
  • 0.45# Crystal 60L
  • 0.5# Carapils
  • 1 oz Columbus 13.4% at 60 min
  • 1 oz Centennial 9.3% at 30 min
  • 2 gallon freezer bags full of backyard hops at 15 min
  • 1 oz Cascade 5.5% at 5 min
  • 1 oz Citra (dry-hop in a couple weeks)
Muku looking for a treat.

Too fast for the camera.

When I shook the first package of hops, Muku came looking for a treat. I am still having problems with my wort chiller. I did realize that the connector I purchased last week is slightly off. The 13/16″ male connection has thinner threads than the threads in the female part of the faucet. I switched back to using the out-take spigot from my mash tun and I forced a smaller tube over it, but I still had leakage at the point where it connects to the chiller. After much aggravation, I got the wort chilled, but my 90 minute boil back-fired. While I got a decent OG of 1.064, I only ended up with 4.5 gallons in the fermentor. I pitched California Ale yeast and off it goes.


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Backyard Pale

Brewed a pale ale with backyard hops.


  • 10# Two Row
  • 0.5 oz Nugget at 60 min
  • bag back yard hops at 15 and 5 min
  • NW coast yeast

OG 1.052 and FG 1.009

Update (5/17): Just tried this pale ale tonight. Poured nice and clear with a floral scent. Tasted crisp and a little bitter, but still with a good hoppy nose.

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Attack of the Hop Monster!

Created with Nokia Smart CamIt is harvest season for hops, and I’ve been at is for a couple weeks now. Slowly I’ve been taking the more mature cones and leaving the smaller/undeveloped ones. I collected a load of cones for my SN Celebration clone, and I’ve also been drying and freezing more along the way. I bought four new air filters that I can strap to my box fan. In addition, I had the brilliant idea to use the air-mattress inflater/deflater to suck out the air from the zip bags I use to store my hops. Why did I not think of this earlier?

So I was up on a ladder, picking hop cones from the second plant from my house. As I grabbed a cluster with my left hand I would snip the stem with a pair of scissors. At one point I felt a sharp pain in my finger. I yanked it away from the plant and screamed loudly. There was a horrible pain in my left index finger and it began to swell. My wife came out to see what was wrong, and I went inside to put the finger on ice. Apparently something bit or stung me, but I could not find an entry wound. I’ve been stung by yellow jackets and bees before, but I would have found a stinger or mark. I guess it’s possible that it was one of those, but I’ve also seen large orb weaver, wolf and jumping spiders in the hops before. Whatever it was caused a great deal of pain.

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Labor Day Weekend… Drinking and Brewing

Got some catching up to do.

“Mint Julep” Ale tasting

Oak Aged Amber labelOn Sunday, I went to a croquet tournament that was hosted by my wife’s family. I brought a six pack of Oktoberfest commercial beer as well as my Mint Julep Ale. Now mind you, the mint really did not turn out in the final product, so I’ve re-branded this as an oaked America amber. I even taping a label on the bottles. This can be a pain, but it really encourages people to try your beer. The ale poured a deep amber with a nice creamy head. The carmelly, boozey nose combined with a malty flavor that contained a touch of vanilla and oak. I found that the aromas are magnified by a snifter-style glass. A friend of mine told me to age it on oak for two weeks instead of just one. I got a couple positive comments from crowd at the croquet party. This will definitely be a repeat; perhaps in the winter.

Celebrate Great Ale!

Time to brew up my SN Celebration Ale clone again. This is one of my favorite beers. Grain and 7.5 gallons filled the tun. I only got 5 gallons in the pot, however. I managed to squeeze another 1.5 gallons out of the tun while I was starting the boil. A half pound of DME helped bring the gravity up a bit. Gravity was 1.049 at 144 degrees with hydrometer; 1.058 with refractometer which is probably closer to reality.

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Backyard hop cones in the boil.

Here is my hop schedule

  • 1 ounce of Chinook at the start of boil
  • 1 ounce of Cascade at 30 minutes
  • generous helping of Cascade hop cones from the garden at 15 minutes

Got 5.5 gallons at the end. OG was 1.075 with the hydrometer and 1.065 with the refractometer. My my, that is quite a difference. Pitched American Ale yeast. This is destined for some dry hopping in a couple weeks.

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Hoppy Amber

It has been a while since I posted or updated the blog. I had some minor surgery a few months ago that prevented me from lifting heavy loads, but I’m back. I am brewing up the hoppy American amber that I brewed last summer. This, I will serve at the HoPS! annual Oktoberfest.

Since it has been awhile since the last brew, I ended up making a couple mental errors. First I forgot to set up for the no-sparge method. This means that I only heated up less than half of the water necessary to mash. I also did not realize this until I had already combined the water and grain. I also forgot that my efficiency is not particularly good, so I did not purchase enough grain to get the starting gravity I desired. This I also did not realize until I was about to start the boil.

Sadly, I have made notes of these things in my blog posts, but I have not updated my brew-day steps or recipe pages. Not getting the water ready was not a big deal, but only ending up with roughly a 1.039 starting gravity resulted in a trip to the brew store.

My hops schedule was a little different:

1 oz. Columbus (15.6% aa) hop first wort hopping (almost 90 minute boil)
1 oz Cascade (5.9% aa) hops at 30 minutes
1 oz Citra (14.2% aa) hops at 15 minutes
1 oz Citra hops dry-hop (planned)

I ended up adding two pounds of amber DME. I got a starting gravity of 1.060, and I pitched a west coast ale yeast from a new company, Omega Yeast Labs. They are located on the north side of Chicago and have several local breweries as their customers.

In two weeks, I will dry-hop this and then later keg. See you then.


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Backyard Pale Ale (Part 2)

Last night I checked the gravity of my backyard pale ale, and it was 1.012. I am not surprised that it did not go down to near 1.000, but hopefully I can drop it a few more points. I tasted the sample and it did not have much alcohol to it. My wife claimed that she tasted alcohol and that I may be desensitized. What I did taste was some good bittering and nice floral aroma. With the temp at 68 deg F, I placed it on top of a radiator before we left for dinner. When we got back, the temperature was up to about 72, but there was no action in the air lock. By nearly mid-night the temp was up to around 75 and still no action. Maybe I lack some patience here, but I did not want to cause too many off flavors by raising the temp too high for too long.

This morning the beer had a bit more of a banana aroma to it, but it still had similar flavors to last night. I kegged it up and threw it on the back porch to keep it cool. I’ll gas it up later and try it in a week.

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