Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Beer brewing, wine aging, whiskey fermenting, soda pop carbonating.  Talk about it here.
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Malcolm
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Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:35 pm

My chiro buddy has a soft spot for beer. He and I occasionally hit the pub after spinal cracking. He's got this other patient, old retiree dude, that brews his own beer in his garage. About a month ago, we kicked off two batches:

1) Liberty Cream Ale. Note, the colour we got looks nothing close to the pic. Way darker -- more like a bright red.

2) Autumn Amber Ale. I'm wondering if they mistakenly crossed the ingredients because the cream ale looks far more red than it ought to but not as red as this.

The price is right: 24 bottles plus change for $0. First time in forever doing all the work. Retiree dude has been doing this for a bit, so he seems to know his shit. Two weeks to sit and ferment (turned in 3), then another two weeks of bottle fermenting after adding the finishing sugar.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:41 pm

I've made a few batches of cream ale in summers. Yummy.

4 weeks sounds correct for ales.
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:16 am

After 4 beers, I'm convinced that maybe the amber came out ok, but the cream is fucked.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:03 pm

Both the beers from last time tasted like bottled ass. Since I'm not fronting cash, decided to try another two batches with the same personnel. However unlike last time, I paid attention and made sure none of the recipe steps were fucked up.

1) Flat Tire amber ale
2) Honey porter

Naturally, the old retiree dude randomly forgets where he put his wort chiller after cleaning it last time. So, sink and ice bath it was for cooling. Fucking S-L-O-W. Also looks like Midwest Brewing Supplies got bought out by AB-InBev.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:10 pm

I've never had a single fucked up bottle, much less an entire batch.
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:21 pm

GORDON wrote:I've never had a single fucked up bottle, much less an entire batch.

Both were foul. The only people who would enjoy drinking them would be people who couldn't get beer anywhere else at the moment. I should've known something was up when we ended up with 40% less volume than we wanted after cooking. Old retiree dude is rather forgetful and doesn't always seem to, you know, read the directions. This batch went much more smoothly so I'm holding out more hope.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:27 pm

............. you're going to get some evaporation, I usually start with 4.5 gallons in the brewpot and end up with about 4.0 gallons when the boil is done. At that point, after cooling, you just add clean water until you hit your proper Original Gravity range.

Did you guys not do that?
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:39 pm

We started with 5 gallons. No way it should have gone down to 3. Let me give you an idea of how much wtf is going on. We start the boil and we're timing it by the clock in the garage. It's not the correct time, but fuck it -- 60 minutes is 60 minutes, so I don't care. Old, retiree dude gets up in the middle of the boil and adjusts the garage clock to the proper time. Come the fuck on, man. He also either neglects to read the directions or can't find his glasses, so he would've missed about 2 or 3 important details last night had I not been around. I'm going to chalk up the previous failure to not watching the time correctly or fucking up some step because I believed he knew what he was doing. I took a much more active role this time around, turning up my dial from quarter-ass to about three-quarters of a full ass.

The specific gravity is something I'm willing to let slide a bit, especially because the one that came in little over had 2 pounds of honey added in the last 10 minutes. If that batch (the porter) seems off, I'll be more exact about that next time.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:12 pm

The specific gravity is pretty important, I would say more so than maybe boiling for a few (15) minutes too long. If your wort is too thick there's no telling what's going to come out the other side.

Gentle boil, right?

And did you guys do extract, or whole grains?
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:13 pm

Porters should be a bit thicker, so as I said, I'll see what happens this time:
- Dude pours the grains into a permeable clothy-type sack and it sits in the big-ass pot.
- Yes, gentle boil (except for the one time my other buddy caused a boilover).
- Used the crappy mercury thermometer a lot this time. I'm unconvinced of its accuracy above 180 degrees F.

Next time:
- I will fucking break out algebra and chem to solve this the SG problem if need be. Shit like this is precisely why mankind enslaved math and science.
- Will remember my laser thermometer.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:34 pm

Steeping the grains SHOULD NOT be at a boil, they should be sitting at about 170F for about 40 minutes. If you're hot enough to boil, then they are leaching tannins out of the husks, and that sounds like one of many reasons the beer came out shitty.

Just buy a hydrometer, get one at a beer place and it will be pre-color coded for what original and final gravities should be. If you're doing your own recipes without a kit w/detailed instructions, then it takes out a lot of guesswork. I'd be surprised if they cost more than $15.
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:39 pm

The step is literally called the boil, and it calls for 60 minutes. I wouldn't say it was rolling either. The manual thermometer never hit above 180. Dude has a hydrometer. It was "close enough" this time. If this product comes out bad, I'll be a nazi about it next time. As I said, this is all free.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:07 pm

Yes there is a boil, but grains should not be in during the boil. Grains get steeped in the bag and then removed when the fire gets turned up to boil.... then during the boil you start adding hops and malts and different times, depending on what you're making.
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:13 pm

Oh yeah. I keep getting the grains mixed up with the starter hops. Grains go in at 160ish.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:19 pm

Ok then. Boiling grains = bad.

But you should have gotten that gravity in some kind of range... you said you put up 3 gallons in the bucket with yeast? Yikes. I could see the alcohol level hitting a certain level and then killing whatever species of yeast you were using, leaving a lot of the fermentables undigested.
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:19 pm

Of course you could also have had some wild yeast get in and spoil it. I don't know what kind of sanitation old man river practices.

So many things can go wrong.
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby GORDON » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:21 pm

And if the fire was too hot you could have scorched and caramelized malt in the boiling pot, which would leave burnt flavors and esters.

Holy shit I've learned a lot about brewing over 40 batches....
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Malcolm
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Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Oct 18, 2016 10:22 pm

Son-of-a-bitch. I just remembered ... one of his grain bags had a tear.

He cleans his gear ... eh, I have no idea how well. He keeps it inside for fermentation.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Malcolm
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Location: Minneapolis

Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:05 pm

I have a bottle of his from a batch in 2013 (according to the label). It's alright. He's at least got proof he has the potential to do it right.
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."

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Malcolm
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Location: Minneapolis

Re: Brewing beer in a garage with Malcolm

Postby Malcolm » Tue Nov 08, 2016 5:26 pm

Put the finishing sugar in the fermenting vessel and bottled two batches. Takes two weeks before it's ready for drinking. Should it be refrigerated or merely in the 40-50F range at this point?
Diogenes of Sinope: "It is not that I am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours."
Arnold Judas Rimmer, BSC, SSC: "Better dead than smeg."


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