Avangard Pilsner Update

Racked both the Urquell and the American Lager versions today.  Hard to tell which I like better, both are good beers.  Experimentation is good but sometimes the results aren’t definitive.  I’ll use this beer for a brew club event on triangle tasting and see if my club-mates can tell the difference.

Kottbusser Recipe

Having seen a search request land here, here’s my Kottbusser recipe.  It’s currently scaled for 10 gallons for brewing on the Ruby Street Brewing 10 gallon rig.

Yesterday’s experiment told me that next time I’ll sour mash the brew.  To do that, make your wort as usual but chill down to 120 degrees.  Pitch lactobacillus in one of two ways, either as a culture you bought or through throwing a few grains of malt into the warm wort.  Keep air away from the wort to avoid culturing acetobacter – you’ll get a vinegary taste if you do.  To keep air away, either cover the wort with plastic wrap and by that, I mean floating the plastic on the wort, or use a blanket of carbon dioxide to keep oxygen away from the wort’s surface.  In 12-24 hours, take a sample and if it’s tart enough, boil and add your hops.  Caution:  Don’t let anything you can’t sterilize fairly harshly come in contact with the soured wort.  Lactobacillus can be hard to get rid of once you have it.  I keep a separate setup of buckets, racking canes and so forth for anything soured.  I sour the mash in my kettle since it will be boiled and everything else is very clearly marked.  Duct tape is good for this.

Chances are the original beer was soured after the boil.  Lactobacillus Delbruckii is sensitive to hop oils so it won’t work quickly as a culture once the beer is hopped.  Lactobacillus Brevis is not but it will require very careful handling – it’s a very aggressive spoilage bacterium!  To sour in storage, again, cool the wort to 120 degrees.  Innoculate the wort and let it cool slowly for a few hours to let your lacto get going, then finish cooling and pitch brewer’s yeast.  Let the beer ferment, then bottle or keg as usual.  The beer will sour slowly, taking up to three months to develop tartness.

Hat tip to Ron Pattinson for tips on the recipe and techniques used to develop this recipe.

Brew Day — 1 Gal Lemongrass Ginger Wheat

Finished my second 1 gallon batch – closer to 1.5 – a lemongrass ginger wheat.  I’ve written about trying this beer in Atlanta and have wanted to get it dialed in for a summer cooler.  So today, my first steps, a 1.5 gallon batch.

I got rather lousy conversion, probably due to low temperatures in the mash.  My mash-in was at 148 degrees, I’d planned 151.  I got it back up there after about 15 minutes, then it drifted down in the tun again to about 145 degrees by the end of the mash.  So, likely bad conversion.  And using the hotplate in my brewery to boil is not a good idea.  Next time it’s the stove, or my burner, the boil never got really vigorous.  So starting with 66% conversion efficiency when I’m used to 80% throws the calculations off.  And boiling off at a very slow rate doesn’t help – I ended up six points light on my wort.  Since this is to be a summer cooler, 1.045 vs. 1.051 is not a big deal.  Still I don’t like it.  I should have checked grain temps as I’d stored them in the basement, it was cool down there and I’d made an assumption about their temperature that resulted in low mash-in temps.  Another lesson learned.

Dried lemongrass is not very potent, either.  I ended up using 10 grams in 1.5 gallons when I’d planned a much smaller amount.  I threw it in at 10 minutes, then threw the second batch in during a 10 minute extension to the boil.  Ginger worked well at about 10 grams for this size recipe.  I ended up with a nice aroma that reminded me of the beer in Georgia.  Will see how it comes out.

Meanwhile, I got around to racking the Baltic Porter.  Sample tasted great!  I lost a bunch of the beer to trub and to yeast.  The BIAB process puts a lot of trub into the wort I don’t get with my big rig but this is experimentation – I can take a little more trub than normal and still get close to what I want.

Another test today, souring Kottbusser. I started adding food-grade lactic acid to the Kottbusser and quickly determined, soured tastes much better.

Lemongrass and Ginger, Any Experience

Anyone out there had any experence with using lemongrass and ginger in a wheat ale?  I tasted Second Shelf Brewing’s Thai Wheat in Atlanta a few days ago and really, really want to make one for my summer lawnmower beer and have no idea on amounts or proportions of the spices to use.  The beer itself was not a ginger ale, it was still a beer with great beer flavors accented by the citronella/ginger flavors.  I did a test today using dried lemongrass (1g) and fresh grated ginger (4 g) in 150 ml boiling water for five minutes and got no lemongrass and lots of ginger – a bit of sugar and I had ginger ale.  Needless to say, not the effect I want.

Test brew, 1.5 gal BIAB, is Friday.  I’ll get there eventually but if anyone has any ideas, I’m happy to hear – please comment if you’ve had experience with brewing with lemongrass, ginger or both.  And my thanks!

Baltic Porter is nearly completed with its primary fermentation.  It’s gone from an OG of 1.096 to 1.032 since Wednesday (four days).  Predicted final gravity is 1.028 – I’m hoping for considerably less.  Tasting it today, it has some cleanup to do but it should be a very nice beer….  That beer has gone FAST but then it’s only a 1.5 gallon batch and I likely overpitched it severely – using an entire pouch of Wyeast California lager on it.

Brew Day – 1 Gal Baltic Porter

Since I was in Poland this summer I’ve wanted to do a Baltic Porter.  Loved the style, rich, malty, warming alcohol….  But it’s a very big beer at 8.5% to 9.5% ABV.  Not willing to waste a batch or drink 5 gallons of substandard beer, I chose to do a 1.5 gallon batch.  Since this is too small for my standard equipment, I chose to do a BIAB batch in a 3-gallon cooler I have.  Here’s the mash:


Sorry for the fuzziness, it’s dark in my cave.  In addition to the 3-gallon cooler with bag exposed – a large grain bag – you see my timer, a kitchen thermometer with probe in the kettle to tell me the temperature of my sparge water.  Here’s my BIAB process:

– Single infusion at 152 degrees
– Raise grain bag and let drain through a strainer
– Heat sparge water to 172 degrees
– Put grain bag and grains in the sparge water, stir
– Raise grain bag and let dran through a strainer
– Add the “first runnings” in the cooler back to the kettle
– Boil

Since I’m doing a very small batch, accurate measurement is vital.  Here we go, measuring 5.1 grams of Magnum.  At 13.2% AA, you don’t want to miss by a lot….


I’ve written about this scale – it’s accurate to 0.1 gram.  The boil was adventurous.  I miscalculated my water requirements so instead of completing the boil on my hotplate, I dragged out the propane burner and cranked that puppy up to drive off the water I needed to get rid of.  Should give great kettle caramelization.  In the end, I only had to extend my boil by a half-hour to get my desired volume.  Gravity was high by 0.004 points.  My conversion was stellar at over 80% and that without squeezing the grain bag.  At 1.098, it’s a big beer so it got 4 mins of oxygen.  Chilled to and pitched at 65 degrees using California Lager yeast (Wyeast 2112), it’s in a water bath to stabilize temperatures and should be fermenting by morning.

Looking forward to this one….

Glassware and Soap

Two nights in a row I’ve had beer ruined, well, that’s a bit dramatic so let’s say, damaged, by soap.  Okay, I’m in Georgia again where beer appears to be a four-letter word. No, not quite fair:  I’ve had some good beers here (got a great idea for a summer patio beer, a wheat ale with lemongrass and ginger) but then I’ve had some that can best be described as weird, the IPA last night that tasted like drinking a Christmas tree.  Likely an overdose of Simcoe or Chinook hops for dry hopping, perhaps some CTZ….  But the thing that gets me is the lack of head.

What are these guys washing their glasses with?  Three beers in three different glasses last night, one the night before, one tonight, each the head collapsed like a bouncy house in a power failure.  Aren’t they rinsing?  I’ve even taken to washing my beer glasses in the dishwasher now that SWAMBO (She Who Always Must Be Obeyed) has started using vinegar rather than rinse aids and no head collapse.  Oh, well, it’s a short exile.

Good beers:  I mentioned the Second Shelf Thai Wheat Ale, the one with lemongrass and ginger.  Basically an American wheat with the spices but nicely attenuated and subtly spiced.  I, not a fan of spiced beers, liked this one.  The other was a Jekyll Foreign Export Stout, not for the faint of heart at 8% ABV.  I’m guessing they hit that high percentage using sugars, perhaps a Turbinado or Palm Sugar, because the mouthfeel was thin for that high a percentage beer.  No compromise in flavor, hence my guess at an unrefined sugar – I’ve gotten similar flavors from palm sugar.  Were it not for the head collapse, these would be great.

And a shout-out to The Pig and the Pint in College Park, GA.  It’s a great place to explore local brews – they have several on tap and even more in bottles – and to have a bite of dinner.  Highly recommended if you’re here in southern Atlanta and do try the meat loaf.


Two brews bottled today, my Kottbusser and my SO’s Riesling.  The Kottbusser was brewed a few weeks ago on the Ruby Street Brewing prototype brew sculpture and the batch split.  I fermented mine cool, pseudo-lagered it and used liquid yeast.  The other half was fermented with dry yeast sprinkled on top of the aerated wort.  In a couple weeks I’ll compare with the other brewer’s beer to see how it came out.

The Riesling has been fermenting for a while.  We got the juice out on the Western Slope of Colorado, fermented cool and got a very fruity, tart wine, very nice according to guests who got a barrel taste a few nghts ago.  We got 24 bottles out of it, should be good!

Equipment this posting is thermometers.  I answered a post at Brewer’s Friend a few days ago about thermometers.  My recommendation is this one:


The thermometer isn’t waterproof, as I discovered when I dropped this one’s twin in my mash.  But once dried out, it worked fine!   Love its accuracy, +/- 0.5 degrees F.  It’s small probe makes for a fast read and it ships with a calibration record:


In both tets following calibration it tested 0.1 degree low.  I can live with that!  It’s inexpensive at around $30 and does the job well.  Recommended.