Happy New Year to all!
My local craft brewery, the Dry Dock in Aurora, CO, brews a Vanilla Porter. And I can’t stand it. But when they leave the vanilla out, what a beer! More to come, but first, a few other items.
Just finished Book 4 of the Brewing Elements series, Malt. It was well written, a statement that pretty much ensures that the following review is not positive. There was some useful information in there if you’re malting your own grain but for general homebrewing, not a lot. You can learn how to calculate beer color from the book but Palmer already has told us how in “How to Brew” (the one brewing book that, if you don’t own, go buy, right now). You can get a good idea of how to malt, a lot of info about the commercial production, shipping, storage and handling of malt and a good bit on some smaller craft malt houses but all in all, borrow it if you can, skip it if you can’t, unless you’re just fascinated by malt. This book will not help you brew better beer at homebrew scale.
Now to brew day. The Porter is very dark, 40 SRM. It has lots of roasty-toasty flavor, in fact, I’d classify it more a robust porter than a brown porter. I’m brewing it to 4.8 ABV, very sessionable. It’s low-hop, 20 IBUs: Malt is the key player in this beer. It has some complexity, malt-sweetness to balance out the other flavors and I’m hoping my brew will get close to it.
Everything went well. Really. There was nothing to complain about. I even enjoy a good Denver brew day in the snow….
I hit all my numbers and determined my new boil rate for the new, wind-shielded burner. In the past, I’ve had to turn the flame up much higher to keep the wind that seems to blow here every time I start a boil from blowing the flame aside and stopping the boil. So I got this shielded number. Using my stick gauge, I was able to determine this bad boy was boiling off about a gallon an hour, less than my previous setup. So I am now able to start with 7.25 gallons of wort to get to 5.5 by boil end rather than the 7.75 I used to start with. Fewer boil overs, less mess.
Another new piece of equipment: While cleaning up last brew day, I wasted yet another hydrometer. I use a refractometer on brew day so I can take multiple readings easily but for the “real” measurement, it’s the good old fashioned triple-scale hydrometer. The only problem: The “cheap” hydrometers at the homebrew shop may not be well calibrated so it pays to check:
I filled the sample jar with distilled water, cooled it below 60 degrees F, the calibration temperature of the hydrometer, then let the water warm up. Once it hit 60 degrees, I checked the reading, 0.998, or an adjustment of -.002 degrees. So I now have to subtract 2 points from every reading I take with the new hydrometer.
If you haven’t calibrated yours, I’d do so. Cheers!