Lagers, Kegs, and drinking.

Here at the trailer we are reviled for keeping things cold. Our friends and guests are often aghast at the “comfort” levels we maintain. We keep the thermostat set for a temperature range of 62-65 throughout the winter, mostly because we prefer the cooler temperatures. This has an interesting side affect of keeping some rooms cooler than others (well, this and the fact that many of the vents are blocked off). In fact, the bathroom closet maintains an average temperature of 45 degrees throughout the winter! Obviously this is an opportunity, one that we can’t ignore!

This past weekend we took advantage of having a “natural” cold room, and brewed up a batch of Schwarzbier Lager. As are many of the things we use and many of the brew’s we do here at the trailer, this kit came from Northern Brewer. We chose not to get to experimental with this, but again ordered the partial grain kit and went to town. Derick did all of the cracking of the grains, I did the rest. It was a nice diversion to brew while I was trying to ignore the fact that both teams I wanted to win were losing their respective championship games. It’s ok Cheeseburger, 15-1 is a good record for a rookie. 🙂 We did a yeast starter on this to ensure the little buggers were healthy and fully propagated when we pitched, and we affixed our monster airlock and threw it in the closet.

I haven’t mentioned the monster airlock before, so I suppose it deserves a bit of space. A few brews back, we got a quite viscous fermentation. This was the results of our very first yeast starter, and using the hyperactive American Ale little buggers from Wyeast. These guys like to reproduce, and they like to do it fast. Pitching them into a medium gravity beer after a starter caused an explosive reaction. Literally. As mentioned previously, our 5/8’s inch blow-off tube ended up 8 feet or so away from the carboy, and we’ve still got some malted barley stuck to the ceiling. The solution was obviously to go bigger. On our foray to another semi-local homebrew/wine-making shop we found some 1 and 1/4 ID food-grade tubing. We bought 8 feet worth. This size tubing is a perfect fit for the 6 gallon glass carboy’s we use for fermenters. So how is this a monster airlock? Well, when you take four feet of tubing, and insert one end of it into the carboy and the other into a 1 gallon plastic bucket filled with water, you’ve got one heck of a blow off/airlock going on. We no longer worry about blocked blow-off tubes. 😀

We also finally took advantage of the the kegging equipment this weekend, transferring the aforementioned Explosive DIPPA into the corny and pressurizing it up. I’m not sure why we haven’t done this with everything. We tossed the keg outside for 20 minutes to cool the beer down before pressurizing (sub 10 degrees F will bring a beer temp down to 60 degrees really fast, especially when your starting at 68F). A little venting and pressurizing, and we were in business. Man does it taste good. Since kegging (on Saturday mind you), we’ve nearly polished off five gallons. I’ve promised Aaron a taste, as well as some people in the office and am a little concerned. I think we need to start rationing it. It’s so tasty though, with excellent head retention. Here’s hoping the Hoppy Ale is drinkable quite soon (it seems to be sedimenting nicely). I think once we’ve polished off the Explosive DIPPA we’ll transfer the Scottish Ale into the Corny. And, we’ve got the Alt-Bier ready for bottling any day now. Oh, to have so much beer. I’m going to have to start drinking more. We’ve got one more kit left in the trailer to brew, and that’ll probably be made this week or next.

One final note, on an update to the cider. It’s gone, may it rest in peace. After allowing another week to determine if it would settle out and lose some of the vinegar flavor it was determined that it was beyond rescue. Sad but true, five gallons of alcohol was poured down the drain. That went out to all my farming homeys that have fallen over the years. Or something like that. Lessons learned, the next batch will succeed.

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