This week was bottling week for my home brewery: last Friday I bottled a Celtic Ale (May 18 post), on Tuesday I bottled a Belgian style Dubbel (May 1 post), and yesterday I bottled my Christmas Ale, a recipe that attempts to copy Chimay Grand Cru “Blue”. I brewed the Christmas Ale on April 27, and racked it to a secondary fermenter on May 4, after the initial active stage of fermentation had settled down. Then it rested in a dark quiet closet for nearly six weeks until bottling day. Three days before bottling day, I pitched another dose of fresh yeast to prepare the beer for the second fermentation in the bottle. With most brews this second dose of yeast isn’t necessary, but when a beer has such a high alcohol level, it’s pretty standard procedure.
This beer was an experiment that turned out well. The basic idea was to brew an ale that mimics a lager. Lagers are not in the repertoire of most homebrewers and craft brewers – their need for controlled, lower temperatures for fermentation and conditioning than are needed for ale requires the acquisition of dedicated refrigeration equipment in most cases. Here’s the story of how I brewed an ale at home that is close in profile to a German pilsner – a “mock-pilsner”.
Celtic Ale is my “house beer”. It’s a malty, copper-colored ale with a thick, creamy head that lasts to the bottom of the glass, and at around 4.6% ABV it’s a great session beer. I first started making this as an attempt to make something like Highland Brewing’s flagship Gaelic Ale, which is my wife’s favorite commercial beer. After the first couple batches however, I started experimenting with aspects of the recipe, using the constant extract and specialty grain bill as a background to try different yeasts. The last couple batches I settled on a Scottish Ale yeast, which seems to suit the character of this beer well.
The site has undergone a major revision this week. Over the last month I’ve been reading other blogs and learning about WordPress to get ideas for a better layout – hopefully the new site will give you ideas about where this is going.
There is a new theme and new content, and a few bells/whistles. Beer in Nashville is now linked to my Instagram account (no FaceBook however, and no plans for it) – I’ll be posting the occasional photo on my feed now and recent photos will be featured on the sidebar. Please follow me if you’re an Instagrammer (yes I follow back).
NEW: the phirx ratings page is now up and current, check this out! This list will be cumulative and kept up to date; it includes all my ratings since February 10.
Warning: Long Post
This post is for a friend of mine whose wife is due to give birth any day now. He texted me somewhat frantically one morning, writing that he wasn’t going to be going to the pub much in the near future and would I please send him a list of the equipment he needs to start brewing. I texted back that I would put a list together and post it here and hey presto! today’s blog post was born.
This list is assuming a number of things:
1) you have a pretty much standard 21st century kitchen: stove, refrigerator/freezer unit, sink, and some counter space,
2) you are going to be brewing from malt extract with specialty malts (not all-grain) – this is how I currently brew,
3) you are going to be brewing ales (not lagers, which require colder fermentation temperatures and refrigeration as part of their conditioning),
4) you are going to bottle (not keg) your beer.
I am going to break this down into seven categories:
1) a book (or books)
3) brewing tools
4) cleaning agents
5) fermenters and airlocks
6) racking and bottling gear