Thursday, December 16

A Successful Homebrew - Imperial Red Ale

I am creating this article to reach out to those who keep staring at their homebrew kit. Those who want to utilize all those tubes and barrels..  but are too lazy to get to it. Those who have ideas, but don't quite know how to implement them.

I am that guy. My (now Ex) Gf had purchased a 'Mr. Beer' kit for me. I loved it because I was getting more into the science and art of craft beer. Later I realized that my love for the beer put our relationship in a bad place.. among other things...  but that is for another day!

The kit simply contained a 10 Quart plastic keg with about a 5 1/2" twist off lid on top, and a pour spout just above the trub layer. 1 can of hopped extract (which I had already read is useless vs. a nice amount of DME (Dry Malt Extract) and fresh raw dried hops or pellets)). But it worked. I used plastic water bottles and the twist on lids the kit contained, and actually conditioned the pale ale in the fridge.

So after reading a bit on some homebrew forums where good folks shared their recipes..  I created my own extract homebrews. I mean come on...  I am limited to a stove in the kitchen, and have limited funds. I will go all grain as I build a system over time...  but this shit is expensive!  My goal is to make a seriously good drinkable brew while being an extract based beer..

In order to do that, I learned and read that I had to use really good water, and pitch a strong liquid yeast. At the time, I was near Portland, OR...  that is where the good Bull Run water is! Perfect stuff! May add some light Epsom salts, or some pro-mash goodies..  but it works great! I went to "Let's Brew" off of 82nd and Stark and asked for a few recommendations.. but my recipe was already straight. I was a guy wanting to brew a 2 gallon fine recipe. Most at least start with a 5 gallon system and might work their way up to 15 gallons. Not me. I want the craft and the lesson. I got grain to steep at 152 deg. F, and steeped for a full 45 min. 1/2 lb Crystal 60L, and 1/2 lb Munich. I began the boil and added 3/4 oz. of raw Cascade hops at the 60 min. mark. Just after added 1 of the 3 lbs. of Amber malt extract. At about 15 min. I added another ounce of raw Cascade hops along with 1/4 cup of molasses.. 1/4 cup Orange Blossom Honey, and 1/4 cup corn sugar (Dextrose). At 10 min. I added a bit of Irish Moss to clear it up a bit.

Steeping grain at 152 F.
 Remember..  I am aiming for an imperial red ale with all Cascade hops. This is a 2-gallon batch. I don't have a secondary, and I am still using the Mr. Beer fermentation vessel. I pitched some White Labs Irish Ale yeast...  let it sit for over 21 days and never checked it with a hydrometer. I didn't even know how to use one at the time. I later dry-hopped it with more fresh dried raw Cascade hops..  about 1 full oz (Later I adjusted the recipe to dry-hop with pellets given the primary vessel and trub collection).

While my first batch was fermenting..  I was able to taste Rogues 21'er ale. It was brewed with molasses and was called an 'Old Ale'. A week after that taste at Portland's "Oregon Brewers Festival" (OBF), I tried my first Imperial Red Homebrew. It tasted exactly the same as Rogues 21'er...  I mean almost spot on! The whole reason I am writing this is because I am currently drinking my last Batch #1 of it, and I love it! How often does one love their second extract homebrew ever!? Is it an Old Ale? An Imperial Red? Who cares! It's good!

 I added corn sugar into sanitized 22 oz. bomber bottles..  about a tablespoon and a half into each. Then I poured the primary brew into them leaving about an inch and a half of space. I am not even brewing enough for filling kegs etc. I am trying to make damn good bottles that I can share.

To make what could be an even longer article shorter...  the beer turned out fantastic after about 6 months of bottle conditioning. It fermented and conditioned around 67 deg. to 70 deg. F in a closet.

It was easy! At least getting stared! Now to try and get it consistent... and in larger batches!
My last bottle after a year of conditioning!



Recipe:   2 GALLON BATCH!

- Steep (45 min.)
1/2 Lb. Crystal 60L
1/2 Lb. Munich
1.5 oz. Roasted Barley

- Boil (60 min.)
3/4 oz. Cascade Raw Hops @ 60 min.
1lb. of a 3lb. bag Amber DME     @ 50 min.
(1/3 cup honey
(1/5 cup molasses
(1/4 cup dextrose (corn sugar) @ 15 min.
Last 2lbs. Amber DME (watch the boil over! Foam away!)
1/2 oz. Cascade Raw Hops @ 15 min.
1/2 teaspoon Irish Moss  @ 10 min.

White Labs Irish Ale (WLP004) liquid yeast

Dry-hop 1 oz. Cascade Pellets after 17 days fermentation. Fermentation 21+ days total.

1 & 1/2 teaspoons per 22 oz. bottle of corn sugar to prime. 2 1/2 weeks.

1 3lb. bag Amber DME
1/2 lb. Crystal 60L
1/2 lb. Munich
1.5 oz. Roasted Barley
1 1/4 oz. Cascade Raw Hops
1 oz. Cascade Hop Pellets
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup corn sugar
1/5 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon Irish Moss

On a side note...  the wort was about 3 quarts when done. I filled the fermentation vessel half way with cold fresh water to absorb the shock of the hot wort. Then I topped it off to 8 quarts total with more cold water. Don't pitch the yeast unless you know it is around 70 deg. F give or take! 

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