The new buckets are here! The new buckets are here!

I ordered two new fermenters last week and they arrived on Friday.  The beer geek in me couldn’t wait to get something into them.

Last Sunday was my second brewday for 2012.  It went so much better than the first.  I brewed a Cream Ale.  I have brewed this beer at least half a dozen times in the past year each time trying to make it a little more ‘my own’.  The recipe is called ‘Cream of Three Crops’ and basically consists of two-row barley, flaked maize, minute rice, and hops.  I have used different amounts of barley, different types of barley, grits, corn meal, and a few hop variations and everytime, this recipe turns out great!  There is even one recipe posted in which somebody has used popped popcorn in place of the flaked maize!  It is a fun recipe, it’s a cheap recipe and if you are considering moving to ‘all grain’ brewing, I would definitely recommend it.  With this years emphasis being on documenting and perfecting my own recipes, I decided to brew the recipe, as posted, as it will be nice to fall back onto something ‘guaranteed’ if my personal experimentation goes badly.

My pre-boil gravity last Sunday was almost dead on.  I wound up only adding about 3/4 of a pound of dry malt extract to get it where I wanted.  My post-boil gravity was actually a little higher than what I wanted but, being that I really like this beer and the higher gravity only means I will wind up with a little more alcohol, I was good with it.  I am still getting used to using Beersmith and I don’t totally trust what it says in regards to water volumes so, I keep second guessing it.  The first time I used it, either it or I were WAY off.  This time, I’m pretty sure had I followed what it said I should use, I would have hit my numbers 100%.

The only REAL mistake I made this time was by misjudging the weight of the 185 degree pot of water (an old Anheuser Busch keg) which grazed the inside of my left shin as I pulled it off the burner.  I didn’t realize just how bad it was until the next day when I went to change the little teeny tiny bandaid I had on it.  At the time it happened, it didn’t hurt much.  It stung a bit but not enough to really make me pay attention.  By Monday afternoon, I was fully aware that I had burned my leg.  The appearance of it left me a little woozy.  By way of comparison, if you happen to own a motorcycle, go start it, let it run for 15 minutes and, as quickly as you can, touch the exhaust pipe with the inside of your leg.  I promise you’ll only do it once!

I finished my stir plate today!  Considering that these typically go for $100+ at the home brew shops, I’m pretty tickled with myself that I built this one for about $6.00.  With the exception of the petentionometer ($4.99 at Radio Shack) and the 80mm computer fan ($.99 at Microcenter) the rest of it was built using spare parts I had around the house.  Do I need one?  Nope!  I have never had any issues with aerating the old fashioned way, by shaking it, I just thought it would be fun to do.

Stir Plate Stir plate in action

This coming weekend I have the stout planned.  This is another beer that is exciting to brew, as it’s a fairly ‘big’ beer.  Fermentation of ‘big’ beers, to me, is pretty exciting.  There is always that, “OMG, is it going to explode!” feeling as you watch the fermentation bucket heave when the blow off tube starts to become clogged during ‘high krausen’.

The weekend after that, I am planning on an American IPA.  I LOVE IPA’s however, I don’t typically brew them as I have never really been impressed with what I produce.  Again though, that’s what 2012 is going to be for me.  A chance to get into, and figure out my mistakes.  This will also be a ‘big’ beer and I am definitely looking forward to it.  🙂

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