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10 Gallons?!!!

So yesterday, I brewed my first 10 gallon batch of beer.

This past spring, I bought a 20 gallon kettle (which ended up being only about 18, but that’s another story) for the purposes of making more beer than 5 gallons at one time. My old kettle was only 5 gallons, and I could barely do a regular 5 gallon batch. I used to have to do a smaller, more concentrated boil, then top it off with water when I was done. This new kettle solves that problem, and I can do full strength 5 gallon boils, as well as full strength 10 gallon, and (potentially) 15 gallons, but with the discrepancy between my “20 gallon” and the actual 18, it would be tricky, and I would probably have to concentrate it and then top off with water.

New Boil Kettle

I’ve been anxious, but reluctant to brew my first 10 gallon batch. 5 gallon batches are easy with my new pot and setup, and I’ve gotten very comfortable doing them.

So this was my first attempt at 10 gallons, and my brew day did not start off well. I was a half pound short of the single malt in my grain bill. OK, no problem, just substitute with something I have on hand (like flaked barley). Then, while heating my strike water, I ran out of propane. Pain in the ass. At least it didn’t happen during the boil. So I ran out and got more.

Then, while waiting for the mash, I was re-organizing my brew area, and I had a half full keg with picnic tap attached and hanging by the trigger from the hose. I stepped on the hose accidentally twice, pulling the trigger, and spraying beer all down my leg. Sheesh!
So I devised a new way to hook up my picnic taps to my kegs; Zip ties are my savior. It’s only a bit of a pain when changing out the keg, but worth it.

The Old Way
The new way! Awesome!

But all in all, my first 10 gallon brew day completed successfully. I can’t wait to taste it.

St. Patrick’s Day…

We had a great time. Saw my Uncle’s irish band, and had a few drinks.

We woke up St. Patrick’s Day morning, and I said “It’s Shawn Patrick’s Day!” (that’s my name). My wife turned to me and said, “Yes, St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland, and you drove the snakes out of our house. How true, how true.

Brew #2 Results: Brown Ale

I was updating a bunch of other posts, and realized I hadn’t taken pictures of or posted my results from batch #2!

So here it is, the “Caribou Slobber Brown Ale”:

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a clone of Big Sky’s Moose Drool, which is kind of like Newcastle?

A very tasty brew, that’s for sure. So tasty, in fact, that I only have one left. (I’m saving that one to share with my oldest younger brother).

I’m really digging the stuff from Northern Brewer. So far, everything I’ve had from there has been great. This kit, if you’re interested, is one of their staples and is available in an extract kit, and in an all grain kit. (if you browse to the “Additional Information” tab of each of those pages, you can get the recipe and instructions as well.)


Brew #5: more Dry Irish Stout

Here’s the second batch of Dry Irish Stout that I’m brewing. This batch threw me for a loop, because I ordered it myself, and to save a little money, ordered the “mini-mash” version, instead of the all extract. Now luckily, I was (semi) prepared for a mini-mash, and I think it went well. So well that I’ll be ordering kits like that again.

It was a beautiful day for brewing! I was drinking my Cream Ale while I was brewing.

Looking forward to the next batch

Brew #4: Dry Irish Stout (Guinness) – Brew Years Day!

This time, I get to use my Christmas present: an outdoor camp stove! I went and got a new separate propane bottle and got set up in the garage.

Had only a few issues;

  • I wasn’t familiar with the regulator, so I had the thing blasting (as Emeril says, “use your knobs!”)
  • The severe heat caused a boil over; sticky all over the place
  • I scorched the wort enough so that big sheets of black film were floating in it

I’m still SUPER happy with the new set up. I even hooked up the spare TV and was watching bowl games while I was doing it.

This one’s going to age for awhile once I get it in the bottles. I’ve got two batches of Dry Irish Stout to brew, so I intend to have 4 cases ready for St. Patrick’s Day this year!


Brew #1 Results: Saison de Noel Belgian Farmhouse Ale

And here it is: the result of my first real home-brewed beer. It had only been in the bottle for one week at this point, so technically it wasn’t ready, but I was extremely anxious to try it out. It is unbelievably delicious. Tastes very much like Sam Adams Christmas Ale.

I didn’t have any measuring equipment yet when I originally brewed this, so I don’t know the *exact* ABV percentage, but it has to be up there a bit (8-10%), because I got HAMMERED off of 6 of them.

Looking forward to more of them after they age a little more. This is the one I’m taking to the family holiday parties, so I’m really excited.

If you are interested in making this, kits are available from Northern Brewer in two forms; the extract kit and the all-grain kit.

Northern Brewer is also really great in that they make the recipes for their kits available. Since the links above are to limited edition kits, here are the recipes and instructions for each:



Brew #3: Cream Ale!

So Brew #3 is a Cream Ale, similar to Genesee; my first “yellow” beer. Brewing this time, I was prepared for the stove-top debacle from last time, and fired up the bridge burner first thing. It still took way too long, but at least it was manageable.

I didn’t get any pictured this time, but I will post the results of this brew for sure!

Brew #2: Caribou Slobber Brown Ale

So… I’m completely obsessed with this beer making thing. (previous post)

OnlyWife let me buy my own brew kettle, which I found SUPER cheap at one of the online stores; a 5 gallon stainless steel boil kettle for $17.99! Yeah, great price… until you get to the shipping. So of course, I had to get a few other things to make it worth it; some cleaner, another beer kit to brew, some more bottle caps.

But this kettle… big. Bigger than the one I used in the last batch. A little flimsy; definitely not the best kettle, but it will do.

So I get to brewing the next batch. Get the kettle on the stove, follow the instructions and… it doesn’t boil. I’m freaking out. If it doesn’t boil, the beer may be ruined. I’ve read alot about home brewing, and everything says not to panic; it will be alright. But I was panicing.

2 hours and no boil.

Then I leaned on the stove in frustration and almost burned my hand. Aha! The pot was too big for the burner on my glass top electric stove! The glass was actually dissipating the heat away from the pot. Damnit! Luckily, my stove has a “bridge-burner” on the other side, which basically makes the whole left side of the stove one big burner, so I cranked it up, and moved the boil kettle over.

In a short while, it finally started to boil.  Whew!

Boil Kettle
Here’s the boil kettle on the bridge burner.

So I finally got moving on the brew. Everything worked out, and now I have two batches of beer fermenting and getting ready to finally drink. The waiting is the hardest part.

While I was waiting for the boil, I also made OnlyWife a small batch of “Hard Lemonade”. I’m using my old Mr. Beer kit to ferment it. I had to actually put the thing to use; couldn’t let it go to waste. 🙂

hard lemonade
Hard Lemonade fermenting


Now I’m trying to convince “Santa” (OnlyWife) to buy me an outdoor propane burner so I don’t have problems with the stove again. And I’ve got the process pretty much down, so the next brew day should go pretty smoothly.

Now if I can only figure out how to keep glitter out of everything. 🙂

Brewing beer! Brew #1

Can there be anything more manly than brewing your own beer? I think not.

A few christmases ago, OnlyWife bought me one of those cheap beer making kits you see at bloodbath and beyond; Mr. Beer. It sat around for awhile (a LONG while) and I finally got around to making it this past summer. It wasn’t BAD… but it wasn’t really good either. But I had the curiosity and motivation to search out better ways of making beer. There are tons of really informative sites on the inter-tubes, as well as tons of online shops.

While browsing these shops, I entered any and every kind of giveaway/contests I could find. Well… I actually won one. A whole starter home brewing kit, including a beer recipe, as well as another beer recipe of “holiday” beer. Just in time to brew it and be ready for the holidays.

The funny part is, the kit didn’t include exactly EVERYthing that you need to brew. You need a pretty large stock-pot, as each kit brews 5 gallons of beer (that’s roughly two cases), and you need the bottles to put it in. The bottles are not really a problem; I LIKE to drink beer, and collecting pry-off beer bottles from myself, friends and family members would be pretty easy. The stock-pot on the other hand… we only have a 2 gallon one, and I needed at least a 3 or better yet, a 5 gallon one to brew the beer. So I had to borrow one from the neighbors for the first batch.

Me Brewing
Terrible picture of me enjoying a beer while brewing a beer.

Even then, it was just a little bit too small. At certain points in the brew process, you have to add more ingredients, and then watch closely for boil-overs. During one of those additions, OnlyWife was asking me questions about the whole process, and I was so excited that she was interested that I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing, and we had a boil-over. ALL over. Now beer is basically just sugar water, so the entire stovetop, counter top, stove sides, counter sides and floor were covered in sticky goo. I couldn’t stop the brew/boil so we had to let it go until it finished.

I finished the brew, got it into the fermenter and cleaned everything up.

Then I convinced OnlyWife to let me buy my own bigger brew kettle for the next batch. 🙂

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