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About RiverRatRandy

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    Brewmaster in Training
  1. I'm into the porters these days. Have had some bad ones, honestly, but the good ones are oh, so, good. Those pictures look sweet. I have a steeped grain brown ale carbing right now and these pics give me hope, man. I have concocted a porter recipe that I'm dying to try. Unfortunately, spring is upon us and I must crank out some summer beers. Of course, I love the summer, and the beers that accompany it, but I'm an ale man at heart I do believe. That's really the one up side of winter...an perfect reason to drink all those dark, heavy beers.
  2. Roasted Barley is, indeed, one of the defining ingredients in a Red Ale. Granted, it is usually in small quantities, in comparison to other ingredients. It is what gives it the red color and adds to the distinctive taste. As for your recipe, it looks good to me in general. Not sure of the ratio on your roasted barley, but a little should go a long way. I haven't made a Red Ale yet, but have been studying up on them lately. I just recently honed my own recipe which I should be making in the next few weeks. This is one of those styles that I always thought I was indifferent about, but have had a couple of very tasty examples lately, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. Keep us updated on yours. I'm still up for fine tuning my recipe before it gets cooked if I find a good reason.
  3. Sounds like beer, tastes like beer....I believe you've made beer. All that's left now is some carbonating, conditioning and learning the secret handshake.
  4. Congratulations! You made beer! There's no turning back now.
  5. That looks good. I just bottled my brown ale this past Saturday. It also used the Creamy Brown UME and Nut Brown HME. I steeped some Crystal 10L and added some lactose to mine, though. I gave it a taste at bottling and it was very promising. With that pound of dark DME in yours, that should add a lot to the body and flavor. The brown sugar should complement the style pretty well, also. I think you'll be pleased with yours from the looks of the recipe.
  6. I've only made 7 batches so far, but I've been using steeping grains since the third batch and the last three batches have all been completely original recipes. Well, actually the ones before that were too, but they did use Mr. Beer extracts. Anyway, my best advice would be to read and study beer recipes. I got a clone recipe book first and studied that one, because I was familiar with quite a few of the beers. Then I got a book of homebrew recipes at the local used bookstore. It had a lot of recipes, too, covering a wide range of styles. There are also sites on the internet with lots of recipes. The point in reading all these recipes isn't because I want to make any of them, because I don't for the most part. I want to know what makes good beer, but I also want to know what makes a particular style of beer. For instance, it doesn't take reading too many stout recipes to see that they all use chocolate malt. Many of them also use black patent malt. So, if I want to make a Belgian Witbier, for instance, I read a bunch of witbier recipes. That tells me which ingredients are essential to the style, because all of those recipes include those ingredients. The other non-essential ingredients give me ideas, as well, especially if they show up in some but not all recipes. Once I figure out which ingredients I want to use, then I decide what amounts, how long I'll boil the hops and so forth. You can use QBrew, or a similar program, to make sure you stay within the parameters for that particular style if that's your plan. Otherwise, just go for broke with whatever your ideas are, if you're not concerned about staying true to any certain style. Even then, though, familiaring yourself with other recipes will help keep you from doing anything too crazy. That's my two cents, for what it's worth.
  7. I've not made a true lager and don't expect I will anytime soon because of the strict temperature controls required. However, I've read up on it a good deal, which is why I know I probably won't bother. From what I've read, 50 degrees seems to be the optimal lagering temp. While practically speaking, it's really the type of yeast and not the temperature that differentiates a lager from an ale. In practice, though, if it wasn't cold conditioned, most wouldn't consider it a real lager. If you use lager yeast, as well as ingredients of a typically lager style, but ferment at ale temperatures....that's what is known as a hybrid. Some people use the term "steam beer", which actually refers to a rather narrow style of California beer - if not to one actual brand. Hybrids can and do cover a wider stylistic range than solely the "steam" variety, but the general idea behind them is that they combine lager elements brewed under ale conditions. Four of us in my family started homebrewing at the same time, all using Mr. Beer as our launching pad. That's given me the benefit of getting to try several different styles in a short period of time, since we all have multiple kegs going at any given time. More than half of what we've made so far would probably fit the category of a "hybrid". In my opinion, there isn't a big difference between what we've been drinking and what a true lager would have tasted like in the same style. At least not enough difference to warrant all the extra trouble involved in lagering. One idea I had, though, might make lagering at home a bit easier. I haven't had a chance to look into it yet, but one of those refrigerated wine coolers could be a good option. Some of them I've seen would probably be a good size for a Mr. Beer keg if you took the racks out of them. I'm not sure how precisely you can control the temperatures in them, or within what ranges, but I'm sure it's more controllable than a regular domestic refrigerator, since that's pretty much the point of having a wine cooler. Okay...guess I've rambled a bit, but that's my thoughts on the subject for what they're worth.
  8. I'll be cooking this one up today. I've decided to leave out the Cascade hops, but I'll put them to good use in the near future. I've been toying with an Irish Red Ale recipe and finally worked it out well enough to put it on my brew schedule. The Cascade will go in that one.
  9. That seems like a lot of honey, especially with only 2 lbs of malt. Two cups of honey is 1.5 lbs...almost equal to your malt. Did you boil the honey, or add when you transferred to fermenter? What brand was the LME? Also, I'm curious as to how long you boiled your hops. Depending on when they were added, two packs seems on the high side as well. Were these standard 1 oz. packs? The real test is in the tasting, of course, so if you tasted it and it seems good then that sounds promising. On the other hand, it's only a week into fermentation. I'd be a little surprised if this one doesn't end up a little sharp and/or cidery. Will be interested to read further updates.
  10. I have gone somewhat gang busters from the first batch. I'll be cooking up #7 on Sunday and I have yet to make a straight Mr. Beer recipe. I've done something to each of them and for the past two batches, there have been absolutely no Mr. Beer ingredients. The flip side is that I'm rather content as far as equipment and process goes. I stepped up rather quickly to steeping grains, but I don't see going to all grains any time soon, if ever. To be honest, the Mr. Beer extracts are good, but I knew pretty quickly that I wouldn't be satisfied with them. As for their brewing set up, though, it fits my needs very well. The size and simplicity is just what I need. I don't have the room or the time to grow my brewing operation to any great extent, so my Mr. Beer fermenters and process should hold me for a long time. The thing I had to reign myself in on was pacing myself. I plan to get on a schedule of roughly one batch every two weeks, now that I'm on the verge of having a pipeline established. That will allow me to maintain a steady flow of homebrew, without it becoming too overwhelming. I quickly realized that I needed a few sets of bottles, but I can't just keep buying another case of bottles each time my keg comes empty. So, I've designed a workable schedule, stocked up on ingredients for a few recipes and am trying to focus on striking a balance between experimentation and fine tuning a few recipes of my favorite styles.
  11. D Rabbit wrote: i've found rethinking and second guessing is a waste of time. You really don't know how it will turn out completely. You have a ballpark but nothing spot on. You should brew it according to your recipe as there must be something there that brought you to it and than you can make adjustments in it accordingly for your next brew. My .02 Your point is well taken. Of the three hops in this recipe, Cluster is the only one I haven't used before. So, I'm unsure of its properties, comparitively speaking. The one and only reason I put it in there is because of the frequency that it appeared in the recipes that I looked at when concocting my own. On the other hand, it will probably play a minor role in the recipe as I have it now. The Citra is a strong hop. Adding them at the same time, especially, I think the Citra will be the standout ingredient. In that light, I think it could be more a case of wasting the Clusters, instead of the Cluster being too much for this beer. For that reason, as much as any, I'm thinking I may leave it out. I'm drinking one of my honey wheats from a previous batch right now and it has just a bit more bitterness than I want in this style, so I'll have to ponder my hops scenario a little more on this recipe. I'm not a fan of second guessing myself when it's essentially an experiment anyway, but in this case I'd like to learn from and improve upon my first honey wheat attempt.
  12. I would think that 1 lb is the most I foresee using in a 2.5 gallon batch, if that. I haven't been doing the big beers like BigD there, but .5 lbs is what I used in my first two batches. The last batch I used .75 lbs....that's the one with the combo grains. BigD is right about it being an easy way to really step a beer. You just put the cracked grains in a bag and put it your pan of water. I use a ratio of 20 oz of water to 1/2 lb of grain for steeping. You'll need a cooking thermometer, also. Bring your water to 150 degrees, slap the lid on it and then take it off the heat. Putting the lid on before removing from heat helps "steam seal" the pan and, supposedly, makes for better steeping. I wrap mine in a big towel to help hold in the heat, then let it set for 30 minutes. After steeping, I squeeze the grain bag a bit to get all the liquid out, but don't get too carried away with squeezing. You don't want to get any bitterness from the grain...just the good stuff. Anyway, you put the "grain juice" in the wort pot and go from there as you would with any other recipe. It sounds relatively easy, but it's actually even easier than it sounds when you go through the process.
  13. harlick187 wrote: If it were me I would save the cluster hops for a diferent brew. They can be overpowering of other hops in a wheat beer. I really like them as a stand alone hop for flavor and bitterness. That's interesting. In looking at multiple recipes, I found Cluster in quite a few wheat beers. I'll have to go back and see if they were typically the only hops or used in combination with others. Actually, that's the main reason I chose Clusters, because of the prevalence in the recipes I consulted. I've never used them before, personally. I could just as easily leave them out, since I'm only using them as an aroma addition. The Citra is pretty sturdy on its own and I'm already familiar with its properties. Hmmm. You have me rethinking things.
  14. Kyle3309 wrote: What type of grains did you two use? My first two steeping grain batches I went with Crystal 10L. The last batch I made used a variety. There is CaraMunich, Crystal 60L, British Mild and Rye all mixed in. The general term "specialty grains" are an indicator of whether or not they are appropriate for steeping.
  15. Despite my earlier suggestions, I must agree with the others that chocolate and vanilla don't sound like great additions for a WCPA. That's one of the reasons I asked what you were going for. However, if that's what you want, then I stick with my earlier suggestions. As for brown sugar, I think it's fine if you add more malt. In fact, my first batch was a WCPA that came with my kit. Part of my earlier suggestion was based on my own experience. I added Amber DME and brown sugar, as well as some hops. Essentially, I jacked up the IBU and ABV count into the IPA range, so it was no longer truly a standard pale ale. It was a big beer; 63 IBU, 10 degree SRM and 6.2% ABV. Other than a bitterness level that is beyond a lot of peoples preference, it kicked the butts of my brother and brother-in-laws beers who made a WCPA at the same time. So, I highly recommend more malt in some form. Unless you want a very bitter beer, I'd be careful on additional hops, though. Using two cans of WCPA would run the same risk, I imagine. With additional malt, it would be safe to add some brown sugar, in my opinion, but be mindful of the quantity - both to avoid off flavors and in regards to prefered ABV levels. It all boils down to your personal tastes, but if you want a "bigger" tasting beer, I think you've gotten some good suggestions.
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