I felt that I should create a separate entry for brewing news. I made a few liquid malt extract kit brews. Then I did a few dried malt extract clone brews. Then I jumped into all grain. My system has terrible efficiency. I don't know if my thermometer is inaccurate, or maybe I am sparging/running off too fast, or what, but it is like 60%. Well it has been until this past batch.
I had been getting kits or grains from www.northernbrewer.com for my first 5 or 6 all grain batches. But now with the hot weather, I am scared for the viability of the yeast over 4+ days in transit in a UPS truck. So now I go to my "local" homebrew shop 30 minutes away. They don't have everything, but the yeast is in the fridge, and I am comfortable with that.
It seems that northern brewer doesn't grind their grains that finely, whereas the mill at Rob's (the homebrew shop) (www.robshomebrew.com) is set a little more fine. My first grains I got at Rob's were for "Big Slick", which turned out to be an Imperial IPA. I just knew I wanted to make a big beer with a gravity of at least 80. Well I got 1.095! I haven't run the numbers yet, but my efficiency is higher now! Only thing is I had to hand crank grind 20 pounds of base malts.
The recipe for Big Slick isn't fancy... it is 10lbs of 2-row and 10lbs of Maris Otter plus some American hops adding up to about 80 IBU (oh yeah, and about 3 ounces of crystal malt to get the color into the style range), but I'm excited to have some hitest in bottles around here. My other all grain batches are all 4% or less, due to my previously low efficiency. I have a wheat beer ("Stonington Memorial Summer Ale")where my hydrometer broke, but I think it's like 3.6%, then the nut brown which is 3.8%, the Stout which is 1.8%, an American pale ale which is 3.7%, and an ESB which had a starting gravity of 1.046 and should end up at <4%. So I need to balance 10 cases of session beers with at least one solid knock-your-socks-off hitest beer. I made a yeast starter for Big Slick, and the primary is just now slowing down (brewed on Tuesday), so I'm happy. I will transfer when it's totally dormant looking (hopefully Monday) and take a gravity reading then, but even if it's at 1.020, that's over 9% from what I can remember... Sam Calagione watch out! Plus the Duvel clone has a scaled up grain bill to compensate for the historically low efficiency, so it should end up over 8%. Then I'll make the Wee Heavy, which will be at least 7% (what's the range on Wee Heavy's?), so I'll be in good shape. Hope my fridges can handle the stock!
That's it for now. Hopefully one day someone will find this thing and I'll get a comment! That will be fun!!