Lent is over!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 13, 2009 by busjunkie

So yeah . . .  I started out strong… did a water analysis and everything, but what happened?  Well it’s like this . . .   My son came up to me and told me he was giving up ice cream for lent.  I hinted that he was weak and he sould really consider forgoing the flamn hot cheetos he is into all the time.  So he shot back and said he would if I wouldn’t drink….   to borrow from Pink Floyd . .  I had a Momentary Laspe of Reasoning . .  The good new is that I made it and he didn’t.  Now I can get back to business.  I can start building my bottle collection.  I also still need to test my BruHeater element to see if that will still work.  I have formulated a new recipe and will post that soon.  Stupid Micro$oft did allow for VBA macros in the new OS X version so I have to formulate on my work computer.

Next Step

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2009 by busjunkie

The next step in my process will be to formulate the recipe I’m going to brew.  I think it will be the Oatmeal Stout.  I really want to do the maple and I guess that depends on the Syrup season back home and if I get back in time to buy some.  I never use anything buy Athens Maple Syrup in my beer . . . .  of course with Whole foods and the internet, I may be persuaded to change my mind . . . .  

I just replaced my copy of Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels.  I really like this book because it provides theory and calculations on how to design your own recipes.  First I’ll rebuild my spreadsheet and see what happens.  I recommend this book to anyone wanting to do their own instead of cloning, which there is nothing wrong with doing either.


My Setup

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on February 11, 2009 by busjunkie

I decided to get me a brew tree.  Ya see in Chicago, folks believe that when they shovel out a parking spot for themselves on the street, it magically becomes part of their property.  Well since I pay taxes on that very same property I don’t feel bad absconding the crates used for holding their spot…. or park there for that matter . .  In fact . . .  a little off topic, I have a nice fold up  Coronna table I found too.  Not sure if the BRU heat will make it or not.  I definatley need a new bucket.  I cleaned off the Rheostat and the element and Ill see f that is any good or not. I really like that cuz I have 220v in the house.


Chicago Water Analysis

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2009 by busjunkie

One good thing about living in the city is that you can easily find the water report on line.  So with that and the help from how to brew I did an analysis and determined that I’m not quite where I need to be to do a stout, but I am learning what I need to do to get there.  I never really paid much attention to the water content when I was brewing before.  Information was not as easy to get as it is now so I really don’t have an excuse :).

Chicago Water Analysis
Name Ideal Range Chicago Water 2008 Notes
Bicarbonate; 0 – 250 ppm 121 ppm 0 – 50ppm for pale, base malt beers

50 – 150 ppm amber colored, toasted malt

150 – 250 ppm for dark, roasted malt

Sulfate < 150 ppm 28.6 ppm 50-150 ppm for normally bitter beers, 150-350 ppm for very bitter beers
The sulfate ion also combines with Ca and Mg to contribute to permanent hardness. It accentuates hop bitterness, making the bitterness seem drier, more crisp. At concentrations over 400 ppm however, the resulting bitterness can become astringent and unpleasant, and at concentrations over 750 ppm, it can cause diarrhea
Chloride < 200 ppm 13.1 ppm The chloride ion also accentuates the flavor and fullness of beer. Concentrations above 300 ppm (from heavily chlorinated water or residual bleach sanitizer) can lead to medicine flavors due to chlorophenol compounds.
Sodium < 150 ppm 8.1 ppm At levels of 70 – 150 ppm it rounds out the beer flavors, accentuating the sweetness of the malt. But above 200 ppm the beer will start to taste salty. The combination of sodium with a high concentration of sulfate ions will generate a very harsh bitterness. Therefore keep at least one or the other as low as possible, preferably the sodium
Magnesium 10-20 ppm 12.5 ppm important yeast nutrient in small amounts but amounts greater than 50 ppm tend to give a sour-bitter taste to the beer. Levels higher than 125 ppm have a laxative and diuretic affect
Calcium 50 – 100 ppm 35.1 ppm Required for mash enzyme stabilization and a yeast nutrient. Higher levels increase hot break of boil and clarity of finished beer

By determining the residual alkalinity (RA) and pH shift I can determine the beer styles that best suit the Chicago water.  My RA was 69.542 which comes out to ~ 5.9 assuming that a 100% pale malt with distilled water results in a mash pH of 5.8

5.9 corrleates to a SRM value of 15 – 20.  Not quite enough for my stout yet, but I will get there

What I have Left . . . What do I need?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2009 by busjunkie

Well I looked through everything and I believe it can be cleaned up and be ready for use.  I have 3  five gallon carboys in the basement, 2 cylindrical 5 gal coolers with modified taps.  One has a false bottom and a “sprinkler” to rinse the mash.  I also have a Bruheat to boil the wort.  So right now it looks like I need grain bags, long spoon, airlock, bottle caps, thermometer, wort chiller, and bottle and carboy brush.  Not too bad.  I still have the expensive stuff.  I had a nice counter flow wort chiler at one time, but it must have been thrown out in the flood.  Believe me . .  God Bless everyone that came to help the effort from friends to the City of Chicago, but some things got tossed that could have been salvaged.

My Story

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by busjunkie

Back in the early 90’s I began to realize that they yellow bears brewed in places such as Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Golden did nothing more than make me pee a lot, and frankley taste wise, I couln’t tell the difference.  I began tasting different bears.  I was living in Austin, TX at the time and was introduced to Shiner Bock and not soon after the first microbrewery appeard in town.  In 1994 when I moved to Chicago I had enough money to purchase a brewing kit.  I made an amber ale that turned out ok.  I made more and eventually moved up to all grain brewing.  I even had 3 seasonal bears.  A Christmas Ale, Pumpkin Ale, and Maple Stout.  In 2ooo, I had one son and another on the way and since brewing was not a family oriented activity, I gave it up for photography.  Well last year was a rather tough one.  After losing my darkroom in the basement in a 7ft flood, and now a pending divorce, I’m considering gettng back into the hobby.  It seems to gel well with my other hobbies of slow cooking BBQ, and my VW bus.  Not sure how far this will go yet, but again I have found a lot of information I don’t want to lose . . .  all my brewery notes were on the computer in the basement.  I am going to start this blog to keep notes and pages.  My blog roll shows some of my favorite brewpubs . . .  all but one is in Michigan.  Chicago had up to three at one time, but now only Goose Island remains.