Welcome to my new obsession.... errr hobby.

Well, I've finally taken the plunge and begun homebrewing.  I have thought about brewing my own beer for quite some time.  In fact, several years ago I actually began collecting equipment.  But, I never brewed a drop of beer.  However This past Christmas ('07) my wife bought me a Mr. Beer kit.  It sat around the house for quite some time.  Finally on May 17 2008 I fired up the old brew pot.  Ok... not so much a brewpot but it was the biggest pot I had.  The Ale is now happily fermenting along.  I plan to bottle on Sunday June 1st.  Then, after the beer has had a few more weeks in the bottles, I'll crack one open and let you know how they turned out.  (Sorry about the crack pun...  see pic if you missed it.)

 The purpose of this site is to share my experiences with you as I progress in my knowledge of brewing.  Later I'll be adding photos, brewlogs, links, etc.  So please check back from time to time.

... That's not my crack by the way.  I found the image online and thought it was funny.

High Lonesome News

First coat of paint on the keggerator.

I put the first coat of paint on the keggerator today.  I used up two cans of spay paint on the first coat.  I guess that's what I get for trying to paint in high winds.  I got a couple of runs in the paint.  But, that's ok because after it dries thoroughly I'm going to sand out the runs and wet sand the whole thing before it gets a second coat.  After that I'm going to get a magnetic sheet printed with my logo for the freezer door.  Then I'm going to connect the doors together so that they both open together.  That way I can mount the taps up higher on the door without hitting them each time I open the freezer.

Began work on the KEGERATOR today!

Well the $30 fridge got a little clean up today.  I'm planning on sanding and painting it this weekend.  I'm pretty sure it will hold 5 kegs and a gas bottle on the inside.  I may be able to get 6 kegs in there if I put the gas bottle on the outside.  I'm thinking two taps through the door.  Two kegs cold in there as back ups.  I may even eventually add a fifth keg with soda and a third tap through the door.

Two Brew days in a row...  Whoo Hooo!

I fired up the old brew kettle again today.  Today's beer is an English Brown Ale.  It's supposed to be similar to Newcastle Nut Brown.

Poker Night with some friends and some old town brown.

Not really a brew related entry...  But, I had a great time and I did have a few beers.

Fired up my new turkey fryer and keggle.

A friend of mine who used to drive a beer truck gave me an old keg that he has had in his barn for years.  I borrowed an angle grinder and cut the top out.  It was a little big for my new turkey fryer.  So I stacked up a few bricks and I was rock solid.  So, I fired up the new rig today and brewed up five gallons of EdWort's Hause Pale Ale.

Check out that ghetto stir spoon.

Went shopping.

I had Friday off from work.  So, I went shopping.  Brew shopping that is.

Pictured:  (left to right)

Crushed grain, hops and yeast for two recipes.
A Pound of Dry Malt Extract for a yeast starter.
I used a gift card from Lowe's to get a new Turkey fryer kit.
An assortment of beers from Total Wine and More.
I picked up a new cooler from a thrift store.  ($8.00...  Cool huh?)
I picked up a new Ale Pail so I can ferment two beers at once.
Some sandpaper to clean up the rough edges on my new Keggle
And some paint for my kegerator.

Pretty nice haul!  I got everything pictured for less than a Hundred bucks.

I got myself a fridge.

I bought a $30 refrigerator from a guy at work.  It's got a little age on it but he promised me that it works.  Once the weather warms up above freezing it will get some TLC and maybe a little sanding.  Then I'll shoot it with a coat of paint drill some holes in the door mount some taps and I'll be all set with beer on tap at home.  Cool huh?

First try at my own recipe...  Needs a little work.

Well I got my keg system all set up and I really wanted to have some "beer on tap" for Christmas.  Instead of repeating a brew recipe that turned out well I decided to try my hand at creating a recipe.  It was.... "drinkable".  But, to be honest, it wasn't very good.  I formulated my recipe taking things that I liked from a couple of different recipes and tried to combine them into something more to my taste.  It came out a little too bitter and a little darker than I wanted.  Also, I added some flaked wheat to give it a little more head, but I may have used a little too much.  It's hard to pour without foaming over the side of the glass.  It's not a total loss.  I'll regroup and try again.

High Lonesome Brewing Co. is on the "Silver Screen".

I made my first YouTube video of one of my recent brew sessions.   It took a while to get it edited but It's uploaded on YouTube.  If you'd like to watch the video then please click here.  After you watch you can leave comments and or ratings.  But, please be gentle.

You win some you loose some.  (Brews #5,6,&7 are in the bottle.)

I won a race pool a couple of months ago and I used my winnings to purchase enough grain, hops, and yeast to make three five gallon batches of beer. 

Brew #5:  The First batch I brewed was a light hybrid ale.  It uses corn and rice as well as malted barley to create a beer that is similar to an American style lager.  (Bud, Miller, Coors)  I popped a couple open last week and they are pretty good.  I tried a couple out on my brother and my uncle.  (Both are Bush Lite drinkers.)  They both seemed to like it.

Brew #6:  The next up was a blonde.  A little darker and more full flavored than the light hybrid but it's still pretty light colored without a lot of bitterness and hop aroma.  I cracked on of these open tonight.  It's not quite carbonated yet.  The basement has been pretty cool and I think that's slowing the carbonation process down a little.  But, my first impression is that it's pretty darn good.  I'll try it again in a couple of weeks and I'll let you know more.

Brew # 7:  Third, I made a Bavarian Hefeweizen.  Which is a wheat beer made with Bavarian yeast.  It is supposed to be a cloudy beer with hints of fruit and clove flavors.  I've never had a Bavarian Hefe so I can't say for sure what it's supposed to taste like.  But, I have had a few american wheat beers and loved them.  However something went terribly wrong with this one.  It taste awfull!  It's like rubbing alcohol and grass.  I'm not sure what the problem is and I'm hoping it will mellow out in time.  But, right now, It's undrinkable.

Cold Draft beer anyone?

Well, after four or five batches, I'm already getting a little tired of bottling my beer.  I love brewing it, tasting it, sharing it, learning about it, and planning what to brew next.  But, bottling it....  not so much.. 

The solution:  Kegs.  I recently purchased four used soda kegs.  I've got to clean them up and replace the o rings.  Then I need to get a CO2 regulator and pick up some hoses, spigots, and a tank of CO2.  Then I'll have to figure out a way to cool it for serving.  But, it will be very cool to have beer on tap at home.  Plus I won't have to wash, sanitize, fill, and cap all those bottles.  Another good thing about kegging is that I don't have to wait three weeks for the beer to carbonate.  Which means faster turnaround from grain to glass.  So once the holidays are behind and I have a little extra cash to spend I'll pick up the rest of the parts and pieces.

Brew #4 is in the bottle.

Well as soon as I fixed my temperature problems I couldn't wait to brew something.  So ,with no real plan,  I went to the local homebrew shop and picked up a kit.  It's a True Brew American Wheat.  Having just recently tried a Harpoon "UFO" Hefewiezen I really wanted to make one of these beers.

I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  Big shock there...  I did a late extract addition.  In other words, I brought the water to a boil, then added about 1/3 of the total extract plus my first hops and started a 30 min. timer.  With about 10 minutes to go I remove from the heat and added the remainder of the extract, the finishing hops, and some Irish moss.

Once the wort was cooled, I transferred it to the bucket and aerated the crap out of it with my "holed" spoon.  And, just for fun, I tossed in an herb ball with about 1/4 oz of Argentinean Cascade hops that I had left over from a previous batch.  I'm not sure how much "aroma" is left in them since they have been opened for a while.  But, they have a great smell, and I didn't want to waste them.  I took a hydro sample and hit my OG perfectly.  1.051

The potential problemBottle Bombs  I bottled the beer on 8/10/08 after having left it in the fermenting bucket for three weeks.  I took a Hydro sample and placed it into the fridge to cool down to 60 deg.  While it was cooling I bottled the beer.  I ended up with 51 bottles of great smelling beer.  I tasted the hydro sample and it tasted good too.  The "potential" problem came when I removed the sample from the fridge and tested it.  I missed my FG by quite a bit.  I ended up at 1.021.  It was supposed to go all the way down to 1.015. 

I'm not sure what went wrong.  But I think I may have cooled the wort a little too much in the fermentation chamber.  I may have accidently stopped fermentation.  I say this because 24 hrs after pitching the yeast fermentation went crazy.  It sounded like the stuff was boiling.  But the temp was a little high so I added some Ice to the cooler.  I got the temps into the low 60s but the bubble slowed down to a crawl.  In fact, I'm worried that I may have stopped fermetation all together. 

I calculate the alchahol to be about 3.9%.  Which, in itself, is not a bad thing.  But I worried that after stirring up the beer durring bottling and adding more sugar for priming, that fermentation will start up again inside the bottles.  I know that is how the beer gets carbonated.  But too much of a good thing is sometimes bad.  I'll keep an eye on the beer and watch for exploding bottles.  I keep you posted.

Ok...  I think I've solved my temperature Problems.

I built a fermentation chamber.  (I'll post pics. as soon as I take some.)  But basically I took the largest cooler that I have and built an insulated top to fit over it.  The new top is pretty much an open top box that, when turned upside down, is tall enough to fit over the cooler with the bucket or glass carboy inside.  I put some frozen jugs of Ice inside and It keeps the beer/wort cool.  It looks pretty "ghetto" but it works.  During a recent heat wave of upper 90s. and with temps of 83 deg.in the basement I was able to maintain "bucket temps" in the mid to lower 60s.  In fact, after fermentation slowed down, (Beer puts off heat while it's fermenting.)  I had to decrease the amount of ice to raise the temp.

News...  No more brewing til I solve the temperature problems.

I've decided to hold off on brewing any more beer til I figure out some way to regulate the temps.  There's a fridge in my moms basement that isn't being used.  I've been playing with the temp controller and I can keep it around 48-50 deg. That's too cool for an ale.  I'm thinking it may be perfect for a lager.  My other option is to build some of ice chest that will hold my bucket.    

News...  Third batch may be bad.

It started off pretty well.  The brew day went pretty smooth considering it was my first all-grain batch.  I missed my Original Gravity by a few  points which means that I didn't get all the available sugars out of the grain.  Not a total loss, It just means my beer would be a little lighter in color and body with slightly less alcohol. (I think that's what it means.  I'm still learning.)  It tasted pretty good on brew day.  So the problem must have occurred during the fermentation.  From what I've been told the most likely culprit is temperature.  (AGAIN !!!)  This was a five gallon batch and my fermenting bucket wouldn't fit into the cooler so I couldn't keep it cool.  It has a strong "cinnamon like" after taste.  I went ahead and bottled it anyway.  Maybe it'll smooth out after a while in the bottles.

News... Second batch may be better than I thought.

I was really worried about this batch.  Nothing seemed to go right while brewing this one.  But, after it has been in the fermenter for a couple of weeks, It looks like it may be OK...  I gave it a little taste on bottling day and to my surprise it tasted pretty good.  I has a little bit of a citrus taste.  I'm not sure, but that could be because it fermented pretty warm for the first couple of days.  After that I got it into a cooler with some ice bottles.  I'm told that warm fermentation can cause fruity flavors.  I've decided to call it: Kornbread's Old 97 Ale.  You can see a label I designed for it on my labels page.  You can also read my brew notes (with pictures) on the "California common ale" page at the top.

News... First batch was a success.

Batch one update:  I finally cracked open a few from the first batch.  They were not bad at all.  In fact, I ended up drinking about 3 1/2 Liters in one sitting.  I must say that I got a little high.  :)  I saved a few so they can condition a little longer.  Perhaps they will have a little more head once they've been in the bottle longer.  See a pic of the first brew on my photos page...