Heating things up… adding heat to the fermentation chamber.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine was awesome, my family all lives out of town but I was able to see everyone earlier in the week and then on Thanksgiving Day I had invites to join two groups of friends for dinner.  I shared some of our Horsey Holidays Horse Pop, which was a hit, and ate and drank until I couldn’t move.  I was able to roll myself into my easy chair with a glass of bourbon and a cigar and called it a night.  Good times.

Horsey Holidays - Tis' the Season

Horsey Holidays – Tis’ the Season

A little while back I shared my info on wiring up the STC-1000 temp controller for heating and cooling a fermentation chamber.  At the time there was no need to add heating but now that temps are dropping it’s a necessity.  After researching a few options I originally went with a small space heater in order to help circulate the warm air.  This worked great for about a week but then the heater died, after sitting overnight the heater started working again but I didn’t trust it to keep our beer safe, so I added a Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Lamp to the chamber.  It’s been going for a couple weeks now and is holding rock solid.  Note that there are a couple types of reptile heat lamps, this one is ceramic and emits no light, probably the better choice for a fermentation chamber.

Fermentation Chamber with Heater

Fermentation chamber with heater.

Close up on the heat lamp

Close up on the heat lamp.

As you can see from the chart below, there was minimal variation in temps throughout the fermentation process.  I started the fermentation at 62°F (all temps converted from °C) for a couple days then ramped it up to 64°F.  The temperature range once the controller was set to 64°F was 63.68°F to 64.40°F, a variance of only 0.72°F  over a 2 week period (not counting the heater dying) and never more than 0.40 degrees off the target of 64.0°F.  Pretty impressive control.  I was also impressed that the heat lamp was able to pull the temp back to 64°F in <12 hours.

Click chart for full size image.

Fermentation Temperature Chart

Fermentation Temperature Chart

We’re getting ready to rack the beer onto some fruit for secondary fermentation this weekend and we’ll monitor the process with temp control there as well.  I’ve read/heard a thousand times that temp control is the biggest change a homebrewer can make to affect the quality of their beer.  This brew is a huge IIPA so I’m can’t wait to see what we get out of it.  We’ll report back once the beer is ready.

MOMO SMASH Release Party

In my last blog post I mentioned that we had a super  mega ultra top secret beer that we brewed under Codename: Ohio that we would be revealing soon.  Well folks, it’s happening.

First let me share the story of MOMO SMASH.  Well first first let me just say that we are not a real brewery and we don’t sell or release any beer.  We do talk a lot of shit and pretend to be much more than we are (two dudes hanging out in a garage), what’s that about fake it til ya make it?  We’re all over that.   Now on with the story…  Brian and I like Maris Otter Malt and Mosaic hops and we decided to brew a SMaSH with these ingredients.  One of our friends is known as Momo and he’s a big, burly, jolly, ginger-bearded kinda guy.  So, with the addition of some candied ginger to the boil and a fancy pants label, MOMO SMASH was born.  PLUG PLUG PLUG!!!  Our friend Momo lives in Ohio and owns a great cigar shop in Westerville called Governors Smoke Shop.  If you are in the area go see Momo and tell him the Mostly Harmless Brewing guys sent you, you are guaranteed to have a great time.

We kept MOMO under wraps until it was ready then we sent Momo a few bottles to enjoy.  Coincidentally, Momo was headed to our neck of the woods (Atlanta) the following weekend and we decided to launch the beer with a “Drink a MOMO with MOMO” party.  Due to some really shitty events I had to be out of town but Brian was able to meet up and enjoy some brews with our buddy.

Bottled and Waxed MOMO SMASH

Bottled and Waxed MOMO SMASH

Momo and MOMO SMASH

Momo and MOMO SMASH

Momo drinks a MOMO SMASH

Momo drinks a MOMO SMASH

This beer has no soul, but it does have spirit.

This beer has no soul, but it does have spirit.

Momo gave us his seal of approval on the beer but mentioned he’d like it even more if it was stronger.  Fine, then, just fine… challenge accepted.  We’ve started working a recipe and if things work out as planned we’ll have MOMO SMASH EXTREME! out at 13.2% ABV.  What?!?!  That’s right, you heard me… 13.2%.  To make things even better everyone was jealous that they didn’t have any MOMO SMASH.  We are the most popular fake brewery in the NW Atlanta suburbs, and we’re damn proud of that.

Getting a bit nutty and a follow up on our jalapeño saison.

This weekend we bottled out Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale.  We used this year’s NHC winning recipe as our base, with a few tweaks.  That recipe suggested adding hazelnut extract at bottling and we figured since we were doing this at bottling we’d try a few flavors out rather than just the hazelnut.  Brian’s wife has been requesting us to do a beer with black cardamom for a while now so I made an extract with some black cardamom pods to try out in this batch.  In addition to the black cardamom I ordered a variety pack of extracts from Amazon (these right here) that added almond, anise, cardamom, coconut, hazelnut and pistachio to our arsenal.

Testing the extracts.

Testing the extracts.

To test out the extracts we grabbed a 6’er of Sweetwater’s Georgia Brown and poured 6 oz samples and added the various extracts using an eyedropper.  We found that 3-4 drops per 6 oz of beer produced the best results.  We bottled in all bombers and went with 14 drops per 22 oz.  We didn’t care of the pistachio or the anise in the brown ale but liked all the others.  We were surprised that our favorite was coconut, it produced great coconut aroma and flavor and paired well with the brown ale.  We bottled some of the brown ale plain, and marked it as Nutless on the label… it was either that or Neutered, and we didn’t think Ned would take kindly to being neutered – but then I guess nutless isn’t much but.  Too bad, Ned, you’re nutless and that’s that.  Oh, Ned?  He’s the hipster nut that’s on each bottle.

Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale

Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale

We also scored some custom caps from http://www.bottlemark.com that we used on this batch.  Check them out if you need some custom caps.  Prices aren’t bad at all for a custom product, we paid $13.00 for 100 of these plus $5.00 for shipping.  Granted they are more than plain caps but less than $20.00 for a custom printed product is pretty good.  If you order take note of the lead time on the home page, they do get busy and you may have to wait a couple weeks to get your caps, it’s worth it.

tMHBC Custom Caps

tMHBC Custom Caps

We had a couple of brews that were ready for drinking this weekend so we got to sample some of the fruits of our labor.  One was our Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison that we first talked about in this post.  I have to say this is my favorite beer we’ve brewed so far and if you are curious about homebrewing then these little 1-gallon kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop are pretty nice.  The beer is fruity with a bit of spice and nice pepper aroma plus it finishes with a hint of heat that’s balanced by the sweet and tart saison.  I really enjoyed this beer.  The other beer is a secret, we brewed it with a friend in mind and we have to wait for him to get his bottles before we announce it.  We hope both of you reading this blog will come back in a week or so for the reveal.   Seriously, both of you guys come back… we’ll bring some sandwiches.

Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison.

Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison.

 

Continuous Hopping our Kiwi Kaleidoscope

Yesterday we brewed an IIPA with all New Zealand hops and dubbed it Kiwi Kaleidoscope.  We used a mix of Green Bullet, Pacific Gem and Kohatu hops and we’re going to add some fresh kiwi fruit to secondary.  In theory we’re pretty sure this is going to be the greatest beer ever brewed.  Don’t be jealous.

In order to make this brew day as much of a pain in the ass as possible we decided to try our hand at continuous hopping after watching some videos with Sam Caligone talking about it.  Since we don’t have an old-school vibrating football game we had to improvise.  We measured out 31 portions of hops to add throughout a 90 minute boil, 30 additions during the boil with a final addition at flame-out with a 15 minute steep.  We started at 90 minutes with heavy additions of the super high AA Pacific Gem (16.4%) and used a blend of Pacific Gem and Green Bullet through the middle of the boil finally tapering to Green Bullet / Kohatu and then just Kohatu with a small addition of all 3 at flameout.  Estimated IBU’s according to Beersmith are 122.2, nice.  It’s very, very hoppy and bitter – but it’s a smooth and crisp bitterness.  I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.

This is also our first brew using our fermentation chamber with full control over temps.  We started it at 62°F and after a few days we’re going to take it up to 64°F.  I’ve heard that having precise temp control makes a huge difference for homebrewers, can’t wait to find out.  I’ll make another post soon showing what I did to add heating to my chamber, it’s a cheap and easy setup.

Continuous Hopping - 31 Additions!

Continuous Hopping – 31 Additions!

My sack looks dirty.

My sack looks dirty.

Fermentation Temperature Control

Fermentation Temperature Control

Next week we should be ready to check out Señor Saison, our jalapeño saison and bottle up our Nutstalgia Nut Brown Ale.  We have several nut extracts (yes I said nut extracts) that we’re going to use in each bottle to have a variety to try.  Hazelnut, Almond and Pistachio for sure and we also have some Black Cardamom and Anise extract, not sure what I think about those in a brown ale but we might do 1-2 bottles just to check it out.  If they don’t kill us we’ll report back with results.