Brewed and Bottled – Rainy Day IPA

This weekend we bottled up our Rainy Day IPA.  It’s a very sessionable at 4.0% ABV and not too hard on the palate at 42 IBU.  This is Brian’s recipe and was based on a few clone recipes of Founder’s All Day IPA.   The recipe included Maris Otter, Caramel and Rye malt along with Simcoe, Amarillo and Centennial hops.  Based on the samples we tried at bottling this should be a great beer.

Rainy Day IPA

Rainy Day IPA

We brewed this one on 12/28/13, our last beer of 2013.  The weather didn’t want to cooperate with us and it was cold and rainy and windy, all around crappy.  We had to set up a tent/awning to keep the rain out of our boil kettle and heaters cranking to keep us from freezing to death, OK… maybe 40°F wouldn’t freeze us to death but we live in the South so anything below 50° is freezing as far as we’re concerned.  Considering how nature was being such a mother the brew day went pretty well overall.

We also got to try out some new gear for this brew day.  We replaced the braided hose in our MLT with a bazooka screen and we got a pH meter that we used for the first time.  I won’t go into a bunch about pH meters as there’s plenty of reading out there if you choose, but we purchased the Oakton Eco Testr pH 2 and we have been happy with it so far.  It has an overall 4 star review and the price was $47.43 when we ordered it.  After we use it a bit more I’ll probably do a more detailed ‘review’ of it.

Capped and Cased

Capped and Cased

There are pros and cons to adding new gear to your brewhouse.  Improvements are always nice but anything you add to the equipment will change the results of your brew, hopefully for the better, but you still have to adjust for the changes made.  As an example, the bazooka screen flowed much quicker when we were lautering and sparging, we had to keep an eye on the flow and adjust so we didn’t move too quickly, I think this may have cost us a couple points of gravity but we know now for next time.  Using the pH meter I found the pH of our water out of the tap is 8.8, normal range is 7.0 – 8.5 so it’s a bit on the hard side.  I haven’t looked yet to see if I need to make any tweaks there however the mash pH was 5.4 so we fell within the acceptable range.

Everything else went smoothly.  We kept this in primary at 62°F for 2 weeks the dry-hopped for a week, cold-crashing it the last couple days before bottling.   I’m really stoked to try this one and with the lower ABV it should be ready fairly quickly.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will rain here in a couple weeks so I can try it out in its intended environment.

Here’s a little data porn for those that like this stuff.  I chart out the fermentation temps and then mark the low and high points during primary fermentation and any anomalies.  We use an STC-1000 temp controller on our fermentation chamber and, as you can see on the chart, it kept us within +/-  0.52°F for the whole two week fermentation.  That’s pretty solid control.

Click the chart to view that sucker full size.

Rainy Day IPA - Fermentation Chart

Rainy Day IPA – Fermentation Chart

Look at my awesome beer label.

A couple weeks ago we brewed a pseudo-clone of Founder’s All Day IPA.  You know how movies that are total bullshit will say something like, “inspired by actual events.”?  Well that’s what this beer is, except for the bullshit part… we hope.  We still need to dry hop it but I took gravity today and we’re done fermenting and we nailed a very sessionable 4.0% ABV with this one.  It smells great and it tastes awesome, I can’t wait to try it after dry hopping, carbing, etc.  This was Brian’s recipe, and since his last creation ended up being a soy sauce IPA I’m pretty glad to see this one seems to be coming along nicely.

But this post isn’t about the beer, it’s about the label.  Which is awesome.  Brian and collaborate on the labels and both of us throw in ideas and I usually do the photoshopping.  Sometimes we have similar ideas, and sometimes we don’t.  This time we were 180° apart.  I was thinking of a simple shot of an IPA glass on a table with the view looking out through a rainy window pane… because something like that is in line with my Photoshop abilities.  But no, not Brian, he’s all like, “I think we (he meant me) need to do something like this (insert Singin’ In The Rain movie poster) for our label.  Maybe replace the heads with hop cones?”  OK, Brian… fine…. I’ll give it a shot.  I thought I was going to get off easy with a stupid beer in a window, pfft.

But I have to say, I like the results.  That was a pretty good idea he had there – and it helped me to continue to develop my Photoshop skillz.  It’s not perfect, but it is pretty sweet.  We’ll post more info on Rainy Day IPA when it’s done, I may have to wait for a rainy day to try one.

Singin' in the Rainy Day IPA

Singin’ in the Rainy Day IPA

And for comparison, the original movie poster…

Singin' in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain

We Made More Mead!

Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Pirate Pancake Syrup we decided to make some more mead this weekend.  I hate to admit it but I think PPS was probably the best thing we’ve made so far, that was some good mead.  It was also very “Limited Edition” since we only made 1 gallon.  So we’re hoarding it like crazy, we gotta stretch these few bottles out at least 4 months until the next batch is done.  I’m not making any promises that’s going to happen.

We also decided to whip up a 1 gallon batch of Acerglyn, a honey-maple mead.  We don’t know what the hell we’re doing here, but that’s never stopped us before, so we used 44 oz of honey, 12 oz of Maple sizzurp and a vanilla bean and pitched some wine yeast on it.  Further reading on the subject of mead making shows a lot of people add some acid blend to their meads to help balance the mead and give it crispness or tannins to increase body.   I’m going to leave this one as is and see what we get out of it.

In Goes the Honey

In goes the honey…

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Don’t worry though, we haven’t abandoned beer!  We also brewed a batch of a top secret pale ale we’re calling Codename: Ohio, we’ll share more info on that one later.  Our fresh hop Simcoe IPA is coming along nicely as well and I just added 4 oz of hops to the carboy to dry hop for 5 days.  That bad boy will go in bottles or a keg this weekend.  MMmmm… hops.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

It’s Harvest Time! Wet Hop Simcoe IPA Brewday

Tis the season for fresh, wet hops!  We’ve never brewed with wet hops before, mainly because we’re newbies and this is the first harvest season we’ve brewed in.  We had to make a fresh hop brew so we got our hands on some Simcoe and found a recipe we liked, we tweaked it some and brewed this on Saturday.

We used Maris Otter for the base malt as well as some 2-Row, vienna and carapils.  We also added a pound of corn sugar to boost it up some.  Once all is said and done this will have a pound of Simcoe in it.  We brewed with 12 oz and I’ve got 4 oz vacuum sealed in the freezer to dry-hop for 5 days.

Fresh Simcoe Hops in a Box

Fresh Simcoe Hops in a Box

Simcoe Hops Ready to Drop

Simcoe Hops Ready to Drop

Hop Spider in Action - Full o' Simcoe

Hop Spider in Action – Full o’ Simcoe

Boo helped us brew, she was not impressed.

Boo helped us brew, she was not impressed.

There are a few sites that have fresh hops, prices seem to be all over the place but from what I’ve seen an average is about $10.99 – $15.99/lb depending on the variety.  When using fresh hops you need to use 4-5X more by weight to get the same results as you would with pellets, due to the water weight these carry.  Note that wet hops and whole leaf dry hops are not the same, for whole dry hops I’ve read you need about 20% more to get the same results as pellets, YMMV.

FRESH HOP SOURCES (Availability changes quickly, these sites have fresh hops as of this post.)