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Old 08-14-2013, 04:56 AM   #1
tinman717
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Default Sweet Potato Amber Ale

Hey guys, I'm new to home brewing and just joined the forum. Nice to find such a great community for this!

This is my third brew, the previous two having been from kits that involved steeping grains and then boiling with extract. I'd like to get into all-grain soon, but this time I'm going the same approach with steeping grains and extract, except with a recipe I devised myself after a lot of research online.

I'm currently brewing as I type this! Being the overly-eager person I am, I wanted to get experimental right away. I cut up three medium-sized sweet potatoes and baked them in the oven at 350F for about a half hour, until they were soft. I didn't skin them. I put them in the water (about 4 gallons, split between two 3 gallon stock pots), and let them soak as the grains steeped for a half hour at ~155F. Then I removed the sweet potatoes and set them aside.

I used:

1lb Crystal 60L
1lb CaraRed
2oz Light Roasted Barley

I'm going to add an ounce of Chinook hops once this stuff comes to a boil, then top it off with an ounce of Cascade towards the end! As usual, there's 6lbs of light malt extract going in there too.

For extra sweet potato flavor, I'm going to put the chunks of sweet potato in a paint-straining bag (what I used to steep the grains) and boil for the last few minutes. After flame-out I'm going to add a few cinnamon sticks and pitch. I plan on dry-hopping with just a half ounce of each hops after transferring to secondary (I'm a hop fiend!).

I'll keep you guys updated as things turn out, but I was eager to start posting here asap. Feel free to offer suggestions as I am definitely still in the beginning stages of learning.

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Old 08-14-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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Very curious about this one. Big sweet potato fan. Staying tuned.

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Old 08-15-2013, 03:58 AM   #3
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Awesome! Just got home from work and checked on the concoction. She's foaming away at a healthy 66F! I've got the bucket sitting in cold water filled up to about the 1.5 gallon mark. Seems to be keeping things steady at that temp. I'm adding ice cubes and swapping out frozen water bottles to maintain the cold water temp.

Upon opening the door coming home from work I was overwhelmed by the scent of sweet potatoes. Not sure if it was from the post-boil junk that was dumped out of the stock pots and into the garbage can or coming from the fermenter itself. Probably a combo of the two. But it smells great, just like grandma's house on Thanksgiving day! I tasted the wort before pitching and there was definitely sweet potato in there. The question is how much of it will shine through. I'm wondering if adding brown sugar to the boil would help enhance flavor next time?

I had one yeast-related question:

I used liquid WLP004 yeast this time. It was my first time using liquid yeast. For my other two batches, I prepared a bowl of sterilized water and sugar and rehydrated dry yeast in it upon starting the brewing process. The bowl would be bubbling vigorously by the time I was ready to pitch. I know the vials of WLP004 don't require a starter, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to use the same tactic. I dumped the liquid yeast in a bowl of sugary water, but two hours later when I was ready to pitch it, it wasn't showing any signs of bubbling. Is this just the way liquid yeast is? I know that proper starters are made a day or two ahead of time, but I figured making the simple starter would at least be able to confirm that the yeast were alive and ready to work.

Rock on and enjoy the Wednesday night, everyone!

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Old 08-15-2013, 04:09 AM   #4
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I'm also interested to see about this. I think one of the main components of a sweet potato's flavor is sweetness. I fear that your yeast may ravage the flavor compounds in ways leaving the finished product far from what you hope. Hopefully that's not the case. Let us know when you're able to have a taste!

Cheers
BG

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Old 08-16-2013, 05:49 PM   #5
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I'm hoping that the cinnamon will help bring out some of the sweet potato flavor as I'm sure most of the defining sweetness will be eaten up. Do you guys think using brown sugar as priming sugar would add any noticeable flavor? Just trying to add spices and flavors that usually go with sweet potatoes to hopefully bring the flavor a bit more forward.

I'll do a taste test upon transferring to the secondary and see where things are at. I appreciate all the interest!

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Old 08-16-2013, 06:47 PM   #6
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The yeast would consume the priming I'd imagine. Maybe some residual? Be sure to boil it down.

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Old 08-16-2013, 08:43 PM   #7
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I would go for it. However, don't just use 5oz, make sure you use a calculator to estimate your amount based on target carbonation volume. I recommend the following on the Northern Brewer website that has many different sugar types listed, of which brown sugar is one. http://www.northernbrewer.com/priming-sugar-calculator/

For an amber, I usually shoot for around 2.3-2.4 volumes.

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Old 08-19-2013, 03:44 AM   #8
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Cool, will do man. I definitely want to get the carbonation true to the style.

I took a gravity reading today and I'm a little concerned about the results. The OG was 1044, and today it was 1015. That only comes out to 3.9% abv. I would think fermentation is about over now, after 5 days. I was expecting something at least 5%. Anyone know why it's so low? 6 lbs of LME went into it.

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Old 08-19-2013, 05:27 AM   #9
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Why do you think it's done fermenting ? I usually let mine go for at least 14 days. I would wait another 5 days and take another reading.

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Old 08-19-2013, 06:49 PM   #10
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I thought the vast majority of initial fermentation occurred within the first few days and after that the yeast are simply cleaning up the leftovers that are harder to break down? I wasn't sure if there's much left to increase abv after the first few days. Is 5 days too early to be getting an estimated final abv?

I also did some research on the importance of maintaining fermentation temp at optimum temperatures and have learned that maintaining temps in the mid-60s is really only important during that initial fermentation rush as well. I've been using the kitchen sink filled with cold water as my "temperature" controller, but I do need to use the sink now, haha! I removed the bucket from the water yesterday and it's now sitting at room temp which is about 70F. Do you guys think this is alright or should I keep the temp a little lower for a while longer?

Thanks again for the tips! I've learned so much from this community already.

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