Hello from sunny warm NB Canada....what a difference a month makes! My first ever hop plants are even responding.... and there seems to be an evolution in my home-brew goals and standards. I had no idea where to post this...so it's here by default. I will gladly take direction on that as well as anything else.
Sorry for the long essay here, but I got an auto prompt from the moderator or someone to log in and update folks. Not my fault if there is a lot to report, and a lot of brew being swilled out here of late....
I am newly back into brewing, (6 brews), after a 7 year hiatus. I have had mixed results, mostly due to poor temperature control, and perhaps higher standards, after my friends and family have made the switch over the last few years from mostly commercial, (this is a Moosehead Pale Ale and Moosehead Light neigborhood), to mostly micro brewed beer, or some of the hybrids companies like Moosehead make now, like Bounty etc.
Here's a quick summary. I'll be interested to hear any comments or challenges to my opinions: And yes I now have a hydrometer and will use and record henceforth.
late Jan 2014: Mr Beer Brown Ale. Had 2 cans in the basement I got on sale at the Coop dirt cheap at least 6 years ago, expired at the time. Did them both in a standard bucket primary, Coopers Ale yeast packet, with 1 KG Muntons Brew Enhancer and threw in some cascade hop pellets after initial fermenting backed off, as I racked to carboy Taste was rather flat. I'm not a brown ale guy, it turns out. The hops helped a lot...The finished kegged product at 4 weeks was pretty darned good .... had about 20 litres I think. Was gone in 3 more weeks or so. May have gone on to be great, who knows? One thing for sure, if I ever see it again for $3.99 a can.....
mid Feb 2014. Coopers Aus Real Ale. Another old kit, from 2009 when I meant to get back at it..but what the heck, cheap and easy to test when you keg, right? New yeast to match yeast in packet...1 kg. Brew Enhancer. No action after 2 or 3 days. Had to get a 2nd packet and re pitch with temps swinging too much between 60 and 73 or so degrees.... Late Feb, secondary/carboy....early March to keg. Very yeasty homemadey tasting. Sorry, but that is about all I can say. I hope to learn the vocabulary for all this stuff like many of you have. Mid May, same. Late May, dumped for the needed keg. Too bad.
I had made 2 or more of those kits years ago, and all were well met and happily consumed. A great winter choice. I remember a keg in the snowbank, a woodpile, a chainsaw, an axe, and two smiling woodcutters who survived it all with no injuries.
Mid Feb:, Brew Canada Canadian Red Ale. High hopes for this one. The can has a great label. 1 lb brew enhancer, 1lb dextrose, yeast packet provided, half an ounce of Cascade pellets in primary. Looked and smelled good all along.... But it never grew up and lost the yeasty taste, and at 4 months now, it's barely okay, and getting consumed gradually. I think I would have called it a good homebrew 8 years ago. More fussy now I guess. Probably still poor temp control, but getting a bit better each batch.
Mid March:. Coopers Cervesa, (for the wife), what with summer coming on and her dislike of all things brown or red. Same deal, yeast provided, and some European sounding hop pellets pitched in with the yeast..can't remember...ended in eau, I recall....I now understand there are better ways. This one was, like the others, at least a week in the primary, lid closed, and it was the last to go to the carboy/secondary, after much reading on that practice. Tasted a bit cidery or yeasty, or both early on, but I figured it was going to be good, temp control much better, 66 - 70 ish. At week 4, it was kegged and still very green tasting. Week 8 it had a rather strange metal aftertaste. Week 12, metal taste has backed off a bit, and it is drinkable, like the Red, but barely.
Maybe Cidery is the best description. I kept it in the dark entirely, as I can't stand the skunky taste of Corona if it glimpses the light of day....(no wonder the girls ram it full of limes)... I was pretty careful with cleaning and sanitizing, but maybe I slipped up somewhere. I used to sanitize my lips and a little extra on the end of the transfer hose and siphon that way. No more of that for me....Disappointing, for sure. She won't touch the stuff, and I am thinking of inviting some less discriminating pals over to free up another keg... Only problem is, the bastards are getting harder to find as they evolve! Maybe their kids....or their parents!
Early April. Coopers Stout. There is a whole thread on this in the fermentation section. "If I could get and stupider" Sky high temps due to a much larger boiling pot and a pot of hot coffee in the primary, and no understanding of how much ice water in the sink for hours to cool it quickly. Over chilled overnight, fairly cold pitch temp, over warmed by a runaway heater on the counter....and still a very nice ale! Here we are at week 8 and it is almost time to say goodbye, sadly. Still a tiny hint of yeast in the background, (you guessed it, the pack inside the lid).... I really should figure out what to do about that and order some better yeast...?
It gets better each week, but it had to fill in for a few failures, so, it's all but gone. I would definitely make it again, and even add the nice fresh ground fresh brewed coffee, but I would make about 18 litres, since I have discovered it is rather thin compared to it's cousin in the adjacent keg.
Lastly, the great:
Festa Brew Double Oatmeal Stout. So easy it is tough to tell your friends you "made" it...but I do. Followed the directions but added a week, and rather skeptically transferred to the keg at week 3. Seemed pretty nice uncarbed and warmish. Now, at 6 weeks, it is awesome. *Best homebrew I have ever tasted, bar none. I said the same about the Coopers....but this is in a different league. $45 dollars total cost for 23 litres, when not on sale....I actually paid $36, vs $20 plus DME and Dextrose etc....for what should have been 18 litres. Not a huge price difference.
* I must say, none of my friends or acquaintances make beer anymore, and I have very little to base my opinion on other than my own very limited skills and results so far.
The craft brew experts, and pretenders (like me), among my gang are very impressed. I don't think you can buy anything in the liquor store here that is nearly as good. Maybe at a micro brew pub somewhere....but we don't have one out in the boonies where I live.
I am putting on another DOS now, and a Canadian Dry from the same company. And a Coopers English Bitter. We'll see if the results are in keeping with the trends I am observing. I will be extra careful with all sanitation, yeast, and temp controls, since no doubt I have created my own mixed results of late.
I will even try to wait the recommended months and months....but really, if they can sell me a kit that produces very smooth no yeast etc tasting ale in 3 weeks....for 70 cents a pint? I may buy all the gear to go all grain, keep a great looking brew room, and just say I made it from scratch!