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First "real" beer brewed and fermenting!

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Chaos_Being

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Hello everyone! I've been lurking here for a few months absorbing new information (which is the sort of thing I do pretty much every time I pick up a new hobby.) I finally decided to register, posted a few times in EdWort's Apfelwein threads, and now...here I am, posting about beer :mug:

I admit that I'm still pretty new to all of this. I recieved a Mr. Beer kit last year after Christmas (I know I know, groans all around.) It sat in my basement for most of last year, not quite forgotten...but also not used. Then I decided that it would be a kick to have home-made beer available for Thanksgiving, so I finally busted it out. I brewed their "Whispering Wheat" kit, and decided to stick strictly to the instructions for my first time. The resulting beer wasn't as bad as so many make Mr. Beer stuff out to be around here, but I personally wasn't going to call it good either. My friends all loved it, but I found it to be a little thin, and didn't taste like any of the other wheat beers I had ever had. Regardless of the results, it fueled my interest enough, and in short time, I had located my LHBS, found a lot of informative websites and forums (such as this one,) and had purchased and read a copy of Palmer's "How to Brew."

After that first batch and my resulting explosion of research, I was ready to experiment. I wanted to use up the rest of my Mr. Beer ingredients, but did not want to stick to their recipies and instructions. For my second batch, I took one of their Oktoberfest kits, and added a half can (about 1.8lb) of dark LME, and a pinch each of cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. I was shooting for a nice spiced holiday beer for New Years, and that one came out much better than the first! I got a lot of compliments, and one of my friends (who wants to get into homebrewing once he has the space for it,) was shocked that it was my second attempt.

My third, and last Mr. Beer batch was kind of a "lets put a bunch of stuff together and see what happens" brew. I used a can each of their "West Coast Pale Ale" and "Canadian Draft" LME, added the 2nd half of the Briess dark LME I had, and almost a pound (an entire bottle) of orange blossom honey. I pitched all of this on the yeast cake from my 2nd batch. Partly due to planning, and then due to not having time, this one sat in the fermenter for 6 weeks. It's in bottles now...we'll see how it turns out. It tasted pretty good flat though.

In between the 2nd and 3rd batches, I dropped over $200 on "real" brewing supplies- the obsession is on now! I've already had a batch of Apfelwein fermenting since just before Christmas, and now two nights ago, I finally brewed my first beer with the good equipment. I told my wife (who loves beer and even loves the smell of cooking wort- I'm a lucky guy!) that she could pick the first beer. Her response- blueberry wheat. Here's the recipie I used:

6.6lb Briess Wheat LME
1 oz Hallertau added @ 60 min
1 can (3.1lb) Oregon blueberry puree
1 packet Nottingham (rehydrated @ 75 degrees for 15 minutes)

I thought about doing a late addtion of LME, but ended up just putting all of it into the boil at once. I started off boiling 2 gallons, by the time I added the LME, it looked like I was over 2.5 gallons. By the time I was done boiling, I was back down to 2 gallons. That plus 3 gallons of filtered water is currently fermenting in my basement at around 68 degrees. I'm planning to let it sit until next weekend (aka, about 10 days,) and then I'm going to rack the beer onto the blueberry puree in a 6 gallon Better Bottle (it's in a bucket with a gunked-up blowoff tube now :D ) I'll probably let it sit in the secondary with the fruit for at least 2 weeks, and then I'll bottle.

Speaking of blowoff tubes, I'm glad that I read about the necessity of those with wheat beers! It was just starting to foam into the tube 24 hours after pitching, by 30 hours (this morning) it was full of gunk and blowing bubbles out like mad! Fun stuff :)

I'm eager to see how this turns out...between this and the Apfelwein, there will be much :drunk: in my house in the coming month(s) (that, and I already have a mental list of things I want to brew up...)
 

Adam's Apples

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Well done mate, congrats on graduating to producing your own recipes.

I'm only 6 batches into my Homebrew hobby / obsession and this forum has helped me a lot, it really is a mine of information with some very experienced brewers who are happy to help.

Sounds like you have done your reading and research and have the basics down now.

Experiment, experiment, experiment!

Cheers
 

shafferpilot

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Sounds like you're doing everything right. Once you try out your 'real' beer you'll understand why people slam Mr Beer so much around here. BTW, you're not a 'real' homebrewer till you get to the point where you can't remember which beer is in which fermenter..... or even what you've made.
 

Rick_R

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I dropped over $200 on "real" brewing supplies- the obsession is on now!
Yep, you're hooked. Just curious, but are you planning (or should you plan) to boil the blueberry puree to avoid nasties? I've never added fruit to beer so I've no idea.

Rick
 
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Chaos_Being

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rickylr said:
Yep, you're hooked. Just curious, but are you planning (or should you plan) to boil the blueberry puree to avoid nasties? I've never added fruit to beer so I've no idea.

Rick
I'm not planning to with the puree...it's in a can, so it should be sterile. If the blueberries were fresh, then I probably blanch them a bit to pasteurize.
 

Finster

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rickylr said:
Yep, you're hooked. Just curious, but are you planning (or should you plan) to boil the blueberry puree to avoid nasties? I've never added fruit to beer so I've no idea.

Rick
Im kinda curious about that myself. I used fruit flavorings before. I made a blonde ale and added stawbarry flavoring to it before kegging. Ive been told that adding fresh stawbarrys to the secondary will acomplish the same thing but ive never tried it.
 

Tommish

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rickylr said:
Yep, you're hooked. Just curious, but are you planning (or should you plan) to boil the blueberry puree to avoid nasties? I've never added fruit to beer so I've no idea.

Rick
When I used grapes in mead, I put them in the wort after cutting the heat to the pot and let it steep for about 20 minutes. Boiling will cause some of the fruit matter to turn to pectin.
 
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Chaos_Being

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Well, I racked the beer into a 6 gallon BB today, onto the blueberry puree straight out of the can. I did sanitize the top of the can of puree and the can opener, and figured the puree itself was already sterile. The result- a big bottle full of funky looking purple beer :D

The OG of just the wheat wort was 1.05 at 68 degrees, and the SG of the beer I racked today was 1.012, also at 68 degrees. I didn't take another reading after I racked it onto the fruit, however. The hydrometer sample already tasted pretty good too- I noticed right away that the Nottingham yeast made a much "cleaner" tasting brew than the Mr. Beer yeast ever did, and the hop flavor was better too.

So far I'm sticking to my initial plan of letting it go for another two weeks in the secondary, and then bottling. Only the hydrometer will tell. My apfelwein should be done in a few weeks too hopefully (it has already cleared quite a bit,) and my last batch of Mr. Beer brew is going to need at least another month- probably more- in bottles I think (it turned out to be an un-intentional barleywine, or at least something that tastes quite barleywine-ish.) After all that, it'll be :drunk: time, hehe...
 
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Chaos_Being

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I had a blowoff tube on the secondary for the first few days, because I had seen repeated mentionings of another explosive fermentation happening after the addtion of fruit. That didn't happen to me; after two days it was bubbling a bit, but not much else. I put on an airlock, and gave the bottle a vigorous swirl, as it didn't appear that much of the fruit puree at the bottom had really been contacted by the beer. After getting all of that back into suspension and letting it settle, I got a mini-krausen for the next few days, and a lot more bubbling.

Now at 1 week in secondary down, there is still a bit of foam on the surface, although the bubbling has slowed back down dramatically. It's still a cloudy, strange, purple-red-brown color (depending on how much light is shone through the beer,) this stuff should be really unique once it's done :D
 

Porter fan

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Chaos_Being said:
I had a blowoff tube on the secondary for the first few days, because I had seen repeated mentionings of another explosive fermentation happening after the addtion of fruit. That didn't happen to me; after two days it was bubbling a bit, but not much else. I put on an airlock, and gave the bottle a vigorous swirl, as it didn't appear that much of the fruit puree at the bottom had really been contacted by the beer. After getting all of that back into suspension and letting it settle, I got a mini-krausen for the next few days, and a lot more bubbling.

Now at 1 week in secondary down, there is still a bit of foam on the surface, although the bubbling has slowed back down dramatically. It's still a cloudy, strange, purple-red-brown color (depending on how much light is shone through the beer,) this stuff should be really unique once it's done :D

The Nottingham yeast will continue to ferment the fruit for longer than a few weeks I'll bet keep your Hrydro handy and check it. I would also sugest racking it a third time to aid in clearing then adding some Lager yeast and moving it to a cooler climate for a month or longer. MMMMM sounds tasty for a hot summer day!
 
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Chaos_Being

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Porter fan said:
The Nottingham yeast will continue to ferment the fruit for longer than a few weeks I'll bet keep your Hrydro handy and check it. I would also sugest racking it a third time to aid in clearing then adding some Lager yeast and moving it to a cooler climate for a month or longer. MMMMM sounds tasty for a hot summer day!
Yeah, I'm planning on taking some hydrometer readings next week, to see what it's really doing. I may or may not rack it again, I don't really care if it's cloudy (it's a wheat beer after all,) but I don't want a bunch of the fruit pulp in the bottles either.
 

Stratotankard

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This sounds great! I've been batting around the idea of a fruity beer for the SWMBO. I'd love to see some pictures of this "purple haze". :fro:

Great work and keep us posted on how this turns out.

Cheers :mug:
 

Seabee John

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Chaos_Being said:
I had a blowoff tube on the secondary for the first few days, because I had seen repeated mentionings of another explosive fermentation happening after the addtion of fruit. That didn't happen to me; after two days it was bubbling a bit, but not much else. I put on an airlock, and gave the bottle a vigorous swirl, as it didn't appear that much of the fruit puree at the bottom had really been contacted by the beer. After getting all of that back into suspension and letting it settle, I got a mini-krausen for the next few days, and a lot more bubbling.

Now at 1 week in secondary down, there is still a bit of foam on the surface, although the bubbling has slowed back down dramatically. It's still a cloudy, strange, purple-red-brown color (depending on how much light is shone through the beer,) this stuff should be really unique once it's done :D
You might want to rack into a third fermenter after a week or so... just as a clarifier. I'm not that up on fruit beers (I live by the "no fruit in beer" man rule) but I do know that you can reduce the off flavors produced by some fruits by limiting the exposure time. Rack to the 3rd fermenter and let it clear for two weeks then bottle.
 
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Chaos_Being

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It ended up going just over 2.5weeks in the secondary, before I had time to check it again. I had checked the SG a week and a half before, and it was sitting at 1.011, I checked it again this week and it was the same, so to the bottling bucket it went :)

It still looked kind of purplish in the BB, but when I racked it, it was red in the bucket...I mean BLOOD red. The color isn't as pronounced in the bottles (I bottled one clear plastic bottle so I can use it for carbonation tests- aka "squeeze the bottle"), but it's defnitely going to be an interesting looking beer :D

In terms of taste, there is definitely a berry/fruit taste, although I would struggle to recognize it as definitely being blueberry. The real test will come when it's carbed and chilled, but so far, so good.

That being said, my next few brews will definitely not contain fruit...between 5 gal of this, and 5 gal of Apfelwein, I'm up to my eyebrows in fruit alcohol!
 

Rick_R

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In terms of taste, there is definitely a berry/fruit taste, although I would struggle to recognize it as definitely being blueberry. The real test will come when it's carbed and chilled, but so far, so good.
Keep us informed when you sample the finished product. Not sure how high up the brewing list this went, but you've made it sound interesting enough that I stuck it on there somewhere. 'Course, it's a long long list that that gets added too faster than I brew. :mug:

Rick
 
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Chaos_Being

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I feel that I can finally give a good report on this beer- as it's been said time and time again around here, it was neither carbonated nor tasty until after 3 weeks in the bottle. While it was still flat and green, it actually had a bit of a "rotten fruit funk" smell to it. Now, it's quite good!

The color is a medium reddish brown, with a light tan head. It has a definite fruity/berry aroma. The flavor is tart and crisp, with a subtle fruity taste and slight bitter finish. As I stated before though, the fruit taste is definitely not recognizable as blueberry, just...fruity or berry-like. I like the taste though, it definitely tastes like beer with an interesting fruit flavor, not wine/funky fruit juice with a beer aftertaste (which is what it tasted like green.)

My wife liked it, saying it "tastes like a tart weiss beer" (she loves wheat beers, hefes in particular.) She's happy, I'm happy, so... the first "real" beer can be chalked up to a success :tank:
 
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