Apartment Brewing

2011 - A year in re’brew’ a.k.a Thank you!

The website has been up and tracking our beerventures since May of 2011 - so its not quite a year, but I’m not gonna split hairs. 

Before we get started:

First off - to anyone who is reading this. This website has been slowly growing in readership, every time I post our view numbers sky-rocket to levels I didn’t think were possible (which basically is a number greater than my 2 parents - Thanks Mom and Dad!). Looking at the analytics I really need to say thank you to the community at /r/homebrewing over at reddit - you guys rock so hard, I also need to thank the Tumblr community and specifically other homebrewers on Tumblr - you guys make it look so easy (some times its not).

This website, the views, re-blogs, comments, questions have fuelled my passion for brewing and encouraged me to get back to the stove even after creating literally the spawn of Satan in a bottle a couple of times (see Braun Ale for case study) - and every time I get back, I remember why I love brewing so much - so thank you.

To the Beer!

Over the short brew year we learned a lot; a lot about beer styles, brewing methods, grain and yeast science, recipe choices, and hop cultivation. We learned most of this thorugh our ‘seat of the pants’ approach to brewing, and living in a situation where our LHBS (Local homebrew shop) has very little to work with.

Out of the 6 beers and 1 mead that we whipped up over the year, I would have to honestly say that I was happy with 3 of them - The Oatmeal Stout, the Maple Porter, and the Double IPA.

  • The Braun Ale was an absolute train wreck that tastes like sour garbage (turned out I used about half as much Munich malt as I should have).
  • The Butterbeer - though an awesome idea, tasted like mouth wash - most likely from adding spices too early, and over doing it with the Clove (I’ll be trying this one again this year).
  • The American IPA ended up fermenting at about 80-85 degrees and developed strong strong fruit and wine flavours.

The Mead however - was a roaring sucess. After enough time conditioning its sweeter flavours and Orange character are starting to shine, the big failing here was in using an ale yeast and not a bread or champagne yeast - again, LHBS restrictions. There will be many a meads this year.

Over all the most important things that have been learned at the Aptbrew in 2011 are:

  1. Preparation is key - getting everything ready days in advance, and double checking everything.
  2. If you have to adjust your recipe, do it with math, not ‘instinct’ (not yet at least).
  3. Temperature control - during fermentation is a must. I toyed with the idea of jumping to all grain late last year, but abandoned it when I realized the investment would be wasted if I did not have a fermentation chiller
  4. Track your brewday and your fermentation - I created sheets to track temp changes and visual observations daily, this allowed me to move carboys when the apt got hot or suddenly cooled down, and detect is something was going wrong early.
  5. Order grains online. I love our LHBS and I want to support them, but the inconsistency of their selection, and my inability to predict what they will have when I want to brew, throws a wrench in brew day plans more often then not. As of March - aptbrew will be getting is grain exclusively from Canadian Homebrew Supplies.

2012 - Goal - realistic ones and stuff.

So what is in store for 2012. Seeing as we are 1.5 months in and nothing has been posted yet, obviously we gotta get down to some brewin’. The goal for the year is to produce two beers a month - I am not going to hold hard to that number, but that is the goal. So far the list of what will be brewed is slim - so if you are reading this tweet me your ideas/suggestions to @TorriGunn or facebook it or email it to torri (at) aptbrew.ca.

 Goals not directly related to beer types

  • Get a fermentation chiller up and running. - Ben has something in the works, but I am thinking I will slap together a Son of a Fermentation Chiller for the time being (PDF link to instructions)
  • Revamp the website - this is something I have wanted to do for a while. I cannot find a format that is conducive to the type of tracking of each beer I would llike to do.
  • Have regular tasting parties - Every time a beer was finished we were inviting all of our beer-loving friends to come over and enjoy it with us, these have always lead to great ideas, great times, and good solid productive feed back. Anyone who doesn’t do this should.
  • Install the kegging system - yes, that’s right aptbrew is going draft this year. Through a supportive father, and his vigilant friends, I acquired some reconditioned corneys and a C02 system, all I need is a kegorator to house them. So look for some interesting project posts over the year!

So the long and the short of it is - 2011 was a good year for us, more than half of what we brewed was drinkable and well received. Here’s to hoping that 2012 we can hit the 60% range, albeit with an increase in production volume!

Cheers,

And again, sincerely, thank you for reading 

-Torri  

Containing the Mead
So Justin and I took the evening last night and drew the mead into bottles to start the long - and hopefully productive - maturation process. 
As far as alcohol content, the work it done - a stagaring 13.5%abv. The flavour however will change constantly. 
Mead is apparently a concotion that gets better and better around the 3-4 month mark, which honestly is going to take some patience. We ran ourselves off a small taste - and already it is getting better, meaning it doesn’t taste like rocket fuel anymore! The honey flavour is really comming through, with some lingering Orange and All Spice flavours hiding in there. Justin observed quite acuratley that there is a white wine dryness on the end of it - most likely caused by the yeast. 
So for now we say “rest easy my friend” as the Mead begins its long journey, and I will eagerly anticipate drinking it in a few months time (probably a few weeks though).
See all of the pictures here!

Containing the Mead

So Justin and I took the evening last night and drew the mead into bottles to start the long - and hopefully productive - maturation process. 

As far as alcohol content, the work it done - a stagaring 13.5%abv. The flavour however will change constantly. 

Mead is apparently a concotion that gets better and better around the 3-4 month mark, which honestly is going to take some patience. We ran ourselves off a small taste - and already it is getting better, meaning it doesn’t taste like rocket fuel anymore! The honey flavour is really comming through, with some lingering Orange and All Spice flavours hiding in there. Justin observed quite acuratley that there is a white wine dryness on the end of it - most likely caused by the yeast. 

So for now we say “rest easy my friend” as the Mead begins its long journey, and I will eagerly anticipate drinking it in a few months time (probably a few weeks though).

Braun Ale Recipe

Braun Ale (Brown Ale)

Grain Bill

4 lb - Mutton Light Malt Extrat (syrup) 
2 lbs - Pale Ale Malt 
2 lbs - Munich Malt
.5 lbs - Crystal Malt 140L 
.25 lb - Chocolate Malt 

Hops


.5oz Nugget (60min) 
.5oz Willamette (30min) 

Yeast 
Saftbrew T-58

Wort chilled to 19 C, and yeast pitched

Imperial IPA Recipe

Imperial India Pale Ale

Grain Bill

5.7lb - Mutton Light Malt Extrat (syrup)
2 lbs - Dry Malt Extract
3 lbs - Pale Malt
1 lb - 2 Row Malted Barley
.75 lb - Malted Wheat
1.5lbs - Carapils
.5lbs - Crystal Malt 140L

Hops


1oz Galena (90min)
1oz Chinook (90min)
1/2oz Galena (45min)
1/2oz Cascade (30min)
1.5oz Cascade (Dry Hop)

Yeast
Saftbrew T-58

Wort chilled to 19 C, and yeast pitched

*This recipe was adapted from the Three Legged Dog IPA squared recipe, found here.

Munich Braun Ale is Transfers 
We transferred the Brown Ale, which given its mixed-up malt, I’ve dubbed ‘Ze Braun Ale’. The colour was surprisingly perfect, the scent was pleasant, but the taste was missing something. What I first described as ‘Watery’, unfortunately, Ben better called a lack of something. I like the idea that its wasn’t that something was wrong, but something your mouth anticipated that it did not find. Here’s to hoping that that missing something reappears after some conditioning time.
Prost!

Munich Braun Ale is Transfers 

We transferred the Brown Ale, which given its mixed-up malt, I’ve dubbed ‘Ze Braun Ale’. The colour was surprisingly perfect, the scent was pleasant, but the taste was missing something. What I first described as ‘Watery’, unfortunately, Ben better called a lack of something. I like the idea that its wasn’t that something was wrong, but something your mouth anticipated that it did not find. Here’s to hoping that that missing something reappears after some conditioning time.

Prost!


   

Transferring Gold
So the time has come to bravely rack the Mead in the hopes of clarifying the look and the taste. Bringing the mead out of the 1-Gal jars revealed an unbelievably clear, distinctly orange scented liquor. The biggest surprise was that the Yeast destroyed the sugars, completing its fermentation in less than 2 weeks - ending up around 12.5% ABV!
Justin and I drew off a sample and were taken aback by the overpowering taste, very astringent like a sweet wine. Hopefully some more time in the carboys, and some serious conditioning time in bottles will mellow this Mead out nicely and allow some of the Earl Gray tea flavours to surface.
Cheers!  

   

Transferring Gold

So the time has come to bravely rack the Mead in the hopes of clarifying the look and the taste. Bringing the mead out of the 1-Gal jars revealed an unbelievably clear, distinctly orange scented liquor. The biggest surprise was that the Yeast destroyed the sugars, completing its fermentation in less than 2 weeks - ending up around 12.5% ABV!

Justin and I drew off a sample and were taken aback by the overpowering taste, very astringent like a sweet wine. Hopefully some more time in the carboys, and some serious conditioning time in bottles will mellow this Mead out nicely and allow some of the Earl Gray tea flavours to surface.

Cheers!  

Brown Ale 
As part of the double brew day, I decided that we should also make a Brown Ale, one of my all-time favorite beers. Now the brown ale that we made couldn’t be called a true brown ale by the BJCP style guide (The Beer Judge Certification Program - not that I take their guide lines too seriously) because, much to my disappointment, our local grain shop was out of Amber malt - a key component to a Brown Ale. In a moment of panic I chose Munich malt to replace it…. the Germanist of German grains - to feature in an English Brown Ale.
Also, it was during this brew that I realized that I forgot a muslin bag (we were brewing away from the aptbrewery) and, as seen in the image above we had to improvise a sparge using cheesecloth and a plastic strainer - scaring each of us with some hot wort burns and some manly DIY memories.
Check out Pictures here

Brown Ale 

As part of the double brew day, I decided that we should also make a Brown Ale, one of my all-time favorite beers. Now the brown ale that we made couldn’t be called a true brown ale by the BJCP style guide (The Beer Judge Certification Program - not that I take their guide lines too seriously) because, much to my disappointment, our local grain shop was out of Amber malt - a key component to a Brown Ale. In a moment of panic I chose Munich malt to replace it…. the Germanist of German grains - to feature in an English Brown Ale.

Also, it was during this brew that I realized that I forgot a muslin bag (we were brewing away from the aptbrewery) and, as seen in the image above we had to improvise a sparge using cheesecloth and a plastic strainer - scaring each of us with some hot wort burns and some manly DIY memories.

Check out Pictures here

Imperial IPA
So last weekend saw the team completing its first double brew day, and its first ‘Imperial’ Beer - the Imperial India Pale Ale.
What does it mean to be ‘Imperial’ in the beer world? Well, the tale goes that in the late 17th Century, Peter the Great of Russia went to England on a diplomatic trip, and while there fell deeply in-love with British Beers - particularly Stouts. Before returning he set up a series of deliveries of these beers to his court in Russia. However, these beers spoiled on the long trip across the Baltic trade routes (just like the English beers headed to India during the British occupation!). Soon Catherine the Great deposed Peter. She was insulted by the quality of the beer being delivered by the English and demanded a solution.
It wasn’t long before some cleaver brewers though to increase the alcohol content and the antiseptic qualities of the beer, in order to preserve it on its long trip East. The result was maltier, hoppier, bolder, and more alcoholic beers that were embraced by the Russian Imperial Court.  
 Where ‘Imperial’ used to be used by brewers to denote beers made for export to Russian Royals exclusivly, it is now used to describe any beer made ‘Big’ i.e. more malt, more hops, more alcohol.
Our Imperial IPA boasted a huge malt bill, and a heavy hop content. I will post the recipe in a few days.
Source for the Tale of ‘Imperial’
Imperial IPA BrewDay Pictures!

Imperial IPA

So last weekend saw the team completing its first double brew day, and its first ‘Imperial’ Beer - the Imperial India Pale Ale.

What does it mean to be ‘Imperial’ in the beer world? Well, the tale goes that in the late 17th Century, Peter the Great of Russia went to England on a diplomatic trip, and while there fell deeply in-love with British Beers - particularly Stouts. Before returning he set up a series of deliveries of these beers to his court in Russia. However, these beers spoiled on the long trip across the Baltic trade routes (just like the English beers headed to India during the British occupation!). Soon Catherine the Great deposed Peter. She was insulted by the quality of the beer being delivered by the English and demanded a solution.

It wasn’t long before some cleaver brewers though to increase the alcohol content and the antiseptic qualities of the beer, in order to preserve it on its long trip East. The result was maltier, hoppier, bolder, and more alcoholic beers that were embraced by the Russian Imperial Court.  

 Where ‘Imperial’ used to be used by brewers to denote beers made for export to Russian Royals exclusivly, it is now used to describe any beer made ‘Big’ i.e. more malt, more hops, more alcohol.

Our Imperial IPA boasted a huge malt bill, and a heavy hop content. I will post the recipe in a few days.

Source for the Tale of ‘Imperial’

Imperial IPA BrewDay Pictures!

Porter Bottling
So the fermentation of the Porter went quickly - very quickly - in less than 2 weeks this black beauty had reached its 5.2% abv potential. I decided to go with my gut - cautiously - and bottle half of the Porter in pure Canadian Grade B maple syrup. 
Now Grade B might sound like I’m cheaping-out and basically dumping flavoured corn syrup into this delicately crafted beer…. but au contraire mes amis (that’s right, I’m Canadian, I had to take French until highschool.. mad skills) but Grade B is a less refined, purer Maple Syrup that retains more of the natural maple flavor. This is perfect for bottle conditioning because, despite the sugars in Maple Syrup being used to carbonate the beer, the stronger maple flavour will (hopefully) still be imparted into the beer.   
                                                                    Have a look a the pictures here
Next Post(s): Mead Cleaning, Imperial IPA + Brown Ale double brew day!

Porter Bottling

So the fermentation of the Porter went quickly - very quickly - in less than 2 weeks this black beauty had reached its 5.2% abv potential. I decided to go with my gut - cautiously - and bottle half of the Porter in pure Canadian Grade B maple syrup. 

Now Grade B might sound like I’m cheaping-out and basically dumping flavoured corn syrup into this delicately crafted beer…. but au contraire mes amis (that’s right, I’m Canadian, I had to take French until highschool.. mad skills) but Grade B is a less refined, purer Maple Syrup that retains more of the natural maple flavor. This is perfect for bottle conditioning because, despite the sugars in Maple Syrup being used to carbonate the beer, the stronger maple flavour will (hopefully) still be imparted into the beer.   

                                                                    Have a look a the pictures here

Next Post(s): Mead Cleaning, Imperial IPA + Brown Ale double brew day!

Ye Olde Battle Mead 
This week guest brewer Justin helped us take a small deviation from the fermenting of grain to try and create the first of all the fermented beverages: Mead.
Our Mead was a basic Metheglyn mead sourced from a recipie and process found here. To follow our process exactly, have a look a the instructions - step-by-step - here
Often viewed as the drink of Vikings and Nordic conquers, the history and cultural tales of Mead are abundantly entertaining. Most of us are familiar with the role of mead and mead-halls in the Irish epic Beowulf, but doubly as cool is the tale of the Mead of Poetry.
The Mead of Poetry is a drink from Norse mythology, that is said to possess the power to give whoever drinks it the mind of a scholar. It is said that after a war between two groups of gods (Esir and Vanir) the gods sealed a peace by spitting into a vat. To keep the truce, they made a man named Kvasir from the collective spit - he was apparently so smart, that it was impossible to stump him. Kvasir travelled around the world giving man knowledge untill one day he met two dwarves, Fjalar and Galar.
Fjalar and Galar killed Kvasir and poured his blood into vats and mixed it with honey, creating a Mead. This drink was the Mead of Poetry making anyone who drank it a Poet or a Scholar.*
I am sure that this Mead, which has an OG of 1.104 and should come in around 12% ABV, will make us think we are poets and scholars - if not gods - after a few glasses.
Have a look at all of the gorgeous photo’s here!
*Source article for these tales

Ye Olde Battle Mead 

This week guest brewer Justin helped us take a small deviation from the fermenting of grain to try and create the first of all the fermented beverages: Mead.

Our Mead was a basic Metheglyn mead sourced from a recipie and process found here. To follow our process exactly, have a look a the instructions - step-by-step - here

Often viewed as the drink of Vikings and Nordic conquers, the history and cultural tales of Mead are abundantly entertaining. Most of us are familiar with the role of mead and mead-halls in the Irish epic Beowulf, but doubly as cool is the tale of the Mead of Poetry.

The Mead of Poetry is a drink from Norse mythology, that is said to possess the power to give whoever drinks it the mind of a scholar. It is said that after a war between two groups of gods (Esir and Vanir) the gods sealed a peace by spitting into a vat. To keep the truce, they made a man named Kvasir from the collective spit - he was apparently so smart, that it was impossible to stump him. Kvasir travelled around the world giving man knowledge untill one day he met two dwarves, Fjalar and Galar.

Fjalar and Galar killed Kvasir and poured his blood into vats and mixed it with honey, creating a Mead. This drink was the Mead of Poetry making anyone who drank it a Poet or a Scholar.*

I am sure that this Mead, which has an OG of 1.104 and should come in around 12% ABV, will make us think we are poets and scholars - if not gods - after a few glasses.

Have a look at all of the gorgeous photo’s here!

*Source article for these tales

The Porter doth be Transferred
With a weekend of much brewing business, the Robust Porter was transferred into a secondary carboy for a little pre-conditioning and cleaning. The dark-brown wort smelt very strongly of Coffee and had a dark chocolate bitterness behind it.
Had a little taste, and everything seems great - good balance of sweet and bitter with just enough of a hop to keep it interesting. The Gravity measurement came out at 1.014 - which means the yeast is more or less done its job as far as alcohol conversion goes. Next will come the bottling and I am currently toying with the idea of using pure Grade B Maple Syrup from local Quebec Sugar Shacks as a conditioning agent for half the batch…… mmmmm Maple Syrup……
Have a look at the photos here

The Porter doth be Transferred

With a weekend of much brewing business, the Robust Porter was transferred into a secondary carboy for a little pre-conditioning and cleaning. The dark-brown wort smelt very strongly of Coffee and had a dark chocolate bitterness behind it.

Had a little taste, and everything seems great - good balance of sweet and bitter with just enough of a hop to keep it interesting. The Gravity measurement came out at 1.014 - which means the yeast is more or less done its job as far as alcohol conversion goes. Next will come the bottling and I am currently toying with the idea of using pure Grade B Maple Syrup from local Quebec Sugar Shacks as a conditioning agent for half the batch…… mmmmm Maple Syrup……

Have a look at the photos here

Robust Porter

Robust Porter (unnamed)

Grain Bill

6lb - Pale Malt Extract (syrup)
1/2 lb - Chocolate Malt
1/2 lb - Crystal 60L Malt
1/4 lb - Black Patent Mal

Hops

1/2oz Horizon (60min)
3/4oz Willamette  (40min)

1/2oz Williamette (20min)

Yeast

Saftbrew American Ale

OG 1.053 


Wort chilled to 19 C, and yeast pitched

Porter
Fire up the stove -Winter is looming around the corner. In order to best prepare ourselves for the impending doom of brisk winds, wet boots, numb fingers, and frozen noses, we decided to whip up a hardy and dark Robust Porter. 
The father of the now infamous Stout - the Porter’s history is entwined with Old London’s Brewing history, with it’s earliest recorded mention in 1721. The origin of the style itself it is believed by some to be either brewers blending three different styles together: ‘ale’, ‘beer’, and a stronger ‘twopenny ale’, or a style that came about as a reaction to the cost of malted barley rising sharply at the time - resulting in Brewer’s kilning malt higher, producing choclate, roasted, and black-patent malts, to make up for a flavour loss in using less Malt.
Whatever the story is, this beer became popular among dock workers, sailors, and fish/meat market workers - thus gaining the name ‘Porter’.*
Our Porter was adapted from a recipe in 'How to Brew' by John Palmer - a great resource for those getting started, and those who are looking for tried and tested recipes. 
                                                            Pictures are all here!
*Info is sourced from Micheal Jackson’s article on Porter, found here: http://www.beerhunter.com/documents/19133-000041.html

Porter

Fire up the stove -Winter is looming around the corner. In order to best prepare ourselves for the impending doom of brisk winds, wet boots, numb fingers, and frozen noses, we decided to whip up a hardy and dark Robust Porter. 

The father of the now infamous Stout - the Porter’s history is entwined with Old London’s Brewing history, with it’s earliest recorded mention in 1721. The origin of the style itself it is believed by some to be either brewers blending three different styles together: ‘ale’, ‘beer’, and a stronger ‘twopenny ale’, or a style that came about as a reaction to the cost of malted barley rising sharply at the time - resulting in Brewer’s kilning malt higher, producing choclate, roasted, and black-patent malts, to make up for a flavour loss in using less Malt.

Whatever the story is, this beer became popular among dock workers, sailors, and fish/meat market workers - thus gaining the name ‘Porter’.*

Our Porter was adapted from a recipe in 'How to Brew' by John Palmer - a great resource for those getting started, and those who are looking for tried and tested recipes. 

                                                            Pictures are all here!

*Info is sourced from Micheal Jackson’s article on Porter, found here: http://www.beerhunter.com/documents/19133-000041.html

Accio Butterbeer!  
For starters, sorry for the lack of posts as of late - August was a busy month. Here is the final product, the Hogsmedge Butterbeer. The labels turned out nicely - the beer…. well it could have been better. The flavours did not blend as well as concieved, and the Root-beer notes ended up powering most of the drink (it was commented as well that there were toothpaste notes somewhere in there). But fear not! We will not be deterred, and will brew this beer again with some recipe changes. This time we will probably auction off tickets for bottles - as the demand for this beer far out-weighed the supply! 

Accio Butterbeer!  

For starters, sorry for the lack of posts as of late - August was a busy month. Here is the final product, the Hogsmedge Butterbeer. The labels turned out nicely - the beer…. well it could have been better. The flavours did not blend as well as concieved, and the Root-beer notes ended up powering most of the drink (it was commented as well that there were toothpaste notes somewhere in there). But fear not! We will not be deterred, and will brew this beer again with some recipe changes. This time we will probably auction off tickets for bottles - as the demand for this beer far out-weighed the supply! 

(Source: Flickr / torrigunn)

IPA Label
What was once named StoveTop IPA, has fallen out of the American Style IPA - so the name has been changed to simply IPA. Here is the minimalist label that were slapin’ on it!

IPA Label

What was once named StoveTop IPA, has fallen out of the American Style IPA - so the name has been changed to simply IPA. Here is the minimalist label that were slapin’ on it!