Sunday, December 16, 2012

Nano Brewery Equipment

I'm making some brewing progress down here in San Miguel despite our limited budget and I have to tell you that it feels good to have some beer kegged and bottled with more in the fermentors as we speak.

First I want to follow up on the Trappist Ale that I brewed using a kit that I got from Midwest Homebrewing Supply. Turns out that my impatience got the better of me regarding this beer. Even though I pitched 2 vials of the Whitelabs WLP500 Trappist yeast (one that was supplied with the kit and another that I brought down with me) in a 5 gallon batch, there was no sign of activity after 24 and still after 36 hours. Of course I jumped to the conclusion that the yeast was no good and so I pitched a packet of dry US-05 yeast. Soon after, I began to see signs of life from the Trappist yeast and then along with the help of the dry yeast there was plenty of fermentation happening within another 12 hours.


Trappist ale with honey
Unable to leave things well enough alone I decided it would be a good idea to add a kilo of honey directly to the primary (and only) fermentor after several days of activity. My desire was to include the honey flavor to the beer thinking it would be tasty and also to increase the amount of alcohol in the final product. This I was successful at and the beer has all of the phenolic characteristics that come with this beer style but with the added flavor and a decent amount of aroma from the honey. I tasted it for this review but will allow the beer to age in the bottle for a few months before I would consider it ready to drink. This beer is a beautiful yellow/gold color with a creamy white head. The aroma is bold with honey, malt and tropical fruit. The flavor is spicy with pear, honey, alcohol and it has a mouth feel that is full despite the dry 1.010 final gravity (after the honey the o.g. was 1.067).  I want to thank Midwest for providing me with the ingredients for what turned out to be a great beer.

Bottle filler at rest
Bottle filling station
In the mean time, I thought you like to see a couple pictures of the make-shift bottling procedure. I bottled the above Trappist ale, a German hefeweizen and believe it or not homemade root beer which was a challenge because of the high volume of CO2 in solution. I used a spring loaded bottling wand that I stabbed into a cobra tap that was attached to 8' of 3/16" beverage line. You can see this counter-pressure bottling device here for a better description.

At this point I'm still fermenting small (10 gallon) batches in order to have a selection of beer styles to take around and market to a few possible outlets here in town. Other good news is that a major distributor here is interested in having our beers as part of their inventory and we'll be sitting down to taste beers in the next few weeks. Tomorrow I brew a Dry Stout followed by an Imperial IPA.



 Next on the agenda: Creating a brand logo and getting some labels printed for our bottles. I don't think our possible clients will be too impressed pouring from a bottle with masking tape across the front that says 'beer' written in magic marker.



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