September 24, 2013

Is It Cold in Here?

Before we get into it, I was in Toronto this past weekend and my wife suggested that we check out a bar that was recommended to her a few weeks back. Given my nature and inability to refuse a new beer experience, we ventured off to Barvolo which is located at Yonge and Wellesley. I've truly never seen such a spectacular selection of beer in Ontario with 30 beers/casks/wines on tap and many other bottles available for consumption. Before we knew it, the empty glasses of a House Ales Tu-Hop, a Durham Fresh Hop English Pale Ale, and an Indie Ale House Spadina Monkey (sour) were left on the table. I was very impressed that a bar so close to home had done their part to share great Ontario beer to the masses and it will definitely be a point of interest the next time I am in Toronto. 

Now down to business.....

Controlling fermentation temperature has been one of my greatest obstacles since starting my adventures in home brewing. I was once lucky enough to successfully brew a lager style beer in a friend’s garage following a December snowfall. The success, however, had nothing to do with skill and more to do with a consistent garage temperature of around 13 C for the two weeks that followed. I now know this because my second batch of lager, a few weeks later in that very same garage, was my first heart breaking pour. 

I recently decided that I needed a solution to this problem so, after some online research, I ordered an STC-1000 all-purpose temperature controller from Amazon. The following day, I picked up a Chest Freezer from a local shop so that I could build the solution. The conversion process was fairly straightforward, with the most difficult step being the installation of the temperature probe without damaging internal components (some careful drilling was required). Two hours later, the new Keg fridge was ready for a trial run and I'm pleased to announce that it works perfectly! Over the next few months, I plan to finish the project by constructing a wooden collar to extend the height of the unit so that a 10lbs CO2 tank and four kegs can be fitted. Eventually I will install permanent taps through the wooden collar and fulfill my adulthood dream of having beer on-tap at home! 

The new brew tool has opened a world of new styles that I can now brew. That said, my first brew was an attempt to clone a Keith’s Hop Series “Hallertauer”, mostly because it's very popular among my friends. As usual, the recipe for what I have named Germerican HopSeries APA can be found on the Craft Brewing page or by following the link. I used standard brewing techniques but for the first time I made a yeast starter (aka - another small beer) due to the cooler than normal fermentation temperatures. Hopefully, this will get the wort fermenting with minimal lag and I will end up with a crisp ale that everyone can enjoy!


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