Jan 2, 2014

2013 home brew review

Keeping detailed records has been invaluable in my brewing experience. For the last 2 years I've been recording the details of my brews in a spreadsheet, adding new categories as I've realised other things I should be noting. It makes it easy to look back and make connections/improvements and track things over time. So here's the summary of my beer in 2013.

This year I brewed 35 beers, not bad considering I spent ~5 months of the year stuck in bed. The beer was mainly brewed in 3 bursts in between CFS setbacks: March-May, August-September and November-December. Of those: 9 were of German origin, 12 American, 4 Belgians, 9 UK beers and 1 Australian.

I probably ended up brewing twice as many German beers and half as many Belgians as I usually would, mostly a quirk of reusing the yeast I had on hand several times. For 2014 I want to focus more on Saisons and other Belgian beers. I also didn't end up brewing any sours, mostly because I got sick each time I was planning to. I also never got around to brewing a lager. In 2014 I plan to brew several of each.

4 beers were brewed for a wedding
3 beers were brewed for a friend's birthday
5 beers were entered into competition
1 scored 132/150 in the ACT ABC and got a bronze in the nationals.

Brewing for special events and competition is fun but also a bit stressful. The stakes are a higher and there's less under my control. For all that, it's a great chance to try my beer out on a bunch of people who have little or no connection to me. That makes it a better assessment of where I'm at than my friends who like drinking free beer.

I lost 3 beers to infection, 1 was lost in moving house, 1 suffered from a burnt taste after the urn element got charred in the brewing process.

All up I brewed 707L of beer with an average OG of 1.050 and FG of 1.010 and established a fairly reliable brewhouse efficiency of 80%.

I used 16 varieties of hops and 12 strains of yeast with US-05 being the most popular, going into 10 batches.

More than statistics, I made improvements to my process that made noticeable differences to my beer. I started adjusting water chemistry and pH, something I began reading about during 2012 but only began doing in 2013. The pH helped improve my mash efficiency and I found that my beers cleared much more quickly. It seems that having a minimum of 50 ppm of calcium helps the yeast operate and flocculate more effectively.

A little more recently (November 2013) I finally got started with oxygenating wort. People who know say that depending on the strength of the beer, 8-14 ppm of dissolved oxygen is the optimum level for yeast reproduction happiness. I've tasted the first 4 beers using oxygenation and they have all been a step up from my previous brews. Cleaner and missing a slight off flavour I'd found in the majority of my beers.

Over the course of the year I also refined and gained confidence in my yeast handling practices. I've got a bank of 6 strains on plates in my fridge and enough flasks and vials to easily step up from a single colony to a pitchable amount. I have been better at making sure I was using yeast calculators (the Brewers Friend one is the best I've found) and pitching the correct amounts. This year I bought a microscope and hemocytometer but haven't had the chance to put them to use to check cell density and viability but that's the next step.

It's been a good year for brewing. My beer is better than it was last year, I'm still learning heaps as I go and as soon as I've recovered enough, I've got plenty more in depth reading waiting for me. Unfortunately it wasn't such a good year for blogging, I'd have liked to record my progress much better than I have. I'm hoping that next year will be better health-wise and that I'll be able to brew and record what I'm up to. I've got some fun things planned for 2014 but I think I'll save them for another post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...