Brew Day: Nebula

Our first brew of 2017 is our Belgian style Tripel, Nebula.  The name comes from the fact that the recipe is mostly a standard Tripel, but with the addition of Galaxy hops for aroma.  The brew day was fun – we had additional help from our friends Andy and Clarissa.  Clarissa is just learning about brewing, so she came along for the educational opportunities, and I’m sure the games and beers didn’ hurt the situation either!

We also recently purchased our own grain mill, because the grain we get from our LHS is never milled very well, unfortunately.  We even ask that it go through the mill a few times, and our efficiency is still much lower than would be expected.  To try to up that efficiency, we purchased our own… but unfortunately it did not come with all of the pieces we needed to get it up and running and we bought the wrong hardware.  SO, back to the LHS to get it milled before we start.

The brew day had its ups and downs.  First off, it was actually REALLY COLD here in San Antonio, to the tune of 20 something degrees when we first got started.  For this recipe we decided to do a 3-step mash to help give the beer more body but still end pretty dry, and we think that the cold was throwing things off in the calculations.  We were over our temp on the first rest (and never got it down to what it should have been), we were over on the 2nd step (but we were able to get it right), and we were almost under on the third, but in the ned we got it working.  We will see how the mash issues affect the final beer. Who knows, maybe the rests that we ended with will be better than what we planned (it’s possible…)

On the good side, we were very close on our pre-boil gravity, we git plenty of wort, and we had some really active yeast that was spun up from a very expired vial.  Also, we drank some great beers, and enjoyed some fun games.  In addition to our standard Exploding Kittens (and a little Yahtzee at the end), Clarissa brought Cards Against Humanity which was a nice addition.  Additionally, as of this morning (maybe 16 hours after pitching the yeast), the krausen is kicking, so we know those yeasties are excited to be in their new home.  Nebula has one of the oddest fermentation schedules of any of our beers, so the next two weeks we will continue to adjust, and we will see what we get in the end.  Delicousness.  That’s the goal.

Brew Day Playlist:
Run the Jewels: RtJ3
Algorhythms: EELRIJUE
Inside Out: No Spiritual Surrender
That Handsome Devil: A City Dressed in Dynamite
TOOL: Undertow
Madvilliany 2: The Madlib Remix
Soul Coughing: The Brooklynites

Brew Day: Nebula (v.3) and Supernova

After many, many, many years of refusing, I finally gave in and bought a setup to keg my beer.  I gave in for a few reasons… I have WAY too many bottles cluttering up my garage (and found a broken bomber out there just before we started brewing, no bueno), a lot of the more popular competitions here in town require kegged beer and Manny and I want to start competing, and it’s just sweet to be able to go pour yourself a draft at home.  If I want a 1/2 a glass, I can do that and not have to worry about wasting the rest of the bottle.  So I went on Craigslist and found a good double-tap kegerator, and got all the fixings to make it work with some corny kegs.  So now we have this.

IMG_7509

Yes, I made a chalk board tap list. Shut up.

So of course, since there are kegs to be filled, we needed to fill some kegs!  I decided it was time to try our nearly traditional tripel, Nebula, again.  In the past it has been too hop forward, so I dialed down the bitterness and got rid of the dry hopping.  We still use Magnum for the bittering (which is pretty traditional) and Galaxy for the aroma (which is not), but no dry hopping on Nebula this time.  Also, we switched yeasts and are experimenting with Northeast Abbey Yeast from the Yeast Bay (aka the Ommegang house yeast strain, supposedly).

IMG_7502

Mmm hops

However, since Manny and I are both fans of hops, we made 2 batches of Nebula, and are dry hopping one of them.  Dry hopped Nebula has been dubbed Supernova.

nebual and supernova

Nebula (L) and Supernova (R)

So we decided we’d make a big double batch of Nebula and have them side by side for the first tapping of the kegerator.  While our mash tun fit the 26.5 pounds of grain, the 8.5 gallons of water to go on top was a bit of a stretch!  We only got about 7 in, so we had to make our first sparge a bit larger than normal.  I was actually surprised, we didn’t lose very much efficiency even with the unintentional changes… the recipe was slated to hit 1.083 SG and we got to 1.080, so if the yeast ferments out as much as it should, we will be sitting at about 8.27%, only about a 1/4 of a percent lower than expected.  C’mon yeasties, do your thing!

IMG_7501

Popped a bottle of the #150.

We had a pretty packed brewday, as there were the most guests we’ve ever had in one day. Which made for some fun rounds of Exploding Kittens (so much better with 5 people instead of 2!) Overall, besides the mash tun issue, everything went pretty darn smooth.  Two brews in a row of smoothness.  I could get used to that.  I PROBABLY JUST JINXED IT.

IMG_7506

Manny stirs as Mike adds some sugar to the brew.

IMG_7503

Exploding…

IMG_7504

Kittens!

So in about 10 days we will keg these, and not long after we will have the reveal party!  Woot!  Until next time, cheers.

IMG_7505

Smellovision needs to be invented. Please scratch your screen… and imagine.

Brew Day Playlist:
Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: Dawn to Dusk
Mega Gem: Colors of the West
Propellerheads: Decksanddrumsandrockandroll
Queens of the Stone Age: Era Vulgaris
Incubus: Fungus Amongus
Prophets of Rage: Zen Gravy
Primus: Suck on This
Beastie Boys: The Mix Up
Pearl Jam: Vs.