Monday, March 23, 2009

The Blow Off...

I promised to illustrate the power of beer gases in my blog post yesterday. Take a look at the picture on the left and then the picture that is under it. That is the fermentation process in action.

The top picture was shot right after I added the yeast to my Pilsner and Apple Lager (the half jug pictured on the far left was brewed last week and is in a secondary fermentation stage).
Those tubes you see are called "blow off tubes." One end is connected to the fermentation jugs, or carboys, and the other end is resting in a sterile iodine solution. Notice the dark color of the Pilsner in the top picture, and the amount of apples in the Lager.

Now check out the picture below. The blow off tubes are full of foam caused by the vast amount of CO2 that's generated at the beginning of the fermentation, and check out the color of the Pilsner about 6 hours later. That is the active yeast. Also notice the iodine solution is full of apples. That is the amount of force that is generated by the gases. It just blew those apples right out of the jug and into the bucket. It is a very aggressive process. The foam you see in the tubes is actually moving at about an inch per second, and that bucket is boiling with CO2 bubbles. Next time I'll try to shoot some video. It's pretty cool to watch.
You'll notice I put the Apple beer in a five-gallon oil pan just in case the tube gets clogged with apples and the pressure blows the tube out or breaks the glass container, which has been known to happen. I have never had a problem, but I don't want to be surprised, either.
I am excited about this Apple beer. The guy I bought a lot of my equipment from had an apple beer recipe that he wouldn't share. I found a bottle of it in a box of equipment he sold me and I gave it try. It was seriously out of this world. I would venture to say it was the best beer I have ever tasted.
Some of you have tried my Munich Lager, which is my attempt at a faux Stella Artois. It will be hard to imagine until you actually try an apple beer, but if can imagine a Fuji Apple flavor -- not like cider at all, but a crisp apple flavor -- on top of that faux Stella, but not over bearing at all. That's what I am going for.
I was trying to do the apple beer last weekend (that's what the jug on the far left is -- faux Stella without the apples), but I accidentally dumped my apples into a wheat beer that I was going infuse with Marion berries. Having already processed two pounds of berries, I went ahead and threw those into the wheat beer as well, so that will be an interesting beer. So far, I'm thinking it might be a wonderful mistake. It smells great. I just hope the flavors blend. I used a special yeast that should give the beer a ripe banana aroma and flavor, which I hope will compliment the berries... We'll see I guess.
I'll bottle those two beers this weekend, and a couple of weeks after that we should be good to go. Maybe we'll gather at Stickman's to try a couple.


  1. So how did the Apple Lager turn out? I'd love to try your recipe, as Stella Artois is one of my wife's favorite lagers, and we live close to lots of apple orchards!

  2. Hey Matt thanks for stopping by my blog. The Applwe Lager is huge hit. The trick is simple. In a five gallon batch, I start with a three-pound can of Thomas Coopers Lager liquid malt extract and two pounds of dry Breiss light malt extract un-hopped. I get that boiling and add 2 pounds of Fuji apple chunks (cut small enough to fit in your carboy). I use a about a half ounce of Hallertauer hops and another half ounce of Saaz half way through the boil. I usually boil for 30 minutes. Then I scoop off the apples into a sanitized bowl, while prepare the wort in my carboy. I like to pitch my yeast and get it hydrated before I put the apples back in the wort. If you don't wait it gets pretty difficult to pitch the yeast because the apples are floating on top. You need to keep a close eye on beer during blowoff because those apple chunks can clog your tube. After seven days rack the beer off into a clean car boy to finish the fermentation. I also dry hop at this point with a quater ounce of Sazz hops. BTW, siphoning can be tricky toward the end of the batch because of the apples, but I have a funnel with a screen so I slowly pour the remaining beer through that very slowly to minimize the aggitation. I usually go another seven days in the second carboy to make sure it is fermented out. The apples do add a lot of sugar to the beer and give it a pretty good bump in alcohol content. I have made this beer twice and on both occassions I have I totally spaced taking the gravity readings. So I can't help you there. If you try it let me know it turns out man...