Update(Finally)

Ok, so I’m a bit of a slacker when it comes to my blog, but I have a been busy little home brewer, and a slightly less busy runner. Since my last post I have brewed the following:

2.5 gallons of Stout, 5 gallons of IPA(a delicious Two-Hearted Ale clone!), 5.25 gallons of Cherry Wheat, 3 gallons of Kölsch(BIAB), 3 gallons of Chocolate Imperial Stout(BIAB), and 2.5 gallons of Apfelwein.

Those two BIAB batches were my first all-grain batches, and I think they’re going to turn out pretty well. I already tried the Kölsch, and while it’s not my favorite style, I think the beer turned out to be pretty good. I paid very close attention to my fermentation temp, keeping it at 60° for three weeks before a two week lagering phase. The chocolate imperial stout was a bit trickier. I overshot my mash temp slightly, so it didn’t attenuate down as low as I thought it would. I also racked onto vodka-soaked cacao nibs after three weeks, so hopefully that gives me the flavor I’m looking for. I’m a big fan of Widmer Brothers’ Chocolate Imperial Stout, and while I wasn’t trying to clone their beer, I was trying to come up with something tasty. Here’s my recipe(if you’re curious):

BIAB Chocolate RIS

9 lbs 12.0 oz Maris Otter (Crisp) (4.0 SRM) Grain 1 91.5 %
8.0 oz Roasted Barley (Briess) (300.0 SRM) Grain 2 4.7 %
3.0 oz Chocolate Wheat (Weyermann) (415.0 SRM) Grain 3 1.8 %
2.0 oz Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM) Grain 4 1.2 %
1.5 oz Chocolate Malt (Thomas Fawcett) (250.0 SRM) Grain 5 0.9 %
0.75 oz Centennial [10.90 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 43.1 IBUs
0.90 oz Willamette [5.20 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 7 14.9 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [7.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 8 7.5 IBUs
0.50 oz Willamette [5.20 %] – Boil 2.0 min Hop 9 1.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg London Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1028) [124.21 ml] Yeast 10
4.00 oz Cacao Nibs (Secondary 7.0 days) Flavor 11

I ended up getting about 70% efficiency on this batch(my Kölsch came in closer to 77%), so I think the larger grain bill, combined with the higher initial mash temp may have had something to do with that. Hopefully I’ll get the efficiency back up on the next batch, which will probably be an ESB(mmm). I also got a keg for Father’s day, but I haven’t had a chance to fill it yet. Everything I’ve brewed to this point has been bottled, and I’ll probably bottle the Apple wine, too, since it needs time to age(and I don’t have a regulator yet).

As for my running, I’m still struggling to get my endurance back post-surgery, but I have started racing again. I’ve run a couple of 5ks(my son Alex also ran his first 1 mile race!), and I’m planning to run another next month, a 10k in September, and a half marathon in October. I’m not going for PRs(my last 5k was 7 minutes slower than my PR), but I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things.

That’s pretty much it. I promise I won’t go another 6 months without a blog post. Maybe I’ll post about next months brew session. Have a good night, everyone!

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still not where I want to be, but I’ll get back there eventually

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My shiny new 2.5 gallon corny keg from Adventures in Homebrewing. I just need to get a regulator and some lines, and I’ll be ready to go. I have a paintball tank, so I’m planning to naturally carb the keg, and use CO2 for serving.

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Alex finishing strong in his 1 mile race. He finished in 8:55. He was so excited!

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Happy “Brew” Year(and a running update, too)

Happy New Year, everyone! I decided to kick the year off with a brew day. Last year, I brewed my first batch of beer on New Year’s Day 2013(a Mr. Beer West Coast Pale Ale). This year, I brewed a recipe of my own design(using Beersmith), a “Leftover” Pale Ale, using grains and hops I had on hand. Here are the ingredients(for a 2.5 gallon batch):

4.0 oz Caramel Malt – 80L 6-Row (Briess) (80.0 SRM) Grain 1 8.3 %
4.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 2 8.3 %
10.0 oz DME Golden Light (Briess) (4.0 SRM) Dry Extract 3 20.8 %
0.38 oz Cascade [7.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 23.3 IBUs
1 lbs 14.0 oz DME Golden Light (Briess) [Boil for 15 min](4.0 SRM) Dry Extract 5 62.5 %
0.20 oz Willamette [5.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min Hop 6 4.4 IBUs
0.30 oz Citra [14.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 7 13.5 IBUs
0.20 oz Citra [14.00 %] – Boil 2.0 min Hop 8 2.1 IBUs
0.6 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) [50.28 ml] Yeast 9
0.50 oz Citra [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
0.20 oz Liberty [4.30 %] – Dry Hop 14.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs

I did have to order the Citra hops, yeast, and a little more DME, but I had everything else on hand. The brew day went very smoothly. I did the late extract addition to keep the beer from getting too dark, and to aid with hop utilization. And It’s so much easier cooling down 2.5 gallons of wort! I think I went from boiling to around 64° in 17 minutes! It’s fermenting at 65° right now, and I’ll add the dry hops once primary fermentation is done(and maybe drop the temp another 2-3 degrees). This should be a tasty beer!

I'm really looking forward to this beer. It smelled amazing, especially after I tossed in the citra hops!

I’m really looking forward to this beer. It smelled amazing, especially after I tossed in the citra hops!

As for running, things are getting better. I ran 3.25 miles this morning, which would have been unthinkable a month ago. If I continue to progress over the next few weeks, I’ll probably target a race next month. I won’t be looking for a PR(or anything close), but I think it could be good to help me reset my training paces post injury. Have a wonderful day, everyone!

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Injury update and another brew day(make that two!)

I ran on 10/17. It was only .5 miles, but it was my first run post surgery! I’ve managed to build up to 1.25 miles after a couple of weeks, but my knee and ankle still need to get stronger before I can add on any substantial distance. I’m hoping to get in a short race(run at an easy pace) by the end of the year, or early in 2014.

As for my brewing, I’ve actually brewed a couple of times recently. I brewed a 5 gallon batch of Caribou Slobber on 10/18. I definitely feel like I’ve got my brew day timing down a little better. I bought a submersible pump, and used it to circulate ice cold water through my wort chiller. This worked really well. I used the faucet to get the temp down to 100° F, and then I hooked up the pump, and circulated ice water to get down to pitching temp. I was able to get the wort down to 66°F in less time than it took me to get to 75°F last time.

I also made a yeast starter this time. I used Wyeast 1332(Northwest Ale strain), the recommended liquid yeast strain for the beer. I made a stir plate using a usb-powered computer fan, a magnet harvested from an old hard drive, and a plastic container purchased on Amazon. I prepared the starter on Tuesday, let it ferment until Thursday morning, and then cold crashed it in the fridge to drop the yeast out of suspension. It worked beautifully.  It’s been fermenting away for just over two weeks. I transferred to secondary on Halloween(probably unnecessary), and I’m planning to bottle next weekend(I might hold off until Veterans Day).

I also brewed a Mr. Beer batch yesterday(11/2) because it was National Learn to home brew day. I brew their Columbus’ Cascading Ale, which is a can of Bewitched Amber Ale, a smooth LME softpack, and a 1/2 ounce each of Columbus and Cascade hops. I brewed that one yesterday, and it already has a nice head of krausen on it, and it smells great.

With these two batches, I’ll have plenty of beer to last the rest of the year(and well into 2014, hopefully). Have an awesome day, everyone!

Sanitizing everything before preparing my starter

Sanitizing everything before preparing my starter

My starter spinning away on my stir plate. I still can't believe how easy it was to make on of these!

My starter spinning away on the stir plate. I still can’t believe how easy it was to make on of these!

I love the way the wort smells during the boil. Especially after I add in the hops!

I love the way the wort smells during the boil. Especially after I add in the hops!

I filled this cooler with ice water and used a pump to circulate that water through my wort chiller. It worked like a charm!

I filled this cooler with ice water and used a pump to circulate that water through my wort chiller. It worked like a charm!

I used a blow-off hose for the first few days. It turns out I didn't need it, but better safe than sorry!

I used a blow-off hose for the first few days. It turns out I didn’t need it, but better safe than sorry!

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My first 5 gallon brew day!

I actually did this on Friday, but I was too tired to post it. This took about 4 hours from start to finish, mainly because I had to wait for all of that water to come to a boil after steeping the specialty grains, and it took longer than expected to cool everything down(even with my wort chiller). The day went very smoothly, though. I think it helps that I read tons of books in preparation, and watched dozens of videos.

The recipe I chose was the Liberty Cream Ale from Midwest supplies, the same place I bought my equipment kit. I actually didn’t buy the ingredients for this batch from Midwest, but it is their recipe. I bought the LME(liquid malt extract) from Brew Camp while I was visiting my family in Illinois in August. And I bought the specialty grains, hops and yeast from Maltose Express in Monroe, CT, after going to their malt extract brewing class a couple of weeks ago.

As for the brew session, I think I learned a couple of valuable lessons for next time. First, I should start heating up the water for the main boil right away, even before I start steeping the grains. I used a smaller pot to steep 8 oz of Carapils, and I heated another 5.5 gallons in my large brewpot. after steeping grains for 30 minutes, and adding that water to the main pot, it still took another 40 minutes to come to a boil. I did a full volume boil, so I was heating up 6.25 gallons, with the extra volume for evaporation losses during the boil. The second area I need to improve is my cooling. I made a copper immersion wort chiller, and it worked fairly well. No leaks(I tested it twice before brew day), but it is fairly short(20 feet), so it took much longer to cool than I anticipated. Next time, I’m going to cool the wort to around 120°F, and then use a submersible pump to circulate ice water through the coils. I’m hoping that will get me down below 80°F a little faster.

Other than those two issues, everything went well, and cleanup was a breeze. I’m planning to rack to a secondary next weekend, and then I’ll probably bottle on the 27th or 28th! I still have some Mr. Beer Blue Patriot and Bohemian Bronze in bottles, but I’m really looking forward to this! Have a great day, everyone! Here are a few pics

Heating the big pot while steeping the Carapils for 30 minutes at 155°

Heating the big pot while steeping the Carapils for 30 minutes at 155°

Bottling bucket full of sanitizer(I used Starsan) and fermenting bucket. I might wait until I'm cooling the wort to make half of  the sanitizer next time. I can use some of the runoff from the chiller(after it cools a little bit)

Bottling bucket full of sanitizer(I used Starsan) and fermenting bucket. I might wait until I’m cooling the wort to make half of the sanitizer next time. I can use some of the runoff from the chiller(after it cools a little bit)

I have Beersmith on my Kindle, so I used the timer to keep track of the steep and the boil. And of course I had to have a homebrew, Mr. Beer Blue Patriot

I have Beersmith on my Kindle, so I used the timer to keep track of the steep and the boil. And of course I had to have a homebrew, Mr. Beer Blue Patriot

I needed 6lbs of Gold LME, and I had two 3.3lb containers, so I measured out 6lbs in a pitcher. It was nice because it was easy to pour, and I was able to rinse with hot water to get all of the LME out of the pitcher

I needed 6 lbs of Gold LME, and I had two 3.3 lb containers, so I measured out 6 lbs in a pitcher. It was nice because it was easy to pour, and I was able to rinse with hot water to get all of the LME out of the pitcher

The wort smelled AMAZING after it came to a boil. I added .625oz of Cascade at 60 minutes, 1 tsp of Irish moss at 15 minutes, and 1 oz of Cascade at 2 minutes left in the boil.

The wort smelled AMAZING after it came to a boil. I added .625 oz of Cascade at 60 minutes, 1 tsp of Irish moss at 15 minutes, and 1 oz of Cascade at 2 minutes left in the boil.

The temperature dropped really quickly at first, but then it slowed to a CRAWL! The tap water was in the upper 70s, so that didn't help

The temperature dropped really quickly at first, but then it slowed to a CRAWL! The tap water was in the upper 70s, so that didn’t help

Even with a wort chiller, I still ended up using an ice bath for about 10 minutes!

Even with a wort chiller, I still ended up using an ice bath for about 10 minutes!

Nice and cozy in my fermentation chiller. I' going to try to ferment at around 65-67°F.

Nice and cozy in my fermentation chiller. I’ going to try to ferment at around 65-67°F.

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What I’ve been up to

It’s been a while since I posted a blog, so I though I would let everyone know how I’m doing. I’ve been walking completely unassisted for the last 4 weeks(no walking boot or crutches), and I only have 3 physical therapy sessions left. After that, I might be shifting to a home therapy regimen. I think running is still a long way off at this point, but it’s starting to seem like a possibility again. Alex has actually done three races during my recovery(the most recent being last Saturday), and Jenna actually did one, too!

Alex and Jenna at the Georgetown Days Kids K

Alex and Jenna at the Georgetown Days Kids K

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Alex at the Newtown Road Race kids run. He was tired at the end(it was humid!), but he had a lot of fun.

In addition to watching my kids participate in my favorite hobby(can you tell I’m a little jealous?), I’ve also kept myself busy with one of my other hobbies. Namely this one:

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Yep. That’s a beer. More importantly, THAT is a beer brewed by me! My brother gave me a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas, and that was the result. 2.13 gallons of West Coast Pale Ale. And I’ve brewed 4 more batches since then, most recently the Bohemian Bronze, which I’m really looking forward to. I didn’t think I would get into brewing as much as I have, but it’s a lot of fun. My Father’s Day gift was a new 5 gallon equipment kit from Midwest Supplies, and I’m going to brew my first 5 gallon batch tomorrow. I would have done it sooner, but I had to wait to regain some strength in my ankle(a fermenter full of beer is NOT light!). I’m going to brew their Liberty Cream Ale, and I’ll post pics when I’m done brewing, and I’ll try to post a review in a couple of months after I’ve tasted the beer. Have a great day, everyone! I’ll leave you with a few more pics!

My fermentation chiller. I can regulate the temperature of the fermenting beer very well with this. I actually built this about one week before my surgery

My fermentation chiller. I can regulate the temperature of the fermenting beer very well with this. I actually built this about one week before my surgery

An inside view of the chiller. The fan in the upper right corner circulates cool air through the chamber. The cooling source is actually two frozen water bottles(usually 1/2  gallon or 1 gallon containers)

An inside view of the chiller. The fan in the upper right corner circulates cool air through the chamber. The cooling source is actually two frozen water bottles(usually 1/2 gallon or 1 gallon containers)

After my third batch, I started using glass bottles(in addition to the PET bottles that came with my Mr Beer kit). I like the glass bottles, but I might start using larger 22oz bottles, since bottling 50+ 12oz bottles would take hours!

After my third batch, I started using glass bottles(in addition to the PET bottles that came with my Mr Beer kit). I like the glass bottles, but I might start using larger 22oz bottles, since bottling 50+ 12oz bottles would take hours!

My anniversary present. This stainless steel stock ot holds close to 9 gallons, more than enough to do a full volume boil(~6.25 gallons)

My anniversary present. This stainless steel stock ot holds close to 9 gallons, more than enough to do a full volume boil(~6.25 gallons)

And finally, my wort chiller. I built this last weekend. It was really easy(I found tons of helpful youtube videos), and it will save a lot of time over trying to do an ice bath to cool the wort! I've leak tested it twice already. I can't wait until brew day!

And finally, my wort chiller. I built this last weekend. It was really easy(I found tons of helpful youtube videos), and it will save a lot of time over trying to do an ice bath to cool the wort! I’ve leak tested it twice already. I can’t wait until brew day!

 

 

 

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Hello again.

It’s been a REALLY long time since I posted anything on this blog, so here’s what I’ve been up to. I was running(a lot), getting ready for the NJ marathon and then this happened(WARNING:GROSS ANKLE SCAR PICS COMING UP!!!):

 

(you’ve been warned)

 

 

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Torn posterior tibial tendon. Ouch. I noticed the problem in late January, but since I’m an idiot, I kept running. Finally after the 13.1 NY half on March 23rd(finished just over 1:45, 8 minutes slower than my PR), I knew I need to see a doctor. After the appointment, an x-ray, and an MRI I opted for surgery. I think is is my best shot at a full recovery. I had the surgery on May 17th, and I had my cast removed on June 27th. I’ll be in a walking boot for another month or so, but it sucks way less than that cast!

No more cast!

No more cast!

Physical therapy starts on Monday. I’m probably more terrified for this than I was for the actual surgery. I know it’s going to take some serious work, but I am going to run again. Hopefully marathons, but we’ll have to see. I deferred my entry for NJ to next May, but since my recovery timetable is 6-12 months, that could be too optimistic. I might shoot for the half marathon instead. Have an awesome weekend, everyone!

 

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Catching up on posting…and another marathon! Mohawk Hudson River Marathon 10/07

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog(oops), so I’ll try to be a little better about it in the future. Between my last post and the marathon, I actually ran three other races. First there was a 5k in Hartford on 7/12. I ran it in 20:49, more than a minute slower than my PR(It was hot, and there was NO shade, though) Next up, a 5 miler in August on a course that was VERY short. It was a 7 minute PR(31:38), that probably would have been about 4.5 minutes on a full course. And my last tune up race was the New Haven 20k. I ran that one in 1:32:30, and I was happy, since I didn’t feel like that was an all-out effort. Here’s a pic from the end of the 20k:

I had a lot left in the tank at the end of this one. It felt good!

That brings us to the marathon. Where do I begin? I had a rough day. I finished in 3:47:09, a personal worst by about 3.5 minutes. One of my goals(besides a pr) was to do a better job with hydration, and to avoid another trip to the medical tent after the race. I think I went too far in the other direction, though. I had to take SIX BATHROOM BREAKS(maybe more, I think I stopped counting after six)! 5 in the first 15 miles! The other runners must have though I was trying to mark my territory or something. A guy actually came up to me after the race and said he’s never seen someone stop to go that many times(my shoe also came untied at around mile 11, something that’s never happened in these shoes before). And after each stop, I tried to rush to get back on pace, and THAT really killed me in the later miles. I was on pace for a 3:30 finish until around mile 18, when the cramping started. There was a massive downhill that really didn’t help with that either. I thought I could still salvage a PR until the start of mile 23. After I realized there was no chance of a PR, I just wanted to be done. It was a frustrating day, but still another marathon completed, so I can’t be too upset about it. I still feel like I was in sub 3:30 shape, though. Oh well. I’ve actually already signed up for my next full. I’m going back to the New Jersey marathon next May. I’m hoping better preparation, and more experience will lead to a huge PR. My next race will be the Colony Grill Hot Oil 5k on 11/11 in Fairfield(and Alex is doing the Kids run, too). I’m hoping for a new 5k PR (sub 19:41)to close out the year. If I don’t get it there, I’ll give it another shot in December, probably at the Christopher Martin run for Children in New Haven. If I do get it, I might go for the Ted Corbitt 15k in December instead. I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! Here’s a pic from the race.

This was around mile 10. I was up to 3 or 4 bathroom breaks by this point, but I still felt good. And I probably heard some yell “Da Bears” at least 30 times during the race!

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