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red-ale-brewing04

Brewer’s Best Red Ale : Extract Kit

For my third batch I’d decided to go with a Red Ale.  As this is one of my favorite types of beer, I was pretty excited for this one. After my last couple of batches, I’m starting to get the process a little bit more organized.  My planning and execution are making for a better working environment, and I’m FAR less afraid that my batches may not turn out. I used a kit from Brewer’s Best for the Red Ale.  The kit contained the usual stuff.  I’ve pictured the kit label and most of the major ingredients below.  I missed the grains that were steeped – the label on that one said “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt”

Steeping, Cooking, and Hops

For this batch, you start by steeping the supplied grains for 20 minutes.  This step is by far my favorite.  It smells amazing, and turns the water a great color.   For the steeping step, I added “Crushed crystal 60L 12oz. and black patent 1 oz. malt” as included in my kit.  I took a few pictures of the grains steeping in the grain bag. Next you add the syrup and dry malt.  Bring that to a boil and add the first bit of hops.  At this point, it just rolls.  Let it boil and stir it occasionally.  For this batch I decided to boil at a lower temperature.  The water is boiling, but not as aggressively as I’ve done for my other 2 brews.  For the last ten minutes of the boil, the bittering hops are added.   Now it’s time to cool. red-ale-brewing05

Cooling the Wort

I learned on my second batch that my sink is a perfect size for my brew pot.  If I fill the sink with ice, I can place the pot in the sink and give it an ice bath.  I spray the outside of my hot pot with cold water.  I also spin the pot so that the contact surface with the ice water is always changing.  In about 15 minutes, the wort is cool enough to be poured into the fermenting bucket ( which already has 3 gallons of clean water in it ).  I may be wrong, but I don’t worry much about getting the wort all the way down to 70 degrees.  I feel like having cool water in the bucket will take warm water and cool it that last bit so that the yeast will be happy. red-ale-brewing03

Fermentation

Once the wort and water mixture is in the bucket, I started getting the yeast ready to add.  My kit insructions don’t say to activate the yeast, but my yeast packet does.  I’ve actually done this both ways, and both worked fine.  To activate the yeast, I just pour it in a small cup of water, let it sit 10 minutes, then slowly add a little of the wort/water mixture in.  I think of it a lot like introducing new fish to an aquarium.  Slowly acclimate the yeast to it’s new watery home. I let this batch of beer sit in the fermenter for 10 days.  I felt like 7 was too short for my two previous batches.  I also kept it in a dark closet that stays a little warmer than the rest of my house ( it’s still Winter ).  The sitting temp was about 71 – 73 degrees.  Seems solid to me. red-ale-brewing01

Bottling the Beer

Bottling went pretty straightforward.  I used a mixture of long neck bottles, grolsch style bottles, and a couple of “growlers” from my local microbreweries.   I love using a couple of growlers.  They let you speed up the process, and they’re great for hauling to a party!  I’m 5 for 5 now, but I’ve been warned that growlers make EXTRA big bottle bombs.  You’ve been warned! I cracked open my first bottle of Red after 7 days.  NOT time yet.  Still far too sweet at this point.  I cracked my second bottle open at 14 days.  NOT time yet, either.  Better than the first one, but still too sweet.  Week three was the money week.  Finally the beer was decent to drink.  This is easily the best beer of the three I’ve made.  I think that my process is getting better, and it’s resulting in much better beer.

red-ale-brewing02

Beer Update:

Week 3 was just the start of this beer being great.  It honestly gets better with each passing week.  After 8 weeks, it’s a GREAT beer.

Next Batch: Mexican Cerveza
Previous Batch: Wheat Beer

{ 7 comments }
  • Andy August 23, 2009, 2:28 pm

    Thanks for this – this is the exact kit I bought for my very first batch, and this gives me good confidence in starting!

  • Jack January 22, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Jeremy,
    dude I was looking at your ingredients vs. my ingredients and they differ a little on this.
    1. the LME is 6.6 lb of Briess CBW pure malt extract Non-Diastiatic Golden Light
    2. Aroma Hops not flavoring hops Alpha Acid is 4.7%
    3 bittering hops are 4.7% yours was 4.6%
    4. Crushed Caramel 120L 8oz and crushed chocolate 1oz. malt

    so the ingredients are quite different from when you made this, not sure why the change.
    Also wish you had a pic of the finished product in the glass at its best stage.

    any how Cheers and keep up with the good blogs.

  • Jeremy January 23, 2011, 5:14 pm

    I”m terrible at taking pictures of my finished beers. I need to work on that part. This was one of my early batches, and I didn’t keep track of anything very well. It’s funny how different I do things 2 years later.

    Funny you’d point out that your kit isn’t anything like mine. The next blog I’ll be posting is for my 2010 Dunkelweizen. In just one year, Brewer’s Best changed almost everything about the kit, including the hops used.

    Same thing happened with my Oktoberfest from year to year. The first was an ale, the second was a lager. THAT’s different!

    As far as your hop alpha acids go, don’t stress it. I think they’ll vary from harvest to harvest even within the same hop. Another thing I’ve learned, there really isn’t such a thing as ‘aroma’ or ‘flavoring’ hops. It’s the same hop, it’s just a matter of when you add it. Earlier in the boil helps bitter the beer, later in the boil you’re contributing flavor, and right at the end you’re going for aroma primarily.

    I think the changes on these kits probably have more to do with what’s available in the marketplace as far as hops and malts are concerned. When I started making kits the LME was in cans, now it’s plastic containers. Strange they’ve moved to 120L, that’s a pretty big change as far as the steeped grains go.

  • Jack January 29, 2011, 5:07 pm

    Jeremy,
    Well I made my first batch of the Brewers Best Red Ale today!
    I was very excited about making this one since Reds are one of my favorites.
    After Chilling the wort and moving to my fermenter I to a O.G. reading of 1.045
    at this point I tasted the wort and to tell you the truth I’m a little nervous about how this is going to turn out.
    The wort at first had just a little sweetness to it then it turned to a bitter taste, about the best way for me to describe this is that it tasted like light sugar water with bitters added to it. It just seemed to watered down.

    all I can do is wait and see what happens.

  • Jeremy January 30, 2011, 3:46 pm

    Hmm… I wouldn’t worry too much. I never really feel like the wort tastes much like the final product.

    Red’s can be an interesting style to brew. I think there’s a lot of range in what people consider to be a good red. I suppose if you don’t end up liking this one, it’d be more a matter of a recipe you don’t care for than any problem with process on your part.

    Looking forward to hearing what you think of it after fermentation!

  • Jack February 27, 2011, 6:18 pm

    Jeremy,
    Well I popped the top on my Red Ale last night with a good buddy of mine!
    I brewed this one back on Jan. 29 2011,so in less than a month this turned out to be a very good beer i’m sure its a little premature after only being in the bottle for about 11 days, but it sure went down smooth. Poured a great head and it had just a touch of sweetness not bad. Can’t wait to see how it ages out over the next few weeks if it makes it that far.

  • Jeremy March 2, 2011, 10:46 am

    Awesome! Thanks for the update!

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