I fell–I know–for a commercial not too long ago that claimed off the shelf Gevalia house blend tasted better than Starbucks off the shelf house blend and I decided that I should try it with my new AeroPress so that I wasn’t missing out on anything. I’m not sure how much of a difference this makes, but I chose the espresso roast because I wanted to make something espresso like.
On the first press, I shot for the stars and tried to make a strong double espresso.
- 30g of tamped cofee in an upright AeroPress
- Water 30 seconds off the boil to just above the 2 mark.
- Wait 10 seconds then press.
It required a bunch of pressure to push through, so I thought I had done well in getting a high-bar press going and that I’d be close to espresso. Unfortunately, while it looked good, the coffee tasted really strange. There was some kind of sour-y acid tasted that lingers around after every sip. It’s not due to the strength of the coffee, because I love strong coffee, but I’m not entirely sure.
The second batch, I used Stumptown’s inverted method with just one scoop. This turned out much weaker than the first, as expected, but that weird taste is still hanging out in the background somewhere. I can’t describe it as sour, but it’s something strange.
Ok, so now I’m completely wired because I tried to figure this all out in the span of 30 minutes.
The third batch is what I’m going to have to stick with for Gevalia. This time I used Stumptown’s inverted method with 30g of coffee with about 95g of water. It didn’t taste great, so I diluted it a bit by adding some more water. This became drinkable and while the weird taste is still back there somewhere, it definitely doesn’t bug me each time I take a sip.
Now to go run around the house a few times because my hands are shaking.
Our move to Pullman brought us a second kitchen and a nice little cellar room that make for a perfect brewing location. I had been wanting to try brewing for a while, and in August I finally went all in and got setup. The results of my first brew are listed below. It was based on a Brewcraft USA kit rather than an original recipe so that I could get used to the process.
Overall the beer was a success. I was happy to overlook a few taste quirks because it was my first beer, and we’re already down to the last 2 bottles. I wouldn’t be as happy if this was my 4th brew, but I’ll take it as a first shot.
- Fermentables: 6lbs Briess CBW Pilsen Light Dry Malt Extract, 1lb Brewers Crystals, 1lb Crystal Malt 40L
- Bittering hops: 1oz Columbus pellets, 1oz Nugget pellets
- Aroma hops: 1oz Nugget pellets, 1oz Chinook pellets, 1oz Centennial pellets
- Yeast: Safale US-05 Dry Ale
- Brew to bottle: 20 days [Aug. 25th, 2013 - Sep. 14th, 2013]
- Original Gravity: 1.060
- Final Gravity: 1.015 (?)
- ABV: 5.9%
- IBU: ???
- Yield: 5 gallons
I didn’t actually record the final gravity on paper, mostly because I had no idea what to pay attention to at the time. My recollection is that it is 1.015, so that’s what I listed above and hence what the ABV is based on. The kit anticipated an OG of 1.069 and a FG of 1.014, so I was a bit off on both sides.
Similarly, I completely missed on the IBU as I had no idea I could properly calculate the quantity and timing of hops into a useable number. The kit says it anticipates an IBU of 90, but I can’t imagine I followed proper procedure enough for it to turn out that high. That kind of bitterness definitely doesn’t come through.
The “Cold Break”, a major lesson learned
I was not prepared for wort chilling.
— Jeremy Felt (@jeremyfelt) August 26, 2013
New brewers make new brewer mistakes, right? I hadn’t really realized ahead of time how important wort cooling was to the process of making beer. My batch took forever to cool down–several hours–because I wasn’t prepared. I even made an ice run to the convenience store in the pouring rain to try and speed up the process a bit.
This may actually be the most important tip for a first time homebrewer. The longer it takes to cool the wort down to fermentation temperatures, the longer it sits exposed to the elements of your brewing room before you can add yeast and seal things up. There is a good chance that some not perfect bacteria made its way into the wort at this point and affected the taste somewhat.
Ever since this batch, I’ve made a focused effort on achieving a quick cold break. Not only will it help the brew, but it shortens the amount of time it takes too!
Bitters, Aromas, IBU: Hops and timing
I didn’t understand the purpose and timing of bittering hops and aroma hops yet, so I don’t think I did to well for an IPA on the first round. I kind of guessed with what I had and with what the kit provided me. Thanks to readings on the Internet and more thorough reading of an amazing book, I now have a greater understanding of this part of the process and that has lead to more focused efforts in my own recipes. I should now do a much better job of determining the IBU of the brew as well as its expected flavor during the brewing process.