CCHBS News for March 2004
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- March Recipe Specials
- April All-Grain Class Date Change
- Price Increases on the Way
- Refractometers at a Good Price - Any Interest?
- Belgian Pale Malt on Sale in March
- Hop Rhizomes - Tell Us Which You Want
- Spotlight on Technique - Why Take Gravity Readings?
March Recipe Specials
Gravity featured style for March is India Pale Ale, and we've got
not one, but two IPA recipes on sale for the month of February. Plus,
we'll continue our special on Anchor
2003 Homebrew Club of the Year Steam Beer.
Inglewood IPA is one
of our oldest recipes, originally called Indiana Pale Ale. We changed
the name last year because beginners were getting confused, but it's
still the same great recipe. It's a fine example of an American IPA.
If you haven't made it by now, isn't it time you tried it? Ordinarily
selling for $34, it's on sale for only $30.00.
30 Minute IPA is our newest
recipe, even though it's a recipe Greg has been working on for a couple
of years. It gets its name from the fact that the wort is only boiled
for 30 minutes, with a very large hop addition at 20 minutes for both
bittering and flavor. That means you can shorten your brew day considerably.
- Greg once brewed two batches before lunch, just because he could.
It's not a recipe for the faint of heart, but then no IPA is. Try 30
Minute IPA for $30 for the month of March.
We're also continuing to feature our recently renamed Anchor
2003 Homebrew Club of the Year Steam Beer! This special will run
through the end of the year, or until Anchor's lawyers find out about
it. This is the perfect time of year to brew this style, and it's only
April All-Grain Class Date Change
We realized that our next all-grain brewing class was scheduled for
Easter Sunday, so we've moved it up a week to April 4th. This class
will show how to use the club system to brew 10 gallon batches using
the traditional sparging technique. The class will start at 11AM. Plan
to stay until the end of the day because knowing how to properly clean
the system before putting it away is essential.
Price Increases on the Way
W'eve been putting this off as long as possible, but the weak US Dollar
means that the price of imported goods is going up. We've been getting
warnings from our suppliers about price increases for a while now and
they're finally starting to take effect. Unfortunately, as our costs
go up we have no choice but to raise prices accordingly. Sorry.
Refractometers at a Good Price - Any Interest?
We've got an opportunity to buy refractometers at a price which would
let us sell them at $45/each, compared to typical prices of $60-70 or
even higher. The catch? We've got to buy at least 30 of them to get
that price, so if you're interested, please let us know. If you don't
know why you need a refractometer or even what they are, read the "Why
Take Gravity Readings?" section below.
Belgian Pale Malt on Sale in March
We're overstocked on Belgian Pale malt, so we're putting it on sale
for $1.25/lb. during the month of March. This is a great pale ale malt,
and is suitable for any style of beer, not just Belgian ales.
Hop Rhizomes - Tell Us Which You Want
It's nearly time for us to order hop rhizomes, and while we'll be ordering
the usual suspects - Nugget and Cascade, there are other varieties available
to us. So if you're interested in growing Centennial, Chinook, Fuggles,
Glacier, Goldings, Hallertau, Horizon, Liberty, Mt. Hood, Saaz, Santiam,
Sterling, Tettnang or Willamette, be sure to let us know - soon!
Spotlight on Technique - Why Take Gravity Readings?
One of the most-overlooked pieces of equipment included with our starter
kits is the hydrometer, used to measure the sugar content of a liquid.
Since sugar is what yeast turns into alcohol, this measurement should
be of significant interest to all brewers. In fact, it's so important
that ideally brewers should take constant measurements at every step
in the brewing process. Unfortunately, there are some practical considerations
which make this difficult, but not impossible to do.
The biggest difficulty lies with the hydrometer itself. In order to
be accurate, hydrometers are calibrated at a specific temperature -
60 degrees F. Unfortunately it takes a good while to cool mash runnings
or boiling wort down to that temperature, and by that time it might
be impossible to do anything useful with your reading. Enter the refractometer.
Since they work on a different principle, refractometers aren't as sensitive
to temperature. And since a sample of only a few drops is needed, it
will cool much more quickly. How useful is that? During a recent brew
session I took gravity readings of the initial and final runoff of my
all-grain batch - in time to calculate that my final gravity would be
approximately what I'd planned on. Then towards the end of the boil,
I was able to take readings every few minutes until I hit the exact
gravity I was shooting for. Not too shabby, eh?
If you're brewing extract batches, gravity readings aren't quite as
critical but they're still important. In fact, partial-boil extract
brewers face a different problem. Because water is added to wort to
bring the volume up to 5 gallons, it's very hard to get an accurate
reading because the heavy wort tends to sink to the bottom while the
lighter water rises to the top. The answer? One is to stir your wort
vigorously after it's cooled and take the gravity sample after stirring.
The other approach is to take a sample before adding the water, then
calculate the gravity based on the relative volumes. Neither is a perfect
solution, but they're both workable. And the only practical way to determine
the alcohol content of a beer (a frequently asked question at CCHBS)
is to know what your original gravity was before fermentation
All brewers should take gravity reading before bottling. If there's
too much residual sugar left in the beer, it's possible to end up with
bottle bombs when you revive the yeast up by adding priming sugar. It's
also necessary for the alcohol content calculation. I also like to take
readings every time I rack the beer between fermenters, just to check
on the progress of the fermentation.