Brewing Blonde Ale

I brewed a blonde ale on Saturday with a lot of help from some friends and of course Jonathan. It’s beer 2 on the brewing plan. I need to get around to writing up my review of the milk stout I brewed for beer 1. It’s been pretty popular. The keg of milk stout is almost empty thanks to this brewing session. I am going to need to pick up the pace on brewing if this is going to be effective. I’ve got 2 taps on the kegerator now, so I should have 2 beers ready to drink at all times. It’s only reasonable.

The blonde ale is a pretty simple recipe that aims for a light, easy drinking beer that should be good for summer. It has a single bittering addition of Willamette hops. If this batch turns out well, I might try making another batch using a different hop. I’ve got some Saaz in the freezer for which I have no plans. I’m not really sure if it’s an appropriate hop for the style (I doubt it is), so I’ll have to do some research before I do anything. Even if I don’t use the Saaz, specific hop varieties are hard to come by these days, so I might just make a batch with whatever is available at All Seasons at a reasonable price. Also, how did I end up with an ounce of Saaz in the freezer anyway?

I’m fermenting the beer in my kegerator so I can keep the fermentation temperature controlled. A clean fermentation is key to all beers, but especially ones that are so light bodied and relatively un-hopped. Using the kegerator is great in the summer when the ambient house temperature is higher than the target fermentation temperature, but it defeats the purpose of having a kegerator in the house. Once we build a shed in our backyard I’ll have a place for a proper temperature controlled fermentation chamber. Then I’ll be able to drink off the tap while another blonde ale ferments at the ideal temperature out in the shed.

Tom and Mark came over to watch the brewing spectacle. They ended up doing a lot of the work as I spent my time chasing Jonathan around the porch and yard trying to keep him safe and happy. Thanks for all the help guys; I hope you had a good time and enjoyed the beer (I see some milk stout there in Mark’s hand).

This is the first time I used my new stainless steel turkey fryer. I bought it from More Beer in one of their deal of the day sales. It looks like they liquidated their inventory, as they don’t sell this fryer/burner anymore. I was very happy to get it at less than half price. The burner is radically different than the burner I was using previously. It had a single outlet that created a singe large flame that struck a diverter plate that kept it from scorching a single area on the bottom of the boil pot. It was pretty loud; sounded like a blow torch. The new burner is a 50,000 BTU burner with a large number of gas outlets. It burns very clean; there was little to no visible flame and a large amount of heat being produced unlike the bright orange flames from the old burner. It’s also extremely quiet. Overall it’s a substantial upgrade. I just wish More Beer would put up more similar items. Their recent deals have been large percentage discounts, but on fairly useless and low value items.

I’m also thinking about finding a larger propane tank. I’m always worried that I am going to run out of propane in the middle of a boil. Luckily I live only a few blocks from a place that refills propane tanks, so I really shouldn’t be concerned. I also suspect that the new burner uses less fuel to boil the wort than the old burner. It came to a boil much faster this time.

Since there was only a single bittering hop addition at the beginning of the boil, we had plenty of time to sit around while the wort boiled away. Jonathan helped me clean some kegs.

He loves to be involved. He wants to help clean kegs, stir the wort, whatever. It’s nice to have a helper. Jonathan also ‘helped’ with some hop plants that weren’t sprouting. He moved all the labels into one pot and dug up any rhizomes he could find. Good thing all the hops I plan to grow are at the office diligently climbing the silo. Looks like I needed to mow the grass pretty bad.

Jonathan also wanted to help out cooling the wort. I use an immersion chiller hooked up to the hose in the backyard and generally run the water water down the alley or into the sprinkler. I planted some grass seed along the side of my new sidewalk and figured I might as well use the waste water to get some water to the grass seeds. Jonathan tagged along and generally tried to shoot the water into my face or his face. Now that’s a nice looking sidewalk.

Well, the wort has been fermenting for 5 days now. I’ll have to check up on it again this weekend to see how close we are to kegging. I’m going to try to get this beer on tap relatively quickly as I don’t have any other beer to drink once the milk stout is gone. Thanks for the help Jonathan.

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