American Stout

So today I brewed for the first time in about a month, and the first time for 2009!


Normally I am all ‘it was an uneventful brew day, blah, blah, blah’. Well, today was different, it wasn’t quite eventful, but it wasn’t smooth either. Let me try to go through some of my simple mishaps that helped turn the day into a “ooph”.

I do not know what I was thinking when I made this recipe a few months ago before I placed an order for new ingredients, but I turned up short in more than one way. First, while I was measuring my grains I was a 1/2 pound short on roasted barley. I’m sure the beer will be fine, but I was actually planning on making two stouts – um…hello! Next when I went to go grind the grains I was dumping them out of a bag into the mill hopper and the bag split dumping about a 1/4 pound or so of grain everywhere, awesome! After I was done messing with the grains and cleaning up I realized I had overheated my mash-in water by about 20 degrees, great. Then, after I mashed-in I realized that I used the wrong scenario to calculate the water – I used 1.25 qts in stead of 1.0 – oh well, it’ll be fine, I’ve got the room. Then when it was time to add the first addition of hops, I didn’t have enough or the right kind of hops – what was I thinking…? So I made a substitute on the fly, hopefully not messing up any other pre-planned recipes – Chinook for Horizon for bittering and Cascade for Centennial for late addition. Then when I was trying to be a good-little-brewer and clean-up as I go I blew a water line hooked up to the faucet and almost shit my pants! Seriously, I didn’t know what happened and it was loud, hot, and wet all of a sudden. I was actually cleaning out a keg and thought somehow the keg had blown, dunno, but that’s where my mind went. And finally, I ran out of propane, and my back-up was empty. Fortunately it was with only 2 minutes left in the boil, but with maybe 15 minutes left I knew we were heading in that direction, with my rapid rolling boil turning into a just barely boil before the gas blew.

It was kind of a crappy brew day for little shit happening, but overall I am REALLY glad I brewed today, it is one of the few things I wanted to do over my break from work, and it almost didn’t happen. I also hit my OG and my volume and finished up in about 5 and a half hours, so that’s the all-good out look for the long run. I think I may bourbonize this beer in the secondary, but I haven’t committed yet.

Oh, BTW, to any homebrewers who read this, I hit a paranoia moment today while cleaning glass carboys. I typically do a hot water rinse, followed by a PBW hot water rest of at least 24 hours, followed by two hot water rinses, followed by either Iodophor or Star San as a sanitizer – but every once in a while I don’t think it’s enough. So my question is, what do you all do? Do you have some sort of secret chemical you swear by? Lemme know, I’d appreciate it.

7 Responses to “American Stout”

  1. Brian Frey Says:

    Sounds similar to my method. I do the hot water rinse with the jet rinser do-hickey, then I take the cheap route and use Clorox OxyMagic because I buy it in bulk at BJ’s. I normally let it sit at least overnight, or a few days depending how motivated I am. Then I follow up with at least 3 rinses, cause I’m scared of the oxyclean residue. I’m sure with PBW, 2 rinses should be good. I sanitize mine on brew day right before I’m done boiling. So your method sounds good to me.

    One area I have to work on is my counterflow chiller. I normally do a water rinse right after using it, then just let the leftover starsan go through there, but I think I’m gonna have to start using PBW on it. I’m just paranoid cause I can’t see in there. On another note, I got a 26g pot from Santa, so we’ll have to do a group brew soon. I’ve got my Hopstopper already fixed up in it, and I’m almost done making my own WortWizzard so I don’t have to lift that heavy bastard up for gravity feed. Lets brew something one of these days!

  2. Brian Says:

    Thanks Brian, I’ve heard OxyClean is basically the same thing as PBW, so I am assuming OxyMagic is similar?

    Yeah, I want to get a CFC, but I am way paranoid about the not being able to see thing. You use gravity with yours, how’s that work out? I thought they had to use pumps, huh, go figure.

    26 gallon pot, sweet! I am totally down with planning something to brew. Do you have a big enough mash tun, or would you mash in two separate tuns or something? Santa wasn’t sure which beer toy would be best, so I got cash for beer toys, always welcomed.

  3. Brian Frey Says:

    Yup, Oxymagic is pretty much oxyclean. I hear there is one difference between them and PBW. Not sure what chemical it is, but it’s the one that makes you have to rinse better.

    Gravity worked fine with my CFC. The only problem was that after the boil was done, I would have to lift the pot off the burner/stand, then put the stand on the workbench, then put the pot on top of it. Always kinda scary because of the risk of dropping it, but never too big of a deal. Then I would put the CFC on two milk crates stacked up, and was good.

    I do have to work on a mash tun. Right now I only have a 10g igloo, so I’m limited to not so high gravity 10g batches. I’m guessing I should build one out of a 60quart cooler for big 10g batches? I’ll have to look into it. Maybe I’ll see what Garrett uses. WWGD?

  4. Brian Says:

    WWGD! Hilarious!

    Garrett, BTW, uses three 26 gallon stainless steel vessels, HLT, Mash Tun, and Kettle – it’s a pretty sick set-up.

    If you just upgraded to a 26 gallon brew pot, I would suggest a 100 QT cooler, seriously. I use a 60 QT cooler for 5 gallon batches and have almost maxed it out with a RIS. But a 100 QT cooler (like the big white marine ones) plus a copper or CPVC (or whatever the food-grade stuff is called) manifold would be great for use with the 26 G brew pot, but might be overkill for 10 G batches – go figure.

  5. Brian Frey Says:

    I had some gift cards to WalMart, so I just ordered up one of the 70qt Coleman Extreme coolers cause it was the biggest they had. I’ll probably make 10g for myself all the time, but maybe I’ll get a bigger one for some group brews. Now if I could only find some WLP029 Kolsch Yeast, I’d break that dang pot in. Might go up to PA to try and find some.

  6. Andrew Says:

    I recommend “Brew Strong” on, they had a fairly recent podcast centered on cleaning, with one of the 5 star chemicals guys on the program. What I remember from what he said was that PBW has a similar oxidation effect as oxyclean but also has a surfactant (surface tension reducer) like soap, which enables it to more effectively remove dirt, and it even has a chelation effect too. Also he said that 120-140F was the optimum temp range for PBW, it works lower than that also, just slower due to the slower molecular speeds. Going over 140 isn’t advised as eventually at those high temps the PBW molecules break down and you apparently get a nasty soap scum residue. There is more info than I’m glossing over on the podcast, well worth a listen. There was also an older podcast on the main “Sunday Show” podcast on the same site with one of the 5-Star guys in the archives.

    As for what I do with my carboys, first I use the bottle brush (going after the yeast ring and also I try to at least swipe at the entire inside surface area). Then soak in hot tap (110F) PBW, overnight. Then siphon it out, pour in about 1/2 gallon of hot water, shake, rinse, repeat. Then fill with hot tap water and let soak for several more hours, then pour out and place carboy in plastic carboy donut thingy to drain dry. I don’t sanitize until brewday.

  7. Brian Says:

    Hey Andrew – Thanks for the insight, I will totally have to check those PodCasts out – nice!

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