A Whole Mess of Kegging

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout, ready for kegging

It’s only five weeks until AHA (American Homebrewers’ Association) in San Diego, and in preparation I’ve been brewing up a storm the past few weekends. In order to give everything sufficient time for conditioning, carbonation, and such, tonight was the night to keg it all.

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.2

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 3.5 weeks, for the first 10 days at 66°, and the rest of the time at ambient temperature.
  • I racked the beer onto 2 ounces of Citra hops (13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), weighted down in a bag at the bottom of the keg.
  • Final gravity was 1.010; down from 1.048, this works out to 5.0% abv. The beer was wonderfully clear, with a medium yellow color and clean flavor.
  • I’ll let this dry hop at room temperature for a week or two before carbonating.

Eagle Face Oatmeal Stout 1.1

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 2.5 weeks; I cold-crashed it for the final 24 hours down to 38°.
  • Final gravity was down to 1.021 from 1.061, which works out to 4.1% abv. The beer has really nice body to it, and should be delightful once carbonated.
  • I began carbonating this beer immediately.

Bonedigger Brown Ale 1.1

  • This beer had been in the primary fermenter for 11 days (cold crashed during the final 24 hours).
  • Final gravity was 1.013, down from 1.052. This works out to 5.1% abv. Both flavor and appearance are on the mark.
  • I began carbonating this beer immediately.
To move things along, I’m going to try a “quick carbonation” technique. For the oatmeal stout and brown ale, I began carbonation under 40 psi at 38°. In 24 hours, I’ll lower pressure to 20 psi, and after another 24 hours I’ll check out the carbonation.

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.2

Mash on!

Ramping up for the National Homebrewers Association conference, my club is going to be serving our beers at club night! I’ve (perhaps foolishly) agreed to provide three kegs, using some of my more tried-and-true recipes. First out: Gondwana Pale Ale. I’ve made this recipe in two previous iterations, and have modified the grain and hops bill just a touch as my techniques are refined. Additionally, I’ll be using a liquid yeast starter (WLP001) instead of dried yeast (Safeale US-05).

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.2

  • 8.25 lbs. 2-row malt
  • 0.85 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 0.45 lbs. carapils malt
  • 0.45 lbs. crystal 40 malt
  • 1 oz. Citra hops (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), 35 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Citra hops (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), 1 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Citra hops  (pellets, 13.2% alpha, 3.7% beta), dry hop 14 days
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss (boil 10 minutes)
  • 1 pkg. California Ale Yeast (White Labs, WLP001); prepared 24 hours in advance in 1L starter


  • I mashed in with 3.185 gallons of water at 164°, nailing 152° on the nose for a mash temperature. This had declined to 151° after 10 minutes and 150.4° after 35 minutes.
  • I added 1.18 gallons of water at 190°, which brought the temperature up to 154°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collcted 3.25 gallons of wort.
  • I added 3.18 gallons of water at 185°, which brought the mash temperature up to 172°. This was a touch high, so I added .125 cups of ice cubes, which brought the temperature down to 165°. I let it sit for another 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected the rest of the wort.
  • All told, I collected 6.95 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.037. This works out to ~72% efficiency. Because my efficiencies have been a touch low the last two batches (compared to the usual 75%+), I rechecked the gap on the rollers on my grain mill. Sure enough, they had slipped out just a touch, so I readjusted them back to 0.039.
  • I brought the wort to a boil and added the first hops charge after 25 minutes (for a 35 minute total boil).
  • I added the Irish moss after 50 minutes of boiling.
  • I added the second hops charge 1 minute before flame-out. At flame out, I removed the “old” hops, left the “new” ones in to steep, and cooled the wort. Once it was down to ~75°, I transferred the wort to the fermenter and pitched the yeast.
  • I have ~5.5 gallons of beer in the carboy, with a gravity of 1.048 (exactly where I was at for my last batch, too!). I’ll be fermenting it at 66°.
  • Within 12 hours after pitching the yeast, fermentation was well under way.
  • I brewed this beer on Saturday, April 11.

Beer Update: Vaalbara Session IPA & Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone

Today was a bit of “housekeeping” with my two latest brews–one batch to bottle, one batch to transfer to the secondary fermenter.

Vaalbara Session IPA
After two weeks of dry-hopping, I was ready to bottle this batch. The final gravity was 1.011; with a starting gravity of 1.045, this works out to 4.6% abv. The flavor and aroma are both quite pleasant!

The final yield as two 5-L mini-kegs (each primed with 1.5 tbs corn sugar), 3 12-oz. bottles (primed with one carbonation drop each), and 2 22-oz. bottles (primed with two carbonation drops each). Given the small volume that was not kegged, I didn’t feel the desire to mess around with corn sugar.

Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Clone
This beer has been in the primary for just over two weeks, so it was high time to move it to the secondary fermenter. The gravity is down to 1.016 from 1.060, or about 5.8% abv. Even better, it’s delicious! The beer has a nice roasty flavor (thank you, roasted barley!), black color, and is very definitely a “robust” porter. I’m going to let it sit in the secondary fermenter for at least two weeks, at around 66°.

In other news…
I tapped one of the Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1 mini-kegs. The beer is quite tasty, with well-balanced hops and malts, as well as a fantastic Citra hop aroma. The recipe is a keeper! If I have any minor complaint at the moment, it is that the carbonation is a little lower than I might like. I suspect this is because the keg has been kept cool (~66°), so a few more weeks of conditioning and carbonation are in order for the other keg.

Beer Update: Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1, Vaalbara Session IPA

Last night (August 29), I bottled up the Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1 and transferred the Vaalbara Session IPA over to the secondary. Details are below.

Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1

  • This beer had been dry hopping for 12 days. It had a final gravity of 1.011, which works out to 4.7% abv.
  • I filled two mini-kegs, which were each primed with 1.5 tbs. of corn sugar. The remaining beer, totaling 1.9 gallons, was bottled and carbonated with 1.65 oz. of corn sugar to reach a target carbonation  of 2.5 volumes.
  • Total yield was 2 5-L kegs, 4 22-oz. bottles, 2 18-oz. bottles, and 8 12-oz. bottles.
  • This beer promises to be really nice — a pretty clean flavor and just the Citra hops aroma I was aiming for.
Vaalbara Session IPA
  • After six days in the primary fermenter, I transferred the beer over to a secondary fermenter.
  • I racked the beer directly onto ~1.75 oz. of Cascade hops pellets, with approximately 3.75 gallons transferred. The carboy went into my temp-controlled fermenting freezer, set to 66°.
  • At the moment, the beer is fairly clear and perhaps a little green in flavor, but there is nothing “off” for flavors relative to what a beer should have at this point in fermentation. Gravity is 1.015, down from 1.045, which calculates to 3.9% abv. I will not be surprised if the gravity drops another point or two in the next two weeks before bottling.

Beer Update: Gondwana Pale Ale 1.1

Today I transferred the Gondwana Pale Ale over to the secondary fermenter, following 9 days of primary fermentation. Some highlights:

  • Gravity is 1.012 at 60 degrees, down from 1.048. This works out to 4.7% abv and apparent attenuation of 74%.
  • I racked the beer onto 2 oz. of Citra hops pellets (14.5% alpha, 3.9% beta), and plan a solid 2 weeks of dry hopping before bottling/kegging.
  • In total, 5 gallons of beer was transferred; there was about 0.25 gallons of trub, and another 0.25 gallons of stuff that was just too murky to bother with.
  • The sample is tasted has a slight whiff of Citra hops, presumably from the late addition during the boil. This is quite nice! As with the first version of this recipe, there is a very slight vegetal/off-malty after-taste. Because I haven’t really had this with my other all-grain recipes, I wonder if it is something inherent to the malts I used (maybe the Vienna malt?). In any case, the aroma was very transient in the last batch, and is much fainter by comparison in this batch, so I am not too worried.
  • I set the fermenting chamber (i.e., temperature controlled freezer) to 64 degrees, up 2 degrees from the primary fermentation. I may raise it again slightly later this week.