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Bottling a Car Bomb

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

About a week ago, we bottled our first brew!  We syphoned it into a new bucket with a tap, cleaned and sanitized all our tubing and bottles, and about 30 minutes later had 30 12oz bottles and a Pint bottle capped and sitting the in closet to carbonate!

TIP: Remember kids, twist tops will not seal fully with a none twist cap!  We had a generous donation of about 50 bottles that ended up being useless to us as they were twist offs.

We’ll let the bottled carb another week or so, planning on chilling and cracking open our first beers on Sunday!


Quick Update

We just opened up our Irish Car Bomb Stout since it’s been fermenting for over a week, and has stopped showing signs that it needs to ferment further.

GOOD NEWS!!! It appears that our wort darkened considerably while fermenting!  It’s almost black now.  I’d call it either a very dark Brown Ale, or a light Stout.  We took a little taste test and it actually tastes like a beer!  It’s not exactly what we wanted, but we can definitely taste some alcohol in it, although it is obvious that we did in fact add too much water and that hurt the other flavors.

So, we’re going to bottle up half of it tomorrow, as it’s worth saving at least half the batch for light sipping.  Now that we’ve learned from our mistakes, we’ll probably start our second brew (A Brown Ale) next week.

Diastatic Power

So, in my quest to figure out what went wrong with my first brew, I learned about diastatic power and enzymes within malt grains.  Here’s the basic rundown for those newbies like me…

Diastatic Power comes from certain enzymes with grains.  This enzyme has the power to turn starches into fermentable sugars during the steeping/mashing process of a brew.  When these enzymes are released in the hot water mash, they can do their work and break down the grains in the mash and create fermentable sugars, which obviously brings up your potential alcohol content.

Some grains (specialty grains) do not have this enzyme, or have very little.  When a grain does not have enough diastatic power from this enzyme, it’s starches are NOT converted into sugars.  Therefore, only color and flavors are added to the wart, and this is considered ‘steeping’. Ex. Chocolate Malt, Crystal/Caramel Malt, Roasted Barley are all specialty grains and will not yield any fermentable sugars during a steep, on there own.

This is one of the big mistakes I made in the first Irish Car Bomb brew.  The majority of my brew was Liquid Malt Extract and specialty grains.  Unfortunately, I steeped my specialty grains first, and since there were no ‘base malt grains’ (grains that contain the enzyme), my result had no fermentable sugars in it.  Therefore, the only fermentable sugars in my entire brew came from my Liquid Malt Extract, so my potential alcohol content was much, much lower than anticipated.

Now, if I had added a base malt in my steeping process, things would have been much different.  Some base malts (American 2-Row, for instance) have a heaping ton of this magical enzyme!  In fact, they are bursting with it.  So much so, that there’s enough to go around and convert all my other specialty grains into sugars.  Had I added some 2-Row grain (or any other high diastatic power grain) into my steeping process, color, flavors, and fermentable sugars would have been the result.  This is the definition of mashing.

Steeping yields only color and flavor, it is typically done with specialty/steeping grains with no diastatic power/enzyme.  Steeping usually only takes 30 minutes, as you are only drawing color and flavor from the grains.

Mashing yields both color and flavor, as well as fermentable sugars.  You need base malts with diastatic power/enzyme in order to mash/convert sugars.  This process is usually longer as well (60+ minutes) in order to convert as many starches to sugars, yielding a higher alcohol potential and resulting in a high OG (Original Gravity) reading.

To sum it up, because of my mistake, I thought I was mashing (creating sugars) when in fact I was steeping (creating only color and flavors, no sugars).  My resulting beer will have the flavors of the chocolate and caramel malts, but it will not have the alcohol content I was expecting.  I am guessing it will be a 3% Alcohol by Volume drink, at best.

I made a few other mistakes.  I didn’t crush my roasted barley.  This was a simple mistake at the home brew supply store, oops!  This resulted in my wort being not as dark or flavorful as I was hoping.  Roasted Barley is one of the key ingredients in a dark stout.  I am also 95% sure that I added an extra gallon of water, effectively watering down my batch a hell of a lot.  This would thin out my color, flavors, and what little alcohol content I had.

In the end, I learned a lot from this first brew, and expect it will still be a light, drinkable beer.

Fermentation Update!

Just wanted to post a little update.  Our brew has been in the fermentation bucket for about 24 hours now and we are seeing promising signs that the yeasties are doing their thang!  Our airlock is bubbling around ever 3-5 seconds, which is a sign that the yeast is breaking down the sugars and producing alcohol and CO2.


Another 2 weeks and we’ll be set to try it out and add some Jameson and Vanilla flavorings and bottle!

Categories: Irish Car Bomb Stout

First Brew: Irish Car Bomb Stout | The Brew

February 1, 2010 1 comment

Our first brew was a challenging one to take on!


  • 6# Lite/Pale LME (Liquid Malt Extract)
  • 1# Chocolate Malt
  • 1# Crystal 60 (Caramel Malt)
  • 8oz Flaked Oats
  • 8oz Roasted Barley
  • 1oz Fuggles Hops (@ 60 min.)
  • Nottingham Yeast

This recipe was an original one I designed with lots of help from online forums (  This brew is designed to taste like an Irish Car Bomb (Guinness with a shot of Baileys Irish Cream and Jameson Irish Whiskey added).  The idea is to add Jameson and some vanilla flavorings in about 2 weeks, after the stout has fermented.  The Crystal 60 is a malt grain that yields a natural caramel flavor, so that should help create the Bailey’s flavorings.

The Process:

We boiled 3 gallons of tap water for 15 minutes to boil off any chlorine or other things in the tap water.  We then reduced the temp. to 155 and steep our grains (choco, crystal, oats, and barley) for 30 minutes, keeping a consistent water temp. of 155.  This yielded a great aroma in the kitchen and the color was nice and dark.  Looked like a lovely stout in the making!

After our 30 minute steeping, we removed the grains and added our 6 lbs of liquid malt extract, mixed it in, and brought the wort to a boil.  Once boiling, we added in our hops (wrapped in cheesecloth for easy removal) and boiled everything for 60 minutes. During this time we mixed up some sanitize and cleaned our fermenting bucket and any tools that would touch our wort after the boiling process.  Sanitation is really important.

After our 60 minute boil, we removed the hops, and moved our kettle/pot to the sink filled with cold water.  At this time we also added about a gallon of cold, filtered water.  once the pot had cooled a bit, we moved it outside to cool our beer to around 80 degrees.  This took about 15 minutes.  We then transfered the beer to our plastic fermenting bucket and filled it to our 5-gallon level*(remember this) with water.  We pitched our yeast in and closed the lid up.

When inserting our air lock into the lid, the rubber o-ring slipped through and into our beer.  Apparently, it doesn’t float… so we had no choice but to transfer our 5 gallons of beer back into our kettle, straining it through cheesecloth to catch the o-ring.  We had to completely fill our kettle to the brim before we eventually found the o-ring at the bottom of our bucket.

At this point, we had to transfer the beer back into the bucket we just emptied.  This was complicated as we were outside in the cold Vermont night, couldn’t see very well, and had a kettle filled to the lip with our beer.  Needless to say, the transfer wasn’t perfect and we did spill a little of our first batch all over our new deck!

We quickly moved back indoors, reset the o-ring and placed our airlock and top on the lid, just after taking out 1/3 cup of our beer to take a gravity reading.  The bucket is now sitting in a closet at 65 degrees.  We’ll check it in a day or two to make sure the fermentation process has begun!

The Results:

Well, as I said, we took out about 1/3 of a cup of our brew to take gravity readings with our hydrometer, and to taste it.

The outcome was lighter than we expected, in all ways possible.  The color was supposed to be a very black stout, but it turned out to be kind of a mid brown.  Upon tasting it, it was quite light on the chocolate and caramel flavors, but didn’t taste bad at all, it was just weak.  Finally, the potential alcohol was much lower than I expected.  My hydrometer reading was around 1.030 which turns into an alcohol content of around 3.8-4%.  This is not bad for a stout, but I was hoping for more like 5%.  I have a very strong feeling that the bucket we used is marked actually at 6 gallons, and we may have watered down this beer by an extra gallon by accident.  This would definitely affect both our color and gravity reading from the hydrometer.

Lessons Learned:

  • The entire brewing process takes longer than you expect!  Boiling that much water takes a long time.  Out total brew time was over 3 hours.
  • CRUSH ALL YOUR GRAINS!  I forgot to crush the roasted barley and that was a large contribution to the taste and dark color of the beer.  Ooops!
  • The 30 minute steeping process will only add flavors, not fermentable sugars, so don’t expect them to contribute to a higher ABV.
  • Lube your o-rings!
  • Measure twice, brew once!


This should still be a good, drinkable beer for sure, just not what we planned on!  Not too shabby for our first brew ever.  I will be sure to add short posts during the next few weeks as the beer ferments and we add our vanilla flavorings and Jameson, as well as the bottling/carbonating/drinking process!

Hello World!

Hoppy’s Homebrew is a fun experiment/hobby that started a few weeks ago, when I found my fathers old home brewing kit that was gifted to him 15 years ago, but never used.  Now that I am of age, and my time at home is quickly coming to an end, I thought that brewing some good and flavorful beers would be a great final bonding project for me and my father.

After a lot of research, we purchased our grains for our first ever batch, an Irish Car Bomb Stout.

This blog will serve as a digital note book.  I’ll post our recipes, updates on our brews, and comments after every brew about how it turned out, what could be done different, and what improvements to make next time!

Please enjoy!

Categories: Irish Car Bomb Stout