Monday, May 2, 2011

Many Posts Rolled Into One

So I haven’t posted anything in a long time because my computer will not let me log on to anything that has a password. Sorry if anyone tried the pickle recipe. It was a total failure! The pickles smelled great and actually didn’t taste all that bad but, they were incredibly mushy and I couldn’t stand them. I tried to make them into relish but that was also like eating pickle pudding and made me want to barf. 

The kombucha on the other hand came out really well! I made two batches one of which I fermented only for a month at temperatures between 50 F and 55 F so it didn’t really ferment all the way. I carbonated it and it was good to drink but not as good as the second. The second batch I let set for over two months at really cold temps and it was delicious. It didn’t even taste like kombucha. I didn’t carbonate it and it was still fantastic! I brought it over to my girlfriend’s sister’s house and we almost drank a whole gallon between three people in one night. It tasted like slightly acidic honey lemon water, but really smooth and no nasty kombucha smell (like crotch) just really pleasant. 

Lime Zest
One other kombucha experiment I did was I took the mother off of the tea when it was almost done and racked the kombucha into a secondary vessel and added lime zest from two limes. I let that sit for 3 days and then strained out the zest and put it in a gallon jug. I didn’t carbonate this one either and I actually like it un-carbonated quit I bit. The zest took away that kombucha smell that is not always pleasant until it’s blended with a fruit juice. It smelled like lime juice and tasted like kombucha so I was pleased.
1st on left 2nd on right

Juniper Ale
The Juniper Ale received 3rd in show out of 15 other brews at a homebrew competition hosted by a new brewery opening up soon called Copper Kettle Brewing Company. So I was pretty stoked about that! When the trees start getting fresh tips on them I will make a new batch but this time with just the Rauch malt instead of the peated malt and I think I will also make a Spruce Ale.

I finally bottled the Sour Cherry Beer. I had an oak spiral in it for 6 weeks. The oxygen from the wood really got the brew souring quickly. It tastes pretty darn good so far but needs more time to carbonate. After 2 weeks in the bottle it only had a slight effervescence.

On the same day we bottled the Sour Cherry we also brewed a Saison based off of information from Farmhouse Ales by Phil Markowski. Here is the recipe:

  • 6 # German Pils
  • 2 # German Malted Wheat
  • .25 # Honey Malt
  • 1 oz S. Golding (divided into 3rds and added in at 60, 30, and 5 mins)
Boil Time: 4 hours or more
I mashed differently than normal this time so that it would be a little more authentic.
  • Mash in at 45 C – Hold for 30 minutes
  • Heat to 55 C – Hold for 15 minutes
  • Heat to 62 C – Hold for 30 minutes
  • Heat to 68 C – Hold for 15 minutes
  • Heat to 74 C – Mash Off
Saison beginning to start up
 I drained off the wort, reheated it on the stove, and then added it back into the mash tun (sometimes with extra water) to get the desired temperatures. When I mashed off I over compensated by filling the kettle to 11 gallons of water and boiling it down for 3 hours. It made the wort change from a hay yellow to a orange like brown. I used German Lager yeast and added in the oak spiral from the Sour Cherry to get it a little tangy. It will sit in the primary for a little under a week and then left in the fridge for 6 weeks to age. When I transfer to secondary I will decided whether or not to add spices or citrus zest.

I have also brewed a experimental batch with 2 pounds of honey malt with cluster and fuggle hops that turned out pretty good. It has already been drunken up. I brewed a smoked stout with my dad too. It just got carbonated I will probably post the recipe sometime soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pickles and Kombucha

On the 5th of December I started a batch of both 4 pounds of pickles and a gallon batch of kombucha. My last batch of kombucha didn't turn out so great I didn't let it ferment long enough and it ended up tasting sweet and the ginger didn't boil long enough so it tasted just like a root. So this time I paid a little more attention to detail.
  • 6 Tbs Green Tea (two tea bags)
  • 3 Tbs Black Tea (one tea bag)
  • Grated ginger and zest from one orange
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup ginger simple syrup 

One of the "tricks" I guess I use is that I fill up the container that I am going to be fermenting in with filtered water and ice cubes. Then I pour off the water and save some of the ice water for a quick cool down. I wanted to make sure this batch had a good spicy ginger flavor so I let the ginger sit in the boiling water before I shut off the heat to steep the tea. The tea tasted great before I added the mothers in so I have high hopes for this batch.

I have made pickles before this but I just made canned pickles. This time I am making lacto-fermented pickles using some of the brine that the sauerkraut was sitting in. First I sanitized the glass jar I was using by washing it out with plain hot water and then swishing around some distilled vinegar. Then I just cut 4 lbs of cucumbers into spears and packed them into my glass jar. Then I added in the spices and a teaspoon of salt for every pound of vegetable (I've heard this is the correct way to do it). Then I boiled water and let it cool down and added the water to the spices and cucumbers. It's going to sit for almost two weeks and then I will devour them.
  • ~ 4 lbs of cucumbers (speared)
  • 2 Tbs Cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp Fennel seeds (crushed slightly)
  • 1 tsp Caraway seeds (crushed slightly)
  • 2 Tbs Peppercorns (crushed slightly)
  • 4 tsp Salt
  • 2 ounces of fresh Dill
  • 1 sprig of Rosemary
  • ~ cup of live culture sauerkraut brine

Dark Ale in Iowa

This post is a little late since we brewed on the 23 of November, but I figured I would post the recipe and the procedure. We started out with the idea of making a stout but as we went along with the brewing process it turned into something else. The brew store in Davenport really isn't a beer brewing store, it's more of a country wine and wine making store that has malts. They had what we needed to make beer but the grain was prepackaged in 1 lb or 10 lbs amounts. We also planned on this being a double batch but we realized while we were boiling that the gravity was really low so we had to add a large amount of sugar. Also this is the first time I have used instant oatmeal in the mash. Next time I will probably double up on the amount of oatmeal because draining it went so smoothly. We also brewed in the garage with all the doors down so it was a very relaxing hop spa.

Grain Bill:
#10 Briess 2-row Browers Malt 1.8 L
#2 Muntons Marris Otter Malt 3.0 L
#2 Briess Special Roast (sourdough/tang) 6-row 50 L
#1 Muntons Crystal 60
#1 Briess Chocolate Malt 350 L
#1 Briess Roasted Barley Unmalted 6-row 300 L
11.8 oz Instant Oatmeal (Kroger)

1oz Columbus 14.2 % @ 90min
1 oz Willamette 4.9% @ 60min
1 oz Kent Goldings 4.5% @ 10min

Mashed at 151-2° F for 1 hour
  • 5:10 Full Boil
  • 5:15 1 oz Columbus 14.2%
  • 5:20 2 cups Dark Brown Sugar
  • 5:45 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 5:45 1 oz Willamette 4.9%
  • 6:05 ~1.5 cups Brown Sugar
  • 6:30 1 kg White Sugar
  • 6:35 1 oz Kent Goldings 4.5%
  • 6:45 Flame Out

OG 1.044

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Norweigian Style Juniper Ale

Last night some friends and I brewed up a batch of juniper ale. Juniper ales are typically brewed on farms in Scandinavian countries. They are somewhat sweet, you drink them "flat" or only with the carbonation they have after the secondary fermentation, and they are slightly smokey. Gotlandsdricku (dricka/dricke) is a traditional juniper ale brewed in Gotland which is an island off the coast of Sweden. There are not many sites that agree on the same steps and procedures for making this beer and so I just took the ones that sounded best to me and designed my beer off of them. I read that the malt is slightly smokey and I have been wanting to use this peat smoked malt at the brew store but didn't know what I was going to use it for. I've heard that there is rye in it and also wheat. I used Mount Hood hops because they are described as having a minty quality and they pair well with spicy rye flavors. Most of the recipes online call for sugar, but I do not have a lot of experience brewing with sugars and wanted to really see what a plain juniper ale would taste like. The pictures that I have seen of this beer are darker than what we brewed I pretty much stuck with plain base malt colors. Anyways this is the recipe:
  • 10 lbs Premium 2-row
  • 1 lb Dextrin (for body)
  • 1 lb Malted Rye
  • .5 lb Peated Malt (smokey flavor)
  • .5 Torrefied Wheat (for head retention and body)
  • 1 oz Mount Hood 5.5% @ boil 
  • California V
  • 1 oz Juniper Berries @ 5min
  • Mash tun layered with juniper branches
 Since I have wanted to brew this kind of beer for awhile I had been searching for a good juniper tree to pull branches from. The juniper that I have seen in videos and pictures looks like the low shrub kind that is really spiky. I used a not so spiky version but it was covered in berries. I have seen people add hops to the mash tun. I have seen/read of people making a juniper branch tea and then mashing with the strained water along with branches in the mash tun. Unanimously they all say to put the branches in the mash tun. I guess back in the day that was what was used to strain the grains.

Here are a list of sites I used to figure out what I was going to do:
I heated a pot of 26 quarts (2 quarts/lb) to 165° F and added it to my mash tun layered with juniper branches. I let that sit for a minute or two covered to let the cooler heat up and then we added the grains at 6:05 pm. I stirred around until it dropped to 150° F so that It would feel a little thicker in the end. The temperature stayed at 150° F for the whole hour. Then we drained the wort out into the kettle and poured with a pitcher boiling water over the grain bed with an aluminum foil strainer so we did not disturb the grain bed to much. We collected around 6.5 gallons brought that to a boil and added in 1 oz of Mount Hood 5.5%. We boiled it for an hour but added 1 oz of dried juniper berries from a spice shop in with 5 minutes left in the boil. Cooled it, racked it, and pitched the yeast. I didn't warm the yeast up before I pitched it I just shook it in the jar I had it in and dumped it into the carboy. The wort was pretty cool because it was so cold outside while we were transferring it.

I also bought an L' Auto-Siphon from Fermtech Ltd. It's pretty much awesome. The guys at the brew store kept telling me "oh you got to get one" and I just thought they were trying to sell me something but in reality I should have gotten one a long time ago. Not only do I not have to suck in bleach/starsan into my mouth any more but it also drains the wort from the kettle to the carboy so smoothly that it left all the hot break at the bottom of the kettle.
Last night we also transferred our Breakfast Stout from the primary into the secondary with french pressed coffee, molasses and maple syrup. I went from a 6.5 gallon carboy to a 5 gallon carboy and ran out of room in the secondary so I filled up a big pitcher full of flat beer to drink. I don't see any reason to waste it. Plus I got to use my new glass her name is Guzzlestaff.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nut Cheese, Chili, Kombucha, Plus More Cherries

I have a link to a blog that explains how to make Vegan Cheese out of nuts off to the right side. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try and make some myself. I used two metric handfuls of walnuts, one handful of almonds and I sprinkled in some small pumpkin seeds for good measure. I added into the blender some fresh sauerkraut brine teeming with lactobacilli, some vegetable oil and a hunk o' homemade sauerkraut too. The blog I got the info from said to add seaweed and coconut creme but I couldn't find coconut creme that was unsweetened and I did not want to put seaweed in it. I just blended all that stuff up until it was good and creamy. It took forever and next time I will blend the dry stuff up first so it doesn't take so long. After it was mush I put it into a swing-top jar and let it sit for four days. It was only supposed to take 14 hours but I put the lid on the the jar. The mush is supposed to ferment and rise like bread but since I put the lid on the gas had no where to go and the mush didn't rise. So I burped it everyday until I thought it was good to go. One day waiting for the train I turned to my girlfriend and exclaimed loud enough for everyone to hear that "I needed to go home and burp my nut cheese." It tasted really good actually! The sauerkraut brine had a lot of garlic in it so it ended up tasting like a more puckering sour cream and onion/garlic dip. I had a bunch and then gave it to my girlfriends sister who is vegan and she liked it too. Actually there wasn't anyone that I gave it to that didn't like it. Plus I got to make nut cheese jokes after everyone took a bite.
After Four Days
A purple layer on the top formed but did not taste bad at all
I made a batch of Chili and Kombucha on the same day. The Chili came out great and I took it camping with me but the Kombucha didn't come out as planned. It didn't taste bad I just should of let it ferment longer than five days. During the summer I could put the batch out in the sun-room and if I left it longer than 4 days it would have been pure vinegar. Now it's cold in the house and five days just won't cut it. It came out too sweet and the ginger I used ended up tasting too root like and not spicy enough. I also didn't boil it for very long and didn't get enough lime zest flavors. I didn't use tea bags either and it made it kind of cloudy. So if I were going to do it all over again I would boil it longer, use tea bags to hold both the tea and the ginger and zest, and I would ferment it longer or taste it at least before I bottle it!
One more thing that I would take into consideration is that I had the mothers in the fridge prior to the fermentation. I did not give them enough time to get used to the warm temperatures. Now I have been storing them at room temperature in some juice.

Kombucha Recipe (for this batch):
  • 4Tbs Black Tea
  • 4 Tbs Green Tea
  • One zested lime
  • About a golfball sized grated piece of ginger 
  • ~2 cups of sugar (perhaps too much)

Finally a couple of days ago I tasted my Cherry Brett Ale and it tasted different from the last time I tasted it but it still was not sour enough for me and it didn't have enough cherry flavor or aroma. So I grabbed 4.75 cups of sour cherries and proceeded to boil them down to make some sort of syrup. I used an immersion blender for a long while to make it as smooth as possible and also added in 3 Tbs of white sugar to make sure I wasn't going to drop the alcohol content to much. Its been bubbling (but not blowing over) since I put the cherries in and it smells a lot more like cherries too. I thought that maybe I waited to long to add the brett into the beer because most of the sugars might have gotten eaten up before the brett could work its magic. So hopefully this will give the brett more to work with and make the ale a little more sour.

Added To Batch

Sad face rock I found hunting with Tom

Pumpkin Ale's and One Lager

I should have posted this right after it happened so that the tastes and smells of the beer would be fresh in my mind but I didn't and so they are not. We had a themed beer night before Halloween where we tried four different pumpkin beers. I had never tried pumpkin beer but I heard it tasted like a pumpkin pie. I've wanted to do a themed beer night before and since I didn't want to get one crappy pumpkin beer and then think they all tasted like that we tried a whole bunch.

We tried Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale, Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, and Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.

It's hard to remember the exact tastes of the beer because I didn't write anything down. I was not drinking with a bunch a beer geeks just regular people that would have made fun of me and it probably would have taken away some of the fun for them. Anywho from what I can remember Buffalo Bill's and Lakefronts were the most mellow tasting. Both of them had a good pumpkin pie flavor but Buffalo Bill's felt thicker and I prefer it that way. They both had similar pumpkin and spice smells and were certainly the most beer-like. Shipyard is pretty sweet and has a lot of spice flavor. It's got a really thin mouth feel and almost tastes like a graham cracker. It sounds kind of weird but I thought it was really tasty. Shipyard might be the only beer I would buy again out of these four. It was the most unique without being too strong so I could drink more than three without getting sloppy, and it wasn't super pricey.

The first beer we tried was Dogfish Head's Punkin Ale because it's 9% and we paid the most for it and had to justify that by drinking it slowly and savoring the flavor. Also to justify the price I scrutinized this beer the most and so its flavors are the most memorable to me. First off kudos to anyone that can make a 9% beer taste like it's not 9%! It really bugs me when someone tells me to try a beer because its 8-9%+ ABV and then it tastes like someone poured a shot of vodka or whiskey into a perfectly good beer. That being said you can tell this is 9% after a few sips. One thing I can remember most is that it smelled like there is brett in it. I do not know how to describe it any other way. This ale is spiced and so it has a lot of cinnomon and clove smells and maybe I was smelling some of that and interpreting that as brett. It has a creamy mouthfeel and when you taste the pumpkin along with that it is really good. It still has the taste of beer the whole time and doesn't taste like you are drinking some novelty Jone's soda soft drink. I liked it a lot, but might not buy it again. On the other hand themed beer nights kick ass and I will do that again for sure!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Woodcut Label

     I started on a woodcut stamp to make labels with. This is just the start of it. I am going to remove the part that says Panczak Ale so that on each one I will be able to write the specific brew. I also have to touch up some spots on the trees and the glass. I tried to make a print and realized that I need to lower the whole border so that the relief can put enough pressure on the paper to make a decent print. I am pretty happy with how it turned out.