Thursday, July 20, 2017

Something a little stronger...

It's time to get back to brewing, and with the warmer (i.e., really hot) weather, it's likely that I'll be spending a good bit of time indoors, particularly during the hottest part of the day.  So, why not get things going and build up a bit of stock?  I am going to get on to some fruit-forward IPAs, but I thought I'd start with something adventurous.  I stopped by the local home brew supply shop, and while I was browsing through the hops in the refrigerator, I decided to pick up a packet of Safbrew BE-256 dry yeast, formerly known as "Abbaye".  I've brewed with this before, and I figured I'd gite it another go.

Brew Day: 20 Jul 2017

Partial Mash:
16 oz Munich malt
4 oz rye
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 20 min)
14 g German Perle hops (AA: 7.5%, @ 20 min)
1 oz sliced fresh ginger (@ 5 min)
1 lb wild honey (@ 0 min)
14 g German Perle hops (AA: 7.5%, @ 0 min)

Yeast: Safbrew BE-256

*I followed all of my usual steps for partial mashing, boil, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

This will hopefully be one of several beers to be available toward the end of August. Maybe I'll call this one "Abbie...Abbie...Abbie Someone".  ;-)

Quick Update: Just a few hours after I pitched the yeast, I was down in the basement and I stuck my head in to take a look...and the yeast is going absolutely crazy!  The yeast really took hold and is eating up the sugar!  When the description said that it moved fast, I had no idea...most of my other stuff usually took a bit longer to get to this point.

Addendum, 21 Jul: Swapped out the blow-off bottle this was just about to completely overflow.  As soon as I did, I could see/hear the rapid flow of bubbles flowing into the new bottle.  Very nice!  I took a good whiff of the contents of the old bottle, got some sweet fruit in the nose.  It will be very interesting to see how this is going in a week to 10 days, after the yeast has had a good long time to eat through the sugar.  Also, I'm hoping that by adding the honey at the end of boil, I retain some of the flavor.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

First Brew at Aslan Acres

We're (still) settling into our new digs, a place we decided to refer to as "Aslan Acres".  In honor of the name, I decided to make use of the local flora (just shy of 19 acres, with about half of it wooded...) and brew a dandelion beer.

I'd actually run across a recipe for dandelion beer in Buhner's Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers (starting on pg 278) a while back, and thought about trying it out.  However, I just wasn't in a location with a great deal of the plant.  Now, I am much more cognizant of the plant, because there is another plant in the fields that has a yellow flower similar to the dandelion, but isn't a dandelion at all.

Anyway, there are basically two ways I've found to make dandelion beer.  One is to just use dandelion plants, sugar and yeast, and the other is to add the dandelions to what is seen a more traditional "beer"; that is, one that uses malt.

Other similar recipes can be found here, and here.

I decided to start out with my first attempt being based on CJJ Berry's recipe (circa 1963, from Buhner's book).  I made some very minor variations to the listed recipe.

Brew Day: 9 July 2017

- 1/2 lb dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 oz fresh ginger, sliced thin
- 1 lb sugar
- 1 oz cream of tartar

Yeast: Safale US-05

Place leaves, rind of the lemon (exclude white pith), and ginger in a muslin bag, boil in 1 gal of water for 20 min.  Add sugar, cream of tartar, and juice from the lemon.  Cool to 80 deg F, pitch yeast.

Most recipes that I've seen suggest fermenting for three days, then transferring to bottles, with no mention of priming sugar.  From there, it's 1 to 3 weeks until it's ready to drink.

Addendum, 10 Jul: As I've done with previous brews, I went to check to see how this one was going along.  The yeast seems to have kicked off nicely, and was happily munching away on the sugar.  With this brew, there is no krausen, so the blow-off bottle remains clear, and there is a steady stream of bubbles flowing out of the end of the blow-off tube.

Addendum, 16 Jul: Bottled today; got 9 good bottles.  There still bubbles coming from the blow-off tube, so hopefully, enough fermentation action will continue to carbonate the brew a little.

This is clearly a spring brew, as that's when the plants seem to proliferate.  If I can find an sufficient source of the plant nearby in the near future (we're into summer at this point...), I'll try another brew.  Variations of this recipe can include, but are not limited to:

- Instead of sugar, use locally grown honey
- Use the entire plant, including the tap root (not just the leaves)
- As described in Leda Meredith's The Forager's Feast, try roasting the roots of the plant

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ginger Saison

It's been a while since I did a ginger saison, so I thought I'd make another batch.  This is one I enjoy, but I don't think I enjoy it as much as my wife.

If you don't get the reference to the image to the right, it's from a Strongbow Hard Cider commercial where Sir Patrick says, "ginger!"

Brew Day: 12 Jan 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb Vienna malt
4 oz CaraRed
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
3 oz turbinado sugar
7 g Saaz hops (@ 20 min)
7 g Saaz hos (@ flameout)

Steep 1/2 oz of freshly cut ginger (thin sliced) for 10 min

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

As I was racking the wort into the fermenter, I got a nice sharp fragrance of ginger, and I'm hoping that translates into a really good ginger flavor in the beer.

Addendum, 4 Feb: Bottled today, with 1 oz of sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water; got 9 good bottles.  Didn't note any "ginger heat" when bottling.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Another Medusa IPA

I know, I know...I just made a Medusa IPA, but I have to tell you, the first one turned out really well, and the second one is very likely going to be a bit more malty that I prefer - I'll find out Fri (or afterward), but the second Summer IPA I made, using the same malt base, was that way.

For the Medusa and Summer IPAs, I think that the hop schedule is pretty good, but these beers really need a lighter malt, so that the flavor of the hops comes through; even a little maltiness, even using just 8 oz of Gambrinus Honey malt in the partial mash, can run roughshod over the flavor of the hops.

Brew Day: 10 Jan 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb Vienna malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

14 g Medusa hops (FWH)
1.5 oz Medusa hops (flameout)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Dry hop: 14 g Medusa hops

Addendum, 23 Jan: Dry hopped today with 1 oz of Medusa hops; I upped the amount because that's what I had left.  

Addendum, 25 Jan: Bottled today, with just under an ounce of turbinado sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles out of it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sah'Tea, Again

I've tried a couple of different sah'tea recipes, and so far, the second one turned out the best.  I thought I'd make another sah'tea, because it's been a while, and because these are actually quite good.

Brew Day: 7 Jan 2017

Partial Mash:
15 oz Munich malt
5 oz rye malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
3 oz table sugar
7 g Glacier hops

@ 10 min, steep 15 g crushed juniper berries and 3 black tea bags.

Yeast: K-97

I used my usual processes for partial mashing, and for pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 25 Jan: Bottled today, with just under an ounce of turbinado sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles out of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What comes around, gose round

Not long ago, I was in the car listening to the HairNation channel on SiriusXM.  Having grown up (gone to high school and college) in the '80s, I have a musical preference for hair bands; Van Halen (NOT "Van Hagar"...well, maybe some...), that sort of thing.  Well, Ratt came on, and out of nowhere I got a great idea for the name of a sour beer..."What comes around, gose 'round".

Besides the reference to an iconic hair band, as well as to the sour beer, the name of the beer has a third meaning...after all, it was the very generous guys (well, Jake, specifically...) up at Crooked Run Brewing who provided the input and insight as to how to make a sour beer at the scale at which I'm brewing.

Initial Brew Day: 14 Dec 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb white wheat malt
4 oz rye malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil #1 (20 min): 14 Dec 2016
1 lb Pilsen DME

Early in the day, I started the heating mat warming, and took the remaining 2 GoodBelly Straight Shots out of the refrigerator.  I followed all of my usual processes (partial mashing, cooling the wort), and once the wort had cooled to approx. 90 deg F, I transferred it to a glass fermentor and added the Straight Shots.  Once this step was complete, I placed a blow-off tube in the top of the fermentor (not really necessary, no krausen forms...I just don't a solid cap for the fermentor) and placed it on the heating mat, wrapped in a towel (to keep light out).

Boil #2 (20 min): 16 Dec 2016
0.75 oz sea salt (0 min)
0.50 oz ground roasted Coriander (0 min)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 31 Dec: Bottled this morning (usual method); got 9 full bottles and 1 partial (about 80%) fill.

More Medusa IPA

The Medusa IPA was so good, I wanted to go with another one!  This one uses the same hop schedule, although the malt is a little different in this case, as I was using up what was left over from the Summer IPA.

Brew Day: 14 Dec 2016

Partial Mash:
8 oz Franco-Belge Vienna malt
8 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
14 g Medusa hops (FWH)

1 oz Medusa hops (10 min hop stand)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 26 Dec: Dry hopped today with 14 g Medusa hops.

Addendum, 31 Dec: Bottled today, got 9 full bottles.

Addendum, 14 Jan: First pour; caramel color with an off-white, medium head.  Definite fruitiness in the nose.  Malt balances the hops, rather than overpowering it the way it did with the Summer IPA, but does persist a little bit into the aftertaste.  Head doesn't persist, mild lacing on the glass.  Overall, a very drinkable beer, but I prefer a much lighter malt to let the hops really shine through.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Another Summer IPA

My first summer IPA turned out really well, so well, in fact that I wanted to enjoy another round.  This one went over really well with my daughter, some friends, and my lovely wife, who does NOT have a palate for IPAs.  However, these IPAs are not like commercial West Coast IPAs, with respect to bitterness...these are very fruit-forward IPAs, relying only on the hops for the fruitiness.

Brew Day: 26 Nov 2016

Partial Mash:
8 oz Franco-Belges Vienna malt
8 oz Gambrinus Honey malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
14 g Summer Hops (FWH)

1 oz Summer Hops (10 min hop stand)

Yeast: US-05

Addendum, 6 Dec: Dry hopped with 14 g Summer hops.

Addendum, 9 Dec: Bottled with 3/4 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 10 bottles.

Addendum, 2 Jan: I've had a couple of these beers by now, and I wanted to add some tasting notes.  My goal in using the Gambrinus Honey malt was to add some malty sweetness to the beer, but that didn't quite work out the way I had hoped; the maltiness overwhelmed the flavor of the hops.  Also, the carbonation was a bit low...the head was almost non-existent unless I up-ended the bottle into the glass.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Yet Another Big Belgian

My previous Belgian Beauty was a hit, and still is; we had one last night.  My wife and some of our friends really like it...a lot.  Since we're just about out, no time like the present to make some more...

Brew Day: 19 Nov 2016

Partial Mash:
1 lb Franco-Belge Vienna Malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
8 oz corn sugar
7 g Saaz (AA: 6.5%) hops @ 20 min

Yeast: T-58

Addendum, 6 Dec: Transferred to secondary tonight.  I'll probably let it sit for another week to 10 days before bottling.

Addendum, 17 Dec: Bottled today, with 0.6 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water.  This one will be ready for New Year's Eve.

Addendum, 2 Jan 2017:  My wife tried the beer last night; she really liked it.  She tried the partial fill and said that it tasted different; not that it was more or less carbonated, but it tasted different.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sour Saison

Not long ago, I had a really good sour saison (with guava and Thai chilies) called "Something for the pain" at Crooked Run Brewing.  I thought that idea of brewing a sour beer and fermenting with a different yeast was intriguing, and I also thought it would be a good time to try hopping with some Summer hops.  Also, I'm not entirely sure of the shelf-life for the GoodBelly Straight Shots, so I want to make sure I use them up.

Brew Day: 11 Nov 2016

*Early in the day, set out (2) GoodBelly Straight Shots, and start warming the heating pad.

Partial Mash:
1 lb white wheat malt (crushed)

*Used my usual partial mash process.

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

*NOTE: No hops or yeast at this point!

Chill the wort to approx. 100 deg F (it will cool further during the transfer), and transfer to a glass fermenter.  It is okay to fill above the 1 gal line on the container.  Shake the Straight Shots and add each one directly to the fermenter.  Cap the fermenter, insert a blow-off tube (the bacteria does not form a krausen, this is just to isolate it...), wrap the fermenter in a towel and place on the heating pad.  Allow to remain there for approx. 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 13 Nov
Allow the soured wort to a boil for 20 min (to kill the bugs). At flameout, do a 10 min hop stand with 14 g of Summer  hops.

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

Addendum, 14 Nov: Checked on the fermenter this morning while preparing other beers for dry hopping tonight; fermentation is going very well.  I am definitely looking forward to trying this one when it's done.

Addendum, 23 Nov: Dry hop with 14 g of  Summer hops.

Addendum, 25 Nov: Bottled this evening, with 0.6 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  My beers have been over-carbonated lately, and this one seemed to still be pretty active...the airlock cap was still floating pretty high when I bottled the beer.  I know that's not supposed to be an indicator of active fermentation, but I thought I'd just be safe.  After all, these beers are not heavily carbonated.

I got 8 good 12 oz bottles and one partial fill out of this batch.

Addendum, 9 Dec: Tried the partial fill...interesting flavor.  I'll definitely try this one again.  Mild carbonation, as is expected from these beers.  Good sour flavor, but something a little different from the last one.  I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison.