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 morning...it 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

Ingredients:
- 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