Thursday, November 13, 2014

BREWDAY: Great Old Pumpkin Ale

Salutations and Season's Greetings!

Decorative Pumpkins went on deep discount after Halloween, and I picked up quite a few cheap. Jaradale's are an old heirloom variety from Australia, in particular, that are delicious. American consumers think they're just decorative because they are blue. Another old, French  heirloom, the Fairytale Pumpkin, is a rich mahogany color, with touches of green and blue. Also an old heirloom, this is a very good brewing and cooking pumpkin. I used four pounds of the latter variety in the boil last night in an Old Ale from which I expect great things.

10 pounds of British Mild Ale Malt
2 pounds of Weyerman Munich Malt
1/2 pound of British Crystal 55l
1/2 pound of Amber Malt
4 pounds of Pre-cooked pumpkin mash @90
1 oz of US Brewer's Gold @90
1 Bourbon-soaked vanilla bean @5
1 small stick of cinnamon @5
1 teaspoon of fenugreek @5
Nottingham Ale Yeast (Dry)

Brewday was exciting. I couldn't find my magic wand lighter thingie, and went through ALL THE MATCHES with the flame going on and off during the boil. I also had to run out to the store in the beginning of the boil and get another propane tank. It's a ten minute run to the end of the street, tops, but it still slows things down and risks warping the IBUs in the boil. I just hate the idea of keeping so much flammable propane around in deep South Texas, where the weather is somewhere between Solar and Hellscape.

I also, once again, noticed that I really should keep two propane tanks around, for when one goes out. I want to slow down the amount of propane used with a good, old-fashioned mash tun this winter, even though it means more things to clean, because I won't need to use spurts of propane to keep the temperature up. It will ultimately end up being cheaper.

Edit for tasting notes: holy smokes but that is boozy! Warming and aromatic, the vanilla is dominant, and the fenugreek is a light undertone. Pumpkin, as well, is only present on the flavor, and underneath the vanilla and booze. Came out strong. Like whoa strong. I didn't take a gravity reading but one of these is like two of a regular beer, and I am going to treat it like a barley wine. Delicious success for next winter''s warmth!

update to add:

2/6/14: This beer is superb. Very little pumpkin flavor came through, but I blame the particular (watery) pumpkin that I used, not the recipe, itself. The bittering is bracing, the flavors are spicy and complex and have really evolved even over the few short months. I can't wait to crack one of these open next winter and see what they taste like. I expect the hoppiness to fade out and the various spices to rise up. I also suspect fenugreek is a powerful bittering flavor, and really has a place in brewing bracing beers!

Age has been kind.  Pumpkin, fenugreek's mapley-ness, and complex vanilla and spice notes in a smooth, sturdy package. Make winter warmers for the year ahead, not the year you're in. When our brief, windy winter blows through, I will be ready with a lovely, boozy Great Old Pumpkin Ale.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bottling Thanksgivingfest

On bottling day, the flavor is superior. The late hop additions are present and very pleasant, while the rich melanoidins and lager yeast flavors fill the mouth with that wondrous autumnal flavor. When it is carbonated fully, come Thanksgiving, I hope it is even more delicious. Fresh beer is the best beer. Drinking ones own creation and comparing it to the many fine commercial brews out there is unfair because your own is fresher.

Sharing the dregs with my dad, he took one cautious sip, then shouted, excitedly, "That tastes like an Oktoberfest!" This is high praise because he was comparing it to the beers of Germany, where he was stationed in the army. It was, for him, straight out of the beer halls of Munich, of memory.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oaten Boaten Caribbean Spice Stout

I am brewing now. It is a simple chocolate oat stout base with a ridiculous complex spice blend for Christmas.

8.5 pounds pale 2-row
1 pound chocolate malt
1 pound crystal 60l
1 pound toasted flaked oats
1/2 pound crystal 120l
1 ounce of Galen at 13 AA as first wort hops
Safale us-05

Spices will be added at 15
Sichuan peppercorn
Bay leaf

All Spice

Green cardamom

It is a lot of spice, absolutely, but the total amount is less than an ounce, in the neighborhood of a tablespoon. Complexity, yes, but by Christmas and after some oak beans soaked in rum, it should come together nicely. Time will tell.

Drinking my tart and fruity dunkelweizen while I work. Very intense flavor, like a hefeweizen that has gone in for weight training and a beard. Super good!

Update: bottling day came today! The body is just a little thinner than I would like, but it is still very rich and smooth. The sweetness comes through above the spices, and the oak dominates. In a month or so, I expect flavors to meld and develop better. A delicious sweet stout base, for sure that could benefit from a little more hops. This will be very enjoyable atsUmas.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bottling Different Experiments: Dunkelweizen, Cyser, and Texas Black Persimmon Mead

The sweet taste of success, the rewards of patience, and the... sweet... very sweet... oh, my, that's some sweet... WTF SWEET!?!?

Black Texas Persimmon Mead finished fermenting, and I racked it off into sanitized mason jars for country wine goodness. Goodness, though... This wine is so thick and sweet that it's got the consistency of grenadine, and the thick sweetness of a sweet grenadine. 
It is black as pitch, black as midnight, black as fuligin and deep space and lightless worlds. It is ridiculously black, beyond black.

I will experiment using it as grenadine, then. It tastes like it would make a lovely grenadine substitute with hints of persimmony goodness over the pomegranate. As a wine, it is unbalanced, and for my next batch, next year, I will try to reduce the sugar and add citric acid to try and balance all that sweet!

I also bottled the Chocolate Rain Dunkelweizen this week. This, below, is a picture of the dregs of the bottling bucket. It came out supremely delicious. I await with much glee the carbonation in the bottle that I may savor the complex spice aromas in the delicious, malty, roasty brew. This is now my dunkelweizen recipe from now on. It nails everything I love about dark wheat beers, and produced an amazingly drinkable result, that I suspect will not last long once my friends taste the first bottle.

And Cyser! I couldn't get the siphon that I had into the mouth of the gallon jug, so I ended up... Well, we have a lot of Mason Jars. We use them a lot. I carefully poured off into these four jars. As you can see, the first jar on the left was the clearest, and it got cloudier as I poured off, until the last jar was very cloudy. Despite good settling, and a very estery, British yeast-y, bread-y flavor, pouring out just doesn't keep the dregs as stable as racking canes. So, I put all four of these jars into the fridge to settle them out, while cleaning and sanitizing the gallon jug from whence they had come. Then, I used a funnel and my siphon to get the good parts of the jars down into the gallon jug, while leaving behind the dregs. This definitely will taste very good, someday, but at its current age it is still very hot-tasting, with lots of alcohol notes. I've put it aside for a few months of aging, and expect to make amazing spiced cider come Christmas!

Finally, Oktoberfest continues to lager. A few more weeks, then. One more month, and then I will bottle it. Until then, be patient, and keep brewing!
Cooler weather has finally arrived. It seems like it might stick around a bit. I'm going to check the numbers on the budget after pay day and see if and when I can brew again. Have fun, everyone!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cyser Update, and More

I couldn't fit the racking cane that I had into the apple juice jug. Instead, I had to carefully pour off the cyser into sanitized mason jars, trying to leave as much dead yeast behind as I could. The first was completely clear, and the jars got cloudier as I went.

I let them sit and settle out the mess. Then, I poured them (carefully, with a funnel!) back into the cleaned and sanitized cider jug, itself.

Flavor after one month is hot and spicy, like a British yeast brewed way too warm. I'm going to let it sit for at least two more months in the lagering fridge to let the off flavors settle down into a true, wine-like cyser. Even though it is currently very young and very yeasty, the flavor is quite nice beneath. It is sweet and estery, with lots and lots of floral notes from the honey. We'll see how it ages.

I am down to exactly two bottles of Cranberry-Chipotle Porter. I can't seem to find my notes on the recipe, but I remember it used 1 ounce of Nugget hops, divided into 3 equal additions at 60, 30, and 5. The cranberries were cooked and pureed with a can of chipotles, and added to the secondary. Hm... I know it involved, also, about a 1.5 pounds of Carafa 1 as the only roasted grain...

Alas, my notes. This is why I am trying to keep this blog going, so I have a searchable database of notes! (I actually don't think anyone is really reading along when there are better and wiser brewing blogs out there!)

I am also tinkering with the idea of a Franco-American Pale Ale

10 pounds of American Pilsner
2 pounds of American 6-row
1 pound of Munich 20l
1/2 ounce of Nugget @60
1/2 ounce of Nugget @5
Wyeast Trappist High Gravity

Multi-step mash with protein, Alpha, and beta rests...

I'm poking at it, though, because a part of me wants Vienna and Biscuit, not Munich. A part of me wants Special B and Vienna... I don't know. I'm poking around about that last pound of the grain.

If anyone actually is reading and has any thoughts, let me know?

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Chocolate Rain...


Brewday went down yesterday for a beer inspired by a random beer name generator. Count Chocola's Ruby Weasel Dunkelweizen popped up, and I thought it sounded like an interesting idea. A chocolate, banana/spice dunkelweizen, with red wheat and CaraRed and chocolate malt came to mind.

Most warn against too much roasted malts in a dunkelweizen because it is not true to style. I am not interested in staying true to style, and don't mind pushing genres in life and in beer. I am more than willing to try something and see if I like it. As I like both wheat beers with hefeweizen yeast, and roasted beers, like porters and stouts and brown ales, I suspect I might enjoy a chocolatey dunkelweizen. We shall see. Regardless, my motto remains "Drink the evidence!"

During the brewday, I was fairly confident that it wouldn't rain on me when I started. The rain was supposed to have stopped by that time, and this is South Texas in high drought and high dry season. I was shocked that it rained on and on past when the weatherman said it would be done, in a nearly empty sky with half the clouds blown away. I brewed on, under a light drizzle. Rain got in the chocolatey wort.

It will be a chocolate rain.

OG 1.054
FG 1.013
SRM 20

6 pounds Red Wheat Malt
3 Pounds Bonnlander Munich 10
1/2 pound of CaraRed
1/2 pound of American Chocolate Malt
1 ounce of Crystal Hops @60

Dough in at 125 for 20 minutes
Raise temp to 146 and hold for half an hour
Raise temp again to 158 and hold for half an hour

Pitch cold. I'm going to try to hold the temperature as ale-y as I can, with a swamp cooler and a fan and lowering the temperature of my house just a little, but the reality is that this will be a warmer ferment than I'd like. I will get it down close to 70 for the first few days. Beyond that? No promises.

This was also a banner day for my Thanksgiving fest! Primary fermentation is nearly complete. I pulled it from the fridge for a 24 hour diacetyl rest. It reeked of buttery off-flavor through the airlock. I had kept fermentation temperatures very, very cold, and the yeast was lazy and produced a lot of diacetyl. I will rack it off tonight for the lagering phase. I have great hopes?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Black Texas Persimmon Mead

So, people in other parts of the country outside of South Texas will not even know what I'm talking about. Persimmons are a fairly common fruit across Asia, and even parts of America. Native American Persimmons exist, and some of them are quite good and custardy. Most native persimmons are still visibly recognizable to the persimmons of Asia, just smaller and a little more astringent unless fully, rotten ripe. They are still sort of an orange color and taste like a dreamsicle. Really good, if you can find them. Watch your farmer's market at the end of summer. Good luck!

Chapote, the Spanish name for them, is also a persimmon. It is pitch black. It is blacker than black. It is fuligin black. If Gene Wolfe was designing the dye to the famous cloak, it would be dyed with black Texas persimmon dye.

Also, they taste like sweet, sweet pudding crossed with prunes and smoke. They taste so sugary that they're a huge surprise in the mouth. They look all dark and evil, but once you wash them and pop them in your mouth, the candy explosion explodes and stains your teeth. Locals love them. Deer and pigs love them the most and ravage the trees, spreading seeds through their scat.

My wife went foraging and came home with prickly pear tunas, lots of them, but she also stumbled across some fantastic Texas persimmon trees and brought home a hatful of ripe, gooey, pitch black, delicious fruit.

Foragers love them. They are tree candy.

Let's make an experimental batch of mead and see what happens!

"Chapote Mead"
1 gallon

1 gallon of Texas spring water
3.5 pounds of local Texas wildflower honey
Lalvin White Wine Yeast ICV-D47

Clean and sanitize everything.

Step 1:
manually dig through the fruit to seaparate the many seeds from the pulpy black flesh. It is extremely messy. You will miss some. Wash your hands. Be careful because this stuff will stain!

Step 2:
Add 1/2 gallon of water to the pulp, and raise the temperature to 170 degrees to try and sanitize. Hold there without boiling for fifteen minutes.

Step 3:
Turn off the heat and add the honey, stirring it all in.

Step 4:
While stirring, skim off the scum and floating debris, and raise temperature again to sanitize. Let everything drain and dump the liquid from below the strainer back into the vessel.

Step 5:
Get everything into your fermentation vessel and top up with spring water to fill the vessel to one gallon.

Step 6:
Once it's cooled to blood temperature, pitch the yeast, cover and wait.

I have pectic enzyme and citric acid available, but for the first experimental batch, I want to see what it does on its own with minimal input. If I find it would benefit later, I may start tinkering. For now, though, my elaborate airlock system will be fine, and the darkest part of the counter will let me watch for early fermentation signs before I move it all somewhere even darker.

It is a thick, black, evil looking thing. It wouldn't be out of place at the black dinner parties in revolutionary France.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sweet Cyser

My wife asked me for cider. I don't like cider, generally, because it always just tastes sweet, to me, with nothing else going on. I do like melomel, which is sweet with . My cider experiments have been iffy in the past, in part because I did almost no research into the process. Wine is much easier. I saw EdWort's Apfelwein recipe, and wondered why I would add corn sugar without any flavor to just boost alcohol content without enhancing the flavor profile. So, I thought, why not use honey?

And... lo and behold, people have been doing exactly that for a thousand years! They call it CYSER and it seems like it would be supremely delicious.

My wife with her sweet tooth, I thought would like something to finish sweeter. I have used bread yeast in the past with honey and enjoyed the results. (I am actually poking around to figure out a good beer to brew with this yeast, too, when the weather turns cool.)

Anyway, here's how it goes:

I took a gallon jug of organic apple cider, a 3 pound jar of honey, and old world, plain bread yeast. (No active rise, no quick rise: just YEAST as ingredient.)

First, honey is hard to stir into a tight mouth jug. Instead, I poured off one quart of cider and brought it to a low boil, cooking and simmering for about twenty minutes to reduce the volume. Then, I stirred in the honey to dissolve without boiling, but not all of it. I poured while the pour in was easy and set the last 1/2 a pound aside for coffee and tea.

I poured a second quart out of the jar, and used a funnel to pour the warm honey liquid into the jug. I topped off with the extra quart I had poured out, and added the yeast. Thus, I capped with an airlock and set aside in a dark corner beside the fridge. On top of that, I put some foil loosely over the top and placed the jug in a baking tray to catch the overflow and keep it running along the side. It isn't overflowing quite as badly as some would think. In my experience, Bread Yeast is very similar to Nottingham. They overflow about the same. They have a similar flavor profile. And, after a couple days of primary fermentation, the risk of overflow will fade out.

Soon, I will cover it in a towel and place it in the closet once I don't think it will overflow!

I think maybe 3 months, minimum. Probably six or nine.

No gravity reading, alas. My tool busted and has yet to be replaced!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Brewday: Thanksgivingfest

I learned a very valuable lesson yesterday. I had measured my hops into little glass bowls, all identical, and I had put them in order and assumed I would remember which one was which.

I did not. I got out there, and put them down, and realized I had no idea which one was which. The aromas were similar enough that I didn't want to chance mixing up the wrong one, and completely adjusted my hop additions on the fly, because I had .75 ounces of each of the variety still in the bag, which had initially been intended for late additions of aroma and flavor. Instead, I used the lower hop variety - Santiam at 7.2 AAU - at .75 ounces for the Bittering Charge, and saved all the potent Magnum for the end of the boil because too much Magnum would overpower the malty Oktoberfest flavors!

So, what I learned is this: Carefully mark your hop additions because in fifteen minutes you can completely forget which is which, and unboiled, they can smell very similar to each other. Sure, Cascade is quite different from Magnum, but Santiam and Magnum are both noble-hop-esque and the danger of over-hopping the Oktoberfest with the high-alpha Magnum was very high.

Here's what I did, instead:

6 gallons of spring water
(+1/2 gallon of boiled tapwater starter of Wyeast Bavarian Lager and 1 pound of Golden Light DME)
5 pounds of Bavarian Pilsner Malt
2 pounds of Vienna Malt
2 pounds of Munich 10l
1 pound of Munich 20l
1 pound of Caramunich III (58l)
.75 ounces of Santiam Hops @60 minutes
.25 ounces of Santiam Hops @15 minutes
.25 ounces of Magnum Hops @15 minutes
.75 ounces of Magnum Hops @0 minutes

I mashed for 60 minutes at 153 in my brew-in-a-bag rig. The supremely hot day made it very easy to keep the mash temperature up. I didn't have to do much fiddling with the nozzles to hold mash temp when I was only trying to hold it about 50 degrees hotter than the air, itself, in full sun, with all metal equipment on a concrete pad.

Woof. So hot. I'm still rehydrating.

The boil went well, with lots of stirring.

I sent a lovely helper to the store to get bags of ice because I was concerned that the hose along the outside of the kettle simply wasn't enough to get the wort cool enough to put into a plastic bucket for refrigeration. Instead, I used an ice bath and the hose water to get the temperature down enough to pitch the yeast.

Now the waiting game. I have to wait for the yeast to chew through all that malt, and then transfer to secondary for a long lagering. No Oktober-drinking here. It won't even be close to ready by the first two weeks of Oktober!

This will be a Thanksgivingfest. It will be served to family at Thanksgiving.

As it will be hogging my fridge for four or five months, I will be limited on my brewing options. This is fine by me, because it is ridiculously hot outside, and getting hotter, and I stocked up on plenty of Honey-Witbier and Red Ale to keep through the longest, hottest months.

See ya in September and happy brewing!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bottling day: red ale

I just finished putting a red ale in the bottle. The kitchen is a mess. When my wife wakes up that will be a thing.

Cleaning is very important. Brewers and homebrewers are basically janitors that briefly boil water.

This is part of the hassle and part of the Zen.

At the homebrew shop yesterday, I thumbed through the titles in the I little bookshelf, and there were more books about growing and marking than there are about cleaning. Really metu clouds, dedicated, thorough professional sanitation is the tg ing that raises the bar for brewers and preserves batches from infection. But, there is not a single book about it. There is no effective designed system beyond StarSan.

And, the book probably wouldn't sell that well, either. We are all more interested in the creative aspect than the zen stuff. We are interested in the glory, not the janitorial work. Even now, I blog instead of cleaning the kitchen!

Tomorrow, Thanksgivingfest.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Mmmm... drink homebrew

Aged French White is spicy and fruity with a clean, rich mouthfeel.

It is no wonder that I made this one again.

Monday, June 16, 2014

American Red Ale, a House Favorite

I oak aged one like this for Thanksgiving. I am going to keep it clean and simplified.

8 pounds of American 2 row
8 ounces Crystal 40
6 ounces Crystal 120l
4 ounces Roasted Barley
2 ounces torrified wheat
1/2 ounce glacier at 60 minutes
1/2 ounce glacier at 20 minutes
Nottingham Yeast at about 68 degrees
A single infusion mash at 153 for an hour, with a mashout to 170.
It is cooling off, now, and I am about to crack open a cold one and relax after a great, extremely hot brewday!
This one is a gift for my dad when he gets down here. He really like a malty, flavorful ale. When I get a keg system, some fine day, I will probably try to keep a keg of this one handy. It is a real house favorite. Everybody loves a solid red ale!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Honey Wit/Saison in the can

Yesterday  as hot, humid brewday. I put a french white ale in the bucket.

Five gallon batch

2 pounds of vienna,
2 pounds American six-row
2 pounds of Red Wheat Malt
1 pound of flaked oats
1 pound of honey
.25 perle at 60
.25 perle at 15
Coriander, black pepper, chamomile, orange peel.

Dough in cold, and slowly raise the temp to 122 for fifteen minutes. Then raise to 152 for half an hour with another slow rise to mash out at 168.

I am using Safbrew T-58. It is going to be warm, around 80 degrees.

Generally, I prefer Wyeast Belgian Saison, started cool and warmed slowly into the 90s, but I have had success with this yeast in the past and it is cheaper.

Am I the only one who gets a little sick from gas burners? After I brew, I wake up nauseated with a weird  feeling all over. I try to hang back from the kettle, but I have to stir sometimes... I assume it is the gas. I am drinking lots of water this morning. No solids, yet.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bottling day for Dunkelweizen

A huge volume of beer just went into bottles, for me. The dunkelweizen produced over five gallons of beer. I carbed it with 6 ounces of demerera sugar for an extra hint of flavor.

The dregs taste rich and slightly sweet witb the hint of clove up and in the face after as relatively warm brew. We shall see how it ages.

Outside, someone is setting off fireworks. It is illegal and it happens in the neighborhood from time to time. Even in the deep, dry drought, it happens. I think about selling beer to acquire better and stronger brewing equipment and I  would never do it because it is illegal. But, how crazy is it that there isn't a way for homebrewers to self-submit the taxes for our low-volume operations when we sell a little ob the side? Brewing laws are going to need to change to reflect the smaller brew operations of tomorrow. I cant casually sell a little to raise funds for a few bits of equipment. I could do a bake sale, but I couldn't do a beer sale and that is weird.

What other laws need to change to favor and empower the homebrewer?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Possum Sweat CaliCommon

Finished drinking dregs of a CaliCommon with a rich and ample base of Vienna Malt to go up against a wall of Northern Brewer hops.

Possum Sweat was fairly simple to brew. A single infusion mash at 152. Eight pounds Vienna, 1 pound Flaked Maize, 1 pound Caramel/Crystal 60l. 3 equal additions of Northern Brewer Hops of 1 ounce @60, .5 @30, .5 @5, and 1 @0.

 3 ounces of Northern Brewer hops is, like, a LOT of hops, for me. 

Used Saflager yeast that I washed out of the yeast cake of the superior deliciousness of my recent Vienna Lager. Fermented fairly hot, a room temp of 75 degrees, it is very fruity, but the high hops really cut it on the back of the tongue and leave mint and pine in the aftertaste.

A sweet and fruit nose full of apricot and candy malt, that gives way to a massive, cleansing bitterness of hop. The beer is right on that edge of too hoppy, and too sweet. Any less of the sweetness or the hoppiness, the balance would shift. Good mouthfeel, leaving a thick fruit and mint in the aftertaste.

The dregs of the beer suggest it would be great with bison burgers, Salmon, and mushroom dishes. We shall see how it ages and settles down in the bottle. I am curious to see what happens when the different aromatics arrive after carbonation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What to do with 8 pounds of red wheat malt?

Leftover bulk grains are a thing that make me no longer want bulk grains, and grateful a good homebrew shop expanded into the Valley out on my side of town. I had some grain to pound through before it got stale.

Since I brew in a bag, I have been able to make beers nearly entirely with wheat malt without a problem. It is interesting how each method of brewing makes certain different things possible, in the process. Every brewer can come up with their own little twist.

Bagman is a twist, then, on what I can do.

8 pounds of red wheat malt
2 pounds of dark munich malt
6 ounces crystal 120l
6 ounces chocolate malt
1/2 an ounce of German Pearle @60 for 20 IBU
Danstar Munich yeast
Step mashing slow and long all the way up to 151 for an hour saccharification rest.

Brew day was crazy. I rushed home from work to try and pound through before sunset. During my mash, I ran out of gas! I had thought I had enough for one more round, but not so. I had to stop and run out to the corner store to trade my empty in. I managed to do so without hurt in my mash much. If it had to happen, that was the best time for it!

But, sunset happened. I was out in the dark like a madman. My wife, annoyed inside, had prepared an amazing feast. I rushed through it to get back to brewing.
After dark, I finished a long boil.

My old final gravity spectrometer thingum busted bad. Time for a new one. I had to rely on tasting the wort to tell if it was converting. 

An exciting brewday! Pictures soon!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I had a dream about a beer recipe

Last night I had a dream about a recipe that tastes of the sea, and of the old gods. Three weird sisters, with one hop for each of the fates. Six row as a base malt, at 9 pounds, and 4 ounces of Blackprinz and sea salt at a minimum.

The recipe would be strong and sturdy, and a reddish color. It would have crystal malts and more specialty grains of some sort, with a forceful field of hops. Some sort of cascadia dark ale, perhaps? An imperial IPA? An old ale or scottish ale? It was to taste of viking sailers and the three weaving women who knit our days to the end of them.

It is not next on my brewing line up. Next is bottling the steam beer, and brewing something corona-like do the summer, light and Lager.

But I dreamed of a recipe. I write it down.

You know the limitations of the recipe. What do you add? What hops? What other grains? What style should it be?

3 weird sisters

9 pounds Six-Row Malt
4 ounces Blackprinz
Sea salt
3 different hops @60, @30, @15

Fill in the gaps. My dream did not reveal more than this.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vienna Dark Lager, on bottling day


On bottling day, the Vienna Lager is supremely tasty. It's a little smoky, a little sweet, a little herbal, and a little spicy, but not quite, yet, smoothed out in flavor. In a couple weeks, I expect the flavors to merge a little more. I hope the strong and prominent vanilla flavor remains present in the brew when it's settled down. It tastes like it has vanilla in it, at bottling. And, it doesn't.

It is a beer that would be perfect with barbecue, or in barbecue sauces. The sweet and smoky notes, balanced by the spicy hops, are reminiscent of good barbecue sauce. With spicy food, the beer really shined. The hard hit of spicy, Mexican bean soup was cut by the mouth-filling vienna malts.

Next time, what I would do differently? Well, give it a couple weeks to age and I'll speculate more, but, for now, maybe cutting down the honey malt to 6 ounces instead of 8, maybe. Maybe, a little stronger hop - Magnum, or Tradition, or somesuch. Maybe reducing the Vienna Malt half a pound and putting in a little more flaked maize for a lighter body in the depths of Texas heat. But, for 18.50, this is a fantastic beer, on bottling day.

The saflager yeast is not a popular one, but, in this case, I see no reason to hate. The cheapness of the yeast is exacerbated by its unpopularity, and the results are quite pleasant. It is hard to imagine a tastier batch for less than .40 cents per 12 ounces! I may have discovered my favorite new cheap beer! Depths of complexity, easy-to-drink 4% ABV, and perfect for Tex-Mex, I could have kept going after sipping through the dregs!

7 pounds American Vienna Malt
1 pound flaked maize
8 ounces Gambrinus Honey Malt
4 ounces Caraffa I
1 ounce Santiam at about 6 IBUs @60minutes
Saflager s-23, fermented cold, followed by a rest to warm to room temperature, then into the secondary with a couple weeks to lager close to freezing.

The mas schedule was fairly simple, as well. A beta-glucan rest at about 110 for fifteen minutes, followed by a saccharification rest at about 153-154 for an hour.

The depth and complexity of a fairly simple grain bill and hop schedule is very surprising to anyone accustomed to Negro Modelo's clean and watery mouthfeel. This one really fills the mouth with malt sweetness, without being cloying. Initially, it has the clean flavor of a good Negro Modelo, but as it passes over the palatte, all these notes rise up, carried underneath smoke and vanilla. At bottling, there was so much aroma of vanilla, that it was hard not to picture the pleasure of pouring it over ice cream. It tastes like a Tex-Mex beer. It feels rich and sweet like a Mexican Mercado. I want to grab a bunch of barbecue fajitas, horchatas and Mexican street food and throw back my dark lagers one after another with good friends!

I'm calling it either Possum Stomp, or Ochociento. Probably Ochociento. It tastes like 800 pesos well spent.

I am pleased.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Many Brews, Much News

Swamped with work, and work, and more work. I didn't stop brewing, but I did stop posting about it.

Things I have done include a first lager, a robust porter, that came out just fine.

A cranberry-chipotle porter with dehusked caraffa for all the roasted malts and all nugget hops, otherwise quite like any porter out there, came out supremely pleasant and tasty. Losing coffee notes for caraffa was a wise call, as the fruit sings over the top.

I brewed and Oaked a 2nd round of the house red that was very pleasant with bourbon-soaked oak chips. I expect to do it again, to try and get it down solid. Adjusting always. Not quite right.

Witbiers are great for beer nerds and casual drinkers alike. My preferred recipe is probably the one thing I have made  most. I made it fi r Thanksgiving and it was a smash success.

Call it Simplicity
5.5 gallons spring water
2 pounds Vienna Malt
2 pounds American 6-row
2 pounds Red Wheat
1 pound Quaker quick oats or flaked oats
1 pound honey
Noble-origin, floral hop (Saaz, Goldings, Glacier, etc.) As bittering and aroma @60 and @15. Aim for 15 IBU, max 18.
Chamomile, coriander, black pepper, fresh orange peel to taste.
Wyeast Belgian Saison
Do a protein rest for 15, followed by a saccharification rest at the low end around 151-152 for 60 minutes. Mash out at 175. Add honey at the end of the 60 minute boil.
Ferment cool at first and raise the temp up to 90-95 by the end. (In south Texas, that is very easy to do...)
Simple and beautiful and easy-drinking, witbiers are homebrew winners.

It is my most-popular brew to date, and I have happily resigned myself to being ready to brew it for family functions.

Now, with my lager fridge, I have been trying my hand at lagers. I have two brews with one yeast running, both in Secondar y.

First, I brewed a Tex-Mex Vienna Lager I am calling the Possum Stomp, in honor of what I will be doing when I am drinking it in the garden...

5.5 gallons San Antonio tapwater
7 pounds Vienna Malt
1 pound flaked maize
6 ounces Honey Malt
4 ounces Caraffa I
1 ounce Santiam Hops@60
Saflager yeast
Step mash with 15 minute Beta-Glucan rest, then a saccharification of 154 for an hour.

This one is sitting in Secondary, layering in my fridge. The greatest thing about this recipe was how cheap it was. Total cost of ingredients was 18.50 at the local homebrew shop, and the dregs were quite pleasant.

With the washed yeast of that possum stomp, I put together a simple steam beer recipe, again with copious Vienna Malt.

Possum Steam
6 gallons san antonio tap water for 5.5 gallons beer
8 pounds Vienna Malt
1 pound crystal 60l
1 pound flaked maize
.5 ounce Northern Brewer hops @60
.5 ounce Northern Brewer hops @30
.5 ounce Northern Brewer hops @15
.5 ounce Northern Brewer hops @0
Washed Saflager Yeast from Vienna Lager
With a very simple, single step mash at 154 for an hour, no fuss, no muss.
Ferment at ale temperatures, like an ale.

I just racked it off this morning. It is the color of suede, and blazingly hoppy at one week of pitching the yeast. It should smooth out as it ages. I hope it does!

Dont know how to post pictures from my new phone. Hm. I hope that worked