Friday, December 28, 2012

Cranberry Wine

I'm slowly making the move to greater than 1 gallon batches of beer.  The biggest expense in doing this is upgrading my brewing pots and mash tun.  Since I'm still buying furniture for my new apartment, I can't really justify those expenses yet.  However, fermenters are pretty inexpensive, and that's all you need to make wine.

I've made a few batches of wine in the past that have worked out pretty well.  Peaches made some of the best wine I've had.  Their flavor held up amazingly without the aid of sugar.  Blackberries made pretty good wine, but I had to add some sugar and preservatives (called back-sweetening).

Around this time of year cranberry sauce is pretty inexpensive, much more affordable than whole cranberries (at least down in Texas).  My idea was to use cranberry juice and cranberry sauce to make up the must.  It's always a good idea to use as much pure juice as you can.  The artificial flavors of "fake" juice will impact how the final product tastes, and a lot of fruit tastes different after fermentation.  The classic Cranberry cocktail juice is basically cranberry flavored sugar water.  Since I'm already not able to use raw fruit, I wanted to stay as close to real ingredients as I could.  I wasn't able to find 100% cranberry juice.  The juice I ended up using was a blend of 4 juices (cranberry, grape, apple, and pear) with cranberry as the main component and flavor.  The juice had a SG of around 1.040.  I was shooting for a strong wine, but the sugar content of the cranberry juice and sauce was much less than I was expecting.  Since I was expecting to have more sugar from the juice/sauce, I didn't stock up my pantry before blending the must.  I had 2 pounds of white table sugar and 1 pound of brown sugar that I added to raise the gravity to 1.080.  It means the wine will only be about 10-11%. Not quite the 14-15% I was shooting for.

I have no idea how cranberries are going to taste post-fermentation, but that's what experiments are for.

Cranberry Table Wine
//6 gallon batch


9.5 bottles 100% Juice Cranberry Juice (1/2 used for starter)
10 cans whole berry cranberry jelly
2 lbs white sugar
1 lb brown sugar

6 tsp Fermax yeast nutrient
3 tsp pectic enzyme (may need more to compensate for the jelly)
6 Campden tablets, crushed (to sanitize the must before pitching yeast)

1L starter of Lalvin 71B-1122 (white, red, rose wines yeast)
With no airlock activity after 24 hours, I panicked
Sprinkled 1 packet Lalvin EC-1118 (champagne, all purpose)
OG 1.080

Blended Dec 1st
I wish I used more cranberry sauce, since it added less sugar than expected

First Tasting
Rack to secondary Dec 17th
Color is orange/pink, surprising since the juice and sauce was more maroon/burgundy
Very tart, will probably need to backsweeten this one.
Usually I'm trying to guess the final taste of my young wines through the alcohol heat, but there was none this time.

I had about a half gallon of wine and a half gallon of lees leftover after transfer.  (Lees are the wine equivalent of trub, the yeast and fruit parts leftover after racking.)  I put these leftovers into jugs to freeze and melt out some of the sugar and alcohol.  Maybe that can boost the weak body of the wine. I may end up freezing more and making a port/sherry.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Small Batch Barleywine

Before I moved, I stumbled upon a Stone Brewing tasting at my local liquor store. Since trying this year's Old Guardian Barleywine, I've been itching to try my hand at one.  It was easily one of the best complex beers I've had in a long time.  The caramel and honey sweetness was right up front, and even though it was 11% ABV there was no alcohol "heat".
I really like the idea of having a yearly brew that is tweaked each year. Anchor brewing does this with their Christmas Ale.  The Mad Fermentationist brews a dark Saison each year.  James and Steve over at Basic Brewing used to make a yearly 1 gallon (or less) barleywine and started a vertical tasting of each year's brew, although the last few years they have diverged from that.  I'm not sure if this will become my once-a-year brew yet.  It seems awfully tasty to only have 7-8 bottles a year.  Or only 1 bottle a year if I save it for vertical tastings...

This is a very "homebrewer" recipe.  I wanted to add a variety of complexities, so I threw in a little bit of everything.  Next time, I may try a single malt barleywine.  I was also trying to use up some of my stock of malts.  I really pushed the limits of my 2 gallon mash tun for this brew. I had a little more than 5 pounds of grain.  I usually shoot for a liquor/grain ratio of 2 quarts per pound.  Using basic math, that's more than 2 gallons of water needed, so I cut back a bit.  I collected a little less than 2 gallons of wort after a 60 minute mash at 150°F.

After tasting the hydrometer sample of the finished product, I am very excited about this beer.  I saved some for my girlfriend to taste the next day, and even though it wasn't carbonated or chilled, she was under the impression it was a finished product that she really liked.

Blockpoint 2012 Barleywine
//A "blockpoint" is what they call an update to a program

Grain Bill
4lbs            American 2-row
        9oz     Maris Otter
        2 oz    Crystal 60°L
        1.5oz  Special B
          .5oz  Chocolate Malt
        4oz     Aromatic Malt

Target temperature 148°F
Starting temperature 150°F
Sparge temp 170°F
-Collected just under 2 gallons of total wort
Preboil gravity 1.057 (bigger than some of my regular brews!)

Boil (60 minutes)
15g Columbus (15.5% AA) @ 60 minutes
13g Columbus (15.5% AA) @ 15 minutes
15g Cascade (6.4%AA) @ 1 minute

~3/4 packet Safale US05
Aerated by shaking vigerously
OG 1.100
FG 1.020
ABV: 10.7%

4 weeks in primary fermenter
Priming sugar: 17g honey dissolved in 1 cup of water and boiled
Yielded 7 bottles

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cider Season

Living in Texas, we don't really have a lot of apple orchards like up north.  There are a few, I got peaches for my Peach Wine at Henrietta Creek, and they also grow apples.  But, none of them grow hard cider apples.  Usually these apples are more tannic, and terrible for eating plain.  Rather than going to buy fresh apples, making a press, pressing the apples into cider myself, and ending up with sub-par cider I just go to Walmart and get gallons of unpasteurized, unfiltered cider for $4.50.  It's a cheaper route at probably the same result.

Last year I made several batches. The first one developed an unpleasant sour/bitter taste after a couple months. I think this goes back to the source apples not being good for hard cider.  During batch-priming, I added a packet of Splenda for every 2 bottles. This unfermentable sweetness balanced out the bitterness well into the summer.  You can make still or carbonated versions, but carbonated it was a very refreshing drink in the middle of the Texas summer.

I also took a couple of gallons and froze it in some gallon jugs.  When inverted in a funnel over a jug, the alcohol and sugar will melt out faster than the water. It makes a drink called Ice Cider or Applejack.  Cider-makers in the northeast used to use this technique to take cider to market.  They could carry less weight and water it down before they sold it.  Unlike my regular cider, I leave my Applejack still.  It feels more like a Brandy. Basic Brewing has a great video podcast on the process.

This year, I'm trying something new that I'm calling Caramel Cider.  I boiled about a gallon and a quarter of store bought cider for an hour.  It reduced to around 2/3 of a gallon.  I always get wrapped up in how simple cider is, and after 6 batches I have never remembered to take a starting gravity reading.  The unboiled version usually gets down to 1.000.  I'm hoping the caramelization from the boil will create some unfermentable sugars so that I don't have to add Splenda again. You can see the color difference in the picture.

First Winter Cider 2012

3/4 gallon of Musselman's Cider
1/2 vial White Labs California Ale Yeast (WLP001)

Caramel Cider 

1.25 gallons Musselman's Cider
Boiled 1 hour, final volume approximately 2/3 gallon
1/2 vial White Labs California Ale Yeast (WLP001)

Brewed 11-14-12
Did not take original gravity readings

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fig Dark Saison: Tasting

I'm planning to do a post like this for each recipe, assuming nothing goes terribly wrong with one.  I don't have the most advanced palate yet, but I'm only 22.  I only started drinking craft beer a year and a half ago, and even then it was mostly "I like that style" rather than doing a tasting analysis of it.  As with the blog in general, I intend for this to be an outlet for me to document my brews and develop my skills as a brewer and taster.  I hope you'll follow me on this journey.

Appearance:  Very dark.  Hints of deep brown around the edges.  Thin head forms around the edge, but goes away immediately.  Very small hiss when opened.  I didn't take notes past the brew day, so I can't be positive that I primed it.  It is fairly carbonated, however. 

Smell:  Malty with a hint of roast and caramel. Hops take a back note and are pretty much unnoticeable. 

Taste:  Exactly what I was going for with my original recipe.  Citrus up front.  A little bit of malt and caramel in the middle and a little bit of roast in the back.  The roast is really subtle, I guess the Carafa mostly added a lot more color than it did flavor.  Can't really taste any figs (which were a afterthought anyways).  Next time maybe I'll add more (and not blend them, that was a mess, there's fig chunks in the bottle of the glass).  Or just leave them out entirely.  

Mouthfeel:  The light carbonation works its way to the back of my tongue.  A little bit of sweetness remains, but it's very easy to drink.  Not cloyingly sweet or over-dry.  Just right.  

Overall + Thoughts:  Probably one of my favorite personal homebrews. I hit what I was expecting pretty well, since it's just a recipe I already liked with some Carafa thrown in.  It could stand to be a little more carbonated, however.  I really love this yeast (WLP566 Saison II).  It has great fruit notes, with just a hint of pepper.  Boulevard's Tank 7 (And Saison-Brett) is one of my favorite beers, and this yeast delivers that character.  Maybe I'll grab a bottle of Tank 7 and compare sometime.  

Next time I try to brew a dark saison I'm going to add something with more punch, a roasted or chocolate malt. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Moving, Bear With Me!

Hey everyone! 

I just got a new job so I'll be moving down to the land of Aerospace, Houston Texas.  With looking for a job and a place to live, I've been insanely busy.  You know you're busy when you don't have time to drink beer.  I'm really excited though.  I found an apartment today, and the kitchen is HUGE.  Perfect for brewing.  This is great for me, great for my homebrew, and ultimately great for you as readers as well.  Unfortunately, it means I won't be able to post very much.  I have a lot of stuff in the works, but with packing and moving everything I own, my posts will be infrequent at best.  BUT: I have a lot of new posts coming up (probably next month).

Jaggery Dubbel (A dubbel brewed with Palm Sugar)
Spontaneous Plum Wine (With an update about what I've done since week 1!)

Messina Hof Winery in College Station, TX
Revolver Brewing (Grand Opening) in Granbury, TX

Bottling (no posts, but future tastings)
Mead (my first ever)

Other Things:
DIY Stirplate build. It is awesome, I've had it 2 days and I'm in love.
Kombucha Brewing
Kombucha Troubleshooting (assuming my fix works) 

Post move, I'll be brewing a Barleywine, playing with Cream Ales (how would a porter with California Common yeast work?), a big batch of Cranberry wine, tons of Ciders (straight, ice cider, caramelized cider, and blending), and moving up to closer to 5 gallon batches!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pineapple Pale Ale

Whenever I brew or talk about brewing, I have a few family members that always ask, "When are you going to brew the pineapple beer again?"  I've said in previous posts that I have yet to rebrew the same recipe.  Well, I finally gave in to the pressure.

The idea for this recipe started after a discussion about a friend's trip to Hawaii.  He told me about how there was pineapple-everything there. Pineapple wine, pineapple cakes, pineapple brandy, pineapple soaps, all sorts of pineapple-based goods.  Except no pineapple beer.  (This was before Maui Brewing Company started distributing Mana Wheat off of Maui.)  As an experiment, in my 4th or 5th batch of homebrew ever, I brewed a basic pale ale and added pineapple chunks in the secondary.  And my family hasn't stopped talking about it all year.

This recipe is pretty simple.  A few pounds of 2 row, a little 20L, and Chico yeast.  I decided to try out Safale's US-05 dry yeast on this batch.  I didn't write down how much pineapple I added last time, so I decided to follow the 2 pounds per gallon rule I've heard several times on Basic Brewing Radio.  I ended up getting crushed pineapple instead of chunked since it was cheaper and came in convenient 1 pound cans.  Big mistake.  The crushed pineapple was very fine, not nearly as simple as the chunks.  The additional sugars kicked of a second fermentation, and in less than 30 minutes I was having to punch down the fruit cap with the back of a spoon.  I ended up having to do this about 7 times in 3 hours.  Even though I replaced the airlock with a blowoff tube, the stopper was getting clogged.  Now, the pineapple flesh has settled, but it is very loose.  Not sure how racking is going to go.

Using canned pineapple makes sense to me.  This beer is all about the pineapple flavor/aroma.  Boiling/pasteurizing would cause some of this to be lost, and I'd have to process my own pineapple.


Grain Bill
2 lbs 4 oz  2-row Barley Malt
4 oz          Crystal 20L
2 lbs         Crushed Pineapple (canned)

target temp 150°F
starting temp 151°F
final temp 146°F
Batch Sparge
preboil: 2.5 gallons @ 1.028

20g "Magic Hop Dust" @ 60 minutes
10g "Magic Hop Dust" @ 13 minutes
10g "Magic Hop Dust" @ 0 minutes
("Magic Hop Dust" is Austin Homebrew's way to sell the debris leftover when they break up bales of hops. This batch was estimated to have 7% Alpha Acid)

1 packet Safale US-05 "American Ale" Yeast
//sprinkled directly into wort, per instructions

OG 1.045 (not sure why it was so low compared to preboil)

Hour long cooling rest at 98°F because I got stuck on the phone with my insurance company
Bottled one plain Pale Ale on 9/24/12 (no priming sugar, hopefully it wasn't finished)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

First Mead Ever

I thought it would be a while before I got around to making a mead.  For the last year, I've heard about how it takes a year to ferment and even longer to taste good.  Since then, I came across the idea of a "Staggered Nutrient Addition" which is a newer concept in home mead making.  I believe I came by this on Basic Brewing Radio.  I found Fermax yeast nutrient at my LHBS, Homebrew HQ.  One of the guys there said it's "specially formulated" for mead.

For my staggered nutrient addition, I decided to cut my additions into quarters.  The recipe I have calls for 2 tsp per gallon, so that means 4 additions of 1/2 tsp each.  I've opted for an addition at pitching (day 1), day 2, day 3, and day 7 to give the yeast a little finishing kick.  There are just as many suggestions about when and how much nutrient to add as there are mead makers.  I may change my additions for my next batch but so far it seems to be doing well.

After several recent clogged airlocks and crazy blow-offs, I cautiously backed my recipe down to around 3/4 of a gallon.  So far, the fermentation has produced very little krausen so I probably could have pulled off a full gallon.  My target was 1.100, but after adding 3 containers of honey I was at 1.095, so I decided to not open another.

First Mead

2.25 lbs "Organic Grade A" Honey, Kroger brand
2/3 gallon purified bottled water

1/2 tsp Fermax 9/4/12
1/2 tsp Fermax 9/5/12
1/2 tsp Fermax 9/6/12
1/2 tsp Fermax 9/9/12

1 packet Lalvin 71b-1122
OG 1.095

Started 9/4/12
Honey via Texas Aggieland Brew Club from Kroger
Local water has a musty taste - algae bloom?
Aerated day 1 and 2 after nutrient additions (heavy shaking)
Added fourth nutrient addition early since yeast was starting to flocculate already

Bottled 10/26/12
Bottled directly from primary
4 bottles dosed with 10g of honey each
4 bottles kept still, no honey added

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dark Saison with Figs

This one is a tweak of an old recipe.  In my year of homebrewing before this blog, I have yet to re-brew a recipe.  I have had some requests for another batch of Pineapple Pale Ale (coming soon) and a Dunkelweizen (that started as a Doppelbock).  I did try to tweak the Dunkel during a co-brew session with my friend Nate, but I used a different yeast.

I really like Saisons, Farmhouse Ales, and Biere de Gardes.  One of my personal favorite brews is a basic Saison.  I drank the whole batch too soon, and the last one had this amazing citrus and pepper character that the others all lacked.  I was inspired by a post on The Mad Fermentationist about a Saison with Figs and I just happened to have some figs in my freezer from a local farm.  The figs are not dried, but have been frozen to break up the cell walls (this lets the juices escape the fruit more easily).  I added in some Carafa malt, a roasted malt with the bitter husks removed, hoping the orange and black pepper flavors will mix well with the roasted malt and the darker-version-of-a-strawberry flavor the figs have.

I'm still adapting to brewing at my dad's house.  His stove is either boiling like a cauldron or not at all. I boiled off a lot more than I usually do, even with adding extra water.  I ended up having add the sediment, straining out the hops, just to make up my fill level.

Dark Saison with Figs
// 1 gallon batch

Grain Bill
2 lb 4 oz    2 Row Malt
4 oz          White Wheat Malt
2 oz          Munich Malt
2 oz          Carafa III Malt
~8oz         Frozen Figs, thawed and blended
90 minute mash
Target temp 146*F
Starting temp 148*F
Final temp 145*F
Lazy Fly Sparge @ 170*F 

Boil 20 g      Hallertau (5.2%AA) @ 60 minutes
3 oz      White Sugar @15 minutes
4 g        Hallertau (5.2%AA) @ 0 minutes 6 g        Hallertau (6.2%AA) @ 0 minutes
1/2 tube WLP566 Saison II Ale Yeast
OG 1.064 

Brewed 9/1/2012 by myself
Farmers Branch water, filtered through a Brita pitcher
Fermented under the sink, thermostat set to 78*F
Figs added 9/4/12

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lakewood Brewing Tour

I really want to call Lakewood Brewing the best brewery in DFW, but I can't.  This is only because I've only toured 3 of the DFW breweries.  Of those, Lakewood is definitely my favorite.

Three of their 4 beers were available at the time my friend Daniel and I went to the tour: Rock Ryder (Wheat/Rye), Hop Trapp (Belgian-Style IPA), and The Temptress (Milk Stout).  All three were versions of the style that I think the average person (read: non-craft beer drinker) could enjoy.

I started out with The Temptress, since we were there for its release day.  Most places that have it on tap already are serving it on Nitro.  At the brewery, it was served on a standard tap.  Either they didn't have their Nitro set up yet, or the bars serving it decided to serve it that way on their own.  I don't know.  It was a great stout, with a very clean, unbitter, roast character even when it warmed in the 90° weather.  To me: perfect.  However, I wouldn't call it a Milk Stout.  It lacked the creamyness and sweetness I expect from a Milk Stout.  Maybe this is where the Nitro comes in, I don't know.  And at 9.1%, I would call it an Imperial Stout. (Although maybe not by the craft-beer-extreme definition.)

Next, I had the Hop Trapp.  Lakewood's slogan is Belgian Roots-Texas Brewed.  Only after looking at their website did I realize this was a "Belgian" IPA.  I have a new theory that the wheat malt is what helps Belgian yeast produce their special characteristics.  This is based on two data points: my homebrewed Belgian Pale Ale which I just swapped yeasts on, and the lack of Belgian character in this IPA.  It had an amazing flavor and aroma that reminded me of sticking my head in a bag of Cascades. Not much bitterness though.  This one definitely skirts the line between Pale Ale and IPA, and hopheads may be disappointed.  Personally, I love aromatic IPAs, so I thought it was perfect.

Finally, we closed out the day with the Rock Ryder.  It's probably the most true to name.  A very clean, easy drinking wheat beer, perfect for the hot weather.  It isn't a stand out among the Stout and IPA, but it drinks so effortlessly that it will be a huge seller.

Although they aren't technically in Lakewood (they are in Garland), they do make great beer.  They seem to have positioned themselves outside of the "extreme" craft brewing that has been taking over.  They make decidedly drinkable beers, and that's a good thing.  They have only been producing for 3 weeks.  With bottles expected to hit market in October, I will be a loyal customer.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Spontaneous Plum Wine

Not having a job and being home all day, I tend to end up browsing the internet for random brewing styles and techniques (rather than applying for jobs like I should be).  I found 'dinosaur plums', which apparently are pluots.  Like any good homebrewer, I spent the night doing various Googles for plum, apricot, and pluot wine recipes.  I'm still planning a pluot wine, but in the process I happened upon Slivovitz, a distilled plum brandy.  I found it interesting that this maker didn't add any yeast to the mix, just plums.

Basically, you add some plums, let them start fermenting, and add more plums.  Repeat until the fermenter is full.  No stirring or mixing until the last addition. He used whole plums, but they won't fit into my 1 gallon jug.  I cut them into eights and pitted them (some recipes call for branches and pits, others recommend only using the flesh). I also added 8 ounces of honey that I found in my cabinet.  I'm hoping it might add some 'wild' bugs stuck in the honey. 

Obviously I won't be distilling it, since it's illegal in the States. Maybe that means it's just a $20 experiment in making rotten plum mush. Maybe I'll try making it into an ice wine, that seems closer to Slivovitz than plain wash/wine. Who knows? I'll just keep going and see what I get. 

Plum Mush

8 oz Honey - 8/27/2012
2 lb Black Plums (walmart) - 8/27/2012

No yeast pitched. Relying on the natural yeast on the skin of the fruit (or trapped in the honey)
Cleaned jug with OxyClean (no sanitizer)
pitted and cut plums to fit into fermenter 

Day 1 - Lots of liquid leaving the fruit.  Small bubbles forming around fruit at the surface.  Airlock bubbles every 45 seconds, so something is happening.

Day 4 - The plum meat is floating in their own juice. Its amazing how red/purple the juice is. Even more amazing is how much there is. The airlock has been consistently been bubbling every minute. There is a Lacto looking pellicle forming. Maybe the fermentation is mostly lacto right now, because it formed very fast. Waiting until the plum meat starts to break down before adding more plums. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Jaggery Dubbel

(It melted a little to the stove during the picture)I decided to re-brew one of the beers that got the best reviews amongst my friends and family.  The first dubbel I brewed, I used the Belgian Candi Rocks.  Which was basically white table sugar shaped like brown rocks. The most telling review of it I had was "airy".  Buried under the light flavor was a nice dubbel - figs and other dark fruit flavors - but the mash was too low to support the lack of body in the sugar.

This time, I used a sugar called 'palm sugar' at the local Asian supermarket.  I think it's also called Jaggery or Gur some places.  I didn't really intend to use this for a dubbel, but since I finally had milled grain and the Belgian yeast can benefit from the Texas heat (my house is between 78-80 during the day) I decided to go for it.  I'm hoping the palm sugar has some characteristics that add body to the beer, since I didn't chance the mash schedule at all. One note: I've seen palm sugar sold in pancake batter colored discs about the size of a hard pancake. The sugar I bought (right) is much darker. I'm not sure what the difference is (I know some are made from cane sugar), but I decided on the darker version would be more fitting for this style.

Dubbel with Palm Sugar: 14-bis 
//14-bis was the first plane to fly under it's own power. Many think it should be the 'first' airplane since the Wright Brothers used a rail and later a catapult. Anyways, it had two wings (biplane-double-dubbel)  and was from Brasil, which has palm trees. It's also the 'first' beer posted on my blog. 

// 1 gallon batch

Grain Bill

2.5 lb 2 Row Malt
.325 lb Munich Malt
.30 lb Aromatic Malt
.25lb Special B Malt


60 minute mash
Target temp 148*F
Starting temp 153*F
Final temp 146*F
Lazy Fly Sparge @ 170*F 


15g Saaz (2.5%AA) @ 60 minutes
8.6 oz Palm Sugar @15 minutes


2/3 tube WLP530 Abby Ale Yeast
OG 1.080
FG 1.005
ABV 10.0%


Brewed 8/21/2012 with Katie

Overpitched (hard to be accurate using less than the full tube of yeast)

OG much less than anticipated

Fermented in my dad's closet, thermostat set to 78*F

Tasting Post

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Complete Joy of Finding a Grain Mill

Finally got a chance to brew last weekend. I've been stuck with 4 batches mixed and ready to go.... except they weren't milled. And I don't have a mill.

I had been using the grain mill at New Republic Brewing, but after moving to Dallas I've been mill-less. (By the way, it takes skill to use the grain mill at a commercial microbrewery for 1 gallon batches of beer.)

I had been going to a wine making shop near where I'm living now. They had limited beer brewing equipment, but I was compensating for that with online ordering. I always had this picture of homebrew shops as a magical place that smells like grain and the staff talks to you about brewing like you're a long lost friend. Basically a homebrew club that sells you stuff. The wine making store didn't offer these things. I always got the feeling I was being hurried to finish shopping, and they didn't have a public grain mill. That was really the issue, because I had unmilled grain. Well it turned out that Homebrew Headquarters has several public mills. They restored my faith in homebrew shops, too. As I was checking out, I joined in on a conversation about crystal grains in extract vs. all grain, which I'll ask to the blogosphere soon.

I don't want my blog to be a series of commercials, but these guys made me able to brew again so I'm happy.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Jester King Visit

A big part of being a homebrewer is the fantasy of being a "real" brewer. Because of this, I really enjoy going to brewery tours. Different breweries don't have as varied of brewing systems as different homebrewers, but it is still interesting to see. As a craft beer fan, getting to try a handful of new beers at the peak of freshness is equally as awesome.

This last weekend, I went down to Austin to visit some friends that also happen to be into homebrewing and craft beer. We ended up going out to Jester King Brewery. They have been doing some awesome things with beer, and for the Texas craft beer industry as a whole.

I was most excited for one of their collaboration beers with Mikkeller, called Weasel Rodeo. It's a coffee stout/porter with chipotle peppers. It's a twist on their Beer Geek Rodeo. The twist is, the coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world, weasel coffee, which has passed through the digestive tract of weasels (or are they civets) in Indonesia.

I also got to try my first "sour" beer, although I'm not sure a Berliner Weisse counts. It was tasty, a little tart, with a yogurt like nose. I don't really have anything to compare it to for quality though. Unfortunately, they ran out of Boxer's Revenge before I could try my first "wild ale".

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Peach Wine

Let me start my first post on my new blog with a statement. I'm a beer brewer. However, my current living situation makes it difficult for me to find time to brew. To continue my fermentation-based hobby, I'm making fruit wines (and beer when I have time) at my dad's house. We just bottled a fantastic blackberry wine, and since peach season is wrapping up here in Texas, we decided that would be an interesting country wine to try and make. 

There is an orchard (Henrietta Creek) close to where I live. The season was ending sooner than we expected, and was essentially over. They had a half dozen trees still producing, and what they had left was very small. I got around 3 pounds of peaches at 80 cents a pound though, so I wasn't complaining. 

I topped this off with a few pounds of white peaches from Sprouts, and a few pounds of yellow peaches from Central Market. I didn't realize how overpriced CM is (we went there first). I probably wont be going there for fruit again.

I'm not sure why I wanted to mix varieties of peaches. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to get. I have heard that peach wine often lacks in body, so I'm hoping that the variety can add some complexity that it might otherwise lack. I de-stoned and chopped the peaches into small chunks. Then they went into the blender with a little bit of water. To the peach mush, I added sugar and topped up to 3-1/2 gallons. (The volume was determined by how many pounds of peaches I had.) Additives went in, and a lot of stirring to aerate. Pitched 1 packet of Lalvin EC-1118 as recommended by the LHBS.

I followed the basic recipe in the "Enjoy Home Winemaking" book/pamphlet given to me at my LHBS. 

Indecisive Peach Wine

2.678 lbs Henrietta Farms Yellow Peaches 
3.428 lbs Central Market Yellow Peaches
2.266 lbs Sprouts White Peaches
7.5 lbs white table sugar

3.5 tsp Yeast Nutrient
5.25 tsp Acid Blend
7 tsp Pectic Enzyme
.75 tsp Wine Tannin
4 Campden Tablets

1 packet Lalvin EC-1118 

Brewed 7/24/12

Collected 3.5 gallons total must

OG 1.100
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