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".
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