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.
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