Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Recipe: Pad Thai

So I was in charge of cooking tonight, and found a decent recipe that I had made modifications to in order to reach 'great.'

Just under 1-ounce tamarind paste (1 and 1/4 Tablespoons)
3/4 cup boiling water
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 rounded Tablespoons palm sugar
3/4 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Sambal
4 ounces rice stick noodles
1 to 2 Tablespoons oil (I used vegetable, original recipe called for peanut)
1 cup chopped scallions, divided 1/3 (serving) and 2/3 (recipe)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 whole eggs, beaten
3 ounces bean sprouts, divided
Freshly ground dried red chile peppers, to taste (I used Sambal)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Place the tamarind paste in the boiling water and set aside while preparing the other ingredients. Stir occasionally.

Combine the fish sauce, palm sugar, Sambal, and rice wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Place the rice stick noodles in a mixing bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Once the other ingredients are measured out into separate bowls, drain the water from the noodles and set them aside.

Press the tamarind paste through a fine mesh strainer and add to the sauce. Stir to combine.

Place a wok over high heat. I did not have a wok, so I used a cast iron skillet, and it worked wonderfully (for the tossing, I was still able to hold both ends, as my cast iron skillet came with a small nub on the side opposite the handle).

Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil. Heat until it shimmers. Add 2/3 of the scallions and then the garlic, cook for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the eggs to the pan; once the eggs begin to set up, about 15 to 20 seconds, stir to scramble.

Add the remaining ingredients in the following order and toss after each addition: noodles, sauce, cabbage, shrimp, and 2/3 of the bean sprouts and peanuts. Toss everything until heated through, but no longer than 1 to 2 minutes total.

Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with the remaining scallions, bean sprouts, and peanuts. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I was looking for inspiration online and found this

Brewers Best Recipes Page

The best kits and recipes available - including my favorite - the English Brown Ale

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Flavored Beer Base

I've been looking into doing a lot of different flavored beers, and I finally picked up Brewing Classic Styles. In there was the Apricot Wheat recipe, and it provided a great base wheat to add fruit and some other light flavors to.

8.3 lbs wheat LME 4L
1/2 lbs crystal 15L
.85oz willamette hops 5%aa

Suggested yeast is Wyeast 1010 American Wheat

This will provide a great base for any number of fruits, with possible minor tweaking needed for apricot, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, etc...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Out of Season Red Ale

Both the Kumdis Island Spruce Ale and the Cherry Fever Stout apparently both require ingredients that are currently out of season, so I went to my Local Home Brew Shop and picked up Bob's Red Ale recipe.

7 lbs light malt extract
8 oz dark brown sugar (added last 5 min of boil)
1 lbs 40L crystal malt
2 oz roasted barley
2 oz Willamette hops (60 min boil)
1 oz Willamette hops (5 min boil)
1 Whirlflock tablet
1084 Irish ale yeast

This was definitely a new procedure for me, but I've attempted to 'sparge' with a very very small strainer.

Add 3 quarts of water to a med to large saucepan and head to 165-170 degrees. Stir in grains and steep for 30 to 45 minutes in a warm oven (mine was set at 150). Pour grain mixture through a strainer into boiling kettle. Rinse (sparge) grains with 2 quarts of 160-170 degree water into boiling kettle.

Add 2.5 gallons of water to boiling kettel and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, remove from heat. Add malt extract and mix well. Return kettle to heat and bring to boil. Add boiling hops and boil per hop schedule (add Whirlflock at 45 min in, add brown sugar and finishing hops at 55 min in).

When hour boil is done, remove from heat and cool wort. Add to fermenter, and add enough cool water to bring total volume to 5 gallons. When wort is below 80 degrees, aerate well by stirring, and pitch yeast.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Hold - Cherry Fever Stout

It seems that with cherries out of season that the Cherry Fever Stout is on hold. I will be collecting cherries as soon as they're in-season and freezing them for a delicious future.

Instead, I will be brewing Papazian's Kumdis Island Spruce beer.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Next Up - Cherry Fever Stout

3.3 lbs plain dark LME
2.5 lbs hopped flavored light LME
1.5 lbs plain dark DME
1 lbs crystal malt
1/2 lbs roasted barley
1/2 lbs black patent malt
1.5 oz Northern Brewer hops (boiling)
1/2 oz Willamette hops (finishing)
8 tsp gypsum
5 lbs sour cherries
1 - 2 packages ale yeast
3/4 cups corn sugar (priming)

Add crushed roasted barley, crystal and black patent malts to 1 1/2 gallons of cold water, bring to boil. At boil, remove grains and add malt extracts, gypsum, and boiling hops, for 60 min. Add 5 lbs cherries (pits and all), and steep for 15 min (160-180 degrees) - do not boil. Add finishing hops 2 min before adding to fermenter, add cold water to make 5 lbs. Pitch yeast when cool, after 4-5 days, move to secondary for another 2 weeks and bottle upon complete fermentation.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Raspberry Mead

We made up a bit of this recipe as we went along, but I'm looking forward to tasting it in about a year.

12 lbs Clover Honey (thanks CostCo!)
7 gallons purified drinking water
1 lb (16oz) raspberry preserve (pectin, sugar, water and raspberries)
2 handfuls frozen raspberries
1 orange peel
1/4 oz coriander seeds
2 satchets champagne yeast

Added 2 cups water to mason jar, microwaved for 2 min. Added 4 tbsp honey, pitched 2 satchets of yeast. In 2 pots, poured 1 & 1/2 gallons of water each. Heated the water until almost boiling, mixed in 8 oz of raspberry preserves and 1 handful of frozen raspberries per pot. Added the peel of half an orange into each pot. Brought the water to a boil and removed from heat. Added honey - 6 lbs per stock pot - honey added volume, so we siphoned must out, and then put the warm must back in the containers to dissolve the honey and get all of it into the pots. Siphoned must into 7 gallon fermenter, and put in ice bath. Added coriander seeds, and pitched yeast after an hour.

Monday, August 9, 2010

English Brown Ale

I made this one yesterday, and am hoping it turns out.

I did my 1 1/4 gallon boil with:

4oz Crystal 60L
4oz Chocolate
1 1/2oz Roasted Barley
3oz Carapils

steeping for 20 min and then added 1lb of amber DME and (where I should have done 1/4 oz Cascade hops) 1/4 oz Styrian Goldings hops.

Boiled that for 45 min, added 1/2 a Whirlflock tab, boiled for 5 more minutes and added my other 3 lbs of amber DME as well as 3/4 oz of Hallertauer hops (where I should have used Northern Brewing - if I was following the original recipe).

I pitched using a high-gravity trappist ale yeast, so this should be interesting!

And my wife broke my hydrometer, so I was unable to get an SG reading.

The goal of this one is to get a very chocolaty brown ale with a hint of roasting in the aftertaste.

I can't decide if I want to get  a new brewpot, or a smaller carboy.

I would like to point out that I felt much more at ease wandering and asking questions at Bob's Homebrew Supply than back in Chi-Town. The Brew and Grow will always have a special place in my cupboard, but I think I'm more of a Bob's type of guy.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chimay Blue Half Recipe

I made this on Saturday, though it was a bit of a process:

Steeped the grain in 1 1/4 gallons of water for 20 min at 156 degrees:

4 oz Special B
4 oz CaraMunich
2 oz Belgian Aromatic
4 oz Wheat

Strained that to a bucket, strained it back into a pot and added 2lbs of amber DME, as well as 1/2 oz Hallertauer hops. I killed the boil after 30 min and I'm not sure why, but I restarted it and added the 1/2 oz of Styrian Golding hops, and then killed the boil again at 45 min, immediately after adding the 1/2 Whirlflock tab.

I didn't have Lyle's Golden Syrup, so I made invert sugar by adding 2 1/2 lbs sugar to 3/4 a pint of water. That was very interesting. I reduced it for about half an hour, then added to the re-re-boiling wort. As soon as that was boiling again, I dropped in the 2 1/2 lbs of Munich Malt LME, and boiled for another 5-10 min.

I strained that, which I probably shouldn't have, but the strainer fell anyway, so not much of those hop pellets were captured. I pitched the yeast and the OG was 1.090 - this one's gonna be strong!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Belgian Tripel Update

After reviewing the process and ingredients list (and a side-by-side comparison to New Belgium's Tripel - mine won :) next time I'm going to

Switch the 1 lb candi sugar for 1 lb honey
Try to make the LME all DME
Add cloves (giving it a taste more like Delerium Tremens or Goose Island's Sofie)
Add more priming sugar (to give the somewhat flat tripel a bit more head and effervescence)

I'm also going to make an English Dark Chocolate Ale, with a bit of black patent (just a bit) to get that dark, bitter taste, and a lot of chocolate grains, though I'll finalize that recipe later.

I'm also going to make a beer for my wife - a basil ale. To that end I picked up 3 of the Rogue beers - their chocolate stout, their nut brown ale, and their chipotle ale - the last being the most helpful when attempting to add an odd ingredient. I'm not sure if I'm going to make and IPA or a regular ale, but I'm interested to find out.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gumballhead Clone Bottling

I bottled the Gumballhead clone tonight - it had an SG of 1.012. I had to use granulated sugar instead of dextrose (corn sugar), so I will have a slightly more cider-y flavor when this is carbonated than usual.

The Belgian-style tripel is overly sweet, and tastes like it needs another few months, but time is working against me here, and I am attempting to purge bottles in favor of getting a corny keg. Hopefully that works well and occurs soon.         

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hard Lemonade Procedure

Tonight, we dance! And make hard lemonade.

Going off this recipe, we made several modifications to fully utilize our 1-gallon carboys.

We purchased 5 cans of frozen generic brand lemonade concentrate, 2 cans of pink lemonade, 2 cans of limeade, and 1 can of pomegranite raspberry. The recipe called for 2 pounds of sugar, plus or minus to taste, so we added 3. We heated about a gallon and a half of water, and dissolved all the sugar in there, poured it into a 5 gallon carboy, and added enough water to make 5 gallons. At that point the SG was 1.032. Before adding more sugar, we added the DME, which clumped and was a pain to mix in.

We ended up skimming all the clumps off the top and heating them in some wort to help dissolve it. Once that was fully mixed in, the SG was 1.042. We then took the individual cans of frozen concentrate and began putting them in the carboy to spread out the surface area and help warm them up faster.

1 - Blueberry pomegranite lemonade - SG - 1.080 (the really dark one)
2 - Lemonade - SG - 1.082 (has writing 'B Lock' on it)
3 - Lemonade 2 - SG - 1.080 (has letter 'C' on neck)
4 - Limeade - SG - 1.076 (has letter 'A' on neck)
5 - Pink Lemonade - SG - 1.082 (the pink one)

As part of the control, I will be taking 2 home and putting them in my basement - hopefully a more stable, and lower temperature than what Chicago has in for us in the next few days. The other 3 will reside in Nova's closet.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Beer Review

I've never tried this before, but my brother in law got a box (a literal box full) of 50c beers, and decided to get 2 of everything and share some with me. I'm going to carpe the diem and attempt my own reviews of these beers. There were 4 total:

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

I rated each on head, color, body, finish, aroma, and overall, trying to describe the taste of the beer with less emphasis on what I did or did not like.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
This was frothy and quick, a very light and pale head that well mirrors the flavor of the beer.

It's a bit orange-y and freaking creepy that the Fringe cutscenes show fetuses (fetii?) in APPLES

Oh, right, it's a cloudy orangish, probably from the bottle conditioning

The body is full, but moves very quickly from hoppy to  fruity - though I'm wondering if I've had enough at this point that I meant that the other way around as hops are usually an aftertaste. Anyway, I do remember the flavory, and I believe it's fruity to hoppy, though I'll try another SNPA later and post. Either way it's almost a scent the first flavor is gone so quickly.

The finish is bitter and biting but still smooth.

The aroma is very faint, but just smells like a generic IPA.

This is where I stop trying to be impartial. As I'm not a huge fan of IPAs, I can't say too much about it - I would certainly drink it over Bud or Miller. Better than Magic Hat's Beet-juice summertime, but I'd almost rather drink a Heineken. Almost. 6.5

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Family Time (Bottled and Brewed)

Belgian-style Tripel Update
I took a final specific gravity reading and the tripel ended up at 1.020 - so the OG was a little low (the kit said it should be between 1.083 and 1.086. The alternate tripel recipe I have has an OG of 1.080 - 1.084, and an FG of 1.016 and 1.022, so it's right in between that, which is comforting.

I'm concerned about the two 80 degree weather days we had in the last month, and I hope they don't turn the taste. As its getting into summer, I'm going to move everything down to the storage unit after brewing. This will keep temperature down and stable, especially in the hot summer months.

The tripel spent 9 days in the primary ,and then another 25 days in a secondary before bottling, and the bottles are going to end up down in the storage unit as well to age.

Gumballhead Clone
I brewed the Gumballhead clone - I had 1 lb of Caravienne grains that I needed to crush myself. I started with a rolling pin, until I realized that pushing that hard imprinted on the pin, and my wife would kill me if I started breaking her good kitchen utensils. So I got out a spoon. A teaspoon. That worked better than the rolling pin when crushing the gains, but had a slightly diminished volume it was able to crush at a given time. Finally, I stumbled across my wife's food processor, and having already crushed a separate pound at my "Local Home Brew Supply" (LBHS) store, and compared the two - the food processor did just as good as a manual crushing apparatus.

I was a little slow on the straining, and forgot to get the sieve in place for the first half, so I didn't get all the trub out. It's supposed to sit in the primary carboy for a week, and then strain and transfer to a secondary where its dry-hopped. I've never dry hopped before especially not with pellets, but I'm going to put the last ounce I have in the secondary and let it sit for another week before bottling.  As soon as I make sure that fermentation has started with this clone recipe, I will pull this 5 gallon tub in the basement as well.

So we've actually turned bottling day into a family event - I sanitize everything, ensure the beer is in the carboy with tap, set up the tube and wand, then my wife fills the bottles (usually - we keep a stock of towels nearby), and I cap. This all goes on while we watch a movie or TV show, but it's surprising how this draws my wife (and sometimes my whole family if we need to get something from the kitchen and are bottling while my son's still up) into the beer making process. This led her to brew a batch with me, and now I'm brewing a batch for her specifically - hopefully this one comes out well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Belgian-Style Tripel Ingredients and Procedure

3.3 lbs Light LME          Briess CBW Golden Light
3.3 Amber LME            Briess CBW Sparkling Amber
3 lb Pilsen DME             Pilsen Light Spray Dried Malt
1 lb Light Candi Sugar
8 oz Maltodextrin

Specialty Grains
4 oz Aromatic                Crushed Aromatic Malt

2oz Bittering                   Kent Bittering Hops - 4.5% alpha acid
.5 oz Aroma                   Kent Aroma Hops - 4.5%  alpha acid

1 Sachet                         Nottingham Ale Yeast

IBU's: 24 - 30
ABV %: 8.5 - 9.0
OG: 1.083 - 1086

1) Sanitize everything - 1 carboy, 1 big plastic spoon, 1 airlock, 1 hydrometer (did not sanitize 7 gallon pot or thermometer)
2) Steep grains
I poured about 2.5 gallons of water into the brew pot and set burner to high. I poured the 4 oz of crushed 'aromatic malt' grains into grain bag and tied a knot at the top of the bag. When the water was at 150, I put the grain bag into the brew pot and reduced heat. I steeped grains for approximately 20 minutes and checked water temp about every 3 to 4 min, adjusting as necessary to attempt to keep the water as close to 150 as possible. Removed grain bag and set drain bag in a clean bowl. The water was then wort.
4) Start boil
I set the heat to high to bring the wort to a gentle, rolling boil. As this was heating, I tossed the grain bag, and poured the drained liquid back into the pot. I poured the dried malt extract (DME) - the 3 lb Pilsen Light Spray Malt and Maltodextrin - into a bowl and added that so I could just dump it all at once (as it tends to crust as it leaves the bag. Then I poured the LME - two cans of Briess CBW, one Golden Light and one Sparkling Amber - in and the Candied Sugar as the wort turned into a boil
5) Add hops
I then slowly sprinkled the bittering hops into the boiling wort. I did this extremely slowly as the initial addition of the hops causes a sudden foaming, that goes back down and allows the rest of the hops to be added without that foaming. I then boiled for 50 minutes after which I added the aroma hops and boiled for 5 more minutes.
6) Cool wort and transfer
I then filled my bath tub full of cool water and placed the brew pot in. After about an hour I poured the wort into a carboy, but will probably try to strain next time. I attempted to avoid transferring the heavy sediment (trub) from the brew pot to the carboy.
7) Add water
I then added enough clean water to the carboy to bring the total volume of wort to approximately 5 gallons, stirred, and took an initial specific gravity with the hydrometer.
8) Pitch yeast
I poured the yeast satchet in and stirred it up; capped the carboy, filled the airlock just under halfway with water, and stuck it in.

Monitor and record
9) Fermentation starts
 I left the airlock set up for the first day, and then began to monitor closely. As I suspected - the high specific gravity beers (by proxy, high alcohol beers), there is so much activity that it frequently reaches the airlock and can block or just build a significant amount of pressure. As I'd already had the Russian Imperial Stout explode on me, as soon as I saw the beer overflowing the airlock, I opened it up and pulled the top and inside of the airlock so that the gas could release straight out. As I heard a constant whistle, I had no worry that air was getting in and affecting the taste. This lasted for approximately two to three days, and I put the airlock back together when there was still very active fermentation so I didn't have to worry about oxidation.

10) Wait
I will bottle this as soon as my English Brown Ale is gone, and I have the larger bottles - especially with the bulk aging, the larger canister available, the better (in my experience).

Scratched and Bottled

So we scratched the mead - it was skunky, didn't taste good, and would probably take about a year to age and actually be drinkable. I may try again eventually on the 1 gallon scale, but I probably won't be soon.

The cider is bottled - there is very little taste difference between the wine and champagne yeasts, though they both taste delicious with a bit of sugar right before consumption. It was very easy to set up the siphon with the bottle wand - which is a clear stick with a pressure release at the end, so when it's pushed, it drops whatever liquid is in it to the container it's pushed against - stuck straight into the hose, and then filled up with water. Then the individual bottles can be put lower than the carboy, and even with the small opening, it's easy to start siphoning and stop the liquid to switch bottles.

And that means that all my jugs are free for hard lemonade. I'm thinking we'll do the full 5 gallon recipe, and then we can do differences per-jug. That way we can at least have a full vat - a good standard baseline/ratio of ingredients and yeast before putting them in separate 1 gallon jugs that we can then play with.

Also, I'm going to the Brew and Grow tomorrow to pick up a few grain bags so I can make Gumballhead - and I'm very excited about that, but I need to take a temp reading of my basement first because my condo is starting to get affected by the Chicago warm-up.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Fun Facts and Plans - Gumballhead

I was looking at a clone recipe for Delirium Tremens today and it looks like it's a Trappist-style! It is extremely close to the first Chimay Blue clone recipe I put up, with a few additions, a change in hops, and the option of using the same type of yeast!

I think next I will be doing a Gumballhead clone:

1 lb 2 Row (grains)
1 lb Torrified Wheat (grains?)
6 lbs Wheat Dried Malt Extract
3 to 4 oz Amarillo hops (not sure how much I'm going to use yet, it depends on the flavor these impart, and how long hop pellets are good for once they've been opened)
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast (or whatever CA Ale Yeast the Brew and Grow has in stock)
3/4 cup priming sugar

Update::4/21 - Just realized I got my recipes mixed up, and 1lb Torrified Wheat was from the Chimay Blue Clone. Looks like I already have that one started. I actually need 1lb Caravienne, and will be following this recipe.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Everest - "Chimarch Blue" (Chimay Blue Clone)

My goal, and the thing that brought me into homebrewing, is Chimay Blue. So I will try the two recipes below, and finally combine them to attempt to make Chimarch - my Chimay clone. Recipe
Recipe Type:
Yeast: White Labs WLP 500 Belgian Trappist
Yeast Starter: Yes (2 sets of wine yeast nutrient)
Additional Yeast or Yeast Starter: N/A
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity: 1.068 (low for Chimay, add more sugars (LME/DME/maltodextrin/cadi sugar)
Final Gravity: 1.0110
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60 mins
Primary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 5 days @ 68F
Additional Fermentation: N/A
Secondary Fermentation (# of Days & Temp): 10 days @ 68F

Steep the grain in 3 gallons of water at 156F for 40 Minutes:

32 oz Munich Malt
8 oz Special B
8 oz CaraMunich
4 oz Belgian Aromatic
8 oz Torrified Wheat

Remove the grains and add another gallon of water and add:

3lbs Munich Malt Extract
4 lbs Amber Malt Extract

1 oz Hallertauer (60 mins)
1 oz Styrian Goldings (30 mins)

16 oz Lyle's Golden Syrup at 45 mins
2 packets dried wine yeast as nutrient at 45 mins.
1 Whirlflock tab at 45 mins

Cool wort to 75F and pitch yeast starter. Cool to ambient temperature and remain throughout fermentation. Bottle.
Thread Comments:
Did you use LME or DME? I just finished brewing this recipe and ended up with an OG of 1.086. I didn't substitute any of the grain, but I did sub in 7lbs sparkling amber DME for the extract.
Just do a google for "making invert syrup".    It's basically a pound of white sugar, a bit of water to make it a thick slush, and then a dash of lemon juice.   Cook it slowly and bring it to a slow boil...stirring. Eventually it will begin to darken.  Once it's at the right shade ( I usually get a light straw color), it's ready. I make mine an hour or so before brewing so I can just dump it in at the end of the boil.

Alternate Recipe
Ingredients: 14.33 lbs. Belgian Pale
1.76 lbs. Belgian Munich
0.26 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
0.29 lbs. Belgian Caramunich®
0.11 lbs. Belgian Chocolate Malt
0.13 lbs. Candi Sugar Amber
0.44 lbs. Torrified Wheat
0.8 oz. Cluster (Pellets, 7.00 %AA) boiled 60 min.
0.2 oz. Hallertau Hersbruck (Pellets, 4.50 %AA) boiled 15 min.
0.2 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 15 min.
0.2 oz. East Kent Goldings (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.
0.2 oz. Saaz (Pellets, 5.00 %AA) boiled 1 min.
5 grams curacao peel (not included in calculations)
3 grams fresh ground coriander seed (not included in calculations)
Yeast : WYeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II

Alcohol by Volume (%): 9.000
FG: 1.019
IBUs: 25
OG: 1.087
Instructions: Due to research I've found that they use cluster hops (surprisingly) as well as the addition of curacao peel and coriander (more so bck in the 70's and 80's when the grand reserve was just that 'grand)'. Wheat startch is also used, but I've decided on the torrified wheat instead. This version also differs from my original recipe (Chimay Blue clone #1)l in that I've used amber sugar in stead of dark(candysugar in both cases) and lessened the chocolate malt to 50g from 100g (curacao and coriander were not included in Clone#1). This is to bring it more in line with Blue's true SRM.

Friday, April 9, 2010


I also brewed 2 ciders yesterday, but was too tired to actually post about them. My buddy's girlfriend works at Whole Foods, so she got me 3 1-gallon glass jugs of organic apple-juice (perfect for fermenting). One is to drink (and to stagger the secondary stages), so for one I dumped in half a sachet of red wine yeast. I did this to leave a bit more sweetness behind, whereas champagne yeast would leave it higher in alcohol content, but also much more dry to taste. The Original Gravity of this was 1.063.

The second one I added as much brown sugar as I had (about 1/4 a cup) and added a bit more confectioners sugar (to get the ABV up), but the OG of this was only a little higher at about 1.067 or so.

1 airlock ($1 at Brew and Grow supply store)
1 stopper (.60c)
1 glass carboy, pre-filled with organic apple juice from Whole Foods (discounted - thanks G! but usually $3.99 at Brew and Grow)
1 sachet wine yeast (.50c)
1/4 cup brown sugar

1) Put sugar in small saucepan
2) Add juice to cover
3) Heat until sugar is dissolved (very quick, 2-3 min)
4) Return to carboy
5) Cap and shake carboy until all accumulation from bottom of jug has been mixed
6) Take specific gravity
7) Add half sachet of yeast
8) Add airlock
9) Ferment

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tips For Kit Brewing

I just realized I actually had wisdom to impart! It's a rare occasion, so I thought I'd document that before I forgot.

When kit brewing with Dried Malt Extract (DME) I have found something to be very helpful. When it's time to add my DME I do the following

1) cut open DME bags with scissors along the long side to it will be easy to dump quickly, and set them off to the side standing up (so no DME spills)
2) stir the wort so it is moving very quickly (but not splashing) on it's own when the spoon is removed
3) dump the DME as fast as possible, but be careful not to splash
4) stir like a mug

The DME is dehydrated, powdered malt. As soon as it hits liquid it begins to rehydrate itself. Your wort is boiling, so steam is rising from it. This means your DME begins to rehydrate itself as soon as or sometimes even before it leaves the bag, which gets very messy.  Dumping while the wort is still stirring itself means no crust is formed on top of your wort that you then have to break up, and doing it quickly means no lumps form in your bag.

SG Readings and Procedural Thingys

English Brown Ale
So while doing the English Brown Ale, I wasn't pleased with how long it took to get back up to a boil. I did something stupid and put the lid on the huge brewpot. It took just seconds for it to overflow. I think that also removed several of the good fermentables, because there is almost no krausen buildup on the edge of the primary. I think that also might be because of the gas release valve setting - I put it deliberately low after having the Russian Imperials Stout literally explode all over my dining room. Oh well. I am going to siphon now, using the water-in-tube method suggested by Papazian.

The OG was 1.040, and the SG now - moving to secondary - is just over 1.010. Assuming that's relatively stable, the ABV% is going to be about 4% ((1.040 - 1.010)*131.25)

Belgian Tripel
While brewing the Tripel I cut some of the recipe out. I did not wait for the wort to come to a boil before adding the LME/DME/candi/maltodextrin and dumped it all in.

I must say, it was one of the coolest reactions ever to see the hops go into that. I put just a few at a time in because I knew it would cause major foam with the enzymes mixing, and that thing was bubbling like MAD for a good 5 minutes. It was pretty cool.

OG was 1.080 - this is gonna be a strong one! Hopefully it'll get down to about 1.010, making it just over 9%

This is a quick video of the airlock after just over 12 hours - there is a steady, but not huge amount of CO2 being released.

Next Up: Hard Cider

Monday, April 5, 2010

Impulse Buys and Second Tries

I headed out to the Brew and Grow two days ago and made an impulse buy. They have an expanded selection, so I purchased the planned English Brown Ale, but also saw and purchased a kit for a Belgian Tripel. Apparently, you have to age them for over 3 months, so I'm going to purchase a second carboy today when I go again, and try to bulk age it for the 3 months and then bottle it.

My buddy also pointed me out to a new site where I saw this:

So I have a 5 gallon plastic carboy, I wonder if there is a sanitary way for me to attach this to the bottom:

The most difficult would be the secondary nozzle for tasting, but I was thinking I could use to the one I already have with nozzle in it, not necessarily in the funnel. The nozzle at the bottom is easy, but sealing the two together - especially in a way that is known to be sanitary.

On another note, I also found that I had not been sanitizing my equipment properly, which I believe is the odd taste to my stout. I had been using the iodine sanitizer before the cleanser, and apparently you're supposed to do the opposite - the iodine sanitizes for human consumption those things the chemical cleanser removes/loosens from your equipment. Whoops!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Whoops - Chemicals are Bad

So I should have done my research on mead, and purchased some yeast nutrient to go with our concoction. We have slightly conflicting reports on why our mead has yet to start fermenting, but we'll know soon.

One theory is that we used bleach, and the extra chemicals killed everything, both in the new and old yeast batches, but also in the honey-water must itself.

The second is that we just didn't have nutrient in there, and our yeast is still alive. We're going to start by testing the second theory, and adding yeast nutrient directly to our musty carboy. Wow, that sounds so wrong. If that doesn't work, we'll start a batch of yeast in a container that wasn't cleaned by bleach, using the yeast nutrient again, and then pitching it after it gets going and seeing what happens.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Next Up - Bottling Mead and Brewing Hard Lemonade

So the approaching summer caused my wife to make a request - hard lemonade.

We decided to use the smaller Mr. Beer carboy for this test recipe, but that means that we'll have to bottle the mead.

So my friend and his girlfriend are contributing to our bottle fund (which is nice because the bottles are over at his place, as it is his Mr. Beer kit), and he is hitting up the Brew and Grow for the 1 pound of ultra-light Dried Malt Extract (DME).

Right now, it looks like our recipe is going to be:

1.5 lbs white sugar (an extra .5 for a bit of an extra kick :)
1/2 lb ultra-light DME
1/2 packet champagne yeast (left over from the mead)
5 cans of lemonade concentrate (without potassium sorbate which apparently keeps the yeast from reacting)

Another thing I will definitely be doing this time is starting the yeast - 2 cups of warm water, 1/2 packet of yeast, and 2 Tbsp of cane sugar. Once that starts to foam, I'll begin putting in half cups of the lemonade concentrate/water/sugar/DME wort every 10 minutes for a half an hour - making sure it's still active.

Once that's all together, we'll toss it all in the carboy and make sure it's 2.5 gallons.

We have yet to decide if we're going to carbonate the lemonade or not, but we'll get to that after the 5 weeks of fermentation.