Tuesday, February 23, 2010

State of the Brew-nion Address.

This will be a general update post.

I have been feeling kind of stunted in my growth as a brewer lately due to a lack of bottles in my possession. Empty bottles that is. For as much as I'm not a fan of bottling, Im even less of a fan of scrounging around for bottles. Buying new bottles is expensive, and reusing old ones can be a pain; Especially if, like me recently with my christmas beer, you have a batch that doesn't pan out and you decide to age it a year to see if it gets at least drinkable. Which all leads to me thinking about starting to keg.

Most homebrewers who keg go with the 5 gallon system, it fits a full 5 gallon batch and you are done. But personally I don't
drink most of my beer in my apartment. I live alone, and the layout of my place isn't exactly conducive to having people over. I like to grab a few bottles and head over to a mate's place. So Im thinking I could bottle half a batch and then 3 gallon kegs for the rest.

So thats on my list of upgrades. Iv been really meaning to get 3 items to help me out. Kegging system, oxygen canister o
xidization system, and a grain mill. I need to decide what to get first. Care to weigh in?
This leads into the fact that I have 2 beers I need to bottle, and until yesterday I didnt even have enough for 1. On Deck, Iv got the Blackberry DunkelKolsch is finally ready and looks fantastic and slightly purple. Next to it in the 6-gallon carboy is the famed "Kitchen Sink Stout". I never got around to doing a write up about it as Iv been real busy with the day job these past 2 months. Now I just need to decide which one gets bottled first!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Carmelized Sugar and Witches Brew.

On Wednesday I went ahead and had a brew day, but I didn't end up making The Kitchen Sink like I had planned. I had a call to work early wednesday for the rest of the week up till the minute I was leaving for the holidays, leaving me only the afternoon to get a brew going before I was gone. So I decided not to take on the ambitious beast because it used too many ingredients I didn't have prior experience with.

So I pulled out the next brew I was planning to do a little early. I had been cultivating some Wyeast Abbey Ale I yeast in a growler, and it was ready to go. So here it is.

Witches Brew Dark Strong Abbey Ale.

Id had some success a few batches ago with a hoppy belgian strong, and wanted to mess around more in the style. I had also been meaning to do a trappist style beer too. So I bought the Abbey Ale yeast and then attacked my grain bill like I was making a Dark Strong. We have some Special B malt in there, some CaraVienna and CaraMunich, Crystal 40L, 6lbs of Pilsner malt and 5lb of 2-row.

While that was going on, I decided to use a technique I was going to do on the Kitchen sink as a sort of test run....Caramelized Sugar!

It went pretty well. You can see in the picture above 1lb of sugar early in the process. You heat plain granulated sugar in a pot and keep stirring. It starts clumping up, and then slowly turns into a brown syrup, no water added. At this point its REALLY HOT. hotter than the boiling wort, so learn from my mistake and let it cool down a bit before adding it to your boil. Otherwise you get lots of steam and noise and not fun stuff.

I also split up one of my Papua New Guinea Vanilla beans and started soaking it in vodka. Ill dump that in after high krausen. Im going to be gone for almost 2 weeks from the brew date, when I get back Ill check on it and see whats up. I might throw some oak on this bitch too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adding Blackberries to the Gypsy Curse DunkelKolsch

Today I through in 18oz of Blackberries into the DunkelKolsch as I transfered it into secondary. to those who don't know, the dunkelkolsch is a term that was created because the Kolsch I was brewing turned out pretty dark. So I was questioning in the first week wether to dump the batch or not, but I was persuaded not to by my beer tweet friends and decided to turn my lemons into lemonade. I embraced the darkness, or dunkel-ness. 

My original plan was to lager this guy for 3-4 months, so I would have a super dry crisp beer to enjoy with friends as the dreadful winter receded and  spring came upon us. Well F-it, Im still going full steam ahead, but now Im going to add a dark fruit to my dark Kolsch. Blackberries. and 18oz of them.

No fruit is really in season right now, but I was able to find a small sale on blackberries at the local grocery store. I brought them home and then I froze them. Why freeze fresh blackberries you ask? Well, from what I understand, its called exploding the cells. and short of actually mashing the berries, its the best way to prepare the fruit for flavor extraction.

So I cleaned the fruit and stuffed the bowl of them in my freezer overnight, and then I thawed them out the next morning in a bowl of vodka to sterilize them. After 2 weeks in primary, I didnt want an infection to slip in in the nooks of those little purple hand grenades.

I then threw in both vodka and blackberries and capped it off. The beer is currently at 61 degrees, but I will be bringing it down to 50 over the holidays and then lower through the winter.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Revving up for the Kitchen Sink

So for the past couple weeks I have been getting ready to do a crazy experimental stout Im calling "Kitchen Sink." Iv found that finding just the right moment to brew it has been a little bit of a hassle. First my local homebrew store was out of some of the malted grains I needed, and then this past thursday night my apartment flooded.

But here I am, hoping to get it done and in a carboy fermenting before I go off for the holidays, and the first step is getting all the adjuncts and special ingredients together. I am not going to post the recipe at this time, but I will let you in on the adjuncts.

First off we have cacao. While originally I had purchased a 8oz box of nestle powder to dump into the boil, a chef friend of mine named Abe said he actually had a bunch of cacao nibs and beans that I could use. So I went over last night and picked these up.

Secondly, while the mash is going, I am going to be making caramelized sugar with this bad boy.

Im doing this based off what people say is a big part of the flavor of the Kuhnhenn Creme Brule Java Stout that I love so much. When that is done, Ill be dumping that late into the boil with the cacao.

I am also going to add a pound of flaked oats and a half pound of lactose sugar.and a vanilla bean from Papua New Guinea. You can see while Im calling it "Kitchen Sink". Stay tuned as I will report later in the week about the recipe and how the brew day went.