Friday, June 29, 2012

Holy time warp! A lot has changed, my friends.

The brewery was shut down - temporarily! - in March or so last year. Why? My family and I have moved to Chicago. I won't be brewing again until at least September, when we move into our new house!

Brewery-wise, the house is great with a large-enough back yard/patio, and a full unfinished basement with ceiling low enough to never threaten my storage space with transformation into livable space! There is no garage, however, and therefore no obvious space for my large kegerator. It could sit in the basement for storage/aging/lagering but for serving I don't think it will make sense. How many beers do I really need on tap for a party? 2 at least, probably 3.

Anyhow, those beers described below are still in play! The first RIS is freaking awesome now but only a couple of bottles left. The second RIS is awesome and maybe a case remains, plus a "bottle conditioned" sealed growler full! The first sour has set the bar high, half bottled unblended and very very good (carbonated), the other half bottled a year later after spending that extra time on local sour cherries picked by yours truly. And this sour cherry one (carbonated also) - look out! If you are interested please contact me and I will send you a bottle. Seriously. It's in storage now but come September!

I bottled this one and the second pLambic during the move and have only had these a few times - I'm not worried that they have spent some extra time in storage! So stay tuned, more beers are coming including plans for barrels, weird styles, etc!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ordered a Wine Kit

So I have started something new, I'm going to make a wine. I have always resisted this because I don't think you can make great wine without living in a wine region but after reading some about wine kits and wine making by people who do it I'm going to give it a try.

I ordered a Winexpert Dry Creek Sonoma Chardonnay, which doesn't come with oak but I'm going to oak it. I figure if it's good enough to not need oak that's a plus, and since I prefer the oaky chardonnays I'm going to add it. I think brewing experience will help but it seems like many things are different - KMeta for santizer, racking from primary before fermentation is complete, degassing, adding stabilizers, and of course bottling with no CO2 and corking the bottles.

It should be an interesting adventure.

New Sour Brewed

So I finally brewed my 2010 sour, I was waiting to see if I could find a used <30 gallon barrel for a reasonable price but after what I think is a comprehensive seach I gave up and brewed.

I realized that with the size of my mash tun and since I had an extra burner + 7G pot in my basement I could do a 10G batch and a 5G batch at the same time. In the end I decided on 5G + 5G + 3G, one 5G in glass and one in plastic. Since my 2009 plastic-bucket batch seems better at this point than the one in glass I decided to continue the idea.

Mash was 40% flaked wheat, 27% pale malt, 23% Pilzner malt and 10% munich malt. I ended up with about 18G of wort and boiled it for 2 hours with 9oz of old Fuggles (aged in attic about 1.5 years, and they were a year old when I put them up there).

The smaller pot got a majority of first runnings, so the gravity ended up higher for the 3G batch - 1.068. About 6 gallons were in the plastic bucket and 5G into a glass carboy both 1.055. In the boil I added maybe a teaspoon or two of flour and corn starch. Now the important part - the bugs!

5G Glass: Roselare yeast + some "Bug Circus II" cubes and liquid
5G Plastic: Wyeast Lambic Blend + "Bug Circus II" cubes and liquid
3G Glass: "Bug Circus II" cubes and liquid only (a bit more)

Fementation started within 48 hrs for both larger batches but took several days for the 3G with no yeast pack added. All three blew off plenty of stuff, the carboys most due to the lower headspace. I'm planning on replacing the airlocks in the carboys with wooden dowels to add some slow ingress of oxygen for bugs.

Pictures to come hopefully.

Synopsis of buggy beers in my brewery: 5G plastic of pLambic 2009, 5G glass of pLambic 2009, 1G glass pLambic 2009, 1G glass soured RIS, 1G in 3G carboy of Hop Forward Red with bugs, 5G plastic pLambic 2010, 5G glass pLambic 2010, 3G glass pLambic 2010. 26 gallons total.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

pLambic Tasting

Well, it's been 10 months since I made the pLambic and I tasted it extensively the other day. Basically it's pleasantly tart but not puckingly sour, and some versions have a dry finish which seems like funk/brett/wild yeast. The best version so far is the 5 gallon plastic bucket, it has fantastic aroma and very pleasant taste, a bit more sour than the glass carboy. The 1gallon glass carboy is the most sour, in that one I put no wyeast lambic blend, only contributions from the bug jar. The 1G has a very faint and not great aroma, and the finish is lacking. Much more acid though. The 5G glass is decent, not as sour, and not as delicate. Probably for fruit later.

Blending 1G Glass with 5G glass makes it better. A little 1G glass with 5G plastic makes it pretty good too, but finish is weird.


Brewed an "improved" version of the Russian Imperial Stout yesterday. Dropped the Special B (too much raisin/prune), upped the oats to 2lbs (from 1lb), put the mash at a regular 152 or so, and didn't boil for almost 5 hrs.

My efficiency was really bad and so I ended up using 5.5lbs of molasses instead of 2lbs that I planned on. Ended up with 11.5G of 1.107 wort, which is what I wanted. I think next time better batch sparge calulations would help with efficiency - too much water, 2nd sparge was 8G first 5-6G etc. I spilled a lot on the ground so I would have had even more volume. Bump up grain bill for the lower efficiency.

Recipe was:
27 lbs Golden Promise
6 lbs Munich
5.5 lbs Molasses
3 lbs Roasted Barley
2lbs Oats (Quaker not instant)
1.5 lbs Chocolate malt
1 lb Wheat Malt
1 lb Black Wheat Malt
1 lb Debittered Black Malt
1 lb Crystal 60

3 oz Centennial 90 mins
1 oz Mt. Hood 90 mins
1 oz Fuggle 90 mins
2 oz Centennial 20 mins
1 oz Centennial 5 mins

Irish Moss

It's in plastic now, still lagging 'cause it's cold in the basement (59-60) 12 hrs later. It'll ferment out in plastic and then I'll rack it to glass for a few months and then rack it again onto oak cubes + Maker's Mark.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

By the way

.. I have homegrown hops (not much), and I brewed a beer last weekend "Rediculhops" with 260 calculated IBUs and 3 separate dry hop additions. Hopefully I'll be able to type out the specifics soon.

pLambic Tasting!

Okay, it's early yet, but I tested and tasted the pLambic. All activity seems to have stopped, both the 5G carboy and 1G carboy have dropped clear and who knows what's going on in the bucket! So time to investigate.

Tested both the bucket and the 5G Carboy. Both are about 1.006-1.007 specific gravity, the bucket has a distinctive pellicle that's thin and looks powdery with large bubbles in it, while the glass carboy has no pellicle. Kinda surprisingly, they both taste virtually identical. The front is a soft alcohol/water blend, followed by some tartness and finishing with a drying funk that isn't at all opjectonable. The smell is quite good, really what I was going for but the sourness is not very strong. It's more of a tarty fruitness, and it's really quite refreshing and pleasant - just not puckering in any way at all. I wonder if it will get more sour with time. It seems like it would go well with light fruit like strawberry, or peach. Or maybe rapsberries will give it more bite. Carbonation could change things and so could time, there are still several gravity points that could be eaten up by *something*. Only, everything is already in there!

It never got really warm this summer in the basement, peaking at mid 70s maybe, more likely 72-73 tops. Good for aging, not great for bug cycling I imagine. I''ll taste it again come spring and decide if it gets fruit or blending another summer or what. Hopefully by then I'll have another batch going right next to it!