Archive for October, 2009

T his is one of my favorite beers. I really wish it was one I could buy around here. So instead, I brewed up a clone-ish beer, that Aldwer Wood Smoked Porter. We’ll see.

Alaskan Smoked Porter

K ombucha is something I’ve always wanted to try my hand at. I finally found someone giving away a SCOBY so I’m brewing it now. Kombucha is similar to beer. You take sugar and expose it to yeast for fermentation. That’s were the similarities end. Here is all you need to make Kombucha. A large jar. Mine is a pickle jar. 1 qt water boiled. 1 qt water boiled and cooled. 4 tea bags, Black Tea for this batch. And 3/4 cup of granulated sugar….and a SCOBY.

Here she is. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and yeast. Yeast, bacteria, and yeast. Like a sour beer. Kombucha is very low alcohol content and get diluted with juices usually.

Here are the 4 tea bags steeping for 20 minutes in the water I boiled. I had sanitized the pickle jar with my beer sanitizer, Iodophor. After 20 minutes, the sugar was added in and stirred to dissolve.

After the tea cooled, in went the other quart of water and the SCOBY.

And here it will sit in the dark and still for 5-10 days. The SCOBY will grow to fill the neck of the jar, and eventually split off a daughter SCOBY. Greg has dibs on the first baby. If all goes well, I should have more if anyone is interested.

Molly Lee Cards: Superhero card saves the day!

Molly Lee Cards: Superhero card saves the day!

My wife, my hero.

Things don’t always go as planned…

Upset is a good description of how I feel about Danstar right now. I’ve been reading about old complaints of an issue with Nottingham yeast. It appears some have had issues for possibly up to a year. Danstar is replacing yeast packets matching their only claimed issue batch #1081140110V exp 01-2011. I have one unused packet. I, unfortunately used one packet on my Earl Grey Braggot but threw away the packet, not knowing there was an issue. It ruined my batch. I used a packet of Notty from batch #1080360088V exp 08-2010 on my Haus Pale Ale. It ruined my batch. I yanked the packet out of the trash when I read about the Notty issues, hoping to find it was the bad batch causing my ale to not take off by the next day. It wasn’t the recall batch. yet it still took 60+ hours to take off. I’ve never had a beer not take off in the overnight after pitching the day before. I hear others had issue with the same batch, yet Danstar admits to nothing. I contacted them indicating there was an issue and they denied it. The packet is punctured. You can clearly see it. Others see the same punctures on their packets that ruined their beer too.

What do I want? Certainly not more packets of Notty in return for packets turned in. That does nothing for me. A $20 pale ale and a $30 braggot was ruined. And 12 hours of my time just between brewing and bottling these beers, never mind the tending time. Also, the pale ale was brewed up in celebration of a new part time job I got after being unemployed for several months. To make it special, I tossed in my first ever hops harvest. No $3 packet of new yeast is going to make up for that. I have 3 more packets of the #1080360088V exp 08-2010 that I won’t use. Too much of a risk. Anyways, here’s a review of what was supposed to be my special Christmas braggot.

A: Caramel orange. Very thin head.

S: Spicy and sweet. Big nose.

T: Very complex! Spicy and sweet. There’s an off flavor to it, bandaidey. Most likely attributed to the bad Notty yeast. But I think I got it onto the S-05 yeast cake soon enough to help it some. By the time you get 1/3 of the way through the glass, the medicinal taste takes over too much. I was barely able to finish the last 2/3.

M:Thin. Pretty dry.

D: One will do fine. It’s a cozy braggot for a cold night. The bad yeast flavor totally detracts from this brew. It tastes like it could have been really good. It looks really good. It begins to taste really good. Then WHAMO…yucky off flavor. I think I will let this one age and see if we lose any of the off flavor.

Time will tell

Nottingham yeast is usually my “go-to” yeast. It has a very clean profile, good flocculation, it’s easy to use being a dry yeast, and it is very economical. Unfortunately, they have had a bad run. Danstar has admitted to one bad yeast batch #1081140118V exp 01-2011 out Austria. The stamping machine punctured the package and the yeast may have been damaged by oxygen. I had one of those packets and it did not take off in my Braggot. I pitched the Braggot onto a yeast cake after no activity for too long for my comfort. I’ve got another packet here with that batch number. I also have a packet from a different batch #1080360088V exp 08-2010 out of Denmark. The packet is just as damaged by a stamping machine but Danstar admits nothing wrong with this batch. I strongly disagree. They are replacing bad packets, but that doesn’t replace money homebrewers are out in ingredients from ruined batches. They claim the only damage is a slow take off. I unfortunately brewed up a Haus Pale Ale in celebration of getting some part time employment. It took forever to take off and when it finally did, it smelled funky. Today, I bottled that beer, 5 weeks sitting in the primary. Cloudiest beer I have ever seen. Smelled very off from the other times I brewed this same recipe. I’ll give it the three weeks to see how it tastes before I pass final judgment. I could have thrown some gelatin at this to get it to clear up, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be worth the effort. As I said, we’ll give it the benefit of time before final judgment is made.

OG: 1.057
FG: 1.020
ABV: 4.8%

At least this I made a Corona bottle happy…for now, three weeks from now…who knows.

Apfelwein is so beautiful in the glass. This is my carbed version, just over 5 months in the bottle now. Mmmmm.

Sauerkraut Season

Cabbage was on sale for $0.25 a pound so Sarah picked up four large heads to make into sauerkraut. AND as luck would have it, someone offered up a ton of canning jars for free on freecycle! Time for sauerkraut!

Here is the 17 pounds (shredded weight) of cabbage ready to start the process of becoming yummy sauerkraut.

Since I am a homebrewer and I have a beer to bottle tomorrow anyways, I mixed up a batch of sanitizer. Figured I’d use it on the bucket for mixing the cabbage and salt as well as the crock.

A little cabbage and a little salt get mixed up by my sanitized hands.

Here is the cabbage all mixed up with the salt in the tub. Ready to be packed into the crock tightly.

Here is the salted cabbage pressed into the crock tightly.

A plate is placed on top for weighning down the cabbage. This is ready to go to the basement for fermentation.

Fill the Bag up with water to create a nice seal and way down the cabbage in the brine.

And here it will sit for over a month, fermenting into yummy kraut.

October Gardening

Eggplants roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your carrots.
Yep, garden is still producing.

I’ve got gooseberries to pick soon.

There are carrots still growing.

Some great looking turnips are out there.

We got a few sad, small heads of cabbage.

Kale is starting to wind down again.

We have some basil to harvest.

And there are baby eggplants out there. Wait, what? These guys are troopers, we may get some harvestable eggplants if we don’t get a deep freeze.

Vulcan Warrior

B eer tasting time. This is my review of the Vulcan Warrior which was part of the group brew we did. If you remember, I added in a hop tea to attempt to get a big citrusy taste into the beer.

Appearance: Deep caramel, hazy as I expected. Big three finger head of large and small bubbles. Decent lacing on the glass.

Smell: Citrusy, sweet.

Taste: Backend bitterness, subtle, not as prominent as the last batch. Slightly citrusy.

Mouthfeel: Nice carbonation bite. Oily, not heavy.

Drinkability: This is a pretty good drinker, the alcohol bite isn’t present, the taste is clean. It isn’t as big a beer as the last one and I didn’t get as much citrus as I hoped to with the hop tea. I think the additional “wort” thinned out the bitterness and threw it out of balance a bit. This is almost a session IPA. Good, just not phenomenal.

Pesto Time

Basil is a favorite herb to grow. We dry it. We freeze it whole leaf. And we love to make pesto with it. Toss some basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese into a blender and blend until a smooth paste. Judge the olive oil quantity on the consistency of the mix. We like to freeze the paste in ice cube trays. After they are frozen, we store the cubes in a bag in the freezer.

Easy uses:

  • Toss a cube on a chicken breast on the grill.
  • Toss a chunked up cube on a piece of fish and broil.
  • Mix cubes into a sauce or soup.
  • Toss a few cubes into hot pasta.