Archive for October, 2009

Kale soup is a favorite of mine and we have a great recipe for it. I harvested another batch of kale today. I also picked some gooseberries and found yet another hidden squash out there, this time a tiny sweet meat. Gavin food most definitely.

I love it when there is heavy activity in my wort. It provides a calming feeling that the yeasties are doing their job with enthusiasm. With all the recent Nottingham woes, it has been a couple brews since we got a nice healthy krausen. *phew* This is my Alder Wood Smoke Porter in a water bath.

End of season squash

Just when you think you got the last squash in the garden is when you find a big one you missed. Here is a nice green striped cushaw. Maybe it will be a pumpkin pie, those great pumpkin cookies Sarah makes, or a pumpkin cream roll. It may just end up with some pie spices broiled in the oven. Some of it will probably end up in this guy’s stomach, he seems to like it a lot.

Where there’s smoke, there’s beer.

How good can a beer smell? Very good if you judge that on the Alder Wood Smoked Porter! What a great smelling beer! Very dark too. Here’s a shot of the wonderful looking grain, if only the internet could transmit odors too. If this is as good as I think it may be, I’ll be very sad that they don’t have the smoked malt anymore. Maybe I can find some of my own alder and smoke some 2-row myself. I’d prefer an all grain version anyways. That is the pale LME. Things did not go smoothly today. I brewed because I was trying to shed the stress of the past reunion weekend off my back. I finally no longer have to worry about how things will go, because they already went and things went well. Maybe I should have waited since I was still pretty worn out feeling. I’m probably fine, just didn’t have things go as planned. That’s EKG hops, and some 5.2. Two sets of pH strips have been sent to me and neither work, I just figure the 5.2 does the job it is supposed to for now.

Here we go. I chose to steep the grains biab style. I potted 3 gallons of water and brought that up to 160F and stirred the grains into the water inside my biab bag. Then I covered it and wrapped it in my blanket for 30 minutes. While that steeped, I brought another 3 gallons of water to a boil figuring I’d combine the two and use some of it for the sparging. I let it sit after it boiled so the temperature was down around 170F. When the steeping was done, I twisted that bag, squeezing the grains (I don’t fear the squeeze, I know better.) I then dunk sparged the bag of grains in the clear 3 gallons of water. I again twisted and squeezed the heck out of the bag. Things were still going smoothly.

Typical recipe with 60 minute hops and flame out hops. Some Irish Moss for 15 minutes and the immersion chiller for 15 minutes. I chose to do a late LME addition so that needed 15 minutes too.

Problem 1: Put the flame out hops in at 15 minutes left of the boil. Oops, oh well, no biggie.

Problem 2: If the picture zoomed out a bit more, you’d realize I have just put the flame out, turned on the water for the chiller and was removing the hop sock…all with that bucket of pale LME sitting on the table beside the kettle. Oops. Biggie!

That’s ok. I’ve got enough experience, and not enough fear to go and figure out how to fix things when I screw up. I noticed I was a little low on the water, a bit more boil off than I usually see, the humidity must have changed some. I thought it looked like I was a little over a gallon off, a total judgement call since the chiller was in there still. So while my wort chilled, I boiled up a couple gallons of fresh water. I was going to boil the LME alone in the water and mix that in with the wort after I chilled it. Can’t see any reason this won’t work. And here it is at 1.072…and that’s with over 5.5 gallons. Not bad at all! Tasted nice too, not overly smokey, let’s see how this one does with a ferment. S-04 for the first time for me.

Then when I coming out the door, I somehow managed to close my finger tip in the door and separate the fingernail from my finger a little. And later I didn’t get a good seal on my bottling bucket spigot so it dripped the whole time I was bottling. Things don’t always go smoothly, but RDWHAHB!

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas around here. I bottled my Earl Grey Cinnamon Braggot and it smells fantastic! This was a brew I was worried about with the Nottingham yeast issues. I had to pitch the wort onto a fresh S-05 yeast cake because it didn’t take off due to the bad Notty. I was afraid that having two different yeast strains in there would potentially cause problems. I wonder if the strong S-05 just over powered the weak Nottingham yeasties?

The FG was 1.012. The OG was 1.098. (1.098-1.012) x 131 =11.266. Big beer! What a great color to it. I took a taste and it has a real nice cinnamony taste to it. I put the sample into the fridge to taste cold later. I think this will taste awesome carbonated.

This was also my first trial of gelatin to clear up the very cloudy wort. It worked great as you can see in the sample. A weird gloopy mess in the bottom of the carboy was all the evidence left of the gelatin.

And again I got to make the difference in an unhappy Corona bottle. This little guy is proudly displaying a fine braggot, happy to finally contain something decent inside himself.

I can’t wait to try this one. If it is as good as I think it is going to be, I will be doing a double batch and make it all grain next time.