Archive for October, 2009

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.

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!