Archive for November, 2009

Yogurt-DIY style

Yogurt is so good for you. There is so much healthy bacteria in yogurt, but not all yogurt is created equal. Sure that fruit not on the top tastes good, but have you read the label? Sugar. Lots of it. Do you know how easy it is to make your own yogurt? Easy peasey lemon squeezy. Here we go.

You need a thermos, 1 tablespoon of yogurt and as much milk as you can fit in the thermos or lesser if you want less yogurt. Fill the thermos up with milk and dump that into a pan.

Bring the milk to a boil. You can use a double boiler or the pan on the burner but as this is milk, watch for boilover. Just get it to a boil then take it off the burner.

Pour the milk into the thermos and wait until it is lukewarm ~112F. Plop in a tablespoon of yogurt and close the lid. It should be ready in 12 hours or so. Just open the top and shake it a little to see if it has solidified.

This has no sugar so you probably want to sweeten it yourself. Mix some grapenuts or granola and honey in or use it in a smoothie. I keep ice cubes made from frozen fruits from the summer in the freezer. A couple of these and some yogurt in a blender make a great morning drink.

Beer Tasting

A tasting. This is my Alder wood Smoked Porter.

Appearance:Dark brown, one finger head with a nice pillow
Smell:Smokey, sweet
Taste:Light smokey hints, slight sweet
Mouthfeel:thin, watery
Drinkability: a lot less robust than I had hoped. Due to the smokey flavor probably a couple in a night would be good
Overall:I think it is a bit green still at two weeks in the bottle, the carbonation is forming pretty well. I’ll give it another two weeks and try it again.

Saison? Funky Belgian Pale? Wareham Common?

Bonuses are nice. Bonus beers are even nicer. We did our Partigyle yesterday. I’ve been thinking about doing a Kentucky Common using the sourmash method, full grain bill for 24 hours. So I thought, why not with these mashes where we shot for low efficiency and got better but not great efficiency…there has to be sugars left. So Greg decided to give it a shot. He tossed in two more pounds (minus a few ounces lost to the floor yet again) and some Brett culture. I just tossed mine whole bag with the hop sock into a cooler and heated water up to 160F. I got about 1.5 gallons in. Throughout the day I lost some of that. My cooler cover has a hole in the top where steam collected inside the cover then drained out the drain hole along the side. A bit of a mess. New cooler feature found, lesson learned. Today I opened the cooler and man did it smell funky! Here’s what I did with it:

5 gallons of water heated to 170F
Lifted grain bag out of cooler and put in pot. Poured the wort on top of that.
Dumped the 5 gallons of 170F water over the top of the grains.
Let that sit for 15 minutes.
Pulled out the bag and squeezed as hard as I could.
Brought to a boil and added the following:

  • .5 oz East Kent Goldings hops for 60 minutes
  • 1 bottle Working Man’s Pale Ale funked beer for 45 minutes
  • Immersion chiller and Irish Moss for 15 minutes
  • .5 oz crushed coriander for 10 minutes
  • 3 oz orange marmalade for 10 minutes
  • .5 oz crushed grains of paradise for 10 minute
  • US-05 rehydrated when wort reached 70F

I ended up with an OG of 1.031 (very sweet and spicy).

Here is the Tripel. It blew up into the airlock. This is 5 gallons in a 6 gallon carboy. I added the blowoff tube and that seems to help some. It is still rapid fire like popcorn. This is a little cooler than I wanted at about 58-60F but the yeast seems happy. I’ll let it go for another day or two like this then add in sugar and bring it upstairs to ramp up in temperature as it wishes.

This is my Graff. It also decided to get enthusiastic today. It already had the blowoff on it because I know these are pretty vigourous fermenters. But it still blew the stopper off and spilled some down the side. It has now died down in foam but it is super rapid fire bubbling in the blowoff tube. This one has the aquarium heater keeping it around 62F.


I love it when things you are told can’t be done…are done. Today we did a hybrid partigyle. We got 1.5 beers each out of two mash tuns..and possibly an additional beer out of each tun…more later.

Our goal:

  • Quadrupel OG (preboil) 1.054 Hit OG 1.092
  • Tripel OG (preboil) 1.057 Hit OG 1.073
  • Dubble OG (preboil) 1.043 Hit OG ???? (I think it was 1.024)

Not bad at all. I shot for 60% efficiency and I think we got that and then some. I’ll go through the numbers and see if I can figure it out. I started diluting the tripel and concentrating the dubbel by swapping quarts between the two when our quad guy decided he wasn’t going to do that for whatever reason so I stopped. I think we could have hit pretty close to our three targets with dilution and concentration. The brew in a bag absorbed a lot less grain so the dubbel sparge water from my dunk was a lot more than the 3.4 gallons we shot for. Because of this less sparge was required of the cooler mash tun system. So we thought…why not get another beer out of that? A 24 hour sour mash is what we went with. So I thought, I’ve got 24 pounds of grains, why can’t I get something decent with that too? In went 1.5 gallons of 162F water, hoping for a sour mash of whatever volume to be made tomorrow. I’ve got some cascade hops to go in, hopefully it will be small volume so I can hop it adequately.

Tripel on the right, dubble on the left.

The milled grains..Greg has a block with milling grains…we’re not sure what is up.

Doughing in. Lots more dough balls than I am used to.

The Brew in a Bag mash.

The sparge mash.

I really wish I was able to lift the 23 pounds of wet grain. Brew in a Bag just doesn’t seem to work.

I squeezed the bag into a rubbermaid bin and sparged our water over the grains for the dubbel. Worked pretty well.

Greg’s brewstand.

The down time is so much more fun in a group.

Too bad squeezing the bag is something you shouldn’t do.

Greg explaining how the sparge works.

Me with the complex sparge of squeezing the bag.

The Tripel.

The Dubbel.

The Quad.

Measuring out the hops.

What Mark Coogan missed, beer, Patriots, food.

The Tripel. Brew in a Bag worts always look a little funky to begin with.

Final results:

  • Quad OG 1.067
  • Tripel OG 1.069
  • Dubbel OG 1.051
  • Greg’s beer OG 1.052 (5 gallons)
  • Scott’s beer OG 1.031 (4.5 gallons)


G raff is a yummy hard cider-ish drink. The name comes from Stephen King’s Dark Tower novel series. They talk about a drink that is appley but beery too. I found the recipe on, tried it once, and here I am making it again. It has more body and flavor than apfelwein though the two are similar. Here are the ingredients:

  • 0.5# Crystal Malt (60L)
  • 1.0 oz Torrified Wheat
  • 4 Gallons of apple juice, ascorbic acid is ok as a preservative
  • 1 Gallon water
  • 1# amber dme
  • 1# light dme
  • 0.5 oz ~6% alpha hops

Steep the grains in 0.75 gallons of water @ 155F for 30 minutes. Sparge with 0.25 gallons of water @170F.

Stir in the dme and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes with the hops in.

After you cool it all down in the sink with ice water, put it in the fermenter. I pour half of a apple juice jug in then shake the remaining juice up as much as I can to aerate it. OG for this batch was 1.064

After pitching rehydrated S-05 yeast in, it goes into a water bath in the basement. That’s an aquarium heater in there and a blowoff because graff is pretty vigorous.

Braggot saved?

I retasted the Earl Grey Cinnamon Braggot with some members of my homebrewing club and we came to some conclusions. It was agreed that this should age for a while. The alcohol content is pretty high and it could mellow out and change the flavor of the braggot if given time. So these are tucked into a dark basement corner until remembered again in the future.

Alder Wood Smoked Porter

Alder Wood Smoked Porter is hopefully going to be a beer close to Alaskan Smoked Porter. I bottled this beer up today and it was a really good looking beer. Nice light smokey smell to it. It tasted awesome too. Three long weeks and I’ll know how good it really is. The FG came in a bit higher than I expected, but with steeping grains and smoked malt, there is probably more unfermentable sugars in there. I thought it might taste cloying but the sweet is balanced by the smoke…so far. It is a shame the store that sells this brew kit is a mess. Their recipes contradict themselves so I have no idea if my OG and FG are in their “style” or not. Who cares if it tastes good!

OG 1.072 10/5/09
FG 1.026 11/6/09

Another happy clear bottle.
Depressing how dark it is at 4 PM now isn’t it?

Neener neener

B rew in a bag makes cloudy beer “they” said. When it comes to brewing, I don’t listen to what “they” say too much anymore.

This is my Willam’s Notty Blonde Ambition…and yes it tastes as good as it looks. Too bad brew in a bag doesn’t work.

Kombucha soon

The Kombucha tea is ready. It sat for 11 days and I didn’t want to push it any longer. I sanitized four glass iced tea bottle with boiling water. I then put 1/4 cup cranberry grape juice in each glass. Then I funneled in the Kombucha. These will sit for 4 days or so to get some carbonation. Meanwhile, I brewed up some more tea that will become more Kombucha.

Nice looking tea!

And a nice healthy looking mama SCOBY too.

I want candy

Belgians are our next group brew. A hybrid paritgyle style is our plan. We’ll brew a Quad in normal cooler mash tun sparge style and a Tripel in Brew in a Bag style. Second runnings from both styles will be combined for a third beer, a Dubble. In preparation for our brew next week, we made sugars tonight. Not exactly sure which will be used in what beer yet, but we made them,enjoyed each other’s company and drank some good brews. The two recipes we used are:

Caramel Syrup
Candy Syrup

Definitely not hard. A lot more fun with a group.

The inverted sugar is on the left, the caramel is on the right.

The caramel finished a lot quicker than the candy syrup. Bring it up to temp and watch for the color change. Add water to thin and that’s it.

It took a long time for the candy sugar to reach temps. It tastes a little burnt to me, hints of molasses.

Here are the batches. The far left is the caramel, the other two are the double batch of candy syrup.