Saturday, January 17, 2009

What to make next

So many beers so little time!
I picked up a make your own six pack from bloom, with a Same Adams Honey Porter, Redhook ESP, and Pilsner Urquell to start off with. The honey porter, while very tastey, was not nearly as good as the homebrewed Porter I recieved from Luke (co worker at mactec, also a home brewer) earlier this month. The honey emparted a sweet flavor that really wasnt in balance with the rest of the beer. I would also have enjoy a bit more hop as the barely sweetness was a touch overwhelming.
The Pilsner Urquell, on the other hand was amazing. It was apparently the first beer to be light in color! VERY creamy dense head, lots of carbonation, and a very aromatic flavor. The bitterness of teh Czech Saaz hops was wonderful. I think the word "luscious" comes to mind.
Redhook was, in a word, hoppy. I think maybe Kent Goldings hops? I can definatly understand why it's called and Extra Special Bitters. The bitterness of the hops was well balanced as was the caramel flavor and coloring.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bottle Cap Bob!

     After finally getting all the labels and crap off the bottles, I sanatized them in the dishwaster and sanatized the bottling bucket.  I racked the beer from the secondary fermenter to the bottling bucket.  Into the bottling bucket I added 3/4 of a cup of corn sugar.  Corn sugar (dextrose) is a simple sugar easily broken down by the yeast.  The addition of dextrose before bottling the beer will alow the remaining yeasts to reactiveate and produce some more of those lovely CO2 bubbles that make the beer taste like beer, and not flat beer that's been sitting out all night after a frat party. 
      All of this assumes of course that you can actually get the stupid caps on the stupid bottles once they are full of beer.  Of all the things I leanred from David and Mike, getting bottle caps on bottles was not one.  Clearly, it should have been.  Enter my dad, Bottle Cap Bob.

Bob to the Rescue!
    My parents came over to help me put some beer in some bottles, which I thought was very nice of them!  They even brought wings over!  I managed to get the beer in the bottles with little mess or issue.  I could not for the life of me get the "red baron" bottle capper to crimp the stupid bottle caps.  At this point I feel it necessary to explain the oxygen is not good for the beer in this stage on its way to delicious-ness.  The longer it is exposed to oxygen, the more potential problems.  If Pa hadn't been around to figure out the bottle capper, I'd be stuck with a lot of open bottles of flat beer.  Thanks Dad!

The next step

      I decided that I wanted to take my brewing to the next level.   Half way through the first batch of beer.  

      I picked up a secondary fermenter at a wonderful place Mike and David discovered in Seven Corners,  across the street from the Dogfish Head Alehouse, called "My Local Home Brewery Store."  What a glorious place!  They are incredibly knowledgeable about all things beer.  I need to take a trip out there and see about getting a different bottle caping device.  I'm getting a head of myself though.
After the bucket:
      After about a day, stange an mysterious things were happening to the magical bucket-o-wort!  It was becoming a bucket-o-beer!  After we added the wort and some ice to cool the liquid to room temperature, we "pitched" the yeast.  Which is really just a glorified way to say we put the little yeast buggers into some warm water and then turned them loose on the sweet and delicious mixture that would become my beer!  We put the airlock and lid on the bucket and left it to its own devices in my hall closet.  24 hours later there were bubbles galore issuing through the air lock as the yeast converted the sugars into alcohol.  
      After a few days the bubbles started to subside and I "racked" (another fancy beer word, this time for moving beer) the beer into my newly purchased secondary fermenter.  The primary fermenter bucket had an amazingly thing and strange tan sediment coating the bottom, which is apparently the dormant yeast.  I feel like after eating and reproducing for three days straight I would probably go dormant and fall to the bottom of a bucket.  
      Allowing the beer to condition in the secondary fermenter allows the liquid to reach a new equilibrium with the sediment, allowing more of the tan stuff to settle at the bottom of the fermenter.  This also gives me the ability to bottle the beer when ever I please.

Cookin' the good stuff

Thanks Fellas      
      At this point I feel it necessary to recognize David Urban (left on the motorbike) and Mike Weinstein ( to Bob Sagget) , as by either chance or the grace of god they both started brewing beer in their townhouse a few months before I started into my own frothy adventure.  I helped David brew a batch of beer the night before we started into making the stout that is currently sitting in my hall coat closet.  It was an enlightening experiance to be sure.


The Process
       If you can cook, you can make beer.  I picked up a 22 quart pot; it's big.  Let me qualify big: I can put in on two burners on the stove with absolutely no problem.  Step 1 to make good beer is invite people over to help, as you can always use an extra set of hands.  Step 2 is drink some beers.  Step 3 is follow the directions (or make them up if you're dangerous like David) and make sure everything is CLEAN AND SANATIZED.  
        We boiled the specialty grains that came with the kit, which probably included the roasted barley that Charlie refered to in my last post.  After removing the specialty grains in their muslin bag, we added the malt extract, which came in a rather large bag.  If you can, imagine the better part of a gallon of a sweet tasting liquid with the viscosity of maple syrup and the taste of grape nuts cerial.  We let that simmer for a bit and then brought the liquidy goodness brewers call wert (pronounced "wert") back to a boil and added Kent Golding Hops for about an hour.  With about five minutes left, we added a bit more hops for flavor and aroma.  The whole concoction we poured in the previously sanatized 7 gallon bucket that serves as my primary fermenter.
          It smelled wonderful.   Mmmmmm beer,  

Merry Christmas Indeed

Christmas Eve     
     I went to my Sister and Brother-in-Law (BiL)'s place to exchange gifts Christmas eve with my lovely girl friend Katie, and found a large box in an even larger red Christmas sack.  Inside the magical box was a beer brewing kit!  Woo Hoo!  Laura and BiL Trey definiately win a prize for awesome christmas present givers.  The kit includes a 7 gallon bucket and lid with air lock to be used as a primary fermenter, another 7 gallon bucket to be used during the bottling process, equipment to rack (transfer) the beer and an ingredient kit to make a batch of what the box said was "Beartooth Stout," which is an Irish style Stout.  

On stout
     The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian says the follow about Stouts:
"Stouts are black ales that owe their character to roasted barley and a flavorful hop rate.  There are several styles of stout: imperial, sweet, oatmeal, and the more commerically popular dry stout.  
Dry Stout - Draft versions of Irish-style dry stout are usually surprisingly low in alcohol and often brewed from original specific gravities of 1.038-1.048 99.5-12),  The classic Guiness Stout, as brewed and served in Dublin, Ireland, is low in alcohol, dry, and has a clean bitterness but no hop flavor or aroma; part of the bitter character is contributed by roasted barley.  Its rich foamy head is enhanced by using nitrogen gas when it is dispensed from teh cask or a package containing a nitrogen releasing "widget."  THe degree of sweetness and dryness with vary in stouts, yet they are all top fermented and have the singularly unique and special character of roasted barely.