Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Beer fridge modification

While brewing batch 184, I made a nice modification to my beer fridge. I don't want to drill a hole in the fridge to put the CO2 tank outside, and there isn't anywhere to put it anyway, so I used my Dremel and cut out the shelf in the door to put it there.

Mmm! Edge beers waiting to be opened!

Now it's easy to reach and no fear of it falling out by accident.

Here's a random photo of my grandson with a storm trooper, just for fun:

Monday, May 2, 2016

Batch 186, Malted Cider

I haven't made a cider before, and the universe seems to be pushing me in that direction. My beer club met at Merriwether Cider Company a couple of weeks ago, and we got a great tour and discussion about how to make ciders. Then I was reading a recent issue of Zymurgy and they had an article about making malted ciders. The problem with straight-up cider is that there isn't any nutrients for the yeast. Malted cider, however, uses some beer wort added to the apple juice as yeast nutrient, so when I was making Batch 185, I ran off an extra gallon to make 5 gallons of malted cider. It turns out the wort I ran off was a little low on gravity, so I added some DME to get it to 1.042.

5 gallon batch

4 gallons of cider from concentrate. My wife bought 11 of these cans at about $1 each from Winco:

Beats the crap out of me why I take a photo landscape and Google turns it to portrait and doesn't give me any option to rotate it.
So 11 of these plus 3 gallons of water plus 1 gallon of wort makes 5 gallons.

All I did was mix the concentrate with water in a fermenter bucket, then added the gallon of wort, oxygenated, then pitched a jar of Wyeast London Ale III from batch 184. I'm real interested to see how this comes out. This was super simple to make and was easy to add into a regular brew day. I'm a little worried about sanitation, I was careful, but the water came right out of the tap (through a carbon filter), not boiled, the wort came right out of the mash tun, so it was about 170F at one point, but not boiled and much it was much cooler when I added it to the cider.

May 3, the airlock is bubbling away, that's a good sign.

May 11, fermentation is done, FG is 1.012, so I put it in a keg and put it on tap. I added 2 tsp of Cream of Tartar to the fermenter before kegging, it probably would have been better to add that to the keg.

May 14, first taste now that's carbonated, it's good, but a little plain, not a lot of apple flavor.

June 3, I've been mixing this 50/50 with the Prickly Pear beer, and that is an excellent combination. I took a growler to a tennis match for afterwards, and it was gone in about 10 minutes.

Batch 185, Saison

This is my first attempt at a saison. A friend's daughter is getting married this fall, and she wants a beer that has arugula in it. I did a little research and found there are a few pro brewers featuring arugula in beer. The base style of those that I found was saison, apparently the peppery flavor imparted by the arugula goes nicely with the spicy flavors of the saison yeast. This is a pretty basic saison recipe, I'm aiming for something on the lower end of the ABV scale, but otherwise close to the style.

10 gallon batch

22 lb pilsner malt
1.25 lb caramunich malt (provides color without all the sweetness of a crystal malt)
1.25 lb white wheat malt (head retention)

Mashed at 150F. I was aiming for 147F, but this should still come out fairly dry. I would have adjusted, but kept getting interrupted by the parents, who came over to watch a brew session. No problem, and good fun, just a little distracted so I didn't think of everything on the fly. I did remember to adjust the pH and I ran off 13 gallons into the boil kettle and one more gallon into a jar for batch 186.

90 minute boil

4.5 oz US Saaz, 60 minutes
2 tsp Irish Moss, 15 minutes
3 os US Saaz, 5 minutes

Wyeast 3724, Belgian Saison, I only had one packet since I thought I'd just make 5 gallons when I bought it, so I stepped it up with a 3 quart starter. Oh, and I dumped the stir bar into the fermenter... again. I put a sticky note on top of the fermenter so I remember to recover it later.

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.011
ABV: 5.4%
SRM: 6.7

I'm planning to add sugar towards the end of primary fermentation to see if I can get the FG down to around 1.005.

May 11, 2016, gravity is about 1.030, I would have expected much lower by now. I'm thinking my starter wasn't as good as it should have been, so I bought 2 more packages of the same yeast and pitched them.

April 17, 2017 -- I was reviewing my notes for this and realized I've left out a lot of detail. The arugula was not good. I made a few extracts, one of arugula, one of fennel, and one with vanilla beans. The extracts were made by soaking the various items in vodka for a few weeks. After the saison itself was done, we did some sample tastings with a little bit of each extract in a glass of saison. The arugula was weird, and no one liked it. The fennel was pretty good, a little licorice flavor went nicely with the saison. The vanilla was excellent, which is why I was reviewing these notes since I want to make it again. If memory serves, I used 5 vanilla beans in about a pint of vodka for a couple of weeks and added the vodka to 2.5 gallons of the saison.