Sunday, March 28, 2010

An exciting time for the brewery

It truly is. Right now, I have a rogue mead that is halfway (one month) to completion, a lager that is in secondary cold conditioning (lagering), and my first original recipe, a Belgian witbier, in primary right now. Man does it feel good! There's so much to look at and so much progress to see! There's also loads of excitement as I think about a time when I will be able to taste all of them. There are a few bottles of ESB left, but the supply is dwindling slowly. It's just about time for a changing of the guards. Happy spring everyone! It's going to be great.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Holy witbier, batman!

As you can see, I am very excited about my witbier. I have just brewed and pitched the yeast (my first experience with liquid yeast culture, Wyeast 3463). I am really excited for this, my first original recipe. I already can't wait for it to be done...I have a feeling that it will taste delicious and refreshing, and it is likely that I will be brewing it again sometime during the summer. I know what you're thinking, what could be so special about this witbier? Let's just say that it takes the conventions of a witbier and expands them, without defying them. Sunny's Ginger Wit, as I am calling it, will be ready to drink in about three weeks. The really awesome thing about the release date is, if all goes according to plan, we should be cracking this batch open on my birthday, April 17th. That is pretty cool. I can't wait to taste the fruit of my mental and physical labors!

Der Braumeister

Secondary lagering, wit to come

The lager is in secondary in the downstairs fridge and my 6.5 gallon carboy is currently sanitizing. I have to make a quick grocery run to get some extra ingredients for the wit, but I will hopefully be brewing that by some point today! I can't wait. It's my first original recipe, and I think it will be dynamite (go 'Dores). Whether or not this is currently obvious, I will not be posting the full recipe on my blog. All recipes I have used thus far have been publicly available, but I will consider this recipe to be at least moderately privileged information. Certain ingredients in the recipe will be obvious, because certain aspects of the recipe will be things I want people to get excited about. Anyway, I'm super excited and I can't wait for this beer to emerge just in time for spring.

-The Brewdude

Friday, March 26, 2010

Well I'll be an even bigger sonofagun!!

Just took the specific gravity of the Youzaho Light Lager to yield a couple of BIG surprises. One surprise that is only slightly big is that it seems to be completely done with primary fermentation. I got a SG reading of about 1.011, which means that it is definitely in range. The BIGGEST surprise, though, was the taste! I should begin by saying that I'm pretty much a huge snob when it comes to beer, and I am not the biggest fan of "Lite" beers. This one however might be, dare I say, one of the best light beers I've ever had? This made me pretty excited, especially this early in the game. The flavor is, well, light, but it is far from absent and it certainly does not taste like piss (a lot of them do). I can't wait for it to smooth/balance out in secondary cold conditioning (lagering), too! I'm glad that even after selling out, I've developed something of which I can be very proud. I'm sure it will be an instant classic with the "masses." This also means that other lagers are well within reach for me, now that I have the lager methodology down. Look out for that Oktoberfest in the fall!

Well I'll be a sonofagun!

For those of you who don't currently reside in the greater Boston area, the weather outside turned from about 65° yesterday to about 35° with a minute amount of snow today. Crazy, right? Guess whose garage is still the same temperature. That's right. The lager's airlock is bubbling at intervals of more than a minute now, which means that primary fermentation is either done or close to done. I'm excited because this means I'll be able to rack it into secondary and brew my first original recipe, Sunny's Ginger Wit, by this weekend. I cannot wait. Comments on specific gravity to come.

In other news, my mead is looking strangely clear after less than a month of fermentation. I will probably leave it for another month, but I have high hopes for the stuff.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hop Victory!

Just found a place today from where I could still order hop rhizomes! I ordered a Nugget rhizome, a high alpha hop, and Sterling, a Saaz hybrid. I am so excited to get my hop garden going. Peter the horticulturist will be the perfect mentor in this process. Now I just need to get some plans going for some sort of trellis system on which the hops can grow. Come early April, I'll be planting my first rhizomes, and they should be ready to harvest in August. This way, I should have a couple of pounds of fresh hop flowers to use for the winter months. In addition to the Fuggles, Goldings, and Cascade from Peter, I'll have these types as well. I am really excited to add this step and have another hand in the process!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Can't wait to free up my primary fermenter

Fermentation is slowing, haze is clearing, and the brew is nearing completion of its primary fermentation. I can't wait to get this thing into secondary, and that will hopefully happen by the end of this week. At that point, I will brew an earth-shattering, all original recipe for Belgian witbier! I am really excited about it...should be a great brew for late spring/early summer! I may even have to do another one mid summer if it goes well.

In other exciting news, I have been in touch with a fellow homebrewer in Andover who is a horticulturist by trade and grows five different kinds of hops in his garden! He has generously offered to split off his rhizomes so that I might start growing some of my own hops, so hopefully I will have some fresh buds of homegrown Cascade, Kent Goldings, Fuggles, Mt. Hood, and Willamette in my yard that I can use throughout the winter! This would make me BEYOND happy.

A shoutout to Dave and Brenda Bryan for putting me in touch, and a shoutout to Peter Konjoian for just being generally awesome!


Saturday, March 20, 2010

I may have to brew more often...

It has only been about a week since we cracked into the ESB, and one of the two cases of beer has already been drunk...we're still a couple of weeks away from the light lager and the Belgian Wit (which hasn't even been brewed yet), and this worries me a bit. It's not a huge deal, we'll just be "rationing" a bit for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I will be able to rack the Youzaho into secondary really soon, that way I can brew the witbier and have that done sooner. This is all a learning experience for me, though. Clearly, when there is good home brew to be drunk, more people want to drink beer. Thusly, I should probably brew more frequently this summer, and perhaps try to get some styles out that take less time to mature properly, and the two that I am most intrigued by are the English mild and brown ales. Both styles are brown ales that have nice flavor and delicate body and are fully ready to drink within about two weeks of being brewed (even a hair sooner than bitters). Since they use less malt (and in the case of the milds, fewer hops), they will be less expensive to brew. Furthermore, they are some of the only darker beers worth drinking in the summer, since even though they have a nice rich flavor, they tend to finish clean all around. Basically, I will likely be brewing quite often this summer, so please come by to partake of my nectar and learn the process of brewing, and PLEASE PLEASE DONATE EMPTY NON-SCREWTOP BOTTLES WITH PAPER LABELS, because the beer has to have somewhere to go!

Man does this stuff make me happy.

Brewmaster Cuttsy

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Three words: Perfect. Fermenting. Temperatures.

The garage has maintained an unbelievably constant temperature that has been wonderfully healthy for the lager. Furthermore, I officially have fridge room for the five-gallon carboy for some cold secondary fermentation (also known as "lagering"). This is definitely going to be great.

A quick shoutout to my family for putting up with all of the equipment being everywhere. Aw who am I kidding? I'm supplying them with nearly endless delicious batches of suds between now and August. Not to mention the fact that we have more than enough room for this stuff. Man, this is going to be a good summer.

-The Brewmaster

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Various updates

Hello readers! I've got some wonderfully happy updates on the following:

Mead: Wow, I caught a whiff of it the other day, and man does it seem like it will be wonderful nectar! The mead has still been bubbling away, barely slowing down since it started. It is also showing some signs of clear progress, namely some sediment in the bottom and some darkening of the color at the top. It has officially been fermenting away for two weeks, and I'm so excited to taste it in another month and a half. Hopefully it will be an instant classic, just like the NESB (New England Special Bitter, what what!). More updates to come.

Youzaho Light Lager: I'm starting to take some pride in this, especially because it's a lager and I'm trying to take some care with it so that it ferments properly. Turns out that my garage is a perfect place for lager primary fermentation, with the temperature remaining in the 50-60 range that is perfect for the Saflager S23 yeast. If this comes out well, I will definitely be trying some more lagers. It looks really nice, and is already past high Kraeusen. The best news about it is that there was a ladybug on the carboy this afternoon when I checked on it! Good luck? Yes. Luck of the Irish? Completely possible.

NESB: Man does this taste and look good. Come by for a bottle sometime! This recipe is going into the archives as a wonderful standby. Such a great first brew.

Equipment: I got a wine thief at the homebrew store last week. Makes my life so much easier! Now, taking specific gravities is as easy and dipping a thing into another thing. Yeah that's right, I went there. I also walked away with two spanking new airlocks so that I can use all of my carboys at once! Furthermore, this isn't exactly rocket science, but I am currently storing the remaining 3/4 of Hallertauer hops in a labeled mason jar, and I plan to do this any other time I need less than a full ounce of hops in a recipe. Such a great method for storage! Freshness in the fridge!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Monday, March 15, 2010

A real flavor update

Man does the ale taste good! Apart from the obvious beautiful color of the beer, the taste is wonderful. Inspired even. I can't believe this is my first beer. The taste has really blossomed since I first sampled the beer last weekend. This weekend really showed some wonderful character to the ESB, which is now proving to have a nice hoppy bitterness, the Kent Goldings giving off an earthy and mildly floral goodness. The malts provide a nice balance and make the brew super drinkable. The mouthfeel is beautiful, medium carbonation and silky light body, with of course the beautiful creamy head that I displayed in the last post. All I can say is, thank you St. Arnold!

I am totally excited about the beer, and everyone else seems to really like it, too. This beer is well-balanced and very drinkable, with tons of interest for the palate. Come by and try it, I guarantee that you've never had anything like it before!

In other news, today I sold out. My family likes light beer and requested that I brew them one, so with the help of some extra-light malt extract and some amylase enzymes, that is going to happen rather soon. I will be cold fermenting in my perpetually 50° garage and lagering, well, somewhere. Don't judge me, we're all whores. Honestly, even just throwing together another brew was really fun for me, and as soon as the Youzaho Light Lager goes into secondary, I'm going to brew my summer witbier. Very exciting. And in case anyone's interested:

2 lbs Munton's light hopped dried malt extract
1 lb Munton's extra light dried malt extract
2 lbs dried rice syrup solids
1/4 oz. Hallertauer hops, flavor, 10 min


The Brewmaster

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Looking ahead...

Even though my most recent brew is a style of beer that is quick to mature, not all beers are like this (obviously). Today, I had a huge surge of inspiration as I look ahead at my brewing prospects. I already know that I really want to have an Oktoberfest/Märzen for this fall (either to bring to school or to have for fall break/Thanksgiving) and a winter warmer stout for winter break. Am I thinking too far ahead? Hell no. These types of beer require a bit more patience, as they tend to mature into godly nectar greatness over the course of a couple of months, so I plan to brew these in the summer months and then literally not touch them until their proper season. I am currently researching prospects for my Oktoberfest, but I have already formulated a recipe for my Christmas stout. This recipe stemmed from an idea I had when I first started reading Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Homebrewing over a month ago, and I have recently planned out the brewing of said idea. First off, I am a big fan of Chocolate/Double Chocolate stouts, stouts that use bittersweet or bakers chocolate as an ingredient, in addition to chocolate malt, which is just a type of dark malted barley. Additionally, I am quite the fan of chocolate desserts etc that have chili peppers as an ingredient, as the spiciness compliments the chocolate beautifully. FURTHERMORE, Charlie Papazian is a big advocate of using hot peppers in beer, as apparently it can be really effective and delicious. Thus birthed my idea of the "Hot Chocolate" Stout, a winter warmer for the ages brewed with real cocoa and hot chilies. Hot damn, you might say. I am already unbelievably excited about it. Probably will brew it within the next month or two, then open it up after my fall exams are over and I start singing Christmas carols. So awesome.

In other news, I have developed another original recipe that I plan to brew soon (and also drink relatively soon) for a summer Belgian witbier. This one will no doubt be really delicious, and in addition to the traditional ingredients of orange zest and coriander, I plan to throw in some grapefruit zest and top it off with a sparkle of ginger, perhaps a few cloves as well. Look for this one in the summer--should be a real treat.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

First Bottle

Oh man. I got to taste my beer for the first time in its carbonated state aaaand...

It's only been in the bottle for about 5 days, but it's already showing some signs of being a wonderful brew. The malts I used in the recipe gave it not only a nice caramelly sweetness, but also a BEAUTIFUL color. This beer is the most beautiful caramelly amber EVER! The Wye Target hops proved excellent for bittering, and the Goldings have the most amazing flavor--so earthy and yet with a residual estery fruitiness with hints of juniper and light citrus (calamansis or tangerines perhaps?). It was just *slightly* hazy with an equally *slight* yeastiness to it. Not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly a characteristic of unfiltered, unpasteurized, bottle-conditioned English Bitter, but it will fade into the wallpaper along with the haze as the bottles sit for another couple of days.

The final prognosis: this beer is already great, and it is going to get even better. My lovely girlfriend, who doesn't even like beer, thought this was delicious :). It's earthy character along with its silky fruitiness will prove to be a treat for any palette as it matures these last couple of days.

Lastly, I have been neglecting the fact that this beer is LIKE NO BEER I HAVE EVER TASTED BEFORE. And why shouldn't it be? I made it here at home. It's fresh, delicious, and made mimicking the water of Burton-on-Trent, England, thus adding extra authenticity and a character that you wouldn't necessarily find in other American ales.


-The Brewmaster

P.S. I was so excited about the beer that I forgot to take a picture of my first pint of the ale. It is so beautiful, I promise to share it with the world soon :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Definitions, Jargon, etc.

Hey everyone,

On the excellent suggestion of my sister, Bethany, I have now put links to explanations for all of the jargon on this blog so that non-brewers can enjoy it just as much, and maybe even get excited about brewing themselves! Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rogue Mead?

Hey everyone! Today I became quite sure that I have caught the brew-bug. Upon the receipt of two one-gallon carboys (actually double-size growlers) in the mail, I started to get really excited about experimentation possibilities. Now, I have been rather interested in making mead, but I didn't want to take the huge risk of brewing a big batch of it and having it be terrible. I noticed, though, that on there was a recipe for a one-gallon mead that basically defies all traditional brewing practices and is made with all household ingredients with pretty much no pasteurization. And BREAD YEAST, not ale, lager or champagne yeast. Sure enough, I had all the necessary ingredients in the house already! Hopefully, in about two months I will have a delicious, spiced orange mead made with a crazy, super easy procedure :). If it's good, I'll probably make it again, but I'll also try my hand in some "real" mead. Come find me to try this stuff in early May, hopefully with some great, more refined stuff come July.

Raise your vessels like in ancient times!

-Your Brewbug-infected Brewmaster

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Brew is Bottled

I read a consistent FG reading today and I was super psyched to see that the beer was indeed done fermenting. This led to bottling exciting! Bottling is, in some ways, more enjoyable (and less messy) than wort boiling. My bottle filler is such a neat gadget, and my capper is so nifty and satisfying to use! Now I have about 2 cases of wonderful English Special Bitter aging and carbonating in a nice, dark closet 'til I open them up for tasting! I have gotten over the nervous hump of waiting for the beer to finish fermenting and now I'm just really excited to taste the brew. I will definitely be trying a bottle in a week, with perhaps a release party the following weekend, so stay tuned :)


The Brewmaster