Saturday, December 31, 2011

Newly Bottled Irish Stout

Here is a couple 1/2 gallon growlers

of my fresh new Irish stout that just finished fermenting. I must say, it is beautiful! It is very dark and any foam it has is a great mocha beige like color. Now, I just need to let it sit for about a week and then I will get to taste it. I will let you know how that goes :)

Mr. Beer Kit Irish Stout Bottling

Well, I am about ready to bottle my 5th Mr. Beer brew which is their Irish Stout. My take on the whole Mr. Beer is mixed. I don't think my water and their kits get along too well. My first brew I has used bottled water and it was a very great tasting beer with a great aroma. then. the next three I used my tap water and they all had a very similar aroma and had a honey flavor. The kits themselves are very easy to use and there is a pretty good variety. I feel that you can experiment with mixing their malts, hops, etc to tailor your beer to a certain extent. I really do not wanna make 5 gallons of beer at a time since I want to experiment and try different things. As far as the fermenter goes, I don't know if all of the spigots are like mine but IT SUX! It comes out so slow that it literally takes a couple minutes to fill a 1/2 gallon growler. I know that you want the least amount of air possible in your beer as you are bottling but come on, really? I have (2) 2 gallon food grade buckets with lids that I am going to start using and I may retire the little Mr. Beer keg but I will probably continue to experiment with their kits because the 2 gallon size is very handy for an aspiring brew master. I will post photos of the growlers once I get them filled. I know, I am lazy using 4 growlers instead of a bunch of bottles, but it just works for me. I prime and condition in them and they have worked great, so far :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Beer Advocate

So I have been checking out the Beer Advocate site and there is a wealth of info, for sure. What I can't help but try to mentally disregard is the beer reviews. If you look up a bottled beer that you truly enjoy I can just about promise you that you will find reviews bad mouthing that beer. When I personally read these reviews I can't help but think " What the hell do you know?" I mean, can I tell you that the beer you love and crave sux without you being offended? It offends me, dang it! I was talking to a guy at a bar one night and he was a " beer advocate" review type. We started talking about the fresh brewed breakfast stout up the street, which is my favorite, and he had the nerve to say that it was the worst beer he had ever tasted. I stop and look, I am drinking a schlafly draft of some sort and he is drinking Pabst! I am like, you are judging brew and yet you sit and drink from the top 3? The guy was wearing me out! I can't help but wonder what he feels is a good stout. A bud light with a cup of starbucks poured in? Craft beer is in the eye of the beholder, but if you are a stout fan then there are varying degrees. Same as with Porters, IPAs, Pale Ales, etc. This is just my take and maybe I am off base but I couldn't help but feel that I had a wine tasting wanna be craft beer drinker on my hands!!!!! :)

What is Craft Beer?

I am searching for the actual definition of craft beer and the opinion varies so much. All that I can give is what I feel it to mean. It is a beer that acquires a local, and sometimes not so local, following that doesn't have the taste, look or feel of a mass produced beer. A lot of times they have a quirky name and packaging, they have something that screams " You ain't gonna find me in your typical convenience store beer cooler" and usually has a taste that needs to be acquired. I remember the first time I tasted a fresh brewed stout carrying the name " Breakfast stout" I was thinking to myself, "How would a fella drink enough of something that tasted like that to get a buzz?" Now, when I am trying new brews, I have to force myself to try anything but a stout or porter because I love the taste that much! I would love any true beer connoisseur to chime in and let me know his take on what a true craft beer is. God bless and CHEERS! :)

Dundee Seasonal Craft Pack

I feel like this is a pretty good deal.Yep, that is my gallon of milk next to it in the photo. :) I have a local grocery store that has a great offering of craft beer and I like to try something different every time. This 12 pack is the exception. I have bought this dude twice, and since it is seasonal, I will probably get it at least one more time. As you can see from the photo, it offers a great lineup as far as variety, and all of their beers taste good. This porter as about as good as any bottled I have tasted so far. The IPA has a great bitterness and bite, the nut brown ale has a soft earthy nut taste and the English style ale goes down real smooth.English style ale being my least favorite of the line up because I like a lot of flavor. All in all, you can't go wrong with this 12 so if you see it on the shelf go ahead and bring it home!

Iodine as a Sanitizer

I have been using sanitizers that have come with the beer kits I use up to this point. I was talking to the local brew master one day and sanitizing came up. I told him what I had been using and asked him what he thought of the no rinse sanitizers. He told me to hold up and he disappeared for a minute. He came back with a little flip top bottle and handed it to me. He told me this is all he uses for all of his sanitizing needs. He cleans his lines, equipment, gauge adapters, etc. with......IODINE! He told me there is no need to rinse it if you can't see it or smell it. But if you can, a little bit of rinsing with clean water will do the trick. I also make wine and have used iodine for sanitizing after fermentation but I don't think that wine is anywhere near as temperamental as beer. I am going to do the research and also experiment a bit but if anyone has a thumbs up or don't you dare on this, I would love to hear it!

Thats What I am Talking About!

I don't wanna get my efforts confused with the more proficient home brewers. I am looking for folks that like to make their own equipment, experiment, get stuff from the grocery store that will give ya a buzz in less than a month, etc. I mean "HOME" brew. I have yet to buy the big cut with a primary fermenter, secondary fermenter, wands, hoses, bottling equipment etc. Not to say I wont, cause I will. But at this stage I am making fruit juice wine, carbonating my home brew with a c02 powered tire inflater and a 2 liter bottle with a valve stem in the cap. I have 2 gallon pickle jugs to ferment in, etc. I think all of that " I wonder how this can help me make beer and wine?" thing, ya know? I know there is more like me out there. I know you have a couple tricks up your sleeve, right? I will share my experiments thus far and in return I am looking for insight on common supplies and tools for beer/wine making that I may have over looked. I really do wanna take my beer to the next level but part of me looks back at the historical original beer makers and I can't help but think " Hey, you aren't using star san and your airlock carved of wood just isn't' gonna cut it!" If you feel what I am saying just let me know. :) I am looking for more info on my blog so POST, POST POST! Bottled craft beer, beer gone wrong, could have should have, I made this from.... Can you help me out?

Making Yeast From Fruit

I am currently trying to start my own yeast from just raisins and spring water. It seems to be working but I have no idea how much to use or how aggressive this strain will be. My current setup is a box of raisins in enough spring water to submerge them. I have this mixture in a 2 liter bottle that has a homemade cap with a valve stem in the middle that I have used to carbonate my concoctions. (I will let you in on the carbonation hows and whys if you're interested) As the raisins ferment they create pressure so I press my thumbnail down on the valve stem to release the pressure once or twice a day. It took a couple days for anything to happen but now, after about 5 days or so, the raisins have a sort of "fizz" to them and I am waiting for that to stop and my mixture to lay inactive to let me know that it is complete. Like I said, this is an experiment so I am kinda shooting from the hip on this one. I have been able to find very few resources on starting a natural yeast strain so I gotta put on my scientific lab coat and do some experimenting. I will let you know how it turns out as my first experiment after the fizzing stops (if it does) is to separate it into 4 different containers and I am going to try to add one of the four to straight apple juice to make a sort of hard cider. Stay tuned and I will let ya know how it goes.

My Simple White Wine Recipe

I have made this wine several times and it always turns out very nice. It is a dry, tart not so sweet wine and I would say that it is more than drinkable. :) This recipe is for 1/2 gallon so you can adjust accordingly.

1 pack frozen concentrated apple juice
1/2 pack of quick rise bread yeast
1 cup sugar
1 balloon
1 1/2 gallon container (Glass is good)
1 small box of raisins
1 funnel ( or a steady hand)

The first thing you need to do is add your raisins, sugar and concentrate to your container. This is where the funnel starts to come in handy. once you have added these, then you will want to fill it up the rest of the way with luke warm water but leave an inch or two of room at the top of the container. Shake or stir well until these ingredients are thoroughly mixed. once you have done all of this then you can add your half a pack of quick bread yeast. You are wanting the over all temperature of your liquid to be around 65-70 degrees to accommodate the yeast. You can mix the yeast in if you want, but even if you just let it float it will still do its thing. Now take your balloon and poke a hole in it with a needle or something sharp. Then you will need to stretch the opening of the balloon over the container you are using for making your wine. Now, just set it off somewhere where it wont be disturbed like a closet or under the sink and let nature take its coarse. In case you are wondering about the balloon, yeast makes alcohol by eating the sugar and creating 2 types of by products.(waste) One is carbon dioxide which is what you don't want so as the pressure builds in your container the hole in the balloon will allow the gas to escape. The other by product is, yep you guessed it, alcohol. The trick is to let the carbon dioxide out without letting oxygen in and lucky for us the balloon with a hole in it does this perfectly! Within a few hours your limp lifeless balloon will be standing at attention and full of gases that are coming from your home brew. It will stay this way the whole time the yeast is working but once the fermentation process is complete the balloon will deflate and fall over. At this point I like to pour my concoction through a coffee filter and leave as much sludge at the bottom as you can. Now, it is drinkable at this point but if you let it set for about another week with a lid on at room temperature most of the haze will be gone and it will have a cleaner taste. This isn't rocket science so give it a try. If you finish your home brew and are not happy with it, make some changes! Add some cinnamon, less yeast, more yeast, less sugar, more sugar, etc. That is the fun part, fine tuning your brew. I hope this helps you get to brewing and please let me know what your results are. I would live to know how it goes! :)

The Joy of Home Brewing

I have created this blog to share my hobby and passion of home brewing. I have been making "fast wine" and beer from beer kits for a few months now and the more I make the more I wanna learn. I say "fast wine" because I don't go to the extent of fermenting fruit, aging, using nutrients, and blah blah blah. My wine is ready in about 21 days and as far as taste, I am pretty happy with it. Now this is not to say that my wine making will not evolve into more traditional methods but for the time being I am still experimenting with readily available ingredients.(Yep, from the local grocery store) I was completely unfamiliar with the whole craft beer movement but once I acquired a taste for the beer and a curiosity of the making of it, the rest was history. My favorite to drink are porters and stouts but I am constantly trying different styles, brands, etc. I currently have a batch of Irish stout brewing, an all natural yeast in the mix and also have some red wine fermenting. Like I said, the more I make, the more I wanna learn. If you have any interest in home brewing then please take the time to follow this blog and by all means throw in your 2 cents. I plan to make videos, include recipes, share any discoveries, divulge my failures, and make a few friends along the way. Cheers!