Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Hasty Brown

Michelle and I meant to brew together on Sunday, but because of a shopping error, the batch got pushed back until today. I mashed in around 10am again, which was pretty pleasing considering Ella has been running around and trying to help with the hot water. Shortly after mash in, she, Barley and I went for a walk in the brisk 30F but sunny weather.

Since Michelle was going to help brew, I let her pick the style and I put together a quick recipe; thus the name Hasty Brown.

Grain

  • 10 lbs (not 2lbs) domestic 2-row
  • 1.25 lbs Crytal 80L
  • 0.5 lbs domestic chocolate

Hops

  • 1 oz Glacier (5% alpha) @ 60 min
  • 1 oz Glacier (5% alpha) @ 10 min

Here’s a link to the full recipe in qbrew format. Hasty Brown

Instant Starter

I think I may have reached my pinnacle for home brewing innovation. Well, not really, but I had a great idea so simple and obvious, I thought I’d share it. It has to do with yeast starters. Instant yeast starters. We all know having a good yeast starter is the first step to making a great beer. And sometimes, you just want to quickly pitch a starter and get back to your Friday night. My standard yeast pitching method involves pitching 1 cup of DME with a pinch of yeast nutrient into a 1 liter beaker. I break out the nappy bag of DME that’s sticky from steam and humidity, pour a cup, and try to then get the DME in to the flask through a funnel without spilling or stopping the funnel. One of the two always happens.

My new method, as of tonight, is to buy a bag of DME, pre-measure in to ziploc bags with a pinch of yeast nutrient, then pack away in a safe container. Then, when it’s time to make a starter, just cut the bottom corner off a baggie and pour it into the flask. Add water, bring to a boil, cool, and pitch.

Instant Starter Easy Pour

I feel a little bad about all the additional baggies, but it’s really freakin’ slick. And its still less material than a pitchable yeast pack and like 4 bucks cheaper.

2008's hop inventory

Thanks to my “connections”, I’m now stocked up on hops for the year and beyond. I’m about to vacuum seal, but the varieties are somewhat astounding and most of which I’ve never used before save for Nugget, Amarillo, Palisades and Santiam. Naturally, I’m quite excited to be stocked in a year of otherwise limited selection and high prices, but there are two specific varieties that I’m itching to get into a beer.

1 pound hop cube

Amarillo is one of my favorites, and I’m going to have to brew another Amarillo Red. The meaty citrus flavor is just wonderful and filling in all the right ways for a hop-lover’s palate. Summit, a new variety, was highlighted in one of my favorite beers of 2007: Widmer’s W’ 07 pale ale. Right now I’m trying to get some tips for recreating the robust pale.

Some of the varieties I need to do my homework on because I’m not sure what they “do” yet. I’ll probalby have to enlist some help and do some fancy batch-splitting to try out the hops in identical smaller batches.

Anyway, here’s the rundown:

Domestic

  • Amarillo (~ 10% alpha)
  • Apollo (~ 20% alpha)
  • Bravo (~ 15% alpha)
  • Glacier (~ 5% alpha)
  • Nugget (~ 13% alpha)
  • Palisades (~ 8% alpha)
  • Santiam (4.8 % alpha)
  • Summit (~18% alpha)

New Zealand

Vacuum-sealing is fun, but takes some time. I usually end up cutting the bricks with one of my wife’s nicest knives, but towards the end, it was having some serious problems cutting. One look at the blade and it was clear why: The blade was thick with hop resin.

Hop Resin Blade

Beer on your cereal

PETA is re-running their Got Beer campaign again now that Harvard has released findings similar to their original campaign that beer is a healthier drink thank milk. The intent is to highlight reasons not to drink milk rather than to drink beer, but its a very targeted campaign. Says the campaign:

“The scientific evidence is conclusive: Beer in moderation is good for you, while even one glass of milk supports animal abuse and harms your health,” says PETA’s Director of Vegan Outreach Bruce Friedrich. “You can drink beer responsibly, but the same can’t be said of milk.”

Evidently PETA is not yet concerned with the bajillions of yeast cells that died for your beer. Yet.

Toasty

Yesterday I racked the amber to secondary, where it was greeted by a pile of toasted oak chips that had been soaking in bourbon for a week. The smell of the chips alone, while delightful in its own right, was a bit strong. Hopefully 5 gallons of beer sitting on top of them for two weeks will impart a nice toasted bourbon barrel flavor without the knockout volatility of the chips alone.

Toasted Oak Chips