Friday, November 27, 2009

Of beer and blogging

Finally, I am back to a blog entry after far too long an absence. I am finding that Twitter consumes my ideas on a far quicker basis and leaves me not wishing to type at the end of the day. I would write that I resolve to do better, but I know such a declaration will not be long met. I will strive to do better though.

As I sit in my kitchen awaiting the boil, I am reminded that the last time I made this beer, I blogged during the boil, though it was a bit into it before I started. This is a recipe I've made before, though I am trying to make only one change. Until such time as my regular tasters have had their guess, I will not reveal here what I have made. It is enough, perhaps too much, to state that it is a crowd favorite and one long overdue for a revisit.

The one change, however, is something I do care to discuss. When I racked the Black Abbey to secondary, I took some of the yeast dregs and placed them in a sanitized mason jar. This was placed into the fridge awaiting a vessel to house a starter. I have never used a yeast starter, so I consulted multiple sources before pursuing. I would like to thank @derekclayton for allowing me to use his half-gallon growler. We had met at @rockbottomcincy to try their beers, but he was not able to get them to fill his growler with their Barley wine. All was not a total loss though was we were able to speak to their header brewer Mitch for a good length of time.

Boil nearly ready to start.

The hops scheduled to go the full 75 minute boil are in a bag that I hope is large enough. Paradise did not have any of the smaller hop bags, so I cut larger one that I tend to use for grains into three sections. Time will tell how well this will work.

Boil has started and so has timer. Hot break starting to form on the top. I will start scooping it out soon. The next hops do not go in for about 35 minutes. I have noticed that I get more foam when using grains from Paradise. I am beginning to wonder if they are perhaps cracking the grains too well and I'm getting more grain dust than I do when I crack the grains at Listermann's. One of these days, I'll get my own grain mill and have no one to blame save myself.

One of my nephews spent the night and today he and my son wanted some of the Root Beer we made several months ago with their lunch. When we made it, somewhere we goofed and the bottles do not tend to have carbonation (natural, of course). The bottle my son had, however, did have fizz. Hey, made it does work??!?! We will have to try some again later.

I am still in extract mode, though I am getting closer to at least trying a partial mash. Currently, I do not have a large enough pot in which to boil 6 gallons of water down to 5.5. I am wondering if perhaps I use 6-7 pounds of malt to get 3-3.5 gallons of water if that will be partial enough. I have begun the practice of boiling the fill water before pitching. I know that is not the same, but at least the water is boiled of its city water chemicals.

The first hop bag is floating well. It is 25 minutes till the next ounce.

Now more about the change. Technically, there are a few others, though they should have limited affect on the outcome. One being that the extract is different, though about the same SRM, but it is not made from a different grain. Another is that the alphas of the hops do not match. Again, I am not too bothered by that. One of these days though, I will need to decide on the IBU and adjust my hops and boils accordingly. The most significant difference is the yeast. Instead of an American ale yeast like last time, this one will have the White Labs WLP570. This will give a Belgian twist and it should be interesting.

I have some cleanup to do and the fill water needs to get boiled. Tomorrow will be a busy day with bottling the Black Abbey and I am sure my wife will want to start decorating the Christmas tree. I don't tend to get into the right mood for such until about the 20th of December, so I just smile and help.

Until then.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Belgian Barley Mead

My latest hair-brained idea of a recipe. I want to make this next, if I can keep the wort warm enough to ferment at 70-75F.


5# light/amber malt extract
4# buckwheat honey
1# Crystal 80L
1.5# Munich
.25# Carafa III
.5# Chocolate Malt
2oz Warrior or Simcoe hops (maybe 1 each??) 60 min
1oz Simcoe (1/3 @ 30, 1/3 @ 15, 1/3 @ off)
1oz Sterling (½ @ 10, ½ @ off)
1 tsp. Gypsum
1 tsp. Irish moss (15 min)
Belgian Strong ale yeast


Put 2 gallons of water and Gypsum in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to 170F. Add grains and steep grains at 155F for 20 minutes. Remove grains, add extract and bring to boil. Hops as scheduled.

For honey, bring 1 quart of water to a boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Cover and let set at least 20 minutes. Add to boil at heat off.

Cool to 70F, rack, fill to 5.5 gallons and pitch yeast. Would be best with a big starter. After 2 weeks, rack to secondary for at least 2 more.

For a twist, secondary for at least 4 weeks over 1 pound of medium oak chips.