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The Salt Beer

Thick, white head forms as the glass fills.   It holds promise, this beautiful beer.

An experiment.

A new recipe, taken from the latest Brew magazine.

It is not often that I venture from my safe, plain book.  One recipe book has dominated my brewing career.  No more.  A friend from work got me a subscription to a new magazine full of fun, exciting things to try.

It is not often that I brew something as awful as this.

A sour undertone dominates the flavor, followed by hardly the slightest hint of hops.

This is fine, if not for the overpowering aftertaste of…

Salt.

Yeah, the recipe sought to imitate a beer brewed in a region of Germany where most of the water was slightly salty.  The recipe does this by adding — you guessed it — salt.

Not very much salt.  Very little, in fact.

Very little, but at the same time, way too much.

After the first awful taste, the flavor tends to mellow out.  I still drink it, and I still enjoy it.

Unfortunately, the overall effect is a beer that is heavy, filling, and not at all thirst-quenching.  It is exactly the opposite of what I’d like to be drinking during these warm summer months.

Thus, my kegerator will be dominated by this beer for quite some time.

It is, then, time to break out the bottling equipment again.

The beer fermenting in my basement now contains plenty of hops, malts, and grains…  and no salt.

I look forward to it.

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The Continued Refinement of Wheat

My last three beers have been wheat beers.  I started with something simple, and I continue to add complexity and flavor.

So far they’ve all been good.

Here is the latest, brewing silently in my basement.  It should be ready to drink in another couple weeks.  I look forward to it.

Bring 3 gallons of water to 160F or so and add:

1 lb German Wheat Malt
1 lb Torrified Wheat Malt

Let that sit at 150F for 90 minutes.  Then take them out and bring it to a boil.  Once it boils, take it off of the heat and add:

5 lb 22 oz Wheat Dry Malt Extract
1 oz Hallertau Hersbrucker (4.5 HBU)

Boil for 45 minutes, then add:

1 oz Sweet Orange Peel
1/2 oz Corriander

Boil 10 more minutes, then add:

1/2 oz Perle

I cool the wort using my new wicked-sweet wort cooler and put it in a primary fermenter.  Add water to bring to just over 5 gallons.

Add:

Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen

The last iteration used bitter orange peel and no coriander.  I honestly don’t remember much else about it.  I wish I had written it down, because it was pretty good.

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Kolsch

Before brewing this beer I must admit that I had never heard the word Kolsch.  I still don’t really know what it means.

But it is a good beer.

The local brew store had a sale.   They wanted to get rid of their Brewers Best kits in order to make room for the new, improved Brewers Best kits.

By the time I got there only three kits remained.  Kolsch was by far the most interesting.

Now that it is finally in the kegerator I have to say I made a pretty good choice.  It’s smooth, hardly bitter, and really pretty tasty.  The small amount of wheat in the recipe intrigues me, but I can’t honestly say that I can taste it.

The white, fluffy head might be a little too much, but I think that’ll be better now that I’ve turned down the flow of CO2.  I can hardly blame the kit on that.

The advantage of the kit is its simplicity, since the cost is roughly the same.  Everything is laid out ready to go, and brewing becomes a fairly simple formula.  Really, the only time it saves is during shopping.  Instead of choosing and grinding a couple pounds of grain I just popped open a bag and dumped it in.

I may end up trying more of these kits in the future.  It is definitely a good option when time is limited and no brews are brewing.

Like now, for instance.

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Root Beer

The keg is empty and nothing is brewing.  This means it’s time for root beer.

I had a helper this time.  Isaac agreed to help me mix the syrup, clean the keg, and fill it up.

I also let him help decide what to put in it.

The process is this:   I come up with a list of things that I think might taste good in root beer.  I then, in sequence, ask him for confirmation on each ingredient.

“Cinnamon?”

“Yup.”

“Sugar?”

“Yup.”

So long as he always answers in the affirmative everything should turn out pretty good.

Here is what we came up with this time around:

1 oz Birch Root Extract

3 oz Root Beer Extract

2 lb 9 oz Sugar

“Some” Cinnamon ( we didn’t have sticks, so we used powder)

“Some” Cardamom Seeds

“A lot of” Cloves

1/2 cup Dark Molasses

1/2 cup Honey

1 Gallon Water

Boil the whole lot of it for a while to get all of the flavor out of the hard bits.  Then, let it sit until it cools down.  Mix it with a lot of water in a keg until it reaches 5 gallons.

Carbonate and enjoy.

It actually turned out pretty good.  I think the cinnamon flavor is a little strong, and Carol thinks the root beeryness of it is too much.

We’ll see if Isaac lets me put in more sugar next time.

I’m guessing he probably will.

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Beverage Related News

Wheat beer has always been one of my favorites.  Add some ginger, and you’ve got a pretty good beer.  It’s smooth, easy to drink, and, well, tastes a little bit like ginger.

I would call that a success.

Shakemantle Ginger Ale was a little less traditional than I am used to, but in this case it seems to have paid off.  I can honestly say that this was one of my favorites.

—————-

Usher’s Ruby Ale

The tragedy of recent times has been that the Ginger Ale has been finished and there has been nothing in the works.  This changed Friday.  Finally, I picked up my brewpot again and filled it with bitter, bitter goodness.

This time the goodness comes in the form of a strong, red ale.  The alcohol in this batch is a bit stronger than some of my previous beers, so I think it will be good that this will be the first beer to enjoy kegerator distribution method.

1.5 lb British 2-row Pale Malt
1 lb 60L Crystal Malt
8 oz Vienna Malt
1.5 oz British Black Patent Malt

Place in a gallon of 150 F water, steep for 90 minutes. Sparge with 1 gallon of hot water, then remove the grains.

Bring the water to a boil, then add:

6.5 lb Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
8 oz Malto Dextrin
2 oz Fuggles (9 HBU)

Add water to bring up to 2.5 gallongs.  Boil for 45 minutes

1 oz Kent Goldings
1 tsp Irish Moss

Boil for 14 minutes

1/2 oz Kent Goldings

Boil 1 minute.

Place in primary fermentor and add water to raise level to 5 1/8 gallons.

—————-

Months of preparation and many dollars worth of equipment have finally paid off.

The kegerator lives.

Once all of the pieces were collected the actual construction was pretty simple.  Tubes hooked up to kegs, CO2, and spouts.

Yet, not everything is perfect.

Currently the keg sits full of home made root beer.  It’s going to be good, I can tell.  I mixed it this morning, and tasted a bit of the uncarbonated product.

Unfortunately part of it is now frozen in one of those tubes.  The refrigerator I converted has a freezer compartment which really, really wants to freeze something.

The solution is easy.  I just need to order one more piece of the puzzle.  I need a device which independently controls the temperature of the fridge.  This is easily available, but more than I want to spend at just this moment.

——————

Homemade Root Beer

This is the recipe I mixed up this morning.  It’s a slight variation on one found randomly on my favorite Internets.

1 oz Birch Root Beer Extract
3 oz Root Beer Extract
1/3 lb Honey
1/3 lb Molasses
1/3 cup Maple Syrup
5 cups sugar

Mix them all in a couple gallons of water, stir to make sure they are all dissolved.  Put it all in the keg, and add more water to fill the keg.  Carbonate and drink.

Depending on how this one really turns out I may be attempting some variations.  I mean, who doesn’t think that root beer has always needed more ginger?

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Gritty McDuff

It is that time again.  Beer stockpiles have dropped low enough that action had to be taken.  The Firehouse Amber Ale was great, but now it is almost gone.  Both the Belgian Tripel and my barleywine still exist in large enough quantities, but both just seem a little heavy to be drinking this time of year.  The mead is also in good supply, but, well, that’s mead not beer.  I am wanting for more beer.

That is where Gritty McDuff comes in.  The beer that I started a week ago Sunday is called Gritty McDuff’s Best Brown Ale.  It looks like a good one.  Really, how could I argue with someone named Gritty McDuff?

I followed the mini-mash method with this beer.  That means instead of lots of malt extract I used lots of grain and a little malt extract.  I think it worked better this time.  Instead of keeping the mash on the stove I put it in the oven.  Since the oven does not actually have a setting for 150 degrees, I heated it to 170 then turned it off.  The mash was already at 150 which allowed it to stay pretty much at the right temperature for the assigned 90 minutes.  For reasons I don’t understand grains will produce the right sugars if kept within a couple degrees of 150.  More than that destroys the enzymes, less than that doesn’t kick off the right chemical reaction.

Here is the recipe that I followed.  This was actually very close to the one in the book, with only a couple small exceptions.  My end result may actually approximate the Best Brown Ale of Gritty McDuff legend.

2.25 lb. Brittish 2-row Pale Malt
6 oz US 60 L Crystal Malt
4 oz Belgian Cara-Munich Malt
3 oz US Chocolate Malt

4 lb. M&F Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
6 oz Malto Dextrin
1 oz. Northern Brewer (6.9 HBU)

1/2 oz Willamette (flavor hop)
1/4 oz  East Kent Goldings (flavor hop)
1 tsp Irish Moss

1/2 oz Willamettte (aroma hop)
1/4 oz East Kent Goldings (aroma hop)

Wyeast 1098 British Ale

1 1/4 cup Extra Light Dry Malt Extract

This creation should be ready to drink in another six weeks.  Tomorrow I will transfer to the secondary fermenter.  Three weeks after that I will bottle it.  The potenial alcohol reading before fermentation was 5.1.

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The Best Beer I’ve Ever Brewed

That’s right, after mowing the lawn it was decided by a power much greater than my self that it is time to partake in the first batch of Eichenlager. I have to say, I’m very pleased with the results. The brew is flavorful and smooth, but not terribly heavy. It doesn’t have the bitter beeryness that many beers have. Overall I’d have to rank this right up there with my top ten beers of all time. It’s too bad there is a limited supply.

This beer was pretty much your standard European style lager. It also happens to be the beer that one makes after purchasing a home brew kit from Von Klopp’s Brew Shop.

Here are my notes:

Ingredients:
1 can Laaglander Dutch Light Lager liquid malt extract
2 1# bags Munton’s extra light dry malt extract (DME)
1 7-gram packet Irish Moss
1 7-gram packet dry yeast (comes with the can of liquid malt extract)

Notes:
I used tap water for this batch. I don’t notice any problem with the flavor, but in the future I would like to use bottled water from the grocery store. That will let me cool down the extra water before mixing with the boiling wort. This means less time waiting for the mixture to reach 90 degrees, and therefore a smaller chance of contamination. (it has to be 90 degrees before you add the yeast or your yeast dies a horrible death)