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Topics - erockrph

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All Things Food / Lambic for pickle making?
« on: July 23, 2013, 04:52:49 AM »
So, here's my dilemma. I already have more cucumbers than I can eat coming out of my garden, and I only have 1 out of my 6 plants setting fruit right now. The obvious solution to this problem is to make pickles. Here's the thing - I hate vinegar and I've never really liked pickles. So, my thought was to use another type of acid to brine my cukes.

The first thought that jumped to mind was to use lambic instead of vinegar. Obviously this would be ridiculously expensive for now since I don't have any sour beers online in the home brewery as of yet. But I'd be willing to shell out 8-10 bucks or so for a test batch. Any experienced pickle makers care to weigh in on this idea? I'm planning on doing this as a fridge pickle, so long-term storage isn't as much of a concern. I was thinking a combo of sweet/spicy/funky - something like ginger, brown sugar and chile peppers plus a less-expensive gueuze (Girardin, Oud Beersel, Boon, etc.).

Does this sound doable? Would it be even remotely palatable? Any guesstimates on the proportion of gueuze to water?

Beer Recipes / English Pale Ale
« on: July 19, 2013, 08:02:01 AM »
So I'm looking for a good all-grain English Pale Ale recipe, or at least some tips to help build my own. I'm looking for something closer to Bass Ale than a Fuller's ESB. I saw an old Bass clone recipe from BYO, but when I see Flaked Maize in an English Ale recipe it makes me suspicious. Even if that is a true clone, that's not the direction I want to go with my own recipe.

I'm looking for a dry pale ale recipe to showcase some UK hops. I know Bass isn't super hoppy, but I think that is a good ballpark to get started with. Some specific questions I had:

Base malt - Some sort of English Pale Ale malt - Anyone have any preferences between MO, Optic or any other pale ale malt?

Crystal - I want a little bit of English crystal character, but not as much as a Fullers-style ESB. I'm thinking about 5% of an 80L English Dark Crystal.

Victory/Biscuit - This says "English ale" to my palate. I'm thinking 6oz for a 3 gallon batch.

Roast Barley - one thing I do agree with the BYO clone recipe on is a touch of roastiness. I'm thinking of 1-2 oz of 300L Roast Barley added late in the mash.

Yeast - Any strong preferences to a particular strain? Leaning towards WLP007, but S-04, WLP002 and WLP023 come to mind also. Any other options I should consider?

Hops - Whatever UK hop styles I have on hand, mainly late additions. First up will be Challenger + Phoenix. I may pick up a third variety to add along, but I want to stay away from the typical EKG and/or Fuggles for the first round.

As always, thanks in advance. I'm looking forward to everyone's ideas and experiences with this style.

Ingredients / Hops Direct Summer Sale
« on: July 03, 2013, 12:59:42 PM »
Just started. They have a pretty good selection, including 2013 Galaxy leaf and pellets as well as some organic imports if that's your style.. Just picked up some Galaxy, plus some Challenger and Phoenix.

Ingredients / Light vs Black Roasted Barley
« on: June 28, 2013, 11:00:55 AM »
So I was just placing an order online with Midwest and saw that they carry Briess Light (300L) Roasted Barley. It sounded interesting, so I ordered a pound. Is anyone familiar with this product? How does it compare with a more traditional (500+ L) Roasted Barley? What type of recipes would you use it in?

Ingredients / Single hopped beers - taking requests
« on: June 21, 2013, 09:30:51 AM »
I'm getting ready to brew another round of small-batch, single-hopped brews. (See this post for the results of my first round last year: ) I have a bunch of hops in the freezer that I want to trial, but I won't have time to get to them all in this run. The varieties listed below are definitely in. I'm thinking I should be able to get at least 7 or 8 batches in, so I thought I'd let everyone here vote on what varieties you'd like to see some tasting notes on.

After I finish the definites below I'll start brewing using whatever gets the most votes here. I'll post my detailed tasting notes once the beers are ready.

Definitely in:
El Dorado

Yeast and Fermentation / First sour - planning stage
« on: June 17, 2013, 08:18:05 AM »
With my recent acquisition of several bottles of Red Poppy, I'm finally ready to make the jump into brewing sour beer. I've decided to start planning for gueuze-blending right off the bat. I'm hoping some of the more experienced sour brewers can weigh in on what I'm planning and let me know if anything sounds like it won't work.

I've already chosen the dregs I want to build my house blend from (Gueuze Girardin, Gueuze Fond Tradition and Red Poppy). My plan is to brew 4 gallons of 1.045ish wort using 60% Pils and 40% torrified wheat, mashed really high (162-164 range). I'm thinking of using US-05 for my primary yeast unless someone has a convincing reason otherwise. Then, starting on brew night I'll be drinking the bottles I want the dregs from and pitching the dregs. I'm planning on using two bottles from each, so by the 6th night all the dregs will be in primary.

I was thinking of leaving it in primary for a few weeks to a month to give the dregs time to grow and start doing their thing, then racking to 4 separate 1-gallon jugs for long-term aging. The first year I plan on bottling 2 gallons, brewing 3 more gallons and pitching the dregs into that. Year 2 I'll bottle a blend of year 1 and year 2's brew's and for Year 3 I'll be able to get my gueuze on.

So, does this sound like it should work out OK? And how vital is oak in this process? I'm on the fence about whether I want to add some oak chips that have been boiled in a couple changes of water to mellow them out a bit. Any other insight is always appreciated. Thanks!

Ingredients / Juniper Berries
« on: June 11, 2013, 09:03:07 AM »
Anyone here have experience brewing with juniper berries? Some of my juniper bushes are covered with light blue berries right now. I crushed one open and got an instant craving for a Bombay Sapphire Martini. I'm not generally a fan exotic flavorings or spices in my beer, but I do like cooking and brewing with ingredients I've grown myself.

Any tips on how to use the berries, and when to harvest them? Right now the berries are pretty small and green, and they're covered with a waxy coating the consistency of cake frosting or a honey-glazed donut. As the season goes on the berries get darker and drier and the coating gets stickier (more the consistancy of pine resin). What I want is that fresh gin aroma, and I'm getting a lot of it right now, so I;m thinking of harvesting now before the berries start to dry out.

I probably won't be able to brew for another month or two, so I'm thinking of vacuum packing them and storing in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. Drying is the other option I was thinking of, but then I might as well just leave them on the bush for a while longer, right?

For the beer, I'm thinking a Saison with lemon zest and Centennial to go for that juniper-lemon-floral thing that I get from Bombay Sapphire.

So, enough rambling for now. If anyone's got any input I'd love to hear it.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Foolproof Brewery La Ferme Urbaine
« on: May 30, 2013, 09:03:27 PM »
We have a new brewery that just started up in my area, and I'm just getting my hands on some of their brew right now. I'm really impressed by their Saison, and thought I'd spread the love here.

It is a brilliantly clear, deep gold. There's a hint of orange in the color that has me wondering if there's some CaraMunich or something similar in here as well. The ester profile really reminds me of 3711 - some banana on the nose, but the palate is mostly spice with that banana ester way in the background. Once the spice fades, there is a nice malt complexity behind it. There is a nice noble hop presence as well, but the spiciness and malt complexity are what steal the show for me. Mouthfeel is dry and drinkable without being thin.

This brew has everything that I like about Saisons working for it. If you're in the Mass/RI area show Foolproof Brewing some love. If the rest of their beers are anything like this I want them to stick around.

Equipment and Software / Troubleshooting my ColorpHast technique
« on: May 25, 2013, 05:19:03 AM »
Ever since I started brewing All-Grain I was only using calculators (either BrunWater and/or Kai's calculator on Brewer's Friend) to determine my water adjustments and never measured pH. The only beer that has had a water issue was my first porter, which was too acidic. I used a higher mash pH for a rebrew (again - based solely on what the calculators were telling me), and nailed it. Every other beer seems to be doing exactly what I want it to do from a pH standpoint.

I recently picked up some colorpHast strips and started using them a few batches ago to check my mash pH. I'm not trying to diagnose any problems (I don't feel like I have any right now), but I just want a quality control check. I shoot for pH in the 5.3-5.4 range for most of my brews, but I have been getting readings between 4.8-5.1. I know the colorpHast strips read a bit low, but when I'm reading 4.8 on a beer that I'm targeting 5.4 something seems off. All the beers have tasted fine, so I think the issue is in my use of the strips rather than in my actual pH.

I have been waiting until about 20-30 minutes into the mash, then drain about 1/2 an ounce into a Red Solo Cup. I let it sit until it comes to room temp, then dip my strip for 10 seconds or so. My first thought is that I may be getting enough evaporation to concentrate my wort, and therefore decreasing the pH a bit. Any other thoughts or suggestions?

Beer Recipes / ESB suggestion - Victory or no?
« on: May 21, 2013, 01:17:40 PM »
So I'm brewing an ESB tomorrow morning. For the longest time I was planning a simple grain bill of 93% MO and 7% English Extra Dark Crystal. But I woke up this morning and the idea popped in my head that I should add some Victory. On one hand I like the idea of letting the MO stand on its own, but a little extra toastiness could be nice here. Anyone have any strong thoughts or experience either way on this?

All Things Food / Hop chocolate bar
« on: May 17, 2013, 07:43:54 PM »
I just ordered a couple of these bars. I'll post an update once I get to taste them. Lake Champlain Chocolates put out some top-notch chocolates, so I'm really excited to give this a try.

Yeast and Fermentation / Mangrove Jack's Dry Yeast
« on: April 29, 2013, 05:29:31 PM »
Anyone ever use any of these before? I'm all for more options in the dry yeast department, but given my poor results from Nottingham in the past, I'm hesitant to try out something that isn't well-tested.

Ingredients / Hop Yard Sale
« on: April 15, 2013, 08:17:11 AM »
FYI - Hops Direct is having their Hop Yard sale as we speak. Several varieties available at 6 bucks or less per pound.

If you haven't tried Ultra before, I highly recommend it. It's a nice substitute for Saaz or Tettnang, with nice fruitiness and floral/herbal notes along with some Saaz-like spiciness. Plus, it's fairly high alpha for a noble-type hop. (7.6% this year, last year was 9%)

Yeast and Fermentation / When/how to add Brett as a secondary yeast?
« on: April 10, 2013, 07:32:38 AM »
So I'm going to be brewing my first Brett-aged beer soon and I'm looking for some pointers on how to manage the Brett. Here's what I have planned so far:

This upcoming Monday - Brew 3 gallons of a 1.040 table saison as a starter for my primary yeast (WY3711). Planning to pitch in the mid-60's F, hold it for about 2 days then let it take off as best as I can (my basement is still fairly cool, so I'll probably have to insulate in combination with my brew belt).

The following Monday - Brew 3 gallons of a 1.080 Bière de Garde and pitch onto my saison yeast cake. Planning to ferment in the low 60's F for a couple weeks, then let it come to ambient for long-term aging.

I have a vial of Brett Trois that I'm going to use for the Bière de Garde. I'm looking for some significant Brett character in the finished beer. Any suggestions on how to handle the Brett aging? Do I need a starter for the Brett if it's just the secondary yeast for a 3-gallon batch? When do I pitch it? Should I wait until the 3711 starts to finish up, or should I pitch it sooner to give the Brett more food to start off with? Thanks!

Commercial Beer Reviews / Bruery Saison de Lente
« on: April 09, 2013, 08:01:22 PM »
First of all, this is just a damn good Saison. There's no real funky ingredients, no dry hops or spices, just a well-made beer. I only pick up the faintest hint of cherry pie way in the back, but otherwise the Brett character is quite subdued. It almost drinks like a spicy tripel.

This is my first time trying anything from the Bruery, and I'm impressed. I'll have to try to hunt down some more of there brews.

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