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Topics - erockrph

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Other Fermentables / Storing opened wine kit
« on: February 03, 2015, 12:24:41 PM »
I recently bought a wine kit to make some pyment and to add to a batch of Saison. I think I will still have a fair amount of must left over after those two batches, and I was wondering how long it could be stored safely before I use the rest. Ideally, I'd like to hold onto it for a few months so if the Saison works out well I could brew a second batch of it once it kicks. If it's only a matter of days or weeks I'll have to find another use for it - either to ferment normally as wine or maybe in a lambic-esque sour.

Anyone have any thoughts? Would it be adviseable to sulfite it prior to storing?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Thomas Hardy Ale
« on: February 01, 2015, 10:03:36 PM »
In celebrating a Super Bowl win by my beloved Patriots, I deemed it fitting to crack into one of my dearest bottles in the beer cellar. This one is from the 2004 vintage, a bottle stamped No. P 49100.

There wasn't the faintest hiss of carbonation upon removing the cap. Color is a deep amber-brown, with the slightest ring of fine bubbles around the edge of the glass. Aroma is raisins, figs, sherry and maple syrup.

On the palate, there is a deep toasted bread crust note, more figs and sherry, and a hint of earthy/herbal hops. Although it is quite sweet, I still get a touch of lingering hop bite that is very welcome. After a few sips a real nice note of dried cherries starts to build. Surprisingly, I still get a slight tickle of carbonation after 11 years in the bottle.

Thomas Hardy is probably my all-time favorite beer. It's nice to have an occasion to celebrate with one. Alas, I do think that the 2004 vintage is starting to turn the corner. Not that there is anything bad going on here, but I do feel that it is starting to become a bit more cloying/maple syrupy than when in its peak form.  I may be finding the fainest hint of soy sauce here as well, but I'm not entirely certain. I have one bottle left from this vintage. As tempting as it is to hold onto it for many more years, I think I may be doing the beer a disservice by waiting much longer. I should probably check in on my 2006 Vintage bottles as well.

Yeast and Fermentation / Dry yeast for pre-soured Berliner Weisse
« on: January 08, 2015, 12:17:14 PM »
I've often heard WY1007 recommended for fermenting a Berliner Weisse that has already undergone lactic acid souring (i.e., sour mash, sour wort, lactic primary, etc.), since it seems to work even at lower pH ranges. Does anyone know of any dry strains that work well at lower pH ranges for something like this?

I'm planning on brewing a few batches of Berliner Weisse this spring, but I don't have easy access to liquid yeast. I was hoping one of the usual suspects that I already have in my fridge (US-05, S-04, 34/70), or something else I can pick up now and stash away for a quick brewday, would work OK as a substitute.

Ingredients / Single-hopped beers - 2014 edition
« on: December 31, 2014, 07:14:37 PM »
I'm just getting in under the wire this year, but I was finally able to get in a short brewday to test out a few new hop varieties. I was only able to get three batches in today, but I have high hopes for them. The hop varieties I'm using this time around are Kohatu and Wai-iti from New Zealand, and an experimental hop from YVH called "J-Lime". The NZ hop pellets both smelled awesome. The J-lime is whole-cone, and I find the aroma off the raw hops for cones is often pretty mild. I love me some lime, so I'm hoping the J-lime pulls through in the finished beer.

For this batch, the recipe was 14oz of Light DME and 3oz of Carahell steeped for about 10 minutes to target an OG in the low 1.050's. As soon as I pulled the grains, I added 40-45 IBU (calculated as a 20-minute addition) of the hop, and brought it to a boil for 15 minutes. Each batch gets 1/4 oz flameout hops and 1/2 oz dry hops. Yeast is 1/3 packet of US-05 fermented at about 60F.

I'll be back in a month or so with tasting notes. Here are links to my results from the last two years, with a bit more detail on my process:

2012 edition
2013 edition

Equipment and Software / Bucket heater for stovetop brewing
« on: December 06, 2014, 12:56:51 PM »
I'm an indoor brewer who brews 3 gallon batches on the stovetop. One of my only frustrations with my current setup is how long it takes to get 4+ gallons to a boil on my stove, and maintain a strong enough boil at that size.

I had started to look into electric heat sticks, but most of the info out there was for DIY stuff. I know enough about electricity to know that "DIY" and electricity aren't something I want to mess with. At least nothing in the kilowatt-plus size.

So the other day I ran across one of these. I decided that the price was right, so I gave it a whirl. While it's not exactly "how did I ever live without this" good, it's certainly well worth the money.

My stove generally takes 40-50 minutes to get 4 gallons of wort from mash temps up to a boil. With the heat stick helping out, I hit a boil in 25 minutes. I was able to maintain a healthy (but not explosive) rolling boil without having to do the "lid half on" trick. This is completely subjective, but I felt like I got a better hot break using the stick as well. It could also help cut into your time to hit strike temps if you're starting from room temp water (I use hot tap water from my sink, so that's not an issue for me).

As a test, I used the stick alone to heat 3 gallons of water in my kettle. I got it from 60F to 160F in 35 minutes. So you could even potentially heat your strike water right in your mash tun with one or two of these. Overall, if you're brewing more than a gallon or two on a stovetop I'd really recommend one of these.

Yeast and Fermentation / Lambic not getting sour
« on: November 26, 2014, 12:45:29 PM »
I brewed a lambic last December using a highly unfermentable wort, and fermented with a "house culture" that I grew up from commercial dregs. I just took a sample a couple of days ago and while the Brett character is amazing, there is virtually no sourness at all. Right now it is still sitting at 1.015 nearly a year into fermentation, and the acidity level is just slightly more than my saison typically is. I didn't take a pH reading, but my guess is about 3.8, give or take. I'd really like this in the low 3's.

For my wort, I had a short, high temp mash of pilsner malt and I also separately steeped some torrified wheat. I combined the two and boiled for 90 minutes. The idea was that by steeping the wheat separately I'd (hopefully) produce a starchy wort similar to a turbid mash. My gravity was pretty low post-boil, so I added a mix of DME and maltodextrin to boost my OG to about 1.045.

This is my first time brewing a lambic, and it's also my first time using this culture in primary fermentation.  I'm wondering if this beer just needs more time to sour, or whether I need to intervene somehow (I was thinking of adding Pediococcus).

I've used this culture in secondary for a Flanders Red once before. That one turned out sour, but it was quite acetic. I don't have enough experience with this culture to know if it just doesn't produce enough lactic acid with its current mix of bugs. The culture is dregs from Red Poppy, Gueuze Girardin and Gueuze Fond Tradition that were stepped up twice in the bottle then pitched to a "mother" DME culture that I have been maintaining.

Any thoughts/suggestions?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Sam Winter Lager
« on: November 24, 2014, 04:13:45 PM »
I'm waiting for my takeout order and killing some time at the bar. I have to say, as cool as it is for craft beer fans to crap on Sam Adams, they know how to brew a beer that you can put down one pint after another of. Nothing beats a flavorful, dry lager after a long day at work. Yes, if I were to brew this myself I'd brew a richer, maltier version of this. But this is a damn good beer.

Other Fermentables / Cider, Scotch Ale style
« on: October 30, 2014, 12:25:07 PM »
I recently tried a technique from one of the cider talks at this year's NHC. The basic idea is to add enough sugar to some pressed cider to target an initial ABV in the 8-9% range, then sulfate/sorbate and backsweeten with fresh juice. The end result is a hard cider in the 6% range and in the 1.010-1.015 gravity range.

The first batch I did this way came out great, but I wanted to get a bit more apple character in the finished cider. I used brown sugar to fortify the initial batch, so I had an idea - what if I used concentrated cider instead? So I ended up boiling down a gallon and a half of cider to a syrup, then adding it to another gallon and a half of fresh cider. The cider syrup ended up with a delicious caramelly note to it. It was so good that I mopped up everything that was stuck to the pan with marshmallows.

I realized this was pretty much the exact same procedure as making a Scotch ale with boiled down runnings. I figured I'd share. I don't have any results yet, but I'll be sure to keep this thread updated.

General Homebrew Discussion / CAMRA homebrew book
« on: October 16, 2014, 02:44:16 AM »
I just came across the listing for this new book on Amazon:

I'm not typically a big fan of recipe-centric books, but this is pretty interesting. Has anyone seen/read it?

Beer Recipes / Baltic Porter
« on: October 12, 2014, 11:17:27 AM »
I've read that many of the original Baltic Porters were likely brewed using English Ale yeasts rather than lager yeasts as so many recipes seem to call for. Which is good for me because I don't want to move my kegs out of the keezer at the moment for a lager fermentation. I've had some Sinebrychoff recently, and while it wasn't the freshest sample it was still damn good. I'm pretty sure I can make something passable using an ale yeast. I don't pick up any

My thought is still to pitch at lager rates and ferment as low as I can manage in my basement (60ish ambient right now). Here's the recipe I was thinking of:

Title: Baltic Porter

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Baltic Porter
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 2.8 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3.6 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.068
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.088
Final Gravity: 1.022
ABV (standard): 8.62%
IBU (tinseth): 32.29
SRM (morey): 30.06

6 lb - German - Munich Light (72.2%)
1.5 lb - German - Pilsner (18%)
0.5 lb - German - CaraMunich III (6%)
3 oz - American - Midnight Wheat Malt (2.3%)
2 oz - United Kingdom - Chocolate (1.5%)

0.7 oz - Ultra, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 28.27
0.5 oz - Ultra, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Boil for 5 min, IBU: 4.02

1) Infusion, Temp: 153 F, Time: 75 min, Amount: 16 qt

Wyeast - London ESB Ale 1968

All Things Food / Homemade cheese
« on: October 04, 2014, 09:30:15 PM »
After several batches of mozzarella, I decided to branch out a bit in my home cheesemaking. I bought some chèvre culture a little while back. I didn't have a chance to get goat milk, but I wanted to make some cheese so I used cow's milk instead from my local dairy farm.

I must say, it was way easier than mozz and the results are great so far. I let the curds set for about 8 hours, then drained it overnight for about 8 more hours. At this point the cheese was softer than cream cheese, but firmer than ricotta. I split the batch in 4. One part got salted with truffle salt. I added honey and ginger to the next. I mixed sriracha in with the next (this one is the best of all). The last portion got salted and packed into a "mold" (a red solo cup with some holes poked in the bottom) and was left out to drain for another 10 hours or so while I went to work. I haven't tasted the last one yet, but it smells like some super tangy chèvre.

I'm going to the Pats game tomorrow night with some guys from work. I'm bringing a keg of O'fest and the three soft cheeses. Sometimes you just have to show off :)  I'll save the extra tangy cheese for cooking. Nothing beats roasted beets with chèvre and fig paste.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Smuttynose/Stone Cluster's Last Stand
« on: September 30, 2014, 10:02:18 PM »
This beer is a collaboration brew based on the Ballantine's IPA recipe in Mitch Steele's IPA book. This tastes nothing like the typical West Coast IPA, but it is fantastic. The nose is catty, with lots of black currant and some lavender floral notes. Flavor is resin, with some fruity currant notes and a bit of floral hops. The malt is on the light side, but some bready Munich notes provide the right balance. Bitterness is sharp and sticky, but fades nicely on the finish leaving you wanting another sip.

If this is anything like the new Ballantine IPA, I'm in. I definitely want to play with Bullion, Cluster and Brewer's Gold in the near future. This really stands out from other IPA's, but it all works really well.

If you have access to this, I highly recommend it. For my money, Smutty is possibly the best brewery in New England (now that Long Trail owns Otter Creek), and is right up there with Victory and DFH as far as top breweries in the Northeast go. All of their beers are killer.

Kegging and Bottling / Keg hopping frustration
« on: September 30, 2014, 09:49:38 PM »
I'm hopping in the keg for the first time, but I'm having some issues and I'm looking to troubleshoot.

I kegged the beer about a week ago. It's a 2.5 gallon keg, and I added 1 ounce of pellet hops in a hop bag when I kegged it. The bag was tied off well. I even added a couple of half-hitches around the neck of the bag with the drawstring before I tied it off. I then tied some 6# fluorocarbon fishing line to the drawstring and ran it through the lid as I closed it. It took some work to seat the lid properly so the gasket didn't leak around the fishing line, but eventually everything passed the star-san spray test. I then put it on gas and placed it in my keezer at 36F.

Five days later I wanted to start tasting to check on the dry hop character. My first pour was opaque with green murk. I figured I just drew up the gunk on the bottom, so I'd wait a day and check again. I took three 4-oz samples today, all a couple of hours apart. Each was murky green and had the taste of raw hops. It doesn't seem to be getting better.

So, what am I doing wrong? Do I need to wait longer? Should I be using whole cones? Am I using too much hops? Any suggestions?

Ingredients / Fresh cranberries
« on: September 21, 2014, 01:24:43 PM »
My cranberries are just about ready to pick. I'm going to reserve a bunch for making a few batches of cranberry sauce over the fall, but I should have quite a bit left over afterwards. I was thinking of using them in either a Saison or a cider.

My question is how to use them? My usual approach with fruit is to freeze and thaw them then add them to secondary. But cranberries don't really break down too much after freezing. For sauce, you usually boil them until they pop to get the juice out. But since they have so much pectin I think that's just asking for haze.

Has anyone out there used whole cranberries successfully? Is there a way to boil them but keep the pectin from setting? Or should I just mash or puree them? And any idea how much to use per gallon?

I've been drinking my way through a selection of brews I got in a recent beer trade with a buddy of mine. Unfortunately, most of them weren't worth writing about (fermentation issues, sweet IPA issues, Summit onion ring issues, etc.)

Daughters of Poseidon is billed as a Black IPA with oysters. To me it's more of an oyster porter, but nomenclature aside it's actually a pretty nice beer. I get coffee, citrus, toffee and a hint of brine on the nose. Bitterness is nice and firm, with some bitter espresso to match it. There is definitely some toffee/caramel going on in a complimentary low note. I don't get much hop flavor going on. I get oyster brininess on my lips, then into the finish as the toffee flavors drop out. It's actually a really good mix.

Judging by some of the tasting notes on BA, either my can is on the older side and the hop flavor has dropped out, or I'm drinking it a bit too cold. Either way, this is a really nice porter. The brininess from the oysters is a surprisingly nice compliment to the roast and bitterness.

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