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Topics - erockrph

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91
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.

92
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.

93
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?

94
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?

95
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.

http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/bebop-hop-chocolate-bar.html

96
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.

http://www.rebelbrewer.com/shop/brand/mangrove-jacks/

97
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. http://www.hopsdirect.com/hop-yard-sale-2013/

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%)

98
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!

99
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.

100
I'm not generally a fan of herb/spice beers. Even the ones I think are good I can generally only enjoy in small quantities. This beer is kind of a cross between a wit and saison with white sage and dry hopped with Sterling and Citra. The hop character isn't what I'd expect, and it definitely takes a back seat to the sage. But that's actually OK. The sage works really well here. The nose hints at some savoriness, but the flavor reminds me more of a smudge stick/incense than a savory herb.

There is some subtle hop fruitiness, a firm bitterness, and just enough yeast spiciness. Everything is perfectly balanced. There is just enough acidity and fizzy carbonation to balance the thin mouthfeel and make this beer really drinkable. It's not typically my style, but I'm really impressed by this brew.

101
Kegging and Bottling / Fixing underprimed/undercarbed bottles
« on: April 05, 2013, 09:16:08 PM »
So I just had a rather messy time in my kitchen and I thought I'd share so that others may learn from my experience. I recently bottled a batch of porter that came out uniformly undercarbonated. I wasn't surprised, as I underestimated (by quite a bit) how much beer would make it from primary to my bottling bucket (this was the first batch in a while that I hadn't dry-hopped). I also failed to ensure all my priming sugar had completely dissolved in the bowl I heated it in before I added it to the bottling bucket and some still stuck to the bowl after adding it to the bucket..

I expected carbonation to be on the low side, but I thought I'd let it ride, since it's a porter and they're generally OK at the low side of the carbonation range. Unfortunately it was just a bit too flat for my tastes. My guesstimate places it around 1.5 volumes. Then I got the brilliant idea that I could simply add more sugar to the bottles to get them to carbonate the rest of the way. After playing with some online calculators I determined that 1.0 grams of corn sugar should add 0.7 volumes of CO2 to a 12 ounce bottle.

So I'm all set up. I weigh out my gram for the first bottle, pop the cap and dump it in. I reach over to grab a bottle cap and OH CRAP MY KITCHEN ISLAND IS SWIMMING IN A FOUNTAIN OF BEER! Pop quiz - what happens to a carbonated beverage when you pour in a gram of fine powder? If you answered *FWOOSH* you win the grand prize of a roll of Mentos and a Diet Coke.

Thankfully, the story has a happy ending (for now, we'll see how the beer turns out in a week or two). Since the carbonation level was low enough, it took a second or so for the foam to start spilling out of the bottle. If I had the cap already stuck to the magnet in my wing capper, I had just enough time to add the sugar, grab the capper and put the cap on before the beer started to overflow. I only lost one more bottle out of the case.

The moral of the story is that you can save an underprimed batch, but you need to be prepared and have some quick reflexes.

102
Commercial Beer Reviews / La Folie
« on: April 04, 2013, 09:08:52 PM »
I just cracked into my first bottle of La Folie. Damn this is a good beer! It's a really clean, really sour Flanders. There is loads of cherry flavor and aroma, with just a touch of funk, There's not a lot of oak flavor, but there is enough tannin to balance out the relatively thin mouthfeel and make this incredibly drinkable, despite being a very sour brew. Just as good as Rodenbach to my tastes and almost gives Red Poppy a run for the money as my favorite sour.

103
Ingredients / Quality Vanilla
« on: April 04, 2013, 08:58:12 PM »
I just cracked into some unbelievable vanilla beans I ordered recently and thought I'd share. These are by far the freshest, richest vanilla beans I've ever used. Normal beans generally smell pretty monotone vanilla, but these have an incredibly complex aroma. I pick up some great tobacco and leather notes from these beans.

The best part is the price. Even for small quantities it's about 50 cents a bean. They come vacuum sealed in a Food Saver type bag. If you're in the market for Vanilla I'd highly recommend you try these:

http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Bourbon-Madagascar-Vanilla-Organic-Ground/dp/B009PASUAS/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1365134060&sr=8-11&keywords=vanilla+bean

104
The Pub / Let's Pour online craft brew shop
« on: April 04, 2013, 08:48:18 PM »
I just got my first order in from Let's Pour today. Although it's pretty pricey, I was glad to see that the packaging is quite solid. I don't know if any of the beers I got would show any real signs of poor handling, but everything seemed to be in good shape.

In order to qualify for free shipping I had to order 6 beers, and the total came out to about $90. Steep, but not outlandish compared to what I pay for beers like these at my local liquor stores. Since there are several beers they sell that I have no access to up my way, I think it's worth it. I'm pretty sure I'd buy from them again if they got something in that I just have to have and can't get in my area.

Here's what I got:
2 x La Folie (the reason I placed the order in the first place)
Stillwater Artisinal Cellar Door American Farmhouse
Boulevard Tank 7
Logsdon Farmhouse Seizoen Bretta
Bruery Saison de Lente

105
Beer Recipes / Low gravity saison
« on: March 05, 2013, 08:43:34 AM »
I'm planning on brewing a low-gravity saison to prop up a pitch of 3711 for a Biere de Mars. Any tips? In particular, I'm wondering what mash temp I'd want to use. My gut tells me to mash low, but if I'm only starting out at 1.040ish for my OG is there a risk that I may end up with a brew that ends up too thin-bodied?

Here's what I was thinking of:

HOME BREW RECIPE:
Title: Table Saison

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Saison
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 3 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 3.5 gallons
Efficiency: 85% (brew house)

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.039
Final Gravity: 1.008
ABV (standard): 4.08%
IBU (tinseth): 27.36
SRM (morey): 5.86

FERMENTABLES:
3 lb - German - Bohemian Pilsner (82.8%)
4 oz - American - Wheat (6.9%)
4 oz - German - Munich Light (6.9%)
2 oz - Belgian - Special B (3.4%)

HOPS:
0.75 oz - Ultra, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: First Wort (AA 9, IBU: 27.36)
1 oz - Ultra for 0 min, Type: Leaf/Whole, Use: Boil (AA 9)

MASH STEPS:
1) Infusion, Temp: 149 F, Time: 90 min, Amount: 16 qt, Sacc rest

YEAST:
Wyeast - French Saison 3711

NOTES:
Pitch at 66F, hold for a day, then let free rise.

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