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Topics - el_capitan

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The Pub / FictionALE Brewing
« on: November 28, 2014, 03:51:07 PM »
Tomorrow I'm brewing two recipes inspired by fictional stories - John Palmer's "Elevenses" Oaked mild (inspired by Tolkien's tales), and a batch of "Gunslinger's Graf" (mentioned by Stephen King in his Dark Tower series.) 

Both of these recipes include a bit of the oak-smoked malt.  The graf will be interesting, since about half of the fermentables come from cider.  It's described as a dry stout with cider. I'm using the recipe from BTV, scaled down to 3 gallons.  This will be a challenge for me, since I'll need to make a batch of wort finishing at only 1.2 gallons, then topping up with 1.8 gallons of cider.  Since it's such a small batch, I'm just going to BIAB on my stovetop, which will be a first. 

I should be able to pretty much run both batches simultaneously - one outside and one inside. 

Anyway, as I was working through all of my spreadsheets, I realized that both of these batches will be fictional beverages brought to life.  Kind of a fun concept.  Both of these should be really nice session ales with plenty of character. 

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Yeast and Fermentation / Breaking New Ground with WY1450
« on: October 28, 2014, 05:53:55 PM »
I pressed cider last weekend and ended up with just over 20 gallons.  I decided to freeze most of it for future enjoyment and possible fermentation.  For now, I pitched WY1450 into 5 gallons.  It took right off and I have it fermenting at 63 degrees.  Looking forward to seeing how it comes out.  I used US05 in a batch this summer and it turned out great.  I wonder if the WY1450 will enhance the body a bit? 

Has anybody tried this before?

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Other Fermentables / Cider Making 2014
« on: October 12, 2014, 08:14:12 AM »
Well I'm blowing the dust off my 'apple scratter' and fruit press today and making a batch of cider with my sister and her husband.  They brought a bunch of apples with them so they'll take all the juice with them.  I have a ton of apples just waiting to be processed - I'll end up doing mine on Thursday of this week. 

The last time I made cider (2008), I fermented 30 gallons with 6 different yeasts, and I'm just now drinking the last of it.  It has held up really well over 6 years in the bottle!  I'll post some pics of our setup later on.  Fall weather, full colors, and fresh cider.  Perfect!

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Yeast and Fermentation / Spilt Batch Pilsner Experiment
« on: October 06, 2014, 08:15:01 PM »
Hey guys - I recently brewed a batch of pilsner lager and split it to compare yeast strains.

I keep WY2308 Munich Lager in my yeast bank as a versatile German lager strain.  I've used it for Vienna lager, Munich Helles, and Munich Dunkel.  I'm also planning to pitch it into a Schwarzbier this winter.  So far, I've enjoyed all of these batches immensely.

So I wanted to see how it performed in a Bo Pils.  I pitched WY2001 Urquell Lager into the other fermenter.  Identical fermentation conditions and timetables were maintained - 3 weeks in primary @ 50 degrees, 1 week D-rest, then 2 weeks lagering in the keg fridge so far.

I sampled the two this weekend, and I have to say I'm really surprised at how different they are.  I know they will benefit from more conditioning time, but both beers are very good already.  However, the WY2308 Munich Lager has a much more malty, rounded character.  The WY2001 Urquell Lager has a slight sulfur note up front, but overall is much cleaner and crisper, accenting the hop character.  The hops got lost in the Munich Lager beer. 

I'll reflect on this more as the beer ages, but I wanted to share my impressions.  I was hoping that the 2308 would be just as good or better, so I could maintain just one lager yeast.  But it appears that in this case, the yeast strain really makes a difference.   One thing that comes to mind is that although I built both starters up in identical steps, I can't be sure how many cells I had in each culture at the start.  I factored this in and erred on the side of overpitching, but that's the one variable I can think of that could have had an effect. 

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Other Fermentables / Fermented Salsa
« on: September 12, 2014, 06:33:18 PM »
We lucked out with an extended growing season in MN last year, but this year it looks like we're getting an early first frost tonight.  So I did a quick pick and now I'm going to make some fermented salsa. 

Here's a link to the recipe (scroll down on the page past the annoying pickl-it propaganda).  My wife and I made some of our own pickl-it style jars last year by buying 1 gallon bail-top jars with gaskets, then having the lids drilled to accept a rubber stopper and airlock.  Truly excluding oxygen with a tightly-sealed jar majorly improved our results.  Now I'm thinking about using a big-mouth bubbler as a fermenter for sauerkraut and other large-batch veggie ferments.

The veggie ferments last year turned out great.  This will be our first time doing fermented salsa.  Hope it's good! 

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The Pub / Suggest a Port?
« on: May 09, 2014, 06:26:10 PM »
My buddy Steve is finally graduating med school after many years of hard work.  I'd like to get him a decent bottle of port - my budget is right around $40.  I am far from an expert.  Any ideas of a commonly-available port that'll fit the bill?

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Equipment and Software / Extendo-mometer?
« on: February 10, 2014, 07:02:30 PM »
I've really been enjoying brewing smaller batches, now that I've stepped down to 3-gallons.  One thing that's not so smooth though is that I'm using my 10-gallon Polarware. 

The Brewmometer placement is such that I have to have about 3 gallons in the kettle in order for the probe to hit the liquid.  Most of my batches are calling for just shy of 3 gallons strike water.  I was trying to think of some ways to extend the probe without making any modifications to the kettle.

The only thing I could think of was wrapping some thick copper wire (maybe 12 gauge) around the probe, and then extending that down into the kettle.  Do you think that would work?  I guess I could give it a shot on my next brewday and report back. 

Any other ideas?

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The Pub / Made by Dad
« on: January 22, 2014, 07:29:59 PM »
My wife checked out a book at our public library called Made By Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff.

There are some really cool projects in here!  I spent the last three nights making the Slingshot Car Launcher.  It's a pretty cool toy that we worked on together.  I just had such a good time building and working with my boys (ages 4 and 6). 

Anyway, I thought I'd post it up here for those of you who are into the DIY mindset, like little projects, and have kids or grandkids around.  Fun stuff. 

There's even a site for downloading templates for a lot of the projects.  Totally worth checking out!

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Yeast and Fermentation / Stop That Lager!
« on: January 20, 2014, 07:40:38 PM »
I'm fairly new to lager brewing - currently fermenting my 3rd lager, a Munich Helles.  It's been at 50 degrees for 14 days now.  I took a gravity reading just now, and found that it was somewhat lower than expected. 

The recipe is from BCS, and I did a 3-gallon batch.  I made a 2-step stirred starter (1 Liter for each step) of WY2308 Munich Lager.  OG was 1.051, and the gravity right now is 1.006.  I was expecting it to finish out around 1.011

So I have a couple questions:

1) With lager brewing, am I supposed to halt fermentation by chilling the beer when it reaches the desired level of attenuation?

2) If so, should I have been taking more frequent gravity readings and stopped it sooner? 

3) Will a 3-gallon batch typically ferment faster than a 5-gallon batch?  In the past I've brewed 2 lagers with this strain and I've given them 3-week primaries. 

4) Is two weeks in primary enough?  Am I ready for the next step?

5)The beer tastes pretty clean, with a slight sulfur aroma which I'm sure will diminish with lagering.  I detected no diacetyl whatsoever - do I need to bother with a D-rest? 

Man, I feel like a noob all over again   ;D

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Yeast and Fermentation / 2 year old yeast?
« on: January 16, 2014, 09:35:07 PM »
I've been planning a kolsch for my next brewday, so today I pulled out my jar of slurry.  I thought I had harvested it in March of 2013, and I've revived yeast that old before. 

Well, just after I pitched the slurry into my new starter, I looked again and it was harvested in March 2012. 

So what are my chances of reviving anything viable?  On one hand, I feel like I might as well just dump it right now.  On the other hand, it's already pitched and on the stirplate. 

I guess the worst case scenario would be to buy a fresh smack pack, which isn't a big deal at all.  Hmmm... what would you do?  Give it a few days and watch for some activity?  Even if something does start up, I don't know how much I'd trust it. 

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The Pub / Brewer's Kids
« on: April 25, 2013, 02:52:18 PM »
I was pouring a beer last night, and my glass wasn't even half-full when my 3-year old son said, "Brown Porter!" 

What a proud moment.  :)  I told my boys that they can drink beer when they can grow a beard.  So these guys are already making plans.  "Daddy, when we are grown up and have beards, we should make a men's club, and we'll brew beer." 

They help me pick my hops, help me brew, know how to pour a perfect pint...

This may sound corrupt, but I think it's cool that my boys are seeing the whole process, and also able to experience the responsible enjoyment and appreciation of alcohol.  Anybody else have some fun stories to share? 

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The Pub / Beer-Candied Bacon
« on: March 20, 2013, 06:36:55 PM »
Sweet sweet mother of God.  This looks amazing.  I am picking up some bacon on the way home tomorrow.  Kind of thinking I really should have some bacon on hand at all times anyway. 

Beer-Candied Bacon

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