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Messages - 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. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: ive gotta ask
« on: November 20, 2014, 06:19:12 PM »
You guys are not alone  :D  Happens to me all the time too.  I like HoosierBrew's keg classification scheme.

Other Fermentables / Re: Cider, Scotch Ale style
« on: November 11, 2014, 10:10:21 PM »
Yeast has a big effect on residual apple character and can either enhance or hide the apple.  I have experimented with a lot of different yeasts for cider and found none better than Cote des Blancs.  US-05 is pretty good too and also the 4184 sweet mead yeast if I recall correctly.  Many other yeasts hide or dull the apple character including English cider yeasts.  The one I would be interested to try and haven't yet is WLP400 witbier.  I use this in my apple ale and love it there... for some odd reason I just never remember to try it in a cider cider.  Next year.

Thanks for sharing the concentrated boil idea -- great idea.  Sounds similar to ice cider except that is concentrated by freezing on the tail end.

I've also experimented with a variety of yeast strains, over the years.  I agree that Cote des Blancs does a great job, and I've had great results with US-05 too.  However, my best cider came from a spontaneously-fermented batch.  I froze a bunch of cider, and after defrosting I was preparing to ferment it, when it began to ferment on its own.  I was surprised that some wild yeast survived the freezing process and took hold.  I let it go, and it turned out to be the best out of 6 yeast strains.  Too bad there's no way to reproduce that one!

Other Fermentables / Re: Cider original gravity
« on: November 11, 2014, 10:06:03 PM »
I pressed out 20 gallons of cider this year, from a variety of apples.  Some Fireside and Golden Delicious, but most of a couple unknown varieties.  I tend to pick what I can get for free and go from there.

My gravity came out at 1.052, which I guess is pretty high based on what the rest of you are saying.

I wonder if my higher gravity came from the fact that I let the apples "sweat" for almost a month before pressing?  If the apples are sweating out moisture, then the sugar concentration would be constantly increasing. 

I mainly let them sweat since I know they'll keep fine (assuming I've taken care in picking them and not bruised them up or mixed in apples of questionable quality), and I'm amassing a huge quantity over a couple weeks.  I've also read that sweating the apples aids in juice extraction. 

The Pub / Re: What to read
« on: November 11, 2014, 06:44:52 PM »
Im a big fan of James and the Giant Peach
And the book was way better than the movie

+1.  Roald Dahl is pretty cracked.  If you can find his collected short stories, buy it.  Definitely a twisted mind.

The Pub / Re: What to read
« on: November 10, 2014, 12:43:22 PM »
But then again I have never found a Bryson book I couldn't tear through.

I have a long commute and just suffered my way through all 10 discs of "At Home."  Sounded pretty interesting - the hidden history behind everyday stuff.  Turned out to be a lengthy stroll through British architecture for the most part.  Definitely a snoozer.  I've enjoyed a couple of his other books though.

I just got turned on to a Minnesota author named William Kent Krueger- kind of a crime/mystery author.  Not my go-to genre, but it's interesting to read a book set in our region.  His first book Iron Lake was pretty good.  Moving on to #2. 

Hop Growing / Re: 2014 Harvest
« on: November 10, 2014, 12:39:10 PM »
I now pound my dried hops into plugs before sealing and freezing. It certainly reduces the bulk and I'm guessing that the action of a 1" wood dowel driven by a 3 lb sledge probably helps rupture some lupulin glands.

I thought about doing this a year or two ago and couldn't get it to work.  I think my hops were actually too dry and wouldn't stick together.  Martin, give us some more details of your setup! 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Flashback Brewday
« on: November 10, 2014, 12:31:28 PM »
I just posted on the "origins" thread, and realized that my 10-year anniversary of brewing is coming up in February.  I'm totally going to re-brew batch #1.  Papazian's "Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale."  I might go authentic and use extract, or perhaps work up an AG batch to brew alongside the original extract version. 

I was in my first year of teaching, and I decided to make some naturally-carbonated root beer with my 7th grade science class.  After that project, it occurred to me, "Hey!  If I can make root beer, I can make real beer too."  Then I remembered that my friend's dad Curt was a brewer, so I made contact with him and we made plans to brew an extract batch together.

After that, he gave me a basic set of equipment and a copy of TCJOHB.  I devoured that book and brewed my first batch (Papazian's "Elbro Nerkte Brown Ale") on Feb 17, 2005.  It was actually really good - smooth and dark with no flaws.  I jumped right in, brewing once or twice a month for a couple years. 

So now I'm coming up on my 10-year anniversary (better take that day off work!) and still extremely passionate about the hobby.  I make sure to give Curt samples from time to time, and I also teach beginner's brewing classes at his restaurant supply shop/LHBS.  I'm really lucky to have had somebody to get me going like that, and I get a lot of satisfaction from  getting new brewers started on the right path. 


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?

Hop Growing / Re: Crown removal
« on: October 22, 2014, 08:32:34 PM »
el_capitan,  it's a great time to do that sort of thing.  One big benefit is that the soil is usually easier to work with at this time of the year, as many times you're dealing with a bunch of mud in the Spring.  Not only is it messy, but you can harm your soil structure when it's wet. 

The other huge benefit is that those cuttings that are moved will be able to begin developing new roots until the soil freezes.  When you do this in the spring, root growth/development is very slow until the soil warms enough to get them going.  Try one crown this fall and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Well now I'm all ambitious to go do some late fall digging!  I think I'll at least get started with 2-3 of the crowns and go from there.  I know what you mean about springtime mud.  My soil has lots of clay, so it takes quite a while to dry out enough to work.  I'm trying to get the main garden prepped for spring this fall by raking, spreading compost, and topping with straw mulch. 

Other Fermentables / Re: Fermented Salsa
« on: October 20, 2014, 07:02:28 PM »
I just refilled my serving jar from the 1-gallon jar and had some of this on a baked potato.  I swear there is a slight carbonation - it really gives the salsa an interesting zing.  Great stuff.  I would highly recommend trying this if you've got the fermentation gear.  As with other vegetable ferments, leave plenty of head space or you'll end up with blowoff. 

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Homebrew Videos
« on: October 20, 2014, 06:47:50 PM »
Don't forget that goofy Canadian craigtube. My favorite is the one where he rock carbed a beer while eating. Classic.

That's the one I was trying to put my finger on. Awesome stuff.

Here ya go.  8:40 for the stocking-footed keg rock with hotdish consumption. 

The Pub / Re: American Fascination with HOPS
« on: October 20, 2014, 06:15:04 PM »
I probably brew a couple IPAs most years, with the rest devoted to other styles. Life's too short to drink any one style of beer whether it's good or not.
I've brewed upwards of 40 styles and like variety above any one beer.

I'm with you all the way there.  I love an IPA as much as the next guy, but I've really been enjoying brewing standard-gravity and session beers.  It's hard to beat a dry stout, or Scottish 70/-, or an ESB, or a Munich Dunkel or or or...  There are so many wonderful beer styles in the world, and it's a shame that people tend to focus hugely on one style or characteristic.  At least the masses are overcoming the bitter barrier - now if we could get people to start embracing darker-colored beers we'd really see some growth in beer appreciation.  I know lots of people who think amber ales are super dark.  Weird. 

Personally, I tend to appreciate lower-gravity beers because for me, it's all about the flavor.  I just love the taste of a well-made brew.  Lately it seems that if I have more than 2 beers a night, I'll wake up with a headache.  What a bummer!  The other night I picked up the Sierra Nevada fall sampler and indulged in 3 beers.  Next day - BAM!  Mild hangover until mid-afternoon.  I also think strong alcohol flavors don't usually fit well with the other flavors I look for in beer.  It just leaves the beer way too unbalanced.  I don't think it works to balance one strong flavor with other strong flavors - you just end up with competing over-the-top components. 

Other Fermentables / Re: Sauerkraut
« on: October 20, 2014, 06:03:06 PM »
I would be cool with fermenting in a bucket, with a big plate as a follower to keep the cabbage under the liquid.  My wife is not down with plastic in ferments though, so we've used the 1-gallon glass jars.  I think one of the new big mouth bubblers would be perfect for a large batch, and the Ziplock bag full o' water method would work fine in that case. 

In my experience, there is a considerable volume gain when the ferment really gets going, so plan on leaving some head space in whatever container you use.  I'm thinking about fermenting a small batch in my classroom this year, up on my desk so students can watch the activity.  Then I'll gross them all out when I take a bite.    :o

The other day I told a girl that she was eating billions of living bacteria as she ate her yogurt.  She was so grossed out she threw it away!  Kids these days, sheesh...

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