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Messages - gordonstrong

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General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Beer staling prematurely?
« on: August 08, 2010, 05:34:31 PM »
If it's the caps then you should also see lower carbonation on your previous beers showing age problems. Do you see that?

I guess I don't understand what's so hard about syphoning. Put a carboy on a table with the target vessel on the floor, fill a tube with water, hold your thumb over one end, put the other end in the source, hold the thumb end below the open end, then release your thumb. Drain the water into a glass, and then divert to the target when beer starts coming out. Very simple, and it doesn't shake air into anything. If you want to slow the rate, move the two ends of the tube closer to each other. If you want to stop the flow, raise the outflow end higher.

Kegging will certainly help, and will give you more options. Plus it should save you about 2 hours of screwing around. If you subsequently want to bottle from the keg, save yourself some trouble and get a Blichman Beer Gun. Super gadget.

If you are paranoid about oxygen in headspace in your bottle, blow a little CO2 into the bottle before you cap it, or (do as I do) cap on foam. That's how commercial bottling lines work.

Kegs do a better job of keeping air out of your beer than bottles; better seals.  Just be sure you don't have any leaks.  Spray all the joints with a soapy water solution while the keg is under pressure and watch for bubbles.

Definitely store your beer cold if you want to keep it for long periods.  Every 10C difference in temperature doubles the rate of chemical reactions (like oxidation).

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: A 30 Year Beer
« on: August 08, 2010, 05:09:49 PM »
Well, Thomas Hardy's Ale is supposed to be good for 25 years, so you could make a beer like that.

According to a Real Ale Almanac from 1995 when they were still making the good stuff:
1125 of nothing but Pipkin malt, 75 IBUs, Challenger, Golding and Northdown whole hops, dry-hopped with Styrian Goldings. I think they used a long boil, 3 hours-ish, for color development. I don't know if you can get the original yeast strain, but I'd start it with Fuller's yeast and then pitch the Bass yeast a week later for better attenuation. Then I'd pitch 2206 for conditioning and storage. From what I read, they triple-pitched and used lager yeast last.

You could also try a Courage Russian Imperial Stout, which holds up a long time (I still have one from 1994, I think).  From the same book, OG 1102, 10% ABv, 59.8% pale, 21.4% amber, 2.8% black, 16% sugar, some caramel for color. 50 IBUs from Target.

I'd certainly make a mead. Heather honey needs a lot of age, but I'm always partial to Tupelo.  24 lbs (2 gal) in a 5 gal batch. VL3C yeast. Staggered nutrient additions.

If you refinance will you drink all the remaining bottles at once?

Other Fermentables / Re: Cleaning fruit to add to beer
« on: August 07, 2010, 08:21:19 PM »
I just usually rinse the fruit gently and then freeze it to burst the cell membranes. Thaw a bit before using. You don't need to mash up your fruit.

Add the fruit to the primary, not the secondary.  Fruit is a great source of nutrients for yeast, and you wind up with a faster fermentation and a cleaner-tasting mead.

Look for Curt Stock's article on melomels in an old BYO.  Best advice anywhere.

Other Fermentables / Re: Could it be the honey?
« on: August 07, 2010, 08:17:19 PM »
I agree with Curt.  Waxy mead usually comes from crappy honey.  Try another source.  Mail order if you have to.  I buy the 5 gallon pails, typically.

Other Fermentables / Re: Clarifying mead
« on: August 07, 2010, 08:14:18 PM »
First thing I try is sparkalloid.  Second thing I try is Super-Kleer.  Third thing I try is bentonite, then sparkalloid.  That last one takes longer and costs you more lost volume.  If I was less of a cheapskate, I'd probably use super-kleer all the time.

Bentonite and sparkalloid do the negative/positive charge thing, just like super-kleer (a 2-stage fining system).

Sparkalloid tends to be a little more "fluffy" and doesn't settle as compactly.

Tip: do all this warm, if it's not clear in a day or two, put it in a cold place (I use my lagering fridge) and let it sit.

Filtering is very rough on a mead and can strip flavor, color and aroma.  Try to use time first, finings second.

Other Fermentables / Re: Heat or no heat
« on: August 07, 2010, 08:08:44 PM »
No boil.  Always.  I warm up the honey containers in hot tap water so it can pour more readily, but it goes straight into a fermenter.

Worried about dissolving the honey?  Get a mix-stir and a drill. Bonus side effect: aeration.
Worried about sanitation?  Don't. Honey doesn't get infected in nature, does it? Honey can only get infected if it's been diluted.  Get your yeast ready to pitch, use nutrients, and get your yeast active quickly. They will out-compete anything else there.
Worried about clearing?  Let if fully ferment, give it time, use Super-Kleer or Sparkalloid if you need it.

All Things Food / Re: Kitchen Knives
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:44:28 PM »
I don't doubt it at all.  In Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential, he says most serious chefs don't spend a lot on knives.  The celebrity chefs might, but your average workhorse chefs/line cooks use inexpensive (but not necessarily "cheap") ones. 

I seem to remember quote was in the context of something like "get one of these and you're halfway to making that fuzzy-headed Emeril your b****."  Probably my favorite line in the book.

Didn't he say that he liked Global knives?  Light and surgically sharp.  I tried them but hated the handles.  Slippery and surgically sharp is almost as bad a combination as bourbon barrels and sulfur sticks.  He was against the German knives primarily due to weight, certainly a problem for people who will be using them all day, every day.  I see the difference using the MAC knife; it's much less fatigue-inducing over the long haul.

Line cooks don't get paid much so they're also less likely to have expensive gear.

All Things Food / Re: Kitchen Knives
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:35:03 PM »
It's a Boos block, 15x20x1.25, maple.  I've had it about 5 or 6 years; I got it when I got the MAC knife.  I needed a larger board to safely work with the larger knife.  It's not safe to have a knife that's bigger than your board; it can get knocked off easily.  

I wipe it down after I use it, wash it if it needs it, and oil it occasionally with butcher block oil. I store it on its side so it can dry. I have a big butcher block island in the kitchen where I use it. I lay the board flat, usually with a damp kitchen towel underneath it to keep it from sliding around.

I see no signs of splitting. I'd associate that with being in a very dry environment, or stressing it somehow. I oil my boards every few months, I guess. It's a big honkin' piece of wood.  I think you'd have to be hitting it awfully hard (splitting coconuts or chopping up beef shanks) or have it spanning a gap when using it to have it split. Even then, the force would be applied across the grain not with it. Are the people with problems using them to practice Chuck Norris roundhouse kicks or something?

If it did split, I'd just take it to the shop, saw off the split, joint it, reglue it, and clamp it. Properly glued joints are stronger than wood. Anyone with basic woodworking skills could do that or probably make something very similar from scratch.

All Things Food / Re: brats
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:16:39 PM »
I like Johnsonville brats too; classic. If you want to make your own, Penzey's sells a good premade seasoning mix for bratwurst.

For cooking, I do it like most of you described but I think I use more onions. I take a big Le Crueset pot and use about 3 lbs of yellow onions, sliced across, about 1/4" thick, a package or two of bratwurst, and enough cream ale to fill (I usually have some leftover from beer tasting classes; Little Kings is local, but Gennie would work too). I barely simmer for about 2-3 hours, then toss them on the grill to char (dry then lightly oil for best color). I usually use onions on the grill too (don't use the beer onions, they don't taste very good). Serve on soft buns with Dusseldorf-style mustard. Great summer food.

I've tried this recipe with different types of beer, but think it's really important to use a low-bitterness beer or your meat will taste bitter. I've used maltier beers (oktoberfest, bock) with good success too. But I think I like the cream ale the best. It's a good way to use up any BMC that winds up at your house too.

I think it's a matter of personal preference how long you cook the brats. If you cook them until they're just done, they have more "pop" to them and taste more like pork and spices. If you braise them for as long as I do, they are more crumbly like well, braised meat, and have more of an onion flavor. Both are fine. Depends on what you like and how much time you have.

All Things Food / Re: Beer Dough - Pizza
« on: August 07, 2010, 04:02:57 PM »
Look for '00' flour; classic for pizzas.  Do a cold rise on your dough; takes several days but gives it way more flavor.

I'm originally from NY, so I'm picky about pizzas. Which is sad, because you should see what passes for pizza in Ohio.

All Things Food / Re: Pale Ale battered fish and chips
« on: August 07, 2010, 03:57:15 PM »
Rice flour works, it's like tempura. Baking soda does help with the crunch. But it's the carbonation in the liquid that really makes the difference. Make two batters, one with tap water and one with seltzer and compare.

OP, tell us about the sweet potato fries?  How hot?  How long?  Tossed in oil and baked?

I find it very hard to get decent sweet potato fries without using a deep fryer. They burn easily, plus they're soft and don't really crisp up. I've tried different thickness cuts, different oven temperatures, par-cooking, different fats, etc. They come out OK, but not crisp without burning. I can make great fries in the oven using yukon gold potatoes, but sweet potatoes are a challenge.

All Things Food / Re: Kitchen Knives
« on: August 07, 2010, 03:41:46 PM »
I use a MAC Professional Series 9.5" Chef's Knife for serious work. It's shaped like a French chef's knife, but has a thinner Japanese-style blade ground to a lower angle (15 vs 20). I like it when I have a lot of work to do since it has a longer blade, is wicked sharp, and is lighter than the German knifes I ordinarily use. If it's good enough for Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Hubert Keller and Gordon Ramsay, it's good enough for me.

I have a full set of Wusthof Classics; not sure what came in it and what I've added over the years. But I mainly use the 8" Chef's Knife for day to day stuff. Sometimes I'll grab one of the longer paring knives as well; I think it's 3.5 or 4"  Several specialty knives I only use for single purposes (flexible fish filleting knife, boning knife, bread knife, small curved paring knife, cleaver, carving set). I store them in the large Wusthof knife block. My wife uses the 6" Chef's Knife and the Santoku.

Random old Chicago Cutlery knife I use to open packages. Obscure cheese knifes that were a gift. Chinese chef's knife.

Chef's Choice 120 knife sharpener, F. Dick diamond steel, special sharpener for the MAC knife. Large rectangular BOOS cutting board, large round bamboo cutting board.

Other Fermentables / Re: Which Yeast for Mead?
« on: August 06, 2010, 11:54:52 PM »
Take a look at the Mead Study Guide on the BJCP web site There is a section on process (ch. 12). The procedures in there are best current practices, and have updates since The Compleat Meadmaker was published.

Key points: no boil, staggered nutrient additions, yeast handling.  If making a melomel, use fruit in the primary.

If you do things properly, you will have a krauesen. Not as big or as long lasting as on beer, but you will have one. Melomels can blow off; use a bucket with a lid, just like the old days.

Events / Re: Beer and Sweat
« on: August 06, 2010, 11:37:44 PM »
This is one of my favorite events of the year.  If you're within driving distance (or if you're Phil Farrell or Graham Cox, within flying distance), please consider attending.  They judge all the beer in one round, and then there's the party.  It's as close as you get to Club Night at the NHC.

They used to have slogans like "world's largest competition (by volume)" and "more beer than club night".  Not sure if all of those are still true, but it's a blast nonetheless.

I'll be entering a few, and drinking more than a few.

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