Sunday, November 16, 2014

Doing my part to preserve the history of preserved foods and beverages.

It turns out that you can't believe everything you read on t-shirts. Historian Bob Skilnik, and my Beers of the Day calendar, would like to inform us that Ben Franklin was a wine drinker. Those novelty t-shirts which claim that "Beer is proof that God loves us" are not, most likely, quoting ol' Ben correctly. According to Skilnik, this famous misquote could have been paraphrased from a letter written by Franklin in 1779;

"Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy"

Sounds to me like ol' Ben had been reading too much King James and the Greek Classics and not enough Hymn of Ninkasi. But, the Hymn of Ninkasi probably wasn't available for Mr. Franklin's reading pleasure.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Experiments in Homebrewing, part 2

The Dandelion Ale is bottled now. I think it's going to be okay. Even if it turns out sour, it may be a palatable sour ale. I was very happy with the Blonde Ale which I used as the base recipe for the Dandelion Ale. I will continue to brew it and design other beers around it.

The Dandelion Ale was bottled on Friday, June 20. I will let it age for two weeks before sampling it. But, what about the Dry Hopped Bud Light experiment?

I used Natural Light, 'cause really, what is the difference in Bud Light and Natural Light? I had, from right to left, Cascade whole hops, Willamette pellets, Cascade pellets, Hallertau pellets and Northern Brewer pellets. All the individual hops flavors here present in the Natural Light except the whole Cascade hops. This one still tasted like Natural Light and I poured it out.

Willamette: True to style, the Willamette presented very subtle, floral flavors. I got the impression this would be a good hop for wheat beers.

Cascade: This one is a bit chalky from the sediment of the hops pellets and has a pepper like heat. The alpha acids are not as pronounced as I had anticipated but it was certainly more hoppy, and full bodied, than a Natural Light. I will spike the next batch with a bit more Cascade.

Hallertau: I can smell the hops presence and it is quite unlike N.L. The Hallertau  increases the Pils credibility of the N.L. by providing European Pils flavors. There is also a hint of wheat beer flavor. Overall, it is subtle and flora.

Northern Brewer: These pellets broke up and spread all through the beer. The initial impression is very chalky with lots of alpha acids. Much more citrus alpha acid than I had expected from Northern Brewer. Obvious hops aroma and fruity, alpha acid heat flavors.

I intend to do this test again with different types of hops. Next time, I believe I will use a cheap cerveza as the base beer and spike them with Czech and German hops.

The next batch I will be brewing is Charlie P's Wise Ass Red Bitter, from the Complete Joy of Home Brewing.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Experiments in Home Brewing

I'd call this Adventures in Homebrewing but that title is taken. Home brewing, or homebrewing, is just one big experiment anyway. After enjoying a few Pistils by Magic Hat, I'm trying to put together a dandelion brew of my own. I mean, who doesn't want to pull a weed out of their yard and put it in a food product? I'm just that kind of crazy, or that kind of earthy.

I found a lot more info about Dandelion Wine on the entree-net and only one recipe for a Dandelion Saison on Home Brew Talk. I did find a reference to the book The Hombrewer's Garden which apparently contains a recipe for Dandelion Ale but, did not find the recipe. The reference, on the blog She Brews Good Ale, mentioned using the whole Dandelion plant to bitter the beer.

First Dandelion Tea Batch
I went out to my backyard and dug up a bunch of Dandelions. We just moved into this home in Dec. and the house was vacant for a while, I am not concerned about in residual chemicals existing on the plants. The whole yard is literally a field of wild flowers or weeds. Of course, I washed and rinsed the Dandelions before packing them in the freezer.

Next, since I don't have a recipe, I decided I could use a Dandelion tea to determine how much plant material I'd need in the beer. I heated eight ounces of water in the microwave and added one small Dandelion plant, about one ounce.

Third Dandelion Tea Batch
This first batch of tea just tasted dirty. There was a hint of plant bitterness but certainly nothing that could compare to hops. I increased the Dandelion addition to about two ounces, this tea had a distinct flowery tea flavor but nothing really bitter.

The third batch of tea, about three ounces of Dandelions, seemed to be just right with definite flowery tea flavors. I feel the combination of three ounces of Dandelion to eight ounces water will be the idea measurements for the ale experiment.

Since this was inspired by Magic Hat's Pistil I want to make a light beer that the Dandelions will, hopefully, accent nicely. This past Sunday, May 18th, I made a Blonde Ale which will be the base recipe for my Dandelion Ale. The Blonde should be ready, after fermentation and bottle conditioning, around June 7. So, the Dandelion Ale experiment has at least six more weeks before completion.

Last Saturday, May 17, I began this experiment but I didn't use Bud Light. I would have used PBR but they don't sale PBR bottled six packs at Publix or Wal-Mart. I will let you all know how this turned out soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I don't believe that I have mentioned...

home brewing? Oh yeah, I have mentioned that, at least once. Since leaving Knoxville my leisure time interest has shifted away from role playing games and toward home brewing. I really hadn't written much about role playing last year. Darn career, and company going bankrupt, getting in the way of my leisure time! I'm inching my way back into the rpgs a bit, it's hard not to enjoy writing silly stuff.

On the home brewing front, I'm brewing my way through Charlie Papazian's Complete Joy of Home Brewing. In fact, my batch from the first recipe in the book received a Best in Class, British Ales, award at the War of the Wort on May 3. I knew I had made a good beer but not an award winning beer? My score was 41 out of 50 points. That left plenty of room for a really great beer to win the class. Those other guys must have had some dirty bottles or something?

We don't have a reliable or convenient home brew supplier here in Muscle Shoals, Al. There's the Wine Maker Shack in Loretto, Tn. which is forty minuets away. They have all the basic supplies but their hours are 9 to 5, Mon. -- Fri, rather inconvenient hours for me. (Or for any other honest home brewer I should think.) Yesterday I visited a farm supply store in Florence, Longrider Supply. They have a mishmash of basic brewing equipment and ingredients, but no hops and no dried malt extract. As Sally says, how can you make beer without  hops?

I believe I have owned The Complete Joy of Home Brewing for twenty years. In all this time I would only describe myself as a casual home brewer. I would go for years without brewing a batch. Since I know the basics of home brewing, and I have certainly owned the book long enough, I thought I would brew my way through all the recipes in the book.

My next batch will be Wise Ass Red Bitter from page 179, the second recipe in the book. Since there is no local home brew supply store handy, I have used the resources of the entree-net to order the necessary ingredients. I plan for the brew day to be in the next seven days, possibly this weekend, I'll keep you all posted.

I should also mention; a fellow Muscle Shoals Masher, Randy Myers, who took 1st Place in the IPA category at War of the Wort. Congratulations to Randy and to all other brewers who participated in the competition.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Northern Brewer Honey Kolsch, extract kit

It's true, what they say about the best beer from any batch of homebrew is the last one. I bottled this Kolsch on Oct. 20th and in the subsequent three months all the homebrew funk has settled out.  My original notes described a vinous smell with plenty of carbonation and head retention. The initial flavor was malty with hops and cider following.

I drank one of these about a month ago and it was still too heavy, malty and hoppy, to be distinguished as a Kolsch. At that time, and all previous samplings, this brew would have qualified as an ale or pale ale style. My notes graded it as a 2 or 2.5 out of 5.

Here's the update: I smelled this before pouring it, there was some vinegar smell and I noticed some hops residue inside the bottle neck. (As for the smell, I've been smelling sour liquids all afternoon.) The pour is clear gold with good head retention.

The first sip is very light but with enough body to distinguish it from an American Pils. (Just like a Kolsch!) The hops are very subtle, becoming more assertive in the body of the beer. The finish is a bit more hoppy. The mouthfeel is light and effervescent.

I still can not grade this beer very highly. I'm not ready to self-promote my brews, but I can give it a grade of 3.5. This was not the last bottle of the Kolsch, I will be able to share some with friends and get unbiased opinions. The boss, Sally, has already said that this is my best brew in years. Let's see if time has improved my Oatmeal Stout?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fanatical Recycling Social Networking Analysis

Our Research Dept had determined that Facebook is a bit lacking in the Social Networking dept.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Great Divide, Old Ruffian, Barleywine

On New Year's Eve I enjoyed a four year old bomber of Great Divide Old Ruffian Barleywine, it was heavenly. The carbonation was low with the thinnest layer of bubbles. The color was toasty golden brown, like a cup of hot tea.

The first sip revealed the malt body with no overwhelming hop flavors. The hop presence has mellowed over the years, now more traditional British Bitter or Pale Ale flavors are present. Up to this point I had only had fresh barleywines. There are none of the overpowering hops with which I am accustomed.

Surprisingly, the finish is very mellow. The mouthfeel is light but with a gritty, pale ale weight. This is the perfect beer for celebrating the New Year. I must buy more barleywines!

Grade: 5 of 5 possible pints.