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.