Posted: September 15th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew | No Comments »
It’s not that I haven’t brewed anything this summer, it’s that only one in five beers turned out to be drinkable. What happened?
Sometimes yeast doesn’t work out
I made 4 batches of kolsch intended for a friend’s wedding. Two of those batches used a different recipe from the others. All of them had the exact same character flaw when I went to bottle the beer. It all had a plastic, astringent flavor that at first I thought was a sanitizing problem. But four batches later, all with the same problem, it can’t be sanitizing that’s to blame. I’m pretty sure it was the yeast, the sole constant in the mix. I used White Labs Kolsch yeast each time, purchased at Let’s Brew – the same yeast that lead to an off-tasting and funny-smelling kolsch last summer. All previous successful kolsch attempts have used Wyeast liquid yeast smack packs.
A coconut porter that could use more coconut
The lone brew that did work out was a coconut porter, though the coconut notes are very subtle and add more of a mocha flavor and richness than anything. However, this did end up being a really great beer! I used Sparrowhawk Porter from Joy of Homebrewing as a base, then added 11oz of toasted Bob’s Red Mill coconut flakes (unsweetened) in the secondary fermenter and “dry hopped” the coconut for a week or so. I also used dry malt extract instead of corn sugar to prime the bottles, and the result is a really creamy, smooth beer. I’ll definitely try this again, perhaps with a brown the next time.
Back in the saddle
I’ve spent enough time feeling sorry for myself, and it’s time to brew again. I think a wit or other Belgian style is up next, which will be delicious in the fall!
Posted: June 8th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew | 1 Comment »
Behold: My glorious Brewatorium!
I’ve always brewed on my stovetop, relying on the electric burners to make my beer turn out great. But after a couple of beers that were darker than I’d like, I decided to put some money toward a propane burner that I could use outside. I found a propane cooking burner at Outdoor Warehouse for $55, but the propane tanks were all $70. I figured I might try the Blue Rhino propane tank exchange program at Fred Meyer, which is $54 for a first-time empty tank, and $24 for refills. That still seemed a little steep, so I checked their shelves and spotted a 20# propane tank for only $38. Woah! The 11# was $75, so I decided the clearly returned 20# tank with a dent in it was a real steal. I filled it up at the U-Haul 4 blocks from my house for $16 (5 gallons). Nice!
We’ll see how the beers turn out, but so far I’m pretty excited. The liquid boils much more quickly, which I think will result in less carmelization for lighter beers. Plus, it means I’m outside for brewing in the spring and summer! No more steaming the house up on nice days. And I can play fetch with the dog while it boils. Everyone wins, everyone’s happy! Later this week I’ll try the Kolsch again, since it came out far too dark on the stovetop. Here’s hoping the propane burner solves that problem.
Posted: June 7th, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Homebrew, Kolsch | No Comments »
I’m brewing a couple of batches of Kolsch for a friend’s wedding in September, which is fun and I’m excited they want my beer. When I brewed this Kolsch for my own wedding, I foolishly sanitized the bottling bucket and failed to rinse it absolutely clean. That batch was undrinkable as it had the distinct taste of Star San. Not wanting to experience this again, I figured I should get started just in case something goes wrong.
Well, so far it’s much darker than I want it to be. The lady at Let’s Brew convinced me that 1lb of dry amber malt wasn’t that dark, since they didn’t have the 2lbs of extra light malt I needed. Stupid me! I mean, seriously, it looks like a dark amber or a light brown ale right now, and it’s 90% wheat and extra light malt extract.
This has also convinced me to buy a propane burner for brewing, rather than continue to use my stove top. The burner and range top got super hot yesterday, which makes me think my beers are carmelizing and all becoming darker than they should be. So my next Kolsch batch will be brewed al fresco. Here’s hoping it all turns out alright!
Posted: May 22nd, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Chit Chat, Homebrew | No Comments »
Tonight I gave a little presentation at Show & Tell PDX (kindly put on by Substance and Pinch) about why you should brew your own beer. Now, I always love to talk about beer, but I especially love to share my enthusiasm with folks in my industry. We push pixels and make internet goodies all day long, and there’s nothing like some beer at the end of the day to celebrate victories and dull pains.
In addition to blabbing about homebrewing, I served a kolsch, brown, Irish stout, ginger wheat, and brown coriander wheat. The beer’s all gone, so I guess I got it right
I’m sure video of the presentations will be up in the next week, so I’ll post that when it’s ready. So thanks for letting me speak, for listening, for drinking my beer, and having an awesome time!
Posted: March 21st, 2009 | Author: Stacy | Filed under: Experiments, Gluten-free, Homebrew, Mead | No Comments »
Lehua blossom, source of delicious honey
I just got back from a week on the big island of Hawai’i, home of Pele’s volcanos and the Ohia tree with its gorgeous red lehua flowers. Lehua honey is especially delicious, more buttery than any other honey I’ve tasted, and we thought it might make a good mead. So we returned with 10lbs of lehua honey in our checked baggage (yep, it’s ok to bring honey back to the mainland, but you can’t bring bees – go figure) and dreams of tasty mead.
Since you need 15lbs of honey to make 5 gallons of mead, I’ve added 2.5lbs of pasteurized agave syrup and 2.5lbs of raw agave syrup to lighten the color and flavor of the mead. I figure it worked well with the first mead, so why not try it again? I’m also going to pitch kolsch yeast along with champagne yeast with the hope of duplicating the success of my first mead-making accident. It turned out to be fantastic mead!
So here’s to Ohia and Lehua, whose love are making this (hopefully) wonderful mead possible! Cheers!