Friday, September 30, 2011

Just missed it

OK, so total new guy mistake this year.  I figured I could make an Oktoberfest in September and still have time to enjoy in in October.  Then I started looking at brew schedules and the history of the Oktoberfest style.  Who knew they originally started those things in the spring?  So much for that.  I'm on to looking for winter recipes now.  Have a good one?  Link to it in the comments!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Here's one to get you started...

OK, so this isn't exactly what you're looking for coming here, but it's the first recipe in my home brew journal.  So, in the words of my 4 year old, "You get what you get and you don't throw a fit."

As mentioned in a previous post early on I wanted to make something my wife would drink as an effort to make funding my home brew hobby more attractive.  Here's my first attempt.  I had to let it sit way longer than I anticipated before it was any good, but now 13 months later I'm glad I saved them.

Dan's Cranberry Hard Lemonade August 2010 edition

1/2 lb sugar 
~10 oz. light DME 
Meijer brand lemonade concentrate (be sure whatever you use has no preservatives)
Cranberry concentrate (again no preservatives)
champagne yeast

Again, in case you weren't reading carefully- NO PRESERVATIVES, SORBATES or SULFITES in the juice concentrate!

Heat 3 cups water to ~120 degrees.

Dissolve DME and sugar in hot water.

Add juice and the DME/sugar solution to 1 gallon carboy. (If you don't have a carboy a glass sun tea jar will make a nice substitute).

Top off to 1 gallon.

Cool to room temperature and pitch yeast.

Air lock until fermentation completes.

For me this worked out to an OG of 1.068 and ended about 1.012 for an ABV of about 7.35%.  It was a fast fermentation and I feel like I could have added more sugar and kept it going.  But this was a first attempt and I didn't want to push it.

I bottled with 2/3 cup corn sugar. That was probably way too much as the first bottles I opened were gushers.  After a year there's still a lot of carbonation but they're not going all Old Faithful on me any more.  Nice bubbly taste and a decent enough ABV to make it worth my while.  These are refreshing on a hot day.

It turns out the wife didn't like them.  So- more for me.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Moving on up

Just got my turkey fryer I ordered from  Time to move this operation outside.  The benefits:

1)  Bigger boil.  I've moved from a 3 gal stock pot to a 7.5 gal turkey fryer.

2)  No more wife complaining about the smell of the sweet wort boiling in the kitchen.

I have to say, I'm probably more excited about #2.  So is my wife.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Look what I found

OK, so I've been crazy busy lately with homework and travel for work, but I did find something interesting in the basement last week.  I went down looking for some home brews and came up with some of the homemade wine coolers I attempted last year.  I'd written them off after the first 2 exploded when I cracked the top.  If I recall right they were about 11%ABV and tasted something like cranberry lemonade.  Simple recipe, frozen cranberry juice, frozen lemonade, dry malt extract, a bit of yeast, and some water. 

These started as a way for me to include my wife in my brews, but she ultimately didn't like them because of the malt, even though the crap she drinks (like Mike's hard) is just a malt beverage anyway.  It turns out if you let them sit for a year, they're not bad.  And at 11% it gets the job done pretty fast.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

OK, great! I’ve got ambition, what else do I need?

There are about a million pieces of equipment you CAN use to brew beer at home (OK, so that may be a slight exaggeration).  The big question becomes how many of them do you actually NEED?  I wasn’t sure when I got started.  I had some help from a brother-in-law that is ahead of me in the process by about six months, but he was given the equipment he was using and didn’t have to go out and piece together a kit.  I didn’t have the knowledge to do so on my own, so I went where I always go shopping- Amazon- and bought an all inclusive beginning home brewer’s kit (not Mr. Beer, but an actual home brew kit).  I was in for about $80. 

What did I get for my $80?  The important pieces of the kit are the fermentation bucket, the bottling bucket, the bottle capper, the bottling wand, racking cane, and sanitizer.  All of the other pieces were nice, but these are absolute must haves.  The one thing I didn't get with the kit was a brew keg.  A brew keg is the vessel you actually "cook" in.  It's typically stainless steel or aluminum and needs to be big enough to boil at least 3 gallons of wort (that's what you call the cooking beer).  I started off using my wife's stock pot.  She didn't like that I was making beer in her soup pot, and I didn't like that I was making beer her stock pot. But it was a good compromise at the beginning.  I'll spend a quick post talking about each of these essential pieces of equipment at a later date.  

I realize there are many other tools most home brewers will list as crucial to the process- like a hydrometer and a thermometer, but they aren't 100% necessary to make beer.  I've made what I consider some good brews forgetting these elements.  This list includes just the bare necessities to brewing your first batch of beer.

Bottoms up!

Monday, September 5, 2011

My brewing beginnings

A little over a year ago I got the urge to start making my own beer. I developed a taste for better beer- you know something beyond the $5 six-pack of the typical national light or lite beer you get at the gas station. I also found that my new found taste was much more expensive than I expected. After watching my brother-in-law start successfully making his own beer at home, I decided to give it a shot. I spent about $100 on equipment and my first extract ingredient kit and gave it a go. Six weeks later I was drinking an American amber ale that I'd made myself. And I've never looked back.

This blog represents my story. I've learned a few things along the way that I'm more than happy to share. Admittedly, I've still got a long way to go, but maybe I can learn something through this outlet along the way. I'm hoping to make the move to all grain brewing soon and will be sure to document that process here so we can learn together. You enjoy the blog, I'll enjoy the brew.

Bottoms up!