Monday, April 30, 2012

Make it, don't move it? Sponsored binge drinking?

Ran across this story a few days ago but am just now getting around to sharing.  Apparently, in Wisconsin, it is just now legal to transport homemade beer.  Who knew?  I don't live in Wisconsin so this doesn't necessarily apply to me (a quick google search turns up nothing similar in my neck of the woods), but it got me to thinking.  Many homebrewers, myself included, like to share their concoctions with their friends for a variety of reasons ranging from getting honest feedback to showing off their cooking skills.  Typically this involves taking a bit to a get together outside the brewer's own home.  If this kind of sharing is forbidden by law, the homebrewer is left to drink all that delicious brew on his own.  Could one make the argument that this is really government sponsored binge drinking?  OK, maybe only after having a few would that sound reasonable.  At any right, raise your glasses to the Wisconsin legislature for tacking the truly important issues.  If the feds were more interested in creating or retracting laws with the result of me having more freedom rather than protecting me from myself, it would be much easier to take them seriously.  And maybe I wouldn't need to brew so much...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Something to aim for?

I'm not anywhere near the point where I'd be good enough, or brave enough to enter this, but it certainly is a goal.  Sam Adams has a homebrew long shot contest where they eventually brew the winning recipes on a bigger scale and sell it. 

Check it out here.

At long last...

The time between brewing and drinking always seems so long. Today was the first chance I had to try the Dead Guy clone I brewed some time back (recipe here). It's the first chance to try, which is to say with time I'm expecting the taste to improve and a smoother finish to develop. That being said, this is a damn good brew. Tastes pretty close to the real thing with a nice citrusy finish. Here's a picture, but my crappy camera and lack of photography skills really don't do it justice.

Pours smooth, with a golden/red tint. Nice head, which I'm happy to see as that's not always the case for my brews, but I'm getting better. Good balance of sweet and bitter. I haven't done a lot of pre-packaged kits recently, but I'm glad I did this one. I picked this one up at my local home brew shop They've made their kits available online for those of you reading this outside the Queen City. You can pick up this one here.

Happy brewing!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hump Day Drinkin' songs

Here's one I actually listened to on the way to work this morning. Of course the only brew I was drinking was coffee, but it's still a good song. My kids prefer Sneaky Snake, but I'll take this one as the best of Tom T. Hall every day of the week.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Beer a little cloudy, add a little moss

I sat down tonight to write a post about the benefits of Irish moss and the clarity you can attain in your home beers by adding a teaspoon during the last 15 minutes of the boil.  I know it sounds disgusting to be adding moss to something you're going to drink, but honestly the rest of the process isn't all that appetizing from a scientific stand point either. 

Anyway, while doing research about Irish moss and what it adds and why I found that the post I intended to write has already been written by the folks over at Homebrew and Chemistry

In essence, Irish moss acts as a fining agent- that is it aggregates smaller molecules-- like proteins, polyphenols, and lipids-- into larger molecules so they fall out of solution.  The result is more sediment at the bottom of your bucket and clearer beer in your bottles or kegs.  Trust me, your friends are more likely to drink clear beer than cloudy.  Which makes me wonder if this is a good idea after all....

So there you have it.  I learned something so you don't have to.  If you need some Irish moss, you can pick some up from Amazon here.  It should last you a good long time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Taking advantage of the one crop I can grow

Over at That Honey Do List I've been following a battle for a greener more lush lawn.  That's a noble cause that I'm sure many, many people fight each and every year.  I've decided to take a different tact.  As loyal readers know I've employed my children as dandelion harvesters with the ultimate goal of turning the weeds in my lawn into wine.  We could debate whether or not compliments from the neighbors about the lushness of your front yard are better than a glass of wine, but that's not what I'm here for. 

If you're like me and didn't fight the battle of greener pastures, here's the recipe I'm using to turn my ugly lawn into something alcoholic.  This makes about 1 gallon (4 bottles) of a dry-ish white-like wine.

Dandelion Rain 2012

Pick about a 1 gallon ziploc bag full of dandelion flowerheads-- You don't want the stems, just the flowers.  Add these to a fermenting vessel of some sort- I've been known to use a whatever glass sun tea pitcher I can find.  As an aside here there are 2 requirements for this vessel-- 1. It must be glass.  2.  It should have a lid that closes tightly.

Pour just shy of a gallon of boiling water over the flowers, screw on the lid and walk away for a few days.

A few days later bring the flowers and water mixture to a boil.  Add the zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges and 3 pounds of sugar (give or take).  Boil 15-30 minutes or as long as you can stand the smell.  It's pretty disgusting. I do NOT recommend doing this with a pregnant wife around. You've been warned. 

After the boil, transfer to a cleaned, sanitized fermenting vessel. Add the juice of the oranges and lemons.  Cool to 75 degrees and pitch yeast.  I usually use champagne yeast but am trying something different this year.  Don't remember what I ordered though, so I'll have to fill you in later.

About a week later, strain and move to a cleaned, sanitized secondary fermenter and add a pound of golden raisins.  Leave this sit a few months and start the cycle of racking until completely clear.  I usually rack every 3-4 months and bottle after the 3rd cycle or so.  From picking flowers to drinking is usually about a year, so you're going to have to be patient.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fixing mistakes sounds good to me...

Dogfish Head has released the Randall Jr a sort of infuser that can steep custom flavors into your beer. 

The article mentions churching up your Coors light, but let's be honest, if you're drinking Coors light with any regularity you probably aren't the kind of beer drinker looking for a whole lot from your brew. 

I'm thinking of this in terms of what happens when I start to experiment with a batch of homebrew and screw the pooch royally.  Sounds like a good way to try to salvage a batch of homemade horse piss.  Just in time for Father's Day (hint, hint- Honey, I know you're reading this).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Post Easter Hippity Hopping

I mentioned some time ago that I was the happy recipient of some hop plants over the winter.  I've even posted a picture of the first sighting of any activity.  I'm happy to say that some weeks and a few frosts later (I know, I know I shouldn't have planted so early but there was a transplant issue and they had to go in the ground sooner than most would have liked) here's an update on where we stand.

Of the 5 plants I put in the ground, 4 of them are showing real growth.  Three of them are more than 18 inches long.  I've not given up hope on the fifth plant yet.  It's still early and the other centennial seems to be doing just fine.

For those of you that are visual, here's a poor attempt at a picture of the 2 magnum vines.  They're probably too close together but should grow up the side of my house nicely with a little encouragement.

And here are the Newports.  This one is a little bushier and I'm hoping to grow along the fence row that lines my driveway.

Now to start shopping for dehydrators and searching for recipes that use these varieties.  If you've got experience with either, comment on the blog, hit me up on Facebook or send me a tweet.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's that time of year again...

Today started the busiest time of year around our house.  We've got 3 boys and they all play baseball.  Today was opening day.  My 8 year old's team smoked the team from my home town 16-1 in 3 innings.  Great way to start the year. 

But... This just adds one more thing to the list of activities that will keep me from brewing as much as I'd like.  It started raining after the game, so I was able to finally bottle the dead guy clone- which actually worked out.  I'm never opposed to an extra week in primary.  A lot of homebrew snobs are going to cringe if they read this (and I'm not sure if anyone is), but I got a nice big mouthful when starting the siphon to the bottling bucket and this batch is delicious.  Nice hop overtones.  It's hard to know for sure until it has aged, but just on first flat mouthful, I'm happy. 

Next up is the cherry wheat.  After consulting with the local homebrew shop I've decided to change last year's recipe slightly to increase the bitterness from the hops.  I'm subbing Perle for Tettnang.  Check back for details on that.  If things go well I might be brewing it today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Facebook? Why not everyone else is.

So I've started a facebook page whilst sampling Yuengling's Lord Chesterfield and destroying a plate of nachos.  It's quiet time for the kids, so why not try to expand our web footprint. 

Check it out here.  You can like it if you want, if not well, you'll change your mind..

It's bottling day!

The bubbles have long since stopped in the airlock, the wife is getting tired of seeing the bucket, and I have a small window of free time.  That can only mean one thing... It's bottling day.  In between coloring eggs, hunting eggs, eating eggs, and other various egg themed activities, I'll be bottling the dead guy clone.  Leaving only the hardest part of the process.  Tom Petty said it best... The waiting really is the hardest part.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Opening Day!

It's Opening Day in Cincinnati- one of the happiest days of the year.  In my other free time I enjoy a good Reds game.  No brewing on Opening Day, but there will be plenty of opportunity to enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

If you're looking for hard hitting Reds commentary, check out our friends of at Redsneck.  It's a country boy's views on baseball, the Reds, and the occasional super model.

Happy Opening Day everyone.  Enjoy this classic speech from one of the greatest baseball movies ever.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring is in the airs, weeds are in the fermenter??

Today was about as good as it gets weather-wise in my part of the world.  I took the opportunity to bribe my children to pluck dandelion flowers from the yard for use in an old summer favorite... dandelion wine.  Go ahead, get grossed out, that just means more for me.

Bubbling brew

When I left the house this morning the air lock on the latest batch was bubbling like crazy.  We all know what that means right... High gravity!  It's been going nuts since Sunday around noon with big, quick bubbles.  If this keeps up, I'm going to have to delay bottling for a few days.  That's not necessarily bad though as I'm finding that patience leads to better beer.  But it's so hard to wait.