As always it is that time again…
The bottling never seems to end. Today I will finally be clearing out the keg of Dunkleweizen so I can put Magic 8 Ball on and get it conditioning. I have two cases of bottles ready to go. Most likely I will have some bottles left so I can get a few Irish Ryes bottled as well as some of the Double Pils. To add to the day, it is also time to transfer the brown (notice I didn’t bother to capitalize the brown… browns are so boring).
I have been helping a couple of the guys from work start brewing. They are currently working a bit of extract and extract with grain. Its great to see the enthusiasm they have for creating the beers they want to drink, I just hope that its still there when the reality of how much work aside from just the creation is needed to make great beer. Reality rears its ugly head every time you realize you have to sanitize bottles … again (among all the other mundane tasks that are part of the unglamorous side brewing).
I am thinking that I will be finally making a mead again this coming weekend. Its been quite some time since my last one and I now only have one bottle left. This of course, is no where I like to be with anything I keep in my cellar. My plan is for this one to be a dry mead aged on oak. I really like the mix of vanilla and honey that comes from a mead aged on oak. Sadly, it won’t be ready till around this time next year (makes me glad I have beers ready to drink now).
I think I need to start a new building project soon. Motorizing the malt mill has been one of the top projects for some time now but I am not sure if that is what I need next (though it probably is). I have also wanted to set up the brew tower for quite a while, though that is probably one of the bigger projects that will remain on the back burner for a long time.
Enough of this for now… its time for a pint
It seems like its been a really long pause since the last time I was able to sit at the keyboard. But I have been keeping up with the fairly constant of writing on brew days.
So during the past few weeks we have run across a few things (bottling, kegging, drinking holidays etc…). The first I will touch on is St. Patricks day. I know I tend to be in the minority but I really don’t care about drinking on Pat’s day. To me it will forever be an amateur holiday and I don’t want to link myself in with those who drink solely because they feel they are living up to some mythical ideal. (call me an elitist if you wish but I have to have some principles don’t I). Mind you I have made it a tradition now that I will drink an Irish Rye to commemorate the day. This year I had one plus Brigid’s Irish red from Arcadia (on cask the way I prefer anything from Arcadia). Brigid’s is a tasty treat that is unmistakably Arcadia. I have also sampled Great Lakes Brewing’s Irish Red. Another well done Irish that I was happy to find placed before me.
And now we find ourselves on brewing Sunday. So far today I have spent a short bit of time helping a couple friends get set up for brewing (they be going big; Imperial IPA). The recipe was created on the fly at Bell’s general store. By my calculations it should end up around 9ish percent and real close to 100 IBU.
Currently, I am at the mashing stage for the Northern Brown. This is the second brewing of this beast. I have changed it up slightly by using a different yeast strain. My plan is to do a bit of a side by side comparison between the first batch and the current batch. I’ll probably sneak a bit of the Irish Rye in there too just to get a three way cross comparison (really its just an excuse to drink more beer).
A little later this week I will be bottling the rest of the Dunkleweizen. I have to make some room to get the Oatmeal stout on and carbing up. Its a viscious cycle … have to drink more beer to free up the bottles to free up the kegs to free up the car boy to brew more beer that I will need to drink (can we say life is hard?).
Ah well, its time to find me a pint and finish up some brewing…
It is that time again. I have a need for some Magic 8 Ball and I am gonna fill it. I have just finished dough in and I am right on with my target temps. I will be doing some minor experimenting with the sparge again tonight. I want to see what happens when I lower the amount of sparge water (seems logical… less water = less wort at the end). I am also planning to do a much slower sparge. Even though I am filling the mash tun by hand my thoughts say I should still end up with a better extract yield. I would like to get my percentage up to 75. Higher yield means a higher sugar ratio (more booze potential for those uninitiated).
Its odd, I haven’t wanted coffee in years but I do enjoy this beer. Even stranger, I have never liked iced coffee. I just had a cool idea for an Irish coffee using a good stout like Magic 8 Ball.
I think I might be looking at doing the Saison on the next brew day. I have been mulling over some possibilities of what I might put out there. Looking at the recipe I set up originally it seems a bit hum drum. But then, some times it is the simple and mundane that can make the biggest impact. I guess I have a few decisions to make before the next time I brew.
And on that note, I do love the smell of dark grains as they sit in the mash tun. And soon we shall hear the happy burp of yeast feasting on sugar making the elixer of life and joy in our world (does that seem a little pompous?)
Time for a pint…
Goose Island came to the Central City Taphouse last night for a beer dinner. I hear the food went over well and the pairings worked out great (now I was busy cooking, so I am only saying this part to let you know that it happened.)
This is where it gets interesting for me. Our normal night ends with cooks at the bar having a beer and writing out prep lists for the following day. I ended up with a pint of the Pepe Nero. Reading the tasting notes for the beer today, I am even more impressed with it. Its a fantastic juxtaposition between dark roast malt and lightness of a saison. The rye does what I have continuously found rye to do, enhances the power of the hops. In this case rye which brings out a peppery note of its own adds to the spiciness of the Saaz hops.
The bonus for this night was that Kristopher Krause (state manager for Goose Island) was still at the bar for the after party of the beer dinner. After introductions we spent a bit of time talking beer and the state of things. One of the beers we talked about was Honker’s ale.
Honker’s was my introduction to Goose Island, the same for many people. For some it stops there. (ooo epiphany) Its like dating. You meet someone and look at their surface layers and decide if you want to get to know them better. Honker’s and 312 are their surface layers. When you start delving into Goose Island’s vintage line of beers you find that you are developing a relationship possibly something long term. I know for me I always like to return to what caught my initial interest. Honker’s is such a well done pub ale that I am always happy to find it available. (As a side note, I do find that being able to produce a good example of an ESB is a hallmark of good craft. Its the ability to reproduce a classic style that forms the lynchpin of branching out into other interpretations of styles.)
And now on to other thoughts…
I will be brewing up Magic 8 Ball oatmeal stout again this weekend. I do have this odd feeling like I am busy but not busy all at the same time again. The double pils is sitting and chillin, getting ready for its debut. The Irish rye is carbing up. And I still have Dunkleweizen and the American Wheat on tap. Beer is good…
I made a quick trip out to Darkhorse earlier today. If you haven’t been to their taproom yet, it is well worth the trip.
At first glance it seems a bit rundown and misabused. But then when you sit and start with your pint you find what at first seemed kinda divey is actually more homey. Personally, I fell in love with their tap handles. Basically, what seems like a bunch of odds and ends are used. One of the taps is even a dolls head. I was taken aback to see the PBR handle until I saw the hand written sign on the patron side “Not.”
As always the best part of going into the taproom of a brewery is the access to beers you will not find anywhere else. My beer of choice today was West Michigan Ale. It is a mix of Rye IPA and a Brown. It was a great beer (mind you I am a sucker for rye). The spiciness of the rye complemented the maltiness of the brown nicely. I spent a little bit just trying to pin point where the flavors were coming from. The hops were the hardest find, a resin backbone that supported the spicy rye and roasted malts.
It was a great visit, but now its time for a pint or two…