And Finally, the Sauerkraut

I’m sitting this evening enjoying one of my recent Wits and watching Red Dwarf.  Bingeing actually while Wife is in Texas helping daughter.  It’s a complicated story and not one for this blog.  The Wit is one of my best beers yet, bready, yeasty, just a touch of spice to make it interesting, tart, light bodied and refreshing.  My Brown is coming along nicely, the dry hops are really bringing the flavors out.  This is not to be a boring Texas brown.  And finally the Altbier has started fermentation nicely.

Zymurgy is the science of fermentation.  Furthering my adventures in the science, today I finally harvested the cabbages I’d been growing with an eye to having lactobacillus have their way with it.  Of course my cabbage crop was a little sparse so I had to augment:


Thanks to instructions from the Wisconsin Extension Service, I was able to convert these into this:


Tamp, add salt and cover.  Ten pounds of sauerkraut in process in the basement alongside the brown ale.  It’s a lacto fermentation, just like souring a beer, so it’s important to keep air out.  I’m doing that by filling a large plastic bag with heavily salted water and placing it atop the crushed cabbage.  This should eliminate contact with air and let lacto do its job.

Not much else to report on the kraut, except we have an Oktoberfest party planned for later this month and some fresh kraut for the bratwurst (even though the Germans don’t eat it that way) should be quite nice.  We’ll see how it comes out in few weeks.

Two22 Brew/Brew Day

A busy couple of days.  Yesterday I was out running errands and they took me to the vicinity of Two22 Brew, actually the closest brew pub to me and very near my old house.  It’s a typical Colorado tasting room:  You go in and buy beer in what ever volume the publicans choose to serve.  My first choice was a flight of their beers:


It’s an American Pale Ale (already done in this pic), a Saison, a Blonde and two IPAs, one a “Two Hop” and the other a Simcoe IPA.  All of the beers were sound and good, the winner to my taste was the Two Hop IPA, the one I later got a half-pint of.  The brewer was not there.  I’ve talked with her before, though, and hope to get over there one evening this week and compliment her on her brews.  You have to google “two22″ to find them, a drawback to their clever name, but it’s worth it and damn, I’m bummed that they weren’t there when I lived within walking distance.

Today was brew day for Dusseldorfer Altbier, named “Hopfenkopf.”  Dusseldorfer Altbier is the original German hophead beer with a very high BU/GU ratio.  I brewed mine to 50 IBUs and an OG of 1.050, pretty much a BU/GU ratio of 1.  Here we go:


Now that’s a fine looking grain bed!  I got 80% conversion, leading to an original OG of 1.055, higher than I wanted.  A couple quarts of water later the gravity was where I wanted it, it’s pitched and in the fridge.  Altbier calls for a carefully controlled fermentation below 65 degrees until finished, then a “lager” phase at about 40 degrees for a few weeks.  I’ve never tasted the style but a friend is leaving for Germany soon and Dusseldorf is on their list of places to go.  I’m expecting a full critique once they get back.  The particulars on the beer:  OG1.050, 50 IBUs, about 14 SRM in color (copper).  Primarily Pilsner malt with Munich, CaraMunich, Vienna and a touch of black malt for color.  Hops were Perle (bittering) and Spalt so there was a lot of hop material in there.  It should finish at about 4.6% ABV, sessionable.  Key is this is a flavorful beer and mine should be.

I’ll make the recipe available here on request or cross-link from Brewer’s Friend.

Brewing Update

I racked the “Short Cut Brown” tonight.  So far so good.  It’s down to 1.022, should reach 1.015.  It should be anything but a “boring” brown, likely very different from the Texas Brown Ale that originally defined the style.  I’m pushing the limits of style, going as big as possible in both malt and hops, trying for a beer that while drinkable in large amounts is also enjoyable.  In other words, typical American brewing:  Go big or go home.

Sunday I intend to do another big, bold beer with a session ABV, a Duesseldorfer Altbier.  Starter’s spinning away, everything else is on hand.  I’m going for a big malt flavor and lots of hops in typical Zum Uerige style.  Interestingly enough, I’ve never tasted the example I’m following so I’ll wait for a friend to return from Germany and let him tell me how well I matched the style.  I thought about doing a Kentucky Common but I have even less an idea how that should taste once finished – best definition I have is a dark cream ale with a lot of adjuncts in the mix.  There’s not even agreement as to whether the style, a partial inversion of a sour mash whiskey mash, was sour or not.  I tend to believe it wasn’t, although I’ve tried souring it in the past.  By the time Common was being brewed in northern Kentucky, metal vessels were common.  The style mostly died in Prohibition, it’s been revived by a few craft brewers and a few homebrewers.  So we won’t know how it tastes but at least we can make a beer that tastes good.


Schwarzbier Packaged

The next version of my award-winning Schwarzbier is bottled.  Here’s the bounty:


Sorry for the darkness – it’s dark in my basement.  This version is likely my best yet – dark, malty, dry.  It’s a good beer and I’m closing in on my “perfected” recipe, the right balance of Carafa and Chocolate malt.  Next version should be just about there

90 Degree Saison Follow-Up

A follow-up on the Saison I wrote about earler (Last entry 29 July, talking about using a helper yeast).  Well, it’s partially carbed and delicious!  For all of you afraid of warm fermentation, the Wyeast Belgian Saison strain loves heat.  At times my fermentation was over 100 degrees and the beer shows no off flavors whatsoever.  It’s bone-dry but the esters give it a sweet flavor, citrusy and spicy.  The corn as well provides some sweet flavors.

On request, I’ll provide the recipe.

And one more thing:  A bronze medal in the Colorado State Fair for my Schwarzbier.  The next batch is ready to bottle.

Brew Day – Shortcut Brown Ale

Brewed a pure extract-and-steep batch today for the first time in forever, a “Shortcut” Brown Ale.  It was kind of enjoyable and in a way, I was revisiting the art of making beer from someone else’s wort.  My process was much different this time:  I have two pots so I could steep in one and dissolve extract in the other.  I did a full boil and used a chiller instead of the old fashioned three gallon boil, chilled with ice water in the sink.  And I’m going to control the fermentation temperature in my fridge, recently free of laters.  So here’s the boil:


The last extract batch I did was a kit the local homebrew shop asked me to brew as a test.  But it was a partial mash.  And it came out wonderful.  This time I really did it mostly the old-fashioned way.  Oh, and I’m breaking in the new Speidel fermenter, a 7.9 gallon HDPE jug with an oversized airlock and a valve so I can let gravity drain my wort into the secondary fermenter.

Keys to good extract brewing:  Fresh extract.  The Brew Hut goes through a lot of it so I’m reasonably sure theirs is fresh.  Good grains and a good crush to get the “good” from the steeping grains.  A full boil helps, gives you less kettle caramelization and better hop extraction than a concentrated boil.  The rest is the same as with all brews:  Sanitation, a good boil, long enough to drive off any DMS, a quick chill and pitching good, healthy yeast in the proper volume at the proper temperature.

One more thing before I go, the Chihuly-esque glass art at Sweetwater Brewing.  A local guy did it from bottles, so everything is brown.  Still, it’s a nice piece for a brewery.