Catching Up

The Sauerkraut is done.  I packaged it last Wednesday. Mild and crisp, it’s very good sauerkraut.

The 3-Gal Ky Common is in the process of verifying a prediction I made on brew day.  It was a Brew in a Bag batch – I got a lot of grain particles in the boil due to the fine grind and the mesh on my grain bag.  Prediction from that is a persistent starch haze, which it certainly has.  Apart from that, it’s a good beer, the best of its kind I’ve brewed.  There’s a “sharp” note to it from the rye and from the incomplete fermentation.  The beer still has two points to go according to prediction but given my wild temperature swings I had during mashing, this may be it.  It’s going to be quite sessionable at about 5%.

Next weekend we’re off to Palisade, Colorado for apples and Riesling grape juice for wine.  The Speidel is cleaned and ready for it and I’m looking forward to some good wine from it.  My next brew will be a Berliner Weisse.  Wife wants it for a bread recipe that appeared in Zymurgy Magazine not long ago.  I’m needing to have or supply a beer disposal event.  My basement is full.

Brew Day: BIAB Kentucky Common

I finally got around to brewing again, this time with a twist.  I have way too much beer on hand right now, a problem most would like to have, right?  I’ve had ingredients on hand for a three-gallon batch of Kentucky Common.  A brief history, Kentucky Common was a beer brewed before Prohibition in the Louisville area.  The records I’ve read indicate it was a dark cream ale, heavy on adjuncts, mostly maize and some rye.  I’ve tried it several times before but haven’t gotten anything I’d drink much of.  So this time I did some research and did the recipe pretty straight.

So, with such a small amount of grain on hand (5.5 pounds) I decided to do a Brew in a Bag batch.  Here’s the setup:


You see the bag, the thermometer, the timer and the supplemental hot plate.  My normal brew rig is a propane fired banjo burner but for this small amount, I decided to use the hot plate.  It played into the scheme later as I used it to add heat back to the mash.  That was a story in itself:  I got everything set up, the strike water heated, then the fun began.  Heating, cooling, overheating, it’s a wonder if I had any beta amylase left and may wind up with a very dextrinous wort.  But I got it going and got it done.  Here’s the temperature control:


Yep, old towels thrown over the pot, inserted into my normal mash tun.  But I finally got it to a boil, cloudy and full of stuff I don’t normally have in my beers courtesy of a good, fine grind.  In the end, I got a 1.062 wort, I was shooting for 1.052 but boiled off more water than normal due to the small volume in my kettle.  Cut with water, I hit my numbers.  I pitched cream ale yeast at 72 degrees and the wort’s aerating now.  It’ll live in a water bath for a few days during primary fermentation and I’m looking forward to a good Kentucky brew.

Life Continues to Be In The Way

Brown Ale is ready to bottle.  I have the ingredients for a 3-gallon BIAB (Brew in a bag) batch of Kentucky Common but no time to get the batch done.

But also in real life, on Thursday evening I’m giving a talk to the Denver chapter of the American Society for Quality on application of quality principles to homebrewing.  In my real life I am a quality professional and I do apply my profession to my hobby.  I’ll post the presentation slides after I’ve updated them and given the talk Thursday night.

Life keeps getting in the way of both my hobby and posting here but I have to say, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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.