Not much going on the past couple of weeks. I got the Kentucky Common bottled soon enough that it should be reasonably well conditioned by the Kentucky Derby party. The Saison has finished primary fermentation – Wyeast 3724 is a brewer’s test of patience – and is ready to “cellar” for a couple weeks near freezing prior to packaging. The Maerzen has finished its diacetyl rest and I’m bringing it down to lagering temperature.
It’s snowing again in Denver, for those of you who are interested in such things. That’s not unusual – our average last snowfall is about April 28th. I’ve had some fantastic brew days in the snow here.
The bakery is coming along nicely. A couple weeks ago my grandson and I captured a local sourdough starter. It makes good bread and is rather fast as sourdough starters go. My San Francisco starter takes an hour or so longer to ferment and proof. Yes, when I make a dough, I’m managing a fermentation, whether I’m using regular dried bread yeast or one of my sourdoughs. This morning I finished my first batch of sourdough wheat hamburger buns. When I can get to the grill, turkey burgers should be delicious on them with emmenthal or gruyere cheese and chipotle mayo. As with brewing, there are several keys to good bread and many of them will sound familiar: There’s time, temperature, “pitch rate” or use of a pre-ferment, starters, how much and what quality of water is used. My family can eat more bread than I can drink beer so it’s a good way to keep busy between brew days.
The winery is also in a slow phase. We have two in process right now, a red blend and a white blend. Rather than following the box instructions, we processed the white blend “Mosel style.” The box tells us to keep a reserve of grape juice and add that back once the wine is completely fermented. Now think about that for a minute: Would you ever keep a reserve of malt extract and add that back to a beer, unless maybe to condition it? Grape juice does not taste like wine, it tastes like grape juice and the result of adding it back is something that tastes vaguely like grape jelly. Remembering what my vintner friends in Germany do to produce an off-dry wine, we waited, tested and when the wine was as sweet as we wanted, we added sulfite and sorbate to stop the fermentation and stabilize the wine. The result matches the great Mosel Reislings I remember fairly well, even though there’s no Reisling in the blend. I may be bottling wines tomorrow and the white blend may be one I’ll forego the occassional bottle of beer to drink.
Today we’re gathering up supplies for the Kentucky Derby party next weekend, 2016’s first beer disposal event. Cheers!