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Sunday, February 24, 2013

And Even Busier!

Well, I got over to Emily's to try her pale ale. As soon as it was poured, the color stood out. It was that classic, dark, reddish gold. I wanted this to be an experience, so I didn't just take a swig (as much as I wanted to). I checked the head (decent, but not lasting), the aroma (not bad, but a bit less than I expected).

Then, I tasted. Wow! Malt, bitterness, and hop flavor were all in near perfect balance. Not that I'm a real expert, but I would consider this an ideal beer for a nice steak dinner.

I look forward to the day when she's developing her own recipes. My niece has joined the family hobby in a big way. I hope she does a stout for next year's Smackdown.

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Many years ago (1970-72), I worked as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp. I made many very good friends there. One of those friends was the camp nurse, Jean, who recently found me on Facebook. She saw some of my comments about brewing, and expressed an interest.

So, I put together a small sampler of recent brews and went to her home to chat about beer.

I had an absolutely wonderful time. I love to talk about beer; the styles, the process, the disasters. It was also nice to re-connect with someone I hadn't seen in over 40 years. One thing I found amazing...even after all those years, Jean seemed the same person I recalled, both in appearance and personality.

It was fun teaching brewing. Jean showed herself to be serious about trying this, asking lots of questions, and taking copious notes. I advised her to get a setup similar to what I had purchased for my niece. The price would be reasonable; she could make about 10 bottles at a time; decide if she liked it; hone her craft.

When I left (finally) I promised to help with her first batch, if needed, and insisted I try her first brew.

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I bottled my breakfast cereal porter experiment. I left it an extra week in the primary, in hopes it would ferment out completely, and prevent the bottle bombs I had the last two times.

Just in case, I put the bottles in a separate, plastic-lined box for conditioning. If anything does happen, I hope the effects will be confined to the box.

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My wife's apple wine turned out pretty nice. It's gone, so that should say something. I had an extra packet of yeast, so I decided to try something.

The basic recipe is truly easy. One gallon of fruit juice (without preservatives), a cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of yeast nutrient (or a few raisins), and yeast. The apple juice worked well, so I decided to try grape juice.

The one change I made was this. Barb had said she might like it a bit sweeter, so I stepped up the sugar just a bit; 1.5 cups, instead of 1. I'm hopeful the extra sugar will leave a bit of residual sweetness.

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I've been brewing for something like 24 years, give or take a couple. There are still a few things I haven't tried. I can cross one off, now.

I just brewed my first sour beer, a Berliner Weisse. I poked around a bit, and asked some advice, and this style seemed a good introduction to the process.

As I write this, I can hear the fermenter bubbling behind me, so that's good. I find the idea of a slightly sour, light-bodied wheat beer really appealing. If I timed this right, I'll be drinking this in the spring, when something refreshing will be what I'm craving.

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These examples show why I enjoy this hobby so much. There's always something different to do, different to try.



Saturday, February 9, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy





The biggest piece of news, I'm a first-time grandfather. My son and his wife welcomed Liberty Lavonia Labeck on Groundhog Day. The young family is doing well, and the smiles frrom Joe and Tanya are a joy to see.

My niece, Emily, brewed her first batch, a pale ale. I got put together a small. 1-gallon kit, with ingredients. I went to her house to help with brewing and bottling. As soon as the snow clears some, and I can safely travel, we'll try it.

I received ingredients for a couple of batches of my own. Yesterday, I brewed up a porter, using breakfast cereal as an ingredient.  I had tried this several times before, and the results were less than successful. The first time, there was way too much sediment, and the next two, I had exploding bottles.

I thought maybe that the cereal wasn't dissolving completely, so I decided to grind and boil it before the mash. For future reference, ground-up Lucky Charms is sorta grayish-green. Unappetizing.

All the contestants are lined up for our stout competition St. Patrick's Day. Mine is aging, my daughter-in-law's has just been bottled, and my son's and my nephew's are both fermenting. All four promise to be unique and tasty beers, and I hope to record the contest, for playback on my podcast.



Friday, February 1, 2013

Yet Another Variation



One gallon of apple juice, with no preservatives
One cup of sugar
One teaspoon of cinnamon
One packet of bread yeast

Put this all together, and you have My wife's first foray into brewing.