Monday, November 17, 2008


Moved my Red and 5 gallons of cider into kegs yesterday. Expect to see an update on the taste of the beer next week. The cider will sit for a while. I still have close to 2.5 gallons on tap and 5 gallons sitting upstairs. I plan to start another 5 gallons of cider this weekend and hopefully brew a Belgian Blonde (Lefse Blonde from Northern Brewer).

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Dead Soldiers

So this weekend I decided to do a little cleaning. I actually only emptied one of these this weekend. Last weekend friends cleaned out 2 of these that I had transferred a 1/4 barrel of Coors Light into and I had emptied out my original keg of cider about 2 months ago. The keg I did kill was the EPA that I had brewed this summer. It wasn't my best effort, so I wanted to plow through this beer and get on to better things. Next up is a milk stout next weekend. Not a standard summer fare, but one I have been looking forward to nonetheless.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kolsch Tasting Notes

I finally floated my first keg. It was my Double IPA that I brewed last year that never bottle carbonated. It was a unbalanced little beer, but it was the second beer I ever brewed and I will miss her. I had been lagering my Kolsch for about 5 weeks so I decided to hook it up and take a taste. My first impression was that I finally brewed a light colored beer. Late extract addition works like a charm. The second thing I note is that I am still working on dialing in the pressure. Too much CO2. The fragrance was dead on. A clean nose, just like you want out of a Kolsch. The taste is perfect, but it still has some mellowing to do on the after-taste. That's OK as I really didn't expect to break into this keg until Memorial Day, giving me another 3 weeks of lagering for a total of 8 weeks. I expect that this will be a hit at the pool party. I also transfered 10 gallons of cider to kegs this weekend. A warm uncarbed taste test with my wife proved that the brown sugar with ale yeast was more successful. She didn't even ask for back sweetening. We both felt that the apfelwein with corn sugar and wine yeast tasted like a dry version of Hornsby's and that wasn't what we were looking for. Both came out clear as a bell and with more apple taste than my first attempt. So I will start another 5 gallons of cider with 2lbs of brown sugar and Muton's dry ale yeast as soon as I can get the juice from Costco. In the meantime I have around 2 gallons of cider left and I need to clean my keg out and move the American Wheat into it. I have high hopes for the Wit after tasting the Kolsch and I am really excited to try my hand at an Extra Pale Ale and Sweet Stout. Soon I need to zero on a few house beers that I will brew on a regular basis. Kolsch and Dry Stout are in the lead so far.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Weekend Brewing Notes

I moved my Kolsch into a keg for a cold secondary. This was my first attempt at fermenting in a real controlled chamber (converted dorm fridge) and my first lagering. No trip to the LHBS meant skipping my planned attempt at a Wit, but I have hopes for getting it done next weekend. Toped off an Apfelwein I am working on with a bit more juice as it looks like there was extra headroom in the carboy and I found that there is basically no krausen in this. That makes one week in for my traditional apfelwein, 2 weeks in for my really strong cider with 5 lbs brown sugar and a dry ale yeast, and the completion of a 2 week primary on my Kolsch. I am hoping to give the 2 week cider another 2 before racking to a keg and then starting another batch. I am hoping to get a bit ahead on my cider production so that I have a steady supply and an opportunity to age some properly, with back sweetening with a couple of cans of frozen concentrate in the keg until then. For now, I still have my great cider on keg and a pretty good beer to drink. I had a glass of each on Friday night, and continue to be happy with my progress so far and am looking forward to tasting some of my more recent work soon.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Cider Tasting and Brewing

So I finally kegged up my cider that I brewed last Spring. The nose had a nice apple to it. The taste was dry with a very light apple flavor. There was a hint of brown sugar in the taste and the aftertaste had quite a bit of brown sugar to it. I thought this was from the addition of 2 cups of brown sugar that I used primarily to bloom the yeast rather than for taste, but...I also kegged up my test batch of Raspberry Apple cider. This was made with just under 1 gallon of unfiltered organic apple juice and about half a can of sweetened raspberry puree, no brown sugar or anything. The nose to that one has quite a bit of raspberry to it. Similar dry taste with just a hint of raspberry and...brown sugar. Not real sure what is causing this. I will do some research, but I am not complaining. They both tasted great and I started to make an altered version of apfelwein where I swapped out the corn sugar with brown sugar and used an ale yeast rather than a wine yeast. If it is as good as what I already have, I will be brewing this year round.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Cider Update #3

Quick note on the cider. I pulled a taste out using my thief, and tried it out. Almost all of the tartness is gone now. The flavor is that of champagne with an apple finish. I chilled my taste and tried it again and it was nearly perfect. I still think I am going to want to sweeten it up with some lactose, and the apple flavor will be given a tweak with the use of AJ concentrate to carb it. Sharon liked it and was quite pleased with the progress. I am going to give it another 4 weeks. As of today it has been 8 weeks. If it is all done by the end of this period, with the 3 week carbing, it will mean a 15 week total process. At this rate I can produce 15 gallons a year. I have a feeling keeping up with bottles for it may become an issue, with competing for them with my beers.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Cider Update #2

It has been 3 weeks since I started my cider and I wanted to post a quick update. I pulled out a taste a week ago and this last weekend. Last week it was very tart. This past weekend I took a taste and most of the tartness is gone. I have a bottle carbing away in the closet, so I was thinking of popping that open and testing some sweetening options. I still think I am wanting to wait until this summer before bottling, but I am a bit concerned about the heat. More about that in an upcoming post.

But first, a picture of my newly decorated brewing corner.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Cider Continues

7 days after pitching yeast, there was no more visible fermentation. I checked the gravity and it came in at 1.01. This was low enough for me to move it to second fermentation.

I pulled out a taste and it was dry and tart, but had apple flavor and a slight sparkle to it. Overall it would be drinkable, but not pleasantly so. I grabbed a 22oz swing top bottle, dropped a priming tablet in and it is now sitting in my closet. I took the rest and racked it to my 5 gallon glass carboy. I am going to keep it in the secondary for 2 more weeks, take a taste and think about adding 2 pounds of lactose to it. In the meantime I am thinking of doing an Irish Dry Stout next. The BeerAdvocate magazine for March had a recipe for this and suggested it as a first attempt. The dark roasts of the malt help cover up any problems that might occur. The only thing I am planning to change on their instructions is that I will rack to secondary for a week. They suggest that you bottle after a week and just get to the beer, but I have enough patience, plus there is no way to get this done in time for St. Patty's Day so there is no rush. Plus I really need around 100 bottles for these 2 batches and I am just short of 40 right now.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Home Brewing Starts

I finally took the dive and started home brewing. I decided to start with a cider. This is due to the fact that cider is easier to brew than beer (no boiling, very few ingredients) and I feel that I should brew something unique.

A quick work about unique. As I understand it, this is a hotly debated topic in the home brew world. There are many people out there who are working to create perfect clones of existing beers, and then there are people like me who say that if I wanted a Dog Fish Head 90 minute IPA, I would buy one.

So I am brewing a cider. This will not taste like Woodchuck, Hornsby, or pretty much anything else that you can buy at your local grocery store. These are really more like alcopops rather than a true cider. They are way to sweet and rather low on the alcohol. You can't brew anything like this, you have to fake it with malt liquor. What I am brewing will be very dry and have a slightly higher alcohol content. Here is the recipe/note from my efforts:

2 Gallons Target Apple Juice (Their Market Pantry brand)
2 Gallons Santa Cruz Organic Apple Juice
1 Gallon Organic Juice from Sunflower

The following were used to bloom the yeast by mixing with some of the apple juice blend and heating it to around 90 degrees.
2 Tablespoons Honey
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Package Safale US56 Dry Ale Yeast

OG 1.050 (Taken 15 hours after pitching yeast, but before active fermentation)

Active fermentation was noticeable after 20 hours. Monitored the temps in the 60-70 degree range.

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