It’s Been Such A Long Time

The delay in posting is due in part to my WordPress App for iPhone no longer functioning.  So much for the ability to add quick notes to this blog.

Beyond that, well…life has been keeping me away.  Thankfully, the hubby and I are currently on a 2 week vacation on the east coast and, while I’m not able to do any brewing here, I have been enjoying many a beer here in this hot and humid clime including various Sam Adams and Wachusett Blueberry.

As for what’s brewing…

The Blueberry Stout for Dan’s birthday was a big success.  It has a great chocolate/coffee stout flavor with a subtle hint of blueberries.  I’ll definitely brew it again, but next time I’ll use a cheesecloth or grain bag to hold the blueberry puree.  It’s not that I mind pieces of blueberries in the finished product, but rather blueberries have a way of clogging the syphon tubing and bottling cane.  Doh!

I’ve brewed up two summertime quaffs for a work BBQ.  One is an Amber and the other a Honigweizen-Bier (honey wheat).  Both have really lovely flavors and I think both will be great.  They are currently bottle conditioning and awaiting the date of this BBQ to actually be set.  It was supposed to be July 31st, but seems to be in limbo at the moment.  I figure that if the date isn’t locked in by the end of the month that we’ll have our own BBQ and my coworkers can buy beer for their party.  Or maybe the new guy who also brews can rise to the occasion.

We left another batch of Garnet Pilsner lagering when we left.  It could have been bottled before hand, but we simply ran out of time.  I certainly don’t think it will hurt the finished product.  Who knows, it might even help and the recipe will be henceforth changed.

We had hoped to get to the Sam Adams Brewery earlier in the week, but were thwarted.  Hopefully we’ll be more successful in our attempt to get to the Allagash Brewery later this week.  Dreams of sampling Allagash straight from a cask dance in our heads.

Until next time, enjoy a cold and sudsy brew.  I know I will.

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Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Number of competitions entered…2

I have officially entered two of my original brews into competition.  Suzi’s Sugared and Spiced Cookie Ale and Garnet Pilsner.  Both were submitted to two competitions.

The first competition is the AHA National Competition.  This is round one which is a regional level.  If either brew scores a 30 or higher they move onto the national level.  The judging for round one is April 16th.  I’ll hopefully know how I did by the end of April.

The second competition is hosted by my brew club, The Maltose Falcons.  It’s their annual Mayfaire competition and the big winner is submitted to Sierra Nevada’s Homebrewer of the Year competition.  I’m not expecting to win than but I’m hoping to score well in my categories.  Judging for this one is at the end of April with the awards presented at the Mayfaire festival in May.

I’m really looking forward to getting feedback from other brewers.  Not that my friends don’t give feedback, but I’m hoping for some constructive criticism from other brewers.

When it comes to other beer related activities, I’ve been slacking on the my brewing responsibilities lately.  I have a Dunkelweizen and a Saison in secondary at the moment and both really should have been bottled by now, but we kept getting held up with other activities.

Including drinking beer.

Published in: on March 30, 2010 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  

6 Cases of Beer Conditioning

Over the past few weeks we’ve bottled a lot and brewed a little.  We currently have six cases of beer bottle conditioning at the moment.  Two of these are being entered into two different homebrewer competitions.  I’m very excited to get both submitted in the coming weeks.  I’m hopeful for positive feedback and if I happen to win a prize, even better.

This weekend we have a Dunkelweizen (dark wheat) to bottle and I’ll be brewing a Saison Ete for the crew heading out to Coachella in mid-April.

Of course, I’m really looking forward to trying the beet beer.  I’m calling it Garnet Pilsner and boy is it red!  It was just bottled this past weekend, so I have to wait until the 20th to try it.  I have high hopes for it.  It smells nice and hoppy like a pilsner should, but there is also this sweetness to the bouquet from the beets which is really interesting.  Pictures to come once it’s fully conditioned.

Oh…and as for the competitions, more on that in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

Published in: on March 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

5 Gallons of Beer to Bottle

After the marathon brewing weekend, I’ve been taking it easy on the brewing front.  I usually brew once or twice a month and after that big double brewing weekend, I’m a bit brewed out.  Of course, I’m sure that’s only temporary.

This weekend is looking to be non-brewing as well, although I had originally intended to get something going.  A last minute sailing invitation has won out.  Oh well!

That said, we still have the Belgian Dubbel to bottle this weekend.  I’m really looking forward to getting it conditioned and tasting it.  When we transferred to secondary the color and aroma were just heavenly!

We’re also looking forward to trying out the Belgian Witbier which is ready as of today.  I guess I should get some of it in the fridge so we can see what came of it.  It was modeled on a recipe for “Almost Heaven Witbier” which was posted by another beer blogger.  He noted that the citrus notes were very muted, so I seriously bumped up the amount of orange and grapefruit peel added to the boil.  I can’t wait to taste and see if I was successful.  Either way, I’ll have to let him know how it turned out.

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 8:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Brewful Weekend

Yes…my plan for this weekend involves a lot of brewing.

Since I’m planning to enter at least one beer into the National Homebrewer Competition, I need to acquire the beer-gredients today for the cookie beer.  I also have all the beer-gredients for a Belgian Dubbel which I want to use before too long.  So I think I’m going to do it — I’m going to brew today and tomorrow.  CRAZY!

Crazy Reason #1: The brew shop doesn’t open until 10:30am, so I’m already behind on my normal brew day.

Crazy Reason #2: I’m waiting for a contractor to come by the house at 11am, which means we can’t be at the shop when it opens, so I probably can’t begin mashing the grains until at least 12:30.

Crazy Reason #3: We need to rack the Roasted Beet Lager into secondary for lagering.

Crazy Reason #4: We need to bottle the Belgian Witbier.

There are other crazy reasons, but I think 4 crazy beer related reasons are enough.

So today I’ll be brewing up my first beer for competition.  Suzi’s Sugared and Spiced Cookie Ale will be submitted into the Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer category in at least one regional competition this spring.  If it scores 30 points or higher, it advances to the final national competition in June.

I’ve also decided to enter my Roasted Beet Lager into the Spice, Herb or Vegetable Beer category.  It will be fully lagered and bottle conditioned in time, so why not?

Tomorrow we’ll rack the roasted beet brew into secondary and begin lagering.  Five weeks at 40 degrees.  Let’s hear it for the small wine fridge turned fermentation locker!  We’ll also be bottling the Belgian Witbier (possible competition entry?) and brewing up the Belgian Dubbel.

Did I mention we also have friends coming over tonight for homemade pizza?  We’ll be serving homebrew of course.

Here’s to a beautiful and brewful weekend!

Mini-update:  I brewed the Belgian Dubbel and racked the roasted beet lager today.  Tomorrow we’ll bottle the Witbier and brew the cookie ale.  🙂

Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm  Comments (1)  

Taking the next step

More and more I am consumed with the idea of starting my own brewery. I don’t know that I have it in me to stay in corporate America long term. I know there are benefits (health insurance, 401k, stock options, etc), but I long to be my own boss. To be the creator of something great.

I’ve toyed with starting a clothing line or an accessories line, but perhaps my creative greatness lies in golden suds.

So I officially joined the American Homebrewers Association today. I am also planning to enter my first beer competitions. EEK! At least I’ll know what trained and impartial judges think of my beers.

More to come.

Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Roasted Beets — they’re not just for eatin’ anymore.

My newest brew experiment — Roasted Beet Lager (my husband is laughing a bit too much at the moment as he comes up with potential names for this brew such as “Call Your Doctor Lager” and “It’s Red When I Pee Lager”).

My brew day started by roasting 6 medium beets in the oven.  Onto the stove went two large stock pots — one for additional water in case I need to add some to primary to get to 5 gallons; the other for the brew.  Into the brew kettle I added 6.6 pounds of light LME.  After about 1 1/2 hours the brew kettle with the extract was almost to a boil.

I know this seems like a long time, but my brew kettle is a 5 gallon stock pot from a restaurant supply store.  It has a 1/2 inch copper core on the bottom to ensure even heating and help prevent things from burning to the bottom.  It’s probably a bit more than you really need to brew, but the restaurant supply shop is much closer than the brew shop and when I first started brewing, I was itching to get started and not wanting the long drive on the Los Angeles Freeways.

After skimming the foam from the top of the wort, I added the first hops (1 ounce Perle @ 8.2% AA).  The next hop addition wouldn’t be for 30 minutes, so I set about sanitizing my bucket, lids and lock for primary and also sanitized my carboy as I’m still planning to move my Belgian Witbier into secondary this afternoon.

Once the second hop addition was taken care of (0.75 ounces Saaz @ 2.8%), I set about peeling the beets.

For anyone who hasn’t roasted and peeled their own beets, it’s really a very easy process.  Cut the leaves off the beets leaving about 2 inches of stem.  Rinse the beets and wrap in foil (I create packets with 3 beets in each).  Roast beets in a 350 degree oven for 50 – 70 minutes.  Once the beets are done roasting, remove from oven and let them cool in the foil until they are able to be handled.  The remaining stems and the peels should be easy to peel off using just your fingers.  Rinse occasionally under cool water.  This should also help keep your hands from getting stained.  If your hands do get stained, fresh lemon juice can be used to neutralize the staining agents.

Back to the beer.

After peeling the beets, I cut them into cubes and made two satchels off beets using cheese cloth.  I also reserved the beet juice from the foil packets to add to the wort along with the beet packets.

The last hop addition was again Saaz with 15 minutes remaining in the boil.  The beets and beet juice were added with 10 minutes remaining.

Currently I’m waiting for the temperature to come down enough to add the wort into the primary bucket and pitch the yeast (Wyeast Bohemian Lager).  I’m debating leaving the beets in primary.  I made a cranberry wheat beer a while back and added 3 pounds of chopped cranberries to the boil and left them in during primary.  I think it helped the cranberry flavor get more infused into the beer.  What I’m not sure is if that’s what I want to do here.

It has been pouring rain here all day and the power has gone out 3 or 4 times already today.  It has made for an interesting brewing experience with candles — mood lighting?  Thankfully I have a gas stovetop, so I haven’t lost brewing ability.  We have a week of rain predicted for the area.  I’m hoping we don’t have significant power outages as primary needs to be controlled at 50 degrees and I need my wine fridge to be working consistently.

Since I’m lagering this batch, I’m not expecting to be able to truly know the outcome for close to 10 weeks.  If all goes well, I’ll post a detailed recipe.

More to come!

Published in: on January 18, 2010 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hello world!

I started homebrewing in August 2009.  I had thought about it for a number of years, but not found the time to try it.  I discovered the Home, Beer, Wine and Cheese Making (www.homebeerwinecheese.com) shop with the help of my brother-in-law and have been a loyal (and very regular) customer ever since.

Thus far I have brewed 40 gallons of beer (8 five-gallon batches).  The first two were kits put together by brew shop.  The next two were my first original recipes.  Tomorrow I’m brewing my first lager.  It’s going to have roasted beets.  🙂

Yours in suds….Ali K.

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm  Leave a Comment