Friday, July 25, 2014

Gearing up for a major update

I know, it has been a long time.  I have lots to share, specifically

A gluten free beer that does not suck!

I researched many recipes and put together my own that would be similar to an American Ale, but with a really nice 'mouth feel' and a medium hop flavor

I will be posting step by step instructions with pictures as soon as I am able.  I have a few meetings and rehearsals coming up.

I will probably make a few posts about the mead, some Chianti, and a few other brews I have been working on.  

Currently in stock, 5 bottles of chianti, 26 bottles of coastal white, 21 bottles of irish red ale, 1/2 gallon of mead, and probably 50ml of lemoncello

Monday, October 14, 2013

October Update!

OK, I know, it has been awhile.  Finished my grad degree, bought a house, and working lots.

I have 2 gallons of mead that has been aging for quite a long time.  It has finally cleared and mellowed out.  I have lightly back-sweetened about half a gallon and Im pretty pleased with the results.... So I may sweeten the rest as well.  It really doesnt take much sugar to sweeten this mead, it is pretty orange and flowery tasting in the first place...not as 'earthy' as honey from clover.  I used 3 tablespoons of sugar for half a gallon and it was almost too sweet.

I have 4 brews planned for the upcoming weeks:
  - Amaretto- I'm pretty excited about this.  Its a kit from Canada that requires no distilling with a decent alcohol content.  It comes with charcoal for filtering, lots of yeast, yeast nutrient, fining and clearing agents, and flavoring/essential oils.  You need some 1 gallon glass containers and a bung and airlock to make this.  Oh, and a crap load of sugar too.

- Irish Red Ale - This is one of Midwest Supplies extract kits.  This is the first beer kit from Midwest I have bought.  I've used Brewers Best before and I want to try Midwest out since I buy equipment from them often.

- 'Coastal White' Wine -  I meant to start this one this summer but was too busy getting my thesis finished up.  This is a kit from WineExpert in their Vinter's Reserve series. 

- Pumpkin Ale -  Its that time of the year again.  I will do this from scratch again this year, but I think Im not going to use such a light dme this time and go for something more golden or amber.  I will have to do some more research to tweak the recipe.  I was pleased with the "mouth feel" of the one I made last year, but I didnt get the spice flavors to come through. 

Im not entirely sure what to start first.  I did end up getting another primary fermenter, but I have only one glass carboy for secondary.  So....I can do the Amaretto without any of that equipment, that will come first.  I will most likely start the wine and a week in I will start the beer in the other fermenter. that way I can stagger the brews a week a part so when the carboy is being emptied, i can fill it right back up with the next batch. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

first post of 2013. Just a quick one

 The Chianti is bottled and has been aging for about 2 months...

It will pretty good by mid spring but it should be better during the summer or later even.

I used my new auto siphon and I am pretty happy with the results.  The only thing I dont like is that the tube is a bit small and it takes a while to transfer 5 gallons.

I followed through with my Pumpkin Ale plan, the recipe is a few posts back.

The brew is carbonating in the bottles right now and it should be good to go in about 10 more days.

I ended up adding a bit more spice though.  I tried a cup out of the bottling bucket and it lost most of its flavor but had that noticeable difference in "mouth feel" because of the pumpkin.  It is pretty creamy.

So I threw in more cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Im hoping it doesnt over power the brew, but I am pretty confident.
Next time I probably wont use light DME but something a bit heavier.

Oh, and the Mead is STILL fermenting.  holy crap it is taking forever but the last SG test put it a bit above 10% abv.  It looks very good, I will put a pic up once it settles from its racking.   

Thursday, November 29, 2012

1st batch of Mead (2 gallons)

I like mead, warm or cold.  Homemade stuff is usually way better than what you can pick up at the state store, save a few.  I wanted to get some going this summer, but I had a difficult time finding some decent raw honey.

Luckily, a friend at the pottery studio had a line on some raw honey from an orange/palmetto farm and she picked up a few pounds of it for me.

This stuff is just about raw as it gets.

Fresh off of the comb.  They cut the comb straight into the jar.  No pasteurizing or watering down.

Perfect for brewing mead

Oh, and it tastes very very good.  It has a light orange or citrus taste too!  It is very thick and you can see that the sugars have started to chunk up and crystallize a bit. 

It was a major pain in the ass to get it out of the jar though.  I soaked the jars in some warm water a bit and used a rubber spatula to get it out.

When I poured the honey in the brew kettle, I heated the honey lightly to help it dissolve.  A lot of mead makers do not recommend heating honey, but since this is so raw, I did heat it but kept it under 160F.

I had researched a few recipes, such as the legendary "Joe's Ancient Orange and Spice Mead" and used some of "Malkore's not so Ancient Orange Mead" recipe  ( to create my own adaptation. 

Here is what I used:
 6 lbs of raw orange blossom honey
 1 medium sized orange, Zested and Juiced
 1 cinnamon stick
 1/4 tsp of clove
 1 packet of Lavin EC-1118

So first I zested the orange, making sure not to get any of the white pith.  Then I cut the orange in half and juiced it.  I set both the zest and the juice to the side to use in the brew and threw the rest away.

I heated up a gallon of distilled water to about 155F.  Then I added the raw honey and stirred it well to dissolve everything. I brought the heat back up to about 155F and held it there for 10 mins.

Next, I added the orange zest, orange juice, the cinnamon stick, and the clove.  I let this steep for about 15 min. and stirred it frequently. Then removed it from the heat

I gave it a water bath to cool it down quickly.  While the water bath was happening I re-hydrated the yeast...  Some people dont, but with this strain I always have better luck when it is re-hydrated with the warm water (biology and chemistry in action, with the water helping the yeast cell membrane re activate properly and decrease the likelihood that the yeast will die of infections before adequate fermentation begins, or whatever!).

While transferring the mead into the fermentation vessel, I ran it through a cheese cloth to filter out the cinnamon stick, zest, and pulp.  Next time, I will probably throw all of this stuff in a grain bag to make it easier.

Once in the vessels (I ended up using 2 plastic 1 gal jugs, im saving the glass ones for the secondary), I split up the yeast in equal parts (make sure you suspend it well by rapid stirring before your measure it out) and then added equal amounts of water to top it off and get a SG of 1.094

That should be about 12.5% ABV if the yeast makes it that far. 

Im at 1.050 right now, after a little more than 2 weeks in the fermenters.  I will give it at least another week and check it again before I rack.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Plan

I'm all geared up to make some Pumpkin Ale...Ive got my grains, malt, hops, pumpkin, and yeast.  I just need to bottle the Chianti before I get started so I have the fermenter ready. 

 This is a basic recipe:

4½ lb Pumpkin
2¼ lb malt extract (Im using a light dried malt extract)
2oz dried hops (optional, but i am going to throw in about an ounce of some Hallertau)
1½lb sugar or pale dried malt extract  (Since my ex
26 pints of water
Ale yeast

My alterations to the recipe to bump it to 5gal and to fit what I have:

4½ lb Pie Pumpkin (roasted for 30min - 1hr)
6 lb malt extract (Im using a light dried malt extract)
1oz dried hops - Hallertau
1 lb briess creamy malted  red wheat (steeped, this will give me some good color and flavor too, hopefully)
1/2 lb brown sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice mix
Ale yeast

This should do pretty well for a 5 gallon batch.  I may be about a pound short for the grain bill, but I am not sure.  I will have to bust out a calculator

From the research I have been doing, people usually over do it on the spices. they put in cloves, ginger, all spice, etc and use too much.  So I am just going to stick with 1 tbsp and see how it goes.

I will post some pics and whatnot when I get this going

If you have any tips on pumpkin ale, I am all ears!

Thursday, September 27, 2012



The first batch of Limoncello appeared to be ready to bottle. 

The color seemed to have faded out of the zest pretty well and it was smelling delicious. 

So I got to work and cooked up the simple syrup.

I used the same recipe that I used for my Limecello.

1 cup sugar to 1 cup water.  Some might think this is too sweet, but remember I'm using straight grain alcohol, not watered down vodka : )

I filtered the brew off of the zest into an amaretto bottle I had sitting around.  Recycling FTW

But there was still quite a bit of color left on the zest unfortunately....  So I think that the lemons take longer than the limes to brew.

Next time I will wait a bit over 2 weeks and check the zest better before I filter the alcohol off of them. 

The color is still amazing, and it certainly tastes delicious.  It seems to need a little something.  Probably a bit longer on the zest and maybe I will throw the zest of a lime or two in there as well next time...
I managed to get this and my Chianti going and make it out to the
beech just before sunset!!!

Saw a bunch of birds chasing a school of fish up the coast, the tide was pretty high and right on the tail of the fish was a crap ton of Tiger Sharks!  I couldnt get any good pics with my phone but they were pretty crazy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I bottled the Limecello last night, it has a great green color and is very smooth.

Also, I am experimenting with some Limoncello now.  I just zested a dozen lemons and have them mixed with the alcohol.  I'm going to follow the same recipe that I made for the Limecello for now, to see how it turns out.  I will probably tweak it later on.

I'm pretty excited that all of the Autumn or harvest style beers are coming out in the stores now.  Finally! they are some of my favorite. 

Unfortunately, my favorite seasonal brew from Leinkugel's (their octoberfest) was already sold out!  I picked up a 12 pack of Sam Adam's Oktoberfest to satisfy my thirst.

I am planning on brewing about 5 or 6 gallons of mead.  I'm waiting on some local honey.  I'm thinking a cider would be awesome as well.