Thursday, March 29, 2012

Porter carbonated and other updates

Here are some updates with the brews I have been working on lately:

The Porter is finally carbonated!

The kit said it would take roughly 2 weeks to carbonate, yet it took nearly 4.  I have read about darker beers and lagers taking more time to reach the appropriate carbonation levels, so that appears to be true.

The taste is excellent.  I would compare it to Yeungling Porter, although the spices and hint of chocolate remind me of Sam Adam's Holiday Porter.  So needless to say, I am very pleased.  I think I'm going to try to make a reduction out of this for some brisket or for a steak marinade...

Wine / Bar Cupboard??

This cat condo, I mean TV stand, was acquired for free.  A friend was moving and had no room for it so I am going to convert it.  There is an adjustable shelf inside the cupboard portion, so that gives me a few options.  I am thinking about creating a wine rack in the bottom portion and perhaps a mini bar cupboard/stand in the upper portions.  I can attach a bottle opener and a towel rack and maybe do some other things.  I may sand and stain it as well.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

 Chocolate mint tea champagne (lol)

I finished off my experimental chocolate mint tea champagne.  It was carbonated very very well and would foam like a freshly opened champagne bottle unless it was kept chilled.  I think I need to use a little less yeast if I do it again, or perhaps rack it one more time to keep the yeast flavor down, even though champagne yeast is pretty mild.

I will definitely make some of this again.  I just need to score some fresh mint and dry it out. 

My planned brewing list:
Chianti -kit is here, just looking for some spare time
Limecello -almost out, and is too good not to always have it in-stock
Smash -I nearly finished off my Smash on St. Patrick's day, so I need to get more of that brewing soon because it takes at least 7 weeks before it is drinkable and about another 4 before a normal man can handle it

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bottling the Porter

The porter cleared up pretty well in the secondary and the SG had held steady for a few days.  So it was time to bottle.

I just ordered this capper online.  Workers very well for a hand-held and you cant beat the price. 

After cleaning and sanitizing everything I prepared the corn sugar (helps create the carbonation) and siphoned the beer out of the secondary carboy and into the bottling bucket.

I did run into some trouble though.  I ended up being short on bottles.  These caps and capper only work on american style bottles. 
In the pic you can see an American style bottle on the right and a European style bottle on the left.  The difference looks pretty small but...

<---This is what happens with the European bottle

The caps don't grip and they can easily be knocked off, they hold up to the carbonation nor keep out the O2.  So I lost quite a bit of bottles this way and ended up searching around the joint for some other bottles that could be capped.   I found a few and also found that champagne bottles won't work (at least with this capper) even though they have a good lip for a cap because the neck has a bulge where the wire tie downs often rest. 

I ended up with 46 bottles total (minus what I drank while bottling) I threw the rest of the brew in a sanitized gallon jug.  I have been drinking from that to keep me from opening up too many bottles before the carbonation sets in (takes 2 weeks with the priming sugar).  The stuff still tastes great even though it is flat.  So I'm excited to see how it ends up here in a couple weeks.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Random experiment

Last night I decided to mess around with some left over ingredients I had.  With a bunch of lime juice left over from the Limecello, some yeast I needed to use up, and whatever else I could find I whipped up this odd brew.

8 cups of hot water, chocolate mint leaves, lime juice (20 limes), 4 cups sugar, 1/4 tsp yeast.
Basically I made a big batch of mint tea, added a crap load of sugar, and pitched some yeast in it. 
It has a high SG with a capability of producing 18% ABV.  The yeast I used won't go that high, and it is a type of champagne yeast, so it should be bubbly but not too alcoholic.  I needed to use the yeast up.  I had been using it for homemade root beer and ginger ale.

Here is an awesome way to make homemade tea bags 

This should work for most kinds of herb.. and other materials..

 Here are some raw chocolate Mint leaves that I have dried.  I usually add them to tea for a bit of extra flavor.

You can't easily open up a tea bag and add your own stuff without it leaking out into you water.  There are metal and plastic capsules you can buy that act as reusable tea bags, but I don't have a lot of cash and I don't know where to buy one in stores. 

So all you need is a coffee filter and a rubber band.

First, strip the leaves off of the stems.  I did this over top of a paper towel so it is easier to transfer any little pieces.

Then pick out any stems that broke off with the leaves.  You can leave them in, but some stems don't add flavors you are looking for.

Next, grab these pieces, or just pour them with the paper towel, and put them into a coffee filter.  Now just crush the leaves up with your fingers.  If your herb is dry this will be very easy.

Then you want to start bunching up the coffee filter by gathering up the top of the filter slowly.

See how the sides of the filter are like an accordion?  Bring the sides together like how an accordion closes. 

Then give it a little twist and secure it with a rubber band.  This is what it will look like, a little bag but not so tight that the herbs can move around inside a bit. 

Just drop this in your cup/teapot/pot or whatever and steep it like a normal tea bag.

It is not hard to do and it is cheap and disposable