Saturday, December 27, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

NJ Cider #2 Bottled

I bottled it today. It finished at 1.000 SG. I have no idea what ABV it is because I added a ton of apples to the brew. It might be between 8 and 10% somewhere.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Cider Bottled

Starting Gravity = 1.060
Finishing Gravity = 1.000
Alcohol By Volume = 7.74%

Friday, November 28, 2008


I moved the NJ#2 to the secondary today. The SG was 1.000

Holiday Cider Racked again, this time with cinnamon

I moved the cider to another carboy today. There was a ton of sediment in the original container. I also wanted a little more cinnamon flavor so after I moved it I added 3/4 ounces cinnamon stick and about 1 T ground cinnamon. The SG was 1.000.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peach Ginger Mead Bottled

Starting Gravity = 1.122
Finishing Gravity = 0.992
Alcohol By Volume = 16.77% (at least, that doesn't figure in sugar from the 10 pounds of peaches)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NJ Cider #2

The NJ cider is a hit. A couple of ladies at my tailgate really loved it and want me to brew up a ton more for them. NJ said she wanted more apple flavor. So I decided to pack some apple flavor into the next batch. The other thing I did different this time was instead of using yeast from a packet I poured the juice etc onto the leftover yeast from the holiday cider.

NJ Cider #2
4 gallons unsweetened Country Fare 100% Apple Juice from concentrate
10 pounds of apples, peel left on, sliced. Mix of Jonathon, Braeburn, Granny Smith and Cortland
1 pound honey
1 tsp pectinase enzyme

Pitched onto the yeast leftover from the Holiday Cider. 11/9/8 start date.

Holiday Cider Moved to Secondary

I moved the Holiday Cider to the secondary on 11/9/8. The specific gravity right now is 1.012.

It is going to have a real nice flavor and color!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Holiday Cider

Today I whipped up some Holiday Cider. It should be ready for Christmas and New Years. It is a mix of apple juice and cranberry juice with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. I'm hoping its tasty.

Holiday Cider

3 gallons Musselman's 100% apple juice
2 gallons Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
1 lb light brown sugar
5 sticks cinnamon
1 packet Safeale US-05 Yeast

Starting Gravity - 1.060

Monday, October 27, 2008

Buzzy Beer Tested

I cracked a bottle of Buzzy Beer the other night. It was delicious. it is just starting to carbonate. It has quite a ways to go. I think it should be ready by Christmas.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sleazy T Ale Bottled

I bottled the Sleazy T ale today. I used 7.5 ounces of corn sugar and 1 1/2 cups water for the carbonation. It is a little more than usual because I have not been getting the carbonation that I want lately.

Final Stats:

Starting Gravity: 1.040
Finishing Gravity: 1.010
Alcohol By Volume: 3.87%
IBU's: 29.5

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sleazy T Ale Racked

I pulled the ale off of the hops and into another carboy today. I don't have time to bottle it today so I'll let it sit without hops for another couple days.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Bottled

I bottled Joe's Ancient Orange Mead today and got 9 bottles. The final gravity was 1.034 which makes the alcohol content about 10%. It tasted pretty orangy so I think I will let it bottle age for a year or so before trying any. It needs to mellow. My wife wants me to do a cranberry mead so that will probably be the next small batch mead I make.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sleazy T Ale - Dry Hopped

I added a plug of hops to the Sleazy T secondary today. I will dry hop it for 5 days and bottle next Wednesday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Buzzy Beer Bottled

I bottled the Buzzy Beer today. I estimate the final alcohol by volume to be 10%. I have to use an estimate because in order to bottle condition and carbonate the beer, I had to add an additional 1 1/4 cups of Munton and Fison Extra Light Dry Malt Extract. Before I added it, I measured the gravity at 1.023 with an ABV of 9.9%. I expect to get an additional .01% or so from the carbonation and conditioning process.

Final stats:

Class: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Starting gravity 1.100
Finishing Gravity 1.023
ABV ~10%
International Bitter Units 14

By my calculations the beer should be ready to crack on December 21st (10 weeks from now.)

Sleazy T Ale Moved to Secondary

I moved the Sleazy T ale to the secondary. I measured the gravity at 1.014. Right now the alcohol is 3.35%. It will sit in there for at least a couple weeks, maybe more depending on how long it takes to clear.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Yeast Pitched into Buzzy Beer

I pitched the culture of yeast into the Buzzy Beer. It took quite a while to get going from culture but it finally started bubbling. I also added a fresh packet of yeast.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Irish Red Carbonating Slowly

I tested another Irish Red today. It is carbonating but SLOWLY. It may have to age quite a while before it is fully ready. It has a marvelous flavor, even with light carbonation.

Hard Knox Cider Bottled!

Done today! It is about 7.5% alcohol.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Almost time to bottle Buzzy Beer

Today I am making an attempt at reculturing the east from the Buzzy Beer. The goal of this is to repitch some active yeast into the Buzzy Beer about 3 days before bottling. Here is how I did it -

Boil 2 ounces Munton and Fison Extra light dry malt extract in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature in a sanitized 1/2 gallon container. Then grab 1 "thief" amount of Buzzy Beer from the secondary and drop it into the container. Gently swirl to aerate and top with airlock.

We'll see how this works. I may end up just buying another bottle of the yeast and pitching that if my culture attempt doesn't work.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sleazy T Ale Brewed

Starting Gravity = 1.040
IBU's = 29.5

Buzzy Beer Tested

Specific Gravity today = 1.023. Estimated alcohol by volume ...

wait for it ....

wait for it ....


Friday, October 3, 2008

Sleazy T Ale Updated

I changed the hops for Sleazy T Ale a bit:

1 oz Fuggles (pellet) 4.9% boiled 60 minutes
1/2 oz Goldings, East Kent (plug) 5.4% boiled 15 minutes
1/2 oz Goldings, East Kent (plug) 5.4% dry hopped 5 days

I think I might brew tomorrow.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sleazy T Ale

I've decided to brew another English Ale for my next beer. My friend Sleazy T from Des Moines really likes this beer called John Courage but they aren't making it anymore. I did a little research on John Courage. I think this beer will be similar to what John Courage is like.

I've decided to add a special twist to this beer. I've decided I would like a little more hop aroma without the added bitterness that you get from adding more hops to the boil pot. To accomplish this I am going to dry hop this beer with two half ounce plugs of East Kent Goldings. It should be interesting.

Sleazy T Ale

3.5 pounds Munton and Fison Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
14 oz light brown sugar
1/2 pound Crystal 50-60ยบ Simpson’s (UK)
1/2 pound flaked corn
1/2 pound flaked wheat


1 oz 4% Fuggles (60 minutes)
1/2 oz 3% German Tradition (60 minutes)

1 oz East Kent Goldings plugs - dry hopped for last week in secondary

1 tsp Irish Moss added in last 10 minutes of boil

White Labs #WLP005 British Ale Yeast

Holy Bottles Batman!

My naughty friends in Des Moines gave me 8 cases of bottles!

Peach Ginger Mead Moved

I moved the Peach Ginger Mead to another carboy today. I also tasted a little sample. It has mellowed tremendously over the last month.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Plum Mead Moved to Secondary

I moved the plum mead to the secondary. The SG was 0.996 today. The ABV is around 14.7%.

Hawkeye Hefe

I opened a Hawkeye Hefe last night. It is my best effort yet! Very tasty! It tastes exactly like a hefe should. There is a slight flavor of bananas mixed with clove. It goes down very easy and is not too bitter.

Hard Knox Cider moved to secondary

I moved the Hard Knox Cider to the secondary this AM. It is about 7.5% alcohol by volume at the moment.

Irish Red Ale Bottled

I bottled the Irish Red Ale this AM. I think it will be pretty tasty. Here are the final stats:

Starting Gravity - 1.059
Finishing gravity - 1.014
Alcohol By Volume - 5.8%
IBU's - 20

I made up some labels for the caps. My naughty wife came up with the name.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hard Knox Cider

Today I brewed up some hard cider for NJ. I got un-preserved apple juice from Wal Mart. I misread the label. I thought I was buying gallons of the stuff and it was in 3 quart bottles. My naughty wife had to run to Hy Vee to get the Hy Vee brand apple juice. I added a little clover honey to increase the starting gravity. Without further delay, here is the recipe.

Hard Knox Cider

4 gallons Wal Mart Great Value 100% Juice (unsweetened) pasteurized apple juice
1 gallon Hy Vee brand Juice (unsweetened) pasteurized apple juice
1 lb 2 oz clover honey
1 package Red Star Pastuer Champagne yeast, rehydrated according to package.

Starting gravity - 1.058

Buzzy Beer Update

I tested the gravity of the Buzzy Beer today. Its almost there! 1.028. The ABV is ~9.29%. I gave it a swirl today to encourage a little more fermentation. It now needs to sit until mid-October.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Plum Crazy Mead Tested

The activity in the plum crazy mead has really slowed down. I decided to give it a gravity test today. It was 1.000, corresponding to an ABV of ~14.7%.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Buzzy Beer, Location

I have been researching 2 strip and 3 strip technicolor. I have figured out how to do 3 strip technicolor with the touch of a button using photoshop. Here is the original photo of the Buzzy's Farm Location:

Here is Buzzy's Farm Location in glorious 3 strip technicolor:

Party consumes Benn Naughty Ale!

I was recently at my great uncle's 80th birthday party.

I brought the rest of the Benn Naughty Ale and enough Liberty Cream Ale to make 5 gallons. It all disappeared.

I got a photo of the inspiring character for Benn Naughty Ale, consuming the very same!

New Mugs

I got a few Octoberfest mugs. They are 1L mugs made from really heavy glass.

Hawkeye Hefe Bottled!

I bottled the Hawkeye Hefe today with yellow caps.
Here are the final stats
Starting Gravity - 1.052
IBU - 10
Final Gravity - 1.015
Alcohol By Volume - 4.77%

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hawkeye Hefe Close to Ready

I measured the gravity of the Hawkeye Hefe today. It was 1.015. There is still a bit of activity in the airlock but not much. I'll measure the gravity again over the next few days. If it doesn't change much I'll bottle it. This is going to be an outstanding beer. I tasted a little nip. Also it has great color. Today the ABV is about 4.77%.

Buzzy Beer Gravity Reading

I measured the gravity of the Buzzy Beer today, just to make sure it was still making progress. It was 1.036 which means it has about 8.25%ABV. I gave it a little swirl to mix the nutrients around a bit. I'll measure it again in another couple weeks.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Buzzy Beer Racked to Secondary

I moved the Buzzy Beer to the secondary today. Right now its ABV is about 7.5%!! It still has a ways to go though. It will spend at least 6 weeks in the secondary before bottling. I tasted a little sample and it was super tasty but I could tell it needs to ferment a bit more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Full Brewing Capacity

I am now at full capacity. I can brew no more until I get some stuff bottled and it will be a while. The first thing that will be bottled will be the hefeweizen and that will take 10 days to 2 weeks to mature.
The next thing that will be ready for bottling will be the Irish Red Ale and that will be in about a month. The buzzy beer won't be ready to bottle for at least 7 to 8 weeks. The peach ginger mead won't be ready to bottle for probably another 3 to 6 months. The plum crazy mead will not be ready for at least 6 to 9 months.

Hawkeye Hefe

I just brewed my last of anything for a while. I decided to brew a German hefeweizen. It is a wheat beer that is at least 50% wheat. hefeweizen uses a specific yeast that doesn't settle out so the beer stays cloudy like the one in the photo below.
Hefeweizen is traditionally a summer beer because it is very refreshing. Hefeweizen yeast produces a flavor of cloves and banana in the beer. It is usually very lightly hopped so it is not too bitter.

I decided to brew hefeweizen because it matures very quickly. You let the fermentation finish in the primary and then you bottle it. You don't have to age it in the secondary because the beer will be cloudy no matter what you do, and the cloudiness is a desired characteristic. The other nice thing about hefeweizen is that it is a very simple beer to brew. There are no specialty grains in my recipe so you can skip the steeping step, thus cutting about an hour off of the brew time.

Hawkeye Hefe

7 pounds Munton and Fison Dry Wheat Extract (55% wheat, 45% barley)

1/2 ounce German Tradition 5.0% AA hops

Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen

Bring about 2 gallons water to a boil. Remove pot from heat and stir in the extract. Add the hops to the boil bag and boil the whole mess for 60 minutes. During the last 10 minutes put the immersion chiller into the pot to sterilize it. Cool using the immersion chiller. Aerate the wort very well by stirring. Measure specific gravity. Pitch yeast.

Mine started with a SG of 1.052. I am predicting a final ABV of about 5%. The IBU for this recipe is 10

Monday, August 25, 2008

Plum Crazy Mead Part 2

Last night I made a starter using Lavlin D47 yeast. I used 3 cups water, 1/4 t yeast energizer and 1/4 t yeast nutrient. I boiled that for 10 minutes and then added 1/4 cup honey off the heat. I let it cool to room temp and then pitched the yeast. This morning it was bubbling away happily.

Plum Crazy Mead

6 pounds honey from Perry
1 t yeast nutrient
1 t yeast energizer
1 1/2 t pectinase
~3 pounds plums
starter of Lavlin D47

I mixed up the honey, yeast nutrient and energizer. I added water to make 2 gallons and took a specific gravity reading. It was 1.140. Then I cut the plums in half and dropped the pitted plums including the skins into the mead. Then I pitched the yeast and added the pectinase.

Buzzy Beer Brewed!

Last night I brewed the Buzzy Beer after a trip up to the farm to get water.
I went back to the spring fed well to find out that it had been capped.
Our family also owned the farm across the road so we went to the pumphouse to draw some water.
This pumphouse is less than 100 yards away from Buzzy's spring so I am sure it is fed from the same aquifer. We let the water run for about 10 minutes. I tasted the water and as with all things involving Buzzy, it went way beyond what I was expecting. 'Our Man in the Field' relayed the info at pumpside that he occasionally fills his water tank on the sprayer with this water. If it sits a while it turns the tank a little yellow and leaves a line. He postulated that the water has a high iron content.

I tasted the water and it was extremely strong. It definitely had an iron effervescence about it. The water tasted very similar to every farm water I have ever tasted. There was also a fairly strong component of sulfur.

'Our Man in the Field' suggested, wisely, that I only use a little of the Buzzy water to "seed" the Buzzy beer. I agreed with that plan and only used 2 cups of buzzy water to seed the beer.

I had to change the hops just a little because Midwest Supplies didn't have the exact hops I needed. Here is the new hops bill:

60 minute boil -
Hallertau (German) 4.4%AA
Hersbrucker (German) 3.0%AA

10 minute boil -
Stryian Goldings Aroma 1.9%AA

The new IBU calculates to 14

After everything was mixed up the starting gravity was 1.100 - right on target to make a 9.5% beer.

Irish Red Ale Part 2

I brewed the Irish Red Ale on 8/17/8. Last night I moved it into the secondary. I didn't take a gravity reading. This morning it is already starting to clear.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Part 3

Last night I racked the Joe's Ancient Orange to the secondary. I know it is supposed to be able to mature in the primary but it looked like it wanted a new home. The specific gravity at this point is 1.034 so the ABV is ~10%. It tasted pretty sweet with a strong flavor of oranges.

Liberty Cream Ale Part 4

I cracked open some of the Liberty Cream Ale at a family get together last Saturday. I thought it was pretty tasty and it seemed to go over pretty well.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pilgrimage to Midwest Supplies

I am planning a trip to Minneapolis this Sunday to pick up some supplies from my favorite brew shop. I am also stopping by Ledyard to get the spring water for the Buzzy Beer. "Our Man in the Field" will be accompanying me on this journey.

Plum Crazy Mead part 1

Last night I happened upon a plum tree that my grandfather planted years ago. It still had plums on the branches although it needs a thorough pruning very soon. Today we went back and picked 3 pounds of plums.

I am planning on making a mead using some of the honey I bought in Perry and the plums. I would like a nice plum flavor and 3 pounds of plums should be adequate to make 2 gallons of mead. I would like this mead to finish a little sweeter than my peach/ginger mead so I am going to use 6 pounds of honey in the 2 gallons of water.

I am planning to pick up some Lavlin D47 yeast for this mead. I should be able to get things going sometime this weekend or Monday morning. More news on this as it develops.

I think I am going to pick up some more honey from the guy in Perry next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Buzzy Beer, Planning Phase Part 4

As I was saying earlier, I decided to change Buzzy Beer a little. I want a nice strong beer but I don't want it as bitter as a Barleywine would be. I changed my mind after I had this Belgian beer made by these naughty Trappist monks. I have been researching feverishly. It is difficult to find much information on the Trappist beers because they are so secretive.

Buzzy Beer will be in the class of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. I am planning to have it be about 9.5% alcohol with an IBU around 25. It will be very dark and somewhat sweet.

I was originally planning on doing this as an all-grain brew but I have decided to wait a bit before upgrading my equipment to be able to do an all-grain. So without further delay, here is the recipe:

Buzzy Beer
Specialty Grains
11 oz of Cara-Munich Malt (Belgium)
8 oz of Munich Malt (Germany)
3.5 oz of Chocolate Malt (UK)
2 oz of Biscuit Malt (Belgium)

Heat 1 gallon of water to 160 and pour over grains. Let sit for 30 minutes to steep. Strain grain water into the brew pot. Add an additional 1 gallon of 150 degree water to the grains and strain again. Bring water to a boil and add:

Boil Ingredients
9 pounds of Munton and Fison Extra Light Dry Malt Extract
1.67 pounds of Belgian Amber Candi Sugar

Hops boiled for 60 minutes
1 oz Styrian Goldings 5%AA
1 oz Hallertau Hersbrocker (German) 3.3% AA

Additional ingredients

1 t Irish moss added at 15 minutes left in boil

Last 10 mintues of boil hops

1/4 ounce Hallertau Hersbrocker (German)


Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong Ale

The priming for carbonation will be different for this batch. 3 days before it is time to bottle I will add another dose of the yeast. Right before bottling I will add 1 1/4 cups M&F extra light DME which has been boiled for 10 minutes in 2 cups water.

From what I have read, this beer will have to sit in the secondary for about 6 weeks and it takes about 10 weeks after you bottle to get the right amount of carbonation.

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 7

I ended up moving the mead into a carboy for secondary fermentation. I am about to add 2 ounces of ginger. It will sit in the secondary for a month and I will move it again to another carboy. You have to keep moving it to get it to clear real well.

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 6

I got back from Columbus and the mead wasn't bubbling anymore. I thought to myself, 'uh-oh, the mead is stuck'. Sometimes when you make mead or any alcohol for that matter, it will ferment for a while and then for whatever reason the yeast decides to die or take a nap. If it does this before all of the sugar is consumed then you have to take steps to remedy the problem.

The first step if you think your mead is stuck is to measure a specific gravity. This mead started at 1.112 so if I measured a repeat gravity and it was 1.065 then I would know that it wasn't done fermenting because it should finish much lower than that.

So anyway I measured the gravity and it was 0.996! This means that the mead has an alcohol by volume of 16.25%!! Now I have to decide if I should move it to the secondary fermenter or keep it in the primary with the fruit for another couple weeks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Change in Plans for Buzzy Beer

Last weekend I went with my friend Dirty T to a few brewpubs in Des Moines. We had some Barleywine, which was the original style that I was going to brew Buzzy Beer in. It was pretty tasty and very strong. But then we went to this other place and I had a bottle of Trappiste Rochefort.
It was seriously one of the tastiest beers I've ever had. It is something like 9.2% ABV so technically it is a Barleywine, but it wasn't bitter like an English Barleywine. It was somewhat sweet. I am researching how it is brewed and I am going to redesign Buzzy beer to be similar.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Irish Red Ale Part 1

I am planning an Irish Red Ale for the next brew. I am no longer brewing from kits. The kits are easy and all but I haven't found any that come with no-compromise authentic ingredients.

To design the my Irish Red Ale I consulted the Beer Judge Certification Program style guide and the book Designing Great Beers. I wanted to make something that would be legal to use in a competition with super high quality ingredients.

Irish Red Ale

4 pounds Mountmellick (Ireland) light extract
3 pounds Munton & Fison (UK) extra light dry malt extract (Added in last 15 minutes of boil)
12 oz Crystal 50-60L Simpson's (UK)
2 oz Roasted Barley 500-600L Simpson's (UK)
2 oz Cara Malt, crisp malting (UK)


1 oz Kent Goldings 4.8% AA ---- boiled 60 minutes
1 oz Fuggles 4.0% AA ---- boiled last 2 minutes


White Labs Irish Ale Yeast WL004


1 t Irish Moss added in last 15 minutes of boil (clarifying agent)

5 oz corn sugar for priming (carbonation)

I did some calculations based on the recipe. We'll see how close they come to reality.

Predicted Starting Gravity - 1.061
Predicted Finishing Gravity - 1.015
Predicted Alcohol by Volume - 5.9%
Predicted IBU (bitterness) - 20

I should be brewing when I get back from Columbus.

Liberty Cream Ale Part 3

I bottled the Liberty Cream Ale today.

Here are the final stats:

Liberty Cream Ale
International Bitter Units: 37.5
Starting Gravity: 1.046
Finishing Gravity: 1.011
Alcohol By Volume: 4.51%

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 5

I finished my last stirring just now. I did 3 stirrings, 24 hours apart. I added 1/2 t yeast nutrient and 1/2 t yeast energizer at each stirring. The must is bubbling away now at least once a second.

I won't touch it again until it has been fermenting a month. At a month I will switch it to the secondary fermenter and add the ginger.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 4

I went downstairs to check the meat tonight and it was bubbling once per second. I decided to stick the original plan and sit and re-invigorate it once a day for the next couple days. I stirred the must really well with the drill and paint stirrer. I added 1/2 t yeast nutrient and 1/2 t yeast energizer.

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 3

This AM we have vigorous fermentation, bubbling at least every second, sometimes more than once a second.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Peach and Ginger Mead Part 2

I opened up the fermenter and everything looked good.
I pitched the yeast just now (4PM).
I used a sanitized paint stirrer and a drill to aerate and stir everything for 10 minutes.
For the next 3 days, I am going to add 1/2 t yeast energizer and 1/2 t yeast nutrient and stir really well. The idea is to get a really robust fermentation going. It is supposed to take about a month for the process to complete.

Peach and Ginger Mead

Yesterday I turned some of my recently acquired honey into some peach and Ginger Mead. It will take about 6 to 9 months to mature properly. I based the recipe on one I found in the book The Compleat Meadmaker.

The first thing I did was find about 10 pounds of tasty peaches.
Then my naughty wife helped cut them up.
The weight of the peaches after peeling and pitting was exactly 8 pounds.

After I sanitized all of my equipment, the next thing was to weigh out some honey and dissolve it in water.
I used 12.5 pounds of honey, which was about a gallon. I topped it off with enough water to make 5 gallons and stirred the heck out of it with a sanitized whisk.

I measured the specific gravity and it was 1.122. I also measured the pH and it was much greater than 4.4 so we are good to go.

Next I added 2 teaspoons of yeast energizer and 2 teaspoons of yeast nutrient. Those will help the yeast get going and will keep them alive. Honey is great but it doesn't have enough free nitrogen for the yeast to have a nice party.
I also added 2 1/2 teaspoons of pectinase enzyme. That is supposed to help break down the peaches and ginger so that more juice gets into the mead.

The next thing I did was to add the peaches to the honey water. I am going to add 2 ounces of peeled and crushed ginger after the primary fermentation is done. Because peaches aren't sterile and there are all sorts of natural yeast in there, I decided to use some sulfate to clean things up a bit. I added 3 finely ground Campden tablets. After adding the Campden tablets, everything has to sit for 24 hours before you pitch the yeast.

Meanwhile I made up a starter for my yeast.
I used a strain from White Labs called WLP720, a sweet mead/wine yeast. It has an alcohol tolerance of 15%. To make the starter I boiled 6 cups water, 1/4 t yeast nutrient and 1/4 t yeast energizer for 5 minutes. After I removed it from the heat I dropped in 1/2 cup honey and let the whole thing cool to room temp. Then I dropped in the yeast and shook it up.

I have to throw a liter of the starter into the 5 gallons of mead tonight. I have posted a summary formula below.

Peach and Ginger Mead

12.5 pounds honey
water to make 5 gallons
About 10 pounds of peaches, peeled and cut up to make a final weight of 8 pounds, added to primary
2 ounces of ginger, peeled and crushed added to the secondary
2 t yeast energizer
2 t yeast nutrient
2 1/2 t pectinase enzyme
3 campden tablets finely crushed
1 liter of starter made from White Labs WLP720 yeast

Friday, August 1, 2008

Super Premium Honey for Mead

So I've been looking for some really good honey to make some high quality mead. Ideally what you want is something that has never been heated, filtered or otherwise adulterated. Heating honey causes some depredation of the aromas and flavor. If you have never smelled or tasted raw honey you are in for a big surprise. Honey can be heated for pasteurization. If honey is filtered, they will likely have to heat it to get it liquid enough to run through the filter. In order to get it to run through a filter you have to heat it to 110 degrees.

The next thing you are looking for is honey that the keeper knows the pollen source for. Ideally it is single source honey from someone who lends their bees to orchards and the like.

If it was a perfect world you would be able to get honey that was just harvested from the comb which meets all of the above criteria AND has a really good fragrance and flavor.

Well guess what, I got super lucky and found some honey that is perfect, meeting all the above conditions.

Curt Bronnenberg is a second generation beekeeper and has been involved in beekeeping his entire life. He runs Spring Valley Honey Farms in Perry Iowa. It is on a gravel road to the west of Perry.

I made a pilgrimage there today. I met Curt and he is the nicest guy you would ever meet. He is so incredibly enthusiastic about bees and honey. We talked for almost an hour about the health of his bees, how the honey business is coming along and the current batch of honey.
The whole time I was there I was standing up next to that forklift in the center of the photo. All these bees were buzzing around like crazy because he is currently harvesting honey. He has some of his 2000 bee boxes sitting there buzzing away like nuts.

I didn't mind all the bees because they added to the ambiance. We talked about what to look for in a premium honey. As luck would have it, he was harvesting "early honey" today! The honey I bought literally went from the comb to the centrifuge and into my bottle. There was no heating, no filtering no messing with the honey whatsoever.

Early honey is the best honey because it is much lighter in color and has an amazing amount of aromatic aroma. You can smell flours, sweetness and all kinds of other smells that you can only smell in fresh raw honey. There really is that much of a difference.

Check out the jug of Spring Valley Honey Farms Honey vs. the store brand.
Look in the handle of the jug at how light the color is!

Curt told me that it is only for about a month and a half a year that you can get it this fresh. He only harvest combs for about a month and a half. Later in the year the honey crystallizes and he has to heat it a little to get it out of the barrel. So really I got incredibly lucky to get honey today.

As for the floral source for this current batch, Curt said the bees were around apples, white clover and basswood. He says that this is one of the best flavored and best smelling batches he has made in a long time. How lucky did I get!!??!?!?

Scotch Eggs

A little something to go with your homebrew.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cider Plans

The ladies LOVE hard cider. Because of that I have had some plans to brew up a tasty apple cider. I talked to my relative who owns an apple orchard today. He said I can purchase some unpreserved cider from him sometime this September!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Buzzy Beer, Planning Phase Part 3

If you remember from earlier, a Barleywine needs to have a high specific gravity. I decided to shoot for about 1.100, which would put it right in the middle of the range that Barleywines usually go. To get that gravity, I decided to do mostly barley malt extract with 2 specialty grains to steep. I wanted to use extracts from the UK. Most of the national beer show winners in the Barleywine category use Munton and Fison.

I did some calculations. I need:
8 pounds dry Munton and Fison light (added as the boiling finishes)
3.3 pounds Munton and Fison Extra light liquid extract

For the specialty grains I am using
0.5 pounds carapils dextrin malt (steeped)- helps stabilize the foamy head
0.5 pounds cara malt, crisp malting from the UK (steeped)- adds caramel flavor

For yeast, you want an English Ale yeast with a high alcohol tolerance. I am going to use 2 packets of London Ale Wyeast 1028.

Barleywines are usually very strongly hopped. The range for traditional Barleywines is 50 to 100. Award winning barleywines use a range of 75 to 150. People usually use a high alpha acid hops to do the bittering and then an English hops like UK Golding as the flavoring hops.

I decided on the following hops makeup:

1 oz Centennial 9.5% boiled for 60 minutes
1 oz UK Fuggles 4.0% boiled for 30 minutes
1 oz UK golding 4.8% boiled for 30 minutes
1 oz UK golding 4.8% dry hopped - add when the beer goes from the primary to the secondary

All of that hops should put my barleywine right around 75 IBU's, which is right in the middle of the range for traditional barleywines and right at the low end for modern day champions.

I'll also need to buy 5 oz of corn sugar for the bottling.

So there it is. I have put the Buzzy Beer project on hold until after the BNA is all gone.

Buzzy Beer, Planning Phase Part 2

I thought I would talk a little more about Barleywine and what goes into one. I got most of my information from the book Designing Great Beers.

In order to get a higher alcohol content you have to make your beer have a higher starting specific gravity. The specific gravity is a measure of how much dissolved solid is present in the beer. In the case of beer, the dissolved solid is mostly fermentable sugar. You also have to have a yeast that is more alcohol tolerant. Having a higher specific gravity to start often means that you will have a higher specific gravity to finish and your beer will have more of a malt flavor.

The other thing that makes Barleywine different is that in olden times they added hops to the keg before shipping it to the pubs. This is called dry hopping. The usual procedure with most beers is to boil the hops with the malt. The hops served as a preservative initially and then people started to really like the taste of hops to balance out the sweet taste from high gravity beer. Because Barleywine has a higher finishing gravity than most beers, it will be sweeter and thus need more hops to balance out the sweet flavor. Barleywine typically has a much higher amount of hops than your typical beer. If you remember, Benn Naughty Ale has around 35 or 36 International Bitter Units (a way to measure how much hops flavor your beer has.) Guinness has about 50. Traditional commercial Barleywines had between 50 and 100 IBU's. The Barleywines that win beer contests typically have between 75 and 150 IBU's.

Keeping these facts in mind I have set out to design a Barleywine that is in line with the standards and typical practices for ancient Barleywines. I am changing things a little bit because I have different materials available to me, but by and large I am planning a very traditional Barleywine. More on that later.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Buzzy Beer, Planning Phase Part 1

I was recently informed of a well that is running on some of the land of my ancestors up in Ledyard! I am super excited to sample some of this water and, perhaps, to try it in a beer. Besides 'Our man in the field', one of the most colorful characters from Ledyard is Buzzy.

Buzzy is the subject of lore and controversy far too deep and involved to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that I thought the term 'Buzzy Beer' was a really good name for a beer from Ledyard.

The character of such a beer, should be quite strong. The beer should get better with age, much like Buzzy lore gets better with age. It should also be a beer that is perfect in small doses and on the right occasions.

I did some research into the different beer styles in my two books How to Brew and Designing Great Beers. I found a style that is perfectly suited to making Buzzy beer, namely Barleywine.

Barleywine contains no fruit so it is actually a beer. It was an ale that originated in England in the early 1800's. It was typically very strong, with an alcohol content of 8 to 12%. Thus it would be good in small doses. It is also usually very strongly flavored and served in small amounts. The Bluegrass Brewing Company had a barleywine the last time I was there and they would only sell it in half pints. Barleywine also gets much better with age and some batches are years and years old. How could there be a better beer style than Barleywine for Buzzy Beer?

Liberty Cream Ale Part 2

I racked the LCA to the secondary fermenter to condition. I took a gravity reading and it was 1.012. Right now the alcohol by volume is 4.39%. I am guessing it will finish around 4.4% or so.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Part 2

I put everything together today. I laid out all of the ingredients except I almost forgot the raisins! I weighed out exactly 3 1/2 pounds of honey.
I got all of the honey dissolved in water. I added the rest of the ingredients except the yeast and shook like crazy. I dissolved the yeast in a tiny bit of water and waited until it foamed up just to be sure it was active. You never know. Before I threw the yeast into the container I measured the specific gravity - 1.112. That is HIGH but expected for a mead. My Liberty Cream Ale ended up being 1.046.
Its been a couple hours and it still hasn't started much bubbling but I'm sure it will.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Benn Naughty Ale Part 5

I couldn't wait any longer. I had to taste test the BNA tonight. A photo is enclosed for your perusal.
It is way too early to draw any conclusions but it was delicious. I think it tastes a lot like Boddington's pub ale. It isn't too bitter or too sweet. It doesn't taste strong but it is definitely a much more substantial beer than say Budweiser or Miller. It needs to sit in the bottle a little longer. I think it will be amazing come my Great Uncle's 80th birthday. It was pretty well carbonated but it could use a touch more. I'll retest in a while.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead Part 1

In the next week or so I am planning on making some Joe's Ancient Orange Mead. I found the recipes on the forums.

For ease, I have posted the recipe below.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead
1 gallon batch

3 1/2 lbs Clover or your choice honey or blend (will finish sweet)
1 Large orange (later cut in eights or smaller rind and all)
1 small handful of raisins (25 if you count but more or less ok)
1 stick of cinnamon
1 whole clove ( or 2 if you like - these are potent critters)
optional (a pinch of nutmeg and allspice )( very small )
1 teaspoon of Fleishmann’s bread yeast ( now don't get holy on me--- after all this is an ancient mead and that's all we had back then)
Balance water to one gallon


Use a clean 1 gallon carboy

Dissolve honey in some warm water and put in carboy

Wash orange well to remove any pesticides and slice in eights --add orange (you can push em through opening big boy -- rinds included -- its ok for this mead -- take my word for it -- ignore the experts)

Put in raisins, clove, cinnamon stick, any optional ingredients and fill to 3 inches from the top with cold water. ( need room for some foam -- you can top off with more water after the first few day frenzy)

Shake the heck out of the jug with top on, of course. This is your sophisticated aeration process.

When at room temperature in your kitchen, put in 1 teaspoon of bread yeast. ( No you don't have to rehydrate it first-- the ancients didn't even have that word in their vocabulary-- just put it in and give it a gentle swirl or not)(The yeast can fight for their own territory)

Install water airlock. Put in dark place. It will start working immediately or in an hour. (Don't use grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away in the 90's)( Wait 3 hours before you panic or call me) After major foaming stops in a few days add some water and then keep your hands off of it. (Don't shake it! Don't mess with them yeastees! Let them alone except its okay to open your cabinet to smell every once in a while.

Racking --- Don't you dare
additional feeding --- NO NO
More stirring or shaking -- Your not listening, don't touch

After 2 months and maybe a few days it will slow down to a stop and clear all by itself. (How about that) (You are not so important after all) Then you can put a hose in with a small cloth filter on the end into the clear part and siphon off the golden nectar. If you wait long enough even the oranges will sink to the bottom but I never waited that long. If it is clear it is ready. You don't need a cold basement. It does better in a kitchen in the dark. (Like in a cabinet) likes a little heat (70-80). If it didn't work out... you screwed up and didn't read my instructions (or used grandma's bread yeast she bought years before she passed away) . If it didn't work out then take up another hobby. Mead is not for you. It is too complicated.

Plans for a Mead

When we lived in Louisville I used to go to a place called the Bluegrass Brewing Company. One of the tastiest drinks I have ever consumed is the BBC's mead.

Mead is a fermented drink made from honey. It has been called the nectar of the gods. The first known description of mead is in the hymns of the Rigveda, one of the sacred books of the historical Vedic religion and (later) Hinduism dated around 17001100 BC. During the "Golden Age" of Ancient Greece, mead was said to be the preferred drink. Aristotle (384322 BC) discussed mead in his Meteorologica and elsewhere, while Pliny the Elder (AD 2379) called mead militites in his Naturalis Historia and differentiated wine sweetened with honey or "honey-wine" from mead.

One drawback to brewing mead is that it has to sit and age for 9 months to a year to be really tasty. I looked around for a site on meads and found a great one at I found a good recipe to start with in the forums. The nice thing about the recipe are that it is supposedly ready to drink at about 2 months and it gets much much tastier with age. I am planning a 1 gallon batch to get started.

Liberty Cream Ale Part 1

Even thought the Benn Naughty Ale is still aging in the bottles, almost all of it is spoken for. I am bringing a huge amount of it to my great uncle's 80th birthday party at the end of August. Because Hawkeye football season is coming up I decided I didn't want to be caught without some homebrew.

The second beer I brewed up is from a Midwest Supplies kit called Liberty Cream Ale. It seems to be a very popular kit in the brewing community. I brewed on 7/19/8. This one I did according to the book. I did a 30 minute steep and a 60 minute boil. It is sitting in the fermenter right now. My starting gravity was 1.046. I calculated the international bitter units to be 37.5.

My plans for this beer are to leave it into the secondary fermenter for at least 2 weeks. Supposedly if you leave it in the secondary fermenter longer it will end up being a clearer beer.

Benn Naughty Ale Part 4

I bottled the BNA on 7/15/8. The final specific gravity was 1.010. It needs to stay in the bottles until 7/29/8. On 7/22/8 I turned the bottles a little to stir up the yeast a bit for a little more carbonation. Thankfully none of the bottles have burst.

Here are some stats for Benn Naughty Ale:

Starting Specific Gravity: 1.044
Finishing Specific Gravity: 1.010
Alcohol content: 4.39%
International Bitter Units: 35.5

Benn Naughty Ale Part 3

On 7/8/8 I moved the BNA from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter. I checked the specific gravity at that point and it was 1.014.
I then realized that I forgot to put water in the airlock.
I am hoping that there will be no ill effects.