I got asked by a fellow blogger BrewEngland to attend and review one of my favorite festivals of the year – how lucky am I?! Check it out for some info. Also get on the list for DrinkCraftBeer’s other awesome events in the future.
I paired up with my buddy Eric and broke in my backyard as the new Bono Brew headquarters on October 13th. It was a glorious sunny October Sunday, and I had cooked all the pumpkin the night prior which saved me a ton of time in the morning. I was able to put to use some new equipment I’d just bought from @HomebrewFinds:
You can see for yourself that those prices are pretty low for equipment that I’m very happy with. Certainly check out @homebrewfinds for your equipment and ingredient kit needs.
I mashed in and looked at all the grain I had… 14lbs for a 5-gallon batch. I certainly have to increase my efficiency from above its basement-dwelling 68%, but it’s tough without a pump to pull my liquor out of the mashtun. Ideally, I’d love to institute a continuous recirculation system for vorlafing (pulling wort out of the tun and recirculating it to compact the grain bed) but the time, money, and tools escape me at the moment. I’d also love to try a decoction mash now that I have a “leftover” 20-qt pot. But for Nice Pumpkins I had to deal with what I had.
After I fixed the burner up and finished the mash (still only dropping 2 degrees in an hour, that beautiful machine) I hit my pre-boil gravity spot on the nose. Refractometers are so freaking cool. Get one.
I started the full-volume boil without boilovers – unlike my compatriot Eric, who had no less than 5 boilover events in a single session brewing a Zombie Dust PA clone. His fiance was a great help in trying to stir it down whilst adding the hops. My boil took a long time to heat, but I attribute that to my lack of a pot cover. Regardless, I hit my post-boil on the nose as well. How loverly.
Only after cooling my boil and pitching the yeast did I see that I neglected to vorlauf completely, and there were still some medium particulate in the beer. It will just settle out in the trub, but still I may have missed out on precious sugars and added a little tannin. I didn’t taste it when I checked 8 days into fermentation, but it might present itself later after the beer cleans up. I fermented with WLP051 at outside-my-kitchen-backdoor temp (62-65) for 10 days and finished it off in front-closet temps (68-72).
Bottling tomorrow night will give me lease to start my sour experiment, Gourds Gone Wild, where I take 1 gallon of Nice Pumpkins and spike it with homebrew lambic dregs from another friend, Chris. We’ll see what these bugs will do to the beer – I’m not sure what to expect! I’ll probably only leave it for a week or two before cracking and tasting it.
Here’s my quick and dirty view on the release of seasonal beers early, e.g. Pumpkin beers in August.
I believe that there’s not much a beer drinker can complain about in this day and age. But, alas, there will always be one bellyacher griping about something. And misery breeds company. So, succinctly, complaining about the seasonal appropriateness of beer releases can toe the line between Aficionado and Snob.
Yes, some beers are by nature seasonal. See: Oktoberfest lagers, winter warmers, summer Radler beers. But season-centric thinking stems from the celebration of ingredients, and ultimately flavors, that are abundant at that time. Therefore, drinking a pumpkin beer in July is much akin to eating a Thanksgiving dinner in March; it’s not the perfect time to indulge, but it’s still goddamn delicious. Ever had breakfast for dinner? It’s about breaking the norm. Go ahead, indulge that craving for vanilla bourbon porter on a summer night! Be bad!
I have a good friend of mine that preaches his year-round love for pumpkin beers in particular. I personally won’t join him most times, but I do respect his resolve. We came up with a hashtag for out-of-season drinking: #drinkwhatyouwantwhenyouwant. Feel free to use it!
All are entitled to an opinion if their own, but on my blog you will probably hear mine. Thoughts?
I brewed this recipe last Sunday using my ever-mobile all-grain setup as my first scale-down experiment for a 2-gallon test batch arrangement. I popped over my Slumbrew buddies Eric and Kristina’s house and set up in the backyard just as Eric’s extract saison brewday was coming to an end. What a great way to spend one of the nicer, hotter weekend days in June this year – it’s been crap for most of it!
My efficiency, even with sparging, is still around 65%. I think this is due to the strange configuration of my mash-tun braids, along with the space between the true bottom of the tun and the ball valve spout, where I lose some liquids. I also collected a lot more liquor than I intended to, and I should have increased boil time in order to hit my OG – but it missed low by about 8 points, so I may be making a sessionable wit. I won’t hate it! Still worthwhile for my experiments.
From Brewer’s Friend:
|1.5 lb||American – Pale 2-Row||37||1.8||43.5%|
|1.5 lb||American – Wheat||38||1.8||43.5%|
|0.36 lb||Flaked Oats||33||2.2||10.4%|
|0.09 lb||American – Vienna||35||4||2.6%|
|0.36 oz||Kent Goldings||60 min||5||17.83||Pellet||Boil|
|–||Ferulic Acid Rest||Infusion||111 F||20 min|
|–||Conversion||Temperature||154 F||60 min|
|–||Mash Out||Temperature||165 F||15 min|
|–||Batch sparge||Sparge||165 F||30 min|
|0.27 oz||Coriander Seed||5 min||Spice||Boil|
|0.27 oz||Fresh Orange Peel||5 min||Spice||Boil|
|1 oz||Whirlfloc||5 min||Fining||Boil|
|16 oz||Frozen Strawberries||–||Other||Secondary|
White Labs – Belgian Wit Ale Yeast WLP400
OG:1.041 FG: 1.011 (primary) %abv: 3.81% (primary)
I came across some interesting trivia about a perennial favorite beer of mine, always a good choice when there’s nothing of interest nearby: Guinness Irish Stout. Yes, of course, it makes for a great St. Paddy’s day overindulgence, but it is, quite simply, the best and most widely known example of the style and is quite an interesting beer. The consumption of some Guinness the other night prompted the consumption of a very interesting fact/legend (since I couldn’t find a Guinness-direct reference, there is no official recipe posted by the brewery): brewers extract about 3% of the mash, SOUR that beer, then add it back to the secondary fermenter after boiling it for sterility. This gives that black heady treat a signature “tang,” non-reproducible by those unaware of this uncommon style component. After repeated confirmation of this tang, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the history of Irish stout and other beers that are blended for stylistic reasons.
In my homebrew, I kind of obsess about the quality of what’s inside those mysterious, unlabeled brown bottles. But what about the outside? It’s one thing to brew beer you like, and any amount of lab/masking/painters tape and Sharpie can be appropriate… for your own consumption. As long as you know what’s in your homebrew bottle, it’s the brew that counts, right? Of course.
But how about kicking your presentation up to the next level? Can anyone really appreciate your corny hop pun name without you describing the image you had in your mind? When you tell a fellow homebrew drinker to try your “Megazord’s Mega Sword” Barleywine, why hand them a bottle that doesn’t look the part?
If you’ve ever taken a trip over to any of my recipe pages (top o’ the page up there, drop down menus are SWEET) you’ll see that I’ve done some amateur label design of my own. This is just the start of how I try to kick up my homebrew presentation another notch. BAM, mofo. You can be like me, too. Read on, push the limits of your creativity, and add more fuel to the homebrew fire with these tips for homebrew bottle labeling and presentation.