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    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013
    Hi all!

    So, according to Search, it's been a while since there was a brewing thread. Anyone still making their own alcoholic beverages round these parts? Recipes, advice, pretty pictures!

    I just got my batch of mead all lined up, glowing gloriously golden in their bottles. I tried putting the brew in 0.75 liter swing top bottles. I have been assured this is perfectly fine, but I am still apprehensive. Anyway, this has me considering other bottling methods, since cleaning, filling and capping a bunch of .5 or .33 bottles is time-consuming, boring and frequently messy. What about kegs? Those "growler" things? What are the pros and cons to consider?
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013
    In what sense are you apprehensive about swing-tops? Is it a pressure-thing? Because if it is, rest assured!
    I brew ginger beer using Champagne yeast, and it gets really explosive, but the swing-top handles it beautifully. Bonus: If the drink is so fizzy that you have to let the air out little by little to avoid eruptions, you can easily regulate output with your thumb on the unsecured cork.

    So yeah, I'm brewing. :) I've been using a recipe that I'm going to do some changes to. Reduce the sugar and such and see what happens. Maybe reduce the fizz a bit.

    1 kg ginger, peeled and cut into smallish chunks.
    1 tsp cream of tartare
    4 lemons/ limes
    2 chillies
    4 kg sugar
    1 packet champagne yeast.

    I boil the ginger, tartare, citrus, chillies and sugar for half an hour or so, mix the whole thing in the fermenter with water to room temp and add the yeast. Leave it for two weeks or so, bottle, leave for another twoish weeks. Boom. Usually ends up between 7 and 8 percent.

    It's not nearly as sweet as you might think, and the chillies really make it a sinus-opener. I'm going to experiment with putting a bit of beetroot in the boil (one or two fresh roots) to see if I can get it really punchy and red.

    I'm also developing a heavily limey ginger beer, but the first attempt was almost undrinkable on its own as I had way too much lime in including zest, so it got seriously bitter. With a cordial or syrup, though, it was all right.
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013
    I'm happy to report that my homebrew from a few months ago, which I wrote off as a failure due to a weird chemical taste that overpowered it, has healed with time and it's now pretty damn tasty.

    It's an American Brown Ale with Chamomile & Lemongrass called Manor House Intrigue. On pouring the head is pretty thick, but thins out. The aroma is all chamomile, which is very soothing, and the taste...good malt characteristics, slight bitterness and rounded out with the sweet chamomile. Leaves a bitter taste on the tongue that sort of hints at the chemical taste, but that thins out.

    Just pondering and saving up for my next brew now...I think I want to make a ginger apple cider, but really want to make it a small batch. But then again, I DID find a kit for a Jalapeno Saison that would be perfect.

    I also want to start experimenting with extracts, as I recently tried a saison that had a homemade peach extract that blew my mind.

    Anyone growing hops this year? I have a vine of Cascade that's jussssst starting to get to the point where it needs support.
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013
    Oooh! Oooh! CINNAMON apple cider! Cinnamon apple ANYTHING must be a win!
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeMay 31st 2013
    Edgar and I are brewing our first apple cider. It's just treetop juice with champagne yeast, still deciding if we want to backsweeten it with anything or just go with a normal batch for now so we can get a feel for what the unchanged flavor is like.

    Haven't decided on my next ale brew but thinking of going with a wheat. I made a blueberry wheat last year that came out good, but was decidedly more "standard ale" than wheat. I'm not sure if it was the recipe I picked up or if I brewed my specialty grains too long or what, but I figure it'll be good to get a good, plain wheat down first before I try going with other fruit flavored wheats.
  1.  (11080.6)
    Finally settled after moving back to the Pacific NW, hoping to get shit settled and brew another batch of super-hopped (and caffeinated) Yerba Mate IPA. Considering making some sort of blue lotus infused something. Probably start looking around for a good cider recipe soon as well.

    Oldhat - chamomile & lemongrass brown? Sounds delicious. I plan on growing hops eventually since I'm in the right area for it, but not until I'm out of the apartment and somewhere a bit more permanent. Sadly, I've heard that it takes forever to start producing.
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2013
    i was at a beer festival last night, i had an apricot pale ale that was like drinking yoghurt
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2013
    @chris, it takes forever? Once that vine starts growing they shoot up! You'll need a lot to brew with it, but I'm just growing for ornamentation (going around the iron frame of my porch).

    Busy week, beer-wise. I went to a beer writer friend's place for dinner where I tried a bunch of rare stuff, he gave me some parting gifts which was fun. I just got interviewed on radio again last night talking about beer (recording soon)

    And today I went to the LCBO launch of a brewery's imperial IPA called 10 Bitter Years. Also because the particular store is like the candyshop of liquor stores, I got a bunch of other things.

    Then I ran in to a friend of mine who went to Chicago and got me a 3 Floyd's Beer plus some Magic Hat #9, which I have good memories behind (meeting an internet friend in NYC for the first time and hanging out on the roof of his apartment building in Bushwick sipping on #9. Also was my first time in Brooklyn).

    My haul today:

    And TOMORROW is a 2nd Anniversary for Kensington Brewing Co. There will be collaborations. SO MANY COLLABORATIONS. Including their Watermelon Wheat beer.

    Sorry for the dump!
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2013
    @magnulus - yes, I was worried that the bottles wouldn't seal properly. But I guess it works with grolsch bottles, and these look identical except for the larger size.

    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2013
    With Pamela graduating this month (go! go! go!) and after 4 years, we're bound to have even more free time to start new hobbies. we've been discussing starting our own homebrews, and i'm wondering what would be the best approach, taking a basic brewing 101 course locally or reading up as much as we can and starting out from scratch? if it's the second option, what's the best resources to start with?
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2013 edited
    dispophoto, I'd honestly say the second option because there are plenty of ways to start easily.

    I know for a fact that Chapters is selling small homebrew kits from Brooklyn Brewshop for about $50. From what I hear they are quality kits (Brooklyn Brewshop has a good rep) and is much cheaper than going full hog and buying huge kits and ingredients, which will run you well over $100. This makes small batches and is meant to be new-user friendly.

    You'll definitely be able to get a feel for the brewing process and from there you can decide if you want to make bigger batches and start making this in to a thing in which case there IS a nice booklist I have somewhere and I'll dig it out when I calm down a few alarm bells today. :)
    • CommentAuthorArgos
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2013
    I definitely recommend the book "How to Brew" by John Palmer. I like is slightly more than "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing," though that one is also fantastic, as I felt it described some of the processes a bit better and answered more of my questions.
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2013
    Seconding John Palmer's How to Brew. Also Sam "Dogfish Head Founder" Calagione's Extreme Brewing is a good one as well.
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2013
    ooo... i'll definitely check out the kit. once we get the hang of it and want to continue it, we'll look into geting more books.

    thanks, guys!
  2.  (11080.15)
    I will throw in another recommendation for John Palmer's How to Brew (it's a booze bible) and Sam Calagione's Extreme Brewing. Both are a great help to someone starting. Extreme Brewing has a bunch of well tested extract batches that you can do on a stovetop or brew in a bag style.

    My brewing partner and I did a Rye IPA last weekend. It's taken off like a rocket ship and blew out it's blowoff tube causing the whole closet to smell like burnt rubber and Nottingham's ale yeast farts. (If any of you use Nottingham's ale yeast it will sometimes break the most vile ass as it ferments.)

    Oh for fun here is our recipe for PRINCESS MONSTER TRUCK IPA if you want to play along at home.

    5 gallon batch.

    12.5 lb of Pale 2 Row
    3lb of Rye
    1lb of Carmel/Crystal 10l
    0.5lb of Wheat Flaked

    90 min mash. Aim for 150 degrees.

    2oz of Falconer's Flight as FIRST WORT HOPS WHUT WHUT
    60min 1oz Magnum or Warrior.
    20min 1oz of FF
    10min 1oz FF
    0min 1oz FF

    3oz of FF as dry hop to fight the Nottingham yeast farts.

    1pkg of Nottingham dry yeast.

    Og 1.081
    FG 1.015

    If you really don't like Nottingham yeast farts you could substitute it for Safeale S-04. Both Nottingham and S-04 will hit the ground running with a vigorous fermentation.
    • CommentTimeJun 7th 2013
    Was going to post the recipe for the contents of above pictured bottle, but it seems my notes have gone out with the paper recycling.

    Lost are the proportions, boil times, gravities and all that fancy stuff. But it's basic low-alcoholic sweet mead, with an ale yeast because that's what I had at hand, a handful of crushed caraway and shredded apple in the fermenter, bottled after five weeks or so.

    First taste tonight - hopefully, all my usual horridible mistakes and sloppyness will be masked by additives. If it's nice, I might store some to see how it develops, but the loss of the notes seems like such a good excuse to just drink it all and start over...
    • CommentTimeJun 10th 2013
    Well, that was fun. The swing top bottles open with a pop worthy of champagne. The taste was unexpected; flowery with a strong touch of cider. Putting the apples in the fermenter seems to somehow preserve the taste of fresh apple, which is neat. Sadly, it nearly wiped out the taste of honey. Also, there was a hint of something burnt, maybe from the yeast.

    Lessons: Apple beats honey. Also, cider or champagne yeast for cidery stuff, even if you have to leave the house to get some.

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