Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday beer update

So...I went to the store yesteday, picked up some dried Ancho chilis from the produce dept, but since they were just laying out, i figured I needed to sterilize them first.  I also wanted to add in some more cocoa powder. It was evident by looking at the fermenting bucket that most of what I put in during the boil was lon longer there. So I boiled up some water and added in the cocoa powder so that it wouldn't clump when I added it to the beer. I poured this over the chilis in a mixing bowl and let it sit for a while. I put all that into the secondary and then racked in on top of that.  I had enough beer i was all the way up to the neck of the secondary.  MISTAKE.  I remember reading that when you rack into the secondary you will see a little bit of fermentation action because it kind of reacitvates the yeast a bit. Well...when i was taking the dogs out this morning I noticed it smelled like beer in the man cave so I decided to check on the brew. Definitely had beer coming out of the air lock and a nice puddle siting on the floor.  Its going to be some good beer I think.  I wonder if the cocoa powder or the Ancho chilies had extra fermentable sugars that boosted this. (The cocoa powder shouldn') I'll bottle this when I get back from Christmas and I'm betting its going to be a fantastic beer. 
On a secondary note, I had, prematurely I might add, pulled one of my holiday spiced ales and put it in the fridge. It had only been in the bottle a week at that point.  I tasted it last night and let me say that it is definitely an interesting beer. It almost taste like a ginger beer, which is weird considering there's no ginger in it.  I believe it was the nutmeg coming through, and I wished it was a bit more subdued in that regard.  You can tell it is a high alcohol beer too!  It wasn't very well carbed but that might be a result of prematurely opening it.  I think with a bit of aging, this beer could be good. As it is, its drinkable, in small doses. 
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good weekend in Jake's beerland

Firs off, as an update, I bottled my Holiday Spiced Ale last night. It had great color, good clarity. The flavors were there, its a little heavy on the nutmeg, but I can handle that. I only got 38 beers out of the batch so this will be called a "limited" beer from Two Dogs Brewery.  But hey, its got about 7.5% ABV so i guess in the end, you don't actually need as much.

Saturday afternoon Paul and I got together for a joint brew day again. He once again took on the task of an all grain recipe, while I stuck with a partial mash.  I had been toying with the idea of a Chocolate Chili Stout.  My last attempt at a stout, I have deemed undrinkable. It had a good aroma and mouthfeel, with a nice thick head, but when I drank it, it had a bitter astringent flavor.  So, with great remorse, I have decided to pour them out. I'm going to keep a cople bottles around for a few more months and just see if anything develops in them.  But I digress.  Since my first stout was a miserable failure, I've decided it was time to try another. This time I knew I wanted to do a Chocolate stout, but I wanted to add some flair. So I debated, researched, and debated some more on how I was going to achieve the chili flavor in the chocolate stout.  I used a couple of different methods actually. 

I picked a handfull of cayanne peppers that had turned red from my personal pepper garden and slightly dried them in the oven, just to remove that raw pepper flavor. I cut them up and removed some seeds. I let them steep in boiling hot water to extract the flavor. The first time I did this, it wasn't strong enough so I added in some more and did another batch.  I added in this tea at the boil.  at 10 minutes left in the boil I also added in a dried Ancho and some other dried chilis to try and get a bit more chili flavor into the brew.  I immediately started to smell the chili aroma. I will admit I got a little scared when I started to smell the chilis. I didn't want it to get too spicy, so I pulled out a couple of the hotter chili pods.  I figure if I test the taste at 1 week in the primary and the chili isn't coming through, I'll just rack into the secondary on top of some more chilis to pick up some more flavors. I'm not sure, but I might have to do this with the cocoa as well. So...I will keep my fingers crossed on this one. I have high hopes and if it comes out good. I'd like to make it an annual batch. 

I also finally got around to making myself and immersion chiller on saturday. Until now, i've been borrowing others or just using an ice bath.  It cost me about $43 bucks, but it is only a 20 ft coil.  I would really like to make a 50 ft. coil. Maybe one day I'll pull the money together when I think I've run out of stuff to buy for brewing.  Good news is, that I do have enough input hose that i can make a prechiller out of that to help the process next time. 

So, now that I seem to have ramped up production and am starting to get my pipeline going, I'm going to need to get a label together. I'm thinking i'm just going to do one label for all normal beers. I might make special labels for seasonal or annual batch beers.  I'll post once I have something to show.  Most likely it will look similar to the Lazy Dog Stout label.