Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brewing Again....Finally

The Setup at Browar Harvat

Seems like things always get so busy that I can never keep up with what I love to do.  But this summer has been good to me.  And I figured it was well past time I actually get back on here to do an update.  I have been neglecting this blog for quite some time.  So now I'm putting reminders in my phone to do a weekly update so I can get this baby rolling again.

Where to begin?  Well. The last time I even updated this blog was last September.  So a lot has happened.  During the winter a storm came through and destroyed the gazebo in my back yard.  The amount of snow piling up on it was just too much for it to handle unfortunately.  So the hops had to be transplanted into buckets and I have given them to my friend Luke who is going to plant them in his back yard for this season.  I'll get rhizomes from the plants next spring to start again once I can get a new gazebo built.
The wife and I in front of the castle

This spring there were competitions and events but I was busy getting work done for conference in Orlando for my job.  The wife and I spent time enjoying Universal, Disney World and Epcot.  Then it was time to work.  Which was...well...a lot of work.  But after that was said and done it was back home to Homaha.  Where I could finally start brewing again.  The first batch I made was ten gallons of IPA.  After that though I had a desire to make more styles than large quantities of beer.  So I busted out the 5 gallon setup and have been brewing smaller batches.  Not only because it's more fun because you get to brew more, but because I get to create more styles and try to make them the way they're supposed to be.  I have been going through the Brewing Classic Styles book and picking out styles, creating recipes similar to those in the book...and brewing.
Germany at Epcot (I had the Oktoberfest)
Once I started up again I couldn't stop.  I currently have been brewing more, and better beer than I have ever made.  I acquired 4 new corny kegs too.  Which brings my grand total up to eight.  That's a lot more storage capacity for beer.  And now I need another freezer.  We'll see how long I can make it without one.  Probably not long.  Although I'll have to figure out a way to justify buying one to my wife.  Which may be more difficult than one would think.

Making some Dusseldorf Altbier!
So here is my grand plan.  Go through and make at least one beer from each of the styles outlined from the fantastic book Mr. Palmer and Mr. Zaynachev put together.  And I can start this quest by blogging each one and sharing my recipes.  I already have a great head start on this.  But it should give me something to blog about for quite some time.  As long as people keep reading it and caring.  I'll keep making blog posts.  We'll see how far it can go.  This week lets talk about one I'm brewing tomorrow (Friday) and one I previously brewed that is already lagering.  

First lets look at my Dusseldorf Altbier that I brewed about a month ago over at my buddy Vinie's house.  He has a HERMS system and I brought my little 5 gallon setup over (since it's really portable) and got to work on a style I have never tried before.  This beer needs temperature control for the yeast once you get the wort ready.  The recipe for this beer can be found here.  Dusseldorf Altbier Recipe

I chose this recipe because under the BJCP guidelines under category 7C it states that this beer has an assertive hop bitterness from noble hops.  I really like the idea of a top fermenting beer that I can lager and get a great smooth, malty "not quite a lager" ale that still packs a little hop kick.  I did a mash at 152 with a batch sparge after 60 minutes.  During the boil I added three additions of Tettnang Noble hops.  I have always been a fan of the Samuel Adams beer "Noble Pils."  While I realized this beer would not be like it in the malt character, I was hoping to hit something similar with the hop character.  If you are unacquainted with which hops are noble hops there's a good description and explanation of them on Wikipedia here.
The new fermentation chamber
I have used Saaz a whole heck of a lot.  (Being that it's one of my most favorite noble hops) and Hallertau is in just about anything with the word "lager" on the bottle.  So Tettnang seemed like a good hop to try out on a beer like this.  I didn't go overly crazy with the hops.  But you can definitely tell they're there after 2 weeks of lagering.  After my boil I cooled with my wort chiller and set up my carboy in my fermentation chamber.  I fermented at 60 degrees the entire time and ended up with a 1.052 beer (Almost spot on!) that fermented to 1.012 by the end.  The yeast did a great job.  And after two weeks (like I said) I have tasted it during lagering at 37 degrees.  It is very smooth, drinkable, malty and has a great hop flavor from the Tettnang.  I'm very pleased with it thus far and cannot wait for weeks four and six of lagering.

One of the beers I have grown to love over the years is Sierra Nevada Southern Harvest.  This beer has a great hop freshness and it's very appealing to me because all of the hops are imported from New Zealand right at harvest when they make the beer.  I think the idea of trying out new varieties of hops that other homebrewers around town haven't necessarily made beer with yet is pretty neat.  So I went ahead and acquired some Rakau from my friend Dave in a trade.  I am also getting some Motueka in the mail and plan on making a New Zealand style IPA.  We'll see how that goes and if I get the Motueka in the mail by tomorrow.  If not I can always wait on this beer and make a "Janet's Brown Ale" as I have the supplies.  More on these beers in the next blog.  Until then I hope this gives you something to look forward to!  Thanks for reading.

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