Sunday, July 17, 2011

Holiday Brewing

Last thing most people are thinking about this time of year is the upcoming Holidays (i.e. Thanksgiving and Christmas) and like most people I for the most part don't or want to start thinking about them either but I must when it comes to brewing.

Last year I brewed five batches of homebrew which I gave as gifts to family and friends which were:
  • Biere de Festivus - a winter warmer ale
  • Zum Wohl Oktoberfest 
  • Empire State Maple Porter - made with NY maple syrup
  • Minty Moose Stout - a stout with peppermint and spearmint (think a peppermint patty)
  • Indian Ladder Hard Cider - my first ever attempt at making a hard cider which turned out great 
For the most part I think (and hope) these were a hit with the people I gave them to. Personally I think the Oktoberfest was the weakest of the five because it was a lager and those are just too much work with trying to get the temperatures for fermentation stable.

This year I want to try some recipes I have found from a homebrewing book I got from Barnes & Noble about a month ago.
This is a really nice book because it has recipes for beer, gluten free beer, mead, cider, and soda (something I really would like to try soon)

 These are the brews I am considering doing this time:
  • Pumpkin Ale (from book)
  • Belgian Christmas Ale (from book)
  • A Winter Warmer (from local homebrew shop mailer)
  • Cider w. hefewiezen yeast
  • Cider w. Belgian or Saison yeast
  • TBD (Maybe Raspberry Rhubarb Hefe if it turns out well)
I really should start these soon especially the Belgian Christmas Ale since it is a high gravity beer and needs at least 3 months to bottle condition.

    Monday, July 11, 2011

    Priming Issues

    So as I mentioned in my last post I have the Raspberry Rhubarb Wheat that needs to be bottled here soon and I will after the heat is more bearable though.

    I am apprehensive about bottling this beer because the last couple of batches I feel have been inconsistent when it comes to the amount of head that the beer has once it is done bottle conditioning.  Some have little to no head and some have too much head when poured into the glass.  Other then the Minty Moose Stout which I accidentally over primed (not enough to cause bottle bombs but enough to make it an interesting experience when opening the bottles) I have no idea as to why I am getting this inconsistency.  I can think of only 2 reasons for the homebrews that pour with too much head.
    1. Infection
    2. Something going wrong with the priming sugar
    I think that if it was an infection problem I could taste it when I drink.  Now I don't claim to be a expert when it comes to tasting but I think I know when something is not right and I take sanitizing seriously.

    This leads me to believe that the inconsistency is caused during the priming step.  I always use the recommended amount of corn sugar and try to make sure it it gets mixed thoroughly in the bottling bucket.  I have used priming tablets a couple times before and am considering using them on this next batch.

    I will update as I bottle and open this current batch.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions I am open to any tips

    Saturday, July 9, 2011

    West Virginia Brewing

    Front of Mountain State Brewing growler
    First off I haven't forgot about this blog. 

    Not much has been going on brewing wise here because over the past month or so my mom came up to visit before having knee surgery, I went over to Connecticut to dog sit for my brother the next weekend and then we just got back from going down to WV for vacation.

    All this time the Raspberry and Rhubarb has been in the beer hopefully making what will eventually be a very tasty brew.  I will try to bottle it within the next week or so.

    My vacation to WV was however not without so beer related stops. 

    First some background...
    When I was in graduate school at WVU the only place in WV that actually brewed their own beer was the WV Brew Pub.  It was a great place to go and the atmosphere was great (and I used to have an awesome growler which I took to get filled here in Albany and the idiot waitress gave to someone else).   When I was in the Political Science graduate program we would always go there after Friday afternoon colloquiums and just sit around drinking and shooting the bull with the professors who joined us.  One of my professors even held the final class down there when presented our research papers for the Bureaucracy Seminar, he bought the beer but you couldn't drink until you had presented your paper.

    After moving to Albany I had heard that the WV Brew Pub had closed ...this saddened me greatly but as it turned out they did reopen under new management and a new name: The Morgantown Brewing Company which had beers on par with the original.  It wasn't until this past Christmas when I was home and went out to dinner with family and friends that I learned about a new brewery Bridge Brew Works which is located near the New River Gorge Bridge and sampled the one brew that the restaurant had on tap (and I remember enjoying it greatly).  About a month prior to my journey down to WV I saw a friend had posted about the Mountain State Brewing Company which has three locations one of which is located in Morgantown.  It also turns out there are also 4 other brewing companies in the state for a total of 7 brewing companies in the state.

    My goal while in WV was to go to as many of these new brew pubs as possible. 
    Our fourth day in WV my girlfriend and I did the New River Bridge Walk where you walk the entire length of the bridge on the 24 inch cat walk that runs under the bridge.

    876 ft up in the air on a 24'' catwalk...FUN!
    Afterwards we drove down to the Bridge Brew Works brewery which is basically a medium sized building, we didn't go in because I don't think they give tours (sad puppy).  I did however pick these two beauties up at the Capitol Market in Charleston and can't wait to taste them.
    Belgian Style Dubbel and Tripel

    On our way back North we stayed with my college roommate in Morgantown and met one of my other buddies for drinks at the Mountain State Brewing Company where I got this growler (didn't get anything in it due to not wanting to worry about it spilling while traveling) but they too had some really nice beers to enjoy.

    Back of Mountain St Brewing growler

    While I am glad that there these new Brewing Companies in the state recently my post retirement dreams (I figured by then I would be a much better homebrewer) was to move back to WV and open up my own Brew Pub...I guess I still could as of right now there are none located in the Southern part of the state but then again it could only be a fanciful dream that will never see fruition...