You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

Some updates on what’s brewing and what’s doing including, but not limited to:

Not-So-Old Ale Bottling!
Experimental Speed Ale Goes Into Secondary!
New Nano-Starter Experiments!
And I Co-Host Trivia Night At A Local Bar!

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hairy-bottle.jpg
Are you looking at me?

Last weekend my friend Matt brought over a six pack of Lagunitas The Hairy Eyeball Ale to drink during our rye ale brew session. He had no idea what it would be, just that it had a crazy name and 9% ABV. Not a bad start.

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Anyone who has ever tried all-grain homebrewing knows that brew day can last from 4 to 6 hours. Sometimes more. It doesn’t matter how big or, in my case, small the batch is it’s going to take some time. But wouldn’t it be nice to cut that down to a short enough time to do it on a week night after work? Without having to use extracts? Of course it would! So I did some reading.

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This past Sunday I checked the gravity of the old ale that I started a week earlier. It was really just an experiment so I shouldn’t have had very high hopes for it. But I can dream, can’t I?

The yeast went crazier than I had anticipated. I wanted something like a 75% attenuation, which would have given me a final gravity somewhere around the 1.015 area. What I got was 1.009. That’s crazy. But the true test is in the taste. So I tasted it. Dry and bitter. Kind of the opposite of what I wanted. Well, at least it’s beer, right? Right?!

I racked (siphoned, for those unfamiliar with the terminology) it off the yeast and into a 3 liter ginger ale bottle. I like the ginger ale bottles because they’re green so they let less light through. Then the bottle went into the fridge to clear for a week or two. Then I guess I’ll bottle it and sit on it for a few months and just hope it tastes good enough to drink later down the road.

Better luck next time. Which will probably be soon.

I know it’s already Thursday but some very cool stuff happened over the weekend that I need to talk about. And it isn’t the Giants game. Because I’ll be honest with you people out there in the blogosphere…I don’t care about football. What I care about is good food and good drink. And while the Giants were duking it out with the Packers for a shot at the Super Bowl I was finishing up a rye ale.
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It’s the 13th century all over again. Due to Michelle’s superior blogging skills (skillz?) we have decided to split up the Us v. Food site. Truthfully, we thought it would be better if that site was more focused.  Now this site will be the “Us v. – ” site devoted to beer and barbecue.  We’ll see how it plays out.

An interesting outcome of the blog migration (bligration?  blogration?) is that some parts of my previous posts don’t make a whole lot of sense.  But I don’t want to be a revisionist or anything so I’m going to leave them as they are and let the strangeness of it serve as a reminder of the peaceful times we had before the schism.

A little over two weeks ago I brewed a 2 1/2 gallon batch of brown ale with my brother-in-law. It fermented quickly and looked great so tonight I took a gravity reading.

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Success!

If you can’t see that clearly enough, it reads 1.010. That may not mean much to you, but it was the final gravity I was shooting for. Which means two things-(a) the beer fermented just like I wanted and (b) it’s ready to bottle. And bottle it I did.
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So this is my first post to the blog. Up until now, if you’ve been reading this at all you’ve been reading Michelle’s writing. She’s the better writer so I leave most of the blogging to her. She’s also the better cook so she has more to say, too. But today’s post is about beer. And I am a big fan of beer. I like to drink beer, sure. But I also like to talk about beer, read about beer, write about beer, think about beer and, of course, brew beer.

I’d like to start by saying that I’m not the greatest homebrewer in the world. Or even the country or state. Maybe not even the surrounding few blocks but I don’t actually know if anyone around here brews beer so I can’t really speak to that. I’ll just say that I’m still new at this whole homebrew thing. I started less than a year ago and have made only 11 batches in that time. And three of those batches were such dismal failures that they went down the drain rather than down my gullet. That’s a fact.

So Saturday was my twelfth attempt at making my own beer. And it was inspired by a co-worker of Michelle’s who comes from Louisiana. This co-worker gave Michelle a two ounce bottle of cane syrup for some reason. Apparently, the people down in Louisiana put this stuff on pancakes and waffles and stuff where normal people would use maple syrup. Go figure. The point is that we have no intention of using it on waffles so I thought I could use it in beer. I’ve been wanting to try to make an old ale and have heard that old ale often use additions of molasses or brown sugar so it seemed like a perfect fit. And since I usually make very small batches of beer, the two ounce bottle seemed like it would work.

So I threw together a recipe and got to work on Saturday afternoon. Unlike our usual dinner posts, I’m going to give the recipe right up front so you can all see how this went down. It wasn’t always pretty. In fact, if you ask Michelle, it is typically not pretty at all. But I disagree. Either way, here’s what I was doing:

2.75 lbs Domestic 2-Row Barley
2 oz British Crystal 135-165
2 oz Cane Syrup
Hops: 0.25 oz Target @ 60 minutes
0.0833 oz Target @ 5 minutes

This should have a starting gravity of about 1.083.

Nothing too complicated. Except that I usually brew in 2.5 gallon batches and this was for a 3.5 quart (0.875 gallon) batch. So I was using a different mash tun than I normally use and had to work with smaller additions of water. But no big deal, right?

Grinding Process

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There is a man in Jersey City who really loves beer. This is his story.