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Goodbye Jesus

Time To Homebrew


Ro-bear

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I am inspired to brew some beer for the first time in a couple of years. Last week I went to the Brewers Jam in Knoxville. Over fifty brewers offered samples of hundreds of beers. Plus my friend Richard got us some backstage passes so we could chill with the bands and not have to wait in line for the porta-potties. I had a terrific Kolsch from the French Broad Brewing Company, and I've never brewed that style (I've brewed for 22 years) so I thought I'd have a go at that. Kolsch is a straw-colored light-to-medium bodied beer with medium to slightly assertive hops. I usually go for the heavily-hopped stuff like IPA, but I feel like trying something new, something my unadventurous friends will find more accessible. Today I'll hit the homebrew supply store to get the ingredients and a new stopper for my fermenter. I've tested my brewkettle so I know where all the temperatures are for each setting. I'll work up a recipe over the next couple of days, sterilize all the equipment and head to Richard's party barn to do the brewing. We'll brew and drink beer all day on Saturday. It should be ready to bottle a week or so later.

 

I'm psyched. I hope the store has the right yeast in stock.

 

My friend is a preacher's son, been a wild man all his life. Has many tales from Woodstock, Vietnam, etc. He is a believer but it would take some amazing grace to save a wretch like him. He leaves me alone about the atheism, but he brings God up sometimes. I actually prefer that to when he brings up politics, though. ;-)

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I just started, with a Mr. Beer kit.  So far, it's pretty good.  I'm making an Oktoberfest now.

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I've got 5 gallons of amber ale in the carboy right now; should be ready for bottling in a couple of days.  Can't wait to taste the muscadine wine I laid down a few weeks ago.  Brew on, fellas.

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I've got 5 gallons of amber ale in the carboy right now; should be ready for bottling in a couple of days.  Can't wait to taste the muscadine wine I laid down a few weeks ago.  Brew on, fellas.

I love muscadine. I'd like to try winemaking. My friends tell me it's quite simple and you don't have to wait as long as one would think. I'll try a kit first, of course. My wife and I like Cabernet Sauvignon with our prime rib.

 

My kolsch recipe is all-grain and a bit complicated.

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I need to get a wine making kit. That being said: some of the brews available today are amazing; however, my fav all time one is Carlsburg. 

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Anyone of you tried using other herbs or spices than hops? I would like to get into the whole gruit tradition with all kinds of spices and herbs, but since hops became so dominant due to the German reinheitsgebot (which still in parts of Europe is seen as the last word on what beer is), most gruit recipes were lost. I imagine pretty much any of the following could work, although I am sure some of these were not even available in Europe at the time gruit still was in use, the (?) that I've appended to some indicate my doubt as to whether they would really work: mint, blackcurrant leaves, melissa officinalis (dunno if the flavor is persistent enough?), cinnamon, caraway, woodruff, cloves, aniseed, juniper berries, allspice(?), cardamom, vanilla(?), dried fennel seeds(?), nutmeg(?), licorice(?), various wood barks and chips - both lightly burned or unburned. I imagine maybe mustard seeds would go well in a relatively dark beer intended solely for a soup base? Ginger obviously works, although good ginger ales usually aren't malt-based afaict? I've also considered trying to get enough birch sap to put some of that in a beer. 

 

Another approach I'd like to try if I ever have access to enough raspberry bushes, cherry trees or maybe cultivate my own strawberries is to make something in the lambic style and flavor it by having a bunch of berries sitting in the fermentation vat.

 

At some point in my life, I hope to have good opportunities to do malting, I'd really like to try to make some smoked malt. Would be interested, mainly, in malting oats and rye, maybe some wheat. Basically, barley beer is somewhat boring. I suspect smoked oats or rye malt may be quite a thing, although the smoking of course will reduce the distinctiveness of the rye or oats. AFAICT only smoked barley malt beer is commercially available.

 

Bunch of unorganized thoughts on the whole home-brewing thing, and I hope some of the stuff I mentioned gives inspiration to someone. I haven't done any proper* brewing since my flatmate moved in with his girlfriend. Since my girlfriend doesn't like beer, I guess I won't start homebrewing again until we have a proper house where I can keep the vat out of her way (read: where she won't feel any olfactory disturbance from it).  The only brewing I've done is Finnish 'mead' (which is just lightly lemon-flavored lightly fermented brown sugar, so a fairly molasses-rich soft drink, where the first bit of the fermentation is done in an open container with baker's yeast and the second part is in plastic bottles with raisins added as indicators - when they float, it's ready to drink. I sometimes add a spoonful of cardamom per bottle, gives a strong and fresh flavor - with the light fermentation, it is even suitable for kids), and kotikalja (which is lightly fermented rye malt without hops. I sometimes add cardamom|cinnamon|cloves.)

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The months in between summer and winter are great for home brewing! Good luck to all you home brewers!

 

We brew too, but are too caught up other things to put in the effort just at the moment.

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Brewed the Kolsch today.  I missed my target O.G. by a bit, so I had to add some corn sugar.  No biggie.  Next week I rack it into a carboy for two weeks of cold secondary fermentation.  I think it went well, considering that my friend didn't have the right outlet for my brewkettle and we had to do a three-step infusion mash on a propane cooker.  That was a bit of a challenge and more labor intensive than it would have been with my more sophisticated equipment.  We'll rack it into the carboy next Saturday and go to the Bill Kirchen concert at The Shack.  Then two weeks later we will bottle.  We'll probably try a bottle a couple of months from now.

 

It's like awaiting the birth of a child, only less stressful.  Plus we drink the child.

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I haven't tried the all grain brewing yet; still working my way up to it.  This coming weekend, I've got two gallons of mead to bottle and a gallon of raspberry wine I'm going to finish and start resting; I may also finish and rest the muscadine, but I'm still getting a little light-duty fermentation on it.  I haven't ever used a wine kit, since I'm more interested in ABV than flavor, though no one has ever complained about my wine tasting bad.  Plus, I like to diverge from "traditional" wines and get messy with strange concoctions like honey, blueberries, strawberry preserves, a gallon of water and some yeast.  That said, I'm not so cavalier in my approach to brewing beer.

 

As an aside, this past summer I bought some medicinal grade hops when I was in Russia.  The brew a strong tea with them to calm nerves and such.  If I ever do advance into the all grain arena, I may have to get some more.

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