Monday, September 1, 2008

Hella-Güt Hefe

Here we go again, will we obtain that wonderful clove-like and bananna flavor so characteristic of Southern Germany, or will it be Goat Gluwein?

-5 oz. Munich Malt
-3 oz. Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)
-1 oz. Carafa II (412.0 SRM)
-1/2 lb. wheat DME (in the starter)
-6.5 lbs. wheat LME
-1oz Hersbruker Hallertau
- White Labs Liquid Hefeweizen Ale Yeast (WLP380)

Bottle-conditioned. Brewed July 2008. Goat approved.

Three Mädchens Oktoberfest

It was the Munich Oktoberfest 1987, and I was there with my regular crew of officers from my Battalion. We drank and sang, and drank and sang, and . . . well, you get the picture. I was never so happy in my life to be with my friends -- the Germans have a word for it -- gemuchlicheit -- it means that warm happy feeling you get when you're with family and friends. We didn't know it then, but our Red nemesis would soon die a welcome death, and in a small way my friends and I helped make it happen. When the wall fell, I cried with tears of joy and remembered those warm happy days in the Bavarian sun with my friends. Gott mit uns.

- 1 lb. Weyermann Caramunich II
-2 lbs. Pilsener DME
-6 lbs. Munich LME
-1 oz. Sterling (bittering)
-Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast

This one was brewed and lagered alongside the Helles, but didn't finish as dry as the Helles. Still enjoyable, but will give it more time to condition in the bottle and perhaps dry out. Dark, sweet, and very flavorful. Brewed June 2008.

Update September 18th:  Bottle conditioning did the trick -- additional carbonation balanced the sweet malt character.  This one's going to be great with age.  Interesting that modern German Oktoberfest's are not this big, and have more in common with my Helles than this brew.

Big Honkin' Helles

I lived in Germany for three years, where I discovered that I actually liked beer. It was a wonderful contrast to that pee-colored rice and corn syrup swill that they served in America. In Bavaria, the beer man delivers a rack of beer to your door each week, and you return your empties, just like the Milkman. I drank Pils, Hefeweizens, Crystalweizens, Dunkelweizens, Dunkles, Alts, Bocks, Doppelbocks, Eisbocks, Berlinerweisse, and my favorite, Helles. This was my first lagering experience, and it matched my taste-memory of my days in Neu Ulm and Stuttgart. This was fermented at 50° for 3 weeks, then moved up to 60° to finish out, and then dropped to 36° for a month to lager and clear out.

-1 lb. Pilsener DME
-6 lbs. Pilsener LME
-1 oz. Argentina Cascade (bittering)
-1/2 oz. Argentina Cascade (flavoring at 30 min.)
-1/2 oz. Argentina Cascade (aroma at 10 min.)
-Wyeast 2206 Bavarian Lager Yeast

Light-bodied and refreshing, modest bittering. Exactly as I remembered. Would definitely brew again. Favorite of my in-laws. Brewed June 2008.

Löwensaft auf Frühling

My mother was "Low German" rural poor, and grew up in Depression-era Nebraska, where every bit of flora and fauna you could forage was canned, dried or cured.  Each year, my Aunts would gather in my mother's kitchen to lay down quarts of spiced apples, apricots, beans, corn, tomatoes, kraut, pickles -- whatever they grew or picked from our farm and neighbors' farms.  In homage to that thrifty spirit and my Bohunk Mother, I brew this Lions Juice of Spring.

My wife and girls helped me pick for two hours on the first day of the new season. Our goats, Panny and Billy, would ignore the millions of yellow heads around them, and wait for us to lay down a picked bag, then gorge.

- 3 1/2 gallons of dandelion heads (no stems), steeped for 45 minutes in hot water
-4 lbs. golden raisins, chopped
-8 oranges, zest and juice
-8 lemons, zest and juice
-12 lbs. sugar
-3 tsp. yeast nutrient
-boiled with 3 1/2 gal. spring water, cooled to 70, then topped to 5 gal.
-pitched 1 pkg. Côte de Blanc and 1 pkg. Champagne yeast

Laid down April 2008. Re-rack off the lees every 3 months. Condition until March 2009.

Crack-It-Back Ale

Redmond's Mac and Jack's Brewery makes one of the finest examples of highly-hopped Northwest pale/amber ales, so I endeavored to clone their example with this effort. Success! Dry-hopped with Cascade, the nose is Juicy-Fruit, floral, and not overpoweringly bitter like most pungent Seattle brews. I love the smell of hops, but in an ale they should be in balance with the fruity character of the yeast.

-1 oz. Munich
-1/2 lb. Crystal 80L
-1/2 lb. Carapils
- 3 lbs. Briess DME
-3.3 lbs. light Coopers LME
-1/2 oz. Columbus leaf hop (substituted for unavailable Centennial) (bittering)
-1 tsp. Irish moss
- 1.25 oz. Cascade pellet hops (aroma) at 2 min. left
-WLP 005 British Ale Yeast (fermented at 68 degrees)
-dry hopped with 1/2 oz. Cascade pellets for 14 days

Beautiful amber color, terrific floral hop aroma, nice mouth feel -- a perfect Northwest amber ale. My Father-in-Law calls the hop flavor "Ju-Ju-Bee", which is exactly the fruit character I wanted from the dry hopping. Used an old fridge with a digital temperature control to keep the wort at 68 -- controlled ferment seems to have made a huge difference in yeast flavor. Would definitely brew again -- a new favorite. Brewed March 2008.

I Curse Thor!

Lured again by the Teutonic siren call of Dunkelweisse, I venture back into the land of Hefeweizen brewing. Curses, you Weihenstephan yeast! Foiled again. I lament the waste of 8 oz. of German Munich Malt, 7 oz. Belgian Caramunich, 1 oz. British chocolate malt, 6 lbs. of Briess wheat DME, and 1 oz. of Tettnanger pellets. Fermented Wyeast 3638 at what I thought a respectable 68 degrees (the fool I am for following fermentation recommendations from the manufacturer!). Ayeeee! Hot phenols again! Hefes, you elude me!. Oye vay, down the drain! Brewed January 2008.

Molass-Anilla Porter

Inspired by the cold dark Seattle nights, porters called to me, so I tried a hand at my own. Benjamin Franklin said that beer was proof that God loves us, and here was my confirmation.

-3.3 lbs. liquid dark malt extract
-3.3 lbs. amber
-1/2 lb. chocolate malt
-1/2 black patent malt
-1 cup organic blackstrap molasses
-3 tbl. Indonesian vanilla extract
-1 1/2 oz. Fuggles pellets (bittering)
-1 oz. Tettnager leaf (at 10 min. left in the boil)
-Whitelabs Irish Ale yeast
-1 1/4 cups DME

Let the ferment go naturally to 72 degrees. Franklin was right. Incredible molasses and vanilla flavor, clear dark appearance, huge cappuchino head. A Worthy Winter Warmer! Brewed November 2007.

Jacked-Apple Cider

My neighbor's apple tree beckoned. Every day I would watch 2 pound braeburns fall to the ground unused -- I almost wept. He was never home, so I could never ask permission. Finally, the Midwest spendthrift in me couldn't take it anymore -- my girls and I took a wheelbarrow and a ladder, and liberated 120 lbs. Mother-in-law came over and we spent 4 1/2 hours juicing with two Olympic Juicers going full blast. Let the press sit on campden tablets for 24 hours, then filtered through a muslin bag and heated to 160 degrees with 2 lbs blackberry honey and 2 lbs. organic brown sugar. Ph tested at 3.8, so no need to balance. Added a little wine tannin for bite, and 2 oz. pectin for clarity. Pitched dry Champagne yeast. Beautiful clear golden cider, plenty of wonderful small bubbles, ended at an over-the-top 12% alcohol. Nice bright English-style dry cider. Incredible. Brewed October 2007.

Heavy Hefeweizen

Hefeweizens are the reason I got into homebrewing, so for my first full extract, I tried my hand. Can you say rubber shoe? That's what it smelled like. Me and Weihenstephan Weizen Yeast (WLP 300 or Wyeast 3068) have an unfriendly relationship. Brewed this one too hot, and got lots of unpleasant phenols. Tried long conditioning, didn't help. Made with 3.3 lbs. of Thomas Coopers Wheat Malt, 3 lbs. Briess wheat DME, 12 oz. Crystal 10L, 2 oz. Hallertau pellet and 1 oz. Hallertau leaf hops. Very fun to watch ferment, as the wort circulated impressively like a thunderstorm. Brewed September 2007.

Erste Bier

Like the title says, the first beer, and first beer label, that I made. Like most first-timers, it was made from a kit, and not very good. An American Wheat Beer, made with Thomas Coopers Wheat hopped concentrate, Munton's malt extract, and dry yeast. Flat taste and unimpressive. It's a wonder I didn't give up. Brewed July 2007