Hot Glass, Cold Brew

Tonight I participated in my first Escambia Bay Homebrew Club activity; a fund raiser for The Belmont Arts and Cultural Center. Tonight they had their “Hot Glass, Cold Brew” which featured blown glass demos, auctions of hand crafted glass items, live music and of course complementary beer provided by the Homebrew club. I know for fact I’ve never served so many glasses of beer. We had 13 items listed:

  1. Belmont Pale Ale
  2. Light Lager
  3. Jim’s Root Beer
  4. Jim’s Honey Ale
  5. Jim’s Blueberry Wine
  6. Rick & Butch Tornado Watch IPA (between 8% and 9% ABV)
  7. Dusty’s Red
  8. P&B Pale Ale
  9. P&B Wheat
  10. Ron’s Rum Punch
  11. Scott’s Cherry Wheat
  12. Laura’s Dry Cider
  13. Laura’s Blueberry Cider

This was a fun event for me, not only did I find out about the Belmont Art & Culture Center but I also got to meet other club members. The BACC looks like a pretty cool organization.

My Austin Homebrew 20th Anniversary All Grain Irish Red & Stout kits arrived today.

AHS 20th Anniversary Irish Red & Stout All Grain Kits

A few days ago I ordered my next two beers from Austin Homebrew Supply which shipped without much delay and arrived today, well within their promised delivery period.  So far all my experiences with AHS have been great and I recommend them to anyone looking for good deals on Homebrew supplies.

Currently they are running a special, to celebrate their 20th Anniversary, with a wide choice of 20 beer kits for just $20 each, yeast is extra of course. Each kit gives you an option of Extract, mini-mash and all grain to fit your brewing style preference. These kits were not designed as cheap products made with low production cost and high sales in mind.

These are not inferior kits. These kits are being sold below cost with an option for free shipping. The only shortcut is the price. Order soon before they are gone.
-Forrest (HomebrewTalk.com Forums)

Sure, I know the argument that if you put your own recipe together, it costs less- and it does. If you buy all your grain in bulk and culture your own yeast bank, grow your own hops (or find really good prices) you can get your beer cost down to less than $0.25 per 12 oz serving. The AHS kits come in to about $0.44 per 12 oz serving. That still isn’t bad at all when you consider that they have 20 years of experience putting together award-winning beer recipes so the recipe will produce good beer- the homebrewer is the one at this point who’s going to make or break it. Also, if you are starting out or have limited space for storage, it just makes sense to spend a little more and get the beer kit that fits your needs.

The plan:
This weekend I will be brewing my beers. My goal is to brew them back to back, finally using the all grain equipment I have collected over the past few months. I plan to post my progress as I go, so come one back later for the updates.

1 Month Old Apfelwein

After slightly over a month of fermentation in the primary carboy, I’ve racked my wild yeast Apfelwein to the secondary carboy.  It already has a brilliant clarity, so I’ll really be surprised if I find much of any sediment at all in the secondary fermenter.

Since I started this batch, I bought myself a refractometer so that I can more precisely measure the sugar levels of my brews. I saved a bit of money by getting one that only measures in brix, but that’s alright.  There’s plenty of calculators around to easily convert to specific gravity. Specific gravity is the measurement of solids in water, in this case we measure sugars which are fermented into alcohol by our yeast.  The original gravity of the Apfelwein was measured with a hydrometer and measured in at 1.055 SG.  Tonight, measuring it with the refractometer, it measured at 6° brix. The total alcohol by volume is at 4.2%.  Since this is the first time I’m using this yeast, I’m not sure if it is done fermenting, though I’m pretty sure it is.  I’ll know for sure if when I take my next reading, the specific gravity has not changed.

This is a wild yeast after all and I know nothing about it’s performance. It is highly possible that using it over time, it may mutate into a yeast strain that is more alcohol tolerant and can produce higher alcohol concentrations. We’ll see.  This yeast produces a lot of fruity notes, so I’m very curios as to how things will turn out with it. Since I plan on reusing this yeast a few times to see how later generations perform, I’ve saved the yeast so that I can wash it and have it ready for my next batch. Yeast washing is a process of separating good, viable yeast from the sediments that are created during the fermentation process. I think that for my next few batches of beer, mead and cider, I’ll plan on making an extra gallon of must or wort to ferment with this yeast.  Those should be fun experiments.

So, what about the Apfelwein that I originally started writing about?  How does it taste, etc.? Taking in mind that this is still a very young apfelwein and most apfelweins don’t come onto their own for several months, this isn’t too bad.  It’s a bit sweet, since roughly half the sugars were fermented out and it’s a lower alcohol concentration than I was hoping for. It is fruity, and not just as in apples. If you’ve ever had Welch’s White Grape Peach Juice, that is what I’m tasting here. I find it very interesting, considering this is fermented apple juice after all.

I think it’s time to leave this youngster alone for at least a few more months before I test it again. I’ve been told at 4 months apfelweins become drinkable and at a year, they just start to come into their own characters.  We’ll see what time has in store for this youngin!

31 Tap Salute!

While on a business trip, I stopped for gas somewhere between Montgomery and Auburn Alabama. I don’t recall exactly where this was. They didn’t support pay at the pump, so I went inside to pay for my gas. Once inside, I saw this:

Has anyone seen more taps inside a gas station than this? I count 31 taps. I have to admit, I’ve never seen draft beer sold at a gas station before.

Apfelwein

On January 31, I started a batch of Apfelwein, loosly based off of EdWort’s Apfelwein. I had intended to use a small amount of it as a test to try out a strain of wild yeast that I had cultivated last April.  After stepping up the starter and tasting a sample of the beer that I had poured off, I decided to use the yeast for the entire batch.  This yeast had a very sweet flavor and a fruity smell to it.

After starting the Afpelwein, I decided to try my hand at a time laps video.  This video consists of over 4000 photos taken over the first 48 hours of the fermentation.  It’s been compressed down to less than 4 minutes. Viewing tip: Choose 1080p, view it in full screen and let it buffer before viewing.

DIY Cultur Lab

I’ve been putting together material and equipment to start my own home yeast culture lab.  I plan to start experimenting with yeasts, wild and commercial in brewing.

One huge advantage to this is some serious cost savings.  I can propagate and store the commercial yeasts I buy to help reduce the cost of brewing.  The other reason is because I want to experiment with the local wild yeasts to see if I can make a brewed drink that is distinct to my local area.

Here’s my equipment so:

  • DIY Alcohol burner
  • DIY Inoculation Loop
  • Agar-Agar powder for culture medium
  • Microscope
  • 2000 ml Erlenmeyer flask
  • Stir plate (from http://stirstarters.com)
  • Digital Scale
  • Vials w/ caps for yeast slants
  • Petri dishes for growing cultures.
  • additional Erlenmeyer flasks from 50 ml to 1000 ml

The equipment I still need to obtain:

  • beakers
  • Pressure Cooker/Canner for use as an Autoclave

Here’s a few pics of what I have so far