I’ve been interested in adding fruit to my brewing, but with only one fermenter, I can’t commit to a long aging period. This has focused my attention into quicker fruiting methods, such as using pomegranate molasses. While at the Cambridge Beer Festival, I had a beer spiked with beet root, which got me thinking about vegetables in beer. Around the same time I spotted some vibrant stalks of rhubarb at the market and happened to come across this recipe for rhubarb syrup. I couldn’t ask for a more appealing confluence of inspirations – I had to seek out this tart vegetable to try brewing with it.
In one week’s time I’ll be headed off for England, and either this blog will go on hiatus or its nature will have to change. I’ve got plenty of adventures planned for my time abroad, quite a few of them even beer related (probably not many pizza related; I don’t know what I’ll do for pizza oh no I’ll probably have to make some!). I’ll be sampling many cask ales in the pubs, taking cycling and train trips to old English breweries, tracking down hop farms on the isle and the continent, and chasing lambics and Trappist brews in Belgium. But for now, tasting notes on my last brew until I’m back.
This was not an easy brew day. I started by mashing in my 3 lbs of grain with 5 quarts of water at about 152 degrees F, and did my usual routine of covering the pot with the lid and wrapping it in a towel. I let it sit for 75 minutes to make sure I got plenty of fermentables out of the grains, but I got distracted (by writing for this blog, incidentally) and at the 75 minutes mark I realized I had no water to sparge with. I heated up 7 quarts to 170 degrees F for sparging, and realized that over the course of the 75 minutes, my mash had lost a whopping 10 degrees F (usually I only lose about 4 degrees). This didn’t have me too worried because of a 90 minute mash, I should have excellent conversion even with some setbacks, but little did I know this was only the start of my troubles.
Today I put my Heavy Seas Gold Ale clone into bottles. I ran out of bottles before I ran out of beer, so I put the leftover into a growler and chilled it to accompany our dinner. Colleen and I are both looking forward to it maturing over the next three weeks — it’s a promising brew at this stage. After I was finished bottling, I decided to give the yeast a bath to clean them up after their boozy party. Continue reading
Since I’ve been using dry yeast for the last few brews, I haven’t had to make a starter. Starters are sort of miniature wort (about a quart or more) that get your liquid yeast reproducing, so that when you introduce it to your real wort, you can be assured that you will be adding enough yeast to finish the fermentation. While the yeast are reproducing, they’re metabolizing aerobically, which means they need oxygen as much as you do on the treadmill. Enter the stir plate: a device which spins a magnetic stirring rod in your starter, introducing oxygen to the wort, just as you do by shaking the wort in the carboy before pitching the yeast.