Thursday, February 4, 2016

In the Hopper

I've been brewing but neglecting to blog about it for several reasons. Time, time, and time. If anyone would have told me that adulating was this hard I would have probably just tried to be a kid forever. Deadlines, issues, conflicts, schedules, they all just get in the way of one of the most important things in life - brewing. I've been on a kit kick recently mainly due to the time factor and I have to say that it's not really been that bad. My tastes seem to revolve around IPA's and stronger Ales these days and I find myself wanting to brew a lot of variety in this area. I have an IPA on tap and a Brown Ale right now and both were kit beers with extract. Over the holidays I got some gift cards to Northern Brewer so of course I was going to use them on some beer recipes. They had a sale for certain kits for $20.16 so I jumped on that. The kits I got were all grain as I'm trying to force myself back to doing BIAB and get back away from extract. I migrated away when my bag was slightly wet and I put it in a rubbermaid and it got moldy. Had to make a new bag at that point. The kits I got are all fairly decent looking:

  • Irish Red Ale (for St. Patrick's Day hopefully)
  • Black IPA
  • Regular IPA (brewed the extract and have on tap now, good brew)
  • Vanilla Porter
I am really excited about the Vanilla Porter as that was my first ever real homebrew. I don't know what they'll send in the kit but I may go to Trader Joe's and get the nice real vanilla beans to use in secondary for that hint of vanilla. The weather needs to improve though soon or I wont be able to brew outside anytime in the neat future. The 3 feet of snow we received two weeks ago is still hampering efforts to get outside and brew. Plus, with it being winter I need to use the outside water tap when I BIAB and that's currently turned off so the pipes don't freeze. As soon as I see a Saturday or Sunday with weather in the 50's or above I am all over it. Until then, Slainte.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ace of Spades IPA

I brewed up a batch of Northern Brewers Ace of Spades IPA a few weeks ago. It was a short ferment and only took about 14 days to get down to the 1.011 range. I racked to a keg, set the gas on and let it sit for another week. The first pull was very tasty. It has a nice balance of roast but with the bite of an IPA. I didn't think that I would quite like that balance but it really turned out to be a great brew. After a few days I noticed that I completely forgot to dry hop it with the 2 hops it came with so I threw those into a paint strainer bag and tossed them into the keg. I don't normally remove dry hops after a week or two like some, and have had good success not doing so. I could tell just a few hours later that the dry hopping really makes this beer. Great nose, good lace on the glass, and just a really nice overall beer. I will brew this again sometime soon. Time to order a few more kits as my all grain brewing is on hold at the moment due to time constraints. I love to brew AG but with spring sports, kids, and work it becomes hard to carve out 4-5 hours on a Saturday. With the Northern Brewer extract kits I can still make great beer but do it inside while doing other things around the house.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One day I will keep up on my brewing

Quick refresh - been brewing some decent Northern Brewer extract kits over the winter to keep some supply up. Made the Dead Ringer which was awesome, a single hop double IPA, and getting ready to brew up Ace of Spades Black IPA. I am in the process of procuring a new bag for BIAB brewing since my other one didn't dry right one day and got moldy. More brewing adventures to come. Stay tuned......

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Selection Wine Kits

I've never blogged on wine kits before so I figure I would give it a shot to lend some information on the process for beginners. These kits come in tons of varieties. I'll plug MD Homebrew here as usual as they have a nice selection of these kits and everything you will need to be successful at wine making. I have only done a few random kits over the years because wine making typically takes longer than making beer in terms of aging. In terms of the brewing or making process it is much easier. There is no boiling involved, just a bunch of racking back and forth into clean fermenters from time to time and putting in some additives here and there.

To get started I used a Pinot Grigio kit. I chose this kit because it's a white wine and they usually can be consumed a lot earlier than red wines. Most reds need to age at least 6 months before you open one and try it. The Pinot kit was a little over $100 but it makes thirst 750ml bottles of good table wine so it works out to be between $3-4 per bottle which isn't too shabby considering you'll pay double that at a wine shop for the cheapest stuff they have. Now, this wine will not sit up against a $50 bottle. It will however hold its on in the $15-$20 range.

The process is rather simple. Clean and sanitize a fermenter that is at least 6 gallons. You need the headspace for fermentation and also for some additional water later on. Once you have a clean and sanitized fermenter, you just add the juice from the bag in and add whatever water the instructions tell you. To be honest the instructions actually are quite good with these kits. Add in the packet of dry yeast and seal the bucket with a lid and airlock full of sanitizer. At this point just let the bucket sit for a week or so at room temperature. Fermentation will begin and you'll notice air bubbles coming from the airlock and you'll be able to smell the wine through the airlock usually.

The instructions say after a week or so to check the gravity with a hydrometer. The next step (which is the step I am on right no with this kit) is to transfer the wine off the yeast into another clean and sanitized fermenter. I did that Sunday and it ended up looking pretty cloudy. In a day or two however so far this week the top half of the wine has cleared and looks more polished. I will do the next steps this weekend which involve adding a little water and then some of the stabilizers and clarifiers. One thing I really like about these kits is they have little to no sulfates for preservatives. That's the stuff that usually gives you a headache when you drink wine. I'll post up again when I do the next racking with some pictures of the product.