A cornucopia of updates!

It has been a while since I updated anyone on anything so here ya go.

The Drunken Emu Hard cider is gone. It turned out pretty good but I have other cider recipes I prefer far more and wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long. Oh well, that is part of the process.

The Dry-Hopped Cider is gone. Hallertau was an okay hop. I know how much I enjoy cascade hops but in the spirit of exploration, next time I will try centennial hops.

The Transfiguration IPA is nearly gone. I really enjoyed this brew. I like IPAs and I think IPAs are the easiest beer to brew in the gluten free style. The malt isn’t what matters; the hop is and in this beer man do the hops stand out and taste delicious!

The 1st Date Dunkel 2.0 is nearly gone as well. It is still a popular drink with “regular” beer drinkers. I will definitely make it again but I will most definitely not use oak chips again.

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Palmerston’s Solution is starting to mature and tasting better every time I sample it. My only fear is I have given too much of it away. How is that for selfishness? As Paul said, “Oh wretched man that I am!”

Black Jack Pershing is bubbling away as happy as a clam. I forgot to sample this one so I have no idea what it tastes like! I’m rethinking my classification of this, I think it may be more along the lines of a graff. Whatever.

Finally, my Fall Harvest Mind Crusher is….forgotten. I need to work harder at being intentional with my meads. It is still in the jug. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll bottle this when I bottle the Black Jack.

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Now on to my book shelf…

I am still working through D.A. Carson’s Call to Spiritual Reformation. I like it so much I’m thinking about starting over and taking better notes! I cannot recommend this one enough to someone who values prayer.

I am nearly finished with Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. It is an odd mixture of Arminianism and South African (Dutch) Reformed Calvinism but it has its merits.

I finished James S.A. Corey’s Abaddon’s Gate and it was awesome! I’m excited for the sequel which will be released in a few days.

I read Elizabeth Moon’s Trading in Danger in the hopes that I might have found something to satisfy the void that Lois McMaster’s Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga left. While the book had its good points and I will definitely read the next one…the main protagonist is no Mile’s Vorkosigan. But then again…who is? <sigh>

I am about 1/3 of the way through The Presbyterian Conflict by Edwin Rian. I feel a bit like Dr. Zoidberg, “Fellas, fellas…why didn’t anybody tell me about this stuff?” The Auburn Affirmation really explains why the PC(USA) (and other mainline Reformed denominations) are where they are theologically. Oh well. Praying the Lord opens a door to a more, eh hem, Orthodox denomination.

I put aside Jame’s Jordan’s commentary on Judges. I didn’t do that because it was bad–it was excellent. But mainly because I have some pressing subjects (see the book immediately above) which I need to master ASAP.

 

I think that is it for updates.

 

 

 

 

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Fall Harvest Mind Crusher (Mead)

Today I bottled two meads: the blueberry pancake mead and the red bamboo mead. In a couple of months I will hopefully be able to provide an update on how they taste. Both of those were new recipes. Today I also made a mead, but it is an old, familiar one called Fall Harvest Mind Crusher. Technically, the mead I made today is a cyser–but who is keeping track. This is our (my wife and I) favorite mead. It tastes amazing and everyone who has tried it enjoyed it as well. Fall Harvest is based on an existing recipe but my version is modified. As with all of my meads, this is for a 1 gallon batch.

Fall Harvest Mind Crusher

  • 2lbs Honey
  • 1 gallon of cider or apple juice (I used organic because it was on sale and cheaper than non-organic).
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp of cinnamon)
  • 1/2 TBSP of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 packet of Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast

Now, technically this is a cyser because it is cider and honey mixed together. But it is easier to just call it a mead when I share it with someone. Let this go for several months and then bottle it, let it sit for more months. We have a couple from last year we will probably enjoy over the summer. It tastes good in the fall but really, with those flavors it tastes good all the time.

There is no picture this time because the picture of the original by the author of the original recipe is pretty sweet. Here is a link to the original recipe with a sweet picture of it bubbling away. Literally, bubbling away.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f30/fall-harvest-mind-crusher-317341/

Blueberry Pancake Mead

This is a new recipe for me but I am pretty excited for the outcome. I read a version of this recipe online but I can’t find it anywhere. However, it stuck in my mind because I thought it sounded delicious.

All of my mead recipes are 1 gallon batches. The amount of honey for a 5 gallon batch would be cost prohibitive, plus I can’t see Mrs. Wine or myself enjoying 5 gallons of one type of mead–except for one recipe that I’ll post next time I make it.

Blueberry Pancake Mead

  1. 2lbs of honey
  2. 2 cups of blueberries
  3. 8.5 oz of pure maple syrup.
  4. 1/2 packet of Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast

Bring the maple syrup and blueberries to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. This will help concentrate the flavors.  Also, anytime I add fruit to a mead I boil/simmer it first for about 10 minutes. Don’t ask me why; it just seems like the right thing to do.

After 10 minutes, add the blueberry/syrup mixture, honey and water into the jug. Pitch yeast and let go for a while. In about 2 weeks, maybe a month, you’ll want to rack the mead to help clear it up. This will probably take a few transfers to get clear.

That’s it!

blueberry pancake mead

Updates

Today I bottled 1st Date Dunkel 2.0 I hate bottling day but oh well, if you wish to enjoy the fruit of your labors you have to put forward a little work.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to provide a few updates on some of my brews.

First of all, the Buckwheat Brown Ale has come along nicely.

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Obviously, it really isn’t brown at all. Oh well, it tastes great!

Next, my Red Bamboo Mead is bubbling along like crazy. A couple of days ago I looked at it and I thought, hey, I should put a blow off valve on it and didn’t.  Now some of the fermentation bubbles (what are the official names for this?) are up in the airlock. I’ll clean it out later this week when I make a new mead I have planned.

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The mead is pictured with a glass of my Transfiguration IPA. Interestingly, it is nearly the same color!

Finally, regarding the Dunkel. The sample from bottling tasted excellent. The chocolate came through on the finish with an after taste that I think comes from the wood. In a few weeks I’ll be baptizing my youngest and family will be in town. I’ll crack open the Dunkel then and my brother-in-law and I can see how it tastes then!

Here is a picture of my sample:

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Red Bamboo Mead

For Christmas my wife gave me 2lbs of Red Bamboo honey. This is a honey made from Japanese knotweed but calling it knotweed honey isn’t very appealing, I guess, so it is called red bamboo honey. It is very dark red in color, so the name works. I have never worked with it before but it is supposed to have a pretty unique flavor. However, I need 3lbs for a 1 gallon batch of mead (which is the size I always make) so after asking around I was told to just use clover or wildflower honey. Either one should work well with the red bamboo and not overpower its flavor.

Red Bamboo Mead

  • 2lbs of red bamboo honey
  • 1lb of wildflower honey
  • Approximately 1 gallon of water.
  • 1/2 a packet of Lalvin K1-V1116 yeast

Pour the honey into a sanitized gallon jug and then top it off with hot water to help mix the honey up. Finally, add the yeast and let it go for at least a month, maybe longer.

Hydrometers, Patrick Rothfuss and the Founding Fathers

A hydrometer is an important tool when it comes to homebrewing. Or so they say. The hydrometer is used to determine the alcohol level of your brew. I suppose that is actually useful if you’re interested in that sort of thing. The secondary use of a hydrometer is it can let you know when your beer is done brewing. You take a measurement at the start, just prior to pitching the yeast and it will give you the projected ABV; then when you’ve hit that mark you’ll know the yeast is done fermenting. This is useful because it prevents you from bottling your beer prematurely which will result, most likely, in bottle bombs. So, like I said, the hydrometer has its uses.

I don’t have a hydrometer. Or rather, I don’t use one. I had one when I started because it came with the kit that I purchased. But very early into my brewing experience, perhaps on the 3rd brew, I accidentally broke it while washing it. Oops. Because I was such a young buck at that time, and so eager to do what I was told, I had bought into the absolute necessity of the hydrometer hook line and sinker. So I knew it must be replaced.

The problem is I live out in the middle of rural Western Pennsylvania. I actually live near the Tri-State area: I’m about 10 minutes from the WV panhandle and 15 minutes from Ohio. Where I live there are no homebrew shops so I’m dependent on the internet for my supplies and paying the shipping for 1 hydrometer didn’t make sense. But then one day, while waiting at a light in Ohio I saw a sign for a homebrew supply shop. So I followed the sign. Then I followed another sign. Then I turned. Then I turned again. Then I followed more signs. Eventually I left the main road and ended up on side roads. Then I left those. Still the signs continued until I arrived at the “shop.” The entrance to the shop was down a….road that consisted of gravel and dirt and wound its way through trees. Actually, when I started to drive down this road (literally down it as it is a steep hill) I couldn’t see the shop. I made it through the trees and arrived. The homebrew supply store was a….shack. A shack in the woods. Literally. Some guy had purchased one of those large storage outbuildings and handmade a sign that proclaimed it was a homebrew store. I saw Deliverance when I was younger and it kind of traumatized me. I turned around and left.

But a couple of days later I started thinking about that missing piece in my homebrew kit and how badly I needed a hydrometer. So I ventured back out to the shack in the woods. The second time, I looked around and saw that the shack was actually in the backyard of a decent house. I rang the bell and the proprietor came out of the house and opened up the shack and then let me in. Inside the small space was the a counter and cash register and shelves loaded with homebrewing goodness. I asked him if he had a hydrometer and he said he thought so. He rummaged around behind the counter, stood up and said he had two different types, which one did I want?

Now here was a dilemma. My kit came with one and I had read many times about the necessity of using a hydrometer but I’d never encountered two different types! So I thought about it and then fell back on my usual decision making process and asked him which one was cheaper. So I bought the cheaper one and left, grateful that I hadn’t died and that no one had told me I got a purty mouth.

However, when I returned home I discovered my hydrometer was some sort of freakish hydrometer for monster beers. Or rather, for chemists who made moonshine. So far as I can tell, my hydrometer is for spirits, not beer. So it sits in the basement gathering dust.

Shortly after that experience I brewed some more beer and amazingly, without a hydrometer, they turned out okay! Hmm…what else might I not need I started to wonder.

Then my wife and I took a trip to Philadelphia. While there we visited City Tavern. The City Tavern focuses on recreating colonial America dishes. In their bar (where we went) they offered beers based on recipes by our Founding Fathers. I couldn’t drink the beers; they were not gluten free.

But, they had a recipe book that included the historical recipes the current ones were based upon. And in it, were beer recipes. Guess what I learned: they didn’t use hydrometers. They also didn’t use sanitizer, carboys, or really pretty much anything we use now. They also didn’t use barley, mainly molasses and corn (I’ll write more on this in another post). In fact, their recipes basically consist of throwing different sugars into a barrel, throwing yeast in, and putting a canvas tarp over the barrel for an indeterminate amount of time.

That is when the light went off: I don’t care about all of the technicalities of homebrewing, the nitty gritty details like hydrometers or zealous sanitation. Maybe I should; but I don’t. I homebrew because it is fun. I homebrew because it is a creative outlet for me and I homebrew because all of the gluten free beer available on the market isn’t worth the price they charge for it.

Then, yesterday, my friend sent me this blog post by author Patrick Rothfuss. If you aren’t familiar with him, I highly recommend his Kingkiller Chronicles. They are available on Amazon and just about everywhere else in the world. It turns out Patrick makes mead. And his approach to mead making is my approach. The post is hilarious and captures how I feel when it comes to making alcohol. I should warn you, he uses offensive language, but still read it if you want to see what I think about homebrewing.

Without further ado….