Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pickling - Revisted

I learned a lot on my first attempt at making fermented pickles & other veges. I hope that I can incorporate a lot of the lessons into the second go around, and maybe pass on some of the things I learned along the way.

The last time I made pickles I'm pretty sure that I didn't give them enough time for the flavors to really come together. Why do I say that you ask? Well, I just recently happened to come across a jar that I had forgotten about. So I chilled them down, and popped it open expecting the worst......but luckily there were far far better than all the previous jars we ate. The liquid had become crystal clear (all the bacteria had formed a compact layer at the bottom) and the spices had become much more incorporated into the pickle.

So for my second try I plan on letting the pickles ferment, and then waiting until the brine clears before I eat them. I also plan on adding significantly more garlic and dill (I really love both flavors) and adding some mustard seed and black peppercorns that I freshly grind to give them a bit more of a kick.

Unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to find pickling cucumbers, its a bit early in the season, I am growing some though and I hope to do a batch of pickles with all homegrown ingredients. So to satisfy my pickling itch I decided to do some other veges instead. I really love pickled brussel sprouts, green beans and carrots and luckily SWMBO does too! so this recipe is going to be a bit spicier than I would otherwise like a normal pickle.

Fermented Brussel Sprouts, Carrots and Green Beans


1. Mix up a 5% Brine Solution: 100g or ~3.5oz of non-iodized salt in 2L or ~2qt of water

2. Boil and cool this solution

3. Soak veges in ice water for ~30min - This helps to make everything nice and crispy

4. Fill jars with spices of your choice, I used the following in each 32oz jar...
2tsp - Dill seed
2tsp - Dill weed
1/8tsp - ground mustard seed
1/8tsp - ground black peppercorns
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf

5. Stuff the veges into the jars, and pack them very tightly. You do not want any part of the veges to be near the top of the brine solution, if they poke above bad bacteria will get into your veges and ruin the jar.

6. Cover the veges with the cooled brine, leaving a little room to add some brine from a previous batch or from a commercial fermented pickle like bubbies, and again make sure that none are above or near the top of the brine solution. If you are having trouble keeping them below the top of the liquid, use something heavy like a shot glass etc. to weigh them down (don't worry about leaving it in the liquid everything will be fine!)

7. Loosely cover if you can, if not (due to adding a weight) don't worry about it. I like to place them in a large Tupperware to catch any of the brine that might bubble over the top, while they ferment quite a bit of gas will be produced

8. Here's the tough part, stick them someplace cool (~70's) that you wont see them again for 3- 4mos. Then when you do come across them, put them in your fridge for another month or so before you begin tasting. If you let them go as long as I did you might find yourself pleasantly surprised like I was!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Blonde Ale IV and My Hop Rant

I'm just beginning to start my annual late winter/early spring homebrew build up. During the summer months I generally don't feel like brewing a whole lot, and the logistics of fermenting in 110F+ temps is difficult as well. So Ive started to brew up a few batches of lower gravity beers that will really hit the spot come summer time.

This week I decided to brew up yet another version of my Blonde Ale. It seems to come back every spring time with a few slight tweaks. The one thing that is always there though is a touch of honey malt. It really shines in a light beer like a blonde, although you have to be careful with how much you use or it will really dominate the beer.

The recipe this year is a bit more simplistic than last years. Mostly this is due to the malts I have on hand, and being lazy about going to my LHBS. So there isn't any carapils or Vienna in the grist this time, its nearly all pils plus a little honey malt. I did however decide to significantly up the amount hops in the beer. Over the last year Ive done a 180 with regards to how I view hopping in the kettle.

I used to brew with the highest AA hop I could to get the IBU levels I was shooting for. The reasoning behind my approach was that I wanted to save money and keep vegetable matter out of the kettle to make siphoning/straining into the fermentor easier. Well after awhile I began to notice that the beers with more hops in kettle seemed to have much better head formation and retention, and a much more pronounced and smoother bitterness. And this really caught my attention, particularly the increased head retention.

If you think about it, I'm sure you've noticed this same phenomena as well. Whenever you brew up an IPA how is the head density/retention? I'd bet that its quite phenomenal, and a large part of that is due to the amount of hops used in the boil. It may seem counter intuitive but hop oils/resins play a significant role in head retention and formation. So increasingly (the last 6mos especially) Ive began to use significantly more hops in just about every beer I can. This blonde ale is no exception, and I decided to use a very low AA hop (crystal 3.3%) to achieve my IBU levels and add a ton of aroma. I'm hoping that the beer will have the monumental head formation that my IPA's always display.

Blonde Ale IV

Malt Bill
All GrainExtract Equiv
Amt (lbs)MaltAmt (lbs)Malt
8.0Pilsner5.0Pilsner DME
0.25Honey Malt1.0Pilsner
--0.25Honey Malt
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTimeAmt (oz)TypeTime
1.5Crystal (3.3%AA)60min2.3Crystal (3.3%AA)60min
1.0Crystal (3.3%AA)KO <170f1.0Crystal (3.3%AA)KO <170f>
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTimeTempAmtTime
149F1.2qt/lb60min149F1.5qt30min
168F1.9qt/lb15min - vorlauf168F0.5qt5min
Yeast US05 - 1 sachet
Stats
5.75gal6.5gal boilOG: 10435.75gal3gal boilOG: 1044
80% effIBU: 16FG:75% effIBU: 16FG:
Notes: Hops at KO less than 170f as described here : the fluffy coagulated trub in the pic compacted to a nice thin layer - gotta love whirlfloc!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Blog Update & Reformatting

Ive been working on a huge upgrade of my blogger template/site the last few days. The amount of issues that I have had to work through have been astounding. With that said, I'm very sure that there are innumerable more problems that I still have to fix, and that's where Im hoping you can help.


I really need help to fix the last of the bugs on the site, but the biggest problem is finding them all. In the past Ive had issues with different browsers, OS's etc, and its very rare that someone brings it up to me. So, if you come across a problem, please send me a message and let me know whats going on so that I can resolve it. And if you just don't like how Ive redone things, well let me know that as well. I would like to make everything a bit more intuitive and have a lot smoother function for the site overall. And I'm pretty interested to hear what peoples take on the new layout is.
Friday, March 5, 2010

20% 21.5% ABV Imperial Stout Update

Ive been watching my huge OG RIS the last week or so, checking the gravity and tasting. The gravity reading is steady at 1022, and it tastes pretty good at this point. Now the OG and FG, predict the beer to be about 23%abv, now I didn't really think the calculation for abv by OG/FG would be linear in this range so I brought in a 30mL sample of the beer to my lab for testing.

I analyzed the beer several ways (gas chromatography - heated headspace, and direct injection) all pointed to one result, which matched the OG/FG calculation fairly well. In the end the beer turned out to be 21.5%abv!!

I honestly cant believe I got the beer to finish out this low, with such a high alcohol content, and be as smooth as it is. Drinking it still, it reminds me of a lower alcohol rum. Its very warming going down, but there isn't really any burn. Still, due to the low FG I plan on adding some of the remaining heavily caramelized wort to sweeten it just a touch. Ive tried it both ways and far prefer a bit more sweetness to the beer. I hope to rack and force carb maybe 1 to 1.5vols of CO2, and bottle within the next 2weeks or so.

If any other homebrewers out there are curious about the abv of their beers and would like them analyzed, shoot me an email maybe we can work something out.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pineapple Sour / Cider Second Tasting

Pineapple Cider(71B)Pineapple Sour (US05 + Lacto)
AppearanceInitially it was crystal clear, but the high carbonation dislodged some yeast chunks causing a slight haze, thin very pale yellow head that dissipates very quickly, lots of bubbles,Very clear pale yellow color, minimal bubbling, no foamy head although there are some small remnants of bubbles on the surface, very compact lees in bottle
AromaBig pineapple aroma, with very strong white wine notesVery subtle pineapple aroma, a bit more funky, overall very subdued
TasteNice pineapple flavor up front, more alcohol in the finish that the sour version, it is also a bit more drying/astringent when you drink itextremely subtle pineapple flavor, more white wine-like than anything else
MouthfeelVery highly carbonated, champagne like, to the point of over carbonationLower carbonation, not really sure why, both were carbed to same level, feels much fuller bodied than the “clean” version
DrinkabilityGreat pineapple flavor, alcohol is there but in the background, a bit over carbonated and sightly drying on the palateSubtle pineapple flavor makes this more white wine like, don't really notice much from the lacto
NotesI like the pineapple nose, but don't really care for the drying/astringent feeling when drinking it, it is much more carbonated than the other version, a bit too much alcohol in the finish, very wine likeFairly subtle overall, not much pineapple flavor, this one is kind of earthy and it seems to work well with the other characteristics of the cider, if is definitely like a sparkling dry white wine
ThoughtsI think Ill give this another shot in the next couple weeks, not sure how I'll get a better pineapple flavor, but I think I will eliminate any sugar additions and might even use an ale yeast to hopefully attenuate a bit less. I also don't think Ill be trying another lacto version, although I might try something with some brett, maybe some brett L

1st Tasting - 6/1/2009

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