Archive for February, 2009

Apples, I know you like them.

Posted in Cider with tags , , on February 27, 2009 by Aleforge

Who doesn’t like apples? Well I actually do know a few people who don’t but for blogging purposes lets just say everyone does.  I know for one thing my wife absolutely loves apples, well at least the kind you have to be 21 to consume. Yes I am talking about hard cider, the delicious adult beverage that surprisingly has some very limited offerings.  If your to lazy to brew your own and have no idea what I’m talking about there are basically 3 offerings on the market. At least out here in the Midwest, You have  Hornsby’s, Woodchuck,  and  Hardcore Cider. Each has its own character and each is good in its own right. I happen to like Hornsbys Amber because its dry and my Wife loves Woodchucks granny smith just in case your wondering. Anyways the only thing apple that I have made so far is some apfelwein, which to me (correct me if I am wrong) is a high ABV, dry German version of our American “hard” cider (apple jack) in the states. Its pretty much Apples, and champagne or wine yeast, something that will allow the brew to reach a higher ABV state before getting scared quitting.  American versions tend to use a lower tolerant yeast which will leave a session able, usually sweeter beverage. I made something that was in between last year and it turned out pretty well.

Heres the recipe, I picked it up from JayHuff from the homebrewtalk forums, thanks Jay!

2 Gallon Juice / Cider – No Preservatives (except Vitamin c / asorbic acid)
8oz Crystal Malt 10L
4oz Chocolate Malt
Wyeast WLP300 Hefeweizen yeast

First thing you gotta do is steep the grains, bring 1qt of water up to 154’F. Using a muslin bag let the grains hang out in the pool for 20 minutes. While this is going on in a second pot bring another 1qt up to 170’f. After the 20 minutes is up gently pick up the bag and dunk it into the second pot. Dunk the bag gently up and down in this water for a full 5 minutes. This process is referred to as “sparging” however its a very down and dirty method to do so. You can of course steep and sparge the grains the standard way if you wish. After this is done, dump the apple juice / cider into a carboy and top off with both pots of water from earlier. Take a temp reading, if your down below 80’f you can pitch the yeast. I am thinking its going to be easier if I toss the juice in the fridge first. Add the yeast, nutrients if you bought any, pop on the air lock and let her go.

That’s pretty much it, its a very easy process and highly customizable. It should take a few weeks to ferment out, however do not even mess with it for a month. Apple juice / cider when fermented gives off a sulfur smell (rotten eggs) at first, if you let it sit a month it will go away.  Since this is a 2.5 gallon batch you will need about 1/2 cup of corn sugar to bottle carb it.

So I hear this stuff tastes VERY similar to Woodchuck granny smith. Since as mentioned its my Wife’s favorite she will be the best critic when its done. I will post the results as soon as they come in, in the mean time give it a try, its cheap and easy to make.

granny_smith_apples

Springs on the way.

Posted in Beer, Mead on February 13, 2009 by Aleforge

Now that winter is over (well not actually but lets just pretend) its time to start thinking about good times. This is the time of year where you have to start planning out how your spring / summer is going to unfold in the world of brewing. Since we got a little back this year on taxes my lovely wife and I decided on two things, one pay off some debt, and secondly order some beer ingredients. Well maybe I decided on the second, but I will admit she did give me the thumbs up. So I decided on three things to get going, 2 that will be ready by the real spring season, and the other around June, just in time for summer.  And here they are,

Irish Red

Dunkelweizen

Orange Blossom Mead

I have had great success with Irish reds in the past, and its by far the most favorite of my friends. A few good things about an Irish red; its easy as hell to make, will be ready very quickly and is easy on young palates. This will be a great brew to drag along to festivals and share with the masses.  As far as the Dunkel, well I have never made one but I have some commercial versions and really liked the style. They are German, dark and hazy, although very easy going down. Its a wheat beer, and usually at the low end of the IBU scale. Lastly a Mead, yes I will be making a mead only for the second time. My first shot at this was a down and dirty quick mead, lighter ABV although I believe it hit around 8% and fairly dry. This one will be sweater, although higher ABV (11%) so it should sneak up on you. Its going to be made with Orange Blossom honey, so it will have a nice interesting character to it. I am excited as its more of a tradition mead, and should take about 4-5 months to ferment. And will age well so it should only improve over the rest of 2009.

My biggest hangup now is the bottling situation, should I or shouldn’t I? I really should take advantage of my keg setup however I like how easy it is to send bottles home with people. Most parks and events wont allow glass bottles either, however I might be able to get away with a couple growlers. Then again I could bring a keg on ice to a gathering and really be a hero. Luckily I have a month or so to make up my mind, its going to be a tough choice.

Stay tuned I will post some pictures up of the next round of brewing, hoping next weekend we will have good weather!