Archive for the Meat Category

Babyback Day

Posted in Meat on July 17, 2015 by Aleforge

I decided last Sunday (July 12th, 2015) to smoke two racks of babyback ribs on my Kamado Akorn. I was going to use the 3-2-2 method, but once again had some issues with overshooting my temperature. I am going to honestly say for me anyway the smoker has been a learning process. I did add double the coal and double the wood this time around. Spacing the wood chunks (hickory) in various areas so they would burn during different times. I was shooting for about 250, I ended up at 375. I shut the smoker down by closing both air vents and waited. An hour later or so I was down to around 275 and I just went with it, it seemed to stay stable. But by that time most of my wood was burned up, and with the bottom grate, water pan / diffuser, main grill and meat it made it difficult to just add more. The idea behind this smoker is mainly to hit your temp and stick there, burning lump charcoal and allowing it to “slowly” spread so you can easily get 10-12 hours out of one batch. Since I hit 375 it caused the charcoal to burn faster and it ate up all the wood.

So I had no choice put to pull out the setup (the boiling water pan was the hardest) and add more wood, I also moved the charcoal around trying to become Mr. Wizard and fix the burn rate. It seemed to work, and when the meat was much farther along I pulled it out to wrap it and I still was getting smoke.

 

This is obviously a positive, and I was fairly happy. So I wrapped and spritzed it down with this combination I randomly came up with. Mostly because I thought we had apple juice but did not.

Some of the serious guys do not spritz at all. They say it can ruin the bark and it ends up kind of chewy instead of a slight crunch. Others have noted it helps keep it moist and adds an extra kick of controlled flavor. All I know is it smells absolutely wonderful when it hits it. I didn’t notice the bark being ruined Of course I am not a pro at this.

I ran the ribs over a bit on temp, its suggested to take them off at 180. Ribs should NOT fall off the bone, obviously if you have ever had them you know you kind of chew them off. There is this fine line of staying on the bone and being tender. I jumped over that line. I am so use to pulled pork butts and beef chuck roast that I didn’t consider a lower final temperature. So instead of 180, I took them off close to 195. They full completely off the bone, you couldn’t even pick the rack up without it breaking apart.

 

OK so maybe someone is wandering does it taste OK? Yes, honestly staying on the bone is a style guideline on how they should be. My ribs were moist the fat was all rendered by the higher temps, and the bark exactly how it should have been. However I pretty much made pulled pork.

I learned a lot from this rib journey. However my old vertical smoker was so damn easy, it made me question why I would put myself through this stress. Well I will tell you why, this is real. It was one of the main reasons I went with a Kamado. There is a huge debate over what type of smoker is the best in the community. When I watched guys smoked there was something about hand lighting up the fuel (and setting it up right), placing logs on top and feeling the accomplishment of no switches, feeders or gas. The hands on if you will, a craft perhaps. Not putting down all you guys flipping switches and turning knobs, lol. Smoke is smoke and hell if it isn’t delicious using any setup.

 

So anyways it turned out OK, not to the style, not to the best it could have been but it cooked and worked out. I also as with each time learn a little more from my mistakes and I am eager to go again.

A second topic, my beer is ready for bottling. I plan on doing it this Sunday. Brad was over a couple days ago and we took a FG (final gravity) reading. I don’t have the number with me but it got fairly close (4.5 ABV), a little off but I had added a gallon of too much water for the boil. In the past I had always added a gallon and it boiled off. But I finally realized it was because I mostly brewed in cold dry weather. This is one of the first times I have brewed during the summer months and I believe that caused less boil off. I plan on brewing up a one gallon batch of barley wine next week out at Brads place.

Cheers!

July 3rd Brew Day

Posted in Beer, Meat on July 8, 2015 by Aleforge

I had a good full day of brewing with my buddy Brad (and Chris later on) last Friday (3rd of July). We did three batches, two for Brad and one for myself. Brad did a partial mash “pale” stout, his own creation (Orcs Brew) that included the following:

1 lb pale malt
1 lb oats
3/4 lbs dark malt extract
1 ounce centennial at 60
Nottingham ale yeast (500ml starter)

The calculations from brewsmith predicted an OG of 1.080, he ended up hitting 1.076. He believes this was due to the oats not providing enough sugar.

The second batch Brad did was an American Amber, he made some modifications to the hop profile to lower the IBUs. He will be adding raspberries to the secondary . It sounds really awesome.

I ended up going with a Scottish 80 w/ specialty grains. Its considered an English ESB but focuses on malt instead of hops (lower IBU).

OG 1.047 (I had too much water ended up with OG 1.043)
1lb English medium crystal (specialty)
3.15 lbs Gold malt extract (60min)
3.15 lbs Gold malt extract (15min)
1oz US Fuggle (60min)
Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale

I also used my new smoker for the first time. I smoked two 6lb pork butts. I ended up running way to high of temps (300-325) and it completed the smoke way to soon (6hrs). Talking with some experts I found out I just plainly set it up wrong. First off I didn’t add enough charcoal / wood (you would guess less fuel would make it cooler, but its not true for a Kamado). In fact I needed to triple the charcoal and double the wood. Once things shoot a bit over temperature you shut it down closing both dampers to kill some of the fire. Then slowly open them up to hit your target.

I did wrap them a few hours in and kept spraying them down with a mixture of apple juice and maple whiskey. It seemed to help keep things moist. The maple whiskey smelled really awesome. Overall it didn’t turn out bad, but it lacked on the smoke.

That’s it for the July 3rd brew day! Brad is encouraging me to do a Scottish Wee Heavy next. Its one of my favorite styles and one I don’t get very often. Its a great fall / winter beer so I might take him up on it. I also would like to get a mead going ASAP!

Cheers!

Finally, 4 years later and I am back.

Posted in Beer, Meat on June 30, 2015 by Aleforge

I took a long break from homebrewing and plan on finally getting back into it  thanks to my very good friend Brad. He got into it awhile back and has been egging me on to start back up myself. This blog is for my own personal amusement and to keep a log of my adventures. I doubt many will read it, but if you do welcome! I plan on posting my homebrewing and meat smoking adventures.

I got some new equipment last week (for fathers day) as I am missing the majority of my old stuff.

I also recently got a new smoker for my birthday. Its a Char-Griller Akorn, and does pretty much everything. But smoking will be the main usage. Akorns are “Kamado” style grills / smokers that are very much a more affordable version of the “Big Green Eggs”. When I say affordable I mean they run around 300 bucks. They are heavily insulated and can hold steady temps with very little fuel. There is also a very active community for Kamado’s with some passionate users that tweak and modify these guys.  http://www.kamadoguru.com/

During the first burn in, you are suppose to keep temps around 450 for an hour or so. Afterwards I grilled up a bunch of meat. I was able to fit 6 brats, 6 burgers and 8 hot dogs without an issue. They also come with an additional warming rack that fits into the holes. When smoking you can easily get 3-4 pork butts in there. Another neat feature is under the grate there are tabs that can hold a pizza stone, or another grate to place a heat shield / drip pan. You might also notice the removable center piece, this allows you to drop in wood during a session.

I plan on brewing with my two good friends Brad and Chris this Friday. I am making up a Scottish 80 Shilling extract with specialty grains. And using Wyeast 1728 (Scottish ale).  Not going all grain just yet, Brad will be soon and I plan on using his knowledge when the time comes (and his equipment lol)

CHEERS!

One down, 3 to go.

Posted in Cider, Meat on March 12, 2009 by Aleforge

Last weekend I had some extra time and I thought I would get the Cider on its way. It was a fairly painless and easy process that I highly recommend everyone trying out. I think one of the great things about Ciders and Meads is how little effort and time they take to get going. If you don’t have the time to setup for a full brewday you can always squeeze a batch in here and there. I think it took my about an hour from start to finish, mostly because I steeped some grains at the recommendation of the recipe author.

cider-parts

The one thing seen in the picture below that kind of threw me off was how little water was instructed to use to steep the grains.

steep1

This was just after placing the grains into the water, it was heated up to about 154’F.  I allowed them to steep for about 20minutes at this temp, then sparged with another quart of water at 170’F.  It seemed to end up working anyways and I after tasting the wort I noticed why using the grains was suggested in the first place. It really added a nice malty, faint toasty flavor to it. I am really excited that its going to help boost the body as the result, which will keep this from being as “watery” as my last batch of cider.

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Smoked Chuck Roast.

Posted in Meat on June 30, 2008 by Aleforge

For my birthday my wife got me a “Smokey Mountain Smoker” by Great Outdoors. The only thing I have attempted so far was chicken, and I smoked the living shit out of it. So much that everyone wondered if they were eating seasoned firewood. I had no idea what I was doing, and well I pretty much still don’t but I keep tying anyhow. I decided to go with a chuck roast this time, as we love pot roast and how it “pulls” so easily. Especially compared to brisket, which I am not a huge fan of.

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