Saturday, March 13, 2010

Brown Porter with home-toasted Special Roast (All-Grain)

Yesterday was brew day, so we hiked our excited asses up to the Miami Valley Brewtensils for the freshest ingredients to brew our first 5 gallon all-grain batch, a basic brown porter.  We got there and found everything for this recipe easily, except one pound of British brown malt.  When I asked if they had it, Jeff Fortney told me they didn't, but they were getting it in soon with their bulk grain order.  He told me there was no straight substitute for British Brown, but he would use Special Roast 50L, with an added step: spread the grains on a flat pan, and toast them in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 30 minutes, checking periodically.  They would be done when the inside was a brownish white color.  Of course we decided to give it a shot.  Here we go:

Brown Porter #1 (All-Grain)
5 gallon batch

OG: 1.046
FG: 1.018
ABV: 3.7%

-6.5 lbs US 2-row Pale malt
-1 lb Caramel 40L
-1 lb toasted Special Roast 50L
-0.75 lb Chocolate 350L

-1 oz US Fuggles 4.8%AA (90 minutes)

-1 packet (11g) Danstar Nottingham dry yeast

-1 tsp Irish Moss (15 minutes)

 (Special Roast on right is pre-toasting)

First we had to toast the pound of Special Roast.  And boy, did it ever smell good!

First, we spread the grains out on a flat baking pan.

 While she spread the grains, I set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once the oven was heated, we popped the grains in and set our timer for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through to ensure even heating.  When we took the pan out, it looked like this:

When we cut one in half, the inside was brown-white, and we knew we were done.  We heated 3 gallons of strike water in our pot to 166 degrees, to try to attain a mash temperature of 152.  While that heated we crushed the toasted Special Roast.  Since we brew in a nylon mesh bag and don't have to worry about stuck sparges, we just ground them in our food processor.

Once the water hit 166, we turned off the stove and poured the grains into our already-secured mesh straining bag.

We stirred profusely with the mash paddle to break up clumps, and wrapped our trusty towel around the brew pot.

Always remember to write everything down!
There's no use in a good recipe if it can't be remembered.
After a 60 minute mash, we removed the grain bag to a drip bucket, and poured the wort into a separate bucket.  Time to sparge!  We heated 3 gallons of sparge water to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the brew pot.  Then we replaced the grain bag, stirred a bit,

And let it sparge for 10 minutes.  After pulling the swollen sack from the sparge water and removing it to a drip bucket,

We poured the wort back in to mix with the sparge water and bring to a boil.

Holy crap!  That's way too full!
We cut it extremely close with our pot's headspace, and preferably would have had more, but still suffered no boil-over.  Needless to say, we hovered over the pot with brew paddle ready.
Once the wort came to a rolling boil, we put our ounce of Fuggles hops in a nylon bag, dropped it into the wort, and set the timer for 75 minutes.

After that 75 minutes had passed we added 1 tsp of Irish Moss (a fining agent) and stirred the boil periodically for 15 more minutes.
Then it was time to chill the wort, so we filled our sink with ice water, put the kettle in, and removed the hops bag.

After the wort cooled to around 115 degrees, we poured it into our fermentor.  It only reached the 4-gallon mark, so we brought another gallon of water to a boil, let it cool for a moment, and topped off our "Ale Pail" to achieve 5 gallons of raw porter.

We pitched the yeast straight into the fermentor without rehydration, at a higher temperature (around 104) than most would recommend, sealed the lid on tight, and fit with an airlock.  Then we sent it to the corner.

When we awoke this morning, it was bubbling away!  This should be a good mid-range Brown Porter.  Rest assured, we'll let you know how it turns out!

-Myles and Carla

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Curry Hummus

If you like corn chips (and who doesn't?) then you've probably tried, or at least heard, hummus.  It's a tasty chick pea based dip that has great potential to be built upon.  This past week, we made Curry Hummus.  Super simple, and way cheaper than the market's tiny tub of $6 over-processed crap.  Add pine nuts and oil on top, or cilantro, or whatever else sounds good!

Curry Hummus

-1 can (15 oz) chick peas, undrained (drain if thicker texture is desired)
-1/2 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tbsp lime juice
-1 tbsp minced garlic
-1/2 tbsp cumin
-1 tsp curry powder (add more to taste)
-1/2 tsp sesame seeds
-dash of salt
-dash of pepper
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1 tbsp lemon pepper

Throw everything in a food processor.

 Blend until smooth throughout.

Add spices to taste, it's you're hummus after all.


And that's it!  So much tastier, so much cheaper!

-Myles and Carla

P.S. - Dip some blue corn tortilla chips in that stuff and drink a cerveza del casa...what a treat!
Disclaimer: no, we don't know Spanish

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beef Stew (Giant batch)

Chances are, if you're brewing beer in your home, you've got a large pot of some sort.  Remember, you can use it for food, too!  Like this giant batch of Beef Stew...

Beef round roast was on sale, 2 for the price of 1, at Kroger this past weekend.  So we picked up a pair, and did the classic roast-in-a-bag the same day of the Easy Irish Red batch.  Then we had a whole roast in the freezer.  What to do, what to do...

Remember, this is just what we did.  You can always approximate/substitute ingredients

Enough to feed an army

-2.63 lbs beef round roast, cubed, fat removed
-11-13 carrots (15 oz), peeled and cut into 1/4" medallions
-12 medium potatoes (5 lbs)
-1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
-5.3 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
-1 can (15 oz) sweet peas, drained
-1 can (14.75 oz) cream-style corn
-3 large celery stalks (9.2 oz), if smaller middle stalks are used, remove bitter leaves
-1 can (14 oz) beef broth
-1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup oil (olive, vegetable, etc.)
-1/4 cup & 2 tbsp corn starch (dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water)
-1 tbsp & 2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet
-2 bay leaves
-1 tbsp & 2 tsp cumin
-2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
-1 tbsp & 1 tsp chili powder
-1 tbsp & 1 tsp paprika
-1 tbsp & 1 tsp basil flakes
-1 tbsp & 1 tsp garlic powder
-1 tbsp oregano flakes
-1 tbsp sea salt
-1 tsp onion powder
-2 dashes liquid smoke
-1 tbsp hot sauce
-water to cover
 (minus spices)

Brown meat in bottom of the pan with oil.  Sprinkle with some fresh ground pepper and salt.  When meat is brown but not charred (unless you prefer it tough), add carrots, potatoes, onion, mushrooms, peas, celery, and bay leaves.  Pour enough water into the pot to just cover everything, and stir a bit.

Bring to a boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add all remaining ingredients, saving the corn starch and water mixture for last.  After adding the corn starch mixture, turn heat down to simmer, stirring continuously.  Make sure when stirring to scrape the bottom, ensuring no clumps.  Simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add seasonings to taste.  And then taste the hell out of it!

 Make some biscuits, and it doesn't get much heartier than that!

-Myles and Carla


I just updated the Engagement/Valentine's Day American Pale Ale page with pictures from last night's bottling, check it out!


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beef Stew and Porter

Well, we just added a "Food Recipes" section to the site, where we're going to put some of our favorite recipes.  This is some good stuff, man.  So if you like cooking (or just like looking at people cooking) on a budget and mostly from scratch, get ready for some mouth-watering recipes!  And of course, stay tuned for many more beers and wines.  Coming next: Chocolaty Brown Porter and some good old Beef Stew!


P.S. - Click to the right to share us on all that social networking crap!  Support the cause!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Charcoal Filtering

So, you're tired of drinking bottom-shelf vodka, but you can't afford to drink Grey Goose and Belvedere all the time, or your just fed up with outrageous prices.

Time to bust out the charcoal!  No, not the briquettes you use to grill with.  I'm talking about activated charcoal, aka activated carbon.  The same stuff that's in most home water filters (BRITA, anyone?).  The stuff looks like gunpowder and is really cheap, despite what the filter company may try to tell/sell you.

My local homebrew shop carries bags of the stuff, and in fact it was Mike Schwartz, owner of Belmont Party Supply, who turned us on to it.  As my fiance and I stood in line holding our 1.75 L bottle of Kamchatka, Mr. Schwartz explained that we could turn our bottom-shelf beverage into a product comparable to Grey Goose with a few simple steps.  And boy was he ever right!  A few runs through this system and you'll have your friends wondering why you're serving good stuff instead of your usual swill.  Hell, go ahead and put it in a bottle labeled "house vodka".  Best part is, you can use this system for water too, although I wouldn't use the same charcoal!

If you don't have an awesome homebrew shop, look at pet supply stores or water specialists.  The same stuff is used in aquarium filters.

This is really easy.  Here we go:

Easy Liquid Filter

-pinch of activated charcoal
-2 liter or other plastic food-grade bottle with plastic cap
-coffee filter
-sharp knife
-collection vessel

1.  Cut the clean and rinsed 2 liter bottle in half, discard lower half
2.  Poke a few holes in the bottle cap with your knife, and screw it on tight.
3.  Invert the bottle's top half (makeshift filtration vessel) and line the inside with your coffee filter.  You might want to run a little water into it to get the filter to adhere to the bottle.  The filter should cover the holes you poked in the lid.
4.  Put a little pinch of your activated charcoal in the rig.
5.  Pour vodka or whatever you want to filter into your new tool.  Just make sure you have something to catch your filtered liquid underneath!  Usually I just set the bottle-half on top of a big glass.

And that's it!  One run through and your vodka will improve noticeably, two runs and you won't even recognize it.  This smooths and mellows out the flavor so much you'll want to start drinking it straight (wuss).  Alternatively, you could tie the activated charcoal into a tea bag and swish it around in your vodka for a while, or you could just dump some straight in your bottle and shake it.  I prefer using a filter because I don't like granules of stuff in my vodka, although consuming the charcoal won't hurt you.  If you want to be really fancy, try running the vodka through five or six times.  All of a sudden that "six times charcoal-filtered" label on the bottle of Ripovf vodka eight shelves up doesn't seem so daunting, does it?

What exactly is happening in your simple filter?  Well, fusel oils (a major hangover cause) and other bad-tasting/smelling impurities are being absorbed into the charcoal's many pores, leaving us with a purer product.  If you filter your water, it will absorb the chlorine, among other things.  But remember, your little pinch of charcoal can only absorb a certain amount.  You can work off the same pinch for a while, but you'll definitely be able to tell when it's no longer working by the change in taste...and you'll remember why you started doing this in the first place!  Just toss your used charcoal and load the filter with a new pinch.  Good as new.

You can use this method for other spirits, but remember, charcoal-filtration will change the flavor.  Some impurities give certain alcohols their characteristics; for example, you don't want to filter bourbon.  The best effects are achieved by starting with neutral spirits,  e.g. vodka, gin, grain alcohol (everclear).  Although I must say, one of my best homemade wines ever was a batch of blueberry, charcoal-filtered and fortified with brandy.

If you already have one of the pitcher-type water filters, you could just run your vodka through there a few times and have a comparable product.  But look into buying some activated charcoal, and get a load of this.  No harm in saving a few bucks, right?


P.S. - Send me a bottle of your filtered vodka and I'll tell you if you did it right

Monday, March 1, 2010

Easy Irish Red Ale, 2.5 gallon batch

It'd been a good weekend for brewing, so we figured we might as well finish it up with a small batch of Irish Red, using some steeping grains we had in the leftovers stash.  We planned on walking to the grocery store in the morning and making a roast for dinner, so I made a quick and easy recipe.  Extract with steeping grains, what a breeze!

Easy Irish Red (extract with steeping grains)
(a little more than a) 2.5 gallon batch
Estimated OG: 1.051
Actual OG: 1.042
(ingredients not shown in correct amounts)

-3.3 lbs Briess Pilsen Light LME
-0.13 lb Briess Black Patent Malt (Lovibond 500)
-0.13 lb Muntons Carapils (Lovibond 20)

-0.5 oz US Goldings 4.5%

Nottingham dry ale yeast, 1 packet (11g)

First, we weighed out the grains and put them in a nylon bag for steeping,

And put one gallon of water in our pot.  Then we began heating the water to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

During this time I sanitized the carboy by putting a tiny bit of bleach in the bottom and filling it with water.  I let it sit like this in the tub while we began.

Alright, the water in the pot is starting to warm up.  Let's add those grains!


When the water reached 150 degrees, we turned the burner down to low and stirred the bag around a little, then covered the pot for 30 minutes.  At about 15 minutes:


Then we weighed out the hops.  If you don't have a vacuum-sealer, an effective way to keep hops fresher is the good old straw and mouth method.

You'll get a good taste of the hops when you suck the air out of the bag, and you'll help prevent oxidation.  Then just refrigerate as usual.

pretty good, eh?

Time to kill, time to kill...let's rinse out the carboy!  It needed plenty of rinsing since we used chlorine bleach to sanitize.

Now our steep was about done, and here's how it looked after about 30 minutes:

We removed the grain bag, added 2.5 gallons of water, and the hops bag.  Being the scroungers and savers we are, we didn't discard the grains as usual, instead opting to dry them on a pan in the oven.  We're going to try baking them in a bread for added texture.

Then we boiled for one hour, adding the liquid malt extract during the last 15 minutes (to prevent carmelization/darkening).


Keeping your LME in a hot water bath before use to makes pouring easier
15 minutes rolls by, and our 60 minutes boil is done.  We turned off the burner and cooled the wort.  At about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, we removed the hops bag and poured our pre-beer into the carboy.
It was then that I realized we had a problem we've never had before -- we had more than our intended 2.5 gallons of wort!  But it still fit in our carboy so we poured it all in anyway, assuming the gods of blow-off would get more than their due that night.  I pitched the whole packet of yeast at about 90 degrees and secured the blow-off tube on with a rubber bung.

Then we finally got to eat the amazing roast that my fiance was cooking in the oven this whole time.  And boy was it good!

And good thing we had that blow-off the time we went to sleep it looked like this:

Since the ending volume was higher than intended, our original gravity reading was 1.042, a lot lower than the 1.051 we were shooting for.  We could have boiled our wort longer to concentrate the sugars and lower the volume; however, the color would have darkened, and since we were going for quick, cheap, and plentiful, we just left the beer as is.  This also could have been remedied by adding less water after the steep, 1.75 or 2 gallons rather than 2.5.  But this was a by-the-seat-of-our-pants beer.  No time for calculations!  It's lighter in gravity than BJCP guidelines for Irish Red Ale by .002.  But you don't have to tell anybody that...

This was last night, and today the krausen has fallen.  Now it's got an airlock and it's ready to rock.  I can't wait to share this on St. Patrick's Day!  Don't worry, you know there will be pictures!