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Hopworks Urban Brewery (Powell) Visit

I made a order with Brew Brothers Homebrew shop in Beaverton which is a bit out of town, so for $5 they deliver once a week to a nice brewpub in town, H.U.B – Hopworks Urban Brewery.  Since I ordered a 50lb bag of two-row I decided it was more than worth it to meet them at H.U.B., have an excuse to sample the beers, and see if I could pick up some yeast for brewing as well.   I had seen a post on google+, yes people do use that, of a local homebrewer who had picked up a jar of yeast from H.U.B. so I brought along a 32oz mason jar just in case.

I sampled all 10 non-cask beers:

  • Hub Lager
  • Perles of Wisdon IPX
  • Velvet ESB
  • Hopworks IPA
  • Survival ‘7 grain’ Stout
  • D.O.A. Deluxe Organic Ale
  • Rise Up Red
  • Organic Granola Ale
  • Secession CDA
  • Galactic

I also had a nice huge pint (see pic) of their “Cask ESB” which is their Velvet ESB I am pretty sure.  A wonderful beer, I just love LOVE bitters on cask / beer engine.

I would highly recommend this bike friendly brewpub for a nice pint or three.  The staff was friendly, attentive, and beers very nice.  Other than the ESB, my favorite was the Survival ‘7 Grain’ Stout which I believe I had elsewhere in bottle.

I ended my stay with a huge jar filled with London Ale III from a fermentor of their stout.  One of the brewers, Jeremy (I think?) helped me out, took time out of his day to hook me up with the yeast & for that I am helpful.  I will be back to enjoy their beers and maybe see about getting some more yeast.  At this point though, I have two samples rinsed and in the fridge ready to make a starter and brew with.  With careful control I should have plenty of London Ale III for quite some time.

 

Cask ESB

Cask ESB

Hub Brewery

Hub Brewery

HUB London Ale III

HUB London Ale III

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Cranberry Mead Missing Color

I put together a Cranberry Mead this last December (2012) so I could have something ready to go come Thanksgiving 2013.  I envisioned something that had the slight sour tartness of cranberries with the red or pink color to match.

Ready to Bottle Cranberry Mead

Ready to Bottle Cranberry Mead

I think I will have to come up with another plan.

My 1 gallon ‘pilot’ batch of mead recipe was the following:

  • 2 pounds of Clover Honey
  • 24 ounces of Cranberry fruit
  • DAP / Yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkg Lavlin 71B-1122 yeast
  • Back-sweetened with 2 ounces of Clover Honey

My color seemed to fade the most after I sorbated / sulfited so that I could back-sweeten with the 2 ounces of honey.  Even as I got ready to bottle (see picture above) I thought I had a little color left.  Nope.

I did have color left in my lees though…

Cranberry Lees

Cranberry Lees

 

The sample flavor was slightly sweet, much like a white wine, and of course by the looks of it tasted JUST LIKE A WHITE WINE.  Not what I expected, but it is a pretty damn good tasting ‘white wine’.  In the end, as far as everyone I give samples to is concerned, it is a ‘white’ cranberry mead…

'White' Cranberry Mead

‘White’ Cranberry Mead

Rice Wine Comparison

Rice Wine – Side by Side

Today I took a sample of my pasteurized Rice Wine and compared it to the little bit of Rice Wine that I did not pasteurize.

Day 10

Day 10

In the refrigerator the non pasteurized sample looked much clearer than the pasteurized but by the time I poured it out to my sample glass, I had stirred up enough white rice sediment from the bottom of the jar to effectively make both look the same.

Given my taste test, it is not surprising that they looked identical.  They tasted identical, and I wasn’t really expecting that at all.

Both had a definite alcohol nose and not much else that I could pick up on the scent.  These samples were straight from the fridge so they were probably 40F by the time I sampled them.

The flavor was a slight flowery, ever so sweet, and strongly alcoholic.  The alcoholic strength was not overpowering though at all.  Overall, these turned out wonderfully and I will attempt to make some more.

I’m also going to experiment with various flavorings.  I’ve read that pomegranate works very well with this, and look forward to this.  I’ll post my tastings and findings when I do mix in some fruit with the rice wine.

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Chinese Rice Wine

So I noticed some talk of Chinese Rice Wine over at Homebrewtalk a while back and thought it would be a nice new experiment in ‘all things fermentable’.  It looks fairly easy, hands off, and I did enjoy some sake recently (this isn’t sake technically), so wanted to see if I could make something similar, but fairly easy.

 

Brewing Sake Book

Brewing Sake Book

I originally bought a book on making sake and quickly realized while reading through it that it required about 88 steps, which might be 80 more steps than I really wanted to expend.  But, seeing the post on HBT about the rice wine (not sake), I went ahead and gave it a shot.  What follows below is my attempt at quick, easy Rice Wine.

Fast forward real quick.  The taste?  After 20 days I find it slightly sweet, aromatic of a thai jasmine rice (it is sweet rice though) and surprisingly smooth.  It is really GOOD!  I am curious to taste the portion I pasteurized (this taste was unpasteurized).

First I cooked 5 cups of sweet Thai rice in a rice cooker.  I had soaked the rice for about 1 hour ahead of time and by the time it was cooked I realized that I had added too much water and made the sweet rice a pasty ball, pretty messy.

Thai Sweet Rice

Thai Sweet Rice

I let the rice cool down for several hours, almost to room temperature.

I crushed 4 dried yeast balls (from an Asian market) and mixed them into the rice in a 1 gallon glass jar.

Rice Wine Yeast

Rice Wine Yeast

Crush Yeast Balls

Crush Yeast Balls

Below are how the rice wine looked after various periods of time:

Day 0

Day 0

Day 10

Day 10

 

Day 20

Day 20

I’m still working on the bottling now as I write this, but after 20 days I skimmed off the top of mold that grew (expected / normal) scooped out the rice / wine mixture and placed into a funnel with cheese cloth in it.  I then poured the remaining mixture of wine/rice and squeezed a bit of the liquid out with the cheese cloth.

I found that my 5 cups of sweet Thai rice produced just over 1/4 gallon of wine.  It is very cloudy but appears to be clearing fairly quickly in the refrigerator as it cools down.  A nice white sediment layer is forming on the bottom (rice solids).   I plan to keep about 1 cup unpasteurized for sampling and the other 1/4 gallon I heated up to 160F to pasteurize.  I will bottle the 1/4 gallon likely in large swing top bottles.

Mold removed

Mold removed

Final Volume 1/4 gallon

Final Volume 1/4 gallon

Pasteurizing Wine

Pasteurizing Wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine – Mead Upkeep

Racking Cherry Mead '13

  Racking Cherry Mead ’13

Today I took a little time to take care of my Elderberry Wine and Cherry Mead.  The post I had on the Elderberry Wine was lost when I accidentally erased my website a few days ago… I still pay the price.

The Cherry Mead had already been stabilized with a little sweetness left, but I’m not entirely sure I tasted much sweetness and I’m not sure if fermentation has completely stopped.  Of course, I didn’t take a refractometer sample, so I’m not sure at this point, but I will take one in a month or two.  No real hurry, if it still is fermenting, I’ll either keep it how it is or backsweeten and sorbate it again – depending on how it is tasting.

The Elderberry Wine on the other hand has had a slow fermentation and has gone from 1.115 (27B) down to 1.050.  As soon as I racked it off the fruit into the gallon ‘carboy’, it quickly picked up a vigorous fermentation.  I’ll measure it out in a few days and see about degassing once it slows down as well.

In both cases I used my 5# CO2 bottle and purged the gallon ‘carboys’ (Julio Gallo jugs) with the CO2 prior to racking to avoid as much oxygen as possible.

 

Elderberry Wine

Elderberry Wine

Racking off of Elderberries

Racking off of Elderberries

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STC-1000 Temperature Controller Build

Well, I have read that when I bend down my freezer in my new small fridge as part of my kegerator conversion that the fridge will freeze everything up as all the cooling for the fridge is via the freezer bottom plate (that will get bent down).

This necessitated an external thermostat  so instead of buying a digital Johnson Controls A419 at $75 or $80  I went with a home made thermostat based on a $20 digital controller, a STC-1000.  This is sold off of ebay from China and a common homebrew DIY item.

The build was not too difficult, it required a ‘project box’ (from Radio Shack) for $7, and a 8ft power cord ($8).  I made mine slightly different than most people who do this, I only wanted cooling, so I did not install a plug in socket, and instead just used the female end of the extension cord that I used for the power plug-in.  Worked well!

temp controller face cutout

temp controller making up connections temp controller pulling cables finished temp controller Wire Layout Wiring Diagram

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a video with a similar setup, he uses a outlet and heating on his though – my setup was a bit easier.

Renewed Blog

I apparently blew up my blog trying to load a picture app at www.icrafthomebrew.com/pics/ and my latest backup didn’t restore properly… I guess I will manually backup myself weekly from now on.

I do have my backup from several weeks ago on my old website, so I stuck with that.  I think I might have only lost 1 or 2 posts, so not a HUGE mistake, something I’ll learn from.

 

Prost!

Homemade Hop Candy

finished hop candyAfter seeing a post in /r/homebrewing subreddit a few days ago about homemade hop candy, I thought it was a great way to use up some ‘lose’ hops and see if there is a difference between the varieties in the candy.
My first batch tonight was with cascade hops, a slight bitterness that follows once the sweetness wears off the candy.

Near Boil Over

Near Boil Over

2.5 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup hop tea

  • I steeped 1/2 oz of Cascade hop pellets with 1.5 cups near boiling water in a french press for about 15 minutes
  • Poured the remaining 1 cup of hop tea in a pot with the sugar and corn syrup
  • Stirred slightly just to mix everything up
  • Attached my candy thermometer
  • Brought up to 300F without stirring.
  • Removed pot from heat and poured onto parchment paper over cookie sheets
  • After a few minutes started to work the hardening candy with a buttered flat metal utensil.

hop candy piecesSome things to do differently next time:

  1. Take the candy off the heat JUST before 300F, the temp shot through 300F in a few seconds
  2. Use our large slab of marble
  3. Buy white cotton gloves to use to work the candy with
  4. cut into chunks and roll into balls by hand
  5. Commercial hop oil

Wine Fermentation Update March 2013

Today my wine partner and I sampled our Rose Hip Wine and Rhubarb wine that we put together back in November. Both should be ready to bottle, and are with the exception of the Rhubarb being somewhat cloudy still. I will rack that over and let it settle for a few weeks and if there is no improvement I may try something else (bentonite or sparkalloid maybe?) in the fining department.

The Rose Hip Wine was a slight yellow color, clear, and tasted very dry like a very tart dry white wine. It measured out at 10B (down from an estimated 24B) so about 13.1% ABV.
The Rhubarb wine was a cloudy pink, still with a sweet smell and a touch too sweet. The problem here is that it measured out at 14B, started at 29B and is now around 14.7% ABV I believe my 71B yeast crapped out. I added just a touch too much sugar. A good note for my future batches with 71B – get to around 27 – 28B for a good level.

So, we’ve decided to blend these two, instead of back sweetening one, and pitching champagne yeast into the other. We tried a sample blended and it wasn’t very bad at all. I’m not totally happy, but for my first foray into wine making, not too bad.

Stay tuned, I’ll take some pictures before / after my clearing attempts with the Rhubarb wine, and also of the blending and of course my first wine bottling experience. Hope to be at that point in about one month.

Cherry Mead

cherrymead_March_2013After seeing the 100% Cherry Juice being sold at Trader Joe’s I was intrigued about seeing if I could pull off a Cherry Mead without it tasting like cough syrup. So, I bought two 1 qt jars and picked up their 100% tart Cherry Juice (1 qt) as well. Looking back I would have just gone all tart cherry juice to reduce the chance of the cough syrup effect I think. But here I am anyways.
For my 1 gallon recipe I mixed the 3 one quart jars and added honey (from Costco) to get to 1.100 SG (25 Brix).  It was about 1 lbs of honey give or take.

Actually, let me work through the calculation:
The juice was 1.060 (15 B)
Honey is somewhere around 42 points / pound / gallon (ppg)
So to get 1.100 I needed 40 more points for my gallon
This means I used 40 points / 42 ppg to give me .95 pounds of honey used.

The rest of the ingredients:
1/8 tsp DAP
1/8 tsp Yeast Energizer
3 g of 71B-1122 Lavlin Narbonne
4.5g of Go-Ferm to rehydrate the yeast at 95F

I had visible fermentation in about 4 hours
After 1 day SG was 24B
After 2 days 21B
After 3 days 18B

Added 1/16 tsp Yeast Energizer & 1/16 tsp DAP at 3 days. Should have added after day 2 at 21B instead of 18B