Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Winter's Tale

A Winter's Tale:

  I have read that the more ABV a beer has the longer you should bottle condition it.  I had forgotten about this when after 2 weeks I popped open a bottle of a strong Winter ale I brewed.  It definitely proved to be true.  Just the other night I opened another bottle and there was a huge difference.

  I wanted to brew a Winter ale for last season and I found a recipe in a book I have.  I made a few small changes to the recipe that I think worked out well, but I didn't get around to starting the brew until after Christmas.  I have since decided to keep the brew around for the next Winter.  That will be the difficult part, not opening any more bottles for a few months.

  This was also my first time using Northerbrewer, or any online store, to purchase ingredients.  The experience was not bad, but now I am on their list so I always get catalogs from them.  I already have enough reading material in the bathroom next to the toilet, thanks guys.

  If you're interested in starting a winter ale give this a try.  I like to gather ideas I like and put them all together to make a brew.  Take what you want and make your own beer,  or follow all the details if you want.  I find that the particular yeast I used for this brew works well but because it is so floculant you need to mix it up once in a while or it will all drop out before it's done fermenting.  I just pick up the fermenter and shake it around a little to keep it going.  I may try a different yeast next time but I'm not sure how much that will change the beer.  I think I can get more ABV out of this with a different yeast.  I may also strain the grains using a rest schedule next time around.

5 gal
Irish Ale Yeast WLP004

1/2 lbs.
Crystal (80L) grain
black pattent grain
½ lbs.
chocolate grain
9 lbs.
dark liquid malt extract
3 lbs.

Original Gravity =1.084

% Alpha Acid
1 oz
60 min.
Northern brewer
1 oz

1 tsp (was supposed to be 1oz grated fresh)
powdered ginger
2, peeled quartered
3 sticks
2 whole
6 whole

Steep grains in 2 gal at 155 for 30 min.
rinse grains in w 1 gal 150 degree water
add honey, malt extract, and Norther Brewer Hops, boil 30 min.
Add Spices, boil another 30 min
Last 5 min add Irish Moss and Cascade hops.
Turn off heat, steep oranges for 30 min, then strain, add water up to 5 gal
cool and pitch yeast


Fermentation was started the next morning, by afternoon it was very strong, by a few days later it slowed, I began swirling the fermenter around once a day as someone @ whitelabs told me this is a good practice since it is a very floclulant strain.  

After 15 days in the primary the gravity was 1.024 (down from 1.084) and I racked it to the secondary fermenter. Fermentation is slowed but continued.  There was a very deep yeast bed at the bottom of the primary.  I smell the spices in the airlock but I don’t taste them.

Day 16 I added 1 tsp of yeast nutrient, 4 whole cloves, 1 whole nutmeg, and 1 cinnamon stick.  I’m not noticing any of the orange.

botteling 3/11/2013 finished @ 1.022 with some nice spice aroma.  Primed with 4 cups water and 1 ¼ cups DME  

I'm going to call it 'Long December'

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ray Bradbury, Meet Jack Keller

Ray Bradbury, Meet Jack Keller

I have not read Ray Bradberry’s novel Dandelion wine.  However, if you google Jack Keller you can find his page with a long list of dandelion (and other) wine recipes.  For someone looking to make some wine for fun this long list can seem a little overwhelming.  If thats you, then just pick a recipe and give it a try.  If it doesn’t work out for you there is always next year.  

Thats what I did last year.  This year I decided to upgrade my output to 3 gallons and modify the recipe a little. Of all the recipes Mr Keller listed I don’t recall which one I originally tried.  I did write down the process, though and I’ve made some changes.  Last year’s wine is very sweet, like a desert wine.  I have looked at the three recipes Jack has actually used himself and combined some things I like to come up with a new recipe for this year.  

What you’re reading here is all of the experience I have with wine making.  I normally brew beer, but when the dandelions came up this year I immediately thought of making another dandelion wine.  Unfortunately I don’t have nearly as many dandelions in my yard as I did last year.  I may have picked them all before they went to seed and caused this problem myself.  Instead I scouted a new location where they don’t spray for weeds, got some small buckets and took the kids out to pick dandelions.  I wrote down my adapted recipe, and followed it, sort-of.  here is what actually happened in the kitchen brewery that night:

It's now been almost two weeks since fermentation began and it is going along well. Hopefully by next summer It will be ready to drink and I may have even finished Mr. Bradberry's novel.