Friday, May 17, 2013
It’s my least favorite chore in brewing, but when the time comes, it has to be done. And after all, it’s a kind of payday.
I brewed the honey kolsch kit five or six weeks ago. We’ve had a cold spring and the temps in the basement led to a very slow start for the years – so I let the beer sit in primary for two weeks, and then let it ride for three in secondary.
Hey, I may not have posted this, so here is the catalog copy from Northern Brewer for this one:
A variation on our extremely popular Kölsch recipe with the addition of honey and a new yeast strain for a lighter body and flavor. This pale, light-bodied golden ale is traditionally given a long, cold aging period which makes it very smooth and clean. "Spritzy" is a word often used to describe Kolsch - very refreshing, and a popular lawnmower beer for beer snobs!
As an extra, which may turn into a gimmick, I added a lavender tincture to the brew at bottling time – see yesterday’s post for some highlights.
After all that, the beer looks to have a golden color like you would expect from a kolsch – although when it comes time to drink it in a few week, it will probably be more of an amber color. Here’s a shot of it passing through the siphon.
When all was said and done, I had a nice output of the beer. I made a few extra 22 oz. bottles since my beer has been a popular giveaway at the office and with the neighbors, and I like this bottle size for that purpose.
I’ll let it bottle condition for three weeks now. Planned release date is June 7.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
For a spring brew I decided to pick up the Honey Kolsch kit from Northern Brewer. I thought it might be even more interesting to add some lavender – that is an ingredient that they feature on their site, after all – and I had a small sachet that our friend Lilly gave us last year. The question was how to use it as an ingredient in the kit beer.
I did some research on the topic, and one suggested way was to create a tincture – infuse the little herbal flowers with a 40% alcohol solution. I combined two shot glasses full of the flowers with three shot glasses full of Absolut Vodka (80 proof!), and voila – I had my tincture!
(If you're interested in the process, Wikipedia is a good place to start.)
Here are a couple of photos of the final steps in the process, filtering out the flowers, and the final product.
I bottled the kolsch on Sunday, adding the tincture and the priming sugar to the big bottling tub. I’ll have a post on that tomorrow.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
We went to a party on Saturday afternoon at one of the local branches of Rocklands barbeque (see link below) – one of our favorites. I had grilled some chicken thighs on Friday night, and knew that I was going to cook some ribs on Sunday (heads up – there’ll be a blog post on this later in the week). I decided to have the brisket so I could be sure I covered the full range of animal proteins…leaving the dilemma of what to cook for dinner on Saturday night.
Well, fish is the natural choice if you can check off beef, chicken, and pork in a weekend – and if you don’t have any venison laying around in the freezer. So I went down to Whole Paychecks and found these whole trout – good looking fish.
After browsing on line and checking out my “For Cod and Country” cookbook (check the Amazon link below) – I decided to brine the fish and then stuff them with some fresh rosemary sprigs from Mary’s herb garden and slices of fresh lemon. I cooked them on the backyard grill in my little fish basket.
We decided that, it being spring and all, we might pair them up with a bunch of asparagus. Asparagus in the spring, by the way, always reminds me that The European in Glover Park calls this season “Spargel Fest.” I was a little worried about the fish – I usually do fillets – but they came out fine, as you can see in the money shot!
Rocklands link: http://www.rocklands.com/
For Cod and Country Amazon link:
Monday, May 13, 2013
We had a couple of social obligations to take care of this weekend, so we stayed home in Alexandria.
Besides the excellent party we went to and a quiet mothers day, I took care of a few little chores on the barbeque and brewing front. So this week will feature those errands – starting today, with a short and sweet post.
I started three hops rhizomes in pots in the backyard this spring. We’ve had a ton of rain, and not much sun – as vines, hops like sunny weather, so I’ve been worried. Finally, last week I saw some leaves break the soil. I have some survivors!
I bought Centenniel, Willamette, and Goldings hops varieties. If I get crops of these I can do a lot of brewing, and I figure I can trade a few here and there with Dan and the other Blue Ridge brewers.
So far though, I’ve only got sprouts from the Willamette and Goldings vines, no sign yet of the Centenniel. That’ll be a shame, but I will take what I can get. I’ll put up a post here and there about the progress of my hopyard.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
|Tess had a good time running around the yard, |
so when we went into the brewery she sacked out.
During the winter, I made a check-in spot on Foursquare for Beaver Run Brewery – that’s my neighbor’s garage near Hawksbill Cabin, when Dan has outfitted a pretty sophisticated operation that includes about a quarter-acre hopyard. On Sunday, Mary and I made a visit over there to check in (I'm the mayor, after all, with four check-ins in the last 60 days), and to offer a sample of my latest batch of honey porter, which was reciprocated with Dan’s new pilsner.
We had a good visit out in the garden, comparing notes about how busy we’ve been. Dan and Sally have been following the crew circuit around the mid-Atlantic – their daughter is a junior at WVU. And we’ve had a lot to do that kept us away from the house more than usual. We decided to make up for that with a brief stopover this weekend.
|The hops are climbing past 6 feet already.|
We took a walk through the hopyard, where Dan showed me that he now has five varietals going: Willamette, Cascade, Centennial, Kent Goldings, and US Fuggle. I have some packs of the Cascade and US Fuggle I’ll be using soon, by the way. After that it was over to the brewery.
|Quite the set-up they have over there at|
Beaver Run Brewery!
Dan added a couple of new pieces of equipment in there, including a new floor that was recycled from a river raft, and a new kettle that he hand-fitted with a new spout. He can do an all-grain batch now, and it’s an automated set-up with a pump and plate wort chiller. We chatted about my plans to do an all-grain batch using the Brooklyn Brew Shop recipe for Honey Grapefruit Ale, so I have that to look forward to!
Dan’s moved on up like this because he’s had a couple of requests to brew for parties and celebrations – he even has one of those kegging set-ups that he can use for this purpose. He tells me he’s been a very busy brewer!
Not to mention a very busy hop farmer!