Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oro de Maggie update, again. I think I've got it!

There it is. Oro de Maggie. The first real taste test of what it'll hopefully be like when it's done, and man, it's gonna be a winner! I noticed yesterday that the small 1/2 gallon bottle I had to the side of the big bottle had finished fermenting and had dropped mostly clear... I couldn't keep well enough alone so I grabbed the glass you see there in the pic, threw in my hydrometer, and filled it up from that small bottle. The end result is 1.008 F.G. and what I believe it a touch of Brettanomyces in the nose, and a bigger hit of truly lactic sourness in the flavor itself. Sweet! I can't believe it's got sourness to it already, but I'll tell you, it really does. I'm confidant that if I kegged it all just like this, carbed it up and put it on tap, people would LOVE this stuff. It's really inspiring to me that I can steal yeast from a really decent beer off the shelf, enjoy that brew, and then remake the thing 20 times bigger the next month on my own. As she stands, it's a 5.8% abv brew... but if the bugs have anything to say, it might go to 6% if given enough time. I'm seriously almost done now with this 12oz glass of 70+ degree room temp, flat beer. It's that nice!

I wonder what my highly hopped pale ale I made with Pete is gonna be like, with this same yeast? Hmm... that might not go over so well, methinks.

In other late breaking news, I went to the eye doc today and ordered up some new specs. Stay tuned for *that* in a couple weeks...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Slow week, but updates thar be!

So. Slow week. Not much to report. Spent most of the day moving snow around in the drive, so less attention could be paid to the important things in life... like coffee and beer. Nonetheless, I did continue to drink the Guatemala 2007 crop coffee for the third roast session I managed to squeak in yesterday. It's still fabulous. I found that using the Aeropress, I was getting a bit *too much* flavor in my cup than I was looking for. It was getting so sweet (don't believe me that coffee can be sweet? Stop by, I'll make you a 28 gram cup of something in the press and you'll swear it's cough syrup. Yeah, it's that sweet!), that I decided to knock back a couple grams of bean per day till I got to a place I liked. Don't get me wrong, the 28 gram cup was an awesome treat, but it's a bit too much for a day to day go at it.. came back to 25, then 23.. and today, I'm at 21 grams and that seems to be a good spot. I think I'll stay right about here for a while and see how it goes.

As you can see by the label on the left, Uncle Jack stopped by and we had a go round with a Macanudo Gold Label. It was nice. I'm not a cigar aficionado like Uncle Jack is, but this was a definitely recommendable thing. Very mild, good for a dabbler. Tasted the same from the very first light all the way to the band.

In addition, we also broke open a Cantillion Gueuze and drank that up as well. Uncle Jack has had a mild sour beer before, but not a big time, pop your eyes sour like this one. To my surprise, he seemed to drink it up and drank every last bit. Looks like I found a good, serious sour-beer partner finally. Not that drinkin' sour's with Jody isn't fun, mind you. };-) Private joke.. ask Jody about that day. This beer was amazing as always. A shame I wasn't prepared to do anything with it's sour beasties trapped inside.. but I've got too much sour going downstairs right now to worry about this one.

The Oro de Maggie in secondary is still going well. The foam died back down, but the airlock is bubbling like mad still. I'm not sure what's up in there, but we'll just leave it be for the time being. The No-Sparge I did with Pete is still going as well. Big foam on top, lots of yeast jumping activity. This one I hope to be able to leave right in the main bottle and not touch, unlike the Maggie beer... we'll see where that gets us for fermentation times. We're on to the beginning of our third week with the Maggie beer now.. sure takin' it's time. Hope I didn't blow it on two in a row here, usin' that yeast! Stay tuned, true believers...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Yeast, in a pinch...

So I'm brewing with Pete yesterday, thinking I have a few packets of American Ale yeast downstairs in the fridge... I don't. Pete says he does, and he'll bring me one over to brew with. He gets here with the bad news that he doesn't have any yeast either, except for a Wheat beer yeast. Nuts. We went ahead with the brew anyway, an American Pale Ale with a good load of hops and no crystal malts.. just a touch of Chocolate for color and taste. Like, a couple ounces, really.

I go out on a limb and decide to rack the Oro de Maggie out of primary where it's been for just over a week and pitch this new beer into that carboy on the yeast slurry. The Oro de Maggie looks like it's starting to wind down anyway.. After racking, it appears on the hydrometer that that ain't the case, cause I'm seeing 1.032 on the dial where the beer started at like 1.054. Tastes like honey from the vial, and no sourness.. but a good flavor from what's developed so far. This pic on the left is that beer in secondary, where it puked up its guts through the airlock onto the counter top last night when the activity level went to nuclear level. WTF??? I dunno. It's got a big chunk of activity on the top, but the majority of the activity seems to be coming from the bottom of the bottle.. lots of carbonation comin' from the bottom there, like a wine or mead ferment. Pretty weird.

So, I racked the new beer into the Oro de Maggie original container, and this morning it seems to be going well.. despite some issues yesterday. Here's a pic of the new beer just minding it's own business next to the beer fridge:

The same low foam fermentation typical of the last ferment with this yeast is evident here, and I expect a long, drawn out ferment here as well. This one has loads of hops coming from the airlock though, and I don't plan to age this one to sour it. I'm just gonna drink it young when the fermentation is over.

Just a note on yesterdays brew session.. me and Pete did our first no-sparge brew on an 11 gallon scale, and in fact, it worked like a charm! We had 20 lbs of grain in the tun, and after the rest at 151 degrees with 1.25 quarts per lb, we just went ahead and loaded the kettle up with almost the entire remaining amount of sparge water we had sitting at 180 degrees. My efficiency is set at 76% for this brew rig, and we came out right on the nose for this brew set like that. In fact, no noticeable loss in efficiency between sparge, batch sparge and no-sparge. That, and two hours into the session we were running off the one single, big volume of wort into the boil kettle. That's just sick. A whole new speed record set right there, kids. I should mention that the wort stopped flowing with 9 gallons into the kettle... but I just went out with my spatula and made a couple slices in the top of the mash bed and the wort came gushing out like I've never seen. Really interesting thing right there, I thought.

Also, just a note to say that we got *almost* all the sparge water in in that one shot.. there was like a gallon that didn't fit in there right off, but that got added just after the sparge started and we ran off the first gallon with no recirculation needed... I think with 17-18 lbs of grain in the recipe, we would have fit it all. So yep, I can recommend this no-sparge method entirely now. I like it.