Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Mini-Brew..

So I got all crazy the other day, the day I got sick, in fact, and brewed up a very small beer on the stove top. All grain style! I was eyeballing' my mini-keg of 2.5 gallon capacity and thought "Hey, maybe I can brew something just big enough to fill that little guy.. just for fun" . And I did. I didn't get any pics of the 4.5 lbs of grain I milled for this thing, the pics just sorta pick up from the mashing in phase and go from there..

Here's the photo's to show the event:

The fabricated mini-manifold that just fits a standard stock pot..

Into the mash she goes..

The mash rest in the stove..

Checking the mash temp. Shooting for 152-ish..

The lauter. All in one shot here, no fly or batch sparge for this run. Just a hard core NO sparge..

The clear runoff..

Spent grains..

The finally tally, unboiled, but getting close now...

A non-wide variety of hops. All this beer contains is Challenger, kiddies..

Two hop additions. 3/4oz at 40 minutes (40 minute total boil time. Sick, I know!) and another 1/4oz at 2 minutes to flame out.

A funnel to get 'er in the 3 gallon fermenter and..

..the final resting place. All 2.5 gallons of it.

So, I missed a few steps there with the camera. There was chillin' in the sink style, with ice cubes and all. Didn't take long cause it was such a small volume. My immersion chiller would have destroyed the pot had I tried to use that. Some overkill there, too. Milling grains, I already mentioned. Rehydrating the Coopers dry yeast I used, all 7 grams of it. Heh.. Took about three-ish hours or so to pull this off. It was fun.

We'll see how it goes. I'll keep ya' updated.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chickens and things...

Chickens and things? And you're like, WTF? Is this guy off his rocker now, finally? The answer is negative. I'm giving a long, hard look at raising some chickens this year is all. I thought about this last year too, but I guess the time to do it is in the spring, and I only heard of this a bit too late in the game last year and couldn't get into it. I didn't wanna rush a thing like this, where the lives of four animals might hang in the balance, you know? So, we're giving it some more thought this year, and I have till the beginning of April to make up my mind about what I'm gonna do. If I go ahead with it (and right now, I am planning to..) the day old chicks will come in some time in the beginning of May. Then they'll stay in a cardboard box for a month, graduate to a dog pen for another month, and finally will need to go into an outdoor coop that I'll have to build sometime between now and then. I'm thinking about a coop like this one:

It's called a "chicken tractor" and it has an open bottom that lets the chickens scratch at the ground while still being safe from predators while they're inside the pen. You also tow it around the yard to keep the ground from geting all torn up from being in one spot, and also to give the little screwballs somethign fresh to peck at.

That's all the chicken info you'all need to know right now to help me along with this project.. cause I'm still pondering the pros and cons of this adventure. Giveme some fedback, eh? And rest assured, should I go ahead with it, this blog will be filled with beer, coffee *&* chicken news. Prepare yourself!

In other news, I roasted up a 1/2lb of a coffee from Bali called "Blue Krishna" provided by our coffee friend from the west, Kevin. What a guy! We'll see how that tastes in a day or two. Stand by for that review.

As for the coffee of the day, I'm working the last.. err.. almost last 1/2lb of the Kenya AA from Robs run to NYC. I've got a cup in hand that was Aeropressed just seconds ago. Waiting for it to cool to a below nuclear level. I'll mention tht I still aeropress almost everything these days, dragging out my faithful Yama 5 cup vapot about once a week or so to maintain my karmic one-ness with it. Is "karmic" a word? Hmm... For a Kenya, still have yet to find the lemony brightness in this bean that I'm used to. I seem to find only a mild burnt/roasty thing no matter *what* level of roast I personally bring it to being light or dark. That's really throwing me off. It makes an (and I'm serious when I write this) incredible single shot of espresso, which is remarkable for a supposedly known "bright bean". But like I said, I'm getting a burnt, sort of flat cup at all roast levels with this one, and maybe that's working its magic when it comes time to throw it under the pressure of the La Pavoni lever. ..ok, now that I'm near the bottom of the cup and it's really cooled off, I can get the acidic qualities of this bean... it's almost a sourness. Why does it wait so long to emerge? Strange bean!

OK, Frank just blew me off cause "I'm tired" and doesn't wanna come over for a beer. Well now. The lineup is to crack a bottle of SouRED for the monthly taste and see how it's coming along, then break open a 2005 Barley Wine, and finish by attempting to kick the keg of Coffee Porter. What kind of girlyman is he? Let's go knock over that SouRED and see how that looks, shall we?

I don't think you can see it in the photo cause there's no light, but I'll be darned if that isn't the prettiest beer I've ever seen. Perfect clarity, huge head of dense foam, the exact right mahogany red color I was looking for... and not a trace of sour on the nose. Just that 'dusty' sort of dry weirdness still, like last time.

Drats. OK, let's taste it anyway..

OK, no sour in the flavor, either. Very malty, though. Has that dry kind of taste to it, too. But not really objectionable. Actually, more chalky than dry, I think is what I mean to say. I make it seem more bad than is is.. it's actually a really fine red beer... I just was shooting for a really fine red SOUR beer. Some kind of really juicy, fruity grape thing mid-palate, too. Actually, that's a really nice taste right there. Almost like that Amber that Rob (from Plymouth Roasting Company!) did a while back that he fermented with a red wine yeast and didn't like so much, that I thought was a fine example. So, at least we know Rob won't like this one! :)

I think I'll save the Barley Wine review for something to do tomorrow.. this post is getting a little long in the tooth anyway. Keep clicking my Google Ad link there, just before you split, kids! Dig it...