Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Challenger Special and some sourdough bagels..

Forgot to post this a few back, but...

Killed it! The Challenger Special, brewed up by Rob and me way back at the end of August.. hopped only with Challenger hops, as you might have guessed. Really tasty stuff.. but no longer.

In other news, the Red beer I did with Timmay is pretty much ready to keg. I'll get around to that soon, so there'll be something new and fun to try. The Dunkel I did with Pete, on the other hand, is flowing fine right now. Good times right there..

Here's a shot of some sourdough bagels I did up last night, from The La Brea Bakery book..

Should have made the rings they're formed from a *little* bigger, as these look more like fat dinner rolls than bagels.. but whatever, they taste really good. The consistency is spot on, though, the first time I think I can say that for my bagels. In the pat, my straight dough bagels have been more fluffy and soft than a bagel should be, but these guys are dense and chewy, bagel proper. I'm wondering if it was the vital wheat gluten, or the slow rise in the fridge that did that? Either way, I might be eating another one this afternoon.. it was that good.

Chickens are still dong very well. The Barred Rocks seem less susceptible to frostbite and cold in general than the Reds.. and I think I'd recommend those to new chicken owners, if I was asked. Plus, they're cute as all get out! And they lay eggs pretty darned well..

'Tis all...

Monday, January 11, 2010

I win! And, a brewery trip... thus, I win again!

And my win was with sourdough. Finally! A sigh of relief was heard throughout the house.. the pressure is off and I know I can do this thing now. Check it:

And the inside:

..yeah, that was a good day. Don't get me wrong, this loaf ain't perfect. If you look close, you'll see a less than totally cooked section on the center of the very bottom, about the size of a walnut. My slashing technique is also less than perfect.. but man, it tasted good! And since my Dad s comin' over tonight for dinner, I'm making up another one right now.. as I speak, it's in it's first ferment downstairs in the warm room. I'm also doing another try at a sourdough bread tin loaf.. It's the same dough, but I'll run this one through the oven in the pyrex loaf pan so the kids can use it for sandwiches and toast. I've had good luck and great taste from the preferment dough bread that I've been doing lately.. but it all comes back to loaf longevity. We don't seem to be able to go through a whole loaf here in three days or less, so the bread, minus any preservatives, doesn't seem to stay soft much more than that. So, the sourdough bread, with it's ability to supposedly stay good for up to 5 days is the solution I've come to. There's also the thing with the "wild" yeast and weird bacteria that draws me to sourdough, but that's just a quirk of mine.. just gotta be different.

Here's me with a Thomas Hooker Nor'Easter beer, provided by Timmay during a recent brew session here. We brewed up an American Amber style, aka Red beer. This things gave me big problems during the initial ferment. Almost no signs of activity at all for the better part of two days. Timmay, on the other hand, says he's rarely seen a ferment as active as this beer while fermented at his place. I was at 63 degrees here in the dining room.. so that's probably not the answer, and I may never know what it is. It mysteriously started up slowly on the third day and was chugging along well soon thereafter. It's still *mildly* going now, in fact.. a few bubbles per minute. I'm sorta curious to see what the hydrometer says in a couple of days when I keg this thing. This beer should be interesting, as it's half Munich, half two row pale, and just a hint of some dark colored malts for color and flavor.. we'll see.

Me and the family went to NYC yesterday to hit up the Ballet and the NY Museum of Natural History.. well, half went to the ballet and the other half (me and Cessy) went to see the dinosaurs. Big building! I was beat.

Afterwards, though, we all went a few blocks down to Heartland Brewery, the Burger side. There, I had a *fantastic* buffalo style burger and started out with a Belgian Red Rooster beer. It appeared to be unfiltered, Red-ish in color, and had a pretty big alcoholic note in the aroma. The flavor gave up what tasted like Jaegermeister/black liquorish mixed with a curious Belgian yeast derived flavor.. this was fantastic for the first 1/3 of the beer.. but started to wear me down by the next third, and it was actually a struggle to finish this 5.5% curiosity. After that one, I switched it up to their Black Lager, which clocked in at 6.5% abv, but hid it well. The 'black' was actually a really deep, crystal clear Mahogany color. the aroma.. I've smelled this before somewhere, but couldn't place it. The wife thought it was unique as well, but also couldn't place it.. it's faint, whatever it is. The flavor, however, was outstanding. a very mild roast note, and a hint of the same flavor as the Red Rooster, but definitely cleaner than the Red beer, as expected. Very drinkable, unlike the first brew.. As a side note, I didn't have more than two small sips of it, but The Boss had the Wheat beer here, and it got good review from her, but nothing out of the ordinary. I thought it was a solid beer, but it didn't just out at me.. but like I said, just two sips is all I had to go on. Sorry, no pics.. no camera this time.