Sunday, January 30, 2011

Glass Carboy Etching

This year for Christmas, I got two brand new three gallon glass carboys for brewing.  I was really excited about this since it will allow me to do some really fun and experimental beers without having to drink five gallons if it doesn't turn out great.  The only tough part is since I'm doing primary in the glass carboy instead of a brew pail or my conical, I don't know when the carboy is up to the two gallon mark.  I used sharpie on the carboy for a while, but it just doesn't have the pzazz that I'm looking for and it can easily be scraped off when cleaning.

I remembered back a few years ago when I was looking for some projects to do on Home Brew Talk.  Etching the glass would be a great permanent fix.  So, I decided to give it a shot.  For the test I should have done the numbers and level markings, but there was a large open space on each of the carboys, and I decided to go big instead of going home and etch the Lake Effect Brewing Logo into the carboys.  I taped off an area with masking tape to get started, then I printed out the logo in black and white and taped it onto the glass.

Next, I went at it full force with an Xacto knife.  I'm not gonna lie, this took a while, so I found a comfortable spot on the couch and a good show to watch since I ended up being there for a couple hours.  (If anyone is wondering, I watched Chopped one night, followed by the news the next.)  Here's the progress I made with it.

After that, it was pretty easy.  I picked up some glass etcher from the local craft store.  (I bought the 10 oz. jar, but I would suggest getting the smallest size you can.  With the amount I used, I could etch about 50 carboys at least.)  You just have to follow the instructions and you're good to go.  I only left it on for about 5 minutes, I probably could have gone longer, but here are the final results.


Once I get it filled with beer, I will try to get a couple more photos of it, and hopefully they will turn out a bit better.  The one problem I did have was that some of the etcher was able to seep in between where the masking tape overlapped.  I am hoping to remedy this on the next carboy by using contact paper or something of the sort that is a single surface.  Anyways, onto the next carboy, and what I was planning on doing originally, making level marks.  I do get sidetracked easily...

On Deck: Irish Red Ale (2/1)
Primary: Beef on Weck Ale
Secondary: Nothing
Carbonating: American Pale Ale
Drinking: Rye-rish Red Ale

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Flying Bison Chili Cook-Off and Amber Waves of Grain Homebrew Competition

Today's posting is a two parter since there are a couple things going on this weekend that I would like to address.  First off, this Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm, Flying Bison will be having its fourth annual chili cook-off at the brewery with beer tasting and live music.  I haven't been to this yet, but I have heard good things.  Even if you're not a chili person, you should still go since all of the $5 entry fee goes to the Cornerstone Women and Children Shelter.  For more information, check out The Good Neighbor.

Onto part two:  Since I am staring to become a bit more serious about brewing, I decided a good way to build onto my brewing portfolio would be to enter some competitions.  There's no better opportunity to do that than the 15th Annual Amber Waves of Grain Homebrew Competition.  I'm just hoping some of my beer can hold its own.  For $6 an entry, having the professional critique on my beers will be worth it.

Following are the categories (from BJCP) and the beers that I will be entering into the competition:

9D. Irish Red Ale: Rye-rish Red Ale
10A. American Pale Ale: No name as of yet
15B. Dunkelweizen: Bayrischer Dunkelweizen
21A. Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer: All-Grain Pumpkin Ale
21B. Christmas/Winter Specialty Spiced Beer: Spiced Fruit Winter Ale

If you're interested in entering this competition, entries can be accepted starting 1/29 and the deadline is 2/12 and judging takes place on 2/25 and 2/26.  Drop off locations in Buffalo are Niagara Traditions Homebrew and Flying Bison.

The American Pale Ale was just bottles so it should be ready in time for the competition.  Unfortunately I do not think the beef on weck will be ready in time.

Primary: Beef on Weck Ale
Secondary: Nothing
Carbonating: Rye-rish Red Ale, American Pale Ale

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Designing a Label

So those of you who read my blog and happened to look at my links may be wondering why I have a link for Hockey in Art, especially since I said I was going to keep this blog purely beer oriented. Well, this is one of my good friends, Nate Gandt's website. As you can see from his two web sites, he has quite the knack for art (and he should since he attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh).

We've known each other for about 15 years now and I enlisted his help for the creation of bottle labels for some of the beers that I will be featuring on this web site. I by no means am going to try to take any credit for these designs, other than the names.

Here is the normal logo:

Where that blank diamond is at the bottom of the label, Nate and I are going to come up with some creative little logos to throw in there, specific to each of the beers getting the label treatment.  Below are examples of the Beef on Weck Ale and the Spiced Fruit Holiday Ale:

As always any comments are welcome.

Primary: Beef on Weck Ale
Secondary: American Pale Ale
Carbonating: Rye-rish Red Ale

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Elder Beer

After a week off of brewing, it seems like these inspiration posts are piling up.  But I crossed the beef on weck beer off of the list so I thought I should replace it with another interesting idea for a beer.  And as luck should have it, I got my shipment of herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in last week.  From what I have seen, their prices are great and something that really interested me is their monthly specials section.  After looking at their January 2011 specials, it almost makes me want to brew something out of Guarana Seeds.

The one that I'm planning on highlighting in this post is another that is based out of the Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers book and one that Marygrace helped me pick out.  It's completely based around the elder plant (information starting on page 330).  Typically when elder is used in alcohols it is an elder berry wine, so I thought an elder beer would be a bit more interesting.  Both of the recipes in the book seemed pretty basic so I decided to jazz them up a bit and combine both the elder berry and elder flower in the same beer as well as use malts instead of sugars to get the proper yeast food.

I plan on keeping this one a bit lighter in alcohol and color.  I tasted both the berries and the flowers and I feel that those flavors will both be highlighted with a beer base that is lighter in flavor as well.  Other than that, I'm not planning on anything else to exciting for this beer.  Keep checking back for updates.  The target brew date for this beer is 2/13.

I thought I would leave everyone with this photo.  The basis of any good beer, horseradish root and slices and caraway seeds:

Primary: Beef on Weck
Secondary: American Pale Ale
Carbonating: Rye-rish Red Ale

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bayrischer Dunkelweizen

This is one of the last beers that Jay and I brewed together.  As you can guess, it is a Dunkleweizen.  Everywhere we take it to let people try it, it seems to get a warm welcome.  It is an extremely simple recipe, so it should make good for a first beer evaluation on this blog.

0.5 lb German CaraMunich I
0.25 lb German Carafa II
0.25 lb Chocolate Malt
6 lb Wheat DME
1 oz Vanguard hops
WYeast 3068 - Weihenstephan Weizen
O.G.: 1.057
T.G.: 1.014
Alcohol: 5.6%
Color:   20 SRM

Steep crushed malts in 2 gallons of water until about 170 F.  Remove from water and begin to boil.  Add DME.  Once the hot break has ended add hops and continue to boil for 60 minutes.  Add water to the fermentation vessel to make 5 gallons.  Once it has been cooled, pitch yeast.

This is the first time Marygrace and I really tried to taste a beer and we weren't exactly sure what we should be looking for, so we referred to a beer flavor wheel and tried to go through it flavor by flavor.

The color was typical for a dukelweizen, dark and cloudy with a rich full head on the beer.  As far as aromas go, we found that the beer was fruity (banana), slightly alcoholic, and slightly nutty.  When it was tasted, it as rather warming, light, sweet, mouth coating, and very slightly astringent.  We didn't look at the flavor profile of what a dunkelweizen until after we tasted, and I was pleasantly surprised.  I was most concerned about the astringent flavor (tarty/citrusy), however it is an acceptable and sometimes present.

Overall I was extremely pleased with the way this beer came out.  Perhaps this year I will try brewing this again but with a partial mash.

Primary: None
Secondary: American Pale Ale
Carbonating: Rye-rish Red Ale

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spent Grain Bread - Attempt 1 and 2

I got quite a bit done over the past couple days.  Yesterday I transferred the American Pale Ale into secondary and made about 30 yeast slants that are now ready to be inoculated.  Today we bottled the Rye-rish Red Ale which should be ready for consumption in about two weeks.

Anyways, onto my next topic for the day.  I am a baker by no means, but I try.  The latest attempts were a couple loaves of spent grain bread.

The recipe I used for the spent grain bread was fairly straight foreword:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
2 tsp salt
1 packet yeast
3 cups spent grain (ground with a food processor)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg (beaten)
cooking spray

Mix flour, salt, yeast, spent grain, sugar, olive oil, and egg.  Depending on the consistency of the mixture at this point, you may want to add a small amount of milk or a small amount of flour.  Aim to keep the total amount of milk under 1 cup.

Lightly flour a counter top and knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes.  Shape into ball and let rise in a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray for 90 minutes.

Punch down, divide (or shaped as desired), and let rise for 60 minutes.

Score tops of loaves, preheat oven to 350 F and make loaves for 40 to 60 minutes.  Spray the top of the loaves with water before baking in order to achieve a crispier top.  Let cool on a drying rack for 60 minutes.

My first attempt at this did not go so well.  That go-around I will blame on my inexperience.  I had never baked a bread before and I was not sure what the consistency of bread dough should have been so what I ended up baking was a bit too wet.  When it came out, it was much too doughy on the inside.  Completely raw.  On the bright side, the bread had great flavor, so I decided to try it again.

After getting some pointers on doughs, I was ready for another attempt.  This time I did a lot more kneading and added a bit more flour.  These came out quite a bit better.  I got a little anxious and cut into it early (only about 20 minutes after baking) and it was still quite doughy.  As the night went on, it got better and better.  I cut into a loaf a day after baking and it was delicious.

I plan on baking the bread as normal at least one more time.  After that I want to try a few other things, one being a cinnamon-raisin bread (this is a very dense bread that lends itself to this very easily).  Another thing I may try will be adding some herbs, possibly a rosemary, olive oil bread.  I also want to explore the possibility of substituting beer for the milk and yeast off of the fermenter for the packet of yeast.  If anything turns out, I will post the results here.

Primary: None
Secondary: American Pale Ale
Carbonating: Rye-rish Red Ale

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sarsparilla Ale

A while back, I bought Sacred Herbal and Healing Beers.  It had a lot of great historic and unique recipes that I have been dying to try.  One that really caught my eye was the Sarsaparilla Ale.  With the spices of ginger, cloves, cinnamon, licorice, sarsaparilla, and coriander, the beer stuck a note with me as a great beer to have for spring or even let age for a bit.

Even though I haven't made it yet and tried what it could taste like, I decided to spruce this beer up.  There were one notable problem right off of the bat, I'm okay with omitting hops from some of my recipes, but malt is a must and this recipe has none. So, I decided to substitute malt in for the required corn syrup.  The rest of the ingredients I have had little to no experience with in brewing, so I did not want to go monkeying around with the levels.  Once I brew and taste this, I am sure I will have some more input on where the flavors need to be, but as for now I will continue as planned.

There is one thing about this beer that has me extremely excited and it is something that I have been wanting to try for some time now, and that is to use honey in the beer, essentially making a Braggot.  This has a late addition of honey so it should act towards aroma of the beer, giving it a much sweeter bouquet.  Yeast that I will be using in this beer is still up in the air.  I could go with either an ale or mead yeast, but since the fermentables will be a higher percentage malt, I feel that I should stick with an ale such as Scottish or American as suggested by WYeast.  Perhaps I will even look into a saison yeast since there will be so many other flavors working here.  Who knows...

I have all of my herbs ordered and on the way.  Target brew date for this beer is 2/6/2011.

Primary: American Pale Ale
Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Irish Red - Pearl Street Comptition

So last year, Jay and I looked into the quarterly competitions that Pearl Street Grill & Brewery in Buffalo holds. We even developed a recipe for the pumpkin ale competition and brewed it. Unfortunately early summer activities got the best of us and we never were able to enter it into the competition. I finally decided that enough was enough and that I would enter the Irish Style Red Ale competition and see how my own beer holds up.

Irish reds are numerous, especially around St. Patrick's Day, and I felt like I had to make my own version stand out a bit and encourage myself to try new things when homebrewing. When trying to think of something a bit more unusual, for some reason the one thing that first popped into my head was rye bread. Maybe I just eat too many rubens and diner breakfasts and so when I think of Irish, corned beef comes to mind, then the rye bread that comes with it. So, I just rolled with it and brewed a Rye-rish Red Ale. Using rye in a beer also allowed me to try a new technique since the rye I had available was raw rye which requires a separate cereal mash before normal mashing (to be discussed in another post). I have this in secondary fermentation right now and will be bottling it next week, but I figured I would also make a traditional Irish red, since I have quite a bit of time until the due date of March 31, 2011. I'll try and compare both, and whatever tickles my fancy the most will be entered into the competition.

So at the end of it all, I will have about 80+ bottles of Irish Red ale. Anyone having a St. Patrick's Day party?

Primary: American Pale Ale
Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Spent Grain Dog Treats

Last spring, Jay and I began to brew all grain. All we were doing with the spent grain at the time, was throwing them in the compost pile. That wasn't a bad solution back then (since we were using the compost on our hop plants), but I needed to find something to do with them now that I am brewing at home again. It isn't practical to drive twenty minutes to dispose of spent grains, and just throwing them in the trash just seemed like a waste.

Even though I don't have as many grains any more since I've switched to only doing partial mash (I just don't have the time or space for all grain) I had to find something to do with them. I started to do some research and I read a couple of posts in forums about people making dog treats out of them. I have a dog and I have spent grains. Seems like a match made in heaven. I modified the recipes I found a bit since most of them called for an all purpose flour, which contains wheat and is a common allergen for some dogs, so I substituted a cup of brown rice flour and a cup of oat flour for that.

The recipe goes like this:

4 cups spent grain
1 cup oat flour
1 cup rice flour
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all of the ingredients thoroughly and spread out on a cookie sheet coated in cooking spray. Cook for 15 minutes, remove from oven and cut into pieces, then return to oven for 15 more minutes. Lower temperature to 250 F and continue to cook for 2 more hours, or until completely dry. If the treats are not completely dry, there is a possibility that mold will grow.

Here are a couple pictures of what you can expect:

In the future I plan on trying a couple variations of this recipe, perhaps by adding some honey or carob chips. If it seems to turn out okay, and passes the Indiana test, I'll post the results up here.

Primary: American Pale Ale
Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Can a Great Sandwich Make a Good Beer?

Being from Western New York, there are a few regional delicacies that are ingrained in your blood: Buffalo style pizza, chicken wings, garbage plates, and who could forget beef on weck sandwiches. For those of you not familiar with beef on weck, it is a hot roast beef sandwich with a kaiser roll. The top of the roll is dipped in au jous and then in a mixture of salt and caraway seeds, and finally topped with horseradish sauce.

Let's be honest, how could I not try to make a beer out of these ingredients. Okay, so I won't actually use beef or salt in the recipe, but I feel that the horseradish and caraway will add some great spicy notes that are not normally featured in beers. Although I am not using beef, it could be nice to have a few cold cuts on hand while serving this beer.

As far as styles goes, this will definitely be 21A - Spiced, Herb or Vegetable beer. I want this beer to be full in body and plenty malty, so I am going to use Munich malt mixed with some two row as a base. I haven't decided if I should add some 60 L Crystal malt to give it a bit of color and a bit more body, or leave it as it is to be reminiscent of the kaiser roll. I haven't yet decided on if I will use hops in this beer or not. If I do, it will be a low alpha acid hop, mainly used for its preservative qualities rather than aroma. I am also still trying to determine which yeast strain would be the best to use. Right now, I am thinking about a Scottish Ale. Target alcohol around 7% since this would be less of a session beer and more of one to just sample.

Over the next week, or week and a half, I will be working on recipe development. Target brew date for this ale will be 1/23/2011. If anyone has any thoughts on this beer, such as hops or yeasts to use, please feel free to offer suggestions.

Primary: American Pale Ale

Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yeast Culturing

So a while back, I bought a set of test tubes with a test tube rack, 72 to be exact, with the purpose of beginning to start culturing yeast and making slants. After a year and a half passed, I finally got around to trying it. It was actually much easier than I thought it would be (although the results have yet to be shown) and I should end up saving quite a bit of money in the long run.

I basically used the guide on the Homebrew Talk Wiki. Where it gets to inoculating the blank slants, instead of using a needle and poking the wort gelatin, I made an inoculation loop out of some stainless steel wire. If you are too lazy and don't want to make inoculation loops, you should be able to buy them from any science supply store.

Moral of the story, don't be afraid to try new things when homebrewing. You may save a couple of bucks. Right now, I have a yeast bank containing an Irish Ale yeast, Scottish Ale yeast, Bavarian Wheat yeast, American Ale yeast and Californian Ale yeast.

Primary: American Pale Ale

Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Welcome to a new beginning...

So my brother in law, Jay (Rusty Zymurgy), has moved to Austin with my sister and now I am tasked with creating and maintaining my own brewing blog. I can't guarantee anything but I am going to try to keep this beer-centric - a.k.a. no random filler or going on about a new video game I bought. I'll be posting my recipes, inspirations, and anything that's cool and has to do with beer (specifically anything that has to do with homebrewing). For anyone who followed or is continuing to follow Rusty Zymurgy, it will be very similar.

I'm going to be brewing at least twice a month and I will be posting all of the recipes here. Some will be standard recipes and some will be a bit out there and experimental. If you have Beer Tools and want me to send you the recipe, just ask. I am also going to be detailing the any of my random homebrew adventures, such as yeast cloning, building equipment, and recipe development. As a way to keep some sort of order I will be posting the brew to taste of each beer as its own post. This way there won't be random posts that have to do with the same beer all strewn about.

As far as random things that will be posted up here, I'm in the process of designing my own bottle labels with the help of one of my friends, so some of the process will be on here. I'm not going to be posting every single beer I drink up here but if I have something special, you will definitely hear about it. I also plan on including some information about beer related events around Buffalo as well as any neat beer related tools or miscellaneous items I come across.

I'm always welcome to advice or input, so make you voice heard.

Primary: American Pale Ale

Secondary: Rye-rish Red Ale