Some things just don’t work out.

We’re not scared to try crazy stuff here at Mostly Harmless.  Brian may be a bit more adventurous than I am though, that fool wants to throw anything up in beer.  And he gets his damn ideas at 2:00 AM so I’m all trying to sleep and that fool’s texting me with, “What do you think of a catfish, baklava and raisin pale lacto IPA stout fermented with Champagne yeast?????”  What’s up with that?

Some of the more strange ideas aside we do manage to brainstorm up some pretty awesome stuff, at least conceptually.  As mentioned in another post we have some spruce tips in the freezer right now that will find their way into a beer soonlyish.  We were also out hiking a couple weeks ago and came across a lot of honeysuckle, of course we started thinking about how we could brew with it.  Maybe in a hefeweizen?  Perhaps in a Belgian ale?  Do we boil it in the wort, make an extract or make a ‘tea’ and then added it to the brew.  So man questions that we have absolutely no idea what the answers are.  After a bit of discussion we decided to try to make an extract out of the honeysuckles and keep that until we decided what to brew.  A bit of Googling suggested a simple method to make an extract – simply add X amount of vodka to X amount of honeysuckles and wait two weeks, shaking the concoction each day.

Fresh Honeysuckle

Fresh Honeysuckle

This method sucks… a lot.  After only a few hours the honeysuckles had turned brown and become mushy.  Within a couple days the ‘extract’ had turned dark brown.  At the 1 week mark we took the lid off the jar and gave it a sniff, the delightful fragrance of honeysuckles mixed with rotten lettuce nearly jumped through our sinuses.  Whoah.  “Well, maybe it tastes OK?  You know extracts are strong and sometimes pretty pungent full strength.”, I said as I dipped my finger into the liquid.  Umm, no… it was nasty.  So Brian chimed in saying maybe it was too strong and needed to be diluted.  I nodded in agreement and poured some into his glass of water, offering it to him to taste, he declined.  So, for science, I tasted it.  “Wow, that’s actually pretty good, tastes like sweet honeysuckle!”, I lied as I handed him the glass.  He took a sip and spit it into the sink.  Somehow it seems we managed to use honeysuckle and vodka to produce a rather convincing imitation extract of onions and beaver pelts.  If you know anyone in the market for such a thing have them hit us up.

Rotten, nasty and stinky Honeysuckle

Rotten, nasty and stinky Honeysuckle

Oh well, you can’t win them all.  We may revisit honeysuckle brewing in the future but for now we’re planning on some sweet, sweet lemonade and a smoked-coconut marshmallow stout to hit the fermenters soon.

OH YEAH!  On another note our Wife Beater ESB is drinking very easily now, we’re quite impressed with it.  We poured Brian’s wife a sample last night and told her it was a beer a friend sent me from out of state.  She said it was very good and had a sort of champagne effervescence.  I could see that description due to the light carbonation.  We’ve also let a few of the Atlanta area beer nerds try it and reviews have been positive as well.  Yay, Us!

Dry Hopping Bud Light – Part 1

A friend shared this link with me recently on testing the characteristics of hop varieties by dry-hopping Bud Light.  Now I know what you’re thinking, why ruin the perfectly balanced deliciousness that is Bud Light but fear not, we’re only going to make it better.

Pretty simple process here… sanitize everything, drop some hops in the bottle, recap and let it sit.  The original poster said he left them at room temp for 3 days then cold-crashed them overnight so that’s what I’m going to go for as well.

We’ll be trying these on Saturday and will report back after that with the results!

Time to add more hops!

Time to add more hops!

Hops? Check.

Hops? Check.

1 gram should do.

1 gram should do.

All hopped up!

All hopped up!

Happy American Craft Beer Week!

I love this holiday!  I just hung all my growlers by the chimney and can’t wait to see what goodies St. Arnold brings this year.  I asked for Heady Topper and KBS… I hope I get ’em!

Make sure to get out and support the craft beer scene, lots of great beers out there.  Happy American Craft Beer Week!

American Craft Beer Week - May 13th thru 19th, 2013

American Craft Beer Week – May 13th thru 19th, 2013

 

Yeast Starters and Spruce Tips

We continue to upgrade the equipment and tMHBC as we plan and ponder our next brew(s).  Brian is on a trip to the Pacific NW and while away he was on a mission to find some spruce tips for us to brew with.  He found a nice amount of spruce tips while out and about and said he’s at least 43% sure what he found is in fact spruce.  Meh, we’ll find out for sure when we drink the beer.

We also added a stir plate to our gear this week.  I had a cigar box or 50 lying around and with a few parts from Radio Shack we were in bizness.  The stir plate is used to make a yeast starter which will help verify our yeast is healthy and also increase cell count so we can make sure we have enough gluttonous yeasties to eat up all that delicious sugar we’ve set out for them.

Our SMaSH is fermenting nicely and the airlock is bubbling away.  Our Hair of the Dog Oatmeal Stout is about ready to bottle so I’m doing a bit of reading on the proper way to add some bourbon and oak to it.  I think this is going to be a nice beer.

No brewing our bottling this weekend.  It’s all about yard work and cigars and drinking beer!

Stir Plate Rocking It

Stir Plate Rocking It

 

We’re Moving On Up!

I had a little extra time on my hands this week so I decided to convert an old cooler into a mash tun (also called a  mash-lauter tun or MLT).  Using a mash tun to mash our grain will keep us from having anymore splashdowns from dropping hot sacks o’ grain into our wort like we did on our Honey Ale.

To try out the new gear (and to give us an excuse to drink a few more) we brewed up a SMaSH Ale on Tuesday night.  SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop and it’s just what it says it is, a beer using only one kind of malt and one kind of hop… we chose Maris Otter and Kent Goldings for ours.  Due to the same events that preceded having some extra time this week this beer has been dubbed Unemployment Ale.

We also tried out our Wife Beater ESB this week.  It’s been in bottles about 10 days and still needs some more time to carb up.  It’s very light but the flavor is nice.  Brian thought it was OK, Brian’s wife however said, “No… no… that’s terrible.  That’s just awful.”  Brian’s wife is no longer allowed to participate in brew day or any other homebrew related activities.

The Hair of the Dog Oatmeal Stout was moved from primary to secondary fermentation and we sampled a bit of that as well.  This beer has potential, nice coffee flavor and “roastiness” to it.  I can’t wait to see how this one turns out.

MLT in Action

MLT in Action

Delicious wort.

Delicious wort.

A fried of mine told me after seeing this pic that I should connect a hose to the MLT and not allow so much splashing and such next time as it can be bad for the beer, so that’ll probably happen.  I don’t want to unintentionally mistreat by beer.

Knowledge is Power!

I totally know this guy.

PS… it’s Brian.

Plastics + Hot Liquids = $&*%!

Saturday was another brew day and we also bottled our first brew, the Wife Beater ESB.  Bottling went pretty smoothly although I almost forgot to add the priming sugar.   I guess now we can officially saw we brewed beer.  Booyah.

Bottled our first beer!  Wife Beater ESB.

Bottled our first beer! Wife Beater ESB.

 

In addition to bottling we also brewed a honey ale.  We actually brewed the White House Honey Ale that El Potus drinks at home.  Thanks Obama.  This was our first all grain recipe and things went… well, a little haywire.  First, I didn’t compensate for boil-off in the wort and ended up with much less than needed.  It didn’t help matters that I tried to drain the grain after mashing in a plastic colander that fit over the boil pot quite nicely.  However a huge sack (lol) of hot and wet grain on a plastic colander made it a bit bendy and the bag of grain cannonballed into the wort produce a geyser of stickiness all over me, Brian, my dog and most of my kitchen.   Awesome.

After all was said and done I had to top off with almost 2 gallons of water and missed OG by a lot.  We ended making a bit of a booster with our remaining honey and some priming sugar and ended up getting most of OG back.  I was going to name this one White House Honies and put some American flags and bikini models on the label but after “sampling” several beers one of my friends was pretty insistent that we call it Angel Farts.  I’m not as much a fan of the name as I am the story that goes along with it, the jury is still out on whether the name sticks or not.  Either way I’ll always have the story.