Racking, tasting and testing.

We’re feeling some withdraws over here at tMHBC.  We haven’t actually brewed in about a month now and it’s starting to stress us out.  We’ve had plenty of other stuff to keep us busy but as of this weekend our beer pipeline is running dry.  We do have some meads fermenting, but we’re still a few months away on all of those.  We need to brew soon before Brian does something crazy… er.

The lack of actual brewing sure doesn’t mean we’ve not been busy.  Last weekend we bottled our Kiwi Kaleidoscope IIPA (which we’re pretty sure is going to be awful) and this weekend we racked over 5 gallons of our Pirate Pancake Syrup mead to secondary so it can start clearing up.  This was started on 09/28 so we’re just short of 3 months into fermentation.   The samples from this were excellent, I think this is going to be a fantastic mead.  We’re also planning another batch of this using blood oranges that we’ve dubbed Sailor’s Warning, I’m really starting to enjoy meads.

5 gallons of delicious Pirate Pancake Syrup

5 gallons of delicious Pirate Pancake Syrup

We sampled some of our Nutstalgia – Coconut this weekend and it was pretty good.  The aroma is awesome, roasty and nutty with a nice coconut fragrance, and the taste is much the same but nothing “amazing”…  just decent.  So far we’ve sampled the plain, black cardamom and coconut versions of this and my favorite has been the plain brown ale.  It’s a very solid, above average brown ale in my opinion.

Nutstalgia Coconut Brown Ale

Nutstalgia Coconut Brown Ale

Other weekend bottling of a Brickwarmer Holiday Red Ale, a kit brew from Northern Brewer that was done for a friend’s wife as a gift to him for Christmas, and testing out our fermentation chamber to see if it can successfully hold high temps for brewing Belgians.  So far it’s been holding a 5-gallon carboy of water at 90°F for 3 days so looks like we should be good.  I imagine the chamber is sealed well enough that once it’s up to temp it doesn’t have to work that hard to hold it there.  Provided temps continue to hold well we’ll brew a saison after the first of the year, I’m still researching and formulating the recipe right now.  I think we’ll slide in one more brew day after Christmas and before the saison.  Brian’s been researching some sessionable IPA’s and we’ll likely brew that and our Sailor’s Warning this weekend.

I hope everyone reading this has a very Merry Christmas and an awesomely prosperous and Happy New Year!

Getting a bit nutty and a follow up on our jalapeño saison.

This weekend we bottled out Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale.  We used this year’s NHC winning recipe as our base, with a few tweaks.  That recipe suggested adding hazelnut extract at bottling and we figured since we were doing this at bottling we’d try a few flavors out rather than just the hazelnut.  Brian’s wife has been requesting us to do a beer with black cardamom for a while now so I made an extract with some black cardamom pods to try out in this batch.  In addition to the black cardamom I ordered a variety pack of extracts from Amazon (these right here) that added almond, anise, cardamom, coconut, hazelnut and pistachio to our arsenal.

Testing the extracts.

Testing the extracts.

To test out the extracts we grabbed a 6’er of Sweetwater’s Georgia Brown and poured 6 oz samples and added the various extracts using an eyedropper.  We found that 3-4 drops per 6 oz of beer produced the best results.  We bottled in all bombers and went with 14 drops per 22 oz.  We didn’t care of the pistachio or the anise in the brown ale but liked all the others.  We were surprised that our favorite was coconut, it produced great coconut aroma and flavor and paired well with the brown ale.  We bottled some of the brown ale plain, and marked it as Nutless on the label… it was either that or Neutered, and we didn’t think Ned would take kindly to being neutered – but then I guess nutless isn’t much but.  Too bad, Ned, you’re nutless and that’s that.  Oh, Ned?  He’s the hipster nut that’s on each bottle.

Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale

Nutstalgia Hipster Brown Ale

We also scored some custom caps from http://www.bottlemark.com that we used on this batch.  Check them out if you need some custom caps.  Prices aren’t bad at all for a custom product, we paid $13.00 for 100 of these plus $5.00 for shipping.  Granted they are more than plain caps but less than $20.00 for a custom printed product is pretty good.  If you order take note of the lead time on the home page, they do get busy and you may have to wait a couple weeks to get your caps, it’s worth it.

tMHBC Custom Caps

tMHBC Custom Caps

We had a couple of brews that were ready for drinking this weekend so we got to sample some of the fruits of our labor.  One was our Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison that we first talked about in this post.  I have to say this is my favorite beer we’ve brewed so far and if you are curious about homebrewing then these little 1-gallon kits from Brooklyn Brew Shop are pretty nice.  The beer is fruity with a bit of spice and nice pepper aroma plus it finishes with a hint of heat that’s balanced by the sweet and tart saison.  I really enjoyed this beer.  The other beer is a secret, we brewed it with a friend in mind and we have to wait for him to get his bottles before we announce it.  We hope both of you reading this blog will come back in a week or so for the reveal.   Seriously, both of you guys come back… we’ll bring some sandwiches.

Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison.

Señor Saison, a jalapeño saison.

 

Continuous Hopping our Kiwi Kaleidoscope

Yesterday we brewed an IIPA with all New Zealand hops and dubbed it Kiwi Kaleidoscope.  We used a mix of Green Bullet, Pacific Gem and Kohatu hops and we’re going to add some fresh kiwi fruit to secondary.  In theory we’re pretty sure this is going to be the greatest beer ever brewed.  Don’t be jealous.

In order to make this brew day as much of a pain in the ass as possible we decided to try our hand at continuous hopping after watching some videos with Sam Caligone talking about it.  Since we don’t have an old-school vibrating football game we had to improvise.  We measured out 31 portions of hops to add throughout a 90 minute boil, 30 additions during the boil with a final addition at flame-out with a 15 minute steep.  We started at 90 minutes with heavy additions of the super high AA Pacific Gem (16.4%) and used a blend of Pacific Gem and Green Bullet through the middle of the boil finally tapering to Green Bullet / Kohatu and then just Kohatu with a small addition of all 3 at flameout.  Estimated IBU’s according to Beersmith are 122.2, nice.  It’s very, very hoppy and bitter – but it’s a smooth and crisp bitterness.  I’m really excited to see how this one turns out.

This is also our first brew using our fermentation chamber with full control over temps.  We started it at 62°F and after a few days we’re going to take it up to 64°F.  I’ve heard that having precise temp control makes a huge difference for homebrewers, can’t wait to find out.  I’ll make another post soon showing what I did to add heating to my chamber, it’s a cheap and easy setup.

Continuous Hopping - 31 Additions!

Continuous Hopping – 31 Additions!

My sack looks dirty.

My sack looks dirty.

Fermentation Temperature Control

Fermentation Temperature Control

Next week we should be ready to check out Señor Saison, our jalapeño saison and bottle up our Nutstalgia Nut Brown Ale.  We have several nut extracts (yes I said nut extracts) that we’re going to use in each bottle to have a variety to try.  Hazelnut, Almond and Pistachio for sure and we also have some Black Cardamom and Anise extract, not sure what I think about those in a brown ale but we might do 1-2 bottles just to check it out.  If they don’t kill us we’ll report back with results.