A triple brew day and more lessons learned.

This Friday we had another brew day here at tMHBC.  We’d planned to do two brews – a Lemon Wine and an Imperial Stout.  On the way to the “brewery” Brian called me to ask if I had cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  I’ve learned not to ask why so, I just told him I did and left it and that, I figured I’d discover what kind of craziness he was up to soon enough.  It was a nice day for a brew and we had a couple of friends join us as well for some cigars and sharing of some craft brews.  We’re living the dream over here, folks.

Brian showed up and started plopping jars of honey, citrus fruits and raisins on my counter and busted out a little Fleischmann’s action to boot.  While diving into the recesses of the interwebz, he’d stumbled on a recipe for Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead and decided to try it out.  It’s a very, very simple recipe that is said to produce a very good mead.  It’s drinkable after a couple months and supposed to be excellent at about 6-7 months.  Starting it now should have this ready for us at the holidays.  We’ll keep you posted.

Joe's Ancient Orange Mead

Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead

Next up for the day was some Horse Pop.  “WTF is Horse Pop?”, you ask. (Some of you likely know the reference already, for the others… enjoy. PS – NSFW) Horse Pop is our version of Skeeter Pee lemon wine.  While I love the concept of Skeeter Pee I really hate that name.  I wanted a classy name, one you’d be proud to serve to your pastor or take to the yacht club.  “Pardon me, but might I top off your Horse Pop, good fellow?”  “Oh yes, it’s quite delightful… merci.”  It’s going to be awesome.

So after fighting with Brian about adding malt or hops or berries or whothehellknowswhat to the recipe we finally made “by the book” Skeeter Pee.  This is a quick fermenting wine and should be ready to bottle in about a month, just as the heat of summer hits us hard here in Atlanta.  I hear it’s a very sneaky drink and comes in at 10% but drinks like Kool Aid, easy to get out of control if you’re not careful.  Fermentation can be tough to get going with lemon-based beverages but I made a yeast starter and it started up nicely not long after pitching.  I look forward to bottling this one and getting stupid on it.

Horse Pop.  Some assembly required.

Horse Pop. Some assembly required.

The final brew for the day was V1.0 of our Signature Stout.  Brian and I both love a good stout so we decided this is the first style we want to perfect.  We’ve come up with a recipe that puts us in the right range of where we want to be with ABV and bitterness and using some malts we know we love.  This sucker has 18 1/2 lbs of malts in a 4 gallon batch.

This one, of course, is a bit more involved than the mead or the lemon wine.  We have to watch mash and sparge temps and time hop additions, etc.  We followed the recipe to the “T” and we’re dumbfounded when we missed our OG by 0.020.  A HUGE number to be off, and we know we followed the process dead on.  BUT… one thing we missed was how much wort got stuck in the deadspace of our mash tun.  The answer is “a lot”.  That much grain held a lot of water and we should have given it longer to  drain, we also need to upgrade the MLT drain hose as it’s quite possible even with the supports that amount of grain and water restricted our flow.  We didn’t notice how much was trapped right away but the next day, while cleaning it out, there was a lot of liquid that had settled.  A lot of delicious, sugary gravity that we missed out on.  Lesson learned.

The stout still looks very good and the wort tasted great.  Hopefully we’ll get a nice brew out of it but we’ll have to go back to the drawing board to get a perfect and reproducible recipe for our stout.

Black Gold, Texas Tea, Imperial Stout

Black Gold, Texas Tea, Imperial Stout

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.