Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year in Craft Beer!

Well, it's time for me to put pen to paper again!  Too many people have been asking about my blog and I feel that I have let you all down since I became a sausage inspector for a big east coast meat producer.  It's taken much of my focus to become a productive, innovative and reliable employee there and it's paid off.  My job is interesting and it's not a huge deviation from my path towards brewing, where I ultimately want to be.  Woodworking, surfing, and fishing all will remain my hobbies.  I'm not giving up on the woodworking!  NEVER!  But no income has flown my way in the last 3 years and I have to ask myself if it's worth any more investment to try and make it a successful business.  I do know that I want to make brewing professionally my focus.  I just love it too much!  There are so many exceptional craft breweries now doing some truly extraordinary projects that it would be the ultimate expression of myself to be a part of that scene in some fashion.  True, I am a Dogfish Head fan.  Very much so.  Especially now that they are doing this project on early 19th century industrial revolution ales.  Oh, let me find the link for you.  Hold on...

If you are interested in beer and also want to know the kind of projects that I think are the ultimate expression of craft with a reverence of history, you've got to read that article!  I get excited about the implications of melding craft beer with history because, to be dead honest, I think history revolved around beer!  The first written language of ancient Sumeria was developed to tabulate ingredients involved in making beer!  NOT BREAD.  For me, I love to be engrossed in either crafting wood, or crafting beer.  Woodworking allows me to put my demons at ease through hard work and manual expression with a good bit of cerebral putting of "tab A" into "slot B".  Crafting beer is a whole different story.  It involves 80% of your time into deep investigation of that different beer that you want to create with the rest being hard work and on the cuff ingenuity.  For me, much of the research has been looking into gluten free beers and I started off with the most difficult to date with the chestnut mash of 24 hours!  I've since scaled it back to a few experimental sorghum batches because of the amount of time needed, ease of brewing from an extract AND most importantly cost.  Those two chestnut batches cost 180 bucks!  At this point, I can't afford the time or the money for that again any time soon.  I also did two experiments using the second runnings of grains from a porter and a stout batch to produce two batches of beer from one set of grains and did pretty well on both!  The "small beer" from the second runnings is really pleasant!  The Stout that I just made is good, young, but good.  It was a wee bit complicated from the amount of fat from the bakers chocolate in that I got a bit of, what looks like curd, in the beer.  LOL but it settles out.  Next time, I have to be more strict.  I start to get cocky and think that I have it all covered without much thought put into the project and forget to add fresh ginger to a secondary.  Or I even blow off the use of a secondary fermenter when in fact I am experimenting with a new style and the secondary fermenter becomes necessary to eliminate particulates and emulsions.  I also need to be more attentive to conditioning in the keg.  I don't like to force carbonate my kegs.  I haven't had a good experience with that yet.  Conditioning the keg seems the best way to go, it just takes longer I think than bottle conditioning.  My experience so far anyway.  I've kegged about 8 batches now.  In fact, I have some keg work today.  I'm going to pull my Mocha Maryanne out of the kegeration unit and let it condition more.  I have a gallon of Eddie's Small Bier to put back in the kegeration unit and by time that is done, Mocha Maryanne will be conditioned better.  I hope.

So, I want to do a blog called "A Year of Craft Beer" or something like that where I drink a different craft beer every day for a year.  Basically, I'm going to drink a new beer everyday, within my means, and talk a little about it.  I will talk about the resources needed to discuss beer intelligently for a beginner like me.  So far I made one mistake in a purchase in a beer tasting kit which was poorly described on Amazon as a way for a beginner to learn beer tasting.  But it's just a box with paper bags in it to put over top a bunch of different beers with no real instruction on what to do when you taste the beer like smelling first, what to look for in color and carbonation and head, what flavors you initially taste and how to decipher them as well as flavors after you have swallowed it, etc...  Those are things that I need to work on.  This will give me a chance as a beginner to become more knowledgeable about beer varieties and what I like (the most important bit) as well as to hopefully inform my audience a bit about beer and how to judge it.  I will also tackle nutrition and fitness aspects involved with beer drinking.  I think it would be good to write or co-write an article about fitness and do some interviews with different beer judges, and brewers from around the country to find what they do or don't do to stay fit.

 I can do these articles on this blog since it has a following of sorts, OR I can easily though google start another.  If you are still reading this right now, I value your opinion.  What do you think would be best for me, as a guy who wants to put forth his brewing and learn learn learn!

So Here are some pics of the last beer I did with the collaboration of Donny Smith, Chris Simmons, and Joanie Countryman.  This first picture is Mocha Maryanne and Eddie's Small Bier.  They are first and second runnings from the same grains in the mash tun.  While Mocha Maryanne was boiling, I was mashing the same grain for Eddie's Small Bier.  These are out waiting to be bottled and kegged.

Because I didn't secondary ferment, I never added the fresh ginger like I had hoped and after thinking on several different methods on getting the ginger flavor into the beer at this very late point of the process I decided to make one gallon of tea with dried ginger and adding that to the racking bucket along with the different amounts of corn sugar to condition the beer in either bottles or kegs.
I basically just put a few ounces in a muslin bag and boiled on very low for about ten minutes.  It probably could have set longer as I'm not getting much ginger flavor in this batch.  Fresh Ginger in either the boil or secondary is much better!  But this is one example of me not giving my beer my "all" and trying to fix it at the end.  It's all a learning experience, and that is why I love it!

Hey everyone, I've reached my limit on looking at a screen and have run out of things to yap about.  It's great to be back!

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!