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TBoner
06-20-2007, 08:17
I am taking the GRE on Saturday, with an eye toward grad school in the fall. Given those circumstances, I have decided this summer is a time to throw myself into hobbies and projects I might not otherwise get to for a while.
First up is homemade bitters. The recipe from Robert Hess is published in the current issue of Imbibe magazine, and I won't reprint it here. But the ingredients are:

Rye whiskey (I'm using WT)
Gentian root
cardamom pods
star anise
cloves
cinnamon
ginger
sugar
water

The recipe produces about 1.5 liters of bitters, which is a heckuva lot. I may split the batch before bottling and make half of it orange bitters with the addition of some bitter orange peel (and possibly coriander).

The initial step is steeping the spices in the whiskey, which I began this morning. Before bottling, the same spices will be boiled with water and then that tea will be added to sugar to make a syrup. This will be blended with the rye.

Next week, I'm doing a series of brews. I'll be making a blonde ale, a Belgian saison, and two meads. All are 5-gallon batches. Here are the recipes:

Blonde Ale
6 lbs. pilsner malt
2 lbs. Vienna malt
2 lbs. rye malt
.5 oz. Mt. Hood FWH
25 IBUs Mt. Hood @ 60 min.
1 oz. Mt. Hood @ flameout

Saison
9 lbs. pilsner malt
.5 lbs. CaraVienne
.25 lbs. aromatic
1.5 lbs. jaggery sugar
.5 oz. Spalt FWH
30 IBUs Spalt @ 60
.5 oz. Spalt @10
This saison is a pretty straightforward recipe. Later this summer, I've planned one with coriander, ginger, peppercorns, Grains of Paradise, and orange peel

Peach-Ginger Melomel
20 lbs. peaches, blanched, peeled, and halved
12-14 lbs. honey
1 oz. fresh ginger
The ginger will be adjusted to taste, but a little goes a long way in something as delicate as a mead. I'll be using a really nice white wine strain designed for lees aging to give a full mouthfeel and some nuttiness

Multi-Berry Melomel
12-14 lbs. honey
5 lbs. blueberries
3 lbs. dark sweet cherries
4 lbs. blackberries
1 lbs. dried currants
I have a version of this ready to bottle, and I've tweaked the recipe (the other one had strawberries and raspberries, which tend to take over flavor-wise). It's a really unique honey wine, with each berry taking a turn on the palate. I'll probably oak this one.

Comments are welcome, and I'll keep posting on the bitters as they will be ready relatively quickly.

jeff
06-20-2007, 10:12
Looks good. What yeast strain are you using for the saison? I used Wyeast 1214, which isn't a saison yeast per say, but I have seen it used quite often. My recipe was something like:

8lb pilsner
2lb belgian 2-row
1lb wheat
25 IBU Styrian Goldings
Saaz at flameout
Coriander
Orange peel
Grains of Paradise
Ginger
Wyeast 1214

How much pepper will you use? I'm interested in your results, sounds good! :yum:

TBoner
06-20-2007, 10:46
On this one, I'm using the Wyeast 3726 "VSS" Belgian Farmhouse Ale Strain that has been available for the past 3 months. In the past, I've used the 3724, which is their standard Saison strain, supposedly Saison Dupont's yeast. I really like it, but I'm always interested in trying new things. I figure I don't want to introduce too many other spices to the mix so I can see exactly what character the yeast gives the beer. If I like the results, I may try future recipes with spices and this strain. If you ever use the 3724, you'll find it gives quite a bit of spiciness and farmhouse funk without any additional flavorings, but I sometimes go for some anyway.

I've used peppercorns once before, and I used them at about the rate I do GoP, which is 2-3 grams/5 gallons.

TBoner
07-05-2007, 19:28
Unfortunately, due to rain, brewing beer outside has been a difficult thing, and I haven't gotten any brews done. I'm going to force the issue and boil in the garage if I need to next week.

In the meantime, tonight I've almost finished my bitters. I've strained the solids from the whiskey. The whiskey tincture is deep red, bordering on the color of a nice brown ale. Beautiful. Next I simmered the solids with 3 cups H20 for 30 min. Dissolved a cup of Demerara sugar in a pan and lightly caramelized it. Strained the solids from the water. Poured the lightly filtered tea into the pan with the sugar and stirred until all was dissolved. Simmered 3 minutes. The syrup is now cooling, and then will be added to the whiskey tincture.
I've got bottles on order with a sort of "dasher" built in to allow dispensing a drop or two at a time. It was either that or eyedroppers, and these mail order bottles were cheaper (and better for giving away as gifts).

I've also got the berry melomel going. I wound up using .5 gallons black cherry juice and a quart of blueberry juice in addition to what's listed. No blackcurrants.

I'll report back on the other brews.

And Jeff, per your proposal in another thread, if I can make it to KBF, I'm interested in bringing some homebrewed beer to share, and possibly some of my cyser (mead made with apple cider) from fall 2005 as well. I like the idea of getting several brewers to bring something.

Again, I'm not sure I'll come to KBF (pending my schedule for graduate school), so I'll post more when I'm certain.

Pastor Bourbon
07-06-2007, 22:42
Sorry for the ignorance; but does this produce something like Angostura Bitters or is it different again?

TBoner
07-07-2007, 07:42
It is a non-potable bitters along the lines of Angostura or Fee Brothers, yes.

Pastor Bourbon
07-12-2007, 08:05
By 'non-potable' do you mean it can't be kept for any length of time?

and ... if the answer to the previous question is: yes, then can you freeze it or will it keep in the refrigerator?

What are you using it for? Guess maybe I should read the article :)

TBoner
07-12-2007, 10:52
Sorry, non-potable's really probably not the best description. These bitters aren't drinkable straight. They will be used in dashes as part of cocktails (like Angostura, Peychaud's, etc.).

Pastor Bourbon
07-12-2007, 21:22
Sorry, non-potable's really probably not the best description. These bitters aren't drinkable straight. They will be used in dashes as part of cocktails (like Angostura, Peychaud's, etc.).
Thanx for the clarification. So does the recipe come out similar to Angostura Bitters or another; or is it something of it's own merit?

Phischy
07-17-2007, 14:39
14lbs honey? So it's really a mead, how long do you age it for? I'm homebrewing in San Diego and Ive got 7 5gal kegs and 4 3gal kegs w/ a 3 tap kegerator (2 5gals 1 3gal).

I was just in dallas 2 weeks ago for a wedding, the lack of microbreweries in N. TX just sucks.

TBoner
08-10-2007, 16:13
Right. Melomel is mead with add'l fruit. It'll age for at least a year before I drink it, and probably won't peak for a few years.

For the record, after my dog's death, I haven't been able to bring myself to brew (he was always around when I was brewing, and got homemade dog biscuits from my spent grains), so no beers have been made. The berry melomel is in the secondary fermenter, and I haven't gotten to the peach-ginger mel.

The bitters are outstanding, and go into most any whiskey cocktail I make.

Phischy
08-12-2007, 11:16
It's hot as hell in TX right now....where are you fermenting?

TBoner
08-12-2007, 12:03
Well, as I said, I'm not making any beer. Wine yeast is pretty tolerant of temperature variation, and it wasn't that warm in my house when primary fermentation was going on. If I make some beer soon, I'll be fermenting in the fermenting fridge I have in my garage. I override the thermostat, so I can keep the temp. anywhere between well below freezing and about 80 degrees.

Russellc
08-13-2007, 12:05
Well, as I said, I'm not making any beer. Wine yeast is pretty tolerant of temperature variation, and it wasn't that warm in my house when primary fermentation was going on. If I make some beer soon, I'll be fermenting in the fermenting fridge I have in my garage. I override the thermostat, so I can keep the temp. anywhere between well below freezing and about 80 degrees.
I am going to home brew and plan on a Fermintation fridge...how do you "over ride" the thermostate?

thanks, Russellc

Russellc
08-13-2007, 12:08
Right. Melomel is mead with add'l fruit. It'll age for at least a year before I drink it, and probably won't peak for a few years.

For the record, after my dog's death, I haven't been able to bring myself to brew (he was always around when I was brewing, and got homemade dog biscuits from my spent grains), so no beers have been made. The berry melomel is in the secondary fermenter, and I haven't gotten to the peach-ginger mel.

The bitters are outstanding, and go into most any whiskey cocktail I make.
I went through a similar difficulty after I lost my old yellow cat, who was ALWAYS part of the Bar-B- Que process....just wasnt the same for a while. I cooked out with that cat for 20 years!

TBoner
08-13-2007, 14:27
Russell,

You can buy a temperature controller, essentially an external thermostat with a thermometer probe inside your fridge. The most popular ones are from Johnson Controls and run about $60.
One piece of advice: buy a new fridge for your fermentation fridge. Low-end is fine. Basically, new fridges are so much more energy-efficient than the old, cheap (or free) ones you pick up off of friends, relatives, etc., that the cost savings on electricity pays for a new (cheap) fridge inside of a year.
I'm sure I'll get around to brewing again soon. It's odd. I don't think consciously about my dog when I'm making excuses as to why I can't brew on a given day, but the reality is, I love brewing and normally look for excuses to brew beer even when I've got 20 or more gallons on hand. I just miss my friend.

Phischy
08-13-2007, 20:33
I'd also go with an upright, in case you ever want to get a conical fermenter. I've got one of the mini-brew systems I picked up off of craigslist for a song.

You don't have to have a fermentation fridge, an igloo 70qt cooler and a bag of ice will keep the temps in the 60's where the yeast is happy. That's what I'm doing now, a lot cheaper but not as convient as 'set it and forget it'.

I'm about to do a hard cider for october.

TBoner
11-11-2007, 14:32
A couple of updates:

First, I made some homemade orange bitters, and they came out great. I like them better than the regular bitters I made (which are quite nice).

Second, I have brewed each of the last two Saturdays. Last week I made an Oatmeal Stout, and yesterday I brewed a Belgian-Style Wit. Both are to be kegged and served for my 30th birthday, which is less than a month away.

The melomel I made is now aging and awaiting oaking before bottling (probably in 6-9 months).

I have a cider and a cyser set to go. I will make both of them this week.

It feels good to be brewing again, and I look forward to enjoying the fruits of my labor. In the meantime, the run of big Belgians (saison, tripel, dubbel, strong dark) I did last winter is almost gone. I have half of the oaked strong dark (with raisins and brandy) left, but just a few bottles of the others. Nearly homebrew-free! Say it ain't so!