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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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.

  2. #2
    Administrator in exile
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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!
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  3. #3
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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.

  4. #4
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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.

  5. #5
    Taster
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    Sorry for the ignorance; but does this produce something like Angostura Bitters or is it different again?
    "One Scotch, One Bourbon and One Beer!"

  6. #6
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    It is a non-potable bitters along the lines of Angostura or Fee Brothers, yes.

  7. #7
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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
    "One Scotch, One Bourbon and One Beer!"

  8. #8
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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.).

  9. #9
    Taster
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    Quote Originally Posted by TBoner View Post
    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?
    "One Scotch, One Bourbon and One Beer!"

  10. #10
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    Re: My Bitters Project and Brew Schedule

    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.

 

 

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