Archive for October, 2010


I had planned on brewing a couple of smoked porters last weekend but some meat got in the way.  I smoked a brisket and pork shoulder and the temperatures got a little low overnight so it took way longer than I had anticipated to finish. Regardless, the meat is delicious and we vacuum sealed and froze 80% of it so we will have some delicious pulled pork and brisket whenever we want now.  I also threw some kosher salt in a pan and put that on the smoker so we now have some smoked salt to use as seasoning.

What this all means for brewing is I will be finally getting around to the porters tomorrow morning EARLY and hoping to have them both done by noon in time for kickoff!!

Vodtennial Hopka

Several years ago I realized that if you steep chili peppers in vodka for a period of time, the vodka can take on the flavor (and heat) from the peppers you used.  As I was cleaning up a bit last week, I realized I had quite a bit of centennial hops (whole hops, not pellets) and a half empty bottle of vodka.  So, I decided to see if I could steep the hops to end up with a centennial flavored vodka.   I measured out about 500 ml of vodka and a 3/4 ounce of hops into one jar, and 700 ml and a 1/2 ounce of centennial hops into another jar.  I let these steep for 2 days and decided to give the first batch a taste.   The aroma was BIG with the grapefruit associated with centennial with a touch of alcohol.   The taste was slightly hoppy – only in flavor, not at all bitter, and fairly vegetal – probably due to the high ratio of hops to liquor.   Although it was vegetal, it wasn’t unpleasant.   I happened to have a lime handy so I gave a squeeze of lime to the taster, and it was actually quite nice.   The citrus of the hops went really well with the lime and seemed to tame the grassy flavor a bit.   I think I will try this again with a lower hop to liquor ratio (I assume it will take a longer period of time in that case) to see if that eases the grassy flavor a touch but maintains the hops flavor and aroma.  I think I have a couple other varieties in mind I’d like to try this with in addition to another attempt with centennial.


Sunday, I decided that I should do a little smoked malt experiment next weekend.   I have some of the cherry wood smoked malt that Briess produces.   I also have a smoker and a variety of wood to use with the smoker.   I decided on using apple wood and cold smoking some maris otter pale malt which I will use in a smoked porter to compare the two malts.  I ended up smoking my malt in two batches for an hour per batch.   I moistened the malt by spraying it with distilled water before putting it on and then again at 30 minutes, or halfway through.

In comparison, my malt is a bit lighter in color, which makes me wonder if Briess uses a hot smoking method as their grain is a bit darker, almost red looking.    The aroma is noticeably different between the two, with the Briess smelling a  bit more sweet, and candy-like.  I am still working out the recipe, but I think I will stick to using the same proportion of smoked malt in both batches regardless of how it seems like the malt will impact the beer (right now I am guessing the Briess will provide a sweeter flavor and a bit more pronounced smoke flavor as well).    That way, I can either adjust the smoking process or the recipe formulation later to increase/decrease the smoke levels.  I’ll provide an update in a few weeks with tasting notes & comparisons between the two.

Oktoberfest 2010

Well, it’s been a while.  Last weekend we had our 4th Annual Oktoberfest party.  The preparty Friday night was great as Jeremy and Krissy brought some Surly’s been too long since we had some of that stuff…Cynic, Hell, and Furious were all as delicious as I remember.   We also cracked into some of the sours as a preview to their parting gift of a case of mix & match sours.  There were a lot more beers that we never got to so they will just have to wait until November I guess.

Saturday, the usual food was served – bavarian pretzels, potatoes, kraut, and a variety of sausage provided by German restaurant we enjoy.   We served a nice variety of beer on draft including a berliner weisse, a sour blonde ale, hefeweizen, altbier, doppelbock, IPA, and a cascadian dark ale.  The kegs of alt, hefe, and IPA kicked and the rest were hit pretty well too.  I was sad to see the alt and IPA go as they were two of my favorites so looks like I’ll be brewing again here pretty soon.  I think everyone had a good time, it was a bit cooler this year than in years past so more time was spent inside with only a few games of bags played.   Also, people showed up later this year so we might push the start time back a bit for 2011.  I think for next year I may mix it up a bit with the beer too by lightening  up the doppelbock, and adding a smoked bock to replace the sour blonde.  I liked having the variety and we have enough sour beer in bottles for people who wish to try it so this would be a good way to add to the mix.

We did have one little mishap on Saturday…since the kegerator only fits 5 drafts, and we had 7 to serve, I bought the adapters for the taps to connect directly to the keg post and an adapter for the gas side to accept the small CO2 cylinders that are used for paint or pellet guns.   Well, someone tried to move the CO2 to the 2nd keg and started to charge, however the adapter wasn’t fully on the post so he blew the disconnect apart, launching a spring up into the HVAC duct.   It was quite loud and seeing the dent in the duct we were lucky nobody got hurt.   So then we had a little tutorial on how to work the charger and some fun at the brewery bomber’s expense.

The “party” continued Sunday with the gathering of the Packers/Bears fanatics lounging around and watching football waiting for the big game on Monday.  (and recuperating from Friday night and Saturday)   We had the usual fun tailgate with plenty of good food and beer while preparing for the Bears VICTORY later that night…all in all it was a close but sloppy game, just glad we came out on top this time.

And on Tuesday, we rested – well I did anyway.   I was so glad I took Tuesday off, that would have been a long day.   well, 51 weeks until the 5th Annual Oktoberfest party and it should be better than ever.