Bubble, Bubble! Ferment Without Trouble!

I put a batch of Stout and one of Nut Brown Ale last Saturday. I am delinquent with brewing this year, so much going on and so many demands!Cabin June 2015 076 I have a few cases of bottles to sanitize this weekend in great anticipation of the fermentation being adequately accomplished. Late Spring through early Autumn is the only time I can do a brew as I don’t implement much heating or cooling in the cabin…whatever nature gives me for the most part. Hmmm, I’ll have time to put up a ferment of Porter and a Bitter this weekend after the bottling is done…maybe. We’ll see. It’s gotta last all winter and I do need a way to keep warm.

So I got a late start? Well I did put up two batches of mead (yeah, like the Vikings drank, fermented honey) and have them in the basement snugly aging. One was a classic dry mead and the other has plums in it – that’s got a special name I cannot for the life of me remember at the moment. Megathlin or some such. It was a mess to fool with.

The flavored stuff I’m dubious of, but the dry mead I’ve done before and there is no reason at all for it not to be superb in a year or two. Yes, into the next decade. Got to think ahead, you know. And there’s plenty of space in the basement.

Here’s to bubble, bubble ferment without trouble!

 

Labor Day Ale!

Yipee, 99 bottles of beer along the wall! Each of my cases holds 25 bottles and one case was shortseptember-ales-old-ale-can one bottle. No matter! In a couple of weeks I’ll have some fine Cooper’s IPA made with a mix of leftover light malt and some fresh wheat malt.

I also started a couple batches of Munton’s; there’s a York Bitter (YUM!) and an Old Ale, both done up with a dark malt. september-ales-mix-in-pailThe dry malt doesn’t look very dark in the picture, but I guarantee it’ll produce the inky brew I crave.

So, that’s 10 gallons this weekend and ten gallons more next weekend. That’s if I can scare up 99 september-ales-capsmore bottles…where they heck did I put them? I have vents that pop and pails with tops and a dapper Red Robin Capper, all waiting.

 

If I cannot locate the rascals, this is what I’ll end up with:september-ales-empty-case

 

The Last Batches

Nose flattened on the old grindstone, I got all my beverages bottled last weekend! Hooray! That’s three of the six-gallon merlot wine batches, a six-gallon Old Ale and a six-gallon Yorkshire Bitter. That came to 34 fruit juice bottles of the wine and 44 bottles of the ales. For the uninitiated, scrounging, cleaning and sanitizing all of those bottles is more work than making the stuff.Beer 001

That’s all for this year; in fact this is the latest in the year I’ve put any up. Cleaning and stowing all of the fermentation buckets, the bottling buckets, the airlocks and stacking the final finished good really drove the end of summer theme into my brain.

Fermentation does not need to end, though, as I am a fermentin’ fool. In the past, I bought plain yoghurt from the grocery as a starter. Those batches turned out okay even if a little soupy. I remember making a slobber-good coffeecake with some of that, but it wasn’t too toothsome for straight eating. This time I bought a dried starter from Adventures in Homebrewing and some unflavored gelatin for a more robust ferment and for help with thickening. It’s on the calendar for next weekend!

It’s the Thought That Counts?

 

blog june 064I’ve been hobbled with my brewing this year because of my muddy water, the tan tinge that makes me cringe. I had two buckets of ale in fermentation that needed bottling. For each batch, I figured I could boil the bulk of muddy water I needed for rinsing and soaking 50 some odd beer bottles, follow with a chlorinated rinse, and end with a rinse of the precious packed water. All was accomplished in the fullness of time. Then I had to fix supper.

So here I am on a steaming Sunday night, stubbornly committed to bottling at least one batch. Discovering I only have a dab of corn sugar in the entire house caused consternation. You put some of the powdered corn sugar into the wort (raw beer) just before you bottle it so it can ferment just enough in the bottle to make the foamy head all ale lovers adore. I could have split the amount, but decided I couldn’t bottle the Bock this week anyway. Oh Bock, poor Bock.

 

Beer 005After duly sanitizing the bottling bucket that same way I did the bottles, in went the corn sugar, stirred in hot bottled water to dissolve. Heave the full fermented bucket up and pour the wort into the bottling bucket, leaving the dead yeast sludge. As midnight came and went, I filled each bottle under the little red spigot, tipping the bucket to get the last little bit.

Beer 007

I have a Red Robin Capper – it sits on top of the bottle on which one has laid a new cap. Pull the handles down and it crimps the cap to the curvy lip of the bottle. Except for the eleven bottles with top curvy lips too thin for old Red to properly grasp. I vacillated between anger and despair. These were the bottles a friend donated from his Beers of the World party. They are not twist-offs, I know better then that. I could not see the difference in advance, but Red could.

I scrounged more bottles, went through the sanitizing rigmarole and finished nigh on 2 AM. I sure hope this batch turns out okay.

A Lament for Hopped Malt

I started a flirtation with fermentation as soon as my kitchen in the cabin became operational. I was, however, confined to yogurt (success), cheese (not worth the effort) and bread. When my alcoholic husband left, I felt free to try ale and mead.

I’ll save mead for another time (it’s better with age) and count off the merits of hopped malt.

Number One Merit: Quick and Easy

Clean equipment and sanitize it.

blog june 053Add one can of hopped malt to a 6 gallon sealable bucket.

Add about as much plain malt, liquid or dry.

Get a couple gallons of water very hot and add, stirring to disolve it all.

Top up to about 5 gallons with fresh, clear well water.

Stir in yeast.

Put the lid on the bucket. The lid needs a hole to plug in a bubbler vent to let the fermentation gases out in a sanitary manner.

Leave it to next week.

Pour it into a bucket with a spigot at the bottom, adding a little corn sugar for carbonation.

Bottle and cap.

Merit Two: It comes out consistently darned good!

Don’t drink too much at one time.

Notice no boiling, no array of esoteric ingredients, faster, fewer steps to mess up, no need for specialized tools.

Anybody says this is not brewing, I refute the notion with emotion. I say I don’t grind the flour but I still claim to make my own bread. I don’t milk the cow but I still make my own yogurt.

So now that I’ve gone on about how easy and generally great it is, why don’t we all go get some! Too bad, my usual supplier says the main manufacturers aren’t making this stuff anymore. It’s hard to find now, woe upon me. I did get an unsolicited email from a supplier I’d never heard of and they show they have most of what I had been getting for years. I’ll give them and try and hope I don’t receive cans close to expiring.