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Racking Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout

Equipment for racking

Equipment for racking

Racking time for Yooper’s Gingerbread Oatmeal Stout. Because there is trub, grated ginger, spices and half a vanilla bean in the mix, I’m filtering out any bigger particles with a santized nylon mesh bag. I tied the bag onto the tip of the siphon’s tube.

Filter bag tied in place.

Filter bag tied in place.

The racking went smoothly. I was considering bottling today; however, I though I saw a bubble in the airlock after I finished racking and sealed the new container. I’m going to give it some more time, just because I don’t want to rush it.

I did take a hydrometer sample and the SG is actually below the regular stout that I already bottled. A little nervous about that, but there is more going on here that can account for it. The original version finished at 1.019 and the gingerbread version is at 1.016.

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

Hydrometer sample. 1.015 @ 70F=1.016

The color is a little light for the style, but not a problem for me…it’s not going into a competition. The clarity looks pretty good. Currently, the aroma is strong fresh ginger. The flavor is initially dominated by the fresh ginger, too. The flavor turns more gingerbread in the finish. It’s not sweet…which is good. I didn’t want to create a sweet beer. I believe there is potential for a nice brew here. I think the ginger will fall back with age and bottle conditioning and allow the vanilla and other spice notes to come through.

Sippin' sample!

Sippin’ sample!

A little more trub in the bucket than I expected…smell was amazing, though!

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

Trub, ginger, spices, vanilla bean half.

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After Christmas Update on Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout

Well, had a great Christmas! No wort chiller, though. I guess I’ll be doing ice baths until my birthday! I did get an attachment to my KitchenAid mixer that juices stuff, so maybe it will help with ciders? Definitely will be usefull for sauces and jams/jellies.

So, Yooper’s Oatmeal Stout chugged for a few days. It never hit the blow-off tube, but was working away nicely. It’s pretty quiet now, so I’m switching out the tube for a regular airlock. I’m thinking that this batch will be in primary another week and then I’ll go to secondary. I’ve started the supplies for the 2 gallon gingerbread  to get them in the refrigerator, so the gingerbread spices will have time to sanitize in the vodka and the vodka will have a chance to extract some of the flavors.  I have combined the following:

1 tsp. powdered cinnamon

1 tsp. powdered ginger

1/2 a fat Madagascar Bourbon vanilla bean, split and scraped (seeds and pod added)

15 grams fresh ginger root, peeled, grated (weight after grated)

50 grams unsulfered molasses

1/2 cup vodka

Wow. Very definite gingerbread flavor! Now, if I guessed an appropriate amount for 2 gallons of beer, it should be really good!

Because I’ll be introducing a little molasses, the fermentation will likely start back up briefly and a small increase is alcohol will happen, between fermentation and the vodka. It probably won’t be much, but it will be interesting to see.

I also have a little 1/2 gallon batch of cider going. It has stopped fermenting and settled. I’ll rack that sometime in the next few days and let it finish clearing…or will I add something to flavor it? We’ll see. Only a couple of dollars in it.

 

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Interlude: Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

While I’m waiting for the next step in my home brew cider odyssey, I am indulging in a single bottle of Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale. While I am not the beer gourmand that I once was (meaning I used to drink a lot more beer), I do appreciate a good craft brew.

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale

Here’s where I spill the beans about my beer epiphany. In the Summer of 1983, I took a 6 week trip to Germany with my future wife. We stayed with her parents, who were living in Stuttgart for a couple of years. Up to that point, my experience with beer was pretty limited and basically was your typical binge and purge college experiences with Miller Beer. And then I arrived in Germany. West Germany, at the time. The regional beer was Dinkel Acker and my first one was a revelation in unpasteurized flavor and hops.

Eventually, I learned that there were, in addition to the regional beers, local beers that were specific to even the smallest town. I also learned that a 1/2 liter beer in one town, was NOT necessarily the same in the next town over. Where I am from, there was a limit of about 5% alcohol in beer. One could drive to a neighboring state and purchase beer with a slightly higher alcohol level, but none of it was particularly good. In Germany, the beer did not have a standard alcohol percentage . It varied from beer to beer, without warning! Sometimes I could drink a liter and have a small buzz; while other times, I would a 1/2 liter and have a serious buzz going! And it all TASTED GOOD!!!

My understanding is that it wasn’t until 1978 that Jimmy Carter signed the law that allowed legal home brewing. Is that widely known?! I’m no Jimmy Carter fan, but he DID have one major accomplishment as President! By 1983, the “micro-brew” phenomenon was still in its infancy in the United States. After only 6 short weeks traveling West Germany and visiting surrounding countries, I returned to the United States and, at some point, bought a six back of Miller Beer. I almost did the comedy classic “spewing of the beverage” when I took my first swig. Had someone switched my beer with a bottle of dog urine?!  I couldn’t drink it! (Sorry, Miller Beer.)

Over time, as budget permitted, I would seek out imported beer that was, while pasteurized, still very good. Eventually, the micro-brews started taking off. Home brewers were finding a new audience and stepping up. Soon, even the beer giants started offering some more flavorful beers. I did settle into a regular domestic that was okay and affordable and I drank plenty of it. Then, the doctor said that needed to stop! So now, I rarely have any alcohol and never more than one serving. But could that serving be more worthwhile? Well, craft brews are numerous now, but they can be pricey. What could be more affordable? One look at the internet and you will see that home brewing is still VERY popular and there are people who are seriously absorbed by it!  After an initial investment of about $100 to $150 though, basic brewing really isn’t too hard and the actual ingredients make home brewed beer fairly inexpensive. (I’m hoping my town will have a brew shop soon! Until then, I’ll drive the 15 miles or so to get my supplies.) I was actually pretty happy without alcohol; however, an abundance of crabapples has led me down the path to brewing. (I have all the jelly and crabapple butter I need for the next year.)

While out and about today, I came across the Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale, brewed in Easton, Pennsylvania. Since I just cooked up several quarts of pumpkin puree and have been reading a bunch of brewing forums lately, it caught my eye. So, while I am far from a gourmet who is qualified to critique someone else’s product, I do know what I like.

At $3 per bottle, it's all about quality, not quantity.

At $3 per bottle, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Technical points aside, since I wouldn’t know what I was talking about; I like this Weyerbacher Ale.

It’s a little bitter, but not overpoweringly so. It’s a pretty color and has a nice aroma. I guess I get the spices a little, but they aren’t assertive. I don’t know if actual pumpkin was used in the process, but I get the overall idea.

Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.

Nice color on the Pumpkin Ale.

Did that sound pretentious enough? Well, at $3 per bottle, I felt obligated. Anyway, this ale is something I would like to replicate sometime in the future with a brew of my own, just a little less bitter. Okay…enough for tonight. I think I’ll drink the other half of my beer and hit the sack. (My tolerance has really dropped over the last few years!)

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