After several discussions, my simple, very naive meads went over well with Convergence group. I’d seen a recipe for Caramel Apple Mead prior to the weekend and it was lurking around in the back of my brain. I have an innate issue with mead — I do not know much about them, they are trivial to brew and they take a lot of time to age in comparison to beer.Ignorance is bliss. I will push further into the mead brewing process without worry. If a few people like what I produce, it cannot be all bad. Rather, I use those people as reinforcement and expect them to spit crap out when it turns out badly.
Fall and Winter are brewing seasons at my house. I do not worry about minute differences in fermentation temperatures. I just shift one room to be at the appropriate temperature for a few weeks. Or the whole house if I have multiple brews fermenting in tandem. The spring and summer are much more difficult seasons — I don’t use AC, a freezer, refrigerator, etc. I just pause brewing due to inappropriate temperature differentials.
The mead recipe is based off the one found on homebrewtalk.com. I do not plan to change the overall structure of the recipe. I may tweak it a bit, I may not. I am going to go full bore and actually brew a five gallon batch. My mind keeps saying that is far too much mead. My heart says it has great reviews, just do it.
Once I am committed to the recipe, I will add it in.
The crew finally settled on a beer recipe for the B&BBQ session on April 13th. Actually, Danny picked out one he wanted to try which will be quite challenging. The brew is Sonoran Black Ale with Mesquite-Smoked Malt and White Sage from a magazine subscription. I cannot recall the exact magazine but the overall grain bill is as follows.
For 5 gallons:
2.0 lb. Home-Smoked Pale Malt
3.0 lb. Home-Smoked Wheat Malt
1.0 lb. Home-Smoked Carastan Malt
1.0 lb. Home-Smoked Flaked Oats
2.0 lb. Pilsner Malt
0.5 lb. CaraMunich Malt
0.3 lb. Debittered Black Malt
0.5 oz. Chinook, 11% a.a. (60 min)
0.5 oz. Hallertau, 3% a.a. (10 min)
0.5 oz. Coriander seeds, cracked (2 min)
0.4 oz. White Sage leaves (2 min)
Belgian Wit or Wheat, Wyeast 3522 or Wyeast 3944 or 3942
Without the sage, the cost is about $30 including yeast. No real instructions were given for smoking the grains. From what I’ve read, the length varies depending on the pungency of the smokiness you want in the final product. Too much and it will end up tasting like an ashtray. Too little results in no discernible smoke flavor. I purchased an extra pound of pale malt so we can sample as the smoking process moves along.
The general process is to just wet the grains slightly (damp, not soaked) and place them on a stainless steel screen in the smoker. Then smoke for whatever time frame is desired. From my reading, smoked grains also require additional aging to allow the flavors to blend well. The recipe indicates 6-8 weeks. I allow most brews to age for 4 weeks before sampling. This one will be be ready in early summer. I am a bit wary of the end result. The brew could be a complete dud. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
Beyond picking the brew, Danny will be the pit master for the day. He’s ‘cueing up ribs with a ginger/pineapple glaze. Should be tasty. The rest of the crew will be on tap for some sides.
Should be a great time.
Tenkar had me at ‘Dwarven’ when he posted this find. The dwarf loving clansmen of my gaming group would appreciate this fine looking ale. Even the label art is fantastic. I can only wish I could sample a couple. Alas, Colorado doesn’t appear to have any local distributors and I’m wary of shipping beer. An exception might be made in this case.
The brew description sounds fantastic with a hearty meal…
Burdisson’s Dwarven Ale pours a rich brown with a hint of mahogany. The nose immediately picks up on the intermingling chocolate and caramel malts bathed in the fruity esters. The taste complements the smell, bringing out the depth of the chocolate and caramel malts. Smooth across the tongue with a medium body, ending with a dry but sweet finish… a surprisingly easy drinking beer given it’s apparent alcohol and dark appearance.
Interested? Check it out at dwarfbrew.com
Tentative date for the Fall Convergence is now slated for September 28th-30th. Although interest was present for a spring event, schedules and life didn’t allow for a gathering. Should be a good time even after a protracted delay. More news to follow once the group and gaming ideas are determined. Given the attendees, we’ll be headed back to Mount Evans if the location is available. Two fly-ins plus two locals make it Colorado oriented for this gathering.
The inaugural date for the Brew & BBQ gathering is occurring on April 13th. I will be hosting the event to demo my all-grain brewing set up. Considering I’ve only used it once, it should be an interesting day. Four individuals will be attending in addition to me with one planning on cooking ribs for the day while we brew up a batch of beer. Brewing, BBQ, and Bullshitting all in one day. Should be an excellent day.
Strangely both dates were set quickly. Convergence took 3 emails and a phone call. Couple more invites will go out for the Fall. Low probability those individuals can attend but its worth an email. B&BBQ took a single email and four replies. No cat herding involved. I like that.
The table build came together nicely today. Right up until I determined I need just a couple more plumbing parts. Of course, the missing bits are stainless quick couplers that I am unlikely to find without driving all over creation. Rather than waste the time, I just ordered them.
I finished up the minor electrical bits to add a switch to the pump. I was being brilliant and used an exterior box. As I was finishing the wiring, I noticed the motor for the pump isn’t sealed. Makes the sealed box somewhat pointless. Although, I believe I’ll add a splash shield above the pump at some point. I will splash, spill, or somehow send fluid onto the pump at some point.
In addition to the electrical, I installed the thermometers into the pump along with the false bottom for the mash tank. The plate chiller as mounted below the boil kettle as well. I’d completely missed the chiller in my back of the napkin plumbing diagram. That explained the missing plumbing parts.
I also need some quick couplers for the garden hose attachments for the plate chiller. Those I’ll pick up during another run to the hardware store. Cost is still below my original estimate for the build. A non-trivial outlay of cash but very close to what I expected.
I also ordered 3 flame shields for the front of the kettles. The thermometers need to be protected but the plates sent from Blichmann were a tad too narrow. Another $20 but the new ones can be permanently mounted. Loose bits get lost.
The picture also shows I really need to clean the
office garage soon.
More progress on the 3 position brewing table. I finally got back to working on the table yesterday afternoon. The dreaded work beast has been cutting into my free time in a large way.
I received the kettles about a week ago. First thing I determined is that I’d failed to account for the stepped edges. I knew about them but just failed to remember the fact during the assembly. After a tad more grinding and follow-up welding, the issue is resolved.
Rather than watching paint dry after the fix, I moved onto finishing up the plumbing for the gas distribution system. The burners are all propane and fed by 1/2 inch NPT black pipe. Input is a 3/8″ flare to 3/8″ NPT attached to a 3/8″ to 1/2″ reducing coupler. From there it feeds out to all 3 needle valves. I used flex tubing from the valves to the burners via 1/2″ OD appliance hookups. Attachment at the burners used 1/2″ flare to 3/8″ flare reductions and 3/8″ elbows to attach to the orifices.
Sounds simple in retrospect. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it all work. Aside from the flare elbows and the needle valves, I found everything at the local hardware stores. Lowes beat out Home Depot for having a better selection of flare fittings.
2012 is the year to begin brewing with all grain ingredients instead of extract. The first thing I needed was a three burner table. Fab began on December 20th. The main structure is completed. Plumbing for gas and liquid is up next.