Tag Archives: trub

Beer Thoughts in a Time of Drought

One upside to living through the worst drought in the past twenty five years is that after a day of ferrying buckets of water to the plants you want to save a cold beer tastes mighty fine.  By the third beer, as the sun goes down, you even begin to forget that your grass is crispy and the dawn redwood you planted earlier in the summer is really having a hard time.  Ugh!

I was brewing a new batch of beer this past week.  As I was pouring the wort into the carboy, my four year old daughter stuck her head inches away from the carboy’s opening and asked, “Daddy, where’s the trub?”  Yep, my daughter knows about trub.  I am proud parent.

American Wheat

For a summertime treat I went back into my homebrew past to brew up a batch of American Wheat using an extract kit from Northern Brewer.  This recipe is the first one that I tried when I began homebrewing almost one year ago.

It’s my opinion that my skills have improved, but only the beer will prove that out:

Well?  I have mixed impressions right now.  My sinuses are burnt—a combination of the heat, allergies, and medication have left them somewhat desensitized—so nothing smells right.  A big part of beers is the aroma and this beer actually smelled burnt.  Literally, it smelled like burnt malt.  I cannot believe that is an aroma from the beer.

It’s easy drinking, which is good in a time of drought.

Patersbier & Mild Ale

The patersbier I brewed up a few weeks ago has been put into bottles and will be ready to drink in a couple of weeks.  One reason why I keep looking at a soda keg dispensing system is that it cuts out the bottle conditioning time.  There is nothing as bad as waiting for a beer to bottle condition.

One step that I skipped with the patersbier was secondary fermentation.  Since no additional ingredients were going to be added I just extended the time in primary fermentation and went right to bottles.  I am not a fan of secondary fermentation because it adds in the chance of contamination.  The color on this beer is very light.  It will be interesting to see how it looks coming out of the bottle.

Also in a carboy right now is a batch of mild ale.  This recipe is very light on hops.  It only calls out 1 ounce of U.S. Fuggle boiled for 60 minutes.

New Zealand and Australian Hops Arrive on the Scene

The more I brew the more I learn about hops.  Currently, the hop varieties from the Pacific Northwest seem to dominate.  How many recipes do you recall that spec out Cascade or Willamette hops?  Too many to count.  But, it looks like the folks from the southern hemisphere are looking to invade the U.S. beer scene.

New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager, reviewed below, uses Nelson Sauvin variety.  I could not tell you about that particular hop because my palate is pretty weak at discerning the individual notes.

The good thing about this invasion is that it brings more options to the table.  For the longest time I remember every craft beer that I opened being an exercise in restraining my gag reflex because the over abundance of either Cascade or Willamette varieties made me think I was about to drink day old bong water.  A lot of breweries have gotten away from that heavy hand, but the trend is still prevalent.  If you want to experience a blast of hops like no other check out Stone Brewing Co’s Stone Ruination 10th Anniversary IPA.  Not only is it heavily hopped, but it also clocks in at almost 11% A.B.V.  This is a “big” beer.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

New Belgium Brewery Shift Pale Lager

There are times when even the most disciplined homebrewer runs out of beer.  I was one such homebrewer this week.  I found myself facing ninety degree temps and nothing read to drink for almost a whole week.  What’s a guy to do?

Go to the liquor store of course, but this would be the first time in a while that I had made a purposeful trip to the beer section of my local Hy-Vee’s liquor department.  One nice thing about not having made such a trip in a longtime is that there were a lot of new options.  Most of the new stuff from the macro-breweries sounded pretty vile.  Lime-a-rita or something like that from the makers of Bud Light.  Joy.

New Belgium Brewery’s new Shift Pale Lager caught my eye.  When I buy beer I tend to gravitate toward styles that I do not make myself.  Lagers fall into that category because I have not gone to the trouble to devise a fully climate controlled fermentation system preferring the room temperature joy that is ale.

True to its name, Shift is pale in color:

The taste is anything but pale.  Apparently, the beer uses four different hops (Target, Nelson Sauvin, Liberty, Cascade).  The neat trick is that this beer does not taste overhopped like so many other craft beers.  Oh sure, you can taste the hops but the bitterness and aroma are there in the right amounts.  Unlike beers that are heavy handed with varieties like Simcoe or Amarillo, which seem to be the hops of the moment, the mix of four varieties produces something that is more complex than a one note daisy cutter on your palate.

This beer definitely fits into the “lawnmower” category that I do not find derogatory in any way.

It’s available in 16 ounce aluminum cans so it is venue friendly.  This is important in the summertime when the safety police outlaw the presence of glass bottles.

Olympic Beer Controversy

What is the official beer of the 2012 Olympics?  Why, Heineken of course!

Huh?  These games are being help in a country that is home to the Campaign for Real Ale.  A country that has a long history of unique beers is going to be serving pale Dutch swill for the ever so reasonable price of £7.23 or just over $11.  Nothing like laying down over ten bucks for a schwag imported beer in England.

What’s next, ordering a Bud Light under the shadow of St. James Gate in Dublin?

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First May Beer Thoughts

The AK47 light pale ale recipe will be ready for drinking this weekend.  I am really looking forward to comparing it to the Innkeeper recipe brewed previously.  I liked a lot of the flavor notes that the Innkeeper was hitting, but wished it was a little less aggressive on the hops.  The AK47 will definitively be less aggressive on the hops since it starts out with 1/3 the hops in the recipe.

Mad Scientist

I really feel like a mad scientist when I brew beer.  I spend an hour and a half peering over the edge of the boiling kettle with a long handled spoon pouring various ingredients into a bubbling mixture.  Ingredients are added at certain times like a potion master in Harry Potter.

After it cools down for a bit, I pour it into a specialized vessel, add yeast, and wait for a few weeks.  Voila, flat beer.  A little sugar and a couple more weeks in bottles…bam, drinkable and carbonated beer.  It’s alchemy.

Even more amazing is that most of the beer turns out pretty good.  Only a handful of batches in to this hobby and I feel like I am making real good progress toward mastery.  Granted, I probably just jinxed myself by saying that and will have several batches turn out the love child of Natty Light and Colt .45.

Here are some of the things I find amazing about the whole process.  Within about an hour of adding the yeast and sealing the carboy, this is what the fermenting wort looks like:

Crazy, isn’t it?  Within 48 hours it looks like this:

The krausen is forming and the wort is in active fermentation.  Damn, this is alchemy.  Where did I put that lead?

Irish Red Ale

The latest kit that I brewed up was an Irish Red Ale from Northern Brewer.  The recipe is nothing too crazy or different from previous recipes that I have brewed.  I was just looking to try something a little different and see how some other ingredients played together.

It seems that almost trivial variations in certain ingredients can have a major impact on the final product in the bottle.  How is a guy every to figure this all out?  Oh wait, drink more beer.  Got it.

California Common

The California Common extract ale kit is almost out of the carboy.  It will be bottled this weekend—no firm date because all plans are weather dependent as in “if it is nice, I get to mow the lawn” weather dependent—and ready to drink a little after the middle of the month.

This is the first kit that I have brewed that takes longer than 4-6 weeks from boil to bottle.  The wait has been a little maddening and, in some ways, I kind of forgot that the carboy was in the basement.  I was adding up the bottles from my two most recent kits and realized that I needed to increase the amount of beer I would have on hand by 50% because of the California Common.  Ooops.

Trub and Spent Grains

I tend to think that brewing beer at home is efficient.  I do not produce very much packaging waste—bottles are reused, no cardboard carriers for six packs, waste is recycled when possible, and what is left over does not amount to much more than a few plastic bottles that have to be recycled.

Two things I do have left over in somewhat copious amounts are trub and spent grains.

Spent grains are the leftover organic matter from either steeping grains in extract brewing or the many pounds from partial mash and all-grain methods.  One difference between the spent grains from just steeping versus the mashing of an all-grain setup is that a lot of the sugars do not get released in a ferementable form when merely steeping.  So, I do not know if the spent grains from my brews would good in recipes like these.

I filter my wort through a fine mesh strainer before aeration and fermentation, so there is also a little pile of green goop as well:

Trub is the nasty slime left at the bottom of a carboy when fermentation is complete and you have siphoned off beer for bottling.  The step of pouring my wort through a fine mesh strainer prior to aeration and fermentation leads to less trub.  I find that getting a lot of the hop matter out before fermentation leads to cleaner flavors, which I like.  Here is the trub from the last batch of AK47 pale ale that I bottled:

Unlike Australia or New Zealand, I am not about to use the trub as a basis for a tasty spread on biscuits.  Sorry, but a Vegemite sandwich does not sound appetizing.

So, what is a guy to do?  The compost pile comes to the rescue.

This “waste” is ready made for the compost bin.  It is already broken down into small pieces or a nice ooze in the case of trub.  Mixed in with the rest of my compost bin scraps it should make a nice addition to the future garden food.  Next year I am hoping to build a hop trellis and grow my own backyard hops for brewing.  This will help me “close the loop” on my beer supplies.

Between my coffee and beer habits I should have a nice base for a well-cooked compost pile.

April Showers and Beer Thoughts

It’s rained for the past couple of days and the temps have hovered around 60…perfect weather for cooking a casserole or two and drinking some beer.  The last of my organic American Ales are gone which leads me to

The Innkeeper

The Innkeeper extract ale recipe kit is done bottle conditioning and is being poured into glasses:

The clarity of this brew is amazing.  It is almost commercial quality.

The ale is light and effervescent.  The hop aroma is strong, but the flavor profile does not have the bitterness associated with a beer that got three ounces of hops.  Personally, if I were to do this recipe again the hops would be reduced by one-third to only two one ounce additions.  It would reduce the pretty powerful aroma without changing the profile of the beer too much.

I am also thinking about trying variations of this recipe with organic ingredients and different hops.  Homebrewing just leads to experimentation.

AK47 Ale

The Ak47 extract ale recipe kit is out of the carboy and into bottles.  It will be interesting to see how such a mild kit in terms of hopping comes out compared to the Innkeeper, which had three 1 oz hoppings at different times during the boil.

California Common

The California Common is still fermenting.  It’s really interesting to have a beer be in the carboy for so long.  I was watching to krausen in my AK47 carboy and listening to the occasional bubble escape from the California Common’s airlock.  Just enough to let me know that the odd combination of lager yeast at the lower end of ale temperature is still in process.

The only frustrating part of brewing something that takes this long is that the anticipation is killing me.  It makes me want to get a keg system so that I can force carbonate the beer and not have to wait two weeks to enjoy while it bottle conditions.

Olvalde Ode to Russian Shipwright Porter

Here is a beer that will really knock your socks off:

Earlier, I had written about Olvalde’s Auroch’s Horn and the Ode to a Russian Shipwright is the next beer from this great little brewery in southeastern Minnesota.

Imperial stouts are big beers.  Like, be ready to sit down and enjoy this beer over the course of an evening in small glasses big.  Ode to a Russian Shipwright is no different.  These are not lawnmower beers.  Drink with caution, but make an effort to try it.