Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well I'll Be a Monkey's Dunkel - Let's Get Crackin'

Well, It's finally that time..... I think everyone has waited long enough for the final update...  :)

Time to crack open a much awaited home brew.  Yep, 15 days after bottling it's time to finally take a taste.

So here is a bottle.

and here is a glass.....

And here is the traditional way of drinking it in the "hefe" style (with yeast) by rolling the bottle on the counter (or bar) to mix it all up.

Then you make a long pour into a glass and admire the beige head...

None of that white foam on this my friends, for this is the the darker side of weizen...

Once it subsides a little, top off the glass.

Tip it back and enjoy.....

I was a little disappointed at how fast the head subsided though, I must not have gotten enough protein in the mash to stabilize the head... Not that there should be so much as to interfere with drinking, but it should be a little more stable than it was....  Also, I was hoping it would be a little darker.  I was fooled by how dark the malt extract was, but I was thrilled with the "hit" of elderberry flavor.... it definitely had the "twang" I was expecting.... Unlike blonde "hefeweizen" there is NO lemon needed on this one... ;)

The recipe is below, in all it's glory, as I originally wrote it... though I have fleshed out the directions a little bit... I originally used a Brewer's Friend Template which is really a collection of labeled tables.  You can give it a shot, if you would like, but I am going to make a couple alterations and give it another shot... But first, I think a little more "tasting" is in order, to ensure my alterations are in the best interest of this brew.

Yep, this is some SERIOUS research...  LOL

I'll Be a Monkey's Dunkel

ElderWeizen (Dunkel)

8 oz Munich Malt
8 oz Wheat Malt

7 lbs 50/50 Barley and Wheat Malt Extract

1 oz Liberty Hops AA rating 5.2 - 60 minute boil (bittering)
1/2 oz Saaz Hops AA rating 5.1 - 15 minute boil (flavor)

1 1/2 cups Elderberry Juice

Yeast - White Labs - WLP 300 (German Weizen Yeast)  pitch @ 75 degrees

OG 1.059
EG 1.013

Heat 1 Quarts water to 130 degrees.
Add grains in mash bag and hold temperature at 120 for 15 minutes. (Protein Rest)
Meanwhile in a separate pot, heat an additional 3 quarts of water to 170 degrees.
When Protein rest is complete, add 2 cups of 170 degree water to bring the temperature up to 150. Apply low heat and hold this temp for 30 minutes for the Beta-Amylase to work.
After 10 minutes, add 2 more cups 170 degree water to raise temp to between 158 & 162.
Hold temp for 15 minutes to allow alpha amylase to work.
Remove grain bag and stretch over secondary brew pot, pour the malty water through the grains.
Pour the remaining 2 quarts of water over the grains as well, to sparge them.
Add an additional 3 gallons of water to the brewing pot.
Begin heating until water reaches 170 degrees.
Slowly stir in the 50/50 Malt syrup  and continue stirring until temp reaches 190 (this will ensure that the syrup doesn't settle on the bottom of the pot and burn)
Bring to a boil and add the Liberty hops (in a hopping bag)
Boil for 45 minutes, then add the Saaz hops (also in a hopping bag).
Boil for an additional 14-15 minutes.
Kill the heat source and remove the hops from the kettle and into the carboy funnel.
Sparge hops with cold water.
Chill brew kettle in an ice bath or by using a wort chiller (your choice)
When the wort reaches 160 degrees, stir in the elderberry juice with a clean spoon.
When the wort reaches 75 degrees, siphon into the carboy, splashing the wort as much as possible to incorporate oxygen.
Add additional water if necessary to fill carboy to the 5 gallon mark.
Take Specific Gravity reading and record.
Pitch yeast and cap the carboy, roll it back and forth on the floor to disperse yeast through the wort.
Connect blow-off tube and let set until Kraeusen....
After Kraeusen (blow-off) replace tube with fermentation lock.
Rack into clean carboy after 1 week, Check Specific Gravity, replace fermentation lock.
When fermentation is complete, record final gravity reading.
Boil 1 pint Water with 1 1/4 cup Wheat malt for 5 minutes.
Siphon beer into fermenting bucket for bottling.
Prime beer with boiled syrup.
Fill bottles and cap.
Let beer age for 2 weeks in bottle, then enjoy with gusto!!!

Cin Cin!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

United Kingdom of Shortbread - English Toffee Scottish Shortbread

When I said "'Tis the season" in my last post, I was referring to the season for beverages of good cheer.  Sadly, 'tis also the season of the flu.  (sigh)  Even more sadly, my sister-in-law has it.  Since I am unable to share her own Hot Buttered Rum recipe with her, I decided I would make her something to facilitate a quick recovery so she can partake of the good cheer.  ;)

There are several food related remedies for the flu.  Of these, Chicken Noodle Soup is the best known, however, Matzo Ball, Miso Soup and Hot -n- Sour Soup work wonders as well.  But, there is something that works equally as well, if not better.  It's truly good for whatever ails you.  A nostrum of epic power.  A sovereign specific, if you will.


Yes, shortbread (OK, and Rolo Cookies, but were are going to focus on shortbread right now).  The eggless elixir vitae, the panacean pastry, the catholicon cookie, that wafer of wonder.  Yep, Shortbread.

I wanted to do something a little special this time.  Partially to thank her for giving me the awesome Hot Buttered Rum recipe, but also because she really LOVES shortbread cookies and I have made simple Scottish Shortbread for her many times before.  Since I had been toying with this idea for awhile now, I decided it was time to stop contemplating and get to implementing my master plan for Scottish Shortbread made with English Toffee chips and Irish Cultured Butter (sort of a United Kingdom of Cookies).  Laced with Celtic Grey Salt, or course. 

Thus it was that I embarked upon shortbread-dom to banish the fiendish flu. 

This is the simple 1-2-3 Scottish shortbread recipe I posted last Christmas, though the method is slightly different due to one simple addition, Heath English Toffee Chips...  YUM.

UK Shortbread

1 tsp Celtic Grey Salt
4 oz Granulated Sugar
8 oz Kerry Gold Irish Butter (Unsalted)
12 oz Unbleached Flour
4 oz Heath English Toffee Bits

Place Butter, Sugar and Salt in a mixing bowl.

Cream together until light and fluffy.

Slowly work in the Flour until a crumbly dough forms.

Add the Toffee Chips and work in with a spatula (it works better than the mixer does)

Place on a large piece of waxed paper.

Press the crumbly dough into a log.

Roll the waxed paper around it and roll on the counter (this seems to work fairly well)

Remove waxed paper and wrap in plastic wrap, then refrigerate for 4 hours.

When you remove the dough from the refrigerator, begin preheating the oven to 325 degrees.

Slice into 1/4 inch slices and lay them out on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the bottoms begin to brown but the sides are still pale.

Leave the Shortbreads on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes to give the hot toffee bits a chance to cool a little bit, cause they are gonna be REALLY hot and REALLY sticky.

Move to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Serve with your favorite herbal tea.

or just eat them one by one....YUM!

Yep, my sister-in-law be 'right as rain' in no time.  :)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Butter Me Up - Hot Buttered Rum

'Tis the season... Or at least it WILL be very shortly.

My final post regarding the Dunkelweizen has been postponed till Saturday or Sunday.  Which is kind of depressing, cause I thought I had timed everything fairly well.  Alas, the yeastie beasties aren't reading any of my blog posts, thus there were not quite with the program.  (sigh)

In keeping with the spirit (no pun intended, then again, maybe it was) of things laced with good cheer, I decided it was time to release my Sister-in-Law's recipe for Hot Buttered Rum.  OH my, but is this is some seriously GOOD stuff!  I have seen a lot of recipes out on the net and they all seem to use ice cream. Which I find a little odd; not that they are not tasty, cause I have had them, but there is always something not quite "right".   Granted, when using ice cream the eggs are not raw, but you will be using it in an alcoholic beverage that requires boiling water, so I am pretty sure that salmonella is not really an issue. 

I remember my first hot buttered rum, down at a cafe called The Metro on Broadway in Portland, many, many, many, many moons ago...  Did I mention there were MANY moons?  I don't think that the Metro even exists anymore; which is a shame, because they also served some phenomenal mulled wine during the winter season.  It wasn't just the Metro though, there use to be a Trader Vics in Downtown Portland back then as well.  They served a pretty great Hot Buttered Rum too.  Ah, so many a cold night was kept warm via Hot Buttered Rum.  I even remember being able to buy "Trader Vics" Hot Buttered Rum mix in the store.  Sadly I have not seen it in a long time, but I am digressing.

One of the things that I remember (one of the few thing) from those Hot Buttered Rum nights was the Molasses, Spices and Butter.... No vanilla and No "milkiness", which is what you get when using Vanilla Ice cream to make your mix.  Thus, when my sister-in-law showed me this recipe I was really excited.  No Vanilla Ice Cream...  Simply Eggs, Butter, Sugar and Spices.... AWESOME!   Granted I tweaked it, cause I have this insane need to do such things, but it was more of a... "Hey, ya know... I like those flavors, so I should add this too"  kind of thing.   LOL

One thing I will say is that the Brown sugars are interchangeable.  It really depends on what rum your using.  For White Rum, I would suggest a 50/50 split (1 lb Golden and 1 lb Dark).  If you use Golden Rum like I do, then the 75/25 is good, which is how I wrote the recipe.  If you are using Dark Rum, I would suggest ALL golden brown sugar...   Just a suggestion, you are the only one who knows what your molasses threshold is.  ;)  Cheers!! 

Hot Buttered Rum

1 lb Unsalted Butter
1 1/2 lb Light Brown Sugar
1/2 lb Dark Brown Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp All-Spice
1/2 tsp Clove
1/4 tsp Mace
optional 1/4 tsp Orange oil

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy.

Add both Brown Sugars and cream until light.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until emulsified before adding the next.

Add the spices and continue beating.

Add the Orange oil and continue beating.

Continue beating... And beating.... And beating... Cause the longer you beat it, the better it will be.

Store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use (it can be frozen as well)

Boil some water on the stove.

Place about 1 - 2 TB of the mix in a coffee mug.

A pinch of Salt (Seriously, it sounds odd, but you really need something to balance all the sweetnessBesides, It's good luck, so throw some over your shoulder while your at it)

Add hot water (about 5 oz) and stir until the mix melts.

Add 2 ponies (2 oz) Rum and stir again. (or just eye-ball it like I do)

Serve with a cinnamon stick.

Cin Cin!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Well I'll Be a Monkey's Dunkel - The Gravity Of The Situation

Sadly, my Let's Get Crackin' post will be delayed...  One must remember that the process of making beer involves a living creature... Yeast.  Sometimes yeast just takes a little longer than you think it is going too, so you must wait...   I had hoped that the bottle conditioning would only take 7 days... Alas, it seems that it will take 10. 

In the meantime I wanted to talk about WHY the seeming obsession with taking the Specific Gravity.

The Short answer is that, without Gravity readings you have no idea what the alcohol content of your beer is...   Not that it may matter to some, I mean come on, beer is beer, right?  But there are other reasons to monitor the Gravity of your Wort that will assist you in decided when to bottle your effervescent nectar.

When you measure the specific gravity of the wort at the beginning, you are measuring the amount of dissolved substances in the water, mainly malt sugar, dextrins, hop resins and amino proteins.  This changes the density of the water which normally has a specific gravity of 1.000 at 60 degrees F (15.5 C).  Thus, using my own Original Gravity reading of 1.058 means that it is .058 denser than water.   Yeah, that doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot, but it will be necessary later.  Trust me.

The next issue is that I did not measure Specific Gravity at 60 degrees, for the wort would have been too cool for me to pitch my yeast.  I took my reading at 75 degrees, so I need to adjust my reading... For every 10 degrees in temperature need to add .0012 to the Gravity reading.  Since I took mine at 75 degrees I need to add .0018.

1.058 + .0018 = 1.0598
I know, it still doesn't really mean anything, at least not until we convert this to degrees Plato... Plato is the measuring unit of the Balling scale.  It allows us to compute the amount of sugars dissolved in every 100 grams of wort as a percentage.  There is a simple calculation for obtaining the degrees Plato.  1 degree of Plato is equal to 4 "brew points".  The brew points I am talking about are the points behind the decimal in your Specific Gravity reading (.0598).  Thus, 1 degree of Plato is equal to (4 x.001).  

.0598 / (4 x .001) =  14.95 degrees Plato

Now you know that every 100 grams of Wort contains 14.95 grams of Sugars (14.95 %).  The reason to do this is if you intend on checking your Malt Extraction and Attenuation calculations, but I am not going to get into those right now.  (you may now breathe a sigh of relief)  LOL

Getting back to Specific Gravity... When racking, you need to measure the specific gravity again.  This is to see if the fermentation is complete.... Most Ales will be finished when the Gravity reaches 1/4 or 1/5 of the original Specific Gravity reading.  Since the Dunkelweizen had an initial reading (Original Gravity or OG) of 1.0598, I was looking for a reading of between 1.014 and 1.011 so I will know that my fermentation is complete.(Expected Gravity or EG)

.0598 / 4 = .014   or   .0598 / 5 = .011

When I racked the Dunkelweizen, the Specific Gravity had only dropped to 1.016 at 70 degrees, thus being 1.0172 (1.016 + .0012 = 1.0172).  I knew the yeast were not finished converting my wort into viable beer and they needed at least another week to finish the job.

Finally, after 1 more week, the beer reached the Expected Gravity of 1.012 at 70 degrees (1.0132) so I knew it was time to bottle.

Now the fun part...   Alcohol has a lower gravity than water, so when you take the subsequent readings, as the number reduces, there is more alcohol in the beer.  When you take your final reading (mine was 1.0132) and compute the difference between the Original (OG) and the Ending (EG) you can calculate alcohol content by weight.

1.0598 - 1.0132 =  .0466 Difference

.0466 X 105  = 4.893% alcohol by Weight

Now since we know that alcohol is lighter than water, we can compute the alcohol by volume as well with a little more multiplication.  1.25 milliliters of alcohol weighs the same as 1 milliliter of water, so our volume content calculation becomes....

4.893 X 1.25 = 6.11% by Volume

I know, I know, I'm talking about brewing beer and suddenly it became a math lesson.  Sorry....

But now you know why taking Specific Gravity readings are crucial.  Not only for computing the alcohol content of your brew, but can assist you in gauging when your beer has completed it's fermentation AND help you compute your ability to extract Malt sugars from Grains.  If you are finding your sugar contents are too low you may need to change your extraction procedures.

Cin Cin!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Well I'll Be a Monkey's Dunkel - Primed and Ready.... To Bottle That Is

So we have reached the point where fermentation is pretty much done.  The majority of the yeast has flocculated and settled out, the beer has been siphoned off into a new carboy to continue fermenting with the remaining yeast and the CO2 production has slowed to a crawl.

This scenario means that it is time to bottle the beer.  Granted it would be a lot easier and less time consuming to Keg the beer, but one would need to invest in said keg (cornelius kegs being the easiest to deal with) and a tapping system for said keg and more than likely some form of refrigeration for said keg to keep beer cold.. Blah blah blah blah.....

Bottling is less expensive and though more time consuming, more attainable for most of us.  Granted, you will need bottles and bottle caps as well as a bottle capping device.  This still represents a slight investment, being the caps and a capper, but if you drink beer already then you have a supply of bottles.  Just don't turn them in for the 3 cent refund.  You can remove the labels, and run them through the dishwasher and voila!  Bottles.   Just be sure they are NOT the twist off cap type.

In order to Bottle, or at least the way my brother does it, you will need a "fermentation bucket" or some such container to move the beer to.  Most fermentation buckets have a spigot, it is to this spigot that you will attach the filling hose.  (I know, more equipment)  The bottle filling hose has a special fitting on the end, you insert the hose into the bottle and press the end against the bottom. 

This allows the liquid to flow, as the liquid flows it creates very little agitation and thus incorporates very little or no oxygen into the finished beer (cause at this point, oxygen will just oxidize you beer and make it taste weird.)  When the bottle is full, simply raise the hose off of the bottom of the bottle, and the flow will stop.... Super easy...  and no mess.

BUT before we can begin bottling, you need to get those bottles clean.... Soak them in iodine solution, even if you ran them through the dishwasher.... They MUST be sanitary.  You can dry them by throwing them back in the dishwasher and running them through the dry cycle.

Boil your bottle caps in a small amount of water for at least 5 minutes.

Now you can siphon the beer into the fermenting bucket.....

And attach the sanitized filling hose (you remembered to sanitize this as well right?)

Take your last gravity reading (I sear this is the last one).  The Dunkelweizen reading was 1.013 (I will explain the mathematics in my next post)

Now take a moment, grab a beer glass...  Pour the liquid from the gravity test into it and admire the color of your beer....   It's OK to feel proud of your accomplishment.... Just a little more patience and you can drink it....

Now you are going to have to "prime" the beer before you can bottle it. This adds more sugars back into the beer and allows the the yeast that are still around to produce more CO2 and alcohol.  It's not so much the alcohol that your after time, but CO2. (Unless you like flat beer)  And yeast produces a lot of CO2

In order to Prime the beer for bottling you will need to make a malt syrup (or you can use corn sugar).  I chose Unhopped Wheat Malt as my priming sugar (after all, this is a wheat beer and I had already added hops during the boil)

The generally accepted ratio for the syrup is 1 pint of water and 3/4 cup corn sugar or 1 1/4 cup Malt for a 5 gallon batch of beer.  if you like your beer a little more fizzy I have head you can add up to 1/4 cup additional Malt, I am not sure how much more corn sugar you can add before you beer explodes.

So boil the syrup on the stove and let it cool slightly.

Pour this syrup into the beer,

Then give it a gentle stirring (remember, no bubbles or you get oxygen)

OK, Now you can fill bottles.

Simply slide the bottle onto the filling hose and press.... Fill the bottle ALL the way to the top before stopping the flow... When you slide the filled bottle off the hose, you will have the perfect amount of head space.  (remember the hose is displacing some of the liquid while filling)

Place a cap on the top of the bottle....

Crimp it down with the bottle capper.....

Place it in a box, upright....

Once you have filled all the bottles (I got 48) move them to a warm spot..... Now your beer will be ready in 7-10 days... preferably 10 though.  At only 7 days, there may still be some "green" flavors in the beer.

I know this seems like a long journey, and a lot of waiting... But your patience and perseverance will be rewarded.  Trust me.

Stay tuned for the final installment....   Let's Get Crackin!!

Cin Cin!!