Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cider? I Hardly Knew Her!

Always kind of wanted to try a cider from scratch.  And since our good friends Kelly and Jason turned up on our doorstep with 20 gallons of apples from their tree, it seemed a good time to get off my butt and actually give it a try.  Found a link online with some hints on how to make a cider press from a car jack, and tweaked it to work with the bits I had available.  There's not a lot to say, really; just a series of photos in progress:

Chopping apples, with an appropriate tool


Smashing chopped apples, also with an appropriate tool

Muslin and nylon mesh; various sources suggested either for filtering, so I used both

Bucket in the press

Car jack pushes on 3/4" ply disc

Jack's a bit short, so used a wood block to extend it's reach

Presto; juice!
Original SG: 1.054.  Which would be respectable for a beer...Pitched Red Star Cotes des Blanc dry wine yeast, with some nutrient booster, both stolen from Bill who is a much better-prepared brewer than I.  Thanks Bill!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Mark II MartiDNA: This Time with Presentation

Still making them with blackberries and pineapple, but the first version was, as reported, a bit too bacony (it hurts me physically to type that phrase...)  So if I need grease for the effect, but don't want an overpowering flavour, I'm going to go with ghee; whipped some of that up - always fascinates me to watch the layers of the butter settle out.  (Also, forgot to mention in the previous recipe that it should sit 5-10 minutes after the grease is added and before the pineapple.)  Swapped to gin to make it a proper martini - yes, all right, the raw DNA probably disqualifies it, but gin tastes better - garnished, and got it out of the test tube.  The Vermouth was left out more because we don't have any in the house than from any great religious strictures as to dryness.

Enjoy with a side of geeky card games and puppies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

MartiDNAs - the Recombinant Cocktail

Name's going to need some work...  but lets see what it tastes like first.

In my bioinformatics lecture today we discussed extracting DNA, and the fact that you can do it in your kitchen.  Sounds like fun!  It includes a source of DNA - strawberries, particularly, are mentioned - a splash of salt, a blender, an enzyme to break down the proteins - meat tenderiser is suggested, but pineapple juice is listed as a possible backup - and some alcohol.

Tell me I'm not the only one who's thinking that sounds like a pretty reasonable cocktail.

Two potential problems.  The alcohol they suggest using is 70-95% isopropyl or ethyl.  They don't give me any reason to believe that the type is important, but its possible that vodka will be too dilute.  I'll have to try it and see.

Harder: there's a stage I skipped, in making this sound like a cocktail recipe; mixing in detergent to break down the cell walls.  Not too keen on detergent in my martidna.  That page suggests that grease might work as well, but Dr Caporaso wasn't sure (and I'm not really sure I want bacon grease floating around in my martini-glass either...)

To the Experimentiser!

Cocktails... For Science!

Armed and dangerous; no strawberries to be had, so we're going with blackberries.

1 cup blackberries
1/4 tsp. salt.

Blended, strained, and split in half.
Half gets 1 tbsp dish detergent.  Half gets 2 tbsp bacon grease.  Bacon grease on the left, control with detergent on the right.
Two test tubes filled 1/3 with each mixture, for 4 in total. White Labs yeast containers make the best test tube shot glasses ever!  Small amount (~1/2 tsp?) of fresh-blended pineapple added to each.  (It didn't say how much to use, but it's as an enzyme, so I guessed I didn't need much.)  Stirred gently.  One tube of each type floated in 70% isopropyl, the other in vodka.  DNA gently drawn up with a stirrer.
 Control #1: 70% isopropyl, and detergent; do not drink!  DNA is subdued but clearly visible white cloud.
 Control #2: Vodka and detergent; won't kill you, but _I'm_ not tasting it.  DNA is, if anything, far clearer, though I may have just stirred it better.
 Control #3: 70% isopropyl and bacon grease; do not drink!  Additional visiblity almost certainly due to better light for the photo.
 Vodka and bacon grease: safe to drink and DNA still clearly visible.  Success!
 Verdict: drunk layered - the only way you can see the DNA - it tastes like straight vodka.  Add an olive and wave some vermouth in the general direction of its shadow.
 Drunk blended - because why waste all that fruit - it tastes... a bit much like bacon, to be honest.  Next time I'll use less fruit, in a proper martini glass, and leave it layered.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Black IPA Take 2 Espresso Shots and Call Me in the Middle of the Night

Yeah all right; the last thing this beer needs is to get more complicated.  But I was bored, so I chucked a couple ounces of coffee in, just for giggles.

Grain Bill:

10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US Grain
2 lbs Rye Malt Grain
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
10 oz Special Roast
5 oz Blackprinz
5 oz Carafa I

(Half-and-half on the Carafa and Blackprinz - mostly because that's how much Blackprinz I had left.)

5 gallons at 170, iced to 152.  Dropped a bit again it was 148 with 20 minutes left, so I topped it up with boiling to get it back to 150.  Batch sparged at 168.  Used a siphon to get it into the brew kettle (normally I just drop-pour from countertop-height.  Makes less mess, and probably preserves temperature better, but it makes it hard to tell when its running down and needs a new batch.

60 min .75 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
45 min .25 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
10 min 1.0 oz Cascade [6.4% AA 5.9% BA]
10 min 1 tsp Irish Moss
5 min 1.0 oz Citra [14.1% AA 5.9%]

2.5 oz. fresh-ground coffee, as it went in the cooling bath.

Initial SG: Totally forgot to take it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Black Rye IPA take 3

Grain Bill:

10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US Grain
2 lbs Rye Malt Grain
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
10 oz Blackprinz
10 oz Special Roast
2.0 oz Carafa I

(So substituting 10 oz. of  Blackprinz for most of the Carafa.)

5 gallons at 165 was about perfect, if not a smidge low - read the initial temp as 152 but I usually don't lose any and it was 148 when I finished.  Which makes me wonder about that last run taking so much ice to drop the temp...  Batch sparged at 168. 

60 min .75 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
45 min .25 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
10 min 1.0 oz Cascade [6.4% AA 5.9% BA]
10 min 1 tsp Irish Moss
5 min 1.0 oz Citra [14.1% AA 5.9%]

Tried using the new cooling coil and it was a cluster from start to finish: couldn't keep the cold water running through the coil.  Clearly, engineering will be required.

Initial SG: 1.052
Final SG: 1.006

The huge difference between initials between this run and the last - with essentially the same grain bill and apparatus - makes me suspicious, and I caught myself wondering if I read the wrong side of the thermometer.  52 C (my thermometer doesn't have the third digit written on...) would be about 126 F, which would explain why the last batch needed so much cooling, but then I'm wondering if I would have got as _much_ SG out of the last one if the temp was _that_ low.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Black Rye IPA take 2

The last time I tried this recipe I accidentally grabbed a bunch of the dry hops when I kegged it, which led to the keg lines getting clogged with hops, and having to open the lid on a pressurised keg of beer, with ensuing shenanigans.  Still, I saved maybe half the keg, much of which got drunk flat, and still kind of liked it.  So I'm giving it another go.

I haven't brewed anything in almost a year, since the local homebrew shop shut down.  It takes so much more organisation when I can't just pop down of a morning and be brewing some suggestion from the brew shop guy an hour later.  But since I was getting organised in advance, I decided to do something I've wanted to do for awhile; make the same beer several times in a row, with minor variations.  So with the helpful assistance of Bill, who picked up my supplies on a run down to Prescott, and lent me his mill, we're going to do this a few times.

Grain Bill:

10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US Grain
2 lbs Rye Malt Grain
1 lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L
12.0 oz Carafa I
10 oz Special Roast

(Note the Carafa III got converted to the much lighter Carafa I, because that's what they had - though I did get some of another substitute that will be part of the experimentation.)

Never actually milled my own grain before, so that deserves a picture:

With my anemic little 12v battery drill...
With Mike's industrial strength Torque-mada.  I'm sure there's a horribly macho metaphor there, but if you're doing your metaphorical with that much torque, you're doing it wrong.
5 gallons at 170 - my usual mash water for this much grain - was still WAY too hot.  Had to dump tons of ice in it to drop the temp down to 152.  Next time drop to at least 165.  Batch sparged at 168. 

60 min .75 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
45 min .25 oz Warrior [15.4 %]
10 min 1.0 oz Cascade [6.4% AA 5.9% BA]
10 min 1 tsp Irish Moss
5 min 1.0 oz Citra [14.1% AA 5.9%]

Initial Gravity: 1.044 (not a great yield for that much grain...)
Wyeast 1065 American Ale pitched at 80F.

Fermentation took a mere 4 days - blowing the lid off once - but was down to 1.002 and quiet so I reckon it was at least mostly done.  Transferred to the secondary fermenter on the evening of the 30th, and added:

1.0 oz Cascade [6.4% AA 5.9% BA]
1.0 oz Citra [14.1% AA 5.9%]

in a hops sock.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pig Too!

The second ham is up, and this time we tried our brand-new smoker on it. 
 Its a hot smoker, which isn't _really_ the right tool for the job; the bit we've cut so far has lost that lovely red color and looks more like cooked pork.  Might have to smoke it at a lower temperature next time, but the start on the lowest setting wasn't making any smoke.  Still, it tastes great - here with a bit of homemade sourdough, from the starter that Monet gave us - thanks Monet!