Saturday, October 27, 2012

Goldilocks' Chocolate Stout

Grabbed a all-grain chocolate stout kit from the brew shop (forgot the grain bill _again_.)  8.5 lbs grain = 11 liters = 3 gallons @175 F.  Added the grain and it was too hot.  Dropped some ice in and it was still too hot.  Dropped some more ice in and it was still too hot.  Dropped about a quart of tap water in and it was too cold.  Boiled the kettle and poured it in - 3 times! - and it was still too cold.  4th kettle and it was close enough (148 F) that I started the timer while boiling it one more time.  Bloody hell!

The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the first batch of ice did the job, and I didn't stir well enough or wait long enough for the thermometer to register the change.

Aaaaanyways, the low grain bill is in part because we add 10 oz dextrose, an 12.5 oz lactose.  I'm also adding 3.15 oz (90g - 1 wheel) of Mexican drinking chocolate, finely ground.  All of that went in the wort.

3/4 oz UK Challenger (AA 6.5%) @ 1 hour.
1/4 oz UK Challenger (AA 6.5%) @ 15 min.

initial SG 1.040

Sourdough Baguette

Baking appears to be at least as much chemistry as cooking, so I thought I'd better take notes as I'm experimenting with a new (to me) recipe.  Here seems as good a place as any.

Laur gave me a sourdough starter, and I'm playing with it.  Starting from here, making some adjustments based on the adjustments that worked for my other baguette recipe, and some from a page Laur gave me on making sourdough sourer.  Keeping the adjustments small to start, figuring I can tweak more later once I've seen how well it worked.

Fed 60g of starter (down 5g, for extra sour) with 70g water and 70g flour.  Using Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour throughout.  I was supposed to let that sit for about 6 hours according to the recipe - I gave it more like 15, because I didn't feel like doing the second step at 1am.  We'll see if that matters, but the be-more-sour guide recommends lengthening and slowing the growth stages, so I think its all to the good.


600g flour
187g starter mix (200 less the scrapings in the bowl, down a bit for extra sour)
400g water

into a shaggy mess in a bowl.  (I'll try this recipe in the bread-maker later, but I want the by-hand version to compare it to.)  Sit for ~25 minutes to autolyse without the salt (which I've never done before.)

Knead for 5 min.  Realise I've forgotten to add the salt before kneading; add 15g salt (up a bit for retarding yeast growth at altitude) and knead for 30 sec more.  Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for an hour.

Fold the dough over itself a dozen times.  Cover with a towel and let sit on the counter for an hour.

Fold the dough over itself a dozen times.   Cover with 2 layers of plastic wrap (opposite directions, so it can rise without exposing itself) directly on the surface of the dough.  Put in fridge for 12 - 24 hours.

Ohhhhhhkaaaaay.  Didn't rise.  At all.  How is that even possible?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Still More Ham

Hanging ham in the Tomb.

Day late, but hung the ham today.  Thorough rinse in cold water, followed by white wine vinegar, followed by wrapping in still-wet muslin that had soaked in the vinegar for half an hour.  (The muslin, as near as I can tell from most sources, is to keep the flies off.  This shouldn't be necessary here, and I have seen photos of people drying their hams in open-weave mesh bags, but I figured safer was better than sorry.)  Cellar is currently 55 degrees F and 61% humidity.
Cheesy meter came free with Time magazine, but it seems to read reasonably accurately, as double checked against local weather reports when its outside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Ham

In my somewhat-hurried research, I found basically two different ways to salt the ham.  One is to completely bury it in salt, and put weight on it.  This makes the pressure omni-directional, which is good for squeezing out the liquids, but it has some drawbacks: 1) you need to rig up some way to drain the liquid off, 2) working around the bone - to keep it from supporting the weight and keeping the meat from getting pressed - can be difficult, and 3) it takes a heck of a lot of salt.  The alternative method sounded much easier: coat the meat in salt and loosely wrap it in plastic, and press it under weight.  But the pressure then becomes kind of focused; it presses down from above instead of in from all sides.

So I went with a multiple stage solution.  First I coated it in salt, put it in a trash bag, and poked some drainage holes in the bag.  Then I set this in a roasting pan to catch the runoff, put about 12 pounds of weight on it, and put it in the fridge for 3-4 days, draining the pan occasionally.  Then I took it out of the fridge and put it in "the tomb" - the beer cellar under the garage, which stays at a pretty constant temperature of 60 F.  Here I had a bit more room, so I put a beer keg on top of it for more weight (~10 lb. keg + 5 gallons of beer = ~50 lbs.)  Lots of liquid poured off over the next week or so, and I resalted it a few times too.  During this phase I checked the humidity in the room, and its actually holding steady at about 60% - largely because of the pork juices sitting in the pan, I imagine.  Still, this makes me think leaving a pan of water in the room will be enough for the hanging stage, when Flagstaff's natural 25% humidity is really far too dry.

Yesterday was the first time I'd gone for 24 hours without really having any liquid to drain off, so this morning I transferred the ham, wide-end-down, to a food bucket with a layer of salt in the bottom.  Then I coated it with another thick layer of salt, before filling the rest of the bucket with a bag of rice in a plastic bag and a few cans, with salt packed all in around it.  The bag of rice and cans just being to take up room, so I didn't need so much salt.  This allowed me to fill salt almost all of the way up over the end of the ham bone, and then put my 50 lbs. of beer back on top for weight.

Notes from Nik and my other sources put this salting stage at anywhere from 2-4 weeks, and I figure overdoing it is better than underdoing it.  We'll see what I need to do for drainage and how much liquid continues to come out of it - I'm guessing that I'm going to have to end up drilling holes in the bottom of my food bucket.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Making Ham

Inspired by the stalwart efforts of the Sydney ham-making crew, and Dr Nik's lurid tales of ease and success when he visited us recently, I decided to try to make a ham.  Not a wet ham, in the usual American sense, but a dry ham like the concentrated prosciutto-like awesomeness we had in Spain on our recent trip.  But where to get a pig leg?  (All together now) "Off a pig!" *boom-tish*


This may require a little back-story.  In Flagstaff we have a lot of hunting, because of the surrounding National Forests and their teeming over-population of elk.  So we have businesses like Dennis' Coconino Game Processing, who take your elk and turn it into steaks and burgers.  But we also have a lot of what I can only describe as hippies (and I include myself in their number); only hippies of a perhaps more practical bent than their usual stereotype.  And these folks support a nascent but thriving local foods industry, spearheaded by Jonathan over at Local Alternative.  If hippies and hunting sound like a weird mix, well that right there is one of the many things I love about Flagstaff.

Anyhow, I mentioned wanting to get my hands on some fresh local pork to Jonathan at one of the monthly supper club get-togethers down at the pub, and he pretty much signed me up on the spot for a quarter-share in a 600-lb. pig, and a hog-butchering / meat-cutting class he had organised, taught by Dennis.  So today I went on down and got me just about the freshest leg of pig that it is humanly possible to obtain, in order to make my ham.

The class was awesome.  A local cheese-maker had been raising 6 hogs off of his whey, and they were big handsome beasties indeed on that diet.  Dennis showed us the initial skinning and butchering on one, Which ends you up with a pair of these:

and then that needs to sit in his cool-room for 2-3 days to get down to a usable working temperature.  So he wheeled out the one he butchered 3 days ago, and showed us how to turn it into these:
mmm... bacon.

Along with some chops and sausages that we took directly from the sausage machine to the BBQ for lunch, and which were, frankly, some of the tastiest sausages I have ever eaten.  Then we dropped by the store on the way home and bought like 30 pounds of salt (which turns out to be complete overkill - from the recipes I could find you don't so much pack the ham in a bucket of salt as cover it in salt and press it, refreshing the salt as necessary.)  So we took this guy:
who weighed in at 13.75 pounds, and seasoned him with pepper and crushed garlic, and then packed him in a whole bunch of sea salt
and wrapped him loosely in plastic.  (Again according to my various readings, the plastic shouldn't hold moisture in, but it should hold the salt against the pig.)  My various sources differ on whether it needs to be refrigerated at this stage.  I find it unlikely - given that ham predates reliable refrigeration by some number of centuries - but as it also predates public health standards, I've gone with storing it in the fridge for the first couple of days at least, until the salt has time to work some preservative magic.  I've got it under 12 pounds of weight (see?  that extra salt wasn't useless after all) for now, but I think I'll increase that later.

I should mention that most recipes I found specifically called for a pig leg with the skin on, and we had already skinned this lad by the time I worked that out.  So the whole thing may be a horrendous waste if that turns out to be a deal-breaker.  Only one way to find out!  Not sure how long to leave it, but the consensus seems to be at least 2 weeks before hanging it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Weasel Piss IPA

Camping last weekend we discovered a huge stash of wild hops growing next to our camp on East Clear Creek.  I collected a bunch and went in to the brew shop to ask if anyone knew anything about them.  "Yep" quoth our resident brewmeister, "tastes like cat's piss."  Well that's a bit of a let-down.

But hey!  Am I or am I not an alumni of the Festival 24-hour Alcoholic Porridge?  Did I not help to mash up the grapes of Sulphuric Lemming Juice with my own two hands?  Do I not share a lineage with Fine Banana Wine?  Should I let mere taste, expertise, and certain disappointment dissuade me from trying a thing?  I think not.

So I bought an all-grain American IPA kit, without the finishing hops.  I forgot to get a grain bill - I'll try to remember to ask tomorrow - but the last time I did one it was:

11.5 US 2-Row
8 oz. Carapils
8 oz. Crystal 40

(which can't be right, as this only came to 11 lbs.)  Mashed with 4 gallons at 152 F.  Sparged at 168 F to 6.5 gallons.  Boiled for 1 hour with:

1 oz. (dried) US Magnum (14.7% AA, 6.7% BA)

because a little research told me fresh hops aren't as good for bittering (and a random breed wasn't likely to have much acids.  Selfsame research tells me that fresh hops should be used at roughly 6 times the weight of dried, So I used:

3 oz. at 5 minutes
3 oz. at 0 minutes

(Roughly half the amounts of finishing hops used in the last American IPA.  But it was all I had, and sheesh but it was a pile of hops.)  Cats Piss, as my brew-shop-guy described these hops, turns out to be a duly trademarked name of about half-a-dozen beers.  Thus I dub thee: Weasel Piss.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Double Shot: Best Bitter and Brown Porter

I've never tried doing two brews at once before, but I was really getting behind on the brewing (or possibly ahead on the drinking; I blame Doctor Nik) so I'm giving it a try.  It makes for some logistical fancy dancing, as my brew kettle is also usually used at various other stages for heating water, and I've only got the one real fermenter (but I've got this old carbouy that I used for the wine...)

Brew #1 is a re-make of the Best Bitter that I did recently.  It came out nice - simple and crisp and appropriate for the season somehow.  Using the same kit as before.  Forgot to get a grain bill, but it weighed in at about the same starting weight, so here's what it had last time, but with the acid levels on the hops updated:

5 lbs. UK pale malt.
1 lb. Munich.
8 oz. UK crystal 145
4 oz. special roast.

1 oz. UK Fuggle (4.8% AA, 3.1% BA) @ 60 min.
0.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.8% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 60 min.
0.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.8% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 10 min.

More acid in the hops, and my wort temperature dropped down a bit low, so we'll see how that changes things.
Brew #2 is a Brown Porter  Also failed to get a grain bill - came in at about 9.5 lbs.

1.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.8% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 60 min.
0.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.8% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 10 min.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Barley Wine

18 lbs. 2-row.
1 lb. Crystal 10.
1 lb. Crystal 90.
8 oz. Special-B.
2 oz. Chocolate.

~7 gal @168 F. = 1:15 @ 152 F

2 oz. Chinook (11.1% AA 3.1% BA) @ 60 min.
1 oz. Cascade (5.0% AA, 6.0% BA) @ 15 min.
1 oz. Cascade (5.0% AA, 6.0% BA) @ 5 min.
1 oz. Cascade (5.0% AA, 6.0% BA) @ 1 min. 
1 oz. Amarillo(9.3% AA, 6.1% BA) @ (fermentation slow; days)

initial S.G 1.062

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Bitter

Best Bitter whole grain kit from the brew shop.  Bit light on grain, so predictably low SG and presumably low alcohol.

5 lbs. UK pale malt.
1 lb. Munich.
8 oz. UK crystal 145
4 oz. special roast.

1 oz. UK Fuggle (4.2% AA, 2.5% BA) @ 60 min*.
0.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.3% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 60 min*.
0.5 oz. UK Kent Golding (5.3% AA, 3.2% BA) @ 10 min.

* lost track of the time; may have over-boiled this.

1.028 S.G. orig.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chico Stout

Based on the Sierra Nevada Chico Stout, apparently, which I have never had, so that doesn't mean much to me. Guy at the brew shop said it was very popular at their latest tasting, and that its a fairly standard "American-style" stout. I don't know what that means either, but I shall write it down, in case it comes to mean something later...

8 lb. American 2-row
2.5 lb. Munich
1 lb. Black Patent
11 oz. Crystal 60

4 1/4 gallons H2O @ 152 F
Sparged to ~ 6.5 gal @168 F

1 oz. Columbus (AA 13.9% BA 5.0%) @ 60 min.
1 oz. Cascade (AA 6.4% BA 5.9%) @10 min.
2 oz. Willamette (AA4.9% BA 3.5%) @ 0 min.

Yeast: WLP001 American Ale yeast.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pale Ale (again)

Making this recipe again. Its not, as this badly-kept-up-to-date blog would imply, the first beer I've made since the last batch, but I don't remember what-all the others were. We _did_ however, just finish drinking the last batch, because I had a few things cellaring at once, so it got a good 9 months worth of keg aging. Don't know whether it was the aging or the recipe, but it was darn nice, so I'm making more.

Sort of. Didn't get a SG reading last time, so I can't match that. Nor did I write down AA ratings on the hops, and they were out of Centennial so I'm using Chinook. We'll see.

11 lbs. 2-row pale malt
0.25 lbs Crystal 20L
0.25 lbs Crystal 90L
1 lb. Munich malt

1 oz. Amarillo Gold (AA 9.3% Beta Acid ? 6.1%) @ 60 mins.
1 oz. Cascade (AA 6.4% Beta Acid ? 5.9%) @ 10 mins.
1 oz. Chinook (AA 11.8 Beta Acid ? 3.0%) @ 10 mins.
1 oz. Cascade (AA 6.4% Beta Acid ? 5.9%) @ 0 mins.
1 oz. Chinook (AA 11.8 Beta Acid ? 3.0%) @ 0 mins.

Initial S.G. 1.040
Final S.G. 1.004