Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do you like beer?

Do any of you guys like beer? I'm not asking if you like IPAs or Stouts. I said beer. It just seems that most people will say they like beer, but when you talk to them further they really only like a few different kinds of beer. Not only do I see people on this forum bashing the american light beers, but also the premium mass produced beer (Blue Moon, Amber Bock, Killian's, etc). Then there seems to be homebrewer's who have a very narrow style of beer that they like (IPAs, Stouts, etc.) It seems to me a little misleading to say you like beer, when really you can't stand 99% of the beer produced. It would be more correct to say you don't like beer or more better, that you don't like most beer, but there are certain kinds you like. Imagine if someone said they liked pie, but didn't like cherry, banna cream, coconut cream, strawberry, blueberry, punkin, or peanut butter. You then ask what kind of pie do you like? And they say that the like Apple pie, but only the way Grandma makes it. If that's the only pie you like, I wouldn't say you like pie, I'd say you like apple pie when Grandma makes it.

The funny thing is that it's not just people who like the craft beers, who are picky, but even the light beer drinkers. I spoke with someone a couple of nights ago that liked Coors light, but not Miller lite. As if it makes a huge difference.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I like beer. I can't think of a beer I wont drink. If I'm at someone's house and they offer me a Miller lite, I'll drink it and like it. I like Miller lite less then some of the more specialty beers, but I can enjoy drinking one. My favorite part about drinking Miller Lite is that since I never buy it, if I'm drinking one it's free.

There are also the mass produced premium beers (Killian's, Amber Bock, Blue Moon.) This I enjoy a lot, and I'll even spend money to buy them.

There are some more specialty and mircro brews that I like as well: Three Philosophers, Magic Hat #9, Fransacaner, Chimay, Two Hearted IPA, DogFish head.

I like many different styles of beer: stouts, IPAs, Weizen, Bock, Porter, Pilsner, etc. I can't think of a style or class of beer I don't like.

I don't think my love for beer makes me undiscerning. I still think that some beers are better then other. Depending on my mood I may prefer one style of beer over another.

How about you do you like beer?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bottle Shock

Sunday afternoon, my wife and I watched this movie called Bottle Shock. It's based on a true story. It's about a competition between the French wineries and California wineries. A British wine snob, wants to prove that the French wines are better. So he organizes this competition, with expert wine tasting judges. They do a blind taste test and to everyone's surprise, the California Winery wins. Here's the trailer:

The movie is about Chateau Montelena. You can read about there story here. I thought the movie was pretty interesting. I always thought of the French wines as the high end wine, and the California wine as something you pick up for $7 bucks at the grocery store when your being cheap. It's nice to know that California can hold it's own as far a wine making goes. I'm makes me want to bust out singing a country song.

The name of the movie "Bottle Shock" refers to the effect on wine after being jarred, shaken, or otherwise handled roughly. One might think that this is some "wine snob" myth, or that it only affects high end wines or that it can only be detected by people with an elite pallet for wine tasting. I was surprised when I noticed this with my blueberry wine. The bluebury wine was so smooth when we tasted it. We bottled it, and then opened a bottle a day or so later. The wine was still good, but not quite as smooth. It had a distinctively noticeable harshness that wasn't there before. The effect of bottle shock does go away if the bottles are allowed to rest for about a month.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bottled Magic Hat #9 Clone

Sunday afternoon we bottled the Magic Hat #9 clone. As seen in the photo, we even had a Magic Hat box to put the beer in. I was a little worried about this one because it was our first mini-mash and our mash temperature was too high. I tasted it and other than it tasting a little green, there wasn't any off flavors. We'll see how it turns out in a few weeks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What have we made so far?

I just thought I'd post a list of the stuff we've made so far.

Cooper's lager
Raspberry Wheat
Westmalle clone
Cooper's IPA
Irish Stout
C-4 (My own recipe)
Wheat (with coriander and orange peel)
Blackberry Wheat
European lager
John Bull's Dark
Another Raspberry Wheat
Magic Hat #9 Clone

I think our favorites have been the fruit wheats and the bocks.


Blueberry wine
Australian Shiraz
Blackberry wine
Pinot Noir

The blueberry wine is the only one that's ready to drink and it's pretty good. We'll see what our favorite is.

This guy added potassium sorbate instead of yeast.


How does a person mix-up potassium sorbate and yeast? Potassium sorbate kill yeast, right? So you might think that this guy made himself $150 grape juice. Guess again. He actually was able to save his wine and he learned a lot about potassium sorbate. Apparently potassium sorbate is more effective the higher the alcohol content. So it take more to prevent grape juice from fermenting, then it does to prevent wine from fermenting.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just finished putting together the Pinot Noir

bought Vinters Reserve has a new California Pinot Noir. I got it from my local brew store a couple of weeks ago. I had some time tonight so I put it together and took some pictures of the process.

This is just a picture of the box and the empty fermenter.

This is me pouring in the juice. At this point, I'm not very happy. I realized I made a big mistake. See that green curtain beneath the counter. I was suppose to remove that before starting. I didn't remember until after I spilled the grape juice on it. My wife made it herself and she not going to be happy. I'm trying my best to get the stains out.

Notice how the curtain is gone in this photo. I'm just rinsing out the juice bag.

I got a OG of 1.084 @ 24 C. I know some people will cringe at this, but I poured the juice back in the fermenter. I sanitized the cylinder and the hydrometer. I know some people don't recommend this. But that cylinder holds almost a glass of wine. A couple of hydrometer checks and I'm out a half bottle.

Now I just have to wait for the yeast to do there thing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How I got started Brewing.

Back when I was in college, I head about people who made beer at home, but I never really looked into it. Honestly, I wasn't that much of a beer fan back then. I was just starting to acquire a taste for it. Then a couple of years ago I came across this store that sold beer making equipment. Theresa was with me and the store owner let us try some of the beer he made with the kits and it was really good beer. I really liked the idea, but I didn't want to spend the money. Then last summer I started researching it on the Internet. I saw all these video of guys brewing beer. They were making double batches with 20 pounds of grain and had large kettles outside. I thought there's no way I can do that. I don't have the space for all that equipment. I heard them talking and it was like a foreign language: sparging, sparge water, mashing, wort etc. It sounded complicated, difficult, expensive. There's just no way I can do all that. Then I came across this video This guy from Canada shows how to do it the easy way. He used what I now know as a no-boil kit. Basically, he took a can of concentrate added water, sugar, and yeast. The best part is he did it right in his kitchen and basement. No giant kettles outside. No messy grains. No hops. Everything right in a can. This completely changed my thinking about brewing. Now that's something I can do.

So I save up some money and ordered a kit. I started with the Coopers kit. What I liked about the kit is that it has everything you need to make a simple batch of beer. A lot of kits don't give you the bottles or the ingredients. Coopers came with the bottles and the ingredients for my first batch of beer.

So I made my first batch of beer, and it felt like I did everything wrong. The pot boiled over on the stove making a huge mess. I found out later that you don't really have to boil the “no-boil” kits. Then I poured the wort into the fermenter and forgot to close the tap. Beer started leaking all over the counter. I didn't cool down the wort long enough, so I had to wait for hours for it to cool in the fermenter. At about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, it was still too hot, but I didn't want to wait any longer, so I threw the yeast in and went to bed. The next day I got up and heard the sound: blup, blup, blup. It was fermenting! Theresa told me later, that she thought there was something wrong with our pluming.

Then after a week, we bottled the beer. Cooper's kits come with these carbonation drops. It's basically just pre-measured sugar in the size of cough drops. You put two in each bottle. Then you fill the bottles and put the caps on. I tore up my hand screwing caps on (they were plastic bottles). Then came the hard part, waiting till the beer was ready to drink. In the end the beer turned out alright. Sure it wasn't the greatest beer ever, but it was beer! Since then my wife and I have ventured out to more complicated styles of brewing.

Bottled the Shiraz

Last night Theresa and I bottled the Australian Shiraz. The picture shows us with our bottles. I love the labels. They look so nice. I can't wait to try some.

Hi everyone. I'm starting this blog so that I can share what I'm doing with beer and wine making. My wife and I started brewing beer last summer. Then we got into wine making. We're so excited about it and I wanted to blog about what I'm doing. The picture shows where all the magic happens -- right under our kitchen table! It's a 36" table and we have one fermenter and two carboys. In the front fermenter is a blackberry wine. In the back right is a Magic Hat #9 clone beer. The back left is an Australian Shiraz. This proves you don't have to have a lot of space to make beer and wine.
In future posts, I want to talk about other things we have made and explain the brewing process.