Raspberry Porter and Jalapeno Ale update

About 1.5 lbs of Raspberries washed and thawed

About 1.5 lbs of Raspberries washed and thawed

This summer hasn’t really been the most optimal time for brewing for me.  I think I’ve made a few good brews, one competition brew, and at least one beer I wasn’t completely satisfied with.  The jury’s still out on the competition beer since I haven’t taken a taste yet, but the others are all either in the rear-view mirror or only have a couple bottles left.  Now, as Labor day is almost upon us (the unofficial end of summer in the US), is as good as any time to look back and talk about the results of some of the more interesting batches.

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DIY Stir Plate part 2

Well I’ve done all the drilling, the mounting and the gluing.  Things seem to be working pretty well.  The magnet is sufficiently balanced that there is no shimmy at all that I can detect.  I think the only thing left optionally would be to add a rheostat/potentiometer to the circuit to make a variable speed dial.  I think I may just do that if I can find the parts needed locally. In a day or two I’ll be able to test it with a real stir bar and find out if it works to my satisfaction.

DIY Stir Plate from Apartmentbrewer on Vimeo.

 

DIY Stir Plate Project

All the parts necessary for a DIY Stir Plate (I hope)

All the parts necessary for a DIY Stir Plate (I hope)

It is kind of weird sometimes how plans go into motion.  Walking past a cigar shop in the area I noticed that they were selling empty cigar boxes for cheap and the idea occurred to me, “Why not make a stir plate out of one?”  I’m not by any means finished with my project, but so far the only things I’ve needed to buy were a T-8 Torx screwdriver and the cigar box.  Everything else I’ve re-purposed from things I had laying around.

A stir plate can be an extremely useful tool in saving money and in making better beer.  A normal Wyeast smack pack or other yeast manufacturers’ equivalent is made for pitching into 5 gallons of wort at about 1.048 SG according to this.  Using two smack packs or vials of yeast for high starting gravity worts is a fine practice, but why purchase two if you can just make a yeast starter and get the same results? Continue reading

Jalapeno Ale Mini Batch

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Late boil addition of hops and sliced jalapeno peppers

Recently I’ve been trying to experiment with a few new ideas and keep the brew days fresh and interesting.  Although I readily admit that I have an immense amount of learning to do to become a solid brewer, switching things up and doing something new is a good way to not get bored or stuck in a rut.  After the idea for the bacon beer was formed in my mind, other somewhat weird brewing possibilities started popping up.  The jalapeno ale was one of them.  After doing a little poking around, I found some recipes and tried my best to see if there was a consensus as to how to make the pepper flavor come through.  Should the peppers be roasted?  Added to the boil?  De-seeded? Added in the secondary? How many? etc.  The problem I found was that it seemed that everyone had their own way of doing things and had results they enjoyed. Continue reading

On Bottling… And the Unintended Consequences of Experimental Batches

Bottling line @Clipper City

Too bad you can’t fit one of these machines in an apartment (Photo credit: cizauskas)

I’ve been unable to post much the last couple weeks because of non beer related things in my life, but at least I have a bunch of topics queued up for posts now.

Whenever the topic of bottling comes up whether in conversation or while reading there is one thing everyone seems to feel:  Bottling day is a pain in the butt.  Maybe I just read books that hate the process, I’m not quite sure but usually people seem to say the faster you move on to kegging, the happy your brewing life will be.  I happened to disagree with this overall idea… although my recent bottling day has made me at least reevaluate that. Continue reading