Monday, October 20, 2008

A reminder about Chibebräu Wine

Just a quick reminder to check out our sister blog, Chibebräu Wine, if you're into grapes as well as barley. I started it as a way of keeping track of what we try in an attempt to better educate myself about wine (I'm pretty damn clueless), and any comments and/or suggestions for further wines to try are greatly appreciated! I've only reviewed four wines so far, but that's not bad considering our wine consumption has taken a hit since one of us went and got knocked up.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Brew day: Step Leader Hefeweizen, plus: Update-a-rama!

It used to seem like things slowed down after Labor Day, but sadly that hasn't been the case for a while. This year has been no exception, and hence I haven't updated for a while. Anyway, here's what's up...

First, I brewed a quick and dirty 5-gallon batch of our Step Leader Hefeweizen yesterday. I know, I was planning on brewing Dampfbier but I was running out of time and didn't want to make my first Dampfbier an extract batch. With the Hefe, I know I can make a good batch quickly. And indeed, I was able to kick out five gallons in around two hours. Nothing too exciting to report except for the following deviations from my base recipe: I used one ounce of 5.7%AA Perle hops, I added half of the malt extract with fifteen minutes to go, and I went with Wyeast 3638 Bavarian Wheat instead of my usual White Labs yeast just to change things up a little. We'll see how things turn out.

Now, some updates... Just to follow up on my previous post about the Fantasy Draught, I'm sad to report I came in second. Not bad, I suppose, but with the first pick I thought I should've been able to take care of business. On a side note, I thought Midwest breweries got shafted somewhat at the GABF, though Flossmoor Station, Rock Bottom Chicago, Rock Bottom Orland Park and Piece Brewpub all scored a medal each.

Next, an Altbier update... I served my Alt brewed with WLP029 (German Ale-Kölsch) yeast at our HOPS! Oktoberfest last month and it was a big hit. Over all I'm incredibly happy with the results. I honestly think it's better than any of the commercial Alts I've tried from American brewers (of course I've been complaining since I came back from Düsseldorf that American Alts suck, so that's not saying much). Anyway, I'll have to do a full tasting/analysis soon, but for now I think I have a good start for a recipe. I actually have yet to try the other batch yet (brewed with WLP330) because I used finings and have been too lazy to rack off the finings into another keg. Hopefully I'll take care of that tonight.

Moving on to our Oktoberfest beer... Um, I learned a valuable lesson here: don't take lagers out of a temperature-controlled environment, even if just for the diacetyl rest. The good news is everybody at my church seemed to like it when I served it at our annual Oktoberfest party (yes, that's Dorrie and I dancing to the German oompah band in our church basement). And really, it's not a terrible beer. It's just not an Oktoberfest. It's sort of a hybrid between an Oktoberfest, a steam beer, and a Hefeweizen (mainly because there's a strong clove phenolic). On a side note, fining with gelatin didn't really seem to do anything.

Finally, what's coming up... Lots of things to brew for. It's about time for a Christmas beer, and I'm thinking of brewing another Sticke Altbier, adding vanilla beans to the secondary to five gallons for our Christmas beer and keeping the other five gallons as is to enter in some competitions this spring. I'm also eager to whip up another gluten-free beer, and I'm thinking of adding extra dark Belgian candi syrup and coffee to a sorghum base to create a stout-like beer. I've still got that Black Witbier kicking around the back of my brain (which I'll likely brew for a Chicago Composers Forum fundraiser this spring). Finally, Leah and I are expecting our second child (a boy) on Valentine's Day, and as we did with Dorrie we'll be handing out bottles of beer instead of cigars. Last time we brewed a Kölsch, but Dorrie was born in the summer. With a winter baby, I want something a little more substantial, but I also want something that non-beer-geeks will enjoy. As such, I'm thinking of going with a Dunkelweizen. So I guess we'll have to take care of that shortly after the New Year.

Well, that's enough updating for now. Today is Leah's birthday and we're off to Soldier Field to watch the Bears beat the Vikings (or possibly beat the Vikings for three quarters and blow it in the fourth). Cheers!