Sunday, December 13, 2009

A day in the life of a homebrewing dad

So this weekend was the first in a long, long time where I literally had nothing planned for Saturday or Sunday. A much needed 48 hours of relaxation before the stress of the holidays, right? Um, not when you have a three-year-old who's in a phase of constantly testing limits. Nonetheless, I needed to get some bottling and kegging done, and for a brief moment I was able to get Dorrie to not 1.) pull ornaments off the Christmas tree; 2.) break said ornaments; 3.) derail the train around the tree; 4.) throw flour or powdered sugar all across the kitchen; 5.) spray Jonas in the face with Nature's Miracle; or 6.) draw on the hardwood floor with a Sharpie by asking her to help me clean bottles. She did (as you can see in the accompanying picture), for about ten bottles, and then decided she had better things to do. Oh well.

Help--or lack thereof--aside, I got the Piper at the Gates Saison bottled. Since gluten-free beers tend to have issues with head retention, I used heading powder for the first time. I also did one bottle without the heading powder (marked with a "T" for test) so I can compare the two. A couple other notes... The Saison had serious issues with flocculation so there are a lot of floaties, including some hop bits. It seemed to be worst with the first few bottles so hopefully the rest will be fine. But next time I'll rack to a secondary.

After bottling, I racked the last 2.5 gallons of Scottish ale which will be spiked with vanilla for our Christmas beer. It's in the Hutz keg (with stayed upright with help from Jonas, as you can see to the right). I also cut up 2/3 of a Madagascar vanilla bean and 1/3 of a Tahitian vanilla bean and have them soaking in a couple ounces of brandy; that will be what I use to spike the Christmas beer. Finally, I hooked up the Mr. Kim's Secret Microbrew, North Kilttown Scottish Export and North Pole Export kegs to the CO2 tank and cranked it up to 30 psi.

Tonight I tried all three kegs. To be honest, I was disappointed with all of them. The Secret Microbrew (a ramped-up California Common enriched with oats and wildflower honey) isn't bad, but the hops are quite assertive and harsh. I'd be curious to get a hophead's opinion--which hopefully I'll do at tomorrow night's HOPS! meeting--but I'm not too crazy about it right now. As for the Scottish exports, well, there's this weird taste that I can't quite nail down. It's kind of fruity, but it's not the normal fruity ale flavor. Previously I noticed this flavor in my Road House Red, an Irish red ale, and thought it was due to melanoidin malt. (On a side note, I also picked up the flavor in Short's Brewing's Magician, a self-described London red ale, and suspected they might have used melanoidin malt in their beer, though they never returned my email so I can't really say.) Now I don't know what it is except that I don't like it. The good news is the full keg of Scottish export, which has been cold-conditioning for over a week, had less of the taste than the fresher export (to which the vanilla will be added).

I hope to add the vanilla this weekend and get some of the North Pole Export bottled in time to give to co-workers (i.e. bosses) before Christmas. Hopefully the vanilla will mask any of that flavor I don't like.


Blogger Matt said...

Hey Russ - what's all the tape and stuff on the corny? Just wondering :)

9:53 AM, December 15, 2009  
Blogger Adam said...

Love the post. You're brave to even try with the little one around :-)

9:49 PM, December 15, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

Matt- It's just a blue tape that has a paper-like texture so you can write on it with a magic marker. One of the guys in our club uses the tape to identify who's keg belongs to whom for our Oktoberfest party.

12:36 AM, December 16, 2009  
Blogger Russ said...

Oh, and Adam, it's brave for now. If DCFS comes knocking on my door, it suddenly crosses the line from brave to stupid. ;-)

12:37 AM, December 16, 2009  
Blogger Señor Brew™ said...

Hey Russ,

Since you have the filtering equipment, did you consider filtering the saison?

Also, what time should I be over for Christmas brew? :-)

8:29 AM, December 16, 2009  

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