Nelson Sauvin Braggot Brew Day

I have been living a life of exotic hops lately. My wife asked me why I have been brewing so often. I told her because the time is now. I have no idea what I am saying anymore. I am all hopped up on hoppy hop hops.

Beyond the BIAB experiments with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Equinox, this dreamed-up braggot has been on the schedule for a while. I put the recipe for this mead with Nelson Sauvin hops in it back in late March so it’s about time I got around to brewing this one. It’s too bad; this one will be great next year at this time – a real winter warmer. It could be ready before the end of this winter though.

On to the brew day! With only 4.5 pounds of grain to brew with, I made a no-sparge mash. I filled my mash tun with enough water to get me a 4 gallon runoff for the boil, which I did.

I modified the recipe a bit with by using just two ounces of Nelson Sauvin hops. I put a half ounce in at the start of the boil, another half ounce with 15 minutes to go, and then 1 full ounce at flame out.

Even though the majority of my grain bill was Pilsner malt, I stuck with a 60 minute boil. I know there is advice out there to boil for 90 minutes to reduce the chance of perceiving dimethyl sulfide in the finished beer. With the vigorous boil and evaporation rate along with my quick chilling, the 60 minute boil was insurance enough for me.

After it was chilled, I combined everything in the carboy – honey, wort, and enough water to bring the full volume to 4 gallons. Even with some good stirring, much of the honey dropped to the bottom of the Better Bottle so I had this Jello 1 2 3 (Google it) look going on.

The other big change to the recipe outside of dropping Warrior hops was the change in yeast. The Wedding mead turned out too dry using the champagne yeast so I went with D-47 dry yeast instead.

A day after the brew session and fermentation is in full swing. Here are some photos from the day:

The dream was to make a white wine-ish braggot. We’ll see how close I get.

You know what we say – Brew On!

BIAB Series – More One Gallon Batches

Brewing in a bag has been a fun series this year. I have brew a few experimental batches using this method. The first one was the great wheat malt experiment during the summer. The most recent BIAB sessions have been the hop explorations.

Mosaic was the first one I did and then when I had time, I was able to brew a SMaSH El Dorado hop ale and a SMaSH Equinox ale. The two gallon fermentors are hanging out in my upstairs closet together, getting ready for being bottled later on this week.

They both received dry hop additions during the weekend, and will be in that phase for four days. If you are keeping score at home, here was the hop schedule for each of these one gallon, BIAB, SMaSH ales:

.25 ounces of hops added with 60 minutes to go in the boil.
.25 ounces of hops added with 15 minutes to go in the boil.
.25 ounces of hops added at flameout.
.25 ounces added to the beer after a week of fermentation and left in contact with the beer for 4 days.

Since the schedule was the same for each different SMaSH, we should have beers that will showcase each of the hops’ characteristics the same way.

I am sure you have added up each of the hop additions – yes, I only used an ounce of hops for each batch. The small batch allowed me to keep costs down and maximize the hop flavor.

After the brew day, I stored the remaining quarter of an ounce of each hop in the freezer, clearly labeled. I imaged that if I screwed up and put the wrong hop into one of the beers, then my experiment would be over. When I plan, I make sure I don’t set myself up for mistakes.

Looking at the calendar, these experimental beers should be ready for consumption before the end of the month. With our wacky Wednesday video posts, we’ll wrap up what these beers taste like and if they match up to what the descriptors say about each of them.

BIAB Series – Mosaic SMaSH Ale

Home brewing plans take time to come to be. Maybe in 2015 I will learn to execute quicker. The thoughts for the SMaSH beers as a part of the BIAB Series were put forth in July!

Better late than never – some plans never see the light of day.

Saturday night I had the time to brew in a bag (BIAB) and use one variety of hops throughout the boil. I have two more to do which I should get done between now and Thanksgiving.

Brewing one gallon batches using the BIAB method brought my brew session time down considerably. From heating up my mash water to cleaning up afterward, I was done in 3 hours.

I brewed right on my stove top for the first time in years. It was nice to not have to deal with the elements outside and the extra equipment. Everything was right there in my kitchen – what a concept!

With nearly 2 gallons in my pot, it took no time at all to get up to my mash temperature and hold it there for an hour with the grain in the bag.

The recipe was a modification of the Mosaic SMaSH one I wrote up earlier in the year but what we’re trying to learn has stayed the same. We want to learn more about this variety’s flavor and aroma.

I am using just one ounce of hops – I put in a quarter of an ounce at the start of the boil, another quarter with 15 minutes to go, and another at flame out. The last quarter will be added with a few days left to go in the fermentation.

I did this schedule with for an experimental Sorachi Ace hops wheat beer last year and it worked well to get a full profile of the hops.

Here’s some photos of the session:

So Mosaic is done – El Dorado is next – and then Equinox will be last. Tasting videos will follow once the beers are ready.

Brew On!

Oatmeal Stout Kit Brew Day

Nothing Wrong with Brewing Kits

I have been getting into brewing kits lately.  There’s something fun about taking out some of the decisions out of picking out ingredients and just brewing what comes out of the box after it arrives at your door.

The last one I brewed was the witbier that was written about a few months ago.  In the pursuit of brewing a great stout, I got an Oatmeal Stout kit from Northern Brewer.

I like taking the kits and modifying them a bit – maybe my mind isn’t ready to shut down all decisions of what goes into the beer recipe.

Just a Bit Modified

Let me know if you agree with me: The hop variety that came with the kit was Glacier.  Now I was all about these hops six years ago but for an oatmeal stout I thought a tried-and-true English variety would be better.  Thankfully, I had some UK Kent Goldings on hand and substituted them in.

The grains come all mixed in together so you’d better hope that the measurements have been done correctly in the warehouse.

What?  I trust them.

The oats did come separately, which was nice because I wanted to toast some of the oats to draw out more flavors from them. I put them in the oven while I was heating up the water for the mash and they were timed perfectly.  The toasted oats came out of the stove and went right into the mash tun right before the hot liquor did.

The wort coming out of the tun was black and oily.

Oatmeal Stout Wort

Foamy Boil and Following the Tips

The boil was pretty foamy. I found that I had to keep on boilover watch throughout the hour. There was one tense situation where my son had run off with my mash spoon but I quickly recovered it so that I could give the wort a stir and keep the foam from tumbling over the side of the pot. I guess oats bring more protein to the brew.

The spent grains were a speckled sight to see.

Oatmeal Stout Spent Grains

The beer cooled down pretty quickly – thank you cold ground water – and I was ready to pitch the yeast. I went with two packets of Safale S-04 (proofed) and followed Mike’s Oatmeal Stout Home Brewing Tips for the fermentation temperature schedule. In short, the temperatures start low and end high to reach that the attenuation that I want.

As always, we will taste this one when it is ready.

Brew On, Peeps!

Mead Wedding Favor

If you are looking to give away a great favor at your wedding, consider mead.

You could buy a large number of bottles from a commercial meadery, which is a option I support. Another choice is to make or have someone make a mead for you – a unique gift for you special day.

I was contracted to be a mead maker for a wedding. For those of you keeping score at home, here is a recap.

The Request

I brought a bottle of mead that I made into work one day and it sparked the imagination of a coworker of mine. He asked me if I would make a mead for his wedding. Thankfully there was enough lead time to do it right without rushing anything.

See the thoughts I had putting together the ingredients for this mead.

Read more about the making of this mead.

The Outcome

The lovely couple came over to my house and helped me bottle their mead. They had bought the bottles and had labels created for the favors. With me on sanitation duties and the two of them switching off between the filling and capping, we were finished with bottling almost ten gallons of mead in less than an hour.

I was happy with the outcome of the mead. It had cleared up very well and the oak conditioning left a nice complexity.

The venue for their reception required them to put a tag on cap that told their patrons not to open the bottle until they left the premises. I guess they thought the mead would take away from their bar sales or maybe the elixir would spin the crowd into a frenzy. Either way, it was good that the favors were positioned as gifts and not something to be gulped down.

Here’s a photo of the final product:

Mead Wedding Favor

If you’re looking for a great traditional wedding favor, mead makes a wonderful gift. Homemade mead makes a nice touch since it is as unique as your union. Find a home brewer or home mead maker to fulfill your wish and of course these brew dudes can consult if you want.

Brew On!

And if not – certainly Mead On!