Saturday, December 3, 2011

They know it's Christmas, but don't exactly get it...

Update 1/12 - Dang that's good. Hops are on the resiny side of town, but that is a tasty tasty beer. :D
Update 12/15 - I don't know. It'll probably be okay. But the lack of a good bottling method pretty much guarantees that it's all going to be oxidized. And my hydrometer doesn't want to give a constant read. So, there's that. We'll just have to see how this one turns out.

It's Christmas time in Tokyo, and boy are the department stores, coffee shops, etc, into it. "Let's Merry" is the Starbucks slogan this year. "Precious Christmas" is displayed all over your local デパート, and the worst modern Christmas misses are piped through the sound systems. Congratulations, Japan, you win. By taking all of the actual meaning out of the holiday we're left with what's truly important - bad music, gaudy decorations, and lots and lots of nutmeg. I actually like that last bit. Speaking of holiday cheer minus the real traditions,...

I brewed y'all a poor-interopretation-of-Christmas themed beer!

The brown sugar used in this recipe is known as "black sugar" in Japan. The taste seems to me to be a little richer in molasses character than the typical brown sugar used in the US. I'm told it's slightly less refined, lending it some interesting flavors. The idea here is a big red hop bomb. Maybe won't taste too much like Christmas, but it's got red and green and will keep us feeling warm and happy. Hopefully I can get it conditioned in time for my trip back to Minnesota.

Batch #74
The Red Green Show, 8 L in fermenter
4 lb Light DME
250g Brown sugar (黒砂糖)
150g Crystal 40L
40 g Roasted Barley
20 g Black Patent
20 g Chocolate
1 oz Cascade, 6.4%AA (60m)
1 oz Amarillo, 3.9%AA (20m)
1 oz Chinook, 11.8%AA (10m)
1 oz Cascade, 6.4%AA (5m)
1 oz Centennial, 9.2%AA (1m)
1 oz Cascade (Dry Hop)
1 oz Falconer's Flight (Dry Hop)
1/2 tab Whirlfloc (5m)
WLP090 - San Diego Super Yeast, 1 L starter (2nd generation)
OG: ~1.080
FG: ~1.018
ABV: ~8%
IBU: ~90

Steep grains in ~1.5-2L water for 30 minutes while heating from room temp to ~75C. Add to main boil (~12L total), bring to temp and add extract. Hops as indicated. Chill, ferment at 18-20C. I tried a new hop-strain method today, which didn't really work, and is why my fermenter volume is only 8 L.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rainy Sunday afternoon... time to brew.

Metric. Because my scale doesn't read pounds and ounces. The extract and grain packets do, but I'm splitting them between this and the next brew - a dark and stormy hop bomb. I may oak-age a portion of this (but not for very long) just to see how it turns out. The coffee will go in at bottling, most likely. Home-roasted beans (probably Ethiopian origin unless I have something more interesting at the time) cold-steeped and delicious.

Batch #73
Coffee Stout, 10 L in fermenter
2 kg Light DME
300 g Crystal 40L
150 g Roasted Barley
75 g Black Patent
75 g Chocolate
28 g Northern Brewer, 8.5%AA (60m)
28 g Kent Goldings, 7.2%AA (5m)
1/2 tab Whirlfloc (5m)
WLP004 - Irish Ale Yeast, 1 vial
OG: 1.065
IBU: 65-70

Steep grains in 12L water while heating. Pull grains out ~75 C. Open a bottle of Duvel. Bring to a boil, add extract, hops at 60m and 5m. Open Chimay and add clarifier at 5m.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Update 10/30 - Bottled.
Update 10/6 - Racked to secondary (10L keg).
Update 10/1 - SG ~1.012 or so. Dry hops added, primary oak pulled, secondary oak added. This one might need to sit for a bit to mellow. BONUS: I now roast coffee. :D

Couldn't contain myself anymore and had to brew, temperature control be damned. I'm a little out of practice, and forgot the clarifier addition...gelatine it is, then. I have less space and equipment in Tokyo, so I'm running 10 liter extract batches for now, and chilling in the bathtub. First up is a semi-scaled version of the MoreBeer Firestone-Walker DBA clone kit. I scaled the extract, but left the steeping grains and monkeyed with the hop schedule a bit.

Batch #72
FW DBA Clone-ish thing, 2.5 gallons in fermenter
3 lbs Light DME
6 oz Aromatic
8 oz Crystal 75L
2 oz Crystal 120L
2 oz Pale Chocolate
1 oz Willamette, 4.7%AA (60m)
1 oz Kent Goldings, 7.2%AA (5m)
1 oz Kent Goldings (dry)
1 oz American Oak chips (split between primary and dry addition)
WLP005 - British Ale Yeast, 1 vial
OG: 1.050-1.052 (need a thermometer)
FG: 1.010-1.012
ABV: 5.2%
IBU: ~40

Steep grains cold, for first 35 minutes of heating (nearing 170F by my estimates). Pull grains out, bring to boil. Kill heat, add extract, bring to boil. Started with 12 liters water, expecting some loss between now and bottling. As I mentioned, I forgot my clarifier, so will definitely be using gelatine at the end of fermentation to clear this bad boy up.

Oh, and I have a 10L keg to haul to the office in the unlikely event that there are no major flaws.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


[TLDR version: Not everyone will join our army. Keep trying. It's just beer]

Are some people just hopeless lost causes to the craft beer crusade? I was out with a colleague (American) tonight who I'm determined to show good beer. This came about because he had made two statements that demand both hope and despair from the craft beer lover. Paraphrasing:

1. "I didn't used to like beer, but I really like Japanese beer. So maybe I just wasn't trying the right kinds before."
2. "A friend of mine is really into homebrewing, so I'd be interested in trying anything you make."

Now, my first instinct was to pour half a glass of pilsner and fill the rest with water for him. But, no. We are on a mission to show people the world of flavor. And you catch more barflies with honey ale than malt vinegar. Right? Once I was shown just how wide open the world of beer is, I thought, as many of you likely have, that there's no such thing as a person who doesn't like beer; there are only people who haven't met the right beer yet. The array of ingredients and techniques available to brewers is vast, and so are the flavor outcomes. But there are a couple of problems: a lot of our "that doesn't sound like beer" suds that might win over the palates of those that "hate beer" are expensive, hard to find, "not beer", etc. And yes, everyone tastes the same chemicals (don't even start trying to tell me that you aren't always eating and drinking chemicals, hippie) a little differently. It's entirely possible that what tastes wonderfully harmonious to me may seem horrible for you, and vice versa. So perhaps we shouldn't judge others for their tastes, even when it's so obvious to us that they're wrong. Bitterness is an acquired taste (the only one out of the accepted basic tastes, or so I hear), and the degree to which you enjoy a particular food or beverage may be due to a quantifiable difference in the lay of the land on your palate, not due to a certifiable difference in your booze addled noodle.

So what can we do? Hopefully the "ales are beers. so are lagers" line sank in, and my friend gained a little knowledge. He drank his pint (Baird Brewing's Red Rose Amber Ale), but probably won't order it again. I'm not sure what he liked or didn't like about it,...and it can be difficult to discern this if people aren't used to or, frankly, not interested in tasting food and drink beyond "i like this", "i don't like this", "it does/doesn't taste poisonous". And that's the main problem in this case: his preferred drink is basically straight vodka (the mark of quality being tastelessness) or whiskey (which is "okay"). So maybe he likes bland beverages (and peat? what?). That's fine. Not everything has to be about interesting or unique flavors. Maybe that's not the point. In fact, you know what? It's not the point. The point is people enjoying time together, whether their drinking piss-in-a-can mass market lagers, Pliny, that $6 handle of vodka, ancient single malt, or actual goat sweat. Craft still and will always needs converts, so my plan is to continue to slowly present more options, probably starting with Scottish ales. I will buy a bottle or order a pint of what I want to drink, making a slightly greater effort than usual to vary the roster, do my best to encourage the nonbelievers around me to see the art and passion that goes into the glasses we cherish, and to remember that it's just liquid refreshment. Our libations are best, naturally, but we're a little biased.

As a final note, my own mother won't drink the beer I brew. She says that every beer she's had in her life tastes unpleasantly yeasty to her, and that it's probably okay that she doesn't expand her alcohol preferences...which I'm certain makes no sense to any of us. Why would you place a limit on your own happiness?! My plan for her is to serve "sparkling wine" and see how she raves until she learns it's all malt (I swear a tripel I had the other week tasted exactly like a bubbly dry chardonnay).

Another night squandered in the saloons of Tokyo.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Soulfree, Careless.

Edit 9/24 - Meh. I mean, I'll drink it, but I'm not going to try and win anyone to the mead camp with it.
Edit 8/10 - Bottled, some with ginger liqueur, some not. Some with a bit more honey, some not. Dry, tart.
Edit 5/30 - 490g fresh ginger, sliced thin; 400g fresh pineapple, big chunks; 1 medium lemon, sliced 'n' stabbed real good, some bits of peel included. Vodka to the top of the above ingredients in a jar...about 500mL of Smirnoff.

蜂蜜酒 四番
--2キログラム 蜂蜜
--500グラム 麦芽エキス
--12グラム カスケード ホップ (20分)
--8リットル 水
イースト: 11.5グラム 「Safale 04」

Mead Batch #04
Ginger Mead
--2kg Honey
--0.5kg Light malt extract, dry
--12g Cascade hops, 20m boil with malt
--8 L water (for total volume of 9.4 liters)
--11.5g Safale 04 dry yeast
OG: 1.080-1.085 (estimated, no hydrometer at the moment)
FG: Didn't measure
ABV: I don't know, probably, like 10%
IBU: 4

Dissolve the malt extract (for some nutrients) and boil with hops for 20 minutes. Preferably hops that weren't just sitting on the shelf for months at Tokyu Hands. I'm not convinced this will have enough beer character to be called braggot. Mix everything together and pitch your yeast. I'd prefer 05, but my options were 04 or lager yeast. It's going to be a hot summer.

Now, you may be asking where the ginger is. That's for later. I will be making a splendiferous cocktail of lemon and ginger, with a little more ginger, and some ginger thrown in for good measure. This will get blended with the mead after fermentation slows.

And yes, my first brew/mazing day in Japan. :D i mean... (^-^)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Add more hops

Update 4/29 - Kegged.
Update 4/24 - Dry hopped. Thanks, wife!
So tasty, must make more. Added citra (first time) and cascade to round out the hop with some citrus, dropped the carafa, used darker crystal (LHBS was out of 50-60L), crushed the oats.

Batch #71
Lost Harvest, version 3
10.5 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb British 70-80L
1 lb White wheat malt
8 oz Golden naked oats
8 oz Victory
1 oz Magnum, 14.1%AA (60m)
0.5 oz Magnum, 13.1%AA (30m)
1 oz Centennial, 9.2%AA (20m)
0.5 oz Amarillo, 9.3%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Simcoe, 12.2%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Citra, 13.4%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Cascade, 6.8%AA (10m)
0.5 oz Amarillo, 9.3%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Simcoe, 12.2%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Citra, 13.4%AA (5m)
0.5 oz Cascade, 6.8%AA (5m)
1oz each Cen/Ama/Sim/Cit/Cas (dry)
1/4 tsp each epsom and gypsum in mash
Safale US-05, 11.5g dry
OG: 1.061
FG: 1.016
ABV: 5.9%
IBU: ~100