Bottled Jalapeno Wine


First Beer of 2017

2017_05_07_OST_0003After 10 months of not brewing any beer, I decided that I was again going to start brewing beer.  I have been on a Keto diet since last June 1, so I have been unable to drink anything with carbs in it, including beer. However, while not at my “goal” weight, whatever that is, I feel that it is time to have some Friday beers.

I wanted to begin with something new, so I took one of my Sweet Stout recipes and made a few changes.  I deleted the lactose, added oats, and changed (drastically) the hop schedule.  I also did not want to open a new bag of Maris Otter, so I substituted 2-row, which was actually what was in my original recipe.   The hops may be an issue, as I had the hops set, then changed my mind from Magnum to something a bit more appropriate to a Stout.  Then I triple checked with BeerSmith, and found a difference between my laptop and desktop calculations, resulting in the last minute addition to the recipe of the EKG. 

I have always enjoyed drinking my Sweet Stout, and I hope that in 7 weeks, this one will be as good.

The Recipe: 

Recipe – Oat Stout (Oatmeal Stout – 16B):2017_05_07_DSC00002

Boil Size: 7.22 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  37.1


54.9% – 5 lbs. Brewers Malt 2-Row
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. Flaked Oats
11.8% – 1 lb. 8.0 oz. While Wheat Malt
7.8% – 1 lb. Crystal Malt – 60L
5.9% – 12 oz. Chocolate Malt (350 SRM)
3.9% – 8 oz. Cara-Pils/Dextrine
3.9% – 8 oz. Roasted Barley (300SRM)


0.75 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 10.51 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.75 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 11.7 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
0.25 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 2.1 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
0.25 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – 3.3 IBU’s) – 20 minutes
1.00 oz. – East Kent Goldings (pellet – 9.4 IBU’s) – 20 minutes


1 pk. – Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs 1084) – 1.6 L Starter


3.0 oz. – Ground Coffee Beans – 5 minutes
1 Tbsp. Yeast Nutrient – 5 minutes

The brew went well, though my efficiency was a bit low, which is unusual.  I also used my new controller for the Grainfather, allowing connection and control through my phone or iPad.  It was a fun experience, though I had to switch from my iPad to my Android phone because of battery drain. 

A New Beginning

10Jan15_BrewingIt has been quite a while since my last post. Much of the issue with posting is that I am doing the same thing most of the time. Gardening and working, but not much hiking or brewing.  Because of our extensive canning projects last fall, not much canning either.

Brewing beer became somewhat of a chore and “boring”, so I stopped brewing beer.  I think that part of the issue is that I became tired of the same equipment and recipes.  Also, I really do not like the layout of the garage for brewing with the equipment I have, so I stopped brewing.

I have been looking at re-starting the brewing process, but knew that I wanted to try some new equipment that would enable brew the same beers with repeatable temperatures and volumes.  So, after much research, I 10Jan15_Grainfather1decided to purchase a Grainfather, pictured above left with my mash tun and HLT. 

The Grainfather came in a box with several pieces/components to assemble, but the process was very simple.  All components seem well built, sturdy, and were in good shape.   Reviewing the online comments, I also decided to add a double layer of Reflectex to aid in the boil and mash.  Again, the process was simple and looks good. 

I did not install the Reflectex to the top of the boiler, but to just below the clips on top.  I used Reflectex tape on the seams, and none of the seams overlap between layers. 

Before I go into detail, I will just say that my first brew went extremely well with no struggle or challenges.  The Grainfather worked flawlessly, and I am quite pleased with my purchase.  With that –  the negatives.

    • While I knew that the Grainfather would be slow heating my 60 degree mash water to 151 degrees, it was still slow.  It took 57 minutes to go from 60 to 151 F in a 56 degree garage.  From start of sparge to boil took another 51 minutes, and is the only area that I found disappointing, especially considering this was a fairly small water volume.
    • While it was easy to connect and disconnect the sparge arm and chiller, quick connects would be nice.
    • Handles on the boiler for ease of movement of a hot metal object would be nice.

The above “negatives” are somewhat picky, and in no way interfere with the positives of the machine.

10Jan15_Grainfather2To remedy the slow mash water times, I will simply use my propane burner, which I need to use for the sparge water anyway.  As for the other two points, maybe someday I will install quick connects, or not.  Handles are beyond me so that will not happen.

The entire brewing process took 6 hours with a 75 minute mash and a 90 minute boil (used Pilsner).  I can shave about 45 minutes off of that use propane to heat the mash water.  I expect a sub 5 hour brew this weekend with the Grainfather.

I set the mash temperature at 151 F, and the unit was fairly stable, with the temperature fluctuating between 149 and 153 the entire time, which I am happy with.  As for the boil, while, as noted, it took a bit of time to come up to boil, the boil was quite ample.  Not propane vigorous, but satisfying.

The chiller worked wonderfully well, and I transferred straight from the boiler to the fermenter at a constant 68 degrees.  The entire chilling/transfer took 29 minutes, which is about 7 minutes longer than it took to cool my wort to 75 degrees with my immersion chiller, but there was no need to come back later to transfer after the trub had settled, and the temp in fermenter was 68 degrees instead of 75, so I was able to immediately pitch yeast.  The wort was fairly clear, considering there was almost two pounds of wheat in the brew.

In all, I am extremely pleased that I purchased the Grainfather, and am now planning doing a minimum of 8 (or more) brews over the next 8 weekends. 

Hiking in the Wilson Creek Area

10June2015_BeerSixty-one bottles of Cream Stout – My favorite beer recipe!  It spent 3 months 3 weeks in primary, but tasted very good when I bottled it, so I am hoping for a great beer when it is done carbing.  With the end of the school year, the kids getting me sick, and the garden, I simply did not have the time or energy to bottle. 

Just thought I would add a few images of a few of our short (6 –8 mile) hikes in the Wilson Creek area. 

We have been to Wilson Creek four times this year, each time trying to hike a different path.  In February, our first hike, there were no other people and we did a short 8 mile circuit.  While the trails are mostly marked with trail numbers, they do not necessarily correspond to the map that is provided (for free).  However, it is (almost) impossible not to find your way back to the main parking area.  The area is well laid out, with bathrooms in the parking area.  The area is used by hikers, cyclists, ATVers, and people riding horses, with some trail restrictions to keep everything friendly. 


While there was little wild life other than two herds of wild horses in the winter, there are now thousands of lizards that just love to run right in front of you while you are hiking and not paying attention.  I have seen 4 kinds of lizards, including the one on the right. 

We found a nice place to get out of the rain, if it ever rains, close to the end of the trail.  The area is so different from what we are used to in Juneau, but it, it nice being in an open area, seeing for miles, and watching the small and large animals as the seasons progress.

10June2015_Hike2 10June2015_Hike3 10June2015_Hike4

Wine Update, and Squash!

20Jul42014_DSCF7147Racked my wines today, and I am very pleased with the results, so far.

The Cherry Wine came in with an SG of 1.000 and the Cherry Mead at 1.010.  As I mentioned in the original post, Cherry Wine and Mead, with care, 71B will go way above 14% ABV.  For the mead, it stopped in the perfect spot.

The mead it amazingly good for a 20 day old product.  The honey is present but does not mask the presence of the cherries.  There is a very pleasant sweetness, but not at all cloying. If the mead stops where it is, I will be happy and will not need to back sweeten or add any acid.  Wood?  Maybe.  I do have some wonderful medium toast French Oak chips hanging around, and I think they will go quite well with the mead.  I may split the batch and do half wood half no wood.

The issue is now what happens with the 48 ounces of cherry wine base that I added on the 20th to both the mead and the wine.  I did notice that there was some airlock activity 5 hours after adding the additional fruit, which I expected, so we shall see on the 4th of August how the wines were affected.

As for the Cherry Wine – It is really hot.  A lot of alcohol that I think will age out.  The wine I will have to back sweeten a bit, which I originally thought I might have to do anyway.  There is good cherry flavor and nothing except the alcohol that is harsh.  No wood for the wine though, as it is going to be a light and delicate wine if all goes well.

Look!  It is Misty is a zucchini standing in front of out 8 foot corn!



10Barrel_012014_DSCN0334We went to a local Boise brewery (10-Barrel Brewery) to sample some beer and to have lunch. While the lunch and service was good, the beer was a bit lacking.  With a couple of exceptions, of the 20 samples we had, I found that the beer had very little to no body, a strange aftertaste, and simply not to my liking.  I am sure that there are many people that enjoy this type of beer, just not me.  Then again, many of my beers, especially the stouts and porters, are thick and chewy.  Of course, I am not a beer expert – but I know what I like and what I do not like, and I did not really enjoy their beer. 

So…I once again set out to brew another beer – my 9th Idaho brew.  This time I went back to another favorite, the Amarillo IPA.  The source for this recipe, an extract, can be found here, at

I changed the recipe a bit from previous brews to take into consideration ingredients that I was lacking, and ingredients I wanted to get rid of.  So, a bit of 2-row replaced some Pilsner and I had 10 ounces of Cara-Pils that I wanted to use.  I also changed the hop schedule a bit from previous iterations of this brew.  With the exception of the 80 minute addition, all hops were whole leaf, and the garage smelled wonderfully of citrus during the brewing process.  This IPA is in the computer room completing its fermentation and is coming along nicely. 

Recipe: The Bearded Hen Amarillo IPA14Jan14_DSCN0337

Boil Size: 7 gallons
Batch Size: 5.5 Gallons
Boil time: 90 Minutes
SRM: 7.2
IBU’s: 74.4


86.1% – 11 lbs. Pilsner – German 
5.0% – 10.2 oz. Cara-Pils 
5% – 10.2 oz. Crystal – 40L
3.9% – 8.0 oz. Pale Malt – 2-Row


1.50 oz. – Amarillo  – 80 Minutes
1.25 oz. – Amarillo  – 15 Minutes 
1.25 oz. – Amarillo – 5 Minutes
1.0 oz.  – Amarillo  – 0 Minutes 
1.0 oz.  – Amarillo  – Dry Hop – 7 Days


1/2 tsp. – Irish Moss– 10 Minutes


1 pk. – Wyeast Labs #1056 – American Ale – No starter this time

One item that made brewing this beer enjoyable, was the new addition to the garage – we had a sink put in, and it makes brewing and other things way more enjoyable than using a hose in the driveway.  The plumbing company (C R Higer in Caldwell) did great work with two very pleasant plumbers, and came in a whopping .60 cents over their estimate.  I will definitely use them again.


A New Beer–Smoked Porter

23Oct13_DSCF2007I have made smoked porters before, but I have never smoked my own grain, nor have I used such a high percentage of smoked grain as I did in the beer below.  My past smoked porters were rather simple beers, with s moderate percentage of smoked grains.  However, they have always been intensely smoky, often times reminding me of sitting around a camp fire drinking a good beer.  Since the smoke generator for my Bradley is still working, and is my dedicated cold smoker, I thought I would give it a try.

To smoke the grains, I took 3.5 pounds of 2-row, and 1.5 pounds of Belgian Pilsner, and placed them on parchment paper that I molded to the smoking racks.  I lightly sprayed the grains with water, and placed them in the smoker with 2 hours of cherry and one hour of oak.  I turned the grains every hour, and sprayed more water on them midway through the smoke.  I also left the vent wide open to 23Oct13_DSCF2011keep the temperatures below 95 degrees.  I pulled the grains at 3.5 hours, as there was still wood left, left the grains to cool on the racks, then sealed them in zip-lock bags for two days.  When I opened the grains to brew the beer, the smell was wonderful.  I am looking forward to this beer.

The recipe was another recipe I found on, though I did change the recipe slightly by adding 0.5 pounds of flaked wheat.

My last brew saw a poor efficiency of 69.4%, but I was back on track this time, though a bit high at 85.1%.   I did a 90 minute boil due to the Belgian Pilsner used in the smoked malt mix.

Recipe – Smoked Porter:

Boil Size: 6.75 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  24.7


45.5% – 5 lbs. Smoked Malt (3.5 pounds 2-Row, 1.5 pounds Belgian Pilsner)
27.3% – 3 lbs. Munich Malt
9.1% – 1 lbs. Cara-Pils
6.8% – 12 oz. Crystal Malt – 40L
9.1% – 12 oz. Chocolate Malt (350 SRM) 
4.5% – 8 oz.  Flaked Wheat.


0.75 oz. – Williamette (pellet – 12.5 IBU’s) – 60 minutes 
0.50 oz. – Northern Brewer (pellet – – 12.1 IBU’s) – 30 minutes


1 pk. – Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs 1084) – 2 L Starter

This was a fairly easy brew compared to my last two, and I was quite pleased with the way things went. The wort tasted quite good, and was bubbling away 4 hours after yeast was pitched.

Woodpeckers and Chickens

26Oct13_DSCF2018One of the things we have a lot of here are birds – lots of birds, including woodpeckers.  We have seen several woodpeckers, but they always stayed in the trees and left the buildings alone.  However, it seems that this may be the overwintering grounds for other larger woodpeckers that have taken a liking to our shed.

We noticed when buying the property that the enclosed portion of the shed had patched woodpecker holes, so this has been a continuing issue.  One morning Misty21Oct13_DSCF2002 noticed birds in her studio, so we took a look and found three woodpeckers.  They had pecked a new hole in the wall.  We decided it was time to resolve the issue of woodpeckers breaking into the shed, and it seems we have been successful so far.  The image on the right is of Micha making a woodpecker barrier.

The first thing we tried was spray foam, but this lasted only a day, as they found cracks where the foam had not reached and pecked away until a new entrance was formed.  The next morning we went to the store for more foam, but I though that a better solution would be chicken wire and wood.  What we (Micha) did was put plywood from pallets against the wall and covered it with chicken wire.  We made sure that all of the cracks and corners were covered with wire, and so far it has worked.  The birds can peck away and make a hole, but cannot get through the wire.  If for some reason this does not work – they will die. 

Next Spring we will need to work on eliminating the pigeons.

So, I am building a chicken coop, finally.  I have two sets of plans and am taking the best ideas from each set 26Oct13_DSCF2016to build to coop.  At this time, the coop will be 8’ X 4’, and be a bit over 8 feet tall.  I wanted a shorter coop, but think the height will be better during the summer.  I finished the floor and part of a wall, but am waiting until the first week of November to finish it, as things got a bit busy lately.  The coop will be good for 8 chickens, and I will post pictures and the coop progresses

Now I just need to figure out where I want to put it.

Two Beers, and a Foam Snake

01_October2013_DSCF1913All Hail the Foam Snake!  This is an image I took while racking a Lodi Ranch 11 Cabernet to secondary.  The sample from primary was quite good, but this is a wine that is months or years away from being ready.  Will rack again in a few weeks, and then bulk age for a few months prior to bottling.

I brewed two beers this week, a Carmel Amber Ale and a Cream Stout.  I have brewed both beers before and liked them, so wanted to do them again, especially since I have no beer in the bottle yet.

The recipes are fairly straight forward, with the exception of the Amber Ale, which required the addition of Belgian Candy Syrup. As I did not want to spend $6.00 on 0.25 cents of sugar, I decided to make my own.  A rather simple process of mixing sugar, water, and di-ammonium phosphate and cooking it until it reaches 290 degrees.

One of the nice things about living here is the availability of brewing supplies.  I now have a huge hop 01_October2013_DSCF1907inventory, with many of the hops being leafs rather than pellets.  Fairly pleased with that, as well as the availability of yeast that has not had to travel weeks to get to me.  The problem I am having is accounting for the greater water absorption of the leafs versus pellets.  However, so far I have hit all of the volumes accurately and interestingly, my efficiency has been 80% for both of the following beers. 

The recipes follow:

Recipe – Caramel Amber Ale:

Boil Size: 6.75 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  37.7


75.0% – 7 lbs 8.0 oz. Brewers Malt 2-row
15.0% – 1 lbs 8.0 oz. Caramel/Crystal Malt 90L
10.0% – 1 lb Candy Syrup Dark Amber – ? SRM


0.80 oz. – Chinook (Leaf– 37.7 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
1 oz. – Chinook (Leaf- – 0.00 IBU’s) – 0 minutes
1 oz. – Williamette (Pellet- – 0.00 IBU’s) – 0 minutes


1 pk – American Ale (Wyeast Labs # 1026 – 2 liter starter)

I am attempting to alternate between brewing one light and one dark beer, so here is my stout recipe:

Recipe – Sweet (Cream) Stout:

Boil Size: 6.75 gallons
Batch Size:  5.50 gallons
IBU’s:  40.8


60.5% – 7 lbs  Brewers Malt 2-row
13.0% – 1 lbs 8.0 oz. White Wheat Malt
8.6%  -  1 lbs  Caramel/Crystal Malt 90L
6.5%  –  12.0 oz. Chocolate Malt
3.8%  –  7.1 oz. Roasted Barley
3.2%  –  6.0 oz. Cara-pils


1 oz. – Magnum (Pellet– 40.8 IBU’s) – 65 minutes


8 oz. Lactose (Milk Sugar) – 15 minutes
1 teaspoon Yeast Nutrient – 10 minutes 
3.5 oz. Coffee Beans – cracked – Flameout


1 pk – Iris Ale (Wyeast Labs # 1084 – 2 liter starter)


Three Crop Ale & Flies

20Aug13_DSCF1674They say that Idaho is famous for its potatoes. It is the Potato State, or home of the famous potato, or something similar. However, since being here now for close to three months, I am wondering where are all the potatoes?  I see corn, and a lot of it, sugar beets, mint, and a few other things, but no potatoes.  I think it is time to rename Idaho – to The Fly State!  Why the Fly State?  Read on…

Take a look to the left.  That is a picture of 1.5 days of flies on one of my three fly strips.  This is in the garage after leaving the garage door open for less than 4 hours total.  I have never seen so many flies anywhere.  Maybe they are famous Idaho Potato Flies.  They just left the “fly” off.  Oh well….

I brewed my first batch of beer yesterday.  I wanted to do something easy to see how my new location worked and how the well water would affect the beer, and with the limitations I have, it worked out well.  One thing this property does not have is a sink in the garage.  This makes cleaning and obtaining water somewhat of a chore.  I have decided that I am going to purchase a sink that I will keep outside for cleaning, and will attach a water quality hose for water, as I do not want to have garden hose water in my beer and wine. 

To the right is my set-up – it is simple and easy to work with, and very similar to what I had in Juneau.  The 20Aug13_DSCF1671only difference is that I have a stronger table that will hold the weight of the equipment and the water/wort.  I also purchased a half-inch raking siphon, which I like for fast transfers, but it is somewhat of a pain to prime where there is not a lot of liquid.  I ended up transferring more turb than I wanted as I had to re-prime the siphon and it was a bit of a task, resulting in a lot of disturbance in my brew pot.  Then again, I have on occasion simply dumped my brew bucked into the fermentation chamber with no ill effects, so all will workout fine.

Now for the beer recipe- Click here for original recipe and discussion thread:  Cream of Three Crops (Cream Ale).  I have brewed this a few times before and liked it as a nice lawn mower beer, so here it is again with the addition of Williamette hops. 


Boil Size: 6.75 gallons
Batch Size:  5.10 gallons
IBU’s:  34.4 (a bit on the high side for this pseudo-style, but should be fine.)


36.5% – 3 lbs 9.9 oz. Brewers Malt 2-row
33.3% – 3 lbs 5.5 oz. Belgian Pilsner
20.1% – 2 lbs Flaked Corn
10.1% – 1 lb Flaked Rice (Minute Rice)


1 oz. – Fuggles (pellet – 15.5 IBU’s) – 60 minutes
1 oz. – Williamette (pellet – – 18.9 IBU’s) – 60 minutes


1 pk – Nottingham (Lallemand)

I put the yeast in the bottom of the fermenter and racked on top of it.  Fermentation started a few hours later and is going strong now. 

And, a picture of my brew pot and the view I have when doing my boil:


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