100 Bottles of Beer

19Sep01_Beer__3001076Last and this weekend, I brewed beer. Last weekend was a Robust Porter, and this weekend I did an Blonde Ale. Today, I racked last weeks Robust Porter and all I can say is that even after only one week, it is very tasty. Still needs to sit for a few weeks, but it is nice.

I had a small issue starting the Porter, and it took 40 hours for the yeast to kick in, and when it did the temps went up pretty fast.  It hit 75  degrees for a few hours while I was at work, but settled down when I cooled it.  It is not resting at 64 degrees along with this weeks Ale, which is fermenting away.

I find that brewing beer is quite a bit more interesting, and more difficult, than making wine or mead.  There are so many variations on what ingredients you can use, how long and how to handle your mash, different ways to sparge, and how long to boil.  Not to mention hops.  So far though, I am hitting my numbers, and am turning out a 75% efficiency, which I am happy with. 

Pictures – Set up in the garage; dark, dark Porter; boiling the Ale; grain for future beer.

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Thirteen month ago, I started a Blueberry Wine and a Blueberry Mead.  I tasted both today, and the wine if OK, and the mead is fairly good.  I plan on bottling them next week and letting them age in the bottle for a while.  I would say that I went to high on the alcohol with both of them.  Next time I will shoot for 10% rather than 14. 

The Strawberry-Rhubarb wine from the summer is good, though there is a Rhubarb taste that only Rhubarb lovers could like.  I racked and stabilized the wine, and will see what it tastes like in two weeks and see if it could benefit from sweetening. 

The Jalapeno wine was also racked.  I did not stabilize it, as I am not going to sweeten it.   It is a bit harsh from the peppers, but it is fairly good considering how hot it is.  This, I think, will make an excellent cooking wine. 

One last photo – The wines!

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The two wines under the towel are a Cabernet, which tasted great, and a Merlot, which is even better.  The Cabernet will be bottled next week, and the Merlot the following week.

Hops, Crab Apples, and Beer

12Sep10_Beer_IMG_0494After a week of being quite sick, I was out this weekend looking for various plants.  Though I was seeking a source of Bog Myrtle, Heather, and Mugwort, I found instead, a rather abundant source of Oregon (Pacific) Crab Apples.  In less than 15 minutes, I picked about a gallon of the apples, probably making more than a few bears very unhappy.  As for the plants I was looking for; I will have to wait until next year, as most of the plants are either succumbing to fall, or are in the mountains, and I have not recovered from my cold sufficiently to hike so where mountain heather grows.

What I found interesting is that I have passed by the same place several times per year for the past 30 years, and have never seen the apple trees before.  Several of the trees looked quite old, with bent and mangled trunks.  I tried to pull up one of the new trees, but it was too firmly attached.  I plan on returning to the site in the Spring to bring home two or so of the trees for my garden. 

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I returned to the Jensen-Olson Arboretum yesterday to see if the hops had developed cones yet.  They have not, unfortunately.  I spoke with one of the volunteers about the hops plants, and he stated that they are quite old, initially growing on one of the sheds on the property.  He had no idea if cones ever developed, so I suppose I will have to find out by growing my own next year. 

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Bottled a batch of Bock today.  Three weeks and it should be ready, if it all does not explode in the bath tub, that is.

An extra picture today!  While at the arboretum, the volunteer cave us some poppy seeds from the poppies I like, as well as a Golden Delicious Apple that had fallen from the tree.  It is not large, as can be seen, but in Juneau, for an apple it is almost a miracle…

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