Category Archives: Home Brewing

Hoppy Easter

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What perfect timing to taste our first home made brew with added Hops! Its’s a Brew Canada “Canadian Lager” with “Cluster” Hops – we’re calling it Hoppy Hoppy JoyJoy. I am SO impressed with the taste, the carbonation, and the clarity. Aging in the secondary, it was pretty cloudy and I didn’t think we would get the result we have.

We accidentally disturbed the hops sitting at the top of the brew andreally kicked up the hops. We don’t own a beer filter of any sort yet, so we MacGyvered a filteration operation with the gold permanent coffee filter. We probably lost about 3 litres of beer to sediment and human error, but I think it was worth it for clarity of the end result.

This is the first beer we have brewed that has a really nice crispness to it. It’s super drinkable right now, it needs no more aging. Next time I think we can be bolder with the hops. We left them in for only 3 days at the end of the process, and there is only a slight overtone of hops.

IPA Bottled!

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Today we bottled the India Pale Ale, for which we used Munton’s Plain Light Malt Extract. This is the first brew which we tried the “fancy” sugar, and we did notice a difference, especially in the primary. It took almost an extra day to start vigorous fermentation. The instructions said to bottle after 6 days in the secondary, but we left it for two weeks instead. It can only make it better in the long run! Here’s a photo of the IPA fermentaion:

It’s true that aging does make it tastier. The Pilsner (our second batch) which was bottled on February 19th, had a tanginess to it when we tasted it a couple weeks later. Now, a month and a half later, it has smoothed out and it just tastes awesome. Patience is everything, for beer and wine, I’m learning. KEEP A JOURNAL if you’re brewing – trust me, the mind gets quite foggy when you get so many going.

We are up our ninth batch of beer! We’ll have to do something special for our tenth brew. I’m thinking our Canada Day special – a Maple Red! 🙂 That would certainly give it a nice long opportunity to age to perfection.

Beginner Beer Brewers

Tonight we will be bottling our 4th and 5th batches of beer! We have been experimenting with the different options available out there. Wert, concentrated juice, and malt are the three we have been able to play with so far. On deck is a red all-grain (23 L of juice!) and another malt extract – but this time we bought additional hops.

Our first batch of beer was made with a Wert by Brew House – Oktoberfest. Our silly little cat decided he wanted to play with the box it was in and scratched open the bag – so we took it as a sign and began the brew that night. We carefully followed the directions for sanitizing and two-step fermenting, and what resulted was an incredibly tasty reddish, not too heavy, tangy brew that I would have paid $9 a pint for at a pub!

Next up was the concentrate, a Pilsner. We definitely noticed the scent of this one – sweet, almost like apple juice! We’ve been anticipating trying this one, as the process for both that and the previous wert was drawn out almost to the length of brewing wine.

Shortly after starting the Pilsner, we began our first malt as well, an Australian Draught. Once again we followed the directions as closely as possible – boil water, dissolve sugar and malt, and pour into sanitized carboy. Where the heck do you get a funnel big/safe enough for hot liquid like that? Well, our old BEER BONG sure came in handy! We took it apart and voila!

This brew was so active the airlock bubbled over. The specific gravity dropped as expected and we were able to bottle it – the next day, when we bought a capper that actually “worked”. Capping the old moosehead bottles, we questioned the integrity of the seal. Seems to be sealed fine thus far, but apparently twist-off bottles aren’t the best way to age your beer.

We immediately started two more batches, a dark and a wheat. It will be our first recipe – simply adding raspberry extract to the wheat before bottling. The dark ended up with a tad too much water, so we tried adding just a little more sugar to it so fermentation would still happen correctly. At this point both of the batches have sat almost twice as long as recommended because the specific gravity doesn’t seem to want to drop. Our inital thought was the temperature we are keeping it at is too low (the wheat measured at 22C) but after doing a little research we discovered that some malts might not drop as far as the instructions say. Still not sure how that is going to affect the brew’s final alcohol content though. Once again we had the airlock bubble over but we got great advice from another brewing buddy – find a plastic tube that just fits in the top of the carboy and run it into a bucket of water – that way it can burp without being contaminated. Funny, our dismantled beer bong came in handy once again…!!

Sunday we’ll be tasting the Pilsner and Tuesday we’ll be tasting the Draught. Highly anticipating this moment, as from here on in we may not have to supplement our beer supply with expensive, store-bought beers anymore!

Cheers!

Cheeky Monkey done!

 

At last we have heat-sealed the tops of our wine! We have two batches aging at this point, one we call “Sleepy Cat Merlot” and the one pictured above, “Cheeky Monkey” (a Cabernet Sauvignon).

We started the Sleepy Cat at the beginning of December, bottled on New Year’s Eve (coincidentally we got engaged that same night), and have decided to age that one at least 3-4 months, as suggested. We have opened one bottle about 6 weeks after and noticed that already it had begun to taste a little less “ripe” and “homemade” as the home-brewed wine is notorious for.

The Cheeky Monkey was bottled mid-January and we’ve tried it once since then. It’s not quite as ripe tasting off the bat. It certainly had a bit of  a fizz to it – I think we could have done a better “degassing” of it before we bottled…we’ll see how it turns out next time we open a bottle!

What the process has taught me so far is the importance of aging. Each time we open a bottle it has changed, and it is so neat to be able to taste the process from bottling day 1. The wine changes when you open the bottle too! Over the course of an hour, the wine changes a little with every sip. I don’t think I ever noticed this when I was drinking store-bought wine.

Cheers!

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