Category Archives: Amber

Ancient Yeast!

Just a quick link to a story I read in Wired. Apparently, a scientist has harvested yeast from an insect trapped in amber, and they’re making a beer out of it. Very interesting, hoping I’ll be able to find it to get a taste.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-08/ff_primordial_yeast

In other news, have an Amber Ale and a Scottish Strong Ale in the secondary. I’m feeling a whole lotta bottling coming on.

The Four Stages of Homebrewing

So today is a momentous occasion, full of brew-significance. We have beer in (or soon to be in) all four stages of the homebrewing life-cycle.

First off, our 10 gallon batch of Amber ale is ready to make the move from secondary into bottles. I’m a bit wary of this batch, as it turned out unusually light. I don’t want to make no weak beer! But we’ll see how it comes out. One of our other “weaker” brews as the Wit, and lots of other people liked it even if it wasn’t Andrew and my favorite.

Making the jump from primary to secondary is the Thai Pale, put down by my lovely wife Amber and I a couple weeks ago. This is a 5 gallon experiment, spiked with a massive amount of ginger (think head-sized), lemongrass and some spicy chiles that hopefully won’t bite back too much. Those little Thai chiles can be really hot if you’re not careful.

The third beer that’s happening is a porter we’re going to brew. We’re aiming for something with a little more chocolaty notes this time. I know, that’s normally a stout sort of thing, but we don’t like playing by the rulebook here.

So what about the fourth? Well, Amber’s out of town so I’ve invited tons of the guys I know over for a day of brewing, video games (MARIOKART WII!) and chili. And of course, what would a guys’ brewing day be with consuming some beer? Just doesn’t seem like it should be allowed.

There you have it, the four stages of homebrewing, all in one 24 hour period. Life is good.

Long time…

…both since I wrote on the brew blog (or any other blog for that matter), and since we put some beer down. It took several months after my daughter Coraline was born for us to get back into the brewing routine, and when we did the beer languished in secondary for a really long time.

Back in August we started a Russian Imperial Stout. Looking to imitate my favorite beer on Earth–Rogue’s Russian Imperial Stout–it was a spendy batch, with nearly double the ingredients for those voracious yeast to chew on.
With that well under way, we also put an IPA in the works. We’d done one late last year, and it has been among our most popular brews when sharing with friends and family. The intensely hoppy beers of the Northwest have been growing on me, I have to admit. I’m still most fond of the dark beers, but some nice, spicy, hoppy beer doesn’t go down wrong either.
So that got us up until the end of September, with both batches in the secondary when life suddenly exploded. Weeks flew by, we were out of town, swamped around the house, didn’t manage to catch Andrew for ages, and before I knew it I couldn’t exactly remember when we’d made that beer in the secondary. Every once in a while it’d bloop┬áin the corner. There wasn’t anything green or pink or orange growing, but I felt guilty for not treating my beer right. It deserved to be bottled and enjoyed.
This past weekend we finally got together and bottled (along with brewing a rather pale looking batch of Amber–we’ll see how that goes). There was a great deal of tension as we got the first bit of the beer into a glass to sample, then move it on into the bottling bucket. Would it be ruined by the long sit on a small layer of yeast? Would the light and time in the carboy have flushed ten gallons down the drain?
Hallelujah! The Russian was excellent, even flat (we prime in the bottles). The IPA also showed no ill effect from the time in the carboy, although it was a little sweeter than I remember the recipe being before. Hopefully it’ll smooth out in the bottles.
So there’s an answer for those who might be wondering how long you can have a beer sit in secondary. Three or four months doesn’t seem to be an issue, though I’m not likely to try that experiment again.

A Year in Brews

Hard to believe, but it’s been over a year since Andrew and I started brewing. Things have gone much better than I had originally imagined, and I’m enjoying myself even more than I would have thought possible.

In celebration, here’s a rundown of the brews we’ve made and how they turned out:

  • Porter (P1) — Our first attempt, 1 1/2 gallons short and a little weird, but drinkable. Ah, sweet success!
  • Stout (S1) — Tasty, and especially excellent after the “passable” port
  • Trappist Ale (T1) — Kit was a Christmas gift. Very nice, with the bubble gum/banana fruitness expected of the variety.
  • Nut Brown (B1) — First real failure… just turned out with a weird flavor, overly foamy.
  • Porter (P2) — Fantastic redux on the porter. One of my favorite batches.
  • Irish Red (R1) — Good red color, nice flavor, a solid entry.
  • West Coast Stout (S2) — Great stout. When I found one more six-pack of it recently in the utility room, I actually cheered.
  • Habanero Amber (H1) — Solid Amber ale + habanero kick. Not kill-your-taste-buds-off hot, but you definitely need another drink by the end of it.
  • Belgian Wit (W1) — Our lightest beer yet. Expected more of a spiciness from the coriander and orange zest, but drinkable.
  • IPA (I1) — Enter the hops! Not quite as light as many IPA’s in color, but good flavor.
  • Stout (S3) — Another good stout. Intended for gift-giving (really, I will give it away soon once it’s rested enough!)
  • Porter (P3) — Ditto the S3. Good porter effort, but not long for my home unfortunately.
  • Porter (PB) –Arg, busted thermometer screwed the batch!
  • Porter (PB’) — Still in the carboys, but it’s the “baby porter” for after my wife can drink again.
  • Stout (SB/S4) — Stout base for a bourbon spiked stout. Still in the primary, but hopes are high!

All in all, far more success on that list than I expected getting into the brewing game. Plenty of other challenges ahead, but then the rewards make it all worthwhile.

Keep brewing out there folks!

Is it getting chile in here?

Today’s a momentous brewing day. Several weeks ago, Andrew and I did our first double-batch! He’d recently moved into his own home, and since we’ve got two houses, it only makes sense that we’d have two beers brewing.

So it’s bottling day for those next two batches. One is a redux on the stout that we’d done earlier, shooting for a bit more malty, less hoppy take. Turns out the original recipe we were using was more of a West Coast stout, which tends to the hoppiness more than we’d prefer.

The second batch was the more exotic and exciting–a habanero amber ale! We’d finally gotten comfortable enough with the last couple batches to try something a little different. Now one of my favorite beers ever is called the Hot Tamale is only available on tap at the Old Market Pub and Brewery, which I don’t live too close to. I’ve had a lot of chile beers that give you a hint of heat, but this beer was hot!

Given my love for all things spicy, we had to try this concoction ourselves. After talking to the guys at Main Street, we found the procedure was pretty simple. You put the peppers in for the last fifteen minutes of the boil. To test it out before-hand (and you should check it, since peppers vary wildly in heat levels!), just boil 1/20 of the pepper amount you’re considering for fifteen minutes, then let that cool all the way down to room temperature. Then test it out. This is going to be a bit hotter than the final product, and in our case was spicy! It’ll be a few weeks before we can give it a real check, but I’m hugely excited.

And to make matters even better, after bottling today, we’re going over to hang out with some friends who do all-grain brewing. Not sure I can imagine a better brewing day!