New barrel!

This is a barrel given to me by homebrewer-turned-Pro Matt Becker of Brewery Becker, Brighton Michigan. 

It’s long neglected, having its last batch of Flemish ale added to it before I started homebrewing. There’s about 3 gallons left in there now (The angels have been drinking heavily), but it’s unpalatable. 

However! There’s hardly any hint of acetobacter, the vinegar causing bacteria, so the barrel should be recoverable. It will need to continue to be a sour barrel, there’s no getting away from that. I think the first batch in withbe a flanders red. Tessie particularly likes that style. Whether we switch it up or use it as a solera is up for debate. 

First steps will be emptying, and spraying out with hot water.

I’ll be using the keg washing machine for that, so I’ll close this post out, and get started with one about that poiece of equipment before anything elae. 

Happy Burns’ Night!

It’s the birthday of Robert Burns today, so I give you, the Ballad of John Barleycorn, which tells the story of whisky being made! 

There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
QAnd they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.

They took a plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.

But the chearful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all.

The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong,
His head weel arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.

The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.

His colour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.

They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then ty’d him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.

They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.

They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.

They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.

They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.

And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.

John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.

‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy;
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!

Better late than never…

I said on January 1st that I would be brewing a very large Burton ale. I never got around to it that day, which happens around here. Tessie was brewing, there was cleaning to be done, plus there’s a toddler about.

Me and TheLittlestHomebrewer got to it today, though! This is TheLittlestHomebrewer helping stir the mashing grains. Note the lack of anything to stir with. I snapped this JUST after he dropped the spoon into the pot. He’d been doing pretty well before that, though.

A 2.5 year old in a striped sweater with a hand over a kettle of hot grains

There is no spoon…

I’ve not really the time to do all grain brewing all the time right now, so we did this as a partial mash. There’s 7lbs of Golden Promise in that mesh bag, to which we’ll add another 13lbs of pale malt extract.

This beer gets an entire pound of East Kent Golding hops (at 5.1% Alpha Acids), and I’ll be using the Mangrove Jack M79 Burton Union yeast, because I’ve got an entire pound of the stuff in dry form and it’s appropriate for the style. I quite like this yeast, but it’s sadly been discontinued by the manufacturer. Before I run out of this bag, I’ll need to grow some and put it in the private yeast bank, unless I can figure out if it really is the same as White Labs WLP023, Burton Ale yeast.

Here’s the recipe:

There’s whisky (and oak) in the jar

A 12oz ball jelly jar with a stick of oak honeycomb within, in front of a laptop with lots of stickers
So far, this is my favourite method of oaking a beer if it’s not going into one of the barrels. Deep within that amber liquid, there’s an oak honeycomb from Black Swan Cooperage.

The honeycombs are much cleaner to deal with than cubes or chips, and I can reuse them a couple times if I stick the comb back into the jar with whiskey to keep things largely sterile.

I said in the previous post that we’d be using Famous Grouse for the wee heavy. Well, Tessie saw a bottle of Jamesons Caskmates Stout Edition at the store, and decided to buy that instead of Grouse, so the oak is sitting in Lauder’s instead.

What? You wanted me to soak oak in Jameson that had been aged in a barrel that had aged stout before that and Jameson before that? I’m not Dr Seuss does New Holland over here.

Happy New Beer!

There is an old Scots tradition that says the way you begin the year is the way you’ll spend it. My great- grandmother would thus spend all of the week between Christmas and Hogmanay cleaning the house, so the year began with a clean house.

We spent the moments of count down with the house full of friends and family, and truth be told, the house was tidy, if one overlooked the pile of beer, perry, wine, and mead bottles spread over the tables.

But the real beginning is today, when we Ferment All The Things!

She’s doing extract plus specialty grains, I’m doing a partial mash.
Tessie has three 2.5 gallon batches prepped for today with recipes from The Naked Brewer, starting with the Fig and Clove Dubbel, followed by the Cranberry Belgian Pale, and a Wee Heavy that we’ll age on an oak honey comb soaked in The Famous Grouse. We love our scotch, but we’re not using Highland Park 18 year as suggested in the book. We have standards.BeerDay.jpg

A bit later I’ll be making a 5 gallon batch of a 1.120ish OG Burton ale, the 1846 Truman XXXXK from The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer.

I started the fermenting with a 6 gallon bucket of red wine I’ll never drink. Pesky grape allergy. But Tessie and Ash will love it!