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Showing posts from December, 2015

The Cider Experiments - Part 1

Years ago, I purchased a kit called "Spike Your Juice" from ThinkGeek.com.  The kit included packets of yeast, instructions, labels, and an airlock with stopper.  The instructions suggested buying a pasteurized (non-refrigerated) 100% juice with a high sugar content, then pitching the dry yeast into it and popping on the airlock.  In a few days, the yeast would produce an alcoholic wine or cider.  The results from these fermentations always seemed to range from sour to dry in flavor profile, often tasting like an unripe version of the fruit the juice was made from.  It's not too surprising that I stopped using the kit before I used up all the yeast.

While reading online about that kit, I saw some people suggest that Champagne Yeast would be a good substitute for the stuff the kit included, as it would ferment more of the sugars and give the finished product a bit more fizz.  I tried this with some juices a couple of months ago.  The results were tart and mildly carbonate…

Chapman Brewing Equipment 7 Gallon Stainless Steel Fermenter

Recently, I found the Chapman Brewing Equipment 7-gallon SteelTank stainless steel fermenter on sale on Amazon for approximately $110.  That's about half the price of the other stainless steel fermenter I own, Ss Brewing Technology's Brewmaster Bucket.

In fairness to the Brewmaster Bucket, the Chapman fermenter lacks a number of features.  The Chapman has no legs underneath it.  It's not designed to stack multiple fermenters on one another.  It has no thermowell or thermometer.  It doesn't have a conical bottom to catch yeast and sediment.  It also doesn't have a spigot you can use for bottling.  So the extra $100 buys a few features you're not getting here.

That said, there is nothing wrong with this fermenter.  It seems very well made from 304 stainless steel.  There are good strong looking handles.  The gasketed lid can be clamped down for sealing and safety when carrying.  It even ships with a 3-piece airlock.

Bear in mind as you read the rest of this revi…

Reindeer Beer - A Christmas Gift Idea for the Brewer or Beer Fan on Your List

Last Christmas, my stepchildren (aged 21+, FYI) surprised me with the four-pack of "reindeer beers" pictured at the left.

To create these, they first chose a pack of beer they knew I would like, in this case Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  You could use pretty much any other beer that comes in a brown bottle.  (I suppose you could use other colored bottles, but it wouldn't look quite like reindeer.)

Purchase plastic stick-on "googly eyes", red plastic stick-on pom-pom "noses", and pipe cleaners.

Stick the eyes and noses on the bottle necks as seen in the image at the left.

Cut some of the pipe cleaners into small pieces, about 2-3 inches long.  Leave the rest at full length.

Wrap a long pipe cleaner around the neck of the bottle, just below the cap and spread the ends out to make the "antlers".  Then take one of the small pieces of pipe cleaner and tie it around each antler to give it the shape seen above.

It's a craft item that won'…

Brewing Northern Brewer's Northy 12 Belgian Quad Kit

As a fan of Belgian style ales, I've long wanted to try Westvleteren XII.  It's considered to be one of the very best of the Belgian abbey ales, and by most accounts deservedly so.  Unfortunately, it's not offered for sale very often in the US.  Northern Brewer's Northy 12 Belgian Quad is reportedly a close approximation of Westvleteren XII.  I purchased the kit recently and decided to brew it.

Northern Brewer's kits ship as a collection of loose components in bags inside a box.  I'd ordered the kit with some other items, so separating out the components of the kit from the other items in my order took a few minutes of careful examination to make sure I had it all, and wasn't accidentally slipping the wrong thing into my Northy XII ingredients.

The ingredients in the kit include:
8 pounds of Belgian Pilsen malt7 pounds of Belgian Pale malt2 pounds of D-180 Candi Syrup1 oz. Brewer's Gold hops pellets 9.9% AA (60 minutes)1 oz. Hallertau hops pellets 3.1% A…