Huzzah, part 2.

For several months I’ve been wanting to do a gruit beer, substituting herbs for hops and making a truly old school beer. I’m heading to the brewstore tomorrow to pick up grains, having already bought the herbs at the local shop Nature’s Magic. (Total cost on the herbs is a little under $6, which compares nicely to the cost of hops these days.) My basic idea is something like this(update: final recipe):

  • 3 pounds light or extra light dme
  • 1 pound wheat extract
  • 1 pound honey
  • 8 oz wheat malt
  • 8 oz 2-row malt
  • 8 oz 10L crystal malt
  • 2 oz honey malt
  • 2 oz Yarrow
  • 2 oz Mugwort
  • .5 oz Licorice root

My reasoning is as follows: Many grains were used in ancient brewing, so I’m adding wheat to approximate the mix. Likewise, honey was added to all sorts of fermented goods to be sure they reached the proper strength (this batch should be just shy of 5%). The herbs should be a nice earthy blend, slightly spicy, with bitterness coming from the mugwort – mugwort, or Artemesia vulgaris, is a relative of Wormwood. Both yarrow and mugwort are traditional ingredients in gruit. Note the absence of hops of any kind. Since in ye olden days this would have been casked, I’ll oak it in secondary to recreate that aspect of brewing. All told, it should be a fun, cheap, somewhat historical partial mash. I’ll post the final recipe when it’s final.

Also, should you want to learn more about brewing gruit ales, check out the aptly named, and for a broader look at herbs and spices and a whole lot of other cool stuff, pick up a copy of Radical Brewing. It’s worth it, and it’s 5 stars on Amazon for a reason.

New Mead Recipe + Linkdump

Well, I finally unveiled one of the meads from January at Ross’s brewparty last weekend, and it was enough of a hit that I decided to post the recipe. Briefly:

  • 4 lbs Honey
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 Tbs Cardamom, coarse ground
  • 10 bags Black Tea
  • Brandy (for bottling)

For the full instructions, check out the full recipe.

As far as the links go, I’m a fan of the gravity calculator on Got Mead. It’s for meads and fruit wines, not beer, but it makes planning your basic brews really quick. I’ve been meaning to link to Jon Sarriugarte’s project VOLT/AGED for a while now, and here’s a good excuse. He ages spirits with a 15kv Jacob’s Ladder, which is possibly the coolest thing a man can ever hope to do.

The windfall cider I mentioned in the last post has been bubbling away happily. Should it turn it, I’m thinking about trying to culture the yeast that fermented it. My cousin Nate, a homebrewer and programmer out in Colorado, gave me the idea, as he’s been doing this for a while with no ill effects. It’ll drive down costs, and allow me to be EVEN MORE OBSESSED with brewing. This can only be a good thing.

Ginger Ale at 13%? Impossible!

Oh, but it’s not only possible, but delicious. Just in time for summer, the recipe is here: Ripper Jack Ginger Ale. And, since I’ve been sitting here procrastinating, here’s another for Pomegranate Mead.

Some interesting news from the Wall Street Journal, now, on the Campaign for Real Ale. Do you get your full pint at your favorite pub?

2008 already?

Wow, time flies. I’ve been brewing a lot more than I’ve been writing lately, which is good for me, bad for those following along at home. I did find the time to finish writing up my favorite of the latest brews, the Christmas Cyser, and it’s one I’d really recommend.

Big news on the Flagon Slayer front, as well. It’s become a sort of travelling brewing party, and as a group, we’re attempting to make two batches a month, showing up on the weekend to whoever has an empty carboy. That being said, I’d like to welcome Chris and Ross on board!

January is Porter season: Chris brewed one (his first brew!) last week, and I’ll be putting one down this weekend if all goes well, and post the recipe.

Finally, I just have to share this: Linux-Based Wine Cellar Monitor. How cool is that?

I heart Bender and St. Bart

First and foremost, if you haven’t been to, you must. Simon is my new hero for building a real live Bender Fermenter. Words can not express.

I’ve been looking into growing my own hops, and it looks surprisingly cheap / easy / fun. Farms will ship you hop rhizomes for $3-$5, depending on the variety, so when they come back in stock early spring I’ll be picking some up. Odd to think about planning which hops you’ll need for brewing a beer a year or two from now, but I like the idea. It gives it a sort of permanence as well as adds pure homebrew points.

This Friday, as I’m sure you all know, is St. Bartholomew’s day, the patron saint of beekeeping, and in Cornwall the Blessing of the Mead is still celebrated every 24th of August. As such, I’ve decided on a Flagon Slayer party, where we’ll be showing Jeremy how to brew by making a Pomegranate Red Mead of my own devising, as well as sampling ample amounts, of course. A bottle of mead or some decent home/microbrew gets you in, and if you read this, you’ve probably already been invited.

Finally, since Kyle asked so nicely, I’m posting the recipe for Sima, a quick brewing Finnish lemon alcopop. It’s delicious, and costs about $2 / gallon to make.

Back in the Ville.

I’m back, and it’s high time for an update. First off, here’s a highly un-instructional video that a couple of us put together for a now mostly-defunct group called HackLouisvile entitled “How Not to Brew Beer“. You’ll need QuickTime to play it, and it’s NSFW due to language.

I managed to find an old favorite recipe, it’s up at I really need to take a picture of the final product to add to the writeup, as it looks rather unappetizing while it’s in process.

Lastly, I hear Aaron is currently in Mad Scientist mode, with plans for a “Linux-based, fermentation temperature controller for homebrewing.” That sounds quite interesting, and I hope you’ll post what you have here soon. I’d also like to say hi back to the friendly chaps over at Monday Night. I have to say, I’m quite curious about the Mint Chocolate Stout Float.

RFC: Christmas Cyser

Now’s the time to be laying in for the winter months, so I thought I’d make something Christmassy. The idea at the moment is as follows:

  • 2.5 pounds honey
  • 1/2 gallon organic apple juice
  • 1/2 pound raisins
  • several sticks cinnamon
  • 20-30 paradise seeds, crushed

…as well as the usual additives. I’m concerned about the raisins, though, as I don’t want them to be overpowering. Might need to go to 1/4 pound to be safe.  I’ll be using campden tablets, to be sure.