Kegging the Kölsch
My new keg arrived yesterday from KegConnection and I wanted to get the Honey Kölsch cold and under pressure so that I could have a bubbly taste this weekend. The clarity was something else–the Irish moss really seemed to do the job. The picture on the right has some sediment floating, but the first sample I had taken from the carboy was crystal clear. I could see completely through the carboy as you can kind of tell in the picture on the left. I’m expecting the little sediment that made it into the keg will drop once it gets nice and cold and be gone after a first purging pint.
The smell of this beer was awesome. Slightly sweet but with a crispness that one would associate with a blond ale. I can’t wait to taste it and see how it is.
Oh, I wasn’t able to take a gravity reading because I broke my hydrometer.
On tap this weekend is some much needed mulching of the vegetable garden and front beds and more bread!
More Fermentation - Bread
So I gave the bread another try this weekend. But that’s not where the story starts.
The story starts with Chad. No, not that Chad. Chad the sourdough starter. How I ended up with a sourdough starter named Chad is a story in and of itself. Let’s just go with it.
So my first attempt to bake anything using Chad was a failure. I mean, i ate it, but it was a brick. So the person who created Chad insisted that I acquire Tartine Bread and follow his instructions to make his basic country loaf. We had some Barnes and Noble gift cards laying around, so while running errands on Saturday I picked it up. I’m very glad I did.
Saturday I took a small amount of the starter, fed it, and let it sit overnight to produce the leaven. Then Sunday morning I started the process.
Following this recipe is similar to beer making in that there is a lot of down time. In this case it was two 3-4 hour fermentation (or rising) waits. However, the wait was worth it as Sunday evening I ended up with two loaves that were quite delicious.
There were a few things that I feel I could do better in the process. So I was kind of worried when I took the first loaf out of the oven. However, once I cut into it and saw the crumb it hit dawned on my that this bread may be pretty tasty.
It was delicious plain. It was delicious warm with butter and jam. I didn’t get a chance to make a sandwich with it, but I’m thinking that would be pretty fantastic as well.
So now Chad is asleep in the fridge, and I can’t wait to bake this bread again and hopefully fix some of my missteps.
Last Friday I completed my first all-grain brew with my new mash tun. It went pretty well, though there were a few spots where having an extra set of hands would have come in handy.
I enjoyed some of the lemon wheat while I brewed. The lemon really has mellowed out nicely. It’s going to be a good beer as summer starts to creep into the picture. But for the first all-grain brew at home I decided to go with a Honey Kölsch from AHS. I figured it would be a nice easy drinking beer for the warm weather coming up.
The cooler mash tun held the temperature really well over the entire hour. I think it lost maybe 1.5 degrees. I did a batch sparge just pouring in the sparge water in two attempts, letting it sit a few minutes, and then draining it off. I didn’t quite drain off all of the water, and I think I came in a little low on volume in the end. But my pot is only so big (having a bigger pot would be nice to not have to worry about that). I also probably let the sparge water get a little too hot.
I was able to get the wort temperature down right over 20 minutes, but I was also trying to put the water running through the wort chiller to good use. The starting gravity came out a little high (1.052 instead of 1.050) but that’s probably due to the lower volume. I did do something I’ve never tried before and added some Irish moss to try and get a nice clear beer.
The fermentation started in less than 24 hours, and it looked much more violent than the previous beers. I think this was due to the Irish moss making the sediment clump. The clumps were rolling around in the fermenter (which you can kind of see in that last picture). Hopefully between the Irish moss and some cold aging time in the keg, I’ll end up with a nice golden clear Kölsch. It will be like being back in Köln!
What started out as the back of the Ranger filled with dirt and a plodding trip back up MoPac ended with all of the vegetable beds planted by the end of the weekend. The seeds for corn, pumpkins, okra, and summer squash all got into the ground. I also added some herbs in the cucumber bed, along with lots of marigolds for a little extra defense. Now I need more mulch.
Mulch… it’s always more mulch.
Mash tun created!
After doing a couple of all-grain brews now with friends, I decided to create myself a basic setup with which to brew all-grain. Of course, the internet was my friend here. The 10-gallon rubbermaid cooler that Home Depot sells seems to be a favorite of people for this purpose.
I got the rest of the stuff from Austin Homebrew. The silver thing in the bottom of the cooler is a false bottom. It’s basically a domed sheet of stainless steel that has been perforated and it has a right-angle attachment. In the picture you can see a hose going from the side to the false bottom. I used some thermoplastic tubing (it can deal with the heat, and it’s stiff so it won’t collapse under the weight of the grain). I put a few hose clamps on just to make sure the hose doesn’t pop off during the mashing process.
The main question now is–what will be the first beer with this setup?
I decided to hook up the tap to the second keg and give the lemon wheat a first taste. It’s really good on the front, really tastes like a wheat beer. The banana has in fact calmed down, but there’s enough of it there to remind you of the style. The lemon does have a bitter after taste though, and I’m hoping that will mellow out with time. I really like the color. It has that cloudiness that I always associate with a wheat beer. I did learn my lesson of attaching the out connection before pressurizing the keg. I had to let some of the pressure off to get the stupid thing on. Now I will be connecting that hose when I keg the beer.
Tonight I’m heading over to a friend’s house to assist with an all-grain brew. I’m curious to see how that process works.
So today our solar panels officially got turned on and hooked up to the grid. We got a 5 kW system that consists of 20 panels. We worked with Longhorn Solar, and they were excellent. The guy visited us on the 2nd, and here we are just 25 days later with active panels. I’m curious to see how much credit we accrue before the summer hits in full. Woohoo!
If you have City of Austin electric, and you’ve ever considered solar panels, the rebates are so good right now it’s worth checking into.
Over the past weekend I got the lemon wheat from the secondary fermenter into the keg. The final gravity was right around 1.013, which was the prescribed value. I haven’t tasted this one at all yet. I’m going to try and let this one sit at least a week before giving it a taste.
The smell had mellowed out since I racked it a week ago. When I racked it the banana smell was really strong, and that seemed to have dissipated a lot. It still smelled like a wheat beer, it just wasn’t overpowering banana anymore.
My allergies hit me like a semi last week, so hard in fact that I ended up with a fever Thursday night/Friday morning. The fever was gone pretty quickly (by Friday late morning), and never really got that high at all. But my sinuses have felt like balloons. Today I finally felt back to normal, even though my nose and sinuses still felt icky. I at least felt present and normal for the first time in a few days. I bring all this up to mention that Carrie tasted the pale ale on Friday night, and she seemed to think that the flavor was getting better as it ages. I have not tasted it in a while, as I have been dealing with the allergies. I’m hoping that after another month it will really be tasty.
On the vegetable front, all of the snap beans and cucumbers have sprouted, so I’m hopeful. We have lost two tomato transplants to some animal, though one of them has re-sprouted, so here’s hoping it makes it.