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November 2008 Archives

November 23, 2008

Batch 14 Writeup

Wow, that was a long 2 weeks...

Batch 14 was consumed several months ago at a party for my office. Got good reception, but no specific comments so nothing really worth writing up here.

Some of it also went as a bribe to a sister company who graciously offered to host some servers of ours for some business stuff we were doing. Again, I never got any specific feedback worthy of posting here.

And, it's been too long since I tasted it, I don't remember much. What I do remember, however, wasn't not favorable of the malted barley. I might try that again some other time, but not now. Also, the Avacado honey tastes good by itself, but not so much in the root beer.

So, next time (read: today), I'm using Alfalfa honey (what they had; I'm still waiting for Buckwheat again). Otherwise, I'm sticking with the same recipe.

I'll post again when I've written down a "as brewed" recipe and process.

Batch 15

Alright here's what I did today:

3gal nice clean drinking water (I have R/O water), about o1 gal of which is ice.
6c Organic Alfalfa honey (up from 5c) from a local bee keeper (Stoltley's Bee Farms)
3.5oz Sassafras (down from 4oz, all I had left; mental note, order more)
1tsp Anise seed (up from 1/2tsp)
3 vanilla beans (up from 2), cut and gutted, husks and all
2tsp Wintergreen extract

The usual procedure, with a few changes: Boil 2gal of water (I have a much larger pot now). Stir in honey slowly, making sure it doesn't hit bottom and burn. This should take about 5 minutes. Add sassafras, anise and vanilla beans (guts, husks, the whole thing). Bring to a _NEAR_ boil, just when you start seeing bubbles, then back off the heat a bit and stir constantly, preventing a full boil, for 15 to 20 minutes (kinda lost track). The key here is to not let it get to a full rip roarin' boil. I think this helps keep some of the bitter compounds out of the steep (kinda like with tea.) Kill the heat. Skim off the bulk of the chunky bits with a colander-on-a-stick (if anyone knows what this is really called, please educate me. Otherwise, I'll keep calling it a COLANDER ON A STEEK!!) I put these scoopings into another colandar in a small bowl to let them drain. Siphon the good stuff from the pot into a keg via The New And Improved Spiffy Cheapo FIlter-O-Matic, Mark ][ (tm, pat pend). This gets the majority of the good stuff, but some will be left at the bottom that you can't get with the siphon because it just sucks up too much chunky bits that clog the host. I did the rest with a ladle into the NaISCF-O-M][(tm, pat pend). Top off with ice, and pour in whatever drains out of the chunky bits you pulled out earlier. Add the wintergreen, seal up, shake to mix ice and wintergreen into the soda, pressurize, burp, and store in the kegerator for a few weeks.

This process was a bit more complex than before because I did a few new things:

- I did not bring the steep to a full boil. The theory here is something I picked up from being absolutely addicted to tea in the morning. If you steep tea straight from a full boil, it will be more bitter than if you steep a few degrees below a full boil (ie, let the water sit a bit, pull it before it boils, drop an ice cube in the pot, etc.) So I thought I'd try the same thing here. Initial tests are positive, but the proof is in the pour 2 weeks from now.

- I changed the ingredients around a bit, some out of necessity, some out of qualitative evaluation of previous batches. I upped the honey from 5 to 6 cups to add a bit more sweetness. I upped the anise from 1/2tsp to 1tsp 'cuz I still couldn't really taste it in the last batch. I upped the vanilla from 2 to 3 beans 'cuz I can't really taste it, and because they're probably nearing the end of their shelf life and need to get consumed. I decided to leave the wintergreen where it is, at 2tsp. I only had 3.5oz of sassafras, so that's all that went in. This was not intentional.

- I steeped at a lower concentration. Before, I only had a pot large enough to steep about 1gal of water. That pot was lost in the Great Jam Making Session of 2008 (plum jam burned in it; we still haven't been able to get the layer of carbon off the bottom), so we got a replacement, and apparently a larger one. So I was able to steep with about 2gal of water (might have been a little less; I didn't measure.) The final concentration didn't change, but the steeping concentration did, which can change the compounds that come out of the ingredients. We'll see what this does.

I spilled a bit while ladling at the end and tasted my mess; it was _GOOD_. Like, _REAL_GOOD_. We'll see how this turns out. I'm a little worried about having used so much honey; it's kinda sweet, but what I tasted was more concentrate than the final result, so we'll see.

Now, it's a waiting game. We're hosting a holiday party on Dec 13, 3 weeks from now, so the timing will be nearly perfect for a tasting. I'll post again after the party, if not a bit sooner.

About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Mark's Blog in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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