Home brewing in Connecticut Discussions - CT Beer Trail

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dad's Resolved Witbier

Father and son, brewing up a batch of Dad's Resolved Witbier...


video
"Looks like dirty water, but it smells good..."

Dad kicking back with a cold one while the wort boils...

I decided a week or so ago that I would brew up some sort of wheat beer with my father during his visit this week. Sort of a late father's day activity for us. So I took a look at a couple of wheat beer recipes for ideas, and went to my local homebrew shop with Dad in tow this morning to build my own recipe from what they had in stock, on the fly. Here's what I came up with...

1lbs - Torrified Wheat (steeped for 15 minutes at approx 150 degrees)
3 lbs - Muntons Wheat DME (Boil for 60 min)
1 ounce - GR Hallertau 3.8% Alph (Boil for 60 min)
1 ounce - Czech Saaz (Boil for 30 min)
3.3 lbs - Muntons Malt Extract Wheat (Boil for 15 min)
1 lbs - Pure Wildflower Honey (Boil for 4 min)
1 ounce - Bitter Orange Peel (Boil for 4 min)
1 Wyeast Forbidden Fruit Activator Yeast Slap Pack

Dad did a great job of stirring the wort and helping me keep on track with the recipe.

I'm thinking I have some sort of modified Witbier on my hands, at the very least some sort of wheat beer... Those of you that actually know what your talking about, throw me a bone here, do I have anything that fits into a style?

My Dad did a good job helping me brew, but he struggled with the digital camera...
This was the best shot he got of me...


I actually took this "action shot" of myself, just in case Dad's shots didn't come out.

I hope I have something at least half way decent fermenting in the fermentation room, AKA the guest bedroom, downstairs in the finished basement where Dad is staying.

We named it Dad's Resolved Witbier, because this is my first year as a Dad, and I brewed it with my Dad... And Resolved White is a distant relative on my Mom's side. A young boy on the Mayflower, who's Dad actually signed the Mayflower Compact... Let's hope the beer pays a favorable tribute to Dad and Resolve...

Cheers!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A quick note on Pretzel necklaces & the ACBF

We turned a few heads at the fest with our edible jewelry and rugged good looks.



I found Kenn stringing together a couple of pretzel necklaces for us when I picked him up for the ride into Boston. I really wanted to make one myself, but let's face it, I'm lazy. Fortunately Kenn is not. Nor is Dave.

When we were half way there Dave called to let us know that he had made few necklaces as well, so we had enough for everyone. They were a great idea! They set a fun tone for the day right at the start, and we were a bit of a novelty for many of the other fest goers...

While we were not the only ones there that day with pretzel necklaces, I think we pulled it off the best, if I do say so myself...



No twittering this year

This year I decided not to twitter the event, and I didn't even bother with writing any reviews. Nope, this year it was just about relaxing and having fun... Over all we had a blast at the fest, mission accomplished.

Favorite beer of the day: Allagash's Victoria (Experimental Belgian Style Strong Ale w/ Chardonnay grapes / 9.0%)

A great tasting beer with grape, almost wine like, undertones. Might be an excellent beer to share with that wine lover in your life...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Is your pretzel necklace ready for the ACBF?

I found a photo of these sweet pretzel/onion ring combo necklace on the web...



I've been talking about those pretzel necklaces I saw last year at the American Craft Beer Fest, and was considering making my own for tomorrows festivities...

My buddy Kenn asked via email this AM, "You making a pretzel necklace this year?" After that, I found my thoughts turning to the concept throughout the day, especially when work got dull...

Dave called this evening and left a message indicating he was considering making his own for tomorrow's ACBF. I think we all have too much free time on our hands. When I called Dave back he asked, "How do you make them? I mean, I got a bag of pretzels, but what's next? How do you avoid the pretzels from collecting like a giant salty pendant?" OK, I paraphrased a little, but that's the gist of it, and it got me thinking...
How do you make a pretzel necklace?

Let's consult the interweb shall we? ehow.com has a quick how-to for making Oktoberfest pretzel necklaces. We aren't heading out to Oktoberfest, but the concept should work for our ACBF purposes too...

The trick is, "Thread the twine through the loops of one of the hard pretzels, going over and under so that the pretzel lays flat. Cut two small pieces of colored ribbon and tie them tightly on either side of the pretzel, securing it to the twine. Repeat with the soft pretzel, then the other hard pretzel" Bottom line, it's all about the ribbon...

Kids, don't try this at home...
"Always be careful while eating and walking, as this action presents a choking hazard."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tips for this years American Craft Beer Fest goers

As I prepare to head to Boston this weekend for this year's American Craft Beer Festival, I've been reviewing my posts from last years adventure to gather some lessons learned and best practices.

I decided to accumulate them here in the hopes that they may help you, a fellow fest goer, enjoy the event this weekend...

Parking for the fest: Bring quarters and fill the meter rather than using a lot if you only plan on hitting one session and leave town shortly after. $3-$4 in the meter to cover your time at the session versus $10 - $12 for the day, that's based on last year's findings. Now if you're going to stick around all day, all bets are off...

Footwear matters: I never thought I'd say this, but footwear matters... Yes, yes, I sound like my wife now, but seriously, sandals are not the best thing to have on your feet if you're going to be standing and walking around all day.

Lots of people, lots of walking, lots of feet...

Rock stars of the beer world: Beer "celebs" are really just normal people. So if you see Garret Oliver or perhaps Anat Baron, just say hi... No biggy...



Last year Garrett Oliver poured me a beer and we chatted very briefly.
A very approachable guy...
What's worse the shirt or my double chin???

Time IS on your side: 4 hours of unlimited 2 ounce beers is really more than enough time, so relax! I had this unnecessary sense of urgency when the event doors opened. But I promise you, there's plenty of time to try the beers you want and then some. In fact, pace yourself... Don't over due it, you want to enjoy the subtle nuances the beer has to offer.

Go easy, take your time, relax like the guy above...

Consider the order of your samples: After 8 samples, it becomes hard to really appreciate the subtle nuances of the beer, especially if you start off with a big hop bomb of a brew and then try something light after...

"Why do all the beers taste like that Double IPA I had earlier? hmmmmm"

Hydrate: Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after the session. I always get tired when I get de-hydrated. Last year I didn't hydrate enough and essentially crashed after the session.

Kenn re-hydrates after the fest at the Bell in Hand...

Consider the necklace: Last year some folks had string necklaces adorned with pretzels... Brilliant, salty pretzels at arms reach, without taking up your free hand or your sample hand. I even saw one person with a necklace that included a sample cup holder, freeing up hands for tasting notes, event twittering, and bathroom breaks...

I have no idea who the folks pictured above are,
but I was very impressed by their pretzel necklaces.


How about you? Do you have beer festival tips and tricks? If so, please leave a comment and share your ideas!

Fermentation Friday June 2009

The dudes over at brew-dudes are hosting Fermentation Friday this month and their chosen topic is...


How do you beat the heat of summer time brewing?

For me, the warm weather means brewing out on the back deck, which I think makes the process all the more enjoyable. I'm not a big fan of slaving over a hot stove or hanging out in a dusty garage for hours on end when I have a nice back yard and deck as a more cheery alternative. One of the best gifts I've received in recent years was the turkey cooker my wife got me for brewing beer. I'm really looking forward to brewing outside with my Dad at the end of the month when he visits. Something about a bunch of buddies hanging out around an open fire, even a propane powered one, outdoors enjoying a beverage and some good conversation, should be fun!

Now fermentation temps is a different matter all together. I'm fortunate to have a finished basement that stays relatively cool all year round. At least it stays withing appropriate temps for most ales. We did have a few spells last Summer where it got so hot, some of my brews were in jeopardy, but I haven't had too many issues. Unless you count the now infamous Frankenbeer, which used an ale yeast that still required cooler temps than the others I have previously used.

In that case, I kept the carboy upstairs in my office, with the door shut and the window air conditioning unit running 24/7. The added cost to my electric bill really wasn't worth it, the beer wasn't so great. (Although it did improve considerably with age...)

Over all nice weather trumps using snow banks for wort chilling any day...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Father's Day Approaches

OK, well my plans for brewing a wheat beer in time for the 4th of July were dashed. I just ran out of time. So I have some alternate plans...

Me and Dad pose for a quick shot before entering the Custom Brewcrafters brewery tour in upstate NY, Dec 2007. Good times!

My Dad is coming up to CT from NC to visit the entire week building up to the 4th. My son, who will be just a few weeks shy of 1 year old by then, will spend the whole week with my dear 'ol Dad. Three generations of manliness and such, good times. (My wife will be finishing up her last week of work before she throws in the towel to become a stay at home Mom...)

To celebrate, I think I brew a batch of beer with Dad. On his last visit, I dragged him off to the homebrew supply shop to buy a secondary and the Tap-A-Draft kit... He even pitched in and helped me rack a batch to the new secondary... But this year, it'll be brewing on the back deck...

At the end of the week, we'll all pile into the family truckster and head Northwest to upstate NY where the rest of the family (my brothers and their wives and kids) will be converging for the 4th... I wont have any homebrew to bring with me, but at least Dad and I can brag about our brewing adventures. And perhaps we'll pay another visit to a local brewery...

In the short term, I'm heading out to the American Craft Beer Fest Saturday, last year was fun, fund and more fun...

And then my wife and son are taking me out on Sunday (after church) for a Father's Day meal and pint at John Harvard's... Should be a nice time, really looking forward to it!

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