Pickles!

Its that time of year when the cukes start overtaking the farmers markets. Still a lot of the smaller ones, so lets make some pickles.

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About all the equipment you need to make a batch of pickles is a bucket and some jars. Not much for ingredients either, especially if you ferment them like I am for this first batch of the year. If you are looking for Vinegar based pickles, here are my IPA Pickles

All I’m using today is:

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  •  Small pickle cukes. (As little or as many as you want)
  • Kosher or pickling salt, (don’t use iodized salt)
  • garlic cloves
  • dill seed, mustard seed, black pepper corns
  • a bayleaf
  • fresh dill flowers (this optional as the dill seed is just fine)

First thing you wanna do is clean the cukes of course. Then let them cold in some cold ice water for an hour or so. This help to keep them crisper.

After the soak go ahead and cut of the tips of the cukes.

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Next get put all your other things in your fermentation crock or bucket. Here I used 5 cut up garlic cloves, some fresh dill sprigs, one bay leaf, and 1 tsp each of the mustard seed, dill seed and peppercorns. 20180712_202033.jpg

Mix up your brine. 1 gallon of filtered water and 3/4 of the kosher salt. 20180712_202933.jpg

Put your cukes the bucket and add enough of your brine to completely cover them.20180712_203157.jpg

Use a plate to keep the cukes under the brine.20180712_203142.jpg

And that’s it. Either cover the bucket with a towel or put a airlock on like I did and put it in a warm place to let it ferment.20180712_203529.jpg

After a week or so, take a test taste to see if they are sour enough. If not then let them go another day or so. Once they get where you want them pack them up in jars with the brine and put them in the fridge. (Unless you can them, they gotta stay in the fridge)

That’s its it! Start your pickles now and will be ready just in time to get your crocks back for Kraut!

 

PS: for those wanting to can these for storage this is easy too.

get your jars ready for normal canning. drain, strain and keep the liquid. pack your jars tight with the pickles. boil the liquid for a minute or two and pour into the jars leaving a 1/2 headspace. waterbath for 10 min pints, 15 quarts.

 

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Patagonia Porter

I won a pound of this Perla Negra roast grain a few weeks back so I figured I’d use it all in one blast to see what we get out of it.

All of the descriptions I’ve seen on it seem to make it out to be a “softer” roast. One of the huskless roasts, so should not have the bitter burnt aspect.

Other notes I’ve seen mention coffee and chocolate. It’s 340L so a pound shouldnt make it blacker than night, but we will see.

I also won a bag of Vienna with this, so I will use that as the base. I dont wanna hide the Perla profile so just a smidge of Crystal and I’ll call it good.

Before I got this into the fermenter I gave it a tatse. Very mild roast with bigger than expected chocolate and coffee. I can’t wait to get this one in a keg!

Cascade Red

About two weeks ago I won 3lbs of Cascade hops. 3lbs. Wtf am I gonna do with 3lbs?

IPAs I guess.

I’m more partial to Red IPA. So I dug out an old version of an amber and ramped in up a bit.20180512_190252.jpg

Also won some of this DRC that I been wanting to try. I guess keeps the deep caramel flavors but less of the prune/raisin. That would fit right in with this old amber.

Duck Creek IPA- 5 gallon

  • 11lbs 2row
  • 1.5lbs 60L
  • .5lbs double roasted crystal 120
  • 1oz Eureka @60
  • 2oz cascade @15
  • 2oz cascade @Flame out
  • Mashed at 154
  • Nottingham yeast

One of the things I just noticed about using this Mash and Boil, is that the smaller diameter boiler let’s the trub pile up pretty high.

Even after a whirlpool, a 20 minute stand to settle out, and leaving a 1/2 gallon behind under the valve, I still got 2″ of trub in the fermenter.

I will figure all that gunk into the next brew formula. I will probably never get used to that in these BiaB type systems.

I’ll probably have to start thinking about getting bigger fermenters if I wanna keep doing 5 gallon batches. That much extra trub is really going to be pushing it on volumes. The buckets should be just fine though.

Work Beer

The object of this beer is three fold. First. Get beer in the fridge for the yard working. Second. Get the kinks worked out of the Mash and Boil. Third. Try these Motueka hops.

A simple Blonde ale aught to cover all three.

  • Work Beer 3 gallon 5%

  • 5 lbs 2 row
  • .5 lbs flaked oats
  • .5 lbs 10L crystal
  • .33 oz Montueka @ 60
  • .66 Montueka @15
  • American Ale yeast
  • mashed 156

(Quick rant. First time using this brand of hops. Can’t believe how much leaves and sticks were in here. I won these,, but not sure I would purchase them after today.)

This is only the third batch on this system and its sorta been throwing me off a little. The temp swings on it are pretty severe. The heat wont kick on until it get -6 from target, and then it always over shoots by about +6. Thats, well, no good.

A couple of solutions that might help tighten it up.

First, but sadly not possible, is to adjust the endpoints on the controller. But its not adjustable. Well not yet anyway. You know someone is fed up with it and will figure a way to flash it or replace it.

Next, and probably the best bet,, just insulate the mutha so the temp dont drop in the first place. I already did a double wrap of reflectix and it certainly did help. But I think it also needs the old BiaB Blanket as well. (Yep, I know thats one sweet lookin blanket!)

Also, lets use this system like the BiaB that it really is. Full (or close to full) volumes. The more water in there, the less its likely to drop in temp. May take a hit in efficiency, but prolly not much.

The condensed tale of this brew day was quite different than the first three times on the M&B. More water and more insulation meant only a 2 degree drop in 30 min. A quick stir with the heat on, and shutting down manually when we got back to temp for another 30 minutes of mashing and I was quite happy with it.

(Any of you who also have this system and find that your mashbasket seals completely shut with grain and doesnt let the wort drip out when pulled up,, put a mash bag INSIDE the basket like you would a BiaB kettle. Works 1000x better)

Once I lifted the basket and got it into drain position, I cranked up the elements to head to boil and recirculated by hand pouring it back over the grains and mash bag until we hit 170. The wort was cloudy, but no grains or husks.

From there on out everything was groovin. I was within .002 points of all my numbers and hit all volumes dead nuts on.

For those keeping score,, this thing boils off .6 gallons an hour, and leaves .5 gallons behind under the valve.

I was indeed happy with this brew. Still need to work on routine and pretty up the wraps and such,, but I think I will be able to make this thing work the way I want. So.. tomorrow I think I will do a full sized Red IPA

All Ahead Full

Kinda fell out the mood dealing with some of the locals, and havent had the urge to brew in a while. Been dabbling here or there, cleaning up loose ends. So I need to do a quick catch up, then we will be back at it
Since I got the Mash and Boil system back December I think I have only brewed three times. Some kinks in that system,, but I think I have most of them worked out.
So I’m ready to start working on consistently with it and firm up a couple of recipes I’ve been tinkering with. Especially the 3 gallon sides of things.
Plus I gots ingredients coming out of my ears. Made a killing at a couple of homebrew contests the last couple weeks. Both in prizes and in raffles. Scales, controllers, grains, and hops! But as you will see shortly, I will be starting to make use of all that stuff. (I hope you like reading about Cascade hop recipes.)
I did get out a few weeks ago and brewed up a 10 gallon batch of an English BarleyWine with a buddy on his big ass system. We split it up, and currently am deciding if I should keg or bottle it.


Not sure I wanna tie up a keg for a year or so, and I more than enough bombers. Plus I wanna get some numbers and pics and just general data on the bottling process again, so more than likely will be capping soon.


Got the red currant wine all corked and put away. I really was surprised at how good it turned out. Needs some time on it to meld a little, but even in this short of a time its tasty. I’m sure a tasting review will be incoming as we closer to release date!
I don’t see me brewing or anything club related in the near future, so everything coming up will be for my own use, and things I can write up for this sad blog. I have a ton of bombers to fill and space to put them so should be a string of 3 gallon batches
First thing coming up this weekend will be a simple mini blonde ale to get back in the swing, and see if i can get both my spreadsheet and Beersmith dialed in for it.

If everything is kosher, the will start finalizing a Red IPA featuring… Cascades! I have a few directions to go with it, but should decide which way to head by Sunday.

It a wine time

Sometime within the past year or two, my household decided they like wine. Lots of wine. And so, my hand has been forced to get a batch going.

I did start in on this hobby making wines, but that was so long ago that I would not call myself a wine maker

Being a brewer mostly, I have nearly all of the equipment that I need to, except for the standard wine potions, but picked those up for under 10 bucks. And after perusing several wine sites, not much, if anything had really changed since my last venture.

Had planned on doing a kit, but I had a pile of red currants I was gonna make a blonde beer with. Might as well use them up.

Just over 3 lbs..or enough for a gallon. But I am shooting for 3 gallons so gonna add these to a white concentrate. Yep. The old Welches white.

I of course screwed up my volumes, but I did have enough concentrate to recover.

(Shot of the solids dropping out while the enzyme and campden are doing thier stuff)

Ended up with 4 gallons of 1.095.

Took a look this morning and the yeasties are firing on all cylinders. So I’ll report back on the first racking

1st run Mash and Boil

I thought i would do a more detailed brew day report for this brew because I am running my first batch on the Brewers Edge Mash and Boil.

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Its more or less a Grainfather without the pump and chiller, (both of which I have) but about $500 less. I had initially thought these all-in-one brew systems as a hybrid Biab, with a sparge. And sure they surely can be for smaller gravity or smaller volume batches,, but the way the instructions are written, its really a heated mash tun/boil vessel.

I want to run this first batch pretty much stock to get baselines. I wanna know what this thing can and cant do. I did however wrap with 2x layer of reflectix with 2 layers of 1/8th rubber foam between them. Since my basement is a balmy 49 degrees F, I knew those temps would really affect heating times.

Just gonna do a simple pale ale with 8lbs of grain.

I read the enclosed instructions on how to find how much water to use, but it just seemed like it would be inconsistent,, so I made a new profile on BeerSmith.

What I am coming up with for water volumes on paper is not jiving with Beersmith numbers tell me. That fact does not surprise me, and lots of online accounts seem to agree that the numbers given by BS are not right. So, I will go with mine and go from there

Since this mash tun is heated, I dont really need to worry much about strike temp. I can hit a bit low and work my way up, but the temps BS gave were in fact close.

Its really the volumes that I’m trying to figure. There isnt much to figure really. I know my kettle loss, I know my boil off (from several accounts), and I know what my fermenter volume.  The only thing that seems to be a sticking point is the grain absorption. And I really didnt think that would be an issue.

I am shooting for a .1 gallon/lb rate. A standard rate that fits most grains. I will be able to adjust later if necessary

At first I figured my mash ratio to 1.25,, but.. But there is a bit of dead space between the bottom of the basket and the bottom of the boiler/tun. This recipe called for 2.5 gallon strike and the water looked really shallow. So I moved 1/2 gallon of the sparge water to the strike volume to give a bit more room.

Hit strike temp 162 at about 45 min. Not sure how long exactly as I came back and it was there.

Was going to use my mash bag, but decided to see what this thing does first, then decide if I want a bag. (spoiler: OMG yes use a bag, don’t even screw around with out one)

Dough in was just as I expected,  way to thick. Its that deadspace under the tun basket. Will surely have to up the mash ratio next time. But did end up with a 154 mash temp.

I found it tough to get a decent temp reading for some reason. But I figured out why. The dead space. The water level is so low because of the dead space, the top layer of grain drains off and cools quickly.

Once I pushed my thermostat way down I got the same temp that was on the display. Will need to stir this a couple times during mash to get those top layers back into mash. (once a pump is in use this should be a non issue)

But since I am not using my pump, I am not going to run the heat. Will just mash as normal and stir. Maybe kick the heat on if drops too low, but because of a pre-trial with water, I do not expect it too.

Am also heating my 4.15 gallons sparge in separate kettle with a single heatstick.

Just got back from stirring at the 30 min. Was very surprised at first that the temp dropped 5 degrees in 30 min, but after a stir the temps were fine at 153.

I think this confirms that the top layer does not stay soaked with the warm wort. In a previous test I only lost 3 degrees over the hour mash. I am thinking a larger ratio would help here.

(going to be rapid fire reporting now as things are gonna start moving along faster)

-Ok dont like mashing in this thing at all. As with every flat false bottom I’ve ever seen, its clogs up and either slows waaay down or stops.

-The mechanics of this system really dont help it al all. Soon as you lift the basket of grain up out of the wort, everything inside is forced to the bottom grate, where it immediately turns to concrete and only letting any wort out in dribbles. And I have 4 gallons of sparge to send thru yet.

-Now I’m forced into a decision. Do I just keep pouring the sparge in there? It would take 3-4 hours at this rate.. Or do I stir a little knowing when I do I will be letting all the fine particles thru and into my wort?

-Made it thru, but I took the stirring route. The wort looks almost as chunky as the mash.

Now coming up to numbers.

Took a bit longer to get to boil that I liked,, but then again I was sitting there watching every move, so it probably wasn’t really as long as it felt. And of course I didnt time it,, but boil came at 2 ¾ hours after I started this morning,, seems long.

Didn’t know what to set my expected efficiency at so I left it at 80%.

I didn’t measure out the marks on the kettle but they show a preboil volume of just shy of 6.5 gallons. My predictions was to be at 6.3 so we appear to be on track.

Preboil gravity kind shocked me at first. The original recipe says I should be 1.033, but I am at 1.040. But then I realised I am going to boil off an entire gallon less. So again, right on track.

Boil is ok. Actually more vigorous than I expected. Am starting to doubt the .6/hour boil off, but we will see.

Post boil volume before chilling (using the marks on kettle) was 5.75 after chilling the level dropped to a little less 5.5. Not sure of these marks,, they could be way off. Will know better once in fermenter which i did measure out.

Ok we are into the fermenter. And here come the vitals…

  • We are at just under 5 gallons, or a little more than ¼ gallon short.

  • Gravity into fermenter is slightly over for the 80% I plugged into BS

  • Of course, tons and tons and tons and tons of trub. We will most certainly loose more than the usual ¼ gallon

  • The 5.5 marks on kettle are “close” would assume the rest are “close” as well

I will analyse this brew day tonight, but from first looks, I think we should lower the efficiency % just so we can calculate things better. Use a bigger boil off because if those marks are close as they look, we did hit our preboil. So the lowering of eff + adding more boil off we should be close.

First brew thoughts.

I like most things about this. The size, the compactness, and it dont feel like a cheap knockoff,  but this thing really needs help mostly in mechanics and procedure.

If I was starting out sure I could see this thing being ok to start on,, especially if you were going for 3 gallon Biab with no Sparge. (which is kinda what I planned to do with it)  

But if you are a seasoned brewer and expect this thing to be right up to par with your current system,, nope. Not even close.

Oh it does have a great potential,, but mods are needed. Right out of the box it just limps to the finish.  

This first, stock run gave me data. Data I sort of expected, so I’m not dissapointed.

And I gots plans. I will soon master this thing.

After the fact Update:

I have done all my measurements on the kettle and those stock hash marks on the kettle are right on the nose. 

But I did all measuring cold.

So while my initial preboil looked right, it was short because of the expansion of the hot wort. And on this batch my preboil was supposed to be 6.35 gallons, which it did looked like… but add in the 4% expansion and it shoulda looked like 6.6.

So right from the preboil we were off the exact amount we are short in the fermenter. Meaning the boil off is right, but the grain absorption is off)

Trub. Holy shit is there trub. Not used of this Biab kinda thing so seeing the cloudy chunky wort boiling and going into fermenter is un nerving to say the least. Even with whirlpool its flipping thick in there.

It looks like the next brew will be a 3 gallon BiaB style. Mainly to see is a mash bag inside the basket will help with sparging. We will see