Monday, September 27, 2010

Experiment: Belgian Candi Syrup


Most homebrewers are taught, or have somehow come to believe that sugar, plain refined sucrose, is the devil. It makes your beer "cidery". It's a relic of the old days. Of a time of poor ingredients and even poorer methods. It smacks of the sort of cost-shaving that is the hallmark of The Big Guys, added to save a few pennies at the expense of real flavor and "real" beer.

Across the pond, well, outside the confines of the Reinheitsgebot at least, brewers have long known that yes, sometimes you could save a dime by using sugar but you can also add character to a beer. In fact, sugar allows you to do some things that are much more difficult to do with all grain brews, and to achieve flavors unavailable from malt. That these sugars and syrups have left such a mark on the brewers of England and Belgium is shown by the fact that many continue to use brewing sugars, even after changes to tariffs and tax structures have made the sugar much more expensive in comparison to malt than it once was.

Though there are some notable Belgian brewers who do not use sugar, almost all do. And for good reason. Sugar, and here I mean plain sucrose, will ferment out almost completely. This means you can add alcohol without adding body, a hugely important characteristic in the effervescent, strong, and yet satisfying beers of Belgium. The monks call this balance 'digestibility', a character that everyone should try to emulate whenever brewing a Belgian. Without some serious skills, equipment, ingredients and practice, it is very difficult to get the degree of attenuation seen in most Belgian strong beers, typically more than 80%, without the use of sugar. Failure to reach that level of attenuation results in a heavy, cloying beer that seems to sit in your belly like a gargoyle in a cathedral basement, rather than a spray of Summer sunlight through an Abbey stained-glass window. (Preferably not a spray of Summer colors on an Abbey window. Always in moderation.) Point is, you should always be adding 10-20% sugar to your Belgians, and I like to add up to 10% in British beers as well.

But not just any sugar will do. Much has been said about how "Belgians use beet sugar" and that that somehow makes it clearly superior. Allow me to say poppycock.


At the level of refinement we see table sugar, the clear white crystals, sucrose is sucrose. It's a fructose and a glucose showing a little too much PDA and that's it. Any 'character' between the sugars would be the result of impurities, which you just don't see much of in refined sugar. Sugar is sugar, cane or beet, and I've not seen anything to convince me otherwise.

However, Belgian brewers are known for using something called 'Candi Sugar'. This has been available for a while in rock form, and more recently in syrup form. In it's lightest form, clear candi sugar, it's basically just the exact same damn thing as table sugar. If you buy those little clear rocks you are being suckered into paying roughly 10 times too much. Just use table sugar. If you really, absolutely must have it in little rock form, go ahead, make a simple syrup and dangle a string in it for a week or two. Rock candy will form, just like in elementary school. That's how they do it. Really. It isn't magic. Clear Candi sugar is just table sugar. Don't waste your money.

The darker colors on the other hand are something more special. Without them you really can't make a proper Dubbel or Strong Dark. Many of the abbey brewers will mash in with pilsner malt, maybe a little wheat or carpils, and then add color and flavor solely with the darker syrups. Fortunately, in the last few years Dark Candi, inc. has made them available to homebrewers. But how special is dark candi sugar?

It's just caramel after all, how hard can it be?

Well, yes you could take plain sugar and caramelize it until it is really dark and you'll have something that will have some interesting dark caramel flavors. But you'll get more toffee and burnt caramel, like you might find in a nice Toddy Porter, than you'll get dark fruit, cherry, rummy flavors. Also it will probably turn into a rock when you're done.

To really get at the dark fruit and chocolate notes in dark candi sugar, a little chemistry is needed. If you were just to caramelize the sugar as above, you're using pyrolysis to break down the sucrose under heat, at temperatures about 320 degrees F. But the flavors in the darker candi syrups come also from a different process, our good friend the Maillard Reaction. Here the sugar browns through the combination of heat and complex reaction with amino acids, producing similar yet distinct flavors from caramelization. It's the reason bread crust browns and tastes good, for example.

Poking around on the internet one day I came across this thread on Homebrewtalk. Though I'd read about this sugar chemistry in both Radical Brewing and Brew Like A Monk, I'd never tried to actually make some dark candi sugar from scratch. In the past I'd just made do with inverting and deeply caramelizing various sugars, which frankly works fairly well. But this looked like a fun experiment.

The basic idea is that you're making a syrup with the notable addition of an ammoniac compound, in this case our good friend and common yeast nutrient di-ammonium phosphate (DAP). The DAP breaks down, providing free nitrogen and a phosphoric acid to supercharge the maillard browning process. Once either boiled off or consumed in the reaction, the ammonia is gone, leaving a funky dark maillard candi syrup.



So I set out one afternoon to make a test batch or three.

The recipe I used was SnickASaurusRex's Sugar #5:
Over medium heat bring to a boil

2 Lbs Sugar
1 Cup Water
3 tsp DAP

Raise this to the terminal temperature of 290F. At 290F begin stirring and add in:

1 Cup Water

Continue stirring until the sugars are dissolved. Again, bring the solution up to 290F over medium heat. At 290F begin stirring and add in:

1 Cup of Water

Stir this until the sugars are dissolved and the temperature starts to rise a couple degrees. This Should be right at or just above soft ball (240F). This is when the syrup is done. Stop the cooking by submerging the pan in cool water or by transferring the syrup to a preheated mason jar.
So I got everything together and started boiling it on the stove.

And it was a complete failure.

A word on yeast nutrients. Frankly, there's a poor naming convention with regards to what is a "yeast nutrient", "yeast energizer" and so on. For this you need DAP, straight pure DAP. If it's clear, it's probably DAP. If it's brown and labeled 'Yeast Nutrient' it's one of the blends, which probably does have some DAP in it, but also has dead yeast cells, vitamins, and other things in it. It will not work for this.

I used some "Yeast Nutrient" because that is what I had around. As you can see, at the various temperatures where the reaction should have been taking place, it wasn't. Oh well, waste not want not. I poured it in a preheated mason jar and later inverted it, caramelized it up a bit more, and used it in a little British Fresh Hop Bitter which turned out delicious.

Once back from the store with some proper DAP I set out again. As you can see, this time I got a much more marked color progression. The first syrup I took a bit far, maybe 295 and it has an edge of burnt bitterness, but also exhibits dark stone fruit, plums, cherries, and a deep dark rumminess. I think it will be great in a Strong Dark.

One problem though was that, despite my best candymaking techniques, I could see small sugar crystals starting to form. This wouldn't be shelf-stable indefinitely. Yes, you could just make this on the day of brewing and pitch it right in at the end of the boil. But I figure it's better to make it beforehand and have it ready when you need it. No one wants to clean a boilover of this stuff, brought about by a busy and inattentive brewer.

So I set out again and made a batch of Amber, bringing it up to only 280 degrees. This time, at the end when I added the water back in I also added a tablespoon of tartaric acid. Bringing the whole mess back to a boil with this acid addition partially inverted it, meaning that some of the sucrose broke down into simpler sugars, fructose and glucose, which act to impede crystallization. This one was a much, much smoother syrup.

Just for fun I put a pound of honey on the back burner and caramelized the hell out of it. Unfortunately I was wrapped up in the candi sugar experiment, and it went a bit far. But it's still got a really interesting flavor, which I'd describe as burnt marshmellows with an edge of honey.

Finally some advice:

Ventilation. The syrup will pump out ammonia in the early stages. Don't take a big whiff, and make sure you open windows or run your stove fan. It was...intense.

Fresh air good!

Choose the right pot. You want one with a thick, conductive bottom and high walls. The syrup will bubble up and I promise you, you don't want a caramel napalm spill. I've got a nice high wall 4-quart All-Clad that works great. If it's too big you'll get a hot spot in the middle, which could make for uneven browning and probably darker syrup than you're shooting for.

Prevent crystals. Stir in the sugar really well at the beginning but stop stirring once it comes to a boil. You can take a pastry brush and some water and wipe down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan, if they're left there they could provide nucleation points for crystal growth later. I do recommend inverting the syrup when you're done, or you could just add a few tablespoons of corn syrup (glucose) at the end.

Preheat your jar if you're using glass. Let the syrup cool to at least boiling temp before pouring it in the jar and be sure to fill the jar with hot water for a few minutes first. Otherwise it may shatter from heat shock. Broken Glass. Scalding caramel. Bad news.

I'll be trying out my syrups in a series of brews to come, stay tuned!
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Friday, September 17, 2010

You Say Potato, I Say Ye Chick'n Of The Dirte


So the Potato Project is officially finished. In terms of rigorous scientific method it was a total disaster. Which is why all my evidence will be of the best kind: anecdotal.

I managed a harvest of about 18 lbs of Yukon Gold and Purple potatoes from two 1 lb. packs of starter potatoes. Not bad, but not great. I think I can do better next year.

Here, in short, is what I learned.
  1. Potatoes are really, really easy to grow. Seriously. I neglected the hell out of them and they still grew just fine. Barely watered them all Summer. Never fertilized them once. Subjected them to daily psychological and emotional abuse. The soil was just a 2:1 mix of garden dirt and compost, without any lime added to soften it and no fertilizer. And yet they struggled through it. Lesson learned: Potatoes appear to be immune to psychological torture. And yeah, I probably should water them more next time. Maybe a dose of fertilizer wouldn't hurt either. But damn, potatoes sure are hardy critters.
  2. Potatoes grow just fine in whatever you put them in. Just plant them near the bottom and mound away. In terms of yield, I didn't notice a difference between the boxes and the grain sack. The potatoes in the plastic tubs were larger, so I guess the tubs win. But those potatoes were planted a couple weeks before the rest, so they had a head start. Lesson learned: plant earlier. Around St Patty's.
  3. The plastic tubs and the grain bag held up just fine and will be used again next year. The cardboard boxes though... Ok. They held up just fine, in that they more or less kept all the soil in and supported the plants as they grew. But the bottom did eventually rot out around them, so moving them once planted: not an option. Also my Weedwhacker did a number on the cardboard, so watch out for that one. But it was nice to chuck the boxes and spent plants into the compost bin all at once at harvest time. No fuss, no muss. Lesson learned: the plastic bins are probably the best, but cardboard worked out just fine. I seem to be racking up old tires right now, so I may try the tire stacking method next year too.
  4. I recommend harvesting on a sunny day if possible. It's much more pleasant to dig around in the dirt and the potatoes are easier to spot.. Also, they face less chance of molding or anything else untoward.
  5. Growing potatoes in boxes is a great way to plant them without having to dig up your landlord's lawn or put in a bed. I'd say if you put a good tarp down underneath (to help with cleanup) you could do this pretty much anywhere.
So the harvest is now in a big paper bag, sitting in the house in a corner. You need to keep the newly harvested potatoes in the dark and reasonably warm for a couple weeks in order to "cure" them. The skin thickens up and dries out a bit, giving them a much longer shelf life.

Not that they'll last that long. They're delicious.

Died back and ready to harvest!

Rotten right down to the core.

Digging Yukons is fun. They're like buried gold bars. Arrr, treasure!

Sometimes I can take OK photographs.
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Brewday: Double Batch - Chanterelle Belgian Blonde / Seattle-Belgique

Vacation, while fun, did put a ripple in the ol' beer production line. Time to get brewing again!

In Miami I always brewed Belgians in the late Summer, early Fall. The reason being that we airconditioned our house down to 80 and there was always a chance that a hurricane could swoop in and we'd lose power for an indefinite period. I'd start them off in my chill-chest, it's best to start Belgians off in the mid-60's and let them climb on their own, but due to space issues they'd secondary at room temp. So I brewed things that could take the heat: Saisons and big Belgians. Starting with a Blonde or a Dubbel, by brewing back to back I could repitch the yeast four times or so, growing an impressive yeast cake before the final brew of the season, a big, Belgian Strong Dark. Remember, in Belgian beers attenuation is king. Keep your yeast happy and plentiful, then let them do their job, or you'll end up with cloyingly sweet beer.

Here I don't have to worry about hurricanes or 80 degree houses. My place is 66 right now, which is just about perfect for an ambient temp ferment. Jumping on the chance of a nice, sunny day I decided to brew a double batch to make up for a month of non-brewing. By a bit of crafty use of the kettle, I was able to brew two very different beers from the same mash.

The first beer was designed to be a very typical Belgian Blonde. Now, normally my rule with Belgians is: start with a good base recipe, then mess with one thing. Mix it up, get creative, but if you tweak too many things you can end up with off-balanced chaos. Typically the easiest way to do this is just to play with the sugar, which should constitute at 10-20% of your fermentables.

But for this beer I wanted just a plain nice Blonde, because it is going to be this year's Chanterelle Mushroom beer. Last year I brewed a Chanterelle Golden that turned out pretty great, even taking Best in Show at last years' Cascade Brewer's Cup. Recently popped a bottle and as it aged it has taken on strange, saisony characteristics. Strange, but still good.

Nevertheless it has some flaws, some imbalances, and so I'm tweaking it a bit. I want the beer to be clearer, lighter, and more straightforward so that the Chanterelles will really come to the forefront. Now if I can just find some freaking Chanterelles... We went up to the North Cascades last weekend and managed to find a few tiny button sized Chanties. They're still a week or two out. At least I hope so. I don't want to have to buy them at the $17/lb they commanding in the market right now.

On the day of brewing I decided to double the recipe and pull a second beer out of my hat. A Northwest IPA / Blonde that I'm code-naming Seattle-Belgique. It's in the vein of New Belgium's Belgo IPA and Stone's Cali-Belgique; a Northwest IPA, but blond-yellow and with spicy Belgian yeast character. Maybe I can finally break my streak of mediocre IPAs? Due to the last minute decision to double the recipe I had to make a few substitutions. See the note below.

Chanterelle Blonde / Seattle-Belgique Double Brew

10.5 gallons, All Grain, 70% efficiency
Est. O.G. 1.068. Act. O.G. 1.067 for the Chanterelle, 1.070 for the IPA.
Est. F.G. hoping for 1.012-1.014
ABV estimates: 7%-7.5%
SRM: 6
IBU: Chanterelle = 26, IPA = 48 IBU
  • 20 lbs US 2-Row (could try US Pilsner or Continental Pils too)
  • 8 oz CaraPils
  • 8 oz Wheat Malt
  • 8 oz MFB Special Aromatic
  • 8 oz Munich
  • 8 oz Honey Malt
NOTE: the 5 adjunct malts were because of last minute substitutions and my not wanting to go to the store. If I had my way I'd use either 1lb Carapils or Wheat (building a little body and head retention), and either 1 lb Aromatic or Munich (adding a little color and maltiness).

Mash in at 150, mash out at 163.

Water modifications (Seattle-Tolt water):
  • Mash: 1 tsp Chalk, 1/4 t gypsum, 1/2 CaCl2, 1/2 Epsom salts, 1/4 salt
  • Boil: 1 1/4 tsp chalk, 1/4 t gypsum, 3/4 CaCl2, 1/2 Epsom salts
This should create a nice background level of minerals, with a 1:1 chloride and sulfate ratio and RA fit for a 4-9 SRM beer. If I was just doing one or the other, I'd tweak this to balance toward chloride for the Chanterelle beer and sulfate for the IPA.

Collected 12 gallons for the boil. Added another 1.8 gallons of water about half an hour in once boilover danger had passed.

90 minute boil:
  • 1 oz Magnum (leaf) @ 15%AA @ First Wort Hop
  • 2 whirlfloc tabs and 2 t yeast nutrient at 15 min remaining
  • Add 4 lbs Invert Sugar at 10 min. (Note: don't buy it (Lyle's Golden Syrup) and don't waste your money on "Clear Belgian Candi Sugar". Make your own, invert sugar is easy and cheap. Or just add table sugar right into the boil if you're lazy.)
  • 1 oz Willamette (pellet) @ 6% AA @ 5 min remaining.
Now comes the crafty bit. If you're capable of cooling less than the whole batch, run 5.25 gallons off through your chiller. That's the basic Blonde. Now bring the remaining volume back for 10 minutes more of really intense boil. From here on out you could add spices, more sugar, fruit, or as I did, hops:
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 10
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 10
  • 1 oz Cascade @ 1
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 1 min remaining.
  • 1 oz Willamette (dry hop - 5 days)
Then cool this second half as your IPA. Oxygenated both and pitched a packet of Saf-T58 dry Belgian yeast, properly rehydrated in a cup with some warm water, GoFerm, and yeast nutrient a half hour before pitching. Try to start them off at 66 degrees or so and then let them climb (within reason). I had some chilling issues due to warm ground water and probably pitched a bit higher. Just don't pitch the yeast at 80 or you'll have a world of nasty phenols and fusel alcohols.

Beers are fermenting away in the basement at 66 ambient (certainly a couple degrees warmer inside the carboys.) Two week primary, and the IPA will get a 5 day dry-hopping of Willamette at the end of its primary. Then rack and into the lager fridge for two weeks' cold conditioning at 36. Then bottling in corked Belgian bottles, bottle conditioned to about 3.5 volumes co2 with a fresh hit of yeast. The BJCP says 1.9 to 2.4 volumes, but that's BS. They just don't want bottle bombs, which, having experienced them while judging, I can understand. Just remember: thicker, bigger bottles if you're going over 3 volumes.

Assuming I forage/buy Chanterelles in the next two weeks or so I'll take 1 lb of the mushrooms, chop them up fine, cover with vodka in a mason jar, and stash somewhere quiet for two weeks. Then add the mushroom schnapps to taste at bottling.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Garden Update: Late Summer


Right, it smells like Fall outside now, so it's time for a garden update. It's apparent that my beds need more compost and maybe some moss or something, the 2:1 ratio of Veg soil and Cedar Grove compost tends to drain really quickly and doesn't hold moisture as well as I'd like. A project for the Spring.

After a wet and cold June some of the plants did better than others. The clear winner is the Red Russian Kale. It grows like crazy, needs almost no maintenance, fertilizer, watering, or care. Nothing really seems to eat it. Interestingly, it came in a seed packet of Mesclun Greens that I'd planted for salads. Everything else did fairly poorly, but the Kale plants are several feet tall. They actually serve a cool purpose though, the wide fronds shaded my more fragile lettuces from the worst of the Summer sun. But they also shaded the chiles I'd planted, stunting them. Oh well. Looks like I'm going to be buying chiles in the future. The zucchinis did pretty well this year. Produced a few good sized ones, but not so many that we were totally sick of them. Just flowered again too, may get another one or two zukes out them still. The Yard Long Beans were a complete disaster. Should have planted them much, much earlier. But the ones I'd planted in June got sad and diseased in the wet and cold, while the ones I started inside to replace them didn't take off until the heat of August, by which time it's just too late. I need a grow light inside to do starts, we just don't get enough light in the early Spring. The Yard Longs need more heat, and full sun. Maybe I'll plant them in the middle of the front lawn next year. Because they are delicious.

We'd planted Ruby Spinach in-between some Sugar Snap Peas with the idea that they'd be companion plants; the extra nitrogen from the peas would help the spinach out. Boy did it ever. By the time they bolted, the spinach was taller than Meredith. We finally pulled the stalks, stripped the leaves, quickly blanched, packaged, and froze the remaining spinach; netting us several pounds of frozen spinach. Unfortunately, shaded somewhat by the huge spinach, the peas developed a powdery mildew. Spray took care of it, but the peas went through the wringer. Only got a few more pods off the plants before they were done for the season. They'd done well though, I snacked on them every time I went out to check on the garden. The leeks have reached full size and are starting to send up flowers. They didn't get as big as I wanted, but my green onions struggled too. I think the soil mix, either pH or nutrients, is not quite right for alliums. Have to look into that one.

The tomatoes have grown like crazy! This is my first time trying the English hot-house trellis method and I have to say: hell yeah. They're up over the garage roof. It's actually a cool setup here: the garage shades them a bit in the morning, yes, but makes up for it with reflected heat and light from the afternoon sun. Once they hit the eaves I just let them hang freely back down.

You can also track the season on the vines. At the very bottom are the first tomatoes that set back in May. Most of them have ripened and met their tasty fates. Then there's a spot with a lot of dropped buds: June, where everything refused to set. Then further up you start seeing tomatoes again until you hit August's growth, with many many set tomatoes hanging from the very top.

As usual, Seattle grew the hell out of the Cherry Tomatoes. We planted Sungold this year and they are rocking. Easily 100 tomatoes. The Prudence heirloom did very poorly in June, but has more than made up for it during August's heat. The Black Prince set some very early tomatoes, many of which were, ahem, kind of lewd.

The San Marzano Romas started off slow, but have now set a good thirty or so tomatoes. Unfortunately they don't all want to ripen at once, meaning no giant harvest and sauce canning day.

Otherwise the herbs have done well. Parsley is rocking right now, and the mint held up. The dill though. What the heck.

It shot up these long stalks, with almost no leafy fronds. So much for cooking and pickling with it. So I've let it go to seed, at least I can harvest dill seed. I planted it in the same pot as some pickling cucumbers, and they did fairly well this year. I probably harvested a good 10 pounds of pickling cukes from them, ending up with around 8 quarts or so of pickles. Made a 4 quart batch of my grandmother's Bread and Butter pickle recipe, which should be enough to grace our sandwiches until next year.

The hops have been a disaster this year. They got a start in May, but then the cold June stunted their new growth. The bines that were already up never really grew like crazy. Interestingly, the only one not to have sprouted by June, the Chinooks, grew like crazy afterwards, had the best growth, the most and biggest cones.

But the basic story is that they are rootbound. The pots are too small, the nutrients just aren't there, and they need to be watered constantly. Consequently they had stunted growth, insect problems, and bine die-offs. I've got to come up with something better for next year. Maybe half-wine barrels or 30 gallon pots. Of course, planting them in the ground would be nice too. I may get enough hops for a fresh hop beer this year, but it will probably be an English Bitter and not an American IPA, if you catch my drift.

Moving Forward

So we head into Fall and Winter. The daylight is shrinking, rain is moving in, and our Miami cat is constantly seeking out warm laps and scowling at us like it's our fault the world is so cold. In the garden we're eating the leeks, green onions, and last of the zukes. The potatoes have been harvested and are curing, though I'm already using the tiny ones as new potatoes. The Kale will outlive us all. The tomatoes are still producing, we'll have loads through September and probably well into October. I've planted more weird lettuces, and about two dozen more overwintering leek starts, so we'll have leeks all Spring (by the time the storage onions are gone). Planted some Brussells Sprouts as a sort of challenge to Meredith: make them edible! We've signed up for a Winter Plant Start CSA with Cascadian Edible Landscapes. Pickup is Friday, I'll let you know what we get. With the tomatoes still in and one bed full of leeks I'm not sure where I'll put things...
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Fermentation Update: September

Right, so I've had some serious writer's block these last few months and it's been hard to motivate myself to sit down and post. Two posts in August and July. Ugh. Well, no time like the present.

One of the things I've been intending to start up is a sort of monthly update on things. For example, I usually post when I brew something, but I rarely come back later and talk about how it turned out, how it aged, did in competitions, and so on. So here goes.
This one came out spectacularly. I'm quite pleased with it, except for its unusually low gravity. Something is up, either with my grain mill or my base malt, but I've been dropping down from my usual 75% efficiency to somewhere near 70%. The last brew I did I calculated at 70% and it came out bang on. So that's the plan, until I can get this back under control. Otherwise this is simply a great German Hefe, and much much easier than a complex decoction mash schedule. Great Success.
The Sake continues to age well. Don't like the Genshu strength, going to dilute it next time. And it's a bit lactic. But still, it's very passable sake. It took Best In Class at the Evergreen State Fair last week. Of course it's also the first and only sake they've ever had entered. BUT they're leaving that most mythical and elusive of BJCP categories, Category 29 (Sake) in for next year, so I encourage everyone in WA, and even in other parts of the US, to enter it. Let's get an amateur sake competition built up!
I've been very pleased with how this one turned out. Bottling via a keg, with a concentrated growler of sweet cider for sweetness made one hell of a session draught cider. It took Best in Class at the Evergreen State Fair a week ago. I'm making another batch in a month or so, and this time I'm thinking of getting twice the cider and making one more of a "Foighten' Cider" this year.
The dopplebock ferment is done, got it down from 1.094 to 1.023 (9% ABV) before I racked it over. It was then dropped down to 36 over about 5 days and has been sitting there for two weeks. By my rough calculations:
0.09% ABV x about 4.5 gallons before icing = 0.405 gallons of straight alcohol

icing out 1.5 gallons of water we get:

0.405 / 3 gallons remaining after icing = 0.135% ABV or 13.5% alcohol.
Of course it will almost certainly be less than that, the ice removal is never 100% water. Still, it's going to be at least 12%. Two more weeks in the lager fridge, then I'll keg it, freeze it, and use a jumper cable to transfer the eisbock to a 3 gallon keg. Then another month lagering at 36. Then carbonation, and bottling with my BeerGun. Early tastes had it much hoppier than I'd planned on. Hope that calms down as it ages.
I'm very pleased with this beer. It's clean, nice, hoppy and malty, just a refreshing light Summer beer. If I've got a gripe it's that it's a bit low on body. Maybe I'll mash it a bit hotter next time. Also, I think I'll swap out the Munich for MFB Special Aromatic. It also doesn't have the floral aroma hop complexity of Chuckanut's. Probably just the result of sub-par homebrew hops.
This one is still a work in progress. Some of the hops I used weren't as fresh as I'd like, and I'm now convinced that my open-top conical will oxidize the beer if I brew less than 10 gallons in it. Due to either the hops, the conical, or both it had oxidation problems. I think the rye is a bit excessive too. May drop it down to a pound or two and up the munich and aromatic. May use Spalt next time too, if I can find any.
This beer was really quite fantastic. Unfortunately, the entire keg was drained at Beerstock 2010 this year, so if you were there you got to try it. Otherwise, sorry. But the real story is that this is the maltiest damn thing I've ever brewed. It was clean, malty sweet but dry and fully attenuated, pleasant hop levels, nice color (if a bit light). That MFB Special Aromatic is great stuff. Next time I may add just a quarter pound or so of CaraMunich, but otherwise I'm not changing a thing about this. The only problem is that it's now September and I don't have time to brew it again for Oktoberfest. Oh well.

  • Dandelion Belgo-Pyment - Dandelion Wine with honey, grape juice, and Belgian Strong yeast. Currently in mid-fining. Post when it's finished.
  • Chanterelle Belgian Blonde 2010
  • Seattle-Belgique IPA
  • Brother Russell's Dubbel 2010
  • Brother Russell's Tripel 2010
  • Brettanomyces Russellensis (a 100% Brett beer)
  • Punk! 2010
  • Fresh Hop beer of some kind (Maybe. My hops are a total disaster this year)
  • Mead Day 2010 - a Bochet Mead and maybe a Ginger/Lemongrass Sparkling Hydromel.
  • Cider Pressing 2010
  • Yggdrasil
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