Showing posts with label Machair Mor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Machair Mor. Show all posts

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mor of the Same

This coming Thursday is the first International Stout Day - a celebration of that most noble of beer styles, which if I remember rightly is the most common beer style that I brew. A quick check of my brewing record confirms that, indeed it is the various iterations of stout which are among the few beers that I have brewed more than once.

My favourite winter homebrew is Machair Mor, a Foreign Extra Stout with a very healthy dose of chocolate malt. The full recipe is as follows, for an original gravity of 1.058 and 37 IBUs:
  • 71% Golden Promise Pale Malt
  • 11% Turbinado Sugar
  • 7% Caramel 80
  • 7% Chocolate Malt
  • 4% Roasted Barley
  • 17 IBU of Goldings for 90 minutes
  • 14 IBU of Goldings for 30 minutes
  • 6 IBU of Goldings for 15 minutes
  • Danstar Nottingham Yeast
I have made this beer every autumn since moving to the US, although the 2009 version was a bit stronger, and bittered with Galena rather than being a single hopped version like last year and this. So far every version of this beer has been very well received, which is just as well as Mrs Velkyal's uncle includes it in his Christmas hamper for his clients.

I brewed the latest batch of this sweet, smooth delight on Saturday, just as the temperatures crashed here in Charlottesville and I had to bring it back into the warm a bit to rouse the yeast into life. For the first time, I will be entering it into a competition, the Palmetto State Brewers Open in Columbia, SC at the beginning of December. Hopefully it will end up looking and tasting similar to the original version....


Monday, October 10, 2011

A Very Beery Weekend

If you follow my Twitter feed, you will know that the weekend just gone was full of brewing and bottling my homebrew.

Mrs Velkyal's uncle has again asked me for some of my beers for his clients. Every year he makes a gift basket for them with organic and homemade foodstuffs. Last year I provided Machair Mor, an export stout with a hefty dose of chocolate malt, and Biere d'épices, an amber ale spiced with clove, cinnamon, ginger and dried sweet orange peel, hopped with French Strisselspalt and fermented with a Belgian Abbey yeast strain. This year I am providing more of the Machair Mor, but switching out the Biere d'épices for a new beer called Winter Gold, which is kind of my take on Fuller's magnificent 1845, but with a hop dose which would put it in the same ball park as Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale.

On Saturday morning I brewed the first batch of Machair Mor and but for having to change the recipe slightly at the last minute - I forgot to buy the dark brown sugar I use and so had to dig around the cupboard and thankfully there was enough turbinado sugar to do the trick - everything went swimmingly. I ended up with a batch of 1.056 (14 Plato) of pitch black wort, which the Nottingham yeast I used munched on with much delight, when I checked the cellar this morning the krausen had all but died down. I am expecting about 5.9% abv for this one, and if it tastes as good as the gravity sample then Mrs V's uncle's clients are in for a treat.

I wasn't planning to bottle the first batch of Winter Gold until yesterday, but while changing the blow off tube to an airlock on Saturday morning, I managed to push the bung into the beer. Well, sort of. The airlock sat on the neck of the carboy, with the bung dangling above the beer, so it only went into the beer itself just before I starting siphoning the beer into the bottling bucket. Hopefully nothing drastic has happened, but retrieving the bung from the empty carboy was far easier than I anticipated. Winter Gold started off at 1.062 (15.5 Plato) and finished at 1.010 (2.5 Plato), giving it a very respectable 6.9% abv, which should go nicely with the 38 IBUs of First Gold and Fuggles, the gravity sample certainly suggests it will be a nice beer.

Having walked the dog at the crack of dawn as usual, I brewed again yesterday morning, this time as part of a project for the Charlottesville Area Masters of Real Ale. We are starting an internal Iron Brewer, where those in the club that wish to do so will brew any beer style they want, but must use 3 ingredients chosen in advance. The plan is to present the beers at our November meeting, and our 3 must use ingredients were chocolate malt, raw blue agave syrup and Palisade hops. My plan was to make a brown ale, my plan went wrong. I say "wrong" but nothing went awry with the actually brewing process, it was more a case of not putting the right chocolate malt into Beer Calculus. I put just generic "American Chocolate" in the calculator, which has a Lovibond rating of about 125 but used Simpson's Chocolate Malt, with a rating of about 420. So my brown ale became a porter, a very dark porter at that. The actual recipe was:
  • 81% Vienna Malt
  • 10% Chocolate Malt
  • 9% Raw Blue Agave Syrup
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 60 minutes
  • 19.5 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 15 minutes
  • 1 IBU of 7.8% Palisade for 1 minute
  • 1 packet Safale US-05
All that gave me an original gravity of 1.048 (12 Plato), and the yeast was happily doing it's thing within a couple of hours.

A busy but satisfying weekend was rounded off last night with drinking a fair amount of homebrewed cider at a fellow CAMRA member's party and hearing plenty of positive feedback about the brews that I bought to the party.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Planning Ahead

I sometimes think that homebrewing is an exercise in being one step ahead of the seasons. As such, I am already in the planning phase for my winter beers.

I love winter with a passion, I sometimes think I have SAD in reverse, the darker and colder it gets, the happier I become. With Mrs Velkyal soon to start work again after the summer, she teaches 3-6 year old children, my thoughts turn to beers to brew for the long dark nights, hopefully dark, cold and snowy - I love snow. Random side story, almost every year in Prague it would snow on my birthday.

Anyway, to some of my homebrew plans for winter and Yuletide. As I have done for the last 2 years, I plan to brew my chocolate Export Stout and spiced Belgian Amber Ale. Both those recipes are pretty well established in how I like them, so I doubt I will be tweaking too much, though I do plan to make 2 batches of each.

Although not a beer for the coming winter, I will brewing the third rendition of my Samoset Vintage Ale, which I brew in November for the Thanksgiving of the following year. Now that I have a little mash tun, this year's version will include Biscuit and Victory malt on top of a Golden Promise base, with extract making up the difference, and hopping with First Gold.

I am also planning to brew a couple of clone recipes, in particular the Fuller's London Porter from a recent Brew Your Own magazine, for which I am playing with the idea of pulling out the little polypin to try and condition it almost a la cask. Staying with the Fuller's theme, I want to create something akin to 1845, which is still one of my favourite beers on the planet.

As ever then, lots of plans, ideas and thoughts, what will you be brewing with winter in mind?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Due South...again

Tomorrow, as I am sure you know, is Thanksgiving over here. As such, Mrs Velkyal and I drove from Charlottesville to Chimney Rock, North Carolina yesterday. Admittedly we have since driven on Columbia, South Carolina, but stopping in Chimney Rock was mainly to see Mrs V's uncle and partner as well as to deliver 48 bottles of homebrew.

Said uncle has a cleaning business and likes to give his clients a Christmas hamper of hand produced goods each year. This year he asked if I could give him some bottles of my Machair Mor Chocolate Export Stout and Biere d'épices which he had enjoyed last year. Naturally I obliged and all the beer was safely delivered last night, with a couple of bottles extra for sampling to make sure everything worked out well. Suffice to say that I am not taking any of my beer back to Virginia on Sunday!

Anyway, family duties call. So happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A carboy, a carboy, my kingdom for a carboy!

It has been a while since I brewed. My fermenters sit empty, forlorn and pleading to be filled with wort and yeast, apart from the dandelion wine that Mrs Velkyal made in our tiny little 1 gallon carboy which is being bottled this week and left to sit until Thanksgiving.

I am expecting to change this situation in the near future, in fact at some point today I will be buying ingredients from good old Northern Brewer, and maybe also from Rebel Brewer as they have a wider selection of hops. I have a few options when it comes to what beers to make next.

Of course there is the British Style American Style India Black Ale I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. I also want to re-make my Ring of Gold Best Bitter, largely because I am convinced the recipe is sound, it was just that the carbonation didn't happen because the cellar was too cold for the yeast. Then there are my winter beers, Machair Mor and Biere d'épices which maybe I should brew earlier this year to give them plenty of time to condition in the bottle. Also due to be done is making parallel versions of LimeLight using the two yeast strains I have used, to see the difference - on a side note, one of my colleagues mentioned that the 2.1 version reminds him of Hennepin from Ommegang.

Those are the existing brewing plans, and perhaps I think too much but I have a raft of other ideas floating around my head - one of which is to make maple mead, using maple syrup rather than honey, or possibly a combination of the two. Naturally I am planning to take Ron's posts and make some of those historic beers. Also maybe, just maybe, I should make a special beer for my birthday this year, perhaps something with an OG of 1.075 and an IBU rating of 35 or some such mess of numbers.

In the midst of all this homebrew stuff for my cellar, I have also had the delight of helping some friends take their first steps in homebrewing, both of whom work with me at the Starr Hill tasting room. One kicked off his career with a large scale version of the
Black Rose Weizen Porter (originally a dunkelweizen, but perhaps a touch too dunkel, though not too dissimilar in colour from Erdinger's dunkel), while the other started out with a California Steam Beer.

So many ideas, I think I need more carboys...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Brewing Plans

Having not had a single beer throughout Advent, I was very much looking forward to Christmas Day and downing a few bottles, admittedly though, this week is a blip in many ways because I intend to keep my annual booze free January.

Much to my own surprise, I only drank my homebrew on Friday, mainly the Machair Mor Imperial Stout, but also a couple of the spiced winter ale - Biere d'épices. I will write more about the Biere d'épices some time during the week, as I have more back in Charlottesville and want to do a proper tasting, and take pictures and such like.

One thing I am very happy about with the Machair Mor is just how much better it was with an extra few weeks of conditioning in the bottle, the Galena hops have mellowed a touch and now combine with all that chocolate malt to make a beer which is dangerously moreish.

Possibly the greatest pleasure was being able to share my brews with Mrs Velkyal's father and uncle, both of whom were most complimentary. I think now though I will need to buy a few more of the 3 gallon fermenters and start making more of my staple beers, especially as my dad is keen to try my beers when he and my mother come to visit in March/April. Particularly in order will be more of the Gael 60/-, a fresh batch of my Experimental Dark Matter (not using a kit though this time), and a new, hopefully improved, version of Limelight, which from reading (only in Czech sorry), went down very well with other homebrewers.

With all this brewing to come, I must admit that I am doing so with an eye on entering a few competitions this year. I am well aware that I am unlikely to win anything, but I want the feedback from judges so that I can improve my recipes and get more pleasure from seeing people enjoy my beer.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...