Showing posts with label dandelion wine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dandelion wine. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What's Been Brewing?

It has been a while since I wrote about my homebrewing exploits, so I thought a little update was in order.

About a month ago I did a brewing double header, the joys of having two carboys, where I made a revamped Experimental Dark Matter, seriously considering a name change on that one once the recipe is settled, and my first American style IPA, which bares the moniker Old Baldy IPA.

Experimental Dark Matter was an attempt to recreate a beer kit recipe which was my first ever stab at brewing, and happened to turn out well. Taking on board the advice of BUL 180 up in Oregon, I cut the amount of peated malt from 0.5lb to just over 0.1lb so as not to overpower the beer with the aroma and flavour of peat smoke, and possibly to lessen the chances of homesick melancholy overcoming me whilst drinking. The original gravity on the beer was 1.052 and it finished off at 1.020, a touch on the high side perhaps, but it should give the beer some nice residual sweetness and an ABV of 4.3%. As I am on a month long beer fast, I will be waiting until July to actually try some.

Old Baldy IPA was originally going to be called Hopbombination, but as this beer is intended for Independence Day, ironically it is also my wedding anniversary that day and then Mrs Velkyal's birthday on the 5th, I decided on a more topical name. I used 5 different types of hop in this beer, Citra, Centennial, Amarillo and Cascade in the boil and then dry hopped with Challenger for a couple of weeks in secondary. If my calculations are correct, it should have an IBU rating of 125 if this website here is to be believed. On the booze side of things, it started off at 1.060 and once primary fermentation was done it came down to 1.016, giving me a nicely respectable 5.9% ABV beer, which I hope will be a hit come July 4th.

Currently in one of the carboys is another batch of LimeLight 2.0, again being made for a friend's special occasion, in this case a house warming party when they move out of Charlottesville to the wilds of Troy. Whilst on the subject of LimeLight, I mentioned previously that there was a bum batch, I think the extract was not as fresh as I would have liked, and it was much darker than usual, plus the fact that I used a different yeast strain. However, the feedback I am getting about that batch is extremely positive, so I am planning to do a batch of Limelight which I will then split into 2 carboys and see the effects of the different yeasts.

That's kind of everything at the moment, other than deciding which beers to put forward for the homebrew competition at the local county fair, and later this month bottling Mrs Velkyal's dandelion wine. You'd think we liked our booze in the Velky Al household, you'd not be far wrong!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Beer People Stand!

This part of Virginia sometimes seems to be booze central, with 4 breweries, plentiful vineyards, at least one cider maker (that's proper cider people, without alcohol it is called "apple juice"), and a newly operational distillery - all within about 30 miles of Charlottesville. One of the most interesting things about working a brewery tasting room is indulging in a little people watching, whilst talking with people about the beers produced by Starr Hill.

We get quite a few people who are out touring a couple of the vineyards and taking in a couple of breweries, usually it is the ladies who advocate for the vineyards, while their significant male others prefer the breweries - and from talking with such couples, I find it interesting that the beer lover of the pair often has a well developed opinion of the wine, even if he doesn't drink it often, while the wine buff is, to be blunt, either pig ignorant about beer (and unwilling to learn) or passive aggressive toward it, simply refusing to try a few tiny samples. The usual form with such couples is that both will approach the bar, ascertain that tastings are available and when I suggest both starting out with a particular beer, the beer lover will say something like "sounds good", while the wine buff sneers and says "I don't do beer" or some such crap, said buff then wanders off to browse the merchandise, or sit at a table cross legged and armed waiting for the beer lover to be done with.

Now, I am aware that it is sweeping generalisation here, but I am coming to the conclusion that beer lovers are simply more open-minded than our wine loving cousins, and that in many ways wine people simply do not understand beer people. Take for example tasting notes. I believe that many of vineyards in this neck of the wood provide their customers with tasting sheets, and these are greatly appreciated apparently. In the brewery tasting room context, and I speak as a note taker, on the days I remember my note book and/or pen, very few people bother to take notes, even when asked if they would like a tasting sheet - which we do have at Starr Hill, and only once has someone taken said sheet when offered at the bar. I think those of us who do take notes, again sweeping generalisation here, do so in the comfort of our own home when supping on a bottle of something we probably tried in the pub context and want to get a better handle on.

Beer is a deeply unpretentious drink, it is not an aspirational product, or even a lifestyle choice, and from my experience beer people are unpretentious, open and fun loving, so why we would try to ape the wine buff world of spouting drivel about being able to taste curried rubber or some such crap when talking about beer? Yes there are different tastes, flavours, aromas and feelings that beer produces, but let's remember where most of us do our drinking, down the pub with mates, the social aspect is key, and it is something a lot of wine buffs simply do not understand in my experience, sometimes I am sure that "I don't like beer" really means "I don't like life and people".

Again, yes I know there is a lot of generalisations in this piece, and we all know people who defy them - just needed to blow off some steam about waffly wine buffs looking like they are being forced to suck lemons by even being in a brewery. oh and the wine in the picture was lovely (I really do like wine, and get as excited by a good wine as I do a good beer).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Things filed under Misc

So many things have been sitting in the back of my mind lately, muttering "when are you go to write about ME?" - thankfully not literally otherwise I would be very worried.

One such thing has been Mrs Velkyal and I's alcoholic experiments, of which there were three:

Of the three projects only one can be regarded as a success, the dandelion wine. As I commented a few months ago, it already tasted great when we bottled it. However, the recipe we used said that it needed to be left to age for 3 months, which was the first weekend in November. We actually opened our little taster bottle during last week, to discover that it tasted even better! Having just the tiniest of sips - we are taking it to France for Christmas - it is full of citrus flavours, is very sweet, and very, very alcoholic! As we don't have the equipment to gauge the ABV, I am guessing here when I say it is at least 25%. It actually has a similar effect as a nice single malt whisky in that it radiates heat through your body only when it gets into your chest! Yes it is lovely stuff, and something we will be making again.

As for the other two projects, both were failures, and in the case of the mead an unmitigated disaster. The mead actually tasted awful, was thin and acrid, so all 3 litres were poured down the lav - I will however try again to make mead, but this time I will use a different recipe, and I will use a different yeast.

The beer hacking was a case of plenty of fizz bang excitement followed by a damp squib. My intention to infuse the stout with cinnamon and clove flavours certainly worked a treat as the nose of the previously unadorned Kelt was now laden with traditional Christmas scents, unfortunately it tasted dull and lifeless - the beer was flat and so another litre of booze went the way of the U-bend.

Another thing that needed attending to was the growing collection of Primátor beers in my fridge, in particular the Premium which I had never tried before. What a lovely lager this is. As you can see from the picture it pours a dark golden colour with a rocky white head, the nose is full of the classic Czech Saaz floral notes. The beer itself was crisp, I would eve say it was slightly tart with a nicely rounded body, a very refreshing lager, which could quite easily become a regular in the fridge - if only my local Billa sold it!

The third thing that needed seeing to was making a start on the dark beers in my cellar which form the core of my Dark Month, so it was that on Monday night I agonised over which one to open first - the winner being Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter, which is pictured above. This one is a wonderful deep ruby colour, bordering on black, and the head was a frothy dark tan. The nose was really interesting as the first thing that hit me was soy sauce, which brought to mind the Pardubicky Porter, however there were also light coffee hints and eventually something which brought to mind the kelp beds on the beaches back at home, which I am assuming was from the seaweed finings used in production. The pre-dominant flavour though was of caramelised bananas, one of my favourite desserts, as well as dark chocolate and a light coffee taste. This was a very smooth beer and one which I enjoyed sipping whilst watching the Daleks and Cybermen try to take over the world!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dandelion wine and mead

This weekend saw the development to the next phase of our alcohol producing projects. To refresh memories, about 3 months ago we made some dandelion wine as well as some mead. This weekend we finally racked them into bottles – thank goodness for IKEA having a range of one litre bottles which are ideal for the job.

/Of course our little “factory” is somewhat rudimentary, and the small is neither being humble nor an over exaggeration, we made 3 litres each of wine and mead. With as much care as possible it as my job to siphon the liquids into the bottles – which I think went quite well. Or at least I didn’t end up with cascades of booze all over the floor. This little video was fun to make - with the camera we bought as a wedding present.

I must admit that the temptation to try both the wine and the mead was too much for me to overcome, so I took the tiniest of sips. The wine is sweet, but has a nice fresh aftertaste, which I imagine is the product of the oranges and lemons from the original boil. The wife describes it as “like being in a field of sunflowers on a summer’s day”, although when she isn’t being flowery she describes it as sweet, smooth yet potent. To coin a phrase my wine loving dad uses often, the wine has legs, it is slightly sticky. I would happily drink it in its current state as a light dessert wine, or an aperitif. If, in common with most alcoholic drinks, the wine improves with age, we will be having a very merry Christmas.

As for the mead, I was disappointed – the recipe I followed called for the use of baker’s yeast, which I found somewhat strange. It assured me that after about 6 to 9 months in the bottle, the mead would be smooth enough to drink. That’s just as well, because at the moment it is somewhat rough.

The most important thing in these experiments from my perspective was to test the viability of 5 litre glass bottles as fermenting vessels – in the absence of homebrew shops in the Czech Republic. Next up will be my long awaited debut into the world of brewing beer. I have decided to start off with an extract-based ale, although I plan to use speciality grains to give the beer body, colour and freshness.

As with the products used in the dandelion wine, I will be returning to the Hop Shop in the UK for my grains, hops and yeast.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The long wait

2 months from now, just after my future wife is no longer the future wife, the fermentation of the dandelion wine will be done.

Last night we racked the wine from the primary fermentor to the secondary - it smells like burcak. Burcak for the uninitiated is a Czech speciality which is basically young wine that looks like sheep phlegm. For some reason it is insanely popular here, but not with me.

The thing that worries me is that I find inordinate pleasure from just watching the airlock bubble away - it is nice to know that there is at least something going on in the bottle.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Dandelion update

The petals have been filtered, about 3lbs of sugar dumped in, add to that the yeast and what do we have?

4.5 litres of gently bubbling dandelion wine, nicely fermenting.

Last week the yeast and airlocks we ordered from the UK arrived and the project is going forward nicely.

Next up, beer......

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dandelion wine and mead

Ok not really a post about beer.

Mrs Velkyal decided earlier this year that she would like to make dandelion wine, so on Tuesday it was decided that we buy a 5 litre bottle of cheap Italian wine - see a previous post - and start the process.

Before chucking the wine down the toilet we decided to try a bit, just in case it was worth drinking. To put it bluntly it was the most awful wine either of us had ever tried. It was so comically bad that it reminded me of a Ukrainian wine I bought in Birmingham way back at college. But a 7 euros for 5 litres what do you expect? We only wanted the bottle anyway.

So sitting in the flat is a bottle with dandelion petals and slithers of lemon and orange - it will sit there for another 8 days, doing whatever it is it does, before being filtered into a primary fermenter and having wine yeast pitched in. We are hoping for some yeast from Moravia for this, but we also bought some commercially available from the UK. Apparently this wine will be ready just in time for Christmas.

Next week I will be going through the process of buying a bottle of awful wine again, this time with the intention of making a cinnamon infused mead. Also for Christmas.

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...