Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Ultimate Coffee Stout

Okay.  You know how when you have a "coffee" stout, you stand around with your friends stuffing your nose in the glass and sipping it, trying to search for the coffee flavor?  And you end up saying, "Oh yeah, I can taste it!" like "Oh yeah, I love the Emperor' pants?"  I hate that.  I've made a coffee stout, and it doesn't taste like coffee.  It tastes like dark beer with possibly a little extra roast, but not coffee.

So the hell with that.  If we're making coffee stout, let's make some damn coffee; and so: math.  Standard coffee proportions are on the order of 10 grams of coffee per 6 oz cup.  A little more, a little less, depending on the method and personal taste.  Taking that to five gallons @ 128 oz/gal gives 1,066 grams, or 38 oz, which is 2 pounds 6 oz.   OK, that's a lot of coffee.  If you look around at coffee stout recipes, they often call for less than eight oz of coffee, sometimes just four in a five gallon batch.  I'm beginning to see where the problem is.  Even in my own coffee stout, I used a pound, but according to what I just calculated, by the time you dilute it to five gallons, it's less than half-strength from what you would drink for breakfast.

Now, certainly you could make the argument that any addition of coffee will add dark, roasty flavors, and that's totally valid, and it helps make a great beer.  My point is that it doesn't make beer taste like coffee when it's mixed in with all the malt and hops and alcohol and whatnot in the beer.  I want coffee that coincidentally also happens to be beer.  So I got three lbs of Brazilian roast from Colectivo, Dan brought his Super Jolly grinder, and we went to town.

The next question to ask is how and when to add the coffee?  Put it in the mash?  In the boil?  Those methods will "overcook" it.  Make coffee and mix it in?  If you do that, it's really hard to get the strength right and it can get diluted.  The fact that you have to get 2+ lbs in do it with 5+ gallons of water also make it hard, logistically.  If you wanted to just make five gallons of coffee, what would you do?  The pourover method stands out as the best option, and once I realized that Shane's conical fermenter was available, and that I could get a giant mesh bag from Northern Brewer, that was the plan.

Five gallons of boiling stout wort?  Check.
Three pounds of perfectly ground coffee?  Check.
Huge seven-gallon funnel?  Check.
Pillowcase-sized coffee filter bag?  Check.

This isn't coffee stout, this is Stout Coffee.

Solstice Observed Brew Day

Back to work!  I think we called this Brewathon 2.1.  You can always check on  Shane made 55 or 60 gallons, it got a little fuzzy during some of the more chaotic times.  I made 10: a Biere de Garde, and a coffee stout that I will discuss in another post.  Dan assisted on all fronts, eventually settling into being the hotwaterkeeper.

Hopefully, we have learned some things about mashing double batches.  Mostly that if you are going to put 25+ lbs of grain and 8.5 gallons of water in a 10-gallon cooler, you're gonna need to put in half the water, then all the grain, then mix and add the rest of the water.  Note the dark overflow on the sparging Rebel Rye below:

At the end of the day, it was resounding success.  We had a couple bad kitties towards the end of the day, and a carboy went down, but that'll happen.  If we get much more efficient, it won't be homebrewing anymore, it'll just be brewing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Oh, and by the way...

I won the beer trivia. 

Dark Beer Tasting

I went to a tasting tonight at The Rumpus Room put on by  The theme was "Dark Malts," and there was a pairing of homebrew made with and without dark malt, tasted side-by-side. 

We also tasted 3 Sheep's Baaad Boy black wheat ale, Aying's Celebrator Doppelbock, Brew Dog's Libertine black ale, Drie Fonteinen's sour porter, James Page's Casper white stout, Colectivo Coffee's Cortado stout, Evil Twin's Yin imperial Taiji stout, and Surly's Smoke. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Smoked, Sliced, Fried Up

Beware the Ides of March, 'cause Imma fire up the grill!

Look at how smokey it is! So Smokey.  Unfortunately it is WAY too salty.  Next time around, I think I am going to do a wet brine cure, rather than the dry rub cure on this one (which kind of ended up being a salt-crust.)  When you fry this stuff up, it just concentrates the salt and it's almost inedible.  Or it would be if it weren't so fucking delicious.  However!  If you slice it and eat it raw (cool out, I cooked it to an internal temperature of 150 F, son) it tastes like the most delicious country ham I've ever had.  Holy F.

This will happen again, and more nearly perfect bacon will be the result.

Monday, March 17, 2014


I made a pie.  It was not "for" pi day, but it happened to be consumed on pi day.  That is all. 

Monday, March 10, 2014


I know I posted about the bacon already, but I flipped it and put herbs and black pepper on in today.  It's starting to get a little stiffer and a bunch of water had come out of it; nearly a cup from a 5-pound slab.  It looked so good I had to post some meat-porn.

Aw mang.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Parfait pour le Vinaigre

I have a new piece of equipment today, which is always fun.  This time it is in the form of a 3 liter Le Parfait Super Jar.  As you can see, it makes a quart jar look like a chump and is now the new home to my first batch of red wine vinegar.

The vinegar is all moving along well, and as much as ma femme likes it and likes having lots of different vinegars, she rightly points out that it's getting a little ridiculous.  Never fear, dear reader, I have a plan.  Vinegar seems like the kind of thing that can easily be corked and  bottled, then stored indefinitely and/or given away.  It just needs to be well finished and aged.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Take it, Naked, Bacon

Five pounds of pork belly, slowly thawing out and curing.  I have committed to providing the bacon for this year's Meatfest, but since I plan for this to be incredibly delicious, I'm not sure if this specific bacon will make it there or if I'll have to make a second batch.  First world problems.

I was considering starting a corned beef this weekend, but there hasn't been a massive hipster obsession with corned beef like there has with bacon, so the internet is not drowning in recipes for it.  Really, though, bacon seemed like it was "next."  You will note that this is my third meat-based adventure: Duck Confit, Sausage, now Bacon, none of which involve fermentation.  I am taking baby-steps, since meat is a whole other ... animal compared to fermenting vegetables. Pickles, sauerkraut, and Kimchi basically can't go wrong, other than to taste bad, and can't kill you with minute amounts of unbelievably deadly neurotoxins that have no taste or smell.  This is well-salted, and I'm going to hot-smoke it, so it will end up being a fully-cooked product.

Play your cards right, and you can have some...

Friday, March 7, 2014

In truth, there is wine.

Time has passed.  Time to pass the wine from one vessel to another.  

I transferred two reds this weekend.  A Pinot Noir that's been going for a while, and a Cabernet Sauvignon that's only just coming out of primary.  The Pinot is getting there: it's starting to flatten out and clear up, and it has a really clean flavor; no lingering, syrup-y, jammy aftertaste.   

The Cabernet is still very young.  This was my first kit with grape skins, and I hope that I never try to mash them all into a carboy again. That was a mess, as was "racking" it to secondary.  A tortured ordeal, but it is done now.

So good.  So easy.  Makes me want to start more.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beer Review: Big Wood Coffee Stout

I stopped in for an "haute dog" at the Black Sheep, and it was good.  Very good.  But that's not what this post was about.  

Among their extensive selection of libations, they had a bucket of bottles in bags.  Each bag was numbered, so you pick a number at random, and get whatever's in there.  6 doesn't usually let me down, and this time was no exception.  I pulled a Big Wood Brewing's Morning Wood Coffee Stout. 

16 oz. can, carbonated, no widget.  Definitely dark, but really more of a porter in terms of body and mouthfeel.  I'll have to google the alcohol content...  aaand... it's 5.5%, adding credence to my porter hypothesis.  It also claims to be a coffee stout, and there's some coffee roastiness in there, but I've never actually had a coffee stout that I thought tasted enough like coffee.  I would definitely recommend it to friends and stout lovers.

I think the next time I make a coffee stout, I'm going to brew 5 gallons of full-strength coffee, and use that as mash water.  Or maybe put an unholy amount of coffee in a muslin bag for the last 5 - 10 minutes of the boil.  I want a coffee stout that tastes like coffee, dammit.  I think if you made it big enough, it would taste like Irish coffee; sweet and creamy.  Oh man.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The (Belgian) Bounce is Back.

It's been about three or four weeks in bottles, and I think this one is on track.  This could be the one, you guys.  It's a lovely light color, with just the faintest haze.  The taste is good, not mind-altering yet, but it is reminiscent of that legendary first batch in the first few weeks.  Now I must leave it be as long as I can stand; three months is when the magic starts to happen.

This is a Belgian Abbey Tripel: clear and light in color, but full of aromatic flavor and fairly high in alcohol content.  A fairly warm fermentation and the addition of some sugar give this beer a kick you don't taste right away, but definitely feel.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Confit for a King

Duck Confit.  Food of peasants and kings alike, and a preservation method designed to minimize or eliminate fermentation.  Meat is rubbed with herbs and salt, to add flavor and begin extracting water.  The salted meat is patted dry, submerged in oil (or sufficient fat from the same animal) and heated gently to cook and sterilize.  Skim any carbohydrate/protein scum, and as long as anything with any water in it is below the fat when it solidifies, it will be preserved.  Cover, set it in a cool dry place, refrigeration not required, and it should stay perfectly preserved for weeks or months.

In my case I'm covering it with olive oil, and I'm not really going to keep if for months under the fat.

I get delicious duck meat, crunchy fried skin cracklin's, and the thing that will flavor our meals for months to come: a quart and a half of rich, herb-flavored, duck fat/olive oil blend, rendered to perfection.

It's good to be king.

It's Better than Bad, It's Good!

Making sausage is so easy, you guys!

Pork: 70% lean, 30% fat according to the nice guy behind the counter at Bunzel's.  Lots of Penzy's Bavarian spice blend and a couple percent salt by weight.  Into the freezer for half an hour, then through the grinder.  Keeping the mix near freezing stops the fat from melting and stiffens everything so that it gets cut, rather than smeared through the plates.

Back for another freeze after the first grind and then through the breach again.  I wasn't ready for casings just yet, so this got formed into a loaf pan and cooked it in a water bath into:  Meat Log!

Tasty slices, delicious by themselves; or lately, fried and made into sausage, egg, and cheese "McMuffins."