Thursday, April 24, 2014


Not to be confused with the IRB.  I got to be the featured homebrewer at the ILB Beer Club tasting, which was held at the Rumpus Room.  I got to go in the cooler and took this apparently very excited selfie with teh beerz.

The theme was sort of loosely gathered around beers that aren't "beer," and so I brought some cider, which has a lot of honey in it, making it technically a cyser.  There's a name for everything.  Beer number two was my Pumpkin Spice Ale, a basic American Brown style with spices.  Finally there was the Ginger Beer, which was a big hit.  Probably more because no one had ever had anything that before then whether it is objectively "good."  Fine... it's pretty good.

Afterwards, I had a great discussion with Chuck, the organizer.  He also organizes the Bay View Gallery Night and Made in Milwaukee events.  He's a great guy who loves our fair city and works to make it better.  We chatted for a while over bonus samples, then this happened:

That's always a treat.

Hop To It

I know this doesn't look like much, but those little reddish-purple things are Cascade hop sprouts.  In another month these will be growing an inch a day or more, doubling every two weeks until winter comes or the earth is subsumed by *this* hop plant.  Whichever comes first.

Shane made a couple beers with the hops from last year's harvest, and the results were less than impressive.  Not bad, just not that hoppy.  I put them in my Stout Coffee, but at a rate of 4:1, i.e. I put in 4 oz of backyard hops where I would have added one ounce of commercial pellet hops.  The wort tasted just right, so I am hopeful.  I am also hopeful that this years harvest will be stronger, as the plant puts down more roots and is healthier overall.  This will be the third year, and that's when "they" say to expect to start actually getting hops.

Also a shout out to the guy at, he's got a nice little blog about the trials and tribulations of growing hops in Minnesota.  Lots of helpful hints that come from real experience.  A recent post of his sparked me to go take a look at my plants and take this pic.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sauerkraut: Brussels Sprouts Edition

Ma femme says I should have called this "Brussels Kraut."  That's pretty good.

On the left is the brine that I have used to start two batches of kimchi; I just keep straining it back into this 3-gallon carboy and reusing it.  I'm telling myself that I'm saving salt and jumpstarting the fermentation.  Maybe there's something to that.  Maybe I'm going to die from it.

Moving on...

On the right is a mixture of cabbage, whole Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and green onions.  Some people call them scallions, some folks call it a slingblade, some folks call it a kaiser knife.  My current standard process is as follows: soak the vegetables in the brine for ~3 days, then repack and weight for ~ 2 weeks in a round gallon container, finally repack a third time for storage in Ball jars.  At some point, forget about it and let it go way too long in one of the early/intermediate stages.  For instance, my most recent batch of Kimchi has been weighted in a bucket since the end of February.  It's a good thing this whole preservation-by-acidification-due-to-the-growth-of-facultative-anaerobes thing works, or I'd be dead.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Corned Beef Boiled Dinner

It's just barely visible, between cabbage leaves and chunks of potato, but the corned beef is pictured here, in a snapshot in time, ready to accept the inevitable heat that is its fate.  Now, after a long day in the crock pot, it is tender and delicious.  The vegetables have accepted just enough salt and more than enough rich meaty taste, and the broth is like unctuous liquid gold.  The beef itself is beefy, and what more can you ask.

It is however, a little more on the pot roast side than the corned beef side.  It either needs more time in the brine, or just a stronger brine.  Maybe both?  I will do a little more research; when I was looking, I think I settled on something near the weaker end of brine strengths, having most recently swung the pendulum too far to the salty side with the bacon project.

Another thing to consider is that this may be what corned beef tastes like.  Maybe the overprocessed thing we call corned beef now is all pumped full of too much salt, nitrates, and what have you, and what I made is more like what it originated as.  Maybe the Matrix is just telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious, and it actually tastes like Tasty Wheats.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It Came from the Briny Deep

This weeks meat adventure: Corned Beef.  I put 1 cup of kosher salt in a gallon of water, which should make a brine around 5 - 7% by weight.  Of course, I could have weighed it.  The brisket piece is a "flat cut" piece about 2 pounds.  I also added a bunch of spices, though there is disagreement on the internet about whether they really flavor the meat.  

Later ma femme informed me that we have a package of "Corned Beef Spice Blend" in the freezer.  C'est la vie.  Overall, this seems like it will be a pretty easy project, since I think I am basically done.  I will flip it over a couple times, every other day or so, to make sure things are curing evenly.  I haven't decided whether I'll cook it with cabbage (it's a little late for St. Patrick's day, sorry) but I will probably make sandwiches to take for lunch.  It's too bad I don't have any homemade sauerkraut ready...  

...wait here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Biere de Garde

Here's the recipe to my Biere de Garde.  It's a style I've been meaning to try, and Brewathon 2.1 was as good a time as any.  Plus it's the spring, and this seems like a late-winter / early-summer staple.  It's nice and big, and I was thinking of calling it Biere de Guerre ("beer for war," rather than "beer to keep") but other than a nice high gravity, there's nothing particularly warlike about it.  So, I'm saving that name for something special in the future.

On the blogging side of things, I'm leveraging synergies between having my Blogger Blog update my friends Wordpress-based site with a link post.  I've updated the recipe that links the two on IFTTT; hopefully that HTML will work this time.  I'd hate to do it manually, that's too much like work.