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Ale and Mead
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Factor
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This is under Crafts, as although it's food, it's not done in camp, and brewing/vinting/meading/cidering are a handicraft.

So I fired up the kettle Sunday, and made some ale wort (unfermented beer/ale). My kids bought me a 3-pack of "beer mix" for a Beer Machine. Now I don't have one of the machines, but I have brewed beer (well ale) in the past. The container says it's good until 2021, and what you're supposed to do is pour 2.6 gallons of clean, cold water into a fermenter/dispenser, then add the bag of beer-mix. Then inside the bag of beer-mix you will find a packet of yeast (unknown strain), and you dump that in right after you put in the mix, seal up the machine, and wait 10 days, then drink. Roll Eyes

OK well IF you drink ale/beer on a regular basis, or if you planned ahead for a gathering..., sure that would probably work, but Murphy's Law and I are well known to each other, so I didn't quite do that.

The first thing I did was transfer the mix to a gallon zip-lock bag, and fish out the yeast from the package. Then I took clean water and some sugar, and I proofed the yeast. I added it to the sugar-water with a little pinch of baking salt, pinched the top of the bottle a bit, and sealed it with the screw-on cap. The pinching reduces the water-bottle volume, and when the yeast gets going and gives off CO2.., the pinched portion "pop" out. Wink Which I started Friday morning. Good thing I did too, since it didn't proof until Monday morning..., meaning it really didn't get going well for about 72 hours. So it was probably damaged a bit from storage. That was lesson one.

So, because the package said "no preservatives" (which was good) when I decided to brew what I did was to boil my ingredients in a gallon and a half of water in my stainless steel kettle, while chilling another gallon and a half in my freezer. (I rounded up the amount of water from 2.6 to 3 gallons) I boiled it since I don't drink ale a lot, and I like to store some, maybe drink a couple on a weekend or take some to a party. The problem then is making sure the stuff is sanitary so as not to have a secondary bacteria growth over time, since I'm going to put it into bottles and store it on a shelf. Wink That was poured into my fermenter after I brought it to a rolling boil. The fermenter was sealed, and allowed to cool. Later in the evening I added the very cold water from the freezer (just starting to form ice), to reduce the temp further, and added the proofed yeast. This was sealed in the fermenter with a cap and a fermentation lock. This morning, the fermentation lock is nicely bubbling as it should. Big Grin We shall see what I have Thursday the 26th.

As far as "kits" go, I'd order some actual ale yeast, and use at least two packets of it, if I do this again, and would probably use 2.5 gallons OR..., add 8 ounces or more of dried malt extract or maybe just sugar, to boost the alcohol content a bit and use 3 gallons. Beer Mix the basic recipes at under $16.00 are a pretty good deal (imho) and with Amazon Prime you might get a good deal on shipping.

A few other notes: Beer in the 18th century was what we call Ale today. Lagering, the process by which we make a beverage called Beer today, was only known to Germanic monks at the time of the AWI, and to correctly do it at home you'll need a refrigerator to store you fermenter for about 4 months (slow process). You CAN use lager yeast and warm temps between 50-60 degrees, and ferment the Lager in about a week, but that will give you a little different flavor from true Lager/Pilsner "beer".

For Mead, I found a small, 1-gallon glass fermenter at a yard sale years ago, and I found a source in Lancaster that sells honey at about $2.80 a pound, and when I get the dank fermenter clean, (small fermenters mean tight angles) I will be boiling up some honey and water, and using some wine-yeast, to see how well that does. I'm thinking Champagne yeast, and going for a dry mead.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Free Trapper
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Good luck. Mark
 
Posts: 161 | Location: Burlington, Wisconsin | Registered: 28 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Hivernant
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Remember to let it age a minimum of 6 months or it really will be harsh, or more is better. Why rush.
 
Posts: 109 | Location: NH | Registered: 05 July 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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No real rush, but IF you have some living history folks who do "Viking", they are documented as drinking the stuff right after fermenting..., so if only to let those folks try it the historic way would be the reason not to age it.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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So I did some calculations, using the Batch Builder for the mead..., turns out that a bit more than 2 gallons of water plus 5 lbs. of honey will give me mead at around 9% ABV. So that's what I've done and the stuff is bubbling slowly in the Fermenter. Mead and wine tend to bubble at slower rates than beer/ale.

Should be racking the stuff, if I'm lucky, by August 11th. Then checking for it to have properly finished. If it has I'll bottle it and try it on Valentine's Day 2019.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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Well it appears that I heated the mead too much, and sometimes depending on the honey it can form sour compounds, so it has a little twang to it. OR..., I'm making honey vinegar..., not sure which. Eeker Well if so it will make nice salad dressing.

The beer kit was "ok". I mean it tasted OK and so would've been fine serving to company if I had a Beer Machine as it was meant to be used.

Currently I'm planning on taking 7 gallons of Porter to the Balderdash Brewfest at Dill's Tavern this Saturday (Dill's is an 18th century tavern). I hope my Porter isn't too plain. I've heard other folks are serving stuff like Belgian, Cherry Ginger Lambic Ale, and Ed's Double Chocolate Imperial Barley Wine or something like that. Confused There I'll be, in colonial garb (not required to attend or to serve a beer you made, I'm just supporting the site), serving simple, Porter Well here's hoping it hasn't spoiled when I open the container....

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Greenhorn
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we sell tons of beer kits at were i work (the big A),i glad you are making a porter,we usally have a heavy influx of ipa's and very few porters and stouts,hope to see you there
 
Posts: 49 | Registered: 08 June 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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So, I'm thinking next year, I will do something a little closer to what folks are used to. I think I will do five gallons of Old Peculiar, and probably five gallons of London Brown Beer. I like to show the folks you can make pretty good stuff, better than most of the over-the-counter brews, even "microbrews", without complicated processes OR lots of expense. Both will be carbonated and slightly chilled.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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I like my version of steam beer so well that I've never seen the need to get complicated....Although one of these days I may try my hand at a good stout porter...Yum....


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1911 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Free Trapper
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I came across an old wooden keg of apple cider that a neighbor had bought and used for a Halloween party at his house back when I was a young teenager.

The partially filled keg had been left outside for several months and became an object of much interest to this lad when I poured out a handful sampling! Returning a bit later with a cup, so not to waste any of the old kegs contents!

My memory of the taste and flavor of that hard cider (along with its punch) has never again been encountered. Trying many manufactured beverages claiming to be hard cider and not one coming close to the real thing.

About 20 years ago a law was passed in my state that made it illegal to sell unpasteurized apple cider. Making it very difficult for me to experiment. I someday plan on buying a home cider press and seek to reconstruct a taste from my childhood! A bucket list objective to fill before I kick it!
 
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Factor
Picture of Hanshi
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I have a dear friend who's been brewing beer & ale for a long time. He has all kinds of equipment and does three cold kegs at a time. He does several varieties and they are excellent. But as long as I can get Guiness, or a similar craft stout, I'm happy.


*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
 
Posts: 3487 | Location: Maine (by way of Georgia then Va.) | Registered: 26 January 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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quote:
I like my version of steam beer so well that I've never seen the need to get complicated....Although one of these days I may try my hand at a good stout porter...Yum....


Well IF you're an old hand at steam beer, try the father of it, German dampfbier. I tried a batch and it's basically very close to California steam, but you use a German yeast and German hops. You can't get it here in The States as the Germans think it too simple and plain to export.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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quote:
I came across an old wooden keg of apple cider …, had been left outside for several months …, the taste and flavor of that hard cider (along with its punch) has never again been encountered. …, a law was passed in my state that made it illegal to sell unpasteurized apple cider. Making it very difficult for me to experiment.


Well cider is a side classification all unto itself, and cidermen have their own special ratios of juices from different types of apples.

Now if the cider was in a keg, it was barrel aged, AND if it was bought for Halloween it was in the fall, and so when kept outside in the cold ??? for a few months, I think that perhaps you were drinking Applejack. True Applejack is not the distilled spirit from Laird's Distillery...although that's very tasty it's apple-brandy. No, true Applejack has been frozen, still has some ice in it and the ice has been removed...or in your case the remaining liquid drained into a cup. See wild yeast at the most can reach 8% alcohol by volume, but when you freeze some of the water, and then tap the liquid, you get more Alcohol by volume and you concentrate the impurities so it does indeed have more "punch".

Pasteurized cider has simply had the wild organisms eliminated by heating up to 140 degrees for about 20 minutes. The stuff will ferment, and you avoid a nasty sulfur smell which you can get from wild bacteria and fermenting cider straight from the press. You have to read the label on the cider jug as the bottler will often sneak in a preservative, and you don't want any of those. You might want to find out what apples are or were the most plentiful in your area as a boy..., probably the key to the flavor in your case.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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quote:
But as long as I can get Guiness, or a similar craft stout, I'm happy.


Funny you mention that. The ale and the mead went well, though the mead won't really be done until this December, as it must age a good long time.

I got two kits from relatives for Christmas and my B-Day, and one was a super basic Stout kit from a company called Munton's.

Well you're supposed to use the can, and five gallons of water, boil some and chill the rest, and you get stout...but it's like 4% ABV...(stout ??) Frowner You have to add sugar or more malt, to get the ABV up to a proper "Stout" level.

So since this is part experimentation at simplicity, what I did was first, since I'm using a 3-gallon fermenter instead of my larger 6-gallon version, I only used half of the can. It came "pre-hopped" which means "pre-bittered" and if you try to up the ABV by using the whole can in a smaller fermenter as I have, you over-bitter the product. Eeker So I used the half-can (the rest went into the fridge), and I used a pound of brown malt (better flavor AND will give a proper, foamy head), plus... two cups of sugar. Wink When it's done I will rack it off the spent yeast, and add the aroma hops, let it set for a week, then bottle. Wink IF the flavor is good I'll make a second batch and if not, I will try the other half of the can, and use malt extract to boost the ABV instead of the sugar. Sounds complicated but actually it's very very simple.

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Booshway
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Yup....Sounds like fun testing.


Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
 
Posts: 1911 | Location: Oreegun Territory | Registered: 24 March 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
Picture of Hanshi
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I've watched my beer making friend brew a large batch and noticed he used actual grain & dried hops and some type of a particular yeast. He also used thermometers and some other ingredients. It still left me quite confused. I'd rate his process as, in my eyes, complicated.


*Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.*
 
Posts: 3487 | Location: Maine (by way of Georgia then Va.) | Registered: 26 January 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Factor
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quote:
I've watched my beer making friend brew a large batch and noticed he used actual grain & dried hops and some type of a particular yeast. He also used thermometers and some other ingredients. It still left me quite confused. I'd rate his process as, in my eyes, complicated.


Sorry this thread is a year old but...,

So yes brewing can be very technical if one wants it to be. Of course some of the most interesting brews require some attention to detail. I think one reason why you historically find one basic style popular in a specific geographic area, is that the brewer(s) found a procedure that worked, and they liked the results, so they simply did it that way every time thereafter.

Experimentation might = a spoiled batch or weird taste, and then your malted grain is used up, and that's a loss.

So Don't "Fix" it if it ain't broke. was probably the mantra.

Your friend with the thermometer and the grain was mashing his grains. Pale malt because it was dried and not toasted in the kiln, still has it's enzyme within, that converts starch to sugar. So..., you add some of the pale malt, ground up, to the less expensive ground up toasted malt. The malt(s) all have residual starch that is water soluble . When you raise the water temp up to about 150 degrees F, the enzyme in the pale malt that is now dissolved in the water, activates and starts to break down the dissolved starch into sugar. You then halt the temp increase, and allow the water and the malt to soak at this temp as the chemical reaction takes place. This is called a rest.

IF you go too high in temp, you destroy the enzyme, and no more starch is converted. So a lot of "all grain brewers" run the temp up to 150, then let the pot cool, then run it back up, then let the pot cool, two or three or even more times. When satisfied, they then boil the grain-tea they have created, which is called Wort.

So the brewers before somebody figured out how to make a cooking thermometer, knew that X amount of boiling water, poured onto Y amount of crushed grain, would lower the temp of the water enough that the process wasn't destroyed, but was still warm enough for it to happen. Water, starch, and enzyme at room temp, for example, doesn't do all that much.

Then they'd drain off the liquid, and repeat the process, and drain off the liquid a second time, combining both amounts of liquid, and make that into beer. The grain remaining was then used to make a smaller batch of small beer, and after the third rinse to make the small beer, the grain was often fed to hogs.

You can also make good ale that's pretty close if not as good as a micro brew by taking a canned kit, boiling it in two gallons of water along with a half-cup of crushed, torrified wheat, and after an hour simmer, pouring that into your fermenter which holds 24 lbs of ice cubes (3 gallons of water when melted). Then tossing in a packet of dry ale yeast when it's all cooled. Two weeks later bottle some pretty good ale for like $4.50 a six-pack. You can be double-sure and pasteurize the stuff two weeks or so after bottling.

Considering that you get 8 six-packs of 12 oz. bottles from a five gallon batch, and you save from $2 to $6 or so compared to the micro brew stuff over-the-counter..., you save between $16-$48 dollars, and can say "I made this".

LD


It's not what you know, it's what you can prove
 
Posts: 3843 | Location: People's Republic of Maryland | Registered: 10 November 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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