Over the past week we’ve been busy preparing for winter. We filled the last of our carboys with cider and a holiday IPA. We also bottled our mead. Pirates love medieval beverages and mead is the king of that realm. Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy some of it for Thanksgiving with our families. My family has been pretty harsh on my mead in the past, perhaps this one will change their minds.
Speaking of critics, we’ve decided to implement a review system for our brews so we can work to improve them further. We’re not sure if that will come in the form of software or something as simple as a chalk tally on our kegerator but we’ll let you know.
This was an exciting brew week because we got to use several new pieces of equipment. The star is a brix refractometer for more accurate and consistent specific gravity readings. Pirate Mike also put together a home made stir plate so we can now make really active yeast starters overnight. This means a lot more live yeast will go into the brew at the start and it will consume the sugars faster.
We spent the first part of our brew week transferring a lot of beer. Milk Steak Stout, Headless Horseman the third, and Barrel Roll IPA all made it to secondary fermentation. Then we spent an evening bottling Mead and making cider. Saturday we got down to business brewing a holiday IPA, for which the recipe was mostly inspired by a reddit post.
This week we also created a hopville account so we can more easily share our recipes with you! Links are at the bottom of the post.
Now for some pictures.
Action shot of the home made stir plate.
Our oak barrel needed to be prepped for becoming the eventual home of the IPA. Since it was dry on arrival, it needed a good soaking to re-seal. When the IPA is finished with secondary fermentation, we will transfer it here and eventually serve it out of the barrel.
The stir plate making a yeast starter for Cider.
We kept it simple with the cider, 5 gallons of all natural apple juice, yeast, and time. Preservatives used in juices will keep the yeast from fermenting so this is preservative free. I chose a champagne yeast rather than a beer or cider yeast because I like that flavor best. It is basically the same as our mead recipe just without honey.
Speaking of mead we had a bottling day this week. We used liter swing top bottles from our local home brew shop because we’ve been only kegging for so long we didn’t have any bottles.
After carefully calculating the desired amount of sugar for the target carbonation we measured and added more apple juice. The added juice will ferment in the bottles, effectively carbonating the mead to make it sparkling.
Now we just have to be patient and the mead should be ready about a week from now.
The brew closet looks like it has room for one more. We decided to make a holiday IPA. what makes it holiday is a combination of hops that will give the beer a Pine flavor (we hope) reminiscent of the season. We also used some specific malts to give it an reddish hue. After some measuring and milling, it was time for a mash.
I was a little busy enjoying a seasonal six pack to take more pictures, but I did manage to capture some of the boil process.
Mike keeping both hands busy adjusting the hop bag and snacking on pizza.
After the boil we cooled the wort to room temperature, transferred it to its new home, and pitched the yeast starter.
That brew close looks much more complete.
Oh yeah, here’s the refractometer. This will measure the specific gravity and temperature of samples much better than we do with the hydrometer. It also needs a much smaller sample. So far we’ve gotten better and better beer as we’ve become more scientific in our process. Hopefully that trend will continue.
Here’s the status of our brews at the moment with links to the recipes:
Barrel Roll IPA
Milk Steak Stout
Headless Horseman the third