Experimenting

Wort, getting spicy!

When we started making our first beer, I knew we were going to go with a brown. I knew we were going to go with a kit, because I was too scared not to. We followed the clearly written, specific directions in the kit to the letter, and ended up with a fairly lovely beer.  The first sip of it is… strange.  It benefits from warming up a little, rather than being straight out of the fridge.  It is very low in alcohol content.   But from the third sip on, it’s pretty delicious.  Friends were surprised by it’s deliciousness, the compliments we received were incredulous and funny. Our neighbor texted me to say, “It tastes storebought!” and followed that up with “And I mean that in a good way!!!”

Emboldened by the success of Oliver’s City of Dreams Ale, we went in a new direction with our second batch. We tried a new store for supplies: Barley Haven in Lakewood.  It’s very different than the Bald Brewer.  It’s larger, and has a big chalkboard with changing suggested recipes, as opposed to boxed kits.  The center of the store is lined with bins of grains and add-ins, and it’s fun to open them up and smell the differences. When you’ve decided on a recipe, you just let a store employee know and he’ll bag up everything you need to complete it! Jules wanted something ‘spicy and fall’ this time around, and we’d been toying with a pumpkin beer.  However we’d been drinking Blue Moon’s seasonal sampler at home and their caramel apple beer very pleasantly surprised us. It wasn’t as sweet as we’d feared- the ‘caramel’ in the name referred to a caramel malt.  The gentleman at the store took this information, and Julie’s enthusiasm for the cider press in Barley Haven and suggested a spice beer.  We would take one of the store’s suggested fall beers (another Oktoberfest, but this one with different malt and a different hop schedule), and add some spices to the wort.

We did a partial mash this batch as opposed to extract brewing,  and it took longer, but I liked the process. We added a cinnamon stick and some cloves, and the sterilized peel of an orange to the end of the boil.  We strained out the spices when we put the wort into the primary, but left the orange peel.  I also replaced a half-gallon or so of water with apple cider.

We’re not sure yet how this experiment is going to pan out! This beer is still in the secondary.  My biggest concerns were if all of the extra sugar was going to make the beer more prone to spoilage, but it smelled like beer when I transferred it to the secondary. It also smells really spicy.  We’re going to let this one have a long aging process, in hopes that those flavors will…mature.  Yeah.

In the meantime, I’m adding some empties of Deschute’s Jubelale to our bottling collection, and hopefully we’ll get this baby bottled in the next week or so.  Keep your fingers crossed- cheers to exploring the unknown!