Cut them up good!

A Wee Heavy Chanterelle, Part 2

In this post we will cover the final steps of our Chanterelle Wee Heavy as well as get a feel for where about in alcohol percentage these two babies will end up.

Here are the steps we will follow to add the mushrooms:

  1. A day before you are ready to add the chanterelles, take them out of the freezer!
  2. Day of: Make sure to clean and sanitize a fermentation vessel
  3. Slice up the mushrooms to “bite-size” pieces (don’t eat those, they’re for the beer!)
  4. Add the sliced pieces to a mesh bag
  5. Place mesh bag into the fermenter
  6. Pour the juice made by the mushrooms into there too! That’s some good stuff!
  7. Give it two weeks!

Three days into fermentation and the two vessels holding our to-be beer were moved below the house where it is colder. It’s winter, so we might as well lager these things while we have the weather to our advantage.

On 02.13.2014 we finally decided to measure how far we have come with our fermentation. The to-be Chanterelle, which started at 22 Brix, was down to 14 Brix, meaning this thing is already at about 7.9% ABV. Wowsers! It was still chugging along, so we left it for another week. The Wee Heavy proper, which started at 23 Brix, was down to 16 Brix. 7.1% ABV sounds plenty good to me!

On 02.18.2014 we decided it was time to put it into a secondary. We used corny kegs for this purpose. This is the stage at which the chanterelle mushrooms are added.

Into the keg they go! Make sure to put them in a mesh bag for easy removal.

Into the keg they go! Make sure to put them in a mesh bag for easy removal.

The Brix measurement for the Chanterelle beer at this point was clocking in at 13.5, making this beer a 8.4% juggernaut! My instinct is it is going to settle there, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if it lost another half point. The Wee Heavy proper lost a point, making it 15 Brix and 8% even.

Two more weeks and both of these beers will be ready for consumption, and I can tell you right now based on our tastings, they will indeed be consumed, probably quickly. Some of us are already looking to our next Wee Heavy adventure.

Jasmine pouring malt extract

c3(Pi)0

The C3(Pi)0 is now happily glugging along in two carboys.

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Here’s the recipe:

8 lbs Golden Light LME

2 lbs Dark LME

2 lbs Buckwheat Honey

2 lbs Munich Malt

2 lbs Crystal 80 Malt

1/2 lb Roasted Barley

1/4 lb Black Patent Malt

1 lb Lactose

2 1/2 oz Dried Cottonwood Branches and Buds

1 oz Centennial Hops (13.8% AA)

1 oz Citra Hops (15.8% AA)

1 oz Vanguard Hops (5.4% AA)

1 oz Sassafras Root Bark

1 oz Sassafras Leaf

1 oz Sarsaparilla Root

1/2 oz Fresh Cottonwood Buds

1/4 oz Grated Licorice Root

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Procedure as follows:

  1. Steep grains at 160° for 30 minutes, drain, sparge at 160°, Bring to boil
  2. Add Chinook hops, dried cottonwood buds, sassafras root bark and sarsaparilla root, boil for 30 minutes
  3. While boiling, combine yeast cakes from Wee Heavy primaries into one carboy.  Add LME, 1 tsp bee pollen, and some warm water, shake well to oxygenate and integrate
  4. At 10 minutes, add lactose, sassafras leaves, licorice root, citra and vanguard hops to the boil.
  5. Flameout
  6. After wort has cooled to 115°, add in honey
  7. After wort has cooled to 100°, strain and pour wort into carboy with LME and yeast, shake well
  8. Split wort/yeast into two carboys, top off with cool water, and shake well to integrate.

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So, we are left with 10 gallons of future beer. 5 gallons starting at 14 Bx in a betterbottle, and 5 in a glass carboy starting at 10 Bx. We are planning on infusing vanilla flavor into the lower gravity batch in the secondary.  Since the yeast cake was pretty fresh, it picked right back up again. Both carboys are glugging like wild. The batch in the betterbottle got a little too crazy and spit up a bit of yeast out of the airlock, but it thankfully didn’t suffer too extreme of a blowout and a mess was averted.

 

Early taste tests seem promising, I’m excited to see how this one turns out.

Delicious ingredients

C3(Pi)0: Root Beer Milk Stout preview

About a year and a half ago, we brewed a keg of beer for a family friend’s kegger. They had a keg of commercial beer, but we wanted to bring something a little more unique. We revived a recipe from one of our earliest brews: the Pi ale.

The Pi ale was an all extract amber braggot with buckwheat honey. It was delicious, and poorly documented, see below:

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The only tasting note, “tastes like fruity pebbles” inspired us to recreate the PI ale. We decided to give it a twist and chuck a bundle of root beer herbs in there! We also decided to enrich the exract with a mini mash to create the (Pi)2D2! Which looks even cooler with the mathematical symbol, as seen in this slightly better recorded entry in our brew book:

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So now, we’re at it again, reviving and renewing one of our previous recipes. This time, we’re shifting gears on the style, and going to the dark side. We’re keeping the herbs and spices, and fitting it all into a rich and creamy milk stout. So, stay tuned for the exciting sequel to (Pi)2D2:  C3(Pi)0

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The warming tones of the Do-it Gruit, Redux

Do-it Gruit Redux, Revisited (the follow-up)

This is a follow-up to the Do-it Gruit Redux.

Plants are drugs.  Somtimes I have to remind myself of this fact. Plants are potent drugs. There we go, some emphasis so that I will always remember!

This oft neglected fact is never more evident than after your first few sips of gruit. I can only describe the sensation it gives one as a warm stillness that starts to envelope you from the very center of your being. When it finally makes it to the tips of your fringers and toes, that stillness is suddenly transformed into an urge to throw those appendages about in whatever celebratory gesture one is accustom to.

Gruit makes you feel really good. Something else to remember. Gruit makes you feel really good, for awhile. Ah yes, an important addendum when we are talking about drugs. Certainly a more truthful assertion, as gruit, like many drugs, can leave you with a wicked headache if consumed too liberally. I like the way gruit makes me feel and thus, have experienced this personally. I continue to drink gruit.

One of the things I have come to admire about our gruit recipe is that it is beautiful.

The warming tones of the Do-it Gruit, Redux

The warming tones of the Do-it Gruit, Redux

This cell phone picture can hardly do it justice. I guess you will just have to make it for yourself :)

A whole mess of Cantharellus formosus, the Pacific golden chanterelle

A Wee Heavy Chanterelle, Part 1

While the two years of this blog have primarily been a chronicle of our adventures of herbal beers and ales, we have from time to time made “regular” beers. In fact, prior to this blog, I myself had been brewing “regular” beers exclusively for about five years. In that time, I would often consult home brewing forums for advice or inspiration. Tasty Brew and Home Brew Talk were my two favorite destinations, and time and again there was always one individual who stood out in their brewing passion and execution. This man, Denny Conn (or DConn as he’s known to some), was to me, about as close to a home brewing rockstar or icon there could be. He always created the best recipes and was one of first individuals to answer questions from rookie home brewers like myself.

Alas, that was long ago, and since then the majority of my beer and ale searches on the Internet were primarily centered around the properties and methods of the various plants we have put into our beverages. Imagine my surprise when the first hit for my query of “chanterelle beer” to DDG was a post on Home Brew Talk entitled Be afraid…. (chanterelle beer) by Denny.

Oh. My. God.

But now I am getting ahead of myself. Maybe I should go back a bit. Perhaps you are asking yourself, “what the hell is a chanterelle, anyway?” More likely you’re thinking, “Why you doing that? Stop wasting those mushrooms!” Hold steady, dear reader, and have a little faith for we are in for a journey of discovery.

You see, we at Fermentemptations aren’t just brewers or just herbalists, we also are huge fungophiles. We love, and I mean love fungus. Some of us think about fungi all the time. Finding fungi, growing fungi, eating fungi, taking pictures of fungi. We think about cleaning our rivers and steams with fungi. Lately, we’ve been thinking about brewing fungi, specifically the Pacific golden chanterelle that can be abundant in the Pacific Northwest every autumn. Thus, the “chanterelle beer” Internet search.

Even being the fungophile I am, I admit, initially there was some skepticism. It is for this reason I sighed with relief when I saw that there was a Denny Conn endorsed chanterelle beer recipe.

We still brew with extract so there are some modifications that we made to Denny’s recipe. It is brewed in the style of a Scotch ale, and it’s a Wee Heavy one indeed. This is also a recipe for 10 gallons, that way we could enjoy the Scotch ale recipe itself, which was guaranteed to be delicious in its own right.

  • 22 lbs Golden Light LME
  • 5 lbs Golden Promise malt
  • 12 oz Roasted Barley
  • 3 oz Northern Brewer @ 30 minutes
  • 3 oz Northern Brewer @ 15 minutes
  • 2 packs of Wyeast 1728

The procedure is for kitchen stove-top sized wares, is involved and as follows:

  1. Bring 1.5 gallons water to 155F
  2. Steep specialty for 30 mins
  3. Steep @ 168F for 15 mins
  4. Sparge grains at 168F
  5. Add half volume of LME
  6. Remove 1/2 gallon of wort and boil to reduce at least by half
  7. Once main wort is to a boil, add first hop addition
  8. Add second hop addition
  9. While wort is cooling
    1. Add 2 gallon water to a fermenter
    2. Add rest of LME to fermenter
    3. Shake well!
    4. Once integrated, split between another fermenter
  10. Add the reduced wort back to the main wort
  11. Once the wort has cooled, split it between the two fermenters
  12. Pitch one packet of activated yeast into each fermenter

We brewed this batch on 01.30.2014, with the to-be Chanterelle beer clocking in at a respectable 22 Brix and the Wee Heavy proper amounting to a whopping 23 Brix.  Mmmm, heavy, indeed.

Part 2 will include some Brix measurements as well as the feautured fungal addition. It will also include more pictures :)

Gruit herbs--marsh rosemary, bog myrtle/sweet gale, yarrow, and stinging nettle

Do-it Gruit Redux

Gruit herbs--marsh rosemary, bog myrtle/sweet gale, yarrow, and stinging nettle

Gruit herbs–marsh rosemary, bog myrtle/sweet gale, yarrow, and stinging nettle

Fermentemptations is coming up on two years of brewing and blogging and it just so happens the brew crew has made a unanimous decision to revisit some of our first and favorite brews.

 

8 lbs Pilsener lme
1 lbs Vienna
1 lbs Munich
1/2 lbs Crystal 20L
.5 Oz Marsh Rosemary
.5 Oz Bog Myrtle
.5 Oz Yarrow
.5 Oz Nettle

Step 1
Mini mash: steeped grain for 20 minutes@160F in 1.5 gallons of water

Step 2
Sparge grain with 1/2 gallon of water

Step 3
Add LME

Step 4
We added 1/2 gallon of water and spoon full bee pollen to Ginger Me Timbers yeast cake

Step 5
Wake (shake) up yeast

Step 6
Add wort to carboy

Step 7
Add portion of herbs to carboy

You have to make sure to ferment some herbs, not just boil them!

You have to make sure to ferment some herbs, not just boil them!

Step 8
Top of with water

Step 9
Steep remaining herbs in 8 cups water hot water, add after 8-24 hrs

We conveniently forgot to measure the gravity. Opps.

It is not uncommon to get to this state and completely forget to take a measurement–we always seem to remember to take a drink though!

It is not uncommon to get to this state and completely forget to take a measurement–we always seem to remember to take a drink though!

 

A yeast starter made with a measuring cup full of must and a pinch of bee pollen.

Strawberry Wine Forever (and Ever)

The Misty Mountain Brew Crew made a strawberry wine a week earlier that turned out just fantastic at about 11% ABV. It contained a mere 5 pounds of organic cane sugar.

A strawberry field is down the road from where Jasmine and I live and they had quite the bumper crop this summer. Since we lived up the road from them they were kind enough to let us scrounge as much as we wanted.

Seeing as cost was no limiting factor, our brew crew resolved to have another go at the strawberry wine, this time fortified with some of our new favorite honey.

22 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed
2 pounds organic cane sugar
2 pounds fireweed honey
~3 gallons
5 bags organic black tea
2-3 tablespoons bentonite clay
2-3 tablespoons bee pollen
yeast

If you have frozen strawberries, start by bringing about two gallons of water to a boil. If not, de-stem the strawberries.

We reused old packaging as flats.

We reused old packaging as flats.

After weighing and rinsing our strawberries, we put them in a paint strainer bag wrapped around the opening of a large plastic bucket. Keeping the berries in a mesh bag like this can make it easier to remove the fruity mush, called the pomace, from the fruity liquid mixture, known as the must. This is usually done about five days to a week into fermentation.

strawberry wine mashing

Mashing up the strawberries with your bare hands will leave your skin feeling amazingly moisturized when you’re finished.

Once our 22 pounds of berries were in the bag and bucket it was time for the mashing to the commence. Enter a person who doesn’t mind getting a little wet. Bonus! Your hands will feel like they’ve been professionally moisturized after mashing the berries.

Now is the time to add the sugar and honey. Just dump it right in with the berries and juice you’ve just made. Now add the hot two gallons of water. Try to mix up the sugar and honey into the solution as best you can, if necessary use a large sanitized stirring spoon. Top it off to five gallons with cold water out of the tap.

Once that’s mixed up, sanitize a measuring cup and dip it in the bucket to retrieve a cup out or two of your must. You can use this to measure the gravity and if you’re not satisfied, add more sugar or honey and mix again. If you are satisfied, use the measuring cup full of must to make a yeast starter.

A yeast starter made with a measuring cup full of must and a pinch of bee pollen.

A yeast starter made with a measuring cup full of must and a pinch of bee pollen.

Time to add some yeast food. We have been using bee pollen for all of our yeast nutrient needs and this concoction was no exception.

Finally, mix in the bentonite clay and the brewed black tea, then pitch the yeast starter when the must is below 100F.

Our original gravity for this batch looks to be about 1.060, a little low for a wine but I’m positive it will finish well below 1.000, probably finishing at about 9-10% ABV.

 

Sage with style

Everything you need for a delicious Sage ale

Everything you need for a delicious Sage ale

The Steep:
3 lbs raw buckwheat honey
+ water 120 degrees
+ 3 oz dried sage leaves and stems
+ steep 8 oz steel cut oats in cheese cloth in honey/sage/water
1 hour @ 120 degrees, take out and strain oats

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The Un-Boil:
Keep around 120 degrees
+ 4 lbs brown sugar (60 mins)
+ 1/2 oz rosemary (30 mins)
+ One lemon, juice and zest (15 mins)
1/4 oz cardamon, crushed (15 mins)

Primary:
1 1/2 oz fresh sage leaves
Sprig of rosemary, bruised
Yeast, Nottingham

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Philosophy:
Keep the temperature low as not to kill the amylase in the raw honey — amylase converts the starch in oats to sugar — important to get the “beer” flavor in this gluten-free beverage.

15.5 Brix, 1.064 OG

“God made yeast, as well as dough, and loves fermentation just as dearly as he loves vegetation.”