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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Beer, Apfelwein, and Project Plans

Steve is out in the garage cracking barley for the next batch of beer that he's brewing today, and if I remember correctly, it's a Mexican Amber.  He finally figured out why his brews are a little on the malty side; he just bought a new thermometer to screw into the side of his brew kettle and decided to calibrate it against the dairy thermometer that he has been using and an ambient thermometer and discovered that the dairy thermometer is low by two degrees at 60F, which could translate to being exponentially off the higher he gets the contents.

The apple wine he made from commercial apple juice turned out very well. He opted not to use the second pound of corn sugar in the fermentation and I'm glad he didn't, because it's plenty alcoholic the way it is.  The commercial apple juice and Montrachet wine yeast fermented into a pale, dry wine, that he carbonated like beer, and it's really a pleasure to drink.  It's dry, and crisp, and has an apple bouquet, but it's not over the top in any direction. The good news is, that unlike beer, Apfelwein can be fermented over the summer.  Steve wants to try an ale yeast the next time he makes it to see if it will leave a little more apple in the flavor of the wine.  I'm game to try it, but I'm pretty pleased with how this batch turned out.

I decided that I needed to turn my goals list into an actual plan and attack it like a project.  First I put all the goals into a master list and then listed what can be put on a punch list and taken care of quickly; the low lying fruit, in popular project-speak.  Then I decided what is a major project, what the predecessors are for that project and whether or not it's an ongoing project, like the garden.

Today I added a Garden sheet to the plan, and listed out vegetables I want to grow this year, and then I noted important things about each of them: what season or seasons they grow in, whether or not they grow well here, whether or not we like them, whether or not they produce multiple harvests (important when you don't have a lot of time) and whether or not they keep well on their own, i.e., do they keep without canning, drying, or freezing.  All this will help me figure out what to plant and when, and where.

In the meantime, here is a link to a cool site with a bunch of interesting ideas and a few videos.


darius said...

I have no clue how your blog ended up in the list of blogs I follow (I'd certainly remember the name!), but it's interesting... and I'll be back!

Nicole Hitchcock said...

How are you brewing your beer that you can't brew in the summer? We used farm fresh cider with a London Ale yeast this summer and had amazing results. Are you making lagers?

Paula said...

I don't either, Darius. But I'm glad you like it.

Cider brewing is different from beer brewing, Nicole, and yes, he's lagering. Beers are really affected by ambient temperatures. Maybe if we had a nice, dark, cool cellar he could brew later into the season, but we don't, so he usually finishes with a Hefeweizen and then he's done until autumn. With two fermenters, though, he can brew enough beer to last the summer!

Lyssa said...

I'm going to have to try this apfelwein. It sounds fantastic, but next on our list is amber ale.

Leigh said...

Brewing and winemaking are another art form! I'm still trying to conquer cheese. :)