Friday, March 30, 2012

Mini-review: Rose de Gambrinus

There's a reason Cantillon is on every beer geeks radar - this stuff is seriously good.

Appearance - reddish pink, with a thick fluffy pink head.
Smell - Raspberries, lemons, funkiness.
Taste - Raspberries are prominent, with notes of cherries, red currants, lemons, tangerines, and clove. Acidic, and the fruit notes fade as it warms, giving way to some barnyard funk and hints of oak. Some acetic character in the finish.
Mouthfeel - Very dry, effervescently carbonated.

Overall, a fantastic framboise.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

KG30 (Honey Wheatwine) update

A couple of weeks ago, I racked my honey wheatwine to secondary. Since I am brewing it for my cousin's thirtieth birthday, I've decided to call the wheat wine KG30, a mix of her initials and her birthday. During transfer I took a gravity reading, and it was only a couple of points short of hitting my FG, so I was pretty happy, especially since I was a few points under gravity on brew day.
Speaking of which, the reason I was below my estimated SG was because I didn't boil off enough volume, so I actually ended up with too much wort when I was in primary. Because of this, I had about a half gallon of beer leftover from transfer, so I racked it into a sanitized 2 liter bottle and put my Carbonator Cap on it with plans to force-carb it and taste it... instead I ended up putting it in the freezer, with the hops of concentrating the alcohol and adding it back to the beer to make up for the low starting gravity.
After racking the beer to secondary I then added 1.5 pounds of mesquite honey I'd bought from Trader Joe's. The airlock started bubbling within a few hours, and didn't quiet down until Friday. Saturday morning, I added a jar of American oak cubes (medium plus toast) that I had soaked in Tequila for two weeks. I'll let it age in the better bottle until June or July, at which time I'll bottle it all up.
Some pictures from the transfer day:
The leftovers, with the carbonator cap on it. They're incredibly useful.
1.021 before adding honey. 7% right now, it will probably end up around 9%.
Candlelight taste-test: It's already quite good. Oak and honey should make it even tastier.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lavender Creme Cupcakes with Salted Caramel

This weekend I made up a batch of cupcakes as a late Valentine's Day present for my girlfriend. They are a fusion of two different recipes I've wanted to try (fluer de sel caramel cupcakes and lavendar vanilla cupcakes). The flavors work very well together, and the color of the frosting turned out perfect.

These won't last long at our house, but I'm sure this won't be the last batch of cupcakes I make.

FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Last week my friend Rick and I went to FiftyFifty Brewing over in Truckee. They are best known for their Imperial Eclipse stout, but they are also a brewpub with a wide selection of beers on tap. We took a brief "tour" - the place was small - and then were treated to a sample of all the beers on tap, including Eclipse. My favorite beer of the flight was by far their barrel-aged Belgian tripel - I'm sad that they don't offer it in growlers or I'd have taken one home.
The highlight of the night was getting to talk to the Brewmaster, Todd, for about half an hour. I really look forward to going back there again and having more great beer and great food. Plus, it gives me an excuse to have more of that awesome tripel.

Same view from the other side.
This must be where all the Simcoe went.
A sampling flight. From left to right: Top Row - Pale, Amber, IPA, Porter.
Bottom Row - Farmhouse Ale, Witbier, Tripel, Totality RIS, Eclipse RIS. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wolfberry Mead

Today I made a wolfberry mead. Wolfberries (aka goji berries) are one of those trendy "superfoods" along with açai berries, pomegranates, etcetera, and are high in beta-carotene. They taste somewhat like a cross between a raspberry, a banana, and a carrot, and are a bright orange color.

Anyway, I found a 16 ounce jar of wolfberry juice at the store, so decided I'd make a mead since my friend Chad seems to have inspired a round of exotic food meadmaking (he's currently doing things such as kiwi, durian, and kaffir lime meads) so I thought I'd join the party. I'm using a fairly simple recipe: 3 pounds of mesquite honey, 16 oz. of wolfberry juice, water to bring it up to a gallon, and a packet of Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast. I hope to be able to bottle it in 6-8 months, but with the cool temperatures here in Reno (the house never gets above 65°F) it may be ready sooner.

Adding the wolfberry juice.
Adding the honey.
After the package of dry yeast was added.