Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hop Randall Build

Last weekend I built a hop randall, something I have been wanting to do for a long time. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, a randall, also known as a moorminator, hash back, or beer infuser, is a device that is placed inline between a keg and a draft faucet that allows you to infuse additional flavors into a beer. There are several designs, ranging from cheap - a French Press or a thermos with a filter - all the way up to the overkill solution offered by Dogfish Head.

I opted to go for the tried and true water filter based design, as it seems to be the most prevalent and is relatively cheap to build yourself - there are pre-built models available from several homebrewing sites as well as places like Amazon and eBay for about $100, but you can build one yourself much cheaper.

I opted to go for an all-stainless (save the filter housing) design, because stainless. Many of these parts are available in brass/plastic (nylon or PVC) versions as well for less. The design I chose uses a Ball Lock post on one side and a disconnect on the other so I can easily daisy-chain the Randall into my system without having to mess with anything, but there are other options as well if you look around.

Check out the build after the break.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Girl Stout Cookie - Samoa

A few weeks back I read about a brewery in San Francisco that brewed several beers inspired by girl scout cookies for SFBW. My wife and I love Samoas, and so the idea was born to brew my own cookie-inspired beer.

After settling on the general profile and base style of the beer, a recipe quickly came together for a lightly hopped oatmeal stout, with generous amounts of chocolate and crystal malts, to which lactose, caramelized sugar, toasted coconut, cocoa nibs/powder, and vanilla beans would be added for the quintessential flavors of a Samoa cookie.

The lactose and cocoa powder were added with about 10 minutes left in the boil, while the coconut, nibs, and vanilla beans will be added to secondary.

Enjoy some more photos from the brew day - and the recipe - after the break.

PS: Thanks to NOLA Brewing for such a clever name - I had to use it!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tropical Rye IPA

Last month I brewed a tribute to one of my favorite beers, Tropical Heat Ruination. I started with my go-to Rye IPA base, switching to more tropical-forward hops such as Mosaic and Simtra, as well as Gigayeast's Vermont IPA (Heady Topper) yeast. Then, as I tend to do, I dialed it up to 11 with 5 pounds of actual tropical fruit, as well as some pepper extract I made from splitting a few habaneros and ghost in half and soaking them in tequila - that way I could adjust to taste at kegging.
Very few roadbumps on this beer - a sign I may finally be getting dialed in at the house - although the beer did nearly explode. I had so many pellet hops in the fermenter that they actually clogged the blow-off tube and the entire assembly plus maybe 1/3 gallon of wort literally exploded out of the carboy and all over the interior of my fermentation chamber. After primary I dry-hopped with an additional 4 ounces of Citra and Mosaic.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hot Sauce 101: Sriracha (El Gallo Fantasmo)

For the inaugural edition of Hot Sauce 101 I'll talk about one of my favorite hot sauces of all time, sriracha.

Born in Thailand, this bright red sauce has somehow become the hot new thing, supplanting bacon as the trendy thing to add from everything to potato chips to ice cream. Traditional sriracha (invented in Sri Racha, of course) is much sweeter and runnier than the Huy Fong version people in the US are accustomed to.

That being said, I'm a huge fan of the Americanized version, which is hotter, more garlicky, and overall denser flavor-wise. The only complaint I have, is the heat. I've been in search for a commercially produced version that ratchets the heat level up to 11, but so far I've only found one producer, and they only make the 'extra hot' version a couple of times a year.

Thankfully, making it isn't that hard.

1. Get some chilis (and garlic!):

In this case, a mix of fresno and Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers, with a few dried ghost peppers for good measure.