Homebrewing and other Tomfoolery - morganbrews

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Here's a little glimpse of how I while away my free time...

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Manventure 2012

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Landscaping

Driveway Bed - before
Driveway Bed - before
New landscaping bed in front of breezeway
Driveway Bed - during
Driveway Bed - during
Fabric and mulch added
Driveway Bed - after
Driveway Bed - after
Perennial shrubs added - variegated dogwood and flowering shrubs.
Flower Box - before002
Flower Box - before002
I added a planter box to the front of the deck, when I was installing lattice panels last summer.
Flower Box - after
Flower Box - after
A bunch of pansies will bloom all summer and attract hummingbirds!
Flower Box - after 2
Flower Box - after 2
Inviting, isn't it?
Deck Bed - before
Deck Bed - before
Midway through staining the lattice and deck rails
Deck Bed - after
Deck Bed - after
The purple plants are perennials that will flower all summer - Purple Salvia. In between are some flowering annuals.
Deck Bed - after 2
Deck Bed - after 2
A touch of color...
Deck Bed - after 3
Deck Bed - after 3
The small lattice panel on the far right is removable for under-deck access. Nice!

Growing Hops 2008

The Three Amigos
The Three Amigos

Centennial Rhizomes
Centennial Rhizomes

Cascades Rhizomes
Cascades Rhizomes

First Shoots (Sterling)
First Shoots (Sterling)

Sterling Rhizomes
Sterling Rhizomes

Breaking Ground
Breaking Ground

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Hops Farmers
Hops Farmers
I'm pretty luck to have such an enthusiastic assistant! We take daily "field trips" to check on our crop.
Leafy bine
Leafy bine
Check out the stubbly stem of the bine- a great adaptation for climbing.
Serious Business
Serious Business

Yogurt Making

Heat the Milk
Heat the Milk
Heat 1/2 gallon of milk to 180 degrees to pasteurize it.
Sweeten
Sweeten
Add 1 cup of your choice of sweetener. I used plain sugar, but you can use honey, brown sugar, etc.
Cool
Cool
Cover and cool in a cold-water bath until the mixture reaches 115 degrees. Add 1 Tbsp vanilla extract.
Starter culture
Starter culture
Add 1 small container of plain store-bought yogurt and stir well. Make sure it says "contains active cultures."
Cooler Setup
Cooler Setup
The yogurt needs to incubate at 110-115 degrees for 4-6 hours, 12 at the most. I used a heating pad inside a cooler.
Incubation
Incubation
The bacteria digest sugar and lactose, producing lactic acid which forms the yogurt curd. Longer time = tarter yogurt.
Finished!
Finished!
The quart-jars will actually seal when refrigerated. I used a small tupperware to keep a starter culture for next time.

All-Grain Brewing (Jan 2007)

Ingredients
Ingredients
7 1/2 lb barley, 2 lb flaked corn, 9 gallons water, hops, liquid brewer's yeast, and corn sugar for carbonation.
Milling the Grain
Milling the Grain
Greg got the easy job here.
Organ Grinder
Organ Grinder
This is probably the most labor-intensive part of the whole brew day, so it's nice to get it out of the way first thing.
Grist
Grist
A good crush leaves the hull of the grain intact to act as a filter later, while the starchy endosperm is broken apart.
Inspecting the Crush
Inspecting the Crush
Checking the crush to make sure I'm crushing all of the grains, but not ending up with barley flour.
Mineral Adjustment
Mineral Adjustment
Brewer's salts (in this case, gypsum) are added to adjust the water profile according to the style of beer being brewed.
Mashing In
Mashing In
Grains are mixed with the hot "strike water" to achieve a mash temp of 153 degrees. This is a one-step infusion mash.
Enzymes, Awaken!!
Enzymes, Awaken!!
Enzymes in the barley are activated at this temperature and begin converting starch to fermentable sugars.
Mash Temp
Mash Temp
Once the mash temperature is reached, the mash "rests" for about an hour, until all of the starches are converted.
Check the pH
Check the pH
The pH of the mash plays a role in the finished beer. Mainly, color is affected.
Gravity is My Friend
Gravity is My Friend
Hot water in the top cooler will rinse the sugars from the grains in the mash tun (second tier) into the brewpot below.
Vorlauf
Vorlauf
The first runnings from the grain are very cloudy, so they will be run off and recirculated through the bed of grains.
Recirculate
Recirculate
The wort (unfermented beer) is carefully poured back into the mash tun until it begins to run clear down below.
Careful there!
Careful there!
The wort is poured over a spoon to avoid making channels in the grain bed. You want the water to seep through slowly.
Nice Clear Runoff
Nice Clear Runoff
After recirculating about 1/2 gallon, the runoff is clear and we can begin to collect our wort.
Like Clockwork
Like Clockwork
The grainbed is sparged (rinsed) with hot water, and sugars are extracted from the grains. Slow sparge = good extraction
Sparge Arm
Sparge Arm
This cool device evenly distributes the sparge water in a gentle rotating sprinkle to avoid channeling in the grainbed.
Stop the Sparge!
Stop the Sparge!
As the runoff drops below a certain sugar percentage, we stop collecting it to avoid extracting harsh tannins from the grain hulls.
The Boil
The Boil
The wort is boiled for 60-90 minutes to concentrate the sugars and extract bitterness from the hops.
Wort Chiller
Wort Chiller
The wort is rapidly cooled to temps the yeast can tolerate.  Cold water circulates through the copper coil and carries heat away from the wort.  Coagulated proteins precipitate out of the wort too, leaving the beer much more clear.
Chill out, man.
Chill out, man.
Cold water enters the copper tubing above, flows through the coils & absorbs heat, & exits the plastic tubing very hot.
Masked and Anonymous
Masked and Anonymous
Sanitation is crucial at this point. bacteria in the air or my mouth would love to get into the wort and spoil the beer!
Raw Wort
Raw Wort
The cooled wort is collected into a 6.5 gallon carboy. Here it will settle a bit before we add the yeast.
Nasty!
Nasty!
The wort is full of protein flakes, hops particles, and other junk called trub. We want to let most of this settle out.
Starting to Settle
Starting to Settle
The nasty trub (rhymes with boob) is starting to settle out. We'll siphon the clear wort off the top into the fermenter.
Nice clear wort
Nice clear wort
The clear wort is collected and fresh water is added to reach 5 gallons. That's about 54 bottles of finished beer.
Aeration is Key
Aeration is Key
The yeast will need tons of oxygen to start reproducing, before they begin creating delicious alcohol and other flavors.
Activated Yeast Starter
Activated Yeast Starter
The packet on the right has been activated and growing for several hours, so it's ready to be added to the wort.
100 Billion of my Buddies
100 Billion of my Buddies
About 100 billion yeast cells are pitched (added) into the wort. I guess at this point you could start calling it beer.
Lag Time
Lag Time
It takes anywhere from a couple hours to a day for active fermentation to begin. The beer is held at about 65 degrees.
No Skunks Allowed!
No Skunks Allowed!
The t-shirt blocks light from the fermenting beer, which would react with the hops to make very skunky beer. Yuck!

Raisin Wine

Sticky mess
Sticky mess
Chopping raisins is no fun! Thankfully, mom got me a food processor for Christmas, so I can skip this step next time.
Witches Brew
Witches Brew
The fruit is boiled to sterilize it and release the juices.
Straining
Straining
The juice is strained into the sanitized primary fermenter, a 2.5 gallon plastic food storage container.
Additives
Additives
Pectic enzyme digests the pectin in fruit, which would make the wine cloudy. Acid blend balances out the sweetness.
Sterilizing
Sterilizing
Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) kill off any wild yeast and bacteria before the wine yeast is added.
Yeast starter
Yeast starter
Boiled and cooled OJ, yeast nutrient, and dry wine yeast make up the starter. This gives the yeast a headstart.
Primary Fermentation
Primary Fermentation
This is where the must (unfermented wine) gets turned into wine. The airlock lets CO2 escape but prevents contamination.
Racking the wine
Racking the wine
The mostly-fermented wine is transferred (racked) to the secondary fermenter, which is a 1-gallon glass jug.
Secondary Fermentation
Secondary Fermentation
Here, the wine will mellow out, ferment to completion, and clarify. Raisin wine in front, raisin and strawberry in back.
Ready to Bottle!
Ready to Bottle!
After 3 months and several more rackings the wine is free of sediment and ready to bottle, where it will age for 1 year.

Strawberry Melomel

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Keg to Kettle Conversion

Top View
Top View
Starting to cut the top out of a half-barrel keg that I got for free.
Marc the Man
Marc the Man
Couldn't have done it without Marco.
Ragged hole
Ragged hole
Lots of sharp edges, but very a nice cut!
Smoothed out
Smoothed out
Marc melted the edges down...nice and smooth.
Drilled
Drilled
We drilled a hole near the bottom and screwed in a section of threaded pipe.
Finished!
Finished!
Good to Go! Now I can brew a 10-gallon batch instead of only 5 gallons.
Sweet deal
Sweet deal
2.5 hours and $13 later, I have a 15.5 gallon stainless steel brewpot.

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Future Albums

It seems that our family is in the midst of becoming hippies.  We're doing what we can to live a "greener" lifestyle, and lessen our impacts on the Earth.  This also means that we're trying to produce more of what we use ourselves.  So stay tuned for albums on cider making, jellies and jams, quilting, etc.  Who knows?  Maybe in a couple years you'll see beekeeping and goat-milking! 

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4/23/2014 10:48:26 AM