By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In the wide world of beer making, there are many different places where homebrewers can find inspiration. When traveling for vacation, it may at times be difficult to find tasty beer, depending on the location. However, sampling another culture’s traditional fermented beverage can be an enjoyable and unique experience. Even if there isn’t beer readily available, trying new drinks can help develop your palate and spur future hybrid experiments back at home.
Expanding Your Brewing Pantry
In some parts of the world, people drink fermented milk and even blood. Of course, those ingredients may not make their way into your homebrew, but it’s still important to be open minded about unique ingredients.
The addition of fruit is no stranger to many homebrewers these days, but incorporating grapes in your next doppelbock or even some chanterelle mushrooms with hints of nuttiness can be a fun adventure. Be sure to have a good balance with the flavors you add and the beer itself; so experimentation is key. Even humongous breweries have a research and development department. This allows them to come up with the next crazy idea like a Cascadian dark ale. Of course, these research teams would be nothing without seriously dedicated homebrewers who are always willing and wanting to push the envelope.
The whole reason for traveling the world is to experience another culture and what makes it unique. Sometimes that means skipping the generic, mass-produced lager and instead trying a local drink made with fresh lime juice, a little sugar and a clear liquor made by distilling fermented sugar cane. You can then use those new-to-you beverages to develop a homebrew. Lime is easy, but getting the flavor of a banana or even a coconut to work well with beer can be a challenge.
Beyond the beverages, don’t overlook the possibility to be influenced by all of that wonderful food you’ll no doubt be gorging on because, after all, calories don’t count on vacation! For instance, the pomegranate chicken you may order for dinner contains an array of spices that could spark ideas about a unique flavor profile for a spiced beer instead of one made with the same old cinnamon and clove. Just remember that at the end of the day, everything you eat and drink can be used to create your next award-winning homebrew.
Building the Future
Once you have a fully stocked pantry of unique brewing ingredients, it’s time to build recipes and begin experimenting. Start by selecting flavors that will go well together. For example, lime and roasted malts probably won’t work. However, lime would pair wonderfully with mole spices in a dry stout. Take meticulous notes, so if you knock the first one out of the park you can replicate that process. But if the brew bunted and got tagged out, use your written record to edit and proceed in a different direction.
Keeping notes on what went into the beer and when is important, but so is a tasting log. This will allow you to see how the beer developed over time. Collecting feedback from people who try the beer is also useful. Homebrewing is all about trial and error, and what better way to experiment than to incorporate international flavors.
Down for the Brown [AG]
Down for the Brown [Extract]
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Now that summer has arrived, it’s time to start getting ready for all of the activities that are best enjoyed in our small slice of glorious Northwest weather. Camping, road trips and weekend vacations are just a few options and all are made better with some tasty beer. As homebrewers, it would be even more exciting if the beer we drank was crafted by us. Transporting, storing and serving our award-winning beverages is a challenge that’s easy to overcome with some good old-fashioned homebrewer ingenuity.
Have Beer, Will Travel
Of course, once your homebrew is ready for consumption, it’s already in some sort of container — be it bottles or kegs. Naturally, the amount of brew to bring on a getaway depends on the circumstances. A day trip or hike will only require a six-pack or a couple of growlers and those can easily fit in a small cooler with the rest of the picnic goodies.
However, a weeklong camping adventure is another story, and being the only homebrewer in the group can be a bit trying. With everyone expecting you to supply all the beer, make sure there’s plenty to go around and plan ahead so that you don’t wipe out your cellar. It might also be fun to brew a special batch for the gathering. Aside from getting the chance to make something different, your fellow campers will be able to look forward to sampling a new brew crafted just for them.
If you don’t have a homebrew keg system, then be sure to use a cooler that’s large enough to hold all of your bottles. But if possible, you can have some fun building a keg system that will make pouring beer in an outdoor setting nice and easy.
Taking kegs camping doesn’t have to be difficult. You’ll simply need a place to keep them cold, CO2, a way to get the beer out of the keg and ice.
As with everything in homebrewing, there’s the easy way, the hard way, the expensive way and the cheap way. The costly way might not be easy, but it will probably look the coolest. Let’s start with a place to keep the kegs cold. Any container that will hold ice and allow you to submerge the bottom six-inches of the keg will work. It’s not necessary to keep the entire keg covered in ice because the beer is drawn from the bottom (as long as you’re not drinking a gallon a minute).
There are only a few options for CO2. Option one: You can pull your CO2 cylinder off your tap system and haul it with you to the wilderness. Though effective, this can be cumbersome. Option two: Use a travel-sized cylinder that’s around 2.5 pounds. There are also adapters on the market to attach your regulator to a paintball cylinder. Using an actual regulator and CO2 tank will give you much better control over how fast the beer comes out, preventing foaming and beer loss. Option three: A hand-held device that uses 14-gram CO2 cartridges with a trigger. This allows you to add CO2 to help push out the beer, but there’s no control. You could accidently add too much CO2, purging the keg or pouring out a lot of foam.
Now that the beer is cold and we have CO2, we need a way to get the liquid from keg to glass. The old standby would be a picnic/cobra tap on the end of a piece of hose. It’s simple, inexpensive and it works. But where’s the fun in that? The next option is a fancy adapter that will allow you to connect a beer faucet directly to your quick disconnect. Overall, it’s not that expensive and you have the benefit of beer not sitting in the baking sun all day. The Cadillac version is the jockey box. If you’ve ever been to a beer festival, you’ve seen one. It’s a cooler with a beer line going in one side. The beer then travels through either a stainless steel coil or plate that is inside the cooler. Ice is added to the cooler to ensure the beer is cold when pouring out the other side. A jockey box system isn’t cheap, but it can be an awesome addition to any homebrewer’s outdoor adventures.
Ensuring that our tasty homebrew is not only available to us everywhere we go this summer, but is treated right, helps guarantee the perfect pint every time.
Hop on it IPA [AG]
Hop on it IPA [Extract]
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
If you love to experiment, it’s no wonder you’re a homebrewer. Anything that we can eat safely can be used to craft your next award-winning beer. But all too often, brewers get stuck with the same old ingredients out of habit. The only way to break the cycle is to try something very different — something that perhaps you’ve never heard of anyone else using before. For example, maybe you want to explore the possibilities of a tropical fruit like a banana. But what about swapping in banana candy? Yes, candy! Using candy in beer is twice as easy as using fruit and you might discover some interesting outcomes in the process of experimenting.
Candy may seem like a cop-out ingredient because it’s basically sugar and flavoring. However, it offers several advantages. Ginger candy, for instance, doesn’t have a sharp bite or taste anything like raw ginger. Licorice is similar. But we can push the boundaries further. Why not step outside the box and brew up a watermelon Sour Patch Kid cream ale? How about a lemon drop Berliner weisse? The best part about deciding what type of candy to pair with certain styles is that the sky’s the limit.
One thing you do need to be careful of is ensuring that the candy doesn’t have a large amount of preservatives. You’ll also want to take into account that candy is mostly sugar and flavoring. The sugar will ferment away and leave behind some of the flavoring. Some candies are not very tasty once the sugar has been removed, so taste testing is a must when selecting the right treat for your brew.
Once you’ve selected your candy and beer recipe, you’ll want to know when to use it during your brew day. Since it’s mostly sugar, definitely add it sometime before or during fermentation. Putting candy in the boil can help dissolve and sterilize it, making sure you get the maximum amount of sugars possible. But if you put the candy in at the beginning of the boil, you run the risk of caramelizing it. This could also ruin the compounds that give the candy its unique qualities that you’re trying to impart on your brew. Tossing in the candy at the end of the boil is optimal, then. Stir to be sure it has all dissolved. If this isn’t happening fast enough, take a bit of the wort and put it in a separate bowl — then add the candy. While chilling the rest of the wort, you can stir the candy with the hot wort and add it directly to the fermenter or pour it back into the boil kettle once it’s dissolved. If you add the candy solution to the fermenter, be sure to have enough chilled wort in the container so that the temperature isn’t affected.
Remember that experimentation is the name of the game. You’re the brewer coming up with new and interesting flavor profiles. If you enter your beer in a competition and it doesn’t fit neatly into a style category, you’re doing something right.
Drop the Lemon [AG]
Drop the Lemon [Extract]
By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Here in The Beaver State we are fortunate to have a wonderful array of local flowers to help brighten the landscape and our homes. Growing flowers in your garden can now not only make your house the envy of the neighborhood, but it can also help you add some unique features to your summer brews. There are a large number of edible flowers that would look great in our yards and taste good in our beers, however, this is Oregon, so let’s keep it local. And one of the blossoms most commonly associated with our area is the rose.
Growing the Plant
Roses seem to grow in every yard in Oregon and there is even a huge garden devoted to the flower in Portland. Despite their prevalence, they’re actually not as easy to grow and maintain as it may seem. If you already have a rose bush, the first thing you want to check is whether it is getting the proper amount of sun and water. Also be sure to keep up on pruning. Rose plants flourish when exposed to six hours of sunlight in the morning. This allows the dew that’s formed to evaporate, preventing mold. If the plant gets more than six hours of sun exposure, give the plant more water than you would a rose that’s shaded. Check for proper drainage by pouring some water at the base of the plant and returning a few hours later. If the ground is still wet or you find a puddle, consider moving the plant.
If you need to uproot a rose bush or plant a new one, the best time to do so is in spring. Dig a hole that’s deep enough so that the roots don’t bend. Once the plant is in the hole, fill it in with a mixture of fertilizer and topsoil. Top that with some sort of ground cover like mulch to protect the roots and prevent weed growth.
Adding Roses to the Brew
Although rose petals are edible, the most enjoyable part of the plant is the rose hip. These form after the blossom has bloomed. Rose hips are best harvested in fall right after the first frost. When collecting them, make sure they are soft to the touch, but not so much that they squash. If too soft, they may be rotten. After harvesting, you can use the hips immediately or dry them to preserve them. Of course, you can often find rose hips at your local homebrew shop, but simply buying them isn’t as much fun.
The hips contain seeds, but you don’t need to remove these when adding them to your brew. Just know you might get some tannins from those seeds. Rose hips have a lovely sweet floral flavor and will give your homebrew a delicate aroma. The best place to use the rose hips is as a dry hop addition. They also work well at flame out, but you will lose some of their flavor and aroma. When first experimenting with the hips, go easy on the hops to let the new ingredient shine. This will give you a good idea of just exactly what the rose will lend to your brew. Though there are many different flowering plants you can make beer with, nothing is more Oregon than having rose bushes and hop bines sprouting around your brew shed.
Swaying Hips [AG]
Swaying Hips [Extract]
OBG Blog Archives
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