Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Homebrew #8.1 ("Chad'z Raspberry Ginger Ale") Part 2: Tasting

So it's been a week since I brewed my first soda. How did it turn out? Watch and see.

here's the complete recipe and my notes:

Brewed and bottled: 13 November 2012

INGREDIENTS:
1 TBSP "Homebrew Ginger Ale Natural Concentrated Extract" by Rainbow Flavors, Inc.
1oz Brewer's Best Raspberry Natural/Artificial fruit flavoring
2 cups "Sugar in the Raw" Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar

WATER:
1 gallon unfiltered Albany tap water

YEAST:
1/8 TSP Lalvin EC-1118 Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ex-bayanus)

BREWER'S NOTES:
This was my first ever homebrewed soda. I assumed it would be easy to make, and it was. However, that's not to say making a soda is completely fool-proof. I did make the mistake of trying to boil an entire gallon of water on the stovetop. You don't have to get a rolling boil to get the sugar to dissolve in the water, nor do you need an entire gallon in the brewpot.

You're supposed to mix the yeast in a cup of 98 degree water until it dissolves, but I think the water was too hot and may have actually killed the yeast because none of the bottles carbonated. Either that or I didn't use enough yeast in the first place. The directions said to use between 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoon for one gallon, so I only used 1/8 teaspoon. Next time I'll try using at least 1/4 if not 1/2 teaspoon and I'll be more careful on the temperature of the starter water.

This was my first failure as a homebrewer because the net product was entirely too sweet and completely uncarbonated. I will definitely attempt this "Raspberry Ginger Ale" again but I'll use less sugar and less raspberry flavoring. I'll also be more careful with the yeast.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 vlog #7 | What's going on?

It's been quite a while since my last formal vlog so I think we're way overdue for one. Not that I have a ton of announcements or anything. In fact, this whole video is basically me telling you how I don't have a lot to talk about.

ALBANY BREW CRAFTERS:
http://www.AlbanyBrewCrafters.com
http://www.Facebook.com/AlbanyBrewCrafters
http://www.Twitterc.om/AlbanyBrewCraft
http://www.YouTube.com/AlbanyBrewCrafters

ALBANY CRAFT BEER ENTHUSIASTS
http://www.meetup.com/AlbanyCraftBeer
http://www.Facebook.com/AlbanyCraftBeer
http://www.Twitter.com/AlbanyCraftBeer

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homebrew #8.1: Part 1: Brewing & Bottling

Do you consider a homemade soda to be "home brewed"? There is some cooking involved - just dissolving sugar into warm water. But that's about it. Everything else involves adding the right proportion of flavorings, yeast, and of course good sanitation and cleaning of the equipment.

Since I had the raspberry flavoring leftover from my raspberry wheat homebrew from a few weeks ago, I decided to try to make a raspberry ginger ale. I used to LOVE Schweppes Raspberry Ginger Ale a long time ago, but I haven't seen it in stores in years. I'm hoping my homebrewed soda will be a good replacement/replica.

RECIPE:

Brewed and bottled: 13 November 2012

INGREDIENTS:
1 TBSP "Homebrew Ginger Ale Natural Concentrated Extract" by Rainbow Flavors, Inc.
1oz Brewer's Best Raspberry Natural/Artificial fruit flavoring
2 cups "Sugar in the Raw" Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar

WATER:
1 gallon unfiltered Albany tap water

YEAST:
1/8 TSP Lalvin EC-1118 Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ex-bayanus)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Homebrew #7.2 "I-88 Raspberry Wheat" with Habanero

My experimentation with peppers in the bottles continues. This time I try a bottle of my raspberry wheat with an entire habanero pepper in the bottle (that I grew myself, I might add). If you saw the jalapeno tasting you're probably as nervous for me as I was going into this.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Homebrew #7.1 "I-88 Raspberry Wheat" with Jalapeno

I had a raspberry jalapeno beer by Bandwagon Brewery out of Ithaca a few times at the TAP New York Beer Fest and I've always wanted to try to make that myself. But I know nothing about making a chile beer, so I set aside a few bottles of my raspberry wheat and just cut up and put some of my own homegrown jalapenos in them to see what it would taste like. If they sucked - no biggie, it's just a couple bottles and the rest of the batch is still fine.

So how would this turn out - would it be an interesting twist on the usual fruity wheat beer or would it REALLY SUCK!?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homebrew #7.0 "I-88 Raspberry Wheat"

I kind of brewed this one in secret since I never made a brewday video of it and rarely talked about it except a few tweets here and there. I explain the whole thing in the vlog (or just read below).

Brewed: 20 October 2012
Bottled: 04 November 2012

Original Gravity: 1.039
Final Gravity: 1.010
Alcohol By Volume: 3.8%
Average fermenting temperature: 68 F
IBUs: 6 - 10

STEEPING GRAINS
none

BOILING FERMENTABLES
2 @ 3.3lb can of Briess CBW Pure Malt Extract Non-Diastastic Unhopped Bavarian Wheat

BITTERING HOPS
 1oz Mt. Hood (60 minutes to flameout)

AROMA HOPS
.5oz Mt Hood (5 minutes to flameout)

FRUIT
2 @ 12oz Driscoll's fresh raspberries (added 23 October 2012)

YEAST
1 packet (.388oz) Lallemand Munich dry wheat beer yeast (Lot 2291113V)

WATER
5 gallons unfiltered Binghamton tap water


BREWER'S NOTES:
This was brewed on somewhat of a whim. I was visiting my sister's house for the weekend and I thought it would be fun if we homebrewed a beer together. I thought her and husband would find it interesting and I wanted to do something extremely easy so I got an all LME kit. But on brew day Jay was gone the entire time at an appointment, and Jena was out shopping and then cleaning the house in preparation for Logan's birthday party. I was hoping Logan would be interested, and he was for about five seconds, and then went back to watching Spongebob.

That's okay because it was still an interesting brew process for me. I had never brewed a kit that was entirely LME before, so that was interesting. And yet I still managed to screw it up a bit. The directions said bring the first can of LME up to a boil then wait 40 minutes and add the second can. Well as soon as it reached a rolling boil I added the second can, so I added it way too early. Everything else should have been done on time, though. I think I also brewed it with way too much water as the OG was very low at only 1.039 (the kit said it should've been closer to 1.045-1.050).

I brought the beer back home to Albany and a couple days later went to the supermarket and bought two 12oz packages of fresh raspberries and dropped them right into the fermenter. Even though the kit came with raspberry syrup flavoring that seemed really cheesy to me and I wanted to make something way more authentic. I was kind of hoping the fruit might add some wild yeast to the brew to sour it up a bit, but from all the samples I've tried it tastes pretty normal to me (slightly tart, but that's from the natural raspberry flavor).

I'm happy with the way it turned out, even if it is a total "chick beer" or whatever you want to call it. That's okay because I made this for my family and we're going to debut it at Thanksgiving where the majority of people are not beer drinkers but will likely enjoy this brew.

Additionally, I put aside four bottles for experimentation. In three bottles I put in my homegrown jalapeno peppers and in one bottle I put in my homegrown habanero pepper. This is a wild experimentation as I've never done anything with peppers before. If they're awful it's not a big deal since it's only those four bottles and the rest of the batch will be fine.

Lastly, this homebrew was a lot of firsts and records for me:
First homebrew I brewed away from home.
First homebrew co-brewed with family members.
First homebrew brewed with all liquid malt extract (no steeping grains at all).
First homebrew made with fresh fruit in the primary.
First homebrew using peppers.
First deliberate "chick beer"
Lowest ABV at 3.8%

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How to put your PRESIDENTIAL vote to good use today

I had originally intended this blog to be a mostly political blog, but that obviously didn't happen. In fact, I meant it to be a blog I posted to daily or at the very least - weekly - but that didn't happen, either. Anyway, I wanted to post a quick political blog today since it's erection... err.. election day.

Now if you know me you know I'm a hardcore Libertarian and libertarian. Both in philosophy and realpolitik (I am a registered member of the Libertarian Party after all and have helped on a few local campaigns). Obviously my choice for president is Gary Johnson since Ron Paul isn't on the ballot (more on that later). But the point of this blog isn't to try to persuade you to vote for Johnson because of his politics, but rather, to help fix the political system.

So many people I know - Democrats, Republicans, independents, apathetics and everyone in between - complain about the political system and the two party system (or "two party dictatorship" as I call it). Most people want to see reform, but no one wants to actually step up to the plate and make it happen. This isn't surprising - after all - talk is extremely cheap. So I'm calling out EVERYONE that's ever complained about "the way the system works" and challenging them to put their vote towards a good cause that actually WILL help reform the system: simply vote for Gary Johnson or ANY third party PRESIDENTIAL* candidate (hereafter referred to as "Johnson/3rd party").


Think about it: if you live in a hardcore red or blue state where it's absolutely certain that the red or blue candidate will take that state then what do you have to lose in casting your presidential vote for Johnson/3rd party? I live in New York - probably tied with California for the bluest blue state in the union. If you're a Democrat what do you need to vote for Obama for? He's already won. Why not help your fellow man out by voting for Johnson/3rd party?

If you're a Republican living in a blue state and you want to vote for Romney to stick it to Obama, I hate to tell you, but that's a futile vote. Since Romney has no chance of winning New York, California, Illinois, etc. wouldn't your vote be better served helping out the third party?

And of course vice versa is true as well - don't vote for Obama in a red state like Texas.

Now if you have adamant philosophical disagreements with Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode, et al, that's understandable. This blog isn't meant to convince you at the last minute why any of those people are politically better for president than the candidate of your choice (some of them I vehemently disagree with myself). I'm just trying to show you how you can "be the change you want to see in the world."

Call it a pity vote if you want, I don't care, but the point is your vote would be better served going towards a third party presidential candidate than the two party establishmentarians. Every state has their own ballot access laws obviously, but for the most part a third party receiving 5% of the popular vote is a big deal; 10% is a huge deal; and 15%+ is earth-shattering. If we can get these third parties just 5% of the vote it's likely going to help them out in your state and nationwide as well. We can finally get third parties included in the debates. It can start perpetual motion and lead to long-term change down the road. I'm not an idiotic naive "Occupier" who believes they can create revolutionary political change overnight. I know it's a long, arduous, tedious battle and every little bit helps.

So if you live in a state where the presidential candidate is already decided why not help reform the system by voting for Johnson/3rd party?

Now if you live in a "swing state" (or "purple state" as I like to call them), by all means vote for Romney or Obama IF you truly believe they are the right person for the job. DON'T vote for one just to stick it to the other. If you're a "revenge voter" then why not vote against the establishment by voting for Johnson/3rd party?

*NOTE: I'm specifically talking about the PRESIDENTIAL ballot because it carries the most weight at the national and state levels as far as leading to ballot access reform. Personally I would recommend voting for third parties across the board from dog catcher to school board members to state assemblymen to congressmen and senators, but that's not intended to be the point of this blog.

THE RON PAUL QUESTION

Now I KNOW what you're thinking: "But Chad, you're a huge Ron Paul fanboy - why aren't you voting for him?" Well that certainly is a tough question, a good one though. And yes I'm a big Ron Paul fan and if he had run as a third party candidate he absolutely would get my vote. But unfortunately he didn't so he won't be on the ballot. I'm sure he might qualify as a "certified write-in candidate" but it's just not the same. A write-in vote for Ron Paul definitely does send a message, however, a vote for Gary Johnson (or even Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode) is a very close substitute. Ron Paul is retiring from politics after this election so all votes cast for him will be a one-day-only event. A vote for Johnson/3rd party will carry on towards reforming the system. But if you can't bring yourself to vote for Johnson/3rd party because of your political/philosophical beliefs and you're 100% voting your conscience by voting for Ron Paul, then by all means cast a write-in vote for him. I can respect that.

P.S.

My personal prediction for this election: Romney beats Obama in the POPULAR vote, but Obama beats Romney in the ELECTORAL vote. Subsequently liberals forever shutup about changing the presidential election to a popular vote rather than the Electoral College (sheyeah right).