Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

A couple o’ Belgians

I had plenty of time to screw around with brewing stuff this past weekend, as it was “girls weekend” and the wife was up north at a cabin with her girlfriends. After getting home from a happy hour Friday, I apparently hadn’t drank enough (the only tolerable option at LaFonda in Eagan is Summit EPA) because I was able to muster some motivation to transfer the “In the Name of doG” batch from primary – where it had been for the past 11 days – to secondary. While doing so, I took a gravity reading on it for the first time since brew day. 1.008. Wow, I knew I’d had a vigorous and successful fermentation with this batch, but it was very cool to see this 1.074 brew attenuate down to 1.008 in just 11 days.

SOB (left) and In the Name of doG (right) on 3/4/11

Upon tasting the gravity reading sample, it reminded me a lot of Delirium Tremens and Lucifer, the two Belgian beer’s I’ve tasted in this style. Very happy about where this batch is headed. After running the pre- and post-fermentation gravity readings through the ABV formula, I came out with 9.1% ABV. Awesome! This will be the strongest brew I’ve done so far, especially because it has since continued with a slight fermentation even after going to into secondary while at 59* down in my basement at that. I wonder how far down it’ll go…

I harvested the yeast off the trub in primary, (didn’t get greedy and take too much this time) and have 300 ml. or so of it chilling in a beaker in my beer fridge. I’ve heard it’s potentially not good to harvest yeast from a anything with a gravity that starts above 1.070 (according to discussion at the SPHBC meeting I attended this past week) as the yeast may have been too stressed in fermentation to be usable in a second batch. We’ll see. What I have appears viable. I think I”ll take the chance and use it in a few weeks, as I’m currently considering my next batch to be a “Belgian brown ale.” Any recommended recipes out there? Please comment below if so.

Anyone thirsty?

On Saturday of “girls weekend,” I awoke early and got to work running errands (mainly driven by a serious need for propane) so I could get back and get brewing the Rabid batch discussed in my prior post. Fast forward to Sunday when I was able to bottle the SOB batch I had brewed back on 2/5. Got a good volume out of it, 54 bottles. The FG had lowered from a range of 1.016-1.013 when it was transferred to secondary on 2/21 to a clean 1.010 when it was bottled on 3/6. I did the math to figure out the ABV and this means that I’m sitting at 5.1%. I’m thinking that if the SOB turns out well after bottle conditioning (very attenuated and professional-tasting going into the bottling bucket) that it may be the first of my beers I’ll end up entering into competition through SPHBC a few months down the road. I made sure to leave a few of the bottles completely unmarked so they are competition-eligible.

2011 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for me, brewing-wise. Other big upcoming brewventures this year will include staring a hop garden (Which hop variety should I try and grow? Cascade? Chinook? Centennial? Based on the shortages, maybe Simcoe or Amarillo??) and a Euro-trip with the wife to Munich and Tuscany in May/June.


3 responses

  1. On the hop garden note…I planted mine last year and it did pretty well. Centennial and Cascades do really well in MN, CTZ hops would be nice as well, you cannot get simcoe as it is not available in rhizomes to the public yet. I also grew Magnums which produced BIG time, I got over a pound on one vine. I also planed some Willamette and Norther brewer, both had a rough year but should be kicking this year. Be forewarned that the first year hops are nowhere near the commercial counterparts and be prepared to wait a year or two for hops that will preform like you would expect them to. Awesome about the trip, took a similar one years back and Italy was amazing, if you need ideas for Tuscany let me know and I can let you know where we went and what we thought. Cheers and looking forward to the next Nordeast Club meeting!

    March 9, 2011 at 9:21 am

    • Hey Kevin – good to meet you at the last meeting. Thanks for the hop advice. Part of me is in disbelief that it will ever get warm enough again in Minnesota to plant rhizomes, but it’s probably just that cynical time of year where winter has long-since overstayed its welcome. I’ll be sure to ask you about Italy destination options at the next meeting on the 19th!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:40 am

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