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Weird Alcoholic Drinks You Can Brew At Home

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If you are on this website, you probably enjoy having a beer or two.  You may even homebrew your own beer or weird alcoholic drinks at home.  Booze has been a major piece of human existence for thousands of years.  People literally fermented and still ferment anything to create an alcoholic beverage.  It was even safer to drink than water.  In some parts of the world, that is still the case.  Check out these awesome fermented beverages from around that world that are unique and somewhat easy to create in your own home.  Put something different in one of those empty carboys or gallon jugs.  Some of these recipes are tweaked to be more brew friendly and yeast options can be changed to your preference.  I hope you enjoy these weird alcoholic drinks that you can brew.  Cheers!

 

T’ej (Ethiopia)

Tej
Photo credit: http://www.mereb.com.et/

T’ej is a honey wine (mead) that has been brewed in Ethiopia for centuries.  It is bittered with gesho leaves and twigs.  Gesho is kind of like a hop and falls into the buckthorn family.  The gesho also gives it a unique direction of flavor.  T’ej is usually homebrewed in Ethiopia.  However,  there are tej betoch (Tej houses) throughout the country.  Traditionally, it is served in a berele container but a pint would be just fine.  It is best served chilled and goes well with spicy food.  This is one of the more delicious weird alcoholic drinks that can be brewed at home.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 8-12%):
32 oz of honey
96 oz filtered water (you don’t want chlorine flavors!) 
8 oz of ground gesho leaves 
4 oz of gesho sticks

1/4 tsp of Lalvin D-47 yeast (it will make your T’ej happier) 

  1. Mix and let stand at room temperature for three days. 
  2. Take about 6 cups of the mixture and bring to a boil with the gesho.  
  3. Cook for 15 minutes in low heat. Let cool and add to the mixtures.
  4. Move to a sanitized sealed container and pitch the proper amount of yeast.  
  5. Now leave at room temperature for 15-21 days.  
  6. If too dry, add a cup of honey and leave over night. If too sweet, add more gesho directly into the mixture and let it ferment more.
  7. Strain and serve cold. 

Sima (Findland)

Sima
Photo credit: www.girlcooksworld.com

Sima is the official drink of spring in Finland.  This sparkling beverage is brewed to celebrate the 1st of May.  They know this as the coming of the warm season.  It is very easy to make and usually served with a funnel cake.  How can you go wrong with that?  It is refreshing and very drinkable.  Actually, the children drink it in Finland if it is poured before the raisins float to the top.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 1-2%):
1 gallon of water
2 lemons
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
1/4 tsp of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast works great)
*You can also add some citra hops leaves at the end of your boil for a nice addition.

  1. Bring the water to a boil.  
  2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, removed the skin of the lemons with a potato peeler.  
  3. Place these in a sanitized container.  
  4. Next, clean up the lemons by removing any remaining skin.  
  5. Slice the lemons and combine the skin and sliced lemons in a container along with the brown and white sugars.
  6. After  the water comes to a boil, pour it into a container with the lemons and sugar.
  7. Let cool to 70-75 degrees, then stir in the yeast.
  8. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or until you see bubbles forming at the surface.
  1. Strain the liquid into clean and sanitized glass bottles.  
  2. Add 5  raisins and 1 tsp. sugar to each bottle of Sima.  
  3. Seal the bottles and refrigerate for 3-5 days.  Or just looks for the raising to start floating to the top.  
  4. It is probably around 1% ABV at this point.  If you want a higher ABV, let the Sima sit for another 3-5 days or add more sugars.

Be careful of exploding bottles if you bump up the fermentables.  You know what can happen.


Kvass (Russia & Ukraine)

kvass
Photo credit: www.pinterest.com

Kvass is a fermented beverage popular in Russia and Ukraine.  It is also popular in most of the former Soviet states.  It is made from rye or black bread, sugar, and yeast.  The breads give it the color and it is often flavored with raisins, mint, and other adjuncts.  Kvass has been a popular drink in Russia for thousands of years.  It was first mentioned in written form in the year 996.  However, this beverage was consumed many years before.

Recipe (3 gallons)(ABV 1-2%):
3 gallons of water
10 slices of rye, dark, or black bread
1 cup of raisins
4 cups of sugar
1.5 tablespoons of yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast works great)

DAY 1: (try to do part 1 in the evening)

  1. Toast the bread slices twice on the highest setting on your toaster. The darker the bread…the darker the kvass.  Your house may get stanky!  Toast in open air.
  2. Fill a large pot with 3 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
  3. When the boil starts, remove the pot from heat. Add raisins and toasted bread to the pot, cover with the lid and let it rest overnight.

DAY 2:

  1. Carefully remove toasted bread and throw it away.  A strainer works well for this.
  2. In a medium sized sanitized bowl, mix together 4 cups of sugar and 1.5 Tbsp of yeast, add them to kvass while stirring.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and leave the mixture on the counter for another 6-8 hours, stirring every couple hours.
  4. Remove the floating raisins with a large spoon.
  5. Using strainer, pour the kvass into bottles (plastic work great), close with a lid and leave them in the fridge overnight.

The next day, crack open and enjoy!


Tepache (Mexico)

tepache
Photo credit: www.wanderingearl.com

Tepache is low abv fermented beverage from Mexico.  It is popular among street vendors and inmates in the Mexican prisons.  It dates back thousands of year to the Nahua people where it was usually made with a maize base.  Today, you can find it commercially produced in a non-alcoholic form.

Recipe
(1 gallon)(ABV 1%):
1 pineapple cut into cubes and save the rinds
1 gallon of water
1lb piloncillo, or  1lb of dark brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
8oz light beer

  1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water along with the piloncillo/brown sugar, cinnamon stick, and the cloves.  Turn down the heat and let the piloncillo completely dissolve while simmering.
  2. Wash the pineapple, and cut it up into cubes about 1in squared.
  3. Add in the pineapple cubes and rinds to the 1 gallon of water.
  4. Transfer to a glass 1 gallon jug and cover the top with either an airlock or plastic wrap.  Let it sit for 2 days.
  5. After it starts to bubble, add 8oz of beer, stir, and let it sit for 12 hours more.  If you let it ferment too long, it will turn into vinegar.

You can also add a pinch of tobacco after 2 days to give it an extra kick.  When it is ready, strain through a very fine strainer or cheesecloth, and serve cold.  This stuff is great.


Basi (Philippines)

Basi
Photo credit: pinoyfoodillustrated.blogspot.com

 Basi is a fermented beverage made from sugarcane that has been popular in the Philippines and Guyana for many centuries.  It is stored and earthen jars and usually ferments for several years.  A Basi festival is held every year in Naguilian, La Union.  This is one of the more difficult of the weird alcoholic drinks to make at home.

Recipe (1 gallon)(ABV 10-12%):
4.5lbs Sugar cane (cubed)
1oz Ginger (bruised)
1 gallon Water
2.5lbs Sugar
8oz Raisins (chopped)
Yeast (Lalvin D-47 yeast) and yeast nutrient

  1. Put the sugar cubes into a large pot with the ginger and 1 gallon of water.
  2. Bring to the boil  and then simmer for 45 mins.
  3. Strain onto sugar and raisins in a glass jog and leave to cool.  
  4. When cool (70-75 degrees) add yeast and nutrient.  Leave for 4 or 5 days and stir daily.
  5. Strain to bottles and let ferment from 30 days and up to 2 years.

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What Are The Different Types Of Wort Chillers?

wort chillers

Choosing an efficient method to chill your wort is an important decision when brewing. To achieve excellent beer, you must bring the wort from a boil to the appropriate temperature to pitch yeast quickly. A wort chiller helps ensure a clearer beer, minimal off flavors, a reduced risk of contamination from airborne enemies, and a stress free end to your brew day.  If you are a stove top brewer, you can probably manage with an ice bath in the sink.  For those who have moved into all-grain brewing, you need to use a wort chiller to achieve a quick cool down.

There are many different types of wort chillers out on the market.  However, you have three main styles to choose from. An Immersion Chiller, Counterflow Chiller, or Plate Chiller. All do a great job, but here are the differences between the three.

Immersion Wort Chiller:

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Most all-grain homebrewers start out with an immersion chiller. These are simply submerged into the wort while water is pumped through the coil and out of the other end. Cool water enters the coil and passes through the wort to bring the temperature down. They work great, but can reach a stalling point when your ground water temperature and wort temperature reach a similar range if you are not stirring. Stirring the wort around the coils helps cover more surface area and you’ll achieve good results with an immersion chiller.  Immersions are great for up to 5 gallon batches.  If you want to brew anything larger, I would recommend moving to a counterflow or plate chiller.  

Pros: Cheaper, Easy to Sanitize, No pump needed
Cons: Slower chilling speeds

Some people run with two immersion chillers and run the water through a second chiller that is placed in an ice bath.

Counterflow Wort Chiller:

 

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A counterflow wort chiller is similar in visual design to an immersion chiller, but they function differently.  You will likely need a pump to use both counterflow and plate chillers.  A counterflow works by placing a coil inside of a surrounding hose or tube.  Picture a smaller tube inside of a slighter larger tube.  The hot wort is pumped through the inside tube while cool water is pumped in the opposite direction through the outside tube.  This results in the more surface area of the wort coming into contact with the cooling element (water) than an immersion chiller.  This will cool your wort much quicker.  It is also dependent on how cool your ground water is.  Ice baths may be needed.

Pros: Quick Chill, Sanitary
Cons: Price, Pump likely needed

 

Plate Wort Chiller:


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A plate chiller works in the same way as the counterflow wort chiller by bringing more surface area of the wort into contact with the cool water.  This is done by passing the hot wort and cooler water through multiple plates within the chiller in separate chambers.  The plates have a large surface area resulting in a quick temperature drop.  Some people believe these pull some of the hot break into the fermentation vessel.  They also need to be cleaned immediately after use and thoroughly.  This should not be an issue for most and plate chillers are the preferred design for commercial brewers.

Pros: Quick Chill, Durable
Cons: Price, Cleaning, Pump likely needed

Or, you can just create a frankenstein chiller like I started out with here.  It is ugly, but has never failed me.  I still use it today for smaller batches.




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15 “Other” Hop Varieties You Must Try In A Homebrew

Hop Varieties

If you brew beer, ideas and recipes often pop into your head. There are few things more rewarding than a hop bill that fits together perfectly. Everyone knows about the Centennial, Cascade, Columbus, Citra, Simcoe, and many other mainstream hop varieties. These are all wonderful and make any ale outstanding. However, why not try some of the lesser known hop varieties that are way underrated. Did you know about Nelson Sauvin and its grape profile? Have you ever dry hopped with Apollo? On your next batch, try a hop that you have never used before! Here are 15 hop varieties you may or may not know about. Try one…or more of them. Your beer will love your for it.

 

Waimea
Recently released in 2012, this is the grand baby of Pacific Jade.  It has a fresh squeezed citrus profile with hints of pine.  Waimea has high alpha acid levels and can be used as a bittering boss or an aroma phenom.

Buy Waimea Hops

 

Calypso
A cross blend by Hopsteiner.  This is a dual purpose hop that works for both aroma and can also be used for bitterness.  It has a floral profile with a kick that some describe as melon, pear, or apple with a squeeze of lemon.

Buy Calypso Hops

 

Zythos
This is a fairly new hop blend that most of us have heard about by now.  It was created to satisfy the West Coast Style aromas addicts like myself.  Citrus, tropical fruit, pine, and a little spice make this a serious player in the game.

Buy Zythos Hops

 

Falconer’s Flight
This is an amazing blend of Simcoe, Citra, Sorachi Ace, and a few other undisclosed hops.  HopUnion developed this blend to honor the legendary Glen Hay Falconer.  It is a perfect late addition packing a floral and tropical fruit profile.

Buy Falconer’s Flight Hops

 

Mosaic
This is a very unique creation by Washington’s hop breeding company.  If Nugget and Simcoe had a love child,  Mosaic would be her name.  It has an unexpected floral and fruity profile accompanied by the piney Simcoe DNA that shines through as an earthy addition. 

Buy Mosaic Hops

 

El Dorado
Developed by the CLS Farms and released in 2010, this masterpiece has mostly sat in the shadows with no excuse.  The blend is kept a guarded secret but I will tell you this one is blasted with citrus and tropical fruit.  I would best describe the flavor as a mouthful of Jolly Ranchers.

Buy El Dorado Hops

 

Nelson Sauvin
One of the most unique hops varieties available that can be used as a dual purpose.  It has an aroma and flavor similar to Sauvignon Blanc grapes and really balances out with most bittering hops.

Buy Nelson Sauvin Hops

 

Meridian
Developed by Indie Hops out of Oregon in an attempt to bring Columbia Hops back from the forgotten tomb.  Well they ended up creating a new variety.  Meridian packs lemon zest, sweetness, and some describe it as Hawaiian Punch.

Buy Meridian Hops

 

Galaxy
Most of us have heard of Galaxy.  Have you tried brewing with this beauty from down under?  It is a very nice aroma gifted dual purpose hop loaded with citrus and fruity notes.  The uniqueness comes from the grassy/earthy finish.  Find it and try it!

Buy Galaxy Hops

 

Motueka
This New Zealand creation that some refer to as B Saaz is a relative of the legendary Saaz hop that we all love in our pils and lagers.  It has a smooth citrus/fruity profile that adds a clean finish to any ale.  Motueka would fit well into the IPL fad that is currently working its way through the craft beer realm.

Buy Motueka Hops

 

Riwaka
Motueka has a little brother and his name is Riwaka.  This is also referred to as Saaz D.  If you have ever wondered what a west coast style Saaz would be like…here you go.  It is not an easy hop to locate.  However,  if you do find it,  buy it!

Buy Riwaka Hops

 

Palisade
Developed by the Yakima Chief Ranch, this is a solid dual purpose hop that is better used on the aroma end.  It packs a grassy yet fruity punch unlike most hops.  Looking for a unique IPA?  Try it as a late addition and you will be surprised!

Buy Palisade Hops

 

Stricklebract
Strickle what?  Another New Zealand hop developed by DSIR Research that can serve as a dual purpose hop.  Simcoe similarities of pine with a Sorachi Ace lemon zest.

Buy Stricklebract Hops

 

AU Summer
This is a seedless variety developed in Australia as an aroma hop.  Summer is one of only few hop varieties that pack a apricot and melon profile.  It would pair nicely with some of the popular west coast style American hops.

Buy AU Summer Hops

 

Apollo
First cultivated in 2000, this totally underrated hop packs an alpha acid bite and an orange citrus aroma.  This is a solid hop to use in a double or imperial IPA as a first addition and late addition.

Buy Apollo Hops

 

Of course there are plenty of other amazing hops that are often forgotten.  Please let me know if you have any ideas as to some that I should add to this list.  Cheers to brewing good beer and cheers to drinking that good beer!

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What Is A Gruit Beer? A History and Recipes.

Gruit beer

IMG_20130609_174700Evidence of brewing beer dates back to the 5th millennium BC.  Believe it or not, prior to the 16th century, hops were rarely used in the brewing process.  Bittering and flavoring consisted of herbs and botanical creations.  From the Egyptians to the Knights of the Round Table, gruit beer is recorded in their history.   

When the Reinheitsgebot purity law was established in Bavaria, it became illegal to brew beer with anything other than water, malt, and hops.  If a brewer was caught violating the purity law, his/her beer would be confiscated without compensation.  Gruit beer eventually phased out and hops became the weapon of choice. 

There are a few breweries creating traditional gruit style ales today such as Dogfish Head, New Belgium, Mt. Pleasant, and Midnight Sun to name a few.  These recreations must be appreciated with an open palate and mind.  Go to your local bottle shop and check out their supply for a gruit beer.

 

What kind of herbs, spices, botanicals are traditionally used in a Gruit Beer?

Traditional Herbs:

Sweet Gale (Bog Myrtle)
Yarrow

Wild Rosemary

Other Common Herbs/Additions:

Juniper

Mugwort

Wormwood

Labrador Tea

Heather

Bog Heather
Licorice
Sage

Black Henbane

Ginger
Caraway Seed
Aniseed
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

Brewing gruit ale has unlimited possibilities and each batch can be a blank slate.  The ability to create beer that tingles your lips is also likely.  Here are some gruit ale recipes for those adventurous enough.  These were discovered after trolling through forums/websites.  I cannot guarantee the quality or end result.  Try them or create your own in true Gruit Style.

 RECIPES

Double Gruit
A sweet and earthy beer
Print
Ingredients
  1. 5lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 60
  3. 1lb - Cara Red
  4. 1lb - Wildflower Honey (add at 30 minutes)
Add to boil
  1. .5oz - Mugwort @ 45 minutes
  2. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 45 minutes
  3. .5oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  4. 1oz - Heather Tips @ 15 minutes
  5. 2 grams - @ 0 minutes
Secondary
  1. 2oz - Labrador Tea
  2. 2oz - Yarrow
  3. Yeast: WY1968
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 152 degrees for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Gruit Ale #1
I rich yet slightly sweet ale with a subtle bitterness
Print
Ingredients
  1. 14 lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 9 oz - Crystal 120
  3. 8 oz - Crystal 40
  4. 6 oz - Munich Malt
  5. 6 oz - Oatmeal Flakes
  6. 5 oz - Roasted Barley
  7. 1 oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  8. 1 oz - Heather Tips @ 60 minutes
  9. .5 oz - Mugwort @ 15 minutes
  10. 1 gram - Heather Tips @ 0 minutes
  11. Yeast - WY1968
Instructions
  1. Do an infusion mash at 151 degrees.
  2. Primary fermentation - 21 days
  3. Secondary fermentation - 14 days
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Gaelic Dreams
No description
Print
Ingredients
  1. 8lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 1lb - Crystal 40
  3. .5lb - Crystal 60
  4. .125lb - Roasted Barley
Add to boil
  1. .75oz - Mugwort @ 60 minutes
  2. .25oz - Mugwort @ 20 minutes
  3. .25oz - Mugwort @ 0 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 154 for 60 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Pog Mo Thoin Gruit Ale III
medium dark amber/yellow and had an herb-like flavor that mellowed with time
Print
Ingredients
  1. 12lbs - US 2-Row
  2. 2lbs - Crystal 40
  3. 2lbs - Melanoidin Malt
Add to mash
  1. 55 grams - Yarrow
  2. 55 grams - Marsh Rosemary
  3. 2 grams - Myrica Gale
Add to boil
  1. 30 grams - Yarrow @ 60 minutes
  2. 30 grams Marsh Rosemary @ 60 minutes
  3. 2 grams Myrica Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. Single infusion @ 149 for 90 minutes
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/
Yarrow Ale
Print
Ingredients
  1. 3lbs - Light DME
  2. 3oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 60 minutes
  3. .8 grams - Sweet Gale @ 60 minutes
  4. 2oz - Fresh Yarrow flowers and leaves @ 5 minutes
  5. Yeast: American Ale
Instructions
  1. No mash
  2. bottle when fermentation is complete
Beer Mumbo http://beermumbo.com/

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A Simple DIY Cooler Kegerator In 4 Steps

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Some people cringe at the idea of BYOB.  However, craft beer drinkers and homebrewers love the opportunity to bring their own beer to any party.  I have been contemplating the idea of building one of these for some time and put that cooler to use.  Here is my DIY cooler kegerator with step by step instructions.  

This was a very easy build and only took a few tools and minimal hardware investment.  If you already have a kegerator, this DIY cooler kegerator is very cheap to build.  Feel free to comment with your own ideas below!  Cheers!

Tools Needed

RotoZip (Anything that will cut a hole in plastic will do)
Scissors
Nail
String

Hardware Needed

Roller Cooler (something with a flat surface area on the lid for your large hole)
Gas Disconnect
Corny Keg
Beer Faucet w/Liquid Disconnect
Tap Handle
Pipe Insulation
CO2 Tank w/regulator
Hose
Pencil or Sharpie

Step 1

Find the center of your cooler lid and drive a nail.  Using a string around the nail, create a 9.75 inch circle just like below.  Mark the string 4.875 inches from center.  Tie the string around a pencil or Sharpie and make a circle.  I recommend 9.75 inches because this will allow both a Corny keg (9″) and a Sixth Barrel (9.25″) room to fit.  A sixth barrel will need additional hardware to pour beer.

portable kegerator


Step 2

Trace a spot in the back for your CO2 tank.  I have a 5lb tank and it will not fit inside.  If you have a 2.5lb tank, you can probably skip this step since it will likely fit inside of the cooler.

Portable Kegerator

 

Step 3

Cut out your holes with the Rotozip or saw.  Make sure you do this outside and take your time.  If your cuts are not even, that is OK.  You will be placing insulation around the edges anyways.  I have terrible RotoZip skills as you can see.  

Portable Kegerator

 

Step 4

Trim the pipe insulation to fit around the edges of your cut hole.  Sit the keg into the cooler.  Lift your lid and add ice.  Attach the gas disconnect and the faucet with liquid disconnect.  You are now ready to start pouring beer.  Since the beer will be traveling such a short distance, adjust the PSI very low.  

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A Simple Video Guide To All Grain Brewing

All Grain Brewing

Check out these very well produced and explained video guides to All Grain brewing by 4KingsBrewery on YouTube.  If you are curious about the process and and equipment needed, watch the four videos below.  I spend a lot of my time searching homebrew videos and tutorials to continue growing my knowledge base.  There are a lot of good videos and a whole lot of bad videos out there.  

He has put together videos covering his brewing equipment, the all grain brewing process, and kegging homebrew.  I thought it was appropriate to give him a shout out for taking the time to make these nice videos.  They are informative and can help those new to the hobby.  Even if you are a veteran, it is nice to see how others brew and the equipment they use.  Cheers!

The Brewery Tour

Guide to All Grain Brewing – Part 1

Guide to All Grain Brewing Part 2

Kegging Your Homebrew


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Old Beer Recipes From The 1800’s

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We often forget about the importance beer played in the foundation of the country we love so much.  In the 1800’s, beer was a huge component to the daily diet for most families, including their children.  As a matter of fact, families kept sacred cookbooks that contained family beer recipes alongside food recipes dating back hundreds of years.  Until modern water treatment surfaced,  it was generally safer to drink beer than water.  American families were a different kind of poor back then. There were no support systems established in 1840, outside of the church. When a family needed nutrition, beer played a crucial role in survival. Even if they were lacking the money to eat well, people drank fairly well.

Beer usually consisted of locally acquired ingredients.   Hop pellets, specialty grains, lab controlled yeasts, and artificial flavorings did not exist.  An open fire with an iron pot is how it went down.  If a cheap beer was desired, local adjunct items were collected and often mixed with molasses.

Anyways, I was recently given permission by the Cincinnati library to view a rare book dating back to 1840.  I had to lock my belongings in a secured room and was not permitted to use any flash photography. This was only to protect the original copy of the book. Fortunately, I was allowed to snap some photos with my phone.  White’s New Cook Book is a collection of family remedies,  recipes, and blueprints distributed to the residents of the growing Cincinnati area.  Check out these awesome old beer recipes.  Try one!  However, I promise they will not match our current selections.

Check these photos out:

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A Simple Pliny the Elder Clone

pliny-the-elder1

Ever wanted to make a Pliny the Elder clone?  To some, Pliny is the holy grail of IPAs and this recipe is apparently the real deal.  The recipe listed below is rumored to have come from Russian River (Vinnie).  Is that true?  Maybe or Maybe not.  Good luck affording the hop bill on this one.  

Pliny the Elder Clone

 5 gallon batch
Pre Boil:  5.5-6 gallons

Mash the grains at 150-152 degrees
Boil for 90 minutes
Add hops at the correct hop schedule

OG = 1.074
FG = 1.014
IBU = 100+
SRM = 8
ABV = 8-8.5%

Ingredients:

12.2 lbs – 2-row malt
.28 lbs – Crystal malt (45L)
.86 lbs – CaraPils malt
1.0 lb – Dextrose (corn sugar)

19.5 AAU Chinook whole hops (mash hops)
(1.5 oz of 13% alpha acid)
42.9 AAU Warrior hops (90 minutes)
(2.75 oz of 15.6% alpha acid)
6.1 AAU Chinook hops (90 minutes)
(0.5 oz of 12.2% alpha acid)
12 AAU Simcoe hops (45 minutes)
(1.0 oz of 12% alpha acid)
14.3 AAU Columbus hops (30 minutes)
(1.0 oz of 14.3% alpha acid)
20.5 AAU Centennial hops (0 min)
(2.25 oz of 9.1% alpha acid)
12 AAU Simcoe hops (0 min)
(1.0 oz of 12% alpha acid)
3.25 oz Columbus hop (dry hop)
1.75 oz Centennial hop (dry hop)
1.75 oz Simcoe hop (dry hop)
1 tsp Irish moss
Wyeast 1056 (California Ale) yeast
.75 cup of corn sugar (for priming)

Ferment at 68 degrees.  Dry hop two weeks and not any longer.


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How To Create A Yeast Starter

Yeast starter

Yeast starter

If you are not treating yeast kindly, your home brewed beers are probably a hit or miss.  A yeast starter is used to provide a jump start so fermentation is a success.  This is done by increasing the cell count before brewing beer.  It can be compared to a runner and the preparation they go through before a race.  The runner will stretch and take a few trial runs prior to the big race.  This ensures strength and stamina are at 100% and helps to avoid injuries.  That is exactly how your yeast works with the addition of cloning themselves.  You do not want to put strain on your yeast. Unless, you want off flavors in your beer.


There are a few reasons why a yeast starter would be created:

  • Original Gravity is above 1.060 (some yeast can handle higher gravity beer).
  • The yeast is a little old and needs revived.
  • A quicker fermentation is needed.

 What do you need?


 Instructions:

Before starting, you need to figure out what size starter needs to be created. These are ratios for 5 gallons batches. If you are brewing larger batches, just calculate the difference.

Standard 5 Gallon Starter: 2 cups water to 1/4 cup DME
Rejuvenate Old Yeast: 4 cups water to 1/2 cup DME
High Gravity Beer: 4 cups water to 1/2 cup DME

Steps:

1. Before starting, sanitize everything that will come into contact with the starter. This may be slight overkill since we will boil the wort. However, it is another safety net from infection.

2. In a sauce pan, mix the needed water to DME ratios. Make sure you mix this well to break up any clumps.

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3. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. This will sterilize anything that still needs sanitized. It will also help create a nice liquid wort.

4. Pour the solution into your Erlenmeyer Flask (the larger the batch…the larger the flask you will need) and immediately chill the solution to room temperature.

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*Do not worry, these flasks will not crack. They are designed for extreme temperature swings.

5. You now have a wort with an Original Gravity of around 1.040-1.045. This is the optimal range needed for yeast growth.

6. Using a sanitized funnel, pour the yeast into the flask and cover the top with a sanitized piece of aluminum foil. This will allow CO2 the ability to escape. Do not use an airlock. The starter needs the exchange of O2.

7. Put you hand over the foil to prevent a mess and shake the mixture of wort and yeast for 30 seconds. This will oxygenate

8. Drop a sanitized magnetic stir bar into the flask and set your starter wort on the stir plate. Fire it up!

9. After about 2 days, the yeast have consumed all of the sugars/oxygen and generated new cells. Your yeast army is ready!

Brew Day Options:

Option 1 – Save For Later: If you are not going to pitch the yeast that same day, just store it in the refrigerator. However, make sure you leave the foil on. On brew day, bring the yeast to room temperature before pitching. Decant about 80% of the liquid that is sitting on top of the yeast cake. Swirl the flask to create a slurry and pitch.

Option 2 – Use It Now: Make sure it is at room temperature. Decant about 80% of the liquid that is sitting on top of the yeast cake. Swirl the flask to create a slurry and pitch. Pitch the starter right into your wort. It will start attacking immediately. Some people skip the decanting and pitch the entire starter. Just make sure you smell it first to rule out possible off flavors.

Cheers!


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How To Build A Simple Homemade Stir Plate

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If you are searching for a way to bring your homebrewing to the next level, it is time to build a stir plate. A stir plate has one simple purpose…stir like a boss. There are plenty of commercial grade stir plates out there for $40-$200. That is nonsense and keeps you from enjoying the second best thing about homebrewing, building stuff.

To maximize yeast and fermentation, it is essential to make a starter.  This will help the yeast get a head start and ferment better and faster.  If you have no idea what a yeast starter is,  Google it and return to this page afterwards.

What do you need?

Here is a quick 5 minute video that I made (after drinking three cans of Resin) showing the different parts and the wiring in my homemade stir plate.  I am sure I forgot some things in the video but you will get the idea.  That is all that matters.

DIY - Build A Homemade Stir Plate In Minutes


The photo tutorial:

Stir plate
Use your circle cutter/hole saw and cut a hole in the top of your cigar box. This is one of my finished boxes. You have to make sure it is in the dead center. You will mount a fan here.
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You will need a rare earth magnet. These can be removed from an old hard drive. Just look for this piece and remove the magnet attached to it. Be careful, these will break and need to be removed using something flat with a large base. Pry them off.
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Position and temporarily secure the REM in the center of the fan hub that spins. Placement of the REM is critical in minimizing fan balance (like your car tire or ceiling fan). Turn on the fan to check for vibrations or wobbling. Turn off the fan and adjust the REM if required. If you are satisfied, then super glue to the REM to the fan hub. Remember, balance is critical to the life of the fan and strip plate. If you short cut this step, you will shorten your stir plate life.
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Close up of rubber grommet ring. Make sure there is enough space under the fan to allow airflow.
Stir Plate Diagram
Run the power from the AC adapter to the On/Off switch and then to the middle of the Rheostat using a small connector wire. Next, run the power wire from the PC fan to one of the side posts/prongs of the rheostat. Connect the ground from your AC adapter directly to the ground from the PC fan. Wiring is done!
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Now that you are all wired up, attach the fan to the underside of the cigar box. Test it to make sure it turns on and make sure you have enough space with the grommets to allow airflow. Close the lid.
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This is a view of the REM and fan through the drilled hole.
Finished Stir Plate
Here is one of my finished and painted stir plates.

If you have done everything correctly, it should fire up and function properly. Make sure the rheostat is not hot when you touch it.  I made the mistake of crossing one wire incorrectly and it got very hot to the touch.

Good luck on your build and I hope my tutorial helped!


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Brew A Legendary Ballantine Ale or IPA

Ballantine Sign

Before Ballantine beer came in a shameful 40oz container and shared the shelf with Olde English and Colt 45, it was great beer.  Actually, they brewed some pretty amazing concoctions for back in the day. They were a large scale brewery with craft beer brewing care.  They self distributed locally and brewed seasonal and one time release brews.  Impressive to say the least.

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A Ballantine delivery truck from 1905

The Ballantine Brewing Company dates back to the 1840’s in New Jersey.  A Scottish immigrant named Peter Ballantine decided to commercially produce his well respected recipes. They were brewing quality beers under a few different names until the company closed in 1972.  Miller Coors now brews the beer and the original recipe has been flushed As of 2005.  During their years of brewing Pallantine released ales, lagers, porters, stouts, a dark lager, and a bock.  Their most prized beers were an aromatic IPA that was aged in wood for a year before bottling and the sought after Burton Ale.  This ale was aged for 10-20 years in wood before being gifted.  It was never sold commercially and was only given as a special Christmas gift to distributors and serious VIPs.

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The Elusive Burton Ale. Bottles of this this are still traded and auctioned off. Even today they still hold a nice flavor profile. Good luck finding one!
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A Balantine XXX Ale can
Ballantine IPA
Ballantine Wood Aged IPA

So you now have an idea about the amazing history of the Ballantine Brewery and the awesome legendary beers that USED to hold this name.  Here are two original Ballantine recipes for you to brew up.  However,  if you do the IPA…age it in wood for a year.  It just seems like the right way to finish this beer.

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Aunt Babette’s Beer and Other Receipts – 1889

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I was rummaging through some more old books and came across “Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and domestic receipts” c1889.  This is a Jewish cookbook published by The Bloch Publishing and Printing Company which had a location in Cincinnati, OH.  It’s an amazing collection of receipts and is well worth the read.

After reading some of Aunt Babette’s receipts for game,  I will never complain about my options at the dinner table again.  However,  I am intrigued by her Beer Soup, Hot Beer, and Eierbier receipts.  So, I did a little research.

Eierbier and Hot Beer:  This is a receipt that came over to America with the German and Polish immigrants in the 1800’s.  There are many records from the early 1800’s mentioning this odd beer concoction.  It was often described as a cold weather drink that is warm and creamy to enjoy.  Yuck!  I am not planning on trying this anytime soon.

Eierbier
Eierbier Eierbier is a frothy and creamy drink that used to be used a cure all for the flu and common respiratory problems.  Served very warm with a spoon.

Beer SoupBelieve it or not, this dates back to the Carolingian Empire.  Beer soup for breakfast?  Indeed!

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Beer Soup The recipe for beer soup has changed much over the years. This is what a traditional beer soup looks like with cheese added.

Here are some additional receipts that I found interesting:

Raisin Wine

yeast

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Fricasseed rabbit

Oyster Plant

If you would like to read the entire book of receipts,  you can download it here from BeerMumbo.  Cheers and please let us know if you decide to take on one of these receipts.