One more thing while I’m thinking of it, Icon was quite good. My friend actually invited me up to sit on the homebrewing panel he ran and I think I was able to add to the discussion reasonably well. I think the big problem is that there wasn’t anything for people to hang the information we were putting out onto. Maybe the next panel like it should be done as a demo instead, or at least we should have some examples of equipment and etc.
One of the really cool things was that there was someone at the panel who was there to get information about brewing sodas! We talked for quite awhile in the SuperCon party after the panel, and I’m hoping that I hear from him when he gets a chance to try soda brewing for himself.
Another late update, but better than never.
Last Monday (10/6/2003) I put down my first real batch of non-extract soda. As previously mentioned, a friend had asked that I bring some soda to Icon for the SuperCon party. I was going to bring the remainders of the Birch Beer I had done on the 30th, and then the majority of this new batch. I figured that I should diversify the flavors, so I did the Red Berries based soda and it turned out pretty good. Recipie:
- 2oz TeaSource Red Berries herbal tea blend.
- 1.75lbs organic pure cane sugar
- 2 gallons purified drinking water
- 1/4 tablespoon RedStar Pastuer Champagne yeast
First things first, the RedStar Pastuer Champagne yeast is obviously not to be used for making sodas. The smell is back, though since I’ve finally figured out cutting back on the yeast is a good thing, it is at least bearable. The taste of the soda on the other hand is almost perfect. The first couple of days it was a bit astringent, but it’s mellowed considerably and, aside from the smell, it’s getting really good reviews from almost all takers. I’m also getting about even responses of “Perfectly sweet” and “Not sweet enough” so I’m pretty close on that. Really pretty successful, though I’ve _got_ to find a different champagne yeast to use for the next batch of what I’m calling Berry Surprise.
This weekend I’m going to use up the last of my extracts and make a 4 gallon batch of Sarsaparilla Root Beer. I picked up some really good sugar at the Wedge this week that will make an excellent addition to the brew. I’ll post more details when I’m done putting down the batch.
Speaking of the wedge, they carry both Sarsaparilla and Sassafras so at this point the only thing that I’m missing for my own mix for a root beer is Red Birch root. I’ll be dropping by Present Moment this week to see what I can find there.
A friend here at work pressed a copy of “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell on me last week. I cracked it on Tuesday night, and finished the last portion last night. I have to say that it is an amazing read, full of humor, thought, and faith. Read a copy if you get the chance, it is not to be missed.
Also, finished up “The Goblin Wood” by Hilari Bell last week. Well worth reading, she writes really great juvies, and I liked her adult novel Navohar as well (Thanks to Elizabeth from Dreamhaven for pointing it out a few years ago).
No rest for the weary, but plenty of good stuff to read.
I got a pleasant surprise via email the other day: There are people who actually read this! While this wasn’t the first person to mail me, it has been awhile since I’ve heard from anyone and now I feel somewhat bad about not keeping it up to date.
So, here’s the big update:
- Some days I wonder if I actually read anything. Case in point, the extracts that I have got (and have been using) are not the Gnome brand, but are in fact Old Fashioned brand. Assumptions, assumptions. Anyway, I am pretty happy with the Old Fashioned extracts. The one small issue that I have is that there is a slight pickle-like aftertaste that I think is probably associated with using some sort of vinegar (or a derivative) as a preservative. Honestly, the only other person who has been able to taste it is another big time foodie so it’s basically just a nit. And it isn’t even a bad thing, just a thing mostly.
- The batch that I last mentioned here used ~6grams of of the Nottingham ale yeast. On September 6, I produced a batch with the following ingredients:
- 4g Windsor ale yeast
- 2gal distilled bottled water
- 1oz Old Fashioned Birch Root Beer extract (~half bottle)
- 2lbs C&H Dark Brown Sugar
The yeast bloomed very nicely with a rather large head after only 10 minutes. I was going to use Nottingham again, but they were out at Northern Brewer and they said that the Windsor is very similar, which I think was very true. I don’t know if I could tell the difference after brewing which one had been used. After bottling, the batch carbonated decently in only 42 hours! After sampling that bottle, I refrigerated the rest of the batch at ~50 hours and it was _very_ carbonated. To be quite honest, I think this was my first completely successful batch. The flavor was good, the sweetness was almost perfect (though maybe just a touch over sweet), and the carbonation was actually almost too much for me. Taking a sip from the early bottles would get you a mouth full of foam as all the carbonation tried to release as it came into contact with saliva. As several people noted, it was excellent belching soda. However, there was still a bit too much yeast flavor, even after 2 weeks in the fridge. I have 1 bottle remaining that I’ll be opening tonight to see how it’s aged. My notes on the existing bottles indicate that 5 days in the fridge was probably optimum for settling as the yeast flavor dropped precipitously until day 5 when it has remained almost constant ever since.
- On September 30, I put down a new batch, hoping to finally reduce the yeast taste to a better level. This recipe was:
- 3g Nottingham ale yeast
- 2gal purified bottled drinking water
- 1oz Old Fashioned Birch Root Beer extract (~half bottle)
- 2lbs C&H Dark Brown Sugar
It’s been carbonating for 36 hours at this point and I’m planning on tasting one of the bottles tonight before I go to bed. The first try with the yeast didn’t bloom very well (I think the water was too cold) so I had to do another bloom using filtered tap water. I’m a little worried about that, but I think it should come out okay.
- I’ve been playing with ideas for ingredients for a non-extract soda. My first attempt will be either tonight or tomorrow morning using 2oz of TeaSource’s Red Berries herbal tea blend. It’s a really lovely, sweet, and fruity tea that I think will make a fantastic soda if the iced tea I’ve made with it previously is any indication. I don’t think that the C&H Dark Brown sugar is going to work as well with it since I think the molasses flavors will cover up some of the subtlety inherent in the tea, so last night I went to the Seward Co-Op and got a couple of pounds of bulk organic raw cane sugar. I’m still not sure how much I’m going to use for this batch just yet though.
- I’ve been asked to supply some homebrew soda for the Supercon room party at Icon next weekend! The Fan Goh for Icon this year happens to be the new Supercon parties head and he’s having a panel on homebrewing on Friday night of the con. Immediately after the panel, he’s coming down to host the room party and will be showing off several examples of the panel discussion. I’m planning on bringing the Birch Beer batch that I put down this week, and I’m looking to do a ginger beer/ale/soda of some sort to fill out the selection.
- I’m working on formulating my own root beer recipe, and I think I’ve come upon an unusual ingredient that will add a lot of character: African Honeybush. I’ve been drinking it for awhile from various places, and TeaSource has started carrying it as well so I got a few ounces and I’m going to start pairing it up with sassafras, sarsaparilla, vanilla, and anise/star anise to see what I can come up with. One of the places that I’ve been drinking it very regularly is at Midori’s Floating World Cafe just up the street. They have a drink they call African Cloud Tea that is honeybush tea, palm fruit, and something else that is really wonderful. The other ingredient that I’m toying with using might be nutmeg as well, but I think I’ll wait till I’ve played with the other stuff a bit first.
So, that’s the current stuff. Quite a bit, but I’ve been having some fun. Hopefully I’ll remember to post early about the new Birch Beer batch, and the Red Berries batch.
Just a new post so I can test something. Not too much going on. Icon the weekend after next. Lots of birthdays, as usual. Getting started on Christmas shopping (I want to be done long before Thanksgiving this year).
That sort of thing.