SNOW! It’s about darn time!

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First snow of 2016. Here’s Conley laying around in a pile I made for him.

What’s so great about snow?

You have to drive slower, you fall down on ice, and it’s ridiculously cold. You may be asking yourself, “Why is snow so great, you silly butt-wipe?”

Answer: Snow is great because it means my garage is around 45°-55°F. That means I can make the “other” type of beer.

There are only two types of beer.

“But Mike, there are hundreds of types of beer.” Au contraire. There are hundreds of STYLES of beer, but there are only two types of beer. Ales and lagers.

Ales: Ales are fermented around 65°F-72°F. There have a more fruity ester and are generally a little more cloudy. During fermentation, ale yeast is either suspended in the wort, or resides in a layer of cake at the top of the vessel. Some examples of ale styles are IPA’s, Stouts, Dubbels, Pale Ales, Weizens, AltBiers, Fruit Beers, Trippels, Witbier, Lambics, Brownms, Porters, Bitters, Weisses (Whites) and Barley Wines. Ales are usually the type of choice for home-brewers because the yeast is very robust and the temperatures needed to ferment ales are commonly close to room temperature.

Lagers: Lagers are fermented around 40°F and 58°F. They have a malty, clean, crisp flavor and are very clear, even the darker ones. The yeast usually sinks to the bottom and has a much longer fermentation period, around 3-6 weeks for most styles. Heavier lagers may need to ferment for several months. Some examples are Pilsners, Bocks, Helles. Most people are familiar with lagers because Budwieser, Michelob, Coors, Busch, Milwaukee’s Best, Hamms, Pabst Blue Ribbon and others are all American versions of the German Pilsner style. It’s tough to make a lager because the temperature range needed is lower than room temperature and higher than fridge temperature.

It’s a little tricky

My next batch is IronMan War Brew. This is a Bavarian Lager similar to Sam Adams Boston lager. Now that my garage is about 50 degrees, it’s time to make it.

To prepare, I’ve finally used my Erlenmeyer flask to make a yeast starter. A yeast starter is tiny batch of beer you make under ideal conditions to activate the yeast and allow is to start reproducing in the conditions it will need to be in during fermentation. This ensures the yeast is ready to start fermenting as soon as you put it into cold wort in a cold garage.

 

So, yesterday I make about 2000ml of dried malt extract wort and pitched the re-hydrated yeast in. It’s already reached high krausen and the yeast has multiplied and settles to the bottom. After I brew the wort tonight, I’ll drop it down to about 50°F. I’ll pour off the dried malt extract wort from the flask, swirl the yeast around and pitch it into the lager wort. Then, it will have to sit in my garage for about 4 weeks. (Remember, it takes longer to make a lager.) As a point of reference, Bedfordshire IPA, Thirteen, and Tyrannicide all ferment for 3 weeks. Southeast Woodcreek and Revenge only take two weeks.

After fermentation is done, I’ll bottle it just like I would with any of the ales. However, since the yeast at that point is pretty inactive and may have been expended, I’ll have to add a small amount of yeast to carbonate the beer in the bottles.

This time, I’ll also be following Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity laws. This beer will only have 4 ingredients: Water, yeast, hops and malt. All my other beers use sugar or honey to carbonate. Some of my beers use adjuncts like flaked rice and flaked corn. Diwiart’s has coriander and orange peel. This time, I’ll actually add about 5 ounces of malt to carbonate the beer.

This is going to be some good stuff! I love snow!!!

 

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