Engineer is credit to team!

So, while I’m going through the classes I’ve been putting off, how can I procrastinate on the engineer?  He just got a major update, and he’s more interesting to play than ever!

As the game’s building class, the engineer is a tinkerer and loves to create things by hand, in the field.  Therefore, it’s easy to assume the engineer makes his own beer.  As he’s a homebrewer, he’s more likely to make ales (which ferment at warm temperatures) than lagers (which are cold-fermented), as ales are generally simpler to make, especially considering the Texas heat.  This rules out bocks, which are the current trend in Texas.  But that’s okay.

Homebrewers love to make pale ales, which are a hoppy, but not too bitter, light-colored ale.  They’re good session beers, with about the same amount of alcohol as a mass-produced lager.  They have a generally low amount of maltiness.  Popular pale ales include Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  The only problem is that a pale ale is a fairly clearly defined style.

A good way to make a beer more unique is to add something to it.  I would like to do this by adding a fruit native to Texas.  Prickly pears grow in Texas, and might give the beer a nice REDdish-pink color.  Or I could backsweeten with agave for a BLU beer.  From what I google, it looks like Texas can grow a variety of fruits, so I’ll need some time to think about this.  Anyone who knows more about Texas agriculture: Your advice would be appreciated.

Speaking of engineering, I’ve been debating saving up for kegging.  That’s where I put beer in a keg instead of bottles, which allows me to better control the carbonation (or nitrogenation for some stouts).  Of course, using a keg means building a kegerator, which keeps the beer cold and on tap.  I just so happen to have an empty old refrigerator waiting to be used, which I will either convert into a fermentation cabinet or kegerator (or both!).  How awesome would it be to make it into a Dispenser that dispenses beer?  I have the tools.  I just don’t have the money or the courage to start drilling holes in a fridge.

Plus, I would finally get to make vegetarian nitro-stouts for my vegetarian friends, who will not try Guinness or Murphy’s because they use isinglass, a fining agent made from fish.  There’s no real reason for them not to use agar agar (a seaweed fining agent) instead, but I think they’re afraid to change old, much loved recipes.  Considering that nitrogen stouts are one of life’s great pleasures, I really want to fix this for them.

Medic!

So, I realize I haven’t picked a beer for the medic yet.  Him being of German decent, we have a lot of options.  Unfortunately for me, most of those options are lagers.  Lagers are bottom-fermenting beers, that produce few esters (flavors from the yeast).  The hard part is that lager yeasts don’t like NJ room temperature (65-85 degrees F, depending on the room/month).  Rather, they ferment from 45 to 65 degrees F.  To do this, I need either a cave or a fermentation cabinet.  A fermentation cabinet is pretty much a fridge that has its thermostat overrode by a temperature controller, a $30-50 part that lets you dial in an exact temperature for the fridge to stay at.  It’s not a difficult thing, and I have an old fridge free, but I simply don’t have enough money for ingredients and the part.  I’m kind of broke at the moment and could use a job, but I’m working on it.

Considering what’s available, I think I would like to try a nice pleasant maibock/hellerbock, which is a pale lager with a good amount of hops.  There is also the option to do a straight Octoberfest/Marzen, but those are already easy to find in a well-stocked liquor store.  There’s also the issue of overlap with the engineer, considering that Bocks are the big thing in Texas right now.

However, I think it’d be sacrilegious to not give the one German character a proper bock.  As for what it would be called, I’m not sure.  I have virtually no knowledge of the German language.  Blutslager is tempting, though.

Sorry I’ve been away so long

Stuff’s been busy with vacation and internship applications and so on.

On the plus side, I am 90% done on the pyrobier and strawberry blonde.  I also found a great use for apfelwein.  You take this recipe, and substitute the Guinness with Apfelwein, and sprinkle in some cinnemon.  The reduction takes out the alcohol and extra water so that it can freeze properly.  I like it, but it could have stood to be a bit softer.  I might use some vanilla vodka next time to smooth it out or rum.  I’m also debating adding some candied bacon (I know it sounds crazy, but it’s really good!).

As for vanilla vodka, it’s really simple.  Just put some vanilla beans in a bottle of cheap (but drinkable) vodka.  I’d say 3 or so per liter seems about right.  In a week, expect something that tastes as good as pre-made vanilla vodka.

I may try ice creamifying some other homebrewed beverages, too.  I like milk chocolate stout ice cream, so after I make the Heavy’s Poosh Russian Imperial Stout, I might try making a decadent scoopable.  And I might try making the smoked ale into a similar ice cream.  Or, there’s always brownies!

If you’re into crafting ice cream, check out the Ice Cream Club, run by a fellow MeFite.  If you’re in NY (I’m not), you’ll be lucky enough to taste what they’re churning up.

Pyrobier!


Well, I made a recipe for the pyro’s smoked ale. Yes, it’s an ale. I changed my mind on making it a lager, as I don’t have the cash to get a temperature controller at the moment. I will get one eventually, though.  But don’t worry!  Ales can be smoky and really good, too!

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:

7.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 57.14 %
3.00 lb Smoked Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 24.49 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 8.16 %
1.00 lb Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM) Grain 8.16 %
0.25 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 2.04 %
0.75 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (60 min) Hops 10.4 IBU
1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 15.3 IBU
0.25 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] (5 min) Hops 0.7 IBU
1 Pkgs American Ale II (Wyeast Labs #1272) Yeast-Ale

The smoked malt is the cherry-wood smoked malt from BrewmastersWarehouse.com. Yes, I know that it won’t be a rauchbier, but TF2 is set in America, and the Pyro has no known ethnicity. I went with 3 pounds, so that it will be smokey, but not overpowering.  I find rauchbier’s beechwood flavor a little too smoky, and I wasn’t that big a fan of a Marzen Rauchbier I tried from the liquor store.

I’m using Wyeast American Ale II because I used that for my strawberry blonde (which is almost done), and I plan on reusing it by either washing it or pitching on the yeast cake. Reddit’s /r/homebrewing recommends pitching on the yeast cake, while HomeBrewTalk recommends yeast washing and making a starter. I’ll probably pitch on the yeast cake.

As you can probably tell from the presence of darker malts and mild hops, this is to be a brown ale. I think the maltiness will compliment the smoke quite nicely.

Strawberry Blonde Update

Hey People. Anyone still reading this? Sorry for the dearth of updates, but I was busy. Anyway, I’m pretty sure the strawberry blonde has gone dry, so now I just need to add the strawberry extract. That means ordering some from a homebrew shop. Which type of beer should I make yet? I’m thinking I might try doing a smoked ale for the pyro, or an imperial stout for the heavy.

Me Trusty Bottle of Scrumpy!

So, I figure I may as well post an easy recipe for today, since I’ve been talking about intermediate homebrewing this whole time. Let’s talk about making apfelwein, since TF2 for OSX comes out today.

Apfelwein is a dry, mild beverage made from apple juice. You don’t need a cider press or anything too outrageous. I’ll describe how to brew your first batch of apfelwein with minimal equipment.

Either go to a homebrew store or go online and buy yourself a packet of Montrachet or Champagne wine yeast and some sanitizer, either Iodophor or StarSan. These are the bare minimum things you need. The homebrew shop guy may try to sell you an airlock, but tell him you’ll use sanitized foil instead.

Now go to the grocery store. Pick up a gallon of pure pasteurized apple juice (no HFCS, no sugar, no preservatives other than maybe ascorbic acid, just apple juice an unrefrigerated container), some brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter), and make sure you have some foil and a rubber band on hand.

Prepare the sanitizer solution per the label’s instructions, and sanitize everything you will use to touch the apple juice. You do not want any microbes other than the yeast moving in! Also sanitize some foil. I like to keep it immersed until it’s needed. Do not rinse, as water may contain microbes and these sanitizers are designed to be no-rinse.

Open up the juice, and add in 2/5ths of a pound of brown sugar. If you bought a 2 lb bag, just pour in 1/5 or so. This isn’t an exact science, just get it in that general range. Add about half the packet of yeast, and put the foil on top of the bottle. Put the rubber band on along the side of it. Expect to see it turn cloudy (from all the yeast) and bubble in the next day or two. In about a month, it will have gone dry (run out of sugars for the yeast to eat), be clear again, and will be drinkable, but a tad alcoholic tasting. Give it some time to mellow out. In a few months, it will be better. After a year, it peaks. But even if you drink it sooner, be happy! You made your own booze!

Meet the Lightweight

The Scout is TF2’s run and twitch class. He’s small, fast, and ubercompetitive. He loves caffeine.

Now, almost all of you are probably saying “WHY NOT MAKE A CAFFEINE BEER?” I would, but I consider that to be heresy. First of all, caffeine is an upper, and alcohol is a downer, so mixing them is not pleasant and not healthy. Plus, I wouldn’t want to clone Sparks and mess with lab caffeine and day glo orange dye, and about the only good beers that contains natural caffeine are coffee stouts, which I believe are maltier than what the Scout would like.

Instead, we need to find something light and easy drinking. I propose Radler, which is a combination of a helles and lemonade. It’s sweet and pleasant. Since it’s hard to bottle such a thing and keep the carbonation without a keg or using artificial sweeteners (yuck), I will probably make a helles and have a serving suggestion of mixing it with Jarate (WHICH I WILL MAKE SOMEDAY, I PROMISE!).


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