November 23rd, 2013 by admin
as hinted in my earlier post, I decided to use my new freezer real estate to jack (fractionally freeze) my cider.
- originally intended as a basque-style cider served in sagardotegis, after two years(!) in a keg my cider was dry and satisfying, but not significantly funky or complex, as I had hoped (I believe this has to do with apple selection, wild yeast availability, and the quick initial fermentation brought on by simple apple sugars).
- as a result, with a little under four gallons of cider hogging one of my four house taps, I decided to free up space and simultaneously create some holiday-appropriate hooch by jacking the cider.
- although my previous attempt at jacking/eising was successful, it was slow and involved significant oxygenation of the resulting product. in fact, most online eising references suggest simply freezing your beer/wine/cider in a plastic gallon jug, inverting said jug over a receptacle, and letting the end result trickle out of the bottom over the course of a two hour period until the ice in the jug is clear. although this technique would seem to maximize yield, it would do so at the expense of a higher proof (and oxygenates the hell out of the liquid as it drips out).
- as a result, I decided to try a different technique for jacking my cider. first, I transferred the cider from a 5 gal corny keg into a 2.5 gal corny keg (after purging the latter with CO2), leaving about a third of the keg empty to allow for expansion during freezing. then I tossed the smaller keg into the freezer of my new kegerator for a 24hr period. after removing the keg from the freezer, I knocked the bottom of the keg against the ground a few times to center the ice in the keg.
- I then purged some sanitized bottles with CO2, tapped the keg, and began filling the bottles from the tap (my growler filling insert/tube didn’t fit my portable tap or I would have used that as well to further limit oxygen exposure while bottling). at first, the tap yielded a small trickle of liquid (presumably from ice in the dip tube), but after a little pouring, shaking, and knocking, all the ice was dislodged and my bottles filled up in a matter of minutes.
- after no more liquid could be poured from the keg I popped the lid and saw that at least 2/3 of the keg’s volume had turned to ice. I dumped this ice in my sink, but it would be possible to use the drip method described above to wring out every last drop of cider and increase your yield.
- now for the tasting notes:
- applejack (sampled ice cold immediately after jacking)
- appearance: straw gold, minimal carbonation, hazy (likely due to chill haze)
- aroma: boozy, floral, apple esters
- taste: palate coating and prickly, strong warm apple
- overall: a great, easy drinking holiday alternative to standard cider
- my 3.5-4 gal of 7%abv cider yielded approximately one gallon of applejack. the results of my jacking method were great – compared to other drip methods, “keg jacking” is much faster (10 min vs. 2 hours+), results in a higher proof result (at the cost of a reduced yield), and minimizes oxygen exposure. I’m definitely planning on repeating this process with my next cider.
November 7th, 2013 by admin
after over three years of dutifully servicing hundreds of homebrew pours, my keezer/kegerator gave up the ghost.
- it wasn’t too surprising, as I had purchased the chest freezer used, and cycling the freezer repeatedly to act as a refrigerator using an inline temp controller couldn’t have been good on the compressor. despite the significant effort I had put into my now-dead keezer, I wasn’t too sad to see it go. the lack of air circulation and humidity control resulted in an accumulation of moisture that even a large dessicant couldn’t control, and it was always a pain swapping in full kegs since they had to be awkwardly lifted to fit over the lip of the keezer collar.
- therefore, my replacement was a full-size refrigerator. I scored a used model on craigslist that matched my other basement fridge – many thanks go out to MS for helping me swap fridges though my narrow basement staircase. after getting the fridge into position, I cut one head off a full-sized barrel using a sawzall and mounted it to the fridge using some threaded bolts. four faucet holes and a little internal hacking/improvising later resulted in a kegerator that clearly conveys my preferred aging vessels.
- the fridge fits four corny kegs without modification (with room for bottles in two bottom drawers), and my tiny CO2 tank tucks nicely into the door. as a bonus, the freezer seems sizable enough to start working on some more ice concentration projects. a little thanksgiving applejack, anyone?
October 9th, 2013 by admin
with a little over a month down since the bottling of my solera lambic (and around 19 months since the first fill was brewed), I cracked open a bottle to see how it was doing.
- solera lambic
- appearance: perfect clarity, straw yellow with thorough, fine carbonation. this was the fifth or sixth bottle I opened, and a couple of them were already overcarbed even without the addition of yeast at bottling (maybe due to stratification of the sugar? I have never run into this). I can definitely see how geuzes can be put together with little to no sugar – the yeast/bugs involved are super aggressive!
- aroma: “authentic” complex lambic funk, for lack of better descriptors. citrus and barnyard.
- taste: citrus, hay, stone fruit, with a balanced, smooth lactic acidity and a dry finish.
- overall: I’m very happy with how this beer turned out, even with such a short time in the bottle – it holds its own as a solid example of the style. I’m also pumped that I have close to three cases of this and another six gallons on cherries, all of which should improve with age…
August 26th, 2013 by admin
in celebration of overcarbed’s fourth anniversary, I finally worked some magic with a good-sized pull from my (p)lambic solera barrel.
- it had been seventeen months to the day since I initially filled the barrel (and seven months since my only tasting) and once I started up my autosiphon I knew the results were going to be worth the wait. the beer has a bright acidity with a great funky complexity. the gravity is approximately 1.005 for a current ABV of around 5.45%.
- to mix it up a little, I racked six gallons of beer onto seven pounds of sour cherries in one of my carboys, which I am planning on forgetting about for at least six months. I also primed and painstakingly filled eighty 12oz bottles with another seven and a half gallons, and was reminded why I usually bottle my specialty beers using bombers (it’s half the work).
- to top it all off, I bottled my fermentors of dark house on persimmons and banning on apricots for a total of over 100 bottles (113 to be exact). I then refilled my solera with fifteen gallons of fresh lambic base that I had brewed a couple weeks back using my old recipe. the bottles will be used to support my homebrew club in competitions and will also be a good way to conduct tastings without running through large volumes of beer. I’ll have tasting notes in a few months!
August 15th, 2013 by admin
a couple weeks ago AP and I flew to portland, rented a truck, and road tripped it out to bend.
- bend is a great riverside community that touts mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, and hiking as some of its main offerings. AP and I managed to do none of those activities, opting instead for beach cruising, eating, and beer drinking (although I did get a decent round of disc golf in on mt bachelor).
- the coolest thing about bend is how the city fosters all sorts of fermentation projects. we visited breweries ranging in size from behemoths like deschutes (who had some great food and one-offs on tap), to local heavies like bend brewing (who had a killer IPL), to one of the tiniest tap rooms I’ve ever squeezed into over at boneyard (who had beers ranging from a (suprisingly good) chili beer a tasty sour for on-premises sampling).
- the highlight of our trip was a VIP tour of the nectar of the gods meadery by none other than its founder, wesley. he hooked us in with samples of his bourbon barrel-aged mead at the nearby platypus pub (which is part of an amazing bar, homebrew store, and bottle shop combination) and treated us to a variety of other creations made with various fruits and herbs. it was inspiring to see someone who was not only into mead production but was killing it with unique variations. he also tipped us to some unique (but expensive) wild bottles from ale apothecary. thanks again, wesley!
July 16th, 2013 by admin
it’s hard to believe that it has been over eight months since I first pitched bkyeast’s isolates into some neutral blonde wort to experiment with.
- the initial tasting was a little underwhelming, likely due to the fact that I hadn’t given each strain enough time (only about a month) to work its magic. therefore, I stashed some bottles aside and promptly forgot about them until a few weeks back, when I popped them into the fridge to chill. here are the results.
- WY3191 brett isolate
- appearance: fluffy white head that lasts, good clarity
- aroma: citrus, lemon, earth
- taste: dry, lemony, slight mustiness, great prickly carbonation, slight acidity
- overall: very tasty, great end product, good option for a long-term saison
- cantillon iris isolate C2
- appearance: bubbles rush to top of bottle when opened, fluffy, fine head
- aroma: complex dirty funk with slight medicinal edge, unique, almost floral
- taste: creamy, coating mouthfeel, slight perceived sweetness
- overall: interesting aroma, lacks the dry effervescent brettiness that I prefer
- cantillon iris isolate C3
- appearance: vigorous, fluffy, long-lasting head
- aroma: chalky, fruity hard candy, medicinal finish
- taste: creamy, sweet, floral
- overall: another interesting result with good carbonation, just not as exciting or dramatic as WY3191
- in the end, I preferred the carbonation, finish, and acidity of the WY3191 isolate. who knows, maybe it will make another appearance in the future…
June 28th, 2013 by admin
we finally did it last thursday.
- muis, a wild blonde I developed based on some homebrew experimentation a while back, appeared for the first time on draft at naja’s place, my favorite socal beer bar. it was an event that I could have never imagined participating in a few years ago as a simple homebrewer with a penchant for wild brews. despite an unexpected area-wide power outage during the middle of the event, keg after keg was kicked and the response was overwhelmingly positive (much to my relief). it was fantastic to see friends, beer geeks, homebrewers, and pro brewers alike converge to check out our project. check out the great photo set of the event compliments of bernie over at friends of local beer (and thanks to AP for taking the photos below!). thanks for all your support!
if you are in socal and missed the naja’s event, fret not! we will be having additional release meetups over the course of the next month or so. the next event will be at city tavern in culver city this sunday 06/30 starting at 6pm. check out the phantom carriage facebook page for event updates and other info. see you there!
June 7th, 2013 by admin
last weekend’s firestone walker invitational was incredible.
- after reviewing my photos of the event, it became clear to me that the focus of the invitational was on relationships – friendships between brewers, media, and industry representatives, valued business and social ties between producers and consumers, and the intertwining of a brewery and its community. the majority of my shots were portraits of those involved with and passionate about beer and its associated culture, local to international in scope. as the day progressed I discussed current events with south bay media, caught up on the latest releases from northern california, the midwest, and the east coast, and swapped beers and stories with brewers from as far away as germany and japan.
- oh, and then there was the beer. the available selection at the festival was over-the-top, and included dozens of world-class beers of all styles and gravities, from the palate-assaulting three floyds barrel aged dark lord and cigar city’s brandy barrel hunahpu to the sessionable birrifico italiano tipopils and refreshing barrelworks/mikkeler lil’ mikkel. those examples were just the tip of the iceberg – the selection was really comprehensive and unique, and was likely the best I’ve ever encountered at an event.
- my unforgettable barrel journey to paso robles was my first exposure to the passion and generosity of firestone walker, and the fw invitational picked up right where the former left off. both satisfying and inspiring, this event is one I can’t wait to revisit for many years to come.
May 20th, 2013 by admin
time for some overdue professional, homebrew, and beer scene updates!
- a couple of weekends ago the phantom carriage’s first release, muis, made an appearance at the tour of long beach’s craft beer garden. inspired by my all-brett blonde experiment, muis is an all-brett belgian blonde with terrific mouthfeel, a smooth backing bitterness, and a great earthy tropical fruit aroma. this batch was keg conditioned instead of being force carbonated, which results in a fine effervescence and great fluffy head. stay tuned for mainstream release information – this beer will be on LA south bay taps soon!
- last weekend I kegged and bottled vizcaino II, the latest iteration of my golden strong wild ale. while my other pipeline wild beers were inspired by commercial brews, vizcaino’s recipe was formulated from scratch, and my first stab at it left me a little disappointed. however, after reworking the recipe and mash schedule based on my pipeline experience and racking the batch onto a mess of raspberry puree, I ended up with what I can only describe as an “imperial framboise” – a 10.23% (finished at 1.005) brilliant red brew with an intense yet smooth acidity that transitions seamlessly into some serious raspberry flavors. I can’t wait until this carbs up.
- on a final note, I want to congratulate beer paper LA on the release of their first physical publication. I stopped by their release party at beachwood BBQ long beach and was filled with pride for the ever-evolving LA beer scene (kip at bierkast has a great writeup that I completely resonate with). it’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker in LA!
May 1st, 2013 by admin
with a phantom carriage draft release on the horizon, the need for tap handles to go with the beer was imminent.
- although my previous experiences with tap handles were both successful, plain branch segments weren’t going to cut it for TPC’s purposes. we needed something easily recognizable and slick, but also easily repeatable in quantity and low in cost.
- after mulling it over a bit I decided to pick up a mini lathe and try my hand at shaping some inexpensive 2″ diameter dowels into mini-barrels. luckily, the design and process in my head translated seamlessly to reality, and after a few hours of shaping, sanding, and staining I ended up with around twenty tap handles ready to serve up phantom carriage creations. I’m planning on further customizing the barrels with one or more of a branded logo, splatter paint design, and wax dipping in the near future. be sure to keep an eye out for one of these in the tap lineup soon!
another challenge posed by the draft release was getting the beer carbonated and in kegs.
- TPC purchased a mess of stainless sixtels, but a brite tank wasn’t available to force carbonate and fill them. as a result, each keg was individually primed with sugar after cleaning and filled directly from the fermentor using an awesome manual keg filler (after dropping the trub/yeast). this way, the beer will undergo a secondary fermentation in the keg and will carbonate itself, creating a keg-conditioned beer with a fine, soft carbonation. the wait is almost over!