Scott came over last night and we completed the next set of tasks in the creation of my "End of Term" beer to celebrate the completion of my tenure on city council.
Rather than work in the basement this time we worked in the kitchen. I set the carboy on the work table.
So despite working on our home at glacial pace, I've actually picked up a few jobs on the side. I finished one last weekend, so here are some shots from that. "Susan" (not her real name) is a new faculty member at the University of Iowa and has bought a nice bungalow on the east side of Iowa City. Over the summer I did some work in her kitchen and installed a correct period front door. She said that she wanted a tin ceiling in the kitchen to cover a not so great plaster job and I agreed to work on it with her.
First thing we needed to do was cover the ceiling in 3/8 inch plywood.
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Scott stopped over last night and we siphoned the beer out of the fermenting bucket and into a glass carboy. We will let it rest in the carboy for a week or so before bottling it. I had taken the fermenting bucket down to the basement on Sunday, so that sediment stirred up in moving would be settled back down before siphoning.
Here is the fermenting bucket after removing the lid. There was a very strong beer/hops/alcohol scent:
Before we opened the fermenter we had already sterilized the carboy (again, since I had done it last week too) and the siphon tube and hose. We then started the beer into the carboy:
After it had run a bit we filled the beaker for the hygrometer so we could test specific gravity again. We tested it last week, and got 1.56:
Now specific gravity was 1.011, with a quick calculation we know that the alcoholic content is almost 6%, which is right at the target for our recipe. We filled a mug and tried it. The taste is not overly “hoppy” and is very pleasant. We brewed using my hops that I transplanted to the back yard in 2011 from the ancestral family farm in NW Iowa. Since the hops were likely a type of German Noble, they are relatively low in alpha acids, meaning they are not as bitter as many modern varieties. While the beer tastes and looks good, it does not have very much carbonation. That is what we will create when we bottle it, by adding just a bit more sugar to stimulate yeast activity.
So the beer is now in the carboy and in the back room upstairs to sit at a warmer temperature than the basement.
Besides beer activity, we hosted Thanksgiving as usual. We only had 10 on Thursday, the smallest group we have ever hosted. Several weeks ago, my Dad pointed out that the local grocery chain had a special of “buy a ham, get a turkey free.” I went and did that. The turkeys were small and the biggest I could find was 9 lbs. While at the store, I noticed that they also had frozen goose, so I bought one of those too, and we are set for Christmas.
Imagine my surprise when I went to brine the turkey on Tuesday night and I discovered it was only half a turkey! The drumsticks and lower portion of the body weren’t there. If I hadn’t been so distracted by the goose, I might have noticed this when I bought it. So it was good we had the ham to go along with the white meat only turkey. Here it is before I put it in the basement oven:
While getting ready for Thanksgiving this year that I discovered that we have 4 turkey sized granite roasters, a smaller chicken sized granite roaster, and an aluminum rectangular roaster. I’d say we’re set for everything. I made one version of stuffing in the chicken roaster and used the most interesting looking turkey roaster for our half bird. Here it was after 2.5 hours of cooking:
And after carving:
We used our special Thanksgiving tablecloth and got out the good dishes and silver:
I even put up Christmas garlands on Sunday in my shirt sleeves, I’ll need to get a picture of them later.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Today I took the first major step in a plan I’ve been ruminating on for the past year or so. Scott, one of my school district instructional coaching partners, came over with his beer making equipment. We went into the basement.
First we started 3 gallons of water to heat on the stove.
The malt needed to steep for about an hour, we added more hot water occasionally. Eventually we started draining the mix to reheat it on the stove and pour back over the top in order to release all the sugars from the grains.
I checked the specific gravity later and the reading is 1.54 which is pretty darned close (1.58) where we need it in order to have a final alcohol content of 6%.