Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It is not everyday that I take a paid endorsement for a website, today is an exception. I was very impressed with all that Plazawine.com has to offer. One of their offerings is personalized labels for your wine. The label above is one of their stock labels that you might want to use for the upcoming holidays. I know that I prefer to use another person's printer than mine. (Mostly because I hate using up all my ink). You can also get bottles of wine with your own labels. Here's a little blurb from their site.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Final flavors of beer are influenced by the strain of yeast and the fermentation temperature. Lager yeast is best used at temperatures from 55°F down to 32 °F. Classic lagering of beers takes place over a period of time from weeks to many months at a temperature of 45°F. Lager yeasts are bottom fermenting, which is to say that they ferment the wort while sitting on the bottom of the fermenter. Papazian, Charlie (2003). The Complete Joy of Home Brewing: 3rd Edition.
Ale yeast is best used at temperatures from 55°F to 75°F. Fermentation by ale yeasts produces a beer that has a distinctive ale flavor. Ale yeasts are Top-fermenting, that is they settle out on top of the wort after fermenting (fermentation itself takes place in a suspension. Papazian, Charlie (2003). The Complete Joy of Home Brewing: 3rd Edition. Steam Beer uses bottom fermenting lager yeasts at ale temperatures, which results in a very distinctive flavor profile that includes both ale and lager characteristics.
While steam beer is considered a specialty microbrew style of beer today, it was originally a cheap beer made for blue collar workers. Wahl & Heinus’ “American Handy Book of Brewing and Malting” (1902) describes California Steam Beer as “a very clear, refreshing drink, much consumed by the laboring classes.” And while Anchor Steam is an all-barley malt beer, additives were often used in the early days. According to Wahl & Heinus’ book, “Malt alone, malt and grits, or raw cereals of any kind, and sugars, especially glucose, employed in the kettle to the extent of 33 1/3 percent…. Roasted malt or sugar coloring is used to give the favorite amber color of Munich beer.”
Other Articles Worth Reading
Steam Beer at Brew Your Own Magazine
California Steaming at Brewing Techniques
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Thursday, September 04, 2008
Harvest comes once per year and being prepared is vital. You can’t make up for poor farming in the last week before harvest, but you can prepare your home vineyard for harvest just like the pros. An entire year’s work in the vine rows can either pay off in delicious wine or it can produce wine that underperforms and makes you wonder why you went to all the trouble of growing grapes.
My job is to shove you gently toward the delicious and away from the disappointing. I’ve written articles on most aspects of backyard grape farming. (I’ve also met many of you and answered your questions at the wonderful WineMaker Conference in Sonoma this past May.) However, I’ve never broken down my professional harvest experiences into a top ten list for what to do in the days leading up to harvest.
The take home message is this: farm smart all year and then make that hard work count by being fully prepared when the alarm clock goes off on harvest day. Happy snipping!
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Alt is German for "old", and these beers are of a style older than the lagered beers, a remnant of the time before lager was invented. Altbier is top fermented then cold lagered for a few weeks. Altbiers are copper-bronze in colour and mostly brewed around Düsseldorf. Altbier is the closest Germany gets to the style of a British bitter but the lagering period gives them a quite different character. The best English bitters are cask-conditioned or bottle-conditioned but Germany does not have the tradition of cask-conditioning ales so Altbiers are not cask-conditioned and, when bottled, are not bottle-conditioned. Generally around 4.8abv, mildly fruity, with a typically dry finish, there is more hop bitterness here than in most German beers. A good sessional drink, and goes well with cheese. Source: German Beer Guide
A little history from Wikipedia.com
The Bavarian Reinheitsgebot (beer purity law; literally "purity order") of 1516 was drawn up to ensure the production of decent-quality beer; however, this decree did not affect brewers of the Rhineland. As such, the brewing traditions in this region developed slightly differently. For example, brewing during the summer was illegal in Bavaria, but the cooler climate of the Rhineland allowed Alt brewers to brew all year long and to experiment with storing fermented beer in cool caves and cellars.
The name "altbier" first appeared in the 1800s to differentiate the beers of Düsseldorf from the new pale lager that was gaining a hold on Germany. Brewers in Düsseldorf used the pale malts that were used for the modern pale lagers, but retained the old ("alt") method of using warm fermenting yeasts.
The first brewery to use the name Alt was Schumacher which opened in 1838. The founder, Mathias Schumacher, allowed the pale ale to mature in cool conditions in wooden casks for longer than normal, and laid the foundation for the modern alt beer - an amber coloured, lagered ale. The result is a pale ale that has some of the lean, dryness of a lager, with the fruity notes of an ale.
I have tried a few locally brewed Altbiers and have found them to be quite tasty. For a recipe on how to make an Altbier, try this one: German Altbier.
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