A quick look through the kitchen – and spilling over into the dining room – you’ll either think we’re stocking up for a party, or a long cold winter. We’ve got about two dozen random bottles of wine. (we need a bigger wine rack) Unopened bottles left over from recent wine parties – my wife’s soon to be done hosting in-home wine tastings (order online now!) – and others we bought intentionally (and a few more hard to find ones coming in the mail)… which will take us almost to the halfway point of sampling the wines of 100 different grapes… Now it’s getting challenging to come across new ones, but a fun challenge to look forward to. Meanwhile I’m still making beer. (and drinking LOTS of coffee!)
The interesting thing about a home brewing hobby is that you spend lots of time waiting to sample the fruits of your labor… and while you’re waiting for one batch, you can start a new one (or in my case, two at a time!). Unfortunately, If you’re waiting, you’re not drinking, and if you’re not drinking you can have either a shortage of empty bottles, or space to stock everything.
Yesterday I had a bottling dilemma. I had two mini kegs worth of beer to bottle (4 Gallons), and only enough empties for about 1/4 of it all. Apparently I’m making faster than I can, or care to drink it. Some just need a little more time in the bottle… but you can’t tell the yeast in the kegs to slow down. And you can’t download empty bottles off the internet. Yet.
Lucky for me, I remembered a few cases of empties in the basement. Left over from a first, and only, attempt at one of the local “you brew” establishments several years ago with dad. We ended up with a good Sam Adams knock off. Plenty to share, and enough left to grow tired of.
Currently I have eleven 22 oz bottles of Pilothouse Pilsner, which sounds good and I think I’ll be able to share these with Dad and others, (he just doesn’t go for the darker, or “chewy” beers, stouts, etc…) I also have twelve 22 oz bottles of a stout-like German Dopplebock, which will be mine! all mine! Both should be ready to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile the Pumpkin Lager has developed nicely, wasn’t drinkable after a couple weeks in the bottle, three more weeks was the ticket. Perhaps it was the full moon – or Halloween’s arrival that brought out all the pumpkiny goodness. I wouldn’t exactly call it “pumpkin pie in a bottle” as they do, but I’m encouraged enough to try the pumpkin porter next fall.
Next to that, I still have a full batch of Caribbean Lime Lager – which hopefully is ready to go. I should have tried it yesterday – we went a little overkill with the first fire of the year – and it was HOT in here.
I gave up on the coffee beer, but I might try this one… Eye Opener Sumatra Stout. A stout where you add an espresso shot during bottling, rather than coffee grounds to the wert. Still, I kept a few bottles to cook with. Ditto the Apple Ale
Looking back, both Stouts I’ve made to date were good (St Patricks, Sticky Wickett) – must have been, theres none left. I’m making another with liquid yeast this time. Will be interesting to compare that to the dopplebock. Gonna have some nice warm beers to enjoy this winter!
I’m also attempting a Pale Ale with Liquid Yeast. The pale ale was hands down the most drinakable I’ve made to date – also the first. The Porter was fine, The American Devil IPA was good, the Belgian Wheat and Red went down the drain (the kits were old… but there was no harm in trying) plus I needed the bottles for the next batches!
All told, not a bad year of beer. Lots of ups, few downs… and at current count I have the equivalent of 69 12-ounce bottles (in 12 ounces bottles and 1 liter bottles) in four flavors, with 23 bottles waiting… and two full kegs (4 gallons – or about 48 bottles) just starting out… Way more beer than Dad and I made way back when, but with ample variety to keep things from getting stale.
I do think I’ll be taking a break from brewing after this… 139 full bottles (a few 12 oz, the rest are mostly 22 oz or 1 liter each) won’t leave much room left in the fridge for, well, anything.