Russian Imperial Stout - 2017

>> Sunday, January 15, 2017

For my first brew of 2017, I'm brewing an ever so slightly modified version of the whiskey barrel stout that I brewed with a couple buddies last year. If it turns out as planned, this will be the first of my NHC entries this year. I won't be putting this version in a whiskey barrel, which will allow me to avoid the way too crowded Specialty Beer category. I'll be kegging this beer and I'm considering putting half on nitro. This recipe uses almost all Crisp malts. I'd strongly suggest sticking with the malts below as domestic malts just don't have the same character as Crisp malts. Here's the recipe as I'm making it today:

8.0 # Crisp Maris Otter
6.0 # Crisp Organic Pale
1.0 # Crisp Roasted Barley
12 oz Simpsons Double Roasted Crystal
5 oz Crisp Chocolate Malt
5 oz Crisp Pale Chocolate Malt
0.75 # Extra light DME
28g Warrior (60 min)
(1) 3ml Hopshot (60 min)
42g EKG (10 min)
42g EKG (0 min)
Yeast Nutrient
Whirlfloc
(2) US-05

Mash at 152F, 90 min boil, start fermentation at 63F and raise to 68F over a few days. Nothing fancy on the water as West Jordan, Utah water has worked really well for stouts.

Brewing Notes
No issues with this brew session other than I was having a hard time getting a super accurate gravity reading on my refractometer. Original gravity is somewhere between 1.105 and 1.110 which means this is going to be a pretty big beer. I made sure I aerated well with pure O2; I dosed it right before pitching, then again about five hours later.

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Really Good and Easy Semi-Homemade Ramen Soup

>> Monday, January 02, 2017

Time for a food post. I've been craving ramen lately. No, not the cheap cup o' noodles or the ones with the little packet of seasoning (that all seem to taste exactly the same regardless of their flavor). No, I wanted something with a little more complexity than standard grocery store ramen.

As with most really good soups, the key to good ramen is the broth and most authentic recipes involve preparing it at least a day in advance. While tasty, most of us don't have that kind of time on our hands and/or don't manage to plan far enough ahead to have authentic broth ready when the ramen-hankering hits.

I decided to search out some "quick" ramen recipes that were a level above the cheap packaged ramen that many college students have survived on for years. This recipe is my favorite so far; very tasty while still quick and easy. Here's the original source for the recipe, however I noticed some questionable activity on this domain if you stay on the page too long (e.g. spoofed Google Chrome updates). I'm wary of any site that exhibits that kind of behavior and because recipes that I really like tend to vanish from other sites, I'm documenting it here for my own sake.

Yield: 4 servings
Total prep time: 30-45 minutes

8 Slices bacon, chopped - I recommend the savory Asian bacon that I made here.
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 Garlic cloves, just crush them with the side of a knife
2 T Lemongrass, chopped
2 T White miso paste - I used Miso & Easy because that's what my local grocery store carried
1 t Red pepper flakes - this provides a fair amount of heat...noticeable, but not over the top.
64 oz Low-sodium chicken broth
4 T Low-sodium soy sauce
1 T Balsamic vinegar
1 T Rice wine vinegar
4 t Toasted sesame oil
Dried ramen noodles - I used Hime Ramen Noodles (pic below)
1-2 Shallots, thinly sliced
4 Soft-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 c Green onions or scallions, chopped

Prepare the Broth
  1. Cook bacon in a pot over medium heat until crispy. If using the Asian bacon recipe, definitely do not cook any higher than medium heat or it will burn. Flip it about once per minute until crispy.
  2. Remove half the bacon and place on paper towel. Reserve the rest of the bacon and the drippings in the pot.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the ginger, garlic, and lemongrass to the reserved bacon and drippings. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add miso paste, red pepper, and chicken broth.  Cover, bring to a simmer, and hold it at a simmer for 30 min.
  5. After 30 minutes, strain out and discard the solids (bacon, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and ree pepper flakes). 
  6. Add soy sauce, vinegars, and toasted sesame oil.
  7. Keep warm until ready to serve
Prepare the Eggs
  1. Fill saucepan with enough water to cover eggs but don't add eggs yet.
  2. Bring water to a boil and add eggs straight from the fridge.
  3. Boil/simmer for about 7.5 to 8.5 minutes. At my altitude in West Jordan, Utah, I let them go for about 8.5 minutes which yields a barely set yolk.
  4. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to halt the cooking process.
  5. Peel, halve, and set aside.
Prepare Noodles
Follow package directions, but generally speaking you'll want to boil the noodles in water for about 3 minutes.

Final Assembly
  1. Add cooked noodles to bowl. 
  2. Ladle broth over noodles.
  3. Add shallots, green onions, bacon, and halved eggs.
  4. Serve immediately.
This is the miso I used

These are the noodles I used

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Rood BugCounty

>> Friday, December 23, 2016

Today I'm brewing another version of my red sour ale based on The Rare Barrel's red base recipe. The first version was fermented with The Yeast Bay's Melange. The second was fermented with East Coast Yeast's ECY01 BugFarm. The first two batches are still aging in my basement. This, the third version, will be fermented with another highly sought-after East Coast Yeast blend, ECY20 BugCounty. ECY's site describes this blend as follows:
ECY20 BugCounty : SEASONAL (OCT-DEC). With over 20 different isolates combined for fermentation to overwhelm the senses, this blend is the mother-bugger for wild ales. Like the BugFarm, Brettanomyces dominants the overall population, however, other wild yeast seen in spontaneous fermentations are also included (such as Pichia  and Kloeckera ).  Several strains of Saccharomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus round out this large and complex culture. 
To say the least, this is a pretty diverse blend. I think this blend contains the largest variety of strains of any I've used so far. The recipe as I'm brewing today is as follows:

6.0# 13 oz Avangard German Pilsner Malt
1.0# 3 oz Weyermann Pale Wheat Malt
7 oz Crisp Light Crystal Malt 60L
7 oz Flaked Oats (lauter)
7 oz Special Aromatic Malt
7 oz Spelt Malt
1.5-ish oz Carafa III (lauter, for color adjustment)
14.0g Aged Debittered Hops (60 min)
0.5 Whirlfloc
Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
ECY20 BugCounty

Mash at 160F for 60 mins, 90 min boil, ferment at room temp. Because of the lactobacillus in the blend, no aeration.

Brewing Notes
No issues with this brew. The gravity came in at 13.8 (1.055), just a bit higher than the previous two (13.7/1.054 and 13.3/1.053 respectively).

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