Saturday, May 30, 2009

Decadence on Memorial Day

~Quick apology for the lack of photos here, but keep a weather eye our on that horizon for a slideshow of photos soon to come!~

On Memorial Day, after a long weekend (two nights + little kids = long weekend) of camping, we got to brew! Most people were busy grilling out and celebrating pools opening ~ we were busy brewing up our intense "Decadence" and noshing on some homemade pizzas!
Decadence is our Winter Holiday beer. Last year, we brewed it with the intention of drinking it over Christmas, but it ended up being our known as our "winter holiday preparation" beer as only a couple bottles made it to Christmas. It's an Imperial Stout with chocolate, vanilla, and Wild Turkey. It earns it's name! This year, we needed to use up the grain we had gotten via a bulk order from Big Daddy's Brewing ( The grain arrived crushed instead of whole, meaning it would spoil quicker. Decadence to the rescue!
Brewing went really well. We did realize that 36lbs of grain is about all we can handle, with our current set up, during one brew session. We could possibly do 40lbs, but we're not sure how we would get the sparge arm on over it. We hit the OG dead on at 1.100. We also got a chance to really test out the new tent.
If you aren't in the area, or if you are in your own world, you may have missed the fact that the greater Roanoke Valley has been going through a very wet "rainy season" lately. Great for the ground, for building streams and rivers back up, for crops and newly planted trees; but bad for a lot of other stuff. We've set the tent up once before on a brew-day, but didn't have all the hot liquor tank underneath. This time we did. We had water on hand in case of fire, but we needn't fear. One: it did fine. Two: it DID rain!! It poured down for a while actually. The tent worked, everything remained safe and not-watered down, and when the sun returned, we had a nice, dry, shady area to hang out. The only ones not happy about the rain were the dogs. We've begun putting up a baby gate to block them from the deck (Whiskey, our chocolate lab keeps burning herself on the burners .. you'd think she'd learn!), and instead of finding other shelter in the rain, they stood at the baby gate, leaning their heads over it & pouting. Yes, they were pouting. Especially Jomo.
For the most part though the rain ended as our guests arrived. We were joined for this brew-day by our friends Kevin & Bailie. Kevin is a brewer as well and both he and Bailie are also members of the Star City Brewer's Guild.
As usual, Shannon helped add the hops. This time he also got to add the cocoa, which was a nice treat for him. He has now begun telling his friends he can't play with them "because I'm brewing!" This is pretty funny to here a 5 year old say. Tristan was asleep for most of the time, but he did show a lot of interest when Justin was filtering the beer into the fermenter. Carrie was able to get some cute photos of all of this.
All in all, the brew-day went really well. Carrie made two homemade pizzas which were quickly devoured by everyone. She is now on a quest to find some good pepperoni made from pasture raised pork.
The beer has gone through quite a vigorous fermentation process though. If we had hooked up a blow-off tube it probably would've been fine and resulted in less mess to clean up, but hey. To help try and keep it as we want to be, we've put the beer into coolers filled with water and ice packs. The goal is to keep try and keep the beer at a constant 70-72 degrees. This is one of those times where we realize the downside of not having AC, and we're looking for remedies for the future.
The vanilla will be added during the secondary fermentation which might occur next weekend - we'll just have to see how it's all going. The Wild Turkey will be added when it is time to bottle &/or keg the beer. In the future we will plan on using a cask for this time, and let the beer age to absorb the flavors. We're hoping to let the beer age in bottles and still drink it during the winter holidays, but this is like getting boxes of Girl Scout Cookies and expecting them to last for 6 months. You can hope, but don't hold your breath.

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