All posts tagged beer

Java Stout

Published July 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I posted a few weeks back how excited I was for this beer, and boy was I right.  This beer is so delicious!  It has a deep coffee flavor, but it doesn’t taste heavy.  We brought it to our drinking tasting (the theme was beer…yes, just beer…nothing in particular) and went head to head against 11 other beers, ours being the only homebrew.  Well guess what?  We finally won our first drink tasting (the other tasting we won with the watermelon-mint jello shots took place after this one, and was a different tasting group – in case you were wondering).

Once we finish the basement and put in the bar with taps, this will have to be one that we have all the time.  While I want everyone I know to try it and see how good it is, I’m reluctant to share it because we have such a limited quantity right now.  I suppose we’ll have to make a few more batches for back ups!  We’ve shared quite a bit of this brew, and everyone seems to love it.  I think this might be one of my favorite beers…ever.

Java Stout


4 oz Peace Coffee Nicaraguan Blend
Munton’s 6 gm dry yeast
priming sugar

8 oz chocolate malt
4 oz flaked barley
4 oz caramel 60oL
4 oz roasted barley

1/2 oz challenger
1 oz tettnang

6 lbs dark LME

Mexican Cerveza

Published June 27, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’ve really let my beer blogging sit on the back burner for a while.  I think the problem is that with food, I get instant, or almost instant, gratification, whereas with beer, I have to wait, and wait, and wait.  By the time it’s ready, I’ve forgotten that I should be blogging about it too.  I must devise a new strategy.

The third beer that we brewed was a “Mexican Style Cerveza”.  This was a little different from our IPA and Red Ale in that it only needed to boil for 20 minutes, rather than an hour.  Additionally, we didn’t have to steep any grains (which is probably why it’s only a 20 minute boil).

Well, we finally made our first brewing mistake.  After making the wort, adding yeast, letting it ferment, and transferring it to the secondary fermenter, we bottled it.  Well, we forgot to add the priming sugar, and this is what add carbonation to beer.  I didn’t even notice until we were making our next batch of beer, and wondered why we had to packages of priming sugar.  This was a week after we’d bottled the cerveza.

We called for some expert opinions on what to do next, or if we should just abort the mission.  They suggested adding carbonation pellets to each bottle.  I don’t know why, but I was thinking carbonation pellets were the same thing you find in Guinness cans, the CO2 cartridges…well, they aren’t.  They look like little pills basically. We bought a bag, and added 4-7 (we had two different sized bottles) to each bottle.  We then had to wait for four weeks until it was ready.

The result was initially questionable.  I didn’t really even want to try it since there was so much visible muck in the bottom of the bottles.  This was even more surprising since we didn’t even steep any grains, so I had to assume this was from the carbonation pellets.  But, we bit the bullet and gave it a whirl.  Much to our surprise, it was quite refreshing, though really nothing like a Coronoa (which is what the kit label claimed).  If I had to compare it to a Mexican beer, I would say it’s closest to a Dos Equis Amber, which I don’t at all mind.  Add a lime for a little fresh twist, and you’re good to go.  This was perfect after a 95+ degree day, with super humidity.  Just don’t drink it to the last drop…I’m still a little weary of the sediment.

Mexican Cerveza


priming sugar
dry yeast

3 lbs, 5 oz Munton’s Mexican Cerveza Hopped LME
2 lb light DME

1 oz hallertau

We’ve learned a few lessons from this experience, and I could only assume the next one (Java Stout) will be 100 times better…and it was!

Like a kid waiting for Christmas!

Published April 30, 2012 by jenmatteson

We are onto our fourth beer, (I still have to blog about the Mexican Cerveza), but I HAD to make a quick note about the beer we started last night.  I absolutely cannot wait for this beer to be done, although it won’t be for almost two months 😦  We started a Java Stout and it looks and smells amazing!  The kit came with four different kinds of grains, one of which was chocolate malt.  It also came with Peace Coffee, which smells incredibly delicious.  We add that to the secondary fermenter, which won’t be for another week, but I’m tempted to brew it before then!  Here’s a sneak peek at the ingredients:

Beer Can Chicken

Published April 22, 2012 by jenmatteson

This is probably one of the easiest ways to cook a whole chicken and I will definitely be doing this again.  Probably many times.  The easiest way to get the entire chicken eaten is to have three hungry men, one girl, and one kitty.  I’m always hesitant to make a whole chicken because you never know who likes what part of the chicken.  I’m a fan of the chest, though I don’t mind the wings or thighs either.  It didn’t seem to be a problem last night.

I had a bottled marinade that I got from my dad in one of his goodie boxes.  We get all sorts of fun, sometimes interesting, stuff from him.  Most are things I’d never buy, but since they’re free, I figured I’ll give them a try.  This one was called Pirate’s Gold Inferno Hot Marinade.  I marinated the chicken for about 6 hours before cooking in.  A simple marinade of  a little olive oil, garlic, and spices of your choice would work wonderfully instead.  I’ve read that the beer does little to actually flavor the chicken, rather it just keeps it super moist, so I used a Coors Light.  I’m skeptical and may try a more flavorful beer next time.  Don’t forget to sample about half the beer before putting it on your grill 😉  Nate had a fancy stand that the beer can sit in and support the chicken, but you don’t need to have one.  Just balance the chicken on it’s legs while resting on the beer can.

The entire chicken was eaten in probably less than 15 minutes.  I gave Charlotte, my adorable kitty, the first taste.  Big mistake!  She wouldn’t shut up or leave me alone until I gave her more…and more…and more.  Finally she just sat on my lap and tried to help herself.  The boys gave the chicken rave reviews!  It was so moist and juicy; it was unbelievable!  The marinade made its way into the meat, and not just the crispy skin, which gave the chicken a great spicy kick.  This would be an excellent choice for a casual grilling party, especially in the summertime when you are busy playing lawn games and/or enjoying adult bevies.  You can set it and forget it!

Beer Can Chicken

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 4-6


1 3-4 lb whole chicken
marinade of your choice (optional but recommended)
1/2 can of beer
salt and pepper


1. Remove neck and giblets of chicken and discard.  Rinse with water, inside and out, and pat dry.  If you choose, marinade your chicken 4-24 hours in advance.

2. Holding a chicken leg in each hand, place bird cavity over 1/2 full can of beer.  Salt and pepper bird generously.

3. Place chicken-on-beer-can on the grill and cook over medium high indirect heat for 1 1/2 hours, until internal temperature of breast is 165 degrees and thigh is 180 degrees, or until juices run clear when stabbed with knife.  Let bird rest for 10 minutes before carving.

I just had to add this last picture because the bird’s butt is steaming and I have the sense of humor of a five-year old 😛

Irish Red Ale

Published March 12, 2012 by jenmatteson

Our first brewing experience had quite the learning curve.  The kit included instructions, but it seems that someone must have been semi-innebriated when they wrote them, because about halfway through, they skip a few steps and aren’t very specific.  Thankfully our starter kit came with an instructional DVD, which we watched twice before we started.  Unfortunately, we started at about 6:00 PM on a Sunday night, thinking it would only take a few hours.  Little did we know…

It ended up taking over 4 hours the first night, but mostly because we couldn’t use our wort chiller with our faucet.  The other steps were pretty quick, but the waiting time was the worst.  Good thing we had an 11 day vacation after we bottled the beer; it was ready for us when we came home, and what a treat it was!  It was a bit cloudy, but that was expected because we accidently boiled the grains instead of steeping them, presumably causing more sediment.  We also siphoned the beer directly into the bottling bucket instead of the carboy for the second fermentation, so when it was time to bottle, we had more sediment on the bottom than we probably would have had we used the carboy.  Now we know for next time.  I’m not complaining about my delicous homemade beer.  Just in time for St. Paddy’s Day!

Irish Red Ale

priming sugar

6 lbs Gold liquid malt extract

12 oz Carmel 40L
2 oz Special B
2 oz Roasted barley

1 oz Cascasde
1 oz Fuggle

1. Sanitation: Sanitize all equipment. Star San or One-Step is recommended to ensure a sanitary environment without the need of rinsing.
2. Steeping Grains: If you did not have the grains crushed use a rolling pin or beer bottle to lightly crush the grains.  I spread them out on a baking sheet to do this.  Fill your brew kettle with about 5 gallons of tap water.  Place over high heat and bring to a temperature of 155 degrees.  Add the grains into the muslin boiling bag and steep grains at 155 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  (This is where we went wrong.  The temperature of the water got up to about 180 degrees, and it’s very difficult to lower the temerature of 5 gallons of water quickly.  We ended up having to turn off the heat completely for the entire 30 minutes, which is when the temperature finally came down to 160.) Remove the pot from the heat and let the grains steep for another 5-10 minutes, then discard the grain bag.
3. The Boil: While off the heat, add the malt extract.  It is important that the heat is off so you do not burn your malt.  Also, remember to stir as

you pour the extract so the malt does not scorch on the bottom of the pot.  Return the pot to high heat and as soon as it begins to boil, add the Cascade hops (we used a nylon boiling bag which helps leave less sediment in your beer) for 60 minutes. Do not leave your pot unattended during this time; boilovers can be messy!  Add the Fuggle hops for the last two minutes of boiling, and then remove from heat.
**Everything that comes in contact with your wort from here on out must be sanitized.
4.Cooling and Aerating your Wort: There are several ways to cool your wort (what your beer is referred to at this stage).

  • Set your brew kettle in a sink full of ice, stirring every 15 minutes with a sanitized spoon
  • Use ice as your top up water (8 lbs of ice is about 1 gallon of water)
  • Use a wort chiller

The best method is a wort chiller because it will cool your wort quickly.  The quicker you can cool your wort to 80 degrees, the less chance there is of any contamination. (Unfortunately, our wort chiller cannot hook up to our faucet, so we tried the first method with a twist.  We put the kettle with the top on outside in the snow.  However, this didn’t cool it very fast; it took over an hour to cool the wort to 80 degrees).
5. Pour wort into the primary fermenter and top up with water to just over the 5 gallon mark.  Be absolutely sure your wort is cooled to 80 degrees or below, otherwise you will kill your yeast.  Now is the time to take a hydrometer reading with your thief.  This will help you determine your beer’s alcohol content.  Do not return any samples back into the fermenter.  You now need to aerate your wort.  You can pour back and forth between two sanitized buckets or stir vigerously.  You could also try an aeration system that injects oxygen into the wort.  The yeast needs oxygen to do its job, so it is very important not to skip this step.
6. Fermentation: Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the beer. Cover your fermenter and seal with the airlock.  You can fill your airlock with water or vodka to decrease the chance of contamination. After about 1-3 days, you should start to see a head of foam, called krausen, begin to form and CO2 should be bubbling out of the airlock.
7.  After 5-7 days of fermentation, transfer beer into carboy. (By not following directions carefully, I blame Nate, we transfered to our bottling bucket instead of the carboy.)  Ferment for another week in the carboy, using the airlock again to seal and prevent contamination.  You can be sure your yeast is done by taking a hydrometer reading three days in a row and getting the same results.  If the number is lowering, then your yeast is still fermenting.  Use your hydrometer chart to help you determine the alcohol content of your beer.
8. Bottling: Once your yeast is done, it’s time to bottle.  Heat one cup of water and add the priming sugar.  Bring to a slow boil for 5 minutes, then cover with a sanitizedlid and let cool.  Be sure to sanitize your bottling bucket, tubing, bottle filler, caps, and bottles.  Add sugar mix to the bottling bucket and siphon beer from your carboy into your bottling bucket. (Of course our beer was already in the bottling bucket from our mistake in #7)  Fill your

bottles with the bottle filler and cap your bottles.  Store your beer in a cool (60-70 degrees), dark place for 2-4 weeks. You can check your beer to see ifthere is any carbonation.  If there isn’t, get your beer to a warmer place and swirl each bottle to rouse any settled yeast.  Test again in a couple weeks.

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