I have never been accused of being a chef. My wife is the culinary whiz and I balance the load with my exquisite dish washing. That being said, I enjoy grilling with my kamado grill and have turned in some notable offerings praised by a number of carnivores (mostly the aforementioned husband and wife).
A few weeks ago I was reflecting on a claim set before me by a friend, Mary, that sous vide is the method for cooking the unquestionably perfect
steak. I finally summoned the gumption to ask Uncle Google about it. When I realized the simplicity of the process, and the fact I already possessed the few items necessary to create the required environment, I was suddenly energized to act.
Sous vide literally means “under vacuum”. There is plenty of information, including instructions and equipment options out there on cooking sous vide (see SeriousEats.com for example) and it’s easy and inexpensive to get started.
Watch my 9 1/2 minute video below as I take a very inexpensive, less than tender cut of meat through the process. Predictably it came out amazing.
Most beers have more than one grain and more than one hop in the recipe and you experience the blended result of flavors and aromas. To better learn and appreciate the aromas and flavors of any individual grain or hop you can brew a SMaSH beer. The letters stand for Single Malt and Single Hop.
Upon researching I found several folks who chose Marris Otter barley from England and Citra hops from the Pacific northwest of the USA. I knew I liked beers that contained these particular ingredients so I took a few of these recipes and combined and tweaked them into my own.
“Wait,” you say, “if there are just the two ingredients plus yeast and water – how can there be multiple recipes?” Good observation, Grasshopper, but there are variables such as how to modify the water, how much of each barley and hop, which yeast to use, and will there be any adjuncts. Here are the choices I made for my recipe:
I adjusted my water (with prescribed minute amounts of gypsum, epsom salt, table salt, and calcium chloride) to match the Pale Ale water profile published by Bru’n Water.
16 pounds of Marris Otter malt (barley)
A total of 8 ounces of Citra hops added at various points in the boil and then added for dry hopping during fermentation
2 different yeasts were used: California Ale yeast and English Ale yeast.
A pound of honey was added at the end of the boil. This provided additional fermentable sugar without adding any honey flavor, aroma, or sweetness.
And why is this classified as an IPA you may add. The amount and type of hops and where they are utilized in the process is a large determiner. Other factors include bitterness level, alcohol percent range, and color/darkness range.
Finally, where did I come up with the name of this brew? As you might have guessed Mar O’Cit is an abbreviation of Marris Otter and Citra.
As I hoped and suspected, this beer came out extremely aromatic and flavorful. Actually, it exceeded my expectations and I can honestly say it is one of the best beers I have ever tasted. I will be brewing this one again – in fact, I am planning a double IPA version of it in the near future! Here is my video review:
I have been reading and studying and preparing and now it’s time to pull the trigger.
It’s been 8 months in the making. Accumulation of equipment, preparation of the space, and construction of key items has brought me to this day. I have been testing my systems (brewing equipment, fermentation chamber, stir plate, wort chiller, etc.). A few more tests and calibrations (recirculation cooling of wort, pH meter, refractometer) and I will be ready for the first brew!
Over time I will be posting details on the brewery, including some of the construction projects:
I will also post details on some of the recipes and brew days as well as fermentation experiences.
This site and these blog posts serve mainly for myself as documentation of this adventure. If any of this information benefits any other current or would be home brewers, it will be my pleasure to have served as a resource.