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TableHop! Beer brewing, wine making, for tabletop gamers (and general fermentation)


#41

Ah… we also have a different definition of the word ‘growler’ on this side of the pond. But this is a family show, so we’ll stop that.

To step the subject up, how does everyone design their recipes?


#42

A “growler” for us is a jug or jar you can take home with you, like take-away food, only with beer. It’s actually illegal to take beer outside of a bar or restaurant in many places in the US, even in places where you can walk with beer in the streets. So, eh. But in places where you can take the alcoholic beverages home with you that were served to you, it’s called a growler.

A carboy isn’t quite as handy, or portable, seeing as they’ll be five-to-ten gallons.

As far as designing a recipe, we’ve tended to go for extremes, and then fail, and then reform.

“Three kinds of hops, double what we need, for the early, mid, and late boil! With dry hopping after we sparge and get it in the bucket! Two or three kinds of malt, double what we need! Does anyone want to add chilis or hemp?”

Which is an exaggeration. We do tend to go a bit overboard, sometimes, but we do also take a lot of notes in a “brewer’s journal” that we refer to the next time. We also make notes in the journal after we’ve cellared the beer for a while, because sometimes what we’ve made that had started out “meh,” ended up great, and vice-versa (it gets acidic, or even worse, boring).

So, we take those notes into account, and we also read a lot online and in our books. But, mostly, like all cooking, we base our recipes from past failures, successes, and occasional amazing fantastic successes. (You may see from that last sentence there that success happens more frequently than failure. You can screw up brewing, but it’s actually not hard to somehow get things right, even if it turns out to be not quite what you expected.)

Also, whenever we’ve designed a recipe, it actually had a bit about who was going to be available to help make it. There were people we knew who wold be good on the malt, timing the boil and adding the hops when they were supposed to be added, working with each other for each stage, including the couple of guys who helped the one guy with getting into secondary fermentation, and then bottle-priming and/or kegging…

This really is a group activity, but with just a few hours of action and then a lot of nothing anyone has to do for several days, and then more, brief, action.

But you kind of have to plan a recipe like running a kitchen (Who’s going to be the sous chef? Who’s the saucier? Who’s the busboy?) We’ve often had someone who was interested in one aspect of the brew doing that one thing, and another person who wanted to do another thing, etc, then collaboratively planned it out.

So, recipe creation by knowing the team?

Not always, though, sometimes we just winged it with three people and it was fine, but we were much more experienced by then.

(edit: sorry for the text wall, I kind of went off)


#43

It is a “Stem” Thermometer, so if you do this periodically:https://foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/pdf_Files/Calibration_thermo.pdf then it is very accurate. In the US you can purchase them through websites that deal in foodservice trade. Surely there is something similar overseas?

I forgot to measure mine, but since it is close to the bottom it lets me know if I am getting too hot, and too cold.

Examples of digital and bi-metal versions:


Carboys, I bought mine at my Friendly, Local, Brew Shop (FLBS!)… Until it closed… Stupid online sales! In the back of Zymurgy magazine, they use to have an index of shops… Maybe find a close one and see if they sell them? That is one reason why I used the milk crates… Handles for glass carboys!


#44

Not in the U.S., but we got ours from a local brewing supply store (winemaking shops would also have them). Not sure if you have those where you are. I see that U.S. Amazon has them too, but they’re all pretty expensive.


#45

Yes, glass carboys are crazy expensive now, but the plastic ones can be gotten for cheap.

In fact, super cheap.

It might take a little finagling, but as I’ve said above, they are often cheap-as-free, and they are quite fine for
(saying it in a deep voice)
brewing, wine making, and tabletop gaming.

(Sorry, sorry, sorry, I couldn’t stop myself)


#46

I’ve been very happy with my homemade wine. I like full bodied reds, and they’ve all come out really well. My friend and I even made champagne on tap for new years once by making white (a riesling and a chardonnay) and force carbonating it in his kegerator. I came out great! A little too drinkable perhaps… Round these parts an acceptable bottle of wine costs $10 to $20 and I can make them for $3 or $4 instead, which is a better discount than beer, which I save about 50% vs store price.

If you want to make wine just be aware that it’s not as easy to customize everything the way you can tweak beer recipes. I just buy the wine kits and they come out great (you don’t need to boil anything either!), but you’ve gotta get the good kits - garbage in, garbage out. I don’t know what the prices are like elsewhere, but I spend $100-$120 on each kit, which makes 30 bottles. You can do some tweaks for sure; I have another friend who will add fruit juice to a white to get that extra fruit flavour (but watch out for the associated bump in alcohol content from the sugars).

You can use all the same gear as for beer brewing, although if you have any fermenters that are the white, opaque plastic ones you need to get a separate one for the wine because the hop flavour gets into the plastic and can wreck the wine apparently - my primary fermenter is a bucket made from this plastic so I have one for beer and one for wine, and I’ve never had issues of cross-contamination from my carboys or other equipment. The only other difference is that it takes longer, you need to allow 4 to 6 weeks, plus another month in the bottle, if you want quality. If you care about the wine being completely clear you might want to filter at bottling but I just take care to avoid the sediment when siphoning. Also you need a corker at bottling time, but both my local brew shops will lend you one if you buy the kit from here.

Same as beer - sanitize everything, keep it at the right temperature, and keep it hidden from bright light by putting it in a cupboard, basement, or when I was out of options I just put a black garbage bag over the carboy. Good luck!


#47

@mapletea have you ever tried to kegorator a big fat red? That’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Everyone wants to do whites with bubbles (they’re often more sugary and compliment the acidity), but I want to try a fizzy hefty hot red!

(I just realized I should say this: “Hot” meaning a strong alcohol flavor, usually used to describe something that’s been fermented for too long and can disturb the flavor profile, but not always a bad thing. I just had to get that off my chest.

I dislike wine, normally, but I have a lot of terminology in my head, because I’m THAT weird guy, and I have had a number of excellent small-batch wines from both pros in California, and friends from their closets, and now I have all these words.)


#48

Sparkling red is gross. My mum likes the sparkling red from Bannrock Station- I think it’s awful


#49

I have been wanting a good sparkling red since I was a little babay (not really, that would be a weird commentary on my parents) but no one has provided it.


#50

I can’t say I’ve ever carbonated a red, it’s a lot of effort to decarbonate all 20L for bottling if it works out badly. I have tried cutting red wine with fizzy water (I can do what I like with it!), which worked out OK. Not bad, not great.

Now I’m curious. Maybe next time I make a red I’ll put some in a couple of beer bottles with a bit of sugar and see what happens?


#51

That sounds great, really great, but you will have to cut the fermentation time in the bottle a little short. I think that (unlike beer) priming the bottles will bring out the tannins and make it bitter. But, heck, that doesn’t sound like a bad experiment!

(This is something I’ve never done before, so take what I’m saying with a grain of salt)

Also, red wine doesn’t ferment as aggressively (in terms of CO2) as whites or beer. I totally support your idea, if anything will work, priming with sugar and bottling like beer will.

Or the bottles will explode (which is fine, it happens. It’s a mess, but also kind of funny and makes a good story. And also part of why you need some foresight about where you’re putting all of this, guys!)


#52

Does anyone here use BeerSmith?


#53

I am unfamiliar.

(Google…)

Beer brewing software? No, I personally don’t, but I am intrigued. Do you use it?


#54

I do. It’s not bad for putting the recipes together, but I am having trouble finding the correct ingredients for things like EBC to try and get more accurate with it. I was wondering if anyone had experience with it who could help me out.


#55

As far as ingredients, I would have to say talk to your equivalent of your FLGS for brewing, but I know not everyone has something like that locally. (I do have a local resource, and so I’m going to be kind of garbage at help, I’m so sorry).

Come on, peeps! Let’s help our brew-buddy out, if anyone has a resource for ingredients, or experience with BeerSmith, or knows anyone who does, let’s support @FunkJem.


#56

Here’s a recipe we used, which made a pretty decent American Pale Ale.

We called it Monkey Tennis. It’s an Alan Partridge reference which we’re using for all single hop beers.

Method:
15l water to 66-70 degree 1 hour grain steep
60 minute boil
Sparge to 23l, pitch yeast then dry hop

150g Thomas Fawcett Malted Oats
200g Caramalt
200g Maris Otter
3kg Light Malt Extract

10g Citra - Boil 45 min
25g Citra - Boil 10 min
25g Citra - Boil 5 min
1tsp Irish moss

90g Citra - Dry hop

2 packets WLP001 yeast

OG 1052-1055
IBU 38
EBC 16
ABV 4.5% - 6.2%


#57

I like this. Although I’d do Hallertau (or whatever the other names it’s called by) for the late boil and/or the dry hop in the hop sock (I don’t know why I said that. OK, I actually do know, I just like saying “dry hop in the hop sock”). But, Hallertau, or whatever it’s called in your region, for the dry hop and the late 5 min boil.

Citra is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s awesome!

I’d also up the amount on the Otter by 50, but I’m kind of a crazy person for high-malt, sweet, yet very hoppy beer, that ends up being very different from when it’s bottled after three months. (I know, keg conditioning is the thing now, but, come on, just give me this).

And I do like Otter a lot, it’s good stuff.


#58

I’m tempted to dry hop this one with El Dorado. I tried a Tropical IPA with it, and it was pretty fruit juice-y, which is right up my alley sometimes with a beer. It was also a NEIPA, the latest trendy beer.

We’ve got to get the cooling stage right first, though, we totally messed up the other day.


#59

How did you mess up? (Seriously, making mistakes is one of most important things we need to know. Fail faster, that’s how you get better).


#60

We took it too cold. The yeast lost the arms race. The thermometer was showing one temperature, but when I tested it, it was anything but.

We’re investing in a new thermometer solution.