Sunday Brewday

It’s cold outside, and my husband has put some wood in our fireplace. It cannot become more cosy than that. After a hygge morning on the sofa with nice breakfast and coffee, I am on my way to my brewery, as it is a perfect day to brew.

I ordered malt and hops at Brewparts and bought some yeast at Maltbazaren. My two favorite places to order home brewing ingredients. It is time now to brew another Belgian Blond. I am still struggling to get this recipe right, so the only thing left is learning by doing. I used some pilsner and Cara Blond malt and I also changed the mashing regime. I mashed in at 52 degrees Celsius, raised the temperature to 65 degrees Celsius and finished by 73 degrees Celsius. In this way, I hope to get a bit more body and mouthfeel.

My Braumeister is working fine today and I’m really happy for that. After mashing, I used my crane to lift the pot and I rinsed the spent grains with 8 liter of water to get all the sugar out.

Now it is time for boiling and adding the hops.

I used two types of hops: Hallertau Mittelfruh and Saaz.

After boiling, I use my spoon to whirlpool and then I cool down the wort until 70 degrees Celsius. Then I poor the wort into a fermentation bucket and let it cool down further in my fermentation closet.

Tomorrow I will add the yeast (WLP540) and then we need to wait until the yeast has done its job.

Have you done something creative today?

Belgian sparkling wine is definitely on the rise!

This week was my birthday and that had to be celebrated :-). I just had spent the weekend in Belgium and when I was looking around in Brussels airport I found out that there was one Belgian Winehouse selling their wines there: Genoels-Elderen. That had to be tried!

There were 2 types of wine for sale: white wine (mostly Chardonnay) and sparkling wine. I bought the sparkling wine, called Zwarte Parel and flew back to Copenhagen with it.

Last Wednesday was the day to open this beautiful bottle. The Zwarte Parel is made with Chardonnay according to the ‘Méthode Tradionelle’. This means that the wine has been ripening with the sediment in the bottle for at least 9 months. On top of that, de Zwarte Parel has been ripening for 9 months more, so 18 months in total in the bottle. The wine has not been ripening on wooden barrels, so it went immediately from the stainless steel tanks (after fermentation) on the bottle.

The wine looks exactly like a champagne:

The bubbles are small and there are many. The taste was really excellent if you like it Brut. The taste was refreshing, a bit fruity and with a slightly higher acidity compared to a champagne. However, the wine was in good balance and I was impressed with the overall flavor and taste.

Definitely worth a try if you like Brut sparkling wine!

Running to get energized

Do you run? I simply love it. Going out in nature, getting fresh air and especially the boost of energy I get from it afterwards makes me run over and over again. I did not mention this New Years resolution, but it is definitely on the list.

Last year, my husband and me have been running on average once every week. See here the last 5 months.And that is exactly what I want to change. I would like to go twice a week for a run. I have been travelling extensively for work last year, which makes it a bit more difficult to run so often. However, this year I will be travelling less, so I can make time to go running more often.

In the first week of 2019, I already succeeded! I ran twice which felt great. One time in my home place, the usual route, but the second time, I have been running in the forest close to my parents place.

This forest, the Neigembos, is great to run in, but very hilly. I am not used to that, but it was a great challenge :-). And lovely surroundings…

Even though I ran a bit slower because of the hilly path, I do feel energized!

Really feels great!

How do you get energized?

Let’s get 2019 started!

Hi there! Yes, I am back. Long time no see, but with 2019 just having started, I have made up my mind with my blog. I gave it a whole make-over, so I can write a bit more broad about my crazy fermentation experiments and foodie or other thoughts.

I made – of course – some New Year resolutions and here is a shortlist of them:
1. brew a series of Belgian beers according to the style rules: Blond, Dubbel and Tripel
2. brew some really crazy beers with funny spice/fruit/herb additions
3. plant some vines in the garden to test if some classic varieties can survive the cold Danish climate
4. try to eat less food/drinks with added sugar and go more the natural sugar way (I will need some recipes here)
5. go running twice a week (gives me a lot of energy)

You will hear more about my resolutions – see how many I can manage to do this year. Not everybody likes New Year resolutions, but I love them. It is a good way of thinking about what you want to do this year that gives you pleasure and energy. And that is exactly what I want to do in 2019 – do things that I love and give me energy…..stay tuned.

Did you note down some New Year resolutions?

2019 01 Tap system

 

 

 

Summer Dream – my first American Pale Ale

For everything is a first 🙂 and yes, finally I am tackling the American style beers (with the exception of the American Barley Wine I brewed earlier this year – Barley Trouble). Many of you will laugh now, as these styles (Indian Pale Ale and American Pale Ale), are normally the styles you start with as a home brewer. Stubborn as I am though, I started with the Belgian styles, as I can’t deny my Belgian roots. That resulted in a lot of trying, as I still feel I have not been able to brew the perfect Belgian Blond as I like it.

That said, after 5 years of home brewing, I feel it is time to broaden my horizon. So that is why I decided to make an American Pale Ale (APA), also because I adore this beer style when done right. These beers are very aromatic – beautiful flavors coming from the hops – but are not as bitter as an Indian Pale Ale (IPA).

I invited a friend to brew with me and he was even more courageous than me, as he brewed a pilsner style that day for the first time. So it was pretty exciting to get started. My brewer’s friend brought his Grainfather, while I brewed on my Braumeister.

As I am not a fan of pale malt, I decided to use a mix of pilsner malt, Munich malt and a very low amount of biscuit malt to get the caramel character. For the hops, I used mosaic as bitter hops and late aroma hops. I was lucky to get 5 kg mosaic hop pellets from another brewery, so I could use a lot of it as aroma hops. I love the aroma of mosaic, very fruity and citrusy.

As I got an extra accessory to my Braumeister, namely a filter to block hop and other herbs from the wort when filling the fermentation bucket, I needed to try that out. You can almost not see it, but it is the stainless steel funny looking pipe in the front of the picture.

After a vigorous long boil, the wort was ready to be put in the fermentation bucket to cool down and ferment.

After 16h of cooling down, I added Safale US-05, the standard yeast almost for a lot of APA’s and IPA’s. After only 5 days of fermentation, I added loads of mosaic and citra hops as dry hops. Another 6 days later, the beer was ready to be put on bottles. I added extra sugar (dextrose) to referment on the bottle.

And today is the day to try the first bottle, after 10 days of refermentation on the bottle.

The foam is really amazing, small bubbles and it stays. The color is also perfect, amber like. The smell is very citrusy and fruity, but I also can still smell the malt. The taste is still a bit sweet, so it needs some longer time to referment all the sugar. However, the bitter-sweet balance is quite good and the bitterness is for sure not too high. A good first attempt I would say, but next time I will need to add less Munich malt, as that gives the more malty taste. I should also not be shy with the hops, as I have plenty and the smell can definitely be more hoppy.

The beer needs some more time and then I’ll taste again :-).

Do you have any recommendations on how to accentuate the hoppy aroma more?

Blondine – my new Belgian Blond

Some weeks ago I could feel the butterflies in my tummy, yes, spring is coming! And that means it’s time to brew some light summer beers. As I still want to perfect my Belgian Blond recipe, I decided to give that one a try again. Last time I brewed a Belgian Blond was together with the people from Brewparts (read more here Brewing at Brewparts). That beer was served on the 40 years birthday party of my husband last November and was very well appreciated by the people.

So I used a similar recipe, existing of pilsner malt, flakes oats instead of oat malt and some Cara blonde to elevate the caramel taste and color. I also added some cane sugar during the boil.

As hops I used Mittelfruh as that one gives a very clean bitterness. This time I also used some spices: bitter orange peel and coriander seeds.

My Braumeister is still doing an excellent job and I really love brewing with it.

It takes me around 5 hours to brew with it, perfect for a Saturday :-).

I mashed in at 50 degrees Celsius and used a two step mashing: 45 min at 65 degrees C and 25 min at 73 degrees C.

After mashing, I boiled the wort for 60 min with the hops.

After boiling, I whirlpooled the wort and then it cooled down to around 75 degrees C so I could put it on a fermentation bucket.

I left the wort in my fermentation closet to cool down overnight. The next day, I aerated the wort for about 30 min before adding the yeast. I used M47 Belgian Abbey yeast from Mangrove Jacks.

After 7 days of fermentation, I cooled the green beer down to 4-5 degrees Celsius before bottling it. After 3 days of cooling, mist of the yeast dropped to the bottom and I could bottle my beer.

I bottled half of the beer on bottles to referment and half of the beer I put on a keg.

The beer has been nicely fermenting further in the bottles and I tried the beer some days ago. The flavor is really like a Belgian Blond should be: spicy phenolic, fruity (banana) and with a clean soft bitterness. As I used quite some oats, the beer is quite hazy, but it gives a good body to the beer. I’m quite satisfied already with the outcome but will need to age the beer a bit more to see how it evolves.

I have sent this beer in for the DM i håndbryg (Danish National Home-brewing competition). Very exciting to hear their verdict!

Barley Trouble – a crazy Barley Wine recipe

A month ago I was invited by a friend to do a home brew together. He has a Grainfather and I have a Braumeister and it would be fun to make two home-brews together, meanwhile comparing our systems. So I decided to try an earlier Barley Wine recipe again. This recipe failed the first time, as I tried a double mash in my old system, which completely clogged up the pump. However, I was sure the Braumeister would be able to handle it.

My first recipe turned out well by the way, as I loaded whatever brew came out with loads of hops. I also refermented with a Brettanomyces yeast, which yielded 43 out of 50 points at the DM i Håndbryg competition in 2016. Not too bad at all after all.

So I decided to use the same grain bill with 6 different malts: pale malt, crystal malt, rye malt, Cara aroma, oat malt, melanoidin and biscuit malt. Quite complicated, but loaded with flavor.

As I wanted to perform a double mash, I started on Saturday afternoon with the first mash. Therefore, I used half of the malt.

The color was already quite dark but I sparged with 8 liter of water, to have enough to use this first wort as mashing water for the next brew.

The next day, on Sunday, the time was there to do some real home-brewing and some comparison between Grainfather and Braumeister.

My friend decided to brew an out meal stout. As I never tried that, I was quite curious to see how that would turn out.

After boiling, the color was definitely much darker than my barley wine. The glass to the left is my barley wine, the one to the right is the out meal stout.

It is quite more fun to brew with a friend than just on my own. Especially when some good beers are served. We tried a Petrus Aged Red, a sour ale with cherries aged on barrel. The beer was very smooth, slightly sour but well balanced. The cherry flavor was prominent, but not too much.

After mashing, it was time to get the malt out and start boiling. This time I didn’t sparge, to make sure a high alcohol level could be achieved.

The boil went really well and as I wanted to make an American Barley Wine, I added Nelson Sauvin hops as bitter and aroma hops.

After a wonderful dinner, it was time to head home to get the Barley Wine some yeast to ferment. I used WLP001, California Ale to ferment, as this yeast has a neutral flavor profile and ferments to quite high alcohol content.

As I wanted to experiment with dry hopping and adding some whiskey drained French oak chips, I divided the brew in two and fermented them separately.

In the top one I added medium roasted French oak chips that were soaked in whiskey for two weeks when the fermentation was almost completed (after 2,5 weeks).

In the lower one I added Mosaic hops as dry hopping at the end of fermentation. Both buckets fermented for at least 1-2 weeks further and now the one with dry hopping is down to a density of 1026. The taste is already amazing!

Yesterday I have put the 8 liter of Barley Wine that I dry hopped on a keg to be carbonated.

Now the CO2 needs to do the job and then I can hopefully bottle this first version of Barley Trouble next weekend! It takes time to make a Barley Wine, but if the result is great, I don’t mind to put the time in it as it is fun to experiment!

Turning my apples from the garden into delicious fresh apple juice

Our garden has been giving a lot of apples this year. We have tree 3 apple trees in our backyard, 2 belle boscoop and 1 unidentified species with two kind of apples on it. The belle boscoop trees were generous this year, compared to last year, and I gathered around 100 kg of harvested apples.

Belle boscoop apples are particularly good for preparing food like cakes, crumble, pie and to use in all kinds of stews and salads. They are also very juicy, which makes them ideal to press juice from.

4 years ago I tried to make apple juice for the first time in my life. At that time, I invested in a hand mill and press, but it took my husband and me two weekends and a lot of hand power to get juice out of our apples. In 2015, I teamed up with a friend, who has much better equipment (an electrical mill instead of a hand mill), which made the work much lighter: Cider making in 2015.

This year, I decided to try something different and I rented an electrical fruit mill + a balloon press from Maltbazaren.

The fruit mill was huge with a heavy motor, but this meant that I could just drop in whole appels without cutting them. That was for sure a plus!

I was impressed with how fine the apples came out of the press. It was literally apple puree: extremely finely mashed apples which already gave some juice as well.

The next step was the pressing of this apple puree. The balloon press I rented was very user friendly and could just be hooked on the water tap. You just turn the water hose on and the pressing starts.

The juice was amazingly sweet, probably because I waited until the first weekend of November to press my apples and they were very ripe. I measured the sugar in the apples with my densimeter and it was around 1040. It really tastes delicious 😋.

After the pressing, I divided the juice in three parts: 1. apple juice to be pasteurized so we can drink it just like that, 2. apple juice for making cider and 3. apple juice to be blended with honey to make a strong cider.

The apple juice to be pasteurized was put on bottles and then I used my Braumeister to pasteurize.

I put in 1 bottle with water, to measure the temperature inside the bottle. I waited until the temperature was 72 degrees Celsius and then I pasteurized then for 30 min.

We drink the juice now in the morning and it is still tasting fresh and nicely sweet.

Homebrewing is part of a lifestyle

It really is :-). I realized this recently now that I am brewing regularly at home. It is so much fun and every time there is the excitement of seeing the first bubbles in my ferment. It is a wonder what yeast is doing to the wort.

As my colleague putted it so well last week: ‘it’s like giving birth, the excitement of waiting to see the first bubbles’. I can’t agree less.

Homebrewing is the perfect combination of science, practical work and fun. It takes a day to brew <50 liter, so it is perfect to brew at home in the weekend. And after fermentation and bottling, you can enjoy your own beer. That is very satisfying.

It is very similar to other hobbies which include fermentation: wine making, yoghurt production or making kombucha. Also here, yeast and/or bacteria are doing the job and it is great to follow the conversion of the raw material into the final product.

There are so many people homebrewing, that it is really an established community. People are sharing ideas and are coming home to each other for a nice brew day. That’s the beauty of it, you can share with other homebrewing friends that are as excited as you are. I simply love it :-).

There are also many homebrewing shops around, either physically or online. My two favorites in DK are: Brewparts and Maltbazaren. The people in those two places are home brewers themselves and are very service minded. They are always willing to help out if you’re in doubt which malt, hops or yeast to use.

If you don’t have a dedicated hobby yet, I can recommend home brewing. It’s fun, you can do it with friends, it triggers your mind with scientific questions and you can enjoy the final beer as the cherry on the cake.

Cheers!

Exploring beers and delicious food in Aalborg 

Last weekend my husband and me visited some family in Aalborg. As they are also very much in to good food and drinks, we went out for some beers and delicious food. We started at Basement Beer Bar for some excellent craft beer. I felt very much at home after seeing the beer menu:


I decided to try the Bees for my honey from Amager Bryghus. A well-balanced beer with a clear hoppy aroma and bitterness, but balanced by the sweetness from the honey. Definitely one to warm you up in the winter months.

We continued our Aalborg exploration by dining at Restaurant Textur. It was good we made a reservation, as the restaurant was fully booked. We took the 5 dishes menu with accompanying wine. Simply delicious food and well-paired with the wine.


I liked especially the ‘sprød havkat’, which is a croquette from catfish. However every dish was excellent and nicely presented.

After the dinner, we wanted to finish the evening with a beer at The Wharf. This place looks amazing with all the barrels at the wall.


My husband had one of his best Westmalle Dubbel beers as it was on tap here. Not something you see often in Denmark. The bar is very cosy, has great beers on tap and is so far my favorite bar in Aalborg.

Even though my colleagues warned me, we did end up in Jomfru Ane Gade that evening. However, we had such a great time and I can definitely recommend exploring Aalborg, as the city has definitely great bars and restaurants to offer.

Cheers!