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Brew Your Own Hard Cider

September 8, 2012 4 comments

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Fall is a few weeks away and I have a fun and easy brewing project that’s perfect for this time of year.  It requires 3 ingredients, and about 15 minutes to mix and prep for fermentation.  In just 2 weeks, you’ll have delicious homemade hard cider to share with your family and friends.

Some important notes before you begin:

  1. Use apple cider with NO preservatives.  Preservatives will kill the yeast.
  2. If apple juice is the only ingredient, then you are good go.  Cloudy or unfiltered is good, and the fresher the better since it may contain wild yeast that will add to the flavor of your finished product.
  3. Yeast can be purchased at your local homebrew store or online from homebrew sites like Maryland Homebrew or Northern Brewer.
  4. This recipe makes a 5 gallon batch.  You can make smaller batches – use 1 cup of sugar per 1 gallon of cider.  However, you will need to adjust the amount of yeast required.
  5. Alcohol content will range from 5-7 ABVs.  Likely closer to 7 ABVs.  For big kiddies only!
    F…
  6. For best results, consider investing in some standard brewing equipment, especially if you plan to make this recipe again and again.  A standard carboy, a rubber stopper, an airlock (to keep oxygen out), a funnel, and a bottle of santizer.  All of these things can be purchased at your favorite homebrew store.
    ……
  7. Lastly, as with beer brewing, sanitation is of prime importance.  All equipment, including bottles or carboy and anything that touches the inside of the fermenting container should be sterilized or sanitized to ensure no unwanted bacteria mucks up your cider.  You can do this by adding an ounce of sanitizing liquid to a bucket and to the carboy and filling it with cold water.  Then soak all equipment several minutes (3-5) or spray it on with a spray bottle.  You can also boil or put in dish washer immediately beforehand to sterilize.  This step alone can make all the difference between success and disaster.

Homebrewed Hard Cider

Ingredients

  • 5 gallons apple cider, no preservatives – room temperature
  • 5 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1 vial yeast – room temperature
    Champagne yeast is good for drier cider, or use a British Ale Yeast for sweeter cider.

Equipment

  • 1 5-gallon carboy, or 5 gallon container with airtight lid.  Sanitize or sterilize well before use!
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  • 1 large funnel (santized!)
  • 1 airtight stopper for carboy, or lids or caps for other containers (santized!)
  • 1 airlock (if using carboy) (sanitized!)
  • 1 cup measuring cup (santized!)

Instructions

  • Insert funnel into top of carboy.
  • Pour in 5 cups of sugar (add sugar before cider so it doesn’t stick in the funnel).
  • Pour in 1 gallon of cider.
  • Remove the funnel, lift the carboy, and swish it around really good to dissolve the sugar, set it down for a minute, then lift and swish again to ensure sugar is dissolved.
  • Add remaining 4 gallons of cider.
  • Rock the carboy to swish and mix the liquid.
  • Shake yeast well and add contents to cider.
  • Rock the carboy to swish and mix yeast with the cider and also to add lots of air into the liquid.  Do this for at least 1 minute to ensure all is well incorporated.
  • Add stopper and airlock (with water added, per instructions) to top of carboy.
  • Move carboy to a dark and cool location with consistent temperature, like a basement or crawl space.  Leave it for 2 weeks.
  • Check regularly to ensure the yeast are active and that gas is not building up too much in the carboy.  This could cause a bit of an explosion if left unattended.

Finished cider can be kegged and force carbonated, or bottled with a bit of sugar to naturally carbonate the cider.  Or drink it uncarbonated.

No matter how you drink it, it will be delicious and it will be brewed by you!

I’ll check back in two weeks with an update.  In the meantime, have you made hard cider before?  Tell us how it turned out and let us know if you have any advice.  If this if your first time, come back and let us know how your cider turned out.   And of course, send questions and comments.

There are also some great videos on YouTube (Check out HomeBrewRecipes) for more info and ideas.

Cheers beers!

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Stuffed Beer Cheesy Poofs

January 22, 2012 8 comments

The Brooklyn Brew Shop (my favorite site for beer and spent grain recipes) posted a recipe for Beer Cheese Puffs.  Well heck, since beer and cheese just happen to be my two favorite foods, I had to give this one a try.

These little gems are made with Pate A Choux – that’s french for cream puff dough, used also for eclairs and other evil light airy cream stuffed delights.   The Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Cheese Puffs are indeed super tasty, but being that these tender little pastry poofs were designed for stuffing, I couldn’t resist adding my own flavor spins and filling them with homemade beer cheese.  Each popper explodes with cheesy beer flavor.  Make them ahead of time, or freeze and reheat for the big game.    Twice baked, they’re even crispier and pouffier the second time around.

Stuffed Beer Cheesy Poofs

Ingredients

–  1 cup beer  (I used the hubster’s Indian Brown homebrew)

–  3 tbsp butter, cubed

–  1/4-1/2 tsp garlic salt

–  1 cup flour

–  4 eggs

–  1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

–  1/4 tsp regular or smoked paprika

– 1 tsp dried parsley

– 1-2 cloves crushed garlic

– 2-3 tbsp melted butter

Directions

1.   Line 2 small cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

3.  In a medium size saucepan, bring beer, butter and garlic salt to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.

4.  As soon as the mixture boils, remove from heat and add flour.

5.  Stir the mixture very fast, smashing the dough against the sides of the pot to eliminate lumps.   The dough should not stick to fingers when pinched.

Tip:  If the dough is too moist, put back on low heat and stir just enough to allow moisture to evaporate and dough to dry out. 

6.  Off the heat, quickly incorporate one egg at a time.

7.  Continue stirring, using the the wooden spoon, until the dough comes back together (shown right).

8.  Fold in cheese, paprika and parsley.

9.  Drop spoonfuls onto the parchment lined cookie sheet.  Make them all as close to the same size as possible.

10.  Crush 1-2 cloves of garlic into 2-3 tbsp of melted butter and lightly brush the tops of the dough.

11.  Sprinkle the tops with paprika.

12.  Bake at 400 degrees until they have doubled in size, about  5-10 minutes.

IMPORTANT:  DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR UNTIL THEY ARE DONE.

13.  When they have doubled in size, turn the oven down to 300 degrees.  Lowering the temperature will allow them to cook slower and dry out so they become light and crisp.  About 20-25 minutes, until they are nicely browned.

14.  Allow them to cool while you prepare the filling.

Beer Cheese Filling

Ingredients

–  4 oz. cream cheese, softened

–  3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded

–  1 tsp worchestershire sauce

–  2 cloves crushed garlic

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 tsp tabasco sauce

– 1/2 cup stale beer (or boiled and cooled to remove carbonation)

Directions

1.  Combine all ingredients except beer in a mixing bowl.

2.  Gradually add beer while simultaneously whisking all ingredients together (this works best with an electric mixer).

3.  Continue beating the mixture until it becomes smoother, thicker, light and fluffy.  The smoother the better for stuffing the poofs.

4.  Using a ziploc baggy, cut the bottom corner off, large enough to insert a pastry tip through.

5. From inside the bag, put the pastry tip (with a star shaped end) through the corner hole so it sticks out through the outside corner of the bag.

6.  Add the filling inside the bag.  Twist the top closed, poke the tip into the bottom of a poof, and apply pressure from the top of the bag to fill the poof with cheese.

Tip: Make extra beer cheese for dipping chips or to spread on crackers.

Enjoy now and/or freeze for later!

To reheat frozen poofs, preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 10 -15 minutes, til golden and heated through.

..

Variations

  • Try the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s gouda recipe, or try using smoked gouda, or swiss cheese.  For these, swap the worchestershire sauce for white wine vinegar, and eliminate the hot sauce.
  • Fold some finely chopped ham or bacon into the dough.
  • Try a mexican queso version, incorporating chilis or chipotle into the dough and using a spicy mexican queso filling.
  • Try different kinds of beer for this recipe.  Match your flavors – stronger beers with stronger cheeses, and milder beers with milder cheeses.

Bon Appetit and Cheers Beers!

Cozy Up with a Mug of Mulled Beer

December 10, 2011 8 comments

The holidays and cold weather call for warm spirits and cozying by the fire.  Mulled wine, irish coffees, spiced ciders are all well and good, but have you ever considered mulling beer?  Indeed…why not?

This idea requires an open mind, an adventurous spirit, and the courage to risk 12 oz of perfectly good beer.  So rather than endure reader backlash in case this recipe is a total disaster, I put my own beer on the line (actually, it’s the hubster’s subpar scotch ale which has been sitting in the keg since summer).

The recipe came from wikiHow, it’s been edited by almost a dozen contributors and has evolved substantially over the past 3 years.  So most of the kinks should have been worked out.  It’s also been visited by over 61,000 readers, and the countless comments of those who’ve tried it are very positive.  So here we go…

How to Make Mulled Beer

Posted on wikiHow at http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Mulled-Beer – Edited byGiM and 11 others

Ingredients at the ready!

Ingredients

  • 12-16 oz decent-quality beer (the contents of your average bottle or can of beer)
  • 1 pinch ground ginger, or 1 slice (sometimes called “coins”) of ginger 1/4″ long
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼-1/2 tsp cinnamon, or 1″ section of a cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch ground cloves or 2-5 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp (10 grams) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) honey

Temper the egg and stir rapidly as you slowly add the egg yolk.

Strain the floaties using a fine mesh strainer.

Instructions

  • Put beer in a small saucepan and add spices.
  • Heat beer and spices in a small saucepan on low to medium-low heat. If the beer begins to boil, turn down the heat. The beer will begin to foam, but should subside after a minute or two.
  • Separate the egg white from the egg yolk and put in a small bowl. This recipe only uses the egg yolk.
  • Add two teaspoons of sugar to the egg yolk.
  • Beat the sugar and yolk with a whisk or fork until it becomes nearly white (it’s the hardest part!).
  • Optional but recommended – Temper the yolk mixture. To prevent “scrambling” the egg yolk mixture by the heat of the beer, you can temper the mixture by adding 1-2 tablespoon(s) of the hot beer to the yolk mixture very slowly and mixing thoroughly as the egg is being added.
  • Add the yolk mixture slowly to the warm beer and continue to heat for 5 minutes. Stir gently.
  • Add honey to taste.
  • Use a strainer (double mesh or cheese cloth) to sieve out the spices and any egg particles that may have formed.
  • Pour into steins or mugs and enjoy!

Tips and Variations

  • The types and amounts of spices listed above should be treated as a guideline. If you know you like lots of ginger, add more. If you’re more of a cinnamon fan, use more of that. Remember, add only a small amount at first. You can always add more spices, but you can’t remove them once they’ve been added.
  • Other ideas for spices may include orange peel, pieces of apple, a drop or two of vanilla or almond extract, different flavors of honey.
  • Experiment with different kinds of beer. Lagers, ales, stouts and IPAs will all yield different (and possibly tasty) results.

Surprise, surprise!  The results were actually very tasty.   Our final drink was creamy and coffee-like in appearance and the aroma reminded me of cinnamon-spiced applesauce.  There was no carbonation left, or alcohol for that matter – assuming it turned out as intended.  The drink was warm, sweet and spicy with a hint of malt flavor and a mild bitter aftertaste.  Something different to try on a cold winter’s day.  In fact, whip up a batch in the crock pot for your next holiday bash.  It’s a great way to use up that substandard beer that’s been sitting around the house since June, and no doubt it will be the talk of the party.  Oh, and do come back and share your comments!

Happy Holidays and Cheers Beers!

Spent Grain Barley Snack Bars

This recipe came from the Spent Grain Chef of the Brooklyn Brew Shop.  Holy cow this chef knows how to conjure up some tasty recipes using spent grain (grain that’s left over from homebrewing).

These snack bars are absolutely delicious, and the recipe is twofold in that I also learned to dry the grain before baking with it.  It really changes the texture and makes the grain nice and crunchy, as opposed to a chewy wet sawdust texture, which works fine for dog biscuits, but not so much for human treats.

Drying the Grain

  • Preheat oven to 150 degrees (or 200 degrees if your oven won’t go that low).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Spread the grain on the parchment in a thin layer.
  • Bake in the oven for 5-7 hours, stirring the grain every few hours to ensure even drying.
  • When completely dried, store in an airtight container and perhaps even keep refrigerated to ensure longer shelf life.

Barley Snack Bars
(from the Spent Grain Chef)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup spent barley from brewing, dried [How to Dry Spent Grain]
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Combine your oats and raw almonds on a sheet tray and toast in the oven for six to seven minutes, stirring halfway through to prevent burning.
  2. Meanwhile line an 11X13 baking dish with wax paper or parchment and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Put brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  4. Combine slightly cooled oats and almonds in a medium sized bowl with spent barley and dried cherries.
  5. Pour brown sugar mixture over oats mixture and combine.
  6. Pour into prepared dish and let cool 2-3 hours. Cut up and wrap individually, if you like.
  7. Made 12 individual bars. I prefer to keep them refrigerated at home, but they’re fine unrefrigerated when transporting.

Variations:  Switch these up with different ingredients. Try adding different nuts, like toasted walnuts, peanuts, cashews, or pecans. Leave them whole or chop them up. Use different fruits like dried blueberries, cranberries, raisins, or apricots. Throw in some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Even chocolate chips, toffee bits, or even M&Ms would be fun.

I’d love to call these health bars, but they’re more like sticky, sweet, fruity, fibrous bars of wholesome yummy goodness.  Still much healthier and satisfying than a candy bar, and a great energy snack for recreational activities like hiking, biking, boating, etc.

If you have spent grain, do try these and some of the other delicious recipes devised by the Spent Grain Chef.   Another great incentive to start homebrewing, homebrew more often, make friends with a homebrewer, or in my case….marry one!

Cheers beers!

Peanut Butter Dog Cookies from Spent Grain

I’ve been itching to make dog cookies from spent grain since seeing a recipe in one of the hubster’s beer magazines.  Many breweries hand their spent grain over to local farmers for feed, so we know our four legged friends are fans.  After the hubster and his buddy brewed this weekend,  I asked him to set aside of few cups of grain for experimentation purposes.

Below is a basic recipe that seems popular among homebrewers and their canine sidekicks.  I actually halved the original recipe, and as I write this, our kitchen is filled with the yummy aroma of peanut butter dog cookies baking in the oven.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  Hops are toxic to animals, so do not feed any grain to animals if it has come into contact with hops of any kind.

Peanut Butter and Grain Dog Cookies

Makes 2-1/2 dozen medium sized dog cookies.

Ingredients

    • 2 cups grain
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup peanut butter
    • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Roll out dough and press shapes with cookies cutters, cut with knife, or drop cookies using two spoons.
  4. Bake for 30 at 350 degrees, then reduce temperature to 225 degrees and continue baking for 2 hours.  The cookies should be dried out at that point so they won’t spoil when left out.

Cool cookies and share w/ your four-legged friends.

These are rustic looking cookies.  But my dogs don’t seem to mind.  There’s not much they won’t eat and they seem to really enjoy these.

Soft or Hard Cookies.  Since I have older dogs, I prefer cookies that aren’t too hard, and still have some tenderness on the inside, so I don’t overbake them.  Test out times and temps in your oven to determine optimal baking time and texture.  Just keep in mind that if the cookies are soft, then their shelf life won’t be as long.  You can even refrigerate them so they won’t get moldy.

Storage.  I’d store these for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container, much like you would human cookies.  However, if you dry them out completely at a lower temperature for a longer period of time , then they should have a fairly long shelf life.

No Grain?  If you’re just looking for a good dog biscuit recipe but don’t have any spent grain on hand, then  visit SpiceGirlFl’s blog Savoring Every Bite and give her homemade peanut butter dog biscuits a try!

I’ll be testing and posting more recipes and ideas for using for spent grain, so stay tuned!

Cheers beers!

Coolin’ Off with Frozen Beersicles

We found Sean Paxton’s (aka. The Homebrew Chef) Beersicles recipes just in time for the 4th of July.  Easy to make, these popsicles will be the king of conversation at your next homebrew gathering or cookout. They’re also a great way to feature your homebrew or other favorite beers.  Use the recipes below as a guide for creating your own variations. Just don’t let the little kiddies get hold of these – they’re for big kids only.

Beersicles (from the Homebrew Chef)

Start with a basic simple syrup…

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

4 cups water
2 cups organic sugar

Simple Syrup Directions:

To make the simple syrup, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and boil for 3 minutes on high. Remove from the heat and chill. This can be made in advance and will hold in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Also perfect for cocktails and other desserts.

Union Jack IPA Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Union Jack IPA
2 ounces simple syrup, recipe below

Midasicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Dogfish Head Midas Touch
2 ounces simple syrup, substitute 1/2 cup of honey for 3/4 cup sugar

Bastard Pop Ingredients:

12 ounces Stone Brewing Co. Arrogant Bastard Ale
2 ounces simple syrup

Kriek Popsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek
2 ounces simple syrup

Goose Island Bourbon County Stoutsicle Ingredients:

12 ounces Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce heavy whipping cream

Instructions

  • Choose your recipe and combine ingredients in a bowl with a whisk
  • Carefully pour (we used a funnel) the mixture into popsicle molds.  One recipe filled a set of 4 popsicle molds.
  • We used plastic molds, but you could probably use small plastic cups and wooden popsicle sticks, and put a small piece of plastic through the stick and over the top of the cup.
  • Freeze overnight.

We made ours with Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch and Stone’s Old Arrogant Bastard.  Reminds me of ice beer.  The flavors are somewhat condensed and the primary flavors of the beer are really accentuated.  The honey of course was prominent in the Midas Touch, and the hoppy bitterness stood out in the Old Arrogant Bastard.  The taste of the beer is retained, but sweetly enhanced with the simple syrup.  Just a fun, interesting way to experience your favorite beer, especially in the heat of summer.

You’ll find tons of great beer recipes on Sean Paxton’s website at www.thehomebrewchef.com.  He also hosts a show on The Brewing Network where he talks all about cooking with beer.  He shares some amazing homebrew and food recipes (afterall, he is a homebrewer AND a chef), as well as comprehensive insights to food and beer pairings.

Cheers beers!

Beer Margaritas – Semi Homemade, Super Tasty

I’m not usually into cocktails, but someone gave me this beer margarita recipe awhile back and I’ve been itching to try it out.  We finally had some friends over who were willing to help me polish off a pitcher.

You don’t taste the beer.  I used mexican beer to stick with the mexican cocktail theme.  The recipe makes a good size pitcher, and although my margarita experience is very limited, I thought they were as good as any I’ve had.

Beer Margaritas


Ingredients

    • 1 (12 ounce) cans frozen limeade concentrate ( semi-thawed)
    • 12 fluid ounces tequila
    • 12 fluid ounces water or 7-up, or 6 oz of each
    • 12 fluid ounces beer (I used DosEquis – mexican lager works well)
    • ice ( lots of ice!)
    • 1 limes ( cut into wedges)
    • Margarita salt and glasses

Directions

  1. Pour the limeade, tequila, Seven-Up, water and beer into a large glass pitcher; stir with a long-handled spoon until completely blended and the frozen limeade has completely melted.  Adjust with extra water if the mixture is too sweet.
  2. Run a lime wedge around the rims of the glasses, and dip the rims in margarita salt.
  3. Add lots of ice to each glass.
  4. Fill ’em up, add a lime wedge and serve.


Notes:
  I used just water rather than 7-up.  I think it makes a dryer, more authentic margarita that doesn’t mask the tequila flavor.  If you want sweeter with some carbonation, then go for the 7-up.

Bacardi also has a great frozen Margarita mix that works well in this recipe.  The frozen mix comes in a 10 or 12 oz container.  So  I just dump the frozen mix into the pitcher, then use the empty container to measure out my water and tequila.

Great for a party, and particularly a good lady pleaser.  Don’t forget the ice, salt and limes!


Cheers beers!

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