Febrewary Homebrew Crawl 2013 – preparations

A good bunch of my friends (including Me and Dan) like to brew our own beer.

The past two years in February, we had our own home brew competition. We all came together and set up a brew crawl across the town of Lancaster. A majority of the participants live in Lancaster city so it was pretty easy to hop from house to house. Brewers that don’t live in town just match up with someone who does, giving us a lot of brews to taste!

I’ll post some of the past years beers in a few days, but for now I just wanted to share some of this year’s preparations from Dan and Marisa’s House!

We tried to brew a brown ale this year. It turned out to be a not-quite-brown-ale. Brewing got a little interesting as we discovered we did not have a pot large enough to hold this all grain batch. We rigged something up and got it done… we steeped it in the cooler… monk was a little worried about it. I wrote a post about brewing this batch back in November – check it out for the dog biscuit recipe.

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If you have been reading this blog you probably know that I love to make pickles. I’ve been playing with the idea of making pickles with hops in them for a while now. I tried several batches with different hops. I finally found one that is AWESOME! I used cascade hops steeped in the brine.

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I believe they came out quite delicious. I can not wait for the home brew crawlers to try them!

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I will even admit, the cascade hops were so good steeped in the pickle brine that I ate a few right out of the pot. I can not say the same for some of the other varieties of hops.

I also had this idea to pickle some carrots in the hop brine… it was a great idea.

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I ended up with two pickle varieties for the brew crawl:

Cascade Garlic Hop Pickles

Centennial Dill and Garlic Hop Pickles

I haven’t tried the dill batch yet so I hope they are good!

I also made a new soda…

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Wild Huckleberry Honey Ginger Ale

I used wild huckleberry creamed honey that I found at a beautiful winery in California and fresh ginger. I am fermenting it with champagne yeast so it’s nice and bubbly. I know it’s not beer but I really like to experiment and make new things like this… it is fermented so I think it fits… and when else am I going to get to test it out on this many tasters?

I’ll let you know how the 3rd annual home brew crawl goes. I am sure there will be some awesome home brews. There are two ribbons awarded: one chosen by the official judge and one chosen by the voting crawlers.

Walking around town in the crisp febreway air, tasting good beer, all in good company… I think everyone is a winner during this event!

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Pickle Mania!

Happy National Pickle Day!

I’ve been pickling and fermenting a lot of veggies lately. This past weekend I made my own Kimchi (recipe to follow later this week).

I think I have finally discovered the perfect combination veggies, herbs and brine to make the perfect pickle (or at least come pretty close to perfect). Here it is:

3 cups water

1 cup aged white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper corns

handful of dill (a few whole sprigs)

3 big garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

5-6 Kirby cucumbers (or as many as you could fit into a large mason jar) or 3/4 lb fresh green beans, trimmed

Boil the water, vinegar, and salt together in a small pot until the salt is dissolved, allow to cool to room temperature.

Slice the Kirby cucumbers into rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Pack the jar with the dill sprigs, whole peppercorns, smashed garlic, and pickle rounds or green beans (or both!)

Pour the brine over the ingredients – fill the jar up to the top. Screw on a clean lid and band and place the jar in the refrigerator for at least a day. This makes enough brine to fill two large mason jars, just make sure you buy some extra cucumber or other veggies.

You get awesome pickles!

Use the same brine and experiment with other veggies and herbs. Try these other combinations that I think are awesome:

carrots, basil, and garlic

asparagus, purple basil, and sweet onions

okra and garlic

cucumbers, fennel fronds, garlic, and dill

yellow wax beans, dill, and garlic

yellow and green beans, parsley, and sweet onion

Happy pickling!

Visit The Brinery!

If you live in NYC or are visiting the Big Apple this week I think Bowery Whole Foods is the place to be tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept 13th, 2011). I totally read that wrong, it was tonight. Please excuse me, I work with middle school children all day, I am exhausted by night time.

Well… I would visit there anyway. I am most definitely going to check it out next time I go to NYC.

They are opening a new specialty department called The Brinery – a whole department dedicated to all things pickled! They are having tastings of pickles, cheese and beer at the opening event.

One of my favorite pickle vendors, McClure’s will be featured in the tastings. They make great garlic and dill and spicy pickles. They also make potato chips (which I have not tried yet but I have read awesome reviews) and my favorite Bloody Mary Mixer made with their spicy pickle brine.

Here’s one I mixed up… I put a pickle in it along with my celery for an extra salty garnish.

Here’s how I mix my Bloody Mary:

McClure’s Bloody Mary¬† Mixer

Lime juice (from half a large lime)

dash of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 tsp of horseradish

1 shot of good quality vodka (I like Rain Organics Vodka)

Put it all in a cocktail shaker, shake it up and pour over ice, garnish with a pickle and a stalk of celery.

I have been a little obsessed with pickling in the past few months… I have pickled all kind of vegetables this summer. I have tried making my own pickles out of several types of cucumbers, with success! Other veggies I have been successful with include: okra, carrots, yellow beans, green beans, onions, and asparagus! Look for a new blog post for a recipe and pictures of all my pickled veggie adventures.

Pickle Success

The other day, I decided to make some pickles…. I just threw some salt and pepper in a pot with water and brought it to a boil. I stuffed some sliced cucumbers, dill, and garlic in a jar. I poured the hot water into the jar and stuck it into the refrigerator. The next day…

PICKLE FAIL!

Ugh – They were gross… really, really salty. I definitely thought about my method a little more before I tried again.

Needless to say… my next batch was very well thought out. Here’s how I made my brine:

3 cups water

1 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp whole black peppercorns

I got my cucumbers from the Lancaster Farm Fresh stand at central market.

One jar included pickling cucumbers, dill, and smashed garlic cloves.

Another jar included a sliced lemon cucumber, sliced small white cucumbers, smashed garlic, and dill.

The last little jar included the left over pickling cucumbers and some sliced red onions.

I boiled the brine and poured it over the cucumbers in each jar. I screwed on the lids and left them in the refrigerator for at least one day…

…PICKLE SUCCESS!

I am proud to say that these pickles came out splendid! I think the small white cucumbers made my favorite pickles. The pickles with pickled onions were Dan’s favorite. He suggested making relish out of them, which I think is a great idea. The pickle and onion mixture would be a great topping for a hot dog, perfect for summer.