Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Leviathan Cometh

It's here! My first homebrew, my Leviathan Rye Stout. Well, it was here anyways. I've been exceptionally busy the last few weeks with work and life, so blogging had to take a back seat. This post will be a bit about beer AND bikes, just to catch up.

On October 11th, I opened the first 2 bottles of my Leviathan Rye Stout after the 2 week bottling process. I was a bit wary because the bottles that Joe and I tried the week before were flat (normal) but I thought the beer tasted funny. Looking back I must have gotten a bunch of yeast from the bottom of the bottle into the glass. No biggie.

I didn't take any labels off the bottles, but here is me opening the first 2 real bottles of finished home beer.

I poured Joe's and it turned out fine, just a small head at the top. My bottle must have gotten more of the priming sugar than the other bottle, because as you can see from the picture on the right, my glass turned into foam. I let it settle for a few moments and it was perfect. I've noticed that the smaller bottles like I show in the picture (the red stripe-style bottles) tended to be more carbonated, and that's likely because they were oddly shaped and I had trouble figuring out where to stop filling them. I said before they were like little glass hand-grenades, and they were, just not deadly. Rather they were filled with Leviathan goodness. 

This beer tastes great! I admit, I am biased, but for a first beer it's pretty damn good if I do say so myself. It's a bit "alcohol-y," likely from the high fermenting temperature, but it's got really good hoppy flavors and is pretty light-in-the-mouth for a stout. It sort of makes me think of what a beer would be if an IPA and a Chocolate Stout had a little bitty beer baby. It definitely lives up to the Leviathan name I gave it. The "alcohol-y" flavor tends to overwhelm the more discrete flavors, like the chocolate malt, especially in the "hand grenades" but after a bit of a chill (not ice cold, mind you), the beer in the bigger, normal-sized bottles goes down like butter. LIKE BUTTAH! 

"I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. Here's a topic - Leviathan Rye Stout is neither a boring beer nor a kitten. Discuss."

I've taken a 6-pack to work where my co-workers and some homebrewers from another lab told me they thought it was fantastic. My roommate Joe liked it a lot, and Kelsey wanted to take some back to Austin with her! I started with 48 bottles, and after a month I'm down to 5. Oh no! I don't have another beer going yet. The keyword is yet... Mwahahahahaha! I have plans, oh yes I do...

I'm in the process right now of expanding my fermentation abilities. I'd like to pick up another 5g carboy so I can have 2 secondary fermentations going at once. My idea is to start brewing a brown ale in the next few weeks (it's a 6-week process) and once I move that from the primary stage to the secondary stage, I want to brew a winter warmer ale (2-month process) so that I have a continual beer supply through the Winter. That would be ideal for my hobby, not to mention tasty as hell. So I need to get a few more supplies. I also plan on growing some starter yeast cultures in the lab (what better place than a micro lab?) and begin to make freezer stocks of the cultures I purchase from the stores so I don't have to continually buy them anymore. We've got room in the -80 C freezer for a box, so I figure until someone needs that space I'll use it for my yeast strains. I can autoclave my media and grow the yeast at the exact temperature I want, preparing the highest yields and correct inoculum size. This is going to be epic. Yes, I realize how nerdy that is, and nope I don't care at all. See below.

Honey badger don't give a sh*t!

The other thing I want to do is make the igloo cooler fermenter modification. Ales ferment between 60-70, something that my apartment can't seem to drop to (it's getting chilly at night now with temps in the low 30s and we don't have our heat on and our apartment is probably 72-74 degrees anyways). I found a really cool, no pun intended, fermenter cooler that I think will aid me. Most fermenter cooling devices require you to put a thermostat device onto an old refrigerator and it alters the temperature of the fridge to be exactly what you want it to be. Other people use their basement, where it's often very cool. I don't have that luxury. But this gentleman at given2flybrewing has made an extremely cost-efficient modification of a 60g vertical igloo cooler on wheels. Basically he cut out a hole that allows the fermenting carboy to be placed in the cooler snugly, and he freezes water in old 2-Liter soda bottles, which he places in the sealed cooler with the fermenter and he removes/adds the bottles as needed to maintain the temperature that he needs. How cool is that?? Check out that link for all the stuff he's done, including the fermenter cooler. 

Ok, so what about biking? Well, things here in Iowa City have been getting chilly. My morning commute is now done with extra layers as the morning temps are in the 30s and low 40s now. I rode one day in sleet/rain/snow crap. Not fun, at least not that early in the morning. My bike is holding up quite well, but I admit I'm a bit concerned about winter riding. It's dark at 5pm now, and though I have an OK light, a better one will set me back about $150. Cars still really aren't looking for me (the light helps) and in the rain my bike has skidded out into intersections at the bottom of some of the bigger hills before (brakes are a little too good it seems) in a sort of hydroplaning-bike-with-flailing-rider kind of scenario. Ice and snow are not going to help that situation. We'll see how this goes. I'm also concerned because there is 1 hill that still exhausts me when I finish it. It's not even that steep, it's just long. I ride that hill every day and it still burns my legs. I hope if I end up keeping the Winter commuting to a halt that I will be able to pick the bike back up in Spring and not die on that hill. 

I think that's enough for now. I'm going to go grab one of my last remaining bottles of Leviathan and enjoy that as I sit and read for a bit. If you're up for some randomness, I recently started a twitter feed called Tibbs' Tidbits, which is basically a way for me to spew off random bits of information that I've acquired. Nothing too serious. Just random facts. Check it out here!