Discovered a stash of six ~3 lb. cans of extract (2 amber, 2 light, and 2 wheat) that I'd collected over time and squirreled away in my brewing ingredients cabinet. As well, I was in Derek's the other day picking up some odds and ends I was reminded that late winter was the time he stocks the Wyeast Roselare (#3763) and got the notion to pick up a batch but it was already sold out. He offered a measure of their Trappist Blend (#3789) as a close substitute and I think that's when I remembered that I had taken him up on the offer the last time I was in there for Roselare and still had some languishing in the fridge somewhere. Sure enough, that and some American Ale (#1056) that are damn near a year past their expiration dates.
The batch of beer I made from the first pack of Roselare was fraught with difficulty and facing advsersity at every turn starting with an ill-planned and hastily executed recipe, to a long, slow winter fermentation struggling to keep warm enough, to a significant loss due to corks rupturing all over the basement floor, to finally, and most humbling, having to toss the last few bottles into Passage creek because they were in the car (unopened in the trunk) at the time of may car accident. Cursed! Apparently the big difference between the Trappist Blend and Roselare is that the latter requires upwards of 18 months to fully develop it's flavor profile and I should've planned for it to winter over in the bottle and not in secondary. Duh!
But here again, the perfect storm! Last weekend I have only just emptied my 6 gallon carboy in secondarying the Hoppy Holiday mead and there's still a lot of snow lying around outside begging to cool my last couple of extract homebrew projects before I attempt an all-grain batch, a couple ounces left of my first foray into homegrown hops, which if the preliminary tastings of hoppy holiday mead hold true will be plenty, and I'll have ample time to decide what fruit additions I'll make later on. Let's brew!
Tonight I made a starter with my Trappist blend and 1½ lbs. of brown sugar in a ½ gallon of water. If all goes well that will be good and frothy by the weekend. From there I'll whip up a wort of 6.6 lbs of wheat extract, 3.3 lbs of amber extract, an ounce each of Cascade and Northern Brewers hops and have roughly 6½ gallons of wort open fermenting for a week, or so. Then move 5½ of that into the glass carboy and stop fast with and air lock. Then I'll take a nice leisurely look around to see what's available in the way of fresh, frozen, or syruped raspberries, cherries, or maybe apricots (something peachy) to take up the rest of the space in there as the temperatures start to come up in the spring. The actual recipe will follow based on the results of the starter culture. I really need to stop being so laissez-faire about keeping notes - even if they spend a few weeks on the back of an envelope. But that's what my_magic_bottle
is about - less of the social distractions an more of the exacting documentation!