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Duchess

What is in the carboy?

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Quiet here as of late, so do tell...what do you have brewing?

  • I've just finished the first batch of something I am tentatively referring to as a Black Pilsner, it is currently bubbling away quite happily and I look forward to seeing how it turns out.
  • I've bottled a second round of an old world heavy ale. Chief on the grain bill was cherrywood smoked malt.... I'm quite proud of this recipe so far.
  • In the keg is a cream ale. I'll confess I don't like it at all, but everyone else with access to the fridge finds it delightful.
  • Also in the fridge, though in bottles, is a bourbon smoked porter. The one has become my old standby and something I enjoy having around.
  • There's a dry cider too, which I'm uncertain about. Thus far all cider attempts have only produced cider vinegar. Wonderful for cooking, not at all what I've been trying to do... I'll wait a few more weeks to sample a bottle of this batch...

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Just brewed my Drunken Man Skirt Wee Heavy last weekend and it's fermenting away nicely right now. Just racked an Old Ale into secondary fermentation to mellow out (and so I could use the yeast cake for the Wee Heavy) and kegged an English Mild (it was a parti gyle brew with the Old Ale), which is currently carbonating. Got a maple mead that's over a year and a half old and a couple of Belgian strong ales that are aging nicely. Before these recent brews, it was a bit of a dry spell while learning how to get the time/energy to brew with an infant running around, which is why we've got an Alaskan rough draft beer on tap.


Just brewed my Drunken Man Skirt Wee Heavy last weekend and it's fermenting away nicely right now. Just racked an Old Ale into secondary fermentation to mellow out (and so I could use the yeast cake for the Wee Heavy) and kegged an English Mild (it was a parti gyle brew with the Old Ale), which is currently carbonating. Got a maple mead that's over a year and a half old and a couple of Belgian strong ales that are aging nicely. Before these recent brews, it was a bit of a dry spell while learning how to get the time/energy to brew with an infant running around, which is why we've got an Alaskan rough draft beer on tap.

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Sounds delicious! Do you force carbonate in your kegs?

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  • . . .Black Pilsner, . . .
  • . . .old world heavy ale. . . cherrywood smoked malt. . .
  • . . .cream ale. . .
  • . . .bourbon smoked porter. . .
  • There's a dry cider too, which I'm uncertain about. Thus far all cider attempts have only produced cider vinegar. . .

You obviously have an alcohol problem being over run by home brews. Mission and I are on our way over now to take them off your hands. . . you can keep the cider unless it turns out well.

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You're dragging me into this? (Then again, based on our mutual experiences, I guess it's a fair cop. When do we leave?)

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I have a brush pile that needs lighting off too, so we could certainly have some fun....

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I sometimes force carbonate in the kegs (I am for the mild), and sometimes I naturally carbonate, usually with corn sugar (I did a while back with a Belgian Pale Ale). I'll bottle both of the strong beers so that it's easier to age them a bit and to let the alcoholic bite calm down a bit. Do you smoke your own grains for the old world heavy ale? I know they use alder for the Alaskan smoked porter, but I think most smoked grains in the store use different wood (or peat-just put a few oz in that wee heavy). I've been meaning to try a rauchbier with apple smoked grains, but haven't had the time yet.

As an aside, the best bourbon smoked porter I've ever had was a plain smoked porter that was aged for 6 months in a Jack Daniels barrel. Tasty!

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I've been meaning to try naturally carbonating in the keg, but so far it's just been easier to force it. And that has worked fine for the lighter styles I've been kegging. I too bottle most of the dark stuff for aging purposes and because they aren't as regularly consumed by anyone but me. :P

I don't smoke my own grains. I tend to keep an eye out on the specialty grains offered by Briess and others. Trying them out when available. I'm not sure but I think the Cherry wood smoked might have made it into regular rotation for them. It is still available from Northern Brewer.

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I've seen that cherry wood smoked available before, but I just think it would be fun to smoke my own and play around with it. I've got plenty of friends with smokers, so I figure that all I need to do is get some aluminum screen door mesh and fashion it in to a tray or two for some 2-row. Do you ever enter your beers in competitions? My wife and I (both brew, but seldom together-we each have our own set of styles to focus on) do enter local competitions and occasionally some others for the good feedback (depending on the competition/available judges) and both are certified BJCP judges. Most, though, goes to friends, family and personal consumption. We'll have to keep in touch on this forum and possibly trade recipes and possibly a bottle of active yeast in nutrient solution (since sending beer via USPS is not officially allowed, and UPS/Fed Ex is exorbitantly expensive here).

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I've only really been brewing for about two years. Thus far everything I've made has been consumed by myself, friends and family. The past couple of months I've started looking into competitions, just to get some feedback.

I've hit two hurdles with that: 1. Competitions (at least around here, that I've looked in to) require the 12oz bottles. Everything I have is either kegged or in the 22oz. bombers. 2. I don't brew to a particular style. I have an idea of what I want the final result to taste like and I work toward that. It is generally after the fact that I determine what "style" the brew is. So, I'm reluctant to enter something into a competition and have it get slammed for not matching a particular list of style points. Though I would dearly love some educated feedback. :P

I think this winter I'll try to plan a few things for competitions next year and see what happens....

I'd be up for a recipe swap and a liquid yeast sharing...

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Generally, the competitions will accept 22 oz bottles, but still require 2 bottles (and sometimes 3 for bigger competitions). The reason for this is so that one bottle is used for the initial judging, and a new bottle that hasn't gone flat can be opened for the best of division/show judging. Of course, this does start depleting your stash a little quicker. I have judged where people only submit one 22 oz bottle, and we don't turn them away because of it. Ultimately, it just hurts their chances of winning their division or overall (especially if the judging is on two separate days). Of course, this is Alaska where everything is a bit more laid back, but it couldn't hurt to shoot an email to a competition organizer and ask about it. Often, they will want to encourage newer brewers instead of slamming a door in your face. Also, if there is a homebrew club in your area, that's a great place to start getting feedback and advice. I always tell people that brewing is as easy or complicated as you want to make it. Additionally, for a weird beer that doesn't fit in to a style well at all, there is always the catch-all category 23 (other stuff/experiments/blending of styles/emerging styles/crap that you forgot what it was). That's usually a very hard one to judge, since you might have a coconut porter being compared to a coffee brown ale, jalapeno IPA and a geuze (often this style is judged with category 20-21 beers due to their diversity, but this all depends on the number of entries of each style). Brewing a beer, then determining what style it falls under is not a bad thing. I've brewed what I thought was going to be one beer, only to call it something else for competition because it fit better. Nothing wrong with that! Ultimately, we got hooked on competing locally because with one of our first beers, we won a gold medal for the style. Additionally, there was a really good judge (generally there are 2-3 for each flight) who not only told us what was good/bad about the beer, but gave some suggestions to improve it. Ideally, all score sheets would be like that, but the reality is that there are often not enough good judges in a competition, and I've even seen them pulled off the street before and asked if they wanted to help judge. But for each flight, there is usually at least one good judge, though often there is also a novice (who thus doesn't know the styles as well and might give feedback more along the lines of 'I really liked this one' or 'too bitter for me'. Still can be helpful. I'll let you know when I've got a few beers ready to swap, though as I mentioned earlier, our stash is a little low right now.

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Thanks for the feedback! The three competitions I've looked at around here (Minnesota and Wisconsin area) have all requested two bottles of 12oz. exactly or two bottles of 10-16oz. I didn't think of asking for an exception, but I might follow up with that and see what happens. :)

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