Homebrewers - whatcha got going?

It’s been a fairly productive spring in the 309 home brewery. I’ve moved form the stovetop to the great outdoors - all the way out to the driveway, in fact. I currently have a cherry porter hanging out in secondary that I’m debating playing with a little. It’s a brown porter, more smooth than roasty, and the cherry flavor isn’t taking as much as I’d hoped. I’m thinking about racking onto another pound of pureed cherries, or possibly onto some fresh sour cherries if I can figure out how to ensure such won’t contaminate the beer. I’m also considering going with some oak chips, since I think it would add a level of complexity.

I have a witbier in secondary that, God willing, will go into bottles later this evening. It’s turning out well, although next time I’d be a little more aggressive with the spicing. I went out of style to a slightly higher starting gravity and have barely looked at it since I racked it to secondary, so I’m waiting to see whether it’ll be a big beer or whether it was a bit too much for the wit yeast. (Figuring in the apparent attenuation numbers on the yeast packet, I’m expecting around 6.3%.) In either case I’m pleased with the sample I got when I racked. I went with a couple of pounds of honey to bring the gravity up, and it seems to have worked out well.

I just started a cream ale last night. It’s my first experiment with lager yeast - the guy at my LHBS picked out the yeast, and we went with a 7g packet each of ale and lager, as low-ester as he could. I forgot to add the Irish moss at the end of that one, so I’m going to give a shot to fining it with gelatin a little later on.

And, finally, I’ve got plans for a blackberry wheat beer. I’m using more or less the same principle as I used to my witbier, and I’m going to wash and recycle the yeast from that, but I’m aiming for a lower starting gravity and probably closer to 4% abv. I’m also going to hit it with some toasted malt, just to round out the flavor a bit.

So, what are we brewing?

Well, I’m into experimenting these days. I pitched this yeast into an old wort so I’m a bit concerned about contamination. It looked possibly like something might have been growing in it slowly. For the brew itself, I used 6# of light malt extract. I was feeling a little nutty, so I dumped a bottle of fake maple syrup in it. I also added about 1/2 cup of lime juice. Unfortunately, I screwed this one up and forgot to steep the grains. That means I will have to steep the grains and add it to the second fermentation. As I said, I’m a little concerned about this one. At last look, its possible that something has started to grow in it slowly. I guess I’ll just have to drink this one fast.

Contamination can be nasty. I unfortunately had a batch ruined two months or so ago, I presume through inadequate sanitation of a siphon I bought at a hardware store (which I’ve since replaced). It ended up tasting pretty nasty, and it was bad in the time it took to carbonate, which sort of eliminates drinking it fast.

Be really careful with what you’re adding.