Hops 2017/ New Trellis

Oh my god Myrtle! He’s posting about his bloody hops again. hop-bin-frame-pic

Yes, sorry, it’s what I do.  It’s that time of year and after last years trellis didn’t work out so well, I decided some changes were in order.   To start, I found a new source of wood near my workplace so I was swimming in 8ft lengths of wood.  I also managed to get some nut and bolt hardware leftover from a server that was delivered to my workplace.

It was easy enough to drill some holes and I cut the ends of the uprights to lock together.  First one went and lined up fine.  Second one was almost in place when the knothole near the bolted parts gave way and I had to give up for the evening.

Second try- decided to start from scratch again with a fresh set of wood and using the same bolts.

The iron rings were pulled off a couple pallets and seem to work pretty good as a dry pulley system for the crossbar to be raised with.  The lockdown bolts and nuts worked great and the beams were straight as could be.

The holes that were dug last year apparently were good for collecting water.  Right now the water table is extremely high in my yard (good for the hops).  Had to bail out the holes and then stood the uprights and packed around the base with dirt.  They go into the ground about 4 feet.  The crossbar was drilled with multiple holes and I’ve used parachute cord as the climbing wires for the hops.  I’m hoping they won’t be too slippery but if they are, I can lower the crossbar and be able to change them out with little effort.

The wires were strung and then the whole bar was hoisted up to the top and secured by tying the ropes off to the base of the upright.  These are about half the thickness of previous years and with the dry pulley and a couple guide ropes on the side, we should have better results this year with growth and ability to control the bugs.  Stay tuned for results.

The Prince and Sekanjabin

The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli, in my eyes has always received a bad wrap.  Having read the book, you learn that he was a mid-level government official who lived during a very tumultuous time in the history of Florence.  The Medici had just been thrown out (1494) and he took the opportunity to work his way up to Chancelor just in time for the Medici to return and force him to flee (1512).   He semi-retired to his estate and wrote his controversial book “The Prince” and was able to finally work his way back into their good graces to gain a government office.  In 1527, Charles V attacked Rome and again the Medici were cast to the four winds, Noccolo died later that year unable to obtain a spot with the new regime.

Mach·i·a·vel·li·an  (ˌmäkēəˈvelēən,ˌmakēəˈvelēən/
adjective
1.cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics or in advancing one’s career. (1.)

But Machiavelli took the time to write down what he saw happening in politics around him.  Yes, he may have dabbled a bit in politics to achieve his own ends.  He was a politician.  His books were widely available even in his own time so that heads of state whether they be inherited, appointed, or invading could learn from his observations and be better leaders.  Instead the masses took his book to mean “How to knife the competition at their own game”  (thanks to a French translation in 1640) and thus Machiavellian became a political slur used even in society today.

So widely known was this book at the time that even Shakespeare in his Merry Wives of Windsor (2.), does a character ask himself “Am I politic? Am I subtle? Am I a Machiavel?”.  An interesting twist of words since obviously being political was no shame but being a Machiavel denoted a different kind of politics that were considered uncouth and self serving.

And at this point you’re saying to yourself “Thank you for the history lesson Kythe but where is this going, you’re not a politician, you’re a brewer, how does this relate to booze?!?!”

 You’ve got a point, but this brings me to where I am now.  We in the SCA have both the Machiavellian equivalent “Hereditary Princedom”(3.) as well as the “Of New Princedoms Which a Prince Acquires With His own Arms and by Merit”(3.).   Those who want to one day be King of the East first compete by right of arms and if victorious are crowned as Prince.  They later play to the line that they are “Inheriting” the throne with the previous King and Queen’s time is over and are thus familial related on some level.

Each reign brings it’s own nuances of politics, involvement, and expectations.  Thus our new King Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius  and Queen Honig Von Summerfeldt have  ascended the East Kingdom Throne.

Being that this couple was formerly from my Region, I as Northern Warden of the East Kingdom Brewer’s Guilde wanted to help their reign of time be successful and beneficial as they will being King and Queen during Pennsic 46.

I actually met them at Pennsic 44 briefly during my apprentice-sister’s Laurelling Ceremony but at the time I hardly knew them or where they were headed.  When I recognized the name being in line for the Throne it made perfect sense.  I approached them and I spoke to Her (then) Highness Honig and I offered my services and she had many questions about different brewing and choice of brews.  I later approached Ioannes and offered my services with an expectation of my next project being a fantastic beverage of Monarch Proportions for a Monarch to defeat the Midrealm

 And His Highness Ioannes spoke to say “I don’t drink” (alcohol)
/cue the crickets…………………………………….
Suddenly I was a man lost in the jungle wilderness and knowing how to bowl.
And words came to me in that moment of confusion: “If, then, your illustrious House should seek to follow the example of those great men who have delivered their country in past ages, it is before all things necessary, as the true foundation of every such attempt, to be provided with national troops, since you can have no braver, truer, or more faithful soldiers.”(4.)
In short, this was not a barrier, but a challenge to round out my Brewing Bailiwick with alternatives to alcohol.  Their Majesties must be well supplied for a successful reign.
“Fear not your Highness” was my response, “I have alternatives for you.”
He had never heard of Sekanjabin so now was the perfect time to introduce it:
Sekanjabin can be traced back to the 10th Century (5.) in the Middle East.  As many of the populace in those areas were non-alcohol drinkers, they needed something they could trust to be both quenching and safe:

Syrup of Simple Sikanjabîn

(Oxymel)As written in the Andalusian Cookbook ( p. A-74  (6.)

Take a ratl (a.)(7.)  of strong vinegar and mix it with two ratls of sugar, and cook all this until it takes the form of a syrup. Drink an ûqiya (b.) (8.) of this with three of hot water when fasting: it is beneficial for fevers of jaundice, and calms jaundice and cuts the thirst, since sikanjabîn syrup is beneficial in phlegmatic fevers: make it with six ûqiyas of sour vinegar for a ratl of honey and it is admirable.

Continue reading

Eisbock

This particular beer I’m sorry to say can only be traced back to the late 1800’s.  Eisbock is a German beer that claims origins in the Kulmbach district (1.).   The Legend (2.) states that a brewmaster had his assistant roll some barrels of Boch Beer into the basement, but instead, he left them outside overnight and the bitter cold froze the barrels and they burst.  Inside was a thick syrup like mixture and this was the origins of Eisenbock (aka Ice Beer).   By freezing the beer, the water could be removed and thus create a stronger beer with higher alcohol percentage (alcohol doesn’t freeze at 32F).

So this beer started off as a second runnings, meaning I had already done the primary beer without having to sparge the grain.  I sparged anyway and got what I pretty much would assume to be a Saison or Farm Ale (lower than 6% normally.)  It was put outside after the wort had been boiled to cool down overnight.  It cooled alright, so cold that we got this:

 

Yup, condensation on the top froze and so did a lot of the water near the edge.  This pushed the alcohol to the center along with the non freezable parts of the beer.

So we took advantage of the situation and seperated the ice from the liquor.

As you can see we used an open wire scoop and merely filtered the ice crystals out and put them in a bowl so you can see how much ice was removed.  This concentrates the mixture to more sugars and flavoring and can make a low gravity, low flavor beer into something more suitable.

IceB6

About 20% of the water was removed from this mixture.  We then threw the liquor into a carboy and pitched the yeast.

The Legend fails to illuminate on if the beer had just been started and the yeast was recently pitched, or if the beer was completed and going into the cellar for aging purposes.  A brown syrup is mentioned and the workers apparently enjoy consuming the remains of the frozen barrel so I tend to believe the fermentation had already happened and the ice removal was after the alcohol was developed.

As you can see, I removed the ice before fermentation.  This should produce similair results but I’d be interested to see how the flavor profile will be different.  This leads to another project of comparisons, another day.

 

 

(1.)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bock#Eisbock

(2.) http://themanagementshop.com/blog/2013/04/25/german-beer-styles-what-is-eisbock/

 

Roman and Georgian Anachronistic Inventions

GoldenWine2Back in June 2015, I crossposted an article concerning the revival of a Georgian Wine that had not been made in nearly 2000 years.   The wine itself was interesting but the process of putting the container into the ground was intriguing because it was our first real “Geothermal Winery”.   It was a random piece of information that I tucked away, and then several weeks ago I found information concerning a similair technique done in Rome but for the absolute opposite reason and I was amazed.

GoldenWine1

When Roman Youths went to serve their time in the military, they were given wine mixed with water as a beverage to drink on a day to day basis. (2)  This particular Wine was pretty much a combination of any grapes they could get a hold of and throw into the fermenting vessel.  It was a young wine and the color was described as being a “Golden Wine” of fair quality.  They needed to produce large quantities of this wine and the weather didn’t always cooperate.  Rome summers were terribly hot and these temperatures were not conducive to wine production.  Thus the “Dolium” was invented.  This is basicly a large clay vessel that’s lined with pitch and buried into the ground up to it’s neck so that only the lid is above ground.  For the Romans, it was a way to cool the wine down to keep it from spoiling and still have easy access to the contents.  Many of the villas had them as part of the estate grounds both for storage and vintning purposes.

DoliumTowards the bottom of the container (some of which were 10ft below the grounds surface, the temperature was always within a 50-60 degree range which would have been ideal for grapes to be turned into wine.

Back in Georgia, the Kvevri or Qvevri (3) was set into the ground and in the fall before winter, the grapes were loaded in and let sit for the entire winter.  While the temperatures above ground could drop to brutally cold levels, again the ground maintained a comfortable temperature for the grapes to ferment over the winter, long and slow.  Bacteria is kept at bay and the yeasts get a slow long meal that ultimately improves the quality of the wine.

Dolia/Dolium

18 dolia at Villa Regina, Boscoreale.

Georgian_Kvevri

Georgian Kvevris not yet in use. They still need to be put into the ground.

As you can see these are very large containers and had to be maintained.   The Roman Doliums would be lined with pitch/resin to help seal the inside of the container from harmful bacteria in the soil and also waterproof the vessel so none of the wine would leak out.  The Qvevri were lined with beeswax for the same reasons.  Roman wine would have had a more acidic or tannic taste while the beeswax in the Qvevri would make the Georgian Wines sweeter.  Each year after the last of the wine had been removed, someone would have to get inside and clean out the remaining dregs of the wine,  scrub off the last years resin/beeswax and reapply a new layer before a new batch of wine could be started.  there’s a very good chance that if the process was done while the pitch/wax was still hot, it could help kill any remaining bacteria before the next batch of wine was started.

dolium_inside

“All done! Can I come out now?!?!”

It is my hope to purchase a food grade barrel, incorporate some clay and  (pitch or Wax) and bury it in the backyard over the winter of 2018 to create this same kind of wine.  Looking forward to the results.

 

Bibliography:

  1. http://www.qvevriproject.org/
  2. http://factsanddetails.com/world/cat56/sub369/item2070.html
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN5ziogyxP0
  4. https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/50525934/posts/1814201304
  5. http://www.domainegeorgia.com/technology.html

 

Something coming soon

Hello my loyal readers,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted any of my projects.  I was informed my company was bought in November and a lot of my free time has been Holidays/ Job Training/ and trying to keep up with all the things in between.

Rest assured I will have something soon.

Thank you for your Patience

Kythe