Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Baby Brew... Carter's Brew

It's been a while since I've posted anything here for an obvious reason ;). Me and my wife have been blessed with a son.  It's not that I haven't brewed in a year but more that I haven't had the time to write up any documentation on any of the beers I've brewed.  I wanted to go back and make sure I did document one of special importance though.  Long before my wife was even pregnant, the idea of this beer was in the back of my mind. After I found out Carter was on the way I started executing the plan for this massive brew.  This beer is an ice barley wine style beer.  This beer is brewed much like an Eisbock.  Basically the idea is to brew 10 gals of barley wine (9-10%) then freeze the resulting beer and collect the first 5 gallons that thaw off.  The result is a beer that is double in intensity of flavor and alcohol (18-20%).

So that is what I did.  I re-brewed my big-foot barley wine clone recipe but brewed 10 gals at once (first time to brew 10 gals at once).  I had to use two mash-tuns to hold the grain.  Brice and I had to pull double duty on boil over watch. In fact, I boiled a total volume of 14 gallons in my 15 gallon kettle.  As I recall I actually had to remove a gallon, wait till a gallon had boiled off, and then add it back in to stop the boil-overs. I split the batch into two 6 gallon carboys for fermentation.  After fermentation I filled ten one gallon jugs and threw them into the deep freeze.  I only had room to freeze 5 gals at a time.  
I inverted the jugs and collected what didn't completely freeze and let the rest thaw until I had collected a half gallon from each jug.  I poured the roughly 2.5 gallons collected into a keg then did the next 5 gallon batch the same way. 
I ended up with around 5 gallons of freeze distilled (yes this is legal) beer that I then aged for about a month on medium toasted oak.  Afterwards I carbonated and bottled.  I wax sealed the caps on the bottles in order to help the beer age better.  I will be aging this beer for 21 years and give this beer to my son on his 21st birthday :).  Since I have enough bottles, I plan on cracking one a year on his birthday to test the progress on aging. 

In fact, I cracked the first real taste of this the day we brought him home, which leads me to the story of his birth and NICU stay.  My wife gives a better account than I could possibly ever write.  Her well written recap is here: The Story I Never Thought I'd Write.  All in all it was a rough first month but I believe it is behind us now.  Carter is doing much better.  Even though he is behind a little on weight gain, at least he is gaining weight (25th percentile).  His VSD (hole in his heart) is small (possibly closing) and the cardiologist is not concerned.  He is still aspirating a small portion of his feeds (even thickened), but ENT did not find anything abnormal.  We believe part of his issue may be low upper body muscle tone.  Physical therapy may be in his near future or at least a consult. Brewing is a trade I plan on passing down to my son one day.  When he is of age and shows an interest in the hobby hopefully we will brew together.  If not, at least he will have the skills to craft beer for trade when the economy collapses :).