Tuesday, May 14, 2013


 First things first, you will need tools. Here is a list of some of the things you will need to fill a five gallon carboy, of your own.

1. 5 gal. Carboy or equivalent
2. 10- 1.5 liter plastic containers or equivalent
3. Air lock and cork that fits the carboy
4. Pint of corn syrup or 3 cups desolved sugar
5. 3 cups of malted grain (or you may wish to malt you own grain)
6. Molasses (My preference not mandatory) you could also carmel some sugar 
            this works nice for both color and flavour
7. One gallon pot for boiling water
8. Big pot that can boil three - four gallons
9. Two gallon container with a tight fitting lid for soaking the grain
10. Measuring cup
11. Funnel
12. Food processor
13. Meat thermometer
14. Wooden spoon
15. Two 1 gallon bowls
16. Colander
17. Cheese cloth or equivalent (I use a scrap of silk screen 110 mesh)
18. 4 clothes pins (not necessary but they help with the straining of the wort)
19. 14 to 28 grams of hops. You may want to experiment with this, as 
I use only 14 grams
20. 4 Tbs of malted milk powder
21. 3 Tbs yeast, I use regular bread yeast.
     You may wish to toast some of your grain. Toasting is one way to determine flavor and color but the sugar may also effect color and taste. The sugars with the yeast determine alcohol content. This is a mostly grain recipe so let's begin with your grain by putting it in the food processor and run it until you are sure all the grain has cracked. Put the grain in the two gallon container for soaking. 
Grain Soaking

     In your large boiling pot heat the water to just under 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the water over your grains, this is called striking the grain. Then cover it with a tight fitting lid and let it steep. This creates what is called the mash. Your mash needs to steep for about one hour. Then strain the mash solution into your colander, keeping your grain separate for the next steeping. Then strain the liquid again into a bowl with your mesh in it. Be sure to secure the edges with your clothes pins. You could also have some one just hold the mesh in place but you will find you won't always have help when it's time to brew. Pour the strained mash into your carboy.

     Depending on how large your boiling and straining containers are you will most likely want to soak and steep about four times or more to fill the carboy three quarters of the way with your mash strainings.

    Meanwhile, you can heat one quart of water with your hops and three to four tablespoons of powdered malt up to approximately 159 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to keep the temperature on the first heat up below 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is critical as temperatures above will kill the enzymes and sugars in the malt powder. You can strain this mixture and boil the next quart to get the flavors of the hops. You will want to only boil up to four quarts, one at a time. After the fourth heat up the hops has very little flavor left to boil out of it. You may want to use more hops depending on your preference. I like just a hint of hops flavor.
     When the carboy is three quarters of the way full, you are ready to pour in two cups of corn syrup. Feel free to experiment with different syrups and adjust the flavor to your own personal liking. This is also a good time to add your carmeled sugar if you want a carmel flavor. I recently have been using two cups corn syrup and two cups carmeled sugar diluted. But you will want to keep good records on changes like this so you have a good idea what you have done to come up with the final flavor.
     Now you are down to about one or two gallons left, until the wort is three fingers from the neck of the carboy. Before you fill the last third . Mix three tablespoons of yeast to one cup water or two packets. Use cool water but not cold. Mix it slowly with a fork or whisk. Important; Make sure your wort is under 100 degrees before adding the yeast mix. When you are sure that your yeast is fully dissolved or starting to foam and the wort is cool, add the yeast mixture to the wort. 
     Now you should have about one gallon left in the carboy to fill. At this point you can use cool water to soak your grains. Finish off filling the carboy with the cool mash strainings. Put the air lock in place and set the carboy in safe place. It works best at room temperatures any where between 64-74 degrees Fahrenheit but it can be a bit hotter and it will still be fine. Let the wort work for five days or until the air lock bubbles less than once every sixty seconds. I have found five days to be the perfect timing for the first fermentation.

Five days later!

     Now you have waited patiently for five days and its time to bottle your brew. You can sample the wort at this time and get a taste of your hard work, but it will taste better after the second fermentation.

Tools and supplies for bottling.

  1. 10 two liter bottles, plastic pop bottles work great
  2. Less than 3 cups sugar
  3. Tablespoon measuring spoon
  4. Five feet or more of 1/2 inch plastic hose
  5. 1/8in by 21 inch rod made of something that won’t rot or rust
  6. Funnel
  7. Bleach
  8. Measuring cup

     Begin by sanitizing your two liter bottles. I usually use a very weak mixture of bleach and water. Give them a very thorough rinse. Line them up on a low table or at least on a surface low enough to create a flow from the carboy. So if you can put your carboy on a shelf about shoulder height and the bottles about knee height just to put that into perspective to you.

     Next using your funnel put three tablespoons of sugar in each bottle. This is also the time to add your flavored syrup although its not really necessary to add anything more than your primer sugar. I like to use molasses but you can feel free to experiment. At this point add one and a quarter cups water, that is warm but not hot! Try to keep it under 100 degrees. Any thing higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the active yeast that is ready to start the second fermentation. Shake each bottle well making sure that the sugars are mixed well.

     Now its time for the siphoning. Take off the air lock from the carboy. Now put the rod mentioned in number five in the tube, refer to number four and leave about three quarters to one half inch of the rod extended from the hose. Put the tube with the rod in it in to the carboy slowly so as not to stir up the wort. Now you get to sample the wort. If you have something close by, like maybe the kitchen sink or a bucket to start the flow into. Suck the end of the hose till you get it to fill most of the tube as this will prime the wort so you get gravity to begin doing the work of siphoning for you.

#5 Plastic tube and rod for rigidity

     Once you see the flow of wort is flowing clean and with no sediment you should plug the end with your thumb.

     You may want to get fancy and use some kind of faucet device that’s totally up to you but with a little practice you will find your thumb works just as good. Release the wort into each bottle filling it about the rim where the top stops. Just up to where it begins to foam out the top. Then go back with whats left of the wort and finish filling the bottles to the top. Now you can cap them up and let them ferment for at least two weeks. After two weeks your brew should be ready to serve. 

     Just a little advice! You will want to open the bottles over the sink, let the pressure off slow; real slow! This can take sometimes 20 to 60 minutes depending on how much went to ethanol instead of alcohol. Then stand back if you have pop off lids because sometimes they are like opening a bottle of champagne. Pour a mug,  goblet or a stein of your home brew and give it a rating. Let your friends try it too


Wild Beer Hiccup Home Brew

Friday, March 29, 2013

Try This New Trend for Your Wedding Dinnerware!

This artical helps to explain why some people choose porcelain over stoneware.

(BPT) - New brides are transforming something old into something new. That’s according to the latest bridal tabletop trends.
While in recent years brides have been registering for casual dinnerware, lately industry experts are seeing brides returning to fine china. Sales indicate they’re opting for porcelain and bone china, which are more durable than stoneware because these mediums are less likely to chip.
White patterns continue to be strong bridal sellers, ranging in shades from pure white to ecru, with gold trim making a resurgence among millennial brides.
But in an emerging trend, observers are finding vintage is vogue.
Brides are embracing heirloom patterns for a number of reasons,” says Keith Winkler, product marketing manager at
Replacements, Ltd. “First of all, there’s a strong, emotional connection to those inherited pieces because it ties them to family and tradition. At the same time, vintage is huge throughout the fashion industry, and that’s impacting dinnerware trends. Brides are hanging onto Grandma’s china, but they’re also looking to give family treasures a more contemporary spin.”
John Griffith oversees the visual merchandising team at Replacements, known as the world’s largest retailer of old and new china, crystal, silver and collectibles. He often hears from brides needing help transforming family treasures.
It doesn’t matter whether inherited dinnerware is decades old, patterns are timeless through the magic of mixing and matching,” says Griffith. “I suggest using your heirloom pattern as a starting point, then mixing in various colors, shapes and even other mediums such as glass or acrylics. By creating a sort of ‘retro remix,’ you can dress up your sentimental favorite for formal entertaining, or just as easily dress down your tableware for a casual evening with friends.”
For example, Griffith says mixing in square salad plates with round shaped dinnerware creates art deco flair. Mixing different colored plates or glass can open up an entire new color palette.
He’s adamant; don’t be afraid to be bold and try something new.
I recently had a customer come in with an heirloom she wanted to match,” he says. “We didn’t have any pieces in her pattern, so I instead zeroed in on a design element with the goblet, in this case the stem style on the glass. I added in four additional crystal patterns, all with a similar stem design. By matching that particular design element, we created a really elegant, contemporary look.”
Griffith leads design seminars on creating trendy tables at the company’s retail store. Many of his insights appear on Replacements’ YouTube channel and Facebookpage at www.facebook.com/Replacements.
One challenge brides often encounter with heirloom pieces lies in the fact family members sometimes forget the name of the pattern. Griffith suggests taking advantage of Replacements’ free pattern identification service. Additional information is available on the company’s website, www.replacements.com.

This article originally posed in The Taos News.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Use Up That Cheap Wine.

Herbed Mushrooms with White Wine Sauce

Cheap wine I used!

Have you ever bought an inexpensive white wine and you cant bring yourself to drink it or pour it down the drain? Well here's something yummy to do with it that is out of this world. I used a bottle of CHANTELLE DES VINS BLANC. Sounds expensive looks expensive but not what I recommend serving your guests.
1. one tablespoon olive oil1 1/2 lbs clean mushrooms
2. one teaspoon Italian seasoning
3. 1/4 cup of dry white wine
4. two cloves garlic, minced salt as well as pepper to taste and add two tablespoons chopped garden fresh chives
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium temperature. Position mushrooms in the skillet, season with Italian seasoning and then cook ten minutes, stirring often.
2. Mix the wine with garlic in the skillet, and then keep on cooking until the majority of the wine is evaporated. Season with salt also pepper, in addition to sprinkle with chives. Keep cooking one minute.
Enjoy serves six people. Oh and if you like steak it goes well with that, or salmon. I will toast to that and so will your guests! Yummy!

Herbed Mushrooms with White Wine Sauce

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Point Noir Experiment

Ahh! The splendid aroma of a freshly opened bottle of Pinot Noir. The flavor almost arrives on my taste buds before I even begin to swirl an ounce in my Dionysus Pinot Noir wine glass. But wait, I recently came across an older bottle of the same Pinot Noir, a French blend by the name Sierra Madre Vineyard 2008 Made by Steve Rasmussen, formerly of ITALY. Four years old and the aroma of the forest floor still permeates my nasal passages like a breath of fresh spring air. I decided to taste the more recent year of 2010 and compare it to each other. I also had my Fiance, Lisa, join me in this experiment. I poured both into identical decanters and let them rest about seven and a half hours before the experiment. I also re corked the remaining Point Noir and placed it on my wine rack. When we returned from a lovely supper with some friends of ours, we continued with the experiment. I asked Lisa to pour us both a glass as I proceeded to individually pop the corks and again savor the wonderful aroma from the blend of black cherry and wild berry fruit. She also shared in the pleasant forest floor aroma from the freshly splashed corks and concluded the same result as my self!

The aroma seemed very much the same and really seemed as if it were the exact same bottle. But then I swirled my glass, as did Lisa, and we proceeded in an elegant tasting of the 2008 bottle. As we finished the first glass I noticed the aroma seemed almost lost in the sweet fruity flavor from the cherry. I said you know some how it smells just a bit better than the taste. Lisa did not agree she remarked that the flavor was much more delicious than the smell.

Well, every one’s taste buds and noses are just a bit different so I said lets proceed to the tasting of the 2010 bottle. Now on this we agreed. The aroma was indeed better than the taste, although the taste was also very pleasing. Lets continue this experiment tomorrow evening she suggested and so we finished and decided to call it a night.

The next day we were both on separate lunching dates, as I ate alone in my den and she went shopping with friends. It is well known that food is complimented by the right wine and I believe the same is also true in reverse, that food can also enhance the flavors of a fine wine. When we settled in for the evening and I had taken the liberty of pouring the remainder of both bottles into separate and yet identical decanters about seven hours ago. We used our
Dionysus Pinot

glasses the same as the night before. We also proceeded to savor the aroma of both corks and agreed that the smell was much if not exactly the same as it was yesterday. As we swirled our first glass from the 2008 Pinot Noir I asked her what she had eaten with her friends and she replied that they had soup and salads. I had some left over lasagna I found in our Refrigerator which always seems to taste a little better as leftovers than it does when it is fresh. I'm not sure why but it always has. This was no exception, the lasagna was delicious. Lisa remarked that their salads and soup was marvelous as well. I proceeded to experience the same result as I did yesterday the smell seemed better than the taste with the 2008. Lisa said she agreed the aroma was stronger not better! But stronger than the flavor. I agreed and so we proceeded to experiment with the 2010 and oddly enough we concluded that the aroma was stronger than the taste. In fact we could hardly tell the difference. Perhaps it had something to do with the aeration and that surprisingly, the year was undeniably not at all an impact on the actual quality of the vintage. This came as quite a surprise! If you have any idea why, your comments would be appreciated.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Home Brew Recipe

OK so here is my home brew recipe. Well it changes just a little every time as I am still perfecting the flavor and strength. So I would be better to say this is the latest recipe for my home brew.
     I start by making sure my carboy is clean and free of debris, then I pour one cup of sugar into the carboy. Follow the sugar with four quarts of warm water. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

    Now comes the fun stuff! Or should I say the messy part. Well any way the next step I use a pan big enough to boil two quarts water and one cup barley and one cup wheat, a two quart pan works well. Boil the mixture until the wheat has puffed up. Once the wheat has puffed I put a good fitting lid on the pan that seals well. Let the mixture steep until the lid comes off without forcing it, or when the mixture has cooled to about 120 degrees.

    Strain the mixture using a colander or I like to use a wire stainer. Drain in to another pan for a second boiling. In this pan I add one cup sugar, two tablespoons malt and one tablespoon Hops. Boil the mixture until all the ingredients are mixed well.

   Now I have one and a half quarts of syrup waiting in a larger pan. I pour the boiled mix into the syrup and stir until fully blended together. At this point it is critical to let the mix cool to about 120 degrees once again. Now that the mix is cooled to the touch it is ready to be poured into the carboy. But wait first funnel one and a half tablespoons yeast into the carboy. Now I pour the boiled mix into the carboy
and seal the top off with an air lock. The brewing mixture I now have is referred to as the wort. So now here comes one of the most difficult parts to the process! I put the carboy in a quiet cool place out of the sun. I actually use my office because the temperature is always on the cooler side 60 to 65 degrees. Now the harder part I wait five days or until the bubbles have almost stopped.

     OK so now five days have passed and I usually ask some one to help me with this next part. You think the first part was messy. This is real messy, and I still haven’t done this even with help, with out making a mess. I set the carboy up high enough to set up a siphoning system. I use a one half inch plastic hose around five foot long. I put a two foot one quarter inch metal rod in one end of the hose and let one half inch hang out the end. I put this end in the carboy and have someone hold it firmly in place so as not to stir the wort. This is actually one of my favorite parts, I set out ten two liter bottles and put one and one half tablespoons sugar in each bottle. Then I run some warm water and pour about one cup in each bottle shaking each one to resolve the sugar. Once this is done I am ready to begin siphoning two and three quarters cup wort in to a measuring cup and then pouring it into each bottle. Fill the bottles one finger from the top cap and place in a cool dark place. The temperature should be around sixty five degrees. Leave the bottles to ferment for two more weeks and we are ready to start enjoying some
Wild Beer Hikup Home Brew Lager. That’s the name I came up with and made labels for although just like the lager its self the name may take a little tweaking.

Well I hope if you try this recipe that all goes well! Remember its really pretty hard to do it wrong, so feel free to experiment with different grains and sugars,. Even different yeast can make a huge difference, just have fun and drink responsibly. I'm going to kick back and enjoy a frosted
stein from Goblets and More.

This was one of the first attempts at my home brew and now updated to my 2013 recipe "Wild Beer Hiccup's Brewing Recipe" by clicking the link

" New Brew Post"

Monday, January 9, 2012


The martini is an elegant drink that always reminds me of James Bond and his famous line from the 1958 movie, Dr. NO, “shaken and not stirred”. The James Bond martini known as the Vesper, is most often mixed using two parts Gordon or Bombay gin and one part Grey Goose vodka or an equivalent. Then one half part Lillet a french aperitif that is a little hard to find in the states so you could substitute with a fifty fifty mix of tonic and champagne, it is a very similar taste but not as elegant as the real thing. Top it off with a twist of lemon and a slice of lemon peel. Now this is one of the most famous martini's that comes to mind.
How ever there is the most popular martini made with gin and vermouth garnished with a splash of olive brine and an olive or a twist of lemon with a lemon peal. This is probably what you will get at your conventional wet bar. When ordering a martini keep in mind that a dry martini has very little if not any vermouth at all and is mostly gin. Sometimes a martini is spiced up with flavored liquors such as chocolate or even peach vodka.

You will want to experiment with your garnish as the conventional olive is not always the best compliment for the over all flavors when adding flavored brandy or vodka and may come off tasting very bad. Just think fruity for fruit and chocolates for chocolate, you get the idea. I have heard of coating the rim with cocoa or flavored sugar. A dry martini with vodka has very little flavor as vodka is almost tasteless. Gin is usually made using juniper berry's giving your cocktail a slight fruity flavor and an olive is usually the best compliment. You may wish to experiment with olives that are stuffed with garlic or cheese other than the conventional pimento.

But you might come to realize if you are a frequent martini connoisseur that the shape of the martini glass is unique to the conventional martini. That is mostly because the shape serves the over all experience typical to the flavors incurred in a common martini. Just as wines have a delicate bouquet and flavor that is complimented by the shape of the wine glass, so also the unique shape of the martini glass accomplishes some what the same results to the martini.

The shape of the martini glass was invented during prohibition and is believed to have been so that the drink was easier to dispose of if you were in the unfortunate situation such as a raid or search. But actually the stem allows the drink to stay colder longer because you are not as tempted to hold your drink by the bowl as you would with wine or cognac, which allows the beverage to be warmed to body temperature giving off more aroma and thus more flavor. Also the shape of a martini glass bowl is perfect for surface tension allowing sipping the oils of the lemon or olive and allowing it to reach your lips and tongue adding the flavor with out going up the nose or residing on the inside edge of the glass or your upper lip.

It is believed the drink its self was created in the 1850's by a famous bar tender at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco California named Jerry Thomas. He was said to have made the drink up spur of the moment for a drifter who paid him with a gold nugget and asked him to make him something special before he left on his journey to Martinez California. The actual drink was similar to today’s recipes but I am sure it tasted quite different as he only had old time liquors to mix with. Jerry named the drink a Martinez and the name was changed to Martini sometime after prohibition.

So experience a martini with a nice martini glass and the proper martini mix for your occasion. Don’t forget to garnish your cocktail because presentation is just as important as the drink itself. Just as it is with most elegant mixed drinks. The same is true with wines, cognacs and brandy s. Presentation is key! Although flavor is important, it is important to involve all of your senses, to attain the fullest pleasurable experience from your martini.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wine Rack in the Amana Colonies

    This wine rack was upstairs at the Ackerman's Winery in the Amana Colonies. They also have a wonderful collection of homemade wines for which they have won many awards. Something else that was very neat, was the Blues Brothers statues. Elwood is in the downstairs museum and Jake on the main floor. They have a lot of gift ideas including wine glasses, wine and cheese. All kinds of unusual things. Check that frog on the right side of the wine rack, he is about knee high and is also for sale. There are just all kinds of things, I doubt you would find any where else.

  Elwood is in the basement guarding some kegs of wine in the picture below. Empty I think? There's only a window to view and separate the viewers and the camera from Elwood as he is seen frozen in motion, holding a bunch of grapes in his right hand.
JAKE is ON the MAIN FLOOR - I didn't get a picture of the statue that is there.

If you come to Iowa the Amana Colonies has alot of unique wine shops. The Ackerman's Winery is just one of them. You will also find some very unique restaurants like "The Ox Yoke Inn" with traditional German plates including Chicken Schnitzel and J├Ąger Schnitzel. Another of my favorites is Kasseler Rippchen that's German for smoked pork chops and there's the Amana Ham. "YUMMY"! There's alot of gift shops that are also very unique and have neat things like wine glasses and beer steins. There is even a woolen mill and a blacksmith shop and several antique stores.

    There is not just winerys, there is also a beer brewery, "
The Millstream Brewery". Its great tasting beer and ale serves the beer drinkers taste buds well. All the winery's and the Millstream Brewery let you sample till you find just the right blend of brew. So I highly recommend taking a day to enjoy the Amana Colonies. There are also bed and breakfasts like Aaron's Cloister Haus that can be really fun to stay at. They also have the Amish feel to them with antiques and traditional food. Although there isn't much for the kids, it will bring the kid out in you.