Some very simple beer recipes

May 29, 2012

The following recipes are all ones I have done at home and any one capable of boiling water, reading a thermometer and use a timer can make most of these beers.  You don’t need a lot of special equipment though a few items can make it a lot easier. In  my post https://myadventuresinselfreliance.wordpress.com/my-adventures-in-brewing/  I give you some overall guidelines but here I’d like to add a few things I’ve picked up as well as my recipes.

  1. A super cheap food grade fermenter can be bought at any store that carries those five gallon water jugs for those stand alone water coolers. Then all you need is a stopper and an air lock.  Locally I got an empty jug at Fred Meyers for $10.99 or you can get one full of water at Albertson’s (local grocery store) for $12.99. The stopper and air lock will cost about $1.00 each. These are often refer to as Carboys and some folks as well as some recipes call for using 2 of these as first and secondary fermenters.
  2. A Bottling bucket is just a 5-6 gallon food grade bucket with a small spigot about 2 inches above the bottom. A siphon hose with racking cane and a hose with a bottling wand can all be had for about $20.00. The racking cane keeps most of the yeast and grain leftovers from going into the bottling bucket and the bottling wand lets you fill your bottles quickly and leave the proper head space in your bottles.
  3. Bottles You can use any beer bottle that does not have a twist off bottle cap.  For example Dos Equis or Corona I prefer the Dos Equis bottles as the are a dark amber bottle and light is bad for beer.  But if you have friends that drink beer you could ask them to save any bottles they have on hand that are not twist off tops.  That leaves out most American beer bottles like Bud or Coors.  I really like the what’s called the fliptop cap bottles.  These are reusable and make bottling go much faster but they do cost more than you basic bottles.  But if you want to use the free bottles you will need a bottle capper ($19.00) and bottle caps about $2.00 per 50 caps.  Not a bad deal because you can use the capper for other things like homemade Root Beer,  Ginger Ale and sodas.
  4. Your brew kettle actually is just a big stock pot and can be any size from 2 gallons up to 5 gallons.  Most of the recipes call for boiling the wort with about 1.5 gallons of water so for the total volume counting the Malt extract you will want at least a 3 gallon/12 quart stock pot a 5 gallon is even better as you will leave plenty of room for the boiling and some recipes foam up a bit.  I have found these pots at Big Lots and Family Dollar for $10.00-$20.00 and they can be used as hot bath canners if you add a couple of parts as well as stock pots and you know how I love multi taskers. Heck you may already have a pot this size you can use!
  5. Most beginner’s kits include the items of the buckets/ fermenters, Racking cane and bottling wand, A long handled spoon, bottle brush, thermometer or hydrometer, air lock, stoppers. Pretty much everything you need but bottles and the stock pot. So it’s your choice to buy a kit or to make your own.
  6. One thing I use is a spray bottle for my sanitizer/cleaner. Very simple to give the bottles a quick little spritz before bottling( I wash the bottles in my dishwasher just like my dishes) and very easy to use for spraying down the buckets and tubing as well as my counter/work surface.

Now that covers most of the things that I do to make brewing easier for me and they have worked well as I have not had bottles explode or had a problem with bad flavors that can happen if your sanitation get’s screwed up. Home brewing  contains a lot more sediment and it’s sticky so always clean your equipment tight away. If you can’t clean it quickly get it soaking and that includes your bottles after they are empty. If you have chickens,  pigs or a compost pile give them your leftover grains from the fermenters.  Not sure if it is good for cattle as they can bloat from to much rich grain.  You can make your own yeast from this beer making for baking breads. Just  like an old Dark ages  serf or monk and it might be a good barter item as well as the beer, I’ll be trying that in the future.  Remember it’s not rocket science, just  simple chemistry that was used back into ancient times over 6000 years ago.

The Simple ALE or LAGER recipe for 5 gallons of beer or about 48-52 , 12 oz. bottles

I use Briess 7 pound LME (Liquid Malt Extract) These come in flavors  Pale, Amber, Dark and Wheat and it’s your choice what you want to use for your recipes.  Pale is used for IPAs and is a very light taste, Dark is kind of like Newcastle Brown ales, Wheat is a different animal but if you like Hefe-Weizen beers you might try the wheat and I think the Wheat makes a great summer beer. I tend to favor lighter colored  beers in the summer and darker in the fall and winter. But over all I have always liked darker beer in taste. But Amber splits the difference and is a good place to start I think unless you have preference.

Hops is kind of the spice rack for beers. Your salt and pepper if you will and it’s really what makes beer taste like beer. But there are all kinds, but for the basic recipe 1 oz. of  Cascade and 1/2 oz. Willamette are great tasting I have also used a blend called Falconer five C’s 1 oz.  I really like. If you are doing a Wheat beer I recommend going with a German Hops called Hallertau to give you more distinct traditional German flavor.

Next is your yeast and Beer yeast is very different than a bread yeast!  If you are making an Ale your yeast is darn forgiving on temps. Ales are called top fermenters and can handle 65-75 degrees easily though they do best around 68 degrees on average and tend to ferment relatively quickly.  Lager yeast is a bottom fermenter is both slower and need cooler temps around 55-68 degrees and generally take longer to ferment compared to Ales.  I have used Safale dry yeast in versions for Ales and Lagers and both have worked great.

If you  have stuck around this long and you are ready to get going. Start about 1.5 gallons of water on high and get it boiling. While that is warming to a boil put you LME in a hot water bath to warm up. Trust me when this stuff is cold it makes molasses look like a speed demon to pour.  Once you get a boil going turn down the heat between Med. and Med. hi. and add the LME  stir constantly until the water and LME are one. The LME is high in sugars and you don’t want it to scorch or burn so keep stirring.  It may take some time but you want to get to a slow boil. Once you reach a slow boil add the 1 oz. of  Cascade Hops and set the timer for 59 minutes.  No lid is needed just let the pot bubble away.  At the end of the 59 minutes add the Willamette for 1 minute. If you are doing wheat beer or using the Falconer’s 5 just go a full 60 minutes after adding the hops.

Turn off the heat and now cool your “wort” as quickly as you can. I’ve found setting the stockpot  a bathtub full of cold water will bring it down to about 80-90 degrees in 20-30 minutes tops.  You are ready to start filling your fermenter. Have about a gallon or two in the fermenter and then add your “Wort” top off with cool water until you hit your 5-6 gallon mark and check the temp.  You will want about 65-70 degrees before adding your yeast. Okay your temps. are good now you want to draw off a bit to record your OG or original gravity using a hydrometer and then record it. It should be about 1.04-1.05 this is your staring point and as it goes down your alcohol to water ratio changes.

Mix up the bucket or fermenter and create a bit of foam. This is aeration about about the only time adding air is a good thing.  Now sprinkle the yeast on top of the foam and wait 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes add the stopper and airlock and tip the bucket or carboy so the yeast is damp.  Set in a cool dark spot, temps according to what you are making Ale or Lager and watch the air lock bubble away.

This post is getting a bit long so I will finish up the beer making process in the next post.  Don’t worry we have plenty of time while your beer ferments and those little yeast beasties convert sugar to alcohol and expel gas.  Next we will cover carbonation, bottling and conditioning.


Just plain “Good People”

May 28, 2012

I posted up about some folks helping Craig, who writes the KISS blog on wordpress. Now he has a boat and a little money for the traps and gas so he can generate some income.  Another person is Sci-fi chick at Bacon and Eggs on Blogspot, her truck had a little argument with the laws of inertia and lost! While she is fine physically her family are building a homestead from the ground up and the truck was incredibly important for doing everything on the place plus all the shopping and transportation. Someone just offered them a truck and to drive it across texas to get it to them in OK. Another blogger buddy Kris got a nice little motorised trike for puttering around after car would no longer meet Cali’s registration standards. Due to an incredibly generous donation for the bike.

I had a internet prepper  friend send me a bar of silver completly out of the blue. I was just starting out on my prepping a few years back and while was a bit cheaper than it is today it was still a big deal and I felt so humbled. That silver bar made a huge difference to me and I still have it! I know if times got really tough I could sell it and mentally that helped out a lot.  Now I get to pay some of it forward to Craig

I know we all talk about building a tribe of folks that help each other out and this shows that we are a tribe.  For all of you folks that have given of your time, your prayers, your money and equipment Thank you!

The fact that you folks are out there and are willing to do these things for others gives me great joy and real hope for the future.


Puttering around this Holiday weekend

May 27, 2012

I’ve never been one for BBQ’s and stuff for Memorial Day. Perhaps it’s because the weather here in Idaho almost always is a bit rainy and cool or because of my service in the Army , I always feel more reflective and quiet rather than in a partying  type mood. I just putter around the house and think of those serving and have paid the price.  We were lucky in the unit I help send to Afghanistan and Iraq actually only 1 soldier killed but it was a kid that worked for me directly. As I was already in the process of being medical discharge several months before 9/11,  I was non-deployable and for me there was a lot of guilt because I didn’t go to war with my boys but watched it on TV.

So I can get a bit emotional on this weekend and I don’t really mind that others partying  but I can be a bit of downer for folks.  Making people feel bad will not help and they either get it or they don’t! So I’m just puttering around the house this weekend.  Baking a little bread as it is only about 60 degrees outside and the smell of baking bread is some of the best aroma therapy for me!  Got the kitchen cleaned up and stored a few more Pop bottles of water for family or neighbors. Yes,  even with my big water barrels I still store some water in soda bottles.  My beer lady is getting in some nice 15 gallon food grade water barrels for fermenting big batches of beer and I’m thinking of getting a couple of them. They will be heavy but still could be moved around fairly easy with a little dolly compared to the 60 gallon barrels.  Plus she is selling them for $25.00 and that is a good price. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be satisfied with my water storage unless I get a well and then I’d still worry about it getting contaminated! LOL

Mom decided I needed my Birthday gift a little early this year and bought me a 32 inch LCD TV.  She got a good buy on an Emerson at Big Lot’s for $199.00  and it is a a very cool TV.  I was able to hook my Laptop up to it and get free over the air digital channels so I do have a lot more viewing options than before with my older sets. Plus I have a small living room and the LCD TV fits better than my bulkier 26″ old LG TV.  I think sometimes that my parents feel as if they have short changed me as I don’t need as much help and have paid back most of my debt compared to the other kids.  I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’m doing what I consider is the right thing to do. I figure that is what adults do and all of us kids are in our 40’s and I figure all of us should grow up and be adults!  But I doubt that will happen, if they haven’t got it by now they probably never will.

So I hope you all have a good holiday weekend and take a moment to reflect on those that paid the ultimate price because our country sent them into harm’s way.


Craig needs a little help

May 25, 2012

If you have hit my blog roll or been a part of the Liberty/IIIper/patriot movement for a while you have probably stopped by Craig’s blog of KISS or read some of his fiction. You probably know he’s been trying and he has been feeling that the darned  universe is actively picking on him.  I don’t think that is happening but that demon Murphy has been trying to kick his butt.  Any how he had a job lined up for catching bait and the owner of the boat decided to sell and like most of us Craig could not buy him out. Craig was in a serious spot as well as being a bit pissed at the universe again and…..

Someone is giving him a boat for free!  All Craig has to do is get it from Louisiana to Texas. Craig seems to have that covered, now he needs a few traps to catch this bait called “piggy perch” and each trap cost about $35.00. Now I can’t afford a trap but I can afford to give him $20.00 on the 1st of June for a few gallons of gas.  I know the the idea of my blog is self-reliance but I see us as an internet tribe/clan and we help each other and we don’t depend on the government if we can take care of ourselves.  I have been blessed and I’m ready for the collapse I see coming. Craig doesn’t need a handout he just needs a few tools and the most costly has been given. The person that donated the boat. Sir, you are a rare human being!  Craig this will cost you in the future of paying forward as well!

We are a clan and I’ve seen many folks helped as well as me receiving a gift out of the blue. Not  because I’m deserving but because they are just “good people”. WE may be separated by miles, by borders but we are a clan. Plus it makes me feel good that the NSA and FBI may be listening in and they can’t find a target as this clan is so diverse.


My alternate energy saving money reply to dio

May 25, 2012

I did a reply to dio and the darn reply was longer than some of my post. I thought I might let you all know what I have done to get backups for all my energy items as my home is all electric. My electricity costs have not gone up much even though we have 4 major rate hikes in the last 2 years and I live in a cheap electricity state.

The first thing is getting your electric use as low as possible. That means turning off lights and electronics when you leave a room.  I use a lot of those surge protector strips and turn off my electronics at the strips to stop vampire loads. I was already a “light Nazi” but using the power strips save me about $5.00- $10.00 per month.  If something has a clock or a remote it is a vampire load and unless you need it to stay on, turn it off. I turn off my Bedroom TV at the Power strip. If you can get strips with longer cords and you can hang them on the wall just like a light switch or place them where the are convenient to turn off, not  on the floor or behind some desk or entertainment center

If you can swing the price or get the feds to pay for it, get insulation for your home. You can get the government to do it even if you are a renter or a home owner and are at 200% of the poverty level, even higher in some states.  I try to stay off the dole as much as possible but as the Government is creating this problem you have to try and minimize how badly you get hammered on costs. Get it done now because it will get worse in the near future. This can make a huge difference in summer and winter on your total costs to heat and cool. I’d say I got about a $20.00 per month savings on electricity almost every month after the insulation was finished.

Blinds and heavy insulated curtains or window quilts.  I know a lot of folks use plastic for insulating windows but if you have a set of blinds and insulated curtains you will do about the same insulation value if you have decent windows. If your windows are really old or bad the Government might replace them during the insulation “weatherization” process. Air is one of the best insulators and if you can create a series of air pockets with your blinds and curtains you can do okay even with older windows.

Using your windows for heating and cooling. In the winter open the curtains and get the sun light streaming into your home with your south facing windows.  In summer close those windows blinds/curtains and open the North facing ones for cool air at night and early morning. Use fans as much as possible as they are a lot cheaper than air conditioners.  Try to create circulation by having a fan blow in cool air from one side of the house and the hot air is blown out another window on the hot side if possible. A couple of ceiling fans in a small home will help circulate air in summer and winter  and they are a great buy for around $25-$50.00 at your big box stores.

A friend works in a coffee shop and they get coffee in 50+ pound Burlap bags and I’m going to try and build a modified swamp cooler for my windows using those bags and the water I can collect via my rain barrels. I live in hi-desert so humidity is low and though it may get  hundred + during the day it cools quickly at night.

One of the biggest energy hogs in your home is your clothes dryer. Getting some rope and clothes pins for drying in the summer and a small rack for winter can save a lot of money in energy cost. Watch out hanging your colors in full sun as it can bleach the colors.  If they feel a little stiff put them in the dryer set on tumble dry and they should soften nicely and without heat your dryer is a lot easier on your electric bill.

Playing the time, if you have a regular or a smart meter you can get a lot better price per kilowatt hour if you can do any energy intensive work between 9 pm and 6am.  My dishwasher has a timer on it so I can wash my dishes at 2 AM rather than after diner when most folks do their dishes.  If you can cook outside via BBQ, Grill or solar oven in the summer you not only save electricity done during a peak hours but it keeps your home cool.  In the winter your baking and cooking  inside  can help keep the house warm.

If you can’t afford a wood stove or if wood is to expensive get one of those little Mr. Buddy stoves with the fan. I have about 1000 square ft. on my home and even without a fan it did a great job when I tested it last winter. I got about 6 hours of heat using just a 1 pound propane bottle and it took my house from 50 degrees to 65 degrees in 45 minutes on high and then I put it on low to maintain the heat. It was 18 degrees outside when I tested!  Plus the Mr. Buddy stoves have oxygen sensors and a safety features so you don’t get dead using them.  I have one of those kerosene stoves but I’d only use that stove during the day to just warm the house up  as they do emit carbon monoxide and that is a silent killer.

Last but not least I buy 50 pound bags or Mesquite chunk charcoal for $14.00 per bag. It works great for smoking and BBQ and store about 250 pounds and that will give you enough for at least 1 hot meal per day for a year!  I have one of those Camp Chef,  propane camp stoves with both and oven and 2 burners. I’m not how much it uses per hour as I will be doing some tests this summer,both inside and outside. I think it will work great for canning outside later this summer and help keep the house cool.

Of course my little RV has a backup kitchen,  bath and hot water tank. So if all electric goes out I can still get by in some comfort.  Along with the RV 5 kw generator and a backup 3.5 kw generator that run on gas.  I keep about 25 gallons of real gas for them as well as for my vehicles as backup. The generators are only for short term emergencies or to keep things powered long enough for me to preserve my frozen stuff. They are not a long term solution.

The long term solutions for me is solar and wood for the home. I have two  20 watt solar panels I need to wire/install in the RV. I’m buying wood (cheap mill ends) in June and working on a wood stove + installation for the house.  I will need more solar panels and good (and expensive) batteries for the solar array for the house.  I’m lucky I do have a basement and it’s comfortable in both summer and winter as it maintains an average temp. around 55-60 degrees with the furnace off.  Not that bad at all based just on heat from the ground and it insulation value.  I  use my basement as a giant cooler in summer a couple of fans directing the cool air up in the house can keep it around 80-85 degrees “upstairs” even if it is 100+ degrees outside.  The bad thing with my CIDP  is my temp. tolerance has gone way down and 78-80 degrees is my high end for average living conditions and 75 in summer and 65 in winter is about the best I can do because of this damn disease.  But if my modified swamp cooler works I might be able to do that this year and not use my central cooling air conditioner.

Alternate lighting I have talked about getting those little solar lights but I think getting some good kerosene/oil lamps and fuel will give you much better lighting for the long term compared to candles. Adding some little mirrors behind those lights will give you some additional feeling of comfort as well as reflecting the light around. Some folks do a little solar array and get 12 volt DC lighting or LEDs.  I’ve read it works great though the bulbs can get a little pricey on initial costs. If things go dark some folks will freak out and they won’t all be little kids. Having just a little glow from a solar light might keep some folks from panic.  Heck if you stand out to much by having stuff just put install your contractor trash bags so you can roll them up during the day. VELCRO STRIPS

Wow! I think I may have pushed one of my own buttons on this energy thing.  I do worry a lot about electricity not because I’m so dependent on it but because our society is so dependent.


How about a little happy news?

May 25, 2012

Idaho has kind of weird thing for sales tax on food. You get charged the tax and then get a refund when you send in you Idaho income tax form.  I’m not sure if everyone knows how it works but I always do my taxes for my records and to get this little refund of $80.00 this year and it just came in the mail today.

I run down to the bank and cash it and then head to one of my local gun shops and pick up a little more ammo for Sasha. I slowly building up that supply a few boxes at a time. I can get it for under $6.00 per box of 20 and building a good stockpile for her is big on my to-do list. Anyway if you are a gun nut of any sort you always got to look around a bit and guess what I found?  Pistol Magazines for my Hi-point pistols!  Huzzah and bounce, bounce for joy and 2 more Mags came home with me.  I got to splurge a little and move up a couple of buys a little bit on the basic goals I’m trying to get done with next week’s check.

I’m still trying to decide on another roll of dimes or more basic goods for my four month gut check. I’m leaning towards getting the goods and having some cash on hand and waiting on the dimes another month. I got my 4 yards of 100% cotton that gives me about 15 yards total.  It sounds like a lot but it’s not all that much if you sew and make a lot of stuff, but it’s a start for me. With my vet discount it was $10.14 which is not bad price for good cloth.

Yes, I do a new budget almost every month. I keep a list of my basic bills and when they are due but,  I have found life is moving to fast to keep my budget set in stone. If I go the basic goods route I can get my last rain barrel on the first of June and having my water plan finished is very important to me.  Now that I’ve crunched the numbers it looks like the basic goods get the nod because of the cost of wood for the stove.  If  Dad can sell my  boat that could change but I’m not counting on the sale happening.

Got to spread the news on the sales I got to the gals at the Credit Union.  I know they don’t make a lot of money and if I can let them know about sales and stuff that saves them money perhaps they will get a little extra food, goods or cash they can put away for a rainy day. I don’t discuss prepping to much outside of my tribe anymore. If other folks make the connections for them selves so much the better.

Sorry for the the stream of thinking and crunching number during this post.  When I get things down in words and really look at stuff it seems  more real than me just chasing ideas around in my mind. Doing yearly goals, monthly goals and then breaking them down into how I will pay for them each check makes them easier to accomplish.  I’m almost always amazed when I look back and see all that I have managed to get done so far this year and there has been no slippage in the basic timelines.  Overall I’m about a month ahead on my basic schedule. I imagine that demon “Murphy” will show up anytime and knock the arrogance right out of me. But until he does I’m going to enjoy and give myself a little mental hug for doing so well.

 


Power costs are going up a lot!

May 24, 2012

Read a frightening story about electricity soaring because of the EPA shutting down so many coal plant.   DirectorBlue (Doug Ross) has a superb summary of recent updates on the colossal increase in electricity prices being imposed by the Obama EPA.  With the ongoing and prospective shutdown of coal-fired generating plants throughout the Northeast, the recent power-capacity auction for the year 2015 produced a market-clearing price of $136 per megawatt, or eight times the price from the 2012 capacity auction. Imagine the average $120 or so monthly electric bill of Northeasterners exploding to $960 a month.  The 500-700% increase would produce average bills running from $600-720 a month.        Via HotAir.com

This is the price that the electric companies have actually committed to pay and not a forecast or estimate. If you can  start getting some solar panels and some propane for some dual fuel fridge and freezers because this is one of  Obama’s promises that is already coming true. the US government is slapping a tariff on foreign made solar panels so those will jump in price soon.  Get a few small panels at least so you can put a small solar array together later if  not now.  Newer RV fridges can run on propane, and both 12 volt DC and 120 volt AC power and  if you can power a fridge for 6 hours per day it should keep cold enough for perishable food. Get some of those little solar lamps for the yard you can get them for $1.00- $2.00 each and you can have a safe nightlight and they have a rechargeable battery, usually AA you can use in flashlights and small electronic gadgets.  If you have a car you can get a small 400 watt inverter and use that as a charging station or generator for low wattage items. Plus charge up your laptop and phones.

This will have a huge effect on the cost of everything and some Government  Energy folks are already forecasting rolling blackouts for coal dependent states. Think about Hospitals, grocery stores with their huge banks of freezers and coolers, plus any factories and businesses. These guys can’t really cut back on energy use. Heck look what happens in an unexpected power outage. Traffic lights, ATMs and Cash register stop working, and people start loosing it after a very short time. How long will the water and sewer plants work without constant electricity? and how much do you think those service will rise as cities and towns try to keep them going no matter the cost of power?

Get to thinking on how you can adapt now by keeping cash always on hand for shopping, keeping the gas tank half full or more and practice it now and it won’t be such a shock if or when it does happen. Of course there will be more you can do to adapt as all of us preppers are finding out.