Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Lemon Basil Homebrew

For my fourth batch of beer I wanted to customize things a bit. I'd earned enough brewing XP with my first three batches that it was time to level up. 

For those of you who haven't done any home brewing I'll give you the short version. You spend a few hours working with a kit. Everything goes in primary fermentation for a week, secondary fermentation for another week, mix in some more sugar and bottle it (5 gallons makes 48 bottles), store in a dark cool place for two weeks while it gets fizzy, then chill and drink. Ales need to be kept around 68°-72° during fermentation.

During the initial boil you put in hops twice. The first time uses bittering hops to make the beer bitter. That cooks for most of the boil and destroys any oils that might flavor the beer. The second time is about 10 minutes before you shut off the fire and start to cool the beer. These are flavoring hops. 

I started with the Weizenbier kit from Brewer's Best. Your local brew supply place should have some of their kits. When I added the flavoring hops I added 1.5 oz of dried basil flakes and a package and a half of Brewer's Best's dried lemon peels. You're supposed to siphon the liquid from container to container. This helps eliminate the solids like the hops, any grains you might have cooked, and whatever seasonings you added. As you can imagine, the siphon didn't do a great job of keeping out the basil flakes. I wanted to use whole leaves, but I was in a hurry. Even so, with all the different containers that stuff went through before getting in the bottles the weren't any flakes remaining that I could see. 

I wasn't sure if what I was making would be really good or really horrible. When I bottled it I had half a bottle extra so I drank it. It was flat and warmish, and not very impressive. I couldn't taste the seasoning at all. Last Saturday I opened one bottle after only one week. It was somewhat fizzy and the flavor came through. The lemon was there for sure. I might want to go up to 2.0 oz of basil next time. 

But the point is that it was GOOD!

Someone asked me how I think fresh basil will do. Dried herbs almost always give you a better kick than fresh. You'd want to at least double, maybe triple the amount of basil if you're using fresh. 

If you brew your own I recommend trying this. 

I'll also have to try this ginger ale recipe in the near future. 

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