Monday, December 3, 2012

Smoked Porter with Vanilla, Chocolate and Cinnamon

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Being in Vermont we have basically 3 seasons not 4 like other states. The cold comes in October and doesn't really leave until late March. Then "mud" season lasts a couple months and is usually just as cold during the night. This weather is perfect for a dark, warming, rich beer. The kind of beer that you could drink by a fire to help warm you from the inside out. The kind of beer that you could drink after a long day on the mountain or after working outside all day. In the winter I crave malt forward beers more then IPAs and usually brew ten or twelve of them during the cold months. This imperial stout is the first of my next couple months of dark brews.

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Vermont has become known for its IPAs as of the last couple years but in our brewing community stouts and porters defiantly make there mark seasonally. I find myself being constantly surprised by what Vermonters are brewing, in particular Hill Farmstead. In his second release of Twilight of the Idols this year we find a rich and complex porter with subtle spicing and a great body. I really enjoyed this beer when I first had it two years ago and I was looking forward to the release this year even more. Shaun brews great dark and imperial beers so it was only natural that I would be inspired by him and try to replicate them.

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I really enjoyed Twilight of the Idols but I wanted something more so with this beer, loosely based off of it I upped the ABV and added smoked malt and chocolate. When I brew my beers I always try and do as much from scratch as I can. In the last couple weeks I have been experimenting with indirect smoking on my grill. I started with smoked chicken thighs and then smoked some chilies. For this beer I smoked two pounds of American 2 row over hickory wood for about an hour. The issue with indirect smoking is keeping the temperature the same over the course of cooking. I can usually keep my smoker around 215 degrees for three or so hours which is perfect. The trick is to not toast the malt and instead expose it to hot smoke which should just add the flavor and not kiln it any further. After smoking the malt for about 45 mins. I had a great smelling malt that was slightly smoking on the taste as well. I wanted more smoke flavor so I also added one pound of Briess Smoked malt to the malt bill. This should get me a noticeable smoke flavor in the finished product.

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For the chocolate addition I added 2 ounces of docoa powder and 3 ounces of cocoa nibs at the five minute mark in the boil. When I brewed my Imperial Peanut Butter Stout with Paul we added cocoa powder at the end of the boil and racked it onto nibs and got a great chocolate flavor. I wanted even more chocolate flavor this time so I added the nibs to the boil and I am going to rack it onto nibs as well. The vanilla addition came as a single long vanilla bean that had been soaking in bourbon for the last 2 months. I cut the bean in half, split it and then scrapped the inside to add to the boil at the end with the chocolate. I plan on adding some of the bourbon that the vanilla beans have been soaking in to secondary to add both vanilla and bourbon favors.

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Anticipated O.G. 1.105
Anticipated IBUs 75
Anticipated SRM 71

Recipe Specs:

18.5 pounds Crisp Maris Otter
2 pounds Home Hickory Smoked Malt
2 pounds Briess Chocolate Malt
1 pound Briess Smoked Malt
1 pound Briess Caramel 120
12 ounces English Black Malt

Hops/Spices/Etc.

2.5 ounces US Magnum 13.1% aau @ 60 mins. = 65.8 IBUs
1 ounce Willamette hops 9.3% aau @ 15mins. = 9.2 IBUs

1 Bourbon Soaked Vanilla Bean split and scrapped
2 ounces Cocoa Nibs
2 ounces Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Fresh Ground Cinnamon

Safale US S-O5 American Ale/Chico Strain

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12/3/12 mashed in with 7.8 gallons of 170 degree water to hold mash at 154 degrees for 90 mins. Collected 9 gallons of 1.093 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, added spice additions at 5 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"Porter Batch 1" 1.100 O.G 75 IBUs

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Blonde Redhead" A Blonde of a Different Color

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When planning a brew I often look at who is going to imbibe with me. We often have people over for dinner and to hang out and with my two tap kegerator, have a couple beers. I cannot get away from brewing experimental styles of beer and this one is no different. The plan is to brew a basic American Blonde ale and hit it with a bunch of raspberries and cherries. This should give it an amazing ruby red color and a unique taste unlike the boring standard American blonde. In the past all of the fruit beers I have brewed have been sour or funky. I have yet to brew a clean fruit beer so I thought this would be a great starting point.

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According to Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer, " Blonde ale is a smooth, easy-to-drink beer, with low fruity esters and just a touch of malt character." I am basing my recipe off of these basic concepts while using the recipe they provide in the book as a start to modify from. The recipe in the book is 95% American two row malt with a touch of crystal malt for body and color. My recipe is a clone of this exact recipe with the use of crystal 20 instead of crystal 15 to give a little more color. This might be the most basic grain bill I have ever used.

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For hopping I am keeping it simple as well. I am using two classic American hops, Liberty and Cluster. These varieties are known for being used in classic American lagers for there clean bittering and aromatic qualities. Since I am going to have a bit of late sugar additions with the fruit I am aiming a little higher for IBUs with an anticipated 26. Using Cluster to bitter and Liberty as late addition should be perfect.

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With the desire for the fruity character of the blonde ale to come through and also wanting some strong fruit character from the raspberries and cherries, I have chosen Wyeast 1272 to ferment this. American Ale II is know for leaving a slightly tart finish and also has a lower attenuation than the standard Wyeast 1056 American Ale 1. It should leave a little bit of residual sugars from the fruit which is what I am looking for. I am racking my hoppy agave wheat to secondary today and this leaves me with a huge slurry to pitch this beer directly on. Excellent!

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The fruit additions are all going to come at the end of the boil. I know that additions of fruit in secondary will give me more fruit character but I am going to try this for ease and to stay clean. I am using frozen fruit and I know that they go to great lengths to be sanitary but I don't wont to risk making a sour beer. I am going to also add all the fruit in a muslin bag to aid with the transfer into the carboy. I don't want seeds or chunky purée clogging up my funnel or the bottom of the kettle. Hopefully this works.

Recipe Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.055 pre-fruit additions
Anticipated IBUs 26
Anticipated SRM 5.5 pre-fruit additions

Malts/Sugars

7.5 pounds American Two Row
10 ounces Briess Caramel 20

Hops/Yeast/Etc.

1 ounce Cluster 6.8% aau @ 60 mins. = 20.24 IBUs
1 ounce Liberty hops 3.9% aau @15 mins. = 5.76 IBUs

52 ounces Cherries and Juice
34 ounces Raspberries

Wyeast 1272 American Ale II

2 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme and 1 Whirlfloc Tablet

Whoops!

11/14/12 mashed in with 4.70 gallons of 163 degree water to hold mash at 150 degrees for 60 mins. Collected 8.5 gallons of 1.056 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 90 mins, added fruit additions at 1 min, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

"Blonde Redhead" 1.058 O.G 26 IBUs

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Black Witbier

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Sometimes when I am coming up with beer recipes I don't end up brewing them for months or even years. A couple summers ago I was throwing around the idea of opposite styles in one beer. By that I mean, Black IPA, East India Porter, Session Double IPA, White Stout, and the style I thought would be interesting to brew, Black Witbier. I had seen this style only one time before with The Bruery Orchard Black and enjoyed that when I had it. The idea of creating a unique new style of beer that doesn't conform to the BJCP regulations grabbed ahold of me. I just needed a time to brew it.

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I looked around my home brewery this week at what malts and yeast I had and the idea of the black wit came back to me. I have an Allagash White culture that I had stepped up three times and have a big slurry waiting for some new sugar to eat. I had read somewhere previously that Allagash only uses there house yeast strain to bottle condition White and that other yeast strains are used to condition their other beers. The yeast ripped through my starters in a day or so and seems pretty strong and clean on the smell so I am going to use it.

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I also have some new malt that I haven't used before including Briess Chocolate Wheat and Briess Midnight Wheat. These two malts are pretty interesting. According to the Briess website they should provide amazing dark color without the harsh tannic bitterness that roasted barley usually gives. Midnight wheat in particular has one of the darkest lovibond ratings I have ever worked with at 550 L. I found a recipe in BYO Magazine for The Bruery's Orchard White and it looked relatively simple with all of the wheat character coming from 4 pounds of flaked wheat. I actually had 8 pounds of flaked wheat sitting around from a planned lambic that I probably wont brew so it was perfect. There is also an addition of flaked oats, which should help boost mouthfeel. I am really looking forward to the final color and grain bitterness level of the final product on this one.

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In most witbiers subtle spicing is usually present. In The Bruerys Orchard Black they use Chamomile, coriander and orange peel. In their version of Orchard White they use lavender, coriander and orange peel. I wanted to go with something different on this beer. I am using one zested grapefruit with the juice as well and also white peppercorns slightly crushed. I have used grapefruit zest in the past and love the results with more of a tropical and tangy flavor coming through in the final product. I have also used pepper before and with using only 20 peppercorns in a light Brett Saison I barley noticed any flavor. I decided that with a stronger flavor in is beer I would double the amount this time. White pepper is more subtle than black pepper because it has had it's skins removed which hold a lot of those stronger favors.

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I tend to experiment when I brew. Why brew something that everyone else has brewed. Forget styles and forget what you think you won't like. Witbiers are typically summer beers, lets see what happens when it's turned on its head and drank in the winter.

Recipe Specs:

Anticipated O.G. 1.057
Anticipated IBUs 19.45
Anticipated SRM 51

Malts/Sugars

7.5 pounds American Two Row
4 pounds Flaked Wheat
1 pound Flaked Oats
1 pound Briess Chocolate Wheat
1 pound Briess Midnight Wheat
1 pound Rice Hulls

Hops/Yeast/Etc.

.50 ounces German Magnum 13.1 aau @ 60 mins. = 19.45 IBUs

1 ounces Grapefruit Zest and Juice @ 10 mins.
.5 ounces Crushed White Peppercorns @ 10 mins.

Allagash White yeast stepped up three times

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11/12/12 mashed in with 5.75 gallons of 161 degree water to hold mash at 150 degrees for 90 mins. Collected 8 gallons of 1.052 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 60 mins, chilled and aerated for 30 mins.

Black Witbier 1.055 O.G. 19.45 IBUs

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Parti-Gyle: Imperial Cashew Brown / Honey Nut Brown

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In my brewing setup my mash-tun's capacity is around 24 pounds of grain when I mash in relatively thick with a ratio of 1.5 quarts to pounds of grain. This means two things specifically. One, I can brew a 5 gallon batch of high gravity beer that can come in at 1.105 S.G. These are the biggest numbers I have seen on my setup, when I brewed my Scottish Wee Heavy. Two, this means that I can do some pretty cool split batches or parti-gyles. Parti-gyles are when you take your second runnings from your mash and make a completely separate beer from it. It works well with beers that have around the same grain bill ala Barleywine and British Bitter. I have done this before with my Harvest Saison / Raspberry Sour and fairly easy to do.

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The idea for this beer came from a beer I sampled a couple years ago called Cashew Mountain Brown from Founder Brewing. The beer was an imperial brown ale aged in bourbon barrels filled with cashews and aged in a mountain cave in Grand Rapids, MI where the brewery is located. I love cashews and I think the brown ale will work well with the rich flavor of them. I decided I am going take the first 1/3 of the runnings which should come in around 1.095 s.g. for this beer and the the second 2/3 of the runnings around 1.060 s.g I am going use for a basic honey brown. The honey should boost the second brown ale up to 1.070 s.g not including the boil off and an addition of light brown sugar to the imperial version should boost this up to 1.101 o.g.

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To get the cashew flavor I am looking for I mashed 1 1/2 pounds of dry roasted unsalted cashews along with the grain. I also am using a unique new method taken from October 2012 issue of Brew Your Own, called fat washing. Basically you steep something high in fat in boiling water, freeze that liquid, scrape the fat off the top and use the liquid itself to flavor your beer. I did this exact process with the addition of toasting the cashews with a kitchen torch before I steeped them. Lets hope this works!

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Recipe Specs:

21 pounds Crisp Maris Otter malt
1 pound Special B malt
1 pound Briess Caramel 60 malt
.75 pounds Pale Chocolate malt
.5 pounds Caramunich malt

Imperial Cashew Brown Ale Hops/Etc.

16 ounces of Cashew Extract

1 1/2 pounds Organic Light Brown Sugar @5 mins.

1.5 ounces US Magnum hops 13.1 aau @ 60 mins. = 50.34 IBUs
1 ounce Fuggles hops 5.6 aau @ 10 mins. = 4.46 IBUs

Wyeast 1028 London Ale yeast

Honey Nut Brown Hops/Etc.

12 ounces Local Honey

1 oz. Willamette hops 9.3 aau 60 mins. = 26.55 IBUs
1 oz. Fuggles hops 5.6 aau @ 30 mins. = 12.29 IBUs

Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale yeast

11/7/12 Mashed in with 25 quarts of 167 degree water for 60 minutes and collected 4.5 gallons of 1.096 s.g wort and 6 gallons of 1.062 s.g wort. Boiled both, added sugars and cashew extract at the end of the boil. Chilled and aerated both for 30 minutes.

Imperial Cashew Brown 1.128 O.G. 54.80 IBUs

Honey Nut Brown Ale 1.070 O.G. 38.83 IBUs

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hoppy Agave Wheat

I always try and have a hoppy beer on draft during the summer. It is getting colder outside now but I still crave hops so I am going forward with brewing this beer. I had an idea to make a hoppy wheat beer inspired by Three Floyd's Brewing Gumballhead. I have experimented with bases for IPAs with both single malt brews and beers involving upwards of 4 or 5 malts. I think when it comes down to it if you keep it simple with a little bit of sugar to help dry the beer out, it will turn out great. I am going the other way this time. Flaked wheat, Torrified wheat, White wheat malt, Vienna malt and Pilsner malt will all be in the recipe. With the huge amount of wheat in this beer I am going to add a few handfuls of rice hulls to aid in lautering and also run off slowly to prevent a stuck mash.

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For this beer I decided to use 100% organic blue agave syrup as my sugar addition. You can probably find this on the shelves in your local CO-OP. The syrup itself should be easy to work with since it comes in a squeeze bottle similar to fake maple syrup products. I will add this when I add all my sugar additions, at the 0 minute mark in the boil after I have taken it off the heat to avoid burning the sugar. The agave should add a more unique flavor while increasing my SRM more than corn sugar. I have seen and tried other beers on the market using agave and have enjoyed them so this is my attempt.

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I have also been experimenting with my hop additions and timing of each. For this beer I decided to aim for 68 IBU's from Magnum hops which have very little Cohumulone and are very clean with bittering. I have had great success achieving the aroma and flavor I am looking for with very late hop additions and so I am doing that again in this brew. I am going to hit the kettle with 10 ounces total, 2 ounces each, of mixed hops including Simcoe, Galaxy, Amarillo, Columbus and Falconers Flight. All of these additions will take place starting at 0 minutes left in the boil through chilling in the whirlpool. With that many hops in this brew, filtering should be an issue so I am going to filter through a hopback filled with 1 ounce of whole Amarillo hops.

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Recipe Specs:

Anticipated Pre-Boil O.G. 1.052
Anticipated O.G. 1.055

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Grains/Sugars:

5.5 lbs. Belgian Pilsner Malt
2.75 lbs. Vienna Malt
1.75 lbs. White Wheat Malt
1 lbs. Flaked Wheat
.75 lbs. Torrified Wheat
1 lbs Organic Raw Blue Agave Syrup
5 Handfuls of Rice Hulls

Hops:

1.5 oz.. Magnum 14.0 aau @60 min. = 68 IBUs
10 oz. Mixed Bag of Hops (above) @ 0 min. = 0 IBUs

Yeast:

American Ale Yeast II

Water:

Filtered Burlington water with 4 grams of gypsum added to the boil. 1 tablet of Whilfloc added at 15 mins. left in the boil

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10/31/12

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Mashed in with 14 quarts of 165 degree water to hit 156 degree mash temp. for 90 mins. Mash out at 170 degrees and sparged with 175 degree water. Collected 8 gallons of 1.042 S.G. wort pre-boil. Boiled for 120 mins. Ran through hopback into carboy and aerated through filter, O.G 1.058, aerated for 15 mins.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harvest Saison / Raspberry Sour

Saisons were originally brewed to quench the thirst of working farmhands first and foremost. Meeting certain flavors or styles were probably never a thought in the original brewers head. According to Yvan De Baets in Farmhouse Ales Culture and Craftsmanship in the Belgian Tradition, " They were essentially very local beers developed in farmhouse breweries, brewed only during part of the year and rarely distributed outside of their immediate region or even outside their village." It was as if your local CO-OP brewed a beer with local grains and was only really drank by people in your town. He continues, "The recipes varied greatly from one brewery to another and very few written records exist for these beers" I love the idea that the brewers were probably flying by the seat of there pants when brewing, taking inspiration from the local harvest and not being able to replicate much of the recipes because of the time of the year, the weather, or the temperature.

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A lot of my brewing ideas come from either beers I have enjoyed or beers making news on Beeradvocate. Recently I have become infatuated with the idea of Farmhouse ales. As has half of the new or newer breweries out there i.e. Hill Farmstead, Tired Handsand Stillwater Artisanal Ales More specifically I have started to like the idea of saisons with the use of vintage grains and adjuncts. Grains like spelt, oats, wheat, rye, etc. can add a rustic charm to this style of beer. For this beer I decided to use a unique grain bill containing Rye, Oats, and Spelt. Rye malt should add a spicy character, Oats should increase body's and head retention, Spelt should add a unique and rustic charm. I also included a pound of Rice hulls to aid in my runoff. The adjuncts will probably become fairly thick in the mash and the rice hulls will create a better bed to run off the mash more smoothly. For color and head retention I added crystal 120. This darker crystal malt will provide me with more of a dark amber color in the 16 SRM range. I have been wanting to brew a darker version of a Saison for awhile and with the colder weather coming soon it seemed like the perfect time.

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These beers could also vary greatly from farm to farm because of the various yeasts used.  I have experimented before with this style of beer and found the Wyeast 3742 strain to be very finicky. The yeast itself is the DuPont yeast strain and relies on a temperature rise to finish fermentation. The beer when fermenting stalls around 1.035 S.G. and won't finish unless you raise the temperature to 90+ degrees. Thus I decided to switch it up this summer to the Wyeast 3711 strain, French Saison yeast. This yeast needs no temperature rise and also rips through fermentation in a matter of days. I have been using this yeast for 6 batches now and have built up quite a colony.  It is still fermenting out cleanly and no noticeable off flavors have developed yet. Most of these beers were fermented in the mid 80s in order to achieve that spicy, phenolic character that I enjoy in most saisons. For this beer I have decided to ferment in a lower temperature range. I am shooting for 68-72 degrees. My hope is that I will get a unique flavor and clean fermentation from this temperature.

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Just to throw another confusing part at you  I mashed in with a bigger grain bill than was needed in order to brew a double batch. I plan on hitting the first 5.5 gallon batch with three additions of all sterling hops which should complement the rye in the batch. Alot of saisons have small sugar additions which help to dry out the beer. For this half of the batch I decided to include 1 pound of local honey for another rustic character to the beer. I am then fermenting it clean with the French Saison yeast. The other 3.5 gallon batch will be bittered only with sterling and then hit with 1 pound of puréed raspberries at flameout. This batch will be fermented with a basic American ale yeast and various dregs from some sour beers I will drink while brewing or have drank this week. Then it will be racked after fermentation to secondary on 3 more pounds of raspberries and 1 oz. Pinot Noir soaked oak chips to condition for the next 6-9 months! The raspberries have been frozen then thawed in order to break the fruits cell walls. The dregs that will be pitched will include, Russian River Supplication, Russian River Consecration, Lost Abbey/New Belgium Mo' Betta Bretta, Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere and Orval. This should be interesting!

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Recipe Specs:

11 pounds US 2 Row
2 pounds Caramel/Crystal 120
1 pound Briess Rye Malt
1 pound White Wheat Malt
1 pound Flaked Oats
1 pound Flaked Spelt
1 pound Rice Hulls

Harvest Saison Hops/Etc.

1 pound Northwoods Apiaries Raw Honey

1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 60 mins. = 29.30 IBUs
1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 10 mins. = 5.90 IBUs

Raspberry Sour Hops/Etc.

1 pound Organic Raspberries, puréed 
3 pounds Organic Raspberries, in secondary
1 oz. Pinot Noir Soaked Oak Cubes Medium Toast

1 oz. Sterling 7.0 aau @ 60 mins. = 29.30 IBUs

Collected 10 gallons of 1.050 S.G. wort. Split into my two kettles and added 1 gallon of filtered water to the raspberry sour kettle. Leaving me with 7 gallons 1.050 S.G. wort for my Harvest Saison and 4 gallons 1.040 S.G. wort for the Raspberry Sour all pre-boil.

Harvest Saison 1.062 S.G. 35 IBUs

Raspberry Sour 1.042 S.G. 29 IBUs

Whoops!

10/09/2012 Racked Raspberry Sour portion, 3 gallons onto 3 lbs. of Raspberries and 1 gallon onto 1 lb of Sour Cherries as well as WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix 1

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

And so it begins...

So I have wants to create this for some time now, 3 or 4 years actually! This blog is intended to be an online expression of my currently fermenting and planning to ferment Beers, Ciders, Meads, etc. I welcome your comments and feedback as I navigate the wild world of fermentation experiments!

-Andrew