Weekend update (quick, get Norm McDonald)

Just in case you hadn't heard, this was the first rainy weekend in Portland in quite a while. Not only that, Sunday turned out to have one ripper of a windstorm come through during the day. Lots of trees down, lots of power lines down, and my backyard was quite the mess for a while.  On the bright side, a dead hanging branch that was needing to be removed managed to remove itself after a series of particularly big gusts...while I was outside...with the kids. Thankfully, I had been keeping an eye on it and when the big set of winds came through, it was time to hide under the eaves of the house.  Good times, but ON TO THE BEER!

In order to do the big brew I wanted to do this weekend, I had to move my CDL into secondary.  Well, even after 4 solid days of primary fermentation, it had another plan.  It's plan?  A 3rd round of a full on high krausen (big fermentation).  

Hello overflow!
Thankfully, I had a bucket I could let it do its thing in for a while - 36 hours worth!  Sure, I should have probably rigged up a blow-off tube, but I figured since it already pushed any air out, and would continue to do so, I'd just let it go and do a bit of an open fermentation in the garage - less to clean up this way. Hopefully there will be no ill effects to the final product. It's now cleaned up and bubbling away in a cool cupboard in the garage and probably going to need to be racked to another jug to clarify.

All of this was to make room for a big beer, which I've been lacking since haven't made a stout since before Christmas....although the dopplebock I did was pretty close...or possibly the belgian dark strong that is now in the bottle and hopefully carbonating up as you read this.

That doesn't look chocolatey at all, does it?
I decided it was time to get something rich and possibly dessert-like put together.  It was chocolate stout time.  I wrote up a recipe based on something I had made in the past and tweaked things to my preference.  From the looks of things, it should come together as such.

Longest boil in a long time.
The boil took a bit longer than expected, but I think I'm getting to the point where the stove just isn't strong enough for big boils.  Sure, it does great for when I only need to boil down half a gallon, but when I'm trying to boil down a full gallon, it just takes a long time.  My propane camp stove does a better job and I probably would have gone that route it weather was cooperating.  Someday, though, there will be a 55k BTU burner as part of the gear - that'll really get it rippin'!

In the end, the chocolate stout went into the bucket with an OG of 1.084.  If those yeastie beasties do what they're supposed to do, this is going to be a strong, rich, chocolatey dessert beer - just what I was hoping for.

Since the boil took so long, I took the kids out into the wind to pick up branches and check on the yard, including my hops.
Cascades, year 2...sort of.
The Cascade shown above was planted last fall - it's clearly ready to rock.  There are also Newport, Willamette, and Mt Hood rhizomes nearby that were planted a few weeks ago. They're taking their time coming up to the surface.  However, the Newport rhizome that I split off and put into a container in a much sunnier area seems a bit happier...or I put it closer to the surface. Either way, it's just now about a half inch above the surface.
Newport hops starting make a break for it.
Of course, a brew day that included chasing kids and doing some yard work requires a beer!  It was time to see how the Kilted Crusader (Irish Red) turned out. [insert drum roll here]
The carbonation was actually quite smooth despite the appearance of the initial pour.
Despite the goofy wrinkly label due to the bottle being used (grolsch bottles don't have much in the way of a smooth surface to stick to), it turned out pretty good.  The carbonation is really quite smooth and hangs around after the initial pour dies down.  The taste is mellow and actually has a bit of a fruity taste to it, possibly from my last minute substitution of Nugget hops. The sweet could also be from it coming in strong at over 8% and needing a bit more in the way of bittering hops to help balance that out (guess what I'll do for version 2.0).  But there's still a bit of that bitter finish that an irish red is known for.  Overall, I consider this a success and one that I would definitely add to the Broken Helmet lineup!