Normally I try not to be the sucker for the clearance item, but I was over at the hombebrew store a couple of months ago and I couldn’t help but notice that the Twisted Mist Margarita Lime was on sale for half off. By the time any fermentable gets to the point that it’s cheaper than ingredients for a batch of homebrew and as easy and delicious as most of the Wine Expert kits, I’m in.
I bought the kit, and brewing the Twisted Mist is actually well documented by Mim over at It’s New and Different. Well, several weeks of fermentation and clarification later and, voila, it’s time to take what had appeared to be an ordinary wine kit and give it a tasty margarita zing before storing it in the bottles that will probably end up going to everyone on my Christmas list.
A quick gravity check showed that the final gravity on this brew was 0.994, a decent bit less dense than water, even. This was quite a bit lower than last time, so I went over to the Alcohol By Volume Calculator to check. The Twisted Mist finished at just over 14% ABV. Wow. And with well over 6 gallons in the batch, I am looking forward to sharing with all my friends.
The fun part was adding the flavoring, a gooey, syrupy, blend of what appeared to be invert sugar and margarita flavor that was thicker than cold molasses. After getting both of the “F-packs” in the carboy, it becomes a simple matter of stirring and bottling. Initial tastings have been great, sweet and yet simple, an awful lot like a wine powered margarita. We’ll really know the answer once I can confirm whether or not the advice of the guy at the brew store was right. He told me “Fill the bottles a little low; then you can stick them in the freezer and pour a slushy drink right out of the bottle into the glass.”
That all sounds tasty to the Nutty Brewer. I hope you have some delicious mystery beverages for your friends during the holiday season as well.
One of the things I have been wanting to do with this blog is to put some handy calculators up to allow me to do whatever calculations I have a need for. I am proud to announce the release of the first Nutty Brewer calculator, the Alcohol By Volume Calculator. Simply enter your initial and final gravity, and voila, there is the measure of your alcohol content. Don’t worry, there are more to come soon!
I am so excited to have finally found some Simcoe hops. I don’t know about you, but I have been looking for these for several months. I love the earthy flavor and have been rather distraught about the lack of availability. Apparently since the popularity of this hop has been increasing, demand has not been able to keep up. Coupled with the long lag time required for the hops to reach full productivity, it may still be awhile until they are generally available again.
I have been to several homebrew shops in the Denver/Boulder area looking for them, but with no luck. Owners of the stores told me it may be another year until they are available – one even indicated that it might be 2013 before he would have them in any quantity. The hop business, in many cases, requires prior commitments from the buyers to the growers in order to ensure sufficient supply, and several of the stores had apparently not predicted the rapid increase in the popularity of this hop.
Fast forward to last week, when I found myself at Dry Dock Brewing getting one of my kegs filled (more on this story later). I was with a friend who decided to get some ingredients for his next batch at The Brew Hut, the homebrew store next door. While we looking for his ingredients, I happened to stick my head into the hop cooler, and lo and behold, Simcoe hops! Needless to say, I bought a few ounces to keep in my own fridge until I have a use for them. So if you find yourself needing any Simcoe hops, head over to The Brew Hut, and tell them The Nutty Brewer sent you!
I spent a large portion of the last week and about 200 bucks installing a utility sink in my brewing area. Man, was it ever worth it. I finished the installation on Thursday night (after roughly 5 trips to area Home Depot stores (including nearly $100 of returns on the last visit)), 2 shutdowns of the water to my entire house, and roughly 24 hours of a drip that would have been totally unmanageable had it not fortuitously been dripping into the sink itself!
On Friday night, the day after wrapping up the installation, I got a hankering to get that India Black Ale in the keg. It’s been in carboys of various ilk for nigh on a month, and the dry hops have been in there for at least 2 weeks. After staring at everything for a few moments, I decided to at least clean out a keg. How amazing is this? I don’t have to carry the keg upstairs, then go back downstairs and get the drain tube that I always forget, then bring that up, move some dishes around so I have a place to work, then worry about which pieces and parts I end up leaving upstairs and have to get later. I don’t have to worry about making a mess in the kitchen and making sure everything is back in order there. No. Just grab the keg and throw it in the sink. Nothing’s going to hurt the sink, and nothing is going to damage the keg. I don’t have to worry about a bunch of kitchen germs, and best of all, there aren’t any stairs. Even if I forget something 🙂
As I sit here enjoying a pint of the aforementioned India Black Ale, I can’t help but think about how much easier the whole process becomes. 2 kegs cleaned, 1 beer kegged, that carboy cleaned, and everything done, ready, and put away in just over an hour. It’s that much easier, and this is just for kegging. I can’t wait for Brew Day!
If you’ve never done any plumbing before, it might be a bit of a stretch, but the reality is that I am pretty happy about the whole situation. It turns out that with these “sharkbite” fittings (closeup below), it really is easy enough that anybody could do it. All you do is cut the pipe to length and slide these connections on there. I was amazed at how easily these allow you do what you need, and they are compatible with copper, pvc, and pex at the very least.
Brewing is good.
See you there!