Over the past 6 months, I managed to see a few things and brew a few things. Most brews were standard and uninspiring. When I look back and see the lack of photos taken, I am reminded that the everyday brewing processes were once so new that they required documentation at every turn. Now the process is just part of the everyday. I blame the kegging for this. You begin to fill the need to just fill the thing and have something on hand. Meanwhile the bottling process is greatly decreased (for the good) but the ratios of bottling sugars begin to vary due to the different amounts of young beer left from a 3gal keg.
The image above is not the result of beer (or at least i'm not ready to admit so), but the solution involved beer!
Winter brings cold, and when its cold, the brewer brings out the darkness to counter the white. Bock's are high powered lagers with dark characters but often more on the brown to red side. This batch to the left is the fixins for Mr. Spock, an ale version of a bock. After trying to cultivate a lager strain that died on me before it hit the yeast starter, I had to use what was on hand. After three different strains of yeast, it started to bubble. Rapidly, music to the ears.
Although using multiple types of yeast can start a small war in your fermenter, when you have nothing else to lose with a batch, just go for it. Indicators that other strains are dead will help cut down on this conflict which results in off flavors in the batch. Pointers such as no activity in the bubbler, sandy to muddy textured sediment at the bottom of the carboy, and a lack of colored layering in the sediment. White layers are healthy and chunky sediment is a good sign as well.
This is a concoction based loosely on a recipe in Papazian's Joy of Homebrewing. His Sparrow Hawk Porter was the adequate base for what I am calling Dark Port Hawk. Combining the darkness of Black Patent Malt, Dark LME, Unsweetened Bakers Chocolate and Mayordomo Vanilla Hot Chocolate Cubes from Oaxaca Mexico, I am expecting great things.
This is the first time for me using chocolate and after reading several suggestions to use cocoa powder, im assuming the chocolate will melt and dissolve and not stick to the pot. Heres to experimenting.
Update! As of May 26th, the Dark Port Hawk took 1st Place at the Do-It-Yourself Brew-It-Yourself Fest!