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decided to add a 'beer' category. seemed like a good idea since it does occupy alot of my time...

last weekend a few of the biergotter guys got together and did some brewing. it was a fruit-beer day. Jay W wanted to repeat the apple ale that he'd tried to do in waterloo, Jay C was interested in experimenting with a pineapple ale, and I was aiming for a repeat of the wonderful raspberry porter that Jay C and I had made when we were roommates back in undergrad. We had made a porter or two at that point and they'd turned out well, so we decided to slightly modify the recipe and add some raspberry concentrate. the result was fantastic. a nice subtle raspberry flavor that only got better with age. unfortunately, it was so good it didn't last that long.

in the approximately 8-10 years since we brewed that batch i've thought of it often. when we formed the biergotter homebrew club and started brewing again last fall it once again came to mind. we brewed a bunch of batches in waterloo (including a repeat of the old "sweet johnny porter"), but unfortunately the water in waterloo is so bad that all of the beers were tainted with an awful chemically smell and were undrinkable. it was as if someone had poured nail polish remover into the beer. just nasty. this caused us to take a bit of a hiatus from brewing while we regrouped and decided on the best place to resume operations.

earlier this year my friend Tim started expressing interest in joining the homebrew fun and offered his place as somewhere to brew. As he's also in the GTA it was convenient for both Jay C and myself, so we headed over one cold and rainy saturday to brew up a couple batches. on the menu was an american style IPA and another stout (we made one in waterloo). brewing went fairly well and this past tuesday we headed back over to Tim's and bottled up our creations. The yield was 15 bottles of each batch for each of us. we sampled them in their un-carbonated form and were impressed. I'm looking forward to giving them a try. I'll probably crack one opened on tuesday, but don't really expect them to be fully carbonated until next week.

during the time that i was in minnesota, the jay's had been doing some all grain brewing down in windsor. after the failures in waterloo we decided to try doing a few batches in windsor. it's not as convenient for us toronto area people, but as we have friends and family in windsor we end up there fairly often. so last weekend we resumed operations at Jay W's house. The first batch was Jay C's pineapple ale. we decided to go with steeping the pineapple for 30 min after the boil. since we've got lots of equipment down there we started my raspberry porter going in parallel. i'd picked up 6.5 pounds of frozen raspberries from m & m, so i went with the 30min steep after the boil too. in my case we were aiming for more of a 'brown porter' than a 'robust porter' so that the raspberry would show through nicer. it was neat because it looked like i was going to have a nice brown colour, but once the raspberries went in it took on a definite red hue. even the head looks to have a red tint to it. it's been happily fermenting away since last saturday and i'm definitely looking forward to when i get to try it out. It's going to go into bottles too, but i'm still considering building a counter pressure bottle filler and throwing it into the keg first. that means i'll need to get a co2 tank and all that, but it also puts me on my way towards a keg fridge. (Rob and the Jays all have keg setups, so i'm a bit behind the curve in that respect, but its mostly due to lack of space in our current apartment. once we end up in a larger place i'm hoping to pick up a cheap fridge and put in a tap or two. should be neat)

the last batch of the day was Jay W's apple ale. he decided to go with baking the apples and then adding them to the primary fermenter. he also managed to forget his final round of hops, so it looks like he's going to dry hop too. looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. the attempt in waterloo was crazy as it was crystal clear. usually our beers are on the darker side and sometimes take a while to clear up. we were all amazed at how quickly the apple ale cleared up and its nice light color. hoping the same happens with this batch. we had a bit of a scare initially. 48 hours after pitching the yeast there was still no sign of bubbling in our airlocks. fortunatley, when jay got in that night he saw that there was foam leaking out from around the edges of the lid. looks like the yeast were working just great, except he didn't have a perfect seal on the fermenter. he got it sealed after this and everything seems to be working well now.

only drawback to this session was that we broke our reliable old hydrometer. we have a backup, but it was not balanced too well and didn't seem to be working reliably. we confirmed this on Tuesday when we tried to get final gravity readings on the beers at Tim's place. it was reading far too high, so we're not going to be quite sure on the alcohol contents of the batches we've done using it, but we'll pick up a replacement and be back to normal in no time.

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