Friday, January 15, 2010

Diacetyl Rest - Go for a Week!

In mid-late 2009 we brewed our first lager, an Oktoberfest. For our first lager (and having no temperature control device, just a fridge), it went really well. The final beer was malty with a nice hop bitterness, beautiful amber color, and crystal clear from the lagering (why filter a lager?).

I brought a sample to a Chicago Beer Society event, and one guy said he tasted a hint of diacetyl (a buttery by-product of lager yeast). I was unsure of this, having yet to train my palate for this flavor. But everyone really liked it and drained the bottle. Next day I brought a sample over to Half Acre brewing, and had a little lager schooling from head brewer Phil, who also tasted just a hint of the buttery diacetyl. After drinking this brew for a week or so, I was able to just pick it out too. He asked if I did a diacetyl rest, and I did do one for a few days. Phil said to just leave it out for a week! So next time, a week it is!

We've since brewed another lager, an American Premium. We had excellent temperature control, never letting the beer get above 50F (we pitched in the upper 40s), and a post-fermentation sample tasted great. So instead of doing a rest, I  just crashed it down to 36F and will be kegging it up soon for the super bowl. We'll see how that goes, but I think it should be fine. The yeast I used, Wyeast 2007, didn't say anything about needing a diacetyl rest, whereas the 2308 Munich Lager I used before clearly states that it benefits from one. So I guess the moral of the story is to read up on your yeast, and if a rest is needed, make it a week - cheers.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Irish Beef & Stout Stew

Happy New Year! If you're hungover or the weather's as bitterly cold as it is here in Chicago, you're not going to want to leave the house today. Thus, I thought I would share with you a great comfort food recipe using stout. I've made this many times with both Guinness and homemade oatmeal stout, but really any dark beer will do. Making this stew couldn't be easier - leaves plenty of time for relaxing in front of the TV while it's cooking. Serve with a nice crusty loaf of bread and more stout, of course.

Irish Beef & Stout Stew
from Everyday Food Magazine

  • 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed (I cut into small pieces.)
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 can (14.9 ounces) Irish stout beer
  • 10 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen baby peas, thawed
Preheat oven to 350. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, toss beef with flour; stir in tomato paste. Add potatoes, onions, broth, beer, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Transfer pot to oven, and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in peas, and season with salt and pepper.