The IPAs

The Indiana Pennsylvania Alesmiths (IPAs) is the homebrew club of Indiana, PA. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or email us.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Update on the Red Cross Gala

If you would like to attend the Red Cross Gala on Thursday, March 21, just call the local Red Cross office at 724-465-5678. They will send you an invitation and information. It costs $20, which covers 25 bid tickets. The dinner is free. There will be other chances to bid on some really neat stuff.

If you would like to get an IPA table together just mention that you'd like to be seated with Bill Dietrich.

As a reminder, the IPAs passed the hat back in November and was able to purchase a beginners homebrew setup. This prize will be auctioned off at the Gala on March 21 to the highest bidder. The winner will also be able to choose the recipe kit of his/her choice, and Bill (others?) will go to that person's house to teach them how to brew a batch of beer.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Root Beer Squared

By Anne Daymut

Can home brewing be fun for the whole family, even the little ones?  I think so, and I am doing my best to make it an educational life lesson at the same time.  Biology, chemistry, physics, math, the history and culture of food preservation, basic kitchen skills, and respect for alcohol consumption, you name it; home brewing is multidisciplinary and offers a lot of opportunity to spend quality time with the kids and they don't even know they are learning.  But, being small as they are, they don't get to [legally] enjoy the fruits of their labor.  Actually, with no extra effort at all, you can turn your favorite hobby into one the kids and grandkids can drink and will be begging you to do.

My daughter Mia, 7 years old, loves cooking and food almost as much as I do.  Last year for her birthday, she got a soda siphon and a book about the craft of home made sodas.  (She also has an entrepreneurial spirit so the gift giver thought Mia could start her own soda stand over the summer and make some money.)  This gift coincided with my growing interest in home-produced alcohol.  Together, my daughter and I have worked our kitchen magic and made beverages that can please the big ones and the little ones.  It's called Root Beer.

Root Beer has been around for a long time, and yes, back in the day it did contain alcohol (about 0.5% ABV) due to natural carbonation.  In order for the refreshing elixir (believed to have health restorative properties) to remain sweet, it was inoculated then immediately placed in a sealed container and drank within the first couple days of the start of fermentation, before much alcohol was produced.  Commercially sold Root Beer today is non-alcoholic and carbonated artificially.  Just like the major adult beverage companies have limited the diversity, healthfulness, and craftsmanship heritage of alcohol consumption (and, in turn, dumbed-down the American palate), so too have the soda companies done the same with drinks suitable for children.  And the possibilities for soda are just as diverse, if not more so, than traditional beer.  Combine a rainbow of fresh fruit, berry, spice, and herb flavors with the fact that you have control over the sugar, preservatives, and caffeine; and how could anyone interested in home brewing, that also has rug rats underfoot, not consider making home brewed soda?

Here is Mia's recipe for Root Beer:
Ingredients can be collected from the woods (if you know what you are doing), ordered online, purchased at health foods stores like Nature's Way in Greensburg or the East End Food co-op in Pittsburg, or from our local homebrew shop, Montgomery Underground Winery.
2 scant liters Filtered Water
¼ packet Champagne Yeast
1 cup Natural Sweetener like Sugar or Honey
¼ cup Dried Sassafras Root
¼ cup Dried Burdock Root
2 tbs Dried Sarsaparilla Root
1 tbs Dried Licorice Root
1 tbs Dried Ginger Root

Place roots in a tea ball, grain bag, or cheese cloth.  Bring water to a boil, add roots and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.  Dissolve sugar in tea.  Allow tea to cool and add yeast.  Bottle as you prefer, leaving at least 1 inch of head space.  I like to put it in empty, clean, 2 liter plastic soda bottles.  Screw cap back on tightly and place in a dark warm place to begin fermentation.  You might also want to put it in a closed cooler or somewhere else safe in case it explodes.  Allow it to sit for 3-4 days.  If you use plastic bottles, check on progress daily. It is ready when the bottle is rock hard.  You can store bottles in the refrigerator for 2 additional days if you like but any longer and you will have a bomb on your hands.  Open carefully and enjoy.

The above recipe is sure to please the palate of any little tyke, discerning or not.  It is fresh, natural, and fun.  It even appeals to those of us big kids with a sweat tooth.  But, being the "drinkie" (my newly coined word for someone who appreciates all things "drink"; similar to the name "foodie" given to people who spend a lot of time contemplating and practicing all things "food"; i.e. people who watch Food Network daily and collect cookbooks) that I am, I wondered what a real Root Beer Beer (what I now call Root Beer²) would turn out like. 

Those of you that tried my first attempt really enjoyed it and that is why I wrote this article sharing the recipe.  In fact, my family and friends that have been following me through my home brewing journey insist that this is my best effort to date.  But I am certain it can be improved upon and altered to make wonderful, individualistic, and inspired creations.  There are literally thousands of herbs, spices and fruits out there that can be experimented with.  For instance, you might add some dried dandelion root or petals, licorice root, cherry or birch bark, juniper berries, or winter green leaf.  I am getting chills thinking of all the variations.  I would love to find a big wild patch of tea berries like my grandma pointed out to me as a kid hiking around cook forest; talk about making this truly a family affair, but I digress. 

Just one word of caution, start with a small amount of favor enhancements and work your way up to the perfect addition, maybe even small batches, and keep good records and labels.  I've been told that the best thing about my particular ratio of flavored root additions was that it was not too strong.  It gave just the right amount of up-front nose and a little bit of root flavor at the very end but it was still just a plain, widely accepted, version of the American Pale Ale, with hops, grains and all. 

Alas, I never make the same thing twice, even when cooking, but Root Beer² will always be in the back of my mind.  Well, I am going to get inventing on the next thing that will rock your boat (I am already dreaming about what I might brew this coming August when sweet corn is at its peak or even next month when I dig up those carrots that have over-wintered in my garden) while you perfect Root Beer².  And would it really be so bad if my daughter had a taste of this?

Root Beer Squared:
1  5-gal recipe (or ingredient kit) of your favorite American Pale Ale
1 tbs dried ginger root
2 tbs dried burdock root
2 tbs dried sassafras root
1 tbs dried sarsaparilla root

Brew Pale Ale as instructed in kit directions, adding dried roots during last 10 minutes of boil.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homebrew Labels - A Great Glue Recipe

posted by Anne Daymut

It seems I am now known as “The Glue Girl”.  I have been called worse and I feel honored that so many of you appreciate the hours I spent researching the best method to affix homemade labels to your homebrew.  Well, I feel that our beer deserves the best.  After all, we have spent an incredible amount of time, effort, and money contemplating our next recipe, collecting equipment and ingredients, brewing into the wee hours of the night once the kids are in bed, tending to our fermenters like they are part of the family, and cleaning and filling bottles until our fingers hurt.  In truth, I had very little to do with this glue recipe, I just extracted it from the Home Brew Talk Forum after much reading.  (If you haven’t visited this forum, I recommend stopping by).

You can't buy this glue already made, but the ingredients are easy to find and it keeps well.  (A couple of us should go into business making this glue and selling it online!)  It is great because it won't come off in an icy cold cooler but peels right off without residue in hot soapy water.  
You can design your own labels using computer software such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Photoshop, but there are also websites where you can design your own labels for free, or almost free (future article, maybe).  Or, if you are particularly artistically inclined, draw something unique freehand (it is craft beer, isn’t it?)  I have found that creating a label for my beer and seeing the reaction on the faces of those I share it with, is almost as enjoyable as making the beer itself.  I have had a lot of good times asking friends and family to pitch in ideas for names and label designs for my next concoction.

When labels are printed using an ink jet printer, the colors will run.  If you don't have access to a laser color printer, just take a copy of what you printed using your ink jet to a copy center and ask for color copies, which are only 0.25 per sheet with 6 labels per sheet.  Actually, many copy centers will allow you to email a digital copy of your art to them so you don’t even have to waste your own ink.  Well, I could go on forever but, let’s get to the recipe.

Recipe for Glue (makes enough for at least 4 cases of beer)
6 Tbsp water
2 packets unflavored gelatin (1/2 oz each) found in jello section at grocery store
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp glycerin (skin care section of pharmacy)

Bring water to boil.  Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved.  Add vinegar and glycerin.  Let mixture cool slightly and pour into jar with tight fitting lid.  Use a brush to apply to paper while warm.  (I use a silicon food basting brush because it cleans so easily.)  Transfer unused glue to a glass jar with tight fitting lid.  Glue becomes a gel when cool.  To reuse, place jar in warm water bath until liquid.

Alternatively, you can skip this glue and dunk your bottles in milk and slap your labels on.  However, the milk "glue" method doesn't hold up in the cooler with ice.

February Meeting Had Record Attendance

The IPAs met last night (Tue Feb 12) at the Coney on Philadelphia Street.  In all, we had 26 people at the meeting, which included three new members (Welcome!), many 'regular' attendees, and a few old familiar faces.

Although this was to be our Stout brewing tasting, there were also a few non-stout brews shared. And two of the stouts supplied by members were commercial brews rather than homebrews. Regardless, there was a lot of great beer being passed around last night.

We sampled dry stouts, milk stouts, imperial stouts, stouts with chocolate, with coffee, and with blueberries.  We also had an American Pale Ale containing traditional root beer herbs/spices, a pilsner, and an India Pale Ale.  All in all, a nice evening.

Thanks to Carolyn and Ryan for holding the main dining room for us and for the great service.

Save the date:
  • Red Cross Gala (the club donated a homebrew starter kit for auction) Thu Mar 14

Friday, February 8, 2013

February 2013 Homebrew Club Meeting

The February 2013 IPAs club meeting will be held at 8pm at The Coney on Tuesday, Feb. 12.  We will have several tables reserved for us in the main dining area to avoid the DJ and the game room.  Carolyn, veteran server at the Coney, will be our waitress for the evening.

Many thanks to those who offered alternate solutions to our meeting-place quandry. Had the Coney not acquiesced to giving us prime seating, we would be headed elsewhere for this tasting.

The meeting agenda for Tuesday will be to get updates on any beer-related news in the region (festivals, new releases, etc.), discuss upcoming events for the club, and then get to the main event: the homebrew stout tastings!

Should this not be enough beer, the Coney currently has Penn Märzen on tap and Rogue Dead Guy, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Bells Two Hearted in bottles.