Last year, R decided that I needed a hobby, so she got me a homebrewing kit. I've now produced 3 batches of beer, with the fourth currently fermenting away, ready to be drunk in about a month.
Sometime I'll put up some pictures of Tadpole helping me strip labels from beer bottles and clean the carboys between fermentation cycles, but today two experiments I'm trying for the first time:
I started with Northern Brewer's "White House Honey Porter" recipe (a 5-gallon kit, so roughly 4-5 dozen bottles) based on the Honey Porter recipe brewed in the White House.
The first change I made was to infuse most of the batch with vanilla. Two beans, dropped in a vase full of vodka overnight to sterilize them, then added to 4 gallons during secondary fermentation will hopefully lead to a nice Vanilla Porter. (I also have a single gallon of the original recipe fermenting separately) Bonus - a bit of vanilla vodka to enjoy while racking the beer.
Second experiment - saving some yeast. After siphoning the beer from the primary fermentation to secondary, there's a bunch of left over slurry - bits of yeast along with leftover undigestible proteins. Pour in some hot water to loosen it up, dump into sterilized mason jars, and let sit for a few hours. Most of the remaining slurry will settle out, leaving water with some yeast. Pour into new sterilized mason jars and enjoy your own live colony of yeast, ready to be pitched into a future batch of beer. Or at least that's the theory. I saved a few batches, hoping that at least one will stick. Also that maybe Tadpole and I can do some experiments with yeast. There's a video on youtube where a guy feeds the yeast various ingredients and tests which they eat the most of (based on carbon dioxide produced). That seems like a fun experiment. Hopefully google will come up with others, and I've actually saved the yeast properly. Only time will tell on both fronts.
In the meantime, I'm left to look forward to getting these into bottles in a few weeks, and drinking them a few weeks later.
I'll keep you posted on the progress, complete with some pictures of my assistant. Until then, enjoy this shot of Tadpole helping me siphon for primary fermentation.