Guest Post: Red Ale & More!

My friend, Juan Flores, is a connoisseur of fine, home-brewed beer and an accomplished brewer himself. He has allowed me to post this brief rumination on his current brewing endeavor.

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I’m priming my ale some 5 days before I planned, but  the working yeast has slowed significantly, and I’ve fermented in both bucket and carboy much longer than what was needed. The Flores Ale & Beer Company continues production, and with another 5 gallons to boil into a fine wort called “Midnight Stout,” tonight —  my storage refrigerator will be filling to capacity.

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This ale has been fermenting some three weeks: Two in the bucket and one week in the carboy you see. Bottles are sterilized and are ready for me to bottle the ale and cap it. Ale is primed with added sugar in order to ferment for that champagne quality.

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It’s a long process. I had started preparing things for bottling at 5 this morning. I was finished at 10. After I cap them, I place them on the table so I can wipe them down with a moist cloth. When you’re bottling, the fermenting drink gets all over the floors. The house smells like a brewery, and so afterwards clean-up means mopping and sterilizing again.

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From the table they go to my cart so I can wheel them to the storage refrigerator and transfer them there for yet another 30 days of bottled fermenting.

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It’s a Red Ale that tastes absolutely delicious. The aroma is fantastic — this may even better than my last batch. Maybe, I’m just getting better with practice. This particular ale has been treated with just tinge of Red Chili pepper. I think I made a wise choice in that seasoning. It’s very good!

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Of course I have to taste-test it. My big nose picks up the aromas — very nice and the taste is absolutely ale — a bit sweet, but it’s been primed for bottle fermentation, so the real taste tasting comes in another 20 days for trial.

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I’m “Breaking Bad,” as my “cold-brewing refrigerator” is filling to capacity. This is generally referred to as LAGERING. These bottles represent three different time periods, and there is everything here from American Bock to Irish Stout and now Red Ale. I’ve got room for another five gallons, which I will begin the wort mix later today. The next batch is my Midnight Stout — one that I will experiment with by using a significant portion of natural Maple Syrup in the wort; I’m thinking it will lend that mapley taste to the stout.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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5 Responses to Guest Post: Red Ale & More!

  1. I understand completely, Juan. When an avocation becomes more demanding than rewarding, and when the expense begins to look like risk instead of investment, it’s no longer as much fun; and instead of removing stress, it adds to it. Enjoyment is key!

  2. Juan says:

    It’s all just cooking — maybe like doing home-made jam of your favorite fruit, or even sterilizing milk bottles for the baby.

    I don’t want to go further than what I’m doing here.

    Yes. I could get into some more complicated lagering, or even keeping CO2 charged kegs, or then even increasing the size of brewing to small, stainless steal vats.

    Make no doubt — despite the talk of home-brewers going big — a micro-brewery is a million dollar investment — and then — most micro-breweries fail!

    No! I’m content to be a home-brewer — keeping a proverbial bucket of beer brewing under the sink with many bottles aging in the backroom or in some old refrigerator set at low.

    I will say this about my experience: I’ll never drink a can Budweiser — or any of those carbonated beers: Schlitz, Fat Tire, Falstaff, Lone Star, Shiner, Miller…..you might just as well ask me to choose between a can of Campbell’s minestrone soup and what I could make at home.

    Now, wine is another matter completely. I’ve got a friend who brews wine, but there is no comparison between his home brew and something like a Bordeaux from the Delas Estate!

  3. Trish says:

    Left Hand Milk Stout, John?! That might be my calling….southpaw here…would love to try! 🙂

  4. They all sound good to me, but the Midnight Stout sounds especially intriguing. I’ve become a fan of almost all dark beers, but I’m especially fond of stouts. I was just looking at a list of all the stouts I’ve sampled in the past few months, including Deschutes Obsidian Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Ska Hibernal Vinifera Stout, 512 Cascabel Cream Stout, and a few others; I’d love to add Flores’ Midnight Stout to the list!

  5. Trish says:

    I’m very fond of the Red Ale concept, Juan. What a great idea….Red Chili Pepper! Visually, it does look as delicious as it sounds! You’ve really become quite the beer sommelier!!

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