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A Girl's Guide to Brewing, Blogging & Business Future Home of Middle River Brewing Company @ The Northside Cafe Phone: +1 (515) 462-1523 Website: http://www.breakingintocraftbrewing.com Address: 61 E Jefferson St, Winterset, IA 50273 Home About Videos Beer Stout Dunkel Porter The Blog 9 Dec The Holidays and Beer Chelsi: With the holiday season looming down on us, the pressure to get all of our gift shopping done is immense, along with quickly acquiring the knowledge to make good educated purchase decisions, Hell its enough to send you to the store to buy some craft beer and start drinking!! Oh damn, now I am looking at a shelf filled with Christmas beers. What is a Christmas beer? aka winter beer, Holiday beer, etc. Michele: Bubba was like jolly ol’ Saint Nick himself as he set out his haul. I do believe his eyes were even twinkling. I was a little hesitant as I am not a spices in my beer kind of gal. But I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. As Don Russell points out in his article, not all Christmas/Winter beers are spiced. And of those that were, some of them were not overdone, making it a true pleasure to drink and contemplate and discuss. Chelsi: Yeah, so recently we decided that we needed to explore some of the flavors that are being offered up (it’s a horrible burden to have to drink as part of your job) and we had some amazing and not so amazing beer (see picture), but we also found this amazing article from 2013 that did a great job giving the history of holiday beers. We have included it HERE for you to enjoy. Michele All of the beers(that I liked) were perfect for a seasonal party, pairing well with holiday food. Do be sure to have said food as these beers are notoriously higher in alcohol. And the warmers created a desire to be home in front of the fire with a few choice friends…or with the dog and a good book. So our final take on this topic? Chelsi : Go and get some of these amazing beers yourself, drink them before you go out to do that shopping and have an amazing holiday Michele: I agree with Mr. Russell, Christmas beer is a gift. Special and meant to be shared. And I hope our Winter Beer Tasting becomes a tradition. Cheers 20 Nov Drying Spent Grains Bubba DaVinci is a tenacious bulldog. And he’s sending me links to drying spent grain. I know this is a thing. Number one byproduct of brewing beer, etc. And now I’m intrigued, interested, thinking of the possibilities… And hadn’t I just read an Ian Fleming quote, “Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes’, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” Feeling very 007ish I paid a visit to Q. Actually, Dan Brewmaster of one of my favorite local breweries. And he would be brewing the very next day and would be willing to set aside a few buckets of fresh spent grains for me. And I take that back. Bubba is M. Next afternoon found me at Firetrucker Brewery enjoying a beer, conversation, and oh yeah, picking up two 5 gallon buckets of spent grain, Barley, to be exact. Spent in the best way possible, the making of excellent craft beer. Here are some notes from the adventure: 9:15 pm spooned the barley onto ungreased cookie sheet. This is one of three methods I will be trying to dry out these grains. I started with a warm oven and several of the articles and comments I read said that the pilot alone, after warmed, should be enough to dry out these grains overnight. I am keeping my fingers crossed as I head home to do the low-heat-for-seven-hours-stirring-once-in-a-while-method. I will also be putting some in the dehydrator. I asked Dan today if he keeps copious notes while brewing. He said he probably keeps more than some but still not enough. The thing about him is that he also has a good memory. I do not. Not since having kids. So I am trying my hardest to keep notes and to just remember to shut off the oven in the cafe before I leave. I wonder if Bond ever wore a sticky note bracelet… 10:15 pm Came home to two young girls excited to see their mommy and also excited to help. While the oven preheated we gathered cookie sheets, dehydrator, and freezer bags. The convection oven meant three racks at one time. Good news. But the dehydrator only had one tray that would contain the small barley grains. After numerous perusals to find the exact temp and time for the dehydrator it was clear I was on my own. Lots of people mention that you can use it but none I found gave specifics. Going on a double breve latte and a prayer I chose 155 degrees for the night… We’ve only used the thing for deer jerky every winter… this can’t be rocket science…or can it? I won’t be drying it all so alongside my mini mees we bagged up 14 – one-gallon freezer bags holding 4 cups of wet spent grain each. Flattening and marking them for easy freezer storage with dreams of Brooklyn Brewshop’s recipes dancing in my head, the chatter in the kitchen continued. Four of the five kids had dipped a finger in to taste the barley. Three of the kids commented on the bad smell. This was funny to me as I love malt-o-meal. Five of my five kids do not. When I had first opened the five-gallon bucket of treasure at the cafe my first thought was that I wanted a scoop with milk and butter on it. I actually had three fingerfuls in all. I don’t think the kids went back for seconds… But they do not know what I know. They have not seen what I have seen. Glorious color pictures of spent grain granola and buns and biscuits. Not to mention doggy biscuits (and Blue was very interested in the odors coming from the big green buckets) Rereading other’s notes I came to the jarring revelation that drying the grains in a pilot warm oven actually takes 24 hours and the cafe would need the oven in the morning for cooking the coveted ham balls and homemade macaroni and cheese which is a Wednesday staple for comfort food craving customers and that oven would HAVE to be turned on to warming temperature tonight. After what seemed an eternal discussion at 11:15 at night, Bayou Boy trekked back in to turn the oven on. And probably catch a much-needed break from me. Brewing some chamomile tea to counterbalance the espresso and sitting by the dehydrator to keep warm, I slowly nibbled a coconut macaroon absconded from the cafe (perk) and contemplated the Proverbs 31 woman. Glorious day! (Or middle of the night) Because I am the impatient woman, I decided to stir the dehydrator grains early only to find that they were already finished! I then went to the convection oven and found that they were already done as well! I’m going to get some sleep after all! And I am looking forward to all the goodies that can come from this…and so is Blue… Conclusion: I am indebted to brooklynbrewshop.com for their amazingly clear and concise instructions, tantalizing photos and recipes, their Spent Grain Chef is definitely where I found myself returning time and again and all the comments were invaluable. I believe that brewing is precise as is baking. Dehydrating is not. The goal is to dry out t...