Sarsaparilla Soda

Made 6 liters (a Tap-A-Draft’s woth) of Rainbow’s “Old Fashioned” Sarsaparilla Soda today after brewing.  I already had the sanitizer mixed up so why not.  I used the ingredient ratios recommended in the instructions and the uncarbonated soda tastes pretty good.  There’s a good vanilla kick alongside a strong spicy, barky sarsaparilla element.

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Cooling Wort to Lager Temps

I brewed a vienna lager today and with it being late summer I knew our tap water wouldn’t cool the wort far enough.  Here in Milwaukee we’re fortunate to have cool tap water all year but it does get up to 55-60 in the summer which doesn’t work well for getting the wort down to 50 or 55.

Using my cleaned-out mash tun as a ice water tub and a pond pump I was able to chill the wort down to 59.  It was moving really slowly at this point so I figured I’d let the freezer take it the rest of the way to 50.  The temperature of the ice water was about 42 so there was cooling potential left but I got impatient.  I used a ton of ice; 5 half-gallon milk jugs, 6 ice cube trays, and a 4-5 cold packs.  I cut off the plastic from the milk jugs and chunked up the ice blocks with an awl in order to get more cooling surface area.   Tap water was used to cool the wort down to 80 and then I switched over to ice water.  I recirculated the “warm” water right away but I suppose refilling the tun w/ tap water would have kept the ice water cooler because it’s at 55 instead of 60-80 degrees.

Got it down to 60

2008 Great Taste of the Midwest

Well as usual the GTMW was a rousing success.  Good weather, crowds & beer.  There were a few raindrops towards the end but I don’t think anyone noticed.  I’m consistently amazed at the lack of drunken frat boy presence at this fest.  The lack of popped collars and rowdy behavior really sets this apart.  Perhaps it’s the difficulty of getting tickets that keeps them away?

The real ale tent was really good this year especially the dry hopped pale ales.  Bell’s Porter was a treat, too.

Iced-down Firkins in the Real Ale Tent

A usual view at the fest.

View of the isthmus over Lake Monona.

The ithsmus in the background with a very bored lifeguard in the foreground