Monday, March 11, 2013

The 6 Essential Home Bar Liquors

So you want to play bartender at your next house party? Here's what to have on hand for a night of good times and great drinks...

1: Vodka

This one goes without saying, but Vodka should always be on hand for a range of drinks such as Vodka Tonics, Screwdrivers, Martinis, etc.

2: White Rum

An favorite for those who enjoy lighthearted and tropical drinks such as Daiquiris and Mojitos.

3: Gin

A lot of people overlook Gin as a home bar essential, as it's easy to substitute with Vodka. However, a well made Gin and Tonic, Tom Collins, or Gin Martini can sweep guests off their feet (If this actually happens, get them some water instead).

4: Bourbon

My personal favorite and always well stocked, Bourbon is the main ingredient of many timeless drinks, such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Whiskey Sour. Also to consider having on hand are Tennessee Whiskey and Irish Whiskey for use with mixers.

5: Tequila

For those who enjoy waking up in strange places, we suggest having Tequila on hand. Tequila can be found in Margaritas, Sunrises and Palomas. The best Tequilas are made from 100% Agave, so give the label a look the next time you buy.

6: Cognac

A sophisticated liquor, Cognac offers a rounded repertoire of drink options such as Sidecars, Brandy-Milk Punches, Daisies and Smashes.

So there you have it, check out these 6 liquors and commit a few recipes for each to memory. The next time you have the opportunity to play the role of bartender, you might even get tipped!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Wizard of KATZ

To celebrate the release of Disney's "Oz: The Great and Powerful" in theaters Friday, we've made a new Katz Doodle on our Facebook page! Check it out and watch the movie trailer below!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Adventures in KATZ Home Brewing!

As most of you know, we talk about beer quite a bit. We taste, review and promote trying new beers (especially those in the craft realm). But now, we decided to try something new altogether; brewing our own beer...

The brewing process took roughly 1 month from start to finish and was a small, 1-gallon all grain batch. All equipment was properly sanitized at each step to ensure quality. The recipe selected was an American style IPA with American two-row Pale Malt, 20L Crystal Malt, Victory Malt, and Munich Malt. Hops used were Columbus (15%AA) and Cascade (5%AA).

Step 1; The Mash
We started by heating approximately 2qt water to 170 F to begin the mashing process. After the water was at peak temperature, the grain was infused into the water (mashing in), and temperature dropped to a steady 150 F. Stirring occasionally, the mash thickened and allowed for the sugars from the grain mix to be extracted into the water.

After 60 minutes of mashing at 150 F, we upped the temperature to 170 F for the last 10 minutes (Mashing Out) to extract the last of the sugars.

Step 2; The Sparge/Lauter Tun
After mashing is complete, the mash must pass through a straining device (Lauter Tun) to extract and hold the water/sugar combination. The process of straining the mash and continuously passing hot water through the grain bed is called the sparge. This process leaves you with the hot water and extracted sugars known as the wort.

Step 3; Boiling the Wort
After the sparge has completed the wort is heated again, this time to a rolling boil. At this time, we added our hops to the wort to balance the flavor. We began by adding our Columbus hops; at a 15% Alpha Acid rating (The higher the percentage, the more bitter the hops), these hops added some serious aroma, and the crisp bitterness found among IPA's. We also added some honey for flavor, color and to give the beer an ABV bump. The cascade hops (5%AA) were then added evenly every 15 minutes for the rest of the 1.25 hour boil.

Step 4; Chilling the Wort
To prepare for fermentation, the wort must be brought back down to 70 F to ensure that the high temperatures will not kill off the yeast we would be adding. There are different ways to do this efficiently, and we chose to give our wort an ice bath. We filled a cooler with mostly ice and some water, and soaked our kettle of hot wort for roughly 20 minutes to cool it down.

Step 5; Fermentation
We strained the wort again to rid it of hop remnants and other grain particles that may have slipped through on the first pass. Then we carefully filled our glass carboy with our wort and added a bit of cool water to account for that which was lost during the boiling process. For the first 3-4 days, our system was fitted with a blow-off tube into a container of sanitized water to allow for the large amount of CO2 (the by-product of fermentation) to escape without allowing any contaminants in. After the bubbling calmed down, our fermenter was fitted with an airlock to help for the rest of the process.

As you can see in the second picture, all of the sediment in the beer will settle to the bottom, forming what is called the trub. As you can see in the first picture, I enjoyed a nice apple pie that evening. After about 17 days, our small batch fermentation was complete.

Step 6; Bottling
At this step, we siphoned the beer from the fermenter and prepared the beer with some sugar for bottling. We added 0.5 ounces of sugar to the beer over low heat to mix evenly; this process activates the remaining yeast reaction and will cause natural carbonation when bottling. After the sugar was completely mixed in, we filled 8 bottles with our golden IPA, and capped them up. The bottle must stay in the same environment as the fermentation process for at least 1-2 weeks to ensure proper carbonation; exposing the beer to immediate colder temperatures could kill the yeast reaction and render the brew flat.

Step 7; Enjoy
After a couple of week conditioning at room temperature, we put our brews in the fridge and gave it a test. The final result was a crisp, bright flavor with a good balance of hop bitters and a clean finish at an approximate 7% ABV. In other words, success!

Thanks for checking out our beer-making blog, tell us what you thought of it on Twitter and Facebook! More to come in the future!