Sunday, December 7, 2014

#37 Smoked Black IPA - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

I mixed up a starter for a vial of White Labs San Diego Super Yeast.  The vial is a little old, packaged in August, but with the starter it shouldn't be a problem.  I will be using this for the rye ale as well, so I made a big starter, 1.2 gal, and split it 60% and 40%.

I didn't end up brewing the next weekend as planned ... or the weekend after that ... or the weekend after that.   The starters are now 4 weeks old, and taste a little sour.  This isn't ideal, but I'm crossing my fingers that since it's getting kegged it won't be a big deal.

Brewday 12/7/14:
I started off the morning, by brewing a rye ale, and now it's time to get this IPA underway.  It makes for a long day, but if I can brew 10 gal of beer in 11 hours instead of 5 gal of beer in 8 hours then sign me up.

The rye ale went smoothly.  After weeks of sub-freezing temperatures things have warmed up significantly, which is great for my personal comfort, but really dragged out the cooling time.  Without a brew kettle to drain into, I had to extend my mash to 2 hours.  That shouldn't make a difference though, after a 90 min mash, an additional 30 min shouldn't make much difference to either extraction or conversion.

With the rye ale out of the brew kettle, I could finally move on to lautering and batch sparging.  I turn on the burner while sparging to heat the first runnings near boiling and reduce the time to boil when I finally get to full volume, but this time I got the heat a little high. The first runnings reached a hard boil before I even started draining the second runnings.  I doubt it's a big deal, but if there's a bit extra melanoidin formation than normal I wouldn't be surprised.

45 sec 02, yeast pitched at 63F, temperature set to 65F.

4 Days: Temperature set to 68F.  Everything seems fine.

6 Days: Fermentation looks complete, added dry hops.

12 Days:  Racked to keg, SG down to 1.011.  First off, this is super bitter.  I hope as the polyphenols drop this settles down a bit.  I'm worried I used too much black patent malt as well.  Oh well, two more weeks til we find out for sure.  Placed in cold room at 37F (no gas).

#38 Rye Ale #2 - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

I mixed up a starter for a vial of White Labs San Diego Super Yeast.  The vial is a little old, packaged in August, but with the starter it shouldn't be a problem.  I will be using this for the Black IPA as well, so I made a big starter, 1.2 gal, and split it 60% and 40%.

I didn't end up brewing the next weekend as planned ... or the weekend after that ... or the weekend after that.   The starters are now 4 weeks old, and taste a little sour.  This isn't ideal, but I'm crossing my fingers that since it's getting kegged it won't be a big deal.

Brewday 12/7/14:
At long last, I'm brewing again.  After a busy fall--eight batches in about two months--I hit an icy patch.  It happened to be on the outdoor water spigot.  First the pipe froze, the next weekend I forgot my jacket and laptop cord, then the next weekend the pipes froze again.  Finally I can get down to business.

If you've been following my mash schedules closely, (I guess that's just you, future self) you'll notice that I've dropped the mash out, and now extended the mash to 90 min.  I dropped the mash out earlier because I was convinced I wasn't getting full conversion and the mash out was accelerating the freeing of unfermentable carboydrates after the beta amylase was finished.  Then I read Kai Troester's paper "Evaluation of the effect of mash parameters on the limit of attenuation and conversion efficiency in single infusion mashing" and noticed that he still saw a noticeable increase in efficiency and fermentability up to 90 minutes into the mash at 152F.  His results must be taken with a grain of salt as the mash size was only 250ml and heat loss was an issue, but it's definitely something worth looking into.  I want good fermentability and efficiency here, so 90 min mash it is.

For this batch I used Best Malz Pilsner malt that I got this summer to use in several beers, including the Belgian-style single and quad.  About time to finish it off!  The crush looks better than I'm used to.  The homebrew shop tends to crush the grains fairly coarse, sometimes with whole kernels slipping through unscathed, but not this time.

The brewday went fairly smoothly, with the mash coming in just a little low at 148F.  Then I ran out of propane toward the end of the boil, losing the boil while I was switching tanks, so I extended the boil 10 min to compensate.

45 sec 02, yeast pitched at 68F, temperature set to 65F.

4 Days: Temperature set to 68F.  Everything seems fine.

6 Days: Still looks cloudy from suspended yeast and it's still bubbling slowly.  I added the dry hops.  These Hersbrucker hops are smelling really ... "herbal."  This is not what I remember smelling from any hop before, like something out of the spice drawer, but I don't know what since I don't know my spices.  I hope it's a good sign, not a bad one.

12 Days:  Racked to keg. SG is down to 1.010, nice and dry.  I really need to find a better way to dry hop, some of the hops are still floating dry on top.  Regardless, it's still very hoppy.  The citrusy aspect of the Columbus is far more apparent than I expected, though the herbal Hersbrucker is there too.  We'll see how this all balances out with the malt when it settles down.  Placed in cold room at 37F (no gas).

Saturday, December 6, 2014

#38 Rye Ale #2 - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

I have a confession to make.  For the first time since I bought the kegerator in February, I don't have any beer on tap.  It's been a sad time, devoid of beer ... aside from the wealth of amazing wintery beer we have in Seattle and my secret stockpile of bottled homebrew from last winter.  Anyway it's time to get my act together and get something back on tap.

This recipe predates the kegerator, going all the way back to ... last fall (2013).  My friend Elise has hops--Cascade and Hallertau--growing at her parents house, so we put together a beer that would work with those varieties.  I picked rye because--not being familiar with rye or Hallertau hops--the spicy notes from their descriptions sounded like they would go together well.  Traditional Bavarian roggenbier combines up to 50% rye with German hops, which set a comforting precedent for the idea.  However, I wasn't looking for the banana esters from the Bavarian yeast, so I didn't base my beer off that.  Instead, I went for something more akin to an altbier, with some Munich malt and a touch of crystal.  Here is the recipe I ended up brewing:

Wet Hop Rye Ale
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Estimated ABV: 5.3 %
Estimated OG: 1.054 SG
Estimated FG: 1.014 SG
Estimated Color: 10.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 33.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 50.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt          Name                                     %/IBU         
11 lbs       Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           64.7 %
3 lbs        Rye Malt (4.7 SRM)                       17.6 %
2 lbs        Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                    11.8 %
1 lbs        Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)    5.9 %
0.60 oz      Columbus [14.00 %] - First Wort Hop      25.5 IBUs
0.80 oz x 4  US Hallertau [4.80 %] - Boil 15.0 min    5.3 IBUs
0.30 oz x 4  Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min         2.3 IBUs
0.25 tsp     Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              -
1.80 oz x 4  US Hallertau [4.80 %] - Boil 0.0 min     0.0 IBUs
0.35 oz x 4  Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min          0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg      San Diego Super Yeast (White Labs #WLP090)
2.00 oz      US Hallertau [4.80 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days 0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: BIAB @154F with protein rest at 110F
Total Grain Weight: 17 lbs
Estimated Cost: $33.67

The batch turned out to be one of my best to that point.  The rye was quite spicy, with some hop flavor, but nothing close to an IPA.  This was before I began studying water chemistry though, so it had a touch of the rubbery smokiness that plagued my early all-grain beers.  It blended in with the rye, so I couldn't tell exactly where the sharper flavors were coming from, but combined they overwhelmed the hops.  In addition, the body was a little heavier than I would have liked.  All in all, more malty than I would have liked, and not enough hops to really stand out as a wet hopped beer.

This year Elise's brother used the hops, so I didn't get to rebrew the fresh hop version.  As it turned out, I was quite busy anyway with two other fresh hop beers.  Now that I'm getting back to this recipe, I feel like I have the freedom to let the malts run wild (as they ended up doing last time) instead of trying to restrain them to let the hops stand out.  I want it to stay fairly dry though, so I'm going to replace the crystal with more Munich and drop the mash temp down to 150F.

Besides switching to dried Hersbrucker hops, I think I'll also add a bit of Columbus to the dry hop.  Hallertau just isn't as aromatic as American varieties, so I think this will give me more of the hop punch I'm looking for, hopefully without drowning it out.

Last time I used White Labs' San Diego Super Yeast to get a clean fermentation without too many fruity esters.  I liked that pairing but with all the similarities to altbier, I considered switching to an alt or Kölsch yeast.  Those yeasts are also very clean, so it's the same idea, but in the beers I've used them in, they come across very differently.  In the end, I decided to use the SD Super Yeast again since I'll be fermenting the black IPA next to it and can use the same starter and ambient temperature.  I do hope to try out the recipe with a German yeast soon though.

Rye Ale #2
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 5.9 %
Estimated OG: 1.056 SG
Estimated FG: 1.012 SG
Estimated Color: 5.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt            Name                                     %/IBU
8 lbs          Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           61.5 %
2 lbs 8.0 oz   Munich Malt (6.0 SRM)                    19.2 %
2 lbs 8.0 oz   Rye Malt (4.7 SRM)                       19.2 %
0.75 oz        Columbus [16.10 %] - First Wort Hops     33.9 IBUs
1.00 oz        Hersbrucker [1.60 %] - Boil 15 mins      2.3 IBUs
1.00 Items     Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)        -
2.00 oz        Hersbrucker [1.60 %] - Boil 0 mins       0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg        San Diego Super Yeast (White Labs #WLP090)
2.00 oz        Hersbrucker [1.60 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days  0.0 IBUs
0.45 oz        Columbus [16.10 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days    0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion @150F, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs
Estimated Cost: $28.25

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#32 Cascade Wet Hop IPA #2 - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 6.2%
IBU: 25
Serving Temp: 35
Carbonation: 2.5
Grade: B

This is the first time I've actually rebrewed a recipe.  I've spent so much time trying new recipes, styles, and techniques that I haven't taken the time to try to go back to my notes and try to correct my mistakes and improve on my previous beers.  This one is definitely an improvement, but I think it could still use some tweaks before it becomes the beer I imagined when compiling the recipe.

So first off this beer is really hoppy.  Obviously that's good, it's an IPA.  The Cascade hops still don't jump out of the glass, but there's plenty of hop flavor.  I didn't use a whole lot of dry hops (I ended up using 1 oz Cascade and 1 oz Simcoe since that's what I had) for an IPA, but I thought all the late fresh hops would be enough to get some good aroma.  It really illustrates how important dry hopping is to the modern IPA's aroma.

Though the temp dropped at the end of fermentation, I didn't have problems with underattenuation like I did in the last batch.  That confirms my suspicion that the poor crush and mash out were part of the problem.  However there is a touch of diacetyl.  I've tasted a few commercial lagers with bad diacetyl lately so maybe I'm more sensitive to it at the moment, but I do find it a flaw.  As the beer sat in the keg it seems like the yeast may have cleared it up a bit, allowing the malt character to come through.  I think I'm on to something with the victory malt next to something darker.  The dark crystal came through as more sweet and less burnt, despite the lower FG, which may be a result of the diacetyl, or it may be that the Crystal 120L isn't the malt I'm looking for.

Overall I would say this beer was a big step in the right direction.  While the fermentation temperatures were again a problem, eliminating the mash out improved attenuation and let the hops shine through.  I might consider swapping the crystal 120L for the 135L, or I might try an amber or brown malt, I'm not sure.  Next time I really want to use the Cascade-Centennial-Columbus dry hop I originally planned on; I think the lemony and piney notes in the aroma will complement the bright fresh flavor of the wet cascades better than the Simcoe.  I won't get back to this recipe until next year since it's built to showcase the wet Cascasde hops, but the malt character is unique for an IPA and a good pairing, so I'll definitely revisit it when the time comes.

Thanks again to Oxbow Farm for the hops!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#37 Smoked Black IPA - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

It seems like everybody's favorite beer is the IPA, double IPA, or session IPA, in any of a rainbow of colors.  Good ol' American innovation makes everything better!  Hops are great and all, but I have just as much fun brewing malt forward styles or learning about historical beers.  This batch I plan on brewing a beer based on historical Export India Porter, a beer I discovered through Ron Pattinson's blog ... and a beer that's suspiciously similar to modern black IPA.  So much for innovation.

Ok, I'll stop being a smart ass (for the moment).  I'm brewing a black IPA.  I'm not usually a fan of black IPA, Cascadian dark ale, India black ale, or even particularly hoppy stouts, but I put together a recipe I think could actually be pretty good.  Usually the combination of piney or citrusy American hops with dark roasted malts just doesn't do it for me (with a couple notable exceptions), but after brewing the Arrogant Bastard clone, I realized Chinook hops could be the answer.  They're not like the other American hops, which is why I never liked them before.  They're more ... herbal, spicy and piney according to all the descriptions.  I'm no connoisseur of herbs, spices, or pine branches, so I don't know what that means, but it's certainly different, maybe the kind of different that goes well with dark malt.  I hope it doesn't suck.

But that alone isn't too exciting, I feel like it needs something more to make it unique.  I think this combination could go really well with a bit of smoked malt.  Not too much, but just enough to make things interesting.  Maybe I should have learned my lesson above about trying to be creative, because others have brewed something similar, but whatever.  Pull it all together with some San Diego Super Yeast from White Labs and we'll see what we get.

Smoked Black IPA
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 6.7 %
Estimated OG: 1.062 SG
Estimated FG: 1.011 SG
Estimated Color: 32.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 91.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt          Name                                     %/IBU
10 lbs       Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           74.1 %
1 lbs        Munich Malt - 6L (6.0 SRM)               7.4 %
1 lbs        Smoked Malt (2.3 SRM)                    7.4 %
12.0 oz      Carafa III (525.0 SRM)                   5.6 %
4.0 oz       Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          1.9 %
8.0 oz       Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)          3.7 %
1.00 oz      Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min        36.7 IBUs
1.00 oz      Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 40.0 min        32.2 IBUs
1.00 oz      Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min        22.2 IBUs
1.00 tsp     Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)          -
1.00 Items   Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)        -
2.00 oz      Chinook [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min         0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg      San Diego Super Yeast (White Labs #WLP090)
1.70 oz      Chinook [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days     0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion @148F, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs 8.0 oz
Estimated Cost: $29.01

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#29 Blackberry Saison - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 6%
IBU: 25
Serving Temp: 35
Carbonation: 2.5
Grade: B

Ok first off, this beer looks really cool.  After a week soaking up the flavor and color from used blackberry skins, it turned a striking shade of red.  The head doesn't last long, quickly fizzing away, but it took half the keg for me to get over the color enough to notice.

The aroma is a little funky; the yeast lead the way, somewhat Belgian, but not as enticing as a nice tripel.  It's a weird combination with the color and it just smells ... off, I can't put my finger on the smell.  As it has matured in the keg, the aroma has improved noticeably, but I wouldn't say it reminds me of anything different.  It's funny how subtle changes can turn the same qualities from bad to good (or vice versa).

At first sip, I was surprised by how sour this beer is!  It turns out I got mostly acidity from the blackberries, with some generic berry flavor following.  I was hoping to get some of that rich blackberry signature in here, but no such luck.  This was from the second batch of berries which were tart to begin with and generally of poor quality so it's no surprise.  After the initial shock of being blasted by berries, I can pick up some of the underlying malt flavor, but it takes some work.  Any yeast driven flavor is hard to identify; there is no discordance here between each of the pieces though (well, after the aroma sorted ) so I'm happy with how the saison yeast pulled things together.  The balance of berry vs beer is definitely in favor of the sour berries, but this is a blackberry beer so it's appropriate.  Last of all, the hop bitterness is present and brings the sip to a firm end.  It reminds me that this is a beer and I think strikes just the right balance with the berries, providing a satisfying dry finish without being harsh or off-putting.

I would say this beer is as good as I could hope for on a first attempt.  I didn't anticipate the amount of acidity I would extract from the used blackberry skins.  It's no surprise as the berries themselves were sour, but I'm curious how different this beer would be if I had used the good berries from the first batch of wine.  The beer was enough of a success that I will definitely try it again next fall, especially since it doesn't require its own batch of berries.  Hopefully next years crop will be more like those from the first batch of blackberry wine, than the ones I used here.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

#30 Cascade Wet Hop IPA - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 5.5%
IBU: 65
Serving Temp: 35
Carbonation: 2.5
Grade: C+

Oops, it's been awhile since we polished off this keg and I never got around to reviewing it.  Or maybe I was avoiding it.  It's not much fun to review a disappointing beer.

Much like the Heady Topper clone, this beer under-attenuated, finishing sweeter and thicker than I would have liked.  I think the mash out may be adding a substantial amount of unfermentable sugar that wasn't converted sooner because of the poor crush I'm getting from the homebrew shop.  It finished at SG 1.018 which is way higher than it should be.

The hop flavor is good.  Cascades are nice, always agreeable, but they don't really jump out of the glass like the newer varieties I've been using lately.  The appley esters from the Irish yeast don't complement the hops like I thought they would.  Instead it seems surprisingly reserved, just like the Irish red.

As a whole, this beer is fine, but not what I was trying to brew.  People described it as "smooth," "balanced," and "not too bitter like most IPAs."  That's fine if you're not an IPA drinker, but I really wanted to showcase the fresh hops, so it's disappointing from the brewer's perspective to miss the mark.

Luckily I don't have to lament too long.  I already have the next iteration on tap!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

#35/36 Parti-gyle English Ales - Brewday

Recipe     -     Barleywine     -     Tasting
Recipe     -     Bitter     -     Tasting

Yeast Starter:
I used the Irish yeast for this beer that I've been reculturing all summer.  I finally bought a graduated cylinder to accurately measure slurry volumes so I can get better control of my pitch rate.  I ended up pitching 260ml of slurry into 1 gal of 1.043 starter wort split into .6 gal for the barleywine and .4 for the bitter (cell counts estimated w yeast calc).  The yeast took off, putting up a nice foam in only several hours.  It seems like the yeast have worked more quickly with each generation, fermenting out in a little over a day, and dropping clear in another day or two.

Parti-gyle Setup:
Since I glossed over the subject in the recipe posts, I thought it would be good to go into the technical details of the parti-gyle mash here.  I initially drew up two recipes--as posted in the barleywine and bitter recipe posts--for the two beers on their own.  Then I compiled a third recipe for the mash as a whole.  As I mentioned before, parti-gyle brewing doesn't increase mash efficiency so much as facilitate high gravity beers without a drop in efficiency by using weaker runnings for a second beer.  The combined recipe contained the total grist and total volume for the two beers using my standard efficiency (65%).

Parti-gyle Full Mash
Batch Size (fermenter): 10.50 gal
Estimated ABV: 7.0 %
Estimated OG: 1.070 SG
Estimated FG: 1.018 SG
Estimated Color: 5.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 0.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt        Name                                     %/IBU
30 lbs     Pale Malt, Maris Otter (2.6 SRM)         100.0 %

Mash Schedule: A-Single Infusion, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 30 lbs
Estimated Cost: $43.50

From there I plugged the mash parameters into Braukaiser's parti-gyle calculator to estimate the strength and volume of each of the runnings.  The size of my mash tun (10 gal) limited me to small batch sparges, but it turned out that the 1st and 2nd runnings would be close to the volume and strength for the barleywine, while the third and fourth would be perfect for the bitter.

Looking back on this, the volumes were a little off since I didn't adjust for the increased boil-off of using two pots, but it turned out this was the least of my worries...

Brewday 11/2/14:
Worst brewday ever.

Ok, maybe not, I survived without shattering a carboy, cutting my finger open, or losing anything into the wort, but that's about the only positive news.  What started as a long day, with a 90 minute mash and 90 minute boils, stretched into an eternity after I experienced my first stuck mash.  I opened the ball valve to start the first lauter but nothing came out.  I tried restirring and blowing air back through the outlet to clear the blockage, but nothing helped.  I ended up scooping the entire mash into a BIAB bag in the brew kettle, draining that into the aluminum pot, lifting the grain back into the brew kettle, then recirculating the grain over the top of that to filter it.  It turns out the source all the trouble was a piece of the PVC manifold at the bottom of the mash tun that came loose.  Malt husks flowed in behind it and plugged the narrow outlet tube.

With the mash tun fixed, the rest of the day proceeded relatively smoothly.  I lost some of the first runnings in all the madness, so i had to make adjustments.  My volumes for both beers were a little low, but the gravity on the bitter came in a little high, so I changed that one to a 60 min boil to end up just about right.  I also reduced the bittering hops from 3 oz to 2.5 oz on the barleywine to bring the IBU back in line after deceased volume.

After all that, I ended up pretty close to my targets with 4.5 gal at SG 1.042 for the bitter and 5.3 gal at 1.104 for the barleywine.  I wanted to make sure the bitter came as close to the target as possible, so I stole half a gallon from the barleywine to bring it to 5 gal at 1.048.

Bitter Fermentation:
30 sec O2, yeast pitched at 60F, placed in fridge at 64F.

1 Day:  Ambient temp holding steady at 64F, beer temp at 67F.  Yeast is taking off nicely.

4 Days:  Power went out, so we lost temperature control over night and the temp dropped to 62F, beer to 64F.  Heaters are back on now though.

7 Days:  Ok I lied, looks like the heater didn't come back on.  It looks like the yeast has settled out, hopefully it was actually done.  Temp up to 72 and I gave it a quick swirl.

13 Days:  Racked to secondary after 24hr cold crash at 35F.  It's down to 1.010 so it seems fine.  We'll see for sure once it's carbonated and I can get a good taste.

Barleywine Fermentation:
1 min O2, yeast pitched at 66F, placed in fridge at 64F.

1 Day:  Man, this yeast went to town!  We already have a pretty solid blow off after only 24 hrs.  Ambient temp is 64F, beer temp is 68F.

4 Days:  Power went out, so we lost temperature control over night and the temp dropped to 62F, beer to 66F.  Heaters are back on now though.

7 Days:  Ok I lied, looks like the heater didn't come back on.  The foam has dropped, but there is still yeast is still in suspension.  Who knows where this is at.  Temp up to 72 and I gave it a quick swirl.

13 Days:  Racked to secondary after 24hr cold crash at 35F.  It's only down to 1.042, so with the heat going out, the yeast didn't get the job done.  I added a bit of healthy yeast harvested from the bitter to hopefully restart fermentation.

4 Months:  Bottled w target of 2.1 vol.  SG has dropped to 1.036, so it tastes less sweet, but hopefully the carbonation lightens it up a bit more (without bursting the bottles like the stout).  It's surprisingly clear, I hope there is still enough yeast left to actually carbonate

Saturday, November 1, 2014

#36 Parti-gyle Bitter - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been comissioned to brew a batch of beer for an upcoming art show!  It's exciting to have someone request beer not only for themselves but to serve to others.  From the event flyer:

The theme of the event is based on the phrase, “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” touching on the issue of perceived waste in our everyday lives. APT will showcase the talented minds and hands of Brothers Catering and many local artists, through the use of the discarded, recycled, and repurposed wealth of our city. We hope to squeeze every opportunity out of these materials to do good.

To go with this theme, I was asked to brew a beer from second runnings.  I have yet to attempt a parti-gyle mash, but I guess there's no time like the present!  Since you're getting two (or more beers from a single mash, parti-gyle brewing seems like it should be a useful technique for increasing efficiency (quite in keeping with the theme), but in general that is not the case.  Compared to just brewing the weaker beer on its own, parti-gyle techniques do not actually increase the sugar extracted from the grain.  However with a standard mash it can be hard to produce a wort with specific gravity over 1.100, so a parti-gyle mash lets you use only the richest first runnings for the strong beer without wasting all the extract remaining in the mash.

As you would expect, the beers must be very similar: same malt, same water profile, different strengths.  In order to keep my options open, I brewed a barleywine for the strong beer with all base malt (Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter).  For this weaker beer, I'll be doing a classic English bitter by capping the mash with some crystal malts to add body and flavor after draining the first runnings for the barleywine.  Throw in a little Willamette hops and some Irish ale yeast and we should have a nice little bitter.  Hopefully the artsy types enjoy a good ol' fashioned pint of ale.

Parti-gyle Bitter
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 4.3 %
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Estimated FG: 1.012 SG
Estimated Color: 8.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 42.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt          Name                                     %/IBU
9 lbs        Pale Malt, Maris Otter (2.6 SRM)         92.3 %
6.0 oz       Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   3.8 %
6.0 oz       Carastan - 30-37L (35.0 SRM)             3.8 %
1.50 oz      Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min      35.6 IBUs
0.50 oz      Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 20.0 min      7.2 IBUs
1.00 Items   Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)        -
0.50 oz      Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min       0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg      Irish Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1084)      -

Mash Schedule: Parti-gyle @152F
Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 12.0 oz
Estimated Cost: $24.52

#35 Parti-gyle English Barleywine - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

As my roommate Chris put it, I just got my first gig!  A friend wants me to brew a batch to serve at an upcoming art show.  More on that beer and the event later, but one of the requirements is that the beer must be brewed from second runnings, meaning I have to brew a big beer first.  I certainly don't need much persuasion for that.

Splitting the runnings from the mash into separate boils is known as parti-gyle brewing, and is an extremely old technique.  It is not often used anymore, except by a few English breweries such as Fuller's.  However it can be very useful for brewing large beers like barleywines without sacrificing efficiency.  After draining out the concentrated first-runnings from the mash tun, there is still plenty of sugar left to make a second, weaker beer.  Check out the links at the bottom of the page for more how-to info.

The beer for the art show is going to be an English bitter, so the big beer must also be something fairly pale.  I haven't brewed a barleywine so I might as well give it a try.  Barleywines are descended from the long line of English stock ales, stingos, and other strong ales.  The first beer to bear the name was Bass No. 1 Ale, the strongest ale from the famous Burton brewery made--as I'm doing here--from the first runnings of the mash.  I find the etymology of beer terms fascinating as it sheds light on shifting brewing practices as well as the public perception of their products.  I won't go into detail here, but Martyn Cornell again has a great article on the history of barleywine.

The signature of the beer we now recognize as barleywine is big malt flavor with a serious alcohol punch.  They tend to be fairly pale--at least when compared to imperial stouts--foregoing dark-kilned malts in order to showcase the flavorful English pale malt.  American barleywines tend to have more hops, both for bitterness and for flavor, while English versions let the malt be the star.  I'm not generally a fan of barleywine as the bold alcohol flavor is usually too much for me.  However my favorite examples--Sucaba from Firestone-Walker, Olde Bluehair from Big Sky, and Rye-on-Rye from Boulevard Brewing--all manage to soften the edges with a delicious caramelly sweetness.

As this will be my first barleywine, I plan on keeping things simple with 100% floor malted Maris Otter from Thomas Fawcett.  I still have some Guiness yeast on hand that's been recultured a couple times so I'll use that.  The ester profile and high attenuation should fit perfectly in a barleywine.  I grabbed a pound of Willamette hops this summer to use in English ales and stouts so I'll use some of those here.

I originally planned to use them for bittering as well, but noticed that their cohumulone content is extremely high.  Conventional brewing wisdom states that high-cohumulone hops create a harsher bitterness, but that has been questioned lately.  This link nicely sums up the research on the subject.  The verdict, while not conclusive, is that cohumulone is more soluble than adhumulone so the total bitterness just increases, as measured by laboratory IBU tests,  If the hop quantities are adjusted so that the final IBUs match, there should be no discernible difference in the character of the bitterness.  I could pick up some Magnum or Horizon to play it safe, but I think the Willamette will be just fine.

Parti-gyle Barleywine
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 9.8 %
Estimated OG: 1.099 SG
Estimated FG: 1.025 SG
Estimated Color: 6.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 54.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Amt           Name                                     %/IBU
21 lbs        Pale Malt, Maris Otter (2.6 SRM)         100.0 %
3.00 oz       Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min      49.4 IBUs
0.50 oz       Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 20.0 min      5.0 IBUs
1.00 Items    Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)        -
0.50 oz       Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min       0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg       Irish Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1084)      -

Mash Schedule: Parti-gyle
Total Grain Weight: 21 lbs
Estimated Cost: $41.55

Parti-gyle Links:
BYO: Parti-gyle Brewing Techniques
Brewing Techniques: Parti-gyle Brewing
Brew Board: Parti-gyle Brewing FAQ
Braukaiser: Batch Sparge and Parti-gyle Simulator
Brew Strong: Parti-Gyle

Barleywine Links:
BYO: Big Bad Barleywine
The Jamil Show: English Barleywine and American Barleywine
Zythophile: What is the difference between barley wine and old ale?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

#34 Unhopped Ales: Gruit and Leann Fraoch - Recipes

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

While I'm on the subject of local ingredients--blackberries, hops, more blackberries, more hops, apples and pears--let's just add another to the list: wormwood.  My friend Kristin has a small herb garden and last spring at a beerfest we decided to find a way to incorporate her herbs into a beer.  These days beers are just spiced with hops, but I remembered reading somewhere that wormwood--the headline ingredient in absinthe once thought to cause hallucinations--was once used as a bittering agent in a concoction known as gruit, back before everybody was addicted to lupulin.  Even though we're trying to brew with one of the most bitter herbs known to man, at least there's a precedent.  Of all my crazy experiments, this is one of them.

Gruit dates back to the dark ages and is the forerunner of modern beer.  An unhopped ale, it was spiced with a mixture of herbs (also known as gruit) that provided bitterness, flavor and acts as a preservative.  Myrica gale, yarrow, march rosemary, juniper, wormwood, mugwort, heather, horehound, and others found their way into the brew.  The exact composition of these blends was a closely held secret, often safeguarded by feudal lords and church officials, and varying from region to region and from era to era, so there is no canonical recipe to consult.

I've been researching this beer off and on for the last five months trying to learn as much as I can about the ingredients, their flavors, side effects, historical recipes, and ancient brewing practices.  Homebrew forums had little to say--or at least little positive to say--about gruit.  Many recipes I found dated all the way back to the Great Hop Shortage of 2008 when homebrewers found it impossible to obtain the hop varieties for many of their favorite recipes  Some tried their hand at gruit... and quickly found it a fool's errand.  After striking out, my next stop was the Brew Your Own archives for a good executive summary.  I also found the relatively authoritative Gruit Ale site had a nice overview of the history of gruit, as well as a quick round up of relevant herbs and some basic recipes.  It is well focused, but lacked the depth to make me comfortable compiling my own recipe.  I found that the source with the most detail on the herbs was Stephen Harrod Buhner's Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers.  He devoted sections to each of the primary gruit herbs, providing historical and social context to their use, and providing recipes that used each.  However Buhner is clearly an herbalist, not a brewer, as the brewing details often make little sense.  I also picked up Randy Mosher's Radical Brewing, though that turned out to be more of a showcase of crazy recipes.  It was inspiring to see the breadth of beers I have yet to brew, but the section on gruit added nothing new.

In the end I decided to brew two different recipes from two distinct traditions.  The first is a classic gruit generally following the recipes outlined in Buhner and Mosher.  Those recipes call for an even mix of yarrow, myrica gale, and marsh rosemary.  Myrica gale and marsh rosemary are distinct herbs, but are close relatives and have similar flavors and psychoactive properties.  Beer historian Martyn Cornell claims that it is unlikely both were regularly used in the same recipe, with myrica gale being the favorite when available, so I used it exclusively in this recipe.  Until I've brewed with these recipes I won't make my own observations, so go ahead and check out the resources above if you're interested: Gruit Ale for a quick brewing-focused overview and Buhner's book for a more thorough treatment.

Amt            Name                              Time
1 oz           Yarrow                            15 min
1 oz           Myrica Gale                       15 min
.25 oz         Wormwood                          15 min
.5 oz          Yarrow                            Dry hop (7 days)
.5 oz          Myrica Gale                       Dry hop (7 days)
.25 oz         Wormwood                          Dry hop (7 days)

As I mentioned earlier, I found the variety of beer in Radical Brewing is inspiring and one of the beers it inspired me to brew is an ancient Scottish heather ale, or Leann Fraoch in Scottish.  Before the Edward I of England drew and quartered William Wallace, before the Vikings sacked Lindisfarne, and in all likelihood well before Hadrian built his wall , the Pictish tribes used heather to flavor their brews.  If you've ever read the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, this is the beer he's talking about.  Martyn Cornell again has an interesting post on the origins of this brewing tradition.

For my interpretation, I want to work in wormwood somewhere, as that ingredient is the reason we are brewing these beers in the first place.  Most recipes I found, including the one from Mosher and one from BYO include a small amount of hops for bittering, but that is almost certainly anachronistic.  Hops don't grow well in the northern latitudes like Scotland.  Instead I'll use the wormwood with a bit of myrica gale for bittering, then load up on heather for flavor and aroma.

Amt            Name                              Time
.25 oz         Wormwood                          15 min
.25 oz         Myrica Gale                       15 min
4 oz           Heather                           0 min
2 oz           Heather                           Dry hop (7 days)
.5 oz          Myrica Gale                       Dry hop (7 days)

So now that we have the spices out of the way, what about the rest of the beer?  Well before coke-fired malting and the advent of pale malt, most malt was darker in color, usually faintly smokey from the wood-fired kilns, and inconsistently modified.  I certainly don't have any malt like that, but for a rough approximation I built the grist on a blend of pale malt and brown malt.  I then added some rauch malt for just a touch of smoke and some crystal and chocolate malts to round out the recipe.  Back then beers were all mixed fermentation with a blend of yeast strains, plus brett and bacteria.  I'm not ready to through all those sorts of variables into the mix, nor risk infecting my equipment, so I'll just stick to the Irish ale yeast I have on hand.

Batch Size (fermenter): 7.50 gal
Estimated ABV: 6.5 %
Estimated OG: 1.068 SG
Estimated FG: 1.019 SG
Estimated Color: 22.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 0.0 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt            Name                                     %/IBU
16 lbs         Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           72.7 %
3 lbs          Brown Malt (65.0 SRM)                    13.6 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz   Smoked Malt (3.0 SRM)                    6.8 %
1 lbs          Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)    4.5 %
8.0 oz         Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)               2.3 %
1.0 pkg        Irish Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1084)      -

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion @154F, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge x2
Total Grain Weight: 22 lbs
Estimated Cost: $32.40
If you actually made it to the end of all that, you'll notice I dodged a very important question: what does it actually taste like?  And that's because I have no idea.  I've done some looking and while I haven't yet tried these beers, I found several that are distributed in the United States.  If you're curious, maybe you can find one yourself.

Fraoch - Williams Bros Brewing, Alloa, Scotland
Gruit - New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, CO
Weekapaug Gruit - Cambridge Brewing Company, Cambridge, MA
Heather Ale - Cambridge Brewing Company, Cambridge, MA
Posca Rustica - Brasserie Dupont, Tourpes, Belgium

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#33 Wild Pear-Apple Cider

Recipe     -     Tasting

This fall has been a little hectic trying to take advantage of all the freshest local ingredients.  Blackberries, hops, and now apples have all ripened in quick succession, and friends have been nice enough to hook me up with an ample supply of each.  This time Jonny Bamboo from Martin Family Orchard hooked me up with a delicious pear/apple cider blend.

The juice is Fuji apple and D'Anjou pear cider from the towns of Cashmere and Orondo in central Washington; I don't know the exact ratio but it tastes fantastic raw.  Both fruits are sweet varieties with little acidity or tannins compared to historic cider varieties.  Jonny said the juice was UV treated, but (not unexpectedly) they were naturally fermenting anyway.  From what little I've read, it's very difficult to sterilize a liquid with UV light, so those microorganisms that survive make a resurgence in the absence of competition.  The wild yeast threw up a nice little froth on the top of the cider, and the bubbling carbonation threatened to explode the jugs all over the back of my car on the way home, but I measured the SG at 1.049 so they can't have gotten too far.

In order to check this activity, I racked the individual jugs into two larger carboys--with most of a gallon held out as a control trial--leaving the yeast and sediment behind.  I then dosed both carboys with Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite).  Sulfite works by increasing the osmotic pressure in the cells of microorganisms in the must, forcing them to exhaust their energy reserves to the point of death or at least hibernation.  After 24 hrs, the sulfite bubbles away and a preferred yeast culture can be pitched with their competition already exhausted.  (See this page for more info on sulfite.)  Since the yeast already have a healthy start on fermentation, I doubt I will stop them in their tracks but the sulfite is most effective on non-fermenting organisms which will eliminate the bacteria responsible for spoilage.  This should give me time to introduce my own yeasts for a good mixed fermentation.

In one carboy I plan to pitch some Nottingham dry yeast like I used in my dry cider last year, as I think the added esters will better fit the wild yeast and smooth out any rough edges.  In the other batch I want to really embrace the wild yeast, but I still want to make sure it's palateable, so I'm culturing up a menagerie of dregs from Spanish cider (sidra natural asturiana).

Cidermaking has been popular in northern Spain for more than two thousand years, especially in Asturias.  The ancient native apple varieties are still fermented naturally, with just the yeast of the orchard and the press.  Spanish cider tends to be slightly acidic and very dry, while the wild yeast give each brand its own distinct funk.  The yeast are never filtered out, so the bottom each bottle is a treasure trove for my purposes.

I mixed up a yeast starter by boiling one quart of water with a quarter pound of corn sugar (no malt extract, gotta keep it gluten free!) and half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient.  As I drink the ciders, I will pour the dregs into the starter in the hope that the yeast wake when introduced to a more hospitable environment.  Yes, the first strains will get a head start so it's not well controlled, but what part of this experiment is?  Here are the cider brands and their pitch date:

9/30 - Fanjul
10/1 - Val d'Ornón
10/2 - Riestra

10/3/14:  Went to pitch the yeast, but it looks like it won't make a difference.  The wild yeast has really gone to town, plowing right through the Campden tablets and low temperature (56F).   It's bubbling pretty aggressively, and I've already had some serious blowoff, leaving murky pond-water in the airlock.

11/9/14:  Racked to secondary.  This was my first taste to see how fermentation went.  Yes, the wild yeast dominate the flavor, but it's pretty tasty.  Some of the musty esters from the English yeast are apparent but don't blend as well as I hoped.  The Spanish-style cider on the other hand is cohesive yet complex, and it's hard to tell where the Cashmere bugs end and the Spanish ones start.  I'm really excited for it, but I'll let this drop clear before bottling.

12/13/14:  Bottled all 10 gal of cider.  The two batches have become more similar, both finishing at 1.006.  They never cleared up but that's ok, neither did the Spanish ciders I tried.  Added priming sugar to carbonate the batch with Nottingham yeast to around 1.8 vols.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

#31 Export Stout - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Yeast Starter 9/23/14:
For this batch I'm using Irish ale yeast harvested from the wheat ale on 8/24.  I mixed up 1.5 gal of starter with the end of the bag of malt extract (somewhere between 1 and 1.5 lbs) and half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient to split evenly between this batch and the wet hop IPA.  The Chico yeast took off as expected, but the Guinness yeast took 24 hrs to show any signs of carbonation when swirled.  Cold crashed the starters for the last day to settle the yeast.

Brewday 9/28/14:
The night before I brewed, I picked up the malts at the homebrew shop before going to pick hops for the wet hop IPA.  Unfortunately I forgot to pick up the flaked barley.  I was trying to brew the IPA at the same time, so after I mashed in on that beer, I made the trek back to the store to get the last ingredient.

The mash ended up going smoothly, but I somehow ended up with an extra gallon of water in the wort.  I had already planned for a 2 hr boil, so I didn't want to extend it any longer, but I turned up the heat just a bit to try to maximize the boil off.  I was able to get it down to just over 5.5 gal in the fermenter at SG 1.071.

45 sec O2, yeast starter decanted and pitched at 66F, placed in fridge set to 66F.

2 Days:  We've had a bit of blowoff, as expected with the minimal headspace.  Temperature upped to 70F.

5 Days:  It looks like the heater hasn't been working, so the temp has dropped to 62F.  The IPA is still working but it looks like this one has dropped pretty clear.  Hopefully it's fermented out all the way.

13 Days:  Temp is still low, the heater never recovered.  I removed it from temperature control (so I can cold crash the IPA) and left it at ambient temps w the cider, about 58F.

5 Weeks:  Finally got this racked to secondary.  The SG is still at 1.020, so I think the low temperature really hurt it.  The high final pH (4.63) indicates a slow fermentation as well.  It tastes pretty good though, if still a little green.

9 Weeks: Bottled with priming sugar for 2.5 vol of carbonation.  It's dropped two more points to 1.018 which is a good sign.

#32 Cascade Wet Hop IPA #2 - Brewday

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Yeast Starter 9/23/14:
Using a fresh smack pack of Wyeast 1056 with a starter.  I mixed up 1.5 gal of starter with the end of the bag of malt extract (somewhere between 1 and 1.5 lbs) and half a teaspoon of yeast nutrient to split evenly between this batch and the export stout.  Starter looks healthy as expected.  Cold crashed both starters for the last day to settle the yeast.

Brewday 9/28/14:
I brewed a double batch today and had planned to brew the export stout first, but I realized I forgot the flaked barley so I had to audible.  I started the mash for this beer and raced off to the homebrew shop.  By the time I got back, I ended up doing a 90 min mash with no mash out, but that shouldn't have much effect.

The boil was pretty standard ... except for the fact that I drowned it in hops.  Usually hops just disappear into the wort but these fresh hops had to be actively jammed down to get them immersed.  I had enough hops to bump up the wet:dry (by mass) ratio from 7:1 to 8:1 for a total of 1 lb of hops in the 20 minute addition,  Then at flameout I had a few extra hops so naturally I threw them in, totaling 26 oz.  These Oxbow-grown hops smell good, let's hope they taste good too, because they're going to dominate this beer.

45 sec O2, yeast starter decanted and pitched at 66F, placed in fridge at 66F.

2 Days:  We've had a bit of blowoff, but fermentation looks healthy.  Temperature upped to 70F.

5 Days:  It looks like the heater hasn't been working, so the temp has dropped to 62F.  It's still working but slowly.

6 Days:  It's still fermenting, but I added the dry hops, 1 oz Cascade and 1 oz Simcoe.

13 Days:  Temp set to 34F for quick cold crash before kegging.

2 Weeks:  Racked to keg.  SG dropped to 1.010 as expected, looks like the early drop in temperature didn't cause any problems here.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

#32 Cascade Wet Hop IPA #2 - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

So just in case I didn't learn my lesson last time, I stumbled into another load of free hops that have to be brewed with immediately.  Man, it's a rough life.  My friend Pat (one of the gang who helped with the oatmeal pale) works at Oxbow Farms where Cascade hops adorn the premises.  Along with friends Dana and McKayla, we picked more than two pounds of hops.  Again, I already have a beer planned for this weekend--yeast starter is going and everything--but I can't let these beautiful hops go to waste.

I'm taking advantage of some of the lessons I learned from that last wet hop IPA though.  The caramel 120L malt came through as a nice burnt caramel kind of flavor that I really liked, not the smooth dark fruit flavor I anticipated.  This time I want to better harness that malt by pairing it with crackery Victory malt--which was also out of place in my earlier session IPA--to form a more brash malt character.  The wet hop IPA was pretty thick, so besides removing the light crystal, I plan on adding some corn sugar to lighten it up.

Another lesson I learned from that IPA was that I need more hops!  I know that's a common refrain among hop heads, but specifically I think the ratio of 5:1 when converting to wet hops was insufficient to get the flavor and aroma I expected.  I recently read (can't remember where) that Sierra Nevada uses a ratio of 7:1 wet weight to dry weight, so I feel confident I can bump up the hops without exposing myself as a victim of Lupulin Threshold Shift.

Cascade Wet Hop IPA #2 - "Oxbrew"
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 7.4 %
Estimated OG: 1.067 SG
Estimated FG: 1.010 SG
Estimated Color: 9.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 76.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Amt          Name                                     %/IBU
12 lbs       Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           85.7 %
8.0 oz       Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L (120.0 SRM)   3.6 %
8.0 oz       Victory Malt (25.0 SRM)                  3.6 %
1.00 oz      Columbus [16.10 %] - First Wort Hop      46.7 IBUs
1 lbs        Corn Sugar (Dextrose) (0.0 SRM)          7.1 %
2.00 oz      Cascade [7.70 %] - Boil 20.0 min         24.6 IBUs
1.00 Items   Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)        -
3.00 oz      Cascade [7.70 %] - Boil 2.0 min          5.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg      Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084)            -
1.00 oz      Cascade [7.70 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days      0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz      Centennial [10.30 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days  0.0 IBUs
1.00 oz      Columbus [16.10 %] - Dry Hop 5.0 Days    0.0 IBUs

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion @150F, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs
Estimated Cost: $30.38

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

#31 Export Stout - Recipe

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

Last February I brewed a dry Irish stout in preparation for St. Patrick's day.  It was good, nice and creamy though a little bit light on roast, but I remember thinking, "these flavors would go especially well in a bigger stout" which is what I tend to prefer.  Well now that winter is coming, it's time to get started on a stout and this seems like a good way to kick off the season.

Now scaling up a dry stout results in a recipe right in the middle of the range of the foreign extra stout, so I guess you can say that's what I'm making.  It's funny because I have a feeling that's exactly how this style came about.  While there have always been stouts (and porters) in all shapes and sizes, the export stout style (as per the BJCP guidelines*) is pretty much based off of the Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and friends.  Guinness scaled up their recipe with extra alcohol and hops to preserve it for worldwide distribution, which is pretty much what I'm doing here, except mine will be lucky if a bottle makes it across the country.

Like the dry stout I brewed last time, I'll keep the lighter American 2-row instead of a more traditional English floor malted pale malt.  It's true that I generally like more malt flavor in my dark beers, but for this one I want the nice, clean, crisp base.  Add in the flaked barley and I'm expecting a nice milky creaminess instead of the thick malty sweetness normally found in a thick stout.

For roasted malts, I'm starting with the black roasted barley (500L) from the dry stout.  It wasn't nearly as roasty as I wanted, so I'm going to bump the roasted malt from 1lb up to 1.5lbs.  I've read that it isn't necessary to scale the roasted malts on a stout, but I don't really know what to expect.  I also considered other roasted grains but decided just to keep it simple.

(UPDATE: I got to the homebrew shop to find they have changed the roast barley they stock from a 500L version to a 300L version.  I did't think the 300L roast barley alone would give me enough roast flavor for what I'm trying to brew, so I dropped it to 1.25lbs and added half a pound of black patent malt.  This turned out surprisingly similar to the recipe for Stone IRS which I brewed last winter.)

To round it out, we've got Willamette hops used just for bittering, and Irish ale yeast that I've been using in several beers lately.  Between the domestic ingredients and repitched yeast, this has turned into a rather affordable recipe for such a big beer.

Export Stout
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.25 gal
Estimated ABV: 7.6 %
Estimated OG: 1.075 SG
Estimated FG: 1.017 SG
Estimated Color: 36.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 60.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 120 Minutes

Amt           Name                                     %/IBU
15 lbs        Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           80.0 %
2 lbs         Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM)                 10.7 %
1 lbs 4.0 oz  Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)               6.7 %
8.0 oz        Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          2.7 %
3.00 oz       Willamette [7.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min      60.2 IBUs
0.50 tsp      Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins)              -
1.0 pkg       Irish Ale (Wyeast Labs #1084)            -

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion @152F, No Mash Out, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 18 lbs 12.0 oz
Estimated Cost: $28.18

* Note that this style also encompasses the sweeter versions--essentially scaled up sweet stouts, just as this is a scaled up dry stout--popular in both the East and West Indies.  Anchor Brewing has a good article on the history of the style, and as always there is a good BYO article on how to brew it.

#27 Classic American Wheat - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 5.0%
IBU: 27
Serving Temp: 35F
Carbonation: 2.8 vol
Grade: B-

I intended this beer has something inspired by Widmer hefeweizen--smooth and easy drinking with a pronounced wheat flavor--but while these descriptors still hold, this apple fell surprisingly far from the tree.

The appearance was a little hazy, as you would expect, with a nice clean white puff of foam on top.  I finally got around to balancing my draft lines with this neat little trick, so while previous kegs poured glasses of foam, this one is leaves a perfect half inch of head.  Interestingly, as the keg sat on tap, it slowly cleared, so that by the time I filled my last beer it was one of the brightest beers I've served.  Stan Hieronymus mentions in Brewing with Wheat that this is an issue for Bavarian brewers who want the signature cloudy appearance, but it was still surprising to see such a drastic transformation for myself.

The flavor was very bright and crisp, with just a hint of the thicker wheat flavor.  For this brew I used Irish ale yeast instead of an american or German strain and the effect is quite apparent.  It's dry, but with a unique, mysterious character I remember from my Irish red ale.  Here it definitely comes across as more fruity--maybe some Fuji apple notes?

As a whole it's an okay beer.  The wheat and yeast don't really add anything to each other (and the Hersbrucker hops were just AWOL) to create a compelling product, but at least they don't clash.  I brought this to some friends' barbecue and it was an easy sell, so that's a good sign.  I just hope next time I can finally nail that perfect wheat beer...

Friday, August 29, 2014

#26 Heady Topper Clone - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 7.0%
IBU: 130
Serving Temp: 35F
Carbonation: 2.8 vol
Grade: B-

So after brewing two IPA's that underattenuated pretty severely, I'm pretty sure the GigaYeast Vermont Ale yeast I used is not actually the famous Conan strain.  Conan is known for tearing through high gravity worts like Arnold Schwarzenegger through a cast of extras, but I only got 72% ADF before and 74% on this beer.  And that's with a highly fermentable wort and half a pound of corn sugar.  It's pretty disappointing since I prefer dry IPAs, and this one certainly isn't.

The aroma isn't bad--plenty of hops--but with the wide variety of ... varieties I used, there are no individual flavors that stand out.  At first sip, the beer is heavy with residual sugars.  The hops peak out from behind the pale malt--I like the mango of the Amarillo as it's not overbearing--and one could even call it "balanced" if they were so inclined, but it's certainly not the balance I was shooting for.  The finish is just enough bitterness to balance the malt (meaning a lot).

Your Mom (our championship-winning rec softball team) enjoyed this beer at her post-season party, and I've had some friends prefer this over the session IPA, but I can't say I share their enthusiasm.  There is nothing technically wrong with the beer, but as it turned out, it's not something I would normally choose to drink just out of personal taste.

Edit 9/10/13:
Now that the keg is almost gone, the beer seems to have dried out just a bit.  The session IPA brewed with this yeast seemed to do the same thing, so it must have continued to work very slowly in the keg.  That seems rather odd considering the cold temperature, but I guess it's possible.  I prefer the beer much more now; it's still a bit heavy but the hops pop a little more, and the flavor is very nice.  I do think the hop bill is great with it's balanced orange citrusiness, so I could see using it as a starting point for another IPA in the future.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

#25 Session IPA - Tasting

Recipe     -     Brewday     -     Tasting

ABV: 3.9%
IBU: 41
Serving Temperature: 36F
Carbonation: 2.8 vol
Grade: B+

One thing you don't get to experience (or have to struggle with) buying commercial beer is how much a beer changes as it ages.  I touched on it briefly in my post on bottle conditioning, but merely sealing a beer in glass (or steel in this case) doesn't stop the myriad chemical processes happening inside the beer.  IPA's in particular are known to change rapidly in the first couple months and this beer even more particularly.  Instead of breaking down the beer tasting by sense, I think this time I'm going to do it chronologically.

3 days in the keg:  Ok first off, just pouring a glass you could smell the hops across the room.  This seems excessive and it probably is.  At this point the flavor was also surprisingly malty with a ton of that sticky/saturated hop flavor and aroma.  The dry hops still tasted pretty rough as they always do right at kegging (plus I had issues siphoning and may have got some bits from the Mosaic pellets in the bottom of the keg), and the hop flavors didn't really mesh.

2 weeks in the keg:  Now that the hops have settled in, it's starting to taste much better.  The hops are still bold and in-your-face, but I think I can finally make some observations about the hops.  I originally based my hop schedule off Topcutter IPA from Bale Breaker, and the similarity is obvious.  It has that same deep, dark, citrusy hoppiness, though theirs is a little more balanced as I went overboard with the Mosaic.  I haven't brewed a straight Citra beer, but I have had a couple IPAs where Citra was the lead actor (RPM and Purebread), and I can certainly see the similarity between Citra and Mosaic.  Citra has a more multifaceted flavor than Amarillo, with bold orange and classic american hop aroma that stops short of pine, while Mosaic has the same flavors, but a bit smoother and in a darker shade.  Some people say it has hints of blueberry, and while maybe that's what I mean by "darker," I don't think I can pick out blueberry specifically.

The malt is interesting as well.  The pale malt and Carastan form a nice smooth base, and the Victory malt jumps out with a surprisingly sharp Ritz cracker flavor.  At only 3.9%, this beer is really light on alcohol, but the malts still holds its own as interesting in its own right.  If you look specifically for the alcohol, you won't find it, but I don't know that anyone actually does that.  I could see this grain bill being really nice as the focal point, say in an English bitter. Unfortunately it just doesn't mesh with the hops.  Maybe a few more IBU (as in 5?) would help balance it out, but the sharpness from the Victory is just too much.

1.5 months in the keg:  Oh no it's almost gone!  Since the last update, the body has continued to lighten just a tiny bit.  Or maybe it's the contrast with the heavy imperial IPA on tap next to it instead of the dry belgian table beer from before?  I don't know.  The whole package just seems lighter and less saturated before which is nice.  The victory/cracker flavor has settled into place too.  The hops seem to have faded only slightly, but it seems like it's all come from the citrusy side, leaving the smooth not-really-blueberry side as the dominant hop flavor with maybe a touch of crispness from the Simcoe.  Mosaic is a cool hop, and I see why it's so popular, but like Amarillo, I think it's too fruity and mellow to really carry a beer on its own.  Maybe paired with Nelson Sauvin or Columbus?  No wonder brewers get addicted to hops, the options are tantalizing.

Overall, the individual components came out really well.  But as I said in the recipe post, there were kind of three separate ideas driving this beer, and they never really came together.  Brewing my own beer usually makes me feel like a boss, but in this case I needed to promote more synergy between the various pieces of the recipe. Still one of my better beers though.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...