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?
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