Thursday, April 09, 2015

Lots o' beer

So...I'm way behind on my blogging. I have about eight cases of homebrew right now. The inventory includes a case of Wee Heavy, a case or so of Wild Pale Ale (think Orval), a case or so of bitter, about a case and a half of blood orange Belgian-style IPA, a case of Belgian-style Pale Ale, a case of saison from last summer and two gallons of saison that needs to be bottled.

I should bottle tonight but we're expecting some bad weather. So, I'm waiting for said weather while sitting out on my balcony sipping some of the saison from last year. It's very flowery and has a very delicate peach/strawberry fruitiness. I used exclusively Huell Melon hops so I suspect that's why. It's also my first saison with dry yeast. The Belle Saison from Danstar. It's certainly dry enough but not as über dry as some of my saisons. Looking back at the recipe I probably could have added some sugar. It certainly gets better as it warms up.

This is not the case for my newest saison that has lavender, black pepper, grains of paradise, star anise and coriander in it. (Less than quarter teaspoon each.) This saison should be nice and dry and cleaned up as it's sat in the fermenter for at least a month now.

Perhaps later in the evening I'll have a blood orange IPA, which does not have much orange character, but is very hippy as I used four ounces each of Zythos and Falconer's Flight 7C's hops all built on a bed of Munich malt and fermented with Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes. It is very delicious and a touch strong at 7.2 percent, so perhaps I'll take it easy and have some 21st Ammendment Down to Earth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More Eastchester, Blood Orange IPA

Brewed some more Eastchester...but not really. This third batch turned out to be entirely different than the other three. I believe I topped up the fermenter too much so the color was completely off (paler, not red) and the flavor muted. The hops are played down quite a bit with just a mild hoppy flavor with the crisp pale ale maltiness instead of a robust red ale character. It's rather surprising how much the additional water changed the beer compared to previous batches. It's still a decent beer, but not as dynamic as the other two batches. The first batch was fruity, hoppy and with a rose water-like aroma that was quite nice. The second batch had more hops -- I added additional Chinook pellets along with the whole "Eastchester" hops -- and it turned out massively hoppy. So, the third batch which comes across as a mild English Pale Ale, but really more a standard bitter. The recipe for this third batch of Eastchaster was basically the Brewer's Best Red Ale kit with one and a half ounces of whole Chinook hops boiled for 25 minutes and two ounces steeped at the end of the boil while the wort was chilling for about 25 minutes. Admittedly not a very aggressive hopping schedule. I probably should have supplemented with the pellet hops that came with the kit, but I wanted to keep all the hops the same.

Meanwhile, I've brewed a Belgian-style IPA with blood oranges. I used the zest from five blood oranges which also juiced and added to the fermenter. I kept the malt bill simple, using two cans of Briess Munich LME, 12 ounce of left over pilsner DME and one pound of clear Belgian Golden Candi Syrup. I using Falconer's Flight 7C's as a bittering hop with one ounce boiled for 60 minutes. I added the Zythos blend at 45 minutes (or 15 minutes left in the boil) and I dry hopped with one ounce of Equinox. I also added two ounces of ground black peppercorns that I let sit in vodka for three days. I added the black pepper to the secondary with the dry hops. The whole works was fermented with Wyeast 3522 at about 72 degrees. This beer is still sitting in the secondary with its dry hops where it will sit in the kitchen fermentorium for another three or four days before I bottle it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The tale of two Westchesters

My friend Eric Keeley lives in the eastern part of Westchester, Illinois. He calls this part of town "Eastchester." He grows Chinook hops in his backyard and this year produced many, many pounds of hops. I used these hops in a batch a beer back in September which as long since been bottled. This homegrown hops were the only ones I used in this batch and the beer turned quite nice. The hops were not real prominent in the beer but you could tell they were there. The British yeast (Wyeast 1318) seemed to express itself more than the hops. In fact, this was the second time I've noticed a rose water-like fruitiness while using this yeast. Something about the higher fermentation temps (in the 70s) is what I suspect brings about this flavor. It is very pleasant.

I've bottled another batch of this same beer, except I added some Chinook pellets. Four ounces worth to be exact, which seems to have pumped up the hop flavor immensely...I dare say almost too much. I'm sure the beer will mellow in the bottle though and perhaps the hops will fade. However, at this point I'm inclined to dub this batch Little Bastard, because it tastes like the little brother of Stone Arrogant Bastard. Time will tell.

Here is the recipe for that latest batch of Eastchester Red.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mmm....homegrown hops.

Well, what I've just brewed is probably a very dark bitter that will almost be a brown ale. It will be hoppy, with 2.5 ounces of Chinook hops for the boil and two more steeped, even though I only boiled for 35 minutes. The hops were dried in mesh produce bags for about two weeks after picking at my friend Eric's house. I have three more bags of these hops. I have no idea what the alpha acid or beta acid of these hops are since they were homegrown. My malt bill for batch was one pound of Thomas & Fawcett 60L Crystal, one pound of Weyermann Munich malt; a half-pound of Thomas &Fawcett Amber and 30L Crystal and four ounces of Weyermann CaraAroma. The base malt was a three-pound bag of Munton & Fison dry light malt extract. I chose Wyeast #1318 for my yeast. This yeast is a top cropper so if I'm ambitious I'll scoop some krausen out of the bucket in a two or three days to use for the next batch. I just used one packet and no starter since the gravity was 1.042 which is on the low side.  I had hoped for an ordinary bitter, but my utilization was much better than expected, so I would like to brew an ordinary or standard bitter next.

So long Summer...

I wistfully bottled up the session saison last night. I filled 19 22s and three Sierra Nevada bombers. It was a long primary and secondary ferment on this one. I lost track of the calendar due to so much going on and just life in general. The bottling session went very smoothly and the beer tastes good so far. My tasting notes:
Moderately phenolic nose with melon and floral scent. Very light and dry with a very slightly viscous body. Touch marzipan sweetness, dry finish just shy of being sweet. Not bitter at all, but some peppery spice. Despite it's low ABV, I'd like to cellar this beer until next summer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


I finally found the courage and the time to brew. The burner on my stove worked just fine and I was able to do a quick extract batch after work today. It was my first time using the Belle Saison dry yeast from Lallemand. I brewed a very simple all extract batch of one three-pound can of Briess Pilsen LME and two pounds of Munton's Light DME. I used Huell Melon as my single hop for bittering; using one ounce of pellets at the start of the 60-minute boil and two ounces with 12 minutes left in the boil. This is my first time using Huell Melon and I was tempted to keep the beer real simple to let the hop character express itself, but I decided to also add a bunch of spices. I may dry hop with another ounce of Huell Melon that I have remaining. The spices I added included Trader Joe's Flower Pepper (which I can't find anymore), culinary-grade lavender, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander, some crushed juniper berries and ground black pepper. Everything was pretty much equal except for the coriander and lavender (about one and a half tablespoons  each and maybe a tablespoon of black pepper. A real hodgepodge and a little heavy on the quantities of spices, but I was feeling adventurous. The beer won't be very strong, likely just above four percent alcohol, so it will definitely be a highly sessionable beer. That said, I'm hoping to cellar at least half the batch until next summer.