Monday, December 11, 2006

Mmm...Simcoe IPA

I think I've brewed my best IPA yet. My wife, Carol, particularly likes lighter-colored IPAs and I think I've delivered, using a late extract method I read about in Brew Your Own magazine. Although I mashed a couple pounds of grain (one pound each of Victory and Munich) in a grain bag on the stove, the bulk the fermentables for this beer came from liquid extract and I added half of this extract in the last 10 minutes of the boil. After about a few days in the primary fermenter and about two weeks in the secondary, I bottled this brew. I sampled a 12-ounce bottle yesterday and I was very pleased with color. I'm very happy with flavor of this beer, too. I used a single hop, Simcoe, which seems to have added a very refined bitterness and a wonderful fruity hop character. I dry hopped with a couple ounces of pellets, which added a noticeable fruity hop nose. I like this beer quite a bit and I will probably brew it again soon. I think the secret to the outstanding flavor is the hop schedule, so here's the recipe:

1 pound Victory Malt
1 pound Munich Malt (light)

Two four-pound cans of Alexander's Pale LME (one can added at the beginning of the boil and one at the end)

1 oz. Simcoe pellets for 60 min.
1 oz. Simcoe pellets for 30 min.
0.50 oz. Simcoe pellets for 15 min.
1 oz. Simcoe pellets at the end of the boil
2 oz. Simcoe pellets in the secondary fermenter

Two packets of SafAle US-56

The alpha acid of these hops was measured at 10.4 percent. I bought a pound of 'em online at Northern Brewer.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dry Stout "Pigged"

I neglected to mention that I brewed a dry stout a couple weeks ago. This stout has since fermented completely and been packaged into two Party Pigs. This stout is something like the fourth or fifth stout I've brewed in recent years, and is roasty and not quite as dry as I thought it might be. This I'm blaming on the Bulldog English malt extract that I used. I've since read that this English extract is higher in dextrins than Muntons. So, I have a slightly full-bodied low alcohol (3.5 percent) roasty stout. This should be a good session beer, especially poured with a creamy froth from the Party Pigs. Next up I'm brewing an IPA, something along the lines of Bell's Two Hearted Ale and I even plan on culturing some of the Bell's yeast. (I've done this before with pretty good results, it's a very attenuative strain.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Anxiety Ale (Again)

Since my last attempt at a "session beer" went horribly awry, I decided to try again, except this time I kept the recipe really simple: I just used malt extract and hops no grains. It's what I've always done when I've brewed a bad batch; I go back to basics. Well, this new batch of bitter (which I'm calling Anxiety Ale) has done just fine. I tapped the second Party Pig of this beer tonight and it's a tasty, low alcohol bitter. The body is fairly full, but the maltiness is balanced well with the hops and a slight tartness from the yeast. Again, this was a really simple batch of just one can of Bulldog Amber LME and one pound of Cooper's DME, along with some Sterling bittering hops and Simcoe dry hops (a quarter ounce in each Pig). The dry hops added a fairly pronounced hop aroma and a touch of hop flavor.

Also, my "maple" brown ale has turned out pretty well. Adding fenugreek to the Kitty Kat Biere has added a distinctive maple syrup flavor. So far, this beer has turned out to be light in body and very dry, perhaps a little drier and lighter in body than I had hoped. I'm going to try not disturb any more of it for a couple more months.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What smells?

While I averted disaster with a non-carbonating Party Pig, one of the my lastest batches got badly infected. I'm not sure how it got infected, but after dumping the batch I cleaned up all my equipment and let everything soak in fairly strong bleach solution. I threw out one hose that was a bit discolored, which I suppose could've been the issue. How do I know the batch was rotten? Well, it had a real nasty chemical/industrial smell to it. It also tasted extremely bitter to the point of being unpleasant. So, for both of these reasons, I dumped the beer. The bitterness may have just been due to over-hopping the batch, but the nasty industrial odor just seemed really wrong.

Meanwhile, I've bottled the Kitty Kat Biere (see below) and I'm hoping for pretty good results. Althought this beer is a bit lighter in color than I expected (more of an amber than a brown color), I was very pleased with how it tasted. Of course, a lot could change after conditioning, but so far this beer has a wonderfully nutty, earthy character to it and finishes very dry.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Party Pig disaster averted

Yesterday I forgot to metion that the beer I bottled from the improperly activated Party Pig (see Party Pig Woes below) turned out just fine. The bottles I've opened up so far (two of them) have had a near perfect level of carbonation and had very minimal off-flavors.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Busy day

Brewed up a new recipe today. I'm bucking the trend of big brews with what could be best described as a British ordinary bitter -- except that I'm using American hops -- Simcoe, to be precise. Here's the recipe formulated with Promash. The only modification to the recipe that I made in brewing was that I mashed for something more like a half hour than 15 minutes. Since I did a partial mash, I used a large grain bag instead of my full Gott cooler setup. I plan on adding the dry hops at kegging. I'll put in a quarter-ounce of Simcoe in each Party Pig (my preferred kegging option). I'm really looking forward to a draft pint of this low alcohol session ale.

I also racked my Kitty Kat Biere (inspired by Jolly Pumpkin La Rioja) today. It tasted rather alcoholic and quite complex, with some unusual bitter flavors (probably due to the cardamom I added late in the boil). Here's the recipe for the Kitty Kat -- except that I substituted cardamom, fenugreek and black pepper (about a tablespoon each) for the ginger. This is a very experimental brew.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More Party Pig woes

After brewing the Sleepy Wheet, I brewed an IPA. I used a half ounce of Sterling pellet hops every 15 minutes during the 60 minute boil. The rest of the recipe included 6.6 pounds of Munton's Extra Light liquid malt extract, some light crystal, some dextrin and some pale ale malts. I used the US-56 dry yeast (sprinkled right on top of the cooled wort) and let if fermnet for eight days in the primary (plastic) and another 14 days on more Sterling dry hops in secondary (glas carboy).

All was going well (beer tasted wonderfully fruity-hoppy) until I "pigged" the beer. I let the first Party Pig sit for two weeks before tapping, but the container had no carbonation after pouring the first couple pints. It also became evident that the pressure pouch inside had not activated and that the pig wasn't properly pressurized. At this time, I decided to open up the pig and rack the contents to a bucket to be bottled. I mixed in a quarter cup of malt extract for carbonation (the beer had already had a very light carbonation) and I'm planning on popping open a bottle in a couple more weeks. Meanwhile, I'm anxious about tapping the second pig and letting it condition a little longer before moving it to the fridge. I'm thinking two to three weeks of conditioning should be good (seeing that I used malt extract for priming).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sleepy Wheat

So I've named the chamomile wheat beer Sleepy Wheet; because you get sleepy after having a couple glasses of it. Perhaps I should've used less chamomile (I used a whole package of Celestial Seasonings Chamomile Tea.) The other interesting ingredient in this beer is the yeast. I used Wyeast 3586, the Canada-Belgian strain, and it fermented well. Unfortunately, I think I need to brew a more neutral beer (read: no spices) in order to pick out the esters and flavors of this yeast. Overall, I'm very pleased with the batch (which was all extract), and would like to try it with a different spice instead of Chamomile. Maybe Lemon Verbena?

Here are the particulars for this batch:

05-20-2006 Marc's Sleepy Wheet

A ProMash Brewing Session Report

Brewing Date: Saturday May 20, 2006
Head Brewer: Marc Morency
Asst Brewer: Carol Morency
Recipe: Marco's Summer Solstice Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Wort Size (Gal): 3.50
Anticipated OG: 1.040 Plato: 9.98
Anticipated SRM: 6.1
Anticipated IBU: 17.2
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.040 Plato: 9.99
Actual FG: 1.008 Plato: 2.05

Alc by Volume: 4.20
(From Measured Gravities)
ADF: 79.5
RDF: 65.8

5.40 lbs. of Alexander 50-50 Wheat-Malt Liquid Malt Extract

1.00 oz. of Strisselspalt (leaf) at 2.10 AA for 60 min.
1.00 oz. of Strisselspalt (leaf) at 2.10 AA for 45 min.

Wyeast 3864 Canadian/Belgian Style Yest

Fermentation Specifics:
Pitched From: Liquid Pack
Amount Pitched: 125 mL
Lag Time: Less than 8 hours

Primary Fermenter: Plastic
Primary Type: Closed
Days In Primary: Eight
Primary Temperature: 72 degrees F

Secondary Fermenter: Glass
Secondary Type: Closed
Days In Secondary: Five
Secondary Temperature: 78 degrees F

Bottled: Filled 24 22-ounce bottles on 5/29/06

Fermentation Notes:
5/24/06 - ADF = 71.8 percent, which is a few degrees lower than this yeast is rated. Lots of spices in suspension. Will rack to the secondary for a few days.

Tasting Notes:
5/24/06 - Whew! The chamomile aroma is very evident. Color is hazy gold. Fairly light for an extract brew. A definite juicy fruit flavor is present from the chamomile long with some citrus (lime) detected. Kind of bubblegummy with some light spicy phenols.

5/29/06 - Tasted at bottling. Big time chamomile-bubblegum flavors in this beer. Balance is perfect. Not too sweet, not too bitter. Hops may fade, but beer should get drier, which could keep the balance.

7/2/06 - Already been enjoying this for awhile. The bubblegummy character is not as assertive, but still fairly strong, still a well-balanced and tasty wheat.

Added a half ounce mix of dried orange peel and coriander. Added the zest of three small limes and one box of Celestial Seasonings Chamomile Tea for the last five minutes of the boil.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Pigs foaming at the mouth...but the kitchen is done!

First the bad (well, not so good) news...I've been slowly tapping the two Party Pigs of IPA (see earlier posts); slowly draining because they are over-carbonated. The first Pig wasn't too bad, but I've been tapping the second one for the last couple weeks and it pours nothing but foam. Fortunately, the foam settles and the beer is quite tasty. It's just a pain in the butt having to fill a liter-sized glass to get a pint of beer.

The good (if not great news) is that I've brewed a light wheat beer with some spices, chief among them chamomile, that is quite good so far. After a primary fermentation of about five days, then a secondary fermentation of about five more, I filled two dozen 22-ounce bottles with bubble-gummy wheat. I've learned that adding a couple ounces of chamomile to your wheat beer will give it a delicious juicy bubble gum flavor. I also added some black pepper and about tablespoon and a half of coriander and orange peel, but the chamomile is the standout ingredient so far. The yeast I used for this batch is the new Wyweast 3586 Belgian-Canadian (Unibroue?) yeast. I'd report my finding with this yeast, but I think the spices are probably mingling with a lot of the esters a bit too much to report on what flavors the yeast may be adding to the beer. However, I can report that this yeast seems a lot less phenolic than I thought.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Party Pigs Parked

I racked the second batch of IPA to two Party Pigs yesterday and I noticed the effect of the dry hops right away. (I added two ounce of pellet hops to the secondary. One ounce each of Kent Goldings and Willamette.) The beer is parked on top of my refridgerator, where it will sit until we start remodeling our kitchen. Unfortunately, the kitchen is also the brewery, so I might not brew again for a couple months. Hopefully the two and a half batches I have in storage will last me through the construction.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Well, the IPA I brewed a few weeks back is already half gone, which should give some indication of how it turned out. It's a sort of mahogany colored beer with some caramel nuttiness in the aroma, big hops in the flavor and a pretty bitter finish. It's a bit darker than I thought, almost a brown ale, but I guess that's the dark caramel malts I used adding a lot of color.

I've gone ahead and brewed another batch, this time modifying the recipe somehwat, and using more extract. I'm planning on racking the beer with some dry hops, too. (I didn't use any dry hops in the first batch.) I'm hoping the new batch of IPA turns out as good as the first, if not better.

Before I rack the IPA to the secondary, I'll have bottle a Belgian-style saison that I've brewed. The saison has been fermenting for about two weeks now. I was pretty surprised when the gravity dropped 40 points in five days -- that's a pretty healthy fermentation. I used the Wyeast Belgian Ardennes yeast. I had planned to add another yeast (Safale T-58) to further bring down the gravitiy, but I didn't think it was necessary.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bad Bitter, better IPA? I hope so.

Wish I could say the Bitter turned out really well, but it didn't. I filled two Party Pigs of this beer that sat for weeks and turned with a nasty sort of plastic aroma and flavor (although the flavor to a lesser extent.) I'm not sure what caused this and from what I've read it could've been a lot of different things, but one step I've taken to prevent another episode of "plastic beer" is to replace my primary (plastic) fermenter. I noticed several deep scratches in the bottom of the olf fermenter, so I purchased a new one, which is a Williams siphonless.
So, after some mourning, I decided to brew another beer and now I have two "pigs" filled with a sort of Summit clone IPA. It was a partial mash beer (mostly mash) with Warrior hops. The particulars can be found here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I brewed something along the lines of a special bitter today. I used 12 pounds of British Maris Otter malt along with a half pound of Briess Special Roast, an ounce of Willamette "first wort" hops and another ounce of Goldings added for the entire 70 minute boil. I brewed this in typical fashion, collecting about four gallons of wort and diluting with another two gallons or so of spring water for a five-gallon batch, due to the half gallon or more lost to evaporation. Brewing is such way, I ended up with a gravity of 1.040 which was pretty low, even after dilution. I'm planning on splitting the batch between two party pigs because my experience is that lower gravity beers like English bitters taste better on draft. I used a fully inflated Wyeast Activator pack of Northwest Ale yeast and I'm hoping I can package the beer in about a week.

Meanwhile, the porter is delicious, and I'm trying not to drink it all up. I'm not sure what the next batch will be, maybe a stronger porter or stout, or even a hoppy brown ale.