Friday, October 24, 2008

Special Bitters and Strong Wheat

I've brewed the second batch of what I call an Americanized version of English Special Bitter. I'm a little worried about this batch because the aroma is a little unusual. There's a little bit of fennel or maybe a wisp of smoke. Phenols for sure, but very light. I used the Safale S-04 Whitbread yeast. The temperature of the room was an average of 75 degrees F. I'm hoping dry-hopping will overcome this potential defect in this ale. The Bitterness is not as pronounced as I had hoped, but this batch does seem to have more body than the last. I used American hops (Amarillo and Simcoe) and American malts (Briess), but I fermented with a Whitbread (English) yeast and add Burton Water Salts.

My first batch of this beer turned out really good. It may have been the secret ingredient, which was homegrown hops. I picked some unidentified hops growing along a friend's fence (with her permission of course) and used them as a finishing or aroma hop. (I chose them for an aroma hop because I didn't know what kind of bitterness they would add to the brew.) I believe these homegrown hops were something like Willamette. This is my guess based upon the shape of cone and the aroma that ended up in the beer. I packaged this beer in one of my Party Pigs and a two or three 22-ounce glass bottles. I've been enjoying the "Pig" version until yesterday, when the Piggy was emptied. (Thanks again Annie for the hops, hope you enjoy the beer!)

Tonight I refilled the expired Pig and one quart-sized plastic bottle with the second batch of Special Bitter. This batch was the same as the last except for the homegrown hops and some of the specialty grains. For this batch I used 74 percent Briess DME, 11 percent Victory Malt and 16 percent 20L Crystal. Each of these batches were three gallons, since that is my motif these days. In the original batch I used 10L Crystal, so this new batch has a little more color. Also, I added an eighth-cup dry Simcoe hop pellets to the Pig with this batch which I'm hoping might cover up any potential flaws (see above) as well as add a flowery hop aroma.

Meanwhile, I sampled a very small batch I brewed back in the third week of August. I had a three-pound jug of Briess LME left over from a Biere de Garde and instead adding this to the malt bill of a future recipe I decided to brew a two gallon batch wtih it. I added three ounces of Chocolate Malt I had on hand, some Spalter hops and some Fermentis S-33 yeast and brewed a dunkelweizenbock. This has actually turned out pretty good. I netted just six 22-ounce bottles from this batch and I wish I had more. Liquid caramel apple is kind of how I would describe this beer, which sounds weird, but it's actually pretty interesting. I will probably use the same recipe for next fall.

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