Monday, December 06, 2010

Winter Dream Brown Ale (porter?) Tasting

First time after bottling that I'm trying what I plan on calling Winter Dream Brown Ale. This beer, fermented with Wyeast 3787, is lighter in color than I anticipated. I was shooting for more of a porter, but it tastes okay. There really aren't any major flaws aside from being a bit undercarbed and there being a slight huskiness to the finish. There is a nice anise flavor complimented by some toffee and caramel flavors with a roasted coffee edge. The mouthfeel is very smooth. The estimated 7.5 percent alcohol is masked quite well. I'd like to try this recipe again adding more sugar (both in the boil and for priming.) I probably wouldn't change anything else. Letting the rest of the bottles sit for awhile to let the flavors meld a bit more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Belgian-Style Spiced Porter Bottled

Bottled up a "winter brew" which was planned as sort of a Belgian-style porter, but so far it's looking and tasting much more like a Belgian dubbel. (I used Wyeast #3787 which is purported to be the Westmalle strain.) It's gravity is on the low end for a dubbel, but all the characteristics (color and bitterness namely) are right on the mark. I did add some spices in the beer; just a little bit of juniper berries and star anise along with some cumin and sweet orange peel. The juniper and anise is detectable, but not the sweet orange. Perhaps with those spices this beer was destined to become a dubbel. My tasting notes at bottling are as follows:
"Smells of fruitcake laced with gin with a touch of anise. Some caramel malt flavor mingles with a bit of grainy huskiness followed by a coffee-ish bitterness (more like black tea I suppose.) Finishes pretty dry with a caramel note along with maybe a bit of toasted marshmallow. Really a bit shocked at how light in color this beer is so far."
I ended up filling 22 12-ounce bottles, 11 22 ounce bottles and one two-liter swingtop bottle with this brew. Again, definitely not a porter, but it is fairly tasty so far. The recipe is here, but again, it's definitely not a porter.

Meanwhile, I've started to drink the hop-bursted pale ale I put in one of my Party Pigs. It's turned out pretty tasty with a real smooth, yet assertive hop flavor and bitterness. I expected a little more hop aroma from the half-ounce of pellets I added to the Pig, but I'm impressed with the smoothness of the hop flavor. I'm not sure I'm sold on Chinook for single hop beer though. I'm thinking some Columbus might've been good as a dry hop instead of the Chinook. The recipe for this hop-bursted pale ale is here.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Owd Engwisch Harkens Back to Homebrewed Old Ale

Had a good English Barley-wine called Owd Engwisch (or something like that) at Three Floyds this past weekend. It was great getting back there to sip some fresh Floyds. It also got me thinking about an attempt I made at an Old Ale that I brewed back in January 2009. It's holding up quite well, but I think it's a recipe that could use some tweaking. (It's an old ale so perhaps it just needs another couple years in the bottle - ha.)
It pours with plenty of carbonation and I'm left with about a quarter-inch of head, but no lace. The color is amber to red and nose is very fruity with banana and maybe some peach. Not sure that these esters are completely appropriate for an English Old Ale. I no doubt fermented this too warm and maybe used not quite the right yeast. It has a very smooth mouthfeel though and tastes of toffee and a sort of toasted marshmallow flavor. There's an English hop character (spicy, earthy) towards the finish despite the fact I used Cascade and Willamette hops (I guess Willamette has some Fuggles character.) The finish is a bit bitter but coated in tawny caramel malt sweetness. Not bad for an English Old Ale although I think it would have really been better had I done a partial mash with a few pounds of some Maris Otter and used some Kent Golding hops instead of Willamette and probably a different yeast than the Timothy Taylor (Wyeast 1469.) In fact, I'd like to try this again (with Maris Otter replacing some of the extract) with Wyeast 9097 PC Old Ale. Here is the very simple 95 percent extract recipe:

Olde Grey Cat 2009

BJCP Style and Style Guidelines -

19-A Strong Ale, Old Ale

Min OG: 1.060 Max OG: 1.108
Min IBU: 30 Max IBU: 80
Min color: 10 Max color: 26 Color in SRM, Lovibond

Recipe Specifics -

Batch Size (Gal): 5.00 Wort Size (Gal): 3.00
Anticipated OG: 1.082 Plato: 19.86
Anticipated SRM: 13.5
Anticipated IBU: 40.6
Brewhouse Efficiency:50 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Pre-Boil Amounts -
Pre-Boil Wort Size: 3.53 gallons
Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.121

Grain/Extract/Sugar -
12.00 lbs. of Briess LME- Amber
0.50 lbs. of Briess Crystal 90L

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.

Hops -
2.00 oz. Cascade pellets@6.3% AA for 50 minutes
1.00 oz. Willamette Pellet@4.4% for five minutes

Yeast -
Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Party Pig Problems

Ack. I can be so impatient sometimes. Up a bit too late after encountering problems with one of my Party Pigs. I heard a little "pop" (which normally is a good thing when setting up a Party Pig) but it was actually one of the screws that I may have over-tightened and stripped. Needless to say I couldn't get a good seal and pressurize the little piggy so I opted to use my auto-siphon to fill as many 22-ounce bottles as I could. I'd already added priming sugar and a half-ounce of Kent Goldings pellets, but I figured "what the heck" and attempted to bottle anyway. It went about as well as it could since I really couldn't stop the flow of the siphon (a lot of beer ended up on the floor) but I did end up with 10 bottles filled, and of course, one full Party Pig. This five-gallon batch is a pale ale that I decided to brew about eight days ago on a bit of a whim: it's just six pounds of DME, one pound of 60L crystal malt, a half ounce of Chinook hops added at 40-minutes left in a 60-minute boil and three ounces added (hop bursting) at 15 minutes left in the boil. I fermented this mixture with Fermentis SafAle US-05. I also added an ounce of dry hops in the pig(s). It will be interesting to see if the hops settle out in the half of the batch I bottled but intended to pig or if they float in the neck.
My first pour of this beer (hydrometer sample) smelled a bit cheesy, but this did fade. The beer is very young so I'm hopeful that this will subside or that the dry hops will improve the aroma. Other than that the bitterness was potent but remarkably smooth; it sort of had accumulated with each sip. I credit this to the hop bursting, but I could be wrong. Of course, I realize that packaging the beer after just eight days could be a bit too soon, but I hit my expected final gravity so I threw caution to the wind (I normally let the primary ferment go for 10 days.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Belgian-Style Spiced Porter Racked

Racked the Spiced Porter back on the 26th and it tasted pretty good, but it was a bit lighter in color than I anticipated. I took a gravity reading and calculated that the beer was only 68 percent attenuated -- a ways to go before hitting my expected final gravity of 1.012 or 1.013 or so. I've read that the yeast that I used, Wyeast #3787 was a good one for the incremental feeding of sugars, so I threw caution to the wind and added one pound of dark brown sugar dissolved in one pound of boiled water -- we'll see how the yeast responds to that -- I'm a little worried that it might take off and new krausen will start that will blow the airlock, but maybe I'm being too optimistic? I've never added sugar or more wort to the secondary before so I'm interested in how it'll work out. I'd like to get a good bit more of fermentation going.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Belgo-American Double IPA Bottled

Filled 36 bottles with Belgo-American IPA that I think could be a winner but not necessarily in the "category" of Double IPA even though in ProMash I calculated the alcohol content to be about 10 percent and the bitterness in excess of 120 IBUs. It seems that all the DME I added (nine pounds worth) created quite a bit of caramelization in the kettle and perhaps sweetened up this beer, but so far I'm rather pleased with the effect. The result is a beer that comes across like an exceptionally bitter and herbal version of Gulden Draak. That may sound off-putting to someone who is fond of Gulden Draak, but I really think that with some age that this could mellow into more of a "dark triple" (as Gulden Draak is called) and an outstanding beer. It's just not quite what I thought it would be, at least at this very young stage when all the esters seem to be overwhelming the late additions of very herbal Styrian Golding and Crystal hops. That said, I don't think I'll be disappointed if this beer turns out to be a Gulden Draak clone. Here's the recipe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Winter Porter

I brewed what I'm calling Winter Porter, which will likely be my Christmas beer this year. It's a spiced beer fermented with Wyeast 3787. The principal spice (the one that I used the most) was juniper berries. I've used juniper before in a porter with some black licorice and it turned out pretty good, however I'm already worried that I used too much juniper (I used a half-ounce.) My concern is based on the perception that the juniper smelled really strong during the brew session. The other spices I used included star anise, cumin, black pepper and sweet orange peel. I went real easy on these spices and only used a quarter-ounce of each. I hoping the spices blend well with the Strisselspalt and Crystal hops that I used late in the boil. I kept the bitterness moderate; probably could have even notched it down a bit. I threw caution to the wind and did not use a starter. The full recipe is here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Reflections on Cellaring

I love to cellar beer and watch it change over time, but there are many beers that don't age very well. I'm sad to say that one of my homebrewed Saisons is fitting this category. A Saison from summer 2009 is not holding up too well, at least in the flavor department. Sure, when it's poured the head is fantastic, but the hops have pretty much all but disappeared from this brew and the esters, too. The result is something that tastes more like a strong Euro lager than a Saison or farmhouse ale. Proof I guess that maybe Saisons should be consumed within a year to 15 months and more than two years after bottling is too much. Ah, but try again Mr. Morency! I look back at my records and this particular brew is calculated to be only 31 IBUs which over time I suppose could really fade. I think more hops or some Brettanomyces or other bugs that keep contributing flavor changes over time is in order on future cellared Saisons.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Raiding the Cellar

Having a beer out my cellar this evening and that beer is New Glarus ALT. This is a beer I originally reviewed on Beer Advocate in March 2009 and a few bottles have been sitting in my cellar ever since.

About 18 months later the ALT has smoothed out, is less harsh and rather tasty. The carbonation is still rather effervescent, but the nose is much less boozy (not really boozy at all) with a ton of oak. It may be a touch drier, at least up front until a caramel apple and boozy fruitcake middle and a caramel candy, boozy and warming finish that is just short of too sweet or cloying. It's quite a beer and it seems to be working well as a digestive. It's an interesting beer in that it's much more like an English Old Ale than an actual German Alt. It's sort of like a hybrid of a Doppelsticke Alt and an Old Ale which, as it turns out, is a decent marriage of flavors. I think this beer will continue to improve over at least the next five years.

And, yes, there's still a carboy with a little shy of five gallons of a homebrewed hoppy, estery creation that I suspect will turn out as something like a Belgian Strong Ale that has been hopped to American Double IPA standards. This beer will be bottled as soon as I have enough bottles together. It's a beer that will easily be more than 10 percent alcohol so I'm thinking I might bottle it in 12-ounce bottles. I just have to round 'em all up since they're at two locations.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Monster Ale" Racked

Racked the monster ale a few days ago.

The "monster ale" is my latest creation which is something like a Belgian Tripel crossed with an American Double IPA. It's a monster because the two packs of Safbrew T-58 blew started a fermentation that blew the lid off the fermenter. Also, it's already at about 10 percent alcohol. I tasted this concoction and, of course, at this point it's throwing a massive amount of esters with the hops kind of buried. The beer poured cloudy amber with big time esters of banana along with a general tropical fruity aroma. Tasted fruity up front with spicy hops and phenols towards the finish, moderate alcohol burn in the finish which is nicely bitter and fairly dry. Hopefully it gets a little drier. ProMash recipe is here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dry Hopping in the Primary

Oh, easy it is to get behind in posting to a blog.

I've brewed another batch of Saison with yeast from the Short's Nicie Spicie-inspired brew. I tried something I haven't done before and fermented and dry hopped in the primary only. The result so far is interesting; not that much additional hop aroma (left the hops in for about five days) but perhaps some additional hop flavor. I expected less hop aroma that dry hopping in the secondary, but I was surprised by the perceived increase in hop flavor compared to my hydrometer sample that I tasted a few days earlier. I dry hopped with Styrian Goldings so the nose is slightly spicy. The bittering and other flavoring hops were Strisselspalt, Chinook and Amarillo Gold. The rest of the recipe can be found here.

My original idea was something along the lines of an IPA crossed with a Saison or something like De Ranke XX Bitter. I've decided to be a follower on the Belgian IPA trend mostly due to the fact that the temperature in my kitchen (which is where I ferment my beers) stays around 80 degrees or warmer this time of year. Sure, I love spicy, earthy farmhouse ales, but I like hops, too. So why not combine the two? This still fits my brewing pattern of one malty beer followed by a hoppy one.

Monday, August 02, 2010

An Ode to Nicie Spicie

Finally! Bottled my ode to Short's Nicie Spicie this evening after 30 days of fermentationin the primary. The beer pretty much appeared to have stopped fermenting at a gravity of 1.020, but then it started up again with a bubble in the airlock every 5 to 10 minutes or so for the last three weeks and went down to 1.006. This batch fermented in the kitchen which has been an average of about 80 degrees the last month and has been as warm as 84 degrees. So far I'm fairly pleased with how this beer turned out. It has a hazy amber color and smelled phenolic with a touch of smoke and a very light hint of orange. Tastes a touch watery at first then fruity with some light caramel malt flavor, notes of bubblegum and finally a hot, peppery finish. The finish is quite spicy and peppery (probably the best black pepper character yet in one of my "spicy" saisons) but I'm a little bit disappointed in the fruit flavors. I thought the amount of orange peel I added (one ounce) would add a little more orangey flavor.

I primed this batch with about three-quarters a cup of cane sugar and netted 24 22-ounce bottles (two full cases) and I'm quite happy about that! Now I have to start thinking about labels. I blogged earlier about this batch and its ingredients here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Glarus Enigma

Settled in this evening with a 2007 bottle of New Glarus Enigma. I uncap the bottle and pour the contents into a wide-bowl St. Bernadus glass and I wonder who took a cherry pie out of the oven. That's the whiff of cherry aroma from my beer. Upon closer inspection, the aroma is less cherry pie and more cherry wine. It's rustic; with more cherry wood than cherry jam. The flavor of the Engima is reminiscent of cherry wine, too. Although it actually reminds me a bit more of the cherry drink, a sort of cooler from a roadside stand in Northern Michigan. That's because the Enigma is actually quite refreshing. Not so much restorative, as refreshing. This is not to say that isn't complex, because along with the tart cherry there is vanilla, a touch of cinnamon and maybe even a dash of nutmeg. All of these flavors are then rounded in the finish by a milky, lactic sourness. Yes, tart up front and sour in the finish. I'm quite pleased with how this beer tastes two years after I first tried it. My original notes from 2007 can be found at Beer Advocate.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dupont Strain Tests My Patience

My most recent saison ale is still slowly fermenting, but at least it's fermenting. (I'm using the Wyeast 3724 Dupont strain and it tends to get stuck and start again.) I've had this beer in plastic (bucket) for 18 days, which some would say is way too long, but I'm betting that since the yeast is still rather active (airlock is bubbling) that it'll be fine.

I was quite happy that I found some Sierra Nevada Torpedo at my local grocery store this week. As an "Extra" IPA it has a very smooth and pleasant hop profile: it's "leafy" hop profile with smooth, but assertive bitternes. I gave it a solid "A" on Beer Advocate. Another IPA I can recommend that I've had lately is New Holland Mad Hatter. Not as bitter as the Torpedo and not as good as my BA review linked above, but more sessionable at 5.8 percent versus 7.2 percent ABV. I'm a bit partial to it because it's more local than the Sierra Nevada and I like that's it has less alcohol, but I'm still a sucker for Sierra Nevada.

Another beer I've had lately is a seasonal brew from Trader Joe's called Summer Brew. It's made by Gordon Biersch for the eclectic grocery store chain and it's quite affordable at $6 a six-pack. I had this beer last summer when TJ's debuted it and I think I was more impressed with it then than I am now. It's a decent summer beer, a little too fruity but not quite dry enough for me as Kolsch-style beer.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

To Rack or Not to Rack?

Contemplating racking the saison, but it shall wait until another night. Despite the warm temps, the Dupont yeast that I pitched is sitting at 1.020 (56 percent attenuated) which means it has a long time to go. I figure if I'm lucky maybe I'll get to bottle sometime next month. Otherwise, the beer of course is very hazy. A hazy orange, with a surprisingly smoky nose. My hydrometer sample tastes very soft and "wheaty" with some delicate orange spice and assertive pepper with a decent blast of heat. I shall be patient and let this one take it's time.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Nicie Spice-inspired Beer Gets Brewed

Brewed this morning as I had planned and it went rather well. I used four pounds of Briess dry malt extract, two pounds of Briess Munich malt and 10 ounces of sugar. I hopped this wort with three ounces of Strisselpalt hops (2.5% AA) added at 60, 30 and 5 minutes left of the 60-minute boil. I also added the following spices: one three-inch long stick of lemon grass (chopped), a quarter-ounce of dried lemon peel, an ounce of dried sweet orange peel, an ounce of crushed coriander seeds and two ounces of ground black pepper. It occurred to me later that I had some fresh limes and that some lime zest would have been nice, too. I'm fermenting this concoction with Wyeast 3724. It's supposed to hit 90 this weekend and the 3724 (supposed DuPont strain) likes it toasty. As I described earlier, this batch is inspired by Short's Nicie Spicie, which gets some decent props on Beer Advocate.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Saison Brew Session Planned

Going to try a brew session tomorrow for a spiced wit/saison type of creation. I have four pounds of Briess dry wheat extract, two pounds of Munich malt and a pound of sugar (although I only intend to use about 10 ounces.) I plan to dose the beer rather heavily with orange and lemon peel along with black pepper in an attempt to emulate Short's Nicie Spicie. The Nicie Spicie is a favorite of mine and most recently enjoyed it at the Beer and Brat Fest last month at Crystal Mountain resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. I love the heat and spice of the peppercorns in this brew. I've been experimenting with adding pepper in beer for a few batches and now I feel like I can get it right, just how I want it. I'll be using French Strisselspalt hops for this beer because I feel they are one of the best hops for spiced beer. Meanwhile, I have two other saisons that are in the bottle and I need to do a side-by-side tasting of them sometime soon.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Week in Review

A week in review of sorts: I enjoyed a growler of Powerhouse Pale Ale from Rock Bottom Yorktown this evening. I don't recall the Powerhouse coming across so dry. It's quite tasty, with a toasted malt accent and piney hops. It's really a good pale ale for summer. Picked it up Friday night after a dinner of Ahi tuna salad which was quite tasty and paired with a Nitwit wheat ale.

Visited Hackney's on Dearborn (in Chicago) for the first time earlier today and enjoyed a pint of Boont Amber from Anderson Valley Brewing of Boonville, California. The Anderson Valley brews have been available in Chicago for a long time -- I'm thinking about 15 years or so -- but they've never been fresher. I've had bad experiences in the past several years with some of the Boonville beers, but in the last couple years the quality is much more consistent. I'm not sure if it has to do with logistics or distribution or what -- but I'm happy about it because they are good beers. By the way, I can highly recommend the guacamole and chips appetizer at Hackney's. The guac has a nice kick to it and the chips are toasty warm.

Picked up a six-pack of Three Floyds Gumballhead with the groceries this week. Gumballhead has much more body than I remember and almost zero perceived bitterness. I picked it up thinking it was a good summer beer, but I think I really prefer something drier like a saison-style ale, or as it turns out, the Powerhouse Pale Ale from my local Rock Bottom.

I still have two pounds of Munich malt that I need to brew with sometime soon. It's been sitting in my cupboard, already cracked, for about a month now. I might try and wedge in a brewing session one day this week after work. The beer would be a saison or farmhouse-style brew as I have some Wyeast 3724 in the fridge along with some Safbrew T-58. I have two batches of saison-style ale already in bottles and it's going fast. The first batch I'm really quite pleased with so far. It has a pleasant bitterness and just a touch of heat in the dry finish from some crushed black pepper. I used Wyeast 3711 for both batches and they fermented super dry, around 85-89 percent attenuated. (Love that yeast!) The hops are all Strisselspalt and add a touch of anise-like spice. The seocnd batch is a little bit different. I added the black pepper, but also some chamomile, which at first showed up with Juicy Fruit bubblegum flavors, but has since faded and is coming across a little bland. I will give this second batch plenty of warm conditioning and maybe it'll develop a little more complexity. The batch I intend to brew will probably have some lemon and orange peel added to it, along with a bit more of black or green peppercorns than the previous batches. I had some Nicie Spicie from Short's on a recent Michigan trip and I'm sort of seeking to emulate it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Petite" Saison is Tasting Good

The "petite" saison I brewed in April is tasting pretty good so far; in fact I think it will turn out great, so I've brewed another version of it and it's fermenting now. The fermentation seems less robust (maybe cooler temps?) but I'm not worried. I'm letting it take it's time as I'm going to need more bottles anyway. There's been a funky smell in the kitchen the last few days, but it doesn't seem to be the fermenting beer, which is good.

In other news, I checked out the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance and Craft Brewing Guild "Beer Under Glass" event earlier this evening and I enjoyed it. Here's to hoping they can do it again, maybe with a little more food available? Also, I've seen that J.W. Platek's in McHenry County has ceased brewing. I never got to try their brews, but I'm told other good beers are now on tap. Still sad to see that area's only remaining brewery stop production.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Awesome Apparent Attenuation

It seems crazy, but I racked my saison today and using Promash I calculated an apparent degree of fermentation of 94.9 percent. This seems crazy! This stuff should go down really easy this summer. My hydrometer sample smelled like a black pepper water cracker with a real light touch of citrus. It's got a bitter finish (but not too much so) and is peppery with a cracker-like pilsner maltiness. It's very light in body; almost watery, but the half-pound of torrified wheat I added seems to be adding a touch of body up front. All of this is good, but I'm just shocked that the gravity dropped at least 36 points in eight days. I still went ahead with dry hopping in the secondary, as planned, but I have to say I'm a little afraid. If this beer gets any drier I'll end up with something akin to mineral water. Fortunately, I like mineral water. Here's the recipe, which I feel inclined to brew again straight away if for no other reason than to see if I get the same results. I should note that I added a teaspoon of black pepper and maybe a tablespoon of crushed dried pineapple mint leaves five minutes before the end of the boil which is not listed in the recipe.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ambitious Amber Almost Drained

Sampled a few homebrews today. My Party Pig of Ambitious Amber is almost drained. Had a few pulls of it while watching the White Sox game on Fox today until I started falling asleep. Old man. Later in the evening I ran out to Binny's and picked up a bottle of Goose Island Sofie, which I enjoyed. I especially liked the tartness; I felt it was just about right and not over done. A really tasty saison-type beer that had me wondering if the Sofie is what the old saisons, the ones produced on the small farms in Belgium before the 1950s tasted like -- refreshing and light, but tart, if not a bit funky.
I then migrated from the Sofie to one of my homebrews, Montmorency Cherry Ale. I brewed it back in 2008. I basically added one gallon of tart cherry juice to a saison recipe (about 90 Belgian pils malt, 10 percent wheat), some Hallertau hops and Wyeast 3822 Ingelmunster Yeast. This beer is holding up pretty well. It's not quite as dry as I would it be, but the tart cherry flavor is quite nice. There's cherry in the nose and a little bit of tannin in the finish. I think I have a little more than a half case left of this beer that will be three years old in June. (It is pictured to the right.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pineapple Mint?

A new brew is fermenting in the kitchen. It's a middle of the road (in terms of alcohol) saison brewed with black pepper and pineapple mint, along with some pilsner malt, torrefied wheat, Strisselspalt hops and Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. It's been percolating for about five days now and I intend to transfer to the secondary with some more Strisselspalt hop pellets. In the meantime I've been enjoying my Ambitious Amber from one of my Party Pigs, but recently I've (*gasp*) beem diluting each pint with a little bit of bottled spring water. Just a touch too thick I guess and not quite dry enough. I'd like to try this recipe again (reworked) to see if I can get it where I like it. This probably won't happen too soon though, as it's getting warmer and prime-time for saison brewing. Those saison yeasts love the temps in 80s (which is what my kitchen will be throughout summer.) I've found that the saisons I brew always taste better the year after they're brewed, too. (See my tweets from earlier today.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Ambitious Amber

Racked another beer into a Party Pig. This time it's what I'm calling Ambitious Amber. The "ambitious" in the title comes from my idea of brewing this beer after work using a 15-minute boil. I boiled a half-ounce of Chinook hops with three ounces of Crystal for 15 minutes along with three pounds of Munton's DME as well as a simple partial mash of a half-pound each of 150L crystal malt and flaked oats. This beer was fermented with a packet of Fermentis S-05 which I had handy in the fridge. The results has latent, sustained bitterness, is orange in color with a fruity nose. The whole batch (minus massive yeast sediment) was transferred to the Pig with about a third-ounce of dry Crystal pellets. So far this beer has a soft mouthfeel, with sort of fruity flavors up front (orange) with some odd, estery flavors (can't quite describe, will hopefully lager out.) The bitterness is pretty assertive for the estimated 40 IBUs. My only other concern with this batch is that Party Pig pouch is situated inside the Pig where it might block the flow. I will relax with homebrew and not worry. As I relax, I feel the need to apologize that this blog may seem boring. I'm mostly writing to record a history of my homebrewing through the years and I figure I might as well share my experiences with the rest of the world. I used to write more about other beers, but now I'm pretty much focusing on my hombrewing experiences. Maybe this is because I'm mostly drinking homebrew these days?

I'll conclude this post with one beer recommendation. I was very impressed with a beer I split with my wife (a.k.a Marcofrau) earlier this evening. I can highly recommend Avery DuganA IPA. It's quite the impressive hop bomb. It's rather strong at I ended up posting a review over at Rate Beer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's fresh and maybe a bit "green" but I'm really liking the batch I've got in my Party Pig right now. It's a recipe inspired two of my favorite Rogue beers Rogue Brutal Bitter and American Amber. I've been referring to this batch as a Brutal Bitter clone, but it's more of a couple different Rogue Ales. I've been trying to figure out what it is about this batch that I like so much and I think it's the flavor of the Crystal hops with the malts I used, but it might be the Rogue Pacman yeast because there is a definite Rogue character to this beer. I put crystal hops in the amber that I brewed last week, so it'll be interesting to see if this next batch tastes anything like the one I'm drinking now. I have a feeling I'll be attempting another batch of my version of Brutal Bitter. Or I might have to try this kit that I've found at Homebrewer's Outpost. Either way, here's my recipe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ambitious Amber is fermenting away in the kitchen. About three gallons of amber ale brewed on a Thursday night. I implemented a 30-minute boil (in the interest of time) adding three ounces of Crystal hop pellets at 15 minutes left in the boil and a half-ounce of Chinook at five minutes. The malt comprised three pounds of Briess Golden DME and about two-thirds of a pound of 150L Simpsons crystal malt. I intend to put this batch in a Party Pig. I ordered fresh pouches direct from Quoin earlier this evening.

My Rogue Brutal Bitter-alike has been cooling in the fridge for the past 48 hours. I tapped it awhile ago and was mostly pleased with the results. It's not quite as bitter or hoppy as I hoped, but it's a tasty draft bitter and the pour is fantastic. I've ordered a "Pig Pen" (insulated cooler) for the Party Pig and it shall travel...maybe to you!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Brutal Bitter Clone Pigged

Ended up "pigging" the Brutal Bitter-alike and thought I might yield a few extra bottles, but with all the hops (including those from the previous batch since I racked on top of slurry) I only yielded enough to fill the Party Pig. My last experience with the Pig wasn't so good. The pouch didn't activate. It took a couple tries, but this time I actually heard the pouch activate as I pressurized the Pig with the included hand pump.

I enjoyed a pint (or two) of this beer while packaging and it was quite delicious. There's an assertive bitterness, but a complex malt character that lets the yeast express itself. This is the second batch I've made with the Rogue Pacman yeast and it tasted more Rogue-like than the first.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Waiting to package the Rogue Brutal Bitter-alike because I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I'm inclined to bottle it, but I don't have enough bottles. I do have a Party Pig (and a pouch) but I don't trust the pouch as I don't know how old it is and I've found that old pouches don't always activate. I wish Party Pigs weren't such a pain in the ass. Party Pig fans please console me. I'd like to use the Pig with this beer, but the last time I "pigged" a beer I ended up having to bottle it because it was way over-carbonated. Filling bottles takes time, but it's pretty simple. I'm at 16 days in the primary (glass) which is really no big deal. I think I'm going to go with bottles on this one, but I'm open to advice. Feel free to comment below.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rogue Yellow Snow Clone Tasting

Hurray! No problems so far with my Rogue Yellow Snow Clone. The carbonation is just about perfect and I can't seem to detect any off flavors yet. Needless to say, some of the bottles that may be more oxidized (see earlier posts) are first in line to be consumed. I still have about three gallons of new beer inspired by Rogue Brutal Bitter that should be ready to package in the next couple days. I'm not sure yet if I'll try the Wyeast VSS Rogue Pacman yeast on a third brew.

Been combing through links on this blog as my old site called the Marcobrau Beer Pages will be going down at end of next month. I'm working on salvaging bits and pieces of the old site that I think are most relevant or interesting and I'll likely link to those parts from this blog. The old site is quite a trip down memory lane as I have links to content from more than 10 years ago. It may sound dramatic, but it's the end of an era. The internet is a very different place today than it was 10 years ago. Nowadays, between this blog and Twitter I feel like I can get my point across of publicly chronicling my homebrewing experiences and general beer geekiness quite well.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rogue Yellow Snow Inspired Recipe Gets Brewed

Busy brewing this weekend: brewed a new IPA inspired by Rogue Brutal Bitter and bottled the Rogue Yellow Snow clone. I brewed the new batch first, then bottled the Yellow Snow while the freshly brewed batch was cooling. The bottling didn't go well. First, the transfer hose came off the spigot of the bottling bucket and beer spilled everywhere; then I had trouble getting the beer to flow through the hose once it was reconnected. I lost patience and ended up filling almost a dozen bottles by placing the bottle directly under the spigot. In theory this should be an aeration/oxidation nightmare and the finished the should taste like cardboard, but I'm not too worried because I dry-hopped the heck out of this beer with two ounces of Amarillo. I'm thinking the dry hops might cover up any oxidation. At least half the batch got bottled the right way.

The brewing part of the day went fine without any problems. I'm expected the beer to take off pretty quickly since I racked it on top of slurry and I wasn't disappointed. A healthy krausen developed in about five hours.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Marcobrau Beer Pages Archived, Still on the Net

Those of you looking for my old site: you can still find it archived here (for the moment, I may be losing the space.) I'm not planning on updating it any time soon so my domain is redirecting to this site for the foreseeable future.
Took a shot at a Rogue Yellow Snow IPA clone today. I'm pretty sure it's going to be fermenting much too warm (why can't it be really cold when I want it too?), so we'll see how that goes. It's fermenting at about 75 degrees which I think is too warm. I'm using the Wyeast 1764 Pacman and all the ingredients according to the label. I used Promash to help me guess the proportions of the grains, hops and malts. Details on Rogue Yellow Snow can be found here. A really important fact to note is that I didn't brew this all-grain; instead I did a mini-mash of two pounds pale malt along with specialty grains and then added six pounds of Northwestern Gold LME. Depending on how this batch turns out, I'd like to reuse the yeast for either a Shakespeare Stout clone or something like American Amber.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tried a bottle of the West Coast Porter and it was not so "West Coast", but quite bitter. I was hoping for more hop flavor, but it seems the 15 minute addition of Chinooks just added more bitterness. The carbonation is right though (which is really what I was checking) and it is VERY smooth. It should turn out to be pretty delicious and quite sessionable at just under five percent alcohol by volume. Also, I'm really liking how the Fermentis Safale US-05 worked in this beer.

I'm not sure what I'm going to brew next. I'm running out of IPA, but I might just try another hoppy porter or stout because I have plenty of Amarillo and Chinook hops and almost a pound of roasted barley along with a few ounces of black malt.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Bottled up the "West Coast" Porter the other night (see my Twitter feed) and it went pretty well, except for the fact that I had to use cane sugar instead of corn sugar. How is this a potential problem? Well I used just as much cane sugar as I would dextrose, which means that my beer may be a little over-carbonated. Turns out that you don't need to use as much cane sugar as corn sugar (see the following thread on Homebrew Talk.) I figure I'll closely monitor the progress the carbonating beer and move as much of it to a colder (I'm thinking 40-60 degrees F.) environment.

After tasting this beer and looking back at the recipe I realize I really hopped the heck out of it. Not only is there bitterness, but a harsh hop spiciness that is almost acidic. Ideally, the hops will fade a bit and this will be a more drinkable brew. If not, I still have some more dark grains (one pound of roasted barley and another half pound of black patent) that I could use in another dark beer.