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.