Monday, November 28, 2011

Belgian IPA gets tapped

I tapped a very interesting IPA tonight. I ended up packaging the whole batch of my Belgian IPA into two Party Pigs and just tapped the first pig after less than a day in the fridge. The aroma, despite dry hopping in the secondary and the Pig, is a bit neutral at first with light orange-marmalade notes which give way to a fairly intense phenolic character. This marmalade-phenolic character imparts itself on the palate as well and the esters make an interesting mix with the Chinook flavoring hops. The finish is bitter at first, but then tart. There is a decent amount of body to this beer, at least up front, which is what I expected using the Wyeast 3711 strain. I'm not sure I like such a strong phenolic character in a hoppy beer. Perhaps with age in the fridge the phenols will lager out. I think if I brewed this again that I would cut back on the Caravienne (I used a full pound), since I think it may have add a bit too much sweetness. I may have to start calling this beer Bittersweet IPA, as it almost tastes like I'm sucking on a toffee hard candy, eating an orange slice and drinking an IPA all at the same time.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Belgian-American IPA gets brewed

I brewed what I intended to be a Belgian-American IPA last Monday and today I racked that beer as a buttery pale ale with two ounces of Amarillo hops. I topped up the primary with a little too much water and ended up with a six-gallon batch of pale ale instead of a five-gallon batch of IPA. I racked to the secondary tonight and I'm hoping this beer's yeast cleans up after itself. After just seven days, this latest brew is a quite cloudy orange hue with an orange marmalade component to the aroma. So far it tastes rather odd, not infected, just strange. It is bitter, but the bitterness is coated in a buttery, orange marmalade sweetness accented by caramel. I'm definitely glad I've racked this one, because I think it's going to need some time to get rid of some intense amounts of diacetyl. Here is the recipe, where you'll see that I used an ample amount of Caravienne (a little over 13 percent which is perhaps a bit too much), but I have to wonder if it was enough to add such caramel character. I noticed some scorching on the bottom of the kettle after the brew session which may also be a factor in the caramel character of this beer. What I'm more concerned though is the buttery diacetyl. In the meantime, I'll have a homebrew and not worry.

The homebrew I'm having is my previous batch, Bitter Flowers, and it's drinking quite well. There is a light peppery hop aroma with perhaps just a touch of DMS, but it's not off-putting. The carbonation is quite good. A persistent quarter-inch fluffy white head sits on top of this brew, with ample lacing left behind with each sip. The mouthfeel definitely suggests saison; it is crisp without being too light, yet this beer has a very dry finish. There is an assertive, peppery hop bitterness yet the finish is rather soft before becoming impressively dry. The soft mouthfeel combined with the dry finish can be attributed to the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast. This character is specifically mentioned on the yeast lab's website. Overall, I'm a pretty pleased with this beer. The hint of DMS bothers me, but I haven't noticed it in all the bottles. I have to say that drinking this beer has me kind of wishing I brewed another batch instead of trying to brew a Belgian IPA with the same yeast.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Bitter Flowers Bottled

Bottled the hoppier version of the Flower Pepper saison that I'm calling Bitter Flowers earlier this evening. It's quite a bit hoppier (really just bitter), especially in the finish which is quite dry. At an original gravity of 1.048 and 40 IBUs of Crystal hops it's quite a beer so far. I love the performance of the Wyeast 3711. I fermented it in the mid- to upper-70s and it reached 87 percent apparent attenuation in under seven days. There seemed to no airlock activity the last couple days so I decided to check the gravity and at 1.006 I decided I could bottle. I brewed a five and a half-gallon batch so it yielded 30 12-ounce bottles, 12 12-ounce bottles and one two-liter flip-top growler. While bottling, I sampled some of my Dash the Curry Pale Ale and I'm still not in love with it. I picked a bottle that's been in the fridge for a couple weeks and it still has a prominent banana aroma. Not only does it smell like a German wheat (as opposed to a Belgian Pale Ale), it tastes a bit like one, too. It's coming across too full-bodied and sweet with a slightly unpleasant phenolic and oddly bitter finish despite a bitterness ratio of 0.472. I've moved a six-pack to the fridge and plan to move the rest of the beer off-site to a cooler location that is in the upper '60s. I'm thinking this is a beer that might taste better in the winter or early spring. Hopefully it just needs time to lager out some of the bitter spiciness and banana esters.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Brewing "Bitter" Flowers

Brewed a simplified and most likely hoppier version of the Flowers saison today. For a quick weeknight brew, I cut out the specialty malts and substituted some amber extract. I also increased the bittering hops by an ounce and dropped out the Strisselspalt in favor of all Crystal. I also erred on my "water needed" calcuations and ended up with six gallons in my seven-gallon fermenter. Hopefully, this won't be a problem. I also changed the yeast up, using Wyeast 3711 instead of 3724, since it's cooling off quite a bit in the kitchen. The ambient temperature is now 75 degrees, but I expect it to get even cooler in the next few days. I've used the 3711 strain before at this temperature and was amazed at how attenuative it was for not fermenting very warm. We'll see what happens, eh? So I cracked open the first bottle of my Dash the Curry Pale Ale, as a tribute to the prior batch, and I was pleased with it. The name comes from an English expression and a M.I.A. song, but I picked the name because I added a dash of Garam Masala. This spice blend included peppercorns, mace, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, cloves and coriander. I also added an additional amount of coriander with the Garam Masala. All the spices were added at 10-15 minutes left in the 60-minute boil. I threw caution to the wind and pitched an almost two-year-old packed of Safbrew T-58 yeast from Fermentis. So far (after only a couple weeks) the beer taste a little bit too much like a wheat beer with a bit too much banana and clove, but there's enough other stuff going on (no doubt from the spices and Styrian Golding hops) that it's okay.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flower Pepper Saison Tasted

I finally have two batches in the bottle and I'm already burning through the first one, what I'm simply calling "Flowers." I chose the name because I used lots of late and dry additions of Crystal hops. I also used a seasoning from Trader Joe's called Flower Pepper late in the boil to add complexity and aroma. Flowers is a saison-style ale and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, especially for a beer made with about 85 percent malt extract and 15 percent grains. I used a mix of dry and liquid extract along with a pound of 40L crystal malt for color. Aside from the wonderfully flowery aroma and great flavor, what I'm most impressed about with this beer so far is how dry it turned out. I had to go back in my notes and double-check that I didn't add any sugar to increase the dryness. It's definitely one of my drier saisons and drier than the last I brewed back in June with Wyeast 3725 as opposed to the 3724 (Dupont strain.) The Wyeast 3724 truly worked its magic when fermented at around 83-85 degrees in my kitchen in late August. We had a couple 90 degree days which helped keep the temperature up and the yeast very happy. Best I can tell, the beer ended up reaching apparent attenuation of about 80 percent. What I'd like to do (what I may have to do because it's getting cooler out) is brew up another batch of this stuff, but with the Wyeast 3711 strain, one with which I've brewed a rather dry saison in the past. I'd definitely use the Flower Pepper again, too, as it seems to add a complex fruitiness. It drinks like a flowery Pils with a tart finish. A great beer for year round; maybe a new house beer.

Dash the Curry Pale Ale

I brewed a Belgian Pale Ale called "Dash the Curry." The name is derived from the slang term meaning to "hurry up" which is what I had to do on brew day as I also bottled Flowers the same day. I also used some curry spices known as Garam Masala late in the boil which should add an interesting complexity. Dash the Curry is another extract brew with grains; five pounds of pilsner malt extract, one pound of wheat, a half pound of cane sugar and a quarter pound of Carafa I from Weyermann maltings in Germany. I single-hopped the brew with Styrian Goldings and added an ounce of coriander along with the curry spices in the last five minutes of the boil. I had intended to repitch the Wyeast 3724 to get more saison-like beer, but I ended up pitching a rehydrated packet of Safbrew T-58. I thought the temperature of my kitchen would be moderate enough for this strain (mid- to high-70s) but it ended getting up into the 80s, so the yeast seems to have thrown a massive amount of esters. My plan is to let the beer condition at room temperature for 7-10 days and then move as much of it into the fridge in the hopes of lagering out some of the harsher esters.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lots of work to do...

Wow. This year has been a brutal year for brewing: only 10 updates so far in 2011. I have a lot of work (brewing) to do in the next four months!

Dusting Off the Brew Kettle

Dusted off the brew kettle today and brewed a saison-style ale. It will ferment with Wyeast 3724 and the recipe includes Flower Pepper from Trader Joe's. The malt bill is six pounds of Briess pilsner malt extract (three liquid, three dry) and a pound of 40L Briess Caramel malt. The hops were all Strisselspalt and Crystal, with Crystal only used at the end of the boil (steeped.) I added the Flower Pepper at 15 minutes to the end of the boil. The temperatures outside are supposed to be in the mid- to upper-80s the next couple days, so hopefully my yeast will like those temps and attenuate well. I steeped the grains in a separate pot and strained into the kettle, washing with hot (not yet boiling) wort. All went well in the brew session, except that I pushed the grommet of my new fermenter into the wort. Hopefully this won't cause any problems. I added four ounces of Strisselspalt hops at the start of the 60-minute boil, an ounce at 45 minutes into the boil and a half-ounce of Crystal at the end of the boil right before cooling with my immersion wort chiller. I also added a few extra grind of the Flower Pepper at this time. My final volume was a little greater than I expected; slightly more than 5.5 gallons. Here's hoping I have enough head space for this yeast to do it's thing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Homebrew Cellar is Dwindling!

Been so busy with work lately (and other hobbies) that I haven't got to brew in the last few weeks. The result is that my stash of homebrew is dwindling somewhat. My IPA I brewed back in April is gone and almost all of the Liquid Sunshine hoppy wheat is gone (this is sad.) The last beer I brewed was the saison that I reference in my last post. That beer has cleaned up a bit (at least the portion that I cellared, the rest of it that I left in my hot kitchen is a little too phenolic.) Delving deeper into my collection I've found that I still have a case or so of my Dragon Slayer Belgian-style Double IPA that I bottled back in October. I sampled one of these earlier this evening and the "Belgian" character (along with the malt flavors) are more assertive than the last time I sampled this beer. Quite tasty and also quite strong. Next up was my tart cherry-infused Belgian-style stout which dates back to October 2009. This is a beer that is still in fine condition. There's no doubt that it's benefited from storage in a cool basement for most the last couple years or so. It's really a rather awesome nightcap beer. I can still smell plenty of the cardamom that I added to this beer, although it fades after a bit and more woody aromas emerge, coupled with cocoa or baker's chocolate. These aromatics give way to a delicate dark chocolate malt flavor that is followed by a wine-like complex flavors of cherry pit, leather, and an earthy spiciness I attribute to the cardamom that leads to a tart, dry finish with just a bit of chocolate and an even lesser hint of coffee. Quite awesome if I dare say so myself.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Styrian Golding Single-hopped Saison

Brewed a saison ale a couple weeks back and racked it into the secondary this evening with three ounces of Styrian Goldings hop pellets. That much may be overkill, but we'll see. I fermented this batch with Wyeast 3725 which is supposedly the primary sac strain for Fantome. I'd been toying with the idea of adding some lactic and/or brett dregs from a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin but I'm holding off. I think I'll re-pitch the yeast from the secondary and try that experiment in the next batch. This is in part because I'm very pleased with the attenuation of the beer. I've calculated an apparent attenuation of 90 percent. I didn't expect such results, but I did ferment into the 80s which may have caused the more complete fermentation.

My hydrometer sample poured a very cloudy golden color and smelled surprisingly bubblegummy fruity with a bit of clove and banana. That said, these esters were not that assertive, so I believe the dry hops will not be competing too much with the aroma from the yeast. The taste so far is. A bit sweet up front, then spicy and peppery from the Styrians and Strisselspalt hops I used. There's quite a bit of a phenolic character before the finish which is lightly bitter and very dry.

I plan to let the beer sit for a couple weeks and will post details on the batch later.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Hoppy Amarillo Wheat Bottled

Bottled up the hoppy wheat and it sure is tasty so far. Lots of Amarillo hop goodness with a soft wheat malt backbone. It's surely going to finish under five percent alcohol by volume so this is going to be a batch that should be quaffed and gone quickly. That is why I have another beer on deck in the secondary with dry hops. This next beer is an English IPA that was a bit of a disaster on brew day. I bought two three-pound bags of dry malt extract for this beer and started the brew session by removing the ingredients from a brown paper bag one at a time, only to finish the brew session with one three-pound bag of extract still in the bag. Whoops! I ended up making a second wort (which boiled over) that I cooled and added to the fermenter. Tasted at racking this disaster of a beer tasted quite fruity which I suspect is the effect of Nottingham yeast fermented a bit too warm. I also picked up a cheesy aroma which is more distressing. I added about an ounce of Chinook hops and hoped for the best. I have my fingers crossed that this English IPA won't end up a waste of time and money.

Details on the Hoppy Wheat here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hoppy Amarillo Wheat Racked

Three days ago I racked a batch I brewed early last week. It's a hoppy (more hoppy than bitter if you know what I mean) wheat ale. I pitched about a pint of slurry from my two previous batches which was slow to take off (didn't make a starter, just re-pitched the slurry), so next time I'll probably make a starter with the slurry for a faster start. This batch was very cloudy when I racked from the primary after just three days of fermentation and has since cleared up a quite a bit but still shows signs of fermentation. This batch marks the first time in years that I've re-used the same liquid yeast more than once and I'm pretty pleased with the results so far.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dragon Slayer Belgian-style Double IPA Update

Almost six months ago I set out to brew a Belgian-style Double IPA. That would be a beer that had the malt bill of a quad with the hopping rate of a Double or Imperial IPA. Tonight I'm trying a bottle and it's rather interesting. First of all, the nose is very complex with caramel and fruitcake sort of hanging in a musty, boozy fog. The carbonation is high, but not completely out of control and makes for a rocky head. There is quite a bit of bitterness, rather harsh at one point somewhere in the middle, but this bitterness is cloaked in candied citrus flavors. The finish is dry and quite bitter. Perhaps the most succinct way to put it is it tastes like a Rogue Old Crustacean barleywine might taste if it was fermented with a Belgian Yeast. It will be interesting to taste this beer in six month, or year or two from now. The ingredients were very simple:

9 lbs Briess Pilsner DME
2 lbs Briess Weizen DME
3/4 lb cane sugar
2 ounces Chinook pellets at 11.5% AA for 60 mins
3 ounces Chinook pellets for 30 mins
1 ounce of Chinook pellets for 10 mins
3 ounces of Crystal whole hops for 5 mins
3 ounces of Sytrian Goldings dry hopped for 20 days
Fermented with two pouches of SafBrew T-58

Brewed September 18, 2010, racked eight days later and bottled on October 16.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Not Quite a Sticke

Okay, well it's not quite a Sticke Alt but it's a little hoppier (and actually lighter, not darker) than my last batch of Alt-a-like ale brewed with Wyeast #1010. The first batch is light brown to amber and hazy with just a little bit of hop Strisselspalt hop aroma with a touch of chocolate. This first batch turned out silky smooth with caramel malt flavors balanced by a little bit of chocolate malt and a dusty, dry, bitter hop finish. No real perceived hop flavor, but a modest bitterness. I've been most impressed with the mouthfeel of this beer and I credit the three weeks of lagering at near freezing and the use of Weyermann malts. The exceptionally low alcohol of four percent also makes this beer eminently quaffable. It shall not last.

No Weyermann malts in the second batch, but the same yeast, re-pitched. I skipped the dark Carafa malts and stuck with a combination of Briess amber dry malt extract and a pound of 60L crystal. Instead of Strisselspalt and Crystal, I used Northern Brewer for bittering and Styrian Goldings (from Slovenia) for flavoring. I probably should of dry-hopped this beer for more of Sticke alt presentation, but I suppose I am impatient. As a result, I would put this beer somewhere between a traditional Dusseldorf Alt and a Sticke Alt. I think it will be a good Spring beer. All that said, I think I need to use Weyermann malts for these type of beers. The Weyermann malt seems to be of a very high quality and makes very silky smooth ales.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Strisselspalt Alt Bottled

Bottled the Alt last night after three weeks of cold conditioning down to near freezing. Filled 22 22-ounce bottles and two 12-ounce stubbies. I didn't add any additional yeast, so hopefully it's still viable. I guess I'll find out in a week or so when I pop the top off one of the bottles. The flat beer out of the secondary fermenter tasted pretty good. I poured the hydrometer sample into my Frankenheim cartridge (tumbler.) The beer was light brown to amber and yeasty hazy (of course.) No real evidence of dry hopping. Aroma was neutral. Touch of chocolate in the aroma. The beer is real smooth with caramel malt flavors balanced by a little bit of chocolate malt and a dusty hop bitterness. Finish is dry. No real noticeable hop flavor, but malt is balanced by a very light anise-like flavor, no doubt from the Strisselspalt hops. God willing this beer will be quite good once it's carbonated. I saved the yeast and I'm thinking of brewing another alt or slight bigger, hoppier one, but I might keep it secret....

Sunday, January 09, 2011

German Brown (Alt) Ale Bottled

Racked the German brown ale (a.k.a. Altbier) this evening and it was a bit stinky. Yes, stinky...but I'm not worried because I've read that the yeast I used (Wyeast 1010) can be that way initially. It's a slightly sulphur-like smell that I'm told will go away with some lagering and it is lagering that I intend to do. I'm knocking around the idea of moving the wort (heavy five-gallon glass carboy) to another location (friend's house) where the temps are considerably cooler than they are in my kitchen. The temperature in this area seems to fluctuate a bit but stays cooler than 55 and doesn't get colder than 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, I'm wondering if anybody out there has ever moved fermenting beer to another location to lager and how it worked it out. I'm otherwise fairly pleased with how the batch tastes so far. There is a heavy caramel; almost roast coffee with cream note in the beer which I find interesting and which I'm sure is due to the dehusked Carafa I malt.

As I'm writing this I'm sipping on a sort of spiced wheat beer I made back in July. It is spiced with orange peel, lemon peel, coriander and about three tablespoons of black pepper. I also used the Safbrew T-58 yeast which is supposed to add some spiciness, but I think that the yeast esters are blown away by the black pepper.For that matter, the lemon and orange seems to be blown away by the black pepper at this point, too. Although, upon reflection the orange peel is coming through pretty good up front. If I were to brew this recipe again I probably wouldn't change too much accept maybe add even more orange peel.

Of course, as always, I'm looking forward to the next batch. I had planned on "pigging" the Alt that I have in the secondary right now but I might just bottle it so I can have the Party Pigs ready for an all Fuggles bitter.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's Time to Brew an Alt

Brewed a light brown ale yesterday that I hope resembles an Alt. I'm using Weyermann malts for the first time along with Briess extracts, Strisselspalt (instead of Spalt) and Wyeast 1010 instead of the recommended 1007. Fermenting rather warm at the high end of the range for the yeast, at 73 degrees. Perhaps this is why the krausen blew the fermenter lid earlier this evening. I cleaned it up and put it back on the bucket with a sanitized airlock but an hour or two later the lid blew again. I've finally given up and the lid is resting on top of the bucket with krausen oozing out of the top. I'm not happy about this, but I'm not sure what else to do. I've posted the details of the recipe here.