Monday, December 10, 2012

Brewed a Wee Heavy

I brewed a Wee Heavy tonight. It's a kit beer that I've brewed before with good results, from Northern Brewer. Everything went pretty well. I followed the instructions, which called for adding six pounds of Maris Otter extract at the beginning of the boil and six pounds at 45 minutes into the 60-minute boil, no doubt to prevent excessive caramelization of the wort. (I'm a stovetop brewer so I tend to favor extract-based kits.) The kit included just one ounce of Northern Brewer hops added at the start of the boil, so this beer is definitely going to be a malt bomb. I plan to ferment it in my 75-degree kitchen (yeah, I now kinda warm) for a couple weeks and then lager it off-site at about 60-65 degrees (I'm guessing) for a couple of months. The yeast start didn't show a crazy level of activity, but it smelled good, so I pitched and off we go. I used about a quart-sized starter (probably a little more.)

I still have a flask of Wyeast 1318 in my fridge that I'd to something with, maybe another bitter, but I'm also kind of thinking of brewing my first Mild ale. I think I might be lazy and get another kit from Northern Brewer.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Merry Ale Tasted

Well, the Marcobrau Merry Ale has turned out nice, with a surprisingly earthy, minty hop aroma and a smooth minty hop-accented caramel malt body. No discernible off flavors. Rather balanced, especially in the finsh. Yes, I'm quite pleased, although I expected more bitterness. This beer sort of reminds of Rogue St. Rogue Red (the old version.) I will be handing out 22-ounce bottles of the Merry Ale to friends and other folks this holiday season. In the meantime, I've ordered a Wee Heavy kit from Northern Brewer. I've brewed this kit before with good results. I plan to do the primary ferment in my kitchen at about 73-75 degrees, then I'll move the beer to a 55-60 degree environment for secondary fermentation for about two months before bottling. Patience, patience...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Merry Ale Brewed, Bottled

Damn. Once again I find that I've neglected this blog. Truth is....I'm not sure I'm really neglecting it. I decided awhile ago to make this blog purely about brewing my beer, but I just don't brew that often. My last post from the end of December concerned a Bitter that I brewed. I put this beer into two Party Pigs and I've killed one of them, but another lives on at a friend's house. It turned out to be a pretty decent session beer (less then 4.5 percent ABV.) I feel like I should brew more beers like this, but frankly it's hard to brew just  five gallons of low ABV beer to have it all hoovered up in a few weeks. That said, there aren't really a lot of option for low ABV beer on the beer store shelves, so I should probably be brewing more of it myself.

My inventory right now consists of the Bitter, the Autumnal Ale and what could best described as Belgian quad. I also have some fresh bottled Merry Ale, which is a red ale with American hops and an English yeast that I'm putting out there as my holiday brew. It's something between Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome and Rogue's Santa's Private Reserve. It's all Chinook and Centennial hops, but restrained by generous caramel malts and a very fruity English yeast.

The Autumnal Ale is still hanging around in the form of a few 12-ounce bottles and a half-dozen 22s. It turned out decent. It's sort of a phenolic Biere de Garde that's almost more like Belgian Pale Ale like a DeKoninck. At least that was the opinion of a Belgian ex-pat who I know tried it.

I'm getting my mind blown right now by the theoretical 156 IBUs of a Short's Huma Lupa Licious IPA and the little letters on my screen are starting to all blend together (not really, but that's what *should* be happening.)  Anyhow, I apologize to all three readers of this blog for not publishing more posts. I'm just old and working hard in retail and it's a busy time of year.

Email me if you're interested in the recipe for the Merry Ale.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tasting the Wild Blonde

I've decided to sample another brew I made quite awhile back. I brewed it back in March, racked in April and bottled in May. It's now September (almost October) and thought I'd try a bottle. I used Wyeast #3942 for the primary ferment and pitched a whole slew of yeasts from various bottles into the secondary. These yeasts  containted some brettanomyces and God knows what else. Here my notes from Beersmith:

3/29 - No problems with the brew session. Pitched Wyeast #3942 into 80 degree wort.
4/9/12 - Racked to Secondary. Pours very hazy blonde. Smells phenolic with a hint of tropical fruit (guava, mango?) Tastes a bit convential, not quite as complex as I hoped. Perhaps the EC-1118 crowded out the Wyeast. Still a keeper though.
4/13/12 - Added dregs of a 2007 Marriage Parfait bottle.
4/19/12 - Finally some visible action from the Boon dregs. Added some additional dregs from a bottle of New Glarus Imperial Saison. Carboy cannot accept any more -- it is FULL!
5/13/12 - Took a hydrometer sample. Gravity seems to have only fallen a few points, but the flavor profile is much more interesting, slightly tart.
6/3/12 - Bottling. Very clear amber-orange. Smells band aid phenolic at first, then a bit spicy.Very spicy and complex phenols. Bitter finish. A touch "hot" in terms of alcohol. This stuff is gonna sit for awhile. Filled a bunch of bottles, just a couple short of two cases. This stuff will warm condition for a couple weeks and then go get moved to cooler storage, around 68 degrees at Chez Morrison.
6/19/12 - Tested a bottle for carb. Perfect. Very complex and tart. Stashing the rest of this far away.
9/30/12 - Developing quite nicely. Fairly clear and deep golden to light amber in hue. Very fruity nose. Tart apple, pear and candy sugar. Surprisingly creamy mouthfeel, tart and apple-like. Much more tartness than say an Orval, but not as much as say a Jolly Pumplin Oro del Calabaza. The flavor reminds me a bit of the Apfelwein I had a few days ago. It will be interesting to see how this tastes in a year or more.

Tasting the Autumnal Ale

I brew ales, not lagers, so when fall comes rolling around I brew an autumnal or harvest ale. This year's batch was a bit of a disastar (see my earlier post) but it seems to be turning out okay. I tried a bottle tonight and here my Beersmith notes:

9/4/12 - Pours a light amber and quite clear. Light spice and malt on the nose mixed with phenols. Fruity, moderately phenolic flavor. Phenolic and rather papery in the finish, no doubt due to some oxidation at bottling or perhaps some hot side aeration.
9/20/12 - OK. Last day of summer coming up. Let's see how this autumnal ale si doing. It pours with plenty of carbonation which forms a dense head which slowly falls to a quarter-inch layer of foam with just a little bit of lace. Phenolic and spicy with some caramel notes. A bit too plastic phenolic and too bitter. A bit tart in the finish as it warms up. Not so bad I guess considering it fermented too warm and that bottling was a diasaster.
9/30/2012 - Ten days later this pours with nice a little thick head with plenty of lace into an Orval chalice. Creamy mouthfeel. There's a touch of sweetness and phenolics, with the phenolics getting brighter in the finish. Seems to be improving, although there is still a faint "cardboard" character there, no doubt from the disastrous bottling session and beer getting splashed around. It's not entirely bad beer, but certainly not one of my best efforts.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A bitter gets brewed

It's autumn and as the temperatures start fall the style of beer that I brew starts to shift. Fewer Belgian-style farmhoue ales with their high-temperature tolerance. The kitchen fermentorium starts to cool down and my thoughts turn to the brewing of an English-style ale. I want something pale, not that strong and maybe a touch more bitter and hoppy than a traditional English standard or premium bitter. Here's what I went with for a recipe --

---RECIPE SPECIFICATIONS-----------------------------------------------
SRM: 5.1 SRM  SRM RANGE: 5.0-16.0 SRM
IBU: 35.7 IBUs Tinseth IBU RANGE: 25.0-40.0 IBUs
OG: 1.043 SG  OG RANGE: 1.040-1.048 SG
FG: 1.011 SG  FG RANGE: 1.008-1.012 SG
BU:GU: 0.826  Calories: 142.0 kcal/12oz Est ABV: 4.2 %  
Batch: 5.00 gal      Boil: 3.15 gal BT: 60 Mins

---WATER CHEMISTRY ADDITIONS----------------
      
10.00 g               Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins)
            
---BOIL PROCESS-----------------------------
Est Pre_Boil Gravity: 1.069 SG Est OG: 1.043 SG

6 lbs Maris Otter Extract (5.0 SRM)
1.00 oz Northdown hop pellets [7.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min    
1.00 oz Fuggles hop pellets [4.20 %] - Boil 30.0 min
0.25 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 15.0 mins)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Belgian-style dark ale gets brewed

Brewed Belgian-style dark strong ale today. Wanted something strong to sip on for late this winter and next winter.

Here's the recipe:

---RECIPE SPECIFICATIONS-----------------------------------------------
SRM: 18.0 SRM  SRM RANGE: 12.0-22.0 SRM
IBU: 39.1 IBUs Tinseth IBU RANGE: 20.0-35.0 IBUs
OG: 1.075 SG  OG RANGE: 1.075-1.110 SG
FG: 1.019 SG  FG RANGE: 1.010-1.024 SG
BU:GU: 0.520  Calories: 254.4 kcal/12oz Est ABV: 7.5 %  
Batch: 5.00 gal      Boil: 3.67 gal BT: 60 Mins

---MASH-----     
3 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)
1 lbs Oats, Malted (1.0 SRM)        
1 lbs Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)

---BOIL-----------------------------
Est Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.113 SG Est OG: 1.075 SG
3 lbs Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)
3 lbs Pilsner Liquid Extract (3.5 SRM)
1.00 oz Goldings, B.C. [5.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.00 oz Magnum [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min
1.00 oz Bramling Cross [7.40 %] - Boil 5.0 min



Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Autumnal Ale gets bottled, sort of...

I bottled tonight and it didn't go well. I transferred out of my primary fermenter bucket to my bottling bucket. No secondary. The hydrometer sample tasted mostly phenolic and bitter with some clove, with a moderate amount of caramel malt flavor from the amber LME I used. Amber hue. All seemed okay until I was trying to get some of the last gallon of beer out of the bottling bucket....and CRASH! The bottom of the tilted bucket slipped and crashed down on top of several of the already filled bottles on the floor, breaking one bottle and knocking several over. Beer filled half my kitchen and spilled out into the living room. The worst homebrewing accident I've experienced. I hindsight I did at least a couple things wrong. I didn't follow my usual procedure of filling the bottles. I sat on my kitchen floor with the bottling bucket positioned on a stool above me. I filled each bottle, rested a cap on top and left it on the floor. So here are the two things: I usually sit in a chair while filling the bottles and I usually set them on the counter. Had I been sitting in a chair, I would have been more level with the bucket (it wouldn't have been above me) and I probably would have been in a better situation to catch it as it fell. Also, had folowed my usual procedure of placing the filled bottles on the counter instead of setting them on the floor, the bottles wouldn't have been knocked over and broken by the falling bucket. The lesson here is to always follow your standard operating procedure that has been successful and safe. Deviating from that course opens up the possiblity of something unexpected happening.

Here's the recipe, for what's it's worth -


BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: saison d'automne
Brewer: Marc Morency
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Saison
TYPE: Partial Mash
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal      
Boil Size: 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.050 SG
Estimated Color: 5.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 31.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
2.00 lb       Extra Light Dry Extract (3.0 SRM)         Dry Extract  24.24 %       
3.00 lb       Amber Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)            Extract      36.36 %       
2.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        24.24 %       
0.75 lb       Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM)                   Grain        9.09 %        
1.00 oz       Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %]  (40 min)   Hops         26.2 IBU      
2.00 oz       Opal [6.30 %]  (5 min)                    Hops         5.4 IBU       
0.50 lb       Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM)               Sugar        6.06 % 

       
Fermented with Wyeast 3711 French Saison at a mean temperature of 80 degrees F.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tasting the spiced saison, Japansese Sunshine II gets brewed

My spiced saison that I brewed awhile back is coming along nicely. It's pale, hazy and pours with a tremendous fluffy, rocky head and has a very complex aroma. It's pretty beer when poured in a tulip glass. At first I thought I was getting some phenols in the nose, but I think it's just the mad combination of spices I used that include chamomile, cumin, coriander, lavender and black peppercorns. I posted the recipe for this beer in one of my earlier posts below.

 Meanwhile, I've brewed another batch of what I'm calling Japanese Sunshine. I've previously referred to this beer as my Franco-Japanese saison, but now I've tweaked the recipe to make it even more Japanese, by using not just Sorachi Ace hops, but flaked rice. The result is a farmhouse-style ale that is very pale, surprisingly clear and also rather estery for a saison. There is an earthy, complex character and a bitter finish. The mouthfeel is very light and dry. I used two-thirds of priming (corn) sugar which after some thought seemed like not quite enough, so I added a couple Munton's Carb Tabs to each bottle. I'm real curious as to how the carbonation level will turn out. I should have measured the sugar more carefully. I also split my bottling into two sessions. I scrubbed and cleaned the bottles last night, as well as prepared the priming solution, which I kept in the refrigerator, covered overnight. Tonight I sanitized the bottles and all my other equipment. I decided not to save the yeast from the batch as I have a couple more packs of yeast in the fridge.

Here's the recipe for Japanese Sunshine:


BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Japanese Sunshine II
Brewer: Marc
Asst Brewer:
Style: Saison
TYPE: Partial Mash
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 6.00 gal    
Boil Size: 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.041 SG
Estimated Color: 4.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 28.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU    
3.00 lb       Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM)               Dry Extract  37.50 %    
3.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        37.50 %    
1.00 lb       Rice, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                    Grain        12.50 %    
0.25 lb       Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM)                   Grain        3.13 %      
2.00 oz       Sorachi Ace [10.50 %]  (22 min)           Hops         28.0 IBU    
0.75 lb       Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)              Sugar        9.38 %      
1 Pkgs        Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [CulturYeast-Ale                


Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 4.25 lb
----------------------------
Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp  
75 min        Mash In            Add 5.31 qt of water at 161.4 F     150.0 F    


Notes:
------
7/4/12 - A bit briney-smoky at first in the nose (as soon as I have remove the lid to the fermenter.) Incredibly pale, staw color, possible the palest beer I've made. Slight lemon scent. Touch of plastic/phenol (this is all in the nose.) Tastes very light, a touch smoky and not as bitter as expected. Extremely refreshing! Will be ready for more 100-degree days with this one.
7/18/12 - Bottled. Very pale color. Clear. Estery. Earthy and bitter in the finish. Very light mouthfeel, very dry.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Brewing a Wild Blonde

Monday night I bottled up the "funky blonde" with all the different yeasts (which is really more of an amber at this point.) Bottling went well and I ended up just two bottles short of a full two cases of interesting brew. The color of my hydrometer sample of this beer was a remarkably clear amber-orange. It smelled rather "band aid phenolic" at first,but then a bit spicy with very spicy and complex phenols on the palate with a bitter finish, albeit a touch "hot" in terms of alcohol. This stuff is gonna sit for awhile....a long while. It will warm condition for a couple weeks and then get moved to cooler basement storage where I expect to let it sit for at least six months before popping a cap off a bottle. On Wednesday I racked five gallons of saison fermented with Wyeast 3724 (the Dupont strain.) which is quite pale, fruity and dry.  Smells very complex; with some evidence of the chamomile, citrus and maybe a slightt bit of bubblegum, maybe from the cumin. No phenols. Very fruity tasting with a light hop spice and light bitterness. Slight bit of astringency (maybe from some of the herbs? No hydrometer reading as my plastic hydrometer didn't cleaned well enough from the last I used it and got nasty and had to be pitched. Shame on me! Here is recipe for the saison:

BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Saison Morency 2012
Brewer: Marc
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Saison
TYPE: Partial Mash

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.00 gal      
Boil Size: 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 4.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
3.00 lb       Pilsner Dry Extract (4.0 SRM)             Dry Extract  40.00 %       
3.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        40.00 %       
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        6.67 %        
4.50 oz       Strisslespalt [1.50 %]  (60 min)          Hops         17.0 IBU      
2.00 oz       Brewer's Gold [4.20 %]  (10 min)          Hops         7.7 IBU       
0.25 oz       Cumin (Boil 5.0 min)                      Misc                       
0.50 oz       Chamomile (Boil 5.0 min)                  Misc                       
0.50 gm       Salt (Mash 60.0 min)                      Misc                       
1.00 oz       Black Pepper (Boil 5.0 min)               Misc                       
1.00 gm       Chalk (Mash 60.0 min)                     Misc                       
1.00 oz       Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 min)             Misc                       
1.00 lb       Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)              Sugar        13.33 %       
1 Pkgs        Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724)        Yeast-Ale                  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Golden Ale gone, Spiced Saison gets brewed

Holy crap. I've been brewing so many blonde ales this spring that I forgot that I've brewed three of them in the last couple of months (four counting today's brew session, but that's getting ahead of myself.) So far the best one is the one that's just about gone. Yup, drinking the last bottle right now. I'm sipping a blonde ale brewed with Briess Pilsner DME, Belgian Pilsner malt, Briess Special Roast and torrified wheat with Cascade hops for bittering and a healthy dose (two ounces) of Brewer's Gold for the aroma. I fermented with the SafAle US-05 yeast, and fermented it quite warm around 80 degrees. As a result it turned out rather fruity, but this seemed to work well with the Brewer's Gold. This beer also attenuated quite well (and I still managed to over carb it.) I was initially worried about an overly assertive flavor (almost sour) from the Special Roast malt, but this subsided over time and now there is just a pleasant biscuit flavor along with a slightly sour note. Very interesting, but I believe this is due to the Special Roast being mixed with an acidulated malt (at the maltings.) I will miss this beer, as it is quite tasty and exceeded my expectations. Here is the recipe:

BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Toasted Blonde
Brewer: Marc
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Blonde Ale
TYPE: Partial Mash

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.00 gal      
Boil Size: 4.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.043 SG
Estimated Color: 8.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 17.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
3.00 lb       Pilsner Dry Extract (4.0 SRM)             Dry Extract  42.86 %       
2.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        28.57 %       
1.00 lb       Special Roast (50.0 SRM)                  Grain        14.29 %       
1.00 lb       Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM)                Grain        14.29 %       
1.00 oz       Amarillo Gold [5.25 %]  (60 min)          Hops         17.0 IBU      
2.00 oz       Brewer's Gold [4.20 %]  (30 min) (Aroma HoHops          -            
1 Pkgs        SafAle American Ale (DCL Yeast #US-05)    Yeast-Ale                    


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's been a hot couple of days with temps in the 90s so I decided to use my Wyeast 3724 yeast to brew a Saision. I had three pounds of Pilsner malt leftover from the Golden Ale (that I'm finishing now) and used that along with three pounds of Briess Pilsner DME and one pound of Trader Joe's Organic Cane Sugar. I used up the remaining Strisselspalt hops from last year (I used them for bittering) and I used the rest of my Michigan-grown Brewer's Gold for the flavoring hops. I also added a whole bunch of different spices on the fly -- including cracked black pepper, coriander, cumin and about several grind (quarter ounce?) of Trader Joe's Flower Pepper. Right now the ambient room temp is almost 82 degrees F., so I'm this yeast should be pretty happy. It's suppposed cool off later in the week, so hopefully it stays warm in the kitchen fermentorium for at least a couple days. I'd like to reuse this yeast, but I also have a whole bunch of Wyeast 3711 if the temps moderate for awhile.

BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: Saison Morency 2012
Brewer: Marc
Asst Brewer: 
Style: Saison
TYPE: Partial Mash
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.00 gal      
Boil Size: 3.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 4.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 24.6 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
3.00 lb       Pilsner Dry Extract (4.0 SRM)             Dry Extract  40.00 %       
3.00 lb       Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)             Grain        40.00 %       
0.50 lb       Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L (20.0 SRM)     Grain        6.67 %        
4.50 oz       Strisslespalt [1.50 %]  (60 min)          Hops         17.0 IBU      
2.00 oz       Brewer's Gold [4.20 %]  (10 min)          Hops         7.7 IBU       
0.50 gm       Salt (Mash 60.0 min)                      Misc                       
1.00 gm       Chalk (Mash 60.0 min)                     Misc                       
1.00 oz       Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 min)             Misc                       
1.00 lb       Candi Sugar, Clear (0.5 SRM)              Sugar        13.33 %       
1 Pkgs        Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724)        Yeast-Ale                  
  



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Something's funky in the kitchen

I've had a carboy of blonde ale (actually more amber, than blonde) sitting in the kitchen and the story of its fermentation is a bit interesting. I started out pitching Wyeast 3711 French Saison, which didn't start up as I had hoped, with no visible krause after 48 hours. Getting nervous, I pitched some EC-1118 Champagne yeast, the only available yeast I had. This got things going rather quickly in less than six hours. Hurray!

I sampled this beer a couple weeks later and was not pleased -- too malty, too sweet and lacking flavor. I expected the Champagne yeast to ferment pretty clean (even at 78 degrees) but it left me craving for something different. I racked the beer to the secondary hoping that it would dry out a bit on its own, but in the back of my mind I started thinking of what else I could do with this beer.

After contemplating adding fruit to this beer I decided to add some more yeast --- sort of -- I added the dregs from one bottle of Boon Gueze Mariage Parfait from 2007. Two weeks passed and there was no activity and no pressure change in the airlock. A few days later there was a wisp of krausen on top, but no change in the airlock. That's when after having a few beers I decided to add the dregs from a two-year-old bottle of New Glarus Imperial Saison, a beer with a fairly tart flavor profile and a flavor I enjoyed. There was a decent amount of dregs. I had a lot of hope that something would happen.

A couple days later there was an inch-tall krausen in the next of the rather full carboy and activity in the airlock. This was followed by about 10 days of bubling in the airlock every minute or so. Things have since calmed down and I've sample the beer again. The gravity has changed by about 4-5 points, but what really has me impressed is the flavor profile: sweet at first, but then a dry tart finish with a biy of bitterness. The smell is slightly funky; that Champagne-like nose you sometimes get from a gueze or an Orval, slightly metallic and slightly phenolic with a bit of pear, certainly more interesting than what I sampled a few weeks ago.

So now I'm wondering what's next for this beer. Do I go ahead and bottle, freeing up the carboy, or do I let it sit? I'm thinking that if I'm really eager to bottle that I let it sit for at least a week and check the gravity again. If it hasn't changed I'll likely bottle.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fermentorium full of blondes

There's been a lot going on in the brewery (kitchen) the last few weeks.

The session blonde ale has turned out quite well. It's really turned the corner in the past couple days and is tasting a lot less "green." I was bit worried about the color at first, having added a tremendous amount (a full pound) of Briess Special Roast, but the color has lightened and the initially intense flavor of the Special Roast has softened. I do believe that about two weeks of lagering at about 60 degrees (not really lagering, but almost) helped this particular beer.

Since brewing the blonde, I've also brewed a stronger blonde that I initially intended to ferment with Wyeast 3942, but I ended up pitching some EC-1112 Champage yeast after about 24 hours with no visible fermentation activity in the airlock and no krausen. I didn't use a starter for this batch (which had a starting gravity of 1.060) so I probably should've just been more patient. The Champagne yeast took off like a rocket, but when I tasted this beer before racking it to the secondary it seemed to be lacking the esters I wanted from the Wyeast. No doubt the Champagne yeast took over. My solution to this lack of complexity was to add the dregs of one bottle of 2007 Boon Mariage Parfait. About a week later I added more dregs, this time from a bottle of New Glarus Imperial Saison from a couple years ago. Now I have very full carboy (it was full to begin with) and a little bit of krausen on top. I plan to let this batch of beer sit for awhile, maybe the whole summer, who knows? I have no idea how this experiment is going to turn out.

The newest batch of brew I have going is a little Franco-Japanese saison-style beer brewed with pilsner malt extract, Sorachi Ace hops and Wyeast 3711 (French Saison.) It's also substantially lighter in gravity than the strong blonde, checking in at 1.048, just a touch stronger than the session blonde. This most recent brew has been quite active this week. I pitched the yeast on the 15th and the airlock is still bubbling every so often. The temperture has been in the high 70s in the fermentorium, so I reckon that this latest beer might turn out to be very well attenuated and quite dry, which would be quite alright with me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dry Stout: Almost Gone!

I've really been enjoying the dry stout I made back in January. In fact, I've been enjoying it so much I forgot to post an update here. I really wanted to get a video up of the Party Pigs in action, which I did, but then I also managed to mistakenly erase the video I shot. Anyone interested in how the Party Pigs work should check the video downloadable at the manufacturer's site. I've since brewed another batch of the stout and I'm planning on filling the Party Pigs once again. For the rest of tonight I'm working on draining my second pig of stout so I can refill the "pigs" and get the fermenter empty for the blonde ale I plan on brewing tomorrow night.

The grain bill (partial mash) for the blonde include Belgian Pils malt, Briess Special Roast and Torrefied Wheat. The remainder of the fermentables will be made up of Munton's Extra Light DME. The hops will be Columbus. I wanted to use Magnum hops, but my LHBS was out of stock.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Brew Session: Revisiting Irish-style Dry Stout

Brewed an Irish-style dry stout for the first time in awhile yesterday (like maybe seven years!) I brewed the stout with three pounds of Munton's DME and one pound each of Dingemans Belgian de-bittered black, a third-pound of some left over Weyermann Carafa III de-husked malt, and a pound each of Thomas Fawcett roasted barley and flaked barley. I added one ounce of Galena bittering hops at 30 minutes left in the 60-minute boil and pitched an Activator pouch of Wyeast 1335. I think the brew session went well and you can actually see for yourself below. I plan to serve up the stout in a couple of my Party Pigs from Quoin, as ales always seem to be extra creamy when served from one of the Pigs. I plan to do a video update of the packaging of the beer in the Party Pigs once the beer is finished fermenting.

The Brewing of a Dry Stout from Marcobrau on Vimeo.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Another Hoppy Brown Ale

Another hop-bursted brown ale with different hops this time. Ah, wait...I didn't put anything in here about the first one now, did I? The previous brown ale was a little higher gravity (I used all DME instead of half dry and half liquid) and I used Michigan-grown Centennial hops along with Pacific Northwest Crystal. I brewed it December 4 and bottled and it 10 days later. It's fantastic stuff so far. I have the half the batch in the "cellar" at about 40 F and the rest split between the kitchen corner at 75 and the fridge. Despite a boil-over which resulted in some hops being lost, the final product is quite hoppy with an impressive hop aroma, especially considering I didn't steep or add any dry hops. I'm staring to think that hop-bursting is the way to go in order to impart the now classic in-your-face American hop flavor and aroma. I'll try and post more on this batch as it ages.

So that was the first batch. This time around I couldn't get enough of the Centennial hops I wanted, so used a half-ounce of Magnum at the start of the 60-minute boil and three ounces of Sterling and the remaining half-ounce of Magnum at 15 minutes left in the boil. I also split the addition of the malt extract, adding three pounds of dry at the start and the liquid 45 minutes into the boil. All the of extract was the same: Briess Pilsner. Before starting the boil, I filled the fermenter with six gallons of water combined with one crushed campden tablet to counteract the chlorine in my tap water. I let this mixture sit a minute, then I poured three gallons into the brew kettle and left three in the fermenter. My mini-mash included one pound of Victory and a half pound each of Carafa I and brown malt in bag for 15 minutes. The mash temp got a little high (160 F), but I'm not going to worry about it. What's done is done. I actually had to restart the boil when I added the second half of the malt extract. I immersed my wort chiller for the final two minuets of the boil to sanitize it, then let the beer cool for 30 minutes. I added Irish moss at 13-15 minutes left in the boil and I cooled the wort for 30 minutes, poured into the awaiting fermenter filled with the remaining water. I sprinkled one packet of S-05 yeast in a layer on top of the wort and let sit for 15 minutes in covered fermenter then mixed by agitating the fermenter bucket, added ferm lock and moved to space under counter in the corner of the kitchen. Here's to hoping this brown ale is as good or better than the previous one!