Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wee Heavy Bottled, Blood Orange IPA Racked

Took a half day off work on Monday and got caught up on some homebrewing. First, I moved the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale I brewed about six weeks ago out of cold storage and bottled it. Bottling went well. I was amazed at how the six weeks of lagering cleared up the beer. I actually roused some yeast in fear that not enough would be suspension for the beer to carbonate -- probably unnecessary I know, but my hydrometer sample tasted delicious -- I really want this beer to turn out!

The second part of my afternoon was to rack the Blood Orange IPA into the Better Bottle that I used to lager the Wee Heavy. I went for broke, and since there was so little yeast sediment, racked right on top of the the yeast. Well, first I added an ounce of Zythos hop pellets for dry hopping. A taste test a few days ago revealed that this beer was lacking the hop aroma I wanted. It mostly smelled fruity; kind of an English aroma with maybe just a hint of tropical fruit. The beer is very cloudy, so I'm thinking of lagering this one, too, but I'm also considering using some Polyclar for the first time, but I read that it works best when the beer is kept very cold. I fear the combination of the clarifier plus lagering might have me adding more yeast before bottling.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tasting the Abbey Ale (formerly Belgian Dark)

Decided to try a couple of beers I've had stashed for the last several weeks and months. First up is what I intended to be a Strong Belgian Dark, but it's more amber than brown. It pours with a nice rocky head thanks to some wheat malt and plenty of carbonation, but smells relatively clean for a Belgian-style ale. There's some trademark raisin-like character from the Special-B malt that I used, but the mouthfeel isn't right. There's just not enough body and there's too much bitterness. It's actually quite dry, but I should expect that from Wyeast 3522. This beer is almost saison-like at least in terms of body. I measured the original gravity at 1.089 and it finished at 1.016. It's an odd creature. There really aren't off flavors except for the unexpected harsh bitterness in the finish. I guess you'd call it an amber abbey ale. I think I'll call this beer "Saison in my Abbey." Still not sure what happened here.

The next beer is the Autumnal Saison. I meant for it to be a saison with Munich malts; sort of a Belgian festbier sort of thing, but it's ended up more like a tasty, dry Belgian Pale Ale. I say this because I had a Belgian try it and he liked it quite a bit. It's not at all bitter; it's estery and dry with caramel malt flavor. I have few bottles left that might all go to him...cheers to you Fabien Van der Stappen!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Blood orange IPA gets brewed

I had an incredible beer a couple summers ago from Shorts' Brewing Company in Bellaire, Michigan. (One of many incredible beers I've had from the brewery.) This particular beer was described as a wheat wine with blood oranges and it was packed with extreme amounts of flavor. Seemingly lots of hops combined with the grapefruity bittersweet flavor of the blood oranges. (I'm guessing a lot of the supposed hop flavor came from the oranges.) Tonight I've brewed a tweaked version and I'm eager to see how it turns out. I brewed my blood orange beer as an IPA style more than wheat style, although I did use a about 20 percent wheat for body. The rest of the malt bill was Pilsner malt. I should clarify that all of the malt was extract. My weeknight brews usually comprise more extract (if not 100 percent) to save a little time. I also simplified things further by using the Safale S-33 yeast. I've used this yeast before with success in a wheat bock type of beer. I used the flesh and juice from six Moro blood oranges, along with the grated peel of two of the oranges. I used Magnum hops for bittering (one ounce at the start of the 60-minute boil and one ounce at a half hour.) I was a little bit excited to find the Zythos hops blend which I added at 45 and 50 minutes into the boil in one ounce increments. I also added a half-ounce of Trader Joe's Flower Pepper at the 45 minutes into the boil. The wort was cooled in about 20 minutes with my immersion wort chiller with two packets of the S-33 pitched into the fermenter. I accompanied the brew session with a Merry Ale, which was quite delicious, if I dare so myself. It was somehow more bitter than it seemed at first, with the hops playing against the crystal malts quite nicely. A very hoppy, bitter red with plenty of fruitiness, but also not to strong at 5.2 percent.