Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mmm....homegrown hops.

Well, what I've just brewed is probably a very dark bitter that will almost be a brown ale. It will be hoppy, with 2.5 ounces of Chinook hops for the boil and two more steeped, even though I only boiled for 35 minutes. The hops were dried in mesh produce bags for about two weeks after picking at my friend Eric's house. I have three more bags of these hops. I have no idea what the alpha acid or beta acid of these hops are since they were homegrown. My malt bill for batch was one pound of Thomas & Fawcett 60L Crystal, one pound of Weyermann Munich malt; a half-pound of Thomas &Fawcett Amber and 30L Crystal and four ounces of Weyermann CaraAroma. The base malt was a three-pound bag of Munton & Fison dry light malt extract. I chose Wyeast #1318 for my yeast. This yeast is a top cropper so if I'm ambitious I'll scoop some krausen out of the bucket in a two or three days to use for the next batch. I just used one packet and no starter since the gravity was 1.042 which is on the low side.  I had hoped for an ordinary bitter, but my utilization was much better than expected, so I would like to brew an ordinary or standard bitter next.

So long Summer...

I wistfully bottled up the session saison last night. I filled 19 22s and three Sierra Nevada bombers. It was a long primary and secondary ferment on this one. I lost track of the calendar due to so much going on and just life in general. The bottling session went very smoothly and the beer tastes good so far. My tasting notes:
Moderately phenolic nose with melon and floral scent. Very light and dry with a very slightly viscous body. Touch marzipan sweetness, dry finish just shy of being sweet. Not bitter at all, but some peppery spice. Despite it's low ABV, I'd like to cellar this beer until next summer.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


I finally found the courage and the time to brew. The burner on my stove worked just fine and I was able to do a quick extract batch after work today. It was my first time using the Belle Saison dry yeast from Lallemand. I brewed a very simple all extract batch of one three-pound can of Briess Pilsen LME and two pounds of Munton's Light DME. I used Huell Melon as my single hop for bittering; using one ounce of pellets at the start of the 60-minute boil and two ounces with 12 minutes left in the boil. This is my first time using Huell Melon and I was tempted to keep the beer real simple to let the hop character express itself, but I decided to also add a bunch of spices. I may dry hop with another ounce of Huell Melon that I have remaining. The spices I added included Trader Joe's Flower Pepper (which I can't find anymore), culinary-grade lavender, orange peel, lemon peel, coriander, some crushed juniper berries and ground black pepper. Everything was pretty much equal except for the coriander and lavender (about one and a half tablespoons  each and maybe a tablespoon of black pepper. A real hodgepodge and a little heavy on the quantities of spices, but I was feeling adventurous. The beer won't be very strong, likely just above four percent alcohol, so it will definitely be a highly sessionable beer. That said, I'm hoping to cellar at least half the batch until next summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer is the time for Saison

Saison is probably my favorite style of beer. It is an old style from Belgium and it is interesting (and fortunate) that it is a style that is becoming more popular here in America. What do I appreciate about Saison? It is the dryness, the esters and lively carbonation that get me excited about Saison, but any hint of terroir is a big bonus. The saisons I brew tend to lack terroir (I brew in a condo, not a farmhouse) but U work hard to achieve that dryness. I don't do a full mash, but a partial mash, but keeping the mash at a lower temperature makes the wort more fermentable. I've found that a full extract Saison won't get that dry,, so I always try and mash at least a couple pounds of Belgian Pils malt with some pilsner extract when brewing my Saison.
Sadly, I haven't brewed any Saison yet this year as my burner has been a little flaky. I'm working up the courage though as I have a new yeast to try -- Belle Saison dry yeast. Meanwhile, I sipping on my stash of Saison from previous years as well as earlier this year. This would include my Saison D'Automne, which was pretty much an Oktoberfest recipe I fermented with a Saison yeast. It turned out OK -- plenty dry despite using some more dextrinous malts -- but it has an odd aftertaste. It opens up after some time in the glass and is still quite drinkable, although it is a bit boozy. Not sure that I'll replicate the recipe.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hoppy American Wheat Bottled

The Hoppy American Wheat (a.k.a. Liquid Sunshine) has been bottled! Bottled it this past Sunday (3/23) and the bottles are resting comfortably at about 72 degrees. More later....

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hoppy Wheat brewed

Just a quick weeknight batch. A hoppy wheat beer I call Liquid Sunshine that I like to brew each year. I have enough Amarillo hops for two batches. Thanks Farmhouse Brewing Supply!

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Liquid Sunshine
Brewer: Marc
Asst Brewer:
Style: American Wheat or Rye Beer
TYPE: Extract
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.60 gal
Post Boil Volume: 3.49 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal  
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.045 SG
Estimated Color: 5.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.1 IBUs
Boil Time: 20 Minutes

3 lbs                 Wheat Dry Extract     
3 lbs                 Wheat Liquid Extract
2.00 oz              Amarillo Gold [8.50 % AA] - Boil 15.0 min  
0.50 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 % AA] - Boil 10.0 min      
0.50 oz               Amarillo Gold [8.50 % AA ] - Steep/Whirlpool Hop
Two quart starter of American Wheat Ale (Wyeast Labs #1010)
1.00 oz               Amarillo Gold - Dry Hop (seven days)

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Not so Belgian IPA brewed, racked

Brewed an IPA last Monday and racked it this evening. My original plan was to make it a Belgian IPA using a mason jar of Wyeast 3522 that I've had in the fridge for quite awhile (not sure how long.) I took a chance and pitched what was probably close to a pint of slurry directly into the wort, but it must have been mostly dead, because there was no sign of fermentation after more than 24 hours. I decided to pitch a pack of Notthingham dry yeast to get things going (after rehydrating) and that did the trick. I tasted the beer this evening while racking to the secondary and it tasted fine, but any flaws were probably covered up by the near face-melting amount of hops. Will probably let the beer sit in the secondary for another week before bottling.

BeerSmith 2 Recipe Printout -
Recipe: Da Bomb
Brewer: Marc Morency
Asst Brewer: 
Style: American IPA
TYPE: Extract
Taste: (35.0) 

Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 3.15 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.86 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 5.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.076 SG
Estimated Color: 8.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 72.9 IBUs
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
Actual OG: 1.075

2 lbs 8.0 oz          Pils Dry Extract (3.5 SRM
6 lbs 8.0 oz          Munich Liquid Extract (8.0 SRM)
1 lbs                 Candi Syrup, Golden (5.0 SRM) 
1.00 oz               Horizon pellets [10.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min             
3.00 oz               Cascade pellets [6.70 %] - Boil 15.0 min          
3.00 oz               Crystal pellets [4.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min           
1.00 oz               Horizon pellets [10.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min              
1.00 oz               Crystal pellets [4.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min  
1.00 oz               Horizon pellets [10.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min
1.00 pint slurry      Belgian Ardennes (Wyeast Labs #3522)
1.50 oz               Cascade pellets [6.70 %] - Dry Hop
3.00 oz               Horizon pellets [12.00 %] - Dry Hop

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Control-ALT-Delete brewed, bottled

 Brewed an Altbier about 12 days ago and bottled it this evening. The beer was racked from the primary to the bottling bucket. The beer was quite yeasty, so it's going to be a rustic Altbier. I like using the Wyeast #1010 just for this very reason. It makes an Altbier that is a little yeasty (as the yeast is a low flocculator), but it's temperature tolerant to my third floor condo. That said, I'm little disappointed with the bitterness, but generally pleased so far. I'm thinking that another five or so IBUs wouldn't of hurt. The Weyermann Cararoma is definitely adding the deep caramel malt flavor (and maybe even a touch of prune or raisin) that I wanted. Definitely an old school beer, but that's Alt, right? Translates from German as "old?" Click here for the recipe.

I sampled an old homebrew while bottling tonight. The beer I sampled was what I called simply Autumnal Ale. My idea with this beer was to brew an Octoberfest in a Belgian style, adding candy syrup and Belgian yeast. The yeast I used was Wyeast #3724, so I'm really surprised at how sweet this beer turned out to be. I was really going for a saison crossed with Octoberfest sort of thing. I figure the dark candy syrup I used in this beer contributed far more sweetness than I expected, but then I only used about half a pound, so then I started thinking that the beer was just under attenuated.  So how does it really taste? Here are my notes:
 First of all the aroma is moderately phenolic. The flavors are a little out of balance for a festbier with a big time caramel flavor with an added hard candy sweetness. A lot of residual sugar here which is interesting since I didn't add any caramel malt. Some toasted marshmallow sweetness. Hops are pretty much nowhere to found in terms of bitterness, flavor or aroma. The mouthfeel is smooth and the body is about right, just a touch too sweet. lmost Fat Tire-like in terms of the caramel flavor which has me wondering if New Belgium adds any candy syrup or sugar. This is probably sweeter though.
I've attempted a beer like this at least once before and I'm not sure I'll try it again, or if I do, I might add some spices to add a little more complexity. Maybe just a touch of some star anise and black pepper. I might also omit the candi syrup, or use clear candi and Munich malt as a base. Or I could see making a beer with a touch of smoked malt could also be interesting, not unlike Sierra Nevada's Tumbler which is no longer brewed anymore.