Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let's start again

Starting this blog back up after a hiatus -- more for my own selfish purposes  -- rather than to be truly informative. I've been using Beersmith to keep track of my recipes for many years now and somehow I've ended up with so many recipe files I can't keep them straight. Moving the app from PC to PC over the years seems to have created this problem. I've reinstalled the app a few times but I keep all my databases in my Dropbox. I'm thinking this is why I've propagated so many recipe database files. So, I'm finding myself referencing this blog for information on past recipes.

Here's a quick recap of what I've been doing.

A few months ago I purchased a Brewjacket Immersion. This is a chiller that I've started using with my bucket fermenters. I've had pretty decent results so far. I have a batch going right now that is an altbier that I plan to lager for a couple weeks at 58 degrees. I'm hesitant to drop it down too much more than that as I'm worried that too much yeast will drop out of suspension. I am using Wyeast 1010 though which is a pretty low flocculator, so I probably shouldn't worry. I've dropped the temperature down to 58 after seven days of primary fermentation, which might be rushing it, we'll see.

In the past several months I've also brewed a couple saisons, a pale ale, a cherry stout and what I'm calling an American bitter (English malts and American hops.) I've had a lazy habit (redundant?) of picking up Brewer's Best kits lately and tweaking them instead of designing recipes from scratch. I did this with the Cherry Stout (used the Milk Stout kit as a base), the pale ale and the altbier I have fermenting right now. I still have some of the Wee Heavy and Wild Pale Ale I keep referring to as Near Wild Heaven." I'm enjoying a glass of the Near Wild Heaven now. It has an amazing apple pie character to it all derived from five different yeasts that I added throughout fermentation. I need to do something like it again, but right now I'm obsessed with temperature control using the BrewJacket. I was hoping it would be cold winter so I could really push the temperature down. I live in a third floor condominium and the ambient room temperature averages between 68 and 75 depending on the season. I've used an infrared thermometer to find the coolest spots in the room. The coolest spot is unsurprisingly a corner near the sliding glass door to or balcony. I had the fermenter located there for the primary ferment and the temperature ranged between 66 and 70 without using the BrewJacket. Why was I not using the Brewjacket you ask? Because old numbskull misplaced the power supply. I ordered a replacement and have my altbier fermenting at 62 currently down from 70 about 10 hours ago. Look to Twitter for updates on the fermentation of this beer. More on some other beers I've brewed later.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Lots o' beer

So...I'm way behind on my blogging. I have about eight cases of homebrew right now. The inventory includes a case of Wee Heavy, a case or so of Wild Pale Ale (think Orval), a case or so of bitter, about a case and a half of blood orange Belgian-style IPA, a case of Belgian-style Pale Ale, a case of saison from last summer and two gallons of saison that needs to be bottled.
I should bottle tonight but we're expecting some bad weather. So, I'm waiting for said weather while sitting out on my balcony sipping some of the saison from last year. It's very flowery and has a very delicate peach/strawberry fruitiness. I used exclusively Huell Melon hops so I suspect that's why. It's also my first saison with dry yeast. The Belle Saison from Danstar. It's certainly dry enough but not as ├╝ber dry as some of my saisons. Looking back at the recipe I probably could have added some sugar. It certainly gets better as it warms up.
This is not the case for my newest saison that has lavender, black pepper, grains of paradise, star anise and coriander in it. (Less than quarter teaspoon each.) This saison should be nice and dry and cleaned up as it's sat in the fermenter for at least a month now.
Perhaps later in the evening I'll have a blood orange IPA, which does not have much orange character, but is very hoppy as I used four ounces each of Zythos and Falconer's Flight 7C's hops all built on a bed of Munich malt and fermented with Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes. It is very delicious and a touch strong at 7.2 percent, so perhaps I'll take it easy and have some 21st Ammendment Down to Earth.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

More Eastchester, Blood Orange IPA

Brewed some more Eastchester...but not really. This third batch turned out to be entirely different than the other three. I believe I topped up the fermenter too much so the color was completely off (paler, not red) and the flavor muted. The hops are played down quite a bit with just a mild hoppy flavor with the crisp pale ale maltiness instead of a robust red ale character. It's rather surprising how much the additional water changed the beer compared to previous batches. It's still a decent beer, but not as dynamic as the other two batches. The first batch was fruity, hoppy and with a rose water-like aroma that was quite nice. The second batch had more hops -- I added additional Chinook pellets along with the whole "Eastchester" hops -- and it turned out massively hoppy. So, the third batch which comes across as a mild English Pale Ale, but really more a standard bitter. The recipe for this third batch of Eastchaster was basically the Brewer's Best Red Ale kit with one and a half ounces of whole Chinook hops boiled for 25 minutes and two ounces steeped at the end of the boil while the wort was chilling for about 25 minutes. Admittedly not a very aggressive hopping schedule. I probably should have supplemented with the pellet hops that came with the kit, but I wanted to keep all the hops the same.

Meanwhile, I've brewed a Belgian-style IPA with blood oranges. I used the zest from five blood oranges which also juiced and added to the fermenter. I kept the malt bill simple, using two cans of Briess Munich LME, 12 ounce of left over pilsner DME and one pound of clear Belgian Golden Candi Syrup. I using Falconer's Flight 7C's as a bittering hop with one ounce boiled for 60 minutes. I added the Zythos blend at 45 minutes (or 15 minutes left in the boil) and I dry hopped with one ounce of Equinox. I also added two ounces of ground black peppercorns that I let sit in vodka for three days. I added the black pepper to the secondary with the dry hops. The whole works was fermented with Wyeast 3522 at about 72 degrees. This beer is still sitting in the secondary with its dry hops where it will sit in the kitchen fermentorium for another three or four days before I bottle it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The tale of two Westchesters

My friend Eric Keeley lives in the eastern part of Westchester, Illinois. He calls this part of town "Eastchester." He grows Chinook hops in his backyard and this year produced many, many pounds of hops. I used these hops in a batch a beer back in September which as long since been bottled. This homegrown hops were the only ones I used in this batch and the beer turned quite nice. The hops were not real prominent in the beer but you could tell they were there. The British yeast (Wyeast 1318) seemed to express itself more than the hops. In fact, this was the second time I've noticed a rose water-like fruitiness while using this yeast. Something about the higher fermentation temps (in the 70s) is what I suspect brings about this flavor. It is very pleasant.

I've bottled another batch of this same beer, except I added some Chinook pellets. Four ounces worth to be exact, which seems to have pumped up the hop flavor immensely...I dare say almost too much. I'm sure the beer will mellow in the bottle though and perhaps the hops will fade. However, at this point I'm inclined to dub this batch Little Bastard, because it tastes like the little brother of Stone Arrogant Bastard. Time will tell.

Here is the recipe for that latest batch of Eastchester Red.