Sunday, November 26, 2017

It seems I'm having a bit of a problem with color lately. It's hard to brew pale beers with extract on an electric stove. The Chinook "Golden" IPA with Wyeast #3922 has turned out much darker than I thought. I realize the color could fade with age, but this is a beer that I think is going to be consumed fresh for it's hoppy flavor. That said, I will try and reserve some bottles to see how it cellars. Tasted from the fermenter the fresh Chinook hoppiness is outstanding. The nose is not hoppy, but rather shows off the yeast esters. The finish is bitter, but really more resinous, with grapefruit and blood orange. The dark candi sugar seems to have added some complexity and perhaps has contributed to the nose. A lot to say about a beer from the fermenter. It could be whole different animal in a few weeks or months. Tasting this next to the Eastchester Amber has informed me that a lot of the "Eastchester" flavor is not the hops but the Wyeast #1318 yeast. The 1318 yeast adds a lot of fruitness and interesting rose water note, while the #3522 is more banana and hard to pin down higher alcohol esters. I fermented the #3522 at the top of the optimal range around 72F-74F. I did not use my Brewjacket like I did for the Eastchester. It was a warm October so I used the jacket to keep the Eastchester at 72F. Not sure what I'll brew next. I still have some Chinook whole hops left (about four to five ounces) so I'd like to use those. Maybe something dark next time.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Chinook red came out more amber. It's a bit more Ruedrich's Red Seal than Santa's Private Reserve but I'm okay with that. There's a pleasant (not too assertive) Chinook hoppiness that mixes well with the malts and English yeast.

A couple weeks ago I brewed a Belgian-style golden ale with more of the homegrown Chinook hops. I was going for a Belgian IPA. I used about five ounces of whole Chinooks and another ounce of pellets. I have the feeling that my hop utilization might not be as good as expected and I might end up with more of Belgian pale ale or saison. I used Wyeast #3522 Belgian Ardennes which seems to throw a lot of phenolics at first but they dissipate after several weeks or months and the beer ends up fairly dry. It was an all extract batch with Briess Pilsen extract. I used two cans of the LME and two pounds of the DME. I was going to add spices, but I forgot to add them. I checked on the beer a couple days ago (about a week into fermentation) and there was still quite a bit of krausen on top. I'm thinking of racking to a secondary with some more of the Chinook hops and maybe adding a bit of lactic acid for some tartness. We'll see...

Friday, September 29, 2017

So....the saison I brewed back in July has matured nicely. There's not much hop aroma, but the East Kent Goldings provide a nice bitterness and and a bit of hoppy flavor. I've contrasted it this evening with another saison I brewed about a year ago. This other saison is paler and I'll say much sunnier. It is definitely a summer saison. What I brewed earlier this summer is definitely an autumn saison -- it employed some caramel malts for an amber hue and a touch of maltiness, although it is certainly dry enough to be an authentic saison. Sorry about not posting the particulars. I'll add those eventually. Another difference between these two batches is that the summer saison (bottled last year) was made with a dry yeast (Belle Saison) and the more recent batch was brewed the Wyeast 3724. The Wyeast strain is notoriously fussy, stalling out and not reaching optimal terminal gravity if it is not warm enough. In this case, temperatures were in the high 70s into the 80s and I left the beer to its own devices for at least a month. (You can tell I'm not a very scientific brewer these days.)  Yet another notable feature of the dry yeast saison is that it is quite clear. Perhaps this is due to it sitting in bottles for almost a year, but I have to think that it has to do with the yeast itself. I have to think that it is designed to settle out, which other saison yeasts are loathe to do.

So I have a new batch steeping with a bunch of dry hops at the moment. The hops are from a friend, Eric Keeley, who grows them in his backyard. There are Chinooks. I have no idea what the AA content is for these hops so I add a little bit (an ounce or less) about 10 minutes to the end of the boil and I add a whole bunch (in this case about three to four ounces) at the end of the boil, left steeping for about a half hour before I start chilling the beer. The particular recipe is a favorite. It is a clone of Rogue Santa's Private Reserve (the version from about 10 years ago.) Thanks to the Internet Archive you can see the ingredients here. I used to go to a place called Edgewater Lounge in Chicago (on far north side) that always had Rogue beer. I've heard some bad things about the brewery in recent years (that the employees aren't treated well and it's run down) but I soft spot for Rogue. I started drinking Rogue beer a long time ago when I was first of age back in the early 1990s. The Edgewater always had a two or three Rogue ales on tap and usually one special one called "John's Locker Stock." This was always something not available anywhere else in the Chicago area. I always looked forward to it. They would almost always have St. Rogue Red and the Oatmeal Stout but I would ask for the Locker Stock. It would rotate throughout the year. Ah, those were the interesting inbetween days of the early '90s microbrew boom and the current state of affairs (which is off the charts) with some many breweries opening almost every other week.

I would like to brew some more but as I get older I find that I don't (read can't) drink as much beer.  I used to be what I would call a subsistence brewer (I drank most of the beer I brewed and didn't share.) I need to be more social I guess and share my beer if I'm going to brew more. Free beer!

Monday, July 03, 2017

The saison is bottled and sits for awhile. Gravity dropped from 1.049 to 1.006. Not bad. Saved the yeast to brew again. Color was darker than I expected but I guess that's okay as long as it's dry. Would like to brew a batch of beer I've called Japanese Sunshine. Japanese hops, rice, a touch of wheat and a bunch of pils malt fermented with a saison yeast. A friend recently sampled a bottle from long ago and was very pleased so I've decided that I should brew this beer again.

Friday, June 02, 2017

One may argue there's no point to posting as this blog has just been a series of fits and starts for the last couple years, but I've decided to brew again. It seems like the hardest part is just getting to the homebrew shop. Sure, I could mail order, but I have access to a pretty awesome local homebrew supplier and I'd rather shop local.

I plan to brew a simple all extract saison tomorrow. I have six pounds of amber malt extract, three ounces of Kent Goldings hops and pack of Wyeast 3724 which I pitched into a starter yesterday. I'll be fermenting around 75-77 degrees. It'd be nice if it was warmer but it's only June in northern Illinois. As long as temperatures stay steady I should be OK. If the notorious 3724 does get stuck, I'll probably pitch some Safbrew T-58 to finish things off.

I'm drinking a saison that I brewed last October and it is quite good. There is a rose water fruitiness a light bitterness and dry finish.  About all you can hope for in a traditional saison I suppose.

Friday, April 28, 2017

I've been very busy with life outside of brewing the past few months but I've been thinking about getting back to it. One of the brews I still have around is a bit disappointing. My Chinook bitter seems to have succumbed to an infection that has caused it to be over-carbed. It tastes okay, but it's a fizzy mess. The Chinook saison, on the other hand, shows no evidence of any Chinook hop flavor but is pretty tasty. There is an oddly floral aroma with a light caramel sweetness but that is countered by a dry rusticity. I typically brew a couple saisons once the weather starts getting warm and I think it might be time. The key to a good saison in my experience is time. All of saisons ways taste a little more complex after one year. In that way, brewing saison is kind of like brewing wine. I find this interesting as the Dupont strain of yeast is rumored to have come from a wine yeast.