Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Tasting: Pliny Clone


Despite my quick consumption of this beer last spring, I held onto one bottle to see how some age affects it. I'm not expecting anything special, but just out of curiosity (and the fact that I'm house bound due to this blizzard), I thought I'd crack it open for a tasting. Here's the original with the recipe.
Aroma: Dank, musty hops up front. Plenty of citrus, resin, pine and almost a faint cheesiness to boot. This one obviously has not aged well. I'm almost picking up a metal, lead like note; really strange. Really no malt aroma, but a nice fruity, sweetness.
Appearance: Medium amber, bright orange color. Suffers from some chill haze, but otherwise clarity is good. Dense, white head trails down to just a quarter inch.
Flavor: Wow, there is some real off flavor in this one. The hops have transformed into a mish mash of this metal influenced, light bready sweetness. Bitterness has really been lost, and the malt body dominates. Oxidation isn't overly noticeable, but certainly there. Again, age has not treated this beer kindly. Really reminds me of some old beers that are too commonly found on the shelves of even the best beer store.
Mouthfeel: Carbonation is nearly the same, medium to low in bubble volume. Body is become seemingly bigger, perhaps due to the malt:hop ratio shifting.
Overall: This was purely experimental, and again proves the notion that hoppy beers to not age well. Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River is a huge proponent of this idea and covers (literally covers) his bottles of Pliny the Elder in quotes or drink now, drink fresh, do not age! In fact, they only keg their seasonal of Pliny the Younger in order to ensure it's drank in a timely fashion. It was a fun tasting, but I don't think I'll be able to finish this bottle.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tasting: Westmalle Extra Clone


I'm nearly through this keg, so I'm happy to get a sample tasting done before it kicks (like the melomel I tore through). I've had a couple folks try it, and while they enjoy it for the most part, there's something a little off about it. Well, for my first Belgian to tap, and first really straight forward beer (a SMaSH ), I'm pretty happy.

Aroma: The Belgian like esters are pretty straight up. A light spicy clove, banana, bubblegum followed by the spiciness of the Saaz hops. The strange one, is the green apple note I get. I was hoping it would dissipate with some age, but it hasn't seem to go anywhere. It's not bad per se, but I don't think it should be there. It's also quite fruity in the sugarplum kind of way and citrusy. Malt notes are mild if at all detectable. No DMS.
Appearance: This one, like most kegged beers, started out pretty cloudy, but it's now just to a hazy look. A bright light orange, dark straw color with a massive, fluffy, densely packed white head and lots of tracing. A really nice looking beer for a Belgian. Carbonation bubble stream up the center.
Flavor: The fruity esters continue to dominate this one. The bubblegum and banana are pretty prevalent. Malty flavors are stuck in a lightly bready, slightly biscuity flavor. Considering that it's just Pilsner malt (Belgian), it's got a nice profile to it. The Saaz hops are pretty noticeable, and the firm bitterness is snappy in the finish. Speaking of which, the finish is nice and dry making this an extremely quaffable beer.
Mouthfeel: Having sat and still holding at about 15 psi, the carbonation is nice and high and gives it a smooth, fluffy mouthfeel. That combined with the moderate bitterness and dryness, really make for a medium to medium low body.
Overall: I'm pretty happy with this beer but some of the off, apple something flavors detract a bit. I've since started normal chilling procedures with my beers and no longer am no-chilling. I've no idea if it has negetively effected these beers, but I'd rather go back to normal procedure. I think I might duplicate this beer again, but aim a bit more for a Belgian IPA (Green Flash Le Freak is one of my favorites that balances west coast hops with a moderate Belgian yeast presence).
Recipe and notes

California Common


Since the temps are starting to dip into the mid to upper 50s in my basement/fermentation room, it was time to reconsider what styles of beers I could make. A bit too cool for most ales, and too warm for lagers, why not try a hybrid? I've never made a Cal Common before, one of the few styles that comes from one "true" example: Anchor Steam. Anchor has trademarked the term "steam beer" so any other examples need to be called a California Common, or simply Common. The style is known for it's mildly fruity esters from the lager yeast, some light maltiness, and most notably, the use of Northern Brewer hops. It's not too difficult to come up with a good recipe, as you're basically trying to copy Anchor Steam, and the hops are well known as well as the certain type of yeast. Jamil's recipe is a bit bigger and maltier for the style, but other than that, he goes along with trying to copy Anchors'. I made only a couple adjustments (for efficiency) to his recipe (which I'm now using BeerSmith to copy over the recipe, a little nicer I think):

Recipe Specifications

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

Batch Size: 5.50 gal

Boil Size: 6.46 gal

Estimated OG: 1.056 SG

Estimated Color: 12.3 SRM

Estimated IBU: 43.9 IBU

Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %

Boil Time: 75 Minutes


Ingredients:

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

Amount Item Type % or IBU

9.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 77.39 %

1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 8.60 %

1.00 lb Munich Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 8.60 %

0.50 lb Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 4.30 %

0.13 lb Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) Grain 1.12 %

1.00 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (75 min) Hops 26.0 IBU

1.50 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (15 min) Hops 17.8 IBU

1.50 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (0 min) Hops -

1.00 oz Northern Brewer [7.80 %] (Keg Hop) Hops -

2L starter California Lager (Wyeast Labs #2112) Yeast-Lager


12/09/09: Brewed this morning. No exciting issues. Again pulled 2 cup of mixed first runnings to chill and pitch into decanted starter. Chilled normal to about 70 degrees or so and brought down into basement to chill the rest of the way. Fermentation started and boomed real quick within 24hrs with lots of blowoff.
12/16/09: After a week, this brew is only down to 1.026, a bit dissapointing. I'm thinking I either underpitched and/or drove it too cold too fast. I brought it up from about 56 degrees to room temp (fluctuates between 66 and 70) to get it to finish out. Flavor, however, is fantastic. Tons of fresh grassy, fruity hop flavors, solid malt background, and a nice clean lager character. I think it will turn out really well.
1/05/10: Kegged up this evening. FG sitting at 1.016, so 70% AA and 5.2% abv, pretty much on target. Flavor is very much balanced between a nice bready, toasty malt note and a fresh woodsy, herbal hop note. I added another 1oz of Northern Brewer hops to the keg to make it even hoppier. Very excited to see how it turns out. I also saved the cake for the upcoming cream ale.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Overdue Update and Poll Results

I have definitely been neglecting the blog for sure. To be fair, I haven't done a whole lot of brewing as evidenced in my "What's Brewing" section. Yesterday was the first time I brewed since well before Thanksgiving. I even rushed out to the store to get the ingredients and make a starter, and then let it go two weeks before brewing! With the holidays coming up, it's getting tighter and tighter to budget in some time (and money) to do much. The basement is cooling down to some nice temps for lager brewing (steady around 57-58 now). Unfortunately, it will also significantly slow down my sours. Last week, I did keg up the IPA, and damn that beer is nice. I think it'll take another week before it hits its prime.
One other piece of advice I'll give to any brewer as well (even though it should be self evident): calibrate your thermometers! I noticed yesterday while heating up my strike water that all three of my thermometers were reading about 10 degrees difference. It's likely the reason that I'm getting way over attenuated beers (probably have been mashing around 145-149). I'll take Mike's advice and invest in a good one. Any ideas?
And to the poll. There was a lot of discussion over at Beer Advocate about what is the best beer for a diverse and lengthy holiday meal, be it Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years etc. Honestly, I'm generally in the company of wine drinkers, so that's what I drink. I was surprised not to get one vote for it. I do agree, however, that Belgians (usually pale, and/or saisons) are probably the best at tackling a wide range of food.
Coming up, I'm looking at what lagers I want to try this year. Since I've got a Cal Common fermenting, I'm think of doing a cream ale with the cake and trying out these Citra hops I picked up. Along with that, a Schwartzbier to please my girlfriend, and a doppelbock. That may be it, but I'll see if I can squeeze something else in. (Perhaps a light lager for fun).
Look for the recipe and notes from the Cal Common, and a tasting of the Christmas Saison, IPA and Westmalle Clone soon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hop Harvest IPA


My title may be a bit misleading, but I just got a big delivery of hops from Hops Direct of their new harvest. I wanted to make the most of it, and do a really hoppy IPA. I loved how my Pliny clone turned out early this year, but I wanted to make a version a bit less in alcohol to make it nice and sessionable on tap. However, nearly the whole recipe has been changed, so comparing the two isn't really the best idea. I've never had good luck with making hoppy beers outside of the Pliny clone, so I wanted to go full boar with the hops on this one. I chose a combination of Chinook, Cenntenial, Amarillo and Simcoe. These are all pretty traditionally used hops for APAs, IPAs, IIPAs, American Barleywines, and other American styles. The Chinook gives a nice resiny, piney flavor; the Centennial and Amarillo some juicy grapefruit, and the Simcoe a bit of woodsy like flavor. The hopping plan started out fairly traditional with a bittering addition and then several late hop additions. Mike had convinced me to give complete late hopping a try and since I have plenty of hops and they're all high in alpha acids, I said, why not? That said, I stuck with all 20min or less additions, with plenty of hops near or at flameout, and will be adding a bit in the keg. Those details will come in the near future. The grain bill is pretty traditional AIPA, nothing special. I chose to use a pound of wheat which may or may not be standard, but I like what it does for the mouthfeel and head retention. I'll be doing a considerable keg hop addition whenever it get's there (the Bitter just kicked last night, so it shouldn't be too long).
Recipe:
5.5 gal batch
7.5 gal boil
OG 1.060
FG: 1.008
IBUs ~67
SRM 6

10# Briess 2-row
1# Soft White Wheat
.5# Crystal 20L
.25# Crystal 40L
.5# Cane Sugar
1oz Chinook (12.4% AA) 20min
1oz Centennial (11.5% AA) 20min
1oz Simcoe (12.2% AA) 10min
1oz Amarillo (9.4% AA) 10min
1oz Centennial 0min
2oz Amarillo omin
Wyeast 1056 (2L starter)

11/18/09: Brewed today on a chilly morning. Decided to chill this batch (didn't want to make a starter with 60+ IBU wort), and didn't have too many issues. Saved a pint of runnings to chill and get the yeast going (decanted the 2L) since I made the starter nearly a week ago. Very active fermentation after only a few hours and big blowoff after 12. Fermentation was in the mid 60s ambient. I'll taste it in a couple weeks and then keg it on another 3-4oz of mixed hops.
12/02/09: Kegged up with a mix of hops: 2oz Amarillo, 1oz Centennial, and 1oz Simcoe in a couple knee highs. Final gravity was 1.008, so just about where I was looking. Flavor is really nice, but not the 60+ IBUs that it should be. Very cloudy at kegging, we'll see how this one progresses.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Another Tasting Night

Given any chance to meet a fellow homebrewer, I grab it. JC Tetreault came in from the Boston area for business, but was able to make it to my place for dinner and some home brew. He was extremely gracious for everything, enjoyed both Mike's and my beers, and had a great time checking out the cellar. Here's a quick link to some amazing photos he took while here:
I have to say (with nearly unanimous agreement), Mike's dry hopped bottle of Flanders is one of the best beers I've ever had. We had it side by side the regular, but this one was leaps and bounds above the original in terms of complexity and overall enjoyment.
The pictures certainly tell a story themselves. Enjoy, and check out JC's blog if you haven't already; he has a solid talent for label making and art in general. I'm hoping this strength can translate into excellent beer, but I'll have to hold out for it!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tasting: Oat Wine


This beer is really what got my blog started. It was only my second sour beer, and one that I put quite a bit of thought into. When I first conceived the idea, it started with a simple twist on a barley wine. Only a couple other brewers out there are making oat wines commercially (an outgrowth of barley wine, which wheat wines are under as well), and I thought I could make a pretty tasty one. I also was interested by (at the time) Wyeasts' new strain designed to make traditional old/stock ales from England that would often have a light brettanomyces character to them. Beyond that, I added some Hungarian Oak cubes and bottle dregs to ensure some light sourness. Because it was such a large beer (OG 1.090) and attenuated quickly, I knew there wasn't going to be much sourness and/or funk happening. What resulted was one of my best beers to date.
Aroma: This beer really opens up with lots of fruity (cherry and apricot dominated) notes, a light vanilla oak character, some sweet caramel, little to no hops, and a big dose of alcohol. The brett is really the dominant character of this beer's bouquet, giving it a combination of fruit, damp hay, barnyard, and a light rubbery phenol. Acid isn't evident in the aroma (as it is rarely outside of tart Flanders and Lambic).
Appearance: Just a touch of light peaks through this richly dark mahogany colored beer. An off-white fluffy head of a half inch loses a bit over time but keeps a nice tracing. The flaked adjunct really helps in this case as does a fairly high level of carbonation.
Flavor: This beer just really coats, I mean saturates your mouth with flavor. Spicy, peppery phenols, vanilla and caramel, toasty oak, butterscotch, and some heat from the alcohol. The level of brett is very much in balance with the rest of the beers contributing flavors, more like a well aged old ale with some barnyard like funk to it. It's nowhere the level of a Flanders or Lambic, just a well integrated flavor along with the rest of the beer. Given all the oats I used in this beer, it's really not something I taste. Understandably, oats are rarely used in beer for their flavor, mostly for their contribution to body, mouthfeel and possible head retention problems (due to their moderate fat content). Ryan recently asked me if he though the Fawcett Malted Oats added much to this beer, and I have to say, not really. There's quite a bit of darker roasted and caramel malts here to cover up and subtlety oats could offer.
Mouthfeel: Despite it's incredibly low FG, this oat wine brings plenty of malty heft to it. I wish it had a bigger body (my biggest complaint), but I'm happy where it is. Carbonation is medium low, in the ballpark of 1.75 to 2 vols. Warming is quite evident, but alcohol spiciness in the mouth isn't overbearing or hot.
Overall: Seriously, I can't get enough of these funky beers, I really can't. And the fact that they cost so much in stores and bars, I'm thrilled I can make something of such quality at home. I would stack this up against so many of the beers I had at Night of The Funk, and would prefer it over many. I'm not gloating, I'm just really proud of my brewing with this beer. To date, the longest aged bottled beer I've made (the Belgian Stout, however, is nearing a year, but no bottling soon). I can't say I would really change anything to this beer, period. The amount of oak is perfect, the malt profile has depth and complexity, and the brett is right where it should be. I really hope Wyeast re releases this yeast strain again, I'd love to use it many more times.
Recipe and Notes

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sour Cherry Baltic Porter


Since I haven't gotten my huge hop order from HopsDirect yet, I've opted to brew the sour cherry baltic porter today. Mulling over some ideas for a new sour (to utilize the slurry from the Flanders' barrel), I was a little stuck. I tried looking to commercial sours (mainly Jolly Pumpkin and Russian River) for ideas, but I ended up back with something with fruit. I really enjoyed the cherry robust porter I brewed last year, and thought it would be nice with some funk. To mix it up a bit, I thought I'd try my hand at a Baltic porter. The main difference is fermentation. Baltics are traditionally brewed with lager yeasts, or ale yeasts at low temperatures (mid 50s to low 60s). They are also not as roasty as American porters, almost a malt bill mix of a dubbel and a brown porter. I have basically copied Jamil's Baltic recipe with a couple tweaks. I brought the OG down a bit as I didn't want something too alcoholic, and I added a couple ounces of roasted barley for some added depth. Finally, I tried to find a lager yeast that can handle higher than normal fermentation temperatures. I looked at California Common, Kolsch, German ale, and then at lager yeasts. I came upon Bohemian Lager, which according to Wyeast, can produce psuedo-lagers fermented in the high 60s.
Recipe:
5.5 gal batch, 8 gal boil
OG: 1.067
IBU~ 28.1

6# Pale 2 Row (mixture of Kolsch, Briess Pale and Briess 2 row)
7# Briess Munich 10L
.5# Special B
.5# Crystal 60L
.25# Carafa I
.25# Chocolate
.125# Roasted Barley
1 oz Glacier (7% AA) 75min
.5 oz Glacier (6% AA) 20min
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager

11/04/09: Brewed this morning, no problems with the Barley Crusher. Mike gave me tips on his partial fly-sparge method so I thought I'd give it a try. I was concerned that I wasn't keeping the grain bed fluid enough, so I batched the last 3 gallons of sparge water. Since I'm still on the netbook I couldn't have the recipe copied over from Tasty Brew, so I wrote it up very simply.
I mashed this one at 154 for 60min, and boiled for 75min. Saved about 3L of wort for a starter, will chill in the morning and decant in the afternoon and hopefully pitch around 60 or so degrees. Dregs and cherry puree will be added in secondary, those notes will follow.
11/12/09:
Gravity down to 1.021 so plenty of sugars left. Going to pitch some slurry from the barrel and Drie Fonteinen to get the funk going. I'll probably rack in another couple weeks.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Poll Results and Barrel Bottling




Well I just got over a severly hectic week at work and haven't had time to either brew or update the blog. I also have discovered my desktop has crashed (HP with common error Err2Err3 if anyone has any advice), so I'm on my little netbook. Hopefully I'll be able to get my files back, especially my lengthy beer sheet on excel that I didn't backup (like everything else on the computer). Anyway, back to the beer.
My chilling process poll turned out much like I imagined. The bulk of you use immersion chillers (58%) while the rest either use a ice bath or counterflow (4% each). Surprisingly, there was someone else out there who no-chills like myself! Each method certainly has its merits and problems, but I've been happy with the no-chill so far. I just kegged the Westmalle Extra clone today; it had the most beautiful clarity and color. It certainly needs a couple more weeks to condition and carbonate but I think it will turn out really well. Aside from that in the brewery, not much is going on. The Cuvee has started to slow down and I exchanged the blow-off for an airlock, but I'm going to give it a few more weeks before racking to both get the bugs going and let my oak soak a bit longer in rum. I just placed a massive hop order to do a scaled down Pliny clone, or more just an over hopped regular IPA to replace the American bitter on tap. From there, I have plans to do a Sour Cherry Baltic Porter, my first lager of the season. I'll be using the Bavarian lager strain and the barrel dregs for souring. Speaking of which, I'm sure everyone reading this blog reads Mike's as well. He just posted about our barrel bottling, so check there for more specifics. I haven't opened any of my bottles, but a few in the group have, and some have had it force carbonated already. Everyone is just gushing over how well it turned out, but I'll give my feeble patience another week before I crack a bottle. From here I'm just going to post some pictures from the day, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cuvee de Dan

Time for another semi-clone. It's culminated in the collection of both Wyeast 3787 and the Drie Fonteinen cakes, and what to do with them. Cuvee de Tomme, brewed by The Lost Abbey's Tomme Arthur, is a strong, Belgian funky ale with sour cherries added and aged on bourbon barrels. I've had the fortune of trying it twice; once at Mike's place and the second this passed weekend on tap. It produces a flurry of oaky, sour, funky, fruity flavors with plenty of alcohol heft. A real delicious, complex beer. Since I've done a few beers that are really clones of the original, and since this one is a Cuvee of the brewer, I figured I had to do a twist all my own. Again, digging through The Flavor Bible and catalogs of fruit purees, I devised the combination of figs and rum. I've had some really tasty, oaky rums that I'm hoping to pick up to soak oak cubes (1.5oz French) and 1-2K of fig puree for this brew. The recipe is a mixture of Jeff Sparrow's Donkere Geneeskunde and Mike's Cherry Bourbon Quad. My recipe is pretty much in the middle of the two with less sugar overall and a lower OG.
Recipe:




Stats

OG

1.079

FG


IBU

28

ABV


SRM

21

Specifics

Boil Volume

7.5 gallons

Batch Size

5.5 gallons

Yeast

88% AA

Wyeast 3787

Drie Fonteinen


Fermentables

% Weight

Weight (lbs)

Grain

Gravity Points

Color

56.3 %

10.00

Briess Two-row Pale

45.1

3.3

16.9 %

3.00

American Munich (Light)

12.1

5.5

11.3 %

2.00

American Soft White Wheat

9.7

1.0

4.2 %

0.75

Belgian CaraMunich

3.0

10.2

2.8 %

0.50

Belgian Aromatic

1.8

2.3

1.4 %

0.25

Belgian Special B

0.9

10.0

1.4 %

0.25

American Chocolate

0.9

15.9

5.6 %

1.00

Cane sugar

5.6

0.2


17.75


79.1


Hops

% Wt

Weight (oz)

Hop

Form

AA%

AAU

Boil Time

Utilization

IBU

100.0 %

1.65

Challenger

Pellet

5.3

8.7

60

0.236

28.1


1.65







28.1

10/20/09: Brewed on a lazy morning. Had tons of problems with my Barley Crusher and its continued slipping roller. Ended up hitting my gravity really well at 1.079 and volume, so no problems with efficiency. Mashed at 154 for 60min and a 75min boil. No chill and pitched some leftover slurry from the Belgian single and Drie Fonteinen beer.
11/04/09: Primary looks nearly done. Beer is down to 1.011, a bit higher than I was hoping. No pellicle, no real funk to the flavor. I'm a bit worried I'm not going to get any acid out of this thing, but I'm hoping adding the fig puree will kick it in. In addition, I'll likely add some dregs from the Flanders' barrel when I rack. Right now, it basically tastes like a weak dubbel with a touch of barnyard funk in the nose.
11/12/09: Racked to secondary on top of 1.5oz French Med Toast oak cubes that soaked in a cup of Meyer's Rum for 3 weeks. The whole thing went in, rum and all. I'm also pitching some slurry from the barrel as well to get the bugs going.
4/14/10: Added nearly 1K of Boiron Fig puree. Had to slap on a blow off tube since the carboy is now nearly full. Will give this one several more months before bottling.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Night of The Funk

When I first heard about this fest, a prelude to the Belgian Beer Fest sponsored by Beer Advocate (among others), I was giddy as hell. These are the types of beers that get me the most excited. To see a collection of wild/spontaneous/whatchamacallit beers from the US and around the world was something I couldn't miss. I bought two tickets months ago in hopes that my girlfriend would join me, but it looked like she couldn't as she was too busy with work (the catering business is a bitch). Fortunately, I found a good buddy who was willing to buy my ticket and help get a hotel room to share in Boston. Off we went to what looked like an amazing list of American sours. This was my first time really going to any beer fest outside of SAVOR in DC. The Bros. as Beer Advocate were responsible for it (with what looked like a hefty sponsorship of Duvel/Moortgat).
As you can hopefully see from the list, it looked like some really exciting, experimental brews from some really small craft brewers who weren't previously known for producing wild ales. What we tasted, for the most part, was quite the opposite. I don't want to be a complete Debby downer, but, we both poured out almost as much as we drank. So many of the up and coming brewers brought sours that were just above drinkable if not well below. The worst of the bunch was Ithaca's Le Bleu, an absolute abysmal conglomeration of beer, blueberries and what seemed like an overt pedioccoccus infection. It was buttery in the aroma followed by a sickly, oozy thick mouthfeel and a forgetable flavor. Aside from that, there were some other failures. Up and coming White Birch Brewery founded by a really nice guy whom I was able to converse with (and have to opportunity to try his pre-brewery beers) produced an overly phenolic, band-aid filled Belgian pale that was well above my threshold of tolerance. Even Sam Adams brought some really exciting beers like a 6 year old lambic and a Flander's style red. Both were pretty good with balanced acid, but with a strange dominating apple flavor, which I'm not sure is attributed to the use of a Calvados/apple-jack barrel, or faults in the brewing.
However, amongst the faults of the fest, both The Lost Abbey and Allagash brought their A-game. The former, the formidable Yellow Bus which is an American sour made with peaches (incredible rich, sour aroma filled with the stone fruit, sulfur, and orchard like flavors), and the latter, Vagabond, a bourbon barrel aged sour with (I believe) cherries added which was really boozy, slightly sour and fruity all at once. These were certianly the exceptions to an otherwise mediocre presence by some other big name microbreweries. The Bruery brought a couple solid brews (White Zin and a Sour Rye) along with some interesting Cisco brews (The Stoned Sour especially). But overall, it was a two sided fest with Lost Abbey and Allagash to pull the fest goers attention.
I'm trying to figure out the reason for this. Is it that many of these brewers are so new to the sour beer world that they don't know what they're doing, or unfortunately, they know their beers aren't that great by they can't afford to dump them. I'd love to see the trend of wild and sour brews expand into the micro brew scene of America, but I'd also like to see the brewers know what they're doing before they sell them. To use the common analogy of Top Chef (one of my favorite shows): if you can't stand behind your dish (beer) 100%, it's not worth serving (pouring).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Beer Tasting Nights



Since moving here to DC I've made many new friends who are either avid beer geeks and/or very talented homebrewers. We all get together pretty frequently to share some amazing commercial beer and home brew. A few of us are (rabid) beer traders and travel a bit to pick up some rare and special beer. It's always great to share it amongst a crowd who is equally appreciative and critical of these beers. We also try to rotate who hosts and what we eat with all the beer. Sometimes there are themes, other times we just have a small handful of really special brews that we're excited to try. Last night, Nathan was nice enough to have our small group over and, since the cooler season is upon us, we decided to focus on only high alcohol brews. I had the Bruery Papier to contribute along with my Oat Wine. Besides those, we had: Old Viscosity, Older Viscosity, East End Toaster, Bourbon County Stout, Salvation and Berkshire Bourbon Scotch Ale among many, many others. And, because we were all together at Nathan's, that means it's barrel sampling time! The Flanders will be bottled in a couple weeks, but the Scotch ale in the Bourbon barrel is still evolving ever so deliciously. I decided to take many pictures at the tasting, so enjoy. And, I hope you all get a chance to get together to sample some beers (or any other beverage), talk about them and have a great time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tasting: American Bitter


Well, I'd been aiming for a really quaffable, low alcohol, hoppy brew, and I think I nailed it. Despite some early anxiety on how this beer was going to turn out, I'm quite happy with how it is. Having not brewed too many traditional British style beers, I think this one, despite its American hops, is well within the guidelines. Here's the first tasting, just over 2 weeks after kegging.
Aroma: Grapefruit, grass, caramel, grapy fruitiness, slight mineral notes. Overall, it's a very balanced malt:hop driven aroma with plenty of bready, caramel notes mixing with the citrusy hops.
Appearance: Deep copper, caramel color with excellent clarity. Well supported, just off white head forms with beautiful tracing.
Flavor: On the palate, this beer really is a delicate balance of lightly toasted white bread, sweet caramel, and orange like bitter hops. The yeast character gives it a biting mineral note that accentuates the hops. The finish is quite dry and nearly chalky.
Mouthfeel: I've dialed this one in to be pretty middle of the road for carbonation, about 2-2.25 vols. It has a pretty medium low body making it quite drinkable. The bitterness really gets the palate working, and it's low alcohol has little to no warming.
Overall: After the first week of having this beer on tap, it's really come into its own. The keg hops have mellowed considerably, and the deep maltiness has become better integrated. If I had to do anything differently, I'd increase the amount of aroma hop additions, and use fresher hops. The concept was to be an APA with a British yeast and malt bill, and I think I succeeded in that part. I'm happy to finish off this keg and look forward to brewing another uber hopped beer to replace it.
Recipe and notes

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Belgian Single, Barrel Bound

Time to get that barrel bottled and refilled. Unfortunately, Mike has already posted about his brewing of it. You can read about the history and description of the recipe here. I'll make my post pretty brief and give my recipe which is slightly different from his.




Stats

OG

1.053

FG


IBU

25

ABV


SRM

4

Specifics

Boil Volume

8 gallons

Batch Size

5.5 gallons

Yeast

75% AA

Wyeast 3787



Fermentables

% Weight

Weight (lbs)

Grain

Gravity Points

Color

91.0 %

10.00

Castle Pils

46.5

3.3

3.0 %

0.33

American Vienna

1.5

0.2

3.0 %

0.33

German Acid Malt

1.5

0.1

3.0 %

0.33

American Soft White Wheat

1.8

0.2


10.99


51.2


Hops

% Wt

Weight (oz)

Hop

Form

AA%

AAU

Boil Time

Utilization

IBU

100.0 %

1.75

Styrian Goldings

Pellet

3.4

6.0

55

0.303

24.6


1.75







24.6


9/30/09: Brewed this morning. Again, no-chill so hop addition is a theoretical 75 mins. I mashed for 60min at 154 and 90min boil with terrible winds so it was a bit of a pain. Made a 2L starter from the wort with the yeast I split off of last weeks brew.


video
Here's a little video of the new chilling method, Jamil show in the background. Sorry it's sideways, can't figure out how to rotate it. You can see a bowl of 2L of wort chilling in the sink for the starter.