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).
5.5 gal batch
7.5 gal boil
OG 1.060
FG: 1.008
IBUs ~67

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.
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.
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.