Monday, December 16, 2013

Autumn Brown Ale Tasting

With Fall officially coming to an end, figured it was about time to post some tasting notes on my Autumn-inspired Brown Ale.  It's been a busy season, with little time to brew or blog, but I'll make up for some of that in the coming months.

Abscission Ale

Appearance - Beautiful deep brown, with creamy tan head that slowly dissipates

Aroma - Malt dominates, with a nutty and toasty complexity.  Just a hint of smoke.  The hops bring an earthiness with a touch of spice that backs up the overall rich aroma.

Flavor - Follows the aroma.  Rich, earthy, and nutty/toasty.  Strong malt backbone, with a low level of sweetness, supported by the spice of the Challenger and EKG hops.  Just enough bitterness to carry the malt.  Exceptionally quaffable.

Mouthfeel - Moderate body with moderate-low carbonation (as intended).  Would be good with a bit more body, but, as it is, it works well.  At only 4.2% ABV, I was worried about it being too thin, but I think the the specialty malts give it just enough substance.  Next year, I may add some flaked grain and/or increase the crystal malt slightly just to up the body a bit more.  I'll use Maris Otter as my base malt as well (my LHBS was out when I picked up the ingredients this time around)

Overall - A great Fall season beer - dark and rich enough without being too heavy.  This beer did not last long, though I did manage to hold onto a few bottles to share with family at Thanksgiving - this beer paired excellently with the (beer-brined) turkey.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Summer IPA Tasting

Now that I've got the first fall seasonal beer brewed, I suppose it is past time to post some tasting notes for the IPA I brewed a back at the start of summer.

Firefly IPA

Appearance - Slightly hazy, orange-yellow with a thick, foamy white head.

Aroma - Fresh grapefruit and ripe melon. 100% hops. The Amarillo, Cascade, Citra and Motueka hops really work well together. The Motueka hops bring some non-citrusy fruitiness that adds another dimension to the aroma.

Flavor - Firm bitterness that lingers just long enough. "Grapefruit juice" definitely comes to mind. Nice dry, clean finish. Just enough malt to prevent the hops to becoming overly harsh. There's a slight hint of sulfur in there too, which I imagine is derived from the hops - it is just barely noticeable and does not detract from the flavor.

Mouthfeel - high carbonation, dry and slightly prickly on the tongue - perfect for a hot day.

Overall - I am very, very pleased with this beer, especially given it was my first-ever IPA attempt. I drank this almost daily there for a while. For my tastes this IPA had an excellent balance between being nice and hoppy withouth being overly bitter. I suppose it would fall on the "lower" side of the IPA scale, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Autumn Brown Ale

This is, by far, my favorite time of year.  Crisp, sunny days and cool breezy nights.  The summer vegetable garden is winding down and the leaves are starting to turn colors.  Temperatures are perfect for brewing too.

It just feels right to brew something darker and maltier as the days start to grow shorter.  One of my favorite Autumn commercial beers is Sierra Nevada's Tumbler , so I thought I'd try my hand at making something similar.  This is not an attempt at a clone exactly - though I did use info on Sierra Nevada's website to help guide my recipe.  I was looking for something rich and malty, something where the hops take a supporting role to the roasted malts.  I actually had hoped to brew this up at the beginning of the month so that it would be just about ready for the start of the fall season, but, as usual, time got away from me.  Still, it will be a good beer to have as the weather continues to cool down.

Abscission Ale
brewed on 9/19/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 22.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 28.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
OG: 1.050
FG: 1.018
ABV: 4.2%

6 lbs Pale Malt, UK - 80.3 %
12.0 oz Brown Malt - 10.0 %
6.0 oz Crystal Malt (45L) - 5.0 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Malt (450L) - 3.3 %
1.5 oz Smoked Malt - 1.3 %

14 g Challenger [5.70 %] - 60.0 min
14 g Challenger [5.70 %] - 15.0 min
14 g EKG [5.70 %] - 15.0 min

California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)

Mash Schedule
Single infusion, 153ºF, batch sparge

Thursday, August 15, 2013

German Pils Tasting

I'll start off by saying that this, my first official lager, turned out great. As long as my cellar and garage temps continue to be low enough I think I will continue to brew one each winter. Now, on to the tasting...

Gartenwasser Pils

Appearance - Clear, pale gold. Thick, foamy white head that persists. Looks like a Pils should.

Aroma - Overall mild aroma. Noble hops and characteristic Pilsner malt "Graham cracker".

Flavor - Moderate bitterness up front that lingers just's there, but could perhaps use more for the style. SOme non-distinct fruitiness - probably from the New Zealand hops. Although they were of noble variety, these hops were noticably more fuity than their German counterpart. Some more noble notes mid-sip. Overall clean and crisp.

Mouthfeel - Crisp and dry, but not thin. Moderate carbonation. Creamy head.

Overall - Excellent beer. Perhaps on the milder side of the style. In fact, a German friend compared it to Warsteiner and said she prefers her Pils more "herber" (she said this is German for "dry/harsh/bitter"). It is well balanced, but, for this style, it could definitely be more bitter. I think it is also a bit fruitier than most traditional Pils thanks to my hop selection. Regardless, it is perfect after mowing the lawn on hot summer day!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer IPA

Summer is officially here! And what better way to celebrate than to brew my first ever IPA...amazingly, as I looked back over my brew log I realized I've just never gotten around to brewing one. I had all these hops in my freezer and now seemed like the perfect time - especially since the relatively cool weather so far has kept my cellar in the low 60's, my preferred ambient temperature for fermenting ales.

Of course, I had to throw my own spin on this brew, using a British and German base malts and a British yeast strain. Although I want to showcase fruity/citrusy hops, I also thought a nice malt complexity would be good and I was thinking that the esters from the yeast will add to the overall fruitiness of the beer. Basically, I was trying to create layers of flavor, while still having a quaffable summer beer. I only added a touch of a light-colored crystal malt to keep the color pale and the overall sweetness low. I ended up mashing between 151-152°F. Hopefully my grist and mash schedule it doesn't produce something too "chewy" and/or muddled . My plan is to give it about ten days before I dry hop for another four (right in the primary fermenter), so that I can bottle it after two weeks. I'd like to be able to drink this beer while it the hops are fresh.

Firefly IPA
brewed on 6/20/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 6.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 70.1 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
OG: 1.060
FG: 1.013
ABV: 6.2%

6 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter - 77.6 %
1 lbs Pilsner Malt - 11.9 %
8.0 oz Munich I - 6.0 %
4.0 oz Carahell - 3.0 %
2.0 oz Acidulated Malt - 1.5 % (for mash pH)

10 g Magnum [13.10 %] - 60.0 min
14 g Cascade [6.10 %] - 15.0 min
14 g Citra [12.30 %] - 15.0 min
14 g Amarillo [9.30 %] - 5.0 min
14 g Cascade [6.10 %] - 5.0 min
14 g Amarillo [9.30 %] - flameout
14 g Citra [12.30 %] - flameout
14 g Motueka [7.10 %] - flameout
28 g Amarillo [9.30 %] - dry hop (4 days)
14 g Motueka [7.10 %] - dry hop(4 days)

Burton Ale (White Labs #WLP023)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 152°F, batch sparge

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Strong Maple Mild

Springtime in New England brings the odd site of metal buckets hanging from the trunks of maple trees and the slow drip of maple sap falling from iron spiles. Of course, this maple sap is destined for local sugar shacks where it will be boiled ruthlessly until it it transformed into maple syrup. Most of this is done on family farms or larger commercial operations. A friend of mine, however, decided to try this at home this year, tapping the trees in his front yard and boiling down the sap on his propane grill. Back at the end of March, his trees were producing so much sap, he couldn't keep up, so he asked if I wanted some to brew with. Any regular reader of this blog knows how much I like to incorporate local ingredients into my brewing - whether it's cranberries, pumpkins, or wild yeast - so I jumped at the chance of using maple sap. I told my friend that I would need approximately six gallons of sap to replace the water I would normally use for the 3.5-3.75 gallon batches I brew. Not a problem - the sap is flowing like crazy.

While he collected the sap, I put together a recipe and headed out to my LHBS to purchase the ingredients. I had decided to brew an English Mild - I figured something like this would have the best chance of allowing any possible maple flavor from the sap to come through (though I am fully aware that there isn't much maple flavor in the raw sap - it's just too dilute). Unfortunately, shortly after picking up the ingredients, the sap stopped flowing and my friend was only able to collect 3.5 gallons for me. I figured my choices were to either supplement water for the other 2.5 gallons...or just brew a smaller batch. I really didn't want to dilute the sap with water, so I opted to go with a smaller batch size. However, since the grains were already milled together, a smaller batch meant that I was now looking at a much higher starting gravity than originally intended. So, instead of a "regular" Mild, I brewed a Strong Mild - not quite the oxymoron you might think.

It took me a while to get to this beer, so I kept the sap frozen to avoid it spoiling. I used a few cups of sap instead of water to make a yeast starter - I figured that this would allow the yeast to acclimate to the sap and it would let me keep this beer 100% undiluted sap-based. The sap itself had a specific gravity of 1.006. Even though the sap looked, smelled, and pretty much tasted just like water (perhaps a tad sweet if you really looked for it), when it was boiled for the starter and even just heated for the mash it became obvious that it was not the same as water - it darkened slightly and had a noticeable maple syrup aroma. In the end I don't know if any flavor or aroma contribution from the sap will be identifiable in the beer, but I am certain that the sap will add some complexity. Since I didn't want to dilute this beer with any water, I only used the first runnings from the mash. I went with English hops - Bramling Cross, which I really like for its combination of fruity and earthy flavors. Not sure if it was the sap or the use of brown malt or the combination of the two, but this was one of the best smelling mashes and boils I've ever had. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how this one turns out - though given it will probably end up around 8% ABV, it might need to age a little bit before it comes into its own.

Spile Driver
Brewed on 5/19/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 2.25 gal
Estimated Color: 19.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 42.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62.00 %
OG: 1.078
FG: 1.017
ABV: 8.0%

5 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter - 81.6%
8.0 oz Brown Malt - 8.2%
8.0 oz Crystal Malt (77°L; Crisp) - 8.2%
2.0 oz Acidulated malt - 2.0% (for mash pH)

~3.5 gallons of maple sap (SG = 1.006...I figure the amount of sugar from the sap would be the equivalent of ~5oz of sucrose)

9 g Bramling Cross [7.00 %] - 60.0 min
9 g Bramling Cross [7.00 %] - 30.0 min
9 g Bramling Cross [7.00 %] - 10.0 min

English Ale (White Labs #WLP002)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 150°F, No Sparge

Friday, May 17, 2013

Snake River Stout Tasting

This is my attempt at brewing a clone of Snake River Brewing Company's Zonker Stout. Wish I could compare the two side by side, but, alas, Snake River's beers are not available way out here in New England. Might just have to make another trip out their way!

Snake River Stout

Appearance - Black. Really black. Black hole black. Seriously - no light can penetrate this beer. I held up a flashlight on one side of the glass and I don't think a single photon escaped to the other side. Foamy, tan head that dissipates slowly. Some lacing left behind. Did I mention this beer is really, really black?

Aroma - Smells fantastic. Roasty, as would be expected. Mostly coffee-like with some slight chocolate notes. As it warms up a bit, I get a hint of raisin. Some earthy/spicy hops in the background. The aroma is really what I would expect from a beer like this.

Flavor - Bittersweet chocolate and coffee. Some caramel and raisin notes. There's an acridness that lingers...perhaps a tad too much. I'm not sure the crystal malts are quite enough to cut through the roast and acridity. Firm hop bitterness that combines with the acrid roast and then dissipates, leaving the acridness from the roast behind. This may actually be why the acridity seems too much - you definitely notice it once the hops are gone. Even though this finished at 1.022, I feel like it could use some additional sweetness - or maybe the amount of roast just needs to be dialed back a smidgen. However, as it warms up, the acridness seems to be lessening. In fact, now that the beer has warmed up some, the flavors all seem to work quite nicely together...maybe it needs even less tweaking than I had originally thought!

Mouthfeel - Moderate carbonation and body. Not thin, but certainly not too thick either. I think this would be awesome on nitro...or maybe with a little lactose thrown in to give it some creaminess.

Overall - This is a really good beer that could use some tweaking. I'm certainly nit-picking, but next time I would reduce the amount of roasted malts and/or add additional crystal malt. I wish I could get Snake River Brewing Company's beers out this way to compare this to their Zonker Stout. My version is good, but doesn't quite live up to my memory of theirs...though this could also have something to do with the fact that I don't have the glorious Grand Tetons in my backyard!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cranberry Brown Ale - Tasting

A mild, "makeshift" brown ale using Brett Trois and local cranberries. I brewed this back in the Fall for Thanksgiving. There's a reason I have held off reviewing it...

Henry Hall Ale

Appearance - Deep brown with some ruby highlights. Clear. Thin, spritzy head that quickly dissipates - I wonder why there's so little foam?

Aroma - Very subdued. What aroma is there is all malt with a little "dark" fruitiness.

Flavor - Also rather subdued. Little hop bitterness, but an astringency that I attribute to the cranberries. Slightly fruity. Dry - probably a combination of the Brett used for fermentation and the cranberries. Honestly, kind of bland. Neither crisp and refreshing nor complexly flavorful. When this was younger I remember it being more fruity and flavorful. Has not aged well.

Mouthfeel - Thin. Low carbonation. Drying. Again, I remember this being not quite as thin or dry when it was younger

Overall - Not a particularly good beer. I had hoped that the cranberries and the crystal malts would play well together, and that the Brett Trois would add some nice fruit notes. I had some hope when it was young. But instead, I think the Brett chewed through the crystal malts leaving behind a thin, dry beer, and the tannins from the cranberries left too much of an astringent bite. All in all, another disappointing result using cranberries. I should probably close the book on using them...except I'm thinking I just may need to try them in a simpler English-style brown ale using an English yeast that will leave behind some residual sweetness to help balance the flavor. A project for the Fall.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feathertop Pumpkin Ale Tasting

Slowly catching up.  I brewed this pumpkin beer back in September and drank most of it in October and November.  It has aged well, though I feel it was crisper when it was younger.

Feathertop (2.0)

Appearance - A perfect orange-copper for a pumpkin beer; thick off-white head that dissipates quickly.  No lacing.

Aroma - Malty and sweet-smelling (floral) with a nice mix of cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg - no one spice stands out and the whole thing is a rather complex, alluring aroma.

Flavor - Mostly rich malt with general spicy notes.   Hard to tell what is coming from the spices and what is coming from the hops, which is a good thing I think - it probably means I didn't overdo the spice additions. You can definitely tell they're there, but they are not overpowering. I think using small amounts of several spices helps give this beer good flavor complexity without hitting you over the head with any particular spice flavor. Some residual sweetness there as well.  The overall malt profile reminds me of Jenlain Ambrée , the only true bière de garde I have had. Based on what little I know of this style, I imagine I could consider this beer a spiced bière de garde. I suppose the similarity could also be because of the French Ale yeast I used - I have no other experience using this strain so I can't compare it to anything else. There is also a flavor in there that I suppose is the pumpkin, but I don't really don't know if it is just the fact that I know there is real pumpkin in there.

Mouthfeel - Moderately low carbonation and a relatively thick finish gives this beer a creaminess that is nice with the malt and spices. Definitely not dry. I wonder if the raw pumpkin adds to the thickness. Certainly a beer more for the Fall or Winter (as it was intended).

Overall - This is a really nice pumpkin beer with a lot of complexity. It would be tough to drink more than one or two of these (for me anyway) given its intense maltiness and thick mouthfeel. However, I think the malt really needs to be there to help moderate the spice additions - if this were less malty or finished too dry I think the spices would become too harsh.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Brett Trois Farmhouse Ale Tasting

I'm finally getting around to posting up tasting notes for some of the beers I've brewed over the past many months. This one is for my multigrain farmhouse ale fermented entirely with Brett. I brewed it 10 months ago! As seems to be the way with this blog...better late than never, right?

Threshing Ale

Appearance - Pale yellow with thick foamy pure-white head that lingers. Brilliantly clear (as would be expected given this has sat in the fridge for months now). A beautiful beer to look at.

Aroma - Ripe melon and pineapple, some hints of lemon-orange and spicy hops. When this was younger, it was over-the-top ripe tropical fruits. With the combination of the Brett Trois strain and the Motueka hops, it smelled like a fruit salad. It is much more subdued now, but still predominantly tropical fruits with some spiciness.

Flavor - Solid bitterness that lingers, spicy hops, minerally, slightly tart with hints of ripe fruit. No "traditional" Brett flavors. The flavor is the opposite of the aroma - more spicy than fruity. Can't tell if the quinoa or spelt did anything other than add some additional sugars for the Brett to chew on.

Mouthfeel - Super dry and crisp. The Brett has certainly continued to work on this beer as it is drier now than it was earlier. This dryness accentuates the bitterness nicely. Medium-high carbonation also helps the overall crispness of this beer. This higher carbonation is another sign that the Brett continued working in the bottle - I purposely under-primed this beer for just this reason.

Overall - This beer was awesome when I first made it and it has changed, but has held up well over the months. This was a 100% success. The intense fruitiness that was there early was wonderful - I definitely see why this yeast strain has become renowned for its tropical fruit character. As the beer has aged, the fruitiness is more subdued, letting the spicy favors shine through. Easy drinker that I wish I had more of. Will definitely try something like this again.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Strong Scotch Ale - Empirical Series 2013

"Nothing, at first view, may seem more unbounded than the thought of man, which not only escapes all human power and authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and reality."


Once again, I am late getting this year's Empirical Series brewed. February, which is when I always plan to have these beers brewed, seemed to speed pass in the blink of an eye. And March almost got away from me too! Luckily, I managed to find the time the other day to get this brew done, the fifth version of this annual tradition.

This year I decided to try a Strong Scotch Ale (aka Wee Heavy) for the first time. For this strong, malty beer I decided to take the more "historical" route with the recipe. Instead of loading it up with crystal malts, I took the first gallon of first runnings and boiled it down to almost three cups. This process took about an hour in a wide shallow pot and resulted in a thick, super sweet syrup. It was really cool to watch the changes take place - especially at the end when, all of a sudden, the reduction began to foam up (as seen in the photo above). Once I saw this, I was nervous about burning the syrup, so I only let it go another couple of minutes before I pulled it off the burner. I then added this reduced wort to the main boil at about the 30 minute mark. Hopping is low for a beer of this gravity, though I targeted the higher side since I want to make sure the hops are still around after some extended aging.  I also added a pound of oats to the mash to give this beer additional body and mouthfeel. To add to the complexity, a week earlier I toasted the oats in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes (I used some organic quick oats we had in the pantry and it worked just fine - I just kept an eye on them and stirred them up every so often).

As I have done with all the past Empirical brews, I added some non-malt sugar to help increase the gravity. This time, I used honey, thinking the delicate honey aromas and flavors would add some additional depth and richness. I really wanted to use some heather varietal honey for this, but I couldn't find any locally and thought all the online sources to be too expensive, so I went with a local wildflower honey instead. I successfully fought off the urge to add some smoked malt to the grist as I was afraid it might take over the flavor of the beer.

I'll let this one ferment for a few weeks before racking to a glass carboy for some extended aging. The plan is to bottle in a few months and then stash those bottles away until the cold weather starts to settle back in again in November.

Mons Aureus (aka David) - Empirical Series 2013
brewed on 3/29/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 4.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.00 gal (includes reduction of 1 gallon of first runnings)
Estimated Color: 14.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes
OG: 1.080 SG
FG: 1.018
ABV: 8.2%

9 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter - 79.1 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (toasted) - 8.8 %
1 lbs Honey - 8.8 %
3.0 oz Roasted Barley (432.0 SRM) - 1.6 %
3.0 oz Acidulated Malt - 1.6 % (for proper mash pH)

18 g Challenger [8.20 %] - 60.0 min
10 g Challenger [8.20 %] - 15.0 min

Edinburgh Ale (White Labs #WLP028)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 153°F, Batch Sparge

Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 Altbier

Not sure where February went. And now March is almost half over too. Luckily, I managed to find some time today to brew up this year's Altbier...a bit later than I wanted to, but better late than never.

Last year's Altbier was really quite nice...easily my best one yet. However, I felt like it needed a few things. First, it didn't have the head I thought it should have, so this time I added a protein rest to perhaps help with that. Second, I replaced the pale ale malt with more Pilsner malt, and added some Caramunich after reading some info by Kai Troester about the use of crystal malt in this style. Lastly, and this is the place I debated about the most, I went with a single hop addition of Spalter hops, giving me only approximately 30 estimated IBUs. I think this is a more traditional hopping schedule, even though the IBUs fall outside the BJCP style guidelines.

Last year I opted not to lager this beer. This year, I may not have the choice as the coolest ambient temperatures may already climb into the 50s by the time this is done fermenting (I rely completely on the various ambient temperatures of my garage and cellar, which is why I try to brew this beer earlier in the winter, when I'm reasonably certain to have cool enough temperatures).

brewed on 3/11/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 11.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Boil Time: 75 Minutes
OG: 1.048

4 lbs Pilsner malt - 61.0 %
2 lbs Munich Malt - 30.5 %
6.0 oz Caramunich I - 5.7 %
2.0 oz Acid Malt - 1.9 % (for mash pH)
1.0 oz Chocolate Wheat - 1.0 %

28 g Spalter [5.00 %] - 60.0 min

Dusseldorf Alt Yeast (White Labs #WLP036)

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest - 133.0 F (10 min)
Sacch. Rest - 152.0 F (40 min)
Mash out (via 10 min decoction) - 164.0 F

Water - (estimated)
Ca: 88 ppm
Mg: 1 ppm
Na: 3 ppm
Cl: 37 ppm
SO4: 156 ppm
Alkalinity (as CaCO3): 20 ppm (pre-treatment)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My First Lager

I've been thinking about brewing up my first lager for a while now. The issue though is that I don't have any precise temperature control, so keeping a lager fermentation cold and a lagering stage even colder has been a major hurdle. However, over the past several years I've realized that in the middle of winter my cellar, "mudroom", and garage might just work for what I need. I almost tried this last winter, but I think we had the warmest winter on record and temps were never to my liking, so I abandoned the idea. This year, however, we've had some seriously cold weather - so cold in fact, that I was starting to worry it might be TOO cold to brew a lager. But things have warmed up just enough and I think I have a window to get this thing done. So, a week after brewing a dark, bold American Stout, I found myself staying up into the wee hours of the night to brew something on the complete opposite side of the beer spectrum - a "classic" German Pils.

I went simple with the grist - just Pilsner malt and a little acidulated malt to help with the mash pH. However that was about the only part of the brew that I decided to go simple with. I ran a three-step mash - infused the first step to 131°F for a protein rest for 20 minutes, stepped the mash up to the saccharification rest of 148°F for 45 minutes and then pulled a thin decoction, boiled for 10 minutes, to get me up to mash out at 170°F. I also tried first wort hopping for the first time - hoping to get some of the smooth bittering and lingering hop flavor that some folks say you get with this technique. I'm still pretty confused about the proper technique - do the first wort hops replace some hops in the recipe? And if so, which ones? Or are they used in addition to the other hops? And how much bittering do you really get from them? In the end I used them as an addition and treated their IBU contribution like a regular 60 minute addition - bascially following Gordon Strong's advice in Brewing Better Beer.

I ended up using 100% New Zealand Pacific Hallaertau hops...not exactly a classic hop to use for a German Pils, but I had them in my freezer and wanted to use them. A lot of places suggest that they are similar to the quintessential German noble hop, Hallertau Mittelfrüh, so I am optimistic that they will work just fine. I pitched a stepped-up starter of White Lab's German Bock yeast (WLP833) and have the beer fermenting in my mudroom which has an ambient temperature between 48-50°F. We had a warm front come through today, so I am a little nervous that the temp will climb a bit...but another cold snap is forecast starting tomorrow night, so I am thinking it should be OK. I plan on letting the fermentation go for a couple weeks or so and then rack to a carboy and lager it in my garage, which is currently at an ambient temp of 38°F.

I'm excited about this, but, as my first lager, I am feeling very rookie-like. I haven't stressed like this over a beer in quite some time!

Gartenwasser Pils
brewed on 1/27/13

Recipe Specifications

Batch Size: 3.50 gal
Estimated Color: 3.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 37.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
OG: 1.053 SG
FG: 1.012
ABV: 5.4%

6 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner malt - 98 %
2.0 oz Acidulated malt - 2 % (for mash pH)

14 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - First Wort
14 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 60.0 min
9 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 15.0 min
9 g NZ Pacific Hallertau [4.50 %] - 1.0 min

German Bock Lager (White Labs #WLP833)

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest @ 131°F - 20 min
Sacch. Rest @ 148°F - 45 min
Decoction (10 minute boil) for mash-out @ 170°F

Water - estimated
Ca: 57 ppm
Mg: 11 ppm
Na: 3 ppm
Cl: 56 ppm
SO4: 94 ppm
Alkalinity: 20 ppm (as CaCO3)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snake River Stout

I sense a pattern in my blogging and brewing - apparently the late fall and early winter are not great for me. It makes sense given this time of year is particularly busy for me - between my teaching schedule, the kids' various activities, and the holidays. Still, I always have big plans to brew up a few batches during this time, when the weather is pretty much perfect for brewing. I should learn that I just need to take a month or two off and pick things up in January when I have more time (before the rush of the Spring semester starts). Anywho...

Last week I finally got around to brewing a recipe for my version of the massively award-winning Zonker Stout from the Snake River Brewery (Jackson, WY). I was at the brewery a few times this summer while on family vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Excellent beer and excellent food. My wife and I were particularly impressed with Zonker Stout - one of the most balanced, tasty stouts we've ever had. I asked the waitress if the brewers ever gave out recipes, but she told me, emphatically, that they did not. Oh well...worth a try, right? Still, undeterred, I emailed the brewery when I returned home from the vacation. Much to my surprise, one of the brewers, Chris Erickson, emailed me back...not just with a recipe, but with their own excel spreadsheet with EVERYTHING you could possibly want to know, but don't need at the homebrew scale. Like "Heat Exchanger Cleaning...Caustic Strength 2-3%...circulation time 1 hour". And, "Water Flow Rate (gal/min)...107.1". How spectacular is that!?!?! I even had a few questions about the recipe that I couldn't quite glean the answers from the spreadsheet and Chris was nice enough to answer them all. So much for not sharing the recipe!

I had hoped to brew this back in the September or October, but it should make a nice late winter/early spring beer. I tweaked some of the grain amounts a little to fit my scaled-down version and still hit the OG I was looking for and used Maris Otter as my base instead of American pale ale malt (not actually sure why I went with this now that I'm looking back at the recipe Chris sent).

Snake River Stout
brewed on 1/17/13

Recipe Specifications
Batch Size: 3.75 gal
Estimated Color: 58.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 41.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
OG: 1.062 SG
FG: 1.022
ABV: 5.3%

6 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Maris Otter - 73.8%
12.0 oz Roasted Barley - 8.5%
8.0 oz Caraamber (36L) - 5.7%
8.0 oz Dark Crystal (150L) - 5.7%
6.0 oz Chocolate Malt (475L) - 4.3%
3.0 oz Black Malt - 2.1%

15 g Centennial [9.9 %] - 60 min
6 g Tettnang [3.5 %] - 30 min
6 g Tettnang [3.5 %] - 15 min
3 g EKG [4.5 %] - 15 min
9 g EKG [4.5 %] - 1 min
6 g Tettnang [3.5 %] - 1 min

California Ale (White Labs #WLP001)

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion, 152ºF, batch sparge

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