Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fermenting along

The oatmeal stout is fermenting right along. I am using a new primary as my old one is starting to hold onto the past too much. This one is still of the plastic bucket variety, but it was very cheap. I'll see how it goes. At some point, I will be getting a glass carboy to use as the primary.

Since I finished up quite late on Sunday, I neglected to take a gravity reading of the stout after cooling and before sealing. Oh well, no worries.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The oats are out

Note to self, don't change the oats cooking method half-way through and wait until the other grains are steeped before doing the oats. I way overcooked the steel cut oats for the stout, turned off the heat and by the time I had finished sparging the other grains, I had oat paste. This made sparging very difficult, though I was able to squeeze out some of the oat goodness. I am not sure of the results, so I'll either have nothing or a beer with a head able to hold up a spoon.

I did make another change to recipe while at Listermann's. I added a pound of chocolate malt. That gives a total of 3 pounds of adjunct grains to the mix. After steeping, that gave a very dark brown, nearly coffee look, smell and texture. I upped the total boil time to 90 minutes, though the bitter hops were still in for the usual 60. That boiled off nearly 1.5 gallons of water, making chill down a bit easier. I pitched with White Labs Irish Ale liquid yeast. The little buggers should be going to town now.

Saturday morning I bottled the barley wine. The final gravity was 1.030 giving an estimated 13.5% ABV. I tried some of the flat beer and it was quite good. The bottles are clearing nicely and the color is a medium caramel. I will have to resist the urge to try this one too early. I just hope the local barley wine critic likes it. I do have a slight modification in mind, but I will not tell what it is. I'll let tasters tell me. The modification will cost me about $40 over the $75 worth of ingredients already in the recipe.

The next beer tastings at Jungle Jim's isn't until the 29th of May. Perhaps I can get through what I've bought and some of what I've made by then. I am running low on both empty bottles and storage space.

I will try the Irish Red again this week, just not sure when.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tasting the Irish Red

Tonight I decided it was time to test the Irish Red Ale. I took a bottle room temperature at 64 F and put it in the freezer for half an hour. Even cold, it poured well with a good head. The Fuggles is quite noticeable on the nose with a slight hint of of the extra half ounce of Willamette I put in late in the boil. The extra Malto-Dextrine adds to the head and the feel.

When cold, the after taste is quite hoppy and very little barley sweetness. As it warms up, the sweetness is more pronounced mid-mouth, but the finish is still very hoppy. For a beer one week in the bottle without having been put into a secondary, it is quite clean and drinkable. So far, the only disappointment is the color. It is more caramel than red, though there is a slight red hint. The predicted color of 15.5 seems to be very accurate. Next time I will not crush the roasted barley, but level it cracked and steeped more whole.

It does need more time in the bottle to age and balance. This is quite a good recipe and it will be fun to move it toward great over the coming months. My local fan club should enjoy this brew and I will enjoy improving it for them.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TommyKnocker Beers

So that I may appease some readers, I am finally posting my notes from last Friday's beer tasting at Jungle Jim's. The brewery up for the tasting was TommyKnocker from Idaho Spring, Colorado.

Black Power Stout
Poured via a Nitrogen injection system, this was the first beer up. It has a malty sweet aroma and the head gave hints of bread. Mid mouth it was clean and had a sweet finish. Low in alcohol at 5.6%, it is smooth enough to be a sipping stout. No harsh tones. Was my second favorite of the night.

Jack Whacker Wheat Ale
I'm not a big fan of wheat beers, but this one had two interesting differences. First is the noticeable addition of lemon grass to give it a slightly sour and citrus taste. This beer would liven up a bit with some orange squeezed in. The second is that it is clear. This added a level of refreshment quite often missing in wheats due to the yeast. This would make a good summer beer.

Alpine Glacier Lager
A Canadian style lager south of the border? Yep! This refreshing and light lager shows a yellow beer can have flavor and be refreshing. For anyone looking to move up from the mass produced garbage of A-B and company and not get blown away, this lager is for you. Definitely a stepping beer to greater things, this lager starts, feels and finishes clean. The nose is a little fruity from the hops, but it is all balanced.

Ornery Amber Lager
Finally a good Vienna style lager that's not Negra Modelo. This example of a nearly forgotten style of lager is a bit sweet and orange in color. The Hallertau hops and Crystal malt are quite noticeable in this lager. This one is not good to drink alone, but would completement most spicy food well. This lager tied with the Maple Nut Brown as my third favorite one of the night.

Maple Nut Brown Ale
With 3.5 gallons of Maple Syrup (grade B) in every barrel (that's 31 gallons), this one will have you reaching for pancakes. This one takes "breakfast beer" to a whole new place. The maple flavor is quite noticeable, but not overly sweet due to the grade of syrup. The syrup is added after fermentation, so the ABV is low at 4.5%. The sweetness is well-balanced against the Munich and chocolate malts.

Pick Axe Pale Ale
Tone down an IPA and you get an EPA (or an APA, depending on which you read). Similarly to the Alpine Glacier, this is a good introduction to ales. It is hoppier and more bitter at 40 IBU than the pale lager. There are hops on the nose and the malty balance levels out the finish. The hops are a blend and gives a unique flavor. For those wanting to try an ale for the first time, this is a good place to start.

Butt Head Bock
Now we are starting to kick it up a notch with this one. Hallertau hops and a hint of malt sweetness meet the nose. This double bock delivers a blance of caramel, chocolate and Munich malts, complimented by the Hallertau. Had it not been for the oaked version of this beer, this would have been my favorite of the night.

Oaked Butt Head Bock
Start with a good double bock, then add oak all over the place. Put oak chips in the mash tun and the boil kettle; put rods in the fermentor; oak it everywhere. The smoked Hungarian oak used throughout the process brings not only oak overtones, but hints of vanilla as well. It gives the bock a velvet feel and will have you sippin' for more. The best beer of the night.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Irish Red in the Bottle

I racked and bottled the Irish Red today. The aroma from the fermentor was quite nice. It's color was a little more brown than red for an estimated SRM of 15.5. Next time, I'll steep the roasted barley and Crystal malt separately and try a 40L on the Crystal. The final SG was 1.010 giving about a 7% ABV. It would be nice if I could measure the ABV more trully.

Last night was beer tasting at Jungle Jim's. The brewery this time was TommyKnocker. The beers were quite good and even. The Black Power Stout was on draft with a Nitrogen injection system. It really helps to sit at the table next to the tap and to know the guys running the place (well, ok, our table has developed a bit of a reputation and this is why I give the guys at JJ's some of my homebrew). I'll dig out my notes and post a review of the beers after I've cleaned everything up, or perhaps tomorrow.

The barley wine continues to settle. Gas gets pushed out the airlock about once every 15-20 seconds. I'll give it at least another week before trying to bottle it. It is starting to clear up more and it has a nice deep brown color. Time will tell if it has been worth the effort.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oatmeal stout recipe reconfigured

My Oatmeal stout recipe needed some reformulation. After looking at several on Cat's Meow, I have a new recipe that is a bit less heavy and pushes the color bounds a bit. The basics of the recipes are as follows:
  • 7# Canadian Pale Extract
  • 2# Crystal Malt (80L)
  • 1# Oats (steel cut or flaked)
  • .5# Black Patent Malt (500L)
  • .5# Roasted Barley (300L)
  • 1# Chocolate Malt (350L)
  • 1oz Chinook hops (60 min)
  • 1oz Fuggles hops (10 min)
  • 1tsp Irish Moss
  • 1pkg Irish Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1084)
I'll have to bottle the Irish Red first, but I do hope to try this recipe in a few weeks. My current Oatmeal stout is ok, but is a long way from what I want. It was a recipe made too much on the fly and not planned well enough. This next version should be better.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Needs some work

Tried the Oatmeal stout again. It is getting better, but there are several unbalanced items. The alcohol is quite noticeable, the hop bitterness is a bit too high and there seems to be some tannins from the grains. I only cracked the grains in this run and sparged after steeping. Next time I'll crush the grains and steep only. I will also review the recipe to make sure the hops are not too high. Reviewing other stout recipes will help too. The oatmeal is contributing nicely to the head and feel of the beer. The other parts needs some work. The beer is quite drinkable, but not up to what I know I can do.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Flying Mouflan in the dark

The Irish red is showing signs that it will be ready to next week. Doubtful I will get able to get to it before the afternoon of the 11th, but we shall see. The weather has been nice and that has helped to move the beer along in the primary. I will not secondary this one, but will let it age in the bottle at least six weeks.

Up tonight is Troegs Brewing Company's Flying Mouflan. In this early state, this beer is a hop heads dream, without the punch in the back of the mouth bitterness. Let the beer warm a bit after coming out of the fridge and a wonderful hop aroma will greet you as you pour. I am not sure, but I do believe a hop-back was used with this one. When consumed, the beer gives a hint of the malty sweetness that will become more prevalent as the beer ages. It finishes with an alcohol bite true to its ABV value. The foamy head grips the sides of the glass and will not let go. I bought two 22 ounce bottles at the beer tasting (last two in the cart, as I recall). I have one stored away, so I will try this beer again in 5 or 6 months.

Today a co-worker gave me a bottle of mead. It is made by a local winery of clove honey. He has had this for at least 5 years, so it should have aged well. All I need now is a chance to open it and share it. Look here for a review when I do.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Dark Lager Night

Tonight I am finally getting to the Troegenator that I bought at the last beer tasting. It is a bit of a sweet lager and is a good introduction to darker beers for those who think dark beers are harsh. The sweetness gets quite noticeable as the beer gets warmer. It would be quite nice with spicy food. I'll try it with some next time.

The Irish Red and the Barley wine are going along nicely. Both smell like they should. The Irish is burping at about once per 5 seconds and the barley at once per 12. The barley wine is starting to clear and has a dark caramel color. The yeast seems to be quite deep in the beer, perhaps on the bottom. It will be a good time when I finally get to bottle it.