Friday, October 30, 2009

In the dark (series, beer #2)

Next up in my In the dark series of beer styles not normally dark is Black Abbey Ale. This is an adaptation of my In the Abbey, but is not a straight conversion. The crystal malt is swapped for Aromatic malt and Dark Candi sugar replaces the light brown sugar. The yeast is also different with White Labs WLP570 being used. As Listermann's was out of Hallertauer hops, Spalt is being used instead.

As promised, here is the recipe:


10 lbs Canadian Pale Malt Extract (est. 8 SRM)
1.5 lbs Carafa III malt (500 L)
2 lbs Aromatic Malt (26 SRM)
1 oz Sterling hop pellets (5 min)
1 oz Spalt hop pellets (60 min)
1 oz Kent Goldings hop pellets (60 min)
1 vile of White Lab's Belgian Golden yeast (WLP570)
2 tsb Gypsum
2 tsb Irish Moss
Priming Sugar for bottling


Place 2.5 gallons of cold water in the kettle with the Gypsum and stir. Place cracked grains in a grain bag and bring water to a boil. Heat off, remove bag and allow to drain. Stir in extract and candi sugar. Be sure they are well dissolved before adding heat. Bring to a boil and skim off heat break. Put Spalt and Goldings in a hop bag and place in the kettle. Boil for 1 hour. At 15 minutes to go, put in Irish Moss. At 5 minutes to go, put in Sterling hops (hop bag is optional here, I prefer not).

Turn heat off and cool. Rack to fermentor and fill to 5 gallons. Aerate and pitch yeast.

Primary fermentation: 2 weeks
Secondary (if desired): 2 weeks

Bottle or keg when fermentation complete.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Your Scotch is me beer!

Tonight is a review of Mikkeller/BrewDog's Devine Rebel. This one is a collaboration between two of Europe's best extreme brewers. It is somewhere amongst a barley wine and a strong ale and has noticeable influences from both sides of the North Sea.

Upon opening the bottle, it is immediately apparent that something is different. The fill level is nearly to the top! Most interesting. This one is bottle aged, so pour to leave the yeast in the bottom. The coloring is a deep caramel and the head is the color light brown sugar (ok, perhaps lighter than that). Not bad, let's see where this goes.

Cold, the Scotch flavourings from the barrels smacks your nose. There are hints of barley malts and some hops in there, but the Scotch is quite forward. The tip of the tongue is greeted with Scotch bitterness and alcohol. It has the smooth feel of beer aged in old whiskey barrels.

Mid-mouth, the malt sweetness blends with the Scotch tones. As it gets warmer, the sweetness becomes easier to detect. Hold it in your mouth and the sweetness increases. It is one to savor the moment and close your eyes. The finish is quite pronounced with Scotch and hop bitterness. It very eagerly removes the sweetness from the tongue leaving Scotch flavors.

A few swirls of the glass and all these aromas and flavors intensify a bit. This is one to hold and breathe through your teeth. The Scotch flavor really picks up.

This one is quite interesting. I'm no fan of Scotch, but I do like this mixture. It is not one for the timid, but it doesn't require a strong hop palette to enjoy. At 12%, it pretty much is a "one and done." Just be sure to find your feet before you stand up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Rogue among men

Last Friday, Jim Cline from the Rogue Brewery was at Jungle Jim's for a tasting. It was quite nice for the brewery to finally send him out this way. On the taste list were 11 beers, but one more was added as a surprise.

As is customary when the brewery sends a representative, the telling of the back stories of the beers is one of the main reasons I like the tastings at Jungle Jim's. It would be quite easy for me and a group of friends to buy the beers to taste, but the stories of how and why help round out the picture. One of these days I might actually take notes of the stories instead of just the beers.

Anyway, on to the beers.

Maierfest Lager
This one seems to want to be a mix of an Oktoberfest and a Maibock. It is orange in color and the Munich malts are pronounced on the nose and tongue. Mid-mouth there is good malt sweetness with some hops on the finish. Very nice. Where's the Rotwurst und Senf?

Juniper Pale Ale
What an interesting one this is. Made with Juniper berries, it is clean on the nose with hints of yeast and juniper. The juniper adds to the bitterness and blends with the hops mid-mouth and on the finish. It is a nice blend and doesn't swerve into tasting like Gin.

American Amber
A bit of a low gravity beer, it has a malty nose and hops are mid-mouth to finish. Some lingering malty sweetness.

Dead Guy Ale
Now we are starting to talk here. Malt on start with caramel start to finish. There is a slight hop presence mid-mouth. This one reminds me of the Alt Biers I had in Germany. It is a lager recipe made with ale yeast. Quite homebrewish.

Double Dead Guy
Dead Guy kicked up a few notches, this is the kind of beer I like buying. It is a bit of a sweet beer as malt is noticeable from start to finish. There is some hops in there and the finish has a slight presence of alcohol. Would be quite easy to drink too much of this one.

Hazelnut Brown Nectar
If you like hazelnuts, this is your beer. They are present from start to finish. They give the beer a bit of sweetness, but it is not syrupy. Would go well with breakfast.

Captain Sig's Northwestern Ale
A good ale with nice hop presence. There are hops on the nose with Munich again noticeable (yeah, I'm starting to detect a pattern). Cascade and Willimette hops dance from mid-mouth to the finish. Pass me another.

Yellow Snow IPA
In typical American IPA style, this one has citrus and grapefruit on the nose. Mid-mouth, the malt and citrus tone together nicely. The grapefruit taste continues all the way to the end. The use of Amarillo hops is quite noticeable. It is 70 IBU, but it doesn't feel that high thanks to the generous malts. If the 5L kegs get sold around here, I'm buying one.

Mocha Porter
The first of the dark beers, this one has a coffee presence, but it is not overpowering. There is coffee and chocolate on the nose. Mid-mouth it is a bit malty and the finish is smooth.

Shakespeare Stout
There is malt bitterness on the nose. Mid-mouth is clean with notes of oats (yeah, I know). There is some malt bitterness on the finish.

Santa's Private Reserve
The truck from the brewery to the local distributor was held up one day just for this beer. It has malt on the nose and is sweet in the start. Mid-mouth, the Chinook hops come up and say hello. Not nearly as fruity or spicy as other Christmas beers, it is more a red ale than a holiday one. Quite good.

Smoke Ale
When Jim said it was a smoked beer, there are certain expectations that enter your mind, but on the pour you realize they are not correct. This one pours orange and there is smoke from the nose all the way to the finish. There is malt presence mid-mouth. Typically, I'm not a fan of smoked beers, but I do like this one. Would go well with a double bacon cheeseburger.

At the end of the tasting, we stood up and took the Rogue Nation oath. I did this previously via the website while I was drinking a Northwestern Ale, but it was nice to do it in a crowd. Rogue, thanks again for sending Jim all this way and I do hope you make to next year's Spring Beer fest at Jungle Jim's. Also thanks for having a nice, clean website that makes deep linking easy.

And to that table that was too loud and made it hard to hear, a pox on your house. Talk about the beers guys.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Next up

I finalized the recipe for the next beer this past Saturday, but I've yet to buy the supplies. I do hope to do that this week and get Brainmuffin's Beer Kitchen going before the trick-or-treaters start showing up on Saturday. Not sure if I will go to Listermann's or Paradise.

The Rogue beer tasting at Jungle Jim's last Friday night was quite good, with the only exception being the loud talkers at a table near us. It would not have been too bad had they been talking about the beers, but they were not. I'll get my review of the beers in later this week. I was surprised how many of them had a Maibock base.

I did deliver some of the one hop ale - Cascade to some of the usual suspects, as well as a homebrewer I met. He also gave me a bottle of his latest. Not bad for a basic ale and considering that it is his second ever batch. He wants to learn more and made do this professionally. Here's to his conquest. I look forward to trading beers and ideas with him.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Trying One Hop Ale - Cascade

I bottled this version of the one hop ale on the 17th, so it has been in the bottle about 5 days. Time to see how it is doing. This morning I put a test bottle in the fridge to enjoy in the evening. I set the bottle out on the counter for a bit to allow it to warm.

The particulars as calculated by BeerSmith:
34 IBU
4.9% ABV

It pours nice and golden, with a thick, foamy, white head. Not as clear as I had hoped, but clearer than the Crystal Ale. On the nose, the one ounce of dry hop Cascade in the secondary is quite noticeable. There are also slight hints of Crystal malt.

The drink starts with a little bit of sweetness and some hop bitterness. The bittering hops here were one ounce of Cascade, so not too much bitterness. Mid-mouth the feel is quite light and thin. Perhaps I should have used a little dextrin malt in this one. The fruitiness of the Cascade is present and so is some malt. Pause for a moment, and the hop bitterness can be detected.

The finish is a clean mix of the hop flavor and its bitterness. There is a lingering bitterness, which seems surprisingly high for this variety. The lingering does make one search for another sip.

All in all, not bad for this experiment. This is a nice session ale that is easy to drink, yet has good flavor. As would be expected with a one hopper, there does seem to be something missing, but it isn't enough to detract from the beer. I can't wait to do this same recipe with another hop. Perhaps Northern Brewery or Warrior???

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Making one hop - Cascade

While I am waiting for the water to come to a boil from the crystal malt, here's an update on equipment. Yesterday at Listermann's, I not only purchased the supplies I needed for today's batch, I also bought a false bottom for the 10 gallon cooler and a sparger. Next I will need a sparging bucket and a 10 gallon boil kettle. An instant read thermometer would be nice too. Hopefully I will be able to acquire these over the next few months. I look forward to doing a partial mash before going all grain.

Today's recipe is quite simple, though the idea came from Mikkeller. This is the first in a series of ales using only one hop throughout. I also see it as a way to better learn what each hop does. Yes, I realize with all the varieties, this will take years, but I'm still heading down that road anyway.

With each batch, the recipe is 1 lbs of Crystal (10 L), 6.5 pounds of pale malt extract and 4 ounces of hops. Bittering will be for 60 minutes and flavor for 15. One ounce at heat off and one in the secondary. Some will be good, some not, but each will teach.

So, let's get to today's activities. I will update the blog at each stage.
  • Placed 2.5 gallons of cold water into the brew pot with 1 tsp of Gypsum. Crystal malt into a grain bag and placed in the water. Heat on and wait for water to start to boil. I placed my sanitized thermometer in to make sure I get to boiling temps before I turn the heat off.
  • Water has now started to boil. Heat off and holding bag over pot until drained. I do not squeeze the bag and will toss once drained. I have an electric stove, so waiting for the bag to drain also allows the element to cool a bit before I add the extract. Nothing like burning the extract on the bottom of the brew kettle.
  • Extract added and pot well stirred to mix the extract. Temperature dropped to 165 when I added the extract. Heat is back on and waiting for boiling to start. Will add boiling hops soon.
  • While I am waiting for the kettle to boil again, I get another pot out to sanitize the immersion chiller by boiling. This pot will hold a couple of gallons and will take quite awhile for it to start boiling. I boil the chiller for ten minutes.
  • Timer set to 60 minutes and will be started when boiling does. The timer on the stove will be used to time when the flavor hops and Irish moss go in.
  • Just dawned on me that I should perhaps be putting times on this updates. Ok, will from now on. Time are in 24 hour, Easter Daylight Time for the US.
  • 1328 - temps in the kettle are now at 180 F. Hot break is starting to form. It too much starts to foam, I will skim some off.
  • 1330 - pot with water for sanitizing the immersion chiller is on the back burner. I have an old (ok, very old) Caloric brand oven/stove. There are two large burners and two small ones and it is very inefficient. One of these days it will get updated.
  • 1333 - temp at 190 F and kettle starting to show signs of boiling. I put the bittering hops in a hop back and placed then in. Timer not started yet. I tend to use the disposable bags as the vinyl ones I cannot seem to get cleaned well enough to not retain odors. If anyone has tips, please let me know.
  • 1336 - temp now at 200 F and boiling will start soon. Water in the sanitizing pot is barely warm to the touch. Both burners are on high.
  • 1341 - boiling has started. Started timer and skimmed off hot break with a sanitized slotted spoon. Thermometer shows temp of 208 F. This is an old candy thermometer that I've had since I first started brewing, not sure how accurate it is. Water in pot for chiller is started to steam a bit. This was filled with cold tap water and I need to boil off the various chemicals in the water before I put the chiller in.
  • 1350 - boiling is really going well now and the temp is up to 210 F. While it is boiling, I will be getting the sink faucet converted so that the water line feed on the chiller can be connected. Have to keep on eye on the brew kettle though, as a boil over would be a mess.
  • 1404 - just under 20 minutes to go till the Irish moss and flavor hops go in. Water in the sanitizing hot is steaming, but not yet boiling. This is why I start it the same time I crank the brew kettle up. Sometimes, I use the same pot to steep the specialty grains.
  • 1409 - while I'm waiting for things to get to the next step, I'm gonna open a mystery bottle of my homebrew that's been in the fridge for quite some time.
  • 1410 - ugh, it was one of my attempts at a stout, more than likely Crystal My Oats v2, and it has gone B.A.D. bad. Out it went.
  • 1412 - the water for sanitizing the chiller is now boiling, so I've placed the chiller in. I'll let it boil for at least 10 minutes before turning off the heat. I will leave the chiller in the water until I need it. I also fetched a cooling rack/large trivet that my wife bought at Ikea. It is large enough to place the hot boil kettle on, without harming the kitchen counter top. This puts it closer to the sink for cooling.
  • 1425 - Irish moss and flavor hops are now in. Had to put some more water in the pot with the chiller. Will boil it a few minutes more. Next will be heat off and aroma hops in, then hook up the chiller.
  • 1433 - Six minutes to go in the boil. I have to take my daughter to a birthday party that starts at 1500. Not sure if chilling will be finished before then or not. Fortunately, the house is only about 5 minutes away.
  • 1439 - heat off, aroma hops in. Those did not go in a bag and will stay with beer through primary. Now to hook up chiller and get cooling started. One thing to remember about the chiller, any water that was still in the copper coil when boiled will be very hot once the water flow starts. Keep hands away from the end till flushed.
  • 1445 - chiller hooked up and running. To flush, I have the cold on high, but I turn it to barely a trickle afterward. This way, the water will come out the nose very hot, sometimes steaming, which is exactly what is wanted. Copper is a very good conductor of heat and the hot water testifies to that. While it is cooling, I'll run Keleigh to the party and then rack to fermentor and pitch when I get back. The cooling will take about 15-20 minutes.
  • 1512 - cooling done and disconnected chiller. Now to rinse the fermentor, rack off and fill with cold water to 5 gallons. Then aerate and pitch.
  • 1553 - yeast finally pitched and fermentor placed downstairs where it is currently 68 F. Pitch Munton's Premium Gold dry yeast. Have fun little ones. SG is 1.050.
I hope this gives everyone what it is like to brew, albeit with extract. I know I didn't put all the times on here, but the fun and games started around noon. The volume after racking to the fermentor was about 2 gallons, so half was lost in the malt and boil. Filling from my fridge's filtered and cool line takes time and I should have been filling one gallon junks during the boil. This helps to cut down on the time the wort is exposed to the air for filling and before the yeast is pitched. We shall see if all goes well.

Now the cleanup begins. If I am lucky, I'll be done with that in about an hour. I've already cleaned the chiller and boiled in for about 10 minutes to make sure all the nasties are off of it. The brew pot is always the fun one to clean and I usually let it soak for awhile. I did get some water on the floor while rinsing various equipment, so I'll have a stick floor to clean. All in all, this is about typical for me. I long for the day when I can do this all in my garage.

Happy brewing.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

First check of crystal

My Crystal Ale APA was bottled on Saturday and this is the first sampling since then. I chilled a bottle down in the freezer for about 20 minutes and then let it sit out for 10 before opening.

It pours a nice golden color with a little of haze. I don't think this is a chill haze as the unchilled bottle has the same. In time, it will be seen if this beer clears with more settling. There is a nice while head, though it is a bit thin.

The nose is full of the citrus of Cascade with a hint of the Challenger. There is also something else in the nose, not quite sure what it is. The blend of other aroma hops perhaps.

The tip of the tongue is hit with the 110 IBUs squarely, though it is not unpleasant. Mid-mouth there is mostly hops with a hint of the Crystal malt sweetness. The feel is a bit thin. The finish is unbalanced with hops and not much else. Again there is the presence of something not known.

Overall, this is an ok APA. Will see how it ages. It does show that I am in need of something other than a plastic bucket for primary. I also need to learn a bit more about hop schedules and balancing the dry hops. The mouth feel is fine and there is no balance in either the hop mixture nor the malt.