Category Archives: All-grain

Pineapple Kolsch

Another beer for my father-in-law’s kegerator! We thought that a Kolsch would be fitting for summer but also wanted to add a fruit. We tossed around the idea of lime, but that’d be too cliche. We landed on pineapple, thinking the acidic nature of the fruit would be a nice compliment to the gentle Kolsch base beer.

I did some reading on pineapple in beer, and there seem to be polarizing opinions on the best way to use it. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromlain, which has the detrimental effect of digesting proteins the beer, making it thin and lacking body. I’ve also experienced this with meat – one time i made a shredded pork dish with pineapple – the next day the meat had turned into a pasty mush. There are lots of suggestions on how to prepare the pineapple to avoid this, but I figured what the heck, lets give it a try and see how severe the effect is. A thin kolsch wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world anyway.

  • 5.25 lb US Pale 2-row
  • 5.25 lb German Pils
  • 0.25 lb Honey malt
  • 0.18 lb Acid malt
  • 0.5 oz Magnum 60 min
  • 0.25 oz Styrian bobek 10 min
  • 1 pkg Saflager-189

// Mash-in w/ 4.5 gal at 150F for 60 minutes. Raise to 168F, sparge to collect ~6.75 gallons 1046 wort. Boil 75 minutes. Collect 5.25 gal 1052 wort. Wort wasn’t as cool as expected, maybe 72F. Oxygenate, sprinkle yeast on top. Left to ferment at 62F. Brewed 5/6/17. //

// Sparge got stuck initially. Let it sit for a little, then turn pump on with throttle about 1/2 way, then eventually allow full flow once mash liquefied. Mash ran fine at full speed (very clear wort) by the end //

5/13/17   Base beer turned out well – good lager quality and malt flavor. Chopped up two pineapples and pureed gently with an immersion blender, then added directly to primary. Total pineapple slush was 4.5 lb.

5/15/17  Mild pineapple flavor, much more in the aroma. Body does seem slightly thinner. Put in the fridge to crash cool.

5/16/17  Kegged. The pineapple flavor is appropriate but could afford to be bigger. One more pineapple should do it. Also, the pulp was super annoying while kegging. It kept clogging my racking tube every few minutes, and even still there was a lot that transferred to the keg. Next time I’ll probably just juice the whole pineapple slice by slice and not any pulp to the primary.  Fun experiment, and I’ll definitely make this again!

 

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Filed under All-grain, German

St. Patty’s Day Irish Red

This batch is for my in-laws to put on tap for St. Patrick’s Day! I based this on a previous Irish Red batch, and went with English yeast because I prefer the malt profile that it yields. I’m going to try adjusting the pH of my sparge water this time – normally i just use it as is, and technically its pH is up near 8.6, not ideal considering the mash’s pH is near 5.4. This should help the final beer pH be closer to where it should be. I also wound up throwing in a little coffee to the primary for an different twist on the style!

  • 12.5 lb UK Pale 2-row
  • 0.28 lb Victory malt
  • 0.28 lb Extra Dark Crystal malt (170L)
  • 0.1 lb Roasted Barley (300L)
  • 1.5 oz Kent Goldings hops (60 min) 4.8% a.a.
  • 0.5 oz Kent Goldings hops (10 min) 4.8% a.a.
  • WYeast 1968 London ESB (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 5.1 gal 156F water to setting at 152F for 50 minutes. 2 tsp CaCl2 to mash. Raise to 158F briefly, then to 168F for 5 minutes. Sparge w/ 2.6 gallons (adjusted pH to 5.6 w/ lactic acid) and collect around 6.75 gallons of 1056 wort. Boil 60 minutes. Collect 5 gallons 1060 wort. //

Wort looked a little too dark going into the primary, this may end up browner than red.

5/3/17  Airlock slowed, gravity at 1016. Very fruity aroma, approachable flavor but not as nutty/malty as I’d hoped. We’ll see how it turns out cold and carbonated. Put in the fridge to crash cool.

5/5/17  Pleasant malt flavor but moderately fruity. Somewhat regretting not going with Irish yeast, but it’s a decent beer. Added 0.75 oz of ground coffee (Wegman’s breakfast blend) in a hop sack.

5/6/17  Kegged. Coffee flavor definitely works and helps to round out the flavors. Could actually afford to go a little bigger with it too. Never had a chance to do a full tasting review, but overall I was pleased with the end result. Using a cleaner yeast would be best here, and, while the coffee addition wasn’t totally necessary, it helped to mask some of the overt esters from the yeast. I fermented this on the warmer side (~72F) so going a little cooler would help, too. Clarity and color were on point!

 

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Filed under All-grain, Amber

American Pils

One of my favorite beer tasting experiences was going to the tasting room at Steam Whistle Brewing in Toronto. The beer was so fresh, crisp, and delicious that I still have dreams about that pilsner. I’ve been wanting to make something that comes close, and, given that it’s tough to find Steam Whistle in bottles near me, I did some research online to see if people know what was in it. This recipe is a representation of those findings.

  • 11 lb US 2-row Pale malt
  • 0.17 lb Melanoidin malt
  • 1 oz Perle 60 min
  • 0.4 oz Saaz @ 5 min
  • 0.4 oz Spalt @ 4 min
  • 0.5 oz Spalt @ 2 min
  • 1 pkg Saflager-189

// Mash-in w/ 4.5 gal at 150 for 60 minutes. 2.5 tsp CaCl2 to mash. Mash-out,  sparge to collect around 6.6 gal 1046 wort. Boil 75 minutes. Chill to 55F, collect 5 gallons 1053 wort. Oxygenate 60s, sprinkle yeast on top. Brewed 1/13/17. Left to ferment between 55F and 60F in the basement. //

1/20/17:  Gravity at 1020, great malt flavor and subtle hop profile. Letting it finish out.

1/27/17:  Gravity at 1012. Moved to fridge.

1/30/17: Doesn’t taste nearly as “fresh” as the first tasting, wondering if i let it sit a little too long. Added gelatin finings.

2/1/17: Kegged. Fairly clear, still some hazy beer left near the bottom of the carboy. Tasting notes.

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Filed under All-grain, Almost SMASH, Blonde, German, Lager, Malty, Pilsner

Hoppy English Red Tasting Notes

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Initially wasn’t too impressed with this beer, likely a result of my poor recipe calculation. I stupidly forgot to update the alpha acid content of the First Gold hops in the recipe software (it was assumed to 7%, mine were really 3%), so my IBUs were probably about cut in half. It wound up being a fairly malty beer, but the toasted malt flavors were actually quite pleasant. Happy accident considering I was hoping this would be a hop forward beer. That being said, I always seem to under do the hops when using English Yeast. The yeast tends to mute the hops and I always forget to compensate.

The clarity on this batch was phenomenal, and the shade of red was perfect in my opinion (the photo appears more brown). It’s been tough to hit the color red (too dark and it’s brown, too light and it’s copper/orange) but this SRM level (10, I believe) was just right.

Looking back at the recipe again, the hop additions didn’t really make sense for what I was going for; the whole thing would have probably been better just without the 30 minute Cascade addition. Mid-boil additions haven’t sat well with me recently. They seem to work well in IPAs that have a lot of hops surrounding the mid-boil addition, but not so much in isolation. Although my favorite saison recipe just has 60 and 30 minute additions and that’s it – it seems to give it a nice zippy dry finish. As with everything in brewing, it’s all about how you use it to make it appropriate.

 

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Filed under All-grain, Amber, English, Hoppy

Session Brett IPA

Lately I’ve been making other people’s recipes rather than designing my own from scratch. My intuition has been a little off with recent beers. I’m still learning, of course, but I’ve not been impressed with some of my recent recipes. Every once in a while I’ll make a beer and afterwards go “what the hell was I thinking?” once it’s done fermenting. So I started looking to other brewers for inspiration, filtering their recipes through my brewing intuition. The past few recipes I’ve brewed from Brulosopher have been great, so I think I’ll continue on this path for a little while this year.

It’s been a while since I brewed something with Brett, so I did some searching online for some Brett recipes. This one came from Meek Brewing Co’s blog, for a Brett IPA. I scaled it down to 4 gallons, and adjusted the acid malt to get my pH right around 5.3.

  • 5 lb US 2-row pale
  • 1 lb Red Wheat
  • 0.4 oz Carafoam
  • 0.1 oz Acid malt
  • 0.3 oz Amarillo @ 60 min
  • 3 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
  • WLP650 Brett Brux (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 3.5 gal at 152F for 50 minutes, mash-out, sparge to collect 4.8 gallons. Boil 75 minutes, collect around 3.5 gallons 1046 wort. Brewed 1/15/17. //

The expiration date on the Brett vial was pretty close (Jan 27 ’17), so I made a starter; it took a good week for it to fully attenuate. Tasted good in the end though – plenty of funk with some fruit too.

1/19/17:  Airlock slowing down, gravity down to 1013. Incredible peach/mango aroma. Flavor is slightly tangy, but good fruity/hop flavors. Not much funk at all. Added 0.75 oz citra and 0.5 oz amarillo to carboy.

1/25/17: A little funk coming through! Crash cooled for 2 days then kegged. Tasting notes soon.

4/2/17  Keg kicked before I could get around to some real tasting notes. Overall the level of funk was was low and would’ve liked more. My old vial of Brett may have had something to do with this. The citrus hop character was pleasant but had a slight attack to it, would’ve preferred if it were somewhat cleaner – maybe not using Amarillo as the bittering hop and using something like Magnum instead would help with this. I would up blending this with another Belgian Pale Ale I had on tap to create a more balanced, hoppy, not-funky beer.

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Filed under All-grain, Belgian, Funky / Sour, Hoppy, Pale Ale

US/EU Pale Ale

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This is another one from Brulosopher’s website, titled “Tiny bottom pale ale”. The combination of American malts and European hops intrigued me, so I decided to give it a shot.

  • 8.6 lb 2 row
  • 11 oz Vienna
  • 0.5 lb Crystal 15
  • 0.5 lb Victory
  • 0.3 lb Crystal 60
  • 0.5 oz Magnum (60 min)
  • 0.4 oz Perle (25 min)
  • 0.5 oz Fuggles (10 min)
  • 0.5 oz Fuggles (2 min)
  • WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 4.5 gal at 154 for 60 minutes, mash-out at 168F for 5 minutes. Sparge w/ 3 gallons to collect around 6.5 gal 1044 pre boil wort. Boil 60 minutes, collect 5 gallons 1052 wort. Chill to 60F, pitch whole starter. Let to ferment around 69F. Brewed 12/11/16. //

2 tsp Gypsum to mash.

12/12/16:  Good airlock activity by next morning.

12/14/16: Gravity down to 1016. Still slightly sweet and yeasty. The hop flavor does not appeal to me right now- kinda earthy, dirty. Gave the carboy a good shake to help it finish.

12/16/16:  Gravity down to 1013. Flavor improved, thinned out more, yeast dropped out a bit, less dirty hop flavor but it’s still there. Gave the carboy another good shake.

12/18/16: Moved carboy to fridge to crash cool.

12/19/16: Added gelatin to carboy.

12/21/16: Kegged.

12/27/16:  Finished carbonating. Great crisp flavor, very “old school” craft pale ale vibe going on. Tasting notes soon.

1/2/17:  I brewed this for my in-laws to put in their kegerator, so I didn’t get to experience a ton of it, but boy was it tasty. It was hoppy, but only in a crisp/bitter sort of way – not much discernible hop flavor, but its presence was felt. That quality allowed the malts to be more in play, and it was a beautiful graham cracker-y breaded experience. The clarity was stellar and attenuation was high making it super clean and refreshing without seeming thin. I really enjoyed this beer but also thought that the Fuggles could be replaced by something a little more modern, i.e. Amarillo or Simcoe or Cascade, to add a nice spritzy burst of citrus. Otherwise, this recipe was on point!

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Filed under All-grain, Hoppy, Pale Ale

Three Gallon Batch Process

Brewing small batches has its advantages – it’s quick (I can normally knock out a batch in about 3 hours flat), it’s great for experimenting and not worrying about wasting too much time/resources if things don’t turn out well (most of my early sours were small batches), and it’s more manageable for brewing indoors for me at least. Here’s my standard process for making a 3-gallon batch.

Recipe Design

Using brewing software I usually design the recipe for slightly higher volume (3.5 gallons) but with target gravity IBU/color/OG that I want. I’ll lose about 1/2 gallon to trub and i’ll be diluting the wort slightly with ice (more on this later).

Mash

I use the brew-in-a-bag method in a 4 gallon stock pot. Mash-in like normal, usually around 1.5 to 1.75 qt/lb, calculating such that you’ll have around 3 gallons of pre-boil wort. I realize this seems low for a 3-gallon batch, but hear me out.  Rest the mash for however long you want – around 45 minutes works for me. I usually don’t do step mashes; it’s more work and I’m usually focused on speed for small batches. Mash-out if desired, making sure to consistently stir while you heat since there’s no pump for recirculation. The mash near the base of the pot will get significantly hotter than the surface otherwise.

Sparge

Lift the grain bag out of the pot and then use a pasta strainer to hold up the bag over the pot and let it finish draining. I have a nice metal one with the handles of the strainer wide enough such that it’ll just rest on the edges of the pot, suspended above the hot wort. To sparge, I’ll either pre-heat some water in a side pot, or, if you’re super lazy like me, use an electric tea kettle to heat up water in small batches and then drizzle it over the suspended grain bag, making sure to wet all parts of the bag evenly. It’s super effective, and I usually get pretty good efficiency in the 75% range. The tea kettle only holds about 1.5 liters, so i usually do two rounds of water to get my pre-boil volume up to about 3 gallons. The tea kettle is design to boil the water, so just watch it witha thermometer until it gets to 170F and then you’re good. While you’re sparging, start bringing the wort to a boil.

Boil

Boil like you normally would, just watch closely for boil-over.

Chilling

I don’t have a good way to use a wort chiller indoors on my kitchen sink, so I use a less-than-ideal but still very practical way of chilling down to pitching temperature. Ice. Just dump as much ice as your freezer can hold directly into the hot wort. Yes, this will dilute the wort, and yes you’re adding unsterilized water to the batch. Don’t worry – it turns out great every time.

The amount of ice you add will affect how low the temperature gets. Mine usually only gets down to around 110F to 120F. At this point, if it’s cold outside, I’ll sit the kettle outside (covered) until the next morning and it’ll usually be around 60F. Or, if you have room in a refrigerator, that’ll work too.

After the wort chilled to pitching temperature, use a funnel to pour it straight from the pot into your fermentor. I use regular 5 gallon glass carboys. There will be a good layer of trub that has settled to the bottom of the kettle – it’s up to you whether you transfer this to the fermentor, but I usually stop pouring as soon as i hit the trub and discard the rest. You do lose about 1/2 gallon or wort, so be sure to factor that into your water volumes.

Yeast

I usually don’t make a starter since the volume of wort is less. That being said I usually feel way more confident about the fermentation quality if I use a starter, regardless of whether it truly makes a difference in flavor. If it’s a stronger beer (>1060) I’ll make one regardless.

Summary

This all may seem a little hacky, but it’s easy and effective. It took me a couple batches to hit my numbers, so don’t be discouraged if you go through this and wind up with only 2.5 gallons rather than 3, or 1045 wort instead of 1050. Just adjust accordingly for the next batch and it’ll work out fine. Good luck!

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Filed under All-grain, Process, Uncategorized