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

Hoppy English Red Ale

Next up is a red ale, trying to emulate what I remember from Cooperstown Brewing Company’s Old Slugger. It had a delicious malt and hop balance that leaned a little into the toasted malt dimension. I dreamed up this recipe that has a toasty malt component but with moderate hopping. I wanted something that has a touch of a hop bite (not aggressive), with some soft herbal hop flavor and a bit of a floral nose.

  • 10.75 lb English Pale
  • 1.25 lb Victory malt
  • 0.1 lb Carafa II
  • 1 oz First Gold, 60 min (3% a.a.)
  • 0.25 oz Cascade, 30 min (7% a.a.)
  • 0.8 oz First Gold, 10 min (3% a.a.)
  • 0.5 oz Cascade, 3 min (7% a.a.)
  • WYeast British Ale II (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 4.8 gal at 152F for 50 minutes, raise to 168F. 2 tsp gypsum to mash. Sparge w/ 3 gal 168F water. Collect around 6.5 gal 1054 wort. Boil 75 minutes, collect 5 gallons 1062. Chill to 60F. Pitch half decanted starter. Left to ferment at 66F. Brewed 12/27/16. //

12/28/16: Good airlock activity.

1/2/17:  Gravity down to 1020. Still slightly sweet but malt/hop flavors are getting there. Will let sit for a few more days then crash.

1/4/17:  Moved to fridge to crash cool.

1/5/17:  Added gelatin.

1/8/17:  Kegged. Super clear. Flavor doesn’t impress me – harsh hop edge with malt flavors that don’t really jive. We’ll see how it turns out once conditioned. Tasting notes.

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Filed under Amber, Balanced, English, Uncategorized

Schwarzbier Tasting Notes

Last post of 2016! Happy New Year! It’s been a great year of brewing. Doubt I’ll have time to do a review of everything that went down this past year, but I placed in a few competitions and learned a heck of a lot. There were sours. Lots of sours. So much that I got a little sour’d out. There were ciders and nitro coffee, and lots of other delicious beer.

This one was brewed from a recipe on Brulosophy’s website. It was enjoyable to have on tap, though I think my choice of malts may change next time to reflect a more traditional Schwarzbier.

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Appearance:  Dark chocolate brown, almost black. Not much light gets through this one. Tan head, 1/2″ head that dissipates somewhat quickly leaving just some puddles of head here and there.

Aroma: Very stout-y: roasted cocoa, hints of molasses, toffee, and some soft Irish-y yeast esters.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light body, crisp, overall very balanced. Slightly tannic and dry finish.

Flavor: Chocolate malts dominate the flavor up front, but expands to an array of subtle caramel tones. As the beer warms, it opens up to a more nutty and robust flavor. Hop character is negligible, but the drier finish is appropriate and thirst quenching.

Overall: This beer took few weeks to open up, but in the end it was a really tasty and sessionable beer. Initially it felt very a little one-dimensional with the chocolate malt leading the show, but over time more malt complexity started to shine through. I’m not a Schwarzbier connoisseur, but I have had several German commercial examples and would say this one leaned a little hard into the Dry Irish Stout category rather than Schwarzbier. Most traditional Schwarzbiers have a more subtle chocolate/roast flavor with the breaded Munich and Pils malt flavors still remaining intact. The dry finish was perfect and it definitely retained somewhat of a lager-like feel, but next time would maybe swap some chocolate malt for roasted barley (and go less), ditch the Crystal malt, and maybe add 1% melanoidin malt to beef up the base malt flavor. Cheers!

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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

Schwarzbier

img_1562I’ve been in lager-mode recently, so I started looking around for a recipe of something that I’ve never brewed before: schwarzbier. I came across a good looking recipe on Brulosophy’s website, so I brewed it almost exactly as-is, except I used Perle instead of Saaz (just what I had laying around).

  • 7.5 lb Pils
  • 2 lb Dark Munich (10L)
  • 0.5 lb Carafa II
  • 0.38 lb Crystal 60
  • 0.25 lb Chocolate (Briess)
  • 0.4 oz Magnum hops (60 min)
  • 0.5 oz Perle hops (15 min)
  • WLP029 (Kolsch/German Ale) 1L starter

// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 152 for 60 minutes, sparge to collect around 6.6 gallons 1044 wort. Boil 90 minutes, collect around 6 gallons of 1052 wort. Chill to 64F, oxygenate, pitch decanted starter. Let to ferment around 62F. Brewed 12/3/16 on grainfather. //

1.25 tsp CaCl2 to mash.

Having not brewed in a little while, I had a bunch of flubs during this batch. First, I didn’t remember to add the mash salts until I was about 40 minutes in. Hopefully late is better than never. Then, right at the end, as I’m almost done chilling the wort, I saw that my temp probe wasn’t fully inserted into the thermowell throughout the whole brew session. Awesome! Hopefully my mash temp wasn’t too far off from what it read.

12/6/16:  Tons of blow off, but finally subsided and yeast seems to have dropped out. Gravity at 1018, slightly sweet but respectable flavor. More roast than I anticipated, and also fairly clean. Moved upstairs to around 68F.

12/10/16:  Gravity at 1014. Really liking how this is tasting. Moved to fridge at 40F. Tasting notes.

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Filed under Balanced, German, Lager

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

Topaz/Centennial APA

After my Galaxy/Cascade APA placed in competition, I was awarded 1 oz of Australian Topaz hops (schwingggg). Having never used this variety, I considered making a SMaSH beer to get a feel for it, but couldn’t find any more of it at my LHBS so I decided to mix it in with a quick 3 gallon APA recipe.

  • 6.3 lb US Pale 2 row
  • 0.4 lb Crystal 40
  • 0.1 lb Crystal 80
  • 0.12 oz each Topaz, Centennial (20 min)
  • 0.25 oz each Topaz, Centennial (10 min)
  • 0.12 oz each Topaz, Centennial (8 min)
  • 0.5 oz each Topaz, Centennial (5 min)
  • WLP008 East Coast Ale

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 152F for 1 hr, sparge to collect around 3.5 gallons wort. Boil 60 minutes, add ice to collect around 3 gal wort at 120F. Chill in fridge overnight to 62F. Collected around 2.5 gal (lost a bit to trub) 1062 OG. No starter, no oxygenation. Brewed 11/25/16. //

1.5 tsp Gypsum to mash.

11/30/16:  Airlock activity slowed, beer started drop clear. Gravity at 1017. Rounded hop flavor, fair malt component too but slightly sweet. Gave the carboy a good shake to help it finish out. Likely having trouble finishing since I didn’t oxygenate.

1/1/16:  Decided it needed more hop flavor, so I added 0.25 oz each Citra and Cascade dry hop (pellets).

1/3/16:  Move to fridge to crash cool.

1/4/16: decided to try gelatin fining: added 1/2 tsp in 1/4 cup water, heated in 7 second bursts to 145 then right into primary.

1/6/16:  started to clarify but only got about halfway and stopped. Kegged anyway. 

 

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Filed under Hoppy, Pale Ale