This was a really enjoyable beer that got a lot of compliments. It was very much a simple, crowd-pleasing lager but I’ll be the first to admit that brewing clean beers like this is not my forte and frankly isn’t all that easy, for me at least. The malt flavor was a little big and sticky in the end and it may have under-attenuated just a bit (I still need to get a refractometer to get a fair reading of final gravity). Using 2-row likely gave a little more flavor and body than using pilsner malt, so adding the melanoidin malt was probably unnecessary, too. The hops were appropriate – they jump out and prep the palatte before letting the malts shine with a crisp finish. My taste for beer pH is still a work in progress, but I think a touch more acidity would have brightened the beer a little. Some acidulated malt would do the trick.
I’ll definitely be using the Saflager 189 dry yeast again. I’m not a frequent lager-brewer but the results with this yeast make me want to make more lagers. Super easy to use (no starter!) and it performed fairly clean in the 55-60F range. There was a slight green apple note in the aroma but it was not off-putting. I didn’t do a diacetyl rest, so the beer did have a slight buttery flavor/aroma, but I prefer a little of that in lagers and think it compliments the malty-ness.
In my quest to brew a Steam Whistle clone beer, this came pretty close and I have a good idea of what the change for next time. Basically just skip the melanoid malt (or decrease just slightly) and maybe try adding a diacetyl rest. This is a good prototype for a German pilsner, too; just increase the bitterness and sub in pilsner malt for 2-row. Maybe even a 2-row/pils mix would be appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
12/27/16: 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!