Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hella! IPA

Brew Day 9/22/12

This was the first of two beers I brewed at the new HomeBrewery inSonora, and besides one terrible scare with the fermentation chamber it went amazingly smooth. All targets were hit, both recipes were solid, and hopefully both beers will be winners.

H!PA: I know I’ve mentioned my affinity for IPAs before. Ridiculously, out of the 9 beers I have planned for the next several months, 6 are IPAs…. All with a different “concept.” The theme for this recipe is for it to be an extra-gnar-super-duper special delivery of a forest of hops. Not looking for balance, not looking for excitement, not looking for size; just want an extra pale and piney, mean, green, lean, and stinky hop rocket. West Coast IPA from the hills; Hella! Pale Ale. Pine sap, citrus peel, earthy spice, and maybe some distant tropical tingles are my targets in that order with the hopping on this one! OOooooooooooohhhhhhhh boy!

I also am also looking for a clearer and paler beer than I have been making lately. No caramel malts and a flocculent English yeast should keep it nice and clean while the Golden Promise as the base should keep it interesting enough in the background to support all of the hops—really I just haven’t been satisfied with my previous IPAs in the bitterness dept, “too much balance” has left me wanting more bite—so I went the distance and opted for what is essentially a base only bill (just some carafoam for “the chewy” and sugar to help it finish nice and low) and with 89-135 IBUs depending on the calculator it should be up around 2x the bitterness of YPA.

What else… Magnum as the bittering charge ‘cuz that is how Sierra does it…. A 2:1 ratio of Simcoe to Chinook kettle additions ‘cuz Simcoe’s resinous pine and orange brightness should be even better with a touch of the Chinook’s, woody, earthy, spicy darkness to anchor it…. 3 oz additions at 15min and “whirlpool” to ensure the flavor and aroma get the full spectrum of citrusy sweet to pine sap nuances from the hops… a single oz Citra at 5min to hopefully extract it’s great tropical and black pepper notes but boil off the more subtle and delicate floral tones (pine and floral perfume are two of my favorite hop profiles in IPAs, but they don’t belong in the same beer IMO)… a big dry hop dose of Simcoe and Chinook to keep it super “foresty”… and relatively low fermentation temp to leave the yeast out of the way. **We’ll see how the Nottingham Dry yeast does, and if I can actually use Citra for it’s citrus and tropical fruit flavors without being as perfumy as it was in the flame out and dry hop additions in La Rouge, Sunny Side, and Swamp Thing.**

The Recipe (for 4.5 gal after boil, 4 into fermenter thanks to hop bag absorption):

.5 lb Hops in the Boil!
10 lbs Golden Promise-69%
3 lbs Rahr 2-Row-20%
1 lbs Carafoam-7%
.5 lbs Table Sugar- 4%

1 oz Magnum @ FWH
1 oz Chinook @ 15min
2 oz Simcoe @ 15min
1oz Citra @ 5min
1oz Chinook Flame Out @ 160
2oz Simcoe Flame Out @ 160
1oz Chinook Dry Hop after 2 weeks in primary (DH total of 10 days)
4oz Simcoe Dry Hop after 2 weeks in primary (DH total of 10 days)

Pitched 1 Packet Danstar Nottingham Dry yeast @ 75F with .5 tab Servomicies. Quickly dropped to ferment at 66F for 5 days and then up to 75 to clean up. **Would have loved to pitch at 65F, but the fridge was being kooky**

Used Sonora Tap H2O with 1.5 g/gal gypsum for pale/hoppy water profile.

Mashed at 145F for 30min, then 152F for 30 min. Mash Out at 168F for 10 min.
Batch Sparge
70min boil.

Collected 4 gal after boil and hop trub removal. **under shot boil off rates, and therefor overshot targeted OG. Should have been 4.5 into fermenter at 1.066, instead got 4 gal at 1.070**

OG: 1.070= 63% efficiency
FG: 1.012= 7.6% ABV
Calculated SRM: 6
Calculated IBU: Garetz 88, Tinseth 135

9/23- Down to 66F after cooling overningt, foamy activity!

9/27- called Annette to turn chamber up to 75F.

9/13- Kel added 1oz gelatin.

9/14- BOTTLING NIGHTMARE! The damn whole leaf hops that I used in the dry hopping soaked up around a half gallon. Seriously. Then they clogged the damn spiggot so badly that I had to stick my ARM in the bucket to plunge the opening, only after blowing bubbles through the nozzle and failing to dislodge the clog that way. Also, I'm an idiot and calculated the carbing sugar for 4 gal BEFORE transfering the beer to a bottling bucket, only to find out that thanks to the long list of mis-haps there was only 3 gal to bottle.

Over carbed by 1.0 VOLs CO2? Check.
Exposed to major risk of infection? Check.
Oxidized beyond recognition? Probably.

Hopefully the yeast is clean enough to survive a short bottle condidioning period and go straight into the fridge to stop the carbonation from going too high. As far as the oxidation goes? All there is to do is keep my finger crossed that this beer will just be too hopy to detect any off-flavors.

11/22/12- After a few ins-and-outs of the fridge due to paranoia about over-carbonation, it has finally hit the sweet spot... However the hops have already faded a bit from where they were in thier glory at 2 weeks. Supurb IPA if you ask me! Luckily all the mishaps didn't detract from the final product too much. It's a heady brew, brimming with pine, pineapple, and some earthy spice. Will brew again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Living in Oakland and Brewing in Sonora

New Space Update

So, Kelly and I have moved in to our new place in Oakland. We are counting our lucky stars to have been able to land in such a great apt in a great neighborhood in what looks to be great City, and we are thrilled to be out of the ‘burbs. Rural>Urban>>>>>>>>>>Suburban. One day we will make back to the woods, but for this chapter in our lives we are quite pleased to be so close to good friends, epic riding, and super-rad beer.

But…. I had to move the brewing operation up to my dad’s in Sonora.

Although it was a hard pill to swallow at first, I think moving the operation off-site will actually be a good change. First of all, the water in Sonora is amazing- basically the same profile as the RO water I was buying in Los Altos- which means most beer styles are ready to go right out of the tap with a minor adjustment only a dash of Gypsum or Baking soda away. Second, there is a spare fridge in the shop that we have outfitted with a thermostat so now I will be able to dial in fermentation temps to within a degree/ make lagers/ cold-crash for clarity. Third, the fact that it is a two hour drive away from home means that I’m going to be brewing around once a month (enough time between batches to bottle the previous while I brew the next) which will help with planning and recipe formulation- I expect to average two batches per brew day, and will be very careful to have all my ducks in a row before heading out. The only factor that makes me a bit nervous is that I won’t be around to “babysit” the beers while they ferment, but I have confidence that my pops can properly execute things like temp adjustment and dry hoping.

Also very positive: Kel and I now have a standing date to make it back home to visit my Folks once a month.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BRYnRYE’s Ale Tasting

Reviewed 8/16/12
I’m not really sure where I stand with this one, but I guess it is pretty much what I was looking for; a middle of the road beer. I like the color, the balance, the malt profile… but it somehow misses the mark on drinkability. I guess there isn’t really anything solid enough to really draw you in. And there is a weird tang that I can’t track down the source of in our brewing process-- I’m thinking either it comes from the Special Roast/ rye combo, or possibly an extremely heavy hand with the Starsan (acid wash) at bottling. The grain bill would have been awesome as a “Belgian Amber,” and now I’m really disappointed that the Penny Bier half went sour.

Appearance: If it weren’t for the haze and lack of head it would be quite pretty as it is a neat marriage of red and yellow streaks in the light that come together to make a nice dark orange color in the dark spots.

Smell: This isn’t a very aromatic beer to tell you the truth. There are some subdued round and mellow caramel note, hints of dark fruits, and somehow some winter spice in the way-back. The hops are very subtle in the nose as a tinge of grapefruit from time to time over the malt. No yeast to speak of.

Taste: Bigger than the nose suggests, but still not huge. Spicy and caramel malt flavors with a slight biscuit note and some yeasty fruits like pears and plums. As it warms it starts to show some brown sugar sweetness mid-sip. There is a weird almost tart (but not sour) and raspy finish that I really don’t like but am not sure the source of, maybe the Cascades? The rye? … I want to call out a raspberry note, but I think it is just an illusion created by the combo of the tartness and dark caramel notes. The finish is sandpaper-rough from the lingering bitterness and rye.

Mouthfeel: Med to full bodied, low (too low) carbonation, at once rich and dry, with a rough lingering bitterness. I actually like the character of the bitterness, which is harsher than the mid-palette IBUs suggest, but in this beer it too heavy. Would be at home in a "meaner" beer.

Overall: Without the dry, bitter, and tart finish it could be a nice, mellow beer.
Close, but no cigar. I’m not really sure how I want to remedy the recipe, I think it could be a great beer with just a small nudge in one of three directions: 1) Go bigger on the OG and switch the hops out for something gnarly (I’d probably do Horizon or Pacific Gem, maybe even Chinook) a-la Arrogant Bastard, 2) use a sweeter finishing English or Belgian yeast for a “warmer” beer, or 3) simply switch the Rye for wheat and Special roast for Crystal 60 for a similar mellow balance with an easier, smoother character. We’ll see, I’ll probably just move on.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smokey The Poo Bear Tasting

Reviewed 8/27/12

Please forgive the dirty glass-
Another total success, up on the list of best-evers with  Swamp Thing.

This is a pretty aggressive beer, but not off-putting in any way. Keeping the hops low and the crystal malts out worked wonderfully, as did the combo of oats for body and honey for boosting the OG but keeping the finish nice and dry. The smoked malt and brown malt give it a neat complexity and sharpness that worked to provide some interest without adding sweetness.  Roasty, toasty, bread crusty, and dark chocolaty up front with a creamy mouthfeel and a sweet –boozyness to balance. It is definitely big and satisfying, but without the intimidating sugary-sweet depths of bigger imperial stouts.

I’ll have to make this one a house recipe for the warm weather black beer, but I’ll probably add a pinch of Honey Malt to bring out a honey-sweetness in the finish.

Appearance: Leathery around the edges and pitch black in the depths with a HUGE spongy tan head.

Aroma: Faintly smokey with a woody-honey sweetness and a pretty dominant dark-toasted bread smell. It smells faintly sweet and really reminds me of burnt marshmallows. There are faint hints of the honey, but I have to really seek 'em out. As it warms the nose gets much bigger and a booziness comes out along with some more mead-like notes from the yeast.

Taste: Creamy, roasted, full, and smooth with a silky dark chocolate bite and a very subtle coffee twang. Surprisingly dry and clean for the marshmallow notes in the nose. It is “warming” as it warms up and the honey/mead/ woody thing comes out. Finishes dry, ever-so-slightly on the bitter side of scale but I don’t think it’s the hops… The balance is more of an attribute of the sour-dough like brown malt and the roasty malts leaving a hint of lingering “blackness”.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and dry with some boozy heat. Not sticky at all, but still quite full bodied with very fine, yet vigorous, carbonation.

Overall: Unlike any porter I’ve bought lately. Not malty, not sweet, but not acrid and “sour” like the Mild (which needs some sweetness to balance the burnt flavors). It has an awesome balance from the sweet alcohol and depth of roasted, toasted, and smoked grains. Drinks quite like a bar of dark chocolate; not sweet, but still rich. Only change I’ll make next time is a less attenuating yeast and a pinch of Honey Malt for some clean sweetness. Might add some more oats too, as it could do for a touch more body.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Beer Looks Like

Being a designer, it's always fun to check out what other folks are brewing up in their studios. Here are some Beer Fest posters that exemplify what American Beer looks like, on a graphic level. Check out OhBeautifulBeer for your daily dose of "eye-hopping" packaging, posters, and all things beer!

Basemint Design

ASB II and Brown Bavarian

Brew Day 8/25/12
The ASB I brewed earlier this year has been a great go-to, easy drinking beer, and now that it is gone I felt the need to line up another riff on it. Plus, the bRYEn’RYE came and went in a hurry and wasn’t all that satisfying on the “backyard beer” front. So I got out the ASB recipe and re-worked it for the fall.
I wanted to keep it relatively the same size on gravity and hop-presence, but mix up the profile a bit to make a more cohesively toned beer. I felt that ASB’s Victory malt and Crystal 40 ratios lent a very nice and balanced biscuity sweetness that backed up the mellow but hop-forward flavor and character form the English yeast. A combo of Americanized hops with distant English lineage for a nice combo of earthy and fruity aromas to compliment the yeast and biscuity malt backbone sounded like just the ticket for a great fall go-to. A quick break down of the recipe is as follows--

ASB II- Awesome Special Brown:
-Clean and slightly sweet Golden Promise as the base to stay out of the way.
-A moderate dose of Victory and C40 to re-create the great biscuity flair of ASB. Think pie crust.
-Enough Pale Chocolate to turn it a deep brown and lend some more toasted and nutty flavors. Again, think pie crust.
-Timmoth Taylor yeast for clear flocculation and some nice stone-fruit esters.
-Amarillo, Palisade, and Willamette flavor and aroma additions for complimentary peachy/ apricot/ earthy/ grassy hop-profile with some Belgian Admiral in the dry hop for juicier but still English aromatics. I also moved some of the hops out of the 15min flavor spot and into later additions to try for less hop oils in the mouth and more in the nose. Probably would have been even cleaner if I had done FWH and DH only, but that’ll have to be next time I guess. With the pie crust malt and fruity aromatics I’m kind of hoping for an Apricot Turnover beer.
-Mash high to keep the finishing gravity up. The ASB finished at 1.008, and although it was a great outcome in that beer, I wanted this one to have a bit more weight in the finish to balance the hops.
Brown Bavarian:
As usual, I couldn’t just stop at one beer, so I picked up an extra pack of the Weihenstephan yeast strain for the other half of the wort. I’m hoping that the subtly clove and banana fermentation profile blends nicely with the slightly sweet and biscuity malt and hop profile, plus I’ve been drinking a lot of hefe lately and felt that I needed more.

The Recipe (for 7 gal split- 3.33 ASBII and 2.8 BB):
12 lbs 2-Golden Promise- 80%
1 lb Victory Malt- 7%
1 lb Crystal 40- 7%
1 lb Pale Chocolate Malt- 7%

*Both beers recieved the same Hopping*
1oz Centennial FWH (bittering only addition)
1oz Amarillo for 15min boil
1 oz each Amarillo, Palisade, and Willamette at F/O
1 oz each Palisade and Admiral Dry Hop for 7 days


1 3L Starter WY1469 "West Yorkshire" yeast
1 Pack WY3068 “Weihenstephan” yeast
1g each gypsum and baking soda per gal of water. All R/O.
Single infusion @ 156F for 1 hr

OG: 1.052 = 63% efficiency

FG: BOTH AT 1.014~ 5.0% ABV
SRM: 19
IBU: 40

8/25/12- Brewed with no hiccups. Lost a half gallon to hop trub.
9/8/12- Added dry hops. Gravity at 1.019 for both beers.

9/15/12- Bottled 3 gal ASBII with 1/3 cup table sugar for 2.4 vol CO2. FG1.014~ 5.0% ABV

9/15/12 Bottled Brown Bavarian with 1/4 cup table sugar for 2.4 vol CO2. FG1.014~ 5.0% ABV

10/18/12- ASBII is bitter, crisp, and good. I'll be making some more changes for next time in the vein of getting a little closer to the original. This one is too bitter, and the WY1469 made a better blonde (I bottled the starter) than it did a brown.