Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hella! Tasty

Reviewed 11/22/12

It’s been in bottles for quite a while now, and besides being moved in and out of the fridge a few times to make sure I didn’t get any gushers because of the priming sugar mishap, it’s been a tasty last month and a half. I couldn’t really be much happier with the way this one came out.

Appearance: Pale gold with a chill haze and hop oil filter that clears to crystal clear once it has a chance to sit for a bit. Eggshell white head that settles quickly to a thin 1 finger of lacy cream. Next to Celebration Ale it is quite a few shade lighter but shares quite similar clarity and head. **Very happy with the Nottingham yeast’s flocking capabilities! This is the clear beer I have been looking for.**

Smell: This is a very aromatic beer, not hugely complex, but very satisfying. Pineapple juice and sugar pine sap blast right off the bat with pithy tangerine right behind it. Some peppery spice fades into a subtle bready malt behind the citrus fruit and pine needles. Under it all I’m getting a pretty generic “ale” type smell from the yeast, but all and all it is a very clean fermentation. Next to the Celebration Ale I’m having along side it the nose on Hella! is much bigger, with similar woody notes but quite a bit more “sticky”.

Taste: Piney! More complex than the nose. Simcoe hops that stick to your teeth with more than expected pineapple and passion fruit flavors, some peppery spice, and mushroomy earthiness. Clean, minimally sweet malt doesn’t really show through, but serves as a nice medium for all the hop oils. I think it is the Chinook hops giving the spicy and earthy notes that I could almost call out as celery-like. Bitter and crisp with a great prickly hop oil tingle, and almost cheesey in the background (but not in a bad way). Next to the Celebration it is much less malty and much more pithy… Hella! falls on the steamy/ heady side of things while Celebration has that great alpine briskness.  

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, dry, very bitter, prickly. No boozy heat. Right in line with the Celebration.

Overall: In the dream-land-fantasy-world where I own a bitchin mountain top brewery and spend all my free time on two wheels, this would be my flagship big IPA. Way too hoppy, pale and bitter with a hop aroma and flavor to just plain overwhelm all else with pine, tropical fruit, and spice. The Nottingham yeast is a keeper, but next time I’m going to go a bit bigger on the sulfate treatment for some extra bitterness, and go 2:1:1 Simcoe:Chinook:Citra to step up the complexity in the nose a touch.

EDIT: After drinking this to the end, I think I may just go 1:1 Chinook:Citra and save the Simcoe for a single-hop beer. The Simcoe is so overpowering, I'd like to see some more of the wood from the Chinook and the melon from the Citra... plus Simcoes are still my favorites and I kinda want to make a beer that shows them off as the solo act.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter White: Blanche Niege

Brew Day 10/13/12

This was the white counterpoint to the Chocolate stout I brewed last time Kel and I were up in Sonora.

As stated in my previous post, the idea is to get a base black and a base white recipe down and brew riffs of each in the summer and winter. I figure Stouts/ Robust Porters and Wit’s both lend themselves to great seasonal drinkers depending on the finer points of the recipes. The Black beard is going to swing between a smooth, smoked honey porter for drinking around the campfire in the summer and a velvety, dry chocolate stout in the winter. The white will be a low-gravity Wit that will swing between something tart and fruity in the summer and spicy and comforting in the winter. Which brings us to our case-in-point: Blanche Niege.

Blanche Niege- (Winter Wit Bier): I’m aiming to hit my “wintery” buttons without making a sipper that drinks like holiday spiced cough syrup. Creamy, spiced, and warming without being hugely sweet, boozy, and malty. I like the thick, full flavor that unmalted wheat and oats gives to Wits without lending much sweetness, and the spicy Hoegaarden yeast character works wonderfully with additional spicing. In the summer I’ll probably go with something crisp like lemongrass and ginger, but this winter I thought that bitter orange peel, grains of paradise, and American toasted Oak would be just right for some hearth-side quaffage. I am fermenting this batch in the mid-high 60’s to encourage more of the earthy/ spicy esters as opposed to the tart and crisp fruity phenols that the yeast produces at higher temps (although this summer, I’ll be all about the mid 70’s). Otherwise, the recipe is a pretty straight forward Barley Malt/ Flaked Wheat/ Rolled Oats low gravity wort with minimal hopping. I went for American 2-row over the traditional Pils for a base malt as I thought saving some extra time on the mash and boil would be worth the swap (and I figured that the waxy/ bready character that Pils brings wouldn’t be missed in this particular beer). My spice additions were pretty conservative. Hopefully they allow for some context in later renditions of the recipe without being so overpowering I won’t be able to tell what is going on.

The Recipe (for 4.5 gal):

4 lbs Briess Organic 2-Row Pale Malt - 44%
4 lb Flaked Wheat - 44%
1 lb Flaked Oats- 11%

1 oz Czech Saaz @ 60min
Pitched 2 viles WLP400 (Hoegaarden strain) @ 65F with .5 tab Servomicies. Made starter with 2cups wort and let it cool overnight. Pitched whole starter the next morning.

Used Sonora Tap H2O with .75 g/gal gypsum for pale/balanced water profile and mash PH.

Mashed at 150F for 120min. Mash Out at 168F for 10 min.
Double Batch Sparge
60min boil

Collected 4.5 gal after boil.

OG: 1.042= 63% efficiency
FG: 1.009= 4.3% ABV
Calculated SRM: 4
Calculated IBU: Garetz 16, Tinseth 16

10/14- Down to 65F after cooling overnight, pitched 16oz starter.

11/16- Bottled 4.2 gal with .5cups table sugar at 50F for target CO2 VOL 3.0. FG 1.009. Hydrometer samples are quite tart!

8/8- Winter White Review. Its OK. Weird, but enjoyable.