Friday, April 26, 2013

Smokey the Poo 2

Brewed 4/7/13

Batch 2 of 3 for the wedding shower I mentioned in the blondie post. Smokey the Poo 2 is an evolution of last year’s SPB. Some pretty substantial changes, but built upon the same concept. A big, rich, roasty, Robust Smoked Porter.

Last year’s ended up being one of the best beers I’ve brewed, but a large part of it’s success was that it “contracted” a bad case of Brett C and ended up being a very interesting funky porter. I didn’t want to try to replicate the Brett secondary this time due to the happenstance nature of the infection and the quick turn-around I am looking for to get this ready in time for the party, so no funk this time around. Instead, I took the bold roast, the smoke and honey, the tangy Special Malt, and the neutral yeast from SPB and went bigger with everything. This is a pretty high-gravity beer by my standards, with a much more complex grain bill than I usually go for, but I felt like going for heavy-handed breadth over subtle depth with this one. Seemed like a fun beer for a BBQ party wedding celebration.

The recipe started with the same proportions as SPB with the biggest foundational change being the higher gravity. I substituted Crystal 60 for the Golden naked oats from last year because I wanted it to be a bit sweeter and stickier to stand up to the higher OG, the more intense smoke, and extra roasted malts I used this year. I also added a dash of Honey Malt to compliment the actual honey and again counter the smoke and roast. This year I thought it would be tasty to use some cherry smoked malt instead of the mesquite-- again to play the less subtle card and also to hopefully bring out more of the balancing sourdough twang from the Special Roast (that I think was one of the keys to SPBs success). I added some dried cherries in primary to again help add some depth and zing and went with Fuggle hops for their pipe-tobacco notes. I mashed high for huge body and used Nottingham yeast for its flocculation and easy/clean fermentation… plus it was cheap and easy to pitch the needed cell count to take care of the big OG.

This should be a pretty obtuse beer. A sturdy match for spicy summer BBQ pork and such.  

The Recipe (for 4.5 gallons into fermenter)

10 lbs Great Western 2-Row Malt~66%
2 lbs Cherrywood Smoked Malt~14%
1 lb Special Roast~7%
.75 lbs Crystal 60~5%
.75 lbs American Chocolate Malt~5%
.25 lbs Honey Malt~1.5%
.25 lbs Caraffa2~1.5%
.75 lbs Honey **to boost OG to target after boil**

1.9 oz Palisades @ 60min
2oz Fuggles @ 10min
6oz dried Cherries soaked in Whisky for Secondary

Reverse Osmosis Oakland water with .5g/gal Gypsum, .75g/gal Calcium Chloride, and .75g/gal baking soda in mash for “Malty Black” finished water profile= SO4: 75/ Ca:86

Mashed in with 6.2 gal at 167F to hit 153F for 15min, add 2 gal at 164F to hit 156F for 45min. NO SPARGE. Collected 6 gal for 60min boil, 1 tab Whirlfloc and 1/4tbsp WYeast nutrient at k/o.

Pitched 2 packets Nottingham Dry Yeast at 60F and left to ferment at ambient 60ish F.

Collect 4.5 into bucket  after trub and hops

OG: 1.083= 70%eff
FG: = % ABV
Calc SRM: 35ish
Calc IBU:  50 AVG


4/7- Collect 4.5 gal and pitch 2 pkts of yeast


4/14- Added 12oz honey to get calc OG up to 1.083.


4/21- Added 1 PKT gelatin. Gravity is at 1.025. Hella big.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Frog’s Breath Tasting

Reviewed 4/3/13

I brewed this beer to be an unbalanced hop fest with loads of dank/ green/ juicy layers over a very neutral malt base that would provide just enough body and sweetness to deliver something just this side of a hop soda. It worked!

The hops are great. Dark, moody, skunky, juicy, pithy… A pretty different direction from the pine and tropical fruit in Hella! Next time I think I’ll add a touch of Calypso or Amarillo to add some floral layers, but otherwise I love the heavy combo of CTZ/ Centennial/ Nelson.

Appearance: Yellow to gold, nice and clear ‘cept for some chill haze. Creamy white head that sticks like goo and drags it's way down the side of your glass as you sip. Thank you wheat malt.

Smell: Super smelly. Grapefruity citrus leads the charge with a backdrop of onion powder and some wet-stone like flint. Not earthy, not too fruity, with some white grape skin (the Nelson rumors are true), green, pleasantly heavy, crisply citrusy, maybe some Kiwi skin, and a hint of doughy malt. The yeast is very neutral.

Taste: Bright and spritzy with a heavy resiny bite. The doughy wheat malt carries the pithy hops nicely, although it could use a touch more sweetness.  The onion notes from the CTZ hops come through more than in the nose, as do the weird grape and kiwi flavors. Bitterness is citric but balanced (somehow??!!- 80-100 IBUs should hit a bit harder in a beer of this gravity). All and all a very “green” and crisp Pale Ale.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, bitter, clean, and dry with med carbonation. Pretty spot on for the style.

Overall: I highly recommend this hop combo—the Nelson is super interesting, the CTZ emphasize the “dark”/ heavy/ oniony mood, and the Centennial add some fruity punch to round it all out. Centennial is such an amazing blending hop! Not even in my list of favorites, but I can’t help but love what it does in the mix with others. The San Diego yeast flocked as promised, and I’d say is just about as “clean” but somehow not quite as “crisp” as Chico yeast… as in it isn’t fruity, but it doesn’t pop either. Next brew will be the same but subbing more C15 for the carapils, and I’ll most likely be using Calypso in place of Nelson next time because Nelson is so hard to find right now, and because I’d like to add some of the neat lemon blossom and pear skin layers that Calypso brings.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


Brewed 3/16/13

the Happy Couple!
Kelly’s sister and long time partner are finally getting hitched this summer! The family couldn’t be more thrilled that they are going to tie the knot, and of course much partying is in order. They are getting married in Vancouver, BC in September, so to kick the summer off we are having a wedding shower at the folk’s house. Kelly is in charge of the party planning, and although she hasn’t solidified all of the plans, she will be partially focusing on beer-tasting related activities. Sigh… what a gal <3

I will be brewing 3 batches of homebrew to take down for “general consumption” and will probably be bringing some extra fancy commercial jobbers for some kind of tasting event.

The first batch I’ve gotten around to brewing for the party is a low gravity honey Blond Ale to serve as the session beer for the day. Low hopping, a hint of grainy sweetness on top of a cracker-like malt base, crisp and refreshing Kolsh yeast, and a tiny addition of apricots to the secondary fermenter should make for the ultimate spring chugger—light and refreshing but not at the expense of being boring.

Kelly played a big part in the recipe formulation for this one. I basically just tried to execute her request for a nice, fresh, easy drinker:

-Thanks to the very simple nature of the recipe and the low percentage of specialty malts, we wanted to make sure the base grain was just right as it would be carrying most of the flavor in this subtle of a beer.  So, we went through the grain bins together and munched on a few grains of all of the bases (PROTIP: malts taste as different dry as they do in wort ) and decided that the Castle Pale Ale malt was exactly what we were going for—dry, without being too toasty. The pils options (German and Belgian) were too grainy/ bready, the Great Western 2-Row was too plain and sweet, and the English was much too toasted and nutty.

-Next, I wanted to add a dash of Honey Malt to give it just a bit of a spring time flair, and Kelly thought that an equally tiny addition of biscuit malt would help with that full-yet-dry effect she was going for.

-WYeast Kolsch was a shoe in for this one as Kolsch was the inspiration.

-The final elements was an oz of floral and spicy noble hops and the secret ingredient of 4 halves of dried apricots in secondary to lend a sneaky little nip of stone fruit and sulfur notes to enhance what is already provided from the yeast. I don’t want either the hops of the apricots to stand out enough to be noticed… they’re just there to buoy the subtle nuances brought to the table by the yeast and malts.

The Recipe (for 4.5 gallons into fermenter)

8.25 lbs Castle Pale Ale Malt~90%
3oz Honey Malt~2.5%
3oz Biscuit Malt~2.5%
.5 lbs Table Sugar **to boost OG to target after boil**

1oz Hallertauer @ 60min
.5oz Hallertauer @ 10min
6(ea) dried apricot halves soaked in vodka for Secondary

Reverse Osmosis Oakland water with .75g/gal Gypsum in mash and .5g/gal Calcium Chloride added to boil (Calcium Chloride added to boil only to maintain appropriate target mash PH5.3, but still up the Calcium in the finished wort) “Malty pale” finished water profile= SO4: 110/ Ca:83

Mashed in with 6 gal at 160F to hit 154F for 45min, NO SPARGE. Collected 4 gal and added 1.5gal tap to top up (and mess-up water treatments—grr!)

60min boil, 1 tab Whirlfloc and 1/4tbsp WYeast nutrient at k/o.

Pitched 12oz starter Wyeast 2562 “Kolsch” at 60F and left to ferment at ambient 60ish F.

Collect 4.5 into bucket  after trub and hops
OG: 1.045= 60%eff
FG: 1.010= 4.6% ABV
Calc SRM: 6ish
Calc IBU: 15 garetz/ 20 tinseth


3/16- Pitched very active starter.

3/29- One pouch gelatin added to primary to help with flocc.

4/2- Transferred to secondary onto 6 halves vodka soaked dried apricots. Gravity @1.012

4/3- Added another packet of gelatin.

4/7- Bottled with .5cup table sugar for 2.6VOL CO2. FG@1.010

8/8/13- Finally got a review up. Came out almost perfectly... nice and crackery with a great subtle yeast profile but just a hint of metalic tang from the biscuit malt.  Next time I'll do it excatly the same but leave it out.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stay Gold- Ale on Brett

Brew Day 3/16/13

My fascination with pale ales and Brett got the better of me again. You’d think that giventhe fact that I can’t brew even half as often as I wish I could, and the fact that I already have 3 cases of Sonorval in the “cellar”, I would make a point to diversify as much as possible when I do actually get the chance to experiment… but temptation got the better ofme. When I saw that the LHBS had WLP510 on the shelf, instead of taking the high road and making the “historical porter” I’ve been working a recipe out for the past couple of weeks, I instantly shelved the porter and went for another go at an Orval riff.Pale/ funky/ hoppy for life!

I’m essentially making the same base beer as Sonorval, but with a few tweaks that should make for a pretty significantly different end result. This one and Sonorval are about as close as you can get to the same beer pre-fermentation; identical grain bill save a half pound reduction in base malt, similar but slightly less bold hoping rates, same mash schedule and same water profiles. The big change this time is that I’m going with the Orval primary yeast strain instead of the WLP007 “Dry English” with the intent of having this one be a bit more yeast driven and show some more aggressive funk.

I explained in the Sonorval write-up that my main motivation for using the English yeast in that beer was keeping the primary fermentation relatively clean in order to limit the source of phenolic compounds for the Brett to metabolize. The hypothesis was that a cleaner primary would make for a cleaner secondary- and I wanted Sonorval to be more of a hoppy pale with some funk rather than a funky pale with some hops. It worked out about as well as I could have hoped, and I’m interested to see how much I can actually up the Brett character in this one without manipulating anything besides the source of phenolic compounds produced from the primary fermentation. Even though WLP510 is relatively clean for a Belgian strain, it will provide much more of the fruity esters and spicy phenols typical of Belgian strains than an English strain, plus it is the yeast that WLP sourced from Orval- so how could it be a bad choice?

Lastly, because I’m expecting this one to be more yeast driven, I’m switching the big and juicyCentennial/ Calypso hop mix with Palisade/ Willamette and backing the IBUs down to be a bit more in line with the Belgian Pale Ale style (don’t want the goaty dryness to grate too hard against a too assertive bitterness).

The Recipe (for 5.5 gal into fermenter

11 lbs Castle Pilsner Malt- 96%
.5 lbs Caravienne- 4%

1 oz Palisades @ 60min
1 oz Willamette @ 10min
1 oz Palisade @ k/o
1 oz Willamette @ k/o

2 oz Palisades in the Dry Hop for the last 10 days before bottling
2 pz French Oak chips for 7 days

Pitched 12oz starterWLP510 “Bastogne” ale yeast @ 60F with 1tsp WLP yeast nutrient. Allowed to free rise to ambient high 60 in the house with heater on for 3 days. Will most likely stay around 65 for most of secondary.

Used Oakland R/O H2O with 1 g/gal gypsum for pale balanced water profile.= SO4@150/ Ca@60
Mash in with 5gal to hit 148F rest for 50min, .75gal infusion to hit 155F for 20min, .75gal infusion to hit 159F for 20, 1.5gal infusion to mashout and NO SPARGE.
90min boil (1 whirlfloc at k/o)

Collected 5gal after boil and hop trub removal.
OG: 1.054= 75% efficiency
FG: = Calculated SRM: 5
Calculated IBU: Garetz 25, Tinseth 35

3/16- Pitched yeast and put in tub with a blanket wrap for house ambient with heater on for 3 days~67F.

4/1- Gravity is at 1.011. Added dredges from a third bottle of Orval.

4/17- Added 2oz Palasades DH

4/21- Another PKT of gelatin and 2 oz of vodka soaked French oak chips. Gravity is at 1.010.