Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rough and Ready RyePA

Brewed 4/12/13

I really wanted to bring an IPA down to the Bridal Shower… because after all we all know how exciting a fresh, crazy hoppy beer is- especially to folks looking for something exciting but without the focus to really delve into the nuances of something more subtle. I’ve been meditating on a Chinook/ Citra beer ever since the batch of Hella! I loved the way the Chinook in that beer lent the musty/ spice and woody grapefruit and thought it was a perfect grounded counterpoint to Citra’s sweet ripe melon, tropical, and apricoty fruityness.  I decided I wanted to brew a Rye IPA that featured the combo. (I’ll let Simcoe’s  amazing pine, pineapple, passion fruit, and orange juice complexity shine alone in an all Simcoe brew with the same grain bill as Hella! next time I do that beer… don’t need to muck it up with any other hops in the blend.)

No photos this time. This is Rye!
Rye seems to change beer the same way it changes bread… earthier, rougher, spicier, heartier. I also find that almost every commercial beer with rye seems to be a touch more bitter than similarly hopped beers without it. So, using rye to lend some depth and earthy layers under the Chinook hops and support the big fruity Citra hops seemed like a perfect choice. Also, I like that I can rely on it to help flesh out the grain bill without having to use any crystal malt for body or contrast… I’m finding that all of my hoppy beers are getting better and better the more I move away from using any crystal malts... and if you read this blog very often you know that I’m obsessed with making VERY PALE beers. The hops just taste better without any malt in the way J

I went for an even 1:1 split on the Chinook: Citra ratio and added a few ounces of Cascades at k/o and DH to try and capitalize on the whole candied grapefruit thing that they do so well. The grain bill is super simple Pale and Rye malt with just a quarter lb of Honey Malt to compliment the juicy Citra hops. I was pretty conservative with the sulfate (accentuates bitterness) levels on the water treatments on this one because A) the lack of crystal malt meant less sweetness for the hops to cut through, and B) I think Rye has it’s own bitterness enhancing properties and doesn’t need any extra help from the water with accentuating the harsh Chinooks. I also upped the calcium (accentuates maltyness) in this one because of the lack of crystal… hopefully it’ll help buoy the simple malt bill a bit. WLP007 seemed like just the thing to add some extra fruity sweetness, plus it clears so nicely….

… too nicely. I actually had this one stall out after a very vigorous 2 day fermentation and sit at 1.025 for a few days. I gave the carboy a good shake to rouse the flocked yeast, and it went down 5 more points, but wouldn’t budge and inch below 1.020! FUCK. I still can’t really figure out what went wrong, but I think it may have to do with the fact that I used Gelatin to fine it before the DH addition and the yeast was never really able to get swimming again. So, I used the good old French Saison yeast I have around (hungriest yeast EVER) to bring it down to 1.012 in secondary. At first I was really sad to have to use such an expressive yeast in a beer that I meant to be a hop varietal showcase, but the more I thought about it I figured that the final points of attenuation provided by the WY3711 were probably not enough to really get a lot of character from the yeast, and that even if it did I can’t really think of a more perfect match for this beer than the rustic, earthy, and spicy character of the French yeast.

The Recipe (for 5.5 gallons into fermenter)

6 lbs Castle Pale Ale Malt~46%
5 lbs Great Western Pale Ale Malt~39%
1.75 lbs Rye Malt~13%
.25 lbs Honey Malt~2%
.75 lbs Clover Honey in Primary

1oz Chinook @  FWH for 60min boil
1oz Citra @ 10min
1 oz Chinook @ 10min
1oz Simcoe @ 5min
1oz Citra @ k/o
1 oz Chinook @ k/o
2 oz Cascade @ k/o
DH 2 oz each of Chinook and Citra + 1 oz Simcoe for 10 days in primary
DH 2 oz Cascade for 9 days in secondary

Reverse Osmosis Oakland water with 1.25g/gal Gypsum in mash for finished water profile= SO4: 190/ Ca:78

Mashed in with 5 gal at 168F to hit 154F for 50min, add 3 gal at 159F to hit 159F for 15min. **Wanted to shoot for a higher FG to boost the maltiness in the absence of any crystal malt. Now I’m wondering if the Rye would have kept it up even without the higher mash temp**
 NO SPARGE. Collected 6 gal and 60min boil, 1 tab Whirlfloc and 1/4tbsp WYeast nutrient at k/o.

Collect 5.5 into bucket  after trub and hops
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.012= 6.2% ABV
Calc SRM: 6ish
Calc IBU: 80 garetz/ 50 tinseth

 Pitched 16oz starter WLP007 “Dry English” at 60F and left to ferment at ambient 60ish F.
4/12- Ran 180F work through “poor man’s hop back”  (hop pellets in hop bag in funnel) befor chilling in bucket to pitching temp- Pitched very active starter and left in cold house without an airlock.

4/14- good Krausen- added 12oz honey

4/17- added 5oz DH

4/21- Added 1 pkt gelatin (bad idea)

4/22- SG at 1.022- Pitched packet of Notty to help finish stalled fermentation and shook the bucket. Very active bubbling 10 min later. Might have just needed to rouse the yeast?

4/27- Stuck at 1.020 for 4 days. Transferred under “CO2” to another bucket onto 2 oz Cascades and  Pitched smack pack of WY3711 to finish ‘er up.

4/30- Down to 1.014- Added another packet of gelatin.
5/6- Bottled with .35c table sugar 2.0 VOL CO2. FG@1.012 (aiming kinda low on the carbonation because I’m pretty sure the WY3711 is going to keep going a few points. I’ll be moving all the bottles to the fridge once the carbonation gets to the right spot.)

6/4- Solid, spicy, woody IPA with some nice pine and big citrus on a hearty rye base.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Barfdigg’s Vanilla Chai Latte V3


My first bottle of Barf’s several iterations of Milk Stout. This one clocks in at 8.5% ABV and notes “overly spiced, tincture” on the bottle.

Appearance: Full black. No light penetrates anywhere. The head is creamy and light brown. Tasty looking beer.

Smell: Rooibos! So spiced it almost smells like a sweet shot of Fernet Branca, albeit with much heavier cloves and less licorice. The aromas are big and bold with cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla. No hint that it is a stout if you weren’t looking at it.

Taste: Follows the nose, but with whole new dimensions of sandalwood and earthy (almost smoky) tree bark and more rooibos tea. SUPER DUPER SPICED. It tastes much more like Chai than the black licorice aroma suggested, and also lacks the vanilla kick that the nose has. The taste is where the roast enters the equation, but it is still quite a mellow undertone given how black the beer is. The bits and pieces of the base beer that I’m picking up through the force field of spices are amazing… Sweet without the heavy raisin, toffee, and caramel tones that I usually find to be overdone in high gravity stouts. Chewy sweet and lusciously thick. Overly spiced for sure, but pretty dern close to what it is aiming for: Exotic, sweet, satisfying.

Mouthfeel: Sticky, creamy, smooth, with some lingering roast in the finish and an impressions of tannins from the spices.

Overall: I think I love the base! Might be able to get some hints of balanced, rich, and roasty coffee/ chocolate if the spices weren’t cloying. The sweetness is so neutral it works really well for me in this beer. I usually find big stouts overwhelm my palette with molasses and booze and only slightly redeem themselves when they are overloaded with charred, roasted, toasted, and burnt malt to balance them out. This one however is pretty mellow on the roasted side (which is a good choice given that the spices- even if paired back quite a bit- would grate against too much char), and very sweet, but in a simple way that just helps balance. I’m looking forward to the bottle with the spices “just right”.

Barfdigg’s IPA with Zythos/ Nelson/ Galaxy/ Simcoe

Tasting #3 from the beer trade. After the wonder that was the Black IPA I’m pretty stoked to have another one of his hoppy beers.

This is one of several IPAs that he sent, all with slightly different hop blends listed on the bottles—I’m not sure if they are all the same base beer with different hops or all stand-alone IPA recipes (I’m guessing the latter over the former as I typically tailor the base beer to compliment the hop blend in hop forward beers). This one lists Zythos, Nelson, Galaxy, and Simcoe. Here goes:

Appearance: MUCH darker than I expected from an IPA. Dark gold in the light to very orange in the depths. It isn’t crystal clear, but clearer than it could have been considering the recent ride in the back of a UPS truck. I don’t think IPAs need to be super clear anyhoo… I feel like anything better than “muddy” works fine. Fine textured, pure white head that falls after a quick min but leaves nice rings as I make my way to the bottom of the glass.

Smell: The usual suspects-- Tropical fruit and orange juice with some black pepper and grapefruit. Sweetly hoppy nose with less “dark” skunky tones or pine notes than I expected from these hop varieties. Much more malt aromatics than my hoppy beers—layers of bread, graham crackers, and strawberry rhubarb pie. Surprisingly generic hop aromas after the Black IPA, but impressively complex in the malt department.

Taste: Oops—the hint of strawberry rhubarb pie in the background of the aroma is actually a cherry pie bomb in the taste. Even more complex malt than in the nose makes for the impression of a hoppy scone thanks to the way the tasty richness integrates with all the bright fruity sweetness from the hop aromatics. Much more of a bitter bite than the fruit punch smells suggest. The hops are more complex than the nose let on with cherries, apricots, pears, and… mesquite honey earthiness :)

Ever have one of those tin cans of fruit cocktail when you were a little kid? This reminds me of that with a graham cracker on the side and an overwhelmingly tingly-bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and slick at the same time. Low to moderate carbonation with a fine texture that helps cleanse the extreme bitterness.

Overall: Maltier and more bitter than my hoppy beers and a surprisingly fruity sweet nose from the hops…. If I didn’t know better I’d be calling out a heavy hand of Centennial hops as the source of the “red punch” thing…but that is neither-here-nor-there.

I do LOVE the way it smells- almost comfortingly malty- but it makes the burning bitterness quite a surprise. The yeast is very neutral and off-flavor free to my palette.

Honestly, before Barf and I exchanged emails about his water I suspected that he had upped the gypsum additions to get sky high sulfate levels leaving the beer a bit thin (acidic) and accentuating the bitterness too much. It turns out though that his water treatments put his water around the same or just below the sulfate levels in my hoppy beers, so that wasn’t the issue… it was that this particular beer’s FG was 1.004!!

So, next time I’d just mash higher to up the FG to something better suited to carry the high bitterness, then compensate for the added body by stepping back on the crystal a few ounces. Or just aim about 20IBUs lower in the same beer… I think with any more body this would really start to taste like a Hoppy Red… it is an awesomely juicy beer with interesting malt complexity  that compliments the hop bill nicely. As usual- well put together!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Barfdigg's Black IPA

Another one from the trade.

Hmm… Mouteka (new to me) and Mosiac (LOVE ‘em in commercial beers) hops... “Kinda Sux” printed on the label… a style that I’m not a huge fan of… this will be interesting…

sorry for the shitty picture-
new phone has a bad camera.
Appearance: Blacker than expected. I know it is a “Black IPA”, but I find they are usually less inky. This one looks like a stout with a thin khaki head.

Smell: Woah! Feet, passion fruit, sticky-dankness, bruised nectarines. Hops overwhelm the aroma and only hint at the “blackness” in the malt underneath. Curry too. I love the nose.

Taste: Heavy. Strong papaya, some cucumber skin, more earthy than the nose suggested. Hippy skank for days. No malt is really coming through besides a slight lingering of burnt toast under the thick hop oils.

Mouthfeel: Dry with fine carbonation and a full body that I’ll say is mostly thanks to hop resin. Tongue numbing, but not especially bitter for an IPA. Great mouthfeel.

Overall: I wish it was exactly the same, but pale. I could do without the “black” part of this IPA, but what else is new… I kinda feel like a Black IPA should be the only sweet IPA, and this one is raw and dry like a proper pale one should be. This is AMAZING- I love it, Kel doesn’t like it… I get it.

I’m really surprised by the hop character though. The Mosiac beers I have had have been much more peach and pine with some flowers and watermelon… while this beer had almost none of that. Is is the Mouteka dominating with the gnarly feet and over-ripe fruit? ot a lot to say besides just leave out the black next time.

Barfdigg's English Dark Mild

This was the first beer Kel and I opened from the beertrade. It was a mellow Sunday afternoon and the beer was great daytime drinker—although it would have been more fitting on a rainy day.

Appearance: Clear brown-to red with a thin off white head that looks pretty and creamy but falls quickly to a thin film… but can’t blame a low carbonation beer for being a little shy.

Smell: Rich coffee and bread crusty notes with some roasted nut tones and a hint of cola sweetness in the background. Pretty aromatic for a small beer, with a complex depth that fades from fruit to roast and a lot of layers in between.

Taste: Smooth and rich with more toffee than the nose. Nicely full without being too sweet (the beauty of the style when done right IMO). Rich and nutty… almost a hint of poppy seeds. Finish is long and cozy, clean and light, pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied with light to moderate carbonation. I’d say it could use a bit more body—preferably more “cheweyness” from oats or flaked wheat/barley, but some extra “stickyness” from more c-malts would be fine too.

Overall: I love the layers of yeast and malt. It is quite captivating for such a low gravity beer. I’d love to know what is lending the subtle herbal and cola notes, and I think the super low bitterness (low even for the style) is a nice touch.

If it were my beer what would I tweak? It’s hard to say exactly because I don’t know what the recipe looks like, but I’d probably add some [more?] oats or up the mash temp quite a bit to try to get more body out of it. And, although I generally stay away from it I may make the [switch?] to Marris Otter as a base in an effort to bring even more malty flavors to the party. Really though, I think the yeast choice, malt bill, hopping, and water treatments are right on.

Any of y’all that haven’t had the pleasure of drinking an English Dark Mild, go find one!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Homebrew Exchange with Barfdiggs

I am a frequent poster on Beeradvocate’s Homebrewing forum, and I have come to trust some of the regulars on the board as amazing sources of knowledge and inspiration for recipe formulation, troubleshooting, history, and anything else brewing related.

One of the guys I have come to really trust and look to for (among other things) his very attuned palette, especially in terms of hop varietal characteristics, is Barfdiggs. I don’t know much about him other than: he lives in San Diego, he brews A LOT, he is working on some super serious studies, he likes corgis, and his is always enthusiastic about sharing recipe ideas.

EDIT: check out his new blog!

Recently the two of us set up a homebrew trade which consisted of shipping about a dozen bottles each.

The good man sent me the following (his names and descriptions are below):

“- Cabernet Barrel Flanders Red Ale (11 months in French Oak Cab Barrels)
- Black IPA w/ Motueka & Mosiac hops (Weirdest BIPA I've ever brewed, dank, rotting stone fruit)
- Imperial Red Ale w/ Rye and NZ Hops (30% Rye, 11.8% ABV)
- Vanilla Chai Latte version 3 (BA Mag Brew; overly spiced, flawed)
- Vanilla Chai Latte Version 4 (Finished version)
- English Mild (3.8% Biscuity, malty goodness, a favorite of mine)
- Brain Death Barleywine (14.5% English Barleywine; sit on this a little bit of banana remains but clearing; kinda 120 minute esque, contains special hops)
- Polynomial Hoppiness (West Coast IPA w/ NZ and US Hops, solid. Dry, bitter, hoppy, light toasty malt) [Simcoe as 3rd DH]
- Polynomial Hoppiness (West Coast IPA w/ NZ and US Hops, solid. Dry, bitter, hoppy, light toasty malt) [Galaxy as 3rd DH]
- Stone Enjoy by 5/17/13 **Already drank it, no review. Strong floral/ lemon thing makes me think it’s got some calypso hops up in it.**
- Surprise Beer (ended up being FoundersCurmudgeon Old Ale)"

Pretty exciting list, right?! I’ll be posting full tasting notes as I make my way through the box, so stay tuned. I'll link the tasting notes to this post-- just click the hyperlink of the beer name above.