Friday, June 7, 2013

Rough Rye Tasting


This was quite a hit at the Wedding Shower. I’d say it hit pretty dern close to what I wasaiming for, with the exception on it being an absolute grapefruit BOMB when it was green. After just a few extra weeks in the bottle thought the cascades have integrated and it is drinking right along the lines of the spicy, woody, citrusy IPA I was going for.

Appearance: Hazy golden yellow with a thick sudsy head that stands tall for most of the session. Think thunder bumpers. Apparently vigorous carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass in steady streams.

Smell: About all you can hope for from a “west coast” IPA- Big juicy grapefruit and musky wood with pepper and pine spicing-up the backdrop. It really smells like Twain Harte in the summer to me… like sap and mtn misery.  Again, quite spicy with some generic English esters coming through on the faintly crackery malt.

Taste: As expected after smelling it the first impression is all grapefruit. The Citra actually shows much more in the taste than in the nose with it’s awesome sticky passion fruit and more grapefruit pith. The spices from the hops all combine with the bit of fermentation handled by the French Saison yeast to put out quite a “woody” flavor. I’m definitely getting some of the rye “rawness” along with the otherwise neutral, slightly crackery, barely sweet malt base. I really like the way the spicyness seems to exist equally between the rye malt, Chinook hops, and yeast notes.

Mouthfeel: Full and thick without any sticky. Mostly the earthy spice of the rye, but there is also a nice numbing mint hint from the hop oils.

Overall: Yup, pretty great. Like I said, it was a bit citric and one dimensional at first, but at this point the bouquet has really opened up and made room for several other layers. This wouldn’t be a beer I was stark raving mad about buying if it were a commercial offering (Hella! on the other hand, I’d stock weekly!) but I’d say it can easily hang with some of the greats. Next time I’d say a tad more Citra will be in order to really dial this one in.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Barf's IPA without Simcoe

Tasting notes 5/28/13

IPA #2 from the Trade: Zythos, Nelson, Galaxy IPA 7.5%

I believe this is the same beer as the last IPA I had of his, but without the Simcoe in the DH- 7.5% ABV on the label.

Appearance: Same reddish amber as the one with Simcoe. Nice Khaki head that falls to lace pretty quickly, and decent clarity for the dark color.

Smell: It’s funny… this one smells more like Simcoe to me right now than I remember the one that actually HAD Simcoe in it…. Orange, citrus candy, and some mango with a peppery bite and a tiny hint of pine. Again, like the other with the bing cherry overtones—maybe it’s a trick of the brain because of the color? The malt seems less apparent in this one, which doesn’t really make any sense (because they were the same beer) and goes to show how situational tasting impressions are. This one also has that same lovely aromatic biscuit and toast pushing through the hops pretty strongly.

Taste: Still very toasty in the malt department… not very caramely but still sweet and rich. The malt easily stands up to the super bitter hop resins. The hops come through as soapy-bitter with a killer sticky bite and an awesome candy type fruit punch impression… but with hints of darker tones coming through in the background as funky grapes and passionfruit. The bouquet integrates so nicely with the malt that this is pretty crazy drinkable.

Mouthfeel: Overwhelmingly bitter, with nice carbonation (lower than the last bottle?) and tons of hop oils in the finish. Not boozy, not sticky, but still warm and full.

Overall: I think I like this one better than the one with Simcoe. It seems more “intact” and has an easier to explore depth to the hoppyness. [SIDENOTE: I find that I prefer hoppy beers that focus on a main characteristic as the prominent impression and then layer other complimentary flavors on it to round it out. I think beers with TOO much complexity get to be hard to pick anything out of and make for a generally muddling impression. I kinda’ liken it to finger-painting: it looks pretty neat until you et too crazy. Start with yellow and red and get neat orange patterns, but then add just a few more colors and it all turns brown… The hop combo in this beer does a nice job of pushing the envelope without going overboard] All and all a pretty awesome beer. Again, maltier and a bit high on the IBUs for the finishing gravity than I would go with the style, but well put together.

Oh, one last thing: Ward reckons that the fining he used in the IPAs stripped some of the hop flavor out, and I think he may be right. It is quite potent still, but not the monster that was the Black Ale or the Imperial Red Rye.

Barf's Imperial Red Rye

Tasting Notes 6/3/13

Simcoe, Galaxy, Mosaic, Topaz Imperial Red Rye 11.8%


Another Hoppy one from Barfdiggs trade. Super stoked on the hop varieties!

Appearance: Crystal Clear crimson red with a pretty weak head- but you can’t expect much from the head on a high ABV beer… alcohol will melt your brain ;) Seriously gorgeous color.

Smell: Quite aromatic- much more hops in the nose than either IPA, but not quite the stink bomb that was the Black IPA (obsess much?). Fruity, piney, jammy, and sappy with some weird honeysuckle and kumquat and that smell of freshly split green oak logs (not kidding). The citrus is strong and it is mixed with some sticky over-ripe tropical fruit which makes for a super complex and inviting proposition. Almost “messy”, but in a good way. The only malt aromas I’m getting are the generic tell-tale notes that there is a BIG beer under all of the hops.

Taste: Spicy and oily, bitter and thick. Earthy in a way that reminds me of extra virgin olive oil. The citrus and cat (that is right! This is officially the first beer that I’ve gotten the classic “cat-pee” thing from. I actually think it has to do with a recent Simcoe harvest, because a recent all Simcoe beer I made was all cat pee- none of the pineapple and pine with orange peel that made Simcoe my all time favorite. Bummed) really come through to the front in the sip, but there is some nice mellow honeydew there too as it finishes. Pretty dern mellow for a beer pushing 12%. Smooth and rich with a strong impression of dark honey.

Mouthfeel: Big, full, and prickly form the booze.

Overall: I think this is my favorite of his beers so far. Usually giant isn’t really my thing, but it is right on in this one. It embraces the hugeness with a full-on malt presence, and has an immense amount of hop complexity to keep it interesting instead of just overwhelmingly big.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lake Beer: Mellow Yellow

Brew Day 5/12/13
The summer means weekends at the lake…. which means swimming and fishing and BBQ and drinking and sunshine and friends and rocks and family and all that… so to prepare, Ian and I figured a sunnyday brew should be done up to beckon the good vibes. I really liked Sunnyside as a kind of summer seasonal last year, and I wanted to do something similar but with a more sessiony bent. I love the crispness of hop forward pale ales as daytime drinkers, and we wanted to keep the ABV down to maximize refreshment and minimize drunken sunburns, so I made a low gravity hoppy pale with oats and Amarillos.
Peachy, juicy, citrusy, light, grainy, refreshing, smooth, mellow, and crisp were the targets, and to hit them I put together a pretty simple recipe:
-All Amarillo to maximize the floral, citrus, peachy punch without any of the “heavier” hop characteristics that come with other super aromatic varieties. There may be just a touch of pine, but I’ve always found Amarillos to be the cheeriest hop—basically void of any “dankness” and all fruit and flowers. Normally I really need some heavy darker notes in my hopped up brews to counter the punchier fruity tones and keep the beer from coming across as too sweet, but in this one I am going a bit lighter on the hops than I typically would for a hoppy pale, and am leaving the grain bill crystal malt free, so I figured that the perceived sweetness that Amarillo provides would be just right.
- I kept the gravity nice and low because lighter is better when it is hot out and you have lot’s of swimming and jumping to do.
- The grain bill is a super simple combo of Belgian 2-Row and flaked oats. The Castle malt is pretty awesomely full flavored without being nutty or sweet. I find that it has a great dry biscutyness that gives nice depth to paler ales. The flaked oats should make it silky smooth...I’m still pretty convinced that in hoppy beers crystal malt just gets in the way, and the oats will give all the body that a c malt would have but with a cleaner, smoother grainy fullness that will help the Amarillos really shine.
- The Timothy Taylor yeast I had in the fridge left over from ASBII should be the perfect partner for the Amarillos given it’s stone fruit notes, and I think smaller beers need low attenuation to help prop the FG up a bit and keep the beer from finishing down in watery too-low gravities.
So yeah…. Lake Beer: Our swimming hole refresher meant to enhance the lake-side summer weekends in Tahoe and Sonora. Simple and delicious.
The Recipe (6 Gallons into fermenter):
10lbs Castle Pale Ale Malt~ 91%
1lb Flaked Oats~ 9%
1oz Sorachi Ace (aa 12.3) @ 50min Boil
2oz Amarillo (aa8.4) @ 10min Boil
2oz Amarillo @ k/o for 20 min steep between 180F and 120F
1oz Amarillo into fermenter for “DH” at pitching
2oz Amarillo DH for 7 Days
Oakland RO water with 1.25 g/gal Gypsum for Ca: 78 ppm and SO4: 185 ppm. Calc Mash PH 5.5
Infuse 5 gal at 163F to hit 150F rest for 1 hr, add 3 gal at 165F to hit 156F for 20min rest. “No sparge” to collect 7 gallons for 60 min boil
1 whirlfloc and dose of WY yeast nutrient at k/o
WY1469 Timothy Taylor Strain
OG: 1.044 (66%eff)
FG: 1.008 = 4.7% ABV
Calc SRM: 5
Calc IBUs: 42 avg
5/12- Pitched 1L slurry of WY1469 @ 67F and left in Miguel’s Basement for ambient in the mid to high 60s.

6/3- DH with 2oz Amarillo. gravity at 1.010 and tasting lovely.

7/16- Transferred to bottling bucket onto 1 pkt gelatin and .55cups table sugar for target VOL C02 2.4. FG@ 1.008