Monday, December 30, 2013

RECIPE: #54 Epoux Vient (Leffe Brune clone)

My buddy from church has been very gracious to us this past year.  I helped him install new lights in my house we bought in May, as well as new flooring in the bathroom, a new toilet, and a new sink.  He cut some slots in my new kettle lids for my chiller to come through.  He plumbed my utility sink in the brewhouse, and wants to weld me a 2 burner single tier brewstand.  He hasn't asked for anything in return for his work.  When he came to me and asked if I could brew him a beer for his wedding, of course I was up for it.  I asked what type of beers they would like.  They wanted something dark and malty.  I bought an Oatmeal Stout, Milk Stout, American Stout, and a Belgian Dark Ale.  We decided that we didn't want something too strong as we wanted people to have a couple pints and not get intoxicated, especially as the bulk of our church is going to be there including some that don't agree with us that alcohol is a gift from God for our enjoyment.  After tasting the beers it was fairly unanimous that the BDA was the best.  Malty, fruity, spicy, elegant.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Logo

I finally finished my logo for the Home Brewery.  The Center of the logo has been a concept in my head for awhile that I finally got out on paper and fused it into the existing EOS logo.  It originally had a golden gate style keg, then a keggle, then a hop as the center of the O... none of them actually screamed to me.  Finally I turned it back to a normal O and put my Screaming Pint in the middle of it and now it screams...literally.  The focal point of the logo is a pint glass face.  The mouth is sown shut to keep it silent symbolizing the culture of beer for so many years in American Culture.  The pint is screaming, ripping out the stitching, removing the barriers that keep him from screaming at the top of his lungs.  It is all that End of Silence stands for.  No more silenced beer, muted from all that is can be, unable to speak.  Beer is flavorful, it speaks volumes.  That has been my goal in brewing, making beer that speaks: malts, hops, water, yeast, all of them working together, a harmony of voices that give us something beautiful to listen to.  No more quiet beer.  End of Silence.  Let the beer speak!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review: 1st Place KLCC #53 CUDL Buddy (Winter Warmer)

It is nice and bright outside right now, the sun is shining, the snow is reflecting white glares into my eyes, my pipes and feet are frozen (I thawed the pipes with the dryer exhaust duct), and my 3 year old son sled down a nice steep hill on his own; so proud.  Winter is here, even if the calendar says it is a week away.  We have not had weather like this in Eugene in nearly 40 years, and 6-8" of snow is nearly unheard of here on the valley floor.  It's cold out there, and hard to drive.  Sounds like the perfect reason to stay inside in sweats cuddled up to a nice malty beer.  I built the recipe around many of the Winter Warmer beers made here in Oregon that I really enjoy, beers like Deschutes' Jubel Ale, Full Sail's Wassail, and Bridgeport's Ebenezer.  I wanted a nice malt back bone, balanced bitterness, complex maltiness, with breads and toffee, and cocoa with a spicy and piney hop presence.  I was shooting for a higher ABV (7.2%, but got 6.6% due to low efficiency).

Pours a clear deep brown with beautiful ruby highlights, thick, dense khaki head that fades slow to a thick cap and leaves ample lacing down the glass.

Milk chocolate leaps out of the glass first and dominates the nose.  Behind the chocolate are spicy and herbal hop notes, toffee, baked bread, ginger, and citrus rind.  Nutty yeast.  Light fruity esters, and nice spices (even though there are none).

Chocolate hits the palate first, followed by sweet toffee, pine needles, herbal hops, spices in the finish.  Ginger, biscuits, nutty, touch of figs and raisins.  Weird how the spices show up when there aren't any in the beer, only hops.

Medium body, semi-sweet but roasty dry finish, balanced bitterness in the end that asserts itself just enough to keep the sweetness in check and cleanse the palate.  Medium carbonation.  Smooth beer.

Really hit the nail on the head with the flavor profile I was going for.  The chocolate is really nice, but could be dialed back a notch, maybe not though, it is nice in there.  The lower than desired efficiency and OG made for a lower ABV than I wanted, could use more alcohol and alcohol warmth in the back end.  The spicy character is very enjoyable, and I can't pin it down as to flavors, but seeing as I used no spices in this beer, I am pleased with what the hops and alcohol did here.  A little too drinkable, very balanced.

NOTE: This beer took 1st place in the KLCC BJCP comp in February 2014 in the American Browns and Ambers category.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

REVIEW: CAPtain America (Classic American Pilsner)

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition.  It is sad that it even happened, and even sadder that many in the church were behind it.  The unfortunate thing is that I spent the bulk of my life believing that the Bible was against alcohol consumption, then I actually read what it said while trying to remove the lenses I had been raised with (we all have lenses that we interpret everything in life through, the Bible is no different).  I am thankful that the Lord gave me new lenses to see the beauty of one of His many gifts to mankind: beer (and wine, mead, Bourbon, Scotch, cider, etc.).  I am also glad that in His goodness He saw to the repeal of Prohibition, made homebrewing legal in all 50 states, and has moved many in the church today to see the wonder of His gift for our enjoyment (in moderation, of course).  If you have read this far and haven't left the page, no, this is not a diatribe on a Biblical view of alcohol.  Just a little musing on Prohibition, how the Christians of that era were misusing Scripture, and how I am glad (as are you) that it is all over.  In celebration of this milestone I thought I would post the review of my Classic American Pilsner (CAP) as it is what a good, full flavor, Pilsner would have been with out Prohibition and WWII.

Pours a beautifully clear pale gold with lots of fluttering bubbles feeding into a dense, creamy, thick, pure white head that holds a bottle cap.  The head stays around forever eventually becoming a thick cap over the entire top which leaves ample lacing all the way down, thick on the sides.

Smells of Noble hops, delicate, spicy, light herbs, touch of mild fruit, crackery malt, sweet.  The elegance of the nose is wonderful.  No DMS, no diacetyl, no acetaldehyde.  Clean.

The first thing to hit on the tongue is crackers.  Mid palate is full of spicy hops, mild fruitiness, herbal hop notes.  Grainy.  Finish is clean and bitter.  Sweet corn throughout.  No DMS, no diacetyl, no acetaldehyde.  Very clean.

Light body, dry finish, light corn sweetness.  Lots of bubbles on the tongue from the high carbonation.  Finish is bitter and lingers just begging for more.  Very balanced, with a firm bitterness that is in no way harsh or overpowering.

I brewed the beer to see if I could, and I wanted a flavorful and elegant Pilsner to replace the 3rd place German Pils I had made earlier in the year.  This beer exceeded my desires.  I am not a big fan of light lagers, but this beer just tastes great, and is beautiful to look at.  Even though the weather has shifted my palate away from this beer towards the dark and malty stuff, I figured I needed to review it.  I thought I would pour a glass, quick review, then dump the rest into the sausages I was getting ready to cook.  I finished the entire glass, and even now (3 days later, mid morning) want another one.  Super clear, beautiful, elegant Noble hop nose and flavor supported by a crackery, grainy, sweet malt back bone, high carbonation, dry finish with a firm bitterness.  Nailed the BJCP, now I just need to keep my hands off the rest until February when the KLCC comp hits so I can enter it.  Definitely need to rebrew it for the Sasquatch in May and to have for the Summer.

Friday, November 29, 2013

REVIEW: Feed the Machine (Autumn IPA)

Autumn hit and almost instantaneously my taste buds shifted quickly away from light, fruity, crisp, refreshing, to big, bold, dark, dank, full bodied, malty, bitter, hoppy, warming.  Couple that with all the freshly dried and packaged hops from this year's harvest, and my mind began to churn up an idea.  I wanted a beer that screamed AUTUMN.  Biscuits, warm malt, body, lightly chewy, sweetish, sweet breads, spicy, all to hold up a big resinous, piney, pithy hop profile - no tropical fruits or melons, something much bigger and heavier.  I concocted the recipe, and brewed it up, double dry hopping, and serving quick from the keg.  I must say, I think I hit it spot on.  Many of the guys in the club tried it at our meeting and really liked it, positive feedback all around, and the president said keep the recipe and re-do that beer.  I plan on it, especially in the Spring for the annual (and local) Sasquatch Brew Fest (which I placed in 3 categories last year).  This beer would make a great Glen Beer (special tribute beer to Glen Hay Falconer [where Falconer's Flight get their name] big, malty, dark, and absurdly hoppy).

Pours a fairly clear (for a double Dry Hopped beer) deep red with a super sticky thick khaki head.  Leaves really nice lace and a thick foam ring with each sip.  Some legs evident as well from the alcohol.  Head fades down to a thick whispy cap

It's like shoving your nose in a bag of hops, are walking into the hop room at a brewery.  Big dank hop resin, pine needles, grapefruit pith, spicy, touch of berries.  Background cocoa, bread dough, sweet malts, and alcohol.

First rush is hop oils coating the tongue, giving way to biscuits, resin, more pine.  Fruity, berries, spicy hop notes, sweet malt palate.  Bready.  Not as crisp as I'd like, kind of a "heavy" taste to it.  Alcohol is there, but very hidden.

Medium to Med-Full body, combo of semi-dry, and alcohol, sweet, with a big bitterness cleansing the palate.  Balanced bitterness and malt with alcohol.  Warming alcohol in the back.

Very nice Imperial Red IPA.  Balanced, bitter, alcohol, malty, lots of hops everywhere.  Too drinkable.  Hit spot on for the flavors I was shooting for.  The heaviness in the finish is kind of flabby, need to retool for this aspect.  Not sure if this is brewing salt related, or malt related.  Possibly cut back on the flaked barley, or cut it out next time?  Possible pH of finished beer issue, might try adding a touch of acid to a glass to see if that helps before tweeking the malts.

Friday, November 22, 2013

RECIPE: 1st Place KLCC #52 The Caleb (Imperial Stout on Elijah Craig Bourbon)

I really enjoy an Imperial Stout.  I really enjoy a Bourbon aged Imperial Stout.  What I don't enjoy is the outrageous prices that most breweries charge for such beers.  I realize that there are some world class BA Imperial Stouts, I have had a few, Firestone Walker Porabola and Velvit Merkin, Deschutes' Abyss (I have a 4 year vertical in my cellar), Block 15 Super Nebulat, even a Goose Island BCS a long time ago.  But when I look at my checking account logically, it becomes very difficult to spend the money.  For the cost of 2-3 22oz bottles of a world class beer I can create my own BA Imperial Stout and have 52 12oz bottles (a better format for a big beer anyways!). 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

RECIPE: 1st Place KLCC #53 CUDL Buddy (Winter Warmer)

Fall has set in, Thanksgiving (and my Birthday) are only a couple weeks away, Christmas is shortly after.  It is that time of year when you really want to have a beer with a little bit of warmth to it, a nice toasty malt character with some sweetness, a good body, and some spiciness to it.  I have always enjoyed beers like Full Sail's Wassail, Bridgeport's Ebenezer, Deschutes' Jubelale, all of which are rich, malty, caramelly, with a nice hop character of spice, earth, and pine.  Because of my love for these particular Winter Warmer beers, I decided to make my own this year.

Friday, November 8, 2013

REVIEW: Your Not 21 (English Dark Mild)

It all started with a thought, what if we brewed a beer from a mash someone else made, that would be a real Iron Brewer!  I rallied the club behind it and we assembled 7 groups to brew on a Saturday morning.  We showed up at Claim 52, received wort, and made beer with only the ingredients we had on hand.  I received the last of the wort and had to water it down to get to the right volume.  Turned out to be a great beer.  I haven't done well in the past with making British styles, so I was hoping that this beer would turn out well, and it did.  Despite the 1.021 FG (hence the name), the beer has a decent finish, not too sweet, not dry.

Look:  Pours a super clear (thanks 1968) brown with garnet highlights, beige head is persistent, and fades to
a thick cap.  Leaves good lacing down the glass.

Aroma: Light English hops jump out first, earthy and woody, nutty yeast, biscuits, light fruity esters, pear and cherry, malty.

Flavor: Tastes like fresh baked biscuits, nutty, light coffee, English hops, a chalky yeast bite, mild toffee bar, plum skins.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, semi-sweet finish, bitter pull on the finish clears the palate, mild carbonic bite, slightly astringent.

Overall: Very nice beer, malty, balanced, super flavorful for such a small beer, nice complexity.  Great beer for Autumn.  Doesn't finish sweet for the 1.021 FG.  Really enjoyed this beer.  This review is from the 2L of force carbed beer from bottling day.  The bottled version still tastes quite green although it is fully carbed up.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

RECIPE: Feed the Machine (AutumnIPA)

Autumn, that time of year when the leaves change color, the sun hides behind the clouds, the darkness arrives earlier and stays around later than before, and a chill sets in throughout the day.  That time of year when the light, crisp, fruity lager, or Witbier just aint cutting it anymore.  That time of year when you are looking for something richer, maltier, bolder, packed with warm malts, resiny and piney hops, and flavors of Fall.  Couple this with the fresh harvest of hops that are begging to be used, and it is time for an Autumn IPA.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

REVIEW: Release the Panic (100% Brett ISA)

Everybody and their dog is making hoppy 100% Brett beers... well, maybe not everybody, but I have seem a bit of static on the interwebs on the topic.  I was looking for something a little more refreshing than a big IPA for the end of Summer though, so I decided to go with a session IPA (ISA) with the bold fruitiness of Brett, and a compliment of bold hops.  Layered on top of wheat for a tart refreshing light beer, and oats for some added mouthfeel as Brett doesn't produce any (usually strips it out).  Of course coupling it with a White ISA from the same mash, I didn't have much choice for the grist.  Turned out to be a good move.

Look: Pours a slightly foggy yellow with dense white head that persists and fades to a thin cap.  Leaves behind beautiful white lace all the way down the glass.  Tiny tight bubbles.

Aroma: Smells of over ripe fruits, faint funk (lightly fecal), pineapple, passion fruit, sour peaches, light tartness, resin, green hops, pear, resin, citrus fruits.  Complex fruity nose.

Flavor: Taste leads off with resin and grassy notes, giving way to sour peach, pear, funk, tropical fruits.  Hoppy, floral, herbal, black currants, grape skins, light cereal note.

Mouthfeel: Light creamy texture from the oats, tart, stingy on the
tongue (high carbonation), dry finish, light bitterness to balance (who says you get know IBUs from the whirlpool).  Not too thin as most 100% Brett beers can be.

Overall: Not bad for my first attempt at 100% Brett beer and an ISA.  Hops could use a boost, and the grassiness of the dry hops could go away (tip, don't dry hop cold again).  Lots of flavor, tons of fruit, big aroma.  Could use a bit more resin and pine in the mix to help balance out all that fruit.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

REVIEW: Iron Patriot (India Pale Lager / American Pilsner)

Take the Classic American Pils, Mostly 6 row Barley Malt, Flaked Corn, moderate noble like hopping, bitter finish, and then twist hard off course.  Leave the base alone, but swap out all those old school noble type hops for some new school bold, fruity, aromatic hops.  What do you get?  A fairly tasty beer.  Seeing that IPL (India Pale Lager) is becoming the new trend, looks like I'm not too far off course with this one.

You can read through it!
Look:  Pours a super clear pale yellow with gold highlights, a thick, creamy, bleached white head sits atop and fades slow to a thick cap leaving ample lace all the way down.

Aroma:  Smells of fruit, peach, mango, pineapple, slightly sweaty (think Amarillo like), over ripe fruits, light dank note in the back ground, sweet.

Flavor:  Very fruity, mango, pears, resin, malt sweetness, light graininess, more over ripe peach.  It is always amazing how a beer can taste like a fruit salad without any fruits added.

Mouthfeel:  Light, crisp, dry finish, refreshing, with an assertive bitterness washing on the back-end, lingers and cleanses the palate for another sip.

Overall:  Brilliantly clear, beautiful to look at, it looks like a Pils, bitterness and light malt like a Pils, grainy and sweet like a Pils, but the aroma and flavor of a bold IPA.  Hit the nail on the head.  When it was a little younger the Calypso was a little overpowering (it can do that) with lots of pear and sweat, but it has dropped to the background during the lager for a rounder hop profile.  Much more enjoyable than the CAP I brewed the same day.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Claim 52 Mystery Wort BrewHaHa; RECIPE: Mild

The idea came to me while reflecting on our club's Iron Brewer competition: adding a mystery ingredient to a recipe that is already formulated on paper.  I thought, "Adding Cap'n Crunch to an IPA isn't really that challenging, is it?"  Then it came to me... what if we did a brewing event with a huge twist?  No one knows what the grist and wort composition is until just before brewing with it?  I contacted the President and VP of our brew club for a go-ahead on the plan, and then contacted a local brewer to help out.  Trevor, owner and brewer, at Claim 52 here in Eugene, was very active in the local home brew scene before going pro, and still judges in the BJCP comps in our area.  He was very gracious and really liked the idea.  We would give him the number of brewers, and he would make enough wort for each of them to get 5 gallons post boil.  He was the only one with full knowledge of what the wort would be, what specialty grains would be used, what the mash temp would be.  We, as the brewers, would have to show up prepared for anything that came out of that mash tun.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

REVIEW: Hazy Dayz (Session White IPA)

White IPA, blending a Witbier with its coriander and orange peel, tart, fruity, refreshing, with a bold, hoppy IPA.  When it is made right it is a thing of beauty.  The key is to use the hops to accentuate the fruit already present in the Wit.  Citrusy hops work well.  For mine I used Cascade for grapefruit, and Meridian for Meyer Lemon.  The hops didn't really pop like I had hoped for, but it does make for a great Witbier.  Too bad it is Fall now and light, refreshing, citrusy, low ABV, just isn't cutting it on these dark, cold, wet nights.

Look: Pours a super hazy golden rod.  Looks like a milkshake with a massive, thick, billowing pure white head.  Head retains forever, drops to a thick cap, and leaves tons of lace all the way down.

Aroma: Smells of citrus fruits, orange zest, lemons, grapefruits, spicy, pepper, coriander, floral hops.  Lots of fruit, citrus, in the the nose.  It explodes.  Can't really tell where the hops are in the mix.

Flavor: Tastes like bread, doughy, lots of citrus again, mainly orange, light sweetness, spicy, white pepper, floral hop notes.

Mouthfeel: Light and crisp on the tongue, spritzy carbonation, light tartness.  Finish has an apparent, but soft bitterness that persists, very nice and balancing toward ISA.

Overall:  Solid Witbier, White ISA, not so much.  The hops dropped off quick, even after dry hopping the citrus and spice was prominent.  Hop flavor is low and the aroma is hard to get through all the fruit and spice.  The PC Fantome strain did really well in this beer.  Nice doughy malt, floral, subtle spiciness from the yeast, fruity.  May have to do this one again next year for a summer wit.

Friday, October 4, 2013

REVIEW: The Ira (Dry Hopped Mango Sour Blonde)

It started out as an experiment to see if I had rid my brewery of an infection that had hit more than 6 batches.  I made a light American Blonde Ale with Amarillo hops.  Half the beer was infected, the other half was clean.  But even the clean half wasn't something I wanted to drink 5 gallons of.  I combined the beers with 1 gallon of the same base beer fermented with Orval dregs.  I also added honey, dregs from lots of sours, Lacto from yogurt cultured in honey water.  Eventually I split the batches back out.  One ended up with lots of oak, and 4# blackberries.  This one received Mango, and a dose of Galaxy, Falconer's Flight, and Calypso hops just before bottling.  Unfortunately the beer had a large hit of diacetyl and had to age out, which dropped the hops and mango out quite a bit before it was ready to drink.  It isn't exactly what I wanted, but still a good sour beer.

LOOK: Pours a super clear gold with a fluffy white head that fades almost immediately.  Lots of bubbles flutter up.

AROMA: Smells of tropical fruits, mango, nice sour nose, lemons, light Brett funk, musty, light vinegar note.

FLAVOR: Taste jumps off with sour first, big blast of lemon, lactic, light vinegar sharpness.  Followed with mango and some cardboard oxidation.  Diacetyl was big when bottled but has nearly disappeared at this point.

MOUTHFEEL: Fizzy on the tongue, medium body, puckering sour, dry finish.

OVERALL: Slightly oxidized, super sour, light acetic acid.  Not overly complex.  Fruity, light Brett funk.  It's good, but not great.  I really like the sour and fruit combo with the hops, but the diacetyl made it nearly impossible to drink while the fruit and hops were peaking.  The mango is super subtle, need to use a more flavorful variety, and more of it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Technique: Packaging Hops

Lupulin On Hands From Pushing Through Funnel
Previously I posted about how to build an oast for drying hops.  Once you have your hops dried, it is necessary to package them for future use.  In the days before refrigeration, hops would be stored in the open, and would degrade quickly.  Many places, including home brew shops and breweries, keep there hops in large tight packed bails which they get them from hop growers in.  As needed they will break off chunks to brew with, or in the case of home brew shops, to package.  While not in use, these hops are stored in freezers, but still open to atmospheric oxygen, which causes hops to degrade.  In a brewery situation this is not as bad as hops are used up quicker.  In a home brew shop they move much slower and therefore begin to oxidize.  Pellet hops are easier as they come in 11# vacuum sealed mylar packaging and you can go through 11# in a brew house much quicker.

The best way to keep hops at there freshest is to flush them with inert gas like nitrogen, and vacuum package them in mylar bags that are then stored cold.  Of course, for homebrewers, this is a bit excessive.  For us, the best option is to vacuum seal them and store them cold, the colder the better.  Some people try to cram as much into a vacuum seal bag as possible, packaging them in 1# blocks.  This at first seems like a great idea, but as I thought about it more, I changed the way I packaged hops.  I was influenced by Matt Brynildson from Fierstone Walker Brewing, and a local brew-farm.  Matt talked about how Chinook taken out of the package and left exposed to oxygen in a refridgerator awaiting the late boil additions goes from pine bomb and wonderfully fruity to cat pee in a very short time.  Our brew club also had the hop guy come talk last month from a local brew-farm.  They grow their own hops, chiles, spices, and even some grains for use in their beers.  He was talking about how they have started packaging their hops in recipe quantities.  So if they know their recipe uses a total of 3# of Cascade in the boil, they package as many 3# Cascades as they need for the year.

Monday, September 16, 2013

DIY: Hop Oast

One of the more substantial cost for brewers from batch to batch is hops, especially if you want to brew lots of American styles, IPA and Double IPA in particular (as well as India Session Ales, Black IPAs, Red IPAs, etc.).  The other large cost is yeast, but with some effort, you can always purchase this once and repitch the yeast to keep costs down.  Finding a way to keep costs down on hops isn't as simple.  Though some brewers have supposedly dry hopped a beer and then put those hops into the kettle for bittering another brew, I wouldn't ever do this as you don't know what kind of bittering you will get out of it, and what do you do with the hops between brews to ensure they don't spoil?  

There are other, more effective ways to save money on hops.  One way that I have enjoyed is to get some hops in bulk when they are around at a great price.  I was able to get in on a group buy last year for Simcoe and Mosaic, 1# each, $10/#.  I also got a pound of CTZ for around $12.  These prices are great for the varietals, but there is still a much cheaper way to get great hops.  Grow them.  I am not going to tell you how to grow them here; there are many good resources both online and in print on how to grow them in your yard.  This post is what to do with them once you have grown them and established they are ready to pick (another topic I am not going to discuss here).  This is how to build a Hop Oast for drying them, then a secondary post on how to package them for storage and future use.

Parts Needed: (around $30)
  • 7 @ 2X4X8' Kiln Dried Fir
  • 48" X 7' Aluminum Screen Material roll
  • 3" Wood Screws (56)
  • Staple Gun
  • Box Knife
  • Cordless Drill

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Recipe #45: Not So Quick & Easy Extract + Yogurt Berlinerweisse

Inspired by some recent discussions over on BeerAdvocate in the homebrew forum, I decided on a whim to do an easy and quick Berlinerweisse for later this Summer.  There were actually a few things that converged on this idea.  The BA talk was around how White Labs Lacto strain refuses to sour beers no matter how long it is left to work it's magic (even when used alone like the Mad Fermentationist did).  Wyeast seems to be better, but I am not wanting to wait until next Summer for this beer.  I had some success culturing Lacto from Greek yogurt in the past, and I had mentioned this in the BA thread about the WL Lacto fails to a fellow brewer who was going to be doing a few experiments with 20+ gallons of Berlinerweisse.  I have also been working on getting some soda syrups made that can be added to carbonated water (keep my kegs free from the syrupy residue), and I thought, you know, a Key Lime Ginger syrup would go great with a Berliner instead of bubbly water.  Add to this that I am still a few weeks out from an open Saturday after the move to the new house and I am left with an easy and quick extract batch.  The plan is to go back to the roots of beginning homebrewers.  Stove top batch at one gallon, dry malt extract, small addition of hops, chill the pot in the sink, transfer through a strainer, top off with cool water, pitch yeast packet (yogurt), put it in the garage, and let it ferment at ambient temps (had 1 gallon starter that was high on sugar content turn into nail polish at 95*F so I am avoiding super high temps).

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Update: I Got Some Hops

I was unable to grow any hops this year due to our move into our first house in mid/late May (YAY!).  My crowns were out of the ground in the sun for a couple hours and once I got them in the soil 5 of the 8 didn't grow at all, and the other 3 grew a small amount.  I was able to get hops from Oakshire Brewing's garden last year, but with their expansion and dropping the farmhouse next door they hadn't strung them up or cared for them in the last month.  I got an email from the brewmaster yesterday saying that they had continued to grow and climb the fence and were mine for the taking if I wanted them.  He even went next door to the farmhouse and asked the new tenants if they would mind me coming around and getting the hops on their side.  They were amicable and I was able to cut off all the bines on the Centennial and Chinook plants (left the Fuggles as I am not a big fan of them nor do I make many English beers).  Unfortunately their Cascade didn't make it this year.  

I was able to score 5 oz of Centennial (which is fine since it throws an annoying floral character that I don't care for) and 36 oz of Chinook.  Those are wet weights so I will have less once they are dried.  We had a hop picking party on our front porch once I got the bines home, even my 3 year old got in on it.  We separated the Chinooks into 4 large paper bags and the Centennial is all inside a standard paper grocery bag.  They are in the garage to dry out over the next few days.  Once they are dried I will re-weigh them and package them in vacuum seal bags in 1-2 oz quantities for freezer storage.  I might have a chance to help a local farm-brewery pick their hops this weekend and score some of those as well.  Hoping to get my hands on some Cascades for the future brew year too.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Recipe #49: Hazy Dayz (Session White IPA)

After brewing a couple lagers and waiting for them to finish up for drinking I noticed that I didn't have any really flavorful brews, nothing hoppy to slake my lupulin lusts.  I have my Saison in bottles and the 2 American Pilsners, that's it.  I really enjoy White IPAs.  I really enjoy session IPAs.  And yesterday was National IPA Day.  Seemed fitting that I brew up a nice sessionable White IPA.  Around 4.5% ABV, 43 IBUs., dry, crisp, refreshing, fruity, bursting with hops.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Recipe #48: Release the Panic (Session Brett Wheat IPA)

I have really wanted to get into single strain 100% Brett fermentations for awhile now.  I did a Brett L Oud Bruin in Spring that was supposedly mixed with some Lacto (no lactic acid in the beer though), and I have wanted to brew a hoppy Brett beer as the fruitiness of the Brett is a great compliment to fruity hops.  Seeing as this is a split batch with a Session White IPA I don't really want a super fruity beer for this batch so I did a larger addition of Chinook to get a substantial amount of Pine with the Simcoe in there as well.

I decided to mash a little higher than normal for this beer since it is a smaller beer.  I didn't want it to end up in the lower single digits on the FG and be thin, especially since Brett beers typically lack body.  The high percentage of flaked products, the flaked oats, and the higher levels of Chloride compared to Sulfate should make for a decent finish on this batch even if the FG dips a little lower. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Raise, Rain, Rouse, Rest, Recirculate, Runoff, Rinse, Repeat: Mashing and Batch Sparge.

It wasn't long before I made the move to All Grain brewing once I started making my own beer.  4 batches to be exact.  All Grain brewing allows you to control certain variables in the process such as fermentability of your wort (bone dry finish, dry finish, sweet finish) as well as the body of the beer (light, medium, full, chewy).  When using malt extract, these variables are set by the company making the extract, as well as the composition of the base wort (some use caramel malts or carapils in the grist along with base malt).  All Grain brewing also allows you to use malts that cannot be used with out mashing like Munich and Vienna base malts, raw grains (raw wheat, raw oats, flaked adjuncts, etc.), and others.  It is also more affordable (initial investment is more, but cost of grains is drastically cheaper).  Many brewers might fear that All Grain brewing is too difficult, but in reality it is fairly simple: RAISE a volume of water to a given temperature, RAIN it into your mash tun, ROUSE the grains into the water, REST the mash, RECIRCULATE the liquid then RUNOFF the liquid, RINSE the grains, REPEAT the process (see below for the specifics).  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Recipe #46: CAPtain America (Classic American Pilsner)

I have been intrigued as of late with brewing more lagers, and specifically with making an American Pilsner.  This seems odd since I have been, typically, anti American Lagers.  It has been a long road to a place I thought I would never reach, but the truth is I need to be less overly-opinionated on things that are not founded on the infallible word of Christ.  It's like music, my buddy is very opinionated about how his music is the best music, and I find no enjoyment in his music, nor his claims that his music tastes are some how superior to those around him that don't agree with him.  In the same way I look at his claims concerning music and say, "In your opinion", I tend to be just as emphatic about beer choices.  According to my taste preferences, "in my opinion", Macro lagers aren't good beer, but to someone else they may taste great.  For all the "gospel" or "good news" or "evangelizing" Craft beer (all words I take issue with when used to reference an inanimate object with no power to save anyone from anything), it falls flatter than a Lost Abbey beer, it is all still based on conjecture and opinion.  Even with the recent decline in the sales of beer on the whole and the massive growth of Craft beer with increased sales, it is all still preference.  Whether it be the Pilsners that swept Europe, or the Pale Ales at the birth of Craft brewing, IPAs, Bourbon Barrel aged 25% ABV syrups, Super Sours, or the current rise of Session IPAs, one thing holds true, what constitutes "good beer" is totally subjective and shifts almost as quick as the smell of that red solo cup of PBR left out on the back patio.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Recipe #47: Iron Patriot (New School American Pilsner)

I have a knack for maximizing my output when I brew.  Pilsner and Saison split batch, Wit and American Wheat split batch, West Coast Red and Oud Bruin split batch, partigyles, etc.  When I do get to brew it is just easier to brew a double batch than to do a single 5 gallon batch, and then try to find another brew day to do another 5 gallons.  It is not much more effort to do 10 gallons instead of 5, and I only have to clean the equipment once.  So when I decided to make my Classic American Pilsner, I had to find another beer I could do with the same mash. Why not do the same beer with a huge twist?  Same grain bill (and mash), same brewing salts, same hopping schedule, but swapping out Old World noble hops (or American knock offs) with New World American varietals.  I swapped out the Saaz, Liberty, and Sterling for Simcoe, Mosaic, and Calypso.  The IBUs will be much different.  And I will be using the Munich Lager yeast for this batch instead of the Budvar which will slightly alter the profile, but shouldn't be much.

Brewday turned out to be a fiasco as I awoke to a broken water heater spewing boiling water on the floor of the garage and had to help a buddy replace it during the brew session, and had to fix a broken shower during this particular batch.  After a grueling day, having the propane kick mid boil, not getting the wort down to lager temps due to the heat, the fermentation went fairly well and smoothly.  Ramped up the temp a few times to ensure complete attenuation and let it sit on the yeast for awhile to ensure no diacetyl.  Once I finally kegged it though, I really wanted more hop character, so I figured why not dry hop it for fun.  I mean, this is the Iron Patriot, a nod to Captain America (the Classic American Pils), but with all the fire power of Iron Man.  I had to do something to make this one blow you away.  Tossed in the dry hops in doubled preboiled paint strainer bags (pellet hops) attached with plain dental floss and allowed them to sit in the beer at lager temps while serving.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: 1st Place - Procrastinator (Dopplebck)

I was never really a big lager guy, well, I guess I was a BIG lager guy seeing as the only lagers I really cared for were Dopplebocks.  Big, rich, malty, toasty, dark fruits, full body, dark, clear, warming.  When it finally came time for me to brew my first lager I jumped in with both feet.  I brewed a Dopplebock, low and behold, it took 1st place in its category, and I am told did well in the Best of Show round (but didn't get to the final table).  7 months after brewing I finally got around to doing the review, and the time lagering has been of benefit as it has really begun to come together even more than it was in May for the competition.  I was shooting for a Salvator like beer, and I think I got fairly close.

Look:  Pours a super clear garnet with ruby highlights, thick tan head with medium size bubbles, fades to a thick cap which eventually becomes nothing as it warms.  Light lacing, long legs.

Aroma:  Deep aroma of malts, burnt raisins, toasty breads, plum skins, a little molasses, alcohol, light metal (dissipates as it warms), chocolate as the beer warms.  No hops, no DMS, no diacetyl, clean lager character.

Flavor:  Taste starts off with chocolate, then leads to plums, alcohol, sweet breads, toasty, rich melanoidins, deep malt character.  No hops, no DMS, no diacetyl, clean.  Towards the end, as it warms, there is a kind of flabby fruit flavor in the finish.

Mouthfeel:  Medium-light body, fluffy carbonation, semi-sweet finish, bitterness is perfect for balance, light alcohol warmth.

Overall:  Looks great, everything I was hoping for, perfect color and clarity, the head needs help though as it falls flat eventually.  Clean beer.  Whoever says that you have to brew a smaller lager to get enough yeast to do a Dopplebock was wrong (this was a 2L starter stepped up again to another 2L), as was the person who said Melanoidin malt won't give you the same thing as decoctions.  Rich malts, deep melenoidin character, raisin and plum, light chocolate, smooth, alcohol is clean and warming.  The body is too light, needs to be chewier.  Next batch needs to have a thicker body, better head retention, and a fix to the flabby finish (water chemistry/pH maybe?).

NOTE: This beer took first place in May 2013 in the Sasquatch BJCP comp in Bocks, and took 2nd Place in February 2014 in the KLCC BJCP in Bocks.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UPDATE: Hops, Lagers, Experiments

It has been awhile since I last posted, and wanted to get something up here, including a few things that don't need there own individual posts.  After transplanting the hops after the move and installing irrigation for them, only 3 have any growth: Santiam, Chinook, and Blisk.  The growth is very little, maybe a foot or two max, and very thin.  The rest of the hops aren't producing anything at all.  My understanding is that the late move and time out of the ground shocked the plants and they are going to be fine next year.  Keeping them watered to ensure good roots for the next season.

I haven't posted a recipe in awhile now.  The reason for this is because I have brewed 3 batches that take longer to ferment.  I did an extract Berlinerwiesse fermented with only yogurt.  This beer was intended to be a quick sour.  It was quick, only 4 weeks and it was down to 1.003, but it never really soured.  The Lacto strains in the yogurt created CO2 and alcohol instead of acid, and lots of DMS.  I am still debating what to do with this batch.  I have a few strains of Brett right now that I am thinking of adding to it for a few months, then adding fruit to it as well for next summer.

I also brewed 2 American Pilsners, 1 classic with Saaz, Liberty, and Sterling, the other is New School with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Calypso.  They are just starting to lager now and should be kegged by the weekend.  I have found that brewing lagers isn't really my cup of tea.  I can enjoy them when I finally get to drink them, but they just take so long.  My fermentation fridge is locked up for 5 weeks, then I have to clear kegs for them, and then I have to wait another couple weeks for them to lager before I have 2 kegs to drink through before I can put anything else on.  I also find that by the time they are done fermenting and ready to drink I have had a shift in tastes and don't really want to drink 5 gallons of American Pils.

I am also trying to culture up some Lacto off of grains.  I will have a full write up of the process in a few weeks when it is done, but for now, I am using grains and apple juice in a heating blanket set on high to get a culture going and have had success so far.  I will be stepping it up tonight to get more and hopefully with multiple steps should be able to kill off any enterobacter as the pH drops and some alcohol is produced.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: BANGARANG The Twins - Saison

As the heat starts to really set in for the summer, it is always good to have a Saison ready to drink.  As I like to do with my Saisons, this one is bottled with Brett.  I have become a big fan of the Dupont strain and Brett at bottling.  The last time I used this combo I took 2nd place in a BJCP comp 7 months after bottling.  We'll see what happens with this one after another 8 months in the same comp (at 1 year old).  It's twin brother fared well in its category in a recent comp, so this one shouldn't do too bad.  The Twins have the same flaw, not enough bitterness, and a low hop profile, but overall, both drink nicely in the heat, very refreshing.  If you blend the two together, it makes for a lovely beer, akin to a Biere de Garde, earhty, musty, malty, light fruitiness, crisp.

Look: Pours a hazy orange-gold with big white head that fades a little fast to a whisky cap that lasts.  Bubbles flutter up throughout, bits of pellicle float on top.

Smell: smells like tons of over ripe fruits, can't pinpoint, tropical, and bright stone fruits.  Basement funk follows, hints of tea, spices, noble hops are light, hint of compost.

Taste:  Taste follows the smell, big fruits tropical and stone, lemon, tart, spicy, pepper, a lot of other spices I can't pinpoint.  Light toasty malt and Pils sweetness.

Mouthfeel:  Spritzy and light on the tongue, medium body with a bone dry finish.  Bubbly.  Balanced, but needs more bitterness.

Overall:  Nice Saison.  Needs a little more bitterness, just like the Pils that makes up the other half of the Twins.  The depth of fruitiness makes it hard to tell where the Saison yeast ends and the Brett begins.  The spiciness is evident but I can't define it.  Great balance between bright fruits and spices, with a subtle funk starting to take shape.  Enjoyable, light, refreshing, as a Saison should be.

Friday, June 21, 2013

DIY Project: Hop Sprinklers

Last year I tried running a drip irrigation system on my hops.  I continually blew the cap off the end due to the pressure.  This year I wanted to install something a little hardier to water my hop yard.  My pastor is moving away and had a lot of 1" PVC pipe he was getting rid of and I was able to get nearly 30' of it.  My original design was to just run 40' and drill 1/16" holes in front of the hops and leave it above ground.  The UV light from the sun would eventually degrade the PVC, but the frost would burst it if there was any water in the line once Winter came.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: 3rd Place Pilsner

This beer has been a ride.  I started out with an overnight mash that dropped in temp quite a bit and smelled a little bit like a sour mash.  I thought for sure it would be ruined.  On brew day I thought I didn't have enough hops to brew it since I was missing the bittering hops I had planned on using.  I ended up swapping out for an older package of homegrown hops from a buddy that ended up not bittering the beer enough, and I had 1oz of Liberty and 2oz Saaz left over by the end and could've used them instead.  The hop strainer clogged shut on me rendering my pump useless and leaving the wort warmer than I had wanted for a lager.  It took nearly 2 hours to drain the 10 gallons of beer through the ball-valve with some creative positioning of the keggle.  Fermentation seemed a little sluggish to start.  The beer took forever to reach FG.  The hop aroma was very light.  The bitterness not pronounced.  The finish a little sweet, and not snappy like it should be.  My buddy who makes lots of lagers and Pilsners said the Munich made it too much like a Helles.  I ended up entering it in a BJCP competition just to get some feedback and was very surprised when it placed 3rd.  A few days ago I thought I had ruined it when my CO2 tank blew and I thought that oxygen had gotten into the keg and ruined the beer (it seemed a little off like an aging firkin beer, but not wet cardboard).  Surprisingly enough after a few days on CO2 again and a few burps of the keg, I finally reviewed it and found it to be okay (not oxidized).

Crystal clear!  You can read through this bad boy.  Pours a super clear pale gold with a thick white head that persists and then fades to a thick cap that stays throughout the entire glass leaving generous lace all the way down.  You can see how big each gulp is just by looking at the lacing.  Sparkles with tiny bubbles fluttering throughout.  This is the first beer I have made in 2.5 years of brewing now that has made me truly appreciate the power of how a beer looks when presented.

Light noble hops present over a sweet malt and a bit of toast.  Floral hops, elegant and light.  Hint of sulfur.  No DMS or diacetyl.

Starts with sweet malts and floral hops, lightly grainy.  Very low level of toasted bread.  Noble hops are low.  No DMS or diacetyl, sulfur from the nose is not evident in the mouth.  Bitterness is low.  Malty beer.  And no lactic twang at all from the drop in temp on the overnight mash.

Light body, creamy, semi-dry finish.  Doesn't snap on the finish like a Pilsner should.  Bitterness is very restrained, at times seems to linger a little but then fades quick.

It is a good beer, very beautiful, clean fermentation, no esters, light hops, elegant malt, would be a great Helles, but it is not a Pilsner (regardless of what place it took in the judging).  It is very quaffable, but not what I was hoping for.  As far as a Pils goes, it is too malty, the FG is good, but the maltiness and missing bitterness make it finish too sweet, and the hops aren't as pronounced in aroma, flavor, or bitterness as I would have liked.  I may save this recipe for a future Helles with a light tweek, but am shooting for an all new recipe for my next Pilsner (which I am hoping to brew very soon).

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: BANGARANG: Rufio (Imperial West Coast Red)

When I developed the recipe for this beer I was shooting for a deep red, bold, hoppy, malty, dry, yet balanced West Coast Red.  Big, flavorful, aromatic, dank, woody, fruity, sticky.  On almost all cylinders I got what I had hoped for.  The color (as with all of my reds) is too amber, not actually RED.  Other than that adjustment, the beer turned out great.  The Vienna base with Munich worked really well to give the beer a nice depth in the malt backbone that balances out the 112 IBUs, low FG, and higher alcohol.  Definitely a repeat recipe with a color tweek.


Pours a murky copper / amber with a thick and sticky tan head.  Head lasts for quite a while and eventually drops to a thick cap that persists all the way through the glass, leaving sticky lace througout.

Hops jump off the glass with grapefruit leading the charge followed by berries, resin, sticky hops, alcohol, and rounds out with a earthy/woody finish.  Malt is low.  Was hoping for more pine with the Simcoe and Chinook.

The taste follows the nose, lots of hoppy goodness, grapefruit, resin, pine, spicy alcohol, fruity.  There is an undefined malty backbone to support it all.  Touch of tropics in the background.  Again, low pine which is what I was hoping for.

For the low FG this beer actually has a fairly medium body, creamy, bitterness presents in the finish, but doesn't assault the mouth leaving it dead to all the flavor.  The alcohol warms the throat, but isn't hot at all.  Dry finish leaves you wanting another gulp.

Well balanced hop bomb.  There are lots of hops, complexity, good malt backbone to support the hops and bitterness, no raisins or plums which is typical of the style, but I am okay with that since I really don't like the flavor and aroma of dark fruits messing with my hops (the reason the recipe doesn't contain any crystal malts).  Alcohol is evident but no fusels.  Very balanced beer.  Color is too light, needs adjusting to get to the RED I am hoping for.  Might try to tweek the hops a little next go round to up the pine.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Update: Moving, Winning, Transplanting

Just as a quick update, it might be a little while before I post again, and if I do, it will probably be reviews for awhile.  We just got word back from our lender that our loan is ready and docs are on the way to close on our new house (first time homeowners).  So for the next few weeks we will be finishing our packing, moving, unpacking, resetting the brewhouse in a new location (much nicer), transplanting the 9 hops I have in the backyard to the new house, figuring our a new trellis for the hops, painting, decorating, changing out light fixtures, redecorating, etc.  Probably going to be awhile before I start brewing again.  I do have a Session IPA / NW Bitter (Brewers Gold, Chinook, Cascade, Zeus, and Brett Drei) that I plan to brew as soon as I can to get a non 8.6% hoppy beer on tap, and also a few Brett only Saisons for the heat coming, but that probably wont be til late June.

On another note, my Dopplebock brewed in late December took 1st place in category 2 at the Sasquatch brewfest a week ago.  My IPA took second out of 33 entries, and my Pilsner took 3rd in category 1.  Not too shabby.