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.