Friday, January 31, 2014

RECIPE: #55 The Callen 3.0 (2nd place Oaked Wee Heavy)

Wee Heavy.  The one style I have brewed 2 other times before and failed at.  One was in the middle of a repitched yeast off a used plastic conical that infected nearly 8 batches of beer.  That Wee Heavy, even without being an infected gusher, had way too much cherry and no caramel at all.  The next one was a semi-descent beer except for the autolysis which made the beer taste like pot roast... but it works great in chili or to braise beef.  

I enjoy a good Wee Heavy on a cold Winter night when I want a big, heavy, malty, sweet desert in a glass.  It is a very hard style to get right too.  Too much bitterness and a lower FG you have more of a Strong Ale.  Too little bitterness and a higher FG and it is too sweet.  Balancing the mouthfeel, the FG, the bitterness, and the flavor profile is absolutely key.  This of course becomes even harder as you go bigger.  More alcohol changes the mouthfeel, adds sweetness, but makes it finish a little dryer than the FG can make you think it will.  Then toss in the cellaring factor which will inevitably lower the IBUs as isomerized Alpha Acids drop out of solution.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#56 Where's the Passion (GP & Rakau SMaSH APA)

I really wanted to get a feel for the AlphAroma hops that I have growing in my side yard.  I also wanted a good feel for Golden Promise.  It was the perfect chance since I had 1/2# of hops in the freezer, and would have a enough from the second runnings of my Wee Heavy for an American Pale Ale.  I have been dying to use these hops ever since I read For the Love of Hops by Stan Hieronymus last year.  There, tucked away in the hop profile chart is a New Zealand hop named Rakau.  In his description it says that Rakau used to be named AlphAroma, and that this hop is high in passionfruit and peach.  Needless to say, that sounds awesome, and I had been looking for any information I could find on the hop prior to that moment with no avail.  I actually contacted Stan via email to confirm and he sent me the document that he had found in researching the book showing a handful of NZ hops that name changes about 10 years ago.

Friday, January 24, 2014

REVIEW: 1st Place KLCC #52 The Caleb (Oak Aged Imperial Stout)

I do love a good Imperial Stout, and a Bourbon Aged one all the more.  they are way too overpriced to buy commercially.  But when you make one at home, it can be a thing of wonder.  At this point mine needs some more age on it as it is not everything I want it to be.  I'm hoping that pulling the keg and letting it sit until next year will add some depth and complexity, allow the roast and oak to shine.

Pours like an oil change on my 77 Ford F150.  Jet black, clear but completely opaque.  Dark brown head is thick and lucious, tiny bubbles, about a 1/4" high, fades to a whisp on top with thick ring around the edge.  Light lacing, and nice legs down the side.

Vanilla, wood, dark fruits, cherry and plum, char, hint of bourbon, chocolate, coffee grounds, roasted grain.  Hint of dark bread.

Chocolate, dark fruits, cherry and plum, burnt sugar, vanilla, charred wood, light nutty yeast, berry, clean alcohol notes.  Rich.

Silky smooth, full body, rich, light carbonation, oak tannins (a little too much), balancing hop bitterness, pulling roasted dryness in the finish lingers.  Alcohol warmth.

Very nice stout.  I really enjoy the depth of flavor, the creamy body, and the appeal of looking at this beer.  I was hoping for much more roast and much less dark fruit, but didn't get it.  I may have to cut out the darker crystal next time and add some Black Patent for more char and ash.  The oak is a little off.  It is still kind of hard to get in the aroma and flavor, but it shows up too much in the mouthfeel.  Needs more bourbon as this part is untraceable.

NOTE: This beer took 1st place in the KLCC BJCP comp in February 2014 in the Wood Aged Beers category.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

2013: A Year in Review

2013 was a good year for brewing.  It was my 3rd full year of brewing.  According to a Beer Advocate post in the beginning of the year, my hope was to:

Hope to get into kegging this year, at least my IPAs to get the freshest and hoppiest beer I can, as well as lagers so I can lager under pressure. I got a pump and new IC w/ whirlpool arm that will make for some great hoppy beers. I also hope to get a solera project started for more sours. Hoping to convert a 1/2 barrel keg into a fermenter for this.

Let's take a look back over the year and see how we did.

I brewed a total of 17 beers this year, for a total of 90 gallons:
  • I started with a single mash, single boil, split ferment of 2 IPAs, turning one black in the fermenter by adding cold extracted Midnight Wheat syrup.  The straight IPA was my first kegged beer, and took 2nd in category in a BJCP comp out of 31 IPAs.
  • Next batch was a rebrew of sorts.  My wife really enjoyed the German Hefe I brewed in 2011, and for Valentine's Day gave me an extra brewday with funds for ingredients to rebrew that beer, not only for her, but with her.  With a 2 month baby sleeping away in the brewhouse, and an almost 3 year old making his own beer with spent grains, hose water, and grass clippings, we brewed up another batch of Hefe together.  Unfortunately there was a tear in the foil over one of the carboys (split ferment for extra headspace) and half the batch got infected.  The rest tasted really good.
  • Extract Berlinerweisse feremented with yogurt only (no Lactic acid produced, only CO2, alcohol, and lots of DMS, aging on 2 Brett Strains).

I entered a national (but held locally) BJCP comp and had 3 beers place.  My end of 2012 Dopplebock (first ever lager) took 1st in category, the second lager, my Pils, took 3rd in category, and my first kegged beer, the IPA, took 2nd in category out of 31 entries, at 4 months old.

I judged 4 Club only Competitions, and 1 BJCP comp, and even hosted 2 of the COCs.

I started doing 2 new time saving tricks this year as well.  I began overnight mashing (dough in on Friday night, then runoff and boil in the morning).  I also started doing single mash to multi-beer recipes.

I built a pump into a tool box, put together a new brewhouse after buying a house, got new kettles and fit them with ballvalves, thermometers, and sight glass, bought a new Immersion and Whirlpool chiller, built my own bulkhead for my Mash/Lauter Tun, moved to CO2 forced racking, installed sprinklers for my new hop yard, built a hop oast, packaged a few pounds of hops, bottled my split ferment Sour Blondes from 2012, and finished my Logo.

I put together a Mystery Wort Brew Off with a local brewery who provided a wort to us of unknown makeup, disclosed the grist to us, and we had 20 minutes to put together a recipe, declare it, and then brew it.  We had a COC and peoples choice judging for the beers 8 weeks later.

I finished the year off by remodelling our spare room into an entertainment room with new (to us) shelving units for glassware and bottles for display, and the 6 kegs I now have.

I only had a few beers not turn out well.  The Mystery Wort is not a good beer and way over carbonated (possible Brett infection?), and the all Brett ISA had a bad hop profile that clashed with the rest of the beer so I ended up dumping the last gallon or so when I needed an empty keg.

I didn't ever start that sour solera project, but that is in the works for the next couple months, so not too bad for the year.

My favorite beers of the year would have to be the Black IPA, Imperial Red IPA (Rufio), CAP, White ISA, Imperial Red IPA (Autumn), and the Winter Warmer.