Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Identity Crisis (Black IPA)

For 3 of my 4 Spring-time brewing seasons now, I have made a Black IPA  After last year's I had to do one again this year..  I like them low on roast and high on hops, especially with a big resin and pine component with lots of fruit layered in.  Chinook and Simcoe work great and a nice addition of Mosaic plays well in there too.  I have tossed Blisk into a 2L of my APA without any hop presence and it was great, so I thought it would work wonderful in this IPA and boy was I right.  Tropical, reisn, pine, and I believe it to be the touch of Maui Onion I am picking up as it warms.

Pours a beautiful dark brown/black with a huge, dense khaki head that stays forever, leaving thick lace rings all the way down the glass.  Super clear with dark ruby/brown highlights.

Massive blast of hops jump out of the glass, big citrus burst, grapefruit peel, followed by lychee fruit, pine needles, floral notes, resin, dank, peach, and blueberry.  So many layers, lots of fruits and wood.  Maui onion.

Hints of chocolate, followed by blueberry, pine, toasty malt, nutty yeast, grapefruit pith, tangerines, and mangoes.  There is a finishing note that is off, not bad or infected off, just off.  Kind of flabby finish, not crisp and clean.  A little sweaty.  Bitterness in the finish that I would like to see more of, not as strong as I'd like which seems to be the difficulty I have with IPAs.

Medium/light body, medium carbonation, semi-dry finish, balanced bitterness (needs more).  Wondering if the flabby finish is a pH issue.

Huge hop explosion out of the glass, complex hop notes, lots of fruits, pine, resiny hops, touch of sweet onion.  Flavor and feel are great, only issues are the lower bitterness and flabby finish flavor.  Need to get that bitterness cranked up.  I have wondered for a few batches now whether I might need to adjust the pH down a couple nothces in the finish.  If I add a drop of Lactic acid to the glass the finish is less flabby, but still not as crisp.  Possibly needs even more sulfate and magnesium?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Recipe: #59 Dark World (Beer Advocate Crowd Sourced American Stout)

I really wanted to get a Stout on for St. Patrick's Day.  I've wanted to do this every year and this year was looking like another, "maybe next year" kinda year again.  I had a brew day on the calendar for a Pilsner and a Saison, but saw that I had the chance to make a Stout instead, and still have it ready in time for St Patrick's Day if I used the right yeast, plus I don't really want a Pils right now, I want a Stout.  I had to have it fermented and carbed up in 2 weeks and 2 days.  Using 1968 would give me a quick fermentation and even quicker clearing.  Now I just needed to work up a recipe.

Awhile back Vikeman, a Beer Advocate homebrew forum member, put together a poll to do a crowd sourced Stout recipe.  The popular votes fell on American Stout, and a string of new polls ensued to decide the OG, FG, ABV, IBU, grist composition, yeast, mash temps, hops, etc.  In the end the recipe was compiled and released with multiple brewers around the country brewing the recipe for themselves.  I really enjoyed being a part of the polls, and wanted to brew this beer, so I figured I had my recipe.  This recipe included toasted oatmeal so a few days before brewing I put the oatmeal into the oven set at 350*F for about 40 minutes giving it a couple stirs and letting the kitchen smell like cookies, then I placed it in a paper bag to cool for a few days.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

BJCP Exam Study Group Tech Article: Yeast And Fermentation

This is the Tech Article I wrote on Yeast and Fermentation for our BJCP Exam study group earlier this week.  It is long, but not overly technical:


Pitch Rate & Health
Yeast Cells
  • Most of the off flavors/flaws in a beer are directly connected to yeast health and pitching rates (as well as fermentation temperatures), making yeast care and fermentation the most important factors in brewing aside from sanitation. In order to properly ferment a beer wort and avoid all the flaws associated with poor fermentation you need to ensure that your yeast are healthy and that you have the proper amount of them, as well as the ability to control the temperature of the fermenting beer. Old yeast will not be sufficient to fully ferment a beer and clean up after itself; neither will pitching too low of a cell count. Yeast should be pitched at a rate of 0.75 million cells of viable yeast, for every milliliter of wort, for every degree plato, 1.5 million for a lager (Jamil Z, Mr Malty.com) As the gravity of the beer increases so does the amount of healty cells required, as with volume as well. In order to achieve the correct amount of healthy cells you have a number of options. You can brew a low gravity beer such as a Mild, Bitter, or APA, then use some or all of the yeast cake for the larger beer. You can also make a starter by fermenting a mini-batch (1 pint to 1 gallon based on the beer to be fermented) then use that yeast to ferment the main beer (a stirred starter of roughly 1.040 OG works best). Or you can go to a local brewery that has a yeast which matches your needs and ask for a pitch of their slurry. Consult an online pitch rate calculator for the proper amount of yeast to pitch as well as the best way to achieve this.
  • You should have enough fresh yeast to not only finish the job properly but to start it quickly to avoid contamination from bacteria, wild yeast, or molds which all want at your sugary goodness as well.
  • In order for yeast to have the optimal health and ability to reproduce it requires nutrients which are typically found in standard beer wort but can be added through using commercially available nutrient blends. It also requires oxygen for reproduction which the beer wort is highly deprived of as it has been driven off in the boil. Oxygen should be added to the beer prior to fermentation for proper yeast growth.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Witte Comeback

Two summers ago I was really loving the 3726 Farmhouse Ale PC WYeast strain, and I used to to make a Witbier which I soured 1 gallon of and then blended back into the full batch at bottling.  The result was a mildly tart Wit with too much Chamomile.  After nearly 21 month I expected something more "Wild", but the results are still enjoyable. 

Pours a semi hazy pale gold with a huge moussey pure white head that stays thick for the whole glass leaving thick sticky lace all the way through.  Lots of bubbles.

Smells of Chamomile flowers and light Brett funk.  Wheat and coriander follow with citrus and and a mild tartness.  Fruity, hint of strawberry.  The Brett character is actually fairly low for as old as this beer is.

Light wheat character, mild lactic tartness, hint of cardboard, citrus, mild Brett fruitiness, strawberry.  Chamomile.  Not a whole lot left from the spices.  Citrus rind when I burped.

Tart and dry, spritzy on the tongue.  The finish is still silky from the Oats.  Mild bitterness to balance.

Can't believe after 17 months and Brett the Chamomile is still so evident.  The mild tartness and Brett character is great addition of complexity to the overall beer, though the citrus and coriander is nearly non-existent.  Fun experiment, definitely worth doing again.