Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RECIPE #75: The Justin (American Barleywine)

I have been brewing for 4 years now.  During that 4 years I have written at least 6 recipes for a Barleywine, but never pulled the trigger.  It's not that I am afraid of the style.  It's that I am not too sure that I wanted a full 5 gallons of it.  Sometimes I really love Barleywines, sometimes not so much.  The beer that defines the American Style tastes like garbage fresh... yes, Bigfoot, I'm looking at you!  Overly bitter, grassy, astringent, like chewing on hop cones, overlaying tangy caramel malt and a little roasted dryness.  I really enjoy the lower IBUs and bolder malt character of English Barleywines, but thus far in my brewing career, I have failed to make an outstanding British beer of a lower gravity, making a bigger one isn't really what I wanted to do (too much money and time invested).  So, for this one, when I finally pull the trigger, I went for a blend.  Malt complexity, toffee, toasty, and lots of bold American hops.  All of this layered over enough bitterness to balance and clear the pallate, but not so much that it is the only thing you can taste.  I chose a yeast with character and a medium attenuation to keep it from drying out too much, and to add an extra layer of complexity.  I am hoping that this beer will age gracefully for quite a few years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

REVIEW: BANGARANG: No Nap (Coffee Porter)

There is something so comforting about a dark beer in the cold of winter.  The roast and chocolate, the hint of sweetness, a touch of toasty malts, it seems to invoke the natural atmosphere of the season.  It's something you can snuggle up to the fire with.  A good cup of coffee can do much the same on those dark and dreary days.  And of course, these two beverages make great friends.  The dark, chocolaty, roastiness of the beer and the coffee interplay beautifully if done well.  As a bonus, it makes for a great beer to pair with breakfast, whether on a Saturday morning, or Tuesday night.  Turned out just like I hoped the recipe would.

Look:  2/3
Pours a dark brown, almost black, see of lusciousness under a creamy tannish head that persists to a thick cap all the way down.  It is too dark to see through, but is super clear with garnet highlights.  Foam clings to the glass to the end.

Aroma:  10/12
The first thing to blast you from the glass is fresh cold pressed coffee!  Roast, chocolate, bold mocha.  Not like 2 day old coffee at work, fresh and vibrant, like smelling the coffee grinder after a fresh batch.  Under the coffee are notes of walnut skins, rich toffee, and biscuits.  There are also some mild dark fruit esters in the background.

Flavor:  16/20
Tastes like a barista prepared you the best cup of Joe.  Coffee dominates with mild roast and dark chocolate.  There is a low level of earthy hop notes that pair well with the roast and coffee, layered over bitter chocolate, biscuits, and walnut skins.  Hop bitterness is in the medium range and could use a boost to help the finish hit with a touch more oomph.

Mouthfeel:  3/5
Medium body gives way to a semi-sweet finish that is balanced out by the bitterness and roast which linger on the palate.  Medium carbonation helps to cleanse the palate.  There is something slightly off in the end, it sits a little flabby.  Needs to either have a few more IBUs or a few more points off the FG to give it a finishing punch.

Overall:  9/10
The combination of the base beer and the coffee beans is exquisite.  Hard to tell where the coffee ends and the beer begins.  The sweetness of the beer pairs well with the roast in the malt and coffee, and is balanced well with the bitterness of the hops.  Multi layered beer as the coffee kicks hard and then gives way to toffee, chocolate, toasty malts, and earthy hops below.  The stonefruit esters from the yeast play well with the cherry notes from the beans as well.  Again, the finish needs a little more punch to it, but otherwise a wonderful beer.  And at 5.5% you can have a few.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Equipment: March Pump In Tool Box - Rebuild (Stainless Steel with Sample Port)

2 years ago for Christmas my Dad bought me a single present, the March Pump I had been wanting for quite a while.  Since I don't have a brew stand and have to tear down and move my brew house after every brewday the best option for my needs was to build it into a tool box.  I happened to have a tool box fit for the job as well.  Originally I had looked at BYO articles for the build, as well as a few others.  I opted to include an outlet along with the switch so that I can plug in other electrical equipment when needed like my vacuum sealer for resealing hops.  I also went with a flat light switch instead of the standard one that sticks out away from the surface, this will keep me from possibly catching something on it and accidentally turning it on while dry.

After a few years of using the original mixture of brass fittings with the aluminum camlocks I finally switched to all Stainless Steel.  This gives me the ability to know that there isn't any reacting of the metals, and allows me to use any SS safe cleaners with out worrying if that cleaner is safe for multiple metals.  And lets just be honest, the full SS looks sexier.  I scored SS cam locks for my birthday gift from my wife, and had some bonuses from work that allowed me to source the other pieces on eBay for a good deal.  On this iteration I also added a second ball valve on the out flow for bleeding off air and for pulling samples (thanks to the recent BYO article for giving me more info on this).

To make it easier on anyone wanting to build there own, I have included the original build of the pump into the tool box, and then updated the install of the fittings onto the pump head.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

RECIPES: #72 BANGARANG: No Nap (Coffee Porter) & #73 Dark Dismay (Brett Porter)

I don't typically brew Porters.  Actually, I've never brewed a Porter in my 4 years of brewing.  You know, Porter, that obscure style, is it a less roasty Stout, or a more roasty Brown Ale?  But there is something wonderful about a good Porter on a cool night.  My inspiration to make this beer was from the Mad Fermentationist and his new book American Sour Beers.  In it he references a Vatted Porter made by a commercial brewery where they age a Porter with Brett and Lacto in oak tuns for some time.  I decided I was going to do the same, brew 10 gallons, and age half for funk.  My wife told me I always sour and play with Brett, do something different for once. O_o?  She suggested coffee.  So I went with it.  Half coffee, and half aged on Brett for funk.  I had gotten to enraptured in the idea that I wasn't going to miss out on it.