Friday, February 27, 2015

Trois vs Cal Ale IPA Tasting

One of the flagship beers for the brewery will be a 7% ABV IPA.  I'm looking for loads of hop expression and a firm, but not overpowering bitterness.  This batch of IPA was split between White Labs Cal Ale and "Brett" Trios.  Of course, there is a lot of stir around the inter-webs about the fact that it is indeed not Brett.  But it still acts like Brett and throws flavors like Brett primary with big tropical fruit esters.  I did this to begin the process of not only getting house recipes, but also getting a house yeast strain.  The difference between these two beers is almost night and day.  The Trios continued to act on the dry hops morphing them around in the keg (producing CO2 as well).  I am not sure where the huge melon component in the Cal Ale version came from since there are no melony hops in the mix, but it is a huge turn off to me, even though judges really liked it and it got an Honorable Mention.  The Trios through some phenols as well that detracted from the overall flavor.  Good start to recipe and yeast formulation, but definitely not there yet.

Release the Panic (Trios IPA):

Tropics burst off the nose, pineapple and mango.  Behind the big esters are citrus rinds and hints of resin.  Mild alcohol peeks out behind the powerful aroma.  There is a touch of phenols, some peach, with mild grassy and melon notes.  No where near as much grass and melon as the Cal Ale.

Pours a super clear golden orange under a dense off-white head with tiny bubbles.  Fades to a thick cap and leaves lots of spotty lace all the way down the glass.

Hop oils coat the tongue, heavy notes of citrus and pine.  Spicy notes could be peppery phenols or from the hops.  Pineapple esters and sweet malt notes make it almost candy like.  Bitter finish, less so than the Cal Ale version.

Body is a quite thin and watery, especially for the level of cara-pils in this recipe.  Semi-dry finish.  Bitter and oily.  Medium carbonation.

Feed the Machine (Cal Ale IPA):

Huge melon and vegetal note leaps from the glass.  It is odd, this is the same exact aroma, just sometimes it is a lot of vegetable and the next it is melon.  Hints of sweetness, candy like, followed by mild herbal notes and citrus rinds.

Pours a super clear golden orange under a dense off-white head... sound familiar?  The head on this beer stays around longer and thicker than the Trios version.  Head is moussey.  Leaves lots of lace.

Tastes like hop candy and cantaloupe (I hate cantaloupe), resin, and pine.  Vegetative notes and medium citrus pith.  Honey like malts.  Medium high bitterness.

Medium body with a fairly dry and bitter finish.  Crisp.  Body is much more in line with an IPA than the Trios version.

Overall Comparison of Both:
The Trios version is very enjoyable in the nose and flavor, lots of tropics and hop notes lends an enjoyable complexity.  The phenols and thin body detract from the overall wonder of this beer.  For the Cal Ale version the body is spot on as is the cleanness of the fermentation, but the super melon notes are too much.  The odd thing is that there are no melony hops in the mix, and it only came in on the dry hops.  Speaking of dry hops, part of the reason the melons don't come through on the Trios version might be due to the fact that this yeast was still active in the keg during the warm dry-hopping (it started carbonating on its own).  It was exciting to do this little experiment.  I need to work on the body and fermentation parameters, but definitely going with Brett (yes I know that Trios is not Brett, which is why the next batch will have actual Brett as the sole yeast).  Neither of these beers will become the Flagship IPA for the brewery, but it gets me one step closer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

RECIPE #82 & 83: Breaking the Habit (Coffee Porter)

When I first brewed my Coffee Porter it was because my wife told me to stop adding Brett to everything.  I was going to make 10 gallons of Porter, and then add Brett to half of it for secondary.  She told me to add coffee instead.  So I did... to the plain version.  The beer that ensued was a wonderful marriage of roast and cocoa.  It was difficult to tell where the coffee started and the beer stopped.  When Becca told me to do it, I did, assuming it would be a fun beer to make once, she would be happy, and I would still get to make the Brett finished version I really wanted.  Little did I know that this would be one awesome beer and is now being refined to house a spot in my Flagship beers for the brewery.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RECIPE: #80 Dubblespeak (Belgian Dubbel)

We are homebrewers.  This means we don't simply go buy something in the store that we can make at home.   We don't buy beer, we make it.  We don't buy fully fabricated kettles and mash tuns (well, I don't at least), we make em.  We don't pay for yeast, we culture em.  We don't buy overpriced Candi sugars, we make it ourselves.  Okay, those last few are me, many brewers do pay for those things, I would just rather put my money elsewhere.  In preperation for a Quad I would like to make (Westy 12/St Bernardus abt 12 rift) I had to test the homemade Belgian Candi Syrup I made.  That is where this recipe comes into play.  I had a fair amount of syrup left over after the 2.5# needed for the Quad, so I worked up a simple Dubbel recipe to test it out.  I didn't bring in any Special B since I only wanted what the syrup brings.  This batch was split with a Blonde by adding the 2 different sugars to the fermentor at the time I racked from the kettle.  The Vienna malt should add some toasty depth.  I had originally planned to use the St Bernardus yeast but I had 3 failed attempts to culture it from bottles (old beers and higher gravities).  I finally got a good pitch built up, but it smelled off so I plated the yeast and isolated a single colony.  I didn't have time to grow it up for this beer so I woke up the Fantome strain which won't flocc for anything.  I am still waiting for the beer to clear up some so I can judge color and get a cleaner flavor profile.  Once I get that I will review it and post the Candi Syrup recipe and process too.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

RECIPE: #79 Blonde Jokes (Belgian Blonde)

Every so often you get that wild hare and go for it.  This is one of those beers.  I had made Belgian Dark Candi syrup to use in a quad but needed to try it out first.  Thus I decided to make a Dubbel, but I didn't have enough to make 10 gallons, so I needed to add something else to the mix.  I went with a single mash, single boil, split ferments with 2 different sugars.  For this beer I went with straight Demera sugar for a Belgian Blonde ale.  The color difference is quite noticeable right after adding the sugars.  I wanted something in the higher alcohol range, but still light, refreshing, and crisp.  I also wanted to see what my house wild yeast would do in a fresh beer, so it became the primary yeast strain.  It simply refuses to drop clear, so this one might be awhile before it is reviewed.