Sunday, July 24, 2011

American IPA w/ Invert Tasting

Let's see. Brewed on 12 June, dry hopped with 1oz of Simcoe and Amarillo for ten days and kegged on 5 July. Been drinking this one for the past two weeks and boy is it good. By far the best hoppy beer I have ever made and very popular with my hop head friends. The No. 1 invert syrup adds a very nice honey sweetness and floral complexity that complements some of the light biscuit malt flavors and did well to ensure a dry finish in the beer. While I was a bit worried about using WY1332 - having heard people say it can give the beer a tart flavor - I am really happy how it performed. It fermented fast, clean, and the yeast dropped brilliantly clear within a few days.

Inverted IPA : Anglo- American IPA

Appearance – Pours a lovely, clear, honey - amber color with a thick, fluffy white head that has good retention. Carbonation is medium.  None of the hop-haze one finds in highly hopped beers.

Aroma – Full on grapefruit, pine needles, tropical fruit, and lots of resiny hops. Behind the hops are a lovely, rich malt aroma that reminds me of an English IPA. Just a hint of alcohol at the end. 

Taste – Lots of hops upfront; a buffet of pine, mango, pineapple, and wild flowers followed by a firm, snappy bitterness that coats the tongue. While very hoppy, the malt still comes through with some biscuit and honey flavor. The invert comes through too, providing a mellow light crystal-like sweetness. The bitterness and hop flavor are well balanced with the malt. The beer finishes dry and refreshing.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, creamy, and full mouthfeel with medium carbonation. Goes down exceedingly easy, almost too well for 7.5% ABV. 

Drinkability & Notes – Overall, I'm very happy with this one. While I am not the biggest hop head, this beer has everything I like about IPA's - lots lot hop flavor and aroma with supporting malt complexity and a balanced bitterness. I think the lesson learned from this batch is how good No. 1 Invert syrup can be in an IPA. 

O.G: 1.067, F.G: 1.009, 7.5% ABV, 66 IBU, Wyeast 1332 Northwest Ale

Monday, July 18, 2011

Brew Day: Special Bitter

I've been on somewhat of a 'session beer' brewing kick lately. My last four batches have all been under 1.050, with minimal hopping and bitterness. It must have something to do with the oppressive heat and humidity we've been experiencing. Whatever the reason, I figured I'd brew up another bitter as my recent ordinary bitter is nearly kicked and I like to have at least one bitter on tap at all times. This time I'm going for a pale colored bitter, using less dark crystal to allow the biscuity grain character to come through and to increase drinkability. Hop bitterness will also be restrained, though I'll be using three UK hop varieties  (including Sovereign) to make things a bit interesting. Probably will do a short dry hop on this one too. 

Creek Bitter II : Special/Best Bitter

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.75
Anticipated OG: 1.044
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 6.5
Anticipated IBU: 25
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

89.9% - 6.0 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
7.4%   - 0.5 lbs. Crystal 25L
3.7%   - 0.25 lbs. Amber Malt

0.75 oz. UK Fuggles @ 60 min for 19 IBU
0.50 oz. Organic EKG @ 15 min for 7.1 IBU
1.00 oz. UK Sovereign @ flameout 

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London Ale III
Mash 154F for 75 min
Brewed on 18 July

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brew Day: Scottish 80/-

As much as I love Scotland - its history and beer - I can't say I brew that many Scottish ales. Once in a long while I'll make a Wee Heavy or a big oatmeal stout with the Scottish ale yeast (wy1728) to put aside until winter. There is something about a big, malty Scottish ale that is just perfect when the weather is cold and the nights are long. Anyways, I recently decided it had been too long since I made a malty, low gravity Scottish ale. I guess I felt guilty for having neglected this wonderful little beer style for so long. This might not be the best beer to drink in the 95 degree August heat, but it sure is a tasty one. The recipe is just something I made up from a mix of recipes I found online. I would normally just use pale malt and a touch of black malt, with heavy kettle caramelization for more authenticity, though it's damn hot outside and I don't feel like standing in the heat any longer than I have to.

Young Pretender : Scottish Ale

Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.15
Anticipated OG: 1.045
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 14.5
Anticipated IBU: 18
Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

83.9% - 6.0 lbs. Pale Malt, Golden Promise
7.0%   - 0.5 lbs. Crystal 80L
3.5%   - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 120L
3.5%   - 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
2.1%   - 0.15 lbs. Pale Chocolate

0.75 oz. Organic Kent Goldings @ 60 min for 18 IBU

Yeast: Wyeast 1728 Scottish Ale
Mash 156F for 75 min
Brewed on 16 July

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gone Fishing...

I've been letting my beer blogging duties slip lately. I brewed three batches since my last post and I still have yet to record them here... an English Brown Porter, Amber Ale, and short boil Berliner Weisse. There, don't say you weren't informed. I also had a really interesting beer tasting on Sunday that involved some 'old goodies' - two bottles of Courage Russian Imperial Stout (forgot the dates, but both were bottled at the Tadcaster brewery), a Westvleteren 12 from 2004, and a few old bottles of mead. The Courage was pretty good - a tad soy saucey though still very complex - and the Westy did not disappoint as usual. Mead was good too.

So instead of posting a bunch of pictures that would have properly recorded all of this, I'll make it up with a few crummy pictures from my recent fishing trip. For those of you who like this type of thing, I landed (and released) eight medium-sized wild browns, all on a stonefly nymph.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Washing Highly Flocculant Yeasts

It is not too often that I will wash a yeast cake for future batches. I figure buying liquid yeast isn't going to break the bank and I don't want to run the risk ruining a batch by pitching an infected yeast slurry. However, there are a few seasonal strains that I will occasionally wash, as I only have access to them for a few months a year. These include Pacman, Yorkshire Square, Thames Valley II, Young's, and Bedford Bitter strains. The only problem with these yeasts, Pacman aside, is that they are all highly flocculant and can be difficult to wash as the yeast tends to trap trub and hop debris as it settles.

There are a few ways to wash yeast for homebrew use. The most common and simplest method involves adding sterilized, de-oxygenated water to a yeast cake, agitating it, and decanting the suspended yeast off the layer of trub and hop particles that settles out. The decanted yeast slurry is usually put in mason jars where the yeast will further settle over a period of a few days. This method works pretty well for most yeast strains, though rarely works for highly flocculant British strains - as the yeast often bonds with trub and hop material as it settles, making it nearly impossible to get a sizable amount of pure yeast for immediate re-pitching. To get around this problem, I found a similar method that easily separates the yeast from the trub material and leaves a larger sample for repitching. Here's how it's done:

First, boil a gallon or so of water in stockpot until sterilized and de-oxygenated. Sanitize a large two quart mason jar and two smaller half quart jars with lids. Rack your beer off the yeast cake and dump a half gallon of your boiled, cooled water into the fermenter and gently swirl the water to break up the yeast cake. After a while, you will notice the yeast will settle into three layers - a creamy/whitish layer at the bottom, darker one in the middle, and a hazy one at the top. For our purposes, we want to take the yeast on the bottom. If we were washing WY1056, it would be the hazy, top liquid we would decant. However, with high flocculating yeasts, taking just the top layer would result in a thin layer of yeast that when fermented, could lead to higher than normal attenuation (slow flocculators) and cloudy beer. Once the yeast have settled a bit, decant off all but the bottom layer. Add more water to the yeast and put the slurry into the large mason jar. Let it settle in the fridge for a bit. You will notice three new layers forming. Again, decant off all but the bottom layer and add more water. Once you have a good amount of yeast mixed with just a little bit of trub, agitate the yeast and let it settle again. Continue to do so until the trub and yeast completely separate into distinct layers - a small layer of brownish trub on the bottom and a thick, hazy-white layer of yeast in suspension. I find it takes a few tries to get the yeast to fully separate from the trub. Decant the remaining liquid (should be about a quart) into the other two mason jars and refrigerate for storage.

So that is one way to wash flocculant yeast. This method works best when you have as little trub and hop material in the fermenter as possible and the fewer times you have to decant, the more yeast you will retain. As I said above, I don't wash yeast often, though this method works pretty well. However, an even better way of gathering highly flocculant yeast for re-pitching is to top crop. Most English yeasts are excellent top croppers and the process, which takes little effort, results in a lot of healthy, pure yeast that can be pitched immediately or saved for later use. I would recommend top cropping over yeast washing 99% of the time, though yeast washing is a nice alternative if you aren't around when the fermenting beer is nearing high krausen. Next time I brew with wy1318, I'll top crop some yeast and document the process.