Friday, April 27, 2012

Saison II Tasting

Back in late December, I brewed up two batches of saison, one a petite version to be fermented without bugs and another stronger version to be fermented with a mixture of Saison and Ardennes yeast and bugged with various types of brett. However, I also wanted to save a portion of the beer as to compare it with the brett versions. This beer has been in the bottle for nearly four months and besides from sneaking a tasting a month in, I haven't given this beer much thought. When I first tried it, it was quite cloudy with a slight yeast bite and wholly uncarbonated. On a whim, I'd thought I try one for today. Also, if anyone knows the best way to 'feed' brett in the secondary, let me know. I was thinking of adding some maltodextrine or fruit to some of the beer, but was unsure of when is a good time to do so. 

Saison Deux : Belgian Saison                       

Appearance - Pours a light gold/honey color with a voluminous, fluffy head with good retention. The beer is lightly hazy.

Aroma - Lots of tropical fruit esters - mango, pineapple, and passion fruit - with a lightly peppery and spicy yeast character. Some malt character is evident, although no signs of the rye. The aroma is more perfumey than full-on ripe fruit.

Taste -  First impression is of tropical fruit and it is quickly followed by a spicy and peppery yeast character. The malt is neutral and well balanced by the fruity flavors. No real rye flavor to speak of and it is hard to differentiate the hops from the fruity esters. The beer finishes very dry and crisp with a medium bitterness at the end. Curiously, the beer has a mild almond/apple aftertaste.
                                                                                               
Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-high and appropriate for the style. While the beer finishes very dry, it does have a pleasant and smooth mouthfeel.  
     
Drinkability & Notes - I'm happy with this one. While it doesn't really have the same aggressive fruitiness that most people associate with saisons, as I did ferment it around 75-80F, it does taste nice and goes down easily. This beer was also fermented with a mix of the Saison II and Ardennes yeast (80-20) and I wonder if the some of the peppery-spiciness is from the Ardennes. While I am not a huge fan of saisons, I must say I really like the fruitiness that the Saison II (wlp566) yeast provides and I am tempted to brew a full batch and put it on tap for the summer. If I were to rebrew this beer, I'd probably ferment it warmer and add more rye. I don't think 6% rye is really going to do anything for the flavor.

O.G: 1.052, F.G: 1.002, 6.5% ABV, 30 IBU, WLP566 Saison II & Ardennes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whitbread 1836 Porter Tasting

This is a beer I've been wanting to do a tasting of for a while now. Not only is it one of the historical porters I brewed over the winter and have been waiting to drink ever since, but it was also made with a sizable portion of homemade brown malt that I had kilned over a hardwood fire; in an attempt to simulate the brown malts used around the turn of the century. History in a glass. Can't get much better than that!

First, a little back story about the brown malt. Originally, my intention for making brown malt came about because I was skeptical of using modern brown malts in historical porter recipes. Since brown malt was used in such high amounts in those early recipes, I found it hard to believe that our modern day drum-roasted brown malt could produce a beer of similar flavor as those brewed with fire-kilned malts. After doing some research about making brown malt and finding the materials, I made three batches of the stuff. The first batch I made was kilned over hornbeam, the traditional type of wood used to make brown malt. In fact, places like Hertfordshire (England) became centers of brown malt production due to the ample supply of hornbeam wood so needed for producing the huge amounts of malt required by the London breweries. (The basic premise for making brown malt was to spread green malt over a wire-mesh screen and dry the grain at a medium temperature before adding the hornbeam to the fire and quickly bringing the temperature up. The intense heat resulted in a "blown" malt, as the grains snapped, popped, and charred under the fire). Anyways, this first batch of brown malt was used to brew a historical porter that is now bulk aging with brettanomyces clausseni in the secondary. My second and third batches were kilned in the same manner as the first, but over a mixture of hornbeam and cherry wood. The last batch was kilned longer than the others, in an attempt to impart a smokey, charred, and "empyreumatic" flavor so noted in those historical brown malts. I used it for this beer.

The recipe for this beer is from the Whitbread brewery and dates from the 15th of July, 1836. The grist was 77% pale malt (I used Maris Otter), 20% brown malt, and 3% black malt for an original gravity of 1.064. I didn't know the hopping rates, so I used UK fuggles for about 45 IBU. I did a single infusion mash, although I suspect the original beer would have had employed a set of gyles and long boils. The beer was fermented with wy1318 for twenty days. It has been in the bottle now for nearly three months.

Whitbread 1836 Porter: Historical Porter

Appearance - Pours a clear, black color with beautiful ruby highlights and a light, tan colored head that quickly settles to a fine ring. Some lacing. Clarity is excellent.

Aroma - First impression is of dry chocolate, tawny port, and some light fruity esters. No diacetyl. The biscuit malt character is rather muted and the beer has a slightly sweet, burnt sugar aroma as it warms up. Reminds me of a chocolaty, roasted dessert wine. Not smokey.

Taste - Strong, dry cocoa powder and spiced coffee followed by a very dry, burnt sugar-licorice type of flavor. Amazingly, the beer has a definite 'wood' flavor, almost as if it ha been aged in an oak barrel for an extended amount of time. This has to be from the wood-kilned malt. There is also a slightly charred chocolate flavor, almost as if you baked a chocolate cake in a wood fired oven. However, there is virtually no smokiness in the beer. The esters are lightly fruity and there is no discernible hop character. No diacetyl. The bitterness is moderate and paired with the dry character of the beer, it finishes somewhat thin and crisp. Some sweetness is perceptible. Not sour or tart. 

Mouthfeel - The beer is dry and the carbonation is lightly prickly. It has a wine like viscosity once the carbonation dissipates. 

Drinkability & Notes - Where to start with this one. First, the flavor profile of this beer is really unique, completely unlike any beer I've ever had. In many ways, it reminds me more of a chocolaty port wine than a beer, but at the same time it has the hallmark flavors we so associate with porters. Also, the chocolate flavor of this beer is virtually spot for a dry cocoa powder. However, what is most surprising, is the amount of 'wood' flavor the beer has. In a few historical accounts, it mentions how porter takes on the "flavor of the wood," which I had always assumed was a smokey flavor from the malt. Yet, while the beer did have a light smoke character when the beer was very young - like a few weeks into fermentation - the smoke character was all but gone by bottling time. Lastly, while I very much enjoy the flavor of this beer, it definitely is a sipper. The beer isn't acrid or hash tasting and drinks smoothly, but the overall flavor combination is a bit shocking at first. A good beer to pour into a snifter and enjoy by the fire!

Things to consider:

- Could it be possible that such early porters were not as smokey as we may have originally assumed? When I first kilned my brown malt, I was surprised that even while the malt was in close proximity to the fire for over an hour, the malt didn't smell or taste particularly smokey. However, once I brewed with it, the wort did take on a smoke character, but only to have it dissipate once fermentation was complete. In someways, the lack of smoke character is not surprising considering hornbeam is noted to produce a very hot fire without lots of smoke. The cherry wood behaved similar to the hornbeam too. 

- Porters brewed around this time could have been considerably 'black' in color. Some sources indicate these beers would have been more of a light amber to brown in color, but all of my batches of brown malt produced a beer that was considerably dark in color. Not as black as our modern porters, but still quite opaque. 

- It is safe to say that modern brown malts are NOT going to give you the same flavor as the fire kilned ones. Brewing a historical 1800's beer with 21st century brown malt? Your doing it wrong! :) I'm not saying my process was exactly the same as the historical ones, but the flavors I got from the kilned brown malt were entirely different than that of the modern stuff. Also, I was very surprised how the fire kilned brown malt imparted such a degree of 'wood' flavor to the beer. When I first tasted this beer, I had originally thought I got the bottle mixed up with one of my oak-aged ones. Could historical porters have had more wood flavor by means of the malt, than we originally thought?! 

Lastly, I will be making another batch of hornbeam kilned brown malt here in a few weeks. Some if it will be used for another beer and the rest will be sent to some people interested in trying it out for themselves. More experiments to come. Interestingly, the brown malt I made wasn't nearly as diastatic as I had originally intended.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brew Day: Coal Porter II

I sometimes wonder how other homebrewers decide on what beer to brew next. I know some people find inspiration from commercial beers or make up a to-brew list long in advance. Sorta like those guys who try and brew the entire BJCP style guideline. I even have one friend who pretty much only makes IPA's; each and every brew day is an exercise in getting as much hop flavor into the beer as humanly possible. While you won't find me doing this, I can appreciate the dedication of brewing one type of beer almost exclusively. You know, that whole quest for beer perfection bit. Anyways, while I was looking over my yeast choices to see what type of beer I wanted to brew for today, I had a sinking feeling that I needed to brew something new.... something completely different than my usual bitter-porter-bitter rotation. Something I could get my friends excited about, something I could lay into the hype and name "Leviathan" or "Destroyer of Worlds" and make up a bottle label for. Maybe a barleywine?!

So I sat down and made up a recipe for a barleywine. I even made a yeast starter for it. But the closer it came to brew day, the more I wanted to brew those styles I most enjoy. Maybe its that I've been brewing long enough to know what I like and dislike or because I've become complacent, but I'm content brewing the same types of beers over and over. Sorta like the sense of satisfaction you get when you walk into your favorite pub and the bartender greets you by name and already has a pint waiting for you. Of place and purpose. With that in mind, today is a porter brew day. Pretty much the same as any of my other porters, just a tad higher in gravity due to the large yeast starter I made for the barleywine. Nothing too different and no special names or bottle labels. Looking forward to drinking this in a month or so.

Hops are up!
Coal Porter II : Robust Porter                                                                                Recipe Specifics:
-----------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.0
Anticipated OG: 1.060
Anticipated FG: 1.012
Anticipated SRM: 38
Anticipated IBU: 35
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
------------
80.0% - 8.00 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
7.5%   - 0.75 lbs. Chocolate Malt
5.0%   - 0.50 lbs. Crystal 60L
5.0%   - 0.50 lbs. Brown Malt
2.5%   - 0.25 lbs. Roasted Barley

Hops:
------
1.50 oz. UK Fuggles @ 60 min for 30 IBU
0.50 oz. UK Fuggles @ 30 min for 5 IBU

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London III
Mash 154F for 75 min

Brewed on 23 April

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brew Day: Hibiscus Wheat

Ah, finally a brew day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the trees are in full pollen assault mode. Thank god I don't have allergies. Anyways, I had originally planned to brew an American hefeweizen, but my yeast starter hasn't done a damn thing for the past two days. The yeast was pretty much expired when I bought it - I only paid a buck for it - so no surprise there. Instead, I'd figure I would go back to my early days of homebrewing and resurrect a beer I haven't brewed in damn near forever. Hibiscus wheat. Possibly the most 'girly' of beers in my repertoire, this one garnered quite a reputation in my college days and nearly became the stuff of legend. The recipe is about as simple as you can get, cheap US 2-row malt and a near equal amount of wheat malt. Though this time I'll add some flaked wheat for a bit more mouthfeel. Hops were originally US goldings, but this time I'm going to go with some NZ hallertauer, moteuka, and US citra. The hibiscus is a single 5 minute addition. Honestly, I probably should have saved the ingredients and brewed something different, but this should make a nice summer time drink.

Petite Saison
Hibiscus Wheat : American Wheat                                                                                                            
Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.00
Anticipated OG: 1.052
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 4
Anticipated IBU: 22
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar
------------
56.3% - 4.50 lbs. US 2-Row
31.3% - 2.50 lbs. White wheat malt
12.5% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked wheat

Hops
------
0.50 oz. US Goldings @ 60 min for 10 IBU
0.50 oz. NZ Hallertauer @ 10 min for 6.5 IBU
0.50 oz. Moteuka @ 10 min for 5.5 IBU
0.50 oz. NZ Hallertauer @ flameout 
0.50 oz. Moteuka @ flameout
0.50 oz. Citra @ flameout

1.00 oz. Hibiscus @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale
Mash 152F for 75 min.
Brewed 17 April

Monday, April 16, 2012

Session Porter Tasting

After a rather slow spring, things have finally picked up around here. I am right in the middle of a few big projects for work and between that and prior commitments, my time for brewing has been slowly fading away. On top of it all, I may soon be venturing into the pro-brewing world. It's been hectic to say the least. However, there is always time for beer... drinking. Recently, some friends and I spent an evening around a campfire drinking beer. I brought a few growlers of my porter to share and after a few hours of beer-y relaxation under the stars, we made a proper session out of it. Session beer... made for drinking. Who knew?

shitty camera
Session Porter: Brown Porter

Appearance – From the tap it pours a deep black with beautiful, clear-ruby highlights and a moderate tan colored head. Retention is fair with some lacing.

Aroma – First impression is of dark chocolate and coffee with some light and earthy hops on the end. As the beer warms, it develops a pleasant chocolate and toffee candy type of aroma. Reminds me of those chocolate covered caramel candies I used to buy as a kid...Rolos. Esters are lightly fruity and there is a slight hop presence. No diacetyl. 

Taste – Lots of toffee and light coffee flavor with chocolate, biscuit, and dry cocoa in support. Some earthy, fuggles hop character and light English yeast esters. No diacetyl. The beer goes down very easy and has a good balance of flavors. No one flavor takes the lead. The beer finishes rather dry but has a nice caramel sweetness on the end that balances everything out. Probably have the yeast to thank for that. Bitterness levels are low and the overall balance of flavors is squarely on the malt. 

Mouthfeel – Carbonation is adequate, probably on the lower side of things, but fine for the style. The mouthfeel is medium and creamy. 

Drinkability & Notes – Another tasty porter. Nothing about the beer is 'in-your-face' but it does pack a good amount of flavor for such a little thing. There really isn't anything about the recipe I would change at the moment, except maybe skipping the flameout addition, as I did get more hop character than I originally intended. Nothing major though. I think the key to making this type of beer is getting a good balance of flavors. Too often the beer gets completely overwhelmed by a single malt (usually chocolate or roast) and you don't get the different layers of flavors. I think the next time I brew a porter, I'll do something similar to this but increase the gravity into the 'robust' range. 

O.G: 1.043, F.G: 1.012, 4.0% ABV, 24 IBU, Wyeast 1318 London III

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Brew Day: Best Bitter w/ Invert

I was originally thinking of brewing an American style Hefeweizen today, but I never got around to making the yeast starter. Instead, I figure I'll use some of the wy1768 yeast I washed from my recent batch of Nut Brown and brew another batch of special bitter. Not that I really need another one on tap! This recipe isn't too different from my other bitters; Maris Otter with some toasted malt and a small amount of dark crystal. To help round out the aggressive hopping schedule and provide some additional residual sweetness, I'll add a good amount of homemade invert syrup to the boil. Also, as this yeast tends to ferment clean and dry, more so than I normally like, the invert should add another dimension of flavor and give the beer some light-toffee flavors. The invert also goes very well with highly hopped beers. Lastly, I'll be trying out some new, 2011 crop whole leaf EKG hops in this batch. Should turn out nice.

American Pale Ale
Creek Bitter II : English Special Bitter

Recipe Specifics
-----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.00
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 10
Anticipated IBU: 38
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar
------------
81.3% - 6.50 lbs. Pale, Maris Otter
6.3%   - 0.50 lbs. Toasted Malt
3.1%   - 0.25 lbs. Crystal 120L
9.4%   - 0.75 lbs. Invert No. 1

Hops
------
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 60 min for 25 IBU
0.50 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 30 min for 10 IBU
0.50 oz. East Kent Goldings @ 10 min for 3 IBU
2.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ flameout 
1.00 oz. East Kent Goldings @ Dry-hop 

Yeast: Wyeast 1768 Special Bitter (Young's)
Mash 154F for 75 min.
Brewed 8 April

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Gold Bitter Tasting

I've been wanting to do a tasting of this beer for a while now, but the keg just keeps getting better and better. For those of you who may remember, sometime in early February I bought a pound of UK First Gold hops on a whim, having never used them in any quantity. What's more, there didn't seem to be much information about the hops or people's experiences using them. English hops don't tend to get people that excited. Anyways, the recipe I used was loosely based on Tim Tayor's Landord - Golden Promise and 2% extra dark crystal - and all First Gold hops, with additions at 60, 15, 5, and 0 min with a seven day keg dry hop. I was aiming for more of a golden ale or summer bitter type of flavor profile; light, clean malt with lots of floral and citrusy hops. And amazingly, I had the immense privilege to have had the president of one our country's oldest and largest breweries over for a personal tasting of my homebrew last night. Let's just say he really liked this one...

First Gold Bitter: Extra Special Bitter

Appearance – From the tap it pours a lightly hop-hazed, honey color with a thin head and decent retention. Clarity could be a bit better.

Aroma – Clean, light malt followed by a ton of floral and citrusy hops. The hop aroma has a definite Seville orange - marmalade character with notes of apricot, lemon, and floral herbs. When the beer was young, the hop character had a strong candied orange type of thing going on - similar to that of a Belgian wit - although it has mellowed considerably since then. While the hops are quite citrusy, they have the same herbal and floral aroma found in good quality EKG's. 

Taste – Again, the hops lead the way with the same citrusy-orange, apricot, and herbal hoppyness. Maybe it is that I'm not very familiar these types of English hops, but the citrus flavor I'm getting here is really quite surprising. The malt profile is very clean and lager like. Not much crystal character besides a light sweetness and the esters are restrained. No diacetyl. The hop bitterness is medium-high and lasts into the finish. The beer finishes dry and crisp. 

Mouthfeel – Carbonation is medium-low and about right for this type of beer

Drinkability & Notes – To be honest, I am floored by the amount of citrus character found in these hops. Definitely one of those varieties that has completely surpassed my expectations... and knowing it is a UK variety makes it all the better. I'll be brewing with these again for sure. As for the beer, I really can't complain about anything. The clarity could be better, but the flavor is spot on and my guests thoroughly enjoyed it, along with my other beers. It is good to get such positive remarks from people who have been in the brewing industry longer than you've been alive. And lastly, I can't say enough good things about the Bedford Bitter yeast. Between this and wy1318, I might have found the only British yeasts I'll ever need.... eh, maybe. 

O.G: 1.048, F.G: 1.009, 5.1% ABV, 40 IBU, WhiteLabs 006 Bedford Bitter.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kegged v. Bottled Beer Experiment

I was sitting at the bar of my local not long ago, enjoying a few pints of Anchor Steam on draught, when I was approached by a beer nerd/hipster drinking a bottle of the same thing. Elbowing my friend to get within an arms length of me, he brazenly hoisted his bottle before my eyes and told me in a very matter-of-fact, douche-bag type of way that if I wanted to drink Anchor Steam at its peak flavor, I should be drinking it from the bottle. Seemingly smug with himself and the lack of an immediate response on my part, he the went on about how bottle conditioned beers are better than those from the keg and other stuff he must have picked up from one of those 'beer advocate' magazines. After he was done with his line of misinformation, I promptly told him to stick his Ray-Bans where the sun don't shine... and then ordered another pint of Anchor Steam for good measure.

Regardless of why the guy felt obliged to tell me this, or how hipster-beer nerds are possibly the bane of the craft beer world, the incident did get me thinking about a few interesting topics. Namely, when it comes to bottled and kegged beers, which ones tastes better under ideal conditions? For example, is Rochefort 10 really that much better in a bottle than when it can be found on tap? Not to mention the whole unpasturized keg beer versus the pasteurized bottle thing. Cask v. Keg too?

However, one application of the keg v. bottle debate that does have real implications for homebrewers is when it comes to competitions. As anyone who's ever shipped homebrew across the country knows, getting a beer from one place to another in the same shape as it left isn't so easy. Temperature fluctuations and agitation are not your friends. Luckily, if you bottle condition, there isn't too much to worry about. Ship the beer out in the mail and hope the competition organizers give your bottles a few days to let the yeast sediment to settle out. In contrast, those who keg their beer have a bit more to think about. Since kegged beer is best kept at cool temperatures, bottling a beer from the keg and then letting it sit around at room + temperature is not always a good thing. And when you consider that many homebrew competitions have bottle entry deadlines set weeks in advance of the actual judging, letting a kegged beer sit around for a few weeks (or a month, a la NHC shenanigans) at might not be the best thing for your beer.

To determine the effects of letting keg filled bottles of beer sit around at room temperature, I did a little experiment with my latest batch of ESB. I wanted to know exactly what happens to the flavor of my beer when I send it to a competition and it sits around, non-refrigerated, until judging time.

First, the details. This ESB (Amalgamated II) was brewed on January 19th and kegged on the 4th of February. Three weeks later, I started drinking the beer and a few weeks after that, I filled a dozen bottles straight from the keg. Half of those bottles went into the refrigerator to age and the other half into my basement where it stays a pretty constant 64-65F. Fast forward to this past weekend. Before the keg kicked, I lined up the three versions of the same beer for a blind tasting with one of my friends; the beer straight from the keg (A), a refrigerated bottle (B), and a bottle kept at room temperature (C). All of the beers were served around 50F. Here are our tasting results. (Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the tasting event. Forgot the camera).

Appearance - All three of the beers are of the same appearance, a reddish/copper color with adequate head retention and carbonation levels. Clarity is good on all of them, although beer A has a slight haze to it.

Aroma -  Beer A's aroma is biscuity malt and light caramel followed by herbal and flowery hops. Some sweetness is present, although the overall impression is of malt and hops. Few esters and no diacetyl. Beer B is virtually the same as A, except that it has less hop character. Beer C is much different, the hop aroma is subdued and the beer has a strong caramel and malt aroma. Esters are fruitier than A or B and my friend mentioned he picked up some slight butterscotch. I agreed.

Taste - Again, beer A and B are nearly identical, though beer B is somewhat less hoppy and bitter. Both beers have a medium biscuit and caramel flavor and beer A finishes bright, clean, and hoppy... B to a lesser extent. Esters for both are lightly fruity and we notice no diacetyl. In contrast, beer C is quite different. This beer has a strong caramel sweetness that is reminiscent of the dreaded "candy-corn" flavor I get in old bottles of Fullers, and the hops - bitterness is very low. In fact, the hop character so found in beer A is completely drowned under all the caramel character. Also, beer C is 'fruitier' than the others and it does have a slight butterscotch, toffee type of flavor.

Mouthfeel - Virtually no difference here.

Drinkability & Notes - All of the beers taste good, no off-flavors to speak of. We agree that beer A and B were very similar, except for the slight difference in hop character, bitterness, and clarity. Beer A was deemed the most crisp and clean beer, followed by B, and C was deemed the most "flavorful." A and B were virtually the same in terms of flavor. On the other hand, we were really surprised how much different beer C was from the other two. The one thing that really stood out was how beer C had a very strong sweet, caramel flavor and how the hop and bitterness character had seemingly disappeared. It definitely had more of an 'aged' character than the others. My friend mentioned he thought beer C tasted the most "British" and that it reminded him of Sam Smiths Pale Ale. He liked beer A&B more than C, but said it he would prefer to drink A. I agree.

In conclusion, while my experiment was is pretty limited in scope and does not entirely replicate the exact conditions of a competition, it does show that leaving a keg-filled bottle of beer at room temperature for a few weeks does have a substantial impact on flavor, at least in this case. In particular, I was was shocked how quickly beer C started developing those sickeningly sweet, "candy-corn" flavors that I so equate to bottles of older, imported British beer. With that in mind, I think it is safe to say that the average American beer drinker's perception of  British beer (caramelly, sweet, not hoppy) could be attributed to the effects of higher temperatures and/or age of the bottles of beer they are drinking. I'm not saying anything we don't already know, just that the British beer we are drinking from the bottle today, probably tastes substantially different than the stuff they're drinking across the pond. This is probably true of kegs too.

As for the ramifications of entering homebrew competitions, at least for the British styles, the changes between beers weren't so bad I think it would be a complete disaster to let keg filled bottles sit around for a week or two before judging. If anything, the change in flavor - an increase in caramel character along with the decrease in hoppiness - is probably better suited for an American BJCP competition than what may actually be found in the UK. However, I will say that I still prefer to drink beers without the 'aged' caramel flavors and won't be subjecting my beers to such a process, even if the judges like one version more than the other.

Lastly, while I don't see this type of thing being a major problem for bitters, brown ales, and darker beers, I would imagine some styles like pilsner and lighter colored beers might not benefit from such treatment. Same with low alcohol beers (mild) or those styles where you want to preserve the hop character. Moving forward from this, it would be interesting to see how a keg filled bottle of beer stacks up to one that was carbonated via priming sugar and stored under the same conditions. Would the presence of yeast in the bottle offer more stability than the one kegged under colder temperatures and without lees? Also, what about the effect of movement and heat on a beer? Maybe I'll stick a six pack of different kegged beers in the trunk of my car and drive around with them for a few weeks to find out...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Brew Day: Scottish Session II

Not long ago I picked up a vial of WLP028 Edinburgh Ale with the intention of brewing a big robust porter or stout. For whatever reason, I seem to brew most of my bigger and darker beers in the spring; last year it was Smuttynose Porter and a Foreign Extra Stout. However, I figured that if I was going to use the Scottish yeast in a beer, I might as well first use it to re-brew my failed attempt at a Scottish 70/-. As you may know, my last version of this beer got infected and never made it into the keg. This time I'll be sure to do it right. The recipe is a bit different than the one before, Golden Promise malt with a small amount of roasted barley in lieu of the black patent malt. As before, I'll boil down a portion of the first runnings and then add it back to the boil. Interestingly, while Scottish ale yeast is the 'traditional' yeast for this type of beer, I have always preferred my usual wy1318 London III yeast over this one. The Scottish yeast can throw some pretty bad esters when fermented into the high 60's and doesn't always flocculate as well as I want it to. With that in mind, I'll pitch this beer at around 60F and bring the temp up to no more than 64F for the duration of the fermentation.
Session Porter

Young Pretender II : Scottish Session Ale                                                                                                
Recipe Specifics:
-----------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 6.7
Anticipated OG: 1.037
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 12-14
Anticipated IBU: 18
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
------------
97.0% - 6.50 lbs. Pale Malt, Golden Promise
3.0%   - 0.20 lbs. Roasted Barley

Hops:
------
0.75 oz. UK Fuggles @ 60 min for 18 IBU

Yeast: WhiteLabs 028 Edinburgh Ale
Mash 158F for 75 min
Brewed on 1 April