Monday, October 28, 2013

Brew Day: Brown Porter

I have a kegerator full of good beer that desperately needs to be drunk and a fermentation chest filled with stuff that needs to be kegged. I've been brewing like a madman, yet I can't say I've been drinking much. Like practically nothing. Part of the reason for this, and I hate to admit it, is that most of the stuff I have on tap isn't what I would normally sit down and drink more than one pint of. Missing are the bitters, milds, brown ales, and other session-style beers that go down easy and leave you with that "I think I'll have another," moreish feeling. Well, today I am putting that situation right, brewing what I hope will be an easy drinking, session-y porter. Something toeing the line between a porter, mild, and brown ale. Light roast and caramel flavor, with a mellow bitterness and some brown malt toastiness. And not too heavy. The recipe I am using is pretty standard for what I normally brew, although I am trying out a new yeast, a once dual-strain that came from now unknown UK brewery* and has since been in the hands of a very generous yeast rancher. I am told it produces clean and malty beers. We shall see...

Yeoman Porter: Brown Porter
Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.70
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 27
Anticipated IBU: 25
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

80.5% - 7.00 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
8.6%  - 0.75 lbs. Dark Crystal (75L)
5.7%  - 0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt
2.9%  - 0.25 lbs. Brown Malt
2.3%  - 0.20 lbs. Pale Chocolate

1.00 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 25 IBU

Yeast: BH-001
Mash 156F for 60 min
Brewed on 27 October

*Apparently, this yeast may have come from the NCYC or Whitbread yeast archives, as an unused selection from a brewing trial many years ago. Little else is known about it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Black IPA Tasting

Admittedly, I am not much of a fan of most commercial black IPAs, or whatever you want to call the style. There is just something about mixing strong pine and citrus character with your typical stout-like roast and chocolate flavors that does not go well together. Often times, BIPA's come across as an overly hoppy American stout or devolves into a train wreck of clashing hops and malts. Nine times out of ten, I'd rather drink something else. With that said, a few breweries do make good examples of the styles, one of which being Wookie Jack, a beer I will gladly drink whenever I can find it on tap.

Regardless, back in early August I had some Wookie at one my locals and figured such a beer would be a nice thing to have on tap when the weather got cold and miserable. With that in mind, I brewed what I think is a pretty good approximation of the real stuff. The recipe I used is close to the real thing, using a sizable amount of rye malt, with smaller portions of cara-rye, carafa, and roasted wheat malts. For hopping, as I had a bunch of odds and ends that I wanted to use up, I went with an unusual mix of varieties, including Columbus, Mt. Hood, Centennial, and Simcoe. After a month+ in the keg, this beer has really turned into something nice.

Wookie II: American Black Ale
Recipe Specifics:
Batch Size (Gal): 4.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.05
Anticipated OG: 1.068
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 31
Anticipated IBU: 70
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

74.7% - 9.00 lbs. Pale Malt, 2-Row
16.6% - 2.00 lbs. Rye Malt
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. Cara-Rye
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. DeBittered Black
2.9%   - 0.35 lbs. Midnight Wheat

0.50 oz. Columbus @ 60 min for 38 IBU
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ 20 min for 14 IBU
1.00 oz. Columbus @ 10 min for 18 IBU
1.00 oz. Simcoe @ flameout
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ flameout
1.00 oz. Centennial @ flameout
1.00 oz. Columbus @ dry-hop 7 days
1.00 oz. Centennial @ dry-hop 7 days 
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood @ dry-hop 7 days

Yeast: Wyeast 1764 Pacman
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 13 August

Tasting Notes:

Wookie II: American Black Ale

Appearance - Pours an opaque, ruby tinted black color with a moderate tan head that has good retention.

Aroma -  Aroma on this one jumps out of the glass; a pleasant mix of grapefruity citrus, pine, and lightly-dank hops with a clean and neutral chocolaty malt character.

Taste - Hops lead the way with strong citrus/grapefruit-piney-dank flavor, followed by a spicy and smooth rye malt character. Besides the rye, the malt profile is quite neutral, with very little dark malt. Some chocolate, but that's about it. Bitterness is high and the beer goes down smooth, clean and crisp. Again, Pacman yeast does a fantastic job in dark beers.

Mouthfeel - Carbonation is medium-low and the beer has a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

Drinkability & Notes - While I can't say this would pass for a Wookie clone, due to the hops, the malt profile is quite similar and the restrained roastiness keeps the flavors from clashing. With that said, I am not completely happy with my choice of hopping; using Mt. Hood was sort of a throw-away choice, since it is much too neutral to impart any character as a mix and while I do like the citrusy-dank contribution that Columbus makes, it seemed to overwhelm everything else when the beer was young. Overall, this is by far the best Black IPA I've brewed and one well worth re-brewing... although without Mt. Hood and the Columbus dry-hop.

7.6% ABV.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Brew Day: Brett IPA

For the past few years now, an increasing number of brewers have begun experimenting with all Brett fermentations (Brett IPA being the classic example) and given how nice these beers taste, I figured it was about time I brew one of my own. For those of you who may not be familiar with Brett fermented beers, the process is as simple as the name suggests. Basically, instead of using a regular Saccharomyces yeast, the entire fermentation is carried out with a Brett culture, namely Brettanomyces bruxellensis, claussenii, or anomalus, among others. The resulting beer tends to exhibit a fruity and mildly funky character, sometimes with a slight tartness. My first introduction to this beer style was with Russian River's Sanctification and Ithaca's wonderful collaboration brew, Super Friends; a hoppy and funky IPA. Since then, Brett fermented beers have become common among US home brewers, especially now that WhiteLabs has made the Brett Trois strain available year-round. 

For my first Brett IPA, I am going with a standard IPA recipe, using a 50/50 mix of pale and pils malt, with smaller amounts of rye, cara-pils, and honey malt. From what I have read on the subject, Brett fermentations can leave the beer with a thin mouthfeel, so it is common for many recipes to contain wheat, oats, rye, caramel malts, and other 'body' boosting ingredients. I figure the specialty malts in my recipe should help with the mouthfeel and keep the beer from tasting watery. As for the hops, I am really changing things up, using two varieties that I have never used before; Santiam and El Dorado. Both of these hops are supposed to have mellow citrus flavors, with the former imparting a citrusy-spicy character and the latter producing flavors that can be described as stone fruit and candied watermelon. Regardless, I figure they should make for an interesting pairing for the Brett yeast. Depending on how the beer tastes out of the primary, I may dry hop it with El Dorado or use another stronger variety.

Oatmeal Stout
Brett IPA: American IPA

Recipe Specifics: 
Batch Size (Gal): 5.0
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.75
Anticipated OG: 1.060
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 5
Anticipated IBU: 48
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

85.1% - 10.00 lbs. Pale and Pils Malt
8.5%   - 1.00 lbs. Rye Malt
4.3%   - 0.50 lbs. CaraPils
2.1%   - 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt

0.50 oz. Santiam @ 60 min for 10 IBU
1.00 oz. Santiam  @ 15 min for 10 IBU
1.00 oz. El Dorado @ 15 min for 15 IBU
1.00 oz. Santiam  @ 7 min for 5 IBU
1.00 oz. El Dorado  @ 7 min for 8 IBU
1.00 oz. Santiam @ flameout
2.50 oz. El Dorado @ flameout
3.00 oz (???) @ dryhop

Yeast: WhiteLabs 644 Brett Trois
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 1 October

Pitched a decanted, large yeast starter, with primary fermentation at 68F.
10/13 - Gravity is down to 1.012.