Monday, August 26, 2013

East India Porter, Imperial Tasting

After a few months of aging and many more samples enjoyed in the name of testing, I finally put this beer on tap and boy, it is sure to cause problems. I've got more friends waiting for a growler fill of this stuff as there is beer to go around. I guess I'll just have to keep it all for myself! If you are not familiar with the premise of this beer, basically what I did was to take a historical East India Porter recipe - one that makes a fantastic beer by the way - and brew it at Imperial Stout strength with American hops. Given how well the original version turned out, I figured upping the gravity by twenty points and subbing the EKG for something a bit fruitier wouldn't be half bad. I am very happy to say this beer has turned out as well as I had hoped and it is sure to re-brewed in another form sometime soon.

Barclay Perkins 1859 EI : Keeping Brown Stout

Appearance - Pours an inky and opaque black color with a small tan head that has some retention.

Aroma - Piercing citrus and grapefruity hops enveloped in a blanket of chocolate liqueur, coffee, and cocoa. There is little subtlety here, the aroma jumps out of the glass and bludgeons your senses.

Taste - Bitter and resinous grapefruity hops, followed by an intense chocolate and coffee liqueur character that completely overwhelms everything else. Kahlua, espresso, burnt toast, and lightly roasted malt flavors too. The amount of bitterness and hop character in the beer is very high, giving the fleeting impression of a Black IPA, but the hoppiness is quickly smothered by layers of chocolaty malt character.
  
Mouthfeel - Silky and full bodied with low carbonation. The beer finishes medium-dry.

Drinkability & Notes - What to say? I could have easily drunk this beer within a week of kegging, it tasted so good, but nearly three months of aging has only made it better. This is one of the best 'big' beers that I have brewed and the recipe and process is well worth repeating. As for taste comparisons, this beer has same intensity of flavor as many craft brewed Imperial Stouts (Great Divide's Yeti comes to mind) although this beer is a tad lighter and nimbler in character; it packs a wallop, but the flavor doesn't linger with the same oily heaviness.

Additional Thoughts:

I was worried that the use of C-hops in such a beer was going to be too much, but I really like the hop character where it is now. The hoppiness is big and decidedly "American," but unlike many highly hopped dark beers, the hops and roast character in this one don't clash. The beer simply lacks those acidic roast flavors. Also, these Centennial-Type hops are also very potent, considering how little I used and the amount of aroma/flavor I got from them.

Brown malt. There is something about using 20+% brown malt in these recipes that just makes a world of difference. I swear I get more chocolate character using brown malt at these precentages than I do if I were to use a similar amount of regular chocolate malt.

 8.5% ABV, 75 IBU, Wyeast 1056 American Ale. Recipe Here 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nelson-Galaxy Pale Ale, II

When I brewed this beer back in early July, my overall goal was to make an American Pale Ale that had the hop character of an IPA and some of the easy drinking, sessionable qualities of an APA. Basically, an IPA without the the 7+% ABV and high, biting bitterness. Also, as I was using some very tropical-fruity hops (Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin), I didn't want to use a lot of specialty malts in the beer, lest I muddled that amazing hop character. Taking a page from a local brewery that makes a similarly fruity IPA - Ithaca's Flower Power - I went with a simple malt bill of continental pale ale malt and a nearly inconsequential amount of honey malt. As is the case with Flower Power, I like how the simplest malt bills can really help showcase the complex, fruity character of the hops used. For the yeast, I went with a re-pitch of some WLP060 American Ale Bend, as this yeast makes a very clean and crisp tasting beer, and I also wanted to see if the yeast would produce an even cleaner beer with subsequent generations. Shortly put, it does! When all was brewed and kegged, I got a pretty good beer out of it. So good, that even though I just bought a half-case of Heady Topper (canned just over a week ago), I sorta prefer drinking my beer over theirs... although theirs is certainly hoppier and more complex tasting.

Nelson-Galaxy: American Pale Ale
           
Recipe Specifics:
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.25
Anticipated OG: 1.056
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 5
Anticipated IBU: 45
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
------------
97.6% - 10.00 lbs. Pale Malt
2.4%   - 0.25 lbs. Honey Malt

Hops:
------
0.50 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ 20 min for 18 IBU
0.50 oz. Galaxy @ 15 min for 13 IBU
0.50 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ 10 min for 9 IBU
0.50 oz. Galaxy @ 5 min for 5 IBU
1.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ flameout
1.50 oz. Galaxy @ flameout
1.50 oz. Galaxy @ dry-hop 7 days
1.00 oz. Nelson Sauvin @ dry-hop 7 days

Yeast: WLP060 American Ale Blend
Mash 154F for 60 min
Brewed on 1 July
--------------------------

Tasting Notes:

Galaxy APA: American Pale Ale

Appearance - Pours a hazy, light orange/amber color with a two-finger white head that has decent retention.

Aroma -  Big tropical fruit; papaya, mango, and passionfruit with a piney-musky earthiness. The beer has a prominent "juicy/sweet" character, similar to overripe fruit. Hops, hops, hops.

Taste - Tropical fruit dominates - passionfruit, mango, papaya - followed by a slight piney and earthy muskiness that lingers into the finish. Overall, the hop character is quite strong and IPA-like, although there is just enough malt character to keep everything in balance. Bitterness is medium-high.

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

Drinkability & Notes - Again, this hop combo doesn't disappoint. I love the mix of tropical fruit and pine from the Galaxy and the earthy-dank-fruity flavor that the Nelson hops seems to provide. In many ways, this hop combo is very 'American' in character, although it does lack some of the the punchy, citrus fruit intensity that most "C" hops have. And that is a good thing. It tastes both familiar and completely exotic. No complaints as the beer sits now, although next time I will probably dial back the Nelson (in the boil) and add a small amount of Simcoe to both the flameout and dry hop addition for a bit more complexity. 

5.7% ABV.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Brew Day: Irish Stout

Just over a year ago, I brewed an Irish Stout and in the writeup outlined some of the difficulties that I've encountered while trying to brew the style. In short, while I feel as if I can make a pretty darn good example of the style - at least to BJCP standards - I have yet to brew an Irish Stout that (perfectly) represents everything I like about this type of beer. That is, a complex and balanced beer with a mix of roast, chocolate, and coffee-type flavor... all rolled up into a silky smooth, dark beer. A tough thing to achieve.

This time around, I'm going to build off the success of my last attempt and keep the recipe pretty much the same. The only main difference being that instead of using malted or flaked wheat, I'll be substituting it for a near equal amount of flaked barley. The hope is that the flaked barley will provide a thicker and silkier mouthfeel than the wheat. For the roasted malt, I will be using a mixture of  roasted barley and chocolate malt. Also, after messing about with different yeasts, I will be going back to my old standby and favorite all around yeast for stouts: Pacman! While I used to use this yeast almost exclusively for my Irish Stouts, availability issues and the lure of experimentation put an end to that. Regardless, I like how this yeast ferments out clean and fast (often with some mildly fruity esters), attenuates well, and lends a pleasant mouthfeel even when the level of attenuation is quite low. Lastly, for hopping, I am going simple and clean, using EKG for just bitterness. Looking forward to getting this beer on tap.

Irish Red Ale
Cramer's Lane : Irish Dry Stout
           
Recipe Specifics:
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.75
Anticipated OG: 1.042
Anticipated FG: 1.010
Anticipated SRM: 30
Anticipated IBU: 25
Efficiency: 70%
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Grain/Sugar:
------------
77.4% - 6.00 lbs. Pale Malt, UK
12.9% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Barley
6.5%   - 0.50 lbs. Roasted Barley (Muntons)
3.2%   - 0.25 lbs. Chocolate Malt (Fawcett)

Hops:
------
1.50 oz. EKG @ 60 min for 25 IBU

Yeast: Wyeast 1764 Pacman
Mash 156F for 60 min
Brewed on 29 July

Notes: Yeast was pitched at 60F (with plenty of pure oxygen) and took off within 12 hours. Fermentation rose to a max of 64F, where it later finished fermenting three days later. Good flocculation. Addittionally, I changed things up with the water profile, toning down the sulfate (35ppm) and keeping the chloride high (75ppm). We'll see if it makes much of a difference.