Purchased: American Sour Beers

August 19th, 2014 by scot
Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

Seems fitting hanging out with the barrels.

I have been asking Michael Tonsmeire (The Mad Fermentationist) questions for at least three or four years: probably six months before I brewed my first foray into sour/wild home brewing. I wanted to know how I could work with Brett and how this magical yeast would be different from Sacch. Keeping it from contaminating my other beers and gear was a huge concern. I also learned that Brett does truly sour the way that the bacteria lacto does.

Since those early days my home brewery has lived harmoniously in the sour and normal beer realm. I feel like I have graduated to middle school. I have a miniscule amount of knowledge compared to Mike on the topic. Mike has had articles in BYO magazine for years but the first time I can remember him bringing up the idea of a book was via a poll on his blog.

I know that books aren’t easy to write so I had no idea if he would ever pull together his thoughts in one place. I was hopeful. Fortunately for the home brewing community Mike has a much more positive outlook on things than I do. :)

The book has been out a couple of months. Brando, the owner of the local home brewing store, Chicago Brew Werks, asked if I had read the book yet. He raved about the book. I had been intending to purchase but that was the last straw. I had to show my appreciation for all the hard work that Mike has put into helping funky home brewers and the book.

I am looking forward to the read. I am sure I won’t be able to put it down once I start. Friday night into the weekend will find me with book in one hand and a sour saison (review forthcoming) in the other. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: In 1980, a Las Vegas hospital suspended workers for betting on when patients would die.

Tasted: Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

August 13th, 2014 by scot

Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

This beer continues to evolve (first time, second time and third time blogged about). It has been brewed multiple times between with another batch ready to bottle in a week or so.

Why bring it up? Isn’t it ordinary?

I bring it up because I really enjoyed this last batch and the current batch that is fermenting was brewed to the same specifications as the last. The first time I have followed this beer up with a re-brew. I added 3 grams of bitter and sweet orange peel to the boil and, for the first time, added 3 grams of bitter and sweet orange peel, soaked in vodka, at bottling. Of course I only added the orange vodka mixture to the bottling bucket.

I no longer believe this beer to be ordinary. It isn’t extraordinary either. It is just a solid summer wheat beer with a nice orange citrus twist, well balance and easy to drink with friends. It goes over great, making it the perfect gathering beer. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 30 years ago, you could buy a Lifetime, Unlimited First-class Travel pass with American Airlines for $250,000.

Brewed: Ryled Up

August 7th, 2014 by scot

1# rye malt

I have brewed a Rye Saison a couple of times (the most recent I haven’t blogged about). Each time I have add some Brett to the beer after primary with a Saison yeast. In both instances there hasn’t been much rye left in the finished beer. I vowed to make a rye beer that would allow the rye to stand on its’ own two feet, while not over powering the beer, keeping balance and complexity.

I purchased some rye on my recent visit to the local home brew store (Chicago Brew Werks – probably the best selection of specialty malts I have seen anywhere), with the assertion that a rye beer that I have always wanted was one brew day away.

There was only one problem: I hadn’t made a recipe.

I thought about it for a bit, realizing that the large amount of hops in my freezer wasn’t getting younger. I had to start using them and a lot of them. That made the decision very simple. American IPA.

I had just finished bottling a DIPA a few days earlier, therefore I needed a beer that was more interesting from the malt side, balanced and had a bit of body. I still wanted a dry beer. I like dry IPAs. I needed a recipe, mash and yeast that would let me achieve my goal. I added the Caramel Vienne to get a touch of sweetness and very light toastiness, while the oats would help keep up the body of the beer with a mash at 150*F (was shooting for 151*F) making for a very fermentable wort by the S-05. I chose Cascade for the citrus that I feel is a great compliment to rye while the El Dorado has a nice fruitiness that I think would add a touch of complexity. I wanted the Cascade to stand out more – the reason for using more of this hop.

I should be dry hopping this beer around August 23rd, bottling it the following week. Hopefully ready for Bears football. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Thursday, August 07, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.055
IBU: 46.6
Color: 6.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
Fermentation: 14 days @69*F, 7 days dry hopping

Grain Bill:
10.0# Two-Row
2.00# Rye
1.00# Caramel Vienne (20L)
0.25# Oats

Mash:
Saccharification @150.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces El Dorado first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Cascade @ 10 minutes
1.00 ounces Cascade whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces El Dorado dry hop (7 days)
2.00 ounces Cascade dry hop (7 days)

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes

Update(s):

  • 2014-08-28: Dry hopped with 2.0 ounces Cascade and 1.0 ounces El Dorado

Useless Fact: Sharon Stone was the first Star Search spokes model.

Brewed: Grass Cutter Wheat Ale

August 2nd, 2014 by scot

corriander and orange peel

I have blogged about this beer over, over, over, over, over, over again. In all those writings I have never attached the recipe. It has evolved just about every time that I have blogged about it. I don’t think I have been searching for the holy grail but mostly because I was out of a certain malt or hop or both. Yes, some of the tweaks have been to make it a beer I would like as much as the wife. The beer I brewed today is potentially the last iteration. I always have 2-row, red wheat and munich malts on hand as well as S-05 yeast and Saaz hops.

This is a simple recipe to brew with the coriander and orange peel being the only additions that keep this from being ridiculously simple. I have found that the mashing on the higher end (154.0*F) gives this beer enough body to stand on while not completely drying out (the S-05 can really attenuate). The orange at bottling adds a nice orange/citrus aroma that first greets the senses upon opening the bottle. Definitely a beer I will always have on tap once I can keg. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 02, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.041
IBU: 15.7
Color: 4.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.7%
Fermentation: 14 days @69*F

Grain Bill:
6.0# Two-Row
3.00# Red Wheat
1.00# Munich

Mash:
Saccharification @154.7*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Saaz 60 minutes
1.00 ounces Saaz 15 minutes
2.00 ounces Saaz 00 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @ 15 minutes
9.0 grams coriander, crushed @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams bitter orange peel @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams sweet orange peel @ 15 minutes
3.0 grams bitter orange peel @ bottling soaked in vodka
3.0 grams sweet orange peel @ bottling soaked in vodka

Update(s):

  • 2014-08-17 Bottled with 4.1 ounces priming sugar, 2.0 cups of water. 4, 750ml, 20, 22oz, and 3, 16oz.

Useless Fact: Due to precipitation, for a few weeks, K2 is taller than Mt. Everest.

2014 Hop Growing

June 17th, 2014 by scot
First full year Willamette hop plant.

First full year Willamette hop plant.

I have been logging my hop growing saga for the past few years: 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, typically with multiple entries. I have decided to try my hand at a 2014 update. Hopefully one of several (at least the harvest).

The cold weather in the are this winter gave me doubts on how well the plants would take off. The Mt. Hood was the early winner. It had one bine climb to 20 feet in a matter of week with the bine as thick as the rope that it is clinging too. This is the third full season for the hop and bar far the best. There are two other bines climbing their way up the rope as well. It is already starting to push out a few flowers for cones. I am contemplating nipping but I will probably just let it go as the cones are usually small from this plant.

Cascade, in it’s second full season, isn’t far behind. The strongest bine is close to 20 feet with two others very close behind. Last year this plant produced the best harvest. I hoping for another stellar crop for my second annual hoppy Saison late summer brew day.

Centennial, Mt. Hood and Cascade hop plants.

Centennial, Mt. Hood and Cascade hop plants.

Willamette, around the corner from the others and by itself, is a mere 10 feet tall but about what I expected from the first full season plant. A nice crop of this hop will add nicely to the Cascade hop additions.

Centennial has been my biggest bust. It typically seems to have an issue. Last year there were two with the second issue snapping the bines. They sure do dry up quickly once cut! This year, per typical, this plant is growing bunches of mini bines that I have to cut back, trying to coax two or three to stand out in the crown and grow. The two strongest bines are slowly approaching five feet. Needless to say I am not expecting much.

Four plants is the most my wife has allowed me to grow at one time. Excitement for the Cascade and Willamette will hopefully not be wasted. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Nutella was invented during WWII, when an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his chocolate ration.

Tasted: TNBC One

February 4th, 2014 by scot
tnbc one

Bad pour, the beer wasn’t over carbonated.

Almost two months ago, I brewed the inaugural TNBC beer: TNBC One. It was to celebrate the last several plus years of friends getting together to share in American craft beer and home brews.

Unfortunately our schedules haven’t worked out and I have been “stuck” with 5 gallons of home brewed DIPA. I have been appreciating the beer for the better part of a month. The beer has developed, mellowing from both the hop and malt end, creating a more well balanced beer. Definitely not perfect…

Look: Slightly cloudy. Could be chill haze from proteins as I didn’t use Irish moss. Typical orange/gold color of most of my recent IPA offerings. The head is thick, frothing up as it recedes, leaving a sticky, web-like lacing behind

Aroma: Lots of hops. Citrus, floral and abundant. The malt is a bit more pronounced than expected: bread/biscuit.

Taste: The citrus and floral hops are muddled together. Neither is clear but believe that is assisted by the amber malt, confusing the palate by adding a huge mix of biscuity flavors.

Drinkability: Medium or better body but lower carbonation than I would have liked (in spite of the huge amount of head). Dry finish. Alcohol is not evident.

Overall: The hops are fantastic. The combination of the Citra, Amarillo and hopping techniques created a huge amount of flavor and aroma. In spite of this, the amber malt lends too much malt profile, bringing down the joyous celebration of hops.

I would brew the beer again but drop the amber malt down a few notches; 8 ounces at most. After the re-brew, I would check to see the brightness of the hop profile to see if that needed tweaking as well. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: During the time of Peter the Great, any Russian man who wore a beard was required to pay a special tax.

Das Boot

January 31st, 2014 by scot

walking-boot

Not the boot from Beer Fest but the one I received from my doctor a couple of weeks back, has placed a huge damper on my home brewing.

I hurt my foot while playing basketball. I didn’t roll but had some bad pain in both of my calf muscles. I woke up the next morning with a sore (a bit worse than that but painful seems too harsh) right foot. The arch, ball, ankle, just about the whole thing hurt. I limped to work and home. The following morning I woke up and had pain. Enough pain that I couldn’t walk on the foot. To the doctor.

I am entering my third week with the boot. The foot has slightly recovered. When I walk around without the boot, which is very limited, I can’t go fast, far or for long without good old pain creeping in to remind me that I am old and too fat to play basketball anymore.

Yeah, don’t cry for me. I will live but my home brewing has gone south. I can’t stand long enough to brew a batch. I am hoping to be back up and around in a few weeks. I have yeast wasting away that wants to have a smile put on its’ face while sinking into some sugary wort. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Approximately half the money paid out by fire-insurance companies in the United States is paid for fire loss due to arson.

Brewed: Willaxy

January 4th, 2014 by scot
Adjusted Monster Mill to .035 since I was disappointed with the last crush.

Adjusted Monster Mill to .035 since I was disappointed with the last crush.

I enjoy spending time with my family during the holidays. This year I took the two weeks off to coincide my wife and kids being off work and out of school respectively. Typically during this time I brew 4 – 6 batches, mainly fermented with bugs. This year I decided to start working on the basement, leaving little time for home brewing.

With the end of my vacation quickly closing in, I decided to make a thrown together beer. I went to the basement to see what goodies might be available for making a pale ale or IPA. I knew there was plenty of 2-row, Munich and red wheat. Down to the basement (note to self: cellar sounds better than basement). I found a half pound of victory and a half pound of . The hops. The freezer. Willamette and Galaxy. Hmm. Sounds like an interesting mix. 4.0 ounces of each should do the trick, cleaning me out of both. The hops were split between first wort, whirlpool and dry hopping.

I wasn’t overly thrilled with the aroma as I brewed the beer. I thought the Galaxy would really grab me. I haven’t worked with Willamette. It wasn’t until I smelled the blow off that I really understood how well this combination of hops was going to be. Just a bit more time until I find out. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, January 04, 2014
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.0543
IBU: 57.0
Color: 5.1 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%
Fermentation: 1 day @64*F, 8 days @68*F, 6 days @64*F, 7 day dry hop @64*F

Grain Bill:
9.0# Two-Row
1.00# Red Wheat
0.50# Munich
0.50# Victory

Mash:
Saccharification @151.9*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounces Wilamette first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Galaxy first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Wilamette whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Galaxy whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Wilamette dry hop (4 days)
2.00 ounces Galaxy dry hop (4 days)

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes

Update(s):

  • 2014-01-30: dry hopped with 2.0 oz Galaxy, 1.5 oz Wilamette

Useless Fact Alabama was the first state in the United States to officially recognize Christmas in 1836.

Brewed: TNBC One

December 7th, 2013 by scot

hops for tnbc one imperial ipa

Tuesday Night Beer Club was an invention of a few friends of mine. As each of our lives changed the club fell apart several years ago. I am by far not the reason it fell apart but my job changed, creating more travel for me. It was almost impossible to make the monthly journey a few months before it completely ended. As I dropped out, I realized I needed to have a fix.

I set up my own version of TNBC: Thursday Night Beer Club. Different night, different people but still centered around American craft beer. It didn’t exactly start out that official, it still isn’t. Rich and I were contemplating the idea of a web site, this one: twobeerdudes.com. We decided to get together on Thursday nights, occasionally. It gave my wife the ability to go work out, me a chance to watch the kids and for Rich and I to “discuss” the web site. Having a few American craft beers a couple times a month developed into most Thursdays and, at times, upwards of six guys (if our schedules can all fit). Every Thursday has been hosted at my house and most of the beer has been mine (helping to clean out the cellar from my crazy trading days in 2008 – 2009 (I still have a ton left). My kids, wife and few of her friends have joined us at times making for an interesting mix. Heck, one of my wife’s friends surprised us with her craft beer knowledge. Of course she walked home with a few home brews for her and her husband.

More and more home brew has crept in over the last couple of years as Chuck, Pat, Rich and myself have contributed malty concoctions of our own. Each memorable in some fashion. It was time to brew up an inaugural beer to commemorate this coming together of friends, family and beer. The idea of TNBC One was hatched. Something big, something hoppy (I have been craving hops lately), something memorable: Imperial IPA.

I wanted to use a malt I hadn’t used in the past, combined with outstanding flavor and aromatic hops, dry, while not ruining the palate for a week. I had been playing around with first wort hopping for a while, it was time to try out whirlpool hopping without any bittering additions. I wasn’t sure that amber malt belonged in an Imperial IPA but lack of other malts and low mash temperatures should keep the profile minimal.

TNBC is a great way to welcome in the weekend, a day early, with a few beers and, most importantly, with friends. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, December 07, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05 (1.5 packets)
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.0543
IBU: 121.0
Color: 6.71 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Mash Time (Minutes): 75
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 8.53%
Fermentation: 1 day @65*F, 6 days @68*F, 14 days @65*F, 7 day dry hop @64*F

Grain Bill:
16.0# Two-Row
1.00# Amber Malt
1.00# Cara-Pils

Mash:
Saccharification @147.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Amarillo first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Amarillo whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Citra whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Citra @10 minutes
1.00 ounces Citra @5 minutes
3.00 ounces Amarillo dry hop (7 days)
2.00 ounces Citra dry hop (7 days)

Extras:
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.0 tsp Irish Moss

Updates(s):

  • 2013-12-28: dry hopped with 3.0 oz Amarillo, 2.0 oz Citra
  • 2014-01-05: bottled with 2.0 cups of water, 4.0 oz priming sugar (23 22oz, 1 16oz)
  • 2014-02-04: official tasting

Useless Fact: There are 240 dots on an arcade Pac-Man game.

Tasted: Mais Epice

November 9th, 2013 by scot

mais epice

The reason I brewed Mais Epice has a story behind it that I documented already. An official tasting has come after multiple tastes of the beer (typical of my write ups). If it wasn’t for my methodical ways, this beer probably would have received poor reviews, if I was in a good mood.

The first time I tasted the beer was only a week after bottling. Star anise. Star anise. Star anise. Yes, that’s what the beer became. The aroma and the flavor was dominated by star anise. I only used one whole star anise in the batch but it had kick. I dismissed that first tasting, thinking to myself that hopefully time will allow for the anise to drop out.

Fast forward almost two months. I tried the beer about a week ago, noticing how the anise had mellowed and the beer rounded out, balanced. I was much happier with the beer and it was time to share with friends.

Look: The beer has a pour perfectly clear,with a nice orange/gold color. The foam is a half-inch thick. The retention is about normal for a saison while there is barely any lacing.

Aroma: Saison phenols are nicely supported by the spice. Star anise, black pepper, slight bitter and clean, sweet orange layer.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, the base Saison comes through with a supporting cast that adds complexity. Star anise, pepper and bitterness all come in mid-to-late, lingering gently but not overwhelming.

Drinkability: Medium body. Medium carbonation at best. Tiny bubbles fill the mouth to aid in the body. Maybe not enough but the combination is fine for the beer.

Overall: A month has mellowed the star anise, creating a much more balanced and therefore complex beer. I can have one or two of these a week before it becomes to much for me.

I will be this again but not something that will ever make my “normal” rotation. Thanksgiving time might be the best time for this beer; brewing it 10 weeks or more before the date. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Drinking a banana milkshake is a perfect cure for a hangover.

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