American Craft Beer: Best by Date

June 1st, 2019 by scot

Why does the American craft beer makers insist on giving me a best by date? That is an industry just not understanding the consumers of their product.

There are a plethora of reasons why American craft beer makers shouldn’t partake in this practice. Let’s take a look at my rant!

  • Best by date my vary by American craft brewery. How long is that from the canning date? 2, 4, 6 or more months? Depending on the style, for example a NEIPA, that best by date should be 2-4 weeks and 4 weeks is push it. I may have a fresh beer in the American craft brewer’s sense but my sense and opinion is what matters. Don’t try to trick me.
  • Until American craft breweries come to a standard, then I will not be able to calculate the approximate can/bottle date.
  • If an American craft brewery has the ability to do this labeling, then make sure that it easy to read. Do some type of R&D to determine if you machine is calibrated correctly. If the ink is smudge or readable. If they ink runs or rubs off easily once the can has condensation. These are easy things to manage in order to make sure your consumer is not being tricked.
  • If you have the technology to place a best by date you have the technology to do a canned date. I feel it is trickery.
  • Don’t play games with stupid/crazy codes that I have to go to the website to lookup. Are you kidding me? I have to pull out a computer, laptop, or phone, go to their site and hopefully be able to find the page for a specific beer that has the codes?

American craft beer is all about the consumer. If brewers have the consumer’s best interest at heart, then a canned date is a must as is throwing about the best by date. I feel the best by date is a why to fool and trick the consumer into purchasing a beer long after peek consumption period. It also seems that is used by bigger American craft breweries as well as those that have been gobbled up by macro breweries/corporations. This practice will begin to erode the trust that important to American craft beer sustaining growth and loyalty. The days of brotherhood among the American craft breweries is waning due to overcrowded shelves.

I will only purchase American craft beer that has a canned date that is easy to read. Next, if it is a normal IPA, it can’t be more than 2 months old. If it is a NEIPA, it has to be within in a week. Other styles I am a bit more loose on dating. But, the fact has to be that the date is there. The above purchasing practices are scrutinized even more by me when I am at a beer store that I do not normally visit.

I hate to say this but this could be one that Budweiser had right a long time ago. I don’t know if they still carry out the practice but they not only had a born on date but they also had that the beer was best within 110 days of said date.

You cannot ask for more transparency than that. Let the consumer make up his/her mind what they determine to be fresh. This is what I want and what the American craft beer drinking public needs! Stop feeding us a line of crap. Enjoy!

Useless fact: Kids ask 300 questions a day.

Home Brewed: ELE (Everybody Love Everybody)

March 9th, 2019 by scot

ELE brew day thoughts:

Everybody Love Everybody (ELE) pays homage to the American Wheat Ale and the movie it came from: Semi-Pro (damn shame that movie is rated so low, love it). I chose the name as there was some issues going on in life and ELE was very fitting for the situation. It was perfect actually.

The inspiration came from scouring the internet, reading magazines (yes, I still get those), and talking to a new brewing buddy: Alex. He is a co-worker of mine that will always look for a reason to chat home brewing. I can’t let a fellow home brewer down; I have to have the discussions.

I wanted to make a light beer, with low bitterness, easy to drink and not too taxing on the abv. It needed to be a spring beer that carries some hops flavor and aroma.

I ended using a North East IPA style of hop additions: late in the brew kettle, flame out, and dry hopping in primary after fermentation slows. I used Citra and Mosaic hops to get that across with a splash of Azacca.

I am hoping the thought that went into this beer comes out in the finished product as I imagined. Enjoy!

Recipe for ELE:

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, March 09, 2019
Day: overcast, @42*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S05
Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.043
Finishing Gravity: 1.006
IBU: 20.9
Color: 3.7 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 66.99%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.86%
Apparent Attenuation: 85%
Calories per ounce: 239.2 per 12oz bottle
Primary Fermentation: 7 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
5.00 pound(s) 2-row
3.00 pound(s) Red Wheat
1.00 pound(s) Oats
4.00 ounce(s) Caramel 20L

Mash:
Saccharification @155.2*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Azacca @20 minutes
3.00 ounce(s) 2017 Mosaic whirlpool, 20 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Citra whirlpool, 20 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Citra dry hop, low fermentation
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Mosaic dry hop, low fermentation
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Azacca dry hop, high fermentation

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2019-03-10 morning: @60.1*F, light fermentation.
  • 2019-03-10 evening @60.3*F, light fermentation. Added heat at 68*F.
  • 2019-03-11 morning: @67.1*F, great fermentation. Took off heat.
  • 2019-03-13 evening: added dry hops.
  • 2019-03-16 morning: cold crash to 36*F .
  • 2019-03-17: kegged

Useless Fact: By raising your legs slowly and laying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.

Tasted: Loblolly with Coffee

February 24th, 2019 by scot

Nothing tastes better than a home brew: a beer that time, effort and thought went into creating with ones own hands.

Loblolly seems to have rounded out nicely in the keg. The coffee has really begun to compliment this beer, lending its best attributes. There is a mixture of coffee, roast, and chocolate on the nose and palate. The mash temperature and oats give a great sense of body and silky mouthfeel to a beer that is less than five percent alcohol. The bitterness is mellow allowing the roast, chocolate and coffee to leave traces long after the last sip…Just realized I didn’t review this the last time I made it. I thought I could off easy. Here goes:

Look: Dark brown to black. One-quarter glass of mocha foam covers. Great retention with the top frothing as it pulls back. Lacing is sporadic, sticky. Looks like a stout should in the glass.

Aroma: Earthy tones of coffee compliment roast and chocolate. The coffee is deep, hearty: the star but doesn’t clobber the sense.

Taste: follows the nose. Coffee, roast and chocolate create a generous trio. The finish carries the coffee and chocolate with a slight caramel sweet undertone.

Mouthfeel: Big body, aroma and flavor on such a small ABV beer. Good carbonation. Chewy.

Overall: I don’t make beers a second time, often, for myself, unless the wife likes them. This beer knocks it out of the park. I need to brew this on a regular basis.

This is not a difficult beer to brew but since I am not a coffee drinker I never have coffee on hand, let alone premium coffee. That aside this beer is going to be on tap at least twice a year. Enjoy

Fun fact: Lake Superior State University in Michigan offers a unicorn hunting license.

Home Brewed: Loblolly with Coffee

December 31st, 2018 by scot

Pre-brew day thoughts

The beautiful site and aroma of spent grains from brewing a stout.

This is my second time brewing Loblolly. Therefore I will keep this short and not get into the minutia of my thought process. Read that other brew day.

There is a very simple reasons why I brewed Loblolly again:

  • It was a great beer the first time around. The complexity and layer of flavors was great. I couldn’t have asked from more for my first full batch of coffee beer.
  • Loblolly was met with open arms and received a lot of “this is awesome” from the people who were brave enough to try it out.

Brewing Loblolly:

The decision to not change anything on brew day and throughout the process was due to the two factors above. Why change something that was met with great success. Change for change’s sake doesn’t agree with my logic mind. Therefore every, to the best of my ability as a home brewer, stayed the same as the first brew day and full process.

Note: after looking at the ingredients I used on brew day, the recipe changed slightly. I did not have C80 and Caramalt. I replaced the pound of those two combined malts with a pound of C60.

Adding the recipe here again as well as brew day numbers (they were a touch different). Enjoy!

Recipe for Loblolly Coffee Oatmeal Stout


General Information:
Brew Date: Monday, December 31, 2018
Day: overcast, rainy, @36*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S04
Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.063/15.44*P
Finishing Gravity: 1.026/6.57*P
IBU: 42.9
Color: 36.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 78.83%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.86%
Apparent Attenuation: 57%
Calories per ounce: 213.6 per 12oz bottle
Primary Fermentation: 11 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
8.00 pounds Maris Otter
2.00 pounds Flaked Oats
1.00 pounds Roasted Barley
12.0 ounces Chocolate Malt
1.00 pounds Caramel 60L

Mash:
Saccharification @156.9*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2016 Magnum @60 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2019-01-01 evening: @64.0*F, medium fermentation.
  • 2019-01-02 morning: @68.0*F, vigorous fermentation.
  • 2019-01-05 morning: placed 4 ounces of coffee in vodka to steep.
  • 2019-01-09 evening: added coffee juice to beer.
  • 2019-01-12: kegged.

Useless Fact: The metal part on a pencil is called a “ferrule.”

Brewed: Rabbit NEIPA

September 30th, 2018 by scot

wyeast 3118

Home brewing isn’t a necessity but it is therapeutic. I haven’t had the chance to put my skills on display in quite some time. No better way to get back on the band wagon than to brew up a batch of Northeast India Pale Ale (NEIPA).

Rabbit NEIPA gets it name from the most recent Avengers movie: Infinity War. In it, Thor, refers to Rocket as Rabbit. I immediately found that funny. It is funny since Rocket is a raccoon and, in multiple movies, they make fun of the type of animal is might be. I find this funny and knew I had to name a beer after the banter.

The itch to brew was upon me a couple of weeks prior to actual brew day. I made a trip to the local home brew store and I had one major goal: get some liquid yeast. Specifically I was looking for Wyeast 1318 – London Ale III. I have seen many recipes that use this yeast in NEIPAs but I always seem to be crunched for time with brew days being more of a spontaneous event rather than planned.

Formulating the recipe for Rabbit

Home brewing a NEIPA has certain prerequisites for me: oats/wheat (or both) and hops that will give a solid tropical aroma and flavor. The oats and wheat are always the easy part. I keep playing with the hops, leaving out Citra many times, to see if there are other variations that yield said tropical profile. I have been about 50/50 so far. I decided to go for a typical style profile using Citra. Simcoe was laying around; easy decision. Throw in a dash of Azacca and it sounds like a winner.

The kegging of this beer let the aromas free, creating anticipation for the first real taste. Enjoy!

Recipe for Rabbit NEIPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 30, 2018
Day: low humidity, high sky, started @60*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 1318
Yeast Starter: 2L
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.047
Finishing Gravity: N/A
IBU: 63.1
Color: 3.9 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 67.75%
Alcohol by Volume: N/A
Apparent Attenuation: N/A
Calories per ounce: N/A
Primary Fermentation: 7 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
4.00 pound(s) 2-row
4.00 pound(s) Red Wheat
1.00 pound(s) Flaked Barley
1.00 pound(s) Oats
4.00 ounce(s) Caramel 20L

Mash:
Saccharification @150.5*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Simcoe @first wort
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Azacca @10 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2016 Citra @5 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2016 Azacca whirlpool, 20 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2016 Simcoe whirlpool, 20 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Citra whirlpool, 20 minutes
3.00 ounce(s) 2016 Citra dry hop, high fermentation
2.00 ounce(s) 2016 Simcoe dry hop, high fermentation
2.00 ounce(s) 2016 Simcoe dry hop, slowing fermentation
1.00 ounce(s) 2016 Citra dry hop, slowing fermentation

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2018-10-01 evening: @67.1*F, added first round of dry hops.
  • 2018-10-02 evening: @67.3*F, added second round of dry hops.
  • 2018-10-06: cold crash.
  • 2018-10-07: kegged.

Useless Fact: Statistically, you are more likely to die on the way to buy a lottery ticket than you are to win the lottery itself.

Brewed: Leaner Saison (E)

July 7th, 2018 by scot

beautiful day to home brew leaner saison

This is the fifth recipe version that I home brewed of Leaner Saison. It is the second time I have brewed Leaner Saison this year and the second recipe version. Not much difference but I keep tweaking.

There is only a few unbelievable days each summer in Chicagoland. Today was going to be the second in a row: 75*F – 80*F with <40% humidity. Starting the home brewing process at 0600 with high skies is the perfect scenario for me. The sun hits the yard with those long angles, similar to the evening but riding on the hope of the days beginning rather then the solemn end.

Formulating the recipe for Leaner Saison (E)

The reason for brewing this batch of Leaner Saison are quite similar to the earlier brew session this year:

  1. Lallemand Belle Saison yeast had been purchased a couple of weeks prior in anticipation of home brewing a saison.
  2. The taste for rye was in my mouth. I think it may be time for hoppy rye amber as well!
  3. I purchased Azacca purposely for Leaner Saison after the success of the brew day earlier this year.
  4. Simplifying the last recipe version.
  5. It summer and a hoppy saison sounds darn delicious.

Anticipation is high from end for this beer. The upped level of hop usage along with how well it plays with the rye… Enjoy!

Recipe for Leaner Saison (E)

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, July 07, 2018
Day: low humidity, high sky, started @65*F, rising to 80*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Lallemand Belle Saison
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.061
Finishing Gravity: N/A
IBU: 30.8
Color: 5.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 67.75%
Alcohol by Volume: N/A
Apparent Attenuation: N/A
Calories per ounce: N/A
Primary Fermentation: 2 days @68*F, rise to 90*F

Grain Bill:
9.00 pounds Pilsner
3.00 pounds Rye
2.00 pounds Red Wheat

Mash:
Saccharification @149.9*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces 2016 Azacca @10 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Azacca @5 minutes
2.00 ounces 2016 Azacca whirlpool, 20 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2018-07-07 evening: @66.7*F, added yeast.
  • 2018-07-08 morning: @66.0*F, no visible fermentation.

Useless Fact: Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.

Brewed: Summer Rental American Pale Ale

June 23rd, 2018 by scot

american pale ale summer rental home brew

Beautiful day but the humidity is off the charts!

I wanted to home brew last weekend but it just wasn’t in the cards. I was promised (by the wife) that I could home brew this weekend. Time to get an early start as the humidity is off the charts with all the rain we have had over the past week or two. I feel like I am in Florida in July and/or August.

Summer Rental is an American Pale Ale made with a combination of old and new school hops, while using North East India Pale Ale techniques. The grain bill is quite simple and typical of American Pale Ales: base malt, carapils, and a low Lovibond caramel malt. I decided to mash a slight bit high than normal (was shooting for 152.0*F) as I didn’t want this beer to dry out too much with the Safale S-05 yeast, American ale.

The recipe was devised to use up some older hops, making way for the enormous amount of stockpiled hops. That stockpile is only making me imagination get the best of me: what can be done, how juicy can I make, what other combination of hops can turn out fantastic?

Hops centered beers will continue to be the home brewing style of choice until I get tired of them or I cure my hoarder mentality. Enjoy!

Recipe for Summer Rental American Pale Ale

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, June 23, 2018
Day: 70*F, partly cloudy, ridiculously humid, rising to 80*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S-05, not hydrated
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.046
Finishing Gravity: 1.005
IBU: 30.4
Color: 3.9 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 67.75%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.38%
Apparent Attenuation: 89%
Calories per ounce: 12.37
Primary Fermentation: 7 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
8.00 pounds American 2-Row
1.25 pounds Red Wheat
0.50 pounds Cara-Pils
0.25 pounds Caramel 20L

Mash:
Saccharification @150.8*F

Hop Bill:
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade @10 minutes
1.00 ounces 2015 Equinox @5 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade whirlpool, 20 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Equinox whirlpool, 20 minutes
3.00 ounces 2015 Cascade dry hop, 6 days
2.00 ounces 2015 Equinox dry hop, 6 days
2.00 ounces 2015 Equinox dry hop, 5 days

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
4.0 quarts of rice hulls

Updates:

  • 2018-06-23 evening: @65.1*F, added yeast.
  • 2018-06-24 morning: @62.0*F, no visible fermentation.
  • 2018-06-24 afternoon: @61.6*F, no visible fermentation, put on heat @68.0*F.
  • 2018-06-24 evening: @64.8*F, light fermentation, took off heat.
  • 2018-06-24 morning: @65.3*F, medium fermentation, put on heat @68.0*F.
  • 2018-06-24 afternoon: @67.6*F, great fermentation, added dry hops.
  • 2018-06-25 afternoon: @68.4*F, slowing fermentation, added second round of dry hops: 2 ounces 2015 Equinox.
  • 2018-06-29 evening: @66.4*F, no visible fermentation. Cold crash @39*F.
  • 2018-07-01: Kegged.

Useless Fact: Squirrels prefer to live in Oak trees but they will live in other trees too.

Tasted: Whammy! NEIPA

June 17th, 2018 by scot

The wait is over, I can finally taste a home brew: Whammy! NEIPA (Northeast India Pale Ale). Gearing up for the tasting, I couldn’t wait, I had been tasting the beer pre-carbonation to determine the development of the profile.

I had apprehensions of the Hallertau Blanc hops as I wasn’t certain they would nicely with the other two hops; Vic Secret and Mosaic. For those of you that aren’t familiar, Vic Secret is a hop that is a replacement for Galaxy, typically the harder of the two to get. Hallertau Blanc has some wonderful tropical fruits but also can have a green grape side that might not be friendly.

Look: Pours golden yellow. Very hazy, even cloudy.. Nice white foam covers, about an inch thick. Retention is above average. Lacing is nice. Similar to Swim? Swammi? Slippy? Slappy? Swenson? Swanson? NEIPA as the grain bill is exactly the same.

Aroma: Mango, passion fruit, papaya, pineapple, grapefruit and fruity green grape. Slightly floral. Sweet. Solid on the nose, the hops completely compliment each other.

Taste: Sweetness is there but seems to suit the style. The cornucopia of tropical hop flavors want to overwhelm but my nose is up to the task. Hops carry from start to finish but are not bitter, the sweetness makes sure of this point.

Body: Medium body. Medium carbonation. Very Dry.

Overall: This beer is a home run. The malt profile is perfect and the hops lend the perfect balance for the style.

Back in business of home brew. Starting off with an All-Star beer makes this an easy slide back in. My next beer will be on point quite quickly. Of course it will be another NEIPA. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: According to a study, people whom constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day are less able to delay gratification.