Archive for September, 2013

Brewed: Alpha Acid Aspirations – Hack

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

first runnings alpha acid aspirations hack

Alpha Acid Aspirations is a line of Imperial IPAs that I have been brewing. The goal is to make one for each letter of the alphabet but I am becoming a little disenfranchised with naming beers after events from my days as a caddy and golfing in general. A3 Blast is still the best beer I have made in this lineup, it featured Citra and Simcoe hops. Each one since has been more of an experiment with hop varieties and malt profiles with varying results. Making an “imperial” style as a playing ground can get expensive in all resources.

A3 Hack is no different. I had Nelson Sauvin and Pacific Gem lying around for over year, it was time to use that eight ounces of hops for good (hopefully). The main twist here is Melanoiden malt.

I have to admit the inspiration for this aspiration came from the fact that Three Floyds uses this malt in a few of the beers. I really like their beers, as do many, in spite of the shitty attitude you get from them when you go to their pub. I really didn’t know how much to use or understand the profile of the malt. I did know that Melanoiden can be a “powerful” malt. Care is needed. Therefore, I figured around 5% of the grain bill should be about right. The one pound ended up at 5.9% – that should be within reason.

Since I only needed to add 4.0 gallons of water to the mash while sparging, I decided to add the water all at once instead of two batches. I feel that hurt my efficiency. Other than that, brewing a big IPA always gets me excited: handling and smelling the hops is very satisfying. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 22, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: East Coast Yeast 29 – North Coast Ale
Yeast Starter: 2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.072
IBU: 60.9
Color: 8.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.6%
Fermentation: 28 days @68*F, 5 day dry hop @66*F

Grain Bill:
15.0# Two-Row
1.00# Melanoiden
1.00# Redd Wheat

Saccharification @150.9*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Pacific Gem first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Pacific Gem whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)
2.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin dry hop
1.50 ounces Pacific Gem dry hop

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


  • 2013-09-23: very active fermentation, temperature at 74.4*F.
  • 2013-10-15: dry hop with 2.00 ounces Nelson Sauvin, 1.50 ounces Pacific Gem
  • 2013-10-20: bottled – 3.70 ounces priming sugar, 2.0 cups of water. 25, 22.0oz and 1, 16.0oz. Final gravity: 1.022 (seems high – could this be the Meladoiden and/or the yeast?)

Useless Fact: The average garden variety caterpillar has 248 muscles in its head.

Tasted: Brett Trois IPA

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

brett trois ipa

Drinking a home brew young, especially when you bottle, can lead to a flat beer. I have had plenty of flat beers lately. Brett Trois IPA had only been in the bottle for seven days, a short time by bottling standards, I decided to do my typical “shake the bottle to see how much it foam in the head space” trick. I was surprised by how much foam bubbled up. I decided that a bottle was in store for the afternoon.

I have a hard time picturing in my head the experience I will have with a home brew. I expected a lot of hops, specifically tropical and citrus rushes. I also used the Brett Trois because of the tropical, fruity profile that seems to compliment my selection of hops: I wanted an over the top tropical, fruity single IPA that wasn’t bitter, allowing the ABV to mix with sessioning the beer.

Let’s see what I found…

Look: The beer has a light cloudy haze, otherwise clear with a nice orange/gold color. The foam is an inch thick, mainly because of the careful pour. The profile of the foam is more wild saison in nature: the Brett is at work.

Aroma: Stone front is up front, especially apricot. Sweeping tropical fruits abound, lightly highlighted by citrus. Passion fruit and mango combine with the apricot to give a delicious medley to the nose. Malt has a touch of bread with minor sweetness.

Taste: All about the hops. The malt is just along for the ride. Once again stone and tropical fruits highlight from beginning to end. Bitterness is subdued, just enough before the next sip washes away with fruity goodness.

Drinkability: Medium body but more. The high mash temperature is holding onto the body. Juicy, yes surprisingly dry. Mild carbonation.

Overall: The Brett and/or Riwaka hops is/are outstanding. I need to make an single hop IPA with Riwaka and neutral yeast to understand the profile better of both elements. Very drinkable and refreshing.

With all the recent mishaps I have had brewing recently, I am very excited about Brett Trois IPA and the way it will develop over the next few weeks, before it is gone. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: Wearing headphones for just an hour will increase the bacteria in your ear by 700 times.

Two Bad Yeast Starters

Thursday, September 19th, 2013


I have been on a yeast kick lately. I picked up several East Coast Yeast (ECY08, ECY13, and ECY29) vials a month or so ago. I built up each of the yeast in 2.5 liter starters. The idea was to share the yeast with some brewing buddies: Chuck, Pat and Dave. I have yet to share a yeast with any of them but I have brewed with each of them. Don’t worry, I have each yeast in storage, none older than two weeks. I will be building each back to 2.5 liter starters, splitting and building back up once again so I can just pitch.

While this was all going on I picked up a vial of WLP644, Brett Trois. I used this in a Brett Trois IPA (which is turning out fantastic). I also tried a starter of Tart of Darkness dregs.

Both starters took off well. The Brett Trois was .5 liter starter left over from the first build, which didn’t surprise, but the Tart of Darkness dregs, simply awesome to see it take off. I was excited to step the Tart dregs up again while distributing the Trois to the group.

Unfortunately, life happened.

Yes, I got busy with family stuff (always fun though), ignoring the starters, only covered with tin foil, for almost two weeks. When I finally paid some attention, the picture above is what I noticed: fly larva.

All that work down the toilet. At least I saved the gallon jugs with some good old PBW soaking. I can get the Brett Trois again (going to make the IPA again, use in a Saison and a Belgian Pale Ale, at least). The Tart of Darkness dregs are another story. The beer isn’t cheap and I don’t have another bottle. Anyone want to help out? Enjoy!

Useless Fact: The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.

Brewed: Dubbely Bad

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

dubbely bad homebrew dubbel

The Belgian Dubbel has been a beer style that hasn’t been on my favorite list. That was at least until I had an outstanding foreign Abbey version several years ago. The beer was outstanding: complex flavor and aroma that were spot on for the style. It made me wonder if a solid dubbel could be brewed in the United States. Also, there was a good chance that my poor early experiences with the style scared me away from trying quality American and foreign vintages throughout those years. In spite of that one wonderful offering I have never brewed the style nor have I chased the style down.

In walks the chance to get some ECY13 – Trappist Ale. I have been jumping at the chance for ECY yeast lately. I didn’t pass it up.

The thoughts of what to brew with the yeast began to jump through my head like thoughts a child has on Christmas Eve. Belgian strongs, dubbel, quad and more were all shaking the cobwebs of my mind. I ending up settling on a dubbel, making a starter large enough to create another starter for a quad in the coming weeks. The recipe was inspired (quite possibly copied from somewhere as my memory is failing at the moment) by similar recipes I found on the internet, putting together an “average” of what I found.

Outside of mildly missing gravity numbers (gravity in Beersmith was set to 83% for some reason) and mashing at 152*F instead of the targeted 154*F, the brew day went well. Rich joined me for the brewing session. We shared several American craft beers and plenty of home brew. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 01, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: ECY13 Trappist Ale
Yeast Starter: 2 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.061
IBU: 23.2
Color: 22.9 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 90
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%
Fermentation: 14 days @68*F, 3 months @60*F

Grain Bill:
10.0# Pilsner
1.50# Munich
1.00# Caramunch I
0.50# Special B
1.00# Liquid Candi Sugar 160SRM

Saccharification @152.0*F

Hop Bill:
1.75 ounces Fuggles @60 minutes

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


  • 2013-11-01: Racked to secondary.

Useless Fact: A standard grave is 7’8 x 3’2 x 6.