Archive for November, 2013

Tasted: Mais Epice

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

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.

Brewed: Handicap

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

handicap esb

I have never brewed an English style of beer. In fact I don’t drink them. I really haven’t given the group of beers any thought over the past 10 years. It has been very easy to bypass them as I wondered up the IPA trail. The style has never caught my fancy.

Why would I decide to brew up one? I have been trying to come up with ways to broaden the scope of home brews that I put forth and I was looking for something on the lower end of the alcohol spectrum but still had some character. I could brew an American pale ale, a blonde, a light IPA (just another way of saying APA), etc. I finally figured it out: give those English a bloody chance.

After doing an extensive search on the various styles of English beers, at the lower end, I settled on an Extra Special Bitter (ESB). I expected to brew a more malt forward version (light hopping) while bringing out the fruity esters of the yeast. Caramel and toffee flavors would be the goal while hop profile would come from US Goldings used minimally for balance. I didn’t know how I would like the lower suggested carbonation rates, drinking a beer in the mid-fifties has never been a problem. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, November 07, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Wyeast 1098 (British Ale)
Yeast Starter: 2.4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.051
IBU: 39.2
Color: 9.2 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 4.92%
Fermentation: 30 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
9.0# Maris Otter
1.00# Caramel 60L
0.50# Red Wheat

Saccharification @154.4*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounces US Goldings @60 minutes
1.00 ounce US Goldings @10 minutes
1.00 ounce US Goldings @1 minute

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2013-12-08: Bottled, 1 750ml, 28 22oz, 3 16oz

Useless Fact: In space, astronauts cannot cry, because there is no gravity, so the tears can’t flow

Brewed: Duck Hook IPA – Kohatu

Friday, November 1st, 2013
Whirlpool hops with Kohatu hops.

Whirlpool hops with Kohatu hops.

I brewed my first batch of Duck Hook IPA last year. The line of beers is an ode to an individual hop each time I make the brew. I use 4.0 ounces of one hop: usually 2.0 ounces make the boil and the other 2.0 ounces are used for dry hopping. The day also included Chuck lugging his brewing equipment over to brew up a double batch, each with a different hop.

I have to admit that I made the beer so many times last year that I sort of lost interest: same base profile every time got a little stale, along with the fact that a few of the hops I used didn’t excite me all that much.

Fast forward to now: it has been more than a year since I brewed up a batch of Duck Hook IPA, I recently purchased some Kohatu hops, Pat tells me they are fantastic, time to play!

I used the base recipe that I have all along, I just changed out the regular wheat malt for non-malted wheat. It was a left-over from another brew day. The brew day was fantastic. I brewed on a Friday, as I took a vacation day (was originally to be used to go to Darkness), this means that I was at home alone. No kids, no wife, just my thoughts about brewing and a home brew or two to enjoy during the process. These factors allowed me to hit all my numbers while start to finish, inducing clean up, took a mere five hours. Enjoy!

General Information:
Brew Date: Friday, November 01, 2013
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: Safale S-05
Yeast Starter: none
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.064
IBU: 60.9
Color: 8.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.6%
Fermentation: 14 days @68*F, 4 day dry hop @66*F

Grain Bill:
11.0# Two-Row
1.00# Munich
0.50# Caramel 10L
0.50# Caramel 80L
0.50# Flaked Wheat

Saccharification @154.0*F

Hop Bill:
0.75 ounces Warrior @60 minutes
1.00 ounces Kohatu first wort (treated as 20 minute addition)
1.00 ounces Kohatu whirl pool (treated as 30 minute addition)

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


  • 2013-11-03: Fermenting like mad (see short video above).

Useless Fact: Dr. Dre has made more money making headphones than he ever did making music.