Brewed: Squirrels with Knives, North East India Pale Ale

February 22nd, 2020 by scot

Squirrels with Knives brew day and recipe creation:

The home brew day for Squirrels with Knives, a North East India Pale Ale (NEIPA), was only possible via friendship. Due to a couple of surgeries over the first two months of 2020, I haven’t been able to brew and that time would have lasted another month or more if it wasn’t for my friend Mike volunteering for grunt work. When he offered to assist, I made it very clear to him that a brew day, from start to finish, was a six hour endeavor. Mike is gracious.

Surprisingly there is a bunch of Squirrels with Knives pictures available on the internet.

Brewing with rye was something that has been on my mind for a while as I quite enjoy the profile of rye in beer. A hop profile that pairs well with rye isn’t typical for the current expectations of NEIPA. An orange hop profile balances the spicey rye.

Centennial has been sitting in the freezer, begging to be enjoyed outside of the vacuumed sealed bag that had been its home for the past year. A touch of citra would add the tropical side that was needed but only for complexity, not to be the star. Pacifica has a nice citrus profile that would compliment the Centennial.

The malt bill would be quite simple but big on the rye. I wanted it to be the highlight of the malt bill. Honey malt was added to give a touch of sweetness without the caramel notes that C40 or similar would add.

Why Squirrels with Knives

Reruns of Everybody Loves Ray have been running on the weekends for the past few months. My wife and enjoy the chance to watch a couple of episodes as a lazy wake-up call on a Saturday/Sunday morning. Chris Elliot plays Peter MacDougall, Robert Barone’s brother in-law, starting around season 7. In the episode in which Robert is getting married, he states that his new brother-in-law is so crazy that he has “squirrels with knives running around in there (his head)”. Just found that to be damn funny.

Recipe for Squirrels with Knives

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, February 02, 2020
Day: Sunny, @43*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S04
Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.055
Finishing Gravity: 1.003
IBU: 17.4
Color: 5.1 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 30
Conversion Efficiency: 66.99%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.83%
Apparent Attenuation: 94%
Calories per ounce: 176.5
Primary Fermentation: 2 days @66*F, 4 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
9.50 pounds 2-row
2.50 pounds Rye
1.00 pounds Oats
4.00 ounces Honey Malt

Mash:
Saccharification @150.4*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @10 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @5 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @0 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2018 Pacifica @0 minutes
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @20 minutes whirlpool
2.00 ounce(s) 2018 Pacifica @20 minutes whirlpool
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Citra @20 minutes whirlpool
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial dry hop 6 days
1.00 ounce(s) 2018 Pacifica dry hop 6 days
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial dry hop 3 days
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Citra dry hop 3 days

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

Updates:

  • 2020-02-22 evening: @66.3*F, no fermentation.
  • 2020-02-23 morning: @64.9*F, active fermentation.
  • 2020-02-23 evening: @65.3*F, hard fermentation, added dry hops.
  • 2020-02-24 morning: @68.7*F, hard fermentation, added heat @68.0*F.
  • 2020-02-25 morning: @67.3*F, no fermentation.
  • 2020-02-25 evening: added dry hops.
  • 2020-03-02: kegged

Useless fact: Firehouses have circular stairways originating from the old days when the engines were pulled by horses. The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

The race for new Hops

February 9th, 2020 by scot

The hop landscape is ever changing and the changes are now a snowball rolling down a huge hill, gaining speed, faster and faster and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. It makes for a very exciting time for home brewers and craft beer fans that appreciate the hop.  The new hops are combining high alpha acids with great aromas and flavors that are also unique and didn’t exist  five years ago.  Increased storability, resistance to disease, increase in harvest per acre, etc are creating so many interesting hops that old favorites are falling to the wayside. There is also the race to be the hop far that creates the next Simcoe, Citra or Galaxy hop that drives sales and profits.

I became a home brewer to experiment, these new hops are allowing me to do just that and more.   I am having a hard time keeping up with the changing hop landscape. 

I crated a section on the site that isn’t linked to have my own library of hops.  The goal is to use this as a quick look for a hop profile, allowing me to build beers easier. Having to search multiple sites to determine a single hop profile (some are incomplete and I want to see consistency across sites) can add a lot of time to crafting of a new recipe.

I have close to 100 varieties on the new page but  probably could easily add another 50 while also building up the profiles of those that already exist.  I try not to add brand new hops as information on them is sparse, not consistent, and the name can change like the wind.  Also, there is the possibility that the hop isn’t well received and will never be grown in large amounts.

I am really looking forward to what the next five years of hop experimentation will bring.  I think it will make the last five years seems sparse and infantile.  Exciting times are ahead.  Enjoy1

Brewed: I’m Sick of these Dolphins

September 1st, 2019 by scot

I’m Sick of these Dolphins, American Pale Ale, brew day thoughts:

home grown cascade hops
A huge crop of ready to harvest cascade hops.

The bumper crop of Cascade hops growing on the south side of the house begged to be used in a home brew. An American Pale Ale with a simple recipe seemed to be the best route for a whirlpool hop addition of these beautiful Cascade hops. Close to a S.M.A.S.H. (Single Malt And Single Hop), I’m Sick of these Dolphins was created. The simple recipe, using only Maris Otter malt, didn’t take long to develop. I only wished I had Cascade pellets on hand.

There was a entire pound of 2017 Centennial hops in the freezer that were begging to be the boil additions. Since they are sometimes referred to as super Cascade I figured the profile wouldn’t be that far off from Cascade and they would compliment the profile of the home grown Cascade.

A pound of home grown Cascade hops in the kettle for a whirlpool.

The name for the beer comes from a quote from the movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Since I was using wet hops, I thought it was appropriate to have a name associated with wet/water. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is the only movie I could think of quickly, that I would want to quote, that dealt with water (Dammit, I forgot Jaws).

Brew day: went well, it was my first time brewing on back-to-back weekends since the beginning of 2019. I have great brewing days the latter half of ’19, let’s hope that I can keep them lined up. Enjoy!

Recipe for I’m Sick of these Dolphins

General Information:
Brew Date: Sunday, September 01, 2019
Day: Overcast, rain early, humid, @70*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S04
Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.049
Finishing Gravity: ?
IBU: 38.3
Color: 4.4 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 66.99%
Alcohol by Volume: ?%
Apparent Attenuation: ?%
Calories per ounce: ?
Primary Fermentation: 7 days @66*F

Grain Bill:
10.00 pound(s) Marris Otter

Mash:
Saccharification @152.8*F

Hop Bill:
2.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @20 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @15 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @10 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Centennial @5 minutes
Boat Load ounce(s) Freshly Harvested Cascade whirlpool, 15 minutes

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

Updates:

  • 2019-09-02 morning: @66.0*F, added yeast.
  • 2019-09-02 evening: @64.7*F, very faint fermentation.
  • 2019-09-03 morning: @64.2*F, light fermentation.

Useless fact: Alaska is the only state whose name is on one row on a keyboard.

Brewed: Glass Case of Emotion an American Wheat Ale

August 24th, 2019 by scot

Glass Case of Emotion, American Wheat Ale, brew day thoughts:

Weighting out grains to kick of a home brewing day!

I have been really enjoying the lighter side of American craft beer lately: wheat and pale ales have been my go tos. After three months of not brewing it was time to stop the bleeding of paying for craft beer and craft up a wonderful batch for myself.

Glass Case of Emotion is an American Wheat Ale. I decided to use of Galaxy hops that were sitting in the basement hop freezer but was not going to dry hop this beer. Late boil additions and a whirlpool would suffice. I really wanted the aforementioned beer to be a gentle beer; over-hopping would not allow me to attain that goal.

The name of the beer comes from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. The quote, rather hysterical, makes one think and how ironic that he is actually in a phone booth (for those of us whom remember what those were).

I can’t remember that last time I put together an American lite ale that didn’t have a dry hop addition. It won’t be long until I have a chance to determine if that was the right decision. Enjoy!

Recipe for Glass Case of Emotion

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, August 24, 2019
Day: Sunny, with some clouds, somewhat humid, @73*F
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: S05
Yeast Starter: None
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5
Original Gravity: 1.058
Finishing Gravity: 1.010
IBU: 25.7
Color: 4.3 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Conversion Efficiency: 71.02%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.30%
Apparent Attenuation: 82%
Calories per ounce: 15.8
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @66*F

Grain Bill:
5.00 pound(s) 2-row
5.00 pound(s) Red Wheat
0.50 pound(s) Cara-pils
0.25 pound(s) Honey Malt

Mash:
Saccharification @152.0*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Galaxy @10 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Galaxy @5 minutes
1.00 ounce(s) 2017 Galaxy @0 minutes
4.00 ounce(s) 2017 Galaxy whirlpool, 20 minutes

Extras:
1.0 tsp Irish Moss @15 minutes
1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @15 minutes
2.0 quart of rice hulls

Updates:

  • None

Useless fact: The average American spends about 2.5 days a year looking for lost items.

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.”