Posts Tagged ‘Home Brewing’

Tasted: Award Winner

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

home brew award winner

Award Winner IPA was part of a double home brewing day in later March. The beer has been coming into its’ own in the last week. Time to write it up!

Look: Pours ridiculously cloudy giving a dull, dark gold color. Very drab looking, almost ugly. Huge amounts of white, billowing foam fill the glass. Retention is solid while the foam thins as it recedes. Lacing begins as the foam falls back, leaving sticky wisps.

Aroma: Lots of nice fruit. At times it almost makes me think strawberry. Pine mingles, strong arming occasionally. Caramel notes.

Taste: More of the same following the aroma. Fruit with a touch of pine. Bitterness is minimal. Malt is there, definitely not big.

Drinkability: Medium body. Medium carbonation, maybe.

Overall: It’s okay. There isn’t really much going on in the taste. Almost a dull beer. Maybe too many hops confuse the palate. The aroma is the highlight.

Being a home brewer I don’t mind cloudy beers but this one doesn’t ever give light a chance. Similar to Clash of Hops, I think I have over done the amount of hops in this batch. Less varieties of hops, less confusion? Time to go back to a bit more simpler hopping regimes for my next IPAs. New wave late June, early July to hit the brew kettle. Enjoy!

Useless fact: The average raindrop falls at 7 miles per hour.

Bottled: Pot Licker Milk Stout 5 Ways

Monday, May 11th, 2015

pot licker milk stout

When I home brewed Pot Licker Milk Stout this last time, I made several changes over previous batches. I have been excited to bottle this batch in order to experience how the beer would change.

Bottling day was four days after splitting up the 6.0 gallon batch into six, 1-gallon experiments (used loosely).


  • 1.0 gallon on 1.20 ounces of cocoa nibs.
  • 1.0 gallon on 1.20 ounces of cocoa nibs and 0.4 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 0.50 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 0.75 ounces of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 1.0 gallon on 1.00 ounce of a ground coffee blend *.
  • 0.5 gallons left over with nothing added: the control.

* Coffee had been ground, steeped in cold water for 12 hours. The water was added to the gallon jug by pouring through another coffee filter inside of a funnel, attempting to keep the grounds out of the gallon jug.

I tasted each blend as bottle size left me a good 8 ounces of each beer blend at the end. The straight beer seemed to have too much residual sweetness. Thinking it could be the new yeast and/or the higher mash temperature. Carbonation and time might change my perception. The cocoa infused versions definitely were lacking cocoa. Lastly, the more coffee the version had, the happier the senses.

Three weeks should be a good time to do a side-by-side. Looking forward to the tasting. Enjoy!

Brewed: Award Winner and Pot Licker (C)

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

omega yeast 052, wyeast 1968

It has been a while since I have brewed two batches of home brew in one day. It has been in even longer since I brewed two different beers in the same day. In both cases, Chuck brought over brewing gear (brew kettle, burner, chiller, etc). This extra gear allowed for the brew day to be smooth without interruption once the second beer was mashed. This time around I wasn’t as fortunate. No matter, the brew day must proceed for Award Winner DIPA and Pot Licker Milk Stout.

Award winner is inspired by the IPA article in the March/April issue of BYO magazine. One recipe was using Header Topper yeast. It has been a while since I worked with the yeast. Fortunately this yeast is now available by multiple yeast companies. I used Omega Yeast 052, named DIPA Ale. Pot Licker is on its’ third version (thus the ‘c’ in the name). The first time I used too little lactose sugar, the second, I used a pound of lactose but the recipe was “American” centric: 2-row and yaest. I decided to use Maris Otter and English yeast: WYeast 1968 – London ESB Ale.

award winner hops

Both yeasts were over a month old, therefore I made a four liter starter for both yeasts. The four liter starter would allow me to have enough to keep for future brew days.

I figured the day would take close to eight hours (it did) if I had the grain ground, ready to go in the morning. A Friday night of grain grinding proved to be more exciting than expected. I brought the gap in the mill down to 0.30mm, which proved to be too tight for the drill that I use to run the mill. A third of the way through the first grind, the roller came to a halt. Dumped the grain, cleaned the mill and tried again with a gap of 0.32mm. Again, the mill bound up. Frustrated, I repeated the clean up of the mill, leaving the gap. I revved the drill up, ripping through the grain and made it; both grain bills.

The drill is heavy duty, therefore I still don’t understand why it stalled out. Also, the 0.32mm gap was only 0.01mm less than I used on my last batch, seems that that little change shouldn’t have caused a problem.

The resulting crush was powder. Too much crush. Quickly I remembered that Pat purchased 50# of rice hulls about two years ago that are sitting in my basement, I added 1.5# of rice hulls to each of the grain buckets. To add insult to injury, I realized that I only had one carboy ready for a double brew day. Time to dry hop Clash of Hops allowing for a second carboy. After three hours, I was ready for Saturday’s brew day.

The rice hulls saved my day. The most tumultuous part of the day was the transition from second batch finishing mashing while chilling the first batch. Getting two batches done at once was a challenge but a nice feeling of accomplishment while freeing up a few weekends before I have to brew again. Enjoy!

Award Winner DIPA

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: OYL-052
Yeast Starter: 4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 6.00
Original Gravity: 1.071
IBU: 77.6
Color: 8.8 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 6.9%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
15.0# 2 Row
1.00# Wheat
10.0 oz Caramel 20L
6.0 oz Caramel 120L

Saccharification @154.0*F

Hop Bill:
0.50 ounce Magnum @60 minutes
0.50 ounce Galaxy @20 minutes
0.50 ounce Galaxy @10 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @5 minutes
1.00 ounce Galaxy @whirlpool
1.00 ounce Simcoe @whirlpool
2.00 ounces El Dorado @whirlpool
1.00 ounce Galaxy @4 days dry hop
2.00 ounces Kohatu @4 days dry hop
2.00 ounce El Dorado @4 days dry hop

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes


  • 2015-04-19: Dry hopped: 2.0 ounces Kohatu, 2.0 ounces El Dorado, 1.0 ounce Galaxy.
  • 2015-04-18: Bottled with 4.2 ounces priming sugar and 2.0 cups of water. Gravity at 1.012.
  • 2015-05-01: Initial, non-carbonated tasting. Heaping helping of hops!

Pot Licker Mlik Stout (C)

General Information:
Brew Date: Saturday, March 28, 2015
Recipe Type: All Grain
Yeast: WYeast 1968
Yeast Starter: 4 liter
Batch Size (Gallons): 5.50
Original Gravity: 1.065
IBU: 26.4
Color: 36.0 SRM
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Alcohol by Volume: 5.7%
Primary Fermentation: 14 days @68*F

Grain Bill:
7.00# Maris Otter
2.00# Munich
1.00# Chocolate
12.0 oz Caramel 60L
0.50# Roasted Barley
0.25# Black Patent

Saccharification @155.0*F

Hop Bill:
1.00 ounce Amarillo @60 minutes
1.00 ounce Centennial @60 minutes

1.0 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 minutes
1.00# Lactose


  • 2015-05-06: Split the batch into six 1-gallon carboys.
  • 2015-05-10: Bottled each of the individual gallon carboys. A lot of work!

Useless Fact (one for each home brew):

  • Cuba is the only island in the Caribbean to have a railroad.
  • In the U.S, Frisbees outsell footballs, baseballs and basketballs combined.

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.

Freezer for Temperature Control Part II

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

running electric for feezer

Back in August I picked up a used freezer that I had plans on using for temperature controlled fermentation. The problem that I was facing: it sits at the opposite end of an unfinished basement from the electric panel. No current for juice.

Running conduit and wire has been something I had done in the past. That didn’t worry me. I had two empty 20 amp circuit breakers in the panel (remnants of a salt water tank), half the conduit already hung (once again from the salt water tank) and I had two spools of 12 gauge wire. I even had all the necessary connectors, plates, etc.

What was the issue? I didn’t have a pipe bender.

Time for a phone call to my Dad, the man with all the tools (and basically the one that has given my tools for my birthday every year for the past 20, but no bender). I convinced that my birthday gift would be him coming over with the pipe bender to spend some quality time in the basement, wiring up my fermentation freezer.

After three hours of work my freezer was plugged in, cooling away. Next up: temperature control for the freezer. Cleaning the house one weekend will probably be the edge I need to convince the wife I “need” such a device. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: 160 cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world’s widest road.

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.