Loblolly, an oatmeal stout with coffee, has become an annual staple in the home brewing repertoire. Typically I brew it in late winter or early spring. With everything going on this year in the world, it slipped to the springtime. The day was close to 60*F, the first day over 50*F in a week and a nice break to two days of snow during the week.
The coffee is still remaining from first home brew day of Loblolly, back in early 2018. It has been vacuumed sealed and in the freezer ever since. When I made the beer last year, the year old coffee hadn’t lost a step, I am assuming the two year old coffee shouldn’t be any different.
Now that I have extra free time and getting American craft beer isn’t as easy as before, my home brewing is going to get an uptick. Up next: NEIPA. Enjoy!
Recipe for Loblolly Coffee Oatmeal Stout
General Information: Brew Date: Ssturday, April 19, 2020 Recipe Type: All Grain Yeast: S-04, not hydrated Yeast Starter: none Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5 Original Gravity: 1.059 Finishing Gravity: N/A IBU: 39.9 Color: 36.3 SRM Boiling Time (Minutes): 60 Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.74% Alcohol by Volume: N/A Calories per ounce: N/A Primary Fermentation: start @66*F, slow rise for 3 days @70*F
2020-04-19: @65.6*F, average fermentation. Conical is heat and cold +/- 1*F.
Useless Fact: At a glance, the Celsius scale makes more sense than the Fahrenheit scale for temperature measuring. But its creator, Anders Celsius, was an oddball scientist. When he first developed his scale, he made freezing 100 degrees and boiling 0 degrees, or upside down. No one dared point this out to him, so fellow scientists waited until Celsius died to change the scale.
It has been some time since I wrote up a home brewing session on Grass Cutter American Wheat Ale. Grass Cutter has been brewed a few times since but it is the same old, there didn’t seem to be a reason.
This time around, I really changed it up and I was going more for a straight up American Wheat Ale: ~50/50 barley and wheat with a touch of hops for balance and interest. I decided to drop the coriander and the orange peel as well. Really a different beer and I was going to name it Easy Peasy but decided against it. The recipe below outlines this version of Grass Cutter.
First Time Conical Use
The highlight of brewing this beer is the first time use of the new Spike Brewing conical that I purchased used. It made racking very easy as I used a pump to move the wort from the brew kettle to the conical. It made the amount of supplies I had to bring upstairs from the basement a lot less.
But, there were was one major issue: the heat blanket didn’t work when it was set to go on (the temperature fell more than 1*F below the set temperature). I plugged it into the wall outlet directly, thinking the controller might be damaged: no dice. I couldn’t control the low end of fermentation but the fermentation should allow me to not drop too far but I couldn’t ramp up to make sure it finished. More on this in another entry…Enjoy!
Recipe for Grass Cutter American Wheat Ale
General Information: Brew Date: Sunday, April 05, 2020 Recipe Type: All Grain Yeast: S-05, not hydrated Yeast Starter: none Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5 Original Gravity: 1.045 Finishing Gravity: 1.009 IBU: 27.9 Color: 3.8 SRM Boiling Time (Minutes): 60 Brewhouse Efficiency: N/A Alcohol by Volume: 4.73% Calories per ounce: N/A Primary Fermentation: start @66*F, slow rise for 3 days @70*F
Grain Bill: 4.00 pounds American 2-Row 4.00 pounds Red Wheat 1.00 pounds Munich
Mash: Saccharification @150.8*F
Hop Bill: 0.50 ounces 2018 Apollo @20 minutes 0.50 ounces 2018 Apollo @10 minutes 1.00 ounces 2017 Citra @5 minutes
Useless Fact: The pet food company Ralston Purina introduced, from its subsidiary Purina Philippines, power chicken feed designed to help roosters build muscles for cockfighting, which is popular in many areas of the world.
Brewing equipment never makes the home brewer but it definitely can help with process, make better and more consistent beer . This is for certain: a home brewer needs his/her toys.
I haven’t made an update to my home brewing equipment since I purchased a Blichmann kettle back in 2013. Since I started trying to brew top notch Northeast India Pale Ales, I have tried to identify ways to make the post fermentation processing devoid of oxygen.
In that pursuit, I have tried a number of process changes, each with varying degrees of success; none of which gave me the quality of finished product I wanted or needed. I needed a way to keep oxygen away from the beer while I racked it to the keg. I needed a fermentation vessel that would allow me to move the finished beer to the keg without any oxygenation: conical.
The seed of using a conical was planted in late 2019 while having a conversation at Noon Whistle with a fellow home brewer sitting at the bar. He mentioned the FastFerment Conical Fermenter, which he had two of and had great success.
Research is always my starting point. I needed to find out which conicals where available to home brewers, follow up with the manufacturers, and ask a shit-ton of questions to make a quality decision.
Decision Making – which Conical
When making my decision on which conical was right for me, these are the points that mattered, in no particular order:
Location of manufacturing
Quality: Quality is typically a function of materials used, craftsmanship and money. I find it hard to get a product made of quality materials and high craftsmanship without a price being tied to it. After all, quality materials carry a higher price, while a more skilled craftsman will need to be paid a higher wage/salary.
Grades of materials, the type of material, the type of connections, the number connections, etc all determine the quality/ease of use of the product. This was very important in the decision: the further I went through discovery, the more I realized I wanted a stainless steel conical.
The stainless steel seemed to create the sturdiest product, which meant it would last. Stainless also was more scratch resistant and easier to clean, make it the best for sanitary reasons.
Craftsmanship lead me to looking for kettles that were manufactured in the United States. I know all the 304 stainless steel is made in China but all other work needed to be produced in the United States and at a high level.
Price: This leads to the money. How much was the cost of the materials, craftsmanship and mark-up worth to me. Stainless steel already put me at the high end, now it was more which accessories made sense and were fiscally feasible.
Initially, cost was number one or two on my list in terms of importance to my decision to purchase a conical. From past experience (purchasing three kettles before I landed on the kettle I am still using today – a waste of money) and as I reviewed the options, I realized that it moved down, way down. I still needed a sense of return on my investment: quality for the price.
Customer Care: Customer care was high on my list to start and, after all the emails and phone calls, it moved to the second position, behind perceived quality.
Customer relations: responsiveness, willingness to help, patience, advice, openess, belief in product, videos, etc. really pushed me towards the Spike product. I never had a time that I didn’t think that they were their to assist and wanted to genuinely make sure your experience, as a customer, was top notch.
Spike even has a process in place that customer care representatives cover for each other while another is out, so that responses to inquiries are not delayed.
Unfortunately, there were certain companies that never replied to me or were very short with me in a single reply, never following up. This soured me. How was their customer care going to be after I gave them $1,000+ of my money?
Fittings: The type of connections/fittings that are available for the conical started gaining my interest as I researched. The fittings needed to be something easy to use, quick, and sanitary. My introduction to tri-clamp (TC) fittings was an epiphany.
Never heard of them but they are considered to be the most sanitary fitting on the market for home brewing. Two pieces are paired up with a silicone gasket fitting between and held in place with TC clamp. Amazingly simple but efficient.
Size: Simple here: I needed a conical that serviced my home brewing needs and style. I brew 5.5 gallon batches, therefor the conical needed to be at least 6.5 gallons for headspace.
Accessories: I didn’t know what was available when I started my research in terms of accessories for a home brewing conical. Stainless steel had the most accessories which were a la carte, driving up space.
Temperature control, both hot and cold, and closed pressure transfer were the accessories that had to be offered. Having the ability to hook up to a glycol chiller was necessary in case I wanted to do that in the future. Once again, I didn’t want to purchase a conical that I would want to purchase an upgrade in the future.
Location of Manufacturing: Mentioned this above but this was simple for me: I want to help keep Americans employed.
The Final Decision: CF5 Spike Conical Unitank
Once I settled on the CF5 Spike Conical, including accessories, I needed to share my plan with my wife. A decision of this $ize needed to be a team decision.
She was on board but asked for me to look for a used tank prior to purchasing new. Scouring the usual message boards and online market places, I found a used CF5 tank in Wisconsin that had all the accessories I wanted and, unbelievably, a glycol chiller!
The price was ~$250 more with the chiller included. The conical had been used five times and the chiller twice. For the prices, it was a no brainer.
Getting the glycol chiller was more of a wish. I thought it would be at least a year or so before I could purchase one. The package deal was perfect timing for me.
Next: I have to test all the pieces together and get a feel for how it all works, then it will be time to brew a beer. Enjoy!
Notice: I am not affiliated or paid by any of the manufacturers of these products. This is just my account of purchasing a conical for home brewing, what I took into account, and ultimately why I purchased the conical I did.
Useless Fact: If you went out into space, you would explode before you suffocated because there’s no air pressure.
When I home brewed Squirrels With Knives I had a huge amount of help from my friend Mike: he did all the grunt work. He didn’t take payment outside of a few beverages on brew day, a handshake at the end of the day and a thank you. I got off easy.
Mike is a Miller Lite fan that is willing to try craft beer and home brews but won’t go completely off the deep end for big beers. Multiple times he has told me stories of Moon Man from New Glarus Brewing Company. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this was his favorite craft beer and making a clone, or there abouts, would be a way of showing my appreciation.
Hombre Lunar is therefore is inspired by Moon Man. Surprisingly there isn’t a recipe out there for it as I know that Dan typically keeps recipe formulation close to the vest and it isn’t any different for Moon Man.
I researched and researched and came up with the recipe below. The only thing that I thought was certain was the fact that 5 hops are melded together, in equal parts, to make the smooth hopping profile. After brew day, someone that went on a hard hat tour, that Dan lead, stated he said there were 7 but wouldn’t divulge which 7.
The only information given on the 5 hops was that 4 were from the north-west United States and the fifth was south pacific. This is were a guess work was put into to play. I settled on Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo and Mosaic hops from the United States. Galaxy would be the down-under hop.
Grain bill needed to be simple and light. I used base malt, carapils and caramel 40L. Carapils for head retention while the caramel was to give it a bit of color. Four ounces seemed to be enough to give it a touch of color. Enjoy!
Recipe for Hombre Lunar
General Information: Brew Date: Thursday, March 05, 2020 Day: Sunny @50*F Recipe Type: All Grain Yeast: S05 Yeast Starter: None Batch Size (Gallons): 5.5 Original Gravity: 1.047 Finishing Gravity: 1.006 IBU: 29.1 Color: 5.2 Mash Time (Minutes): 40 Boiling Time (Minutes): 60 Conversion Efficiency: 76.79% Alcohol by Volume: 5.38% Apparent Attenuation: 87% Calories per Ounce: 152.1 per 12 ounces Primary Fermentation: free float for two days, ramp up to 68*F for 6 days
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.
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
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.
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 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
I’m Sick of these Dolphins, American Pale Ale, brew day thoughts:
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.
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
Glass Case of Emotion, American Wheat Ale, brew day thoughts:
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
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
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.