Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bagshot Pale – American Pale Ale

apa7

What beer-lover doesn’t love a nice clean American Pale Ale? This is such an easy-drinking sessionable style. The first beer we ever brewed was Midwest Supplies’ Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone, this is the style that started it all for us. Looking back at the original brew log – that one was brewed 4/2/10  and was bottled on 4/15/10. Naturally when tasted on 4/22/10 it tasted green and was under-carbed (remember not being able to resist having a bottle during conditioning?). By mid-May we were drinking it and were hooked on homebrewing. Surprisingly I took hydrometer readings that batch and it started at 1.049 and finished at 1.012 – the next few batches don’t have readings.

Since that pale ale we’ve brewed about 15 gallons of a Mirror Pond clone and are on the 2nd iteration of a recipe that I developed.  The only style that has been brewed more is likely Special Bitter – which is a British ancestor of the American Pale Ale.

The recipe for Bagshot Pale is heavily influenced by Firestone Walker’s Mission Street Pale Ale. I listened to the CYBI series with Firestone Walker and was instantly enamored with Matt Brynildson, Brewmaster. He is 3rd only to Jamil and Tasty in my fantasies. One of the main things I liked about Firestone Walker’s Pale beers is that they all use a yeast similar to the Fullers yeast (WLP002 / Wyeast 1968) which is my favorite yeast to use. They also do most of their dry hopping in the primary fermentor, and since I’m lazy that means one less carboy to clean. Firestone Walker’s pale beers all seem to be really clean and easy to drink, which is something I typically aim for. In short, they just seem to do everything right – I’ve only had a couple of their beers, but based on the podcasts and other things I’ve read I feel confident in saying that.

The grist is that of Mission Street Pale Ale just higher gravity, I don’t do the Firestone Walker mash schedule, but rather a single sach rest temp of 148F. I follow a similar hopping schedule, just at higher rates to what Firestone does. Tiny 90 and 30 minute additions followed by a massive whirlpool addition, which for us, is just a 30 minute hot steep post boil.

Bagshot Pale 1.0

5 finished gallons (6.5 gallon batch size – 1.25 left in kettle, 5.25 into carboy)

90 minute boil

1.052 OG

1.011 FG

80% Rahr 2 Row

15% German Munich (8L)

5% Briess CaraPils

10 grams Cascade 7% 90 mins

10 grams Cascade 7% 30 mins

50 grams Cascade 7% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

39 grams Centennial 9% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

14 grams Amarillo 9.3% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

14 grams Cascade 7% Dry hop for 6 days

14 grams Centennial 9% Dry hop for 6 days

14 grams Amarillo 9.3% Dry hop for 6 days

WLP002

Pitch at 63, let rise to 66F. As fermentation wraps up increase temp to 68F. When within .002 gravity points of target final gravity add dry hops. After 3 days cold crash for 3 days before kegging.

The first version of this recipe got 1st place in it’s category at Hoppy Halloween 2012 (37.5 – 6 weeks old), 1st place at Land of the Muddy Waters 2012 (38 – 9 weeks old) and 3rd place at SCH*ABC V (35- 9 weeks old). The scoresheets from Hoppy Halloween stated that the beer is very clean and the hop the hops overpowered the malt and that the beer would benefit from additional late additions/dry hopping). At 9 weeks old the scoresheets stated that the body was a bit thin, but the malt/hops/bitterness were perfectly balanced.

The beer, when young, is all hops. The body was a bit thin, but I really didn’t want to make the beer too much bigger or mash higher because I think that would hurt drinkability and this is the type of beer that I like to have several pints of in a session. The gravity was boosted to 1.058. I decided to add some Victory Malt to give this a little bit more malt flavor especially when young. I also simplified the hopping to be in 1 oz increments. The “whirlpool” addition got slightly smaller, but the AA% was a bit higher on the Centennials. I didn’t want to increase the bitterness of the beer which is why the hops were reduced overall on the hot side, but the dry hops were all doubled to increase aroma and hop flavor.

Bagshot Pale 2.0

5 finished gallons (6.5 gallon batch size – 1.25 left in kettle, 5.25 into carboy)

90 minute boil

1.058 OG

1.013 FG

76% Rahr 2 Row

15.5% German Munich (8L)

5% Briess CaraPils

3.5% Briess Victory Malt

5 grams Cascade 7% 90 mins

5 grams Cascade 7% 30 mins

45 grams Cascade 7% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

28.4 grams Centennial 11.6% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

28.4 grams Amarillo 8.2% 0 mins – 30 minute hot steep

28.4 grams Cascade 7% Dry hop for 6 days

28.4 grams Centennial 11.6% Dry hop for 6 days

28.4 grams Amarillo 8.2% Dry hop for 6 days

WLP002

Pitch at 63, let rise to 66F. As fermentation wraps up increase temp to 68F. When within .002 gravity points of target final gravity add dry hops. After 3 days cold crash for 3 days before kegging.

I’m hoping these changes will get this beer into the 40’s in some upcoming competitions. Assuming it continues to do well I’ll likely enter this in NHC – I have just enough Amarillo to brew it again and for a rebrew if it advances. The beauty of this recipe though is that you really could put whatever hops you want in it and it will really showcase them well. When I run out of Amarillo I think I’ll replace that with Chinook (Simcoe and Citra both would do well, but I really prefer those in IPA/IIPAs as opposed to a session APA). As it is now the beer is citrusy, floral, a little spicy/piney/resinous, grapefruity, and slightly malty in both flavor and aroma. It tastes very clean behind all the hop flavor and only slightly sweet in the finish.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4 Comments

Filed under Brewing, Competition, Homebrew

Getting the Most Out of Your Yeast (packs/vials)

Greetings Readers,

With mostly higher gravity (Barleywine) and hoppy beers (APA with dry hops in primary, Pliny clone coming up) being made here lately it hasn’t been an option to wash and harvest the yeast after fermentation. I still wanted to be able to brew multiple batches off a single vial of yeast. I decided to try making starters slightly larger (3-400 ML) larger than necessary and pour off a bit of slurry into a sanitized flask or mason jar.

DSC_2025Here is some leftover yeast from a starter made about 2 weeks ago – the pitching rate showed a 1L starter on a stir plate, so I made about a 1400ML starter and poured 400ML into the flask before the yeast floc’d out. I then pitched the remaining 1L into the APA.

DSC_2029

I want to keep the yeast fresh until I brew with it in the next 2-3 weeks so I decanted the wort and later poured about 300 ML of fresh starter wort into the flask.

DSC_2032

Once that finishes fermenting it will go back into the fridge until I make a final starter prior to brew day with this yeast. I know I’ve read that you shouldn’t make starters smaller than 1000ML, but I figured I’ll be making a starter at least that big before I brew with it so hopefully any potential negative impacts would be counter-acted by the larger starter.

DSC_2022

I made the starter wort for a starter of WLP001 that will be used for a Pliny the Elder clone (which I dubbed Hamfast the Gaffer) later this week. Once the WLP001 starter finishes I’ll pour off some slurry (200-300ML) into a mason jar so I can then build that back up and use it in a batch in January.  So basically this starter is supposed to be about 1750ML so I made a 2400ML starter and put 300ML into the flask with WLP002 and 2100ML into the 1 gallon glass jug with the WLP001. Once I take the WLP001 off the stir plate I’ll pour about 300ML of slurry into a mason jar to use later. I’ll be left with about 1800ML in the starter to decant and pitch later this week.

DSC_2033

This will allow me to get a minimum of 2 batches per vial of yeast, but when I make starters with those I can easily repeat this process or, depending on the batch, harvest yeast from the fermenter. I actually think that pitching a 1st generation for brewing a particular recipe for competition that you’ve brewed over and over again is ideal because it’s less variable than pitching yeast from a previous batch which, in theory, would lead to more consistency batch to batch.

I still plan to wash/harvest yeast, but I think this is an equally viable method and is in some ways superior, but I’ve had the best fermentations when pitching freshly harvested/washed yeast (harvest to pitching in a day or two). The downside to this process is that you don’t have as much yeast and will have to make multiple starters.

DSC_2038

Leave a comment

Filed under Brewing, Homebrew

Janet’s Brown tasting notes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This batch was brewed 10/27 and the brew day post is here. This was dry hopped with pellets in the primary on 11/1, cold crashed starting 11/6 and kegged on 11/11. We hit the target OG of 1.066, but this ended up at FG 1.012 instead of 1.016, this was due to a thermometer issue that has been dun taken care of (mashed a few degrees lower then thermometer was showing).

We started drinking this about a week after kegging. It’s now just about 6 weeks old which is when Tasty has stated most (hoppy?) ales are at their prime.

I’m not sure if I’ll keep following this format, but I thought I would evaluate this beer almost like I was filling out a scoresheet (but I’m not actually trying to score the beer or anything) – full disclosure here – I will not be objective and I have no training whatsoever with the BJCP.

Aroma

Very clean smelling – no esters, alcohol, DMS or diacetyl. There is a huge clean citrus/floral aroma (clearly from the Centennials) with hints of evergreen, chocolate and malt. Smells a bit sweet with almost a hint of toffee. Good clarity, nearly brilliant when held up to light. As the beer has warmed the aroma has a hint of alcohol, but it’s not harsh or anything.

Appearance

Thick head, about .75″ in a pint glass even when poured at low PSI from the keg. Head retention is long lasting, there is foam left when the glass is drained. Beer is dark brown with ruby highlights. Good clarity, nearly brilliant.

Flavor

The flavor of this beer is difficult to describe, there is so much going on. There is a spicy resinous hop flavor, almost minty which must be from the Northern Brewer hops. I almost think there is some spice character coming from the English Chocolate Malt as well (or there is just some roastyness coming in with the spiciness?). The beer leans towards bitter, but finishes clean with some nice chocolatey roast flavor and some malt flavor as well. There is some significant body to this beer. There are also hints of grapefruit, evergreen, pine, caramel, alcohol and dark fruit.

Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel has a hint of sharpness from the IBU load and the carbonation level. It isn’t thin, but it is lacking something that I think is due to the low finishing gravity.

Overall Impression

Janet’s Brown Ale is an awesome recipe from a passionate, passionate man in Tasty McDole (Jamil says he has the biggest dick he’s ever known, or is the biggest dick he’s ever known – I was not clear on that in the podcast, but I like to think it’s the former). The beer is very complex, but well balanced. The hop aroma/flavor combined with the malt aroma/flavor makes for a very interesting and tasty brew. The beer would likely be improved if it had finished closer to the target FG of 1.016. We will for sure brew this again.

#hobbitlife

– The Gaffer

 

1 Comment

Filed under Brewing, Homebrew

Brewing/Competition Summary 2012

Good day readers.

2012 – and maybe the world – is coming to an end. We are done with competitions for 2012 so thought it would be good to have a post about what we have gained from competing this year.

I’m going to bring you back to 2011 – this is when we first attempted some all grain beers. The first beer was a Surly Bender clone that I found online (this was before there was a kit for it). This batch, in addition to the next 2 did not attenuate more then 50%. Eventually we figured out that the dial thermometer we were using, although calibrated in ice water, was not at all accurate in the mash temperature range. After several dumped batches a new thermometer was purchased which was a bit more accurate – close enough to be dangerous at least.

A couple more batches were attempted and were drinkable, but had some off flavors. Eventually these were found to be from the water in my city being very poor for brewing (mineral levels are not typical for the area, Mg is especially high and above ideal levels), so we started using water from another city and our beers improved again. By this point we were nearing the end of 2011 and had brewed 16 all grain batches. I’d say 10 of these batches were good enough to drink, the other 6 were bad and were mostly dumped. At the end of 2011 we were pretty dejected and weren’t really sure how much longer we’d keep brewing, there were just too many batches not turning out (due to process issues, recipe flaws, etc). This is basically like in Return of the King when Frodo is ready to give up and Samwise the Brave gives the inspiring talk about there being some good left in the world that is worth fighting for.

I (and my brew-partner Jay) still believed there was some hope, and it was worth fighting for. I immersed myself in brewing literature, podcasts, etc. and figured out a few things to work on. First was to start using Reverse Osmosis water and add back some minerals/salts to desired levels. Second was the use of pure O2 instead of just shaking the carboy to aerate. Third was to stop taking liberties with recipes or to try to create them until we knew more about recipe formulation.

The first batch we attempted in 2012 was Jamil’s Evil Twin. We used RO water and used the water profile that Tasty McDole uses for his hoppy beers (Ca-110ppm, Mg-17ppm, Na-17ppm, SO4-350ppm, Cl-50ppm). We pitched the proper amount of yeast and added 60 seconds of O2. A month later were were drinking a delicious IPA – it really is a great recipe. In addition to the use of RO water and adding O2, an important thing here is that we started to really pay attention to detail with this batch. We took detailed notes, followed the recipe to a T and didn’t really drink much during the brew day – a previous requirement while brewing.

After a very successful batch in Evil Twin we made a special bitter – Jamil’s ordinary Bitter recipe made slightly bigger (by accident). We thought this was a pretty fantastic beer, so we entered it in the 2012 March Mashness competition thinking this would reveal some process flaws we could try to fix next. To our surprise, this scored a 35 and took 2nd in the English Ales category. The only things the judges said was that it was lacking a bit in hop bitterness for the style.

After that competition we really became confident in our process and stopped looking to the next big technique or piece of equipment that could help us make better beer. We kept brewing and started entering more competitions towards the end of summer where we had some decent results. We kept tweaking the special bitter recipe and it eventually took 1st in it’s category at the State Fair (42.5), but since then it has not done well in competition due to oxidation issues.

This is one area of our process that we have now addressed as a result of competition feedback. Instead of racking with an autosiphon and gravity, we have started using a closed transfer system using CO2 to push the beer from a Better Bottle to a keg. We also started capping on foam when filling bottles from a keg – I believe these 2 process changes will eliminate oxidation issues. When we can fit it in, we will redeem ourselves by entering the Special Bitter again – it’s a matter of honor (“Well of course it’s going to be dangerous if it’s a matter of fucking honor” – if you haven’t seen In Bruges stop reading and go buy it – I know you don’t want to watch it because Collin Farrell is in it, but do it anyway – you won’t regret it).

There were 7 styles we competed with. We picked 4 styles to try to rebrew for some competitions coming up in early 2013 based on feedback received throughout the year.

English Mild

American Pale Ale

American IPA

Imperial IPA

I am not positive we’ll get to the IPA, but the Mild and APA have been brewed and the IIPA will be brewed next week. These will be entered in 3-4 competitions in January and February. I went into detail about the recipe evolution for the English Mild (Chrickhollow Mild) in this post. The IPA (Erebor Pale Ale), if brewed will not change much as it’s done very well in competition already, but the dry hopping will be increased as we only used 1 oz last time (would use around 3 oz in the rebrew). The IIPA (Hamfast the Gaffer) will be mashed slightly higher as it finished around 1.009 last time and was missing a hint of malt backbone that the judges are looking for. I think we could get it to finish around 1.011, but I wouldn’t want it any higher and this may not even be noticeable.

I was a bit torn on what to do with the APA (Bagshot Pale). This got 1st in Hoppy Halloween (judged in late October) in the American Ales category with a 37.5. The scoresheet stated that it was missing some malt flavor, which I agreed with. The middle was lacking some flavor, but otherwise this beer was exactly what I was shooting for. I also submitted it in SCH*ABC V and Land of the Muddy Waters, both competitions were judged on 11/10/12. By Mid November, the beer was about 8 weeks old and the hop flavor had started to fade a bit. The malt character was more noticeable. It took 1st at Land of the Muddy Waters and 3rd at SCH*ABC V. The scoresheets now were saying the malt comes through a little more than the hops, which makes sense as it ages. I decided to add about 3.5% Victory Malt and also increase the hot steep (basically whirlpool addition) by about 25% and the dry hop by 50%. I’m hoping this will provide just a little bit of malt flavor when fresh, and the increase in hops will keep the hop aroma/flavor around a bit longer (which probably won’t happen, but we’ll see). This was brewed last Saturday so we’ll see how this ends up coming out in a few weeks.

I can honestly say that competitions have helped improve the quality of the beer that we brew. They are a great source for feedback for your brewing process as well as your recipes. One important point is that you aren’t going to get much out of entering a beer one time, it really pays to send it to as many competitions as you can.

We entered 21 beers in 7 competitions and ended up with 16 top 3 places and 1 best in show. For all the 2012 results, go to the competitions page here.

We’ll definitely be entering competitions throughout 2013, but are likely only going to enter and brew beers we really like as accurate stylistic interpretations (like a Mild, Special Bitter, IIPA, APA, etc) so as not to limit ourselves in whatever else we become inspired to brew (Pacific hopped IPA, smoked/oaked Hobbit Mild, etc.) and also because we want to use the Beer Engine Caskegerator a bit more and typically beers are better when you brew them with cask conditioning/serving in mind as opposed to brewing them for competition.

Cheers

Hamfast “the Gaffer” Gamgee

Leave a comment

Filed under Brewing, Competition, Homebrew, Uncategorized