Tag Archives: Brewing

Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

Ivy_Bush_Bitter_1.0

We’ve had glimmers of Spring here in MN, but as I write this it’s snowing outside on May 1st… Back in late March I thought it would be nice to have a nice malty low ABV pale ale to drink to ring in Spring. I also needed to build up some yeast (WLP002) for a few upcoming batches so an Ordinary Bitter seemed to fit the bill. I had just spent a weekend in Wisconsin drinking New Glarus beers so I decided on a Spotted Cow type Bitter since that’s nice and drinkable – exactly what I’m looking for here. In addition to that I knew I could be drinking it inside 2 weeks.

I stuck with my go-to English base malt in Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter and decided to just use one specialty malt, in this case Baird’s Carastan (37L). I had some Northern Brewer hops in the freezer and knew they’d be perfect for this one.

Ivy Bush Bitter 1.0

2.5 finished gallons (3.5 gallon batch size – .75 left in kettle, .25 left in fermenter)

Brewed 3/28

Kegged 4/7

60 min boil

Mash @ 150*

1.038 OG

1.011 FG

90% Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter (4.5L)

10% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

60 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 30 IBU

15 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% to 4 IBU

0 Min Northern Brewer (German) 8% equal amount from 15 min addition

 

The aroma is quite malty, there is a bit of fruity esters, caramel and a hint of toast as well. There is some hop character, but not a lot. The caramel and toast qualities are more pronounced now at about the 5 week mark than they were even a week ago. In short, it smells like an English Beer. The bitterness dominates the flavor until you swallow when you are hit with malt/bread and caramel. There is, again, some fruitiness, but I don’t get a lot of toasty flavors (would like some). There is some hop flavor as well – it hits me as EKG with a hing of noble hops. The finish is dry with no lingering bitterness – just leaves you craving the next sip. As expected the color is pale gold, very clear (no finings needed) with great head retention and small bubbles. Remember to serve these around 50* and keep the carbonation low with these delicate English ales. I probably would not brew this exact recipe again for a MN spring, but this would make a great beer on a hot summer day. This would be a great beer to serve on cask.

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Cask/Session Pale Ale

caskipa1

I had some ingredients left over from previous batches that I wanted to use up and decided it was high time to pour something though the Beer Engine Caskegerator again.

With the ingredients I wanted to use up a Session IPA made the most sense. It’s arguably more of a session APA, but to me it’s closer to an IPA in terms of hopping, but we’ll just call it a Session Pale Ale. I was looking to make something along the lines of 21st Amendment’s Bitter American, but wanted to keep the serving method in mind, which meant that the body needed to be fairly light and the bitterness, although high, could not be aggressive.  I was originally going to late hop this, but to save a bit of time on brew day I ended up deciding to first wort hop and just hopburst the boil.

1.043 OG
Mashed at 156F
60 min boil
51 IBU according to Beersmith4.2% ABV5 finished gallons
78% 2 row
15% Marris Otter
2.5% Crystal 55
2.5% Crystal 120
2% Victory
1 oz CTZ 15.2% FWH
.5 oz CTZ 15.2% 30 mins
1 oz Cascade 5.6% 10 mins
1 oz Cascade 5.6% 5 mins
1 oz Centennial 11.5% 5 mins
1 oz Cascade 5.6% 0 mins
.5 oz CTZ 15.2% 0 mins

WLP001 – 1 Liter starter
Pitched at 63* and fermented at 65*. Raised 1 degree per day as fermentation slowed down to 69*.  Finished at 1.011 – perfect.
.5 oz Chinook Dry Hop 8 days
.5 oz Centennial Dry Hop 8 days
.5 oz Simcoe Dry Hop 8 days
.5 oz Chinook Dry Hop 4 days
.5 oz Centennial Dry Hop 4 days
.5 oz Simcoe Dry Hop 4 days

Added gelatin and 1 oz of corn sugar and let sit for 10 days before moving to the caskegerator set to 50*.
This was very balanced which made it extremely drinkable. The bitterness was there, but didn’t wear out your palate. There was a bit of malt flavor and some toastiness, but it was a bit behind the bitterness. The more I drank these the more I was able to pick up the hop flavor for some reason. The first few pints were good, and the last few were great (hint of catiness became apparent towards the end, but in a good way).

I’d say the CTZ is the most dominant hop flavor, I barely pick up cascade or centennial. It would have been interesting to do a 30 minute hot steep with all the 10 minute and under additions to see if they could then stand up to the FWH CTZ addition. The aroma had a bit of resin and citrus, wasn’t terribly dank or anything. If I were to brew this again I would probably drop the FWH and bitter with CTZ at 60 mins. The rest of the kettle hops would go into a hot steep post-boil. The grist was good as is.

caskipa2

When the head settled there was about 1.5″ – a bit high, but I don’t think you can get less with this setup. The carbonation level was perfect with 1 oz (right between 1-1.5 volumes).

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Hamfast the Gaffer (Pliny clone) take 2.0

pliny_2.0

Good Day readers,

Brewed up another pliny clone on 12/13/12. Instead of following the same recipe from the Zymurgy article as I did last time I came across another blogger that believed he had a more accurate and up to date clone recipe and decided to tweak my recipe a bit. I want to compete with this beer and I’m not looking to make an exact clone at this point so I didn’t make all of the changes, but here’s the updated recipe and thanks to Scott for posting the info on his blog (which, if you like beer blogs you should check out):

Hamfast the Gaffer 2.0

Tasty McDole’s “hoppy” water profile

5 finished gallons (6.75 gallon batch size – 1.5 left in kettle, 5.25 into carboy, 5 into keg)

90 minute boil

Mash at 150* F for 90 minutes

1.072 OG (ended up at 1.073)

1.010 FG (measured)

88% Rahr 2 Row

5% Corn Sugar

4% Briess Carapils

3% Briess Crystal 40

110 grams CTZ 17% 90 minutes

24 grams CTZ 13.9% 45 minutes

32 grams Simcoe 13% 30 minutes

1/2 tablet Whirlfloc 5 minutes

74.5 grams Simcoe 12.2% 0 minutes (hot steep for 15 minutes before chilling)

32 grams Centennial 11.6% 0 minutes (hot steep for 15 minutes before chilling)

Servomyces added prior to chilling

After chilling whirlpooled with a spoon and let kettle sit for 2 hours before racking to Better Bottle, transferred only a small amount of pellet hop material – left the rest behind with 1.5 gallons of wort/trub.

60 seconds pure 02

WLP001 pitched at 65* F, allowed to free rise to 67* F for fermentation, ramped up to 70* F as fermentation slowed down. Racked to secondary at 1.013 onto 10 day dry hops – second dose also added in secondary.

28.4 grams Centennial Dry Hop 10 days

28.4 grams CTZ Dry Hop 10 days

28.4 Simcoe Dry Hop 10 days

21 grams Amarillo Dry Hop 10 days

7.1  grams Centennial Dry Hop 5 days

7.1 grams CTZ Dry Hop 5 days

10.7 Simcoe Dry Hop 5 days

10.2 grams Amarillo Dry Hop 5 days

Kegged/fined with gelatin on 1/2

1/8 pours crystal clear, tastes really great, still a bit harsh (always find that beers need at least 1-2 weeks in the keg to mellow out).

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After 2 weeks in the keg this beer tastes really good. The flavors have mellowed and the harshness has faded. The addition of amarillo is very evident surprisingly enough, the aroma is pine, resin, floral citrus, a bit of earthiness/dankness and maybe a hint of fruitiness (from hops, not yeast). The flavor is all of the above with a bit more pine/resin. The mouthfeel is great, the hop oil lingers on your tongue – this is obviously from the large amounts of oily hops, but the 15 minute hot-steep before chilling increases this dramatically – and in a very good way. The bitterness is perfect and the malt flavor is right where I want it. I don’t think I’d tweak the recipe at all for the next batch. The color is lighter than the first batch and I like where it’s at. The gelatin didn’t seem to strip aroma/flavor and I wouldn’t hesitate to use it again (previously I had refrained from using it in hoppier beers, but I think I’ll use it in all beers going forward).

This is a great recipe and every IPA/IIPA lover should brew it at least once. This will be entered alongside Bagshot Pale and maybe some other beers in Upper Mississippi Mashout, Great Northern BrewHaHa and MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Contest. I’ll get some results posts up afterwards. The first attempt of this recipe got 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the three competitions I sent it to – I know that the competition will likely be stiffer in UMMO at least though.

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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.

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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

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Janet’s Brown tasting notes

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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

 

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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

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A Brew Day to Remember

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This past Saturday some friends came over for some #hobbitlife festivities, chiefly the drinking and brewing of ale and the breaking of bread. There were lots of chips/snack mixes, Oatmeal Stout Chili, Buffalo Chicken Dip, Espresso/Oatmeal Stouts and some Meatball Sandwiches. Many a pint of Oatmeal Stout and Janet’s Brown Ale were imbibed as well as some meads. It was a bit chilly, but the burner and some spooning/heavy petting kept us warm enough. We ended up chilling the wort in the basement since the hose outside was frozen solid, the temp dropped so rapidly on Thanksgiving I never had time to bring the hose inside. Didn’t realize this until now, but this was the 20th batch of 2012, hoping to squeeze 2-3 more in before year end.

In the past, we’ve found that our mash efficiency really suffers with grainbills above 16 pounds or so of grain (to get to around 1.070 or so). Initially, to brew this Barleywine (targeting 1.100 OG) I figured we’d be best off just getting some Marris Otter malt extract to get us from 1.065 or so to 1.100. Before I bought the ingredients I remembered reading about a double brew to produce a strong wort (Radical Brewing). Essentially you mash once, collect the wort, and mash again (with new grain) in said wort. I did some google searching and found that some BIABers had attempted this with good results. BIAB actually lends itself to a double brew better then any other all grain brewing method I’d have to say. We really weren’t sure how this would work out, but with a strategy formed and a goal in mind we forged ahead.

 
The recipe was pretty basic, I’ll post it below as well, but the grist was just 24 pounds of Floor Malted Marris Otter, a half pound of Simpsons Medium Crystal and a half pound of Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal. The grain was split evenly into 2 bags (12 lbs MO, .25 Medium Crystal, .25 Extra Dark Crystal) and each mash was done at 148F for 75 minutes. Since the sach rest was at a lower temp and we wanted to drive up both efficiency and fermentability we figured an extra 15 minutes for each mash would maybe help, but certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.

I really went back and forth on the hopping. Part of me wanted to use all EKG with a 4-5 oz bittering addition, but ultimately I decided to use some higher alpha UK Target hops for the bittering addition (2 oz). I figured the cleaner bittering would be welcome and we could still add plenty of EKG at 10, 5 and 0 mins (1 oz at each). I’m planning to brew an Old Ale soon enough (likely an 1845 clone or something close) and will feature a huge EKG load at 60 mins in that brew instead.

For the yeast selection there was never really a question on deviating from the ever staunch, ever steadful WLP002 English Ale Yeast (WY1968 aka Fullers strain). I use this yeast for the vast majority of British/American ales that I make. A lot of brewers would shy away from using this yeast, convinced it would leave too much residual sweetness, but I have faith. I’m thinking it’ll bring the beer to around 1.020-1.025 within about a week, but we’ll see. I pitched directly on top of the yeast cake from Crichollow Mild 3.0 brewed a week prior to brew day. I was hesitant to do this, but Dawson (MZA on WordPress/Gravatar, blog here) answered some questions I had about pitching on a yeast cake (and about this recipe) and gave me the courage to try it without washing the yeast between. If anyone has tried washing WLP002 you’ll understand why I didn’t want to wash the yeast for a beer this big.

The double brew went really well. We just used the standard amount of water We’d use for 25 lbs of grain (according to beersmith). For the first mash we used our original pillowcase style grain bag.

After 75 minutes we removed the bag and put it in a bucket with an upside-down colander to drain.

Gravity after mash 1 was 1.038.

We raised the wort back up to strike temp and put the 2nd set of grain in the new bag that is shaped like men’s underwear. Once that mash was over we raised the bag and heated up to mashout temp and let the 2nd bag sit for about 10 mins. After mashout we raised the bag and let it drain while heating up to boil. The preboil gravity after Mash 2 was 1.078.

Here is where we hit our only snag of the day, the wort was so thick it wouldn’t drain effectively. We ended up having to squeeze the bag quite a bit, typically we don’t squeeze at all.

Our preboil volume was short by a quarter gallon, all in all not the end of the world. Next time we do a big beer we’ll account for more grain absorpotion. We thought about adding water back, but decided to just boil the 8 gallons and end up with 6.25 gallons post-boil instead of 6.5 gallons (which we did). This resulted in a bit more trub ending up in the Better Bottle, but that shouldn’t really matter in this beer.

The wort was chilled to 64 before racking onto the yeast cake and adding O2 for 90 seconds at a fairly high rate. The OG was 1.102.

The fermentation brought it up to 66F (where it will ferment for the first 2 days) and a blow off tube was needed within 7 hours. At the 2 day mark I’m setting the temp controller to 68F to encourage the yeast to keep working.

It was really fun to brew a beer like this with some BFFs. The beer will be good for years to come and we’ll enjoy it together, but the event itself and the memories are something we’ll have forever.

#hobbitlife for life

WC for life

Gaffer’s Reserve:

5 gallons

60 minute boil

1.102 OG

96% Floor Malted Marris Otter

2% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2% Simpson’s Extra Dark Crystal

Mash half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes, remove and mash 2nd half of grist at 148 for 75 minutes

2 0z Target at 60 mins

1 oz EKG at 10, 5 and 0 minutes

WLP002

Pitch at 63F-64F, let free rise to 66F, when fermentation starts to slow down (day 2-3) raise temp to 68F

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Crickhollow Mild: A Recipe in Transformation

I became interested in brewing a Mild for several reasons. Historically it was a beer that was served in virtually every pub in London, but in the 20th century became nearly extinct. It’s typically a session beer, but has some real depth in it’s flavor (think toast, chocolate, burnt sugar, sometimes coffee). Mild is a very drinkable beer, you can have pint after pint and not become full or drunk, which makes it a great breakfast or lunch beer. It’s great for cooking as well.

One of the greatest advantages is that it’s a great starter beer – a beer that I’ll throw a single White Labs vial or Wyeast smack pack to grow up some yeast for other beers. The reason it’s so great as a starter beer is because the OG is low meaning a single vial or smack pack is sufficient (assuming it’s relatively fresh) to pitch. A lower OG obviously also results in a lower ABV which does not stress the yeast as much. It’s also a low IBU beer, which again makes the yeast more viable for repitching since it won’t have all the isomerized acids clinging to the cell walls. Lastly, Mild is a great beer to cask condition.

I first brewed Jamil’s recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, but I used all UK ingredients where he has the domestic varieties listed for the most part.

Version 1.0:

84.3% Floor Malted MO

6% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

4.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3% Pale Chocolate

1.9% English Black Malt

Mash at 154F for 90 mins

1.037 OG, 1.012 FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

I thought this turned out to be a really delicious beer, but the black malt seemed to bring with it a peppery astringent flavor and the roast was a little over the top. This also tasted a little thin and finished dry. This was a really beautiful beer though, not quite black, with ruby highlights. I entered this in 3 competitions and it ended up with a 33, 24.5 and 29.5 – one judge picked up phenolics, but the rest didn’t comment on that. I’m not sure if there was a process issue or if there was just too much black malt.

Version 2.0
84.7% Floor Malted MO

5.8% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

5.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

3.7% Pale Chocolate

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.036 OG, 1.012 FG

20 IBU (Styrian Goldings – wanted to use this up, would typically use EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

In this version I dropped the black malt and increased the Pale Chocolate hoping to get rid of any astringency/peppery flavors. I also mashed for 60 minutes instead of 90 minutes. I used to always mash for 90 minutes, but I consistently experienced a thinness in the body so I have since reduced mash time to 60 minutes unless I really want to dry something out. I’m not sure if it was my imagination or not, but I think it’s made a difference. If nothing else it’s made my brew day shorter while only hurting efficiency by a small amount.

This version turned out quite well, it’s very toasty and the malt is about what I want. It tastes a little to clean though and is a bit one noted in flavor. This scored a 29.5 as well in the only competition I entered it in and got 2nd in the English Brown Ale category. Both judges agreed it needs a bit more body and needs to be a bit more malt forward. One judge recommended increasing bitterness, the other said to reduce.

Version 3.0

This has not been brewed yet, planning to brew it this weekend.

82.9% Floor Malted MO

5.7% Simpson’s Medium Crystal

2.8% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal

5.7% Pale Chocolate

2.8% English Black Malt

Mash at 155F for 60 mins

1.038 target OG / 1.013 target FG

17 IBU (EKG)

WLP002

Pitched at 62F, let rise to 66F and finish at 68F

In this version I’m trying to increase the body (mashing a degree higher) and make this a bit more malt forward. I’m going to bring the IBU back to about 17 like version 1.0. I’m reducing the Extra Dark Crystal and making it up with some Crisp Amber Malt which I think will bring some maltiness and complexity to the flavor profile (hopefully a hint of roast without any astringency, some subtle coffee flavor, and additional breadiness). I also like the fact that Fullers commissioned the maltsters in the UK to recreate Amber malt after reviewing historical brewing records for their commemorative beer 1845. Seems fitting to use it here since Mild is an older style. I’m still debating on whether or not to reduce the pale chocolate and maybe add some English Chocolate Malt, but I don’t want to tweak too many things at once.

 
My goal here is to get to a point where I’m happy with this recipe. I’ll enter it in some competitions, but ultimately want a beer that I’ll almost always have on hand around the house. I also want a good base recipe that I can wood age at some point and maybe smoke as well (smoked oaked mild). If you read this in the next day or two please give me some feedback on the recipe which I plan to brew in a couple days.

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Janet’s Brown Ale Brewday

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I’m a big fan of The Brewing Network and their podcasts, especially Can You Brew it and Brew Strong. After listening to nearly every episode of both shows  it’s become very clear that Tasty McDole knows a lot about brewing and, especially, recipe formulation – an area that I still have a lot to learn about. Tasty is well known for his recipe Tasty’s APA and, of course, Janet’s Brown Ale.

 
Janet’s Brown Ale is an American Brown Ale that is a bit stronger/hoppier than most for the style, but that hasn’t stopped it from doing quite well at NHC (2004 Category 10 gold medal, imperial version 2009 Category 23 gold medal). The recipe is all over the internet – or in your copy of Brewing Classic Styles. The only change I made was using English Chocolate Malt (430L) as I couldn’t find a domestic chocolate malt close to 420L. I also plan to dry hop in the primary fermenter instead of a secondary, just because I almost always dry hop in primary. I had never mash hopped – will be interesting to see the flavor impact.

 
It’s long overdue, I’ve been wanting to brew this for about a year and just never squeezed it in – luckily my brewing partner Jay mentioned brewing a brown ale to end his brewing hiatus. Here are some pics of the brew session (brewed on 10/27). This ought to be a great fall/winter beer – plenty of body and some residual sweetness to go with the bitterness and hop flavor.

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