Tag Archives: Land of the Muddy Waters

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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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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Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is nearly here, lots of brewing stuff on my mind:

  • Kitchen remodel is nearly complete at Bag End – not brewing related, but deal with it
  • Janet’s Brown Ale is tasting mighty fine
  • Crickhollow Mild 3.0 is fermenting away, should be ready to keg in time to pitch an upcoming big beer on the yeast cake (stay tuned) – will be trying the oxygen free transfer “system” out for the first time
  • Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0 is performing admirably – had to take apart the old chamber as I built it in front of the water shut off for the house
  • Oatmeal Stout Chili batch 2 is on the horizon
  • Weather isn’t too cold here in MN, shouldn’t make brewing this Saturday too difficult (chilling with frozen hoses doesn’t work well)
  • Got scoresheets back from LOTMW (1st 1st) and SCH*ABC V (2nd 3rd) with some useful feedback as I get ready to rebrew Hamfast the Gaffer (Pliny clone) and Bagshot Pale (APA)
  • Have 4 batches planned between now and mid-December, good times

Mild 3.0 in the Fermentation Chamber of Secrets 3.0

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Hoppy Halloween results

I received scoresheets and prizes last weekend from the Hoppy Halloween competition put on by the Prairie Homebrewing Companions. This club is pretty hardcore about this competition, respect.

The results were posted live on facebook during the awards banquet – it was pretty cool to follow along, especially since 6/7 beers that I entered received a medal. I didn’t end up winning the conical for best in show, but never truly expected to.  I ended up having 2 beers in the best in show round so I did what I could.

Click Image to enlarge:

The feedback was generally very good, but some were off the mark (guessing recipe, telling me to add something that was already there, etc). I’ll be taking the feedback into account as I rebrew the Mild, APA, IPA, IIPA in Nov/Dec for some upcoming competitions in Jan/Feb.

Ended up with a lot of prizes, some t-shirts, hat, New Zealand Hops, grains, bottle opener, 7.5g stainless kettle and a temp controller. Most precious of all though are, of course, the medals:

The lanyards are way superior to the typical red, white and blue. The skulls and mummies were clearly a labor of love. The engraving on the back for the category and place is a nice touch as well, much better than the usual sticker.

Bagshot Pale (APA) and Hamfast the Gaffer (IIPA) are both in competitions (Land of the Muddy Waters & SCH*ABC V) this weekend, will post after those results are up on Saturday or Sunday. I’m a little worried that these are out of their prime, but hopefully I get some useful feedback regardless.

Original post on Hoppy Halloween

Overall Competition Results page

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Brewday prep, other stuff

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Got a small starter of washed WLP001 from a Scottish Ale (MacAulish) that was brewed in August. I typically don’t use yeast that is this old, but figured I’d make a small starter and give it a shot. It’s looking fine this morning so I’ll probably step it up to maybe 2 liters tomorrow so it’ll be ready for brewing Tasty McDole’s Janet’s Brown Ale this weekend. I’ve heard nothing but good things about that beer – been meaning to brew it for some time now.
Got a couple entries (Hamfast the Gaffer and Bagshot Pale) shipped off to both the Land of the Muddy Waters and SCH*ABC V competitions for judging on 11/10/12. These are 2 beers that I’m planning to rebrew for some competitions early next year so I want some feedback on them since it was the first time I brewed both of those.
I’ll get a new post up this weekend after brewing – hopefully with good news from Hoppy Halloween for which judging starts tonight!

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