Tag Archives: upper mississippi mashout

Overdue 2013 updates – State of the Brewery 2014

It’s been an age since my last post. Due to a new job and a pregnant wife (due any day now) I had to take a hiatus from brewing last fall and haven’t quite gotten back into it yet (hopefully this Spring). I ended pretty strong by brewing a Russian Imperial Stout and an American Barleywine, among a few other batches.

Competition-wise I did not have as strong of a performance in 2013 as I did in 2012, however I am still pretty happy with the results overall (getting two beers to 2nd round of NHC was pretty cool even though neither placed in the 2nd round):

Summary:

2013 summary

2013 stats

The scoresheets I got back from the 2nd round of the NHC were a bit confusing and it doesn’t seem like the judges ever agreed on the APA (3 very different opinions with similar scores). There were 3 scoresheets for each – here’s a summary:

APA – Sheet 1 (36): Too much fruitiness – needs more hops, Sheet 2 (35): Large malt presence – needs more hops (no mention of fruit), Sheet 3 (38): A little sweet – otherwise excellent

Specialty – Scottish Ale – Between 80/- and Wee Heavy – Sheet 1 (37): A little thin – wee light, Sheet 2 (38): More of a Wee Heavy than Specialty, Sheet 3 (38): Should have entered as Strong Scotch Ale

I sent some subpar beers to the State Fair this year and my results reflect that (no placement). I’ll add that I was pretty let down in the judging/feedback from this competition (lots of non-ranked judges, vague comments, contradictory scoresheets, etc.), but I know I didn’t send my best group of beers in either.

In the year ahead I will for sure do some brewing, but probably not to the extent that I did in 2013. I’ll probably get back into it with some 2.5 gallon batches and work up to some 5 gallon batches when the weather improves. I’m sure it will take a few batches to get back into the swing of things, but I’ll make sure to do some blog posts as I go.

I entered my English Barleywine, Russian Imperial Stout and American Barleywine in Upper Mississippi Mashout – have no idea how any of them will do. The English Barleywine got a 30 back in August – should have improved some since then. I’ll have to do some posts on the RIS and American Barleywine pretty soon here – I’m really happy with how those turned out. The RIS was an attempt at a Surly Darkness clone (like the hoppier 2011 version) and the American Barleywine is similar to Jamil’s BCS recipe.

Cheers to you all in the New Year

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UMMO Results

UMMO.medals

The scoresheets came back from the first competition we’ve entered so far in 2013 (Upper Mississippi Mashout). As I said in an earlier post, this is supposed to be one of the best judged competitions of the year so I wasn’t really sure what to expect having not entered this one before (or possibly even a competition as well ran/judged as this one).

The results were posted sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning (I checked when I woke up) and the scoresheets were apparently mailed out right away, but there was a postage issue and they had to resend them all out last weekend – no big deal, still had within about 10 days of the competitions which is plenty fast.

We ended up with 1 gold (Mild 3.0), 2 silvers (Scottish 70/- and IIPA)  and 1 beer that didn’t place (APA 2.0). I talk about each beers in the post linked in the top paragraph as well as other posts so I won’t go into great detail in this post.

The Mild that got 1st (39.5) is one that I don’t like and neither has anyone else that has tried it so far. Apparently it’s a good example of the style though, but I won’t brew that recipe again. I am going to enter it in NHC though since it did fairly well and I don’t know what else to do with the rest of the batch. The judges stated it could improve with a little more fruity ester complexity – that’s the problem with competing in the English styles- if they don’t taste like fruit-cake you will hear about it on your scoresheets, I just like my English beers with very limited ester character so I won’t be changing that.

The Scottish 70/- got 2nd (41 adjusted to 39) and was noted to be slightly over carbonated which detracted from the malt flavor – I blame my piece of shit regulator, but ultimately that’s my fault and overcarbonation is something I’m almost never accused of (quite the contrary…). One judge thought it had a little too much roasted grain and slight diacetyl (from WLP001?!?) – this was Jamil’s recipe and I probably wouldn’t tweak much if/when I rebrew it.

The IIPA got 2nd (37 adjusted to 43!) was the 2nd time I brewed a Pliny clone with some minor changes. One judge thought it had too much hop flavor and aroma, the other thought it needed more hop flavor and aroma. Both seemed to like the beer though, but the aroma was a bit subdued from the last batch which, I think, came from using gelatin. Based on the timelines though I had to use it and it really does make the beer sparkle. I think I’ll try to not use gelatin on APAs, IPAs and IIPAs when I can help it though.

The APA didn’t place (28.5) and that really surprised me as I thought it was about as classic of an APA as you can get. It also tasted really clean and I didn’t pick up any flaws. The judges thought it had too much diacetyl, which I either am not sensitive to or the judges maybe had some on their palates from a beer earlier in the flight – I’m not out to make excuses, but it’s got to be one or the other.

I will have to dig in and figure out how to adjust my process if I’m throwing off diacetyl and not picking it up myself. The yeast in question is WLP002, which I’ve had diacetyl comments from in several batches now and it is a pretty notorious strain for diacetyl, but it is still precious to me and I will fight through this.

I’m brewing a Special Bitter this week and the APA (with some adjustments) in 2 weeks both for NHC and both with WLP002 so I need to make some adjustments immediately starting with going from a 1L starter to 1.5L and probably doing my D rest earlier in fermentation than I have been (instead of when krausen drops I think I’ll do this about a day after high krausen (probably 2.5-3 days from pitching). I think I will also rouse the fermenter as I ramp up the temp – not sure what else to do besides leave the beer on the yeast a bit longer (I usually give these about 10 days from pitching, maybe I’ll go closer to 2 weeks). I sent an email to White Labs, but I don’t know if they’ll respond or, if they do, if it will be real constructive.

There are a couple more competitions coming up (this Saturday and next Saturday) so I’m hoping to have more scoresheets back before tweaking my process too much. This kind of feedback is part of the reason I enter competitions – if I truly don’t detect diacetyl (which some people are not sensitive to) than I may be serving friends/family buttery slick beer which is unacceptable, but I wouldn’t have known without getting feedback. I’ll know more once I see the results from the next 2 competitions, but it has identified some simple things I can do to reduce the amount of diacetyl that ends up in the finished product.

I’m still looking for more gold and hopefully a BOS or two this year, stay tuned readers.

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MILDly annoyed

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild

So back in November I brewed the third iteration of a Mild recipe thinking I’d nail it with the tweaks from version 2 to version 3 (long-winded blog post here), but after giving version 3 plenty of time to condition and mellow out I still don’t really like it – as gorgeous as it is in the picture above. I think the Crisp Amber malt just brought in an astringent flavor that is really unpleasant. As I mentioned in the competition post I did enter this in UMMO just to see if a trained palate can figure something else out that may be process related – it might even score well – it’s not bad I just don’t really like it and the guidelines do allow for some astringency in roast based versions.

Anyway though – dejected and demoralized I was thinking of just giving up on perfecting a Mild recipe for a while, but as I was reading through the style guideline when I was debating even entering version 3.0 I got an idea for a new recipe that I think could be quite delicious and decided not to give up!

I decided to target a more chocolate forward Mild and utilize some delicious  Simpson’s English Chocolate Malt instead of using Pale Chocolate and either Black Malt or Amber as in versions 2 and 3. I think with the amount I plan to use this should bring in plenty of chocolate flavor while hopefully adding just a bit of coffee and roast flavor. The Carastan and Extra Dark crystals will bring plenty of caramel, toffee, dark fruit, burnt sugar, and other crystal type complexity while the Floor Malted MO will bring plenty of bready maltiness (I sometimes get a hint of honey even – in a very good and pleasant way with this malt). I’m sure with everything going on there will also be plenty of toasty, nutty and other flavors mentioned in the style guidelines as well.

I might cask condition this and serve it on the Caskegerator if I can figure out a good way to bottle some for competition at the same time.

This recipe is subject to change at this point – probably brew it in a week or so:

Mild 4.0

60 Min boil

Mash at 154F for 60 mins

1.038 OG (factoring in .002 pts either way as I haven’t brewed a really low gravity ale since I got my own mill so I’m not sure what the efficiency will be)

1.012 FG

18 IBU (EKG most likely)

83.5% Warminster Floor Malted MO (4.5L)

6% Baird’s Carastan (37L)

6% Simpsons Extra Dark Crystal (160L)

4.5% Simpson’s Chocolate Malt (430L)

WLP002

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

Readers – I’m open to any feedback/suggestions/criticisms that you may have on this recipe. I’m debating on the percentages, but I think it’s close. I also toyed with changing the Carastan to a darker crystal (probably the medium), but I think the combination of the Carastan and Extra Dark Crystal could be magical.

Cheers

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In Search of Gold……Medals

As happens several times throughout the year there are several competitions coming up within weeks of each other in the area that allow drop offs at Northern Brewer – meaning no hassle with shipping. Whenever this happens I try to brew up a few beers to enter in each – which I’ve made mention of in some recent posts. I also had some bottles left of other beers brewed last year that I decided to enter. I was really hoping to volunteer at the Mashout, but couldn’t get out of work Friday and Saturday (during judging) so hopefully I’ll have that chance later this year as I’ve never helped out with a competition.

 

Bagshot Pale

Bagshot Pale

American Pale Ale – Bagshot Pale – this is the second iteration of the recipe, see the post for more info there. The first iteration got 1st, 1st, 3rd in the three competitions I entered it in. I’m really happy with the changes made in this version – the hop flavor is amazing. I’m planning to enter this recipe in NHC, which may or may not change depending on scores/feedback from the upcoming competitions. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26, The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9 and MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

Hamfast the Gaffer

Hamfast the Gaffer

Imperial IPA – Hamfast the Gaffer – once again, this is the second iteration of a Pliny clone – lots of info in that post. Also, once again, I’m really happy with how this turned out in it’s second iteration. I probably wont rebrew this to enter it in NHC, but I will brew it at some point again this year probably whenever the next group of competitions around here are together (probably late summer/early fall). Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26, The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9 and MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

Crickhollow Mild

Crickhollow Mild

English MildCrickhollow Mild – this is my third attempt at a Mild – I go into great (probably too much) detail about the recipe in the post, but in this case I’m not thrilled with what the amber malt brought in – almost an astringent-like flavor that is a bit strong at this point. I’ve read that the flavor can/will fade over time, but I’m not sure how patient I’ll be with it. I figured I’d enter it anyway and see if the judges like it better than I do or if they think the astringent flavor is a process issue or something. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26.

 

MacAulish

MacAulish

Scottish 70/- MacAulish – I brewed this back in August and it has been at about 35* F since early September – for whatever reason this beer really improves with extended cold storage. This got a silver medal in Hoppy Halloween scoring 36.5. This is Jamil’s recipe with Simpson’s Caramalt/Extra Dark Crystal (as opposed to American crystal) and Northdown for bittering. This is entered in Upper Mississippi Mashout 1/26.

 

Oatmeal Stout w/ Espresso shot

Oatmeal Stout w/ Espresso shot

Oatmeal Stout – Ivy Bush Oat Stout – This was brewed in early October and turned out fairly good. This is essentially Jamil’s recipe with a few tweaks (UK crystals, toasted the oats, etc) – see recipe in the post (which is in the Oatmeal Stout Chili post) for more info. The only glaring issue with this beer is the head retention is fairly poor (unlike when you add a shot of espresso as in the pic) – I know that will count against the score as it’s mentioned in the style guidelines (“Thick, creamy, persistent tan- to brown-colored head.”), but I wanted to get some feedback anyway since I haven’t entered a stout in a competition yet. This is entered in The Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha! 2/9.

 

Janet's Brown Ale

Janet’s Brown Ale

American Brown Ale – Janet’s Brown Ale – brewday post here and tasting notes here. I happened to have exactly 2 bottles left of this after giving some away and decided to enter them instead of drink them. Last time I had one of these (1-2 weeks ago) it tasted excellent so I’m hoping it’ll hold up for another month until the competition. They’ll be picking one Brown Ale (English or American) to be ramped up and brewed at the Milwaukee Ale House sometime this year so I figured it was worth a shot, just wish this was fresher (brewed 10/27/12). This is entered in MMXIII Midwinter Home Brew Competition 2/15.

 

I’ll get a post up at some point after each or all of the competitions. For past results see competition results page.

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