Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vanilla Cream Soda Ale

I made nearly the same beer almost 7 years ago to the day and absolutely loved it as something a bit different in my line up.  I'm also a big time sucker for a vanilla creme soda, although I must admit with the commercial examples out there, I absolutely must cut with some soda water otherwise I cant handle the sugar level.  Once its cut with some soda water (~30-40%) you can taste soooo much more vanilla flavor in it.

For this beer I was going to brewing something nearly identical to the last one, with the exception of cutting the lactose in half, but when I went to buy ingredients I learned that my LHBS doesn't actually carry LME. Who knew?  So I changed it up a bit and decided to use more caramel malts and to do a first runnings boil.

I took the first gallon of runnings and put as much heat into it as my burner would allow.  While watching the wort boil, I just wasn't happy with the level of darkening I was getting, luckily the wheels started turning in my head and I realized that lactose is a reducing sugar, lucky for me!  So, I grabbed a bowl, added the lactose and mixed in a bit of wort so it wouldn't clump up when added to the kettle, voila! lots more darkening!!  I ended up letting the first gallon reduce enough that the remaining wort began to bubble and foam up much like I was making caramel. I tried to get a pic or two, but with the cold weather the steam was impossible to see through the steam.

The rest of this beer is fairly mundane. I did use a few more base malts that I normally do, but that was really just to use up the odds and ends of 50 lb sacks that I put into buckets for storage.  I wouldn't recommend doing this otherwise (no real flavor purpose).

I did one other thing before this beer. Lately my efficiency has been terrible, lower than even my first AG batch was.  So I thought I would re-gap my mill.  I hadn't done this in longer than I could remember, but it was obvious from looking at the mill that at least one side was more open than the other.  I ended up taking the gap down to 0.032" which did look a bit more fine than my crush normally (at least recently), the recirc and sparge went fine, a touch slower than normal, but I think that was not getting the mash out temp high enough initially (cold weather).

A Squiffy Virgil
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.0NW Pale
3.5Belgian Pils
3.5Belgian Pale
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Magnum (7.2%)60
Amt (oz)ItemWhen
0.6gCaSO4 - GypsumMash
1.5gNaCl - SaltMash
TBD Vanilla@ Kegging
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastUS05 - Rehydrated
% effIBU
7gal BoilFG

Sunday, January 31, 2016


I was drinking a Rampant IPA and looking at my hop supply in my freezer, just tossing around ideas for beers to brew, when I realized that I couldn't shut the freezer door.......Too many hops.......That same day my last hoppy keg kicked and left me with a slew of lagers, Belgians, and sour beers, but nothing with a strong hoppy presence.  I knew right then that I needed to put together an over the top tropical IPA.  What better way to do it that to use a hop new to me and one of my favorites?

For a yeast choice I was able to get my hands on Wyeast's current PC release West Coast IPA, lets just say that I am quite happy with the yeast (beer is currently carbonating).  It ferments fast, very clean though fairly malt forward, and drops like peanut butter!

I was originally hoping to use a randal with this beer for serving, but Ive been lazy lately and haven't gotten around to finishing welding up the one Im building (to come soon).  Its an entirely sanitary fitting based hop randal that can connect to any keg in my (somewhat) new 8-tap kegerator.

Brewday went smooth this time, and I was lucky enough to be brewing on one of the coldest days of the year!!  Every time I'd drip a little water or pour something out Id be left with a nice slick layer of ice.

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
13.0Belgian Pale Malt
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)15
1.5Azacca (11.3%)15
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)10
2.0Azacca (11.3%)5
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)KO
1.5Azacca (11.3%)KO
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)Dry Hop
2.5Azacca (11.3%)Dry Hop
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastWest Coast IPA WY1217 (500mL Starter)
80% effIBU17
8gal BoilFG

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rauchbier err...Smoked Scottish Ale?

This beer evolved quite a bit after I went to the brew store.  Instead of my original intention of a Rauchbier that used cherry smoked malt and an Alt yeast, I ended up using a Scottish yeast, pale chocolate and some crystal malt.  My hop selection even changed, and on a lark I did a long concentrated boil of the first runnings!

This brewing session was a first for me........ brewing when it was less than 10F outside, not much fun. I did have an extra pair of hands this brew session though which made the clean up process much easier!  A buddy who is interested in learning how to brew came over to watch, learn, and ask questions.  Looking back I really wish that I didn't have to improvise with the recipe so much because there is a lot to take in during your first brewing session, especially considering my equipment is more involved than many (most?) homebrewers setups.  I have pumps, electric heating, PID control, auto sparging, etc, etc. So the fact that I had to adjust the recipe on-the-fly didn't help.  I had thought about going back to basics (no pumps, etc.) to keep things simple while teaching someone about grainbills, what mashing, sparging, and boiling are for, but frankly I was too lazy to go back to manual lautering/sparging/filling the BK...........

All in all I think this beer will turn out pretty tasty, just a bit different than I originally envisioned, and for all the chaos my buddy is still interested in learning more.  I'm also really hopeful that my second go around with cherry smoked malt will be a bit different than my first.  That first time the smoke was far too overpowering, and I had to age that beer for many years before eventually souring it and calling it a Lichtenhainer, before it was palatable.

There should be several new posts/recipes in the coming weeks as I will be on a brewing tear in early January to fill up my kegs again before the arrival of a new baby, because something tells me I wont have a lot of time this spring.......

Little Smokey
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
7.0Belgian Pale Malt
4.0Cherry Smoked Malt
0.25Pale Chocolate
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75First Gold (7.2%)60
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastScottish Ale WY1728 - 500mL starter
74% effIBU23
7gal BoilFG

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