Saturday, December 19, 2009

Xocolatl Review & Revisions

Appearance - a slightly hazy brownish orange, almost no head and that dissipates nearly immediately leaving only a few bubbles around the rim of the glass

Aroma - huge chocolate nose, subtle malt sweetness, spices are fairly subdued if I didn't know there was cinnamon, anise and annato in there I wouldn't be able to pick them out, the chili is there but overshadowed by the chocolate

Taste - There is an immediate rush of chili flavor that is then completely overwhelmed by cocoa. The cocoa bitterness is very well balanced by the very malty sweet backbone of the beer, it gives it more of a chocolate flavor than a cocoa flavor. The cinnamon and anise aren't really discernible but the annatto provides a very nice earthiness that really compliments the other flavors well

Mouthfeel - Medium-high body from all the residual sugars with a fairly high amount of carbonation, it has a very prickly feel on the roof of your mouth as you drink

Drinkability - This is a pretty easy to drink beer, definitely more of a dessert or after dinner drink than anything else. Still its not cloying and the I really like the earthiness of the spices, I think a bit of spice could really change the flavors of the beer.

Notes/Thoughts - Overall I was happy with the first take on this concept, I think I will brew up another small batch soon with a few small tweaks...

1) I really think this could benefit from some heat from the chilis, they have dark chocolate candy bars with jalapeno that they sell around Phx that are amazing and the combination works better than you could imagine, I'm not sure how no heat made it through to bottling, maybe next time I will add a bit of jalapeno to the recipe

2) Add slightly more cinnamon and anise, I think these should both be in the background but they need to be at least prominent enough that I can taste them if I know what I'm looking for

3) Remember to add the hazelnut extract at bottling!

4) Slightly lower carbonation, less of a CO2 bite will let more of the subtle flavors come through
Compared to the beer this was based off, I am pretty happy with the results. It really showcases the chocolate flavors and I believe with a few tweaks will be exactly what I was shooting for.

Brewday 9/26/09 - Recipe & Notes
Thursday, December 17, 2009

100% Oat Malt & Mt Rainier Hops - SMaSH Beer

After reading about oat malt awhile back I was really interested in brewing with it. Unfortunately my LHBS doesn't ever have any interesting malts like that lying around so I had to wait until I placed another order with Midwest. I don't purchase much brewing stuff online, so my orders are very few and far between. But while looking around the site, another malt really caught my eye as well, so I pulled the trigger and got the oat malt and another interesting one that I will use in an upcoming beer.

To be honest I wasn't really sure what to expect from the malt, only two other people Ive even heard about have used it before. One didn't really give any info other than... "yah I did a 100% oat malt beer, it tasted like oats" really helpful.... The other (Dan) had only used it in a brett oat wine, so picking out its contribution was a bit tricky for him. So I went into this kinda blind about what to expect, which is never really a good thing.

One of my biggest concerns was conversion. The first guy that did the all oat malt beer, said he didn't have any issues with conversion, and looking at Fawcetts site, it looked like it could convert. The degree of modification though is extremely low, as such a bit more rigorous mash schedule should be used. Well, after mashing for 1hr, and no starch conversion, then 2hrs without adequate results, finally after 3hrs I was somewhat happy with the iodine test. I was actually thinking about running to the LHBS to grab some amylase when I finally just said screw it and sparged. The resulting wort was very hazy and cloudy, it really reminded me of the runnings from my last lambic. I plan on adding some brett to have of the batch later on anyway so that might make things interesting.

Another issue with building the recipe was what to expect for a gravity contribution from the oat malt. Beersmith lists it as 1.033ppg/lb, which seems extremely high. By my calculations from the Fawcett specs its ~1.028ppg/lb and looking at my numbers after the beer I like to think I was right. For one I haven't had an efficiency less than 80% in a long time and I'm usually in the 85%+ range, and when using my calculations I got about 80% for this beer vs the 66%eff using Beersmith's numbers. Plus I trust Fawcetts specs a bit more than the generic Beersmith values, if you want to learn how to convert Euro malt specs to ppg/lb or just want a better understanding of malt spec sheets here's a good read.

Since I had no idea what to expect from the malt profile I thought what the hell, why not go with another shot in the dark and use exclusively Mt Rainier hops. When I opened up the hops I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed, I'm so used to hops overflowing with lupulin glads that coat my fingers with sticky deliciousness that the Mt Rainier were a bit disappointing. They did however smell pretty good, it was like a more citrusy fuggle or Willamette, although the aroma was a bit subdued overall. I threw them in for bittering, flavor and aroma, I really hope to get a good idea of all three aspects of this hop (I have a lb more of it).

For yeast, I kept things simple and reused a 1968 yeast cake from a stout I recently made. Fermentation started within 20min of pitching the yeast, if nothing else this beer with have a nice ester profile!

100% Oat Malt - Mt Rainier SMaSH

Malt Bill

Amt (lbs)


10Oat Malt (Fawcett)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.5Mt Rainier (6.8%)65min
1.0Mt Rainier (6.8%)20min
1.0Mt Rainier (6.8%)8min
Mash Schedule
168F2.1qt/lb15min - Vorlauf
YeastLondon ESB 1968 - Yeast Cake
80% effIBU35
7gal BoilFG?
Notes: Malt was milled at a finer setting that normal ~1/4 turn on my barley crusher, and it still had to be milled twice: Strange hop times are from me not paying attention: Recirculation was extremely smooth, the flow through the grain bed was ridiculously fast, all those oat hulls I guess: Whirlfloc was added with 10min to go.

Review - 7/3/2010
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

English Pale Ale Review

Appearance - Caramely Brown with ruby highlights, pretty hazy, nice dense off-white cream colored head that dissipates to very sticky lacing.

Aroma - Lots of fruity English esters, very bready and sweet smelling, this is followed by a very pleasant earthy hop aroma.

Taste - This beer has changed considerably since it was first tapped. Young it was very yeasty reminding me of a slightly higher carbonated cask pale ale with very soft bitterness. Now that has largely faded and the bready sweetness of the Marris Otter really shines, the hop presence has also come to the forefront and the bitterness is much sharper. When you first take a drink its all fruit and malt, the finish is all hops with a bitterness that doesn't linger long on the palate.

Mouthfeel - This beer has some body to it, its very full feeling with medium carbonation. I think that the carbonation is a touch high, making the hops a bit sharper than they were earlier on in the beers life.

Drinkability - I really like this beer, so much that Ive had to restrain myself from drinking it (we are having a party and I didn't have time to brew up a bunch of beer for it) It goes down very easily and while the hop presence is fairly substantial it is balanced very well by the bready sweetness of the malt, which is why the bitterness doesn't really linger on the palate.

Notes/Thoughts - I'd be lying if I said I preferred the beer as it is now to when it was young. I really like yeasty cask ales and that's what this was until about two weeks after kegging. I don't think I'll be changing much in the recipe when I brew it up again here in a few weeks, but I will make sure to dry hop it, it could stand to have a bit more hop aroma\

Brewday 10/11/2009 - Recipe & Notes

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hot Wing Beer Chaser - Ranch Beer?

As a follow up to the Hot Wing Beer I'm brewing up a really small batch of a Ranch Beer. What could pair better with that beer than one of these? They are a match made in heaven.

Originally I had wanted to do a Bleu Cheese Beer but I wasn't really sure how to incorporate the ceese into the beer. I had thought about culturing up some of the mold that makes bleu cheese so tasty, but after reading a bit online, it seems that penicillium roqueforti can produce toxins under certain conditions, one of which was close to what you'd expect in beer.

So bleu cheese was out, but luckily ranch was easy to accomplish. I added a small portion of a ranch packet to the beer before bottling. Not thinking about it though I just tossed the spices into the beer before bottling, yeah that didn't work too well. The ranch spices really didn't want to mix in, and it took forever to get it to work. It was a pretty disgusting thing to see in the bottom of my bottling bucket.....
The base recipe for the ranch beer was exactly the same as the hot wing beer, with about a half of a packet of ranch mix added when I bottled. Hopefully I'll be able to bottle the hot wing beer in the next couple of days, so I can gross everyone out next week!

What would you do if you asked for a beer, and someone handed you a ranch flavored beer without telling you?
Friday, December 11, 2009

Update and Pics

Ive really been slacking on updating the blog recently. Ive got a few beers that Ive been playing with recently that I need to get posted. Hopefully in the next couple of days I will post an ESB review, a Xocolatl review, Rhubarb Berliner Weiss review and a recipe for my next weirdo beer, Ive also been playing with some various fruits and techniques that are pretty interesting, but for now Ill only tease with some pictures.

Today I racked and bottled the Caramelized Apple Cider. The taste was pretty good for a very young cider and I'm pretty hopeful for how this one is going to turn out. In a young cider the alcohol is usually fairly apparent and this one is no different but it did have a fairly strong apple flavor that really surprised me. It also had a lot more body than any other cider that I've previously made. The FG was 1008, I really didn't expected it to finish that high but I really like how big the mouthfeel is.

On another topic, I also added ~4lbs of fresh blackberries to 2gallons of a year old lambic today. After my first tasting of it in nearly 6months I think the blackberries will really blend well with the other flavors in the beer. Tasting it plain the lambic was very citrusy and only mildly funky, overall I'm very pleased with how its coming along. I plan on splitting the other four gallons in the batch with various fruits but I haven't really decided on what types to use just yet.

Along with all the beers I have been planning to brew soon (IIPA, ESB, 100% Oat Malt, Lambic, Cider, Schwarzbier, 20% abv RIS, Smoked Doppelsticke) I now have one more that I have to find a way to squeeze in. Al B on BBB recently just sent out his Bug Farm batch 3, and I was fortunate enough to receive one of the vials from him. I'm really not sure what to brew with it just yet, and I really need to look over the list of bugs in it again.

After this vial I really owe Al some good beer, this is the third vial he has sent my way (2 x Berliner Culture, Bug Farm 3), and right now the last attempt with his Berliner culture really smells like sauerkraut. I'm not sure what to do with that beer yet, I'm really hoping that its just sulphur from the German ale yeast that's making it smell and with some additional conditioning things will dissipate. I'm gonna give it another couple weeks, if it doesn't clear up I plan on adding some Brett L to the mix and see if that helps the situation.

And one last picture of an ingredient that might make you question my sanity?

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