Saturday, January 30, 2010

Schwarzbier Redux

Its that time of year in Phoenix, where the weather is cool and lagers are much easier to brew. Around this same time last year I brewed up my first schwarzbier and it turned out really well. I really liked the recipe, but I wanted to change a few key things about it to hopefully put it over the top.

1. More of a Munich malt presence

2. A bit sweeter, it was fairly dry last time

3. Decoction for Malt depth

The last beer was a very good beer, but it was a bit too pilsner-ish for me. I guess that wasn't a bad thing, as it turned out that way because that's exactly what I was shooting for at the time. Thinking more about it though I really wanted to show off the dark Munich malt a bit more. I really think that the breadiness of the malt should be accentuated in this beer.

To do that this year I decided to rely entirely on Dark Munich malt, instead of a 50/50 split with pils. I was planning on keeping the caramunich in there as well, but I forgot to get it in my last stop at the homebrew store and didn't remember until I was mashing in. I'm not sure how much that will effect the flavor of the beer yet, but it definitely left the wort a bit lighter colored than I was hoping. Its more of a very dark brown than black, not a deal breaker but a little different than I wanted.

Another change this year is a different yeast. Last year I used Saflager S23, which is a very good lager yeast. I love the simplicity of dry lager yeasts, two packs and you have a pitchable quantity! However S23 does leave a fairly dry beer in my experience with it, so I decided to use a much more malt-forward yeast (W34/70 Weihenstephaner). I've used the liquid version of this yeast many times and absolutely love it, this time however I ordered a couple dry packets of it from Midwest. I don't know if its normally produced in homebrew size packets, but it looks as though it might have been repackaged from a much larger size. I'm hoping the dry version produces the same profile as the liquid, if it does this will be my go to lager yeast in the future. This batch is also a large starter for subsequent batches - I planned on making at least one more lager with the cake and I may just have talked myself into two

I changed the hops a bit this year as well. Last time I used Mt Hood, and this year I switched out to Crystal. Now there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two (both are hallertau derived) but Ive found crystal to be a bit more floral and smoother overall. To top it off I happen to have a pound of crystal on hand. I have also come to really appreciate the lower alpha hops, I still like an American IPA full of C-type hops but Ive noticed a lot of benefits from using large quantities of low alpha hops. The most noticeable has been the effect on head stability.

Ever noticed how thick, velvety and long lasting that head is on your IPA? Its all those hops in there. Its counter intuitive, but all the hop oils actually promote head formation and retention, so by using a relatively larger amount of hops in the boil of this beer I hope to really accentuate the foam stability.

Schwarzbier Redux

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
9.0Dark Munich 20L (Weyermann)
0.3lb or 5ozCarafa III Special (cap)
Amt (oz)TypeTime (min)
2.25Crystal (3.3%)60
0.5Crystal (3.3%)20
1.0Crystal (3.3%)5
Mash Schedule
168FDecoction - 30min Boil15min - vorlauf
YeastSaflager W34/70 Weihenstephaner x 2
80% effIBU32
7gal BoilFG
Notes - As was done last time the carafa was added as a cap when sparging to minimize the roastiness in the beer; I planned on a triple decoction but got lazy and only did one to mashout, I did however do a fairly extended boil to get more maillard reactions out of it; yeast was rehydrated prior to pitching; beer has been fermented at 50F +/- 2F (10C)

Scwharzbier 1.0 - 1/14/2009 Recipe & Notes

Saturday, January 16, 2010

20% 21.5% ABV Imperial Stout

I don't really drink many high alcohol beers, in fact I prefer keeping the alcohol pretty low, say 4% or less. This way I can have a beer or two without getting a buzz, or getting dehydrated. Both of which can give you pretty bad headaches living in the heat of Phoenix.

However as long as Ive brewed Ive enjoyed the challenge of brewing different beers using different techniques and trying to pull off tricky flavor profiles. There's something in the challenge of a new beer style or a very difficult technique that interests me. Now Ive just about brewed every BJCP style there is, I havent pulled them all off, but Ive yet to event try to brew a huge OG beer. So far probably the highest starting gravity of any beer Ive brewed was roughly 1090's (didn't keep good notes back then) and the beer didn't turn out too well (I pitched a bit too warm, and onto a yeast cake). I still have most of the batch left, its mellowed some, but is still fairly hot and after ~3.5yrs an I'm starting to think of dumping it.

Another reason this has interested me recently is Ive tried a couple other peoples huge beers that are either still fermenting or bulk aging. One friend has a barleywine that is unbearably caramelly and sweet right now, another brewed a porter-type beer and it has a great maple flavor that if he gets it to attenuate a bit more will be a nice beer, and the final one had a great 18% beer but over oaked it. So the road to finished product is fraught with potential mistakes, and it will be a challenge to pull it off, and this is something that really interests me.

Now I have already started this beer, and its been going for a couple weeks now so I thought it was time to do a write up. I planned on starting the beer with Wyeast 9093 Imperial blend, and finishing it with either WLP099 or Wyeast 4347 Eau de Vie. I was never able to get a hold of the White Labs yeast so I went with the eau de vie to finish things out. However, to my astonishment about the time I was ready to pitch the eau de vie, i check the gravity and somehow 9093 took the beer to nearly 17%abv!!! I was tempted to let it go to see where it stalled but the 4347 was ready to go so I pitched away.

A couple things I did to get the beer to attenuate as far as it has are
1. Pitched onto a huge yeast cake
2. Oxygenated with pure O2
3. Added a lot of nutrient to the wort
4. Incrementally added sugars/wort along with nutrient
5. Oxygenated with every sugar addition
6. Swirled up the yeast every so often
7. Fermented very cool
Now to anybody that reads about big beers this isn't anything new. But it seemed to work pretty damn well. Almost too well, when I tasted it last (1057) the alcohol was pretty noticeable. Although I guess it should be at 17%. Hopefully with the last few sugar additions things will continue to attenuate and I wont worry. Its too early to worry with this big of a beer, and I kinda feel like a greenhorn with how I'm worrying.
Eventually the beer will be force carbonated and bottled in 6oz bottles. I haven't decided yet, but some may see some oak, coffee, or chocolate. I guess Ill have to taste it when it finishes out to see what will blend well. I am also working on some bottle labels for this one (something I rarely ever do), I do wonder though if anyone can tell where the inspiration for the name came from. I told a couple people I work with about it and they had no idea what I was talking about....
Comfortably Numb Imperial Stout
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.0Chocolate Malt
0.75Roasted Barley
0.5Flaked Barley
1.0Belgian Candi Syrup D
0.75Extra Light DME - TBD
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0Centennial (10.0%)120 min
Mash Schedule
168F1.5qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastImperial Blend 9093 - Yeast Cake
Eau de Vie 4347 - 500mL starter pitched ~10days into fermenation
81% effIBU78
6gal BoilFG1022
Notes - Some wort was boiled down to a thick syrup, this was then used to mix with the various sugars for incremental feeding; 1.5tsp of Fermaid K was added initially, with ~0.5tsp with each feeding; wort was oxygenated with pure O2 at each feeding; beer is being fermented very cool 60F to minimize the heat generation from the yeast, as things slow it will be brought up to 70ish

Update & Lab Testing - 3/5/2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Brett Beer for Everybody

Brettanomyces in beer can be a pretty polarizing thing. Some people love the flavors while other abhor them, Ive yet to meet anyone in the middle. But I wonder if that's because of how strong the flavor are in a majority of the commercial beers I try with Brett?

I have a beer that I brew with Brett, quite often actually, and the flavors are a bit more muted and are underlain by a significant English ester profile and a fairly strong coriander flavor. I haven't actually tried giving many people this beer (I hoard if for myself) but anyone who I have given it to always asks for seconds, which is why I now hoard it :)

The beer is generally moderately dry with hints of malt, a strong fruity profile that fades to a distinct, yet subtle brettiness. The bottles evolve substantially with time, becoming less fruity and more spritzy. I'm not sure what I had originally set out to brew when I made this the first time, I just remember being surprised it wasn't what I had planned on, and surprised by how good it was. Unlike other wild/brett beers Ive done this one has been pretty consistent in the flavor profile, but small changes like carbonation levels and how thick the body is generally happen.

I actually brewed this one up a while ago, but I have a tendency to not post about repeat recipes. But I realized after a recent thread on a homebrew board that there's quite a bit of interest in a more subtle brett beer for the first time brett brewer, so I thought Id put this out there.

Easy Brett Beer

Malt Bill
All GrainExtract Equiv
Amt (lbs)TypeAmt (lbs)Type
5.02-Row3.75Pale DME
0.5Acid Malt--
Amt (oz)TypeTimeAmt (oz)TypeTime
0.2Simcoe(12.9%)600.75Simcoe (12.9%)60
Mash Schedule
169F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf---

London ESB - 1968 - 1L starter

Brett Brux - 3112 - 500mL starter

85% effIBU17NAIBU17
3.5gal BoilFG3.5gal
Notes - Both yeasts are added at the same time when pitching; both were grown on a stir plate, so adjust if you don't use one; acid malt is really needed when brewing this beer, flavor isn't the same without it (brett transform it to other things) so if you brew up the extract beer a tbsp or so of lactic acid could be a good thing.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

HopBurn IPA

So somehow last year during the hop shortage I managed to over order hops. Seems that a lot of people I know are in that boat right now, and I'm not even one of the worst I know. That hoarding mentality took over when it looked like I might not be able to get some of my favorite hops for a nice IPA. Luckily for my wallet the new crop came in and has driven prices down substantially and I can afford to do the huge late additions I love in my IPA's.

So in order to clear out my freezer for some fresh hops, I plan on doing a ridiculous amount of late additions. In fact I don't plan on adding anything for longer than 20min! I should be able to clear out my stock pretty quickly like this and have a nice hoppy IPA for around the Super Bowl. I also plan on doing some hop steeping after the boil. Ive read quite a bit about different breweries whirlpool hops and other ways they introduce hops post-boil, and I thought this would be a good time to try as well. So I plan on first chilling the wort to 170F or a bit cooler and adding some steeping hops for about 10min, and then rapidly chilling the wort down to pitching temps. Hopefully this will get me some of the hop character you see in some of the great commercial IPA's.

The beer will focus on American C-type hops, with a very healthy portion of Amarillo and Simcoe. I'm keeping the malt bill very simple to really accentuate the hops, originally I was going to use London ESB 1968, it floccs amazingly, accentuates malt flavors, and is perfectly fruity. If you haven't tried the yeast before I highly recommend it, it makes a great PA or IPA. Sometimes it floccs a bit too well though so its always a good idea to give it a swirl now and again in the fermentor. But I got my hands on a bit of an older Wyeast VSS, the Imperial Blend 9093, and I really want to use it on a high gravity batch I'm planning so I went with it on this batch to build up a large yeast cake.

HopBurn IPA

Malt Bill
All GrainExtract Equiv
Amt (lbs)TypeAmt (lbs)Type
8.02-Row4.5Light DME
--0.5Table Sugar
Amt (oz)TypeTimeAmt (oz)TypeTime

Cascade (7.2%)

Mash Hop1.0Amarillo (9.3%)20 min
1.0Amarillo (9.3%)20 min1.0Simcoe (12.9%)20 min
0.8Simcoe (12.9%)20 min1.0Simcoe (12.9%)5 min
1.0Simcoe (12.9%)5 min1.0Simcoe (12.9%)Post-Boil @170F 10min
1.0Simcoe (12.9%)

Post-Boil @170F 10min

1.0Amarillo (9.3%)Post-Boil @170F 10min
1.0Amarillo (9.3%)Post-Boil @170F 10min1.0Cascade (7.2%)Dry Hop
1.0CascadeDry Hop---
Mash Schedule
168F1.6qt/lb15min - vorlauf---
YeastImperial Blend - 9093 x 2 packs + 3L starter
73% effIBU73NAIBU72
4gal BoilFG4gal Boil

Notes - I collected an additional 1.5gal of 1040 wort for use in starters, pushing my overall efficiency to 93% !! I'm still dialing in my barley crusher, but at 93% I think I try the current setting again. Only a 3gal batch was made because essentially this beer is a large yeast starter for an upcoming high gravity batch.

Review - 2/18/10 - Notes & Thoughts

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