Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tart Cherry Melomel Review & Recipe

Bottled  January 1st, 2007

Appearance - Dusty old bottle from the back corner of my pantry.  Pours a very clear dark ruby red, slight effervescence when pouring

Aroma - Huge honey nose, very floral, rounded out by sherry-like aromas of nougat and oxidation

Taste - Sweet non-varietal honey taste, hint of acidity from the cherries but their flavor has long since faded, just like in the nose slight sherry-like flavors that meld well with the sweetness of the honey

Mouthfeel - slight effervescence with a medium body leave it full feeling but not too heavy

Notes/Thoughts - I was actually really worried this bottle would be horribly oxidized or vinegar at this point, but to my surprise it was quite good.  The slight bit of carbonation had begun to push out the cork causing it to leak a sweet concentrated honey-wine flavoring.  This was one of my earlier honey-wine attempts, and was quite good fresh (strong sour cherry flavor) but its still quite good now.  I really think if I could find it possible to age some mead for 5+ years and then add the cherry juice it would be a great blend!


Tart Cherry Melomel Recipe
Ingredients
Amt (lbs)Type
5.0Wild Flower Honey
32 ozTart Cherry Juice (Knudsens)
YeastLalvin K1V116
Stats
2.5galOG1085
8-9% abvFG1020?-didnt measure :)
Notes: Flavor is great ~1mos after bottling and continues to get better, although cherry flavor fades quickly; Fermaid K and wine nutrient were added at start of fermentation and at 1/3 sugar depletion


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving IPA

So we are having some family come stay with us this year for Thanksgiving and one of them (brother-in-law) is a homebrewer! He's relatively new at it, around a 1-2yrs, but he's pretty good at it (tried his spotted cow clone and a bourbon porter).  So I wanted to have something nice around for Turkeyday for us to drink!

The last beer I brewed (Pumpkin Porter) was mostly for SWMBO, and some friends, although I must admit I do enjoy a spicy brown porter myself.  This one though will be for the guys.  I stuck with a recent trend of mine, that is lots of British malts, with some sugar/starch to lighten the body a bit.  Ive really been please lately with how well some of my beers that do this are turning out.  One thing out of the ordinary though, as with the Pumpkin porter, I decided to play around a bit with my water profile.

The water here in Phoenix, at least to my palate, seems to brew up some decent pale ales and IPA's when its diluted a tad with RO (too much Cl-)  However this time around I really wanted to balance the bitterness with malt for a really balanced IPA (how I prefer them).  To do this I started with RO and added a tiny bit of Phoenix tap water get the sodium and sulfate levels reasonable.  I then added equal amounts of CaCl and CaSO4 to get a nice balanced chloride to sulfate level that should produce a perfectly balanced beer. Now there are a lot of caveats to that statement, and one that might be contentious in particular is the use of chloride to sulfate ratios at all.  There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement whether this is a tried and true rule.  While on many homebrew boards its often stated as fact lots of brewers and food chemists think that its only a general guideline and many only be relatively useful under 100ppm levels.  In this beer I should be slightly above 100ppm for both so I'll get to add my own non-scientific data point! (Dortmund is a classic example of >100ppm levels and it's said to contribute a minerally flavor profile)

Thanksgiving IPA
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
9.0Marris Otter (Fawcett)
0.5Crystal 20L
0.5Tapioca Starch
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Cascade (9.1%)60
1.0Amarillo (10.8%)15
1.0Citra (13.7%)15
1.0Amarillo (10.8%)5
1.0Citra (13.7%)5
1.75Cascade (9.1%)KO<170F
2.0Simcoe (11.9%)KO<170F
0.25Citra (13.7%)KO<170F
0.25Amarillo (10.8%)KO<170F
2.0Simcoe (11.9%)Dry Hop
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
153F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastLondon ESB WY1968 (500mL Starter)
Stats
5.5galOG1060
86% effIBU57
7gal BoilFG


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Porter

My posts have been far too infrequent these past 6 months or so, but school and work has really taken its toll on my hobbies.  I haven't gotten around to writing about brewing too much lately, as Ive been burned out writing journal articles lately.  That aside, I have been brewing here and there.  This batch was part of a double brewday (a lot more common lately) Ive found that to do two batches really only takes me about another 1.5hr more than a single batch.  These two batches (IPA, porter) are what I'm planning on having on-tap for Thanksgiving (lots of family coming in)  In that respect both batches while somewhat adhering to my tastes have been altered ever so slightly for the masses.

A favorite style of mine has always been brown porter.  It has always seemed smoother and more approachable for me than any other type of porter or stout. It also happens to be a favorite beer of mine for turkey day!  However, this year instead of the normal malty brown porter I decided to brew something I know a few friends will really like....A pumpkin porter!

Ive never been one to use many spices in beers but there are times when they work well.  All too often in the case of pumpkin beers though I think homebrewers/breweries make their beers either too big, too sweet, or too heavily spiced.  It also seems very common to see pale pumpkin pied spiced beers, which to me never quite seems to work as well as something dark and slightly roasty.  There's a local brewery around here which I used to frequent quite often that at one time made an outstanding pumpkin porter. I dunno it it has been their attempts to rapidly expand or if my tastes that have changed, but I find that very few of their beers, and especially the pumpkin porter just don't measure up any more.


I'm hoping with this beer to make something that my family and friends (who loved that porter) can really appreciate.   I'm sticking with a bready/sweet base malt (MO) and rounding out the chocolately flavors with a roasted grain Ive been hooked on the past year or so (Boricha).  Honestly I have never tasted the kind of chocolate flavors in a beer that I get from using Korean roasted barley tea (boricha) especially the Assi Brand from Rhee brothers. Ive used it previously in a porter and a chocolate saison (review coming soon) and the flavor is amazing.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to find that brand this time.  Ive used others in the past but they just don't provide the same level of chocolate flavor.  Because I couldn't find the Assi brand I decided to use two different teas for complexity. In the picture to the left you can see that they were roasted to quite different colors, and one was puffed (Japanese - Mugicha)

One thing that I did in this beer that I normally don't bother with was salt additions to balance the water chemistry.  Ive never been 100% happy with the maltiness in my porters, and when brewing this beer I though what the hell, why not toss in some salts to balance the acid of the roasted grains, and to tip the sulfate/chloride ratio towards the malt.  I probably helped that I found a new online water calculator as well, one I like much better than beersmith's. Hopefully this will help put the maltiness and balance of this beer over the top.

Pumpkin Porter
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.0Marris Otter (Fawcett)
1.0Crystal 40L
0.75Boricha Tea (Korean)
0.5Mugicha Tea (Japanese)
0.5Flaked Oats
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.5Fuggles (4.3%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
Misc1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice @ KO (recipe in notes)
YeastLondon ESB WY1968 (500mL Starter)
Stats
5.5galOG1051
87% effIBU20
6.5gal BoilFG
Notes: Pumpkin Pie Spice - 2Tbsp Roasted Saigon Cinnamon, 1.5tsp Ginger, 2tsp Nutmeg, 1tsp Allspice, 1tsp Clove



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sugar Hefe - Review


Appearance - Relatively clear, yet slightly hazy golden yellow, slightly darker than the version without the sugar syrup, nice dense head, but doesn't linger as long as the other version.

Aroma - Bready and cracker-like, slightly sweet aroma, equal amounts of fruit and clove (not really banana though)

Taste - Slightly sweetish, very toasty and bread/cracker-like flavor.   More subtle yeasty flavors than the other version, much less banana, similar amounts of clove, but other spicy flavors as well (nutmeg, vanilla) Nicely rounded flavor.

Mouthfeel - Medium high amount of carbonation.  Nice thick wheaty body that really is a great characteristic of a hefe, slighly slick finish.

Notes/Thoughts - Good beer, very different than the split version without the toasted candy syrup.  This one has more emphasis on the toasty cracker flavors, with spicy flavors like clove, nutmeg and vanilla rounding out the taste.  Very different tasting beers, its amazing how much difference one little addition can change the taste profile of a beer.  I really like the flavor profile of this beer.  I think that a version brewed with a dark munich malt could really be great, and I might try for the cooler months ahead

Brewday - 4/26/2012 - Recipe & Notes
Sans Sugar Review - 7/20/2012 - Notes & Thoughts
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Quick Turnaround Pale Ale

So this summer has been particularly slow with posts.  But between the 100+ temps, working on my dissertation and getting married this summer I haven't had a lot of time to drink beer, let alone brew it!  Slowly that's starting to change, and frankly I really needed something quick to fill kegs up for fall BBQ's.  So I decided on a whim to brew up 10gallons of an EPA.

Specifically in this beer I wanted to highlight the earthiness of Fuggles and EKG's, and round out the flavor with a bready, caramelly, dark sugar flavor profile.  To do this I settled on using a bit of carastan and some piloncillo sugar (both flavor and to thin the body a bit).  The piloncillo had been sitting on a shelf waiting to be used for quite some time now.  After I brewed up my last EIPA with some tapioca starch to thin the body of an all Maris Otter beer, I was hooked.  It has the same great flavors but slightly lighter bodied and a bit less sweet, both things that work well on a hot afternoon.

One thing I don't know why I did was grab a pack of London Ale WY1028.  The last time I used it I really did not like the minerally flavor profile.  Hopefully that is masked a bit by carastan and piloncillo.

Quick Turnaround Pale Ale
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
14.0Maris Otter (Fawcett)
1.0Carastan
1.0Piloncillo
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0Fuggles (4.3%)60
1.5Fuggles (4.3%) 15
2.5EKG's (5.1%)15
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
151F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastLondon Ale WY1028 (3L Starter)
Stats
11.0galOG1052
92% effIBU30
13.5gal BoilFG

Review - 3/10/13 - Notes & Thoughts




Saturday, September 1, 2012

Petite Raspberry Saison - Review

Appearance - Hazy, reddish orange, normally dense 2 finger head that clings to the glass till the last drop.  This time it seems to have big bubbles in it, must be a dirty glass.

Aroma - Bready pils aroma, spicy and yeast fruity phenolics, and a light whiff of raspberries

Taste - Slight sweetness offset by the tartness of the fruit, definite raspberry flavor, but it doesn't dominate the beer.  Fruity yeasty flavors, each sip finishes with a hint of raspberry and black pepper, really great profile

Mouthfeel - Relatively highly carbonated 2.5vols (by my standards), prickly on the tongue, medium-light amount of body

Drinkability - This beers is really great! And its going to be re-brewed quite often. The only reason I had enough left for this review is that I forgot I had it around. I took it off gas while I was out of town to carb up an extra keg. When I got home I forgot the raspberry was in another fridge.  I just rediscovered it this weekend in fact, so I'm a happy camper.

Notes/Thoughts - Beer really is great, early on it was a bit sweeter and more raspberry-like, this has evolved into a slightly drier, more peppery beer which is really good as well. The body makes it more like a table beer than a commercial style saison, but I think too many commercial saisons are too big, and too dry. This could be mashed at a slightly decreased temp without too much being taken away from the otherwise great flavors, making it a bit drier.

Brewday - 3/29/12 - Recipe & Notes

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sumac Wibier - Review

Appearance - One finger dense white hear that dissipates leaving only small amounts of lacing, very clear golden with an ever so slight bit of haze, very pilsner-eque

Aroma - A strong, sweet and bready pilsner aroma, slightly herbally with a wisp of lemon and pepper

Taste - Spicy and phenolic, not as yeasty now as it used to be (which I like in a wit) Now that the yeast has dropped out a bit the yeasty phenolics are much more forward and defined.  A tiny bit of tartness mid drink that meshes well with the sweetness of the pils malt.  Slightly bitter finish with a hint of lemon

Mouthfeel - Relatively full bodied beer, but no where near as thick as my usual witbiers are (no oatmeal) medium high carbonation

Notes/Thoughts - The sumac is definitely a nice addition to the beer. It was  bit more prominent when I first tapped the keg and has now become much more of a background note.  Now that the yeast has dropped out of the beer, and with the hints of lemon (sumac) and pepper (yeast) this has more of a saison-like quality to it than a witbier.  Guess I'm too used to milkshake thick wits with the sweetness of oats.  I definitely think that sumac has a place as an accent in Belgian beers, and probably in sours.  In fact I think sumac and pink muscats would be a great addition to a quick table sour!

Brewday - 3/22/2012 - Recipe & Notes



Friday, July 20, 2012

Double Batch Hefe Sans Sugar Review

Appearance - Super cloudy (just shook up keg) normally its quite a bit more clear, but I wanted a bit more of the yeast in suspension for the pic, but I think I roused it a bit too much.  Golden yellow, nice dense head that leaves lacing all the way down the glass.

Aroma - Bready, slightly sweet aroma, equal amounts of banana and spice

Taste - Just like it smells, bready, maybe slightly biscuity? Smooth yeasty phenolics and ripe bananas round out the flavor.

Mouthfeel - Medium high amount of carbonation, a touch higher than I normally like, but this beer isn't necessarily for me.  Nice thick wheaty body that really is a great characteristic of a hefe.

Notes/Thoughts - All around nice beer, definitely the best hefeweizen Ive ever brewed.  I think I prefer the WL Hefe yeast to the WY (first time for everything I guess!) Don't think I would change much in this beer, but I think I might like to make a stronger slightly sweeter version of this for the fall, maybe using a bit of dark munich and some crystal wheat malt.

Brewday - 4/26/2012 - Recipe & Notes
Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Long Overdue Update & Reviews

This summer has kind of gotten away from me. I haven't had a lot of time recently to review the beers Ive been drinking. I'm going to try and get up at least one review (hefe + sugar hefe) later this week with several more to come soon (raspberry saison, sumac wit).
Saturday, May 26, 2012

Double Batch Hefe

So SWMBO has been draining my kegs lately.  This is probably the biggest reason some of my review pics lately haven't been very good, as I'm stuck with what's left before the keg kicks.  The jaggery pale was tapped in less than 2weeks!  So in an effort to get her to leave some of the beer around for me I decided to knock out a double batch of a hefeweizen.

This is a pretty basic run of the mill batch, 60/40 pils to wheat, single infusion with low hopping.  I was thinking about doing a decoction to mashout temps but I didn't have any burners available (maxed out heating sparge water) so I skipped it. Overall it was a very easy brewday, something that hasn't happened recently!

I was thinking that I would like to do something to half of the batch though, afterall 10gal of hefe doesnt really sound that great to me (even if its not really for me).  With all the messing around Ive been doing with making candy syrup using lime I started thinking that some type of sugar syrup might thin the body a bit and give me two different beers for the price of one. Plus it would let me brew a full batch of beer with some of the syrup, and see what kind of lasting flavor impacts it has. After tinkering around a bit more with making lighter colored candy syrups using lime, I ended up making a very toasty, cracker-like syrup that is about the same color as the hefe itself. A rather lousy picture of the syrup is on the left. I ended up adding ~1lb of it to half of the batch after most of the fermentation had died down.

Double Batch Hefe
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
10Pilsner
7White Wheat
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Sterling (7.9%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
150F0.9qt/lb45
170F1.5qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastHefeweizen IV WLP380 (Slurry ~300mL)
Stats
11.5galOG1048 (plain half)
1056 (syrup half)
83% effIBU12
13gal BoilFG


Hefe sans Sugar Review - 6/20/12

Sugar Hefe Review - 10/13/12


Monday, May 14, 2012

Orange Table Sour with Vanilla & Light Toast Oak

The idea for this beer came about relatively recently.  I got an email from someone thinking about using warmer temps on a sour to speed things along. The beer we were discussion was a Flanders Red with Oranges.  I was a little worried about the acidity of the oranges with the aggressive souring culture he was using, but the flavor combination intrigued me.

A sour with orangey flavors sounded right up my alley.  Here in Phoenix most of the Seville oranges are a bit past their prime, but I lucked into about 20lbs of another variety called Bouquet des Flores, that keeps well on the tree.  The flavor of their rind was a little underwhelming compared to what it normally is so I supplemented the oranges with some tangelos and navels that I picked as well.  Nothing like fruit fresh off the tree!

Now I wasn't really interested in a red for using the fruit (although I hope to try his!) Instead I wanted something a bit lighter that would really highlight the orange flavors.  In addition I decided  that I wanted to add a small amount of light toast oak to provide some hints of coconut, and a tiny bit of vanilla.  I don't want to really actually notice the vanilla, instead I want it to accentuate all the other flavors and really highlight the creamy grain bill I came up with for this one.

As for the oranges, I took them all and zested them using a cheese grater.  I then squeezed all the juice, strained it, and reduced it on the stove top on low to thicken it up and hopefully give me a bit of a marmalade type flavor.  The zest went into the beer when it was ~120F and found its way into the fermentor.  The vanilla and oak will be added once the beer is done fermenting.

For the souring culture I decided to again go about reusing some of a yeast cake from the Bugfarm lambic I brewed up about 2yrs ago.  That beer is nicely sour, very minimally funky with subtle fruity undertones.  Something I think will work well in this beer.  Hopefully the souring happens quickly, because I'd like to be drinking this in about 2-3mos.

Orange Table Sour
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
3.75Pilsner
1.0Spelt Berries
400mLTangelo Juice*
400mLNavel Orange Juice*
150mLSeville Orange Juice*
Hops & Spices
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25EKG (5.1%)60
1.0Tangelo ZestKO <120F
0.8Navel ZestKO <120F
0.8Navel ZestKO <120F
0.5Light Toast Oak4days
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastAl's Bugfarm Batch 3 Cake + Nottingham
Stats
2.75galOG1050
81% effIBU8
3.5gal BoilFG
Notes:* - Juice from oranges was reduced over low heat on the stove, final volume added to carboy was 300mL. More seville juice may be added after primary fermenation has died down and I can taste the level of acidity in the beer.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Funky Peach Review

Appearance - Dark Golden, with some gray? highlights (most likely oxidized peaches) thin head nearly no retention. very hazy

Aroma - Peaches and honey (buckwheat honey aromatics?) followed by funky bretty nose that seems to have become a common aroma/flavor in many of my brett beers. A house strain perhaps? (its sort of floral, rose-like, mixed with baby powder and funk)

Taste - Slighltly phenolic brett taste hits your tongue first, slightly sweetish with a subtle yellow peach flavor, starting to become tangy.  Some flavors (honey-like) that remind me quite a bit of the buckwheat braggot I did a couple years back.

Mouthfeel - Slick, and very full feeling with medium carbonation that could just as easily be dialed up or down and fit very well with the beer (low carb would highlight the subtle peach and brett notes, high carb would mask the peach to some extent but drive up the aroma)

Notes/Thoughts - This one didnt have any hint of brett until I started messing with the original culture I pitched. Before I messed with it, or added the peaches for that matter, the wild yeast I cultured up had a very intense peach flavor and aroma.  Im kinda wishing I hadnt messed with it, or had split the batch so that I could tell if the peach flavor is solely yeast derived or if the fruit added much.  All in all a decent attempt, in the future I would like to minimize the bretty flavors so the peaches could be highlighted a bit more.

Brewday - 3/17/2012 - Recipe & Notes

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kentucky Common Reboot

After my last debacle I decided to give it another shot trying to brew up a Kentucky Common.  After my last beer developed intense hot vomit aromas I had to dump it out.  Luckily I dumped it out in my grass so that I was able to smell the wonderful aromas for quite some time!
This time around I decided to change a few things up.  I think one of the biggest issues in using raw grain as a source of cultures is that you really never know what your gonna get.  And its very likely that there are some enterobacter, butyric acid bacteria or other nasties living on the grain that will give it a nice garbage aroma and taste.  Luckily though those nasty type of bacteria are killed by lowering the pH, so once fermentation starts in most all of them die.  Well then you say, why did they ruin your last Kentucky Common? That's because the flavor thresholds for the compounds they produce are extremely low, so it doesn't take much time for them to leave a lasting impact on a beer.

A great way to avoid having to deal with them is by making a "starter" using raw grains to build up a culture to add to your beer.  The nasty bacteria may be present initially but if you dump off most of the starter and step it up 2 or 3 times the nasty flavors are gone and the bacteria are dead leaving you sacch, brett, and any lactic bacteria you may have grown up.

This was the approach I took to this beer, I'm hoping that the culture will end up much more sour that when I tried with the funky peach from a month back.  In this attempt I grew up the culture over a much longer time (~1.5wks) and added backing soda/chalk to buffer the acidity so the bacteria didn't die. Other than that the only other thing I changed in this go around was to do a no boil batch, and added mash hops to make up for not boiling.  Hopefully these changes will give me a nice sweet/sour beer that is an easy drinker relatively quickly.  Worst case I dump it out again (though this time I'll use the toilet to get rid of it)

Kentucky Common Reboot
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.25Pilsner
2.0Flaked Corn
1.0Caramunich
1.0 ozRoasted Barley
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75EKG (5.1%)Mash
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.1qt/lb45
170F1.7qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastGrain Culture + Nottingham(3days later)
Stats
5.5galOG1056
92% effIBU7
No BoilFG
Notes: So this ended up being quite a bit higher OG than I had anticipated.  I planned on getting worse than normal efficiency because I wasnt running off as much wort.  Somehow I managed to get about 5% better than I normall do, so this one ended up quite a bit higher (~10pts):  The mash smelled amazing with the hops in there, I might have to do that again soon!



Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pink Muscat Sour Blonde

This is a beer that has been on my list for at least 2 years now.  Unfortunately I really was never able to find a source of fresh pink muscat grapes.  Somehow though a blog I follow just was talking about something similar, but with only brett.  I sent him a message wondering where he came across muscat grapes, and it turned out he used muscat juice from a winery.  Well that exchange must have been good luck for me, because the same day I was at a local natural foods store, who just happened to have gotten in a shipment of pink muscats!

Pink muscat is probably my favorite eating grape.  It is very light, has a nice acidity and a fairly strong citrus, grapefruit-like flavor which I hope finds its way into the finished beer. So I picked up 5lbs of them, slightly more than is going into this beer (I just can keep my hands off of them).  I plan on adding them fairly soon after fermentation has died down a bit, along with the skins.  I'm hoping that some of the tannin in the skin will help to balance an otherwise very very low IBU beer.  

I kept the malt bill fairly simple, but I wanted it nice and creamy so I used one of my favorite unmalted grains, spelt.  It should not only add a great creamy texture to the beer, but a nice golden hue.  I don't really want this to be too sour (hoping for more of a Table sour) so I plan on adding yeast rather quickly after the souring culture goes in.  I also don't want it too funky so I added a couple racking cane fills of the bugfarm lambic from a couple years ago.  Hopefully the culture isn't too far gone and cane wake up and give me some acidity in the beer. 

One last thing, because of the small amount of grapes I bought I decided on only doing a half batch to make sure that the grapes played a large role in the flavor of the beer.

Serendipity Table Sour
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
3.75Pilsner
1.0Spelt Berries
~5.0Pink Muscat Grapes
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25EKG (5.1%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastAl's Bugfarm Batch 3 Cake
Stats
2.75galOG1050
81% effIBU8
3.5gal BoilFG

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Millet Table Beer - Review

Appearance - Pale golden white beer, one finger head that leaves substantial lacing in the glass all the way down to the bottom. Slightly hazy, but not too much.

Aroma - Earthy and herbal, with a strong sweet pils aroma, subdued fruitiness with a subtle hint of black pepper

Taste - Strong bready pils sweetness upfront, followed by a strong herbal-like bitterness, fruity yeast phenolics,  with a restrained hop taste.  The millet seems to lend a very strong herbal bitterness to the beer that meshes well with the sweetness from the pilsner malt

Mouthfeel - Medium body, not quite as milkshake thick as the original Table Beer, but surprisingly full.  I had expected the millet to thin the body not maintain it.  Medium carbonation, that I feel could be dialed down a bit to let the yeast and malt flavors dominate a bit more.

Drinkability - One of the better examples of table beers Ive brewed.  The millet adds an interesting bitterness that I wasn't prepared for.  Googling around it seems that like quinoa its best to rinse the grain before using it, as this will get rid of the bitterness.  However because I wanted to toast it I avoided this, perhaps I could roast it in the oven after soaking? Another day I guess........

Brewday - Recipe & Notes - 2/24/2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Saison

After playing around a bit with boricha in a grain bill I was amazed at the strong dark chocolate flavor and aroma that it lent to the beer.  Unfortunately my tap leaked and I was unable to do a formal tasting of the Boricha porter, but trust me when I say it was the chocolatiest tasting beer I have ever tasted.

Now I was thinking about different styles I would really like to showcase this flavor in and while thinking about it, I realized that some of my homemade candy syrup would be a great way to highlight the chocolate flavors of both the syrup and the boricha.  I really didn't want another porter (I don't like roasty beers in the summer months) so there wasn't many styles that I felt could lend themselves to both chocolate flavors and candy syrup.

Then I had sort of an ah ha moment, where I remembered that Fantôme put out a chocolate saison (which Ive never tasted), luckily I had some saison yeast laying around from my petite raspberry saison that I brewed up recently.

The flavor combination seems to get better and better the more I think about it.  Strong dark chocolate aromas, peppery spicy yeast, and strong toasty chocolate flavors from the syrup.  Hopefully I can recreate the strong chocolate flavors I got the last time I made some syrup (having trouble with water chemistry recently - getting more dark toffee flavors now).

One thing that I learned from the boricha porter was that I think a little bit of sweetness could have really set off the chocolate flavor quite a bit.  So in this beer I decided to add some 30L crystal to add some sweetness and light caramel flavors. I'm not worried about too much sweetness in the beer, the saison yeast and the simple sugars should still leave this beer quite dry tasting even with a pound of crystal malt. One last thing that  I also decided to do was give the beer a big aroma hop charge to add some nice earthy tones that I think should pair well with chocolate (some of my favorite chocolate bars and very dark and have earthy undertones)

Chocolate Saison
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.0Pilsner
1.0Boricha Roasted Barley Tea
1.0C 30L
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0EKG (5.1%)60
2.0EKG (5.1%)KO <170F
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Saison WY 3724 - Slurry
Stats
5.5galOG1054
90% effIBU17
6.5gal BoilFG

Review - 1/5/2013 - Notes & Thoughts

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jaggery Pale Ale - Review


Ok so that's is a pretty terrible picture, but the keg tapped before I had any idea it was even close to finishing.  I was lucky to fill that little 2-3oz glass to get anything.

Appearance - Slightly hazy golden with orange highlights, a long lasting head that leaves a nice amount of lacing as you drink the beer.  Haze seems to be mostly yeast related, I'm thinking I pushed the yeast a bit too far (too many batches)

Aroma - Subtle yet noticeable jaggery nose, its almost butter-like with hints of coconut. Sweet malty finish that is quite bready. Unfortunately hops are no where to be seen

Taste - Sweetish and malty, but with a light toffee and caramel flavor.  The beer tastes very creamy and smooth, again no site of the hops. Nicely bitter and even slightly tipped towards the bitterness rather than the malt, but its all in the finish.  The beer starts sweeter and malty but finishes with a lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel - Slick and full, but somehow still very light feeling.  All that sugar did thin the body out quite a bit from what I'd expect from an all MO beer, but there is a slickness that I don't know what to attribute it to other than the sugar.  Medium-Low carbonation that highlights the subtle earthy tones of the nearly non-existent hops and more importantly allows the subtle jaggery flavors to be a bit more apparent than if it were more fizzy

Drinkablity - Nice beer, could use some tweaks. Number 1 of which is more of a hop presence.  I used some new EKG's from hopsdirect that I wasn't enthusiastic about (no cones all broken up) but that shouldn't surprise me since Ive never really ever been happy with the aromatic characteristics of their hops.  Bittering seems to work Ok, but they can seem to hold a candle to Freshops when it comes to flavor/aroma.  Anyway this beer was enjoyed by all.  The jaggery was fairly subtle, something I'm attributing to the type of jaggery. I usually get a different brand and this one was quite as potent tasting.


Brewday - Recipe & Notes - 5/4/2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Petite Raspberry Saison

Saison is a style Ive always liked quite a bit, but I don't like the direction that most homebrewers take with it.  My biggest complaint is the high gravity of the beers that are brewed.  Saisons are said to be what many farm workers drank to quench their thirst during long hot days in the field.  I have a really hard time believing that they were in 7%abv + range that many homebrewers and  commercial breweries are putting out.  If I was working in the yard all day during the summer and slogging down beers that were 7%abv I think I would pass out drunk about 1/4 of the way through the day! Even if I wasn't working outside I would still pass out if I drank them all day long.

Another one of the things that irks me about they style, especially on the hombrewed level, is the use of spices. I generally am not one to use spices in beers, but when I do I make sure to use a very light touch. Somehow just about every saison Ive tasted at brew clubs etc is over the top with spices.  Some of the worst ones Ive tasted were orange blossom water (waaaay too much), chamomile(soap-like), licorice, and kola nut.  Again I'm not against someone using those spices (well except for the chamomile - I hate that stuff), but please use restraint.  In my opinion in most beers if spices are used I should just barely be able to notice it. They should be more of a compliment to the yeast flavors than anything else.

My approach to saisons is very different than many homebrewers, I like a very simple grain bill, a relatively low gravity, no sugar, and no spices.  Completely omitting sugar isn't necessary but I like to adjust the mash temps accordingly then.  Most saison yeast strains devour any and all sugars in wort, so ending up with a low finishing gravity is pretty easy (even for 3724), but having enough residual body to balance the flavor and mouthfeel is necessary as well.  If I use sugar in a saison I up the mash temp to keep a bit more body to the beer, otherwise I still probably use a higher mash temp than most brewers, but like I mentioned before saison yeasts eat through just about anything.  Its no longer available, but there was a thread on BA (before it went down) that the poster did a 50% crystal malt saison and it still finished in the low single digits.

For this beer I was looking for something that would be light, and thirst quenching for those late spring days.  I was thinking about styles to brew up and just ideas in general when I was at a local grocery store, when I noticed that they had a bunch of really ripe raspberries in stock.  It hit me that moment, a petite saison with a very light touch of raspberries.  I thought that just a kiss of raspberries could really set off the great spicy and fruity flavors of a saison yeast.  Event typing it here the idea sounds brilliant.  Googling around there seems to be some examples out there, which I haven't personally tried, but it seems like most examples have far too much raspberry in them.  Raspberries are one of those fruits that you should probably use with restraint, as their flavor is so potent.  It doesn't take much to make it over the top to the point it dominates the beer/wine/mead and doesn't really taste right (something I learned early on with a raspberry mead).

Petite Raspberry Saison
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.5Pilsner
1.020L
18ozRaspberries
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75EKG's (5.1%)60
2.0EKG's (5.1%)KO<170F
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F1.0qt/lb45
170F1.9qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Saison WY3724 (0.6L Starter)
Stats
5.5galOG1040
85% effIBU13
7gal BoilFG
Notes: Raspberries were frozen prior to adding to the beer after primary fermentation had died down;  20L was added to give the beer a slight sweetness to balance the acidity of the berries; Mash temp of 152 was to give the beer a bit of body when it ferments out because of the low OG and the fruit addition


Review - 9/1/012 - Notes & Thoughts

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sumac Witbier


I've generally been one to shy away from most spices in beers, but I always seem to add something to my witbiers (Always with a light touch though). The past few wit's Ive brewed have used fairly traditional spicing (coriander, and Seville orange peel).  Luckily here in AZ I have access to lots of fresh Seville Oranges, and I have access to plenty of coriander.  It seems though that many brewers out there tend to add a "secret" spice, often chamomile (something I detest), other times black pepper or some other miscellaneous spice to add depth to the beer.  This isn't something Ive ever done, but my curiosity was piqued when I recently had some sumac-ade.

Basically its a lemonade-like drink made from ground sumac berries and some sugar.  For those that are not familiar with sumac, its a bush-tree like plant that grows across much of the US (never seen one in AZ though).  It has dense bunches of red berries that can be picked and used in drinks or in Greek food.  The one that I always saw when I was growing up was Staghorn Sumac, and never could stand the flavor when I was younger.  I'm not sure what type the berries I got were, but I was able to pick them up at a middle-eastern grocer here in town. I wasn't really sure about how much to use, but I remembered a blog I frequent had talked about using them in a saison, so after a couple quick emails I had a ballpark'd idea as to how much to use.

Only time will tell if the flavor comes through nicely and I can always add more later, but I was told that 5grams was the lowest end of the flavor threshold and 20gm+ would be on the high-end.  I went about right down the middle and added 10gm at the end of the boil along with my fresh Seville zest (no coriander this time).  Otherwise the grain bill was similar to things Ive done in the past, with the exception being that I used raw barley rather than oats (I ran out of oats).



Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
5.0Pilsner
3.0Flaked Wheat
0.5Raw Barley
Hops & Spices
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75Cascade (7.2%)60
10gmSumac BerriesKO
100gmFresh Seville Orange ZestKO
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
152F0.9qt/lb60
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Witbier WY3944
Stats
5.5galOG1048
86% effIBU13
6.5gal BoilFG

Review - 8/11/2012 - Notes & Thoughts


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wild Fermented Funky Peach

This is a beer that's been in the works for quite some time, and has been in the fermentor for quite some time as well. Peach beer has always been something that I avoided, as the first time I attempted to make one it turned out terrible.  There was absolutely no peach flavor and the beer was thin and insipid.  Normally I'm not one to let something beat me, but it seemed at the time that using peaches in beer just really didn't work. In fact reading others accounts and even in Radical Brewing, peaches didn't seem to be a good idea.

Flash forward  until sometime last spring, when the MadFermentationist did a white peach beer that he said turned out quite well.  After a couple quick back and forth comments, it got me wondering if it wasn't so much peach beers but "clean" peach beers that wouldn't work.  Maybe there was something to a sour that could make the peach flavor shine? (I should note Mike also suggests using white peaches, not yellow)

Right around that same time it was peach season here in the desert southwest, and we were lucky enough to pick about 30lbs of very sweet and ripe peaches from a farm here in town (yellow variety).  When we got them home I quickly chopped them up and froze them to be ready when I was gonna brew up a sour peach ale.  Then time got in the way, and I didn't get around to getting this one going until about 3wks ago.

Now Ive had pretty bad luck with wild fermentations in the past, part of me thinks this is due to the constant heat around here in Phoenix.  So was I decided to do was do a "starter" using a bit of grain and some DME.  I stepped it up a couple times to hopefully kill off any enterobacter in there that would cause those awful hot garbage tastes/smells.  The culture seemed to be coming along amazingly well, it reeked of fruit (peaches actually!) and was slightly tart.  So I pitched it into a fairly simple malt bill of some spelt, maris otter and pils. I kept the hopping light so as to mesh well with the anticipated sourness and the peaches.

About 2wks later I pulled a sample and to my astonishment and disappointment the beer was over the top fruity, but didn't have any sourness whatsoever.  So I did something I wish I hadn't and tossed in some grain into the beer, hoping to get a bit of sourness out of it yet.  (part of me wanted to keg it as it was, and save the peaches for another time!)  I let the grain soak for a day or so and then tossed in about 6# of frozen, skinned, peach mush (was likely around 9-10# of peaches).

So that's where things sit today.  I'm hoping that the wild culture wont decimate the peach flavor like every other clean attempt Ive had, but only time will tell.  At any rate, I plan on giving this another try later this spring when peaches are in season again, hopefully that one will actually sour!

Ashley's Funky Peach :)
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
3.5Pilsner
3.0Maris Otter
1.5Spelt
6.0Ripe Peaches
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.4Sterling (7.9%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
151F1.0qt/lb60
170F2.0qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastCultured from MO grain (2x step up to 2L total)
Stats
5.5galOG1045
85% effIBU10
6.5gal BoilFG

Monday, March 12, 2012

What the Funk - Second Review

Appearance - Slightly hazy golden orange, single finger head that dissipated leaveing a decent amount of lacing in the glass.

Aroma - Tart fruity aroma, soft phenolic brett presence with hints of cardamom and leather and possibly a wisp of butterscotch

Taste - Malty up front with a nice subtle brett flavor (leather, spice, funk), soft phenolic finish that lingers long after you swallow.  Slight hints of oxidation with an ever so subtle butterscotch flavor if you look for it

Mouthfeel - Medium-high carbonation, leaving the body nicely full and round.  Very spritzy

Drinkability - This beer is starting to come into its prime.  The fruitiness has grown since my last tasting, and really makes the beer quite good.

Notes/Thoughts - This beer has evolved quite a bit over the past 10months or so, quite a bit more than I expected it to.  The fruitiness has increased quite a bit, and the bretty/phenolic finish has become much more subtle.  Interestingly the carbonation was quite stable for the first yeast or so it was in the bottle, but it has increased in the past year quite a bit.  The slight hints of butterscotch really meld all the flavors together very well.

First Review - 3/20/2011
Brewday - Recipe & Notes - 4/12/2009
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Corn Lager - Review

Appearance - Light golden yellow, two finger bright white head with a bit of staying power. Exceptional clarity but it should after over a year in the keg. Lots of lacing down the glass as you drink

Aroma - Slight Pils sweetness from the malt, however the hops seem to dominate the aroma and they come off as slightly oxidized. This is something I noticed in the kolsch version of this beer as well.

Taste - Smooth with a touch of sweetness from the pils malt, it is however definitely tipped more towards the hops.  Slightly more bitter than I would like. Fairly clean malt and yeast taste, however the hops have a slightly phenolic/oxidized note that doesnt sit well with me.

Mouthfeel - Medium/light body with farily high carbonation, fairly full feeling.

Drinkability - A nice beer, but the hops are distracting, which is strange because I normally love crystal hops.

Notes/Thoughts - A good attempt at a classic American Pilsner but the hops were a bit distracting.  I did have some bad luck with hops from hopsdirect last year being a bit less than fresh, so Im betting on this being the culprit.  This beer would be exceptional if I did two thing . 1 - Drop the mash temp to 150, 2 - use different fresher hops.

Brewday - 1/16/2011 - Recipe & Notes
Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jaggery Pale Ale

Not too much to talk about with this one.  Basically I needed a quick turn around beer that would be ready for post Strong Beer Fest indulgence.  Sadly the Boricha Porter decided to leak out of the faucet after my last pint for the night.  Let me tell you, it was a great morning to wake up to ~4gal of beer all over my office floor!  I shed a tear for that beer as it was really a great porter (my best attempt to date).

Anyway I really liked the Tapioca EIPA that I brewed up late last year and I wanted something similar but a tad lower alcohol.  Lately Ive been enjoying beers brewed with Maris Otter that are thinned a bit by and adjunct like tapioca starch, sugar, or in this case jaggery.  The malty goodness of MO still shines through but it allows me to make a beer that isn't quite as filling.  Plus with the high $$ of importer MO vs domestic pale it lets me stretch my budget a bit and still have the depth of flavor that the English grains provide.

For the remainder of the beer I used what I had on hand East Kent Golding hops and Thames valley yeast.  The jaggery has a great buttery toffee-like flavor, Ive used it once in a Belgian spiced beer (that I forgot to write up - maybe soon?) and really liked what it added to the flavor  I think it should mesh well with the earthy hops and the sweet breadiness of the malt.

Jaggery Pale Ale
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
7.0Marris Otter (Muntons)
1.08 (17oz)Jaggery
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.5EKG (5.1%)60
1.0EKG (5.1%)10
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
154F1.0qt/lb60
169F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastThames Valley WY1275 (slurry)
Stats
5.5galOG1049
83% effIBU31
7gal BoilFG

Review - Tasting & Thoughts - 4/15/2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Millet Table Beer

Its already getting warmer here in AZ which means its time to brew another table beer for the hot spring days ahead.  All of the Belgian table beers Ive brewed over the last year or so have been big hits, and rarely do they last more than 2weeks.  Great thing about the ones Ive done is that while they all are similar, they each have had their own unique character (spelt, D2, amaranth) that's really kept me wanting more.  This one hopefully wont be much different.

For this attempt at a table beer I decided to use millet as my adjunct grain.  When I was looking for exotic grains this was the only thing that I could find easily.  Ive had millet a few times at ethnic restaurants and I wasn't really ever that impressed. It was always a slightly nutty mush pile that in my opinion need a bit of texture to make it worth eating.  Somehow though I have a feeling that it will work in beer much better though.  To try and help that along I decided to pan toast the millet until became fragrant and started popping.  I'm hoping this will help to bring out the nutty flavors in the beer.  Strangely thought toasting the millet didn't result in much color development.


Other than the millet, this table beer basically follows the template of all the others Ive done. I should note though, that this beer as with any I do using an unmalted grain I ground the millet essentially to flour (pic).  Ive never had a problem doing this with wheat, amaranth, etc, but in this case I added a handful or two of rice hulls  when I sparged. Just like all my other Belgian table beers this one follows the same recipe; lower gravity beer with lots of late hopping, Belgian yeast, and an adjunct grain.  This time around for yeast I didn't have any Ardennes around so I stepped up a frozen culture of Belgian strong WY1388.  Which after a year plus in a tube seemed a bit strange (strange yeast formation on starter surface) but it went off like gangbusters in the primary.

Millet Table Beer

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.0Pilsner
2.5Millet (Toasted)
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0EKG (5.1%)60
1.0EKG (5.1%) 10
1.0EKG (5.1%) KO
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
147F1.0qt/lb10
152F1.3qt/lb45
170F2.1qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Witbier WY3944 (frozen stock)
Stats
5.75galOG1040
82% effIBU23
6.5gal BoilFG
Notes: First mash step (147F) was an accident, I grabbed mash in water when it was too cool, I quickly added 2qt of boiling water to step up the temp. Hopefully it wont affect the beer too much:  


Review - 4.24.2012 - Notes & Thoughts

Belgian Table Beer - The Origina
Amaranth Table Beer
Dark Table Beer

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mazarin - Sour Cherries, Sherry Flor and Mahlab (mahleb, mahlepi, mahlebbi)

This beer is another in my line of Dumas inspired beers.  I had been tinkering with the idea of a Mazarin inspired beer for awhile, and I wanted something with hints of Italy (wine yeast), a bit of nuttiness and a deep red color. Luckily I had a bunch of sour cherry juice that I needed to use up, and not a single lambic/etc ready for fruit.  Generally I'm not a big proponent of fruit in non-sour beers, but I think that I might be slowly drifting away from that.  It's really interesting to look at what Ive brewed over the years, you can really identify different influences and interests that send me in one direction only to move away from it several months later.

Lately, Ive become very interested in using wine yeasts in beer.  Ive been playing around quite a bit behind the scenes with several different strains and I really like what I'm seeing.  Wine yeasts offer several qualities that can be quite interesting in beer.  A major one is that wine yeast lack the ability to ferment maltotriose, which is the second most abundant fermentable sugar in wort (~14% on average).  This can result in some interesting beers that aren't quite possible with ale yeasts.

For one you could mash relatively low and still end up with quite a sweet beer.  You could also add quite a substantial amount of sugar to the wort and still end up with sufficient mouthfeel and sweetness to balance. Im hoping to test the limits of this soon, with a very high mash temp, and lots of sugar.  Another interesting thing about wine yeasts are there temp tolerances.  Most strains can ferment well into the 80's (27C+), which is interestingly enough quite like many Belgian strains and in particular saison yeasts which are said to be mutated wine strains.  For me currently the temperature tolerances isn't a big deal, its winter time and quite cool in my house (60's), but during the spring and summer months this could potentially make brewing significantly easier on me.

Anyway, back to the beer!  Having a bunch of sour cherry juice laying around needing to be used up I decided to make a very bready, nutty beer to balance the acidity of the cherry juice.  For a while I was considering using some of the almond liqueur/extract I made a while back in the Fat Washing post, but I decided to hold onto that for something where the flavors might shine a bit more.  Instead I decided to use a spice not too many people are familiar with, but I absolutely love..Mahlab.

Mahlab is the seed of the St Lucie Cherry, and is used quite extensively in sweetish breads around Easter time. It has a very nice nutty, tart cherry flavor that is very almond-like.  Strangely though it took some looking to find it, none of the little Middle-Eastern markets around me carry it year round.  Apparently they only have it around Easter, luckily though a Penzey's just recently opened in the area and I was able to pick some up from there, albeit a tad expensive.

Now that I had both the sour cherry juice and mahlab, I wanted to provide a biscuity, cracker-like malt profile. To get this I decided to use a sizeable portion of dark munich malt and some light crystal malts.  My last addition to the recipe was the sherry flor.  I used this yeast last about a year ago in a biere de garde (Athos).  Now I haven't done a formal tasting of the beer, but its quite interesting.  It has a great nougat flavor with hints of licorice and apples and retained a nice malt profile.  I'm hoping to get a similar result from the yeast this time, as I really think those yeast flavors would play very well with the cherries and mahlab.

Mazarin - Sour Cherries, Sherry Flor and Mahlab
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
5.0Dark Munich (10L)
3.0Pilsner
1.0Crystal 10L
~30ozSour Cherry Juice
2ozGround Mahlab (secondary)
Hops
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.50Sterling (7.9%)60
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime
150F1.0qt/lb60
170F2.0qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastSherry Flor - WLP700
Stats
5.0galOG1052 + Juice?
80% effIBU14
6.0gal BoilFG

Review - 3/13/13 - Notes & Thoughts


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