Saturday, December 28, 2013

Rye Table Beer Review

Appearance:  Dense white head that lingers and leaves sticky lacing all down the glass as I drink, very clear no yeast, small amount of haze from all the rye, a pale golden color

Aroma: Sweetish, bready/malty aroma up-front with a distinctive spicy (rye + yeast)/herbally hoppy flavor (rye + Serebrianka?), a subtle fruitiness rounds of the aroma

Taste: First thing that hits the taste buds is the bready/sweet flavor of the pilsner malt and the spicy, Calvados-like flavor of the rye, this quickly fades leaving the subtle spicy/fruity flavors from Ardennes and finishes with a very soft but substantial bitterness that perfectly balances the malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, nice and slick form the unmalted rye.  Medium to med-low carbonation just like I prefer

Drinkability: Like all rye beers I initially have to get used the the Calvados-like flavor and then I love them.  This one is no different than any of the other table beers I've made in the past, malty up front with a bitter finish that leaves that me wanting more, and wishing I'd done a double batch

Thoughts:  I really like the Serebrianka hop in this beer, its very herbal, slightly floral, and really plays well with both the rye berries and the Ardennes yeast which has cemented its place as my favorite yeast.  It accentuates malty flavors, smooths and softens bitterness and provides an amazing spicy/fruity flavor profile.

Brewday - 9/20/2013 - Recipe & Notes

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rye Table Beer

Its been quite some time since I last posted (~3mos), but life has really gotten in the way of brewing recently.  Unfortunately I expect it will be like this for a couple more months at a minimum.  However, when I have time I am still tinkering away, especially with trying to develop a "recipe" for making homemade candy syrup, and sneaking in a brew session every once in a while.

Since I haven't been brewing much this summer I really missed out on having a keg of my house favorite Belgian table beer around.  The base recipe for the beer is extremely simplistic, (barley, unmalted grain, lots of aroma hops), but at the same time allows for lots of variation.  You can change out the hops (though I prefer floral or earthy hops in it), swap around the unmalted grains for huge differences in malt profile, add fruit and sour it or even add spices (my personal favorite is cardamom, mace, and vanilla).

As far as the unmalted grains go, in the past Ive used wheat, oats, kamut, millet, amaranth, and even added D2.  With fall rapidly approaching, what grain could be better to use than some rye? I think that the combination of the spicy calvados-like flavor of the rye with the bready-yeastiness of my table beer base is a perfect match for cooler nights and warm days.

Last hop season I purchased quite a bit of serebrianka hops, and due to my lack of brewing haven't had a chance to use them yet.  As a result I was a bit more heavy handed than I typically am in this beer.  I even decided to throw some in the mash! (mostly to help out with lautering due to using more unmalted grain that usual and not having any rice hulls around).

In the kettle I ended up with 8.0oz, to account for this I upped the boil volume a tad to 7gal, and still ended up squeezing out the hops to add to the batch.  (I usually do this and keep the wort for starters - I reboil this portion though).  Ended up with just slightly more than 5.5gal, which was super easy to verify thanks to the etched carboy!

(check out this post to see how to do it yourself)

Rye Table Beer
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
3.0Rye Berries
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Serebrianka (2.3%)Mash Hop (20min)
2.5Serebrianka (2.3%)60
2.0Serebrianka (2.3%)10
2.5Serebrianka (2.3%)KO < 170
TBDSerebrianka (2.3%)Dry Hop
Mash Schedule
169F2.2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Ardennes WY3522 (no starter)
81% effIBU26
7gal BoilFG1014
Notes: Fermetation temp set at 65-68-70, with the low/high values being on/off setpoints on my thermostat controller, and 68 being the target.   (9days @ 68F, 7daus @~84F)

Review - 12/28/2013 - Notes & Thoughts

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cochise Stronghold Cider & Malt Review

Cochise Stronghold Comparison

Cider YeastWine Yeast
AppearanceAlmost no foam, deep brownish-red and extremely clearPours very foamy, but dies down quickly.  Deep brownish-red and very clear
AromaVery bright apple flavor, other non-descript fruitiness, sweetish Appley, but somewhat yeasty, caramel, and a hint of alcohol
TasteSweeter, with more apple flavor.  Strong caramel finish, with an ever so slight warming sensation from the alcoholCaramel, some oxidation notes, strong apple flavor, tiny bit of a metallic note, and  finishes a bit yeasty and bready
MouthfeelModerately carbonated, and a  fuller feeling with a lighter body that the other versionHighly carbonated, thinnish body with a slick feeling
Drinkability1 - Far better of the two, less acidic, brighter apple flavor and perfect amount of malt/caramel3 - Decent apple flavor, but there is an acidic edge that's a bit rough, and the yeastiness/rough dough flavor is never something I like much in a cider 
Overall: I far prefer the cider version.  It has a stronger apple flavor, is slightly sweeter, but with a lighter body.  It also doesn't display the yeasty/bready flavors that I've often come to expect when using wine yeast in a "beer" (if you can call this a beer). Aside from the differences due to the yeast, this is definitely something I will make again, the apple flavor came across wonderfully!

Brewday - 1/19/2012 - Recipe & Notes

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Belma The Husky Blonde - Review

Unfortunately no picture this time, SWMBO drained the keg when I wasn't looking :)

Appearance - Dense two finger white head that lingers leaving lacing all down the glass as you drink, a slightly hazy bright golden yellow

Aroma - Breadiness from the pils followed by a strong oaty aroma, hops are subtle but nondescript

Taste - Very bitter with a slightly rough edge, malt is in the background and very subdued though the oatiness comes through in the finish. Hop aroma/flavor is almost non-existent, which is crazy because I added 4oz of dry hops!!

Mouthfeel - Nice and silky, all those oats really shine here, medium-low carbonation that suits the thick mouthfeel

Drinkability - Ok, a bit too bitter of a beer, and it really lacks hop flavor

Notes/Thoughts - I'm pretty disappointed in the flavor of the Belma hops, its almost not there at all. I will give them one more shot to see what they have but I'm not expecting much.  The pils + oat combo is really good and I think I'll go with my original gut feeling and do this again with a very earth hop (EKG, fuggle, etc.)

Brewday - 1/9/2013 - Recipe & Notes

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Around this time of year I'm always torn about what to brew, the weather is still a bit cool but warm days are creeping in now and then.  The cool weather makes me want a rich hearty beer, but on the warm days I'm really craving something light and drinkable like a table beer.  To top it off lately SWMBO has been making a huge dent into some of my favorite styles, especially my PA's.  I originally brewed this beer up for SWMBO  to keep her greedy hands off my other beers but I think its gonna be one of my favorites as well after tasting the sweet wort.

Hefeweizens are one of my wife's favorite styles, but I felt it was a bit early in the year for one, not to mention I'm not the biggest fan of the style.  What really sounded good to me though was something with a big caramelly malt backbone to balance the esters of the hefe yeast, while still fairly light bodied for the time of year.  A dunkelweizen seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and strangely this was one of the few styles I had yet to brew.  

For the base of the beer I wanted to make sure I had a nice malty, bready base malt, so I went and picked up some Vienna, and rounded out the flavor with a bit of caramunich, a pinch of carafa, and of course wheat malt (pictured).  The yeast though was one thing that I had to switch up last second as the LBHS didn't have what I was looking for.  Instead of WLP380 I went with WY 3333.  When I got home I got on the computer and searched for reviews of the yeast, and for whatever reason didn't find that many.  According to Mr Malty WLP380 = WY3333, but in my experience with Belgian strains from both companies there tends to be quite a bit of difference so I'm very interested to see how things compare.  

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
5.0Wheat Malt
1.0Caramunich II
2.0 ozCarafa II
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Crystal (5.6%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.9qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastGerman Wheat WY3333 (500mL Starter)
76% effIBU16
7gal BoilFG

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mazarin - A Review

Appearance - Almost no head formation whatsoever, and no lacing in the glass (the mahlab??), fairly clear but ever so slightly hazy, a deep beautiful dark red with orange highlights when held up to a light

Aroma - Sour cherry, almond and a spicy cinnamon-like aroma, this is one of my favorite things about this beer

Taste - Tart, slight hint of a bread, nutty and very almond-like, subtle cinnamon-like flavor and sour cherry in the finish, though I believe the cherry flavor is mostly from the mahlab at this point and not the cherry juice (fruit flavor faded with time) - I added too much mahlab and had to wait till the flavor faded a bit

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, with the amount of body in this beer I feel that the carbonation could be dialed up a bit (beer finished a bit thin)

Drinkability - A very interesting "beer" SWMBO loved it, and I quite enjoy it, I do plan to re-brew but with some changes outlined below. This is one of my more flavorful interesting beers I've put together and in particular I really like the great cinnamon-like flavor, which Im guessing is the sherry flor. Though none of my other beers using it seem to have this flavor, which would make me think its the mahlab, but I dont get that flavor at all from using the spice in anything else.

Notes - Beer finished a bit dry (lots of cherry juice) and I didn't really account for this, sometimes I make bonehead mistakes, this one one of the many, next time I will either mash higher, or add a more substantial amount of crystal; I used TOO MUCH mahlab in this beer, I was going off others usage of it in mead, let me say this 2oz is WAAAY too much, doing it again I would probably add 1/4oz at most, and probably less to start;  Less mahlab will also let me drink this beer a lot sooner that I did (had to do extended aging to make it palatable) this will also let the cherry juice come through a lot more; in the recipe I added ~32oz of 68Brix juice, and I would likely do this amount again.

Brewday - 2/16/2012 - Recipe & Notes

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Quick Turnaround PA - Review

Somehow this review was lost, I originally did it in Octpber of last year, but never posted it.........

Appearance -  Slightly hazy golden orange with a 1 finger off-white head that dissipates leaving significant sticky lacing all the way down the glass

Aroma - Sweetish bready aroma, hints of caramel and some subtle but earthy hops in the finish

Taste - Strong MO flavor, very bready and malty to start off, nice caramel flavor rounded out by a strong bitter hoppy bite that lingers long after you finish a sip.  Very balanced beer starts off malty and leaves with a bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied and very silky, even with a pound of sugar in it, you gotta love marris otter! Softer carbonation that really fits PA/IPA's well

Notes/Thoughts - Good all around beer, I'm definitely enjoying the British base malts with added simple sugars to both thin the body and up the OG a tad.  I'm happy with the IBU levels in this beer but not with the hop aroma/flavor, but it was the last of the EKG's I got from Hopsdirect this past year (Low quality that Ive complained about before) so I should have expected that the aromatic qualities would be on the low side.  Cant say I taste the piloncillo much, but that could just be what you get from it.  Other sugars Ive used in the past, especially jaggery, really come through and mesh well with the flavor of MO.

Brewday - 9/8/2012 - Recipe & Notes

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sauerkraut Gose - Review

Appearance - A very slightly hazy golden color, very reminiscent of apple juice, 2-3 finger white head that dissipates relatively rapidly (~2min) leaving little to no lacing in the glass.

Aroma - Bretty, but with quite a bit of an apple note, and a spicy aroma that I cannot describe

Taste - Again fairly bretty, every so slight hint of salt at the back of the tongue when you swallow, tangy with a hint of apples and peaches

Mouthfeel - Slick and full feeling, feels like a witbier normally does, medium carbonation which if it were higher I think could help to show off the aroma

Drinkability - Ok, not my favorite attempt at the style, not quite as good as the first pitch with this culture

Notes - There was a long lag before fermentation started on this beer and it doesn't have the bright tangy character that the first try had.  I think I should have used a bit fresher culture when I pitched it

Sauerkraut Gose - Full Batch Brewday - 4/22/2011

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Calibrating Carboys - Etching Glass

Lately, while I've been brewing less (busy at work), I have found time to do a lot of equipment upgrades/changes/planning including an all electric conversion.  This was one of the quicker ones, and its made it easier for me to get ready to bottle, or keg, or accurately estimate my brewhouse efficiency.

For a long time I've either eye-balled how much is in a carboy, had to rack to my bottling bucket, or marked the outside with sharpie.  While the sharpie method worked great, it was always just a matter of time before the marker got rubbed off and I was back to square one.  Instead of simply reapplying the sharpie this last time I decided I needed a bit more permanent solution - I'd etch the glass! Glass etching was something Id seen my grandmother do when I was little to make Christmas ornaments, and I thought it would be a great solution for my carboys.

Now before I went and did this to my carboys I played around a bit on a small jug to get a feel for it and to decide how exactly I wanted the markings to look.  I tried both etching calibrated lines across the glass (positive image) and etching a solid area and leaving the lines smooth (negative image).  I then filled up the little glass jug with some dark liquid to approximate what beer would look like in a carboy.  By far the negative image was much easier to read, and it also happened to be a bit easier to line up as well.

From there on the steps are pretty easy to follow, I've listed how I did things below, along with what I used (tapes, etc) and some pics of the process, its really easy to do and a great addition to any carboy.

Required Materials

  • Tape - Blue Masking (easiest), electrical (optional)
  • Carboy - Duh!
  • Quart Jar, Nalgene etc
  • Glass Etch (I used armour etch)
  • Stickers (numbers)
  • Popsicle stick or old butter knife
  1. Clean outside of carboy - I used CLR
  2. Calibrate carboy 
    • I did quart increments nearest the top and bottom, ½ gal in the middle
    • I used a sharpie to mark the liquid level, but had to clean it off later
  3. Tape up the area you want to etch 
    • Since I did negative image I ran tape down the sides (masking tape is easiest as it doesn't stretch)
    • I then make equally thin slices of tape using a cutting board and marked all of my increments across the entire masked area
      • 1 gal increments were left full width, ½ gal were cut shorter on one side, and the ¼ gal were cut even a little shorter: 
    • Carefully check all tape edges to make sure they are sticking to surface - Mine bled in one area
  4. Lay carboy on its side so etch doesn't run
  5. Apply etching compound, 
    • Make sure no marker remains in areas to be etched
    • You don't have to use too much etch, just enough to cover the glass
    • Wait ~2-3min, then use your knife to swirl the etch around (makes the etch more uniform)
    • Wait another ~2-4min
    • Wash off
Now I did this in two tries: One to do the increments, and another to do the numbering.  This allowed me to make sure the numbers were readable in case there had been bleed through on a taped edge.  For numbers I did the same thing except I used some reusable stencils for etching, though since the first try I have tried using stickers and they work great as well.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Apple Cider Varietals - A comparison

I realize Ive taken my time getting around to doing a side by side comparison of the apple varietals I used to make cider.  Maybe I could be a bit quicker but when it comes to cider I really feel like a bit of age helps their flavor.

Unfortunately one of the varietals I made (Fuji) I couldn't seem to fine a bottle of to review.  However that's not such a bad thing, because the ones I've tried were absolutely terrible (insipid, yeasty, no apple flavor).  I should be posting another cider review shorty (Chochise Stronghold) that is my favorite use of apples in homebrew so far, strange thing is it used the Haldi-Farms apples!?

Cider Varietal Comparisons

Haldi FarmsGranny SmithGravenstein
AppearancePalest, very clear, fine bubbles breaking the surfaceMedium color of the group, still very clearDarkets of the group, very clear yellow with tan highlights
AromaBready, white wine notesExtremely subtle, slight hint of sournessVery appley aroma, almost juice-like
TasteYeasty, slightly appley, and slightly sourSourish, very much like a nice white wine (riesling-like), with faint apple finishThe most appley of the group, slightly yeasty finish, very dry
MouthfeelHighly carbonated, nice round feelingStill, Im starting to think the acidity stopped it from carb'ing upVery spritzy and dry, highest carbonation
Drinkability3 - least favorite2 - good but in a white wine sort of way1 - Best, most appley but extremely dry
Overall: I preferred the gravenstein over the others, it  had the best flavor but was very dry and slightly yeasty.  However I'm starting to come to the conclusion that the best way to get a nice apple flavor out of a cider would be to bottle off a keg to minimize the yeast derived flavors that happen when bottle conditioning (lots of acid = bready/autolysis).  Going this route I could then easily add some Xylitol (non-fermentable sugar) without worrying about autolysis like happened with my pineapple cider

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thanksgiving IPA - Review - Albeit a Late One

Appearance - A golden blonde, very clear but a slight hint of haze (hop oils?) thin wispy head (low carb) that dissipates quickly but leaves a thin layer of bubbles and lacing all the way down the glass

Aroma - Citrus! with a hint of pine. Loads of tangerine, orange, grapefruit and pineapple!

Taste- Big hit of citrus when it first hits your mouth, a very smooth bitterness quickly follows, it finishes with a huge dose of pineapple juice alongside some biscuity/caramelly malt backbone that's just the perfect amount to balance the bite of the bitterness

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation (cask levels) which helps to keep the beer extremely smooth, medium bodied, and very silky

Drinkability - I love this beer, but at 6.5% (tad higher than normal for me) it starts to kick in quite a bit quicker than usual, but even with this its hard to stop from pulling another pint or two

Notes/Thoughts - It just must be this time of year because in late fall and winter I really crave a good IPA.  As usual this one did not let me down, and in fact was loved by everyone at Thanksgiving dinner.  The bitterness really helped to cut through all the rich food served.  The hop combo (Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, Cascade) is something I definitely will use again, and the tapioca starch worked like a charm to think out the Marris Otter while leaving quite a bit of malty flavors

Brewday - 11/14/2012 - Recipe & Notes

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Belma the Husky Blonde

I recently got my order of hops for this year, and one of the new ones I picked up was Belma from HopsDirect.  I'm sure a lot of other people out there got them as well, I mean for $5 it was hard to pass up a pound of hops!  However like some of the other new varieties Ive tried from HopsDirect, there really isn't much info out there about how these new hops will taste. So I thought, why not try a sole hop beer (not really that uncommon for me) that will hopefully highlight the taste and bitterness of Belma.

I decided that I would use a fairly basic grist of Pilsner, but for a long time Ive really wanted to add oats to a pale blonde-type beer.  I figured this would be a great chance. Now I don't really know how well the oaty flavors will pair with citrus-like hops, and I really actually think that something like EKGs or Strisselspalt would work better, but I did it anyway.  Sometimes you just have to take a chance.  The combination did leave me with what I think is a great name for the beer, a hearty mouthfeel from the oats and hopefully a strong hoppy presence from the Belma.

One last thing I did on this beer, and something Ive been playing with more lately is adjust the water profile.  This time however I basically made my own water, although I still added in 1qt of tap water (micronutrients).  The water profile I shot for was one that would emphasize the maltiness and was balanced for the pale color of this beer.  Ive included the water profile (sans tap water addition below the recipe)

Belma the Husky Blonde
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.0Flaked Oats
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Belma (12.1%)60
0.75Belma (12.1%)10
1.0Belma (12.1%)5
1.0Belma (12.1%)KO
Mash Schedule
170F2.0qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastLondon ESB 1968 Slurry x 800mL starter
84% effIBU27
6.5gal BoilFG-
Notes: Water Profile:  135-Ca: 6-Mg: 85-Na: 179-Cl: 136-SO4 (mg/L)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chocolate Saison - Review

So time go the better of me again and I never got around to adding the homemade candy syrup to this beer.  Guess I'll have to test the chocolaty flavors in another brew.  Essentially this review boils down to two variables I'm testing out.
  1. Testing the chocolate flavors of boricha/mugicha in another beer
  2. Wyeast French Saison yeast

Appearance - Black with dark brown highlights, dense beige head that leaves substantial lacing in the glass and a thin wisp on top of the beer

Aroma - Chocolate!! tons of chocolate, not much yeast or hop smell

Taste - Very dry, strong dark chocolate flavor. Minimal yeast derived flavors, which is very disappointing, slight hints of coffee.  

Mouthfeel - Medium carbonation, with a very silky smooth body.  slightly too carbonated for my tastes

Drinkability - Tastes exactly like a strong really dark chocolate, good all around beer but I would really like a tad more sweetness and a bit more yeasty flavors. 

Notes/Thoughts - The French saison yeast is very very bland compared to the Dupont strain.  Contrary to what lots of people say Ive never had any difficulty getting Dupont to finish quickly.  Any extra effort you have to give to use the Dupont strain its well worth it after tasting the blandness that is the French Saison yeast.  I really don't think I'll ever use it again, blech.  As for the boricha, it is extremely chocolaty again, I think Ive found it takes a bit of time aging for the flavors to really come out.  This time around I decided to add 1tsp of vanilla when I kegged the beer.  Its not enough to taste but really accentuates the chocolate flavors

Brewday - 8/18/2012 -  Recipe & Notes

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