Sunday, October 23, 2016

Norwegian Table Beer - A Review

Appearance - A clear pale straw color with a moderately dense head that dissipates leaving very little lacing in the glass

Aroma - This beer is all malt!  The Castle Pale malt really shines here, with hints of bread and a pils-like sweetness. Subtle earthy hop aroma rounds of the aroma

Taste - Just like the aroma this beer is all about the malt flavors.  There is an amazing depth to the Castle pale malt and it really shines here.  Bready, with a subtle sweetness balanced well by the hops.  There is NO yeast presence in this beer, no orange, no fruitiness, nothing.......and I like it!  

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with a  high carbonation that is a bit too prickly

Drinkability - This is a very nice beer.  Its not quite my normal table beer due to the lack of yeasty flavors, but it is a very very good pale golden beer.  This keg has kicked remarkably quickly

Notes/Thoughts - As usual I love the Castle pale malt, though the most interesting thing to me about this beer is the absolute lack of any yeast character, which is a good thing.  The range of possibilities for the Voss Kveik yeast seems to have grown quite a bit.  In fact this may become my house yeast due to the ability to generate a super-clean malt-forward beer when fermented cold, or a orange bomb when fermented warm.  

Brewday - 7/24/16 - Recipe & Notes

Friday, October 14, 2016

Norwegian Farmhouse Maltøl - A Review

Appearance - A clear golden orange color with a very very dense thick white heat that lingers until the bottom of the glass,

Aroma - This beer is unlike anything else that I have smelled before.  There is this huge hit of orange marmalade that immediately gives way to a sweetish smokiness that is rounded out by a subtle piney/juniper note

Taste - Wow! Is this a beer?  This is so far different than anything Ive had before I dont know if I can accurately describe it.  Immdediately as this crosses your lips you are hit by an intense smokiness.  Then a biscuity oaty flavor mid-palante that finally gives way to an intense sweet orange fruitiness.  The juniper isnt particularily noticeable in teh flavor, but there is an interesting and different bitterness/dryness in the finish that I attribute to it.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with a moderately high carbonation that is a bit prickly

Drinkability - I go back and forth with this beer.  Some days I am in love with it, the uniqueness and the powerful flavor prifile, while other days I dont want anything to do with it.

Notes/Thoughts - I dont know if I will brew this beer again, though if I do I will definitely use more juniper.  From what I have read on Larsblog, I feel this style really needs to have more juniper presence front and center.  This might make this a big mess with too many competing flavors, or it could completely meld everything together, but as the current recipe stands it is hardly noticeable.

One thing I really like about this beer is the amazing yeast profile.  The intense orange flavor/aroma is quite different than any ester profile I have smell/tasted before.  Because of this I already brewed a DIPA using the yeast and fermented it very hot (100F).  Im really hoping to get even more of that orangey goodness.

A review of the cool fermented Kveik table beer will come out soon.  A teaser, the yeast flavor profile is completely unrecognizable from this beer.

Brewday - 7/24/16 - Recipe & Notes

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Smoked Scottish Ale - A Review

Appearance - A deep chestnut brown with an ever so slight hint of haze.  Tan head that dissipates too quickly for my liking, though it does leave a nice bit of lacing in the glass

Aroma - It subtly hints at the smoke with a light malty sweetness, almost no hop aroma whatsoever 

Taste - The first thing I notice is the subtle pale chocolate roasty/nuttiness, followed by a sweet round low key smoke note. The beer finishes dry and doesn't linger long

Mouthfeel - medium high carbonation, which is probably a touch too high for the beer. Somewhat light to medium light body

Drinkability - This was and has been a good easy drinking beer, but where I originally thought it would shine during the summer months I now think this is more of an early fall beer as it quite fits the cool rainy days of early fall.

Notes/Thoughts - Less carbonation next time, I also think that a lighter crystal malt would mesh a bit better with the beer, something like 40L or honeymalt

Brewday -1/3/16 - Recipe & Notes

Saturday, October 8, 2016

6yr Old Comfortably Numb Imperial Stout (21.5% ABV) - A Review

Appearance - Jet black with some serious viscosity, this thing really has some legs on it!  A dense dark tan head that lingers leaving a significant amount of lacing on the glass

Aroma - Bittersweet chocolate, powerful malt notes hinting at a sweeter beer, absolutely no hop aroma, though with this much age I wouldn't expect much

Taste - An assault on the taste buds, it is simultaneously caramelly, malty, roasty, and rounded out by a huge amount of bittersweet chocolate flavor.  The alcohol is very well hidden behind all of the malt, though you can taste the sweetness of the alcohol along with the dryness as you swallow.

Mouthfeel - Wow is this one thick!  I dont think I have ever had a beer with as much body to it, it is thick and chewy.  If it was any thicker I think it could be mistaken for pudding

Drinkability - I really like this beer, though with as strong as it is you need to go quite slow or it will get a hold of you quickly

Notes/Thoughts - Hard to know what to say here.  I like this beer, though it is a once in a while thing (too powerful to drink many of), I do wish I had added a pinch of vanilla to this beer though as it really rounds off the edges and meshes well with the maltiness and chocolate flavors. Luckily this is easily fixed by adding it to the glass

Brewday - 1/16/2010 - Recipe & Notes

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Norweigian Farmhouse Ale (Maltøl) - Smoke, Juniper, and Kveik

Ive been sitting on this idea for about 6 months now, but only recently was I able to source the yeast and the Juniper to brew these beers.  I'm not sure how I came across his blog but in the middle of winter I found a really cool site about Norwegian Farmhouse beers and other Eastern European brewing.  It was there that I first learned about the extremely interesting brewing traditions of Norway.

Juniper soaking in cold water
I immediately knew that I would have to try this style (if it can be called that) for myself. The hardest part has been sourcing the yeast of which there are only two suppliers and both tend to be sold out.  If I was going to brew up a more traditional version I also had to find a good source of Juniper (juniperus communis), which at first I struggled with, even though I live in one of the few areas of the States that are in its range.  Eventually I enlisted the help of a Forester that I know who brought me to a small stand within a mile of my house! (If you pick this yourself bring gloves it is some prickly stuff)

 To be honest the general outline of what a traditional beer is like kinda scares me, its smokey, full of a massive dose of juniper, and the yeast is pitched really warm (39-43C aka 102-109F).  While the original thing that piqued my interest was the was the flavor profile of the yeast, especially the supposed orange flavor it gives off.  So I decided that I would do two separate beers with the yeast, one more traditionally inspired with smoke malt, juniper water, and a warm pitch, while the other beer would be much more like the Belgian Table beers I brew (unmalted grains and a 65-70F fermentation range).  This should give me two very contrasting beers, one that I know will be very drinkable (Table beer style) and one that will be very unique, unlike anything else I have made before, while allowing me to test the range of this yeast.

Juniper in the Mashtun

The traditional inspired beer requires the use of Juniper tips in both the brewing water and the mashtun.  I was initially unsure how I was going to soak all the water in juniper (I really wanted to avoid coating everything in juniper oil) so I decided on ramping the temps up of all my mash water and soaking juniper in the water till it dropped to the required temp for mashin/mashout.  I also decided against soaking my sparge water in juniper, mostly to avoid the oils in my HLT and heating element and because I'm a bit leary of too much Juniper in this beer having never brewed with it before. Before using the juniper I soaked it in cool water for about 30 minutes to clean any junk off of it.  Then in the heated water it went for a soaking until the temp dropped just right.  I also layers 2 branches in the bottom of my tun, which kinda became a nightmare when I went to mix everything (dealing with dough balls) so Id suggest avoiding this approach.

Einkorn and Oats
The malt bill for each beer ended up quite different. The table beer inspired version had a base of pilsner, some unmalted einkorn, and a small dose of oats. While the table beer version was very simple, the traditionally inspired ale combined Bamberg smoked malt, victory malt, oats, and NW pale malt in an effort to produce something toasty and slightly smokey to balance the juniper. The one common thread between them was the oats, which I used in both beers because they were said to be common though not necessary in a traditional ale, and in the past I've really liked what a touch of oats adds to a very light beer.

One thing I found very interesting about the yeast was how exceptionally fast it floc's.  I have never seen anything quite like it, even WY1964 pales in comparison to the thick chunky peanut-butter like consistency of this yeast once it settles out of suspension.


Malt Bill
Table Beer Style
Traditional Style: Maltøl
Amt (lbs)TypeAmt (lbs)Type
7.0Pilsner (Castle)4.0NW Pale (GW)
0.5Flaked Oats1.0Victory
--0.5Flake Oats
Amt (oz)TypeTime (min)Amt (oz)TypeTime (min)
0.50First Gold (8.9%)600.75First Gold (8.9%)75
1.0First Gold (8.9%)10---
Mash Schedule
TempRatioTime (min)TempRatioTime (min)
Fermentation Specs
YeastPitch TempFerm TempYeastPitch TempFerm Temp
Voss Kveik85F65-95FVoss Kveik65F70±2F
5.5 galOG10456.0 galOG1048
7.0 gal boilFG-7.5 gal boilFG-
Misc: 0.6g CaSO4 and 1.5g NaCl were added to the mash of each beer along with 2-3mL of 88% lactic acid; Yeast starter was grown over the course of 3-4wks on a stir plate, total volume of 12L was used;  Traditional beer used Juniper soaked water (raise temp of strike/mash/etc water by ~20F and allow to sit and soak until correct water temp was achieved)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cochise Stronghold Review - 4½ yrs in

I was recently out digging in my garage and came across a box from our move from Phoenix that was still taped up and marked "Brew".  Opening the box I was in for a surprise! It had one last 6 pack of bombers of Cochise Stronghold, 2x 750mL of Porthos, a couple Sauerkraut Gosebier, Serendiptiy Sour (Muscat Grapes) and a Vanilla Orange Gose!!!!!

Appearance - Still no foam, though lots of bubbles, brownish red with exceptional clarity

Aroma - Very strong molasses flavor reminiscent of the Muscovado sugar, fruit and caramel with an ever so slight note of oxidation (sherry/nougat-like) that rounds out the aroma

Taste - Powerful caramel flavors, no alcohol that is noticable what so ever, funky old apple flavor in the finish that really reminds me of calvados

Mouthfeel - Moderate carbonation even after all these years, a touch lower would help accentuate the current flavor profile

Drinkability - Really good, the age on this beer has turned it outstanding

Notes/Thoughts - The change in this beer has been profound, and it has really stood up to the age well.  I really wish I had a few more bottles of this laying around, though with the aging I also wish that the carbonation was a tad lower, but how could I have guessed that over 4 years ago? 

I may have to re-brew something like this again this fall.  Hopefully I will be able to find a couple bushels of Pippins, Jonathans, and Gravensteins to add my loaded crab apple tree to.  The next time I will carbonate to two different levels, one for quick consumption and another to age and may even toss a part in an oak barrel for a month or so to add some tannin (for body) and vanillin

Brewday - 1/9/2012 - Notes & Recipe
Saturday, June 11, 2016

Corny Pilsner - Review & Recipe

Aroma - Hay and grass dominate, with a very prominent Weihenstephan lager yeast flavor. Finish is all about the corn and pils malts, slightly sweetish and corny

Appearance - Pale golden yellow with exceptional clarity, 1-2 finger fluffy white head that lingers leaving lacing all down the sides of the pint. Just wish the foam was a bit more dense.......

Taste - Malty and yet still somewhat dry, which is very different than the aroma would suggest.  Perfect balance of bitterness and malt, with a strong bready pils flavor in the finish that is rounded out by a Noble hop presence

Drinkability - Easy drinking pilsner, which admittedly is not my favorite style.  I brewed this one up for my father who never ended up visiting.......My favorite use for this beer and really any pilsner is to make a Radler!

Notes/Thoughts - This one took about 6 months of lagering to come into its own, while before that, it was good but it just hadn't quite melded yet.  That said, no one else but me every noticed this issue. I should probably have done a short protein rest to help with the density of the foam, it was too fluffy for my liking........

Corny Pils
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
8.5Pilsner (Castle)
2.0Flaked Maize
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0Crystal (4.2%)60
2.0Crystal (4.2%)0
Mash Schedule
170F1.5qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastW34/70 - repitch 
76% effIBU27
7.5gal BoilFG1010

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Maiweinbeer - Lochristi Brett, Woodruff, and Riesling Grapes

This beer actually started out because I decided to buy a pack of Sigmund's Voss Kveik from the Yeast Bay and thought better of only buying one pack of yeast.  Shipping wasn't any more expensive buying two packs so why not get something extra?

I had seen the description for the Lochristi brett before and it had piqued my interest, though I must
admit I wasn't sure what I would brew with it at the time.  Funk, strawberry, and acid, how could I highlight those flavors?  I put in quite a bit of thought for a week or two trying to decide what I would do, lucky for me it just happened to be spring.  Spring you say, what does spring have to do with it?  Well it just so happens that I had been to a May Day festival and had come across something I had never had before, Maiwein aka Maibowle.

Maiwein is a German drink that combines Riesling wine, sweet woodruff, sparkling wine, and strawberries.  Let me just say that it is some delicious stuff, and I'm not much of a wine drinker save for a nice port now or then.  As soon as it crossed my lips I knew that I would be making a "beer" version of this drink using Lochristi brett for the strawberry notes it supposedly produces (not much faith yet) but only time will tell.

I decided that I would brew up a double batch of this beer and split it between the Lochristi brett and an actual wine yeast.  I had planned on Wyeast Sweet Wine, which is a Riesling yeast but I couldn't get my hands on it so I ran with Cote des Blanc instead. If my previous experiences with wine yeast mean anything, I should have a very malt forward beer (wine yeasts don't ferment maltotriose) leaving it a bit sweeter, which should blend well with the woodruff.

For the malt bill I kept it pretty simple, in fact I was only going to use Pils until I was milling the grain and noticed that I had a pound of honey malt laying and around and though, eh why not?  I kept the hopping low, Maiwein is somewhat sweet after all, and I plan on adding the Riesling concentrate after the primary fermentation dies down somewhat (to control the fermentation temperature a bit).

I am actually growing my own Woodruff in the garden, but unfortunately wont have enough for this batch this year so I'll be buying a pound from Rose Mountain Herbs to add to the keg.  Regrettably I wont be able to enjoy this beer this spring, but I'm hoping that when the cool fall air starts to sneak in that I'll have a bit of Springtime to enjoy.

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
19Pilsner (Castle)
1.0Honey Malt
96 oz Riesling Juice (68 Brix - after primary)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0EKG (7.2%)60
Mash Schedule
152F0.9 qt/lb60
170F1.5qt/lb15min - vorlauf
Yeast2 way split: Cote des Blanc & Lochristi Brett
10.5 galOG1056 (pre-grape juice)
82% effIBU20
12.5 gal BoilFG

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Eisbock with Saflager S-189

This beer was somewhat planned, though I originally intended to brew it in a few weeks with the yeast cake from my recent Marzen. However, as I was brewing the Marzen, I realized that time really is of the essence.

I only had a couple weekends available for brewing before my son arrived!  With that in mind I had been brewing constantly and the logistical issues that two sets of lagers would throw into my fermentation chamber schedule was not worth it.  So instead of waiting until the yeast cake was ready, I decided to pony up for an extra few packs of lager yeast.

Originally I went to the LHBS with the intent of getting a couple packs of W34/70, but looking at the production date on the remaining packs I decided to instead go with a couple brand new packs of S-189.  This will let me test out this new dry lager strain and compare yeast profiles vs 34/70, though it does throw a kink into my fermentation temperature.  S-189 is 15-20C while 34/70 is 10 - 15C, so I'm running at the low and high end for each respective yeast.

For this beer I wanted something superbly malty, though not sweet.  To achieve this I used a very light hand with crystal malt, and only used 1/2lb to get some dark fruit and caramel flavors in the beer.  Additionally I decided to use another healthy portion of Kiln Amber malt to provide a toasty, lightly roasted flavor to the beer which should cut through some of the malt flavor and provide some balance.

I learned a lesson during this brew session, albeit one I had sort of planned for, just not enough I guess.  Now that I am using an electric element to brew it is absolutely imperative to keep many extra fuses on hand.  Normally I keep at least one on hand, however I somehow managed to blow 2 fuses this session! I ended up having to steal one from the boil side to take care of the HLT. I was really worried about what was going on, but I guess my backup fuse was a dud, because after the swap from the BK everything worked like a charm. Lesson of the day: keep at least a 6-pack of extra fuses on hand!!

I originally intended to Eis this beer, but now as I write this I am wavering.  I guess time will tell.......

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
13.5Munich II (Weyermann)
2.0Kiln Amber (Franco-Belges)
0.5Special B (Castle)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.75Magnum (15.5%)75
Mash Schedule
170F2.2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastSaflager S189 x2 & rehydrated
77% effIBU32
7.5gal BoilFG

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Märzen with Kiln Amber Malt

I was recently chewing on a bit of Franco-Belges Kiln Amber malt, and the flavor was absolutely amazing.  I knew right away I had to brew something up to highlight the great flavor of this malt.  Right around this same time I tapped a keg of Schwarzbier that a I brewed last spring (double batch) and the extended aging time (~8mos) has made this beer even better than it was early on.  This flavor epiphany has made me really want to brew up a few more lagers while the weather is still cold, so that come fall time I have some amazing well-aged lagers on tap for the holidays, but I digress....

What better way to showcase the toasty/nutty/light roast flavor of a malt like Kiln amber than a well aged lager!?!  The aging will smooth out the flavor and really let the lightly roasted  and toasty flavor come to the forefront.  The timing also seemed perfect (its March after all) to brew up my first Märzen.

One thing I did out of the ordinary was adjust the water profile a bit differently than I normally do.  This time I targeted a bit higher calcium, and tipped the chloride/sulfate ratio a bit more towards the chloride (1.6 Cl: 1 SO4) so this should be a fairly malty beer in the end.

Amber Märzen
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
9.0Vienna (Weyermann)
3.0Kiln Amber (Franco-Belges)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.50Magnum (15.5%)70
Mash Schedule
132F0.75qt/lb15 min
152F1.25qt/lb45 min
170F2.0qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastSaflager W34/70 - x2 & rehydrated
83% effIBU24
7gal BoilFG

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Moszaccalype - Review

Appearance - Extremely dense white head that is at least 1 finger thick until the glass is empty (gotta love all those hop oils!), very clear golden color with orange highlights (sorry the pic is of an almost empty glass, I couldnt help myself!)

Aroma - Tropical fruit bomb! Tangerine, pineapple, some mango and candied fruit, with a finish of apricot and grapefruit. The aroma is out of this world awesome!

Taste - Just like the aroma huge candied fruit flavor (berry), tangerine, apricot and a hint of passion-fruit.  A nice malty backbone and an exceptionally smooth bitterness (back of tongue/throat) that does not linger and makes you beg for another drink.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. When I first started drinking this the carbonation was very low and the passion-fruit and tangerine flavors were amplified, now with a higher CO2 in there the beer displays more berry and apricot than before.

Drinkability - Halfway gone as I type this, this beer is awesome.  The only reason I have half the keg left is because I am babying it and only drinking it occasionally!

Brewday 1/3118/2062 - Recipe & Notes
Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Le Bâtard - a Petite Belgian Golden

Originally this beer was supposed to have pear juice mixed in at a relatively high proportion (2-3 gallons), but my normal source of pear juice no longer carries/makes it, leaving me with few options.

The only thing I could find locally was Knudsen pear juice, but it was unbelievable cloudy, and the ubiquitous Vinters Reserve bases.  I've used the Vinter's pear base before and found it not only lacking in flavor, but it fermented completely dry (~1.000) which shouldn't happen if its only pear.  Pear juice contains a high level of unfermentable sugars and should finish, in my experience, in the 1014-1020 range at a bare minimum.  The dry finish left me thinking something funny is going on with their "Pear" base.

I originally wanted to add the juice to emphasize the pear esters that the yeast I picked produces (WY1388).  Instead I guess I'll just rely on the yeast.  This is a relatively simple beer, single malt, single hop, little bit of sugar to dry things out.  Not quite what I originally intended, but I already had the yeast starter made and with the pending arrival of a baby I have to be on a schedule to get my kegs filled in short order.
This beer cause me a lot of headaches during the brewing session.  The day was a double batch day, with this beer the second of the day.

I re-gapped my mill for my first brew and got great efficiency, however for some reason the mill couldn't grab the Castle barely malt (maybe its plumper?) so I had to re-re-gap my mill, then then my manifold in my MT came loose......three times........but that was after the fiasco where for some reason it didn't look like I was getting conversion and the pH was somehow only 5.1??!!?! (cloudy and full of starch - ended up adding 1# more malt) so the mash turned into a 2.5hr mess.......This beer really was a bastard to brew

Once I find another source for quality pear juice/concentrate, I plan re-brewing this beer and mixing in the juice i at a high concentration, adding a touch of vanilla and finishing the beer with a bit of a roasted almond extract that I make using my fat washing process.  That sounds like an amazing beer to me, as I write this I'm thinking I might even use Sherry flor instead of 1388. Using the flor Im thinking I might be able to pull some nougat flavors out of it again like the last time I used it........

Le Bâtard
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
11.0Belgian Pils (Castle)
0.5Table Sugar
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Nelson Sauvin  (11.4%)20
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBelgian Strong Ale WY1388 (600mL starter)
Fermentation Temp66 ± 2°F - 7 days
84% effIBU21
7gal BoilFG

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dark Days Dunkelweizen

Dunkelweizen is a style I absolutely love in the spring.  It has the great ester/phenol profile of a hefe, but it still has a strong malt backbone to back everything up.  In my opinion, the rich malt flavors mingled with the great yeast profile of a hefe yeast are the perfect combination for transitioning to warmer weather

Over the years I've brewed a few different versions of dunkelweizens, mostly relying on a flavorful base grain like Vienna or Munich, a crystal malt, and a touch of a roasted grain.  This beer doesn't deviate from those general guidelines, though I did change a few things up a bit.

In this beer I decided to use Dark Wheat instead of white wheat; went with an American crystal malt (C40), and instead of using Carafa special for color and a hint of roast, I grabbed some Midnight wheat.  None of these changes are too profound so I'm expecting basically the same beer I've brewed in the past, but I am really curious about the roast profile from the midnight wheat malt.  If it turns out as smooth as I've been told/read, I think that it will have a place in a grain-bill of an upcoming Eisbock I plan on making.

This brew session was during the playoffs and was a great distraction to the pounding both of my teams took, hence the name of the beer....Somehow I also took a pounding and only got a 66% efficiency from my mash as well (Lower than my first AG)......No pics this time either, I had absolutely no idea where my phone was all day, which was probably a good thing......

Dark Days
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
7.0Munich II - Weyermann
4.0Dark Wheat (9L)
0.25Midnight Wheat
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Magnum (15.5%)60
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastBavarian Wheat WY3638 (1.2L Starter)
66% effIBU12
7gal BoilFG1016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Vanilla Cream Soda Ale

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

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

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

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

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

A Squiffy Virgil
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.0NW Pale
3.5Belgian Pils
3.5Belgian Pale
Amt (oz)TypeTime
0.25Magnum (7.2%)60
Amt (oz)ItemWhen
0.6gCaSO4 - GypsumMash
1.5gNaCl - SaltMash
TBD Vanilla@ Kegging
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastUS05 - Rehydrated
85% effIBU14
7gal BoilFG1016

Sunday, January 31, 2016


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

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

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

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

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
13.0Belgian Pale Malt
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)15
1.5Azacca (11.3%)15
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)10
2.0Azacca (11.3%)5
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)KO
1.5Azacca (11.3%)KO
1.0Mosaic (11.8%)Dry Hop
2.5Azacca (11.3%)Dry Hop
Mash Schedule
170F2qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastWest Coast IPA WY1217 (500mL Starter)
73% effIBU68
8gal BoilFG

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Rauchbier err...Smoked Scottish Ale?

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

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

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

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

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

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