Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Christopher (4/27/12)

On our latest IPA, we decided to highlight the Columbus hop varietal. Also known under the proprietary names Tomahawk and Zeus, Columbus is a fairly new high-alpha acid American strain with pungent resin, pine, and citrus flavors. We also added an ounce of Citra to the mix for a hint of tropical fruit.

Otherwise, the recipe is identical to our last couple of IPAs. We adhere to the contemporary West Coast philosophy on IPAs, aiming for a very subdued malt and yeast profile so that the huge quantity of hops can really shine through. We've been pretty happy with the results.

Batch Size: 2.5 gal (2.25 gal at bottling)
Boil Volume: 3.5 gal
Calculated OG: 1.071
Measured FG: 1.013
Estimated ABV: 7.6
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 169
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056
Starter: None
Fermentation vessel: Bucket

Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts. Color
DME 3 34% 42.00 2.00
Cane Sugar 1.13 13% 46.00 0.00

Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
Columbus 1 60 13.9% 95.68
Columbus 0.5 30 13.9% 36.77
Columbus 0.5 10 13.9% 17.35
Citra 1 5 14.0% 19.21

5/4/12: Added 1.13 lbs sugar.
5/10/12: Added 2 oz of Columbus (dry hop)
5/23/12: Bottled to 2.5 volumes of CO2.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mocha (4/15/12)

Since the last coffee stout we brewed, Surly Sunday, was one of the best we've ever made, we decided to brew another. For this batch, we're using dark crystal malt instead of dark candi syrup, which both contribute flavors of caramel and dark fruit. Crystal malt contains many more unfermentable sugars than candi syrup, though, so the substitution should make the beer less dry, and hence fuller-bodied.

We also added 4 oz of Dutch cocoa powder (Peet's brand) to the boil. This is 100% Dutch-processed powder, so it won't add any sugar or other flavors to the beer. Compared to the nibs I used in the Aphrodisiac, the powder adds a less complex, but smoother, more familiar chocolate flavor. The powder has been processed, unlike nibs, to remove most of the cocoa fats, which means that we can add it to the boil without risking an oil slick on top of our beer. One advantage of adding chocolate to the boil is that I expect to achieve much more efficient utilization. It also means that I don't have to wait an extra week or two for the beer to extract flavors from the nibs, and needn't worry about the chocolate infecting the beer.

For the coffee, we added five-percent cold-brewed Arabian Mocha-Java to the beer at bottling, as we did with Surly Sunday. I ground three-quarters of a pound of coffee by hand for this beer, which took 45 minutes, even at a fairly coarse grind. Half a pound was Mocha-Java, and a quarter of a pound was Sumatra Blue Batak, which I added to 5 bottles of the batch. Call it special reserve.

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Volume: 4 gal
Calculated OG: 1.089
Measured FG: 1.033
Calculated ABV: 7.3%
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 44
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast American Ale 1056
Starter: 2L
Fermentation vessel: Bucket

Malts Mashed Amount % Max Pts. Color
Chocolate 1.5 9% 28.00 350.00
Roast Barley 2.2 13% 25.00 300.00
Crystal 120 1.25 7% 33.00 120.00
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts. Color
DME 8.1 62% 42.00 2.00
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
Magnum 1.4 60 13.0% 44.38

5/15/12: Bottled with 5% cold brewed coffee. 5 bottles have Sumatra Blue Batak, the rest have Arabian Mocha-Java.

Monday, April 9, 2012

French Saison (4/8/12)

Saisons are bone-dry, peppery beers with champagne-like carbonation traditionally brewed in the farmhouses of Wallonia (southern Belgium) and northern France. We've never attempted to brew a saison before, in part because the best-known saison yeast, sourced from Brasserie Dupont, has a reputation for being finicky about temperature and failing to ferment to completion.

For this beer we elected to use the Wyeast French Saison yeast (3711) instead, which is supposed to be more reliable. It's sourced from a French microbrewery east of Calais named Brasserie Thiriez, who are known for their particularly hoppy saisons. We followed our standard procedure for pale Belgians, omitting specialty grains, and adding sugar two days into fermentation.

Batch Size:2.5 gal
Boil Volume: 3.5 gal
Calculated OG: 1.073
Measured FG: 1.005
Estimated ABV: 8.9
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 41.5

Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast French Saison 3711
Starter: None
Fermentation vessel: Bucket
Carbonation: 3.0 volumes of CO2

Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 3.25 75% 42.00
Corn Sugar 1.1 25% 42.00
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
Nugget 0.5 60 12.5% 41.5

This beer dried out way more than expected. 93% attenuation, wow! We'd heard that this yeast was really attenuative, but this is more than anything we've ever experienced. This beer was supposed to be in the neighborhood of 7.7% ABV, but it's way above that now. This is the first beer we've made that turned out too dry.

L'Appel du Vide (4/1/12)

After learning that we could acquire yeast sourced from De Dolle Brouwers, one of our favorite Belgian breweries, we knew we had to brew something with it. The yeast will take the lead in this beer, producing lots of spicy phenols and fruity esters. We added some sugar to the recipe, as we are wont to do with Belgians, in order to prevent the beer from ending up too sweet. (Funny how brewing works, sometimes.)

On a whim, we also added a very small amount of grains of paradise, a pepper-like African spice used in some Belgian-style beers, such as Chimay Grand Reserve (Blue) and Ommegang's Rare Vos. This being our first time brewing with spices, we only used a quarter of a gram, or about 20 seeds, crushed and added at the end of the boil. Grains of paradise have an intense and complex pepper/lemon/ginger flavor, which we hope will complement the flavors contributed by the yeast.

Batch Size: 2.5 gal
Boil Volume: 3.5 gal
Calculated OG: 1.073
Measured FG: 1.016
Calculated ABV: 7.5
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 40
Pitching Temperature: 63F
Yeast: Wyeast 3942 (De Dolle)
Starter: none
Fermentation vessel: Bucket

Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts. Color
DME 3.25 75% 42.00 2.00
Corn Sugar 1.1 25% 42.00 0.00

Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
Nugget 0.5 60 12.5% 40
Grains of Paradise 0.25g 5

Temperature dropped to 61F the night after pitching, and the beer showed no signs of fermentation after 12 hours. We warmed the beer up to 70 the next day, and it has fermented steadily since then. Sugar added on the third day of fermentation.

Tasting notes 5/2/12: Pepper, lemon, pear, watermelon, rose. Lingering spicy note in the finish. Balanced bitterness. Still fairly cloudy. Could be drier, but still very crisp and drinkable. Delicious.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Bloom, first week in March

Our third IPA was brewed to celebrate the first bloom of spring in Seattle. Floral and pine, the Bloom combines Chinook and Citra for a distinctly spring-like flavor. We used Chinook for bittering in this beer. Chinook is one of those high alpha hops known to impart more of a harsh, lingering bitterness, and is pretty different from our typical go-to bittering hop, Horizon. Horizon produces a strong, clean bitterness that we really like, but we'd had some criticism that our IPAs weren't bitter enough. The Bloom is our attempt to amend that.

We hope that by using one of these older, harsher hops, the perceived bitterness will increase. The choice to use Chinook to dry hop as well was really just for kicks. We have experience using both Chinook and Citra for dry hopping separately, and I liked the results from both. However, they were used in very different beers, and the choice to use them together here was a pretty big risk. Without further ado, here is the recipe.

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Volume: 4 gal
Calculated OG: 1.071
Expected FG: 1.014
Calculated ABV: 7.5
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 145
Pitching Temperature: 66F
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 x2
Starter: none
Fermentation vessel: glass carboy
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts. Color
DME 6 73% 42.00 2.00
Cane Sugar 2.25 27% 46.00 0.00
Total 8.25 100% 355.50 2.40
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA% IBU's
Horizon 1 60 11.0% 59.57
Chinook 2 60 12.0% 129.97
Ahtanum 0.5 30 6.0% 12.49
Citra 0.5 20 12.0% 19.68
Ahtanum 0.5 10 6.0% 5.89
Dry hopped with 2oz of Chinook and 1.5oz of Citra for 11 days

We forgot to make a starter, and ended up just pitching two packets of yeast. It worked out fine, but it was an extra $7. The beer itself though is just awesome.

It opens with citrus, fading into pine and resin. The finish grows more bitter with each sip. What starts as a fairly dry, fruity beer quickly becomes fiercely bitter as the lingering bitterness of the Chinook builds over time. The dry hopped character is an intense blend of fruity and pine flavors, with citrus winning out. The resulting flavor strongly mimics the fresh bloom of spring. It's almost like rolling around in a garden on a bed of pine needles.