Rule #1: Never brew in socks.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Duende (6/5/12)

Batch Size: 5
Boil Volume: 6 gal
Calculated OG: 1.091
Estimated FG: 1.004
Estimated ABV: 11.4
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 29
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast French Saison
Starter: 2.5 gal (yeast cake from Le Jardin)

Malts Mashed Amount % Max Pts.
Special B 1 7% 30.00
Crystal 80 0.5 3% 34.00
Crystal 60 0.5 3% 34.00
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
Cane Sugar 2 13% 46.00
Candi Sugar (dark) 2 13% 36.00

Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 6 60% 42.00

Bottled 7/4/12 to 2.7 volumes of CO2.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Major Major (6/23/12)

Nugget Nectar, a seasonal release from Troëgs Brewing Company in Pennsylvania, is one of the finer beers ever brewed. Though marketed as an Imperial Amber, the beer is more often compared to double IPAs than other amber ales due to the massive quantity of hops it contains. Two things distinguish it from a typical double IPA: the use of Vienna and Munich malts, which produce the beer's amber color and toasty malt flavor; and the use of Nugget and Warrior—usually used for bittering—as dry hops, which provides a unique hop aroma. This brew is our first real attempt to recreate a commercial beer.

The reason we haven't used Vienna or Munich in previous batches is that, as base malts, they must be mashed to convert their starches to fermentable sugars. We've never mashed before, but for this beer we made the effort. We mashed in a bag in the kettle for 60 minutes, using two gallons of water with five pounds of malt and aiming for a mash temperature of 150˚F. It proved more difficult than I anticipated to use the stove to adjust the temperature, so after a few minutes I just turned the stove to low heat and put a towel on the lid. This seemed to work fairly well; the mash ended at 147˚F. We sparged by pouring water (150-160˚F) through the grain bag as it sat in a colander over the kettle.

We ended up with a bit more volume in the kettle than we planned, so we performed a 90 minute boil to boil off some of the water. This increased the calculated IBUs of the beer somewhat, though we would likely have maxed out solubility of iso-alpha acids in our wort anyway. After we cooled the beer and pitched the yeast, John and Andy helped to provide more aeration (i.e., shaking of the beer bucket) than I usually have patience to perform, which should help to ensure the beer ferments to completion.

Batch Size: 5 gal
Boil Volume: 6.5 gal
Mash Size: 2 gal
Mash Thickness: 1.6 quarts/pound
Strike Temperature: 163˚F
End of Mash: 147˚F
Measured OG: 1.079
Measured FG: 1.017 (?)
Estimated ABV: 8.0
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 137
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale Yeast
Starter: 3 liters

Malts Mashed Amount % Max Pts.
Munich 2.25 16% 36.00
Vienna 2.25 16% 35.00
Crystal 80 0.3 2% 34.00
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 5.8 55% 42.00

Hops/Additions Amount Time AA%
Nugget 2 90 12.0%
Chinook 1 30 11.0%
Magnum 1 20 16.0%
Cascade 1 10 7.8%
Nugget 2 0 12.0%
6/30/12: Dry hopped with 2 oz Nugget and 2 oz Warrior (12 days)
7/12/12: Bottled to 2.7 volumes of CO2.

Notes: Hop bag weight insufficient to fully submerge all four ounces of whole cone hops. Dry hop aroma is less intense than expected. Possibly the most bitter beer we've ever made.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Constantinopoly (6/23/12)

We began experimenting with non-standard IPAs last summer, when we brewed two Belgian IPAs (The Mad Hopper and Chomp Chomp). The beers were good, especially the second, but neither really lived up to our high expectations. These experiences, as well as tasting a number of commercial Belgian IPAs, led me to the belief that Belgian yeast strains and American hops are not as good together as they are separate, so we moved on to experimenting with other ingredients. We brewed an IPA (Christopher) with a quarter gram of grains of paradise, a pepper-like African spice. The beer didn't turn out quite as well as the IPA that preceded it (The Bloom—among our finest accomplishments), but I think that had more to do with the hops we used than the spice.

For this batch, we're adding the zest of one grapefruit to the beer when we dry hop it. Many great American hops have a strong grapefruit character, right back to the first American hop to draw international attention: Cascade. The most strongly grapefruit-tasting beer I've had is Firestone Walker's Double Jack, which uses Warrior, Columbus, Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe. While our beer is not a clone—Double Jack doesn't contain actual grapefruit and has a slightly different hop schedule—I would not at all mind if it turned out tasting like Double Jack. We're combining some classic American hops, namely Cascade, Centennial, and Chinook, with some newer proprietary varietals, namely Amarillo and Citra. All are highly aromatic hops with sweet citrus fruit flavors, with Chinook also bringing a hint of pine and spice to the mix.

Unlike our previous few IPAs, this beer does contain crystal malt, namely half a pound of Crystal 80. I have come to favor the middle range of crystal malts (40˚ to 100˚ lovibond) because they are dark enough to contribute flavor even in small amounts—large quantities of crystal malt are generally to be avoided because they lead to overly sweet beer—but light enough that they don't contain the overbearing (to my palate) burnt caramel and raisin flavors of Crystal 120 and Special B.

This beer contains five hop varietals, continuing a trend of ours of brewing with greater numbers of hop varietals. Our last IPA used four varieties of hops, as did the one before that. The previous IPA, the first we brewed in Seattle, used three varieties of hops. The outlier in this set is the very first IPA we ever made. The Magic Carpet contained around 20 varieties of hops from all over the world, because instead of hope cones or pellets, we used hop dust—the sediment that forms at the bottoms of boxes of hop pellets. It was on sale at the homebrew store, and produced a beer that we were proud of at the time. I think at this point I would put an upper limit on the number of varietals one ought to use in a beer at seven or eight.

Batch Size: 5
Boil Volume: 6 gal
Calculated OG: 1.075
Measured FG: 1.013 (?)
Estimated ABV: 7.9
Calculated IBUs (Tinseth): 106
Pitching Temperature: 68F
Yeast: Wyeast 1098 British Ale Yeast
Starter: 3 liters
Fermentation vessel: Bucket

Crystal 80 0.5 6% 34.00
Other Fermentables Amount % Max Pts.
DME 7 78% 42.00
Cane Sugar 1.5 17% 46.00
Hops/Additions Amount Time AA%
Chinook 1 60 12.0%
Horizon 1 60 16.0%
Cascade 1 15 6.8%
Centennial 1 10 7.8%
Cascade 1 0 6.8%
Centennial 1 0 7.8%

6/25/12: Added sugar (third day)
6/30/12:Dry hopped with 2 oz Amarillo, 2 oz Citra (10-12 days)
7/2/12: Added zest of one red grapefruit
7/10/12: Bottled to 2.7 volumes of CO2