Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Husky Lad Mild Porter

Hey there readers! As you already know, I was right in the middle of another brew day when I last posted, so obviously it's time to post about the next beer! I am very excited about this one, as it is a sort of concept beer. I find that concept beers help creativity by giving brewers different parameters to explore in each recipe. This is why I love doing things like single-malt and single-hop (SMaSH) beers, hybrid styles like Belgian IPA and Belgian mild, and high-quality session (less than 5%--in many cases less than 4%) versions of beers. Thusly, drawing inspiration from one of my favorite recipes, the Westminster Porter, as well as one of my favorite and oft-revisited styles, English mild, I formulated a recipe for a flavorful low-abv dark beer that will be quick to mature and perfect for early fall. Here's the husky lad, then:

Target OG: 1.039
Target FG: 1.013
Target ABV: 3.5%
Target SRM: 27 L

6 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb brown malt
8 oz Special B malt
8 oz black patent malt

Mashed trains at 154, then I realized that I had about 

5 oz coconut palm sugar

So I added it to the wort. It has a great flavor and should help the beer to have a nice dry, roasty finish.

Hop schedule is as follows:
1 oz East Kent Goldings (4.5% AA) @60 min
1 oz EKG @30 min
1 oz EKG dry hop (because why not...I love dry hopping beers even when it is minimal and the beer is malt-forward. The EKG character should make for a beautiful, balanced beer)

Then I pitched WLP002 English Ale yeast

I had another excellent brew day, and ended up with beautiful wort the color of chocolate sauce that smelled and tasted of toasted bread crusts, coffee and sweet toffee. Fermentation is still going, but starting to slow down. WLP002 is very floccullent, and I cleared the beer with a whirlfloc tablet, so this should be a very clear, beautiful dark beer with those signature brown porter garnet hues. I can't wait to taste this one. I think it will be a recipe worthy of repeating, especially because of the low cost and sessionability. Anyway, we shall see! Until next time...cheers!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Autumnal Equinox Beehive (Belgian) Blonde

Well, I have just pitched the yeast for beer number two in Ewing, so I better get to posting about beer number one! My first brew day in the new apartment went great. The stove far exceeded my expectations in functionality (it is electric), and I ended up with a gorgeous, big golden Belgian beer. I brewed the beer on the autumnal equinox, and something about that just felt right. Here is the recipe I used:

9 lbs Belgian Pilsner malt
2 lbs flaked wheat
1 lb Belgian biscuit malt
Mash @152 for 90 min, mashout for 10 min @168

1 oz East Kent Goldings hops @60 min
1 oz EKG @10 min

At the end of the boil add 1 lb clover honey and steep for 15 min

WLP500 Trappist Ale yeast with 1 L starter on stir plate (which took off like a shot!)

Mash temp started a little high, so I added some ice and brought it down to target. My stove heated things up very quickly during mash and sparge, and even brought a full volume of wort to a rolling boil relatively quickly with no signs of scorching, so I'm very pleasantly surprised with my setup in the new apartment. At flameout, I added the pound of honey and let it steep before chilling the golden wort down to 68 degrees and pitching the WLP500 starter. Fermentation has been healthy and vigorous, and has slowed a bit but is still going along steadily. I'm hoping the beer will dry out appropriately with lots of spicy/fruity yeast character, and the honey should help with that while adding a nice floral subtlety to the beer. I also think the EKG character will be beautiful in this big, flavorful blonde ale.

Can't wait to see how it turns out...Prost!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Post-move return to the game

Greetings, readers! It has been quite a while. After a couple of wonderful summer brews, including several repeatable highlights, a few factors led to a temporary hiatus, including lots of time away from home and a move to a new apartment (more about that in a second). While I have missed brewing a great deal, I am supremely excited for my next reboot. With the new apartment, I have enough room again for my homemade four-tap kegerator! Naturally, I had to plan out four brilliant batches to go on it first. 

I wanted to do a few simple-but-wonderful explorations, with one really wild "homebrew"-style beer. As such, it's now time to play "One of these things is not like the others":

Belgian Honey Blonde: a classic exploration of a 6-7% abv flavorful Belgian blonde, but instead of the classic candi sugar, I will use honey. Honey is awesome and I love the floral subtleties it adds to beer.

"Mild Porter": a porter-inspired English mild, so named because it will straddle the line between robust mild and low-abv porter 

SMaSH English IPA: a big ol' English IPA using only Maris Otter (my all-time favorite base malt) and East Kent Goldings. I bought my first-ever 1-pound bag of hops, because I will be using a great deal of EKG in the IPA, and I will also be using them in ALL FOUR OF THESE BEERS, so it will be a total EKG party.

PSL Stout: make fun if you want, but I love pumpkin beers, and I do crave a pumpkin spice latte from time to time when the air gets colder and crisper and the leaves start changing colors. This beer will be a coffee milk stout brewed with pumpkin and a potion of pie spices. I haven't been into making many crazy flavored things lately, mostly because I like the classic ingredients speak for themselves, but this idea just seemed too delicious to pass up.

Return of the four-tapper! Woohoo!

Monday, May 18, 2015

One-Gallon Dampfbier and Classic Hefeweizen

First batch in the new Big Mouth Bubbler!
I know this one is coming a bit late, but the last two Fridays have been terrific brew days that have involved the exploration of a beautiful, forgotten style of beer and the replication of a classic and beloved style. The first of these, my one-gallon yeast starter experimental batch, was a Dampfbier (German for "steam beer"), a style that finds its origins in the forests of Bavaria. The beer has a malt bill similar to a Märzen/Oktoberfest, but it is fermented with a German wheat beer strain of yeast, known for its banana/clove notes. I am very excited to see how this one turns out. The first taste of it was delicious, and since I was feeling adventurous, I dry-hopped the small batch with a little amount of Kent Goldings hops just for fun, thus influencing the eventual name of the recipe. I think this will be a delicious beer. When it had had a good week in the fermenter, I used the yeast cake to brew the second of these Bavarian beauties, a classic 50/50 wheat/pilsner Hefeweizen. For this 5-gallon batch, I got to use my new Big Mouth Bubbler, which worked great! Going to be very easy to take samples, rack, and clean later on, too.

It is worth noting, as well, that the brew store was in between shipments and out of WLP300 and Wy 3068, so I tried WLP380 Hefeweizen IV Ale on these beers. It supposedly creates a more pronounced banana/clove profile, and so far, showings have been excellent.

Steamy WASP ale:
Target OG: 1.050
Target FG: 1.011
Target ABV: 5%
Target IBU: 21
Projected SRM: 7°L (light amber)

1 lb Pilsner malt
10 oz light Munich malt
6 oz Vienna malt

.25 oz Hallertauer @60 min
.25 oz East Kent Goldings dry-hop for 7 days

WLP 380 Hefeweizen IV

El Jefe Bavarian Hefeweizen:
Target OG: 1.052
Target FG: 1.012
Target ABV: 5.2%
Target IBU: 12
Projected SRM: 3.2°L (straw/golden colored)

5 lbs German Pilsner malt
5 lbs German Wheat malt

,75 oz Hallertauer @60 min

WLP 380 Hefeweizen IV cake from Steamy WASP ale

I am very excited to taste both of these beers. I will probably bottle the Dampfbier on Friday, and I will keg the Hefeweizen a few days after that. Next up will be a 2-gallon experimental Nelson Sauvin/Vienna malt SMaSH Belgian IPA as the starter for Sarah and Evan's Nuptiale!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Westminster 1839 Porter Brew Day & Ordinary People Bottling

Tuesday morning, I went outside to grab my mash tun for some cleaning, and I knew that day had to be brew day. I prepped everything, got my mash going, and did a bunch of cleaning and sanitizing during the mash. During the boil, I racked Ordinary People to secondary, because I needed the yeast for the porter but there was still a little ferm action in the jug. I bottled it today, as FG was on point and fermentation had clearly died down. Ended up with 9 bottles of what should be a very tasty session beer.

Brew day of the porter went really well. I was very conscientious about sanitation, wort chilling was fast and efficient, the whirlpool/trub removal went really well, and I pitched a nice large volume of healthy yeast. Additionally, I collected a heaping volume of wort that I ended up boiling down for about an hour before adding my first hop addition, and the extra kettle caramelization should result in a really nice malt profile. My efficiency was 69%, which is a little low for my system (I usually get somewhere between 70-75%), but I still got an OG of 1.051, which should still give me a really nice ~5% ABV beer. I am really looking forward to this one, as the original version of this recipe (everything the same, but fermented with a different yeast strain) was my single favorite batch I've ever brewed. Here are a couple shots from brew day:

Blanket-insulated mash tun:

Siphoning Ordinary People to secondary to finish fermentation:

Siphoning clear, trub-free wort after the whirlpool:


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ordinary People Brew Day

Oh man, what a treat this was! When you are used to the sweaty, exhausting, and at times cumbersome act of brewing 5-gallon batches, with all that grain and water, brewing 1-gallon batches is a welcome change to the routine. I found that my brew day on Tuesday evening went much faster, as I was able to bring the wort to a boil and cool it to pitching temps much faster with the smaller quantity, plus cleanup was much easier and faster. I also found that certain elements, like the mash, were more accurate and easy, though the monitored brewpot method requires much more vigilance than the cooler method. In terms of efficiency, I hit my target OG on the money. At the end of the day, I was very happy and satisfied, and in many ways reminded of why I love brewing in the first place. Fermentation was off like a shot by this morning, and still trucking along vigorously now more than 24 hours later! I did a bit of live tweeting during the brew day, which was quite fun. And now...some pictures from the day!

A bamboo spatula makes for a perfect tiny mash paddle
Mash accuracy
Even had time to enjoy a barleywine
Vigorous fermentation by the next morning


Thursday, March 12, 2015

My return to the game

For those of you that have been faithful readers of this blog in the past, you are well aware of the fact I haven't been brewing much in the last couple of years, as well as my propensity for lengthy (sometimes involuntary) hiatuses. Frankly, this makes me sad. I have plenty of free time, a little disposable income, and a fiery passion for beer. I would like to return to the days when I was brewing more consistently, firstly because I miss having homebrew in the house. Secondly--and perhaps most importantly--beer is a creative outlet for me. I'm starting to feel like a bedridden Keith Jarrett with all of these ideas whirring around in my head and nowhere to exercise them, and at this point I feel like I owe it to myself to get things rolling again. I'm hoping these upcoming batches will serve as my very own The Melody at Night, with You. 

Recently, I read an article (which I of course can't relocate at the moment, but for which I will post a link when I do find it) about brewing one-gallon batches of in lieu of making yeast starters (small batches of unhopped beer meant solely to stimulate yeast growth and get a proper volume of yeast to pitch into a 5-gallon batch). I don't always make starters, but in an attempt to hone my methods a bit and take my beer to the next level, I'm going to try and avoid underpitching from hear on out. To save my more casual beer fans from too much jargon, this way the yeast will do what it's supposed to, and the beer will taste better and be the correct ABV.

I have planned a simple but classic 1-gallon ordinary bitter to build up a nice yeast cake for my all-time favorite recipe, the Westminster 1839 Porter. Here are the two recipes:

Ordinary People:
Target OG: 1.038
Target FG: 1.012
Target ABV: 3.3%
Target IBU: 29
Projected SRM: 12°L (copper/amber)

1 lb Maris Otter
4 oz Crystal 60L
1 oz brown sugar

12 g (for accuracy) East Kent Goldings @30 min
7 g East Kent Goldings @flameout

WLP002 English Ale yeast

Westminster 1839 Porter:
Target OG: 1.057
Target FG: 1.019
Target ABV: 5%
Target IBU: 45
Projected SRM: 32°L (VERY dark, almost opaque)

8 lbs Maris Otter
2 lbs Brown malt
8 oz Black patent malt

2.5 oz Fuggles @60 minutes
1.5 oz Fuggles @5 minutes

WLP002 English Ale yeast cake from Ordinary People

I'm very excited about these. The porter was really tasty last time, and I just love a good, quaffable English bitter. If the porter comes out as well as last time, I've got my eye on a May competition in Philly...but more on that later.

Thanks for reading, and PROST!