Ed Wort’s Apfelwein

Posted: April 17, 2011 in Cider

Ed Wort’s Apfelwein (1 gallon)
1 Gallon Trader Joe’s Fresh Pressed Apple Juice (NO Preservatives)
.4 lbs Corn Sugar
Red Star Montrachet Yeast (not rehydrated)

OG = 1.058
FG = ?
ABV = ?

04/17/11 – This is Ed Wort’s Apfelwein recipe over from homebrewtalk.  Apfelwein is a German hard cider that is very dry and crisp.  I think it is usually wheat based, but this is a quick and simple recipe.

I’m probably gonna kick myself later for only making a gallon of this, but I have a billion beer type things going right now so I figured I’d start small.  Pitched a whole packet of yeast (5g) when that’s all that’s needed for a 5 gallon batch.  I hope the over pitching doesn’t screw anything up, but I was honestly too lazy to be accurate with it.  This is just a test type batch anyways.

Brazilian Pepper Mead

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Mead

Brazilian Pepper Mead (4 gallons)
12 lbs Brazilian Pepper Honey
0.5 tsp Wyeast Wine Nutrient
2.5 tsp Yeast Energizer
2 tsp DAP
1L Yeast Starter WLP727 Steinberg (Lot: 1727TL3873 / Exp 06/04/11)

OG = 1.116
FG = ?
ABV = ?

03/20/11 – Made 4 gallons of this today.  Added 12 lbs of honey and then added enough water to reach a SG of 1.113-1.117.  Used a German Riesling strain that is supposedly good for metheglins.  I’m going to split this up into four 1 gallon batches and add different spices to each one.  I’m going to make a Chai mead and a Mexican Hot Chocolate mead with two of the gallons.

04/13/11 – Gravity read 1.022

04/20/11 – Gravity read 1.012.  Read this can be a slower fermenting yeast.  I’m expecting it to ferment a little drier than it is right now.  Racked to secondary container.  Will rack into a Chai mead and Ancho Chile Mexican Hot Chocolate mead after it clears some more.

05/02/11 – Did not take gravity read.  Racked to 4 separate gallon fermenters.  See Mexican Hot Chocolate Mead and Chai Mead for further entries.

Jamil’s Munich Helles

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Helles

Jamil’s Munich Helles
7.82 lbs Pilsner (Weyermann)
0.45 lbs Munich Type II (Weyermann)
0.12 lbs Melanoidin Malt (Weyermann)
0.36 oz Magnum 13.7% (60 mins)
2 Packages of WLP833 German Bock Lager Yeast (Ferment @50ºF)
– Prepared two separate 2L starters

Mash @150ºF @1.3qts/lb.  Mash out with 5.46qts.  Sparge to collect 6.7 gallons.

Expected OG = 1.050
OG = 1.049 (78.6%)
FG = 1.014
ABV = 4.6%
IBU = 19.0
SRM = 4.1

03/19/10 – Brewed my first lager today.  My friend Mike was over brewing a duplicate batch at the same time as me.  I used Jamil’s recipe as it’s tried and true.  I also opted to go the non-decoction route, as that would have added much more time with diminishing returns.  The melanoidin malt makes it so decoction isn’t necessary.

We used my keezer to ferment the beers by wrapping insulation around the temperature probe and taping it to the glass.  Everything went well, I pitched the yeast and I put my carboy into my keezer.

Two hours later when we were putting Mikes batch in the keezer, I realized that I NEVER SANITIZED MY CARBOY FUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!  (That’s purely for emphasis as it’s two weeks later and I’m finally getting around to writing this).  I transferred the wort to another sanitized container, sanitized the original carboy, and transferred it back.  I then frantically searched message boards for hours seeing if my beer would be OK.  I always sanitize my carboys when I’m done with them, and from what I read, there should be a good chance that my beer will ferment out fine, especially with the high amount of yeast pitched.  But, only time will tell.  There’s a chance that bacteria might grow in there.  If that’s the case the beer will taste noticeably sour.  I’ll know in approximately two more weeks.

04/14/11 – MY BEER ISN’T INFECTED WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Finished @ 1.015.  Mike’s finished @ 1.012.  They’re both on my table downstairs for a diaceytl rest.  I’m not noticeably tasting any diacetyl, but it couldn’t hurt to do the rest.  Tastes like lager!  Not as much Helles character as I thought, but that may come out as lagering progresses.

04/16/11 – Racked to secondary and lagering @32ºF.

04/22/11 – Read that colder is better but takes longer for lagering.  Pumped temp up to 40ºF as most people recommend lagering 10ºF below fermenting temperature.  Also read that a Helles can be done lager in 6-8 weeks.  Will update when kegged.

05/28/11 – Very crisp and clean tasting.  Barely detectable bitterness.  Grainy pils malt predominates with a slight malty sweet edge from the melanoidin and long boil.  Tastes like a Hofbrau would, except it’s a tad less bitter.  It’s almost perfectly clear with a slight chill haze.  I kegged with 1tsp of gelatin that I mixed with 1.5 cups of room temp tap water.  I let the mixture sit for 20 mins and then stirred.  Microwaved for 1 minute and 15 seconds until it was clear and then added to the keg pre siphoning.  Hopefully this will help clear this guy up even more.  I’m a little wary trying gelatin on my lager for the first time using it, but I think the clear character will make the beer very visually appealing.  So glad this didn’t ever get infected.

Orfy’s Mild Mannered Ale

Posted: February 21, 2011 in English Mild

Orfy’s Mild Mannered Ale
4.60 lbs Maris Otter (Muntons 3L)
1.36 lbs Crystal II (Pauls Malts 62-68L)
0.27 lbs UK Chocolate (Pauls Malts 415-490L)
1.00 oz Fuggles 4.2% (45 mins)
0.85 oz Fuggles 4.2% (15 mins)
1.00 tsp Irish Moss (10 mins)
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient (10 mins)
1 Package Nottingham Yeast (rehyrdrated)

Mash @158ºF with 8.0 qts of water.  Mash out with 8.0 qts water.  Sparge with 3 gallons of water.  I preheated my mash tun with hot water from my basement sink.  Heated strike water to 185ºF.  Beersmith recommended 170ºF.  It ended up at about 180ºF.  I frantically added some cool water and an ice cube to bring temp down so as no enzymatic processes would be hurt by the higher mash temp.  I don’t usually preheat my tun, but found that I can probably strike with what Beersmith tells me if I preheat it well enough.

Collected about 5.9 gallons after sparge.  Topped off with water to about 6.2 gallons pre-boil.  Pitched yeast @70ºF and have it sitting in basement at ambient temp of 63ºF.  Shook carboy for 5 mins to properly aerate.  Going to carb @1.6 volumes CO2.

Expected OG = 1.037
OG = 1.037 (80.2%)
FG = 1.017
ABV = 2.6%
IBU = 23.2
SRM = 20.3

02/21/11 – I originally brewed  few really big beers and kegged them when I first built my kegerator.  As time went on, I realized how hard it was to finish off a keg of 9.6% dIPA, 8% cider, and 8.5% honey/strawberry/hefe.  The concept of making small beers seemed absolutely foreign to me over the past year.

I’ve been reading “Radical Brewing” and came across a section on English Milds.  A style of beer I’ve heard of, but never have had the pleasure of trying.  They’re full bodied, low alcohol, sessionable beers full of malty flavors intertwined with toffee and chocolate.  It wasn’t until reading about this type of beer that I realized how awesome the concept of a small beer was.  I can make something full of flavor that isn’t a chore to drink (In addition to this way of thinking I also brewed a Dry Stout for St.Patty’s day).

After some researching, I came up with a rough recipe.  I kept changing my mind on a few things and would tweak it every day.  I intended upon using Mild Ale malt (a malt made from British Pale malts) as the base malt.  It is the most historically correct malt to use, but a lot of people use Maris Otter nowadays as a reasonable substitute as Mild Ale malt is hard to come by.  I was then going to flavor with English Crystal malt and a little bit of Black malt and a bit of biscuit/amber too.

But, after much tweaking, I decided to put my recipe on hold for the time being.  I realized that since I’ve never tasted an English Mild, I better brew one that I know is going to be according to style first.  So, I found Orfy’s recipe from homebrewtalk.com.  Orfy is a regular member on the forums over there and has a good reputation for brewing English styles.  I am brewing Orfy’s recipe exact.  The only thing I changed was I am using Crystal II (62-68L) instead of Crystal 60L (which are essentially the same thing), and I’m using less Maris Otter to account for my higher efficiency.  I also adjusted it down to a 5 gallon recipe as Orfy’s is for ~6 gallons.

I’m going to let this ferment out 7-10 days and keg right away.  This is a style meant to be drunk young and I have all intentions of doing that.

02/27/11 – Wasn’t much of a krausen and most yeast dropped out after a few days.  Checked this today and it was 1.020…not really as far as it should have gone.  Nottingham usually ferments fast, but this was @63ºF in the basement so maybe it was too cold.  The Nottingham package also didn’t have an expiration date on it (and I’ve gotten expired yeast from the homebrew store before).  So, I moved it upstairs to my room where its temp should raise a bit.  It also might have just been moving slower in the basement cold.  Hopefully will be where it’s supposed to be in a week.

03/01/11 – Went to the beer store yesterday and troubleshooted with the guy.  He didn’t think my initial high mash temp would have affected anything as conversion occurred.  He suggested that I swirl it up to reintroduce the settled yeast into the beer.  I also bought a packet of s-04 in case that didn’t work.  But, after sitting in my room for 24 hours @70-73ºF and having been stirred there is some activity going on in the carboy and some CO2 escaping from the airlock.  I’m guessing this did the trick and the yeast just got sleepy from something or another and dropped out in the colder temps.  They are living creatures and, just like anything else, won’t always act the same.  Hopefully this will bring the gravity down to an acceptable level.

03/02/11 – Gravity only dropped to 1.018-1.019…repitching a new packet of rehydrated Nottingham (Lot #1089001V Exp 10/2012).

03/05/11 – Got it down to 1.017.  Apparently because of the high mash temps, most people have a hard time getting this down past 1.015-1.016, so I don’t feel half bad about where I ended up.  A little less alcohol than planned, but still tastes chocolately and great.  Excellent body for such a low ABV beer and amazing taste.  I’ll just be able to have more in one sitting.  Kegging tonight @1.6 volumes of CO2.

Katie’s Pale Ale (KPA)

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Pale Ale

Katie’s Pale Ale (3 gallons)
4.80 lbs 2-row (Briess)
0.34 lbs Caramel 60L (Briess)
0.23 lbs Wheat Malt (Briess)
0.20 oz Citra 13.4% (FWH)
0.30 oz Citra 13.4% (10 mins)
0.60 oz Citra 13.4% (5 mins)
0.60 oz Citra 13.4% (0 mins)
1.30 oz Citra 13.4% (Dry Hop 14 Days)
Safale US-05 (pitched without rehydrating)
1/2 tsp Irish Moss (10 mins)
1/4 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient (10 mins)

Mash @150ºF* for 90 mins @1.5 qts/gallon.  Mash out with 4 qts of boiling water.  Sparge with 8 qts split into two separate 4 quart sparges @175ºF.  Pitched yeast @ 70ºF.  Put bucket in basement.

Expected OG = 1.049
OG = 1.058 (87.9%)
FG = 1.009
ABV = 6.4%
IBU = 36.1
SRM = 7.3

02/13/11 – After hearing me talk enough about brewing beer, I actually had my girlfriend come over to help brew her first batch of beer with me (and she did quite well!).  I’ve been on a quest to discover what different hop varities have to offer.  After reading the recent BYO article about different US hop varieties, I became interested in the citrusy/mango-esque hop used by Sierra Nevada.  It also happens that I was enjoying a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at the time.  This inspired me to make a semi dry Pale Ale in the 30ish IBU range with all Citra hops.  Upon rubbing a Citra flower in my hand and releasing the oils it had a very floral and wonderfully sweet and fruity scent (neither of which I’ve noticed in a fresh hop before, but maybe my sense of smell is improving the more I brew).

*I intended to mash @150ºF.  After adding strike water I only hit 145ºF (Egads!).  I quickly boiled a couple quarts of water and added it to the mash, resulting in a mash temp of 147ºF.  While 148ºF is normally the low end of the range, I read that 147ºF is possible especially with a long mash.  So, this beer might turn out a little drier than I had originally intended, but I figured I’d go with it instead of desperately trying to get the temperature up.  This finally convinced me that I need to figure out the specific heat of my mash tun via a BYO article from months ago that will actually let me mathematically determine the temp of my strike water.  I always heat about 10-15ºF higher than what Beersmith tells me, but this apparently did not work this time.

I’m not sure if it was due to this lower temperature or the 90 minute mash with mostly pale malt, but I reached 87% efficiency when I planned for 75%, which is a way higher result than I planned for.  I’ve also noticed ordering my grain online, sometimes the amounts are off, so I’m wondering if they threw a little extra 2-row in as I ordered it all in one bag instead of separate ones.  My final product will probably be just over a percent higher than I had planned (there goes the whole session beer idea), but have learned through experience that most homebrewed beers turn out pretty “ok” in the end.  Also this will end up being a half batch, so no worries.  At this point in brewing all grain, it’s more time spent than money invested, as I believe this 3 gallon batch cost me like $13 (and that’s going to get even cheaper when get my grain mill).

I also just pitched the US-05 without rehydrating.  I normally rehydrate, but the cell count is so high in an 11g package already, and this was only a 3 gallon batch, so I just tossed it right on in.  I’m very aseptic, so I’m not all that worried about something else taking over the wort before the yeast.

Also, Katie has yet to name this beer, so for now it is Katie’s Pale Ale.  A KPA if you would.

02/14/11 – No airlock activity.  Bucket temp reading 60ºF.  Guess it’s still too cold down there even with our 40ºF day outside.  Moved it up to my room this morning so it will probably end up around 68ºF.

03/02/11 – Racked to secondary on 1.3 oz whole Citra hops.

03/20/11 – Bottled @2.4 volumes.

04/09/11 – Opened first bottle after putting in fridge on 04/08/11.  Not carbed enough yet.

05/09/11 – Definitely not carbed enough.  I don’t know if not stirring the sugar in didn’t allow it to mix well, or if I accidently used the wrong amount of priming sugar (I should probably document that).  The super low mash temp was too low for a pale ale.  This was on accident, but it adversely affected the body of the beer.  Also, the extremely high yield watered down bittering and aroma quality of the hops.  I’d brew a pale ale like this again, but I’d make sure to hit my mash temp correctly (which is way more under control now) and maybe mix in another hop or two.

Dry* Orange Blossom Mead (*Edit)

Posted: February 12, 2011 in Mead

Dry* Orange Blossom Mead (*edit)
3-3.25 lbs Raw Orange Blossom Honey (Gruwell Apiary)
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient
1/2 tsp Yeast Energizer
1 packet Lalvin 71-b-1122

Primary in basement @62-63ºF ambient temp.

OG = 1.114
FG = 1.001
ABV = 14.9%

02/12/11 – Got this recipe right out of “The Compleat Meadmaker” to try as my first “real” mead (real meaning made with actual yeast nutrient and such, unlike the JOAM recipe I made).  I want an FG somewhere in the medium range (1.005-1.012).  The alcohol tolerance for 71-b is 14%.  To achieve my that final gravity, I added enough honey (just over 3 lbs) to have an original gravity of 1.114.  When the yeast poop out around 14% ABV, my final gravity should be about 1.008.  I should be left with a fairly enjoyable mead with just enough residual sweetness.

After reading The Compleat Meadmaker, I have decided to forgo any heating of the must unless directly necessary.  Heating, even to the 150ºF, can severely affect the aroma and flavor of the honey in a negative manner.  I also don’t want to presulfite my must unless directly necessary (I may use some post fermentation if I need to).  According to Ken Schramm, honey has many natural preservative properties that protect it from random infection by rogue bacteria and wild yeast.  As long as an adequate amount of yeast are pitched with proper amounts of yeast nutrient/energizer, and the meadmaker has properly sanitized everything they’re working with and practices aseptic techniques, there should be little worry, if any, about the must becoming infected due to lack of heating.

I also purchased a pH meter to help me in my meadmaking.  Most yeast prefer a range between 3.7-4.0 pH.  This is a basic recipe that assumes the pH will be ok, so I didn’t screw around with my pH meter and take a reading.  I have to calibrate it, and honestly, was too lazy to figure it out.  I will use it when I work with different yeast strains and unfamiliar types of honey.  I will be documenting the pH and anything I add to the must to adjust it.

I also used store bought spring water as the base water for my mead.  At less than $2 a gallon, I’d rather just buy water that I know is chlorine/chloramine free than sit there and treat my water with Campden tablets and other types of water salts.

Mead does not form a krausen like beer, instead, it foams when fermentation begins (and when the must is heated if you do that).  I’m hoping the foam won’t be too much of an issue to primary in a one gallon jug.  I read online that unless adding fruit or using a honey like meadowfoam, one need not worry as long as they don’t put more than a gallon in their jug.  Mine went about a centimeter above the gallon mark where the neck starts to thin, so hopefully it’s ok.  Some people also add less than a gallon and proceed to top it off with water after initial foaming occurs.  The downside to this is that I would not be able to obtain an accurate original gravity reading, but could probably end up in the ballpark using this method.

Also, I capped the gallon with a screw on cap and shook the living hell out of it for 5 mins to oxygenate the must.

I’m going to follow a lot of these general practices that I’ve outlined in this entry, so I will not be spelling out each step every single time I post a recipe, only the good stuff.  And, most importantly, the wonderful tasting notes that follow.

03/05/11 – Came out much drier than expected at this point, but very pleasant all the same.  I’ve never tasted a dry mead before, and the honey lends an excellent character that tricks your brain into thinking it’s a little sweeter than it is.  Can see how nicely my future metheglins are going to turn out.

Ent Draught Stout

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Stout

Ent Draught Stout
5.10 lbs Maris Otter (Crisp)
0.88 lbs Roasted Barley (Crisp)
0.50 lbs Barley, Flaked
0.25 lbs Chocolate (Crisp)
0.13 lbs Pale chocolate (Crisp)
1.25 oz Challenger 7.00% (60 mins)
WLP004 Irish Ale Yeast (no starter)
1 tsp Irish Moss (10 mins)
1/2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient (10 mins)

Target OG = 1.039 (76% efficiency)
OG = 1.042 (76% efficiency – collected less than 5 gallons of wort)
FG = 1.014
IBU = 39.5
ABV = 3.6%
SRM = 43.9

Mash @150 with 1.5qts/lb.  Mash out @170 with 5.5qts of boiling water.  Sparge with 2-2.5 gallons until gravity readings drop below 1.010 (2.5 Brix) and 4.5 gallons of wort collected.  Top off remaning preboil wort with water to reach 6.6 gallons.  Boil 90 minutes.

02/06/10 – Brewed a dry stout today with instruction from the article in BYO and consulting many other sources.  Decided to add regular and pale chocolate to add some complexity.  I wanted to brew this so that it would be ready in time to drink for St.Patty’s day and so I could cook my St.Patty’s day corned beef in it with brown sugar.

Started mashing out recently and have found it to be beneficial.  Not only does it help reduce viscosity for thicker mashes, but it also helps dissolve sugar into solution resulting in a higher yield.  Plus, it stops conversion, which really isn’t an issue for a dry stout, but is something I’d want to implement if I was mashing at a much higher temp to preserve the amount of unfermentable sugars.  BYO suggested not to over-sparge the grains on a dry stout as this may bring out undesirable astringent character from the amount of roasted malts.  This might not matter as much in a heavier beer, as these flavors may be hidden well, but in something thats going to end up around 4.0% ABV it could potentially make a great beer an “ok” beer.  I sparged very slow, letting only a trickle out of the mash tun in order to get the best efficiency that I could have out of the grains.  I’m assuming that I could have gotten almost as good efficiency values with a faster sparge, but I wanted to follow what I had read.  I had a very vigorous boil as I had the heat cranked because of the extremely cold Chicago weather and kept the lid half covering the top for the last 20 minutes of the boil.  This resulted in only collecting 4.6 gallons instead of the pre-determined 5 gallons, but that will only increase my ABV less than half a percent so I was fine with that and saw no reason to top off with water.

Here’s a great definition of Ent Draughts for all you non Lord of the Rings fans.

Ent Draughts:

Sustenance of the Ents. Ent-draughts were extremely invigorating – so much so that the Hobbits Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took actually grew taller from drinking them.

Ent-draughts were brewed by the Ents from the waters of the mountain springs on Methedras. These springs were the source of the Entwash and the water had special properties. When Merry and Pippin drank from the Entwash and bathed their feet they felt refreshed and their wounds were healed.

When Treebeard brought Merry and Pippin to his home at Wellinghall on February 29, 3019 of the Third Age, he gave them each a bowl of Ent-draught from a stone jar. The Hobbits found that it was similar to the water they had drunk from the Entwash, but it was even more invigorating. They felt its power coursing through their limbs and it felt like the hair on their heads was curling and growing. There was a taste or scent like a breeze from the woods. The next morning, Treebeard gave the Hobbits an Ent-draught from a different jar. This one was more filling and had an earthier, richer taste.

By the time Merry and Pippin were reunited with their companions, they had grown noticeably taller. Their exact height is not recorded, but it is said that they surpassed Bandobras Took, who was four feet, five inches tall.

02/15/11 – Finally cleaned and sanitized my 2 empty kegs today.  Way overdue, but now that I know how to do it, I won’t be waiting so long next time.  Gravity finished just a tad higher than planned, most likely because I didn’t pitch a starter.  This was half because I was lazy, half because it was so low gravity and Jamil’s pitching calculator said I needed 1 vial without a starter.  It’s technically not as “dry” as a dry stout should be, but it doesn’t taste like there’s residual sugar in there either way.  Has an excellent smokey character to it.  Almost a little too acidic as most of the malts are acidic.  I’m hoping this diminishes or mixes well once aged just a little bit.  Otherwise, it tastes great.  Kegged @ just over 6psi at 40ºF to hit 1.8-2.0 volumes of carbonation.

Red Squirrel (Rye of the Storm)

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Amber, IPA, Rye

Red Squirrel (Rye of the Storm) – 4 gallon batch
6.00 lbs Pale 2 Row
2.00 lbs Rye Malt
0.50 lbs Maris Otter
0.50 lbs Wheat Malt
0.40 lbs Caramel 60
0.40 lbs Caramel 80
0.40 lbs Special B
0.05 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.80 oz Chinook Whole Leaf Hops 11.6% (FWH)
0.50 oz Amarillo 10.3% (10 min)
0.50 oz Cascade 5.0% (10 min)
0.50 oz Amarillo 10.3% (5 min)
0.50 oz Cascade 5.0% (5 min)
1.00 oz Amarillo Whole Leaf Hops (0 min)
1.60 oz Amarillo Whole Leaf Hops (Dry Hop 14 Days)
1 tsp Irish Moss (10 mins)
1/2 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient (10 mins)
Safale US-05
1 Handful of snow from a Chicago blizzard

Mash @152ºF at 1.8qts/lb.  Pitch @72ºF.

Expected OG = 1.069
OG = 1.065 (73% efficiency)
FG = 1.012
IBU = 55.8
ABV = 6.9%
SRM = 18.3

02/02/11 – Well after 4 hours or so of shoveling over 20″ of snow during the great Chicago Blizzard of 2011, I finally got around to brewing a blizzard beer.  At first I had decided to brew a hoppy Rye.  I bought ingredients at the beer store so I’d have some leniency when making the recipe later at home.  I was enjoying a Green Flash Hop Head Red (which is an excellent beer might I add if you enjoy hoppy, malty, sessionable beers) while I was making the recipe.  I suddenly got the idea to make a hoppy Red Rye, and so began the madness that is recipe tweaking that took up 2 or 3 hours of my night.

I absolutely love American citrus hops, so I flavored with Cascade and Amarillo.  Next choice was bittering.  I told the guy at the homebrew store (who never seems to answer my questions right, even though well intentioned) I was looking for a high cohumulone bittering hop (The whole reason I’m interested in the cohumulone levels is that, lately, I’ve done a lot of reading stating that hops with high cohumulone levels give a much better tasting bitterness than their lower leveled counterparts.  This not only makes the bitterness more intense and enjoyable, it also helps enhance your aroma hops).  He told me Warrior was a good one.  When I got home I looked up Warrior and found them to be rather low in cohumulone content.  I’m guessing he didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t want to look dumb, or assumed I was dumb and thought I meant alpha acid instead of cohumulone.  Luckily, I still had some whole leaf Chinook in my basement, that after inputting the numbers for hops aging, found the alphas to still be quite high.  So, I threw that in as a first wort hop to hopefully get some of that resinous pine flavor/aroma in the finished product.  I’ll save the warrior for bittering a big IPA.

Anyways, I ended up with a hybrid of a Rye/IPA/Amber Ale.  I guess that makes it an Amber Rye-PA.  It will have the spicyness of rye, the hop element of an American IPA, and the caramel malt character of an amber ale.  I used 1/3 of my caramel malts as special B in hopes that I can get some roasty dark fruit character to come through.  The 0.5 lb addition of Maris Otter was simply because I had it lying around and figured why not use it.  The color is just a little higher than what a deep red might be, and borders into what might be considered brown, but is still going to be amber colored in my book.

I’ve found that, unless I’m looking for a certain flavor profile in my beer (fruity esters, diacytel, spicy phenols), US-05 is a champion yeast.  Only about $3 for an 11g pouch, which is enough yeast, when properly rehydrated, to tear through anything up to 12% ABV and leave a highly attenuated, crisp, clean tasting beer.  If I was just making a malty red, sans hops, I may have went with Nottingham or a Wyeast/White Labs Irish variant that gave me some diacytel and fruity character and less attenuation.  Seeing as I wanted my hops to take the forefront over the malt, I stuck with US-05.

I ended up with a slightly lower efficiency, but I have a few ideas why.  One, I added rice hulls because the rye made it so my lautering wouldn’t start.  I did not make the mistake I made before by adding them to the beginning of the mash.  When I did that last time, they soaked up some of my sugars and lowered my efficiency into the 60% range.  But, I still believe some of the sugars may have been absorbed.  Two, I did not let my sparges soak like I usually do.  I wasn’t mashing out and I didn’t want too much conversion to happen (as I’m looking for a slight malt character here).  I also already brewed two days prior and didn’t feel like sitting around for an extra half hour.  Three, I have no idea how old the extra pound of two-row was that I threw in.  I found it in my grain drawer and figured why not.  Guess this means I should label stuff better in the future.

P.S.  This beer has a special ingredient.  It was made with a handful of real snow from the Chicago blizzard of 2011.

02/13/11 – Racked onto 1.6 oz of Amarillo leaf hops.  Bitterness takes over the malt character.  Amber brown color.  Very green taste.  I don’t know how to describe otherwise as what I’ve learned a green beer tastes like.

02/27/11 – Kegged @12psi @40ºF.  Tastes perfectly bitter.  Very nice hop presence.  The malt character should come through more in a few weeks as the hops start to subside.

05/02/11 – Finally hooked this guy back up since I have the Helles taking up lagering space.  All I have to say is excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT!  Perfect blend of sweetness and hoppy aroma/bitterness.  Wonderful amount of head.  I love how the darker caramel malts add less sweetness and more flavor.  Special B does not give any roast character either.


Black Squirrel Braggot

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Braggot, Imperial Stout

Black Squirrel Braggot
2.50 lbs Maris Otter
0.90 lbs Brown Malt
0.60 lbs Caramel 120L
0.50 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.50 lbs Wheat Malt (for head retention)
0.45 lbs Roasted Barley
0.45 lbs Victory Malt
0.30 lbs Black (Patent) Malt
1.00 oz Centennial 10.0% (90 min)
0.40 oz Williamette 4.8% (30 min)
0.40 oz Williamette 4.8% (15 min)
0.75 oz Williamette 4.8% (Dry Hop 14 Days) after Honey Fermentation
*5lbs Raw Buckwheat Honey
Safale US-05 (2 Packets: 1 in Primary, 1 in Secondary when Honey added) – Pitched @68ºF
1 tsp Wyeast Beer Yeast Nutrient

*Honey will be added to secondary fermenter with just enough pre-sterilized water to dissolve it (I’ve read this can be 5-6 ounces per pound of honey).  I’m shooting for an OG around 1.110 so, depending on how much wort I’m left with after boiling/primary trub loss, I might either add less than 5lbs of honey or dilute with just a little bit of water. The buckwheat honey should give this braggot a nice caramel/molasses taste to it that should complement the flavor profile of an imperial stout well.  I don’t want to ruin any possible aroma or flavor from the honey by adding it to the boil, at flameout, or having some of it fermented off in the primary, hence why I’m going to add it to the secondary.

Target OG (just grains) = 1.055 (assuming 75% efficiency)
OG (just grains) = 1.055 (3.15 gallons collected – 79.5% efficiency)
FG (just grains) = 1.022
OG (with honey) = 1.068
OG Total (honey + malt) = 1.101
FG (after honey) = ?
IBU = 86.3
ABV = ?
SRM = >59.4 (buckwheat honey is darker and I don’t have a color value for it)

Mash @152ºF for 90 mins with 1.25qts/lb.  Mash out with 4.34 qts of water.  Sparge with 2.42 gallons.  Aging this bad boy at least half a year.

01/31/11 – Mashed in @153ºF.  After 90 minutes the temperature had dropped to 145ºF.  Apparently when you only mash in 1.25qts/lb and it’s 22ºF out (a little warmer in the garage), the temp of your mash tun won’t hold as well as it does during the summer.  It was probably in conversion range for at least one hour.  I’m just hoping that too much conversion didn’t take place and I’ll end up with way too low of a final gravity for an imperial stout.  Luckily, since this is a braggot, half or more of the fermentables are coming from the honey I’ll be adding later, so the higher attenuated ale half probably won’t have as big of an effect on the final product as if it were a straight up imperial stout.  I placed the fermenter in my room as the Belgian I have in secondary in the basement is at 58ºF, thus, way to cold to primary down there.

02/07/11 – Let me just say, buckwheat honey smells like a god damned farm.  It reeks of hay/animals.  It is not typically used as a main base for anything.  It is supposed to be a wonderful addition to darker, roasty ales and is supposed to lend a wonderful caramel, molasses character to the final product.  The barnyard smell kind of disappeared once it was mixed with the Imperial Stout portion of the braggot, and I’m assuming some of this will disappear as it ferments off and ages a little bit and melds with the malt character of the beer.

Racked to secondary today onto 5 lbs of honey.  Honey was prepared by boiling one quart of water and letting it cool to room temp.  I rehydrated one packet of US-05 in this water.  I then proceeded to mix the honey into the water.  This was slow going at first, but mixed well in end.  Poured honey/water/yeast mixture into secondary and racked on top of it.  My total FG came out just a little lower than I initially thought, but this is because I have more volume than I initially thought.  With honey it’s still at 1.101, which means I’ll still have a nice strong Imperial Stout/Braggot.

The base Stout tasted amazingly like coffee.  Flavors were intense and strong, but that’s because half of the sugar base was missing as the honey wasn’t added yet.  It was almost grainy, a little espresso like, pleasantly roasty, and slightly acidic due to the amount of roast malts vs pale malt.  I’m assuming the acidity will drop as the honey ferments and turn this into a wonderful brew.

I decided that I’m going to rack one gallon of the final product onto .2 ounces of French oak chips and let that sit for 1-4 weeks based on taste.  Over on homebrewtalk.com, Yooper recommended 1 oz of oak chips per 5 gallons and to check it starting at 1 week and so on.  She said it was best to wait until it’s just right in taste, and then let it get a little bit more intense and over the edge.  Since the beer will be aging long, the oak flavor will mellow with it and hopefully be at your preferred level come drinking time.  I’m tempted to rack another gallon onto vanilla bean, but I’ll make a final decision on that in the future depending on how much I end up with in secondary/tertiary fermenter (whatever you want to call it).

03/03/11 – Just a little barnyard still there, but all the goat is gone.  Finished very low at 1.016…and who’s to say it won’t drop a couple more points over the next month or two.  Aroma is all buckwheat honey (though this hasn’t been dry hopped yet).  Honey gives this a nice mouthfeel.  Nice strong molasses taste against a nice burnt, roasty background.  Alcohol is warming but not solventy at all.  Slight sweetness accompanies the whole thing.

03/27/11 – Transferred to two secondaries (2.75 gallon and 1 gallon).  Dry hopped each .2 oz in the 1 gallon and .6oz in the 3 gallon.  I added my heavily oaked Bourbon that I started over a month ago to the 1 gallon secondary (did not add chips).

04/10/11 – 1 gallon tasted awesome with oaked bourbon.  I decided to blend this back in with the rest of the beer.  To this I added bourbon that had oak chips soaking in it from way back in like September or something (from my cider that I never used it for).  I then added these oak chips plus the oak chips from the 1 gallon of bourbon.  The bourbon gives it a sweeter flavor even though I did not add much.  When it’s “oaky” enough, I’m going to rack it into another container with some champagne yeast a few days before bottling and then bottle it up.  Flavor is really coming into it’s own.

04/13/11 – Racked it to another container.  Oak was coming through strong as it had sat soaking in the bourbon for a long time.  The oak adds some nice complexity and pleasant astringency to counter the roasted malts and honey.  Hopefully gonna bottle this up this weekend and let it sit for a long time.

04/20/11 – Bottled @2 volumes CO2.

Sciurus 8 (Belgian Dubbel)

Posted: December 29, 2010 in All Recipes, Belgian

Sciurus 8 (Belgian Dubbel)
8.50 lbs Belgian Pilsen Malt
1.00 lbs Munich Malt
0.60 lbs Special B Malt
0.40 lbs Caramunich Malt
1.09 lbs Dark Amber #5 Homemade Belgian Candi Syrup
0.66 lbs Raw Turbinado Sugar
1.00 oz Saaz 6.8% (60 mins)
1.00 oz Saaz 6.8% (10 mins)
Irish Moss (10 mins)
Wyeast 1214 Abbey Ale (Chimay Strain) 500mL Starter

Target OG = 1.075 (assuming 80% efficiency)
OG = 1.072
FG = 1.009
IBU = 28.6
ABV = 8.2%
SRM = 19.7

Mash @150ºF for 90 mins @1.5qt/lb ratio.  Boil 90 minutes.  Start hop addition at 60 minutes.  Pitch yeast ~64ºF.  Raise to lower 70ºF range after fermentation reaches peak.  Primary at least 3 weeks until fermentation is complete.  Secondary 3 weeks at 35ºF.  Bottle @3-4 volumes of CO2 (may go for about 3.4 here).

12/29/10 – Finished my recipe after much thought and research, both from “Brew Like a Monk” and reading many forum posts.  I might tweak a couple things before Friday, but this is basically my final recipe.  This is probably the most excited I’ve been about a brew yet.  Hopefully between the Special B, Homemade sugar, and turbinado sugar, I will have a really nice dark fruit/fig/raisin/rum flavor.  Also added a later Saaz addition to get a little bit of extra spiciness to come through.  I went with the Wyeast strain for Chimay in hopes that it will give me a little bit of phenolics while adding some nice malty fruit flavor.  To achieve this I’m going to pitch around 64ºF and, once fermenation reaches its peak, going to bring the carboy up to the 2nd floor and let it finish in the lower 70ºF range.  This should hopefully let the spicy phenolics come through without being overwhelming and reach a nice blend with the fruity esters being produced in the lower 70’s, all without making the beer hot from excess fusels.

12/31/10 – Brewed today.  Had my dad help add the hop additions and turbinado sugar and syrup and a few other various tasks…so he can be labeled the assistant brewer for this batch.  Looks like a deep mahagony/cherry color sitting in the carboy right now.  Pitched yeast @ 64ºF and aerated the hell out of it.  Went with a little more turbinado sugar as I only had so much of the candi syrup as one of my jars crystallized and I didn’t feel like melting it down.

01/02/11 – Came home on 01/01/11 and this guy was actively fermenting with about a 1 inch krausen.  The krausen is maybe 1.5 inches now (~5pm).  Supposedly, this yeast works a little slow, but can reach a krausen of anywhere from 6-10 inches (probably depends on OG and pitching rate).  Seeing I pitched a 500mL starter and my gravity was 1.072 it will probably  be a little more tame.  Depending on what it looks like tomorrow, I may possibly take a gravity reading to see how far along the fermentation is and will probably move it upstairs to increase the temp and get more ester activity.  It started fermenting @63ºF and currently has raised two degrees to 65ºF.  As suggested in “Brew Like a Monk”, I’m looking to bring this guy up to the low 70’s by Day 7-10.

01/03/11 – Looks like the fermenting got a little less furious, so instead of waiting, I moved it up to my room at about 8am.  It is now 1pm and is up to 68ºF.  Update: 71ºF @ 8pm.  Looks like the Krausen is dying down and yeast and sediment are settling.  I’m going to take a gravity reading in a couple days.

01/09/11 – Hops are a little forward, but that will disappear by the time I drink this guy.  At 1.008 right now…guessing it will drop a couple points by the time I rack as 1214 is supposed to work slow.  Dark fruit character is there but hidden by the hops right now.  Will update in 1.5 weeks at racking.

01/24/11 – After a second reading hydrometer is actually at 1.009.  A few points lower would have been nice, but I’m below 1.010 and that’s all that matters.  Nose is very estery, banana is very prevalent, almost smells like a Trippel.  Flavor is banana, mixed spices, caramel, fig, pleasantly warm finish.  Worlds beyond where it was 2 weeks ago.  That fresh hop aroma is gone from the 10 minute addition, which is good.  I don’t taste too much roast from the Special B, which is good as I didn’t want too American of a Belgian, but I’m hoping a little more comes through as the esters fade.  It’s not cloying or overly sweet, but has a very nice malt character.  The warming alcohol at the finish enhances the spicy hop/yeast character well.  Leaves the tongue pleasantly tingling a little too.

02/05/11 – Banana character has dimished and a nice malt character is starting to develop.  I really enjoy the subtle roastiness of the Special B as it melds with the spiciness from the yeast.  I bottled this today and used my floor corker for the first time.  What an experience.  It makes the beer look 100 times more professional and the whole process was fun as anything.  Plus, my family got a color laser printer, and I found a site where I could make nifty labels for my bottles.  Best damn looking homemade beer I’ve ever seen.  (I’ll post on how I did the labeling in the coming week).