Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Red Sour Beer

My first shot at a red sour beer turned out pretty well, I really enjoy drinking it.  I wanted to see if I could perhaps get a little more "mouth-feel" out of the beer, and maybe a bit of sweetness.  In my military service, when we went to the range and were zero'ing our weapons, we were told to make "bold dope changes"; in that tradition, I've really ratcheted up the amount of Special B I'm using, using up what I have left.

Brew Day: 5 Dec 2017

Partial Mash:
4 oz Vienna
4 oz Victory
4 oz CaraMunich
8 oz Special B
2 oz CaraPils

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

After cooling the wort to about 90 deg F, transfer to a sanitized fermenter, racking it on to 2 Good
Belly Straight Shots.  Place on a warming plate for at least 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 8 Dec 2017

Hops: 7 g Centennial hops (@ 20 min)

Yeast: T-58

A couple of hours after pitching the yeast, I was down in the basement taking care of some things, and I detected a yeast odor coming from the bathroom where I keep the fermenters.  That was odd, because I usually catch a bit of the air freshener my wife has in the bathroom, so I checked it out.  It turned out that at some point the yeast reaction blew the blow-off tube out of the fermenter cap with enough force that there was beer all over the walls and curtain of the shower, including on the ceiling.  My first reaction was to place the blow-off tube back into the cap, and as I began cleaning up, I could hear bubbles coming from the blow-off bottle.  I'd lost what looks to about 20% of the beer, and I'll see this one through...I'd like to see how this one turns out.  The bubbles are pretty consistent, and will likely peter out over time, of course, but for now the reaction seems to be going well.

Addendum, 17 Dec: Racked the beer to secondary today; just from the aroma, it appears I was able to rescue the beer before any major damage was done.  I'm looking forward to bottling and trying this beer, and it's not going to be around for long.  As such, I'm going to bottle into repurposed soda bottles.










Thursday, October 26, 2017

More Sour...

The last sour beer I made is still really good, and I wanted to try something other than Medusa hops.  So, I settled on German Hull Melon hops, in hopes that the melon and strawberry notes will make it through or accent the tartness of the beer a bit.

Brew Day: 23 Oct 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb Munich
4 oz Vienna
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

No hops or yeast at this time; once the wort is cooled to ~ 90 deg F, transfer to a sanitized fermenter and add two Good Belly Straight Shots.  Wrap in a towel and place on a warming plate.

Boil #2 (20 min): 26 Oct 2017
Returned the soured wort to the kettle, definite 'apple juice' aroma while I was pouring it.  Heated the wort to a boil for 20 min to kill the bugs, then cooled the wort and pitched the yeast.

Hops:
14 g German Hull Melon hops (FWH)
1 oz German Hull Melon hops (10 min rest @ flameout)
14 g German Hull Melon hops (dry hop)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 5 Nov: Racked to secondary.

Addendum, 13 Nov: Dry-hopped with 14 g of Melon hops.

Addendum, 17 Nov: Bottled with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c boiling water.  Got 6 good bottles, one 22 oz flip-top bottle, and one 16 oz re-purposed soda bottle out of it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Ginger Saison, re-deux

Yes, I know...I do make a good bit of "ginger saison" but this has to do with part of what I really like about homebrewing, and that's being able to try different things.  This time around, I wanted to try something a little different, and try adding a "tea" of ginger to the clean fermenter just prior to bottling.  In essence, the idea would be to boil some water with thinly sliced fresh ginger in it, add 1 oz of table sugar to the "tea" for priming, and then add this to the fermenter before the beer is racked onto it, to rest for about 15-20 min before bottling.

Brew Day: 24 Oct 2017

Partial Mash:
8 oz 2-row
4.5 oz rye
4 oz Carared
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
7 g Centennial hops (@ 20 min)

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

Addendum, 5 Nov: Racked to secondary

Addendum, 15 Nov: Bottled tonight, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in boiling water.  I added several slices of fresh ginger to the water prior to boiling, making a tea from the fresh ginger, and used that for the bottling.  Got 10 bottles.  I need to keep one of my previous ginger saisons and do a side-by-side comparison.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Eureka IPA

I purchased some Eureka hops not long ago, because it sounded like a really interesting variety, and

Eureka is a high AA (~ 18%) hop, so it makes for a pretty good bittering hop.  However, I wanted to continue using the same process I'd used for IPAs before, which is to put in a good bit of hops at FWH, do a huge amount at the end of the boil, and use what was left as the dry hop.

Brew Day: 16 Oct 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb Munich malt
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar

Hops:
14 g Eureka hops (@20 min)
1 oz Eureka hops (10 min rest, at flameout)
14 g Eureka hops (dry hop)

Yeast: Safbrew US-05 + 1/2 vial ClarityFirm

Addendum, 17 Oct: About 9 hrs after pitching the yeast, I checked on the fermenter; there is a good bit of activity and the beer has a nice white foamy head on it.  There is significant bubbling action going on in the blow-off bottle, but there is not much in the way of krausen material in the blow-off tube.

Addendum, 26 Oct: Racked to secondary today, but did not dry hop.  I only want to dry hop it for 3 days prior to bottling and over the next week, I won't have that time so I thought what I'd do is go ahead and rack to secondary to get it off the old yeast and let it age a bit, and then in a bit dry hop for the 3 days, then bottle.

Addendum, 13 Nov: Dry hopped tonight with 14 g of Eureka hops.

Addendum, 17 Nov: Bottled with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 8 good bottles and a 16 oz re-purposed soda bottle out of it.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mad Scientist Time

I had some thoughts on modifications to the brewing process, based on somethings I'd read and heard recently, and I thought I'd document them here for later review, and to just put them out there...

I was reading one of the local magazines that talks about brewing and breweries in VA, and read about a beer where the brewer "added blue agave nectar in secondary".  I thought this was a fascinating idea...it would be a great way to add a bit of flavor, and yes, it would also be something of  sugar source for the yeast.  Now, I have added fruit in secondary (with the EverLong IPS Collaboration brew) and honestly, that turned out really nice.  So, fruit or blue agave nectar, either way, right?

From that, another idea I had was that the next time I make my Ginger Saison, I'll add some fresh ginger to the water that I add the priming sugar to, before I boil it.  I'll boil the ginger right along with the water and make a "tea", of sorts.  I'll have to test this out but if I do this and add the priming sugar to the resulting brew, it'll be interesting to see how it affects the overall flavor of the beer.  I do like Left Hand Brewing's Good JuJu (I think every home brewer strives to have their malt "copulate" with the hops, to one degree or another...) and tweaking my own recipes is always fun.

Oh, and I recently had an opportunity to visit the Crooked Run Sterling location.  I was in Herndon for work, and I had done a search on my phone for local brew pubs, and most of locations near me (it was right after work and I didn't want to spend a lot of time in traffic) were closed that evening.  My wife and I had been going to the Leesburg location since we (quite literally) stumbled across it, and after I began my own homebrewing journey, Jake shared with me a method for creating my own sour beers, which I've already used...a lot!

That evening, I had Blackberry Vibes with a couple of Senor Ramon tacos...it was a great way to end the day!  Not only is the color of Vibes interesting, but the taste is even more so...a sour beer with blackberries and vanilla makes for a fascinating tapestry of flavors.

I was looking around our pantry recently and ran across a couple of cans of crushed pineapple in 100% juice...hhmm...that got me to thinking...

Infusing Beer
What else can you do if you're a mad beer scientist?  What wild and crazy things can you come up with?  Let's say that you want to infuse beer with different flavors but you don't have a randall...you can build one, or you can use other alternative methods.

Something I read about when I first got started in home brewing (but haven't tried) is to get some fairly neutral beer, like maybe a 6 pack.  Set aside some hops, either different hops or different quantities, add them to the beer, and then seal the beers back up.  Let them sit for a bit, then chill them, and it's a great way to have a tasting party!

Another alternative, particularly if you want to infuse your beer with something other than hops (works for hops, too, though...) is to use a french press.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Ginger Saison

It's about time I did another ginger saison, because that's what my lovely bride enjoys.

Brew Day: 8 Sept 2017

Partial Mash:
8 oz Munich malt
4 oz rye
4 oz CaraRed
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 oz table sugar
7 g German Perle (@ 20 min)
1 oz fresh ginger, thinly sliced (@ 10 min)

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

Addendum, 22 Sept: Racked to secondary.

Addendum, 6 Oct: Bottled tonight with 3 T of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water; got 9 good bottles out of it.  During the bottling, I caught little whiffs of the beer, and it smelled great...something I may try next time is to steep some fresh ginger in the boiling water so that I get a bit of the ginger added at the very end, rather than just using a straight simple sugar.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Flemish Red Ale

I've had an opportunity to try a couple of beers lately that were referred to as Flemish or Flanders red ales, and I've really enjoyed them.  They're usually sour, full-bodied, and with a heavy sweetness that's reminiscent of dried dark fruit. It turns out that Northern Brew has a 3 gal extract recipe for a Flemish Red Ale, and since I had some of the ingredients, I thought I'd give it a shot.  All I need to do is a bit of math for the reduction in volume, and I have a pretty good souring process, so I'm all set.

Brew Day: 7 Sept 2017

Partial Mash:
8 oz Vienna malt
3 oz Caramunich
3 oz Special B
2 oz Carapils

Boil #1 (20 min):
1 lb Golden Light DME
4 oz sugar

At this point, no hops are added.  Follow all of the normal processes (partial mashing, boil, cooling the wort). Once the wort is cooled, I added 2 Good Belly Straight Shots to the fermenter and then racked.  Then, I moved the fermenter to a warming plate and wrapped it in a towel; I now need to let it sit for at least 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min - 10 Sept):
20 min boil to kill the bugs.  Cool the wort following the boil, using normal processes, pitch the yeast.

Hops: 7 g Styrian Goldings hops (@ 20 min)

Yeast: T-58

Cooled the wort and pitched the yeast via the usual method(s).

Addendum, 22 Sept: Racked to secondary.

Addendum, 6 Oct: Bottled tonight, using 2.5 T of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c boiling water.  The beer smelled really good during transfer; I got 8 good brown bottles out of it, plus one former Sprite bottle that I "repurposed".

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Brown Ale

Something I haven't tried before is a brown ale, and I thought that with the fall season coming, I'd give one a shot.  Or, two, as the case may be. Northern Brewer has a small batch oatmeal cookie brown ale recipe available that sounded interesting, so I ordered some supplies and started planning out my approach.

Also, a bit ago on Facebook, the fine folks at Fine Creek Brewing mentioned having brewed a sour brown ale that they were going to age in barrels for a while.  I've had a sour brown ale before...actually, I've had two, but I don't think that the second one was intended to be sour.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, it was pretty good, so I figured that since I have the supplies necessary, I'd give it a shot as well.

Brew Day: 24 Aug 2017

Partial Mash:
8 oz Munich malt
4 oz flaked oats
4 oz Belgian Special B
2 oz chocolate malt
2 oz Carapils

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Golden Light DME
7 g Styrian Goldings hops (@ 20 min)
7 g Styrian Goldings hops (@ 0 min)
1/4 tsp cinnamon (@ 0 min)

Yeast: DanStar Nottingham Ale yeast

*I followed all of my usual processes for partial mashing, cooling the wort, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 6 Sept: Transferred to secondary.

Addendum, 15 Sept: Bottled today, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles and 2/3 partial fill out of it.  I'm looking forward to trying the partial fill in two weeks, as this is the first time I've tried a brown ale recipe.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sour Saison

The first shot at this type of beer turned out really well, so I thought I'd give it another go.  The first time, I used Summer hops; this time around I'll use Medusa, and include a bit more at flameout of the second boil.

As with the previous sour beers, get Good Belly Straight Shots out and begin heating up the warming plate prior to the partial mashing process.

Brew Day: 28 July 2017

Partial Mash:
1lb Vienna malt
4 oz Carared
2 oz flaked wheat

Initial Boil (20 min):
1lb Pilsen DME
4 oz sugar

Prepare partial mash and boil using the usual process.  After boil, chill wort to 90 deg F, transfer to glass fermenter, add two Good Belly Straight Shots.  Wrap in towel, place on warming plate for a minimum of 36 hrs.

When I poured the wort and bugs into the kettle for the second boil, I took a whiff of it and got that distinctive apple juice aroma that I'd gotten with my previous attempts at sours.

Second Boil (20 min):
14 g Medusa hops (@ 20 min)
1 oz Medusa hops (10 min steep at flameout)

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

After the hop rest, cool wort to 80 deg F, transfer to a fermenter, and pitch the yeast.

Update: Pitched the yeast less than 12 hrs ago, and fermentation is progressing nicely!

Addendum, 8 Aug: Racked the beer on to 14 g of Medusa hops and 8 oz of fruit juice.  The juice was part pineapple juice with a good bit of watermelon in there, as well.  I sanitized it by freezing it for two days, then warmed it up with a water bath, without opening the container.

Addendum, 10 Aug: Bottled tonight, on 2 1/2 T of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water.  Got 7 regular bottles and two large bottles out of it.  Definitely looking forward to trying this one.

Addendum, 16 Oct: Had another one of these beers tonight; very tart, and very flavorful. I get a good bit of fruitiness in the nose as I start to take a sip, and I can't decide if it's from the hops or the fruit juice...but who cares, right?  Excellent carbonation, very effervescent and an excellent flavor.  I really like this one!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

More Medusa

My first run at a Medusa IPA turned out pretty well, and now that I'm getting a bit more settled in our new digs, I figured it was about time to start resurrecting some of the fruit-forward IPAs I've enjoyed brewing and drinking.  I have a good bit of Medusa hops available, so I thought I'd try something a bit different, adding more hops at FWH in order to see the effect that has on the beer.

Brew Day: 23 July 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb White Wheat malt
2 oz Briess Victory Malt
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 oz Medusa hops (FWH)
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 20 min)
8 oz table sugar (@ 0 min)
1 oz Medusa hops, 10 min hop stand at flame-out

Yeast: Safale US-05 + 1/2 vial Clarity Firm

Addendum, 24 Jul: I checked in this morning to see how things were doing, and the picture to the right shows that in less than 24 hrs, fermentation was coming along nicely.  I'll likely be dry hopping this one about mid-week next week, and then bottling 2 to 3 days after that.

Addendum, 6 Aug: Dry hopped today, on 14 g Medusa hops.

Addendum, 8 Aug: Bottled tonight, got 7 regular bottles and 2 big bottles out of it.  Can't wait to try it!

Addendum, 22 Aug: Tried the first bottle tonight, and really enjoyed it!  The beer poured a hazy golden yellow, with a moderate head.  There was moderate fruitiness in the nose, but the flavor really opened up when I gave it a taste, fruity but not bitter.  There was moderate lacing in the glass through the entire time I was enjoying this one, even to the point where I completely emptied the glass.  I definitely enjoy this one, it's a big-time keeper!

Addendum, 6 Sept: Second bottle tonight.  Same color, although this time the bubbles were much smaller.  A nice, albeit small head, but good carbonation and some moderate lacing (Bell's Two Hearted is sort of the standard I go by...).  Very good flavor.