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.

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.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Something a little stronger...

It's time to get back to brewing, and with the warmer (i.e., really hot) weather, it's likely that I'll be spending a good bit of time indoors, particularly during the hottest part of the day.  So, why not get things going and build up a bit of stock?  I am going to get on to some fruit-forward IPAs, but I thought I'd start with something adventurous.  I stopped by the local home brew supply shop, and while I was browsing through the hops in the refrigerator, I decided to pick up a packet of Safbrew BE-256 dry yeast, formerly known as "Abbaye".  I've brewed with this before, and I figured I'd gite it another go.

Brew Day: 20 Jul 2017

Partial Mash:
16 oz Munich malt
4 oz rye
2 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 20 min)
14 g German Perle hops (AA: 7.5%, @ 20 min)
1 oz sliced fresh ginger (@ 5 min)
1 lb wild honey (@ 0 min)
14 g German Perle hops (AA: 7.5%, @ 0 min)

Yeast: Safbrew BE-256

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


This will hopefully be one of several beers to be available toward the end of August. Maybe I'll call this one "Abbie...Abbie...Abbie Someone".  ;-)

Quick Update: Just a few hours after I pitched the yeast, I was down in the basement and I stuck my head in to take a look...and the yeast is going absolutely crazy!  The yeast really took hold and is eating up the sugar!  When the description said that it moved fast, I had no idea...most of my other stuff usually took a bit longer to get to this point.

Addendum, 21 Jul: Swapped out the blow-off bottle this morning...it was just about to completely overflow.  As soon as I did, I could see/hear the rapid flow of bubbles flowing into the new bottle.  Very nice!  I took a good whiff of the contents of the old bottle, got some sweet fruit in the nose.  It will be very interesting to see how this is going in a week to 10 days, after the yeast has had a good long time to eat through the sugar.  Also, I'm hoping that by adding the honey at the end of boil, I retain some of the flavor.

Addendum, 6 Aug: Bottled today, with 2 1/2 T of sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 6 good bottles and 2 larger bottles out of it.

Addendum, 21 Aug: Chilled two small bottles over the weekend, opened them last night.  Opening the bottle, there was the slightest, very small escape of gas.  The beer poured with no carbonation.  The beer itself was good...full-bodied thickness, very tasty.  There as also a boozy warmth to the beer, as well.  My thinking on this one (note: I do not test of gravity due to the volumes I brew) is that the alcohol level overwhelmed the yeast, so there was very little left viable at bottling.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

First Brew at Aslan Acres

We're (still) settling into our new digs, a place we decided to refer to as "Aslan Acres".  In honor of the name, I decided to make use of the local flora (just shy of 19 acres, with about half of it wooded...) and brew a dandelion beer.

I'd actually run across a recipe for dandelion beer in Buhner's Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers (starting on pg 278) a while back, and thought about trying it out.  However, I just wasn't in a location with a great deal of the plant.  Now, I am much more cognizant of the plant, because there is another plant in the fields that has a yellow flower similar to the dandelion, but isn't a dandelion at all.

Anyway, there are basically two ways I've found to make dandelion beer.  One is to just use dandelion plants, sugar and yeast, and the other is to add the dandelions to what is seen a more traditional "beer"; that is, one that uses malt.

Other similar recipes can be found here, and here.

I decided to start out with my first attempt being based on CJJ Berry's recipe (circa 1963, from Buhner's book).  I made some very minor variations to the listed recipe.

Brew Day: 9 July 2017

Ingredients:
- 1/2 lb dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 oz fresh ginger, sliced thin
- 1 lb sugar
- 1 oz cream of tartar

Yeast: Safale US-05

Place leaves, rind of the lemon (exclude white pith), and ginger in a muslin bag, boil in 1 gal of water for 20 min.  Add sugar, cream of tartar, and juice from the lemon.  Cool to 80 deg F, pitch yeast.

Most recipes that I've seen suggest fermenting for three days, then transferring to bottles, with no mention of priming sugar.  From there, it's 1 to 3 weeks until it's ready to drink.

Addendum, 10 Jul: As I've done with previous brews, I went to check to see how this one was going along.  The yeast seems to have kicked off nicely, and was happily munching away on the sugar.  With this brew, there is no krausen, so the blow-off bottle remains clear, and there is a steady stream of bubbles flowing out of the end of the blow-off tube.

Addendum, 16 Jul: Bottled today; got 9 good bottles.  There still bubbles coming from the blow-off tube, so hopefully, enough fermentation action will continue to carbonate the brew a little.

Addendum, 26 Jul: Tried one bottle tonight, after chilling in the fridge for 2 nights.  The beer is very well carbonated, even without the use of priming sugar.  It pours a cloudy yellow, with a full head that dissipates quickly.  There isn't much of anything in the nose, but my wife described the taste as being similar to a shandy.  Very light and refreshing, with a great deal of lemon flavor. This wouldn't hurt to have a bit more ginger, but it is very light and has a good flavor to it.  There is a small amount of sweetness on the tongue just before the lemon citrus hits.  I let this one sit for 6 days before bottling, when recipes called for 3 days.  I could probably let this go a bit longer (maybe 10 days) and that might result in a bit lower carbonation.  All in all, a nice beverage, and something I'll definitely do again.  Something else...this is completely gluten free!

This is clearly a spring brew, as that's when the plants seem to proliferate.  If I can find an sufficient source of the plant nearby in the near future (we're into summer at this point...), I'll try another brew.  Variations of this recipe can include, but are not limited to:

- Instead of sugar, use locally grown honey
- Use the entire plant, including the tap root (not just the leaves)
- As described in Leda Meredith's The Forager's Feast, try roasting the roots of the plant

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Ginger Saison

It's been a while since I did a ginger saison, so I thought I'd make another batch.  This is one I enjoy, but I don't think I enjoy it as much as my wife.

If you don't get the reference to the image to the right, it's from a Strongbow Hard Cider commercial where Sir Patrick says, "ginger!"

Brew Day: 12 Jan 2017

Partial Mash:
1 lb Vienna malt
4 oz CaraRed
1.5 oz flaked wheat

Boil (20 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
3 oz turbinado sugar
7 g Saaz hops (@ 20 min)
7 g Saaz hos (@ flameout)

Steep 1/2 oz of freshly cut ginger (thin sliced) for 10 min

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

As I was racking the wort into the fermenter, I got a nice sharp fragrance of ginger, and I'm hoping that translates into a really good ginger flavor in the beer.

Addendum, 4 Feb: Bottled today, with 1 oz of sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water; got 9 good bottles.  Didn't note any "ginger heat" when bottling.