Monday, July 9, 2018

"Barrel-aged" dark sour

I recently ran across an article that gave me some new insights into using oak chips in brewing a beer.  I really like DuClaw's Midnight Due, and I thought, why subject myself to a "limited release", when I can brew my own? My first attempt at using oak chips didn't turn out so well, and think that it was because I hadn't properly sanitized the chips, nor did I let the beer age long enough.

Brew Day #1: 9 July

Partial Mash:
6 oz Special B
6 oz Munich
2 oz flaked wheat

Bring 3 qt of water to ~ 160 deg F, pour into a 1 gal thermos container.  Add grain bag with grains, making sure all of the grain gets saturated.  Seal the thermos for at least an hour.

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

Raise 3+ qt water in the brew kettle to at least 170 deg F.  Remove grain bag from thermos, transfer to brew kettle, steep for ~ 10 min.  Remove grain bag, add wort, DME, sugar, and boil.

Cool the wort in an ice bath until it reaches ~ 80 deg F.  Rack on to (2) GoodBelly StraightShots that have been brought up to room temp.  You can fill the fermenter all the way up; place a sanitized air lock in the fermenter cap, wrap the fermenter in a towel, and place on the warming plate for 48 - 72 hrs.

There will likely be some wort left in the kettle, so save it off in a bottle, placing it in the fridge until the second boil.

Begin preparing the oak chips.  Add 1 oz of oak chips to boiling water for 5 min; drain, and place in a sanitized glass bottle, and just cover with whisky (Johnny Walker Black Label, 86.8 proof).  Let set for 7 days, the contribute the whisky to the sink, and just cover the chips with bourbon.  Let sit for at least 5 days, and then rack the beer on to the chips and bourbon for several days.

Boil #2  12 July (20 min):
Pour the contents of the fermenter into the brew kettle, and then add the contents of the bottle, and about half a bottle again of tap water.  Boil for 20 min to kill the "bugs" (i.e., souring bacteria). Cool hopped wort to ~ 80 deg F in an ice bath, then transfer to a sanitized fermenter, aerate, and pitch the yeast.

Hops: 14 g German Hersbrucker (AA: 2.3%, @ 20 min)

Yeast: BE-134

Okay, so this one turned out to be a real mish-mash of's going to be more red than brown, it's sour, uses a Belgian yeast, and I'm still going forward with the oak chips.  This one is going to be real interesting!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Oak Chips

My first attempt at "barrel aging" on oak chips didn't turn out too well, likely for several reasons.  For one, the beer got was clearly soured, and that wasn't the intent.  Further, there were really harsh tannins in the flavor. 

However, a recent issue of Zymurgy had a Dragon's Milk clone recipe (by Amahl Turczyn) that had some really good advice on preparing the oak chips for use:

- boil the chips for 5 min
- soak the chips in cheap whiskey or bourbon for 7 days, then "donate" the booze to the sink or to a marinade recipe
- soak the chips on good bourbon for 4 - 7 days
- after the beer has fermented, rack on to the chips and monitor the beer until you have "noticeable vanilla notes"
- rack the beer into secondary (off of the chips) and let it mellow for a month or two

I see a good opportunity for a "barrel-aged" sour in the near future.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Another Belgian

The Belgian I made earlier this year turned out really well...the key seems to be letting the beer sit in secondary for a while.  I wanted to brew another batch to get it fermenting and ready for later this summer, because my wife really enjoys it.

Brew Day: 30 Jun 2018

Partial Mash:
10 oz Munich
4 oz Crystal rye
2 oz flaked wheat

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

Hops: 14 g German Perle @ 20 min

Yeast: BE-134

Addendum, 11 July: Racked to secondary. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Lallemand WildBrew

My copy of Zymergy showed up yesterday, and as I am want to do, I pay close attention to the ads.  Yes, I admit it...well, the recipes and the ads.  I've come across some interesting items, including but not limited to new yeast strains available, and this time was no different.  This time, I saw an ad that immediately caught my eye, for Lallemand Brewing's new dry WildBrew Sour Pitch sachet.

I've read the data sheet for the yeast blend, and it will be interesting to see how my process for making a sour beer would change/need to be modified to use this product.

Also, I'm a fan of NE-style IPAs, and there's apparently a LalBrew New England yeast available now specifically for this style of beer. what happens if I want a sour NE IPA?  ;-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Watermelon Sour

I picked up a watermelon in May, and saved some of the juice left over after cutting it up, chilling it, and sharing some of it with the horses and donkey (some love it, others not so much).  I made a sour saison last year with an addition of watermelon that turned out really nice, so I thought I'd do it again, with different hops, etc.

Brew Day: 26 Jun 2018

Partial Mash:
12 oz Munich
2 oz flaked wheat

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

After the boil has completed, cool the wort in an ice bath to 80 deg F, and add it to a fermenter with 2 GoodBelly Straight Shots.  Wrap in a towel and place on a warming plate for at least 48 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 29 Jun 2018

Something of note; I had been downstairs yesterday, around the time the wort had been souring for 48 hrs or so, and everything looked fine.  I have the fermenter wrapped in a towel and I usually just slip the palm of my hand under the towel and press it against the fermenter to check the temperature.  When I went to retrieve the fermenter today, there seemed be indications of fermentation...the airlock had bubbles in it, and there seemed to be some of the same material I usually see during fermentation pushed up into the tube of the airlock.

The wort smelled fine as I poured it into the kettle, and whatever was apparently growing is going to be killed off by the boil.

Azacca (AA: 9.8%) and Citra (AA: 13.2%) are both from BSGHops
7 g Azacca, 7 g Citra (FWH)
7 g Azacca, 7 g Citra (whirlpool, 20 min)
7 g Azacca, 7 g Citra (whirlpool, 10 min)
7 g Azacca, 7 g Citra (dry hop)

Yeast: US-05

Chill wort to 80 deg F in an ice bath, aerate and pitch yeast.

Addendum, 30 Jun: Checked on the fermentation early this afternoon; apparently, some of the hops and trube had collected in the blow-off tube and backed up the gas which then built up and rather explosively pushed the end of the tube out of the fermenter cap.  The force of the explosion was enough to send material not just all over the walls of the shower, but also on the ceiling.  I put a fresh blow-ff tube in place, and the fermentation continued, so I think maybe I got to it in time.

Following the first boil, I cooled the wort and racked it on to the Straight Shots.  I was able to fill the fermenter almost to the top, as there's no fermentation activity that takes place.  After placing the fermenter on the warming plate, I was able to collect another whole Gatorade bottle of wort, which I placed in the fridge, to await the second boil.  Even with the full fermenter and the additional bottle, the effect of the boil (evaporation) and the amount of liquid absorbed by the two post-flame-out hop additions left just enough of the hopped wort in the kettle such that a good amount of the first addition of hops was deposited in the fermenter.

For future brews, when following this process, the ideal method would be to add not just the additional collected wort to the second boil, but also some additional water.  This would allow me to rack the hopped wort into the fermenter and minimize the additional materials added.  This isn't necessarily something I face with other brews.

Addendum, 11 July: Dry hopped today.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Zythos IPA

I was at my local homebrew supply shop the other day, picking up some supplies for some upcoming brews, and I ran across Zythos hops.  I had been researching hops earlier that would impart pineapple, and had been looking for Denali hops for possible inclusion in a sour IPA with watermelon, but I had also read about Zythos.  So, I picked up 2 oz of the hops, and decided to give it a shot.

Brew Day: 23 Jun 2018

Partial Mash:
12 oz Munich I
2 oz flaked wheat

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

Hops: Zythos AA: 9.2%   Beta: 5.2%
7 g Zythos (FWH)
21 g Zythos (whirlpool, 20 min)
14 g Zythos (whirlpool, 10 min)
14 g Zythos (dry hop)

Yeast: US-05

I followed all of my usual procedures for the boil, cooling, and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 4 July: Dry hopped on 14 g Zythos hops.

Addendum, 9 July: Bottled today, on 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water.  Got 6 good bottles, and 2 re-purposed soda bottles out of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Time for another abbaye ale!  Actually, I went to my local homebrew supply store a bit ago, and they didn't have some of the yeast I was looking for in stock, so I got a sachet of BE-256, and figured I'd go ahead and put another abbaye ale in the mix.

Brew Day: 22 May 2018

Partial Mash:
12 oz Munich 1
2 oz flaked wheat

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

Hops: 7 g German Perle, @ 20 min

Yeast: BE-256

I followed all of my usual procedures for mashing, boiling, chilling, aerating and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 6 Jun: Racked to secondary.

Addendum, 29 Jun: Bottled today, on 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water.  Got 8 good bottles and one partial fill in a re-purposed soda bottle, which will be used for the initial tasting in about 3 wks.

Monday, May 21, 2018

MAC Sour

I really like hopped sours or sour IPAs, and as such, I'm going to try something a bit different, in that I'm going to try a combination of hops.  Most of my previous hopped sours have been really good, the most notable of which was the Huell Melon-hopped sour.

This time, I'm going to use a combination of the following hops:
Mosaic (AA: 10.8%)
Azacca (AA: 9.8%)
Citra (AA: 13.2%)

I'm sure you can see where the "MAC" comes from. Something I'm going to do with this brew is create an IPA without the sour, and try it side-by-side.  So, I'll make the following recipe again, albeit without the souring.

Brew Day: 21 May 2018

Partial Mash:
12 oz Munich 1
2 oz flaked wheat

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

Once wort has cooled to 80 deg F, pitch on to (2) Good Belly Straight Shots, then set fermenter on warming plate for 48 - 72 hrs.

Boil #2 (20 min): 24 May 2018
Boil for 20 min to kill the bugs, hop and pitch the yeast.  First whirlpool pitch of hops sits for 20 min, second sits for 10 min, then place kettle in ice bath to cool to 80 deg F, to prep for pitching the yeast.

4 g of each of the hops (FWH)
8 g of each of the hops (20 min whirlpool)
8 g of each of the hops (10 min whirlpool)
4 g of each of the hops (dry hop 1)
4 g of each of the hops (dry hop 2)

Yeast:  US-05

Addendum, 7 Jun: Dry hop #1

Addendum, 10 Jun: Dry hop #2

Addendum, 16 Jun: Bottled today, on 2 1/2 T of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. boiling water; got 6 regular bottles, a 22 oz flip top bottle, and a repurposed Dr. Pepper bottle out of it.

Addendum, 2 Jul: First taste of this beer tonight, and WOW, is it good!  The very first thing I noticed was the aroma...I got some sweet fruit aroma with just a hint of citrus.  The first taste was amazing!  The body was nice, not too heavy, but good.  Definite fruity sweetness with a mild tartness on the finish.  There is very little bitterness, if any at all.  Very enjoyable beer!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mosaic IPA

I picked up some Mosaic hops recently and based on the description, I really wanted to try an IPA using this hop variety.

Brew Day: 14 Apr 2018

Partial Mash:
20 oz Munich malt
2 oz flaked wheat

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

Yeast: T-58

Addendum, 19 Apr: Replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock. During the process, got a whiff of some of the hops, wow!

Addendum, 30 Apr: Racked on to 14 g of Mosaic hops for dry hop #1.

Addendum, 4 May: Dry hop #2, 14 g of Mosaic hops.

Addendum, 7 May: Bottled today, got 8 good bottles.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Sour Summer IPA

I picked up some Summer hops a bit ago, and after the success I had with sour IPA hopped with Huell Melon hops (for the strawberry essence), I wanted to try the Summer hops.  This hop is described as having aromas of stone fruit and tropical fruit, with other descriptions mentioning apricot and melon.  I thought that would be a very nice aroma profile to go along with a light-bodied sour beer.

Brew Day: 10 Apr 2018

Partial Mash:
1 lb Vienna malt
2 oz flaked wheat

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

After the boil is complete, cool the wort to 80 deg F, and fill a fermenter on top of 2 Good Belly Straight Shots.  Place the fermenter on a heat plate, wrapped in a towel, for 3 days.

Boil #2 (20 min): 13 Apr 2018

7 g Summer  (AA: 5.8%, @ 20 min)
21 g Summer (@ 0 min)

Yeast: BE-134

Boil and pitching of yeast, followed my usual processes.

Addendum, 14 Apr: Checked in the beer this morning, because I'm superstitious that way.  Anything brewed on Friday the 13th needs constant supervision.  Actually, that isn't true...I was returning some of my cleaned equipment to the shelf, and caught a some-what hoppy whiff coming from the fermentation area.  In last night's brew, I hadn't placed the late hop addition in a hop bag; rather, I'd added it directly to the boil, at flameout, and as such, there was a good bit of hop material in the kettle after I chilled the wort and began racking the wort into the fermenter.  There was a good bit of fermentation activity overnight, but not a lot of the wort had been pushed down the blow-off tube into the bottle.  There was, however, some hop material in the tube and bottle, as well as a very interesting, fruity aroma with a bit of hoppiness.

Addendum, 19 Apr: Replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock.

Addendum, 30 Apr: Racked on to 14 g of Summer hops for dry hop #1.

Addendum, 4 May: Dry hop #2, 14 g of Summer hops.

Addendum, 7 May: Bottled today, got 8 good bottles.

Addendum, 20 May: Tried one bottle tonight after chilling.  Mild tartness, full body, fruity, juicy flavor.  Definitely a delicious hopped sour; going to let this age just a bit more, maybe another week, before trying another one.

Addendum, 20 Jun: Had another one of these last night, very good! There was a slight tarty-sharpness to it, and also a sweetness at the same time.  I believe that some of the characteristics imparted by the yeast (as opposed to the US-05 that I usually use for these beers) subdued the sour aspect of the beer, but not to an overwhelming level.  I definitely liked the effect imparted by the hops, as well.