Monday, December 28, 2015

Calypso IPA

In keeping with the hops I've been using lately to make IPAs with characteristics of fruit (Melon, Mandarina, Brewer's Gold "hop bomb"), I added some Calypso hops to a recent order (which arrived on 23 Dec, thank you, NorthernBrewer guys and gals!)

Calypso is described as imparting dried apple, pear, and citrus.  I've tried mandarin/tangerine, melon, and berry so far, and I've really liked everyone of them so far.

I also wanted to try something a little different with the dry hopping, as well, based on what I read on Derek's Ain't No Hallertauer Girl post, and subsequently stuff I read on the Bertus Brewery blog (specifically, here and *here).

Brew Day: 28 Dec 2015

Partial Mash:
1 lb MaltEurop American 2-Row Pale
1 oz Carapils

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Golden Light DME (@ 60 min)
4 oz table sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g Warrior AA:14.5% (@ 60 min)
14 g Calypso AA: 13.3% (@ 10 min)
14 g Calypso AA: 13.3%  (@ flameout)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Dry Hop: 2-Step dry hop, 14 g Calypso at 3 days each.

Addendum, 5 Jan: Dry hop #1 tonight.

Addendum, 9 Jan: Dry hop #2.  When I transferred the beer into it's second secondary (kind of reminds me of the Hobbits' "second breakfast"), the beer was a nice golden color and very clear...things had really settled out.  It looks like I'm going to get even more settling with this second phase, which should be good.  I'm considering bottling on Mon or Tues evening, and it should be ready for a first taste before the end of the month.

Addendum, 12 Jan: Bottled today, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Before we start...
I thought I'd add more pictures as I went through this process.  To the left you can see the beer in the fermenter following the second dry hopping.  I tried to capture the color as best I could.  The next step was to sanitize a clean fermenter, put the priming sugar in the second fermenter and let it cool, the siphon the beer on top of the priming sugar.  I usually have plenty to keep me busy for about 15 minutes or so while the beer and sanitizing the siphoning equipment, sanitizing bottles, getting labels ready, etc.  I like to get everything set up so that once the ball starts rolling, we get through the bottling process with as few hiccups as possible.  Right now, the point where problems tend to occur is if I don't position the capper over the cap properly.

Once we're done...
The image to the left illustrates the final results.  As is about usual for a gallon batch, I get about nine regular bottles, or as in this case, two 22 oz bottles and six regular bottles.  I can't wait to try this smelled REALLY good while I was bottling

The bottling music for today was the soundtrack for Highlander...thank you, Freddie Mercury!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Chistmas Eve Abbaye

I have a package of Safbrew Abbaye dry yeast available, and I wanted to see how it compares to other yeasts I've used, in particular the DanStar Belle Saison.  In particular, I'm considering working on a variant of DogFish Head's Sah'tea, and I wanted to see which yeast gets me the closest to the flavor. So far, my wife says that the ginger saison has the closest flavor, but I still have the rye saison on the way, and I want her to try this one, for comparison.

Brew Day: 24 Dec 2015

Partial Mash:
1 lb Munich malt (from Jay's Brewing)
1 oz Briess CaraPils

*I followed my usual partial mash process

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
6 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g German Perle hops (@ 60 min)

Yeast: Safbrew Abbaye

*I followed my usual process for cooling the wort and pitching the yeast.

I placed the fermenter (along with the blow-off tube/bottle) in the fermentation location I use.  As today is supposed to reach a record high temperature (they're calling for 72 deg F, on Christmas Eve), I turned the A/C on in the house this morning, so the temperature is going to be a pretty steady 71 deg F (or so) in the basement for the next couple of days.  The temperatures are supposed to take a big drop on Monday, but I'm looking at keeping the temps right around 70 deg F.  As this is a high gravity beer, I'll likely leave it in fermentation for about 3 weeks, and then let it sit for 4 weeks after bottling.

Addendum, 25 Dec: I was downstairs this morning (part of my daily routine) and I could hear a rhythmic, steady thumping through the wall. As I finished up my chores, I checked on the Abbaye, and yes, the blow-off bottle was the source of the thumping sound.  I keep all of my fermenters in the bathtub in the basement bathroom, and I keep the door closed.  When I opened the door, the first thing I noticed was the smell of the yeast, which wasn't the usual bready, yeast roll odor that I usually get.  The aroma from this yeast is very different from what I've experienced with other yeasts (dry or liquid) to this point. Very interesting.

Addendum, 14 Jan: Bottled tonight, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 c. of boiling water.  The beer was really clear, and a nice golden-red color.  I ended up with 9 bottles.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Belgian Golden Ale

I was doing some reading last week and found a recipe for a Belgian Golden Ale (about the middle of the page, second recipe), and I figured that I have some T-58 yeast, so I'd give something like it a shot.  I don't have the exact hops to match the recipe, so I just used some Czech Saaz that I had available.

Brew Day:  21 Dec 2015

Partial Mash:
8 oz Rahr Pale Ale Malt
4 oz GoldPils
3 oz Gambrinus Honey Malt
1 oz CaraPils

*I followed my normal partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
3.5 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)
 7 g Czech Saaz (@ 60 min)

Yeast: T-58

*I cooled the wort and pitched the yeast using my usual process

12 hrs after pitching yeast
Addendum, 22 Dec: It's been about 12 hrs since I pitched the yeast, and the bubbles flowing through the blow-off tube into the bottle are beating out quite the rhythm!  I also noticed that the color lightened out a bit...with the honey malt, the partial mash wort came out a little darker than I would've liked, but I knew it would lighten up a bit in once I added it to the boil with the DME.  Overall, the yeast seems to be pretty can't see in the picture to the right, but there thousands of little bubbles rising up through the fermenter to the foam at the top.

Addendum, 4 Jan: Bottled tonight, with just a bit more than an ounce of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Ended up with 9 bottles.  I'm looking forward to trying this's not the first time I've used the T-58 yeast, but I'm looking at bottling some variation of this recipe (or a hefeweizen) near the summer in small soda bottles, so I can take them with us while tubing.

Addendum, 19 Jan: Tasting.  Wow, this one turned out really well!  Nice golden color, good carbonation, very light lacing.  Smells and tastes like a Belgian ale.  On the next rendition, I'm going to take a look at backing off of the malt bill for the partial mash just a bit, and do a first wort hop with about 7 g of German Perle hops.  The T-58 yeast handled the extra sugar very well; by the time I got to the bottom of my glass, I knew I'd had a Belgian-style ale.

Addendum, 22 Jan: Opened another one of these for my wife tonight; got an AMAZING banana nose right out of the bottle, so much so that I almost kept it to myself just to smell it!  She really likes this beer, much more so than some of the stuff I've brought home from the store.  Definitely a keeper.

Addendum, 30 Jan: Went to pour one for my wife tonight, while she was watching TV in the evening.  I came around the end of the couch, and she was out cold.  Oh, for me.  Definite scent of banana, and a bit of booziness from the alcohol content.

Addendum, 24 Feb: A chilly, rainy day, and an evening of coding and writing ahead.  Delicious beer, very tasty, like a smoother, less spicy Leffe blonde.  Still excellent body and flavor.  I'm going to hold on to one of these to try along side the LemonDrop variant when it's ready next week.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Rye Saison

I have some rye malts available, so I thought I'd give it a shot, doing a variation to the ginger saison recipe that my wife and I both really liked.  With this one, I'm going for a little spice from both the rye malt and the German Tettnang hops.

Brew Day: 17 Dec 2015

Partial Mash
8 oz Rahr Pale Ale Malt
8 oz Briess Rye Malt
1 oz CaraPils

*I followed my usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min)
1 lb Muntons Extra Light DME (@ 60 min)
3 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g German Tettnang hops (@ 60 min)

7 g German Tettnang hops (@ 10 min)
< 1 oz fresh ginger (thinly sliced, @ 10 min)

Once the boil was complete, I let the wort rest of 10 min before putting it in the ice bath to cool it down.  Once the wort had cooled to approx. 80 deg F, I followed my usual procedure for transferring and pitching the yeast.

Yeast: Danstar Belle Saison

Addendum, 31 Dec: Bottled, with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  This one should be ready to try NLT 14 Jan.

Addendum, 12 Jan 2016: First taste of this beer; initial impression is that is very spicy, definitely need to go with 4 g German Perle as a base hopping for this style of beer.  The body, color and head are very good, and it is very drinkable, just more hops than are necessary.

Addendum, 2 Feb 2016: Opened a 22 oz bottle tonight, thinking I'd just drink it to empty the bottle.  Nice pour, pillowy white head, moderate lacing.  Still kind of a straw-yellow color.  Not as spicy as previously experienced, seems the spicy bite has settled quite a bit.  Much smoother flavor, a touch of sour in the taste, and I definitely get a boozy warmth. I'm really enjoying this one now, much more than I did when I first tried it almost a month ago.  Definitely something to keep in mind, particularly when using more hops in the brew; give it time for the flavor to settle, and even out a bit...take the edge off.

As it turned out, my daughter came home from college for her mother's birthday, and "found" my rye saison.  She's more of a cider girl, but she really seemed to enjoy the rye saison, having two bottles of it that evening (no, she wasn't driving anywhere...).  It looks as if the key to this one was to let the beer sit for two more weeks before enjoying it.

Friday, December 4, 2015


I was doing some research recently, looking at dry yeasts and I ran across a thread that mentioned getting different results from Safbrew WB-06 yeast; specifically, by under-pitching and then moving to secondary after a week, you could get more pronounced banana notes.  I've recently done a couple of hefeweizens using liquid yeast that turned out pretty well, but I wanted to give the dry yeast another shot.

Brew Day: 4 Dec 2015

Partial Mash:
8 oz 2-Row
7 oz Rahr Red Wheat
1 oz CaraPils

*Used usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Bavarian Wheat DME (@ 60 min)
10 g German Perle hops (@ 60 min)

Yeast: Safbrew WB-06

At the end of the boil, I placed the kettle in an ice bath and got the wort temperature down to 80 deg F.  I filled the fermenter about half way and started aerating the wort.  I then pitched the yeast, and aerated a bit more, after which I added the rest of the wort.

I'll keep an eye on the beer over the next couple of days, and next week I'll transfer it to a clean fermenter for another week to 10 days.

Addendum, 5 Dec: Things really took off last night!  The blow-off bottle is all full of krausen, with lots of foamy material coming out of the bottle.  I'll more than likely have to change the bottle near the end of the weekend.

Addendum, 12 Dec: Transferred the beer to a clean fermenter today.

Tasting notes: I tried transferring the beer to a clean fermenter early in the fermentation; the lesson learned here is that WB-06 is a good wheat beer yeast, but not the best hefeweizen yeast.  Definitely go with a proven liquid yeast when brewing a hefe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


A bit ago, I was doing some research into Huell Melon hops, and I ran across a description of Mandarina Bavaria hops, and is often the case, decided that I need to try them out.  Yes, I have a problem.  A daughter of Cascade hops, this variant is described as having orange, tangerine, and citrus aromas.  After trying a beer with Melon hops, this one should be very interesting.

Apparently, Hermitage Brewing has a single hop IPA based on the Mandarina Bavaria hops, and it sounds like it's something worth trying.  Like many single hop beers, this one should give you something of an idea of what the hops are like, and the affect they can have on a beer.

I'll see how this one turns out, and in the future I'll try some variations, such as using Safbrew T-58 yeast instead of the US-05.  Additions I've considered include blood orange (juice and zest), and tangerine.

Brew Day: 2 Dec 2015

Partial Mash:
8 oz Gambrinus Honey Malt
8 oz 2-Row malt
1 oz Carapils

*I prepared the partial mash using my usual process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
7 g Warrior hops (@ 60 min)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Mandarina Bavaria, AA: 7.4%
14 g Mandarina (@ 10 min)
14 g Mandarina (@ flameout)

Addendum, 12 Dec: Dry hopped today

Dry hop: 14 g Mandarina

Addendum, 18 Dec: Bottled with 1 oz table sugar, dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Addendum, 2 Feb: I came back to this one and noticed that I didn't have any tasting notes...for shame!  This brew had a LOT of hops, and what I found is that drinking the beer right at two weeks after bottling isn't the best idea.  I mean, it's good to try it, but don't be surprised if there's a hoppy bitterness present.  Better to give it more time.  I had one of these this past weekend, and I have to say that after letting it sit longer, I was very impressed with the flavor.  Now, I'm biased, and I knew that the hops were Mandarina, but I definitely got the impression of a flavor tangerines; not sweet, like mandarin oranges, but the bitterness had evened out a bit and I was getting an orange-citrusy flavor.  It was very good, and definitely something I'd brew again.

Addendum, 5 Apr: I had the beer that I "bottled" in a soda bottle, and I have to say, it was pretty awesome.  Great carbonation and lacing, really good flavor.  The bitterness normally associated with an IPA wasn't there, likely due to the simple passage of time.  Even so, it was still a very good beer.

Addendum, 23 May: This evening I'm trying Stone Brewing Pale Ale, which I picked up this afternoon.  I decided to try it because the bottle mentions Mandarina Bavaria hops (the online description include Magnum and Herkules, as well).  There's a stamp on the bottle that says it was bottled on 5 Dec 2015, and is best "enjoyed" by 4 Mar 2016 (so I'm 2 1/2 months passed that).  It's not has a bit more zip to it than my brew, but it's not bad.  It's a bit more malty than something I'd like on a warm day, after mowing the yard or being out all day riding and grooming the horses, but it's not bad.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Something "New"

This brew comes from Mr Rufus Brewing Co, based on an exchange on Facebook.  Whomever is behind the "Mr Rufus" had posted a picture of a sample of a beautiful golden brew, and included, "So much honeydew, berries, and even some mango from the Galaxy hops!"  That got me to thinking...I'd like to try that! And when I say "try", I mean both make and taste.  The "Mr Rufus" folks graciously shared the boil volume and hop schedule (thanks!), which I converted for my brew volume.

When I refer to this as something "new", I'm not suggesting that it's new, in's just new to me.  I've had beers infused with fruit, mostly wheat or wit beers that have some sort of fruit puree or zest added during the brew process (I've added grapefruit zest to one or two of my IPAs), but I'm also interested in the aromas and flavors you can get from just hop additions and dry hopping, especially the unusual ones, or ones you don't necessarily see in available craft brews.

I was able to pick up the hops from Jay's Brewing, a home brew supply store in Manassas.  They've come a long way since I visited last June, and Jill was very helpful.

One of the things I've said that I really enjoy about home brewing is that if I want a wit beer or a hefeweizen after a long afternoon of shoveling snow in the middle of winter, I can have one.  Something else I've figured out that I like about home brewing is not only trying beers like this one, but then having small amounts (partial ounces) of left-over hops that I can then combine into something really unusual.

Brew Day: 20 Nov

Partial Mash:
8 oz Gambrinus Honey Malt
8 oz 2-Row malt
1 oz Carapils

I followed my usual partial mash process; bring 2 qt water to 156 deg F, pour into the 1 gal cooler.  Add above grains in a muslin bag, pushing down gently with a spoon in order to ensure that the water circulates throughout.  Seal the cover for an hour.  At about 45 min, bring 4 qt of water in the brew kettle to 170 deg F.  Once the grains have sat for about an hour, loosen the top on the cooler and manually circulate the wort through the grain several times.  Once this is done, gently remove the grain bag from the cooler, allowing the water to drain, and move the bag to the brew kettle, steeping for about 10 min.  At 10 min, remove the grain bag, add the wort from the cooler and bring the wort to a boil.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

Yeast: Safale US-05

Warrior: AA ~ 15%
Galaxy: AA 14.5%
Huell Melon: AA 4.5%

7 g Warrior (@ 60 min)
7 g Melon (@ 10 min)
7 g Galaxy + 7 g Melon (@ 5 min)
7 g Galaxy + 7 g Melon (@ flameout)

Addendum, 24 Nov: Activity had settled down enough that I replaced the blow-off tube & bottle with an airlock.  I'll dry hop this one right around the time that I bottle the Hop-Bomb (tentatively an IPA).

Addendum, 30 Nov: Dry hopped tonight.  I'm looking forward to bottling this one in a week.
Dry hop: 14 g Melon

Addendum, 7 Dec: Bottled today; smelled incredible!

Addendum, 23 Dec: Tasted one of the beers today...very good!  The beer pours with an orange-amber color, and with a nice substantial, white head.  Carbonation is good, as is lacing throughout the time it took me to finish the beer.  Definite notes of sweet fruit in the nose, and the flavor has a bitterness on par with a Bell's Two-Hearted, albeit without the citrus/grapefruit notes.  There's also a slight sweetness from the malt.  As a hop-head, I definitely enjoy everything about this beer, from the color, the appearance of the head, to the flavor.  I'm going to try this one again, but the next time, I'm going to use a slightly different dry hopping schedule, and go for a 2-step dry hop, each for 3 days.

Here's what I'm thinking...bitter with a hop with some high alpha acids, and then two Melon hop additions, one at 5 min, one at flameout.  Then do a 2-step dry hop, each for three days.  All additions will be 14 g, for a total of 2 oz throughout the process.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Unnamed IPA, or "Hop Bomb"

A bit ago, I ran across a lone ounce package of Brewer's Gold hops at a local home brew supply store, and something compelled me to grab it and find something to do with it.  I know, I admit...I have a problem.  While described as a bittering hop (at 10.5% AA, I get it...), it can also impart a "spicy aroma" that is described as having a "black currant" characteristic.  I thought this might make a nice aromatic/flavor addition to an IPA using Mosaic hops.

I also have some (14 g) HBC-438 hops left over from a previous single hop brew, so this may be a good opportunity to use it up.  Also, it would be a good counterpoint...see what the single hop beer is like when contrasted to this one.

Brew Day: 13 Nov 2015

Partial Mash:
8 oz 2-Row malt
5.5 oz Weyermann CaraRed
5.0 oz Briess GoldPils
1.0 oz Briess CaraPils

Just to be clear, the malt bill for the partial mash had more to do with what I had left/available than anything else.

*I used my usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
3 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)

7 g Mosaic (12.1% AA) (@ 60 min)
3 g HBC-438 (15.7% AA), 4 g Mosaic (12.1% AA), 4 g Brewer's Gold (10.5% AA) (@ 15 min)
3 g HBC-438 (15.7% AA), 4 g Mosaic (12.1% AA), 4 g Brewer's Gold (10.5% AA) (@ 0 min)

Yeast: Safale US-05

*Followed my usual process for the boil, as well as for aerating and pitching the yeast.

Addendum, 14 Nov:  Checked on the fermenter this morning, about 11 hrs after pitching the yeast.  Things are looking good, as you can see from the picture to the right.  Nice activity through the blow-off tube, some material collecting in the blow-off bottle.  You can't tell from the image, but there are lots of tiny bubbles rising up from the trube that's already settled at the bottom of the fermenter.  Things seem to be progressing very nicely at this point, we're off to a good start.

Addendum, 18 Nov: Activity had settled down enough for me to put an airlock on this one.

Addendum, 24 Nov: Dry hopped tonight.
Dry Hop:
6 g HBC-438 (15.7% AA), 4 g Mosaic (12.1% AA), 4 g Brewer's Gold (10.5% AA)

So far, looks like it's doing very well, and I'm looking forward to bottling this one next week.

Addendum, 1 Dec: Bottled, with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.

Addendum, 15 Dec: Pours to a very light brown color, with moderate head and lacing.  Carbonation is good.  Sweet fruits or berries both on the nose and the palate.  A small bit of the malt peaks out from behind the hops, very slightly.  A small bit of pine in the aftertaste.  Definitely an IPA, but without an overpowering piney or citrus bitterness.  Very drinkable, and quite part because it's not like anything I've ever had an opportunity to taste.

Addendum, 25 Dec: My daughter's boyfriend came over and spent some time with us, and the rest of the family, and had one of these.  He's not a huge drinker, but liked it so much that he wanted another one!  My brother-in-law tried this one and really liked it.  I don't have any tasting notes at this point, because I didn't get to have one, but those who did try this one really liked it.

Addendum, 9 Aug: A bit ago, I found a 22 oz Belgian and three of these beers sitting in the back of a cabinet.  I tried one not long ago, but didn't do any updates.  I'm having another one tonight, and it's really good.  REALLY.  The beer is a golden amber color and poured with a nice, thick head.  The head dissipated during my first few sips, but there's some good lacing going on.  The flavor is distinctive...a light cedar flavor from the HBC-438 hops, with a little bit of fruit, but none of the sharp bitterness found in many commercial IPAs.  Very distinctive and enjoyable.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

HBC-438 IPA, ie '38 Special

A bit ago, I was reading about a new hop varietal that's still experimental, called HBC-438 (you can read a brief history of the varietal here).  What I read said that it was being released to home brewers for testing, and the characteristics of this hop sounded fascinating (described as stone fruit, lemon, honey, tropical fruit, mint, and herbal), so I ordered 2 oz from Northern Brewer.  The alpha acids are pretty high with this one, so using it for bittering as well as aroma/flavor shouldn't be a problem.

It turns out that NB also has a recipe for The Luckiest Man Alive Pale Ale, which uses these hops...and about a third of each kit goes to benefit research to find a cure for ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease".  Brewers are kind of awesome people, aren't they?

Part of the reason I'm looking forward to trying this particular hop is that it's similar to Medusa hops (Medusa doesn't have the alpha acids that the HBC-438 does), a variety I heard about in the spring, and an ounce of which was graciously provided by the good folks at Northern Brewer.  Unfortunately, I lost the initial batch to a cracked fermenter cap, but I was able to use some of what was left with another brew.

Brew Day: 5 Nov 2015

Partial Mash:
1 lb 2-Row malt
1 oz Carapils

*I used the same process for the partial mash that I always use.

Boil (60 min):
1.7 lb Gold LME (@ 60 min)
*I went with a bit more LME this time for two reasons: I didn't want to add any corn sugar, and it was what I had left...better to use it than to waste it.

Hops - HBC-438 (AA: 15.7%, Beta: 5.9%)
7 g HBC-438 (@ 60 min)
13 g HBC-438 (@ 10 min)
7 g HBC-438 (@ flameout)

*This recipe leaves me with a small bag of 14 g of HBC-438 hops (out of a total of 2 oz) to use in a complex IPA that uses multiple hops.

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 6 Nov: About 13 or so hours after pitching the yeast, the beer is doing very well.  Good activity through the blow-off tube, with some material (not a lot) in the tube and blow-off bottle.

Addendum, 7 Nov: Checked in on the fermenter this morning...after some of things that have happened over the months that I've been home brewing, I tend to check the fermenter(s) on a daily basis...and things are going very well.  There's a bit more activity, with bubbles flowing through the blow-off tube with greater frequency than yesterday.  Also, looking closely at the fermenter, I can see thousands of tiny bubbles flowing up from the bottom of the's very cool to see this kind of positive activity!  In fact, I've been closing the door to the bathroom (the fermenters are all in the tub) and when I go to check on the fermenters, the room has a distinctive aroma of stone fruit.

Addendum, 16 Nov: Dry hopped with 14 g HBC-438.  The brew is doing well...wonderful, orange-golden color, lots of good fermentation activity going on (i.e., the airlock cap was riding high before and after the dry hopping).  If my schedule allows me to bottle no later than 23 Nov, this one will be ready on 7 Dec.

Addendum, 18 Nov: The airlock cap is no longer riding high or floating in the airlock, but I'm not really worried about it and I'm not going to freak out.  I've seen this with a couple of beers so far, albeit not with this yeast.  I'm usually pretty careful with cleaning and sanitizing my gear. I re-used the muslin bag that I put the hops in, and started the way I always do...boiling the bag itself in a cup of water, nuked in the microwave.  After I poured out the boil water, I covered the bag itself in a small amount of sanitizer while I prepped the rest of my gear.  I then put the hops in the bag, and stuffed the bag down inside the fermenter, and then racked the beer on top of it.  I'll give this one a day or two more before bottling.

Addendum, 23 Nov: Bottled tonight, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got nine good bottles out of it...I'm really looking forward to trying this one!

Addendum, 11 Dec: Taste test went very well tonight, very happy with this one.

When I first opened this one, I did a gentle pour, so the head wasn't very thick.  The color is a little darker than others I've done, a dark amber color with an off-white head.  A thick head didn't persist, although there were bubbles left over the whole time it took us to get through the glass.  The second beer I had later in the evening had a thicker head, because I wasn't so gentle with the pour.  In both cases, there was some mild lacing that persisted.

I put my face in the mouth of the glass and caught a definite and pronounced aroma of berries in the nose as the bubbles from the head were bursting.  It was a sweet fruit aroma, not citrus or spicy.

No pine or bitter citrus at all, not even in the after taste.  I did catch what I first thought was cinnamon on the palate, but when I had a second beer later in the evening (no other beers in between), it came across more as something floral mixed in with the malt (from the LME).  This hop is mild enough to allow the malt to be more pronounced.  This definitely one I'd do again as a single hop brew, and next time I'll definitely go for a lighter malt bill, both in color and flavor.

We decided on a name for this one - '38 Special.  The apostrophe is for where the '4' would's silent.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Azacca IPA #2 - YASF IPA

My first Azacca IPA (named "My So Fly IPA") turned out so well that I wanted to make it again, this time with a this case, using White Labs Clarity Firm.  A buddy of mine liked the Azzaca IPA so much that he wanted his wife to try it, and she needs gluten free products.

Interestingly, I received an order shipment from NorthernBrewer yesterday, and thumbing through the supply magazine, I came across an Azacca recipe.  The malt bill is different, as is the hop schedule; my hop schedule is a bit more aggressive than the one NB uses.

In this case, the "YASF" in the page title stands for "Yet Another So Fly".  My wife dubbed my first iteration "My So Fly IPA", and this one is simply a remake using the Clarity Firm.

All steps (partial mash, boil) followed the normal processes I've been using.

Brew Day: 27 Oct 2015

Partial Mash (usual method):
1 lb Belgian Munich malt
1 oz CaraPils

Boil (60 min)
1.25 lb Golden LME (@ 60 min)
3 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)

7 g Azacca (@ 60 min)
14 g Azacca (@ 10 min)
11 g Azacca (@ flameout)

Yeast: Safale US-05
*Added ~1/2 vial of Clarity Firm

Addendum, 28 Oct: About 13+ hrs after pitching the yeast, I checked on the fermenter.  There's a good deal of activity, and I'm very happy about that.  What's different is there isn't much krausen in the blow-off tube (there is a very small amount), and none in the blow-off bottle.

Addendum, 6 Nov: Dry hopped with 19 g Azacca hops.  Within seconds of putting the new cap and airlock on the fermenter, the airlock cap was floating.  I'll bottle next week, and then this should be ready for it's first side-by-side comparison tasting with the original Azacca IPA on 27 Nov.

Addendum, 12 Nov: Bottled the beer tonight, with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water as the priming sugar.

Addendum, 20 Nov: I was doing some research tonight, and I ran across this Beersmith article that discusses gluten reduced beers and Clarity Firm...

Addendum, 25 Nov: Tasted one tonight after chilling; it's almost exactly the same as the first batch!  Definitely a keeper recipe.  The next step is to do a side-by-side comparison between this one and the original batch, for which I still have a few bottles left.

Addendum, 10 Aug: I still had one of these in my fridge, believe it or not, and I decided that tonight was the night to finish it off.  Man, it was still good.  I had originally made this one as an effort to let a friend try the Azacca IPA, with the caveat being that she can't have gluten.  The beer poured with a small-ish head which dissipated quickly, and after the first couple of sips, there wasn't much apparent lacing.  The beer was absolutely crystal clear, as expected, and was a nice golden color.  Even without a prominent head, the carbonation was still good.  The beer had a medium body, was drinkable without being really heavy.  As far as the flavor, I'm getting a little bit of pine, and only a very small amount of bitterness.  The best I can describe is that it's like having something just a bit less bitter than a Bell's Two-Hearted.  I'll have to look at revisiting this beer in the future.

Friday, October 16, 2015


I've wanted to try another tripel (for my wife...she likes tripels) since my first attempt didn't turn out quite the way I would've hoped.  I had a chance to stop by BrewLoCo today to pick up a few things, and since they were out of Jasper's excellent hefeweizen yeast, I thought I'd give an abbey liquid yeast a try.

Brew Day: 16 Oct 2015

Partial Mash:
1lb Belgian Munich malt

Boil (60 min):
1lb Golden Light DME
3.5 oz Belgian candy sugar
2.0 oz corn sugar

7 g German Perle (@ 60 min)
7 g Czech Saaz (@ 10 min)

Used the usual process for the boil, and cooling the wort.  This one cooled to just below 80 deg F, call it 78 deg F, when I started transferring it to the fermenter.  I know that wort cools a little more while I'm transferring it to the fermenter. I filled the fermenter about halfway and then removed the transfer tube, covered the fermenter, and vigorously shook it to oxygenate the wort.  Once that was done, I added the remaining wort.  I'd let the yeast sit out through the entire boil process, allowing it reach room temperature, and agitating it along the way so that all of the yeast wasn't settled when I pitched it.

Yeast: JasperYeast JY-027 Scourmont Abbey yeast (pitched ~ 1/2 bottle)

This one is going to sit in primary for about 4 weeks before I bottle it.

Addendum, 17 Oct: The manufacturer describes this yeast as, "Slow starting strain but one that finishes slowly but steady. A good yeast that does need time."  As I'm writing this, it's been less than 24 hrs since I pitched the yeast, and there is no activity.  I'm going to be patient, but I'll likely declare it a failure if I don't see anything by Sunday evening.  I'm still a little gunshy since I had to rescue the IPA I tried using a yeast that, when pitched, was 6 months and 2 days old.

Addendum, 19 Oct: Checked on the fermenter this morning, and there's a great deal of fermentation activity.  This yeast was, indeed, "slow to start".  I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

Addendum, 10 Nov: Bottled today.  I know, it was a few days early, but things were pretty much in stasis, and as it turns out, I had a couple of beers to bottle (per my calendar) on one day, so I thought it would be a good idea to get this one bottled now.  Besides, this will give me a chance to have a taste test.

Addendum, 24 Nov: Taste test.  The beer poured with a nice golden color.  Carbonation was good, with a nice white head and some moderate lacing.  The nose and flavor was floral, with a bit of citrus in the finish.

Addendum, 23 Dec: Poured one for my wife tonight.  Full, pillowy head, the beer poured crystal clear with a nice golden color.  Got a bit of floral spice in the nose, and some alcohol warmth on the back.  Very nice tripel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ginger Saison

I wanted to try creating another beer with ginger, after my first one didn't turn out quite the way I wanted, likely due to too much ginger.  So this time, I'm going to try something a little lighter in color, a bit less ginger, and with a different yeast.

Brew Day: 14 Oct

Partial Mash (usual method):
1 lb Belgian Munich malt

Boil (45 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME
4 g Czech Saaz (@ 45 min)
< 0.5 oz thinly sliced ginger root, in a muslin bag (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Danstar Belle Saison

All parts of the process (partial mash, boil, transfer to fermenter, aeration, pitching yeast) occurred as per usual.  I racked the beer to a fermenter, and put it away; I'll check in on it later tonight or tomorrow morning and see how it's doing.

As a side note, the wort was a bit darker than I'd expected, a light brown.  While I was sparging the mash, I noticed that the wort at that point was a little browner that I had hoped.  I'll keep that in mind in the future when using the Belgian Munich malt.  I am hoping that over time, the particulates will settle out a bit and the beer will both lighten and clear.  Otherwise, I won't have a "wit"; I may have to change this to "ginger saison".

Addendum, 15 Oct: Checked on the fermenter this morning; some nice, moderate activity and a bit of krausen-y material in the blow-off tube and bottle.  Fermentation seems to be progressing nicely.

Addendum, 19 Oct: Changed the title of the post (and accordingly, the description of the beer) to "ginger saison".  This one isn't going to end up being a "wit", but I hope that the ginger addition was suitable, and that it ends up working well with the yeast.  Also, swapped out the blow-off tube for an airlock today; within seconds, the cap on the airlock was floating...definitely a good sign.

Addendum, 29 Oct: Bottled today, using 1 oz table sugar dissolved into 1/2 cup boiling water.  Used two 22 oz flip top bottles and 6 regular 12 oz bottles (capped by hand).

Addendum, 12 Nov: Tasting tonight...turned out REALLY well, another one of Terri's favorites.  Pours with a nice head, and the carbonation is good.  Solid body, tastes like a tripel...that's what Terri said, and I agree.  Just a hint of ginger, which is a nice backdrop to the Belgian-style flavors imparted by the yeast.  Some mild lacing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

LCpl's Tears (was "VM-IPA #2")

After my first attempt at a "VM-IPA", I decided that I wanted more of a red color to the beer; after all, VMI's nickname is "Big Red".  I wanted to get a red color, as well as really pushing up the hops.

Note: I changed the name of this one on 2 Nov.  See below.

I looked to a couple of other recipes to see what it would take to make a red, or more reddish ale.  I found a couple that might work, such as this one, and this one.  I also figure that if I get close to the color I want, I can also tweak it just a bit more with some steeping grains, getting color without much in the way of modifying the flavor.

Brew Day: 13 Oct

Partial Mash (following usual method):
5 oz 2-row
2 oz Caramel 60L
1 oz CaraPils
4 oz GoldPils Vienna Malt
4 oz CaraRed
2 g English black malt

The wort from the partial mash came out a bit more brown than I wanted, and I'm hoping that the end product will have more red in it than brown.

Boil (60 min)
1.25 lb Golden LME (@ 60 min)
4 oz corn sugar (@ 60 min)

12 hrs after racking 
7 g FFC7 (@ 60 min)
4 g Mosaic (12.8%) + 4 g Amarillo + 2 g Simcoe (@ 15 min, muslin bag)
4 g Mosaic (12.8%) + 4 g Amarillo + 4 g Simcoe (@ 5 min, muslin bag)

Yeast: Safale US-05

Addendum, 14 Oct: You can't tell from the picture to the right, but the beer is bubbling away nicely, at about 12 hrs after being racked to the fermenter.  It's not all krausen-y, but there is some very good activity.

Addendum, 15 Oct: Checked on the fermenter this morning; still has some nice, moderate activity (could hear the bubbling from the door...), and some krausen-y material has moved in to the blow-off tube and bottle.  Things seem to be progressing nicely at this point.

Addendum, 19 Oct: Switched out the blow-off tube for an airlock today; after 20 min, the airlock cap wasn't floating.  I opted to pitch the remaining JY-027 yeast left over from the tripel I brewed on Friday.  As it took a bit for activity to start, I'll see how this one goes.  The JY-027 is described as a slow-starting, slow-going yeast, so if there was any viable yeast remaining in the pitch, I may have to let this one sit in the fermenter for a bit longer.  Still, if things do go well, it will be, here's hoping!

Addendum, 20 Oct: Checked on the beer this morning, have proof of life!  The airlock cap is floating!  Incidentally, the tripel is still using a blow-off tube as the yeast is still pretty active.  Maybe that's something I can look forward to with this one.

Addendum, 2 Nov: I decided to rename this one, for a couple of reasons.  First, it doesn't have the red color I was hoping for, and second, I had to "rescue" the fermentation with the Belgian yeast I had left over from a tripel.  When I described what I'd done to the proprietor of Kettle and Grains, he remarked that it should be "interesting"...and I agreed.  So, between the brown color, the Belgian yeast, and the hops, I ended up with a "one-off" beer.  As to the name, one day I was joking around with one of my college roommates (he went Navy...) and had the idea to name a beer "LCpl's Tears".  We thought it was funny, and I later looked it up online and found this Terminal Lance cartoon.  The Belgian yeast has been doing it's thing for 2 weeks now, and I feel like I need to wait a bit least a week to 10 days...before dry hopping this one.

Addendum, 7 Nov: I was going to dry hop this beer on Monday, but it's going to be a pretty busy day for me, so I went ahead and dry hopped it today.

Dry hop 
4 g Mosaic + 4 g Cascade + 6 g Amarillo + 3 g Simcoe (muslin bag)

Addendum, 12 Nov: Bottled the beer tonight, with 1 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water as the priming sugar.

Addendum, 24 Nov: Taste test.  Pours a golden red-brown color, with good carbonation and a nice white head.  The head doesn't persist, and there is some mild lacing.  Mild fruit aroma in the nose, finishes with a bit of grapefruit, and just a bit of alcohol warmth.  Light bodied, not heavy at all, and easy to drink.  This one kind of tastes like it has grapefruit or grapefruit zest in it, finishing with a citrus bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit.

Addendum, 2 Jun 2016: Finished off the bomber of this tonight with friends, got three nice glasses out of it.  The beer poured with a very thick head, which settled down pretty quickly, and left some nice lacing on the glass.  The beer itself was brown in color, and crystal clear, a bit malt-forward with a nice bite from the hops.  Overall, a very good brew; one of the folks trying it had never had one of my beers, and immediately liked it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I mentioned to my wife that I was working on a recipe for a "Semper FiPA" (she knows I like IPAs) and she thought the name was kind of cool, and she said, "how about a VMI-PA?"  Being a 1989 VMI grad, I kind of liked that idea, but thought about building the recipe from scratch rather than brewing based on what I had available and going from there.

I wanted to do something that would be red in color and I found this recipe that looked really interesting, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I modified it for a 1 gal batch, and upped the hop additions a bit to get more of an IPA.

Brew Day: 2 Sept 2015

Partial Mash
11 oz Briess 2-row malt
4 oz CaraRed Malt
2 oz Crystal 60L
1 oz CaraPils
12 g Simpsons Black Malt

I followed my usual partial mash process; 2 qt water at 156 deg F in a cooler, add grains is grain bag for 1 hr.  Cycle at the end of the hour, cycle the wort through the grain bag several times manually, then remove the bag and place in 4 qt water at 170 deg F, in the brew kettle, steep for 10 min.  Resulting wort is about 1 qt; add to brew kettle, raise temperature to boiling.

While brewing, I enjoyed one my last remaining original grapefruit IPAs.

Boil - 45 min
1 lb Pilsen DME (@ 45 min)
3 oz light Belgian candy sugar (@ 45 min)

7 g Warrior (@ 45 min, bittering)
7 g Amarillo (@ 10 min - muslin bag)
7 g Amarillo (@ 5 min - muslin bag)
15 g Amarillo (@ 0 min, flameout - muslin bag)

Note: A similar hopping schedule worked out well for the Azacca or "So Fly" IPA,

Yeast: Safale US-50

As I put the fermenter away for the evening, I noted that the color of the soon-to-be beer was more brown than red.

12 hrs after brewing
The following morning, about 12 hrs after putting the fermenter away, I checked in on the beer, and it's bubbling away nicely.  Not a massive amount of krausen, but some good activity.

Addendum, 7 Sept:  Fermentation had settled out a bit, so I removed the blow-off tube yesterday morning and put an airlock on the fermenter.  I ran across a picture on Facebook this morning of a brew from Mr Rufus Brewing (you can see a picture of the brew here) with a brilliant red color, and asked about the grain bill.  What they so graciously shared was that it was 82% 2-row, 10% Munich, and 8% Crystal 150L.  Assuming that the pilsen DME equates to 20 oz of grain, the approx. percentages for this brew come in at 54% Pilsen, 30% 2-row, 10% CaraRed, 5% crystal 60L and 1+% black malt.  After we see how this one turns out, I will likely try a variation of the Rufus recipe, again going primarily for the color.  If I remove the CaraRed and the Crystal 60L, and just go with 1 oz of the Simpson's black malt, that may get me closer to the red color (I can use the other malts in later brew).

Addendum, 12 Sept: Racked to secondary, dry hopped with 15 g of Amarillo hops.  The beer had a very nice citrus orange scent throughout the process.

Addendum, 19 Sept: Bottled today.  Transferred to a clean fermenter with 1.2 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got 9 good bottles out of this one.  It's still darker than I'd like, but I'll be very interested in the flavor; if the hops turn out nicely, the next time I try the recipe I'll do away with the CaraRed and go with just 10g or so of the black malt, to try to get the red color.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Tasting - Beer pours with a slightly reddish-brown color, with a mild head, but good carbonation.  Aroma of sweet citrus in the nose, with a mild grapefruit flavor and a slight malt finish, albeit not a malty aftertaste.  A bit mild for an IPA; in addition to modifying the malt bill to get more of red color, I will likely also modify the hops (type and amount, but not the hop schedule) to get a bigger, bolder IPA, fitting of the name "Big Red".  For example, I might add some Simcoe.

For my next attempt, I'll drop the Crystal 60L (and maybe the CaraRed, as well), and go with about 10g of Simpson's black malt.  This should get me more of the color I'm looking for, without adding any flavor.  I've got some Belgian Munich malt, and I'll use that and the black malt for the partial mash, filling in the remaining malt bill with Pilsen or golden light DME.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Semper F-IPA

I've seen a couple of times where various brewers have created a brew that they've dubbed "Semper FI-PA", in honor of, or as a "tip of the cover" to the Corps.  Having been an active duty Marine myself, I felt compelled to come up with my own recipe. For me, based on my preferences, I think I'd go for a light golden color, and really hoppy...maybe even push for that lupulin shift...starting off by bittering with, what else, Warrior hops.  I'm then going to use Jarrylo, Mosaic, and Azacca hops for aromatic hop additions, as well as dry hopping.

Brew Day: 18 Aug 2015

Partial Mash - total weight: 17 oz grain
8 oz Briess GoldPils Vienna Malt (~ 3.5L)
8 oz Franco-Belge Pale Malt (3L)
1 oz CaraPils

I followed my usual process for partial mashing...2 qt water, initial water temp of 156 deg F, 1 hr in the cooler. Toward the end of the hour (@ ~ 45 min), bring 4 qt of water to 170 deg F in the kettle.  After manually cycling the wort through the cooler several times, remove the grain bag and steep in the kettle for 10 min.  Once the steep is complete, bring the water to a boil.

Boil - 45 min
1lb Briess Golden Light DME (@ 45 min)
3.5 oz corn sugar (@ 45 min) - I added this because it was just...well...there
7 g Warrior (AA: 14 - 16%) (@ 45 min)

Hop Addition 2 (@ 15 min) - use muslin bag
  4 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%)
  4 g Mosaic (AA: 12.8%)

Hop Addition 3 (@ 5 min) - use muslin bag
  4 g Azacca (AA;10.3%)
  4 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%)
  4 g Mosaic (AA: 12.8%)

Yeast: Jasper Yeast JY127 Magic IPA Yeast  Safale US-05

I used my usual procedure for cooling the wort, transferring it to the fermenter, and then pitching the yeast.  The yeast came in a 1 gallon pitch, so it was really straight-forward.

Addendum, 19 Aug: I got up this morning and went to check on the fermentation...and saw nothing.  No activity at all.  Since everything was enclosed last night, I brought it all up to the kitchen, and took out a packet of US-05, sanitized it and let it sit to come up to room temperature.  I then aerated the wort again, and pitched the yeast (a bit more than half of the packet).  We'll see how that goes.

I'd purchased the yeast yesterday, about mid-day.  The label said that it had been bottled 15 Mar 2015.  I shook it up a bit, and it wasn't refrigerated on the ride home.  I'd taken it out of the fridge when I started the boil, so that it would be good and comfortable by the time it came to pitch it.

Addendum, 20 Aug: Checked the fermenter again this morning (just a quick peek), and things are going very well, with a nice steady stream of bubbles flowing through the blow-off tube.

Addendum, 3 Sep: Dry hopped - Beer was a nice golden color, just what I was looking for, with respect to this batch.
Hop Addition 4 (dry hop)
  4 g Azacca (AA;10.3%)
  4 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%)
  4 g Mosaic (AA: 12.8%)

Addendum,12 Sept: Bottled today.  This was the first beer that I've made that has been this clear.  In the fermenter, it was a nice golden color with a hint of red, which works out really well.  I started by dissolving 1.2 oz of table sugar in 1/2 cup of boiling water, and using that as my priming sugar.  I put that in a clean fermenter, and then racked the beer on top of it.  After letting it sit for about 20 min, I bottled the beer, and got 9 nice bottles.  There was a small amount left over which I put into a small glass...I took a sip of it while I was cleaning up.  I'm really looking forward to trying this one.

Addendum, 5 Oct: Tasting - Beer pours with a nice golden color and a persistent, pillowy head.  Carbonation is not a problem with this beer.  A pronounced berry (maybe tropical fruit) aroma in the nose, as well as in the initial taste, finishing with a citrus-grapefruit flavor and no discernible aftertaste.  Very good lacing in the glass.  This is not a huge, overpowering IPA, but this recipe is definitely a keeper, as is, and is my Semper Fi-PA.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Recently, I've turned to using a priming sugar solution rather than using fizz drops when I bottle beers.  This is the process I followed with my first home brew, which was a 5 gal batch of wheat beer.  It made sense to use a priming sugar solution and being my first batch, I was reading and re-reading the instructions, making sure that I was following the instructions as exactly as I possibly could.  I still have some of fizz drops left, and I'm going to use a few of them when I bottle the hard cider I made for my daughter, so that some of them come out "sparkling".

I've been doing a lot of bottle re-use.  There are a LOT of breweries that bottle in basically what amounts to the same bottle type that I use..and I say that because I have tried to re-use bottles from some breweries, and they've been taller and more narrow that the bottles I use.  For me, what makes the difference when it comes to bottle re-use is how easily the labels come off.  When I first started doing this, I found that the labels on bottles from European breweries came off very easily.  Over time, I've found that some of the best bottles come from Fordham & Dominion Brewery.  Not only are the beers really good (Candi, Hop Lips, etc.) but the labels and the glue come off really easily, with little more than a good soak in warm, soapy water.

Also, I have a friend who drinks German beers and tends to give me his 22 oz flip top bottles when he's done.  After a good cleaning, they're ready to be pressed into service.  And I tell you, they've done great!

Something else that I tried not long ago was using a soda bottle for bottling.  I'd thought about bottling plastic bottles for a bit, and did some research online, and as you would expect, there were advocates on both sides of the fence.  So, I opted to give it a shot myself and see what happened.  So, I got a Diet Sprite at a local store, and after finishing it off, carefully removed the label and cleaned it out.  Then during a bottling session, I sanitized and filled it.  To be honest, it worked great.  Using a soda bottle ensured that it was designed to take carbonated beverages...there were a number of folks in one forum, for example, who were against using Gatorade bottles because they didn't hold a carbonated beverage.

So, a couple of advantages I've found.  Yes, I know that a semi-clear green bottle doesn't have the light-blocking effect that a brown bottle has, but I keep my bottles in a fairly dark area during bottle conditioning.   My wife and I have a couple of camping trips that we do with our horses each year, and taking some home brew along in a soda bottle is a little safer than using glass.  After consuming the beer, I can stick the plastic bottle in a trash bag and not worry about the bottle breaking against other bottles in transit (which means, taking them home and putting them into recycling).

Finally, those little "feet" that the bottle stands on make a great place for sediment to settle.

Now, I'm not advocating that everyone change to soda bottles; rather, I'm just sharing my experiences...that's it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Jarrylo IPA

I had some left-over malts in a bag that totaled about 40 oz, but I split it up into three separate bags, one 14 oz and two 13 oz.  Using that as a base, and upping the base malts a bit, will give me the basis for an IPA "blend", if you will.  This way, with the slight exception of some additional base malts (and yeast), I can have similar flavor and color for different IPAs.  I wanted to use some of the Jarrylo hops I'd received as promotion for the AHA membership in, and this seemed like a really good time to try it out.  Given that the alpha acids in this one are pretty high (the BSG packaging listed it as 14.2%, NorthernBrewer lists it at 16.3% for what they have available), I thought it would be a good idea to use the hops for both bittering and aromatic additions.

Brew Day: 13 Aug 2005

Partial Mash - total weight: 19 oz
3 oz FB CaraMunich 80L
3 oz Pale Malt 3L
3 oz Briess GoldPils Vienna Malt
3 oz Briess CaraPils
2 oz Weyerman Rye Malt
5 oz German Pale Ale Malt

Heat 2 qt water to 156 deg F, add to cooler, add grain bag.  After an hour, begin heating 4 qt water in brew kettle to 170 deg F.  Cycle wort through cooler manually several times, then remove grain bag and steep in kettle for 10 min.  After 10 min, remove the bag and let drain, add the wort and raise the temperature of the kettle.

A note about cycling the wort through the cooler...using a 1 qt container, most of the wort comes out of the cooler if you fill the container, due to the amount of water/wort retained in the grain.  Draining the cooler causes the wort to drain through the grain bag, and then adding the wort back to the cooler runs it through the grain bag again.

Boil - 60 min
1 lb Briess Golden Light DME (@ 60 min)
2 oz Belgian candy sugar (@ 60 min)
7 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%) (@ 60 min)
7 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%) (@ 30 min)
12 g Jarrylo (AA: 14.2%) (@ 10 min)

Yeast: Safbrew T-58

Once the kettle just starts to boil, add the DME, candy sugar and hops.  Continue with boil and hop additions.  Once the boil is complete, reduce the temperature of the kettle to approx. 80 deg F, via an ice bath.  Fill a sanitized fermenter half-way with wort, aerate vigorously.  Add wort to fill 1 gallon, pitch yeast (approx. half packet).

Speaking of boiling, Obsessed Brewing provides a good indicator of various levels of boiling wort.

Fermenter, 14 Aug
About 11 hrs after putting the fermenter in my fermentation location (downstairs bathtub), I checked in on it to find that the blow-off bottle was overrun with krausen.  Needless to say, the yeast appears to be doing just fine, and is very active.  I'll probably change out the blow-off bottle in a day or so, and then replace the blow-off tube with an airlock at about day 5 or 6.  In about 10 days, I'll transfer the beer to secondary and dry hop it, for at least 10 days.

That's my YAH hefeweizen in the background.  You obviously can't tell from the picture, but it's still bubbling away, albeit at a slower rate.  Looking closely at the fermenter, I can still see small bubbles rising in the fermenter.

Addendum, 24 Aug: Dry hopped today with 14 g of Jarrylo hops pellets.

Addendum, 3 Sep: Bottled, primed with 1.2 oz table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  After prep'ing everything, I poured the priming sugar in the sanitized fermenter and then let this sit for about 15-20 min while I finished getting ready to bottle (i.e., put music on, etc.).  I got 8 bottles out of this batch, and had just a little bit left over, which I poured into a glass before cleaning the fermenter.  The color was a nice golden amber, and the beer had a warmth of alcohol on the palate.

Addendum, 17 Sep: Tasted one tonight, right at 2 weeks.  Dark golden amber pour, with a nice thick light golden head.  The head was bubbly and did not persist, dissipating slowly.  As soon as I had poured it, I got my nose in close to where the bubbles were dissipating, to try and discern anything in particular; I'll have to try again, as nothing specific jumped out in the aroma.  Nice flavor, clean, with a slight hint of malt, some sweetness, no real bitterness, and no after-taste.  Terri said that she liked the body of this beer, and I can definitely envision drinking it on a fall afternoon, but I don't see this one as a summer beer.

This is the second time I've tried using Jarrylo hops with what might be referred to as an "aggressive" hops schedule, and its come out more like a pale ale.  Terri really liked this one; her thoughts were good body, good flavor and no after-taste.  This is one of those beers that will really push my senses, in that I'll really need to focus on what it is I'm getting from the beer; this will really force me to discern and describe what it is I'm getting.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's Available

Currently Available
Grapefruit IPA #1 - 2 x 22oz bottles, 2 x 12oz bottles
Grapefruit IPA #2 - 3 x 12oz bottles
"JM Hall" Pale Ale - 2 x 22oz bottles, 4 x 12oz bottles
Rye Pale Ale #1 - 3 x 12oz bottles
Rye Ale #2 - 3 x 12oz bottles

For a tasting I've organized for a couple of friends, I'm going to offer up GfIPA1 and GfIPA2 (for comparison), rye ale #1, and likely the JM Hall Pale Ale.   I've tried to keep the tasting notes on each page, because down the road I might want to make use of one of those services to turn the blog into a book.

The rye ale #2 is one that my wife really likes, so I'm very likely going to do another one of those in the near future, with some adjustments, such as less wheat in the malt bill, some carapils (for head retention), do a bittering with some hops that are higher in alpha acids, and push the Tettnang (3.5-5.5% AA) to much later in the boil.

Angel's Share #2 - 10 x 12oz bottles (bottled 31 Jul; used priming sugar in a fermenter, rather than fizz drops) - I'm really looking forward to trying this one, as it's my first all-grain brew.
Hefeweizen - 10 x 12oz bottles (bottled 11 Aug)
Azacca IPA - 10 x 12oz bottles (bottled 11 Aug)

Cider - rack to secondary ~ 17 Aug, let rest for 10 days.  Will bottle ~ 27 Aug, should be ready for a first sample around 11 Sept, in time for my daughter's birthday

YAH (Yet Another Hefe)

I opted to brew another hefe in order to make use of the other half of the Jasper Yeast that I purchased.  I haven't yet tried my previous hefeweizen using this yeast (bottled 11 Aug), but I had the time, fermenter, as well as interest in brewing another hefe to have it available.

Starting to boil
Brew Day: 12 Aug 2015

Partial Mash
11.7 oz Rahr Red Wheat Malt (what I had left)
3 oz German Pale Malt
1 oz CaraPils

Boil - 60 min
1 lb Briess Pilsen DME (@ 60 min)
7 g German Perle (AA: ~ 7%) (@ 60 min)

Yeast: JY074 German Hefeweizen yeast

Used the usual method for cooling wort and pitching yeast.  After cooling the wort to 80 deg F, I transferred wort to the fermenter.  When the fermenter was about half full, I aerated the wort by shaking vigorously.  After adding the rest of the wort, I pitched the remaining yeast (about half of the 5 gal pitch...I'd used the other half on my previous hefe).

I checked in on the beer about 12 hrs later.  The blow-off bottle wasn't as clear as the previous attempt (29 July), but that may have to do with the recipe, the head space in the fermenter (there's less this time than previously), etc.  All in all, things are looking good so far.

Addendum, 16 Aug: I check in on my fermenters pretty regularly, given that they're in the downstairs bathtub.  I will pull back the shower curtain and take a peek when I'm downstairs for some reason, such as cleaning the litter boxes or working out (our gym is in the room next to the bathroom).  I checked in the fermenters this morning and the airlock cap for the YAH hefeweizen was resting on the top of the airlock spout.  This was odd to me, and I'd only seen this once before, when I'd tightened the fermenter cap too tight and cracked the cap, causing me to loose the brew I'd done with Medusa hops.  The other two fermenters (cider, Jarrylo IPA) were doing just fine.  I'd checked on them all yesterday and the caps were all floating above the issues at all.  So, I quickly sanitized another fermenter, cap and airlock assembly, transferred the beer (still smelled like beer...) to the clean fermenter, and added just a little bit of WB-06 to it.  After putting the fermenter back in the tub and cleaning up, I checked in on it and the cap was again floating above the spout; however, it was too soon for the yeast to take effect, so it could've simply been the result of gas pressure from the Star-San (don't fear the foam!).  I'll check in on it again later...I'm hoping that the beer turns out okay.

Addendum, 26 Aug: Bottled today.  I've had some pretty good success with bottling using 1 oz (or just a tad more) of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I've been much happier with the results of using this method, even at just 2 wks of bottle conditioning, than with the use of the priming tablets (i.e., fizz drops).  This batch had a slightly different malt bill and a bit more hops than the previous hefeweizen, so I'm kind of looking forward to this one, and doing a comparison.

Addendum, 9 Sept: Taste test tonight...and the first bottle I opened didn't pop or fizz.  Fortunately, the second bottle did, and the pour resulted in a hazy, straw-colored beer with a full, white, pillowy head.  Definite aroma of banana in the nose.  The head diminished but didn't completely go away, and there was some minimal, non-persistent lacing in the glass.  The body was good, and the flavor was a bit spicy, most likely as a result of the hops.  Terri said that she liked this one, but wasn't as enthusiastic about it as the previous hefe.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hard Cider

My daughter likes hard's kind of her "go to" drink when we're out, and sometimes she picks some up for herself when she comes over.  So, I thought I'd try my hand at making some hard cider, and as it turns out, it's not too different from making beer.  I did some searching and reading, and came away with a couple of hard take-aways:
  1. Do NOT boil the juice/cider, as it causes the pectins to set and you'll end up with a hazy final product.  You can bring it to 185 deg F for 45 min, as a means of killing off wild yeast and bacteria.
  2. After primary fermentation is complete, transfer to secondary and keep the fermenter in a cool place, in order to allow the cider to clear.
Okay, keeping that in mind, it should be easy enough.  Now, a lot of what I read regarding making hard cider mentioned getting freshly-pressed cider while it was in season, but I did read (and see some YouTube videos) that you could use commercially available apple juice, as well, as long as it didn't include preservatives.  Fortunately, my local Harris Teeter has a line of fresh-pressed juice and cider; I'm not going to bother with the "from concentrate" stuff.

As a bit of a side note, I found out recently that there's a cidery near us.

A couple of yeasts were mentioned in my reading. White Labs and Wyeast have cider yeasts, but I've also read in several locations where Lalvin EC-1118 is recommended (in one case, by a professional cider maker), and good things have been said about Danstar Belle Saison yeast.  I just happen to have some Belle Saison, so I thought I'd give that a try.

Brew Day:  7 Aug 2015

4 qts cider - Harris Teeter brand organic "fresh pressed" cider
3 oz corn sugar

Start by collecting the cider (or use juice).  Pour a cup or so of the cider into a sauce pan and warm NOT bring it to a boil.  Stir in corn sugar until it's dissolved.  Add this to a sanitized fermenter and allow it to cool down a bit.  Add the remaining cider, being careful not to splash it...unlike the wort for beer, we do not want to aerate the cider (a.k.a., must).  Pitch the yeast, add a cap and blow-off tube to the fermenter.

Primary fermentation: 10 - 14 days
Secondary fermentation:  7 days
Bottle conditioning: 14 days

Note: for sparkling cider, bottle as one would a beer; dissolve 1 oz of table sugar in 1/2 cup of boiling water, cool, add to clean, sanitized fermenter.  Rack the cider to the fermenter, allowing it to sit for a bit (do NOT agitate or aerate).  Bottle normally.

Addendum, 9 Aug: Checked on the fermenter this morning; still activity and regular bubbles flowing through the blow-off tube, although not as frequent as yesterday morning.  I did note the lack of a krausen-like build-up around the neck of the fermenter, like what I usually see with fermenting beer.  The must is still a hazy, straw-yellow color...I'm not sure that it will completely clear up, due to the fact that what I started with was hazy; the only clear juice I found was from concentrate, and the "freshly pressed" products were hazy.  I'm not too concerned about that at the moment because I'm looking more to the technique and flavor than anything else.  I may be able to get some fresh juice or cider when the fall season comes around, but for the time being (and for doing this year-round), the hazy stuff may end up working just fine.  I'll give it a couple of more days before putting an airlock on the fermenter.

Addendum, 17 Aug: Transferred to secondary this evening.  Smelled of apples, which is a good thing.  I'm not too sure that this is going to clear up, because I started with a cloudy product, but I got it into a clean fermenter, and within seconds, the cap was floating above the airlock.  In about a week I'll bottle it, where it will have 2 weeks before my daughter's birthday.

Addendum, 24 Aug: Bottled today.  I bottled 3 bottles with a fizz drop each, to get sparkling cider, but did nothing to the remaining bottles.  These will just sit for a good three weeks, or more.

Addendum, 16 Oct: First tasting.  I have nothing to judge the cider against, because cider isn't really my thing.   My daughter's reaction was that she liked it (but that may have been more about me putting in the effort to make it than her actually liking it...), but that it was a little light with respect to body.  I tried it...very dry, a little bit of apple flavor.

I did do some research into how to get more body out of the cider, and there were discussion threads that talked about the addition of acid and/or tannins, and even a few comments about how carbonation can give the appearance of body.  When I bottled the cider, I purposely did not add priming sugar to it; instead, I put fizz drops in three of the bottles, and labeled them "sparkling", and left the others as they were.  My daughter tried one of the regular ciders last night, and it had moderate carbonation.  Maybe one of the sparkling ciders will be "better", as far as body goes.

One comment that I ran across in one thread stated that the reason the OP wasn't getting the body or the flavor they wanted was because of the apples they were using.  I'm no expert, and I haven't been home brewing for long, but I "get" that.  So, my next attempt is going to be done while using a local cider, rather than a store-bought one.  However, I think that if I was planning to have some cider available in the off-season for apples and cider in general, I could use the store bought cider, add some sugar and some brown sugar, and have something that would be pretty good.

Monday, August 3, 2015


I just finished up watching "Brewing with Wil Wheaton" on Brewing TV, pt II (here's pt I).  I was actually on YouTube looking at some non-brewing related videos, and saw that that part II was available.

We were at The V Eatery in Ashburn a while back and picked up a copy of Mid-Altantic Brew News.  Reading through the paper this morning, I found out about Love2Brew, an online home brew supply store.  Checking out their site, they have a bunch of interesting recipes, as well as a small supply of one-gallon kits.  One of the things I really like about sites like this...other than the availability of the that they also share the ingredients and recipes.  For example, I've got a rye ale fermenting right now, and I'm kind of excited about it because this is the first time I've used the Safbrew T-58 yeast.  Well, the Belgian Golden Strong Ale partial mash recipe uses the same yeast.  Browsing the recipes lets me see what others are using to achieve various results, such as "Belgian" or some other characteristic of the beer.

Another example of this is the recipe in the brew news paper (pg 12) for a Hefeweizen IPA.  It's clearly a 5 gal recipe, and uses a combination of grain, DME, and LME.  For the yeast, the recipe says "Safale S-06", but I think what they mean is "Safbrew WB-06".  I've seen Belgian IPAs on the shelves, and I like this collision or cross-over in styles, and I'm thinking that using a similar recipe and swapping out the yeast will let me go from a Hefeweizen to a Belgian-inspired style.

Speaking of Belgian, here's a Belgian Tripel recipe that uses Safbrew T-58...I may have to try this one to redeem myself for the Tripel that I lost.  I used the T-58 in my rye pale ale #2, and it turned out pretty well, I think.

Learning/Educational Resources
When I was going into college, I chose to get my BSEE, which was something I picked without any foresight or direction, other than I wanted to know how things worked.  Later, during my time in the military, I had an opportunity to get my MSEE, as well.  As of now, I've been out of the military for 18 yrs (at the time I'm writing this, 18 yrs and 2 days), and in that time, I've enjoyed a career that, well, used neither of those degrees.  I will say that coming out of the military, the MSEE opened some doors that might not otherwise have been opened for me (I was told as much several times, so...).  In fact, when I started in this career, there were no college courses you could take in DFIR; in fact, a great deal of what I did during incident response was cobbled together out of my military experience.  Over time, as I've written books in my technical niche, those books have been used in some of the training and education courses that are now available in the field.

Anyway, I was wondering if there were any courses available on how to be a (more) professional brewer, and I found a couple:

Top Online Beer Making & Craft Brewing Courses
Options in Education

Homebrew Believer
The Homebrew Believer blog appears to be pretty much defunct (hasn't been updated in almost 2 yrs), but if you're in search of interesting recipes, check it out.  He's got a dubbel recipe, as well as a witbier IPA recipe. Not all of the recipes are all-grain, either...there's a "Georgia Peach" wheat ale extract recipe, as well.  Finally, there are some other recipes, as well as how-tos at the blog.

For recipe conversion to small batches, the wheat ale calls for 7 lb of wheat LME, with 1/2 used at the beginning of the boil and the rest added at "knockout".  For a 1 gal batch, that would equate to 1.2 lb total extract, with .6 lb at the beginning and the rest added at the end of the boil.

What I Like About HomeBrewing
What I like about home brewing is not just the process, but also the freedom and the creativity.  We go to stores to find our favorite bottles of beer, and find that much of what we like is seasonal.  But what if you want a wheat beer or hefeweizen in the middle of winter?  Or a hearty IPA in the heat of the summer?

I got up one morning and found an email from NorthernBrewer with a recipe for a Belgian wit that's pretty easy to make, and also found another recipe for a 20-minute boil pale ale.  Lots of freedom...these can be made and enjoyed at any time.