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.