Saturday, January 30, 2016

Belgian Golden Ale #2

My first Belgian Golden Ale turned out REALLY well...I opened one recently for my wife and almost didn't give it to her, I wanted to just keep smelling the aroma coming off of the head of that glass!  Once she had it, she wasn't about to let me have another one!

This time around I wanted to try something a bit different, by doing a first wort hop of LemonDrop (AA: 4.4%) hops.  I also wanted to use up the rest of the Clarity Firm I had available.

Brew Day: 30 Jan 2016
~ 15 hrs after pitching yeast

Partial Mash:
9 oz Belgian Munich Malt
3 oz GoldPils
1.5 oz flaked wheat

I followed my usual partial mash procedure.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Munton's Extra Light DME
4 oz corn sugar
7 g LemonDrop hops (FWH)
Clarity Firm

Yeast: T-58

I followed my usual process for pitching the yeast (and Clarity Firm).

Addendum, 31 Jan: I added the picture (above) of the fermenter about 15 hrs after pitching the yeast.  Lots of activity, and a rhythmic "thumping" of the bubbles in the blow-off bottle.  The yeast has plenty to eat and keep it happy with this one.

Addendum, 2 Feb: Things are moving along nicely, replaced the blow-off tube with an airlock today.

Addendum, 13 Feb: Bottled with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved into 1/2 cup of boiling water.  Got nine good bottles out of it.  Really looking forward to trying this one in a couple of weeks.  I'll need to remember to hold on to one of the first Belgian Golden Ales to do a side-by-side comparison, and see the difference between the hops, and the hopping method.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

LemonDrop Hops

I've been working on a collaboration brew with Mr Rufus Brewing, and as part of that, I'm starting off a test brew using LemonDrop hops, which I was able to get from NikoBrew.  As part of this brew, and because my partner recommended it, I wanted to try something new...first wort hopping (FWH; articles are listed below).  The consensus seems to be that this works best for low alpha acid hops, and that one should use 1/3 of your total hops for the boil in the FWH.

It will be interesting to compare the final product to the Stone Brewing Delicious IPA, which apparently uses Nugget (bittering), Calypso, LemonDrop, and El Dorado hops.  I tried one recently, and it's very good.  Also, the beer itself is crystal clear, and the box says that it's crafted to be gluten reduced; sounds to me as if they added some Clarity Firm or something similar to their process.

Oh, that reminds me, my Calypso IPA will be ready in another week!

The malt bill I'm using for the brew is:
65% Pils  (20.8 oz)
30% Vienna   (9.6 oz)
5% flaked wheat  (1.6 oz)

Since I'm doing a partial mash, 20 oz of Pils is covered by the 1lb of Pilsen DME I'll be using.  That leaves 9.6 oz of Vienna malt (or 10 oz to round it out and cover the remaining 0.8 oz of Pils), and about 1.5 oz of flaked wheat.  I have been using CaraPils for head retention, so it'll be interesting to see how the flaked wheat turns out.  Who knows, I may like it and change things up.

I'm sure you noticed the addition of flaked wheat to the malt bill; that was something new to me, as well.  What Mr Rufus shared with me is that this will add to foam stability, due to the protein added by the wheat.

Brew Day: 23 Jan 2016

Partial Mash:
10 oz Vienna malt
1.5 oz flaked wheat

I used my usual partial mash process; bring 2 qt of water to 156 deg F, pour it into a 1 gal cooler, and add the grains in a muslin bag.  Let sit for about an hour.  Prior to the end of the hour, bring 4 qt of water to 170 deg F in the brew kettle; at one hour, drain the grain bag and move it from the cooler to the kettle, and let it steep for 10 min.  Then drain and remove the grain bag (I know some chickens and horses who'll enjoy that), and add the wort.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Pilsen DME

5 g LemonDrop Hops (FWH)
7 g LemonDrop Hops (15 min)
7 g LemonDrop Hops (0 min, 10 min steep)
2 dry hops, each with 7 g of hops, each for 3 days

Yeast: DanStar Belle Saison

At the end of the boil and steep, I placed the kettle in an ice bath in the sink until it got to 80 deg F.  I then transferred it to the fermenter, aerating and pitching the yeast in my usual manner.

< 12 hrs after pitching yeast
Addendum, 24 Jan: About 12 hrs after pitching the yeast, the beer is furiously bubbling away!  This is a vastly different color of beer than what I've normally brewed, and it's going to be very interesting to try this one when it's done.

Addendum, 2 Feb: Dry hop #1 was on 30 Jan, dry hop #2 was today.  I'll bottle on Thu afternoon.

Addendum, 4 Feb: Bottled today, with 1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water.  I got 8 full bottles and one partial.  The beer smelled wonderful while I was bottling; I can not wait to try it!

There was something else I wanted to add to this post, that has to do with the airlock.  I know that you can't watch the airlock and use it as a determination of fermentation action, but I wanted to make a note of an observation in case it has an impact on the final product.  I did the first dry hop while the beer was still actively fermenting...this is a choice I made based on some reading I'd done regarding IPAs; one of the tips was to add the first dry hop during active fermentation.  I did so, and as expected, the airlock cap was floating a good bit, but I attributed that to the sanitizer foam dissipating, as about a day later, the cap was resting flat on the airlock post.

Now, when I sanitize the muslin bag for dry hopping, I cover the bag in water and boil it in the microwave.  Sometimes I'll do this more than once, to ensure that any residual stuff if boiled out.  Then, after draining the water off after the last boil, I'll cover the bag in a small amount of sanitizer solution until I'm ready to use it.  As such, I'm pretty sure that the bag is sanitized.

Anyway, after adding the second dry hop, in a clean fermenter, I noticed that the airlock cap was floating; actually, it was riding pretty high.  Again, I've done enough reading to know that this is not an indicator of fermentation, but I wanted to note this observation here because (a) it's different, and (b) I wanted to be able to refer back to my notes if something about this beer came out different.  Like I said above, the beer smelled fantastic while bottling, so I don't anticipate any problems.

Addendum, 16 Feb: Wow.  That's all I've got to  Or, rather...WOW!

Last night, I'd gone into the tub where I keep my bottled beers (in case of an explosion) and pulled out the partial fill of this beer and put it in the fridge.  I wanted to try one, but was prepared for it to not be "ready".

As you can see from the recipe above, this beer was a little lighter body than some of the beers I've been brewing.  The pour as a nice lemon yellow color with a mild head.  The picture to the left was taken after the beer had been in glass for a few minutes.  There was some mild, non-persistent lacing.  The initial aroma was floral, as was the initial taste on the palate.  However, a lemony-citrus flavor immediately pushed through.  It wasn't bitter like grapefruit, nor was it sweet, like oranges; it gives the impression of drinking a tart lemonade.  What was really fascinating about this was that the lemon tartness persisted on the palate, but not as a dank aftertaste.  There were a couple of times where, minutes after taking a sip, I was smacking my lips because I could still taste the tartness.

My wife really enjoyed this one...a lot.  I'm definitely keeping this recipe as it is, not only to make future batches, but to also make the raspberry lemonade saison.  I'm guessing that the eventual addition of raspberries is going to add a bit of tartness and a mild sweetness to this beer, but it will be fun to taste, nonetheless.

Addendum, 15 Mar: Last week, I had planned to be near Jay's Brewing, and in  a previous conversation with Jill, I'd told her that if the lemondrop saison turned out really well, I'd bring one by; if it didn't turn out too well, I'd bring them all by!  Anyway, I dropped off one of the beers for her to try, and this morning, this is the response I got:

OMG, Harlan. I loved that Lemon drop hops! I was pleasantly surprised by the actual lemon flavor I got from it! Needless to say, the beer was phenomenal! Thanks again:) -Jill

Well, there you go.  Thanks, Jill, for the wonderful feedback!

Addendum, 6 Jul: I had a couple of these left over, and decided to our one after putting in a couple of hours of yard work.  Wow!  The beer poured nice and clear, with a dense, pillowy head that thinned quickly.  The beer had a wonderful flavor to it; the IPA bitterness had dissipated and the flavors from the saison yeast really came through.  Very, very good!

Some articles on first wort hopping
Beer and Brewing

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Name Change

Today I changed the name of this blog to "Mad Dawg Brewing"...the URL remains the same for the time being...all I changed was the title.

Part of the reason for the name change was that I've been engaging with other home brewers, and recently decided to do a collaboration brew with Mr Rufus Brewing Co, and saying it was a collaboration between "Mr Rufus and some guy in his kitchen" is just weird and unwieldy.  No, I'm not a big commercial brewing company, nor am I a commercial entity of any kind.

The name "Mad Dawg" is a nod to my experience in VMI, I was in "Mad Dawg Delta Co." throughout my well as to my time on active duty in the Marine Corps.  This will also allow me to showcase some of my brews on Untappd.

For the time being, I'm going to stick to small batches.  That may change one day, but for now, it's good.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fruit-forward IPAs

Experimenting with hops, I've found that I like fruit-forward IPAs; in this instance, what I'm referring to is fruit aromas and taste that derives solely from hops, not the addition of fruit to the beer.  An IPA doesn't need to be overpoweringly bitter, with in-your-face pine resin or grapefruit-citrus.  Sure, some like an IPA that way, and I've enjoyed a few myself that are that way...they usually come with names like "hop-pocalypse" or "molotov hop-tail".  

I ran across this recipe for a juicy-fruit IPA, and I recently had an opportunity to try the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tropical IPA, based on Citra, Mosaic, and El Dorado hops.

I've done a couple of fruit-forward IPAs myself...the still unnamed IPA (I'm referring to it as "hop bomb" at the moment), a Melon + Galaxy IPA (huge thanks to Mr Rufus Brewing for the recipe idea...), the Mandarina IPA, and most recently, a Calyspo IPA.  Each of these has come out really well (still waiting to do dry hop #2 for the Calypso IPA, so it will be a bit longer), and I've enjoyed them without the addition of fruit (juice, rind/zest to the beer).  These beers have been sort of my version of DuClaw's Hop Continuum series, with beers often being described as "unique".

I haven't always done just straight hopped-up beers.  I really enjoyed the first grapefruit IPA I brewed, and that was a combination of hops and grapefruit zest.

So, the "hop bomb" IPA I made turned out really well...and I mean, REALLY well.  Several of the folks who've tried it all have two things in common...they don't care for IPAs, and they really liked it. The consensus has been that both the aroma and flavor of the beer are rife with berries, and on the sweet fruit side.

From NorthernBrewer:

Mosaic - "Mosaic™ is so named because it gives a range of aromas and flavors which are complimentary to other common hop aromas. Everything from citrus, pine, earth, herbal, mint, bubblegum, blueberry, lime peel, black pepper - the character seems to change depending upon the conditions it is in."

Brewer's Gold - "German Brewer's Gold is a moderate alpha bittering hop with spicy, fruity, and black currant character."

HBC-438 - "Expect prominent tropical and stone fruits, herbal, spicy, a subtle cedar note in the aroma."

Being a small batch home brewer, the "reviews" pretty much mean that that beer is all gone (I tend to average about 9 bottles per gallon), so I thought that with some time I have available, I'll make two batches.  I'm going to use the same recipe and hopping schedule for both batches, and I'm also going to continue with the two-step dry hopping (started with the Calypso IPA) and see how that affects the final results.
Brew Day #2 Starting off...

Brew Day #1: 7 Jan 2016
Brew Day #2: 8 Jan 2016

Music To Brew By
Something else to add...while watching an episode of BrewTV, Wil Wheaton mentioned that along with his brewing notes, he also makes a note of the music he listens to while brewing.  I have my workout music on my iPod, and I like to listen to some of the music while brewing and bottling, so here goes:

Disturbed - Sound of Silence
FatBoy Slim - Weapon of Choice
AC/DC - Thunderstuck

I've also got a mix of Van Halen (NOT "Van Haggar"), Poison, Ozzy (Crazy Train, and Close Your Eyes Forever with Lita Ford), Linkin Park, Family Force 5 (Zombie), and Skillet.  I've even got the entire soundtrack from Highlander (all Queen/Freddie Mercury) mixed in there, as well.

Partial Mash:
8 oz Rahr 2-row malt
4 oz Gambrinus honey malt
4 oz Munich
1 oz CaraPils

*I followed my usual partial mash process.

Boil (60 min):
1 lb Munton's Plain Extra Light DME
6 g Mosaic (AA: 12.1%) (@ 60 min)

Hop Schedule:
 15 min   0 min   DH #1  DH #2 
Mosaic             (AA: 12.1%) 4 g 4 g 5 g 5 g
HBC-438         (AA: 15.7%) 4 g 4 g 3 g 3 g
Brewer's Gold (AA: 5.9%) 4 g 4 g 7 g 7 g

Yeast: Safbrew US-05

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

9 Jan: Fermenters
Addendum, 9 Jan: Checked in on the fermenters during my morning routine; was greeted to a cacophony of bubbling.  The two "hopbombs" have the blow-off tubes; the one in the back is #1, and has been there for about 36 hrs.  The one in front is #2 and has been there for about 11 hrs at this point.

The other two fermenters are doing well.  The golden one in the back is the abbaye, and the one to the far left is the Calypso IPA, due for dry hop #2 today.

Addendum, 18 Jan: Dry hop #1 for both fermenters today.  Both were pretty clear, and a nice golden red color when I transferred them into clean, sanitized fermenters and on the hop pellets.  I've got the hops for dry hop #2 measured and ready to go.

Addendum, 20 Jan: Dry hop #2 for both fermenters; bottling on Fri afternoon.

Addendum, 22 Jan: Bottled tonight, each with 1.1 oz of table sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water; got almost 18 bottles out of it.  From the first fermenter, I got one bottle that was almost completely full, and from the second I got one bottle that was just over half full.  I'm really looking forward to tasting this in two weeks, although I still don't have a name for it.  I wrote "BG" on the labels, for "Brewer's Gold", but maybe after I taste it I'll come up with a name.

Current Brews

As of 7 Jan 2016:

Keep in mind that for small batches, I generally get 9 - 10 bottles out of a batch, so when I say that I have something "available" below, all it means is that there's at least one 11 oz bottle of it sitting in my fridge.

Azacca IPA (original, and gluten reduced)
Melon (Galaxy + Melon IPA, based on a recipe shared by Mr Rufus Brewing)
HBC-438 ('38 Special)
Mandarina IPA
22 oz bottle of Tripel

LCpl's Tears - still have the 32 oz grumbler of this one; get a chuckle out of Max's cartoon while you're wondering about the name of the beer

Rye Saison - first taste test, 14 Jan
Belgian Golden Ale - don't touch until at least 18 Jan

Dry hopping
Calypso IPA - dry hop #2 on 8 Jan, bottle 11 Jan; first taste on 25 Jan

Abbaye - plan to bottle on or about 14 Jan