Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Dark One.2 Tasting

I brewed this oatmeal stout in mid-October after having done a pretty bad oatmeal stout earlier this year. This version turned out pretty well, and I think I learned my lesson about water treatment in dark beers.

Served on tap at about 45 degrees in a nonic pint glass.

Pours black with some reddish-brown highlights at the edges of the glass. Clarity is good, but you could hardly tell in such a dark beer. A dense, two-fingered, mocha-colored head stays for a couple of minutes and maintains a thin foam throughout. No lacing.

Pretty subdued aroma. Some chocolate and roasted coffee. Maybe some fruitiness, but not much else.

Good malt flavor. Clean and mellow. Mostly chocolate. No hop flavor, diacetyl, or yeast flavors. Sweetish balance.

Mouthfeel: Nice, medium body. Again, slightly over carbonated for my tastes. No noticeable carbonic bite, but the high carbonation stings my tongue and detracts from what should be a really creamy, velvety beer.

Overall: Decent beer. The carbonation is a definite issue for me. Cold steeping the roasted grains seems to give a really mellow character and subdue the roastiness. This could really use some more roast.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pumpkin Porter Tasting

I brewed this Pumpkin Porter in early October for a post-Halloween Halloween party that me and Michelle were having at our apartment. It turned out pretty good and everyone seemed to like it.

Served on tap at about 45 degrees in a nonic pint glass.

Appearance: Pours jet black with some reddish-brown highlights at the edges of the glass. Clarity is good, but you could hardly tell in such a dark beer. The puffy, two-fingered, mocha-colored head stays for a minute or two and leaves a scant ring with no lacing.

Aroma: Faint spice (mostly nutmeg, maybe some cinnamon), some roast character, and a bit of malt. No hop aroma. No esters or yeast character.

Flavor: Spices and mellow roast character. Slightly leans towards sweetness (could be the Golden Promise coming through?), but not in an unpleasant way. No diacetyl, esters, or yeast character. None of the flavors are sharp or assertive. No astringency. Very smooth, clean flavors.

Mouthfeel: Nice, medium body. Slightly over carbonated for my tastes. There is a bit of a carbonic bite, which for me is out of place in this kind of beer. The carbonation is a little distracting.

Overall: A solid, enjoyable beer. If the carbonation was lower I could easily drink this all night. Next time I would play up the roast and spice character slightly, add a bit more hop presence for complexity, and dial back on the carbonation for a creamier mouthfeel. I think this beer is about 80% of the way there, it just needs some fine-tuning.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Resonance Cascade

It's hard to believe that I've never brewed a double IPA. I mean, it's not my favorite style of beer, but they're so ubiquitous in American craft beer culture that it seems like any home brewer worth their weight in salt has done one. I generally like DIPAs, but I find many of them to be too sweet and lack any real drinkability. I really enjoy Pliny, Dreadnaught, and Double Trouble when I can get them. With my kegerator finally finished (okay, almost finished), it seemed like a good time to crank out a palette-shredding, enamel-ripping, monster-of-a-DIPA.

I really like the combination of Amarillo, Cascade, and Simcoe in IPAs/DIPAs that I've tried. The citrus, piney, and dank aromatics work well together. I wanted to try something slightly off the beaten path and use about 2.5 lbs of Texas Orange Blossom honey to really dry the beer out and add some character. I think my finished recipe is probably what it would look like if Russian River's Pliny the Elder and Bells' Hopslam had a child. I'm going to add the honey 2 or 3 days into fermentation to try and preserve as much of the aromatics as I can.

Also, instead of loading up the boil with a bunch of bittering hops, I opted to use Hop Shot brand hop extract. I like the idea of avoiding a bunch of excess vegetal matter in the kettle and loosing a bunch of wort volume to absorption (though I still lost quite a bit). Words of warning: If you're going to taste the hop extract, tread lightly. I tried the tiniest sliver I could manage, and I still tasted nothing but bitterness for at least two hours. It was so intense that it almost burned. Talk about a Lupulin Threshold Shift!

Resonance Cascade

TGT OG 1.060 TGT FG 1.012 TGT ABV 8.3% TGT AA 83% TGT IBU 92 TGT SRM 7.1

Total Grain: 14.05 lbs
Anticipated Efficiency: 70%
TGT Pre-boil Volume: 8.00 gal
TGT Pre-boil Gravity: 1.045
TGT Post Boil Volume: 5.94 gal
Boil Time: 90 Minutes
Evaporation: ~17% hourly

65.0% - 10.75 lbs. US Pale Malt
10.0% - 1.65 lbs. Vienna Malt
06.0% - 0.99 lbs. Carapils
02.0% - 0.33 lbs. Crystal 20L Malt
02.0% - 0.33 lbs. Crystal 60L Malt

9.6 ml HopShot (Hop Extract, N/A) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 8.2% AA) @ 05 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Pellet, 6.4% AA) @ 05 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 8.2% AA) @ 01 min.
1.00 oz. Cascade (Pellet, 6.4% AA) @ 01 min.
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Pellet, 12.2% AA) @ Flame Out

1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.4% AA) @ Dry Hop 1
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.9% AA) @ Dry Hop 1
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.1% AA) @ Dry Hop 1
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.4% AA) @ Dry Hop 2
1.00 oz. Cascade (Whole, 8.9% AA) @ Dry Hop 2
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.1% AA) @ Dry Hop 2

1.00 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.25 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 10 min.

WLP001 – California Ale

15.0% - 2.48 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey @ 3 days

Carbon filtered Waco

Rest 60 min @ 150 F

30 October 2011 – Made 1.3 l starter with 1 vial of WLP001 (production date 20 September 2011, calculated viability 68%) w/ Wyeast Yeast Nutrient and 2 drops of Foam Control on a stir plate.

01 November 2011 – Took starter off of stir plate and placed in refrigerator.

02 November 2011 - Brewed by myself. Doughed in with 5.25 gal (1.5 qt/lb) water at 160 degrees. Adjusted with 1 tsp phosphoric acid. Mash pH ~5.2. Rested at 150 for 60 minutes. Run off was a bit grainy and hazy so I recirculated almost the entire volume of first runnings. Batch sparged with 4.63 gal of water at 178 degrees for 20 minutes at 162 degrees.

Yielded 8.15 gal of 1.048 wort (calculated efficiency 74.9%).

Boiled for 90 minutes. Added 4 drops of Foam Control. Finished with 6.07 gal of 1.064 wort (Evaporation rate 17% or 1.35 gal/hr). Approximately 80 IBUs from the hop extract and 12 IBUs from pellets.

Chilled to 64 degrees. Racked ~4.5 gal into Better Bottle. Oxygenated for 45 seconds with O2. Added 8 more drops of Foam Control. Decanted and pitched starter. Shook for 20 seconds, topped with sanitized aluminum foil, and set in freezer with controller set to 66 degrees F.

5 November 2011 - Warmed 3 jars of honey in water bath on the stove top. Added ~2.5 lbs honey directly to fermentor and shook briefly. Replaced aluminum foil with airlock. Set temperature controller to 68 degrees.

7 November 2011 - Gravity 1.025. Great aroma. Set controller to 70 degrees to keep fermentation going. Still has about 13 points to go. Hopefully it'll be ready to keg in about a week and a half.

09 November 2011 - Moved near fireplace. Ambient temperature 74 degrees.

17 November 2011 - Gravity 1.005 (~90% AA)! Way lower than I anticipated. There's some ethanol burn both in the nose and on the palate. I thought the Carapils would compensate for the honey, but I guess I didn't use enough. Moved into freezer to cold condition before kegging and dry hopping.

20 November 2011 - Kegged ~4.5 gal. Placed near fireplace (74 degrees F ambient). Put about 10 psi in the headspace to seal the lid. Once it warms to room temperature I'll begin the first round of dry hopping.

21 November 2011 - Added first round of dry hops to sanitized nylon bag tied off with fishing line. Tried suspending line to the top of the keg lid, but that made the keg leak. Left bag in keg unsuspended. Flushed headspace with CO2, though probably should have done more. Inverted keg to promote contact with dry hops.

29 November 2011 - Removed first round of dry hops. Added second round of dry hops in sanitized pantyhose weighted with sanitized marbles. Aroma coming out of keg was insane. Dank, pungent, fresh hop. Looking forward to trying this one. Pressure set to 30 psi at 45 degrees F. Targeting 2.0 vol CO2.