Homebrewing blogs

Liquor, Barrel, and Wood-Aged Brown Ale

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 4:42pm
Most of the events I do are 30-60 minutes, perfect for talking (ideally including questions from the audience). A few years ago I taught intro-to-homebrewing classes for LivingSocial, I quickly learned that 150 minutes was too long for a lecture alone. I added an extract brewing pantomime to demonstrate the key steps in wort production, brought ingredients to taste and smell, and loaded up with slides with photos to hold the audience's attention.

When Brew Your Own asked me to present on sour beers and barrels for their Boot Camp series, I knew I had to come up with ways to make it interactive to fill six hours! Obviously some of the time is me talking and flipping through slides and answering questions, but I wanted to mix in drinking and action. I've honed the sessions in Burlington and Santa Rosa, and I'm looking forward to the next two November in Indianapolis and February in San Diego!

Sour Beer Techniques
   Overview of wort production for sour beers
   Microbe selection, propagation, harvesting
   Capturing wild microbes
   Tasting and blending teas, tinctures, juices, wines, meads etc. into sours
   Tasting and blending three of my homebrewed sours
   Working with me on a custom sour beer recipe

Barrel and Wood Aging
   Discussion of barrel-aging and wood-aging techniques
   Tasting and blending wood teas with commercial beer
   Evaluating and inspecting a barrel from a local brewery (thanks FOAM and Rare Barrel)
   Hands-on leak repair tools and techniques
   Installing a stainless steel sample nail
   Removing and reseating the barrel's head
   Tasting a batch split between barrel – liquor – wood

Speaking of which, I thought I'd post a mini-tasting of that split batch for those of you who can't make it to the Boot Camps. This batch is a somewhat extra-hefty 15 gallon batch of English brown: infused with malt whiskey from Balcones Distilling, aged in a 5 gallon Balcones malt whiskey barrel, and aged on a medium toast American oak honeycomb from Black Swan Cooperage!

Big Brown Barrel-Off

Appearance, all three look nearly identical. Deep dark brown with a three finger tan head. Beautiful lacing, although it appears too quickly as the head drops in just five minutes.

Balcones Malt Whiskey Barrel (pH 4.38)

Integrated slightly spicy oak and spirit. Brighter than the liquor, less dark fruit and sugar. Notes of toast and light roast coffee come through from the malt much better. Fresh plums. Drier than the liquor infused thanks to the oak tannins. A more balanced beer that I could consider drinking more than 6 ounces of in a sitting. Likely could have sat in the barrel longer if I knew I was going to sit on it for a year.

Balcones Malt Whiskey Infused (pH 4.32)

When this beer was young it was really raw and boozy. Both classes had sizable contingents that guessed this was from the whiskey barrel. It is still potent with a mild ethanol warming, but it has rounded out with dark sugar and caramelized plum joining the rich malt. Still a little dry, but age has really brought the flavors together. Nice vanilla as it warms, almost bourbon-soaked chocolate brownies.


Black Swan Honeycomb Oak Aged (pH 4.42)

Had and continues to have an off-putting phenolic character that reminds me of cheap wood. On the edge of plastic. The flavor is bland and the oak again dominates. I’ve had some wonderful results from oak aging beer with cubes, staves, and spheres… I’m not adding honeycomb to that list. It didn’t appear to be well toasted (in fact none of the sample from their mixed pack appeared well toasted).

An interesting comparison to see what stays the same and what is different. I've had good luck with barrel-alternatives, but I've gone back to cubes after the results from the honeycomb.

Recipe

Batch Size: 15.00 gal
SRM: 22.1
IBU: 38.3
OG: 1.065
FG: 1.010
ABV: 7.2%
Final pH:
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Boil Time: 65 min

Fermentables
-----------------
65.2% - 23 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
22.7% - 8 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Dark
3.5% - 1.25 lbs - Briess Flaked Soft Red Wheat
2.8% - 1 lbs Simpsons Dark Crystal
2.1% - .75 lbs Weyermann Caramunich II
2.1% - .75 lbs Weyermann Chocolate Wheat
1.4% - .50 lbs Dingemans Mroost 1400 MD (De-Bittered Black)

Mash
-------
Mash In - 30 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
2.75 oz Columbus (Pellets, 13.00% AA) @ 60 min

Water
-------
14 g Calcium Chloride

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 110 140 50 15 10 90 Other
------
1 Whirlfloc Tablet @ 5 mins
1 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 mins

Yeast
-------
WLP023 White Labs Burton Ale

Notes
-------
Yeast harvested from 2 gallon batch Audrey brewed three weeks prior.

9/10/16 Brewed

All filtered DC tap water with 14 g of CaCl. Minimal sparge with about 4 gallons of cold water.

Chilled to 80F with ground water, left at 65F for 12 hours to chill the rest of the way before pitching.

9/27/16 Kegged 4 gallons plain with 4 oz of Balcones Malt Whiskey, 4 gallons with one medium toast Black Swan White Oak Honeycomb (brief boil, decanted), and into a fresh Balcones Malt Whisky barrel (stopper had come off during shipping - smelled great still).

10/21/16 Kegged the barrel-aged version, nice strong spirit character.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Tasting Cider with Erin James – BeerSmith Podcast #154

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 3:05pm

Erin James joins me this week to discuss her new book “Tasting Cider”, the recent surge in craft cider making, styles of cider as well as cider cocktails and food pairings.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (39:31)
  • Today my guest is Erin James, author of the new book Tasting Cider (Amazon affiliate link). Erin is also an editor at CiderCraft Magazine and Sip Northwest Magazine.
  • We start with a short overview of Erin’s new book called “Tasting Cider”
  • She gives her perspective on the explosion in craft cider making that has happened over the past few years.
  • We discuss a bit about the history of cider, including the fact that apples are not native to America (except crab-apples) and discuss how apples were brought over on the Mayflower by the Pilgrims.
  • Erin tells us a bit about how prohibition and also the expanding availability of lagers almost made commercial ciders extinct for some 80-90 years.
  • We talk about basic definitions for ciders including dry to sweet ciders.
  • Erin shares a bit about the cider making process.
  • We discuss how the apples themselves drive the flavor of the finished cider including the use of fairly rare “cider apple” varieties that are high in tannins and acidity.
  • Erin talks about various cider styles including hopped, spiced, single variety, and barrel aged ciders.
  • We briefly discuss Perry which is an alcoholic beverage made from pears.
  • She describes the section in her book on cider cocktails, how cider goes very well with whisky and provides some examples.
  • We discuss food pairing and which food flavors go best with cider.
  • Erin shares her thoughts on what an average beer brewer can learn from sampling or making cider.
  • We discuss where the cider industry is headed as well as briefly talk about the Cider Craft magazine which she is an editor for.
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Thanks to Erin James for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

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Thoughts on the Podcast?

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Azacca Brett Saison - Keg Transfers

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 3:20pm
As I continue to work on opening Sapwood Cellars (lease negotiation ongoing!!), Audrey has started to pick up the homebrewing slack. After her Dark Belgian Wheat she brewed Wit Lightning inspired by Belgian wit, but with citrusy hops (Azacca) replacing the spices. I took half of the batch and pitched Omega Labs C2C American Farmhouse and dry hopped with more Azacca to make a lightly funky saison... Saison Lightning.

Despite some fancier primary fermentors with spigots (Ss Brew Bucket and Speidel), my post-fermentation-transfer game is basic. I do most of my racking via gravity and auto-siphon. It gives me control, and I haven’t had issues with oxidation on NEIPAs and other oxygen-sensitive styles as long as I purge the keg. Open transfers aren't really an option for carbonated beer though.

I wanted to combine Brett fermentation under-pressure and dry hopping. I did the first dose in primary to allow time for bioflavoring, but I wanted the Brett to have time to work before the final dose of hops to create developed Brett and fresh hops aromatics. My solution was to naturally keg-condition for six weeks and then jump the carbonated beer to a purged serving keg containing bagged and weighted hops.

When transfering carbonated beer between kegs, the goal is to have slightly more pressure on the filled keg than the receiving keg so that the beer is gently pushed from one keg to the other without the beer foaming. This is essentially the same method as counter-pressure filling a growler or bottle only on a larger scale.


Process:
Step 1: Purge and then pressurize the receiving keg to the same pressure as the filled and chilled keg (15 PSI in this case).

Step 2: Connect the filled keg to a tap and dump the first pint to remove most of the sediment.

Step 3: Connect the two kegs from out-to-out post via a jumper line (a short length of tubing connecting two liquid quick disconnects).

Step 4: Connect the gas line to the filled keg to and increase the pressure slightly (17 PSI in this case).

Step 5: Connect a spunding valve to the receiving keg and set it to the same pressure as you pressurized the keg earlier (15 PSI).

Step 6: Wait for the transfer to complete (approximately five minutes).

Step 7: Disconnect the jumper line, gas line, and spunding valve.

Step 8: Connect the serving keg to the gas and serving line and enjoy reduced sediment beer!

This is also a great technique if you travel with kegs and want sediment free beer so yeast isn’t knocked into suspension during transit.

Saison Lightning

Smell – Varied aromatics of herbal lemongrass, apples, and pepper. Brett is subtle, behind the hops. Hops aren’t grassy or vegetal despite extended contact with the pellets in the keg.

Appearance – Slight haze, but overall it is a bright beer. Yellow gold. The white head is thick, but drops after a few minutes.

Taste – Similar to the nose with bright-integrated citrus notes on a peppery saison backdrop. The finish has a hint of earthy Brettiness. Deceptively complex because it is easy to drink. Mellow hop bitterness. Slight perceived sweetness thanks to the citrus character and slightly higher than expected final gravity.

Mouthfeel – Thin and crisp without harshness and tannic bite. Carbonation is a little low for a saison.

Drinkability & Notes – Crushable hoppy saison, has been a perfect beer to have on tap for summer. The hops cut through the Brett and everything works together.
Held up well in the keg so far (kicked the next day), which I assume means I didn’t introduce much oxygen when I jumped it over.

Changes for Next Time – Not much to change for this, although I'd lower the mash temperature if I was planning on the same timeline again. Could have given it another couple of months in the keg to condition before going onto the keg hops for a little more Brett character.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.75 gal
SRM: 3.4
IBU: 16.1
OG: 1.049
FG: 1.007
ABV: 5.5%
Final pH: 4.35
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78%
Boil Time: 90 Mins

Fermentables
----------------
65.0% - 6.5 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
25.0 % - 2.5 lbs Flaked Wheat
7.5 % - .75 lbs Dingemans Cara 8
2.5 % - .25 lbs Weyermann Acidulated

Mash
-------
Mash In - 45 min @ 154F

Hops
-------
1.00 oz Saaz (Pellet, 2.75% AA) @ 10 min
1.50 oz Azacca (Pellet, 15.00% AA) @ Whirlpool 15 min
2.00 oz Azacca (Pellet, 15.00% AA) @ Brew Day Dry Hop
3.00 oz Azacca (Pellet, 15.00% AA) @ Keg Hop

Water
-------
5.50 g Calcium Chloride
Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 90 110 50 15 10 90
Yeast
-------
OYL-217 Omega C2C American Farmhouse

Notes
-------
4/22/17 Brewed by Audrey

No sparge. Mash pH measured at 5.24. Collected 7 gallons of 1.039 runnings. A bit lower gravity than expected, extended boil to 90 minutes.

Chilled to 69F. No starter, pack less than a month old. 2 oz of brew day Azacca.

Left at 70F to ferment. Warmed up to nearly 80 for days 4-7. Then the weather cooled off.

5/6/17 Kegged with 3.75 oz of table sugar and was left to condition (no extra dry hops yet). A bit less attenuation than expected.

6/13/17 Moved the keg to the fridge.

6/16/17 Jumped to a freshly purged keg with more Azacca weighted with marbles and bagged in a knee high.
Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Strategies for Beer Recipe Design – Part 2

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 3:11pm

This week I take a look at the “building block” approach for designing beer recipes. This method, introduced by Gordon Strong, is a great design strategy for more experienced brewers.

Last week in Part 1, I covered the decidedly technical (vs artistic) bent in beer brewing as well as the traditional approach many brewers use for beer recipe design. This week I’m going to cover the building block approach, which I’ve found to be a useful model as my brewing has evolved.

The Building Block Approach to Recipe Design

Gordon Strong (BJCP President and author) introduced me to the concept of using “building blocks” as a basis for beer recipe design. He made the observation that you rarely start a new recipe with a blank sheet of paper, but instead base a new recipe on groups of ingredients that you already know work together.

As Steve Jobs once said:

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

I like to explain the approach using a simple example I came up with at breakfast one morning. I was making some pancakes using “Bisquick” and observed that I could easily make a lot of cool things using just a few ingredients and the recipes on the box. Dumplings, shortcakes, pancakes, waffles, and even bread are all made from a combination of flour, sugar, butter, milk and a few other ingredients.

The building block approach is similar – you may know that a certain combination of dark grains makes a great Porter with some great flavor depth to it. With just a few modifications you can make a killer stout or brown ale by making minor adjustments to the same set of ingredients.

For example, I recently made a robust porter with a combination of equal parts Crystal-60L, Special B and Chocolate Malt (1/2 lb of each in a 5 gal batch) with a touch (4.5 oz) of Black Patent and the rest Pale Malt. I really liked the combination as using some of the “harsh zone malts” gave the Porter some depth of flavor missing in many Porters. With just a bit more of this combo I could make a very nice robust stout, or conversely ease off on this building block to make a deep brown.

Ingredient Knowledge

The key to using the building block approach is, of course, having a good solid base of ingredient knowledge as well as a solid base of experience and library of recipes that worked for you in the past. That is why this building block approach is more popular with experienced brewers.

You can build your base of recipes by brewing of course, but just as important is growing your expert knowledge in brewing ingredients. Cooks are able to create new food combinations because they already have an innate knowledge of what various base ingredients like butter, milk and flour taste like as well as expert knowledge in spices and how flavors combine to create certain effects in food. An expert brewer needs similar expertise.

So how do you gain the ingredient knowledge to become a better brewer? There are several options including:

  • SMASH Brewing – By brewing single malt, single hop beers you gain a real understanding of what base malts and single varieties of hops bring to a beer.
  • Sampling Hops – Most professional brewers use a dry rub to evaluate hops, but getting several different varieties together to sample can be a very powerful experience.
  • Sensory Evaluation of Malts – The new ASBC method takes some effort, but can be a great project for your brewing club or with a few other brewers to get a feel for what various malts bring to the table.
  • Brew, Judge and Iterate – The best brewers don’t brew a recipe just once – they meticulously judge, take notes and make improvements to a recipe and then brew it again until the recipe is perfect.

The building block approach is a great method for experienced brewers to create new, unique recipes based on their existing knowledge base. I hope you enjoyed this short series on recipe design strategies. If you have your own suggestions please leave a comment below.

Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

BlackMan Yeast vs. Bottle Dregs

The Mad Fermentationist - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 4:42pm
It feels like every other blog post or BYO Advanced Brewing article starts with me in some exotic location meeting an interesting person or drinking a mind-blowing beer that sparks an idea for a batch... this one starts October 2014 when I spoke at the Dixie Cup in Houston, Texas. It is the final competition in the Lone Star Circuit, and the banquet marks the end of the local homebrewing competition season. Among the highlights were a visit to St. Arnold's Brewing, listening to a fantastic presentation about hops, the rowdiest awards banquets of my life, judging a specialty category of "Best Beer to Chase a Hurricane," and a "barleywine breakfast" that was heavy on the vintage barleywine, light on the breakfast.

One of the people I chatted with was Barrett Tillman, who was just getting Blackman Yeast running. Apparently I made a good impression because a few weeks later a box of samples showed up: both his first-and-still-only dried souring cultures, and a couple of homebrews (not to mention a note on what appeared to be on a surplus thank-you card from his wedding). Barrett's cultures are just brewer's yeast and bacteria (Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus), bring your own Brettanomyces. It is a unique and interesting approach because Brett can come from so many sources and  provide such a range of flavors. As a power-user it is nice to have acid-production and funk as two separate dials (the same way I like my spice-rubs to be salt-free so I can add more without over-salting). To be as fair as possible, not wanting to judge his B4 Belgian Sour Mix on someone else's Brett, I added the bottle dregs from Barrett's delicious homebrewed Lambic for funk and to clean-up after the Pedio.

My friend Matt had been considering starting to homebrew, to entice him I invited him over to split a batch of pale sour beer. A few weeks earlier I'd been over to his house for a tasting and he'd selected a few choice bottles of De Garde, Cantillon, and Modern Times for dregs for the other half of the batch. I must have left the culture in the pressure-canned mason jar of wort with a loose lid for a few days too long before transferring to a bottle with an airlock, because by the time we gave it a smell it was pure malt vinegar. Since then I received a free sample of reCap mason-jar lids and water-less airlocks that are have hold up for two weeks without issue.

Luckily I'd also grabbed some dregs from more than a couple bottles of Hill Farmstead Anna that my friend Mike had stockpiled (including an especially good batch dubbed "magic" Anna). Hill Farmstead bottles their saisons with wine yeast, but the other microbes are likely doing most of the heavy lifting after long aging to this point.

When the two batches were ready Matt and I tasted them and made a few sample blends. It made sense, the BlackMan was more acidic, while the saison culture had better depth of funk and fruit flavors. However, when we blended them they each lost what was special. The combination didn't have the snappy acidity or the depth of funk-character. They were better left to stand on their own!

 M&M var. Black Man (Left)

Smell – Lemon and pineapple, has gotten much more interesting since bottling. Even a little farmyard.

Appearance – Similar appearance, clear gold on the initial pour, a little haze on the top-up. White head with poor retention.

Taste – Firm lip-smacking lactic acidity. Slight grain-cereal-yeastiness in the finish. Horse blanket as it warms, distant smoky phenolic.

Mouthfeel – Crisp without being watery. The acid is a bit grippy. Medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – A more assertive beer in terms of acidity and aroma.

Changes for Next Time – Not much.

M&M var. Anna (Right)

Smell – Bright and restrained. Hay, old citrus. Slight honeyed malt oxidation.

Appearance – Similar, although with slightly better retention.

Taste – Soft lemon, lots of hay. Really mellow, like my favorite gueuzes. Lactic acid is tame in comparison, more tart-saison than American sour side-by-side, but it was quite acidic on the first sip. A little Orval in the finish.

Mouthfeel – Feels a little softer thanks to the lower acidity. Similar medium-plus carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – This is about it for me when it comes to an unblended mixed-fermentation sour beer. A range of fruity and funk, some bright acidity,

Changes for Next Time – Not a wow beer that would show well at a tasting or festival, but the sort of beer I’d get a second pour of… if this wasn’t my second to last bottle.

Matt and Mike Sour

Batch Size: 12.50 gal
SRM: 4.0
IBU: 4.0
OG: 1.054
FG: 1.012/1.011
ABV: 5.5%/5.6%
pH: 3.04/3.30
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 mins

Fermentables
------------------
77.1% - 18.50 lbs. Weyermann Pilsner
8.3% - 2.00 lbs. Weyermann Munich Malt
6.3% - 1.50 lbs. Rahr 2-row Brewer's Malt
4.2% - 1.00 lbs. Weyermann Carafoam
2.1% - 0.50 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated
2.1% - 0.50 lbs. Gold Medal AP Flour

Hops
-------
0.63 oz. Crystal (Pellet, 3.25% AA) @ 60 min.

Yeast
-------
1: Black Man Belgian B4
2: Starter of Hill Farmstead Anna dregs

Water Profile
-----------------
6 g Calcium Chloride

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 70 70 50 20 10 90
Other
--------
1.00 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 15 Mins
1 Whirlfloc @ 5 Mins

Mash Schedule
--------------------
Sacch Rest - 30 mins @ 158F

Notes
--------
Brewed 8/2/15 with Matt and Chris.

Collected 15 gallons of 1.045 wort with 3 gallon cold sparge.

Bagged hops. Chilled to 85 F with ground water, then 75F with ice.

Pitched 1 L of HF Anna starter. The other half got Black Man Belgian B4, and dregs from a bottle of Barret's 2013 Lambic. Left at 64 F to ferment.

Racked at some point.

1/2/16 BM is sharply acidic, a bit sulfury. HF is mellower, tart, fruity, sweet.

7/17/16 Bottled both. HF had a bit more than 5 gallons with 130 g of table sugar. BM had a bit less than 5 gallons with 125 g. Both got a splash of Right Proper's house Lacto/Sacch culture for carbonation.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Ancient Brews with Dr Patrick McGovern – BeerSmith Podcast #153

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 07/31/2017 - 6:57pm

Dr Patrick McGovern, Director of Biomolecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum joins me this week to discuss research into ancient fermented beverages.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (48:58)
  • Today my guest is Dr Patrick McGovern. Dr McGovern is Director of Biomolecular Archeology at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and also an adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of the new book Ancient Brews: Re-discovered and Re-created (Amazon affiliate link) and an expert in ancient fermented beverages. His web site is here.
  • We start with a short overview of Dr McGovern’s new book ‘Ancient Brews’.
  • Dr McGovern argues that fermented beverages may be as old as the human species as we are “wired” to enjoy consuming fermented beverages.
  • We discuss “The Midas Site” found at Gordian in Turkey where an ancient tomb was found with traces of ancient beverages.
  • Patrick introduces the concept of an “Extreme Fermented Beverage” which was a combination of honey, grains, fruits and likely spices – similar perhaps to a combination of beer, mead, fruits and spices.
  • We next move to China where he was able to examine shards containing some of the oldest fermented beverages which again turned out to be “extreme fermented beverages”.
  • Dr McGovern shares some details on his book including how it incorporates many recipes meant to simulate the ancient beverages as well as recommendations for foods to enjoy with the drink.
  • We next move to Africa as well as Egypt where there is a very long history of fermented beverages though of a slightly different type. Egypt in particular had well developed brewing methods.
  • We discuss European beverages which were split between a variety of Northern “grogs” (and Nordic grogs) and wines which became more popular in the Mediterranean region and Southern Europe.
  • He shares his findings on native American beverages which were often made by chewing corn to break down the starches instead of mashing.
  • We discuss some of the lessons a modern brewer can take away from the study of ancient fermented beverages.
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Thanks to Patric McGovern for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

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Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Strategies for Beer Recipe Design – Part 1

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 3:44pm

This week I take a look at different approaches to designing your own beer recipes. Though beer recipe design is an artistic and very personal journey, few of us really consider that there are different strategies that one can use to create new and unique beers.

A Few Strategies for Beer Recipe Design

Beer recipe design is a creative exercise that reflects the personality and preferences of the designer/brewer. As such there is no “right” or “wrong” way to approach creating a new beer. In this article I’m going to suggest a few different approaches, and also spend a minute talking about the overall approach.

Artistic versus Technical Beer Design

To begin the discussion, I need to provide a bit of history about how home brewing has evolved in the almost 40 years since it was legalized here in the United States. First, you need to know that in the 1970’s and 1980’s the state of brewing knowledge for the average home brewer was quite primitive. Ingredient quality was low, and basic techniques for estimating bitterness levels or original gravity were not widely known or used.

This changed dramatically in the early 1990’s as mail groups and the early internet enabled collaboration. The quality of ingredients also improved significantly. However these early discussions were dominated by the people that had access to the early internet – mainly engineers and scientists. As a result, home brewing took on a decidedly technical bent that carries forward to this day.

Unfortunately this meant that the artistic, creative side of brewing was short changed until more artistic authors like Randy Mosher (a graphic artist) lauched his book “Radical Brewing”. While there has been some progress recently, beer brewing literature and recipe design techniques still tend to be technical in their approach, which can be limiting as recipe design is ultimately a creative and artistic process.

A Traditional Approach to Recipe Design

The traditional approach is a great way to start a recipe if you don’t have a lot of expert knowledge for a style or beer you want to brew. Here’s the basic process:

  • Start with a Clear Objective – Perhaps the most important step is to clearly define what you are trying to brew. It could be a clone of a commercial brew, beer targeted for a single beer style, beer built around a unique ingredient or flavor or competition brew. Its critically important that you actually write a few words describing the beer you are brewing so you have a clear goal.
  • Research the Beer or Style – This could include sampling commercial beers, looking at the BJCP style guide, reading books on the beer or style, looking up related recipes, or searching a recipe book or beer recipe site like BeerSmithRecipes.com. I’ll often use the style guide to set general guidelines for bitterness, original gravity and color and then look in depth at other beer recipes to get an idea of the ingredients that will work best and rough proportions before proceeding.
  • Develop the Basic Ingredient List – At this stage the concept of simplicity is critically important. You want to include only grains, hops and other ingredients that have a specific well defined flavor and purpose in your beer. Don’t throw everything but the kitchen sink in – focus on the ingredients that are important to your brew. I usually focus on the grain bill first, and then select hops, yeast and other ingredients to fit my overall goal. I’ll often list a few alternatives also in case I need to make substitutions in the final recipe.
  • Determine Proportions – Once you know which ingredients, you next need to assign how much of each one to use. Again I prefer to work with the grain bill and try to keep my base grains at 85%-90% of my grain bill in most cases. Specialty grains are used sparingly and with a specific purpose to accent specific flavors. For hops I prefer a single boil addition and then whirlpool or dry hop additions to capture aroma oils depending on the style.
  • Apply Techniques – The last step for me is to determine whether any special techniques might apply to this beer. This could include things like first wort hopping, whirlpool hops, a special fermentation schedule, mash schedule, etc…
  • Brew, Judge, and Iterate – Brewing the beer is usually the simple part if your recipe has been well planned out ahead of time. However it is much harder to critically judge your beer and determine if it has any flaws or room for improvement. Many of the best beer brewers are also judges, and this is no accident. Here’s a quick guide to judging beer. Finally after you brew and judge your beer it is very important to make adjustments and brew it again. Only by brewing a recipe several times will you be able to perfect it.

The traditional approach outlined above is a great way to approach a new beer style or technique you have never used before because it lets you leverage other people’s experience and recipes as well as the broad body of brewing knowledge available to home brewers today.

Next week in Part 2, I’ll take a look at an additional approach to beer design based on building blocks. It is useful for a more experienced brewer who has some knowledge of ingredient flavors and beer styles.

Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

 

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Ruby Red Grapefruit NEIPA

The Mad Fermentationist - Mon, 07/17/2017 - 2:56pm

I’m a pretty unenthusiastic BJCP judge. I passed the test in 2008 with a "national" score and over the last nine years I’ve managed to earn a paltry nine judging points; 3.5 of which came at Hoppy Halloween Challenge 2015 - where I got to judge Best of Show with BJCP's top-ranked judge, Grand Master VIII, Steve Piatz. That was a treat, but usually I don’t love waking up early in the morning to drive somewhere to drink a variety too often oxidized IPAs, fusel Belgians, and over-carbonated stouts. Sometimes though it works out and I get lucky and taste an inspiring entry.

That happened in 2012, while judging the DC Homebrewer’s Cherry Blossom competition, when I judged a fantastic hoppy-hibiscus beer. I’ve been thinking about brewing one since. It tasted and looked like ruby red grapefruit juice, bitter and aromatic, citrus and floral, finishing with a hint of tart brightness. Delicious and unique.

I took the other half of the Citra-Mosaic NEIPA I posted about last week and finally made it happen! It was the same wort through pitching the yeast. I used different dry hops, Ekuanot and Eureka, selected out of convenience rather than intention. Northern Brewer describes Ekuanot (formerly Equinox) as "In the midst of the bright citrus and melon there is a ribbon of green pepper. Or something like green pepper. It’s not green pepper in the eat-it-with-hummus-use-it-on-a-fajita sense of green pepper." Not exactly appealing. I was hoping that the mid-fermentation addition paired with the fruitiness of grapefruit zest 48 hours before kegging and a dose of hibiscus tea in the keg would lead to a fruity impression. Those are ingredient techniques I had used separately in a Grapefruit APA and a Hibiscus Wit (among others).

After brewing the batch I decided I should track down the brewers of the original "Pink Hoppy Bunny." I reached out to former DC Homebrewers President Josh Hubner and he revealed the brewers to be Pete Jones (of Lost Lagers) and Cody Gabbard. They responded that the base was a wit hopped with loads of Citra, with hibiscus and rose petals added directly to the fermentor. Turned out that batch won the category!

Ruby Red NEIPA

Smell – Mostly hops, dank, resiny, borderline green onion. Occasional tropical mango notes. Like Simcoe and Summit had a baby, and they pumped it full of steroids. Blocks out the citrus and hibiscus, but they help to temper it... a little.

Appearance – Red NEIPA! Oddly clearer than the other half of the batch, especially considering the beers looked similar before infusion/kegging. Maybe an effect of the lower pH? Nice slightly pink head, sticky lacing.

Taste – Really dank, Pacific-Northwest, resiny, fresh nose-in-the-hop-bag hoppiness. Firm bitterness, considerably higher than the NEIPA half. Likely a result of the lower final pH (4.05 compared to 4.57). Finally, in the finish a touch of grapefruit and cranberry-hibiscus comes through. Luckily what I don’t get is the green pepper that is a common descriptor for Ekuanot, a flavor I tasted in several beers brewed with the lupulin powder.

Mouthfeel – Thinner, crisper than the straight NEIPA. Not as rounded. The higher acidity again. Similar medium carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – I'd hoped hibiscus and grapefruit would balance the dank hops, but they get trampled. I may try dumping in a bottle of grapefruit juice into the keg before it kicks. It isn’t a bad beer, just discordant with what I was trying to brew and how it looks.

Changes for Next Time – Fruitier, more grapefruity hops. Cascade, Chinook... Citra. Surprised that the early dry hop addition didn't "soften" the aromatics more. The vague memory of that two ounces of beer from the competition will continue to haunt me until I try this one again… luckily now I have the recipe! A 50/50 blend with the New Englandier half of the batch gets pretty close to what I wanted.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 67.7
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.013
ABV: 6.0%
Final pH: 4.05
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 minutes

Fermentables
-----------------
58.8 % - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
20.6% - 2.625 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
20.6% - 2.625 lbs 365 Old Fashion Rolled Oats

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 155F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.5% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Eureka (Pellet, 18.00% AA) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
4.00 oz Ekuanot (Pellet, 15.00%) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
0.50 oz Ekuanot Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg
2.00 oz Eureka (Pellets, 18.00% AA) @ Keg

Other
-------
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash

8.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
1.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
.50 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 150 150 150 10 5 40
Yeast
-------
Omega British Ale V (OYL-011)

Notes
-------
Recipe was originally 11 gallons, split with a standard NEIPA. Values represent the batch tasted here.

Brewed 6/18/17

24 hours before pitching fed a cup of harvested slurry (~1 month old) from, 2.3% IPA ~2.5L of starter wort.

Mashed in with 4.5 gallons filtered DC diluted with 3 gallons of distilled.

pH of mash originally read 5.51 at Mash temperature (~5.7 at room temperature) with salts and phosphoric. Rest of phosphoric down to 5.36. Lactic (ran put of phosphoric) got down to 5.26/5.46.

Sparged with 1.75 gallons of distilled, cold. Collected 7.00 gallons @ 1.053.

Chilled to 75F left at 65F to cool for a few hours to 70F before pitching.

Fermenting well after 12 hours. 67F internal.

6/20/17 Down to 1.026, dry hopped FV2 with 4 oz each of Eureka and Ekuanot.

6/28/17 Kegged with bagged hops, purged. .5 oz of Ekuanot Lupulin powder, plus 1 cup of hibiscus concentrate (5 min soak with 1.5 cups off-boiling water and 1 oz of hibiscus from TPSS Coop). Attached to gas and left in the kegerator.

6/30/17 Added an additional 2 cups of hibiscus tea made with 2 oz of hibiscus, color and flavor weren't there.



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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Cryo Lupulin NEIPA: Citra-Mosaic

The Mad Fermentationist - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 3:51pm

A few weeks ago someone asked on my Facebook how I’d stack NEIPAs against commercial versions, I prefer my best to all comers, save Tree House Julius and Trillium Double-Dry-Hopped Fort Point. For my palate, across their lineup Trillium is close to perfect. The lack of a line to buy cans is a bonus. I also have a bias for the brewery that is open with their process, not to mention that JC is a former homebrew blogger and someone I've shared a few beers with. What is remarkable is that he has increased quality and scale, despite having to adjust process (including yeast).

I’ve learned that putting my one-off attempts head-to-head with my favorite commercial examples of a style are often an exercise in humility. As a homebrewer I don’t have the reps to dial in a recipe the way a brewery does, I don’t have the equipment, or the resources. So, when I grabbed a four-pack of Trillium Stillings Street IPA (their Nelson Sauvin showcase) at the Boston brewery on my way to Logan last week, I was already looking for excuses for why the carbonating IPA I was returning home to wouldn’t be as good.

This recipe is the culmination of three years of attempts at cloudy-juicy IPAs. Most of it will be familiar from previous batches, but as always a few tweaks. Water treatment was pretty much my standard, just a little more heavy handed up to 150 PPM for calcium, chloride, and sulfate. The grist was heavy on both flaked oats and Carafoam. I added a small dose of Columbus at 15 minutes to slightly elevate the bitterness over my NE Australian IPA, Columbus is rich in thiols which make it a good (inexpensive) choice for hot-side additions. Fermented with Omega British V, their answer to London III, harvested from my 2.3% NEIPA. A big dose of Mosaic and Citra pellets for a hop-stand, and another massive charge (8 oz in 5 gallons) 48 hours into fermentation once the yeast passed 50% apparent attenuation.

When I was ready to keg I brought in a ringer, Yakima Chief Cryo Hops "LupuLN2" lupulin powder. I picked up samples at CBC, and ordered extra now that it is available to homebrewers. This is the alpha acids and oils roughly double-concentrated with much of the green plant material removed. The big advantage is that the plant material absorbs iso-alpha and other compounds from the wort (not to mention wort itself). While this may sound similar to T45 pellets, the improvement here is using nitrogen to reduce oxidation and temperature. The more concentrated the oils become, the more aromatic-volatilizing heat that is generated. See Scott’s fantastic post and Stan's summary for more details.

NEIPA: Lupulin Edition


Smell – Mix of big tropical fruit (mango especially), melon, pineapple, with that certain dank-fruitiness I get from Mosaic (even more from Nelson, and a bit less from Hallertau Blanc likely 3S4MP). While it has fruit flavor, it still has the telltale notes of hops. I enjoyed the aroma of the Mosaic Cryo, the Citra was so concentrated it was almost offensively dank, luckily upon dilution the contribution is delicious! The hop nose jumps out of the glass, even more so than the Stillings Street.

Appearance – Glowing yellow body, a shade and a half lighter than the Stillings Street thanks to lots of oats and no C10. A couple flecks of particulate. Nice white head, great structure, but I wouldn’t mind if it lasted a little longer.

Taste – Totally saturated juicy hops with just enough bitterness. Citra and Mosaic are punchy and can carry an IPA along, but together they have a wonderful synergy. Pineapple, orange, Sauvignion blanc, and mango. A little drier than Stillings Street, the sweetness enhances the “juice” character. Bitterness is perfect, just there without lingering.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, coating hop oiliness, soft. Medium carbonation, or almost, perfect.

Drinkability & Notes – A beer that is difficult not to have a second pour. Some IPAs grate on the palate, this one soothes the bitterness without being sugary. The combination of huge hop aroma, saturated hop flavor, restrained bitterness, and fluffy body is what I want to drink.

Changes for Next Time – This is my dream IPA, the best NEIPA I have brewed. In comparison, the Trillium I bought four days before the tasting isn't as fresh and vibrant. Not their fault, how can you compete against beer that was in contact with dry hops 30 seconds ago? Might as well take advantage of every trick I have to make up for the lack for hop contracts, a centrifuge, and some of the best brewers in the country!

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 67.7
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.2%
Final pH: 4.57
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
58.8 % - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
20.6% - 2.625 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
20.6% - 2.625 lbs 365 Old Fashion Rolled Oats

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 155F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.5% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
4.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
1.00 oz Citra Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg
1.00 oz Mosaic Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg

Other
-------
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash

8.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
1.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
.50 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 150 150 150 10 5 40
Yeast
-------
Omega British Ale V (OYL-011)

Notes
-------

Recipe was originally 11 gallons, split with a Hibiscus-Grapefruit IPA. Values represent the batch tasted here.

Brewed 6/18/17

24 hours before pitching fed a cup of harvested slurry (~1 month old) from, 2.3% IPA ~2.5L of starter wort.

Mashed in with 4.5 gallons filtered DC diluted with 3 gallons of distilled.

pH of mash originally read 5.51 at Mash temperature (~5.7 at room temperature) with salts and phosphoric. Rest of phosphoric down to 5.36. Lactic (ran put of phosphoric) got down to 5.26/5.46.

Sparged with 1.75 gallons of distilled, cold. Collected 7.00 gallons @ 1.053.

Chilled to 75F left at 65F to cool for a few hours to 70F before pitching.

Fermenting well after 12 hours. 67F internal.

6/20/17 Down to 1.026, dry hopped FV1 with 4 oz each of Citra/Mosaic.

6/28/17 Kegged with bagged hops, purged, in each (1 oz each Citra and Mosaic Lupulin Pellets from Farmhouse Brewing).

NEIPAs are fantastically sensitive to oxygen, even compared to standard IPAs, here's what my gravity sample looked like after 24 hours exposed to the air compared to a fresh pour. The best guess at why this happens is the transformation of phenols into quinones via oxidation and perhaps polyphenol oxidase (a similar process is responsible for browning in avocados, tea, and cocoa). I suspect the color change looks more dramatic than clear IPAs given the low starting SRM and haze.


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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Hop Oils in Beer Brewing with Stan Hieronymus – BeerSmith Podcast #152

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 11:27am

Stan Hieronymus joins me this week to discuss cutting edge research in the use of certain hop oils in beer brewing. Stan has some interesting results regarding which oils provide key flavors in IPAs and pale ales.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (43:20)
  • Today my guest is Stan Hieronymus. Stan is the author of several books including For The Love of Hops, Brewing Local, Brew Like a Monk and Brewing with Wheat (Amazon affiliate links). Stan also runs a blog and newsletter at AppellationBeer.com
  • We discuss Stan’s upcoming trip to South Africa as well as some of the interesting hop growing going on now in South Africa.
  • We begin a discussion on hop oils including the three major groups: hydrocarbons, oxygenated hydrocarbons and sulfur compounds that together make up only 1-4% of the hop cone.
  • He starts with hydrocarbons such as myrcene which are both volatile and not very soluble in wort, so these are best used in dry hopping
  • We discuss oxygenated compounds like linalool and geraniol which are more soluble and also aromatic. These also have the interesting characteristic of often being transformed during fermentation, and are therefore well utilized in whirlpool or steeped hopping at the end of the boil.
  • Stan explains some of the biotransformations that take place during fermentation.
  • We talk about sulfur compounds which make up less than 1% of the weight but play an important role in tropical flavors that have become popular in many recent IPAs.
  • Stan also shares some recent research in hop blending where blending oils from several different hops can duplicate certain other hop combinations and even create new unique flavor compounds.
  • He shares his thoughts on upcoming hop research as well as aromatic hop oil extracts which have become popular.
  • Stan shares his closing thoughts, and we briefly discuss his books, website and newsletter on hops.
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Thanks to Stan Hieronymus for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Dark Brett Saison: Date and Pomegranate

The Mad Fermentationist - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 4:37pm
What started as an annual tradition in 2007 is coming up on its tenth anniversary. That's right, Alex and I have been brewing dark saisons together since the year the first iPhone was released! We've managed to fall a year behind though. We’re just now planning Dark Funky Saison #9, by next year we might be brewing a big batch of #10 at Sapwood Cellars?! I'd love to create similar series of seasonal beers at the brewery, the same concept but continually evolving the base beer and additions. Rich-ponderous beers for the winter, fresh-floral for the spring, and bright-fruity in the summer.

Taking a step back a year to when we brewed Dark Funky Saison #8. It was a “what’s on hand” batch. I had sacks of Weyermann Bohemian malts on hand for Pilsner and Tmave, my House Brett Saison Culture, and Mandarina Bavaria hops. Bootleg Biology is taking pre-orders for the second release of their version of my Brett-Lacto-saison culture this week, 7/5-7/10. Lots of good reports from the first release in this thread.

Rather than the usual dried fruit we added pomegranate molasses and date syrup. I’d brewed an Easter Quad with pomegranate molasses, and my split batch sugar experiment included date sugar. Anytime water is removed from fruit whether by drying or boiling it takes some of the subtle aromatics with it, but the resulting concentrated flavors tend to be more complimentary to dark malts.

We decided to keep the starting gravity low, much lower than Dark Saison 7's 1.071. With the high attenuation even the seemingly session-strength original gravity of 1.045 resulted in 5.6% ABV.

Dark Funky Saison Eight

Smell – Rich aroma of dark fruit, pumpernickel toast, and clay or steel. I don’t get dates or pomegranate specifically, but I don’t think a beer at 1.045 could have that nose without them.

Appearance – The brown color of a brown ale, with rich red highlights. Clear. Pours with a voluminous tan head that sinks over a couple minutes receding to a ring.

Taste – The fruits add an rich, dark, authentic flavor that I usually associate with Belgian dubbels and oud bruins. A combination of date and CaraMunich? Slight cherry or plum, some from the house culture. Mild tartness and funk even after all of this time between the fermentor and bottle. Finishes with a bright fruitiness I take to be the pomegranate.

Mouthfeel – Rounded, firm carbonation at first but it seems to leave the beer quickly.

Drinkability & Notes – Drinks like a bigger beer than it is, in a good way. Reminds me of a less-sour, less-cherry version of Russian River Supplication. Not a wow beer, but it works. The date and pomegranate play supporting roles that could have been taking by candi syrup or another adjunct. My house culture did well, staying restrained despite the age compared to its usual duty.

Changes for Next Time – I can't think of much to change on this beer, maybe pull back on the IBUs to allow a little more lactic acid production from the bacteria. Although the strain in the blend seems to be getting more hop-tolerant with time.

Recipe

Batch Size: 12.00 gal
SRM: 21.7
IBU: 14.2
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.002
ABV: 5.6%
Final pH: 3.91
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78%
Boil Time: 90 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
38.1% - 7.00 lbs. Weyermann Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner
38.1% - 7.00 lbs. Weyermann Floor-Malted Bohemian Dark
5.4% - 1.00 lbs. Briess Caramel Munich
5.4% - 1.00 lbs. Weyermann Carafa II
8.2% - 1.50 lbs. Alwadi Date Syrup
4.8% - .875 lbs. Alwadi Pomegranate Molasses

Hops
-------
1.00 oz. Mandarina Bavaria (Pellet, 6.50% AA) @ 75 min.
2.25 oz. Mandarina Bavaria (Pellet, 6.50% AA) @ 0 min.

Extras
---------
5 g Calcium Chloride @ mash
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 70 70 50 20 10 90
Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist House Saison Blend

Mash Schedule
-------------------
Sacch Rest 45 min @ 154F

Notes
---------
Brewed 3/12/16 with Alex

16 gallons filtered DC tap water. 5 g of CaCl.

Heated to 165 slowly over 15 minutes. No sparge.

Date syrup added at the start of the boil, pomegranate molasses added at the end. Chilled to 65F. Shook to aerate. Pitched decanted House Saison culture.

1/2/17 Bottled 5 gallons with 4 oz of table sugar and Champagne yeast.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

19th Century Guinness Extra Stout

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 3:26pm
One hundred years before I was born, around the time my great-grandmother was leaving Ireland, some guy in Dublin was brewing Guinness Extra Stout. I brewed my own batch based on the recipe in Ron Pattinson's Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. My only tweaks were a slight boost to the Black Patent, and swapping the English ale yeast for Irish. I have no certainty of how close WY1084 is to the yeast Guinness uses today, let alone 135 years ago!

Times have changed, Guinness is opening a brewery in Maryland where they'll be brewing a wide range of mediocre beer and screwing up laws for local craft brewers... like me! They won't be brewing stout though, I guess it is too unthinkable for them to not have "Imported" on the Guinness Draught labels in the US, even if it is only imported from Canada.

My batch of  circa 1883 Extra Stout is still young at six-weeks from brewing and the weather is a too warm to be drinking 7% stout, but I wanted to write up tasting notes for the full-strength version while the diluted "Draught" half of this batch is still on tap to compare. I'll post an updated tasting this winter.

1883 Guinness Extra Stout

Smell – Clean roasty notes of coffee plus brown bread. Relatively straightforward maltiness without dark fruit or caramel. There is an earthy hoppiness, although not as strong as in the diluted half. Thankfully the hint of diacetyl that was there a couple weeks ago is gone.

Appearance – Perfect stout appearance. Dense tan head with staying power. Near black body with a few amber highlights. Surprisingly clear when it isn't opaque.

Taste – Rolling bitterness, coating without being harsh. Bitter, but not as much as the IBUs would suggest. Clean coffee and toast malt. Without the added sticky-oomph of crystal malts, or dark sugar, and with the firm balancing bitterness it doesn’t linger. Clean fermentation, no alcohol heat or other off-flavors. If you told me this was 5.5% ABV I’d probably believe you. Hoping it gets more interesting with age.

Mouthfeel – Relatively thin for a big stout, especially at this OG/FG, but I'd call it medium overall. Medium-low carbonation, which breaks my streak of somewhat over-carbonated dark beers.

Drinkability & Notes – In a way it reminds me of a schwarzbier: clean, bright, and fresh maltiness. Easy to drink for a stout with both high alcohol and bitterness, a testament to simple recipe design.

Changes for Next Time – Far too early to be making proclamations about what to change. I’m looking forward to tasting this beer after six-months in the cellar, once the weather cools off.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
SRM: 39.7
IBU: 73.3
OG: 1.075
FG: 1.022
ABV: 7.0%
Final pH: 4.58
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67%
Boil Time: 120 mins

Grain
--------
82.8% - 12.5 lbs Crisp Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter
10.3% - 1.60 lbs Muntons Amber
6.9% - 1.00 lbs Simpsons Black Malt

Mash
-------
Sacch I - 40 min @ 152F
Sacch II - 20 min @ 160F

Hops
-------
2.50 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 90 min
2.50 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 60 min
2.50 oz East Kent Golding (Pellets, 4.80% AA) @ 30 min

Other
-------
2.3 g Chalk @ mash
0.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 70 32 54 15 10 130
Yeast
-------
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

Notes
-------
Recipe scaled to be brewed as a 5 gallon batch. 

5/6/17 4 L 1.034 starter with 6 week out yeast.

Dissolved 17 g of chalk in 30 oz of filtered water. Chilled and carbonated to get it to dissolve.

pH measured 5.19. Added .6 cup of the resulting saturated liquid to the mash. pH measured 5.25 at mash temperature, 5.39 pH when chilled. Both with Halo.

Chilled to 66F.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

1.075 post-boil. 5 gallons pitched with 2.5 L of starter.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

5/26/17 Bottled 5 gallons of the full-strength half with 95 g of table sugar. Aiming for 2.2 volumes of CO2.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Building an Electric Brewery with John Blichmann – BeerSmith Podcast #151

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:40am

John Blichmann, founder of Blichmann Engineering joins me this week to discuss setting up an indoor electric brewery at home.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (53:52)
  • Today my guest is John Blichmann, the President of Blichmann Engineering. John is a long time brewer and founder at Blichmann Engineering which provides a wide range of brewing equipment including brewing systems, kettles, pumps, control systems and fermentation equipment.
  • Much of the show used English units, but here are some articles that include metric units for those of you outside the US: Electrical Considerations for an Electric Brewery, Ventilation Considerations for an Electric Brewery.
  • John shares his thoughts on some of the advantages of having an indoor electric brewery, including the ability to brew year round.
  • We talk about the sizing of electric breweries and how the size of a system will ultimately drive requirements for things like electricity, ventilation and water.
  • We discuss the limitations of 12oV and 240V electrical power in a typical home and why it is important to get an electrician involved in the planning process to assure wiring and breakers are sufficient.
  • John explains why a Ground Fault Interrupt Circuit is a REQUIRED piece of equipment for brewing systems as we are ultimately mixing water and electricity.
  • We talk about the need for proper ventilation, even for an electric system, to avoid dumping gallons of water and steam into the air in a confined space.
  • John shares his rules of thumb on how to determine the proper size for a ventilation system.
  • We discuss the need for a proper water supply and draining water – which is critical for cleaning, brewing and also chilling the wort after brewing.
  • John spends a few minutes discussing some of the new home brew products Blichmann Engineering recently launched including a new brew pump, BrewVision thermometer, and others.
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Thanks to John Blichmann for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Sensory Evaluation of Grains for Brewing – The New ASBC Method

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 2:25pm

This week I take a look at the new ASBC method for doing sensory and flavor evaluation of malts for brewing beer. This new “hot steep” technique published last fall by the American Society of Brewing Chemists provides a standardized method to do a sensory (taste) analysis of malts and is a great way to get familiar with the individual flavors that come from various malts.

The basic technique involves making a “hot tea” with finely crushed malt and then filtering it with filter paper (or a coffee filter) to extract a hot tea you can sample for flavor. Since the process does take some time, it is best done for a few malts at a time and would also be a great group project for a homebrew club to brew and sample many malts.

The ASBC Hot Steep Malt Sensory Method

The technique below is adapted from the Breiss web site description here.

  1. Weigh a sample of 50 grams (1.75 oz) of base malt. If evaluating specialty malts, instead use 25 g (0.88 oz) of specialty malt blended with another 25 g (0.88 oz) of base (pale) malt. For dark roasted malts, use 7.5 g (0.25 oz) of roast malt with 42.5 g (1.5 oz) of base (pale) malt. Obviously you can double or triple the amount of malt and water if you need a larger sample for a group to evaluate.
  2. Mill the grains in a clean electric grinder for about 10 seconds. A coffee grinder works well for this as you want a coarse flour consistency – which is finer than you would typically use for brewing.
  3. Next heat 450 ml (1.9 cups or 0.95 pints) of water to 65 C (149 F) and combine it in with the crushed grain sample in an insulated thermos or growler and shake it for 20 seconds to mix the grain and water. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes.
  4. While the mixture is steeping, place some filter paper (Alstrom 515) at the top of a clean beaker or glass. A coffee filter is a suitable substitute if you don’t have access to lab paper filters. Wet the paper with some deionized water.
  5. Swirl the thermos/growler to bring the particles back into solution and pour the mixture into the filter. Draw the first 100 ml (just under 1/2 cup) off the collected wort and pour it back into the thermos to collect any remaining grainsm then pour that also into the filter. Allow the filter to drain completely leaving your liquid sample.
  6. Let the sample cool, and do your sensory evaluation when it has reached room temperature, within four hours of filtering.

The actual sensory evaluation is done by sipping the resulting wort. Look for common malt flavors such as bready, malty, grainy, toasty, nutty, grainy, plums, raisins and of course the variety of coffee, roasted, burnt flavors that come from darker malts. As I mentioned you can get together with fellow brewers or your brew club and do a group-sampling of many malts to learn more about the flavors involved. Also some maltsters such as Briess have started publishing “spider charts” for their malts based on sensory analysis that can serve as a good guide of the flavors you might expect from a given grain.

Hopefully you enjoyed this week’s article on malt sensory testing. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Guinness Draught - 1883 Edition

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 4:21pm
A couple months ago I posted a page featuring links to my favorite recipes for all of the 2015 BJCP styles that I’ve brewed. I was surprised by how many I'd brewed, but it also reminded me that even after 12 years of homebrewing there are plenty of classics that I haven’t, like Irish (Dry) Stout. It seemed a shame to own a stout faucet and not use it to serve the style it was invented for!

Rather than brew something akin to modern Guinness Draught I decided to get weird! I brewed a batch of 1883 Guinness Extra Stout based on a recipe from Ron Pattinson’s fascinating Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer, a sort of distillation of his blog Shut up about Barclay Perkins. My goal was to leave most of the batch at the specified gravity, and dilute a few gallons to create an anachronistic imagining of Guinness Draught as it might have existed in 1883.

The recipe, one of the few in the book not based on actual brewing logs, has a few interesting features. It contains pale malt, but not the other two  grains in the standard Irish Stout formulation. It is from just after the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880, well before Guinness took advantage of the end of adjunct prohibition. As a result it calls for black malt instead of unmalted roasted barley (which they changed to around 1930). It also includes amber malt for a richer flavor than flaked barley (added around 1950). Hop additions follow many 19th century recipes, copious amounts of low alpha acid varieties towards the start of the boil. I made two minor tweaks to the recipe as written, increasing the black malt from 5.56% to 6.9% to prevent the diluted version from being too pale and subbing in Wyeast Irish Ale for Whitbread Ale.

I ran off 5.5 gallons of the resulting 1.075 wort into a fermentor (that portion is bottle-conditioning currently). For the draught-strength I ran off 3 gallons of the chilled wort into a separate fermentor, and diluted it to 1.047 with two gallons of distilled water. That is what is now sitting on beer gas. Ron wasn’t a fan of my plan:

No, no, no . . . no nitro. https://t.co/LZxrtsSc8x
— Ron Pattinson (@patto1ro) May 7, 2017This was my first batch using a Halo pH Meter sent by the kind folks at Hanna Instruments. The biggest benefit of this “Beer Analysis” version is that the hardy titanium body can take pH readings directly at mash temperature without cooling a sample! You do need to add .2-.35 to the reading to adjust for the influence of the elevated temperature. That’s about what I found with the Halo reading 5.25 at mash temperature and 5.39 on a chilled sample.

The time-savings of  not chilling samples makes up for the added hassle of  pairing the Halo with my phone. The point of co-dependent smart-devices is to leverage the existing hardware, but the Halo costs more than twice as much as my Milwaukee MW102. The app would be more valuable if there was a need to track pH changes during the mash, but I don't have an easy way to mount the meter and once the pH stabilizes there really isn't a need to track small changes.

I’m interested to see how long the probe/electrode lasts with the exposure to high temperature. It includes an extendable cloth junction that can be pulled out to refresh it. However, Hanna does not sell replacement probes so after the expected 12-18 month lifespan it’ll be another $225 rather than $43 for a replacement probe for my MW102. Might be worth expensing it to Sapwood Cellars, but I imagine not an annual purchase for most homebrewers!

My preference is for a slightly higher mash pH on dark beers, to prevent the roasted malts from tasting acrid. That said, my old friends at Modern Times aim for a slightly lower final pH for batches of Black House destined for nitro to replace the acidity otherwise provided by carbonic acid. When the pH reading came in a bit lower than I wanted I dosed the mash with chalk dissolved in carbonated water (using a carb cap) - the same chemical reactions are behind acid rain eating away at limestone. I first read about this technique on Braukaiser. The issue with adding chalk directly to the mash is that it doesn’t dissolve at typical mash pH like other water salts. While it likely helps buffer the boil and final pH, baking soda or slaked/pickling lime are better choices for direct mash tun additions. However, dissolving chalk is a useful technique if you want to add calcium rather than sodium along with carbonate.

Guinness Draught 1883

Smell – The nitro-pour subdues the aromatics, but what comes through is pretty expected: fresh grainy-roast, some fresh yeasty notes, and a hint of earthy hops.

Appearance – Shows off the classic swirling, cascading bubbles that Guinness features so prominently in their advertising. Settles into a velvety, half-inch off-white head. A pure sheet of lacing trails each sip. Will look even pretty after a few more weeks on tap as nitrogen continues to slowly dissolve and the slight haze hopefully drops out.

Taste – The first sip has really firm bitterness from hops and roast. The bready maltiness picks up, more than in the classic Irish Stouts, but not enough to bring English stouts to mind. As my first glass winds down the bitterness has tamed to a crisp finish. Has a lingering “dirtiness” from the Fuggles I presume.

Mouthfeel – The low carbonation certainly helps to provide some fullness that wouldn’t be there with high carbonation. The texture of the head on each sip helps as well.

Drinkability & Notes – A true summertime stout. Light, smooth roast, and refreshing bitterness like an iced coffee. Easy to pour a second glass.

Changes for Next Time – It’s a rare beer that I don’t have much to change for next time. I might go all EKGs, or at least at the 60 minute addition, to clean and brighten it up a bit.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
SRM: 23.8
IBU: 43.8
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.014
ABV: 4.3%
Final pH: 4.31
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67%
Boil Time: 120 mins

Grain
--------
82.8% - 7.5 lbs Crisp Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter
10.3% - .95 lbs Muntons Amber
6.9% - .625 lbs Simpsons Black Malt

Mash
-------
Sacch I - 40 min @ 152F
Sacch II - 20 min @ 160F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 90 min
1.25 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 60 min
1.25 oz East Kent Golding (Pellets, 4.80% AA) @ 30 min

Other
-------
1.4 g Chalk @ mash
0.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate 70 32 54 15 10 130
Yeast
-------
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

Notes
-------
Amounts above scaled to be brewed as a 5 gallon undiluted batch. 

5/6/17 4 L 1.034 starter with 6 week out yeast.

Dissolved 17 g of chalk in 30 oz of filtered water. Chilled and carbonated to get it to dissolve.

pH measured 5.19. Added .3 cup of the resulting saturated liquid to the mash. pH measured 5.25 at mash temperature, 5.39 pH when chilled. Both with Halo.

Chilled to 66F.

Diluted 3 gallons with 2 gallons of distilled to 1.047. Pitched with 1.5 L of starter.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

5/19/17 Kegged the diluted half.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Mead Making with Steve Piatz – BeerSmith Podcast #150

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 11:58am

Steve Piatz, the author of “The Complete Guide to Making Mead” and 2008 mead maker of the year joins me this week to discuss making the perfect mead.

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (51:44)
  • Today my guest is Steve Piatz. Steve is the author of The Complete Guide to Mead Making (Amazon affiliate link), 2008 Mead Maker of the Year, as well as a long time mead maker and judge.
  • We briefly discuss how Steve got into making mead.
  • Steve explains how almost all mead makers have moved to a “no boil” or cold method for making meads.
  • We discuss the importance of yeast hydration and the use of Goferm when preparing yeast.
  • Steve talks about aeration of the must and also daily degassing of the must during active fermentation.
  • He shares his thoughts on aeration with pure oxygen and also using a second dose at 12 hours.
  • We discuss staggered nutrient addition options and which one he prefers.
  • Steve shares his thoughts on which fruits work best in a melomel or other fruit mead.
  • He talks about the challenges in working with whole fruit, fruit juices and purees and how he manages fruit in the must to minimize waste and maximize flavor.
  • Steve explains the intricacies of choosing a final gravity for various fruits so it will properly balance the sweetness of residual honey against the acidity and tannins in fruit.
  • We talk about why refractometers are not a good choice for high gravity meads and even some hydrometers have a hard time handling very high gravity melomels.
  • We spend some time discussing backsweetening mead, though Steve prefers to balance his meads by careful selection of original and final gravities.
  • He shares his thoughts on finishing meads and also his closing thoughts.
Sponsors

Thanks to Steve Piatz for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

iTunes Announcements: I launched a new video channel for the BeerSmith podcast on iTunes, so subscribe now! At the moment it will only feature the new widescreen episodes (#75 and up). Older episodes are available on my revamped Youtube channel. Also all of my audio episodes are on iTunes now – so grab the older episodes if you missed any.

Thoughts on the Podcast?

Leave me a comment below or visit our discussion forum to leave a comment in the podcast section there.

Subscribe to the Podcast on iTunes or BeerSmith Radio

You can listen to all of my podcast episodes streaming live around the clock on our BeerSmith Radio online radio station! You can also subscribe to the audio or video using the iTunes links below, or the feed address

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

2.3% ABV Session NEIPA

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 06/06/2017 - 3:29pm
I received an email a couple month ago from a homebrewer looking for advice on a 1% ABV New England IPA. It got me thinking about how light I could push a beer that still scratched my hop-itch. All else equal, I prefer beers with less alcohol so I can drink more, especially when it is hot out. I’ve brewed a few low-alcohol hoppy beers over the years (Wheat-based at 2.1% and Vienna-based at 3.6%), but it seemed worth revisiting. Rather than make a 1% near-beer, I decided 2% ABV was a more plausible goal!

While dextrins aren’t a major mouthfeel driver (study, Brulosophy, Karnowski), lower attenuation allows more malt to be added for the same volume of wort. Below 3% ABV is where the simple lack of malt begins to really show, especially in a style like this that isn’t buttressed by specialty malts. Think of it as the opposite of a big DIPA where you might substitute sugar for base malt to prevent the beer from becoming too malty. To make an absurdly-unfermentable wort I opted for equal parts Maris Otter (for more malt flavor pound-for-pound than my usual Rahr Brewer’s 2-row) and dextrin malt (Weyermann Carafoam).

Dextrin malts vary substantially depending on the maltster. The two most common are from Briess and Weyermann:

Briess Carapils is a true glassy caramel/crystal malt, albeit one that isn’t roasted enough to develop the color or flavor associated with darker caramel malts. The problem is that the dextrins created during the stewing process are converted to fermentable sugars if mashed with enzymatic base malt (light crystal/caramel malts don’t substantially affect attenuation, further discussion). Although if they were steeped alone, that would be another story.

Weyermann Carafoam (Carapils outside the US) is akin to chit malt, high in protein and under-modified. It is mealy/starchy so it too is converted into fermentable sugars when mashed, but would be unsuitable for steeping. Weyermann suggests it can be used as up to 40% of the grist. I hoped the protein contribution would make up for the well-modified English base malt while preventing the beer from tasting too biscuity.

I performed a brew-in-a-bag mash given the small quantity of grain. I mashed in at 165F to quickly denature the beta amylase responsible for creating most of the highly-fermentable maltose. Efficiency was a bit better than expected and it reached 1.030 instead of 1.028.

One of the takeaways from my recently submitted September BYO Advanced Brewing article (subscribe) comparing the mineral content of water to the beer brewed with it was that many of the flavor ions increase substantially. Much of that is from the grain, and using less grain suggests increasing the mineral additions. As a result, I increased my chloride target to boost mouthfeel.

I had some El Dorado in the freezer, and decided this was a good first batch to brew with them. I decided to pair with an equal amount of Simcoe to cut through the fruitier notes that El Dorado brings – often described as watermelon or strawberry. I used the new 400 micron hop filter I bought on a whim to hold the single flame-out addition, recirculating the wort through them.

For yeast I decided to try out Omega British V, which they compare to Wyeast 1318. I was hoping the grain and hot mash would result in ~50% apparent attenuation rather than the standard 71-75%. Despite all of my efforts the yeast still achieved a surprising 60% attenuation!

Session-Strength Session NEIPA

Smell – It smells like beer and not wort or hop tea! The hops provide an interesting mix of fruit (the power of suggestion says watermelon) and resin. Not much citrus or juice. Hop aroma would have been boosted by a keg hop. Not much else going on, but it doesn’t raise any flags given the style is all about hops.

Appearance – Passes the eye test as well. Not too pale thanks to the Maris Otter. Appropriate haze. Head looks about right too, solid, white, with good-but-not-great retention.

Taste – The malt flavor is almost there, and then it isn’t, falling flat and fading too quickly. Doesn’t come off as excessively bready English-malty though. The bitterness was harsh when I tapped the keg, mostly because I was drinking it nine days after brewing! A week later, now that the hop matter has dropped out of suspension, it has mellowed to just a little sharp. No hint of alcohol...

Mouthfeel – Despite the chloride, Carafoam, and low attenuation the body isn’t fooling anyone. The mid-palate is more Bud Light than Julius, seltzery rather than pillowy. I remember the wheat-based batch having better body despite the same 1.030 original gravity.

Drinkability & Notes – Crisp, crushable, hoppy barley water. I like it, but it’ll need some tweaks to dupe anyone into thinking it is above 4%, let alone 6%!

Changes for Next Time – A small addition of honey malt would help the malt flavor and add sweetness to balance the hops. I’d probably swap half of the Carafoam for oats as well to bring the body up. Might chill to 200F before adding the hop-stand addition to reduce the bitterness.

Recipe

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.2
IBU: 48.6
OG: 1.030
FG: 1.012
ABV: 2.3%
Final pH: 4.89
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 30 Mins

Malt
------
50.0% - 3.5 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
50.0% - 3.5 lbs Crisp Floor-Malted Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 165F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Brew Day Dry Hop
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Brew Day Dry Hop
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3

Other
-------
9.00 g Calcium Chloride @ mash
4.50 g Gypsum @ mash
1.00 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ mash
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min
0.50 tsp Wyeast Nutrient @ 5 min

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate* 135 160 100 10 5 45 *Do not increase if your water is lower in carbonate.

Yeast
-------
Omega OYL-011 British Ale V

Notes
-------
Brewed 5/19/17

BIAB with all of the salts and the acid, 3 gal each distilled, and DC tap. 5 gallons of 1.035 after removing the bag. Diluted with 1 gal each distilled and DC tap. That knocked the temperature down to 140F, but the enzymes should have been mostly denatured.

Brought to a boil for 30 minutes. Turned off the heat and added the hops for a 30 min stand with the wort recirculating through the hop filter.

Chilled to 70F, added first dose of dry hops to fermentor during run-off, pitched the yeast directly from the package, left at 64F to ferment.

5/22/17 Added second dose of dry hops.

5/29/17 Kegged, no keg hops at this point.

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Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Beer Brewing Pumps Part 2 – The Blichmann RipTide Pump

Homebrewing from Beersmith - Mon, 06/05/2017 - 3:39pm

RipTide Pump

This week in Part 2 of my series on beer pumps, I review the new Blichmann RipTide Pump. Last week in Part 1 I covered general brewing pump features as well as the popular March and Chugger pumps.

The Blichmann RipTide Pump Review

While the March and Chugger pumps covered in Part 1 have been the workhorses of homebrewers for many years now, Blichmann Engineering recently launched a new beer pump called the Riptide specifically designed to address home brewer’s needs. It has some unique features I really like. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a new RipTide and brew with it recently, so here’s my review of it.

Riptide Brewing Pump Features

The RipTide is really the first beer pump specifically designed for home brewers. As a result it has some very nice features that address shortcomings of other pump designs:

Easy to Disassemble Pump

  • Enclosed Motor – Other designs have an open motor design, meaning that the motor is exposed and can be quite loud. The RipTide has a fully enclosed motor which makes it extremely quiet – in fact almost silent when operating. Also the enclosed motor means you don’t need to worry as much about spilling water or wort on it accidentally while brewing.
  • Easy to Disassemble and Clean – The RipTide not only has an easy to clean magnetic-drive stainless steel head as a standard feature, but the entire head is held together with a single large Tri-Clamp. It takes literally seconds to remove the triclamp and disassemble the head after brewing for cleaning. Most other pumps require removing several screws to take the head off. The precision valve is also easy to remove and clean.
  • Blichmann Linear Flow Valve Built In- For other pumps you need to add a separate ball valve to the output to control the flow of wort, and unfortunately the ball valve rarely offers the precision flow control needed when pumping through a plate chiller. The RipTide has an integrated linear flow valve that takes about three turns to fully open/close so you can very precisely adjust the flow rate when pumping your wort through a chiller.
  • Integrated Bleed Valve – Other pumps typically need a separate bleed valve on the input to allow the pump to be primed properly as they won’t operate without liquid in the line and pump. The Blichmann pump has a “keg style” air release valve built into the head, so all you need to do to prime the pump is pull the ring on the bleed valve.
  • Built In Switch – Its a little thing, but most other pumps don’t have a switch built in so you need to either install an external switch or pull the plug to turn other pumps on and off. The RipTide has a built in switch and 10 foot (roughly 3 m) cord.
  • NPT Fittings you can Rotate with the Head – The pump comes with standard 1/2″ NPT fittings aligned 180 degrees from each other and you can rotate the head to support different orientations.
Brewing with the Riptide

Since the RipTide has the same fittings as my standard March pump it was pretty easy to install on my existing BrewEasy system. Priming the pump was very easy using the bleed valve. Also the peak flow rate is the same as my existing pump.

The first thing I noticed when operating the pump is just how quiet it is – the Riptide is listed at -50 db and it really is pretty close to silent when you operate it. Since I have an electric system, brewing with the Riptide is almost a silent experience except for a bit of noise from the wort itself recirculating into the top of the mash tun.

The precision valve came in handy when recirculating the mash. Where my old ball valve was generally either open or closed, with the Riptide I could dial the flow rate in so it would recirculate at a steady rate without running the mash tun dry.

Precision flow control was even more important when chilling wort through my plate chiller. I really struggled on my old pump to get the ball valve in just the right place to hit my target fermentation temperature. With the Riptide I could make very small adjustments and really dial in the temperature coming out of my plate chiller precisely.

After brewing cleanup was a snap as it only takes seconds to open up the pump head and remove the valve and the parts are stainless steel. I just disassembled the head, cleaned it with my other brewing tools and reassembled after drying.

Overall Impression of the Riptide

With a list price of $200 (as of this writing), I think Blichmann has a winner here. The RipTide is only slightly more expensive than a comparable stainless steel head March pump, and when you factor in the built-in features including the fully enclosed motor, built in precision valve, quick disassembly, and built in bleed valve it is a great deal. Also the enclosed motor makes it much quieter than any other pump on the market at this time.

I hope you enjoyed my two part review of beer brewing pumps. If you missed it you can find part 1 on March and Chugger pumps here. Thanks for joining me on the BeerSmith Home Brewing Blog. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter or my podcast (also on itunes…and youtube…and streaming radio station) for more great tips on homebrewing. Also check out the How to Brew Video series I shot with John Palmer if you want to learn more about all grain brewing.

[Full Disclosure: Blichmann Engineering is a sponsor of the BeerSmith podcast and web sites]

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Designing a New Stout Recipe

Brew Dudes - Wed, 05/31/2017 - 5:49pm

This week we taste Mike’s latest beer, which is a stout. We cover the taste and discuss what Mike perceives to be a missing sub-style in the stout category. When in comes to Stout I tend to brew to many I think. For some reason, I keep drawing myself back into the complexities of roast, […]

Read the original article Designing a New Stout Recipe and other Brew Dudes posts.

Categories: Homebrewing blogs

Honey Oat Tart Saison

The Mad Fermentationist - Tue, 05/30/2017 - 3:02pm
I've already heard from homebrewers who have fermented batches with Bootleg Biology Mad Fermentationist Saison Blend. A few have reported more acidity than I'm accustomed to achieving with my house culture. It was surprising then when my most recent batch of saison became rather tart despite the calculated 70 IBUs of flame-out hops. I suspect on a homebrew scale the formula used by Beersmith overestimates the bittering contribution of whirlpool additions, but I'm surprised that the Lactobacillus was able to fight though even if it is just 35 IBUs. Adapting perhaps as I keep pitching it into well-hopped beers? Last year for Homebrew Con I brewed a somewhat similar hoppy saison that only dropped to a pH of 3.87 compared to 3.75 for this batch.

Honey is usually a rather delicate flavor. I went above 30% by extract for a split batch of sour beer with five varietal honeys, and none of them were boisterous. I was surprised how much character I got form only 7% Spanish rosemary honey. Audrey and I were in Savannah in the fall and stopped by Savannah Bee Company. In addition to a dozen honeys for tasting they also had a mead bar and a variety of honey-infused cosmetics. The rosemary honey had a bright-herbal flavor and in typical homebrewer fashion I thought "I can ferment that." I added it after primary fermentation peaked to avoid any undue CO2 scrubbing.

I didn't realize this beer ended up over 8% ABV until doing the calculations with the honey added, and how much drier it ended up than its sister Queensland NE-Australian-IPA. S-04 only made it to 1.018, the house combo took it down .010 lower.

Honey Bunches of Saison

Smell – Honey (herbal, floral, not much beeswax) comes through well despite the comparatively small amount; quality over quantity. Alcohol as it warms, not surprising given the 8.1% ABV. Mild citrus, I assume from the yeast and its interaction with the Australian hops. Grain is subtle.

Appearance – Mild haze on the clover honey colored body. The dense, white head lasts a few minutes, remaining as a patchy covering.

Taste – The most acidic beer from my house culture so far, but still more tart than sour. Low bitterness despite the calculated IBUs. Honey is there again, bright and pleasant adding herbal notes that cut though the citrus of the hops. Mild cereal finish with lingering fruity sweetness. The yeast ends up a little buried, not much funk or spice apparent, only a mild earthiness.

Mouthfeel – Light body without being watery. Moderate carbonation, would have been nice bottle conditioned and a bit spritzier.

Drinkability & Notes – If anything too drinkable for the amount of alcohol. It doesn’t have the depth I look for in a big saison but it also doesn’t have the heat. Falls in the Boulevard Tank 7 genre of, "oh I didn’t realize it was that strong."

Changes for Next Time – This one could have stood up to a small dry hop charge given the characterful honey. Barring that, I might actually pull back the honey to 8 oz to let the base beer breathe. A lower OG as well, or bottle conditioned to give the Brett more time to make it interesting.

Honey Bunches of Saison

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 69.2
OG: 1.064 (1.069 w/honey)
FG: 1.008
ABV: 8.1%
Final pH: 3.75
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Grain
-------
71.4% - 10 lbs Rahr Brewer's 2-Row
14.3% - 2 lbs Dingemans Pilsen
14.3% - 2 lbs Bob's Red Mill Quick Steel Cut Oats

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest: 45 min @ 156F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz Galaxy (Pellets, 14.8% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz Vic Secret (Pellets, 17.8% AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)

Mineral Profile
-------------------
8 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash
5.5 g Gypsum @ Mash

Calcium Chloride Sulfate Sodium Magnesium Carbonate* 125 130 115 8 5 45*Do not increase if your water is lower in carbonate.

Other
-------
1 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ Mash
.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min
.5 tsp Wyeast Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min
.685 lbs Rosemary Honey @ Fermentation day 4

Yeast
-------
House Saison Blend

Notes
-------
Recipe scaled to be brewed as is.

Brewed 3/11/17

Mashed with 3 gallons distilled, 4.5 gallons DC filtered, 8 g CaCl 5.5 g gypsum, 1 tsp of phosphoric acid. pH 5.44. Sparged with 1.5 gallons distilled. Hops are 2016 harvest.

Collected 7 gallons of 1.060 wort.

Chilled to 68F.

Pitched 1 L of House Saison culture. It was 3 months since harvesting, so I made a small starter with wort from this batch at the start of the boil. Left the saison at ~67F ambient to ferment.

3/15/17 Added 11 oz of rosemary honey from Savannah Bee Company.

4/8/17 Kegged with remaining 1 oz of honey and 2 oz of table sugar.

4/29/17 Chilled and connected to CO2.

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