Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Staycation IPA

What do you do when you have the week off from work and not enough dough to fly home for the holidays? Brew! That's not all I've been up to, I've also been finding time to socialize, get out on some nice hikes, and clean up around the house. But on Christmas morning, it was all about throwing on some good tunes and brewing. After coffee of course.

This recipe is really the batch two of the "Wonton-amo Bay IPA" that I did in July. The first batch was one of the only beers I have ever made that had a diacetyl problem, and sadly I didn't recognize it in time to fix it. So this time around, I aim to make damn sure it's fully fermented before I crash it, but other than that it's fairly identical. Exact same malt bill, although it's lower O.G. due to slightly less efficiency an intentionally bigger final volume (I was aiming for 1.062ish so I was only a bit below target). Slightly higher mash temp. Very similar hop schedule, but some minor adjustments were made based on what I had in the freezer. I'm adding some Chinook and Citra to the dry hops in addition to what was added last time. Should be an all-out hop bomb, but also very clean, dry and drinkable. I've got high hopes that this one will redeem me from my last flawed attempt at IPA greatness.

Wonton-amo Bay IPA - Batch 2
Brewed on 12/25/10
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 5.9 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.060 F.G. 1.014 ABV 6.1% IBU's 87

10.5 lb. 2-row pale malt (Great Western Organic)
1 lb. wheat malt
.5 lb. Crystal 60
.5 lb. Carapils

19 gr. Warrior pellet 15.8%AA 60 min
20 gr. Summit whole 18%AA 30 min
36 gr. Amarillo whole 8.7%AA 10 min
14 gr. Citra whole 11%AA 10 min
6 gr. Chinook whole 14.2% 10 min
28 gr. Simcoe pellet 12.2% 0 min
28 gr. Centennial whole 7.8% 0 min
14 gr. Simcoe pellets dry hopped in the primary
14 gr. each: Centennial, Chinook, Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, whole hops, dry hopped in the keg in a "sock".

Mash: 4.5 gallons water plus 3 tsp. Burton Salts
Mash in to 153 for 60 minutes, fell to 150.
Sparge with 5 gallons at 170
Collect 7 gallons at 1.050 = 79% efficiency
Boil 60 minutes, with hop additions as noted.
Added 1 tsp. Burton salts to kettle.
Wyeast nutrient and whirlfloc at 10 minutes.
Whirlpool, rest 10 minutes while setting up plate chiller.
Chill/transfer thru plate chiller over 10 minutes
Collect 5.5 gallons at 68 degrees.
Oxygen 60 seconds
Pitched 2 packages Wyeast 1056 Cali Ale Yeast
Ferment at 69
1/6/10 Primary dry hops added
1/18/10 Kegged, 1.014. Tastes and smells so freakin' good, not sure if it needs any extra hops but they were already in the keg. 2nd dry hop.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

American Session Stout - for lack of a better name

Wyeast West Yorkshire ale yeast. It's a new seasonal strain that I think was put out this year or last year for the first time. Jamil Zainacheff has said he really likes the way it works and the flavors produced by it. And I got a pack for free a few months ago from Owen at Wyeast (thanks again). It's still available through the end of December if you are interested in brewing with it. Here's some data from their website:

Wyeast 1469 PC West Yorkshire Ale
This strain produces ales with a full chewy malt flavor and character, but finishes dry, producing famously balanced beers. Expect moderate nutty and stone-fruit esters. Best used for the production of cask-conditioned bitters, ESB and mild ales. Reliably flocculent, producing bright beer without filtration.Attenuation 67-71%
Alc. Tolerance 9%
Flocculation highTemperature Range 64-72°F (18-22°C)

I used it for the first time in the Dark Mild I brewed with the second runnings from our Baltic Porter. It's a solid little beer. I would like to have some more malty sweetness, but that is more recipe based than anything. It's good to drink. The esters are clean, the yeast flocced out hard and cleaned up the beer nicely, both in flavor and clarity.

The yeast is said to have been sourced from Timothy Taylor brewery in West Yorkshire. I haven't tried their beers, but apparently they make some fantastic full-flavored bitters and dark milds. Not one of the beers listed on their website comes in at over 4.3% ABV, so to see beer geeks go gaga over their beers is saying something special. And according to their reviews on Beeradvocate, they are making some phenomenal beers. Not that all this can be attributed to the yeast, in fact I'd argue that's mostly to the brewers' credit.

Judging from the flavor of the dark mild, I would say the West Yorkshire strain is similar to the Wyeast London Ale III in performance and flavor, which supposedly comes from Bodddington's. I have used that in a previous mild, and it's a strain that one of the local breweries uses to make some fantastic hoppy beers. So its uses shouldn't be limited to English style ales, although that is probably what it is best at.

Thinking along the lines of session beer, and something full-flavored enough to stand up to the cold rainy weather we have been dealing with here, I decided to come up with another recipe using the West Yorkshire yeast. I wanted to keep it cheap by using only ingredients I already had. A session stout perhaps, based on the historical stout grists that you can read about on Ron Pattinson's "Shut Up About Barclay Perkins" blog. That sounded good. Maybe some woody, piney hops though. But not over-the-top hoppy. I tried to exercise constraint here with all the ingredients, to find a balance of flavors that would be complex yet drinkable. The brown malt should add some toasted bread dryness, as this malt tastes exactly like almost burnt artisan bread crusts. Some roast / coffee / espresso flavors, but not as much as Guinness or a really roasty stout. I left out the crystal, which is a leap of faith, but I want it to be a stout, not a porter.

I am really excited about this beer, but I don't really have an idea of what the final balance of flavors will be. It could be more hoppy or more stouty, or more portery. It's tempting to give it some sarcastic name like "Cascadian dark pale ale" or what have you. But it's not supposed to be Cascadian. It's supposed to be a session historical stout with an American hop twist. I'm fairly certain it will be darn tasty, but only time will tell how if the flavor comes close to my original intention.

Dilation Stout*
Brewed on 12/20/10
Recipe is for 7 gallons pre-boil, 5.7 gallons post-boil, all grain
O.G. 1.050 F.G. ABV IBU's 41

6.5 lb. Great Western Organic Pale
1 lb. Munton's Marris Otter
1 lb. Flaked Barley
14 oz. British roasted barley 600L
8 oz. Belgian aromatic malt 25 L
8 oz. British brown malt 70L

21 gr. Chinook whole 14.1% AA 60 min
14 gr. Chinook whole 14.1% AA 0 min
30 gr. Cascade whole 7 % AA 0 min

Mash, 153 for 50 minutes, fell to 149
Sparge with 5 gallons at 170
the only water adjustment was chlorine removal with campden

Collect 7 gallons at 1.041 = 79% efficiency
Boil 90 minutes
Whirlfloc & yeast nutrient at 10 min
Whirlpool/rest 10 minutes after flame off
Chill thru plate chiller over 10 minutes to 60
Oxygen 1 minute
Pitch West Yorkshire 2nd generation
Ferment at 68-69 degrees
1/6/11 Racked to keg, tastes phenomenal but couldn't believe it was still at 1.024!!! WTF, that yeast dropped out super early. I'm going to take another taste, gravity, and decide whether to krausen with more yeast. I need some zwickels on my carboys to take regular gravity samples!

* I brewed this beer right after coming back from the optometrist for my yearly perscription check. The doctor dilated my pupils, to the point where I could hardly see! Check out the picture below. For the most part I had to work without my glasses and squint to see anything. Also if I went to far away from a piece of equipment I had to walk around squinting to find it again. The garden hose, which is white, looked like a glowing electric ghost-line against the ground. Despite visuals worse than any I have ever experienced with drug "experimentation" in my youth, I felt no fun side effects. Gradually the eye dilation drops wore off over 6 hours or so and I could see again. The fur hat I'm wearing in the photo was because it was a really cold day for brewing.

On Deck: Christmas Stay-cation IPA

Monday, December 20, 2010

HUGE Baltic Porter & small beer - with Sean Burke

I had been kicking around some "collaboration brewing" ideas with my friend Sean Burke, and we both knew that we didn't want to do something normal. It was our first time brewing together, and we wanted to do something with some gusto. We were both enthused by the idea of a Baltic Porter, and we toyed with the idea of doing some home-smoked malt in it, before ditching that idea because neither of us has a smoker. We finally settled on trying for a huge Baltic Porter and a small beer from the second runnings. We might mess with half the batch by adding oak and/or spirits.

Neither of us knew just quite how huge the Baltic Porter would really be, and we were pretty shocked to see it is one of the highest O.G. beers that either of us have ever brewed, and a lager at that.
The brewday really maxed out my "brewhouse's" capabilities, and because of this we ran into a few classic homebrew-y snags. I found myself apologizing quite a few times for the unforeseen problems, not to mention wishing that we had Sean's march pump on hand for the end of the boil.
For starters, we mashed in a keggle with an EZ-masher, but not only did we slightly scorch the grain bed when trying to raise the temp a bit, but we also knocked loose the EZ-masher screen in the process somehow, and the result was a completely stuck mash. Luckily we had an extra cooler mash-tun on hand, or we would have been totally, completely screwed!
After transfering the entire mash to the cooler, things went pretty smooth until the end of the boil, when we found ourselves losing the siphon, losing flow through the heat exchanger! That was fixable by getting the pot higher and having someone stand up there stirring the kettle to free up any hops from the kettle screen, so it could run freely to the fermenter. This was somewhat exacerbated, I'm sure, by the incredibly viscous 1.117 O.G. wort.

Despite all the setbacks, we had a fun time and didn't get too stressed out about the little snafu's. We also managed to get a pretty decent small beer out of the process which came in at 1.030 O.G. I fermented mine as a "dark mild", pitching the Wyeast West Yorkshire ale yeast. It is already drinking pretty well after only 8 days and comes in at a sessionable 2.5%. It's a decent beer, but it could use some more caramel sweetness, without which it comes off as slightly roasty and harsh. Still, it's hard not to like a sessionable, easy to drink ale that was fast and basically free to make.

Sean pitched his portion with a lager yeast which he plans to use as a giant starter wort for another lager. It will be interesting to try the small beers side by side.
The huge Baltic Porter got a full (5 gallon batch) yeast cake pitch of 3rd generation Bohemian Lager yeast, from the just-transferred rauchbier that is tasting really nice. I did not post that recipe here, so here it is: Jamil's rauchbier from Brewing Classic Styles, brewed with 70% Rauchmalt. That's the recipe. I obviously haven't tried it fully lagered yet, but all I can say is, try brewing it. It's great. We drank a full pint of green lager that had been held aside for a flavor/gravity sample, and it already tasted super fine. 70% is not too much smoke, and seems quite gentle so far.

Our cat "Chk Chk Chk" also hung out for the brewday, but she was pretty lazy. She mostly sat around and whined, occasionally entertaining herself by jumping onto the kegerator, which I try to keep as a sanitary work surface, and leaving muddy paw prints all over it. Damned good-for-nothing cats.

A couple things about the recipe:
1) The pre-boil/post boil gravities on the baltic porter don't work out. So I'm not sure what went wrong there but the O.G. was 1.117. Possible a combination of inaccurate pre-boil reading and post-boil volume measurement?
2) As you will see with the grainbill and hop timings, we weren't really concerned with stylistic accuracy here, just making what sounded great.

Main Mash:
27 lb. Weyermann Pils
10 lb. Briess Munich 10 L
1 lb. C-60
2 lb. C-77
1 lb. C-120
1 lb. pale chocolate
1 lb. chocolate
1 lb. Carafa special II

Mash: 11 gallons at 152ish, for almost 2 hours by the time we actually got it transferred to the cooler.
Sparge: 21 gallons at 170
Continuous fly-sparge, switching over to second kettle once first kettle was full.

Beer 1: Baltic Porter
13.5 gallons pre-boil 1.090 (???Doesn't add up)
Boil 90 min:

25 gr. Magnum pellet 11.5% AA 90 min
44 gr. Warrior pellet 15.8% AA 90 min
yeast nutrient & whirlfloc 10 min
56 gr. Sterling whole 7% AA 0 min
11.5 gallons post-boil
oxygen for 2.5 minutes
pitch full yeast cake of Wyeast 2124 at 54 degrees
1.117 O.G., 68 IBUs
Fermented at 50 for 8 days, then raised to 56 when bubbles slowed down.
1/2/11 Racked to secondary fermenter, tastes very promising but still at 1.050. Looks like the primary yeast shit the bed right at 9% ABV. Looking into pitching more yeast, hoping to get it down to 1.035.

Beer 2: "small beer / dark mild"
10.5 gallons pre-boil at 1.022
Boil 90 min
8 oz. Belgian amber candi sugar rocks 90 min
28 gr. Northern Brewer whole 7.8% 35 min
O.G. 1.030
15 IBU
Fermented my half with Wyeast West Yorkshire at 68-70
F.G. 1.011, ABV 2.5%

Monday, December 13, 2010

What's on tap - Tastings

Again, I am so bad about going back to do tastings of the recipes I've posted here. Sorry. I hope these are worth reading... the beers are tasting good! I pulled some samples yesterday while planning out what's going into kegs next, what's getting funk-dafied, and what's going on fruit. Later in the evening, Clarissa and I went up to the soft opening of Grain & Gristle, a new bar/restaurant in NE Portland that is a collaboration between Alex Ganum, owner of Upright Brewing, and a few other partners. The tap selection was great and the moules et frites was great too. So check it out if you're in Portland. Now for some tastings:

Color is like a hazy pilsner, on the light side for a saison, with a thick standing head with good retention. Aroma is very "saison-like" with a good balance of fruity esters, hops, and peppery phenols, and a background grainyness from the pils malt. A little more bubblegum/clove than I usually get when using only Dupont yeast, which I attribute to the secondary addition of the DeRanke yeast. Flavor is complex, starting with a medium-full body impression from high carbonation, some sweetness from the pils malt and esters, and hop flavor that it sort of earthy. It is dry and leaves the palate with a hoppy bite that encourages another drink. Alcohol is moderate but slightly warming with no "hotness". Overall, I think it's actually one of the best saisons I have made. It is not an over the top saison, but very drinkable while still remaining complex.

Clear copper in color with a thin, wispy white head. Hoppy, slightly lemon tea-like aroma, some grapefruit, and slight caramel/biscuit flavors from malt. Clean esters and alcohol. Medium-full bodied pale ale flavor with a fairly good balance of malt and hops. Creamy mouthfeel from the rye and fairly high final gravity. Overall, I like this beer and it's very drinkable, but I would like it to be a little drier, and I would like to mix up the hops a little bit more to get a better complexity. Very drinkable, but not astounding.

Big frothy pink head that dies quickly, on top of a cherry-red ale with a slight haze. Aroma is full of cherries and there is a spicy quality from both the brett and the innate spicyness of sour cherries. The acidity is noticable and very clean, as in lactic acid, not acetic. It does not smell exceedingly sour, but it is noticable. A little caramel malt background, no hops, low alcohol. Flavor is clean and lactic-sour, with a subtle maltiness. Maltiness could be higher to give the cherries and sourness more foundation. Nice carbonation, nice cherry flavor that blends with a touch of burnt sugar. The brett comes through well, as well as a hint of almond flavor from cherry pits. Overall, it's great, one of the best sours I've ever made. It could still use a touch more maltyness and maybe a touch more acidity, but I am very happy with this beer. It's not up there with the best commercial krieks, but it's very good and I'm proud of it. Its clean flavor and modrate sourness almost make it a session beer. I could drink 2 pints of it, whereas I would like it to be a slightly more intense beer that you would want to drink a small glass or two of.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Yeast Fairy came to Alameda today!

A friend from Wyeast came by Alameda today to drop off a ton of free yeast packets. I picked up one of each of a lot of stuff: Trappist, West Yorkshire, Cali, some other American ale, 2 lagers, steam yeast, and I must be forgetting a few.

Sean Burke and I have a big-ass Baltic Porter brew planned out for next week. I could easily see pulling a second-runnings beer and pitching a yeast pack in that for a fun small beer. Maybe a dark mild with the West Yorkshire? Jamil Zainacheff really likes this strain, so I would like to try it.