Saturday, December 20, 2008

Smoked Helles and Brewday Slideshow

It occurred to me that maybe one of the 2 or 3 people who check out this blog might be interested to see my brewing setup in action, and for me to explain my typical brewing process. There are many sites, including How To Brew, that go much deeper into a textbook brew day, but I think my setup and techniques may help certain brewers, especially those new to all-grain brewing, or those who want to brew all-grain, but don't have the luxury of outdoor space to do so. I've really tried to concentrate on simple, low-tech equipment that does not sacrifice beer quality or consistency.

So I'll take you through a slide show of my smoked helles brewday.
To see the commentary, click "show info" in the upper right-hand corner.

The inspiration for the smoked helles recipe was a commercial beer. If you have never had the Schlenkerla smoked helles, you should seek it out, because it's amazing. I have only seen it on draft in NYC and Philly. This beer is so wonderfully, subtly smokey, that even people like me who usually don't like smoked beers should try it. This is a true session beer with just enough smoke to make you think of food, and go back for another pint. I wanted to try a beer like this, and maybe even give it a little more smoke than Schlenkerla's version (although not near the level of smoke found in their darker beers).

I had never done a beer with smoked malt, so I wanted to get a little input from the pope - Jamil Zainacheff. He recommended that I shoot for 7-10% Rauchmalt for a very subtle flavor. I was going to try 10%, but when I was tasting this grain, it was just so good to eat, I decided to take it up to 17% of the total grain. I figured if it was too smokey for a helles, I could blend in a small amount of my upcoming Schwarzbier and just call it a rauchbier. And it is definitely smokier than the Schlenkerla version, I tried it when I transferred it from the primary to a keg. But it tastes great, and I can't wait to try it in a month when it's fully lagered and carbonatated.

Smoked Munich Helles
Recipe is for 6.2 gallons post-boil, all-grain
O.G. 1.049 F.G. 1.012 IBU's 20

8 lb, 6 oz. Durst Pils malt
1 lb. 12 oz. Rauchmalt
2 oz. aromatic malt

25 gr. German Tradition pellets 5.7% 60 min.

Mash: 3.75 gallons water, no mineral additions.
Mash in to 151. Checked pH at 15 minutes: about 5.3
One hour at 151, followed by a mash out to 170 over 15 minutes.

Sparged with 5 gallons at 170. Collected 7.1 gallons at 1.044 = 79% efficiency.

Boil 90 minutes, hops at 60, whirlfloc at 15, 1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled (see slide show) to 54 and racked to carboy, aerated by hand for 10 min.

Pitched the yeast: A decanted, 3 liter starter of Whitelabs 830 made on a stirplate.

Fermented for 2 weeks at 52, racked to keg on 1/4/09.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

JZ's Dubbel

This one is pretty much straight outa Brewing Classic Styles, with appropriate hop substitutions (JZ uses Tettnang, I used Tradition), and I substituted 1 pound of wheat for pilsner. I'm still trying to work my way through that damn bag of wheat malt that has the occasional kernel of roasted malt in it, so this was a good chance.

The brewday was totally smooth, I ended up 2 points high on the gravity and that's fine with me.

Recipe is for 6 gallons AG, post boil. 5.25 in the fermenter.
O.G. 1.066 F.G 1.013 ABV 7% IBU's 23

8 lb. Durst Pils malt
1 lb. Munich malt
1 lb. wheat malt
.5 lb aromatic malt
.5 lb. caramunich 60L
.5 lb. Special B

.75 lb. Belgian dark candi syrup (D1)
.5 lb. corn sugar

8 gr. Perle pellets 5.7% 60 min
21 gr. Hallertauer Tradition pellets 5.7% 60 min

Mash in 3.75 gallons of water at 149 for 85 minutes,
Raised to 170 over 15 minutes

Sparged with 5 gallons at 170
Collected 7 gallons at 1.050 (before sugar) = 81% efficiency.

Boil: 90 minutes, hops as noted
whirlfloc at 15, 1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled to 68, racked to a carboy, and pitched a 1 liter starter of White Labs 530 Abbey yeast (made on a stirplate).
Aerated for 8 minutes by hand.

Fermentation stayed around 68 degrees, occasionally creeping up to 70 before I knocked it back down. Racked to keg on 12/23/08.

This ended up being a pretty nice beer, very clean with some subtle fruity/malty flavors. It was a little lacking in aroma, and I think it would benefit from a higher fermentation temp, and possibly playing around with the specialty malts and sugars to increase the fruity/malty qualities a bit. I'm not really sure how Jamil manages to make this recipe taste "Belgian" enough, because he ramps the fermentation from a frigid 62 to 70 and tops out there. If I could only change one thing, I would get this beer up to at least 72 during the last third of fermentation. I really liked the aroma of the WLP 530 yeast. Much less banana character than WLP 500.

Ray, Clarissa, and I sat down and tried this beer next to some commercial Belgian dubbels: Affligem, Rochefort 8, and Westmalle. Affligem was the clear winner, with a wonderful aroma of cherry and port, with a dry finish. Westmalle was to pruny, almost like a doppelbock, and the alcohol was too hot, but maybe it just needed some age. It was better as it warmed. The Rochefort was the worst, with a cloudy murky appearance, and a dominant aroma of nail polish remover (acetone). My beer fell somewhere in the middle, there was a nutty finish that I didn't really like that may have come from the malts, or maybe it was a little bit funky or something...not really sure.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

White Labs 566 Saison

I probably wouldn't be doing another saison right now, but Fritz had an extra tube of this yeast that was close to it's "best before" date, and he wasn't going to brew with it. Since this was the last of the 6 White Labs/Wyeast saison strains that I still hadn't brewed with, I jumped at the chance.

Recipe is for 6.8 gallons pre-boil, 5.7 gallons post boil, 5 in the fermenter.
O.G. 1.060 F.G. 1.005 IBU's 29 ABV 7+%

9.5 lb. Durst Pils malt
1 lb. Wheat malt
.25 lb. aromatic malt
.5 lb. light organic turbinado sugar

(All hops are pellets. This is a weird mix as I was trying to use up a lot of partial bags. Basically, I shoot for a flavor addition of .5 ounces, and a knockout addition of 1.25 ounces, and then adjust the bittering addition to achieve the IBU's I want. I really like the earthyness that the Goldings hops contribute, so I went heavy on them.)

17 gr. East Kent Goldings 5.5% 60 min
7 gr. Crystal 3.3% 60 min
8 gr. Styrian Aurora 7.6% 60 min
9 gr. Styrian Goldings 3.5% 15 min
5 gr. Saphir 4.2% 15 min
29 gr. East Kent Goldings 5.5% 0 min
6 gr. Saphir 4.2% 0 min

3.25 gallons H2O + 2 tsp Gypsum. Mash in to 147. Checked the pH after 10 minutes: pH was at 5.5, so I added .5 ml lactic acid to reduce it to around 5.2. Held at 147 for 90 minutes total, then I raised it to 170 over 20 minutes.
Sparged with 5 gallons t 170.
Collected 6.75 gallons at 1.046, 76% efficiency.

Boil 90 minutes, adding sugar at 90 minutes, hops as noted.
Whirlfoc at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast Nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled to 68, whirlpooled, and let settle for 30 minutes before racking.
(For the starter, I went big, because this yeast tube was 4 months old. On a stirplate, I did a 1 qt. starter, pitched in to a 2 qt. starter, and then let it settle out over a few days. Then I poured out about half the liquid.)
Pitched 1500 ml starter of Whitelabs 566 saison II yeast.
Fermentation was going strong within 3 hours, at 68 degrees.
Day 1: 68-70
Day 2: 70-72
Day 3: 74-76
Day 4: 76-80
Day 5: 80
Day 6: 78
Mid-70's until bottling.

Bottled on 12/14. Bottling volume approximately 5 gallons, with 6.5 ounces priming sugar.
Tasted very nice, big fruityness leaning towards grapefruit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Golden Strong Ale

Please participate in my Poll to the right! YOU can help me decide a name for this beer.

I like this one...Mythical but not a Devil or Dragon reference.

This one is also timeless....evocative of the common threads in nature, art and science.

This Motherfucker will not take pity on your fool ass if you don't vote for him.

OK, now to the beer. I brewed this up on Sunday after a weekend of serious partying. See Brewtopia post, soon to come. So it was a "dry" brewing session. Clarissa actually hung out and helped me brew, weighing grains and sparging and generally providing support.

Recipe is for 6.75 gallons pre-boil, 5.75 gallons post boil, 5.25 in the fermenter.
O.G. 1.071 IBU's 29
Efficiency was around 79%

9 lb. Durst Pils malt
1 lb. Wheat malt
6 oz. aromatic malt
2 oz. melanoidin malt
.5 lb. DME to bring me up to target gravity
1.5 lb. table sugar

21 gr. Styrian Aurora pellets 7.4% 60 min
20 gr. Stryian Goldings pellets 3.5% 30 min
20 gr. German Saphir pellets 4.2% 0 min

Mash: 3.6 gallons + .5 ml lactic acid. 148 for 75 minutes, raised to 170 over 15 minutes. Total time 90 min.

Sparge: 5 gallons + .25 ml lactic acid. 170 degrees.

Boil: 90 min, hops additions as noted. Whirlfloc at 15, 1/2 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.
Chill, whirlpool, and collect 5.25 gallons.
Aerated by hand for 8 minutes, Pitch at 68 degrees.
Pitched a 1500 ml starter (stirplate) of Whitelabs 500 trappist ale yeast.

Ferment at 68 for 3 days, then 70 for 1 day, then 72 for 7 days.

Racked to secondary on 11/12/08. Whoah! I could smell banana cream pie from halfway across the room (this yeast kicks of a lot of banana esters). Tastes good, but still only a hint of what's to come. 1.011

Monday, November 3, 2008

Brew & Chew at the Diamond

I've been meaning to post about this really fun event that took place at the Diamond Bar in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Sunday, September 28th. The basic idea was for homebrewers to pair their beers with foods, and have a competition, judged by the public. Dave Pollack formatted this as a benefit, all cash going to a community gardens project called East NY Farms. They teach local kids to farm, and run a farmers market where they sell their produce. This also benefits the neighborhood as a resource for fresh produce.
All in all, 6 teams competed and a good time was had by all. There were good pairings and great pairings, but I was very pleased to see that all teams made something tasty.

The original plan was for me and Ray to be a team, until he douched out and had to go to a wedding. Luckily my girlfriend Clarissa stepped in and helped with the food, or I would have been screwed. We knew it was a special sign when we scored our little propane cooker at a Brooklyn flea market for $7, with gas.

We really like to hit up the farmers markets and cook seasonally, which is why, after some indecision, we decided to do butternut squash inside of ravioli. Very fall-esque. We used some sage and onion to compliment the squash flavor. And goat cheese pretty much makes anything taste better, so there you go. The pasta was purchased fresh from a place in Manhattan, so we made the fillings, stuffed about 120 large raviolis, and parboiled them to be fried in butter later. It was really good.

The beer was me and Ray's first saison with the French saison yeast, which I called "session" saison in an earlier post. It was fantastic. You can't see in the picture the amazing head this beer poured with. Nothing lasts forever I guess.
There were 2 tasting sessions. 50 people per session tried each team's food and beer, plus they got to go back for seconds of their 2 favorite teams. We tried to get our friends to come and vote for us, but nobody came! Their loss... even better was to hear so many strangers saying our stuff was great! I mean your friends would HAVE to say that.

A few of shots of the event, above is the Diamond's back yard, and the better halves of Vlad and Eric. Below, Dave Pollack, the owner, and his cute French bulldog.

The end results were, out of 6 teams, we took 3rd. That might not sound very good, but here is how I would put it: these things are not very fair. Quite simply, if you want to win, it pays to bring your friends. Actually what you wanted to win was 2nd prize, a $150 gift certificate to Fette Sau, an awesome BBQ restaurant and beer bar in Williamsburg.

To speak as objectively as I can on it, and this was also stated by a lot of other people, I thought our team or Vlad & Eric's team deserved first place. Vlad's Bock was tasty and the smoked ribs by Eric were delicious. The wining team had some really nice and beautifully presented food, but they actually brought 2 beers, which we thought was not really appropriate. And I still think our beer kicked the most ass!

Anyway, that's just the super competitive side of me speaking. The bottom line is, I think everyone had an awesome time.

This guy above, Vlad, is the MAN! What a suave dude in his Cuban gueyabara. Is that HOT or what? You can hardly tell he's a drunk... That's my V.P. for the homebrewers guild by the way, soon to be El Presidente. His awesome wife Amy is to the right, along with half of Eric's head.

This team above, I don't remember their names, but they made a robust porter and lamb stew. It was tasty! I had never met them before, but they are homebrewers from my neighborhood. So that just goes to show, no one really knows how many homebrewers there are in the city.

So that's it. Looking forward to the next one, possibly in May. Thanks Dave and everyone else who participated, for a great time. Also thanks again Clarissa for helping out, I couldn't have done it without you!

Monday, October 6, 2008

"Farmhouse" Saison

I stole this wonderful picture of a saison from some other guy's blog.
Uh...Thanks man.

Me and Ray did this one with Wyeast 3726 Farmhouse, which is the Blaugies strain, I'm pretty sure. The first batch of saison we brewed together went the the Brew & Chew homebrew and food pairing comp at the Diamond, and it did really well. Not to be modest, but it was the best beer there. The second batch of saison, or "grisette" as we are calling it, is going to Brewtopia. But this batch is just for us, minus maybe a few for competitions and trades. We're trying to get the alcohol up to 7+% for a more "brewer's reserve" feel.

The only thing I didn't really like in the first saison was a little too much sour twang from the sauer malt. We just used a little lactic acid addition in this beer to adjust the mash pH and left the sauer malt out.

Recipe is for 12 gallons, 10.5 in the fermentors.
O.G. before dilution with starter 1.064 IBU's 33
O.G. after dilution with starter 1.061 IBU's 30
F.G. 1.006 ABV 7.2%

19 lb. Durst pilsner malt
2 lb. wheat malt
.5 lb. aromatic malt
2 lb. table sugar

26 gr. Millenium pellets 14.9% 60 min
28 gr. Kent Goldings pellets 5.5% 15 min
28 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 3.5% 0 min
28 gr. Saphir pellets 4% 0 min

7.5 gallons water + 1 ml lactic acid. Mash at 146 for 90 minutes.
Sparge with 8.5 gallons at 175
Collect 13 gallons, added.5 gallons top-up water and the sugar. Pre-boil gravity was 1.058

Boiled 90 minutes, additions as noted.
Whirlfloc at 15 min, 1 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled to 68, racked to carboys and aerated by shaking.
Pitched a huge starter: 1 gallon made on a stirplate the day before, threw the whole thing in.
Should effectively reduce the O.G. to 1.061 and IBU's to 30.
Currently fermenting at 72, topped out at around 75.

Racked to keg on 11/7/08, The sample was tasty with a nice tangerine note and some earthyness, but the overall aroma was a little underwhelming IMO.

Here is the finished beer. Need to work on my photography skills!

12/2/08 Tasting:
Aroma: Spicy, some light vanilla malt combining with esters of banana, pear, and apple. Very clean and spicy.

Appearance: Slightly hazy light gold, good head, tight bubbles.

Flavor: Round initial malt with big esters of banana/pear/apple, followed by a light zing of acidity and a dry, spicy finish. Medium bitterness, medium noble hop flavor in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Light, expands in mouth from high carbonation. Dry spicy finish with a touch of warming alcohol.

Overall: Subtle, well crafted and clean, missing that complex fruityness (too much banana), and wild or earthy "rustic" flavor you might expect. Very Drinkable!

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Toy: Stirplate

OK, so this is one of the things I've been wanting to get for a while, in the continuing effort to improve my brewing. I think the Erlenmyer flask is 10 times more important than the stirplate though. The stirplate just gets you more yeast growth per volume. But the flask lets you do simple, quick and sterile starters.

I bought the flask from Northern Brewer for about $30 I think. Adam Winkel generously donated his stirplate to me due to equipment downsizing. He said it wasn't too powerful, and it has a hard time stirring much more than water.

The first thing I did was take off the top plate and adjust some spacers, so now the tray sits closer to the magnet and hopefully gets more pull. It seems to be working fine, but only experience will tell!

Rye Stout 2008

I think I had Bell's Rye Stout about 5-6 years ago, around the time when I first started homebrewing. It was a very nice, characterful beer. Shortly after, when I was working at a homebrew store for a little while, I did my first Imperial Stout. I can't remember what it was exactly, some recipe out of Clonebrews.

Of course, being a new homebrewer, I couldn't leave that recipe alone. I added a pound and a half of flaked rye, and some honey. 8 months later when it stopped tasting like rocket fuel, it actually developed into a really fantastic beer.

Point being, this is not a clone of Bell's Rye Stout. I've brewed a lot of incarnations of this, and the best time was last time, at an export stout strength. It has a very creamy mouthfeel, notes of chocolate, coffee, and even cherry. It also went really well next to a shot of bourbon. This time will be a little different too, but I don't know how yet. Last time I used a british yeast. This time I am going for a little more attenuation with an American ale yeast, and I threw in slightly bigger hop additions at the end. Eventually I'll bottle this for Christmas presents for friends.

This was not my smoothest brewday. I came up a little short on my kettle volume, then boiled off a little too much, and then thinned the beer down with a quart of water. Also, I had a huge flask of Wyeast 1056 ready for this and the next day's group brewday. I didn't have a good way of measuring the yeast so I just guestimated, and judging from the lag time, I was a little low on my yeast pitch. But not a lot low. It should be fine.

Recipe is for 5.8 gallons post-boil, 5 in the fermenter.

O.G. 1.067 F.G. 1.020 ABV 6.3% IBU's 75

10 lb. Glen Eagle Marris Otter malt
2 lb. Rye malt
1 lb. Roasted Barley
.5 lb. rice hulls
.5 lb. crystal rye (no lovibond stated, maybe 40L)
6 oz. chocolate rye
6 oz. crystal 120
2 oz. chocolate malt (I would have just used a half pound chocolate rye, but I was short)

28 gr. Millenium pellets 16% 60 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5 % 15 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5% 0 min

Mash in 4 gal to 150, rest 75 min.
Raise over high heat to 165 over 15 min.

Sparge with 5 gal at 178
Collect 6.3 gallons at 1.062 = 76% efficiency. A little short, I should have used an additional qt. of mash water.

Boil 60 min, hop additions as noted.
Whirlfloc at 15 min,
1/2 tsp. Wyesat nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled to 76 and racked to a carboy.
Aerated by shaking for 8 minutes (after reading recently that aerating by hand provides better saturation than an aquarium pump).

Chilled further to 68 degrees and pitched a slurry of Wyeast 1056.
Fermenting at 66-68 degrees. Lag time was about 12 hours till any real krausen.

Racked to a keg on 10/20/08. F.G. 1.020. Tastes pretty good. I was looking for a little more attenuation, like 1.017-18, but I think it suffered a bit from the low yeast pitch. I am not going to mess with it though.

I tasted this beer around 11/4/08, and it is nice but it is really so thick, I couldn't really drink much. It has an inky flavor, although it is really good. So here is what I did today:

11/10/08 Pulled the keg out to warm up, rehydrated 1 package of Munton's dried yeast, and pitched it into the keg with a blow off hose attached. Hoping to drop a few points and also, as a learning experience, I'll have tried the beer at 1.020 F.G. and a lower F.G.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Group Brewday: 2 new beers

Some pics from the NYCHG Group Brewday at Ray's Place... both beers were served at Brewtopia on Halloween weekend. They both rocked. And also the recipes:

Chris: the Human Sparge-arm

Completing the runoff

The weather was perfect...

Fritz shows us youngsters how it's done...

Sean and Dave mashing in the grisette

Fritz generously spearheaded the movement to pick many bits of roasted grain out of our wheat...I had a whole sack that came from the maltster with about 2% roasted barley corns.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

IPA #2 2008

I'm brewing this right now, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. It's going to be my entry for the Club-Only IPA competition coming up. Now, Fritz Fernow, another NYC Homebrewers Guild member, brews some great IPA's. He typically medals with them in the New York homebrew circuit. He's gotten at least one Best of Show, and a couple of brewer's choice awards too. So Fritz, this one's for you, and if I beat you as the NYCHG's club pick, then I know I made a great beer.

This beer is probably a little higher in OG and IBU's than I like my IPA's. If it attenuates down to 1.013, then you're looking at 7% ABV, and I really like them to be more sessionable than that. But it's for competition, and sometimes that little extra umph will really get you somewhere. However, the beer has to be well-brewed first and foremost.

Recipe is for 6 gallons post-boil, all grain with a little DME to compensate for a lower efficiency than planned. Boil-off was about 11% in one hour.

O.G. 1.066 F.G. 1.013 IBU's 72

10.5 lb. American 2-row malt
1.75 lb. Golden Promise
.75 lb. British crystal 30 - 37
1 lb. light DME

4 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5% FWH
24 gr. Millenium pellets 16.3% 60 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5% 10 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5% 5 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets 9.5% 0 min
28 gr. Cascade plugs 6% dry-hop

Mash: 4 gallons H2O + 1 tsp. gypsum, mash in to 150.
Rest 70 min, then heat to 170 over 20 min

Sparge with 5 gallons at 170, recirc 2 qts.

Collect 6.66 gallons at 1.053 = 75% efficiency
Added 1 lb. DME and FWH, brought to a boil
Boil 60 min, additions as noted.
Whirlfloc at 15 min, 1 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled to 78, whirpooled, and collected 5.25 gallons. Aerated with aquarium pump and stone for 40 minutes, in the kegerator, and managed to get it down to 68 degrees in that time.
Pitched yeast-only of a .75 gallon starter of Wyeast 1056.
Fermented at 68 for 2 weeks, letting warm to 70 at the end.
Racked to a keg on 9/12, crash cooled.
Added 1 oz. Cascade plugs in a SS tea ball to the keg.

Final Tasting results 10/18/08:
  • A little too much alcohol presence(I think due to lack of aeration from using that aquarium pump), I will switch to regular shaking in the future until I get an oxygen setup.
  • Good malt bill and color, although I might knock down the O.G. to 1.063-1.064. I don't need all that alcohol.
  • Hop bitterness was too high, and there was a harshness about it. I will probably knock it down by 5-7 IBU's, by deleting at least one late centennial addition. I think the harshness, which was described as "aspirin" by a beer judge, may have been from too much of this hop. It also may have been due to the "stainless steel" tea ball I used for dry hopping, which ended up not actually being all SS. Thanks, Northern Brewer...
  • Hop aroma was not exactly jumping out of the glass. For overall hop schedule I would decrease the late kettle hops by 1-2 oz and increase dry hopping to 1.5-2 oz, added loose to a secondary. I also might mix the finish hop a bit, going with some Amarillo or Simcoe.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

10 gallons of Flanders Red

Ray and I brewed this up about a 6 weeks ago, on the 5th of July. It was a pretty rainy weekend, but we managed to get a solid outdoor brew in between some showers. I'm so stoked for this beer! I love Flanders beers, be they gold, red, brown, whatever! Actually I just tried the awesome Abbaye de St. Bon Chien, a wonderful Swiss beer that is barrel aged and very Flanders-like in its sour profile, but it ranges in ABV from around 11-15%, depending on the vintage. Ours is just a straight-up Flanders red, closely based on Jamil's recipe, but we pitched straight Roselaire blend, none of that pitching a neutral ale yeast first. If it's too sour, we can alway blend back, but I kind of doubt that will happen.

One great thing about a well brewed Flanders red, it's a real panty-dropper! Keep that in mind, fellas.

So this is the first time Ray and I brewed together on his outdoor system. Here are some pics:



Here is the recipe: for 12 gallons, post boil, all-grain
O.G. 1.055 F.G. 1.009 ABV 6.1% IBU's 16

12.5 lb. pilsner malt
5 lb. munich malt
11 oz. special B
5 oz. crystal 120
1 lb. caramunich 60L
1 lb. aromatic malt

13 gr. EKG pellets 6% 60 min
25 gr. Hallertauer pellets 4.5% 60 min

Mash: 7.5 gallons water, 152 degrees 90 min
Sparge: 9 gallons 170 degrees

Collect 13.5 gallons @ 1.050 = 76% efficiency

Boil 90 minutes, 1 tab whirlfloc at 15 min, 1 tsp. wyeast nutrient at 10 min. Boil-off rate was about 7% per hour, leaving us with 12 gallons of beer.



Chilled and whirlpooled, racked to carboys and aerated by shaking. We only managed to cool the wort to 78 degrees, something we are working on improving for future batches.

Collected 10.5 gallons between 2 carboys and pitched the entire 1 gallon of starter wort, which I had sort of made as a malty brown starter so it could go right in the beer without diluting any of it's yummyness. We used the Wyeast seasonal Roselaire blend.

Fermented at 69-70 degrees for 4 weeks, racked to secondary, and it's hanging out at 75 degrees in Ray's basement.

This spent about a year in Ray's basement and I added 1 oz. french oak cubes to my half for the last month. Then I had to pack it in a keg to move it out to Portland.

On 1/14/10, it's still tasting kind of blah. I've had it sitting out a room temp, and today I added the sour blend that Al sent me for perking this up, plus about a tablespoon of thick yeast slurry from the funky pale ale I did recently, plus about 26 oz. of the Belgian Dark Strong for a little more complexity and residual sugars for the bugs to chomp on.

8/1/10 Transfered and added:
7 lb. Montmorency sour cherries, pitted
2 lb. dark sweet cherries with pits
1/2 oz. french oak chips, not sanitized or anything
Started fermenting again at 72 degrees.

10/25/10 Racked to keg, 1.009

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sean and Ray's "session" saison

Wow, it's been a long time since I've added anything to this blog, but yep, I've been brewing. I'll try and go back and add the recipes for the last couple of beers I've done: a flanders red (also with Ray) and an imperial wit.

Ray and I did this brew yesteday on his 10 gallon outdoor setup. It was our second beer on the system and things went a lot smoother. Even with a 95 minute mash and a 90 minute boil, it was under 6 hours from start to finish.

We were going to brew this beer as our entry to the Diamond Bar's homebrew and food pairing competition on Septmber 28th, but now it looks like Ray is going to be out of town that weekend, so maybe I will just do it on my own, with this beer or something else.

Anyway, here is the recipe for a standard gravity saison, should be around 5.5 - 6% ABV. We used the Wyeast 3711 French saison yeast, which is supposedly the Brasserie Theriez yeast. It should attenuate more quickly than the standard Dupont yeast, but so far it doesn't seem to be as complex and enticing of a flavor & aroma. Also, we get a pretty killer price on American hops, so we decided to try Glacier (an American noble-hybrid) for the bittering addition.

Recipe is for 12 gallons post-boil, about 11 in the fermenter, plus almost a full 1-gallon starter was added. Including the starter, the actual O.G. is probably a point lower, and the IBU's might be 3 lower than calculated here.

O.G. 1.052 F.G. 1.006 ABV 6.1% IBU's 29

19.75 lb. Durst pilsner malt
.5 lb. aromatic malt
.75 lb. German sauer malt

58 gr. Glacier pellets 6.1% 60 min
28 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 1 min
28 gr. East Kent Goldings 0 min

Mash: 7.5 gallons water to 157, mashed in to only 140. We were way low for what we wanted, so we added another half-gallon water to bring the temp up to 147. Altogether it had 15 min at 140 and 80 min at 147.

Sparged with 10 gallons at 170 degrees, collected 13.5 gallons at 1.049. I think this reading may have been slightly off though...might have been more like 1.047.

Boil: 90 min. Hop additions as noted. 1 tab whirlfloc, 1 tsp. wyeast nutrient at 10 min.

Chilled to 71, collected 11 gallons and pitched a 1 gallon starter (1.042 O.G.) of Wyeast 3711.
Fermented in the mid 70's, probably hit 78 at high krausen.

Racked to kegs on 9/7/08.

Final Tasting:
This beer turned out really great. It was one of my best beers in a while. I wouldn't change much, maybe reduce the Sauer malt by half. Didn't really seem necessary for the flavor. It might also be nice to up the finishing hop additions by 25-50%.

I bottled this beer for competition with my new beer gun, but it only got a middling score (low 30's). I didn't do such a great job with my first time on the beer gun and lost most of the carbonation, and that's a pretty big fault in a saison. It really changes the judges' perception of the beer. When I was trying it off the keg, I was thinking it was a 39-40 point beer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hoppy American Saison

HEAT WAVE!'s hot as fuck in NYC. It hit something like 97 for 3 days in a row. We still didn't really have a spring yet, that's odd. Which makes it the worst weekend to brew ever, so that's exactly what I did. But first:

On Friday, me, Adam Winkel, and Vlad took a trip to Boston and judged the Sam Adams Longshot competition. It was a really good time, they put each of us up in our own hotel room that's as big as my room here in the city. DEE-LUX. Good food too, for a hotel. On the downside, the actual beers we judged we pretty ho-hum. I did a flight of IPA's with another judge, and our we gave our top scoring beer a 34. Out of 10 beers, I wrote the words "phenolic" or "infected" on 8 scoresheets. Ugh...definitely earned that hotel room.

We met a couple of cool guys, Joe and Todd from Philly, and with them, hit up Cambridge Brewing Company, who does a great sour ale with cherries (Cerise Cassee). Their Belgian stuff was nice, but the hefeweizen was a real bomb, and all the standard ales had a ton of hop tannins, like drinking bitter iced tea. A mixed bag...

We then proceeded to a couple of other bars in Cambridge: Atwood's first, where we had some good beers and a shot of Maker's, but we were eventually forced to leave by a white jazz duo. The front-man was sort of a bald Kenny-G on keyboards. After hearing him slaughter a good Radiohead song, it was time to get going. We sauntered over to Bukowski's for a few more drinks. The Schlenkerla helles was really quenching my thirst. I don't really remember the cab ride back to the hotel.

We drove back to the city on Sunday morning and I brewed this up. It must have been close to a hundred degrees in the apartment before I even started brewing, so I installed the AC in my bedroom and mostly hid out in the room while the wort was mashing and then boiling. But I think my efforts will have been worth it, the brew day was very smooth, and the only problem was not being able to cool this below 77 degrees. Not the worst sin for a saison. I pitched the yeast and fermentation brought the temperature well into the 80's. The krausen on this one was up and gone within 24 hours.

So the recipe is basically a saison brewed from a slightly more American mentality, with a little bigger O.G., bitterness, and most importantly, a very big late hop charge. I wanted to use an American hop of noble origins, so I chose Crystal. Crystal seems to have an aroma similar to Glacier, so that might be a good hop to try also.

Sans Pantalons
All-grain, 6 gallons post boil.
(The recipe name is partially inspired by Jamil's "No Cullottes, No Probleme". It's also true to the fact that at least some of this brewing was actually done without I said, it was pretty hot and steamy in here!)
O.G. 1.065 IBU's 36

10 lb. Bohemiam Pilsner malt
1 lb. Munich malt
18 oz. Dextrose

14 gr. German Magnum pellets 15% AA 70 min
28 gr Crystal pellets 3.3% 20 min
28 gr Crystal pellets 3.3% 10 min
28 gr Crystal pellets 3.3% 0 min

Mash: 3.6 gallons water + 2 tsp. Gypsum + .5 ml lactic acid
Mash in to 132, rest 15 min
Raise heat to 146, rest 90 min. Temp fell to 142 over that time.
Raise heat to 160, rest 10 min. No mash out.

Sparge: 5 gallons water + .25 ml lactic acid at 180.
Recirc 2 quarts.

Collect 7 gallons wort, added corn sugar. Gravity 1.056 = 81% efficiency.

Boil 100 minutes (I was planning on a 90 minute boil but the boil wasn't too vigourous during the first hour, so I added on 10 minutes to evaporate a bit more.)
Hop additions as noted
Whirlfloc at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled, whirlpooled, and racked to carboy. Aerated for 3o min with aquarium pump and stone. Pitched a 1 qt starter made from about 1/3 of the yeast dregs from the previous saison (Wyeast 3724).

Pithed at 77, fermentation within 6-8 hours. Somewhere in the low-mid 80's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saison #1 2008


Well I was out of town for a while. Clarissa and I went to Costa Rica for 9 days and it was awesome. We had a lot of nature time, saw some great wildlife (all kinds of monkeys, scarlett macaws, poison dart frogs, crabs, coatis, to name a few).

From a craft beer lover's perspective it was a bit of a blackout...Imperial is like Central American PBR. I don't even have any pictures of me drinking it! But I did...drink it. Very cold if possible.

I was jonesing for a good brew session and finally got it this weekend, with the first saison of the season. And we got to work on Clarissa's new bike, which is an 80's Vitus aluminum French road frame. We already repainted it and spent a little time putting the headset, cranks, forks and handlebars back on. And we bought all the parts we need to complete it.

Saison Dupont is still probably my all-time favorite beer, if I was pressed to name one. And my beer is meant to lean heavily on that framework: all-malt, bone dry, a firm bitter flavor and earthyness from the Goldings hops. Of course I couldn't make a clone though! I threw in the spelt because I was out of wheat, but I wanted something to kick in some head retention. I went for a super-long, low step mash and a 90 minute boil to decrease DMS.

I decided to name this one after one of the species of wildlife we saw, the green and black poison dart frog. Hopefully this beer
will be nowhere as dangerous as that little animal.


Rana Verde Saison
6 gallons recipe, all grain. O.G. 1.055 IBU's 30

9.5 lb. Weyerrman Bohemian Pilsner malt.5 lb. raw spelt
.25 lb Belgian Aromatic malt.

7 gr. German Magnum pellets 14.9% AA 60 min
14 gr. East Kent Goldings pellets 5.5% AA 60 min
14 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 3.5% AA 15 min
16 gr. Styrian Goldings pellets 3.5% AA 0 min
18 gr. East Kent Goldings pellets 5.5% AA o min

Whirlfoc at 15 min
1/2 tsp Wyeast nutrient at 10 min.

.5 gallon starter of Wyeast 3724 Belgian Saison yeast, activator pack. (decanted 1 qt. and pitched 1 qt. slurry)

Mash: 3.5 gallons H2O + 1 tsp. gypsum to 138.
Mashed in to 132. Added .5 ml lactic acid. held for 15 minutes, temp dropped to 130.
Heated to 146 over 10 min. Held 90 minutes, temp fell to 142.
Heated over 14 minutes to 160. Held 10 minutes and started the sparge.

Sparge: 4.9 gallons of water + .25 ml lactic acid.
180 degrees ( I let the temp fall to 170 and held it there)

Collect 6.9 gallons at 1.047. Efficiency = 84%

Boiled 90 minutes, additions as noted. Boiled down to about 6 gallons.
Chilled to 68 degrees and whirlpooled. Collected 5+ gallons. Aerated with aquarium pump and stone for 30 min.

Using a strategically placed heating pad on the side of the carboy, I took the primary fermentation through the following ramp:

Start temp: 68 degrees. Fermentation within 10 hours.
Day 1: Started at 70 degrees, applied heat that evening.
Day 2: 82 degrees.
Day 3: 82 degrees. Applied more heat to raise temp to 86 degrees.
Day 4: 86. degrees.
Day 5: let fall back to 82
Day 6: 82
Day 7: turned off heat and letting fall back to room temp ferment, about 76 degrees.

6/4/08 Racked to secondary. Tastes very promising. Very estery, more so than Dupont I'd say. Still at 1.020 but there is still a slow fermentation going on. It's tempting to try to warm up the carboy, or pitch more yeast to dry it up more quickly, but I want to see where this one goes on it's own, and only repitch if necessary. It's supposed to get up to 90 degrees this weekend, so I don't think I'll need to worry about heating it up.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Deliverance Kentucky Sour

I like to brew to style. It's a wonderful way to hone your skills as a brewer and exercise your creativity within the style. But, every once in a while, I just get this really inspired idea. I might get a little seed of an idea, and by the time I've fleshed it out it's like I can almost taste and see the beer in the glass. (This time it was a Belgian tulip glass.)

So I while I think it's great to brew to style, if I didn't at least make an attempt to brew these inspired ideas, I would really be doing myself a disservice. This doesn't mean that I will actually come up with a product that is a great as the beer I have in my mind. It might suck, but but if you are comfortable enough with your recipe formulation skills, and with a little bit of luck, you should be able to get pretty close.

This beer started with a name: Deliverance. I just thought it was a pretty bad-ass name for a beer. Evocative of certain imagery, if you know what I mean . You can almost hear the dueling banjos playing down the holler. So my next question was, what kind of beer would this be? And the answer to me was obvious: A Kentucky common, also sometimes referred to as a Kentucky sour. This is a beer style that was brewed in the old days in Kentucky, as a table beer, and it had some interesting traits, being brewed in a region that also produced a lot of bourbon. Bourbon is distilled from a sour mash, and sometimes these beers had lactic sour note. My beer is not really trying to be a historical Kentucky common, so much as to riff off the idea.

So what I came up with is a dark beer, the color of a brown ale, with a portion of rye malt, which could easily have been used in a region where bourbon is made. I definitely wanted it to be sour, both from lactic fermentation and brett character, which would have been present if this beer was aged in wood. I wanted it to be a real sour/wild ale, not just a low gravity common ale that was not brewed cleanly. This is not a bourbon barrel beer, but I am going to use some oak. Hopefully it will be a uniquely American sour ale, with a malty background and a nice funky/sour complexity.

To get the lactic sourness and brett character, I decided to try the Wyeast Berliner Weisse strain here again. However, so far I am very underwhelmed with the sour character from the Berliner Weisse. I've heard people say that it does get more sour over time though. If this beer doesn't sour up properly on its own, I'll probably move it to Ray's basement for the summer to keep cool and start dumping the dregs of some commercial sour ales in. That might be fun too...

Anyway, here is the recipe.
Deliverance Kentucky Sour
5.9 gallons all-grain
O.G. 1.059 IBU's 16

8.25 lb. Golden Promise malt
2 lb. Rye malt
1 lb. Munich malt
1 lb. Crystal 80
.5 lb. chocolate rye malt.

Note: I recommend grinding your grains by hand and listening to the "Shady Grove" album by Dave Grismond and Jerry Garcia to get that old-timey, country feeling.

35 grams crystal pellets 3.3% AA 60 min
whirlfoc at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Mash: 4 gallons H20, mash in to 149 for 75 min
Heat to 170 over 25 in
Total mash time 100 min
Sparge 4.8 gallons at 170
Collect 6.75 gallons at 1.053 = 77% efficiency.
Boil for 60 minutes, additions as noted

Chill to 68, whirlpool, and collect 5+ gallons
Aerate for 30 minutes with air pump and stone
pitch 1.5 cup medium thickness slurry of Wyeast 3191

Ferment at 68.
Racked to secondary on 5/19/08: The aroma was very malty and only slightly hinted at any wildness. The flavor was not so good...very metallic. It sort of tasted like sucking on pennies. I can't make any pre-judgements yet, best to just let it sit with the funky white film on top for a while and see how it progresses. If it doesn't turn out well, though, I think the answer is to go to another bug blend next time, like Roselaire, or a lambic blend.

Around mid-October, 2008, I added a tube of Al B's custom bug blend, which he sent to a lot of the people on the Babblebelt forum. This was packaged in a White Labs style tube, which contained a mix of different Bretts, and some Pedio and Lacto that he had isolated from a bunch of funky commercial beers. It also had oak cubes and chips, so these were innoclated with the bugs also. It smelled awesome, mainly of oak. I just pitched the whole thing right in to this beer.

Sometime in early January I added 1 ounce of medium toast oak cubes, sanitized in a little boiled water, and pitched the water and the cubes.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

IPA #1 2008

I was going to brew an IPA today, and after a nice Sunday brunch, walked into the house and cranked up the stove. The water was already in the mash tun and ready to go. The second thing I did was check out the Wyeast 1056 starter I made on Thursday. It was sitting on top of the fridge in a 1 gallon Carlo Rossi jug. Luckily, I noticed the unhealthy looking slimy film on top of the wort. (This was the same jug I made the starter for the Berlinner Weisse in so even though I thought I had cleaned and sanitized it really well, I guess I wasn't quite thorough enough.)

"Shit," I thought, "no brewing for me today."

But then I called in a favor. Ray had a mason jar of Cali yeast in his fridge from the last IPA he brewed. He was spending the afternoon in his backyard doing his first full-wort boil on his new propane stove.

I mashed in, stuck my brewpot in my pre-warmed oven to keep it warm, and hopped on my bike to buzz on down to Ray's. He hooked me up with the yeast, which was sanitary and fresh, but had a ton of hop junk in it. Ray is still brewing partial mash , so he just dumps everything into the primary including the hops. So when it came time to pitch the yeast for this batch, it was really just guesswork as to how much I pitched. I ended up going with a 1 1/2 cup slurry, hops and all. This seems to have been the right amount, as there was an occasional bubble four hours after pitching, and it was chugging along well by 7:00 a.m. on Monday.

This recipe uses Golden Promise malt, because that's what I got from the Sixpoint brewery last time I was down there, but I suspect any British pale malt would do just fine. I also got about 6 ounces of Centennial, my favorite American hop. Before anyone cries bloody murder for me not supporting my local NYC homebrew store, THERE ISN'T ONE! The bittering hop, Millenium, is a high-alpha American bittering hop which I won a bunch of at a homebrew comp. It's pretty decent for delivering a ton of AAU's if that's what you are looking for.

Here we go:
American IPA: 6 gallons post boil, all grain.
O.G. 1.062 F.G. 1.016 IBU's 68

11.5 lb. Golden Promise malt
1 lb. crystal 35
.5 lb. DME (to make up for my low efficiency)

19 gr. Millenium pellets 16.3% AA 60 min
28 gr. Centennial pellets, 9.5% AA at 15, 10, 5 and 0 minutes (4 ounces total)

Mash in 3.75 gallons to 151 (a little high, so I added some ice cubes to take it down to 149.)
Rest 60 minutes at 149, then add bottom to reach 170 over 15 minutes.
Sparge: 4.8 gallons at 170
Collect 6.5 gallons at 1.053 = 75% efficiency (This is really low for me. It may be something to do with the Golden Promise, as the only other batch I did with it was also 75%)

Added .5 lb. DME and 1 qt. water to reach my target pre-boil numbers
Boil 60 minutes, hop additions as noted
1 Whirlfloc tab at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled to 62, whirlpooled, and collected 5+ gallons at 1.062
Aerated for 30 minutes with my normal setup: aquarium pump and diffusion stone
Pitched 1 1/2 cups of hoppy slurry when the beer was at 66.

I fermented this beer in the mid-low sixties for 8 days. I didn't have a fermometer on the carboy so I had to guess, a bit. I tried to err on the low side of the optimal fermentation temp, as it's better to ferment a few degrees too cool than a few degrees too hot. It must have been low because it still had a rich thick krausen after 7 days. I removed it from the water bath to warm up to room temp, and the krausen fell within a day or 2.

One problem I notice with this beer is that after fermentation it really is still very murky looking in the fermentor. I noticed this on the last IPA I brewed, and I've never noticed this until I switched from Marris Otter to Golden Promise. When I think of this in relation to the much lower yield I got from this grain, I think it may not have been fully converted in the mash. Last time though, I just kegged the IPA and it came out very clear after a few weeks of conditioning. I may need to extend the mash time to alleviate this. The other thing that makes me think that it is a conversion problem is that I used Golden Promise as the base for the Kentucky sour too,which was mashed for 15 minutes longer than this beer, and had a slightly better efficiency, even though I used rye.

5/13/08 I kegged this beer about 3 weeks ago, and it's pretty good, but the residual sweetness detracts from the hop flavor and aroma. I need to dry this out more. Reduce crystal by half and possibly a slightly longer mash time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Current State of Things

This photo shows the Berliner Weisse in the left two carboys, then the apricotty Belgian in front, and the regular Belgian in back. The canning jar is a starter of brett brux that is taking it's sweet-ass time to ferment.

Last night I got together with 3 of my homebrewer friends to sample some commercial beers: Worth mentioning were Deschutes "Abyss" imperial stout, bourbon barrel aged of course. Also 2 De Struise beers: I didn't know too much about these guys until I listened to last week's Sunday show on, which featured the De Struise brewers. It's a great podcast; I'd highly recommend listening to it.

According to Beer Advocate users, De Struise Pannepot is the best beer in the world. Although I certainly don't believe in the concept of a single "best beer", it certainly says a lot that these guys bumped out Westvleteren 12, which is nearly impossible to get your hands on outside of the monastery itself. Pannepot was a delicious beer, and so was their Witte: extremely attenuated, delicately fruity, and slightly sour. (4/2/08 Edit: that was according to the show, but I looked on BA and Westy 12 is still at #1. Pannepot is #25.)

Right now here's what's going down:
  • IPA
  • Dortmunder that's just now starting to taste really good (currently serving as a hair of the dog while I write this)
  • JZ's Munich Dunkel Lagering in keg
  • Also: Doppebock at room temp, hopefully attenuating a bit more as it is a bit too sweet...

  • 2 carboys of Belgian Beer, waiting for some brett to go in this week
  • 2 carboys of Berliner Weisse, 6 days old. Fermented at 68, now I'm letting it raise to room temp to speed the souring/aging process a bit.

Today I ground the grains for another American IPA I will brew tomorrow, using almost exclusively Centennial hops, and a lot of them. Then next week I'm planning on the "Deliverance Kentucky Common", a sour American pseudo-historical beer, but really just my own invention. Then hopefully a porter on the same yeast as the IPA.

Clarissa and I will then be in Costa Rica for a week, so if I can get all that done in the next few weekends, I'll be pretty happy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Berliner Weisse: 10 gallon recipe

(Somebody needs to tell the Nazis to stop inbreeding for a while.)

It's a nice spring day here in NY and the birds are chirping. Pretty soon it will be hot out: Time to start thinking about summer beers! With the new Wyeast Berliner weisse seasonal strain out, this brew was a no-brainer.

The recipe is largely based off Jamil's Berliner weisse recipe. But at 1.032 OG, it is possible to brew 10 gallons all-grain on a 6 gallon system. So that's what I did. The only snafu was as usual, I didn't check my grain supply thoroughly enough beforehand, and didn't have quite enough wheat. So this recipe is about 30% wheat.

Recipe is for 10 gallons in the fermentor, all grain, with a 6.75 gallon boil, diluted after cooling
OG 1.032 F.G. 1.005 IBU's 4.5

8.75 Weyermann Bohemian Pilsner malt
4.25 lb. wheat malt
.5 lb. rice hulls

50 gr. Hallertauer pellets, 4.6%AA at 15 minutes

Mash: 4 gallons of water + .5 ml lactic acid to 161
Mash in to 149, hold for 75 minutes.
Add heat and mash out to 168 over 15 minutes.
Total mash time 90 minutes.

Sparge with 5.75 gallons + .25 ml lactic acid at 172
Collect 6.75 gallons at 1.055 = 75% efficiency

Boil time = 15 minutes
Hops and 1 whirlfoc tab at 15
3/4 tsp wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled to 68, whirlpooled, and collected 6 gallons (3 per carboy) at 1.057
Diluted to 1.032 with 2 gallons of water per carboy.
Aerated and pitched yeast at 66 degrees
Will ferment at 68 degrees.

Pitched a 2 qt. starter of Wyeast 3191, made 2 days beforehand and shaken periodically.

Fermented at 68 degrees for 6 days, then I let it warm to room temp (72).
I kegged 1 batch after about 2 weeks in the primary. I secondaried the other batch with the intention of bottling it.

5/8/08 The keg and the batch in secondary are both hanging out at room temp, which is about 77 degrees right now. Sampled a taste from the secondary. Quite nice but still lacking in lactic sourness. I hop it gets more sour or I'm gonna be pissed at Wyeast!

5/26/08 Bottled the other 5 gallons with 6.5 oz of priming sugar. It is starting to taste nice, and actually fairly bretty.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

American Porter with 100% homegrown hops

This beer was originally brewed on 12/1/07. It took 1st place in porters at Homebrew Alley 2.

The basic idea was to brew a nice, drinkable porter with a bigger than average American hop profile. I used some homegrown Chinook hops for bittering, which were generously sent to me by my friend "Chillindamos", a homebrewer from California. The finishing hops were Cascade and Kent Goldings, which I planted when I lived in Ohio. My mom continues to tend them for me, dry them in a food dehydrator, and send them to me every autumn (Thanks mom!).

The beers I turned to for inspiration while formulating the recipe were Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter, Avery New World Porter, and Jamil's robust porter.

Damn, I wish so much that I had a bottle of this to drink right now to make notes as to the flavor. I just sent the last 2 off to the AHA club-only competition for porters. But that left me high and dry. I am going to brew this again with smaller flavor and aroma hop additions.

Recipe is for 5.7 gallons,post boil, all grain.
O.G 1.064 F.G. 1.019 IBU's about 50+ ABV 5.9%

9.5 lb. Glenn Eagle Marris Otter malt
.5 lb. Chocolate malt
.5 lb. Munich malt
.5 lb. Breiss special roast malt
.5 lb. Crystal 40
.5 lb. black patent malt
.25 lb. Special B malt

34 gr. Chinook, homegrown, guestimated at 10% AA, 60 min
28 gr. Cascade/Kent Goldings mix (75/25%) guestimated at 5% AA, 15 min
28 gr. Cascade/Kent Goldings mix " ", 0 min

Mash in 3.75 gallons water to 151, hold for 1 hour
Raise heat to 170 over 20 min
Sparge w/ 4.8 gallons at 170
Collect 6.5+ gallons at 1.056 = 81% efficiency

Boil 60 min, hop additions as noted.
Irish moss at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min
Chilled to 68 and strained
Aerated for 30 min. with air pump and stone
Pitched a 1 qt. starter made from an activator pack of Wyeast 1056
Fermented at 68 for 1 week, secondary for 3 weeks.
Racked to keg and bottled from keg.

4/11/08: I got my scoresheets back today from the perfect porter competition. The scores were good, averaging 38.3 I got good feedback but not much critique. One judge said it needed some more malty complexity, while another judge said it needed better head.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bretty goodness

Ray and I just finished brewing a partial-mash Belgian style ale that we are going to spike with brettanomyces bruxenellis later. Since we have 10 gallons we are going to play a bit. One carboy will probably get some oak and the other might get some fruit or dry hops. After tasting Captain Lawrence's Cuvee du Castleton, and Ommegang's Saison Gewurtz, I wanted to do grapes. But it was not grape season; I ended up using a can of Oregon Apricot puree for convenience.

Recipe is for 11.75 gallons (11 gallons in the fermentors)
O.G. 1.059 F.G. 1.004 IBU's 30

12 lb. Durst Pilsner Malt
2 lb. wheat malt
1.5 lb. crystal 30
6 oz. sauer malt

3 lb. Munton's light DME
2.5 lb. corn sugar

48 gr. New Zealand Hallertauer, whole, 8.6% AA, at 60 min
28 gr. N.Z. Hallertauer at 15 min
40 gr. N.Z. Hallertauer at 0 min

1 gallon starter of Wyeast 1388 belgian strong ale yeast, in a starter made from 2 qts. of munich dunkel wort and 2 qts. water (1.030,will add some color and munich malt flavor)

Mash: 4 gallons
150 for 55 min (added.5 ml lactic acid to give the brett something to eat later)
Topped up with 1 gallon boiling water, which raised it to 157. Heated to 170 over 20 min.

Sparge: 5 gallons at 170

Collect 7 gallons at 1.065: 77% mash efficiency

Boil: 90 min
Added the DME and corn sugar at 20 minutes left
whirlfloc at 15 min
wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Chilled, aerated, and diluted to 1.060. Pitched starter when wort was at 65 degrees.
Primary fermentation ramped naturally to 76 degrees.

Racked to secondary on 3/20/08. Gravity= 1.008.
I racked half of the beer on to a can of Oregon Apricot Puree (3.1 lb.)
The Apricot puree tasted wonderful, and when I tried the fermented wort it already tasted surprisingly apricotty on it's own!

3/27/08 I made a small 1 qt. starter with 1 packet of Wyeast Brettanomyces Bruxenellis. The reason I made a starter was to grow the brett a bit before splitting it into the 2 carboys. I Let the starter ferment at 72 degrees, rousing/shaking it frequently for 6 days. Then I crashed out the yeast in the fridge for 2 days, because the carboys are too full to fit the whole starter.

4/3/08 I poured off most of the starter wort, leaving 2 1/2 cups of wort and yeast. Pitched this between the 2 carboys at 72 degrees. I'm really excited and giddy! I'm typing one-handed now (no, not that) because I'm tasting a sample of the starter wort that I poured off into a wine glass. It is surprisingly acidic, with a definite brett aroma, a touch of plasticy phenols, and a mellow, biscuity background.

4/11/08: The brett really started refermenting this beer almost immediately. I've been watching a small rise of bubbles coming up the neck of each carboy for a week now. I tasted asmall sample today, because I noticed the temperature of the carboy was up to 76. It's higher than I would like it, but there's not much I can do about it. I think I'm going to relax and it will be alright. The sample tasted good and not too bretty or fruity.

After drawing a sample, I simmered up 3/4 oz. of medium toast french oak chips in about 2 oz. of water for a few minutes, and added it all to the carboy without fruit. I want to err on the subtle side with the oak, as oak can be extremely pervasive, and this beer will be very dry.

5/8/08: Both carboys are still showing signs of slow brett fermentation. Small bubbles are constantly coming up the sides. I took a taste of each today. The apricot one tastes like apricots and has a nice acidity to lift the flavors. The oaked one has a definite French oak aroma and flavor - glad I didn't use more! I also added 10 grams of Hallertauer pellets and 18 grams of EKG pellets to the oaked carboy, loose. I'm hoping to bottle both of these within a week to 10 days.

5/26/08 Bottled both batches today. I bottled 6 galllons of the apricot batch with 6.5 oz. priming sugar. I really like the way it is tasting. Bottled the 5 gallons of oaked beer with 6 oz. of sugar. The oak is really pervasive and out of place, in my opinion. I'd rather just leave it out entirely next time.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Homebrew Alley 2: February 10th 2008

This was the NCYHG's second year hosting Homebrew Alley, a BJCP sanctioned competition. This year was a lot of fun (and a ton of hard work!). We judged 248 entries from around the country, we even got beers from as far as California and South Dakota. The club represented fairly well, with Phil winning second best of show and quite a few of our members collecting some ribbons.

I entered 4 beers and 2 of them placed. A robust porter with 100% homegrown American hops took first in porters, and a strong saison (9%ABV) with yarrow took second in Belgian and French ales. I'll post the recipe for the porter here sometime.

The porter was also picked as our club entry to the upcoming "Perfect Porter Challenge" club-only competition. I think it' s pretty hoppy, which I wanted, but from a judging standpoint it tends to mask the wonderful malt flavors. I will brew it again with less finishing hops (half-ounce additions instead of 1 ounce). But it was a wonderful beer down to the last glass I pulled off the keg.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sean and Adam's Birthday Bitter

Adam Winkel's birthday is on March 2nd, mine is on the 5th. We're both turning 29 and I'm not scared at all...I swear! So anyway we are having the party at his house and we are going to serve this beer, which we brewed mostly all-grain at my place.

Batch Size (Gal): 11.50 Wort Size (Gal): 9.00

Total Grain (Lbs): 18.25
Anticipated OG: 1.049
Anticipated SRM: 11.4
Anticipated IBU: 29.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Actual OG: 1.049
Actual FG: 1.013

Alc by Weight: 3.70 by Volume: 4.74 From Measured Gravities.
ADF: 72.7 RDF 60.5 Apparent & Real Degree of Fermentation.


% Amount Name Origin Potential SRM
76.7 14.00 lbs. 2-row Glen Eagle Marris Otter Great Britain 1.038 6
11.0 2.00 lbs. Muntons DME - Light England 1.046 5
2.7 0.50 lbs. Aromatic Malt Belgium 1.036 25
2.7 0.50 lbs. Crystal 105L Great Britain 1.033 120
2.7 0.50 lbs. Crystal 40L America 1.034 40
1.4 0.25 lbs. Biscuit Malt Belgium 1.035 24
1.4 0.25 lbs. Crystal 80L 1.033 80
1.4 0.25 lbs. Special Roast Malt America 1.033 40

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


Amount Name Form Alpha IBU Boil Time
14.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Pellet 5.50 5.5 60 min.
28.00 g. Chinook (homegrown) Whole 10.50 19.0 60 min.
28.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Plug 5.50 3.4 20 min.
28.00 g. Goldings - E.K. Plug 5.50 1.7 1 min.


White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale

Mash Schedule

Mash Type: Single Step
Heat Type: Direct

Grain Lbs: 16.25
Water Qts: 16.00 - Before Additional Infusions
Water Gal: 4.00 - Before Additional Infusions

Qts Water Per Lbs Grain: 0.98

Dough In Temp: 166 Time: 0
Saccharification Rest Temp: 151 Time: 60
Mash-out Rest Temp: 0 Time: 0
Sparge Temp: 0 Time: 0

Total Mash Volume Gal: 5.30 - After Additional Infusions

Mash Notes

4 gal of water + 1 tsp gypsum,

Mashed in to 149, brought up immediately to 151.

Rest for 60 min, add 2 qts boiling water. Add heat too.

Started lauter when mash was at 155.

Sparge w/ 5 gallons at 170

Boil for 60 min,
DME at 20 min.

Chill as normal, racked of into 2 carboys ,2 gallons per carboy

Refilled pot w/ 5 gal cold tap h20, and strained again.

collected 5 gallons per carboy at

topped up with .5 gallons each.

Pitched a healthy slurry of 007 English ale yeast at 66 degrees, Fermented at 66 degrees for 3 days. When Krausen subsided, I let it warm to 70. Planning on kegging in a few weeks, I may dry hop w/ a half ounce of EKG per carboy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Welcome to my Blog

I've been homebrewing for coming up on 6 years now. I started in Ohio, diving pretty much straight into all-grain (a very passionate mistake!). I had a lot of fun brewing in Ohio, brewing outdoors a lot of the time with friends, hosting parties, etc. Then I moved to NYC in the summer of 2005.

From a homebrewing perspective, it was tough to adjust to the move to NYC. The apartment was smaller, no basement to ferment cool, no backyard. The first brew I did, I ripped all the bottom shelves and drawers out of our refrigerator and brewed a lager. It quickly became apparent that I would need fermentation temperature control and SPACE. I bought a small deep freezer, added a wooden collar to extend the height, a thermostat, and added some taps. This is now my combination kegerator/ fermenting chamber.

I joined the NYC Homebrewers Guild about 2 years ago, after being attracted by the BJCP classes they were offering at the time. The first year, 14 of us took the test and I think about 10 passed. I passed and have been judging homebrew comps when I can. I also helped teach the BJCP classes last year.

I also served as the NYCHG Vice President last year and took over this year as the President. And, along with a group of contributors, I'm coordinating our second annual homebrew competition, which will take place on February 10th 2008.

I used to have a brew log on, but this was somehow wiped along with all the other blogs. Doh! luckily I still have all the Promash recipes. I'm not going to try and repost all that stuff, but I am going to start fresh here (or only backtrack a month or 2).

My brewing interest is mainly focused on what I like to drink, and formulating my own recipes while relying heavily on proven recipes and techniques. I try to brew mainly to style, every once in a while, diverging off on an inspired and creative recipe.

Thanks for checking it out, recipes, pics, and annecdotes to follow!