Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spiced Pumpkin Ale

My friend Michael has come back to brew another batch of beer with me. His interest in brewing has really grown, and while in the process of buying equipment with his friend Christian, he's getting the feel for it in the meantime. For this one, he wanted a more malty sweet brew, and after reading an article in Zymurgy (Nov.-Dec. 08) about brewing pumpkin ales, he wanted to go with the all-grain recipe published there.

I ordered all the malts, and stuck with the recipe for the most part. Since he already had Hallertau hops, he simply substituted them for the Fuggle. I put him in charge of roasting the pumpkin with a sugar glaze. With freshly grated ginger and spices, and a super rich malt base, this beer should turn out super smooth with a fresh pumpkin pie spiciness that should warm the soul during the coldest time of year.

Two things will be firsts for me brewing this beer. First, I've never used White Labs yeast before, but the scents from it's starter were very much like Wyeast British Ale, and it has super dense flocculation (the ability for yeast to settle out in a soft to hard layer after fermentation). Second, I've never used a vegetable as a key ingredient before. In fact, I was telling Michael how much I looked forward to brewing this, especially because I've wanted to make a true pumpkin ale for three years now. This looks like a solid recipe, and I can't wait to taste the results.

Just like the article suggests, it was a real pain straining through the funnel filter screen. Pour after pour, topping off the funnel, we had to take turns stirring, scraping and squeezing the pumpkin mush at the screen, preventing hand cramps. We literally had to do this for the whole batch.

During the beginning of an all-grain full wort boil, there is a lot of foam that builds up. It's generally good to let it boil for 10-20min before adding the bittering hops. Some worts foam up more than others. This pumpkin wort had the most foam I've ever seen, and it took a while before it subsided. I have a feeling it's due to starches in the pumpkin. It became a mess at times, but it smelled fantastic...sweet pumpkin and rich malts...Mmmm!

In the end, the wort smelled very good...sweet with a soft pumpkin pie spice. We added a couple more spices to the mix, but at a level that isn't overbearing.

Please read about other beers Michael & Christian have made...

Smoked Amber Ale & Cascade IPA

Spiced Pumpkin Ale

Grains & Sugar
8.0 lbs. UK Maris Otter Pale
4.0 lbs. German Munich
2.0 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
.63 lbs. Belgian CaraMunich II
.50 lbs. Org. Brown Sugar

4.3 lbs. Organic Pie Pumpkin, roasted w/sugar, in boil

2 oz. Hallertau, 3.6%, pellet, 45+min

3 tsp. Cinnamon, ground, 5min boil + 5min steep
<1 tsp. Nutmeg, grated, 5min boil + 5min steep
1 tsp. Coriander, crushed, 5min boil + 5min steep
>1 Tbl. Ginger, grated, 5min boil + 5min steep
1 Bud Clove, whole, 5min boil + 5min steep

Vanilla extract and possibly spices added to secondary.

White Labs 005: British Ale

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 11/30/08
Racked: 12/14/08
Bottled: 12/30/08

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp Acid Blend, .5 tsp Chalk in mash
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Kosher Salt, .5 tsp Chalk in mash

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.15 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 158 down to 154°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 167°F/10min
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4.1 gal/1.075

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 182°F/168°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.15 gal/1.038

Pre-Boil Vol: 1.5 gallons with mashed pumpkin
Pre-Boil SG: 1.060
Boil Time: 2 hours
Post-Boil Vol: 5.5 a lot stuck in pulp
Mash Efficiency: about 75% pumpkin skewing the math

OG: 1.078
IBU: 20
Color/SRM: amber-brown/12-14
Ferment Temp: 65°F

FG: 1.029
ABW: 5.15
ABV: 6.43

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Final 2 Bearded Brews

The Bearded Brewer makes fantastic beer. He definitely has a sense of balance. I get the sense that he knows how to pull back on the hops enough to allow the right amount of malt character to come through.

The final two beers were the sweetest and most bitter of the bunch. Though it was very cold yesterday, the sun was shining bright, so I took advantage of the light and sampled these beers while getting good snap shots. The Erie Stout is quite sweet and has a wonderful appearance. Green Beard IPA is really a well balanced American IPA style.

This has been a fun trade, and I feel fortunate having the opportunity to try out these beers. After tasting all six, it has been a valuable lesson in terms of malt profile and overall balance. I thoroughly enjoyed all of them.

Read about the first two here, and the second two here.

Onto the final 2 reviews...

Irie Stout
Imperial Caribbean Stout

Appearance: A deep saturated ruby red color that appears amolst black in a wide glass, light tan dense head hangs around with some light and lacing
Aroma: A rich aroma of currants and plum, its sweet much like a very dark bock or Baltic porter, clean, some cocoa as it warms
Taste: Sweet cherries, bock style sweetness, very subtle spice, light in hop bitterness, soft malt finish, some cocoa as it warms
Mouthfeel: Medium body, good moderate level of carbonation
Aftertaste: Clean, slightly tart
Drinkability: Good, clean
Overall A sweet style that fits nicely with the current season and would compliment most cold season foods. A bit sweet for my taste, and from the label, I'd expect more complexity than it has, mostly the areas of spice and roast malts.

Green Beard Organic IPA

Appearance: Very attractive pale ale, clear, not much of a head but does show off a good ring of fine bubbles around the glass edge, with little lacing
Aroma: Solid citrus hop aroma, not too pungent nor sharp, but softer with some fruit (apricot, mango, pineapple) and sweetness coming through
Taste: Hops are the focus here with a good balance between bitterness & flavorhops, citrus with some pine notes, not overdone so that malt sweetness comes through to balance the beer even further
Mouthfeel: medium body, nice medium-low carbonation
Aftertaste: Bitterness like you want in a good American IPA, and definitely not too sharp or dominating, minimal oxidized flavors
Drinkability: Great!
Overall High quality IPA, especially cause its ORGANIC! Slight oxidation possibly from dry hopping, but doesn't detract from overall great taste. I'd definitely buy 6-packs of these, and go through them in an evening. Good job!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kegerator Collar - part 2

To begin cutting the outer face panel boards for this collar, we had to set up the radial saw perfectly square. After that, we needed a blade that cuts wood like butter. I'm so glad we waited to cut these 11 inch miter joins after the equipment was adjusted and blade sharpened. The joints are square, very sharp to the touch and clean with no burrs.

This photo shows what it will look like from the inside when it's all assembled. Notice the outer face boards are about twice the height of the core.

To mount the lid properly, two notches were cut into the back paneling. This allows the lid's hinge to mount directly on the inner core board. The outer side of the core board falls about 1/8inch beyond the freezer wall, so the lid will be displaced by that amount towards the rear. It's significant enough for my Dad and I to notice, but for the untrained eye (especially after a pint or two), its hardly noticeable. I'll revisit this "off-center" lid dilemma in the next post when installing the top trim piece.

We've come to mounting the first outer face panels, and it was just as tricky as I thought. But we managed to get them close to perfect. I'll wait until the following post to talk about it with more pictures.

Other posts about this project...

Finding a Home for Kegs
Kegerator Collar - part 1
Kegerator Collar - part 3
Kegerator Collar - part 4
Kegerator Finale

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

12 Beers & Food Pairings

A week ago, my friend Whitney hosted a special night for home made foods complimenting home made beers. Though freezing outside, and a bit chilly inside, we soon warmed up as the tasting moved along. There were 9 of us all together, and most everyone contributed something to the table. It was a wonderful and relaxing evening, one that I hope to have time and time again.

I brought 11 of my own beers, plus Sierra Nevada's seasonal "Wet Hop" ale. Having so many different types of food at the table made beer pairings fun. We had sweet rice stuffed acorn squash, collard greens, slaw style beet salad with creamy dressing, home made crackers, cheeses, truffles, corn bread, gingerbread, and more.

I took a shot of Yvonne's tasting sheet, and below you can see the lineup of beers. I debuted the 5 flavored beers, which were all well received. Everyone liked the Mint Stout. But then we moved onto the right column of heavy hitters, and about the time the Belgian Tripel came around, a nice robust chatter among the group was an obvious indication of steadily rising intoxication. Much happiness at that point.

Anyways...overall it was a great time. Everyone had their favorites, and surprisingly they were all so random. I especially enjoy sharing my beers with good folks like these and plan to host many more in the near future. Cheers!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Couple More Bearded Brews

A couple more bodacious brews by the Bearded Brewer. I found some time here and there to enjoy them without any obstructions of urgency or priority. Sitting quietly and alone with these beers was very nice in deed.

Belgian beers have a lot of character. The aromas usually bursts right out of the glass, and their flavors are quite complex. The Burning Beard Belgian ale exemplifies this, and has a mysteriously unique quality that could be coming from some late hops. Sometimes a special Belgian Wit is more delicate, and the Bangy Tangy seems to offer that.

It's very easy to get carried away when compiling ingredients to make a solid recipe. Often times home brewed beers have outstanding flavors, and sometimes flaws, reaching out of bounds in balance and perfection. The Bearded Brewer doesn't do this, and seems to have attained great self control to the point of pure balance.

I'm under the impression that his water supply also aids in an overall soft profile in what have been very delicate tasting beers so far. Four out of six beers have been very satisfying. With only two more to go, I'm partly excited to try them, and saddened it'll be the end of the 6-pack.

Please read about the 1st two here.

Bangy Tangy

Appearance: A cloudy pale orange copper color with a full and dense white head that lasts and leaves traces of lace down the glass
Aroma: Citrus, fruity (orange, apricot), yeasty, some spiciness (coriander), and overall smells more tart than sweet.
Taste: The taste is more subtle than the aroma, just enough ingredients to support a beer on the brink of uni-dimensionalism
Mouthfeel: Light bodied, good carbonation
Aftertaste: Some lager-like pils/6-row malt flavor comes through in the finish is interesting and adds depth, mild tartness
Drinkability: Light refreshing sweet taste that makes a very drinkable beer
Overall: Surprising its 6.3%, cause it doesn't taste or feel like it.

Burning Beard

Appearance: Pours a lightly hazed deep burnt orange color with a strong and full tightly knit head that's white with a touch of pink
Aroma: Big fruity aroma that's completely inviting, some noble/floral hops (perhaps marmalade) present a hint of citrus, a warming vanilla tone and very mild spice, some yeasty scents and some alcohol especially when swirled
Taste: I get 3 layers of taste...Spicy & alcohol flavors upfront lends to fruits like currants, apricot, mango and vanilla with a big and clean malt finish, very full flavored that's balanced nicely by bittering hops
Mouthfeel: Long lasting malt finish that's somewhat uncommon in my experience of home brewed ales (it's fantastic to know it's possible...I hope I can learn your secret!), a tartness in the very end
Aftertaste: Medium-full, full carbonation
Drinkability: Carbonation and alcohol perception on top of a full flavored ale makes it a good sipping style beer, it's "savory" and I could see it served before and then again at dinner pairing well with fuller flavored meat dishes and even creamy dishes
Overall: Exceptionally bold and full flavored while perfectly balanced. Well done!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Kegerator Collar - part 1

I didn't have solid plans drawn, so we were forced into a state of creative imagination, especially given the limited wood stock. Each store we went to didn't have everything I needed. It took driving beyond the point we wanted to go, but finally found the right oak paneling for the vision I had in my mind. We hit four major home improvement mega department stores, and settled on stock from the two farthest...and its really far out in the burbs. When my Dad and I are together, there's some serious brainstorming going on, and luckily I was able to keep with my original plan.

The collar is made up of three vertical pieces of wood. A core, inner face, and outer face. The core was assembled first, as square as humanly possible, and with wood glue and nails at rabbet jointed corners. Both the inner face and core boards were cut straight and identical in width. After forgetting to cut a special notch in the bottom edge of the core for an inserted all-weather seal, we decided to cut it into the inner face. Then the inner face boards were glued and clamped to the core while fixing a slight outer bowing in the long sides...see photo.

I chose a pretty dark brown stain for this piece, and it should look super with a satin finish. The inside, top and bottom will get a more durable gloss finish to help protect against condensation, spills and cleaning.

Cutting the outside paneling is really tricky. It's a little under 12 inches wide, and the margin of error is big while cutting miter joints with a radial saw.
Getting them to fit tightly around the core piece isn't easy, so we're cutting them a tiny bit longer to compensate for any error. This part of the project has been delayed because my Dad wanted to get the saw blade sharpened before we run the final cuts.

Other posts about this project...

Finding a Home for Kegs
Kegerator Collar - part 2
Kegerator Collar - part 3
Kegerator Collar - part 4
Kegerator Finale