Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking Back on 2009

Looking back on 2009, it was another big year of brewing activities. Yet again, I'm surprised at how busy it's been and wonder where I fit it all in, besides my belly!

Starting with the numbers... In 2009, 201.5 gallons of beer and soda were brewed and packed into only 30 batches. 20% or 30 gallons over 2008, with 20 fewer batches! The average batch size went up from 4.25 to 6.72 gallons. The approximate total of gallons brewed since my hobby began over 7 years ago is 730! That's a lot of beer!

Since mid-2008, I've had the great pleasure welcoming 15 students into my tiny kitchen, to learn the art and science of all-grain brewing. It's cool to see a high level of interest, and many art & science related questions during the process. After a few weeks they return to bottle/keg and walk away, not only with the experience, but with a full batch of their very own home brewed ale. I'm especially pleased to see two students who have gone on to brew all-grain and high quality beers from the start! I'm a firm believer, that with a little hands on experience from an experienced home brewer, beginners can start out at a much more advanced level.

One year ago, I started the NHC. Chicago's Northside Hombrewer's Connection, a club focused on forming friendships on the Northside as a whole, but also in various neighborhoods throughout. We've already had monthly meetings in a number of homes and fun places like Half Acre Beer Co. & Hamburger Mary's. We've also had our first internal dark, draft beer contest hosted by Hamburger Mary's. Sampling and judging was open to the public, which turned out to be a fantastic event. The winning team will brew their winning batch at Hamburger Mary's on January 9th for debut in February. Bulk buying grains and hops has saved some of us more than $10/batch. With 1 year past, and a couple unofficial "board" meetings, we're ready to build a closer network of brewers, have scheduled and fun meetings, build a better online resource & connection of members, and schedule a number of technical clinics and special events. I plan to push a more online presence of the club here next year. I must send out a BIG THANKS to everyone who has come to meetings, shared input, and supported the NHC so far!

Brewing highlights this year have really been the lightest ABV beers yet, true parti-gyle techniques, and brewing for a couple special events and a wonderful getaway weekend wedding in Michigan. My new favorite style to brew is the small beer with ABV's less than 3%. Of these, Scottish 70/-, Palisades Best Bitter, Small Beer, Peppercorn Belgian Ale, Big Batch Small Beer and Mild Ale, the basic Small Beer was my favorite. I love how light and refreshing these beers are, but they also pack a lot of clean & simple flavor and aroma. They have become important learning curves, that will help the building of English styles and even the much larger ABV ales. I'd like to experiment by adding some biscuit to give it a dryer and more toasted taste versus fruity notes.

Its really a toss up for my favorite beer of the year. I guess I'd put these into the pitcher as a round of faves... Double Dark Scottish Ale because of how smooth and balanced it was with flavors of chocolate, nuts and hints of roast... Belgian Tripel 3 because with a few minor adjustments it has clearly been the finest brewing of the same recipe... Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter because of how ridiculously rich and satisfying it was with great balance among the chocolate/roast malts, bitterness and slight chili burn down the throat... Small Beer because of how simple and perfect it tasted with wonderful malt flavor and assertively clean bitterness.

I find myself teetering both the art and science of brewing. I'd say most of this year's beers have had more of a nerdy approach than culinary expression. I'm still finding that simplicity turns out much better and balanced results. After minimizing flaws in every stage in the process, water profiling/conditioning has provided dramatic results in some styles. Having new benchmarks, I hope to make even better beer for myself and as base recipes for future students.

Looking ahead, 2010 will also be a busy year. The NHC should keep my time well occupied, and I really look forward to the meetings, clinics and events lined up. Building a tiered, partially pumped, outdoor, keggle brewing setup will be a fun first project of the year. This will allow easier brewing overall and a little more capacity. Finishing my kegerator is also on the radar, with a spiffy drip tray, restored vintage soda faucet, mini-randall, remote controlled hydraulic lid, blue neon lights, with gold & diamond edging. Since in 2009 it was challenging to sit and write posts and definitely final results, I also hope to set the time for it next year.

Lastly, I'd like to thank everyone who has visited my site. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.

I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year 2010!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Parti-Gyle #2

2009 has been a wonderful year of trying out various low alcohol session beers, or what I like to call "table" beer. The Wayward IIPA provided the opportunity to run a true parti-gyle technique. The Small Beer from that was so clean, mild and perfectly brewed. It was so good, I brewed a huge 13 gallon batch, most of which got drunk in record time at a good friend's wedding.

Thirteen more gallons of small beer were planned until a special request was made. My nextdoor neighbor, after tasting the Scottish Imperial Stout, wanted to brew some for himself. A perfect compromise, and another chance to brew a true parti-gyle again.

After the wort for an Imperial Stout is drawn, another batch of low gravity wort will be drawn for a small beer. This time, the color will be much darker, but I imagine the taste will be as smooth as can be.

Much like the first parti-gyle, a couple specialty malts are added as the second sparge ensues. Some crystal & chocolate malt will build up a little more color and add a touch more malt flavor.

See write-ups, hopping schedules & more stats in their own posts...Imperial Stout & Mild Ale.

Parti-Gyle Mash

Grains
16.25 lbs. Maris Otter
1.00 lbs. Brown
1.00 lbs. Biscuit
0.25 lbs. Amber
0.25 lbs. UK Crystal 42L
1.00 lbs. UK Crystal 65L
0.75 lbs. Carafa III
0.50 lbs. UK Chocolate

Mild Ale Grain Booster added at 2nd sparge
0.25 lb. UK Crystal
2 oz. Amer. Chocolate


Hops in their own post

Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale slurry from batch

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 11/23/09
Racked:
Bottled:

Water Adjustment
Strike: 1.25 tsp Gypsum, .25 tsp Acid Blend, 1 tsp Chalk in mash
Fly: 1 tsp Gypsum
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Epsom
Boil: .25 tsp Kosher in each kettle

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.2
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 153°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a

Imperial
Pre-boil Vol/SG: 7.2 gal/1.069
Post-boil Vol/OG: 5.75 gal/1.083

Mild
Pre-boil Vol/SG: 7.2 gal/1.020
Post-boil Vol/OG: 5.9 gal/1.026
FG: 1.011
ABW: 1.6%
ABV: 2%

Ferment Temp: Upper 60's-70°F

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NHC Dark Beer Contest...TONIGHT!

Tonight, a public tasting and judging of 5 dark ales will be hosted by Hamburger Mary's in Andersonville. As host of the event, Hamburger Mary's will also brew and feature the winning ale as a limited release, winter reserve offering in January 2010.

This special event has been in the works for about 2 months. 5 teams were assembled back in September at a Northside Homebrewer's Connection meeting. Each team brainstormed & met to brew a special dark ale perfect for winter, in hopes to win our first internal NHC homebrew contest. Aside from a special cash prize, the winning team will then go in to help brew their batch at the brewpub!

It should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there!

Northside Hombrewer's Connection Dark Ale Contest

Host: Hamburger Mary's Brewpub 5400 N. Clark
When: TONIGHT...November 19th, Thursday
Time: 7pm-til last drop is poured
Entry: $5 for sample cup & judging ticket, 21+


***********************

5 Teams were formed
5 Beers were brewed 2 Brown, 2 Porter, 1 Stout
5 Kegs of fresh homebrew
5 3oz. Samples
**Open to Public**
1 Winning team
1 Winning dark ale will be brewed and served at Hamburger Mary's


***********************

Friday, November 13, 2009

Isaac The Great: APA

Last Monday, a good friend has come back to brew more hoppy beer. This time, as part of a birthday gift, it's a batch he brewed to take home and enjoy for himself and his group of friends. He likes hoppy beers, and this one is not only a big batch of IPA, but it will be separated into 2 different dry hopped versions.

The base beer is pale and bittered generously with about 40 IBUs in the 60min addition. Enough flavor hops were added to create the foundation for extra dry hops in the finish. The malts were kept pretty simple with lighter Lovibond crystal malts for a clean sweetness and a dose of aromatic and biscuit malts for a touch of toasted character and overall malt aroma.

Using Warrior hops at the 60min addition quickly answered my question to use them as flavor and late boil hops. The intense, and almost foul aroma rising from the boil after a few minutes of tossing them in, was an indication they might spoil any delicacy in hop flavor. I strongly recommended we replace them with Chinook. At first they didn't want to, but after about 30 minutes of insisting, both Casey and Isaac let go of the idea. However, I would let him use Warrior for dry hopping if that's really what he wants.

The brewday was a lot of fun. I thank Felipe for letting us borrow his stainless kettles and demijohn and for swinging by. Casey is the first brewing guest to actuall pick up brewing literature and "read" it. And when it comes to wiping pot lids, Isaac...you're a champ. Thanks for a fun brewday!

Isaac the Great: APA

Grains
17. lbs. Organic American 2-Row Pale
1.0 lbs. Amer. Crystal 10L
1.0 lbs. UK Crystal 25L
.75 lbs. Belg. Biscuit
.25 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
.50 LBS. CaraPils


Hops
1.0 oz. Warrior, 15.8%, pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
1.0 oz. Ahtanum, 5.2%, pellet, 15min
.33 oz. Amarillo, 7.5%, pellet, 15min
.33 oz. Chinook, 11%, pellet, 15min
1.0 oz. Ahtanum, 5.2%, pellet, 5min
.80 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 5min
1.0 oz. Ahtanum, 5.2%, pellet, KO
.66 oz. Amarillo, 7.5%, pellet, KO
.66 oz. Chinook, 11%, pellet, KO


Dry Hops
1.5 oz. Warrior, pellet, in 4 gallons
1 oz. Ahtanum & 1 oz. Cascade, pellet, in 4.75 gallons


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale decanted pint starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 11/9/09
Racked: 11/22/09
Bottled: 12/1/09

Water Adjustment: 1/3 water distilled
Strike: 2 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, 3g Epsom, .75 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, 3g Epsom
Boil: .5 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Batch Vol/SG: n/a

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: n/a
2nd Batch Vol/SG: n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 13 gal
Pre-Boil SG: 1.054
Boil Time: 90min
Post-Boil Vol: 10.5
Mash Efficiency: 76%

OG: 1.054
IBU: 56
Color/SRM: Deep Gold/7
Ferment Temp: 67°F

FG: 1.009
ABW: 4.7%
ABV: 5.9%

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steel Cut Oatmeal Stout

An ale I've sortof been longing to brew for some time now. Trying one years ago, I felt it didn't have nearly the mouthfeel that creates a lover of the style.

Mouthfeel/Body is a quality in a solid beer that's probably as important as it's distinctive flavors/aromas. While writing this post, I'm tasting the "straight" version of my latest Hop Blend IPA 2. In this beer, the cleanliness is remarkable, and the body is not weighed down by the crystal malts. But with an oatmeal stout, the body can be as prominent as the rich flavors of roasted malts.

Instead of using flaked oats in the mash, and hoping it will break down enough to add sufficient body, I wanted to try something a bit different. Much like the precooked Quinoa in my Quinoa Lager, 2 full pounds of Irish steel cut oats were cooked for about 30-45min. After they were finished, another 1/2 gallon of cool water was added to thin it and bring the temp to about 158 (to keep the mash at 153). The oats were thick, gooey and definitely gelatinized.

1.7 pounds of American Black Roasted Barley, with some chocolate and brown malt, the wort was black, and with quite roasty aroma! Some beers in the past have not had enough roast, and then some had too much. I'm hoping what Mosher says in Radical Brewing is correct, that a lot of oats can take some harshness away from lots of roasted barley in a beer.

Hops should provide solid bitterness, cause one thing I try to avoid is brewing too sweet of beers. I need the bitterness to be a sortof base for the beer flavors. Half the batch will get dry hopped in secondary with an ounce of Willamette plugs.

Steel Cut Oatmeal Stout

Grains
14.0 lb. UK 2-Row Pale
0.8 lb. Amer. Crystal 10L & UK 25L
0.5 lb. UK Crystal 45L
1.7 lb. Amer. Black Roasted Barley
0.5 lb. Amer. Chocolate
.35 lb. UK Brown
2.0 lb. Irish Steel Cut Oats
Rice Hulls


Hops
1.3 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
1.0 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, 60min
1.2 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, 10min
1.0 oz. Willamette, 4.5%, Plug, Dry in 4.25 gallons


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 10/9/09
Straight Keg/Bottled: 10/23/09
Racked on Hops: 10/23/09


Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.75 tsp Gypsum, .25 tsp Acid Blend, 1.35 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1.25 tsp Gypsum, 1.35 tsp Chalk
Boil: .9 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.2
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 153°F/75min
Oats: Precooked & added after 30min
First Running SG: 1.074

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 178°F/169°F
2nd Batch SG: 1.029

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.1 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: approx. 1.050
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: approx. 8.5
Mash Efficiency: 74.3%

OG: 1.060
IBU: 42
Color/SRM: Black/42+
Ferment Temp: mid 60's °F

FG: 1.022
ABW: 4%
ABV: 5%

Friday, September 25, 2009

Live on WBEW - 89.5 FM

Earlier this week, I was invited to appear live on WBEW 89.5FM radio, to talk about how I brew beer. Starting at 3pm today, it's a special day of how-to's, with short demos about all sorts of things. Being hosted at the WBEZ studio on Navy Pier, it should cool. Maybe I'll see you there, or tune-in online. Check out the details at vocalo.org.

Brewing for 7 years now, I've stepped into a lot of the finer elements that would be considered "advanced" brewing. So, I hope to show some special steps in the "all-grain" brewing process that makes for a predictable and satisfying beer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hop Blend IPA 2

I don't think I've brewed a better tasting IPA since the Hop Blend IPA in 2007. A lot of well hopped beer since then, but that one had an excellent balance going on, with a super clean bitter bite deep down.

A recent addition to the line-up of hop selection at the LHBS are plugs. Without any experience using plugs, I figured they'd be much fresher by their packaging. After this brewday, I'm convinced! Much fresher, and well worth the price!

The only difference in this repeat is the overall strength. The OG was dropped a few points, and hop bitterness was scaled back a little. The balance in this beer should still be right on.

Substituting half the water for distilled is much more than the first IPA, but I hope it will bring a softness and clean taste. Didn't add too much salts, but enough to provide the beer with needed calcium, sodium and nitrates.

Half this batch will be kegged straight. The other, a dry hopped version with 1.5oz of the 1:1:1 Cascade/Centennial/Amarillo blend. Can't wait to note the differences in hop noses!

Hop Blend IPA 2

Grains
17.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row
1.00 lbs. Amer. Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. UK Crystal 45L
0.50 lbs. UK Crystal 65L
0.75 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
0.42 lbs. Belgian Wheat
0.13 lbs. CaraPils


Hops
0.50 oz. Magnum, 14%, pellet, 60+min
0.50 oz. Columbus, 14%, pellet, 60+min
1.25 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60+min
1.50 oz. Hop Blend, 8.7%, plug, 15min
1.50 oz. Hop Blend, 8.7%, plug, 5min
1.50 oz. Hop Blend, 8.7%, plug, KO

Dry Hops half batch/one keg
1.50 oz. Hop Blend, 8.7%, plug, Dry 7 days


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 9/7/09 Labor Day
Racked: 9/14/09
Bottled: 9/21/09

Water Adjustment:
Half Volume: Distilled
Strike: 2.8 tsp Gypsum, 3.5 g Epsom, .75 tsp Acid Blend
Fly Sparge: 2 tsp Gypsum, 3 g Epsom, .3 tsp Kosher, .5 tsp Acid Blend

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4-5.5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Running SG: 1.081

Pre-Boil Vol: 13.5 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.044
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: shy of 10 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 65%

OG: 1.051
IBU: 61
Color/SRM: Burnt-Copper/8
Ferment Temp: 73°F

FG: 1.013
ABW: 4%
ABV: 5%


Update
1. Half the batch was racked to a keg for secondary. Then pushed out a bunch of yeast before adding priming sugar on 9/21/09.
2. The other half was racked to 5 gal secondary over 1.5 oz. of the hop blend, then kegged 7 days later on 9/21/09.
3. The dry hopped version is bursting with hop flavor and aroma that lingers. Fantastic! The straight half of the batch is kind-of missing hop aroma, but maybe after carbonation, it might be fine.


Tasting Notes

Straight...
this is it!

Appearance: Pours a beautiful copper/orange, some haze, a one finger head with good retention and a lingering coating of fine bubbles across the entire surface
Aroma: Smooth and light citrus hop scent with slight pine notes, and a little sweet malt aromas come through
Taste: Definitely hop forward with a strong bitterness with a medium hop flavor, then clean malt flavors slide in briefly till the bitterness lingers
Mouthfeel: Light and crisp mouthfeel actually goes well with the brisk bitterness, and full carbonation
Aftertaste: Hop bitterness lingers long with an almost pine/sap-like taste which detracts from the initial cleanliness
Drinkability: A drinkable beer indeed, but a little harsh in bitter flavors, great for the ESB/Bitter beer lover, but probably goes better with a meal
Overall: This is the first American style pale ale I've made that carries a real clean crisp pallet much like many commercial versions I tend to buy. A great success and new benchmark. It's probably from the distilled water and gypsum. So now with this water profile, the BU:GU ratio can come down a bit, especially from the 60min additions


Dry Hopped...even better!

Appearance: Pours a beautiful copper/orange, some haze, a one finger head with good retention and a lingering coating of fine bubbles across the entire surface
Aroma: Assertive citrus hop scent with pine notes, definitely hop forward with a hint of malt notes
Taste: Much more hop flavor/aroma presence in this dry hopped version, sense of high bitterness is tamed by the aroma/taste, some clean malt flavors slide in briefly
Mouthfeel: Soft and velvety mouthfeel may come from water softening
Aftertaste: Hop bitterness does linger, but not as noticeable as the non-dry-hopped version
Drinkability: A drinkable beer indeed, the fry hopping is great, and reminds me of the first brewing of my hop blend IPA
Overall: Dry hopping is really a critical part of home brewing a great hoppy pale ale, in order to get the right aroma more hops is definitely better than less!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

2 Year Old Barleywine

A wonderful surprise on a coincidental two year anniversary. A few days ago I opened a small bottle of the Barleywine brewed at the end of August 2007. It really took this long for it to mature properly.

This beer was made BIG. Huge 107 OG, and 123 calculated IBU's. The color is a deep saturated burnt amber. While young, it had much difficulty getting carbonated. It's "hot" alcoholic presence and intense bitterness, masked any flavor subtleties.

After 2 years, this monster brew is absolutely delicious! It pours a crystal clear deep amber/red with medium-light carbonation helping the formation of a ring of fine/smooth bubbles to hang around the edge of a New Belgium stemmed glass.

Both the alcohol and bitterness has mellowed just enough to allow some smooth maltiness to come through. With the level of carbonation pushing out the aromas and flavors, complex and rich malt and caramel notes blend nicely with subtle dark fruit flavors. I really like how the bitterness still held on, giving it the unmistakable barleywine taste.

This beer sure took a long time to mature to the point where I finally like it...rather love it. It was well worth the wait and stashing a few bottles into the far corner of the basement storage. There may only be one bomber left, but it will be awesome to share with close friends this Autumn.

Its funny...I usually don't care for this style, and rarely buy them, but knowing I can create one this tasty feels good. I will definitely make plans to brew another, with full intentions of aging, and perhaps experimenting with subdivided gallons on oak and hops. With two years more experience, I also have tweaks that should make an even better barleywine.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Big Batch Small Beer

We really went big with the final beer for the upcoming wedding in a month. Not big in aroma, body, color or taste, but really big in size. A brewing record for me was made last Friday with a 13 gallon batch of small beer. This sort of volume, in a light style, will quench the thirst of their guests, while the two bigger beers will provide distinctive flavors and much more alcohol.

Just a few days before brewing, an edition of Zymurgy came to the door with articles all about brewing a small/mild beer as a big batch. This influential zymurgical coincidence happened right before brewing my first Tripel. Each time, the mag enhanced my recipe and approach for brewday.

For this batch, 15 gallons passed through a mash with only 14.3 pounds of grain. Borrowing some equipment from Felipe's new all-grain setup made this much easier. The mashtun was luckily filled to the very brim with mash-out water. It's cool to note that the volume lowers about a half gallon after absorption during the mash. After 4 gallons drained, Ryan and I proceeded to fly-sparge with an additional 8 gallons on the stove.

Knowing the final wort would get really thin, I made sure the acidity of the 168°F sparge water was around 5.3pH to prevent any tannin extraction (or so they say that's what happens). Never before running this much water through a mash, I was very curious to see how low the gravity would get as we sparged. It was cool to see the final reading at 1.007. See all the readings below.

This small beer was originally much lighter in color, but was deepened with some darker crystal malts to create a distinctive visual appeal among the other two beers being served. Guests will clearly see a difference in there cup, as the Tripel is straw-like golden, the Porter is ruby-black, and this one has a sunset amber hue to it. The deeper color will also give an illusion of being a bigger beer than it really is.

Two kegs of this ale will be served. One straight. The other will get an infusion of fresh lemon basil from the bride and groom's very own urban garden.

Check out the other matrimony ales...

Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter
Belgian Tripel


Big Batch Small Beer

Grains
11 lbs. Organic 2-Row
1 lbs. CaraPils
1 lbs. Amer. Crystal 20L
.5 lbs. UK Crystal 45L
.18 lbs. Belg. Special B
.35 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
.35 lbs. Belg. Biscuit


Hops
3 oz. Willamette, 4.5%, plug, 60min

Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 8/28/09
Racked:
Bottled:

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend
Fly Sparge: 1 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp Acid Blend, .5 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.6 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/70min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 168°F
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4 gal/1.044

Fly Sparge H2OTemp: 168-170°F
Fly Batch SG 1: 1.028
Fly Batch SG 2: 1.015
Fly Batch SG final: 1.007

Pre-Boil Vol: 15 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.028
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 13.25 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 84.4%

OG: 1.033
IBU: 22
Color/SRM: light amber/6-9
Ferment Temp: 72-65°F

FG:
ABW:
ABV:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter

When two beery minds brainstorm malty creations, this beer probably gets blurted out a lot. But, how many brewers out there would give it a try? A full batch at that? I will!

Only a week ago, Ryan and I found ourselves throwing back and forth ideas for a fun and unusual Porter recipe. Then it hit us...a Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter! This would be superbly experimental and perfect for Matt's upcoming wedding...especially amongst a beautiful outdoor country setting, while the reception meal will feature continuously grilled kababs. What a prefect pairing!

Luckily, I've had a hand in brewing with all three flavor profiles. Various smoked beers...Smoked Scottish Ale, Rauch Bock & Golden Rauchbier, a Cocoa Porter using roasted cacao nibs, and a wonderful 1 gallon experimental pale ale using ancho chili's in the secondary.

Now all I gotta do is merry these flavors together inside a rich tasting Porter recipe.

A big thanks to Ryan for helping out, mostly by having fun distracting playing with my daughter. This dextrinous wort posed unrelentless foaming and potential boil-overs the whole time. A bit frustrating to me, but the calm and collected Ryan said he didn't mind at all, and wiped lids like a champ.

The wort smelled very unique with rich chocolate notes and a subtle smokiness. Having some hot wort poured over cream, it tasted like a hot chocolate with a hint of smoke. We both think when its all fermented, the added chili's will make this beer unforgettable.

Check out 2 more beers
brewed just in time for
the wedding of two very special friends...

Belgian Tripel 3-Peat
Big Batch Small Beer


Cocoa & Ancho Chili Smoked Porter

Grains
5.0 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale
5.0 lbs. German Smoked Malt
.80 lbs. UK Crystal 45L
1.0 lbs. Amer. Chocolate
.23 lbs. UK Chocolate
.41 lbs. UK Brown
.48 lbs. De-Bittered Black Malt
1.0 lbs. Flaked Oats
.50 lbs. Carapils


Hops & Chili's
1 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, 60min
1 oz. Kent Goldings, 4.5%, pellet, 60min
1 oz. Willamette, 4.5%, plug, 25min

7 Ancho Chili's, sliced thin w/ some seeds each secondary
? Roasted Cacao Nibs...beer is chocolaty enough


Yeast
Wyeast 1098: British Ale decanted 1 qt starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 8/21/09
Racked: 9/1/09
Kegged: 9/10/09

Water Adjustment London-esque 1:1 ratio Chicago:Distilled
Strike: 1.125 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp Acid Blend, 1.125 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1.125 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp Kosher Salt, 1 tsp Chalk

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.3 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.2-5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 155°F/60min
Mash Out Temp: 166°F
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4gal/...n/a

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 185°F/172°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.4gal/...n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.4
Pre-Boil SG: 1.050
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.9
Mash Efficiency: 68%

OG: 1.058
IBU: 38
Color/SRM: Reddish-Black/37
Ferment Temp: 70-73°F

FG: 1.022
ABW: 3.8%
ABV: 4.73%

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Belgain Tripel 3-peat

Today we brewed another one of my Belgian Tripels, the first of three beers that will be served at Matt & Heidi's wedding. It's my 3rd time brewing it, and by making some very subtle changes, hopefully will maximize the quality.

The first batch turned out on target and fantastic. The 'repeat' was good, but a bit "hot" in alcohol, accidentally over-hopped (by .5 oz.), a touch too dry with a hint of cidery flavors coming through.

In this 3-peat batch, some adjustments I made were: 1. lower the alcohol a half a point 2. raise the mash temp a couple degrees for more maltiness/residuals 3. mellow the hops a tad 4. use less yeast to encourage a longer lag time and more yeast reproduction

The brewday was a big success, and we finished in record time. The mash sat nicely at 152°F. We chose the freshest hops, and sticking with straight Saaz in the finish. The gravity points throughout the day were great, with a malt-only OG sitting perfectly at 1.074.

Today we saw superb hot break material in the boil and continued protein coagulation after the cold break when chilling. The wort smelled and tasted clean, sweet and smooth in hops. As long as the fermentation temperatures stay on the low end (68-70°F), this Trappist style ale should turn out fantastic.

It was great having Matt over for a 6am start time, helping to brew his matrimony ale. While it was early & quiet in the house, we got into some meaningful conversation, a time & experience I value greatly. We also finished in what I believe is close to record time. Though the hopping is not too complex, he did help to make the final decisions on hop varieties and additions. Our friend Ryan will help make the Porter this Friday, and we all will be back in the kitchen on the 28th to brew a mega 13 gallon batch of Small Beer.

The next two matrimony ales...

Cocoa Ancho-Chili Smoked Porter
&
Big Batch Small Beer 1 keg Lemon Basil Infused


Belgian Tripel 3-Peat

Grains
13. lbs. Belgian Pils
2.0 lbs. German Vienna
1.0 lbs. Wheat Malt
1.5 lbs. Clear Candy Sugar (boiled & added later)


Hops
.80 oz. Magnum, 14.9%, pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 30min
.70 oz. Saaz, 4.7%, pellet, 10min
.30 oz. Saaz, 4.7%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity 12oz. starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 8/16/08
Racked: just primary
Kegged & few bottles: around 9/8/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: .5 tsp. Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .6 tsp. Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: missed

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/75min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 169°F/20min
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4gal/1.069 (left 1 gal in mash for 2nd sparge)

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/ n/a
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.25gal/1.038

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.25
Pre-Boil SG: 1.063
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.8 gal
Mash Efficiency: 75%

OG1: 1.074 (grains only)
OG2: 1.083 (w/ sugar)
IBU: approx. 39
Color/SRM: Pale Gold/4-5
Ferment Temp: 68-71°F
Bottling Yeast: none

FG: 1.015
ABW: 7.1%
ABV: 8.9%

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Xtra Dark Belgian Abyss

I've been wanting to create a opaque Belgian ale for quite some time. I'd like eventually make something that has the smoothness of an oatmeal stout, with some roasted malt edge, but also carries a lot of depth found in many Belgian Dubbels. This beer is based off of various Dubbel recipes, but has a slightly stronger alcohol point, and a tiny addition of chocolate malt.

Hoping this ale is a good starting point for added stout-like complexities in the future, it should suffice as a big and complex, super dark Belgian for the cooler months to come.

I'm looking forward to how some late hoping with a spicy Spalt might influence the aroma. I imagine just a touch of UK Chocolate will add a slight roasted accent in flavor. With a color SRM around 26, it will plenty dark for my taste.

As an added experiment, 1 gallon will be racked over around .5-1 ounce of medium dark french oak cubes soaked in...probably rum. This should sit for a couple weeks, or until it carries the right amount of oak depth.

Xtra Dark Belgian Abyss

Grains
11. lbs. Ger. Pilsener Malt
3.0 lbs. Ger. Munich
.75 lbs. CaraHell
.60 lbs. Belg. Wheat
.45 lbs. Belg Biscuit
.65 lbs. Belg. Special B
.13 lbs. UK Chocolate

1.0 lbs. Dark Candy Sugar


Hops
.75 oz. Magnum, 14.4%. pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Hallertau Select, 1.5%, pellet, 30min
.80 oz. Spalt, 2.5%, pellet, 15min


Yeast
Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity (cake sludge)

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 7/19/09
Racked: around 8/8/09
Bottled: 9/10/09

Water Adjustment
Strike: .5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCc, .5 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: .25 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 156->152°F/60min

2nd Batch SG: 1.040

Pre-Boil Vol/SG: 7.5gal/1.56 w/o sugar
Boil Time: 90min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.8
Mash Efficiency: 68%

OG: 1.076 w/ sugar
IBU: approx. 33
Color/SRM: Dark Brown/19-25
Ferment Temp: 73°F

FG: 1.018
ABW: 6.1%
ABV: 7.6%

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brew w/ Ted

I will be brewing an Extra Dark Belgian Strong Ale this coming Sunday. It will be a time of brewing, learning and sampling kitchen craft beers. I welcome anyone, who might find this interesting, to join in the fun.

The brewing process is fairly long and drawn out. It takes about 6 hours to complete the first major step, which is usually called "brewday." After a couple weeks of fermentation, and a few weeks of conditioning and carbonating, we can expect to pour a delightful glass of home made nectar of the Gods...BEER!

I've taught a good handful of people to brew their own batch of good beer from scratch. It's extremely rewarding for me because I really enjoy sharing my skills and teaching this particular craft.

This coming Sunday (7/19), I'd like to share this experience with anyone who finds brewing interesting or wants an inside peak at how beer is made. I invite anyone who already brews for a peak inside my own kitchen brewery. While brewing, I'd like to share some of the current beers I've made on draft.

One thing to note about operation times in my home brewery is that I get started pretty early in the morning. On a typical brewday, I get started at 5am. There are a few major advantages...

1. I get a couple hours of quiet & undisturbed alone time while the water heats and mash enzymes convert starch into fermentable sugars.
2. After sparging and the initial wort hot break, my daughter heads off to school.
3. Resuming the brewday uninterrupted helps me focus towards the end.
4. The brewday is finished with lots of time left in the day to do chores, errands, and family stuff.

Get in touch if you'd like to swing by (call --7.7-3..6-5.5--3..4-6..3--). If I do have any RSVP's, I'll gladly switch my normal 5am start time to a more reasonable 7 or 8am. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

T-90 Chinook Pale Ale

Chinook...oh Chinook! A lively little hop in deed. A special pack T-90 Chinook pellets from Hop Union found its way into my home as a special gift from my friends at Half Acre. Sample hops are sometimes put in with orders. Since they couldn't use them for any beers they make, Tommy still wanted to know what a beer would be like with these being the showcase. So I finally brewed a strong pale ale.

I decided to keep the malts very light in color, and even substituted some Belgian Pils from the organic 2-row base malt. Bittering hops are Centennial. All the hop flavor and aroma is coming from this special pack of T-90 Chinook.

Breaking open the bag, these hops smelled so green and fresh from the vine. Really, they reminded me of the fresh hops I used in Golden Nugget Harvest Ale last year. I can't wait to taste this beer and see how some of the freshest hops may enhance my pale ale.

I've mentioned before that in my 7th year, I've been dealing with a lot of brewing misfortune. My beers have all turned out great, but small problems have popped up at just about every brewday. This time, my replacement exit hose (regular, thin brewing hose) for the immersion chiller melted again, and a large hole near the copper formed. This happened only a few minutes before knock-out. Luckily I had some unexpected helpers, and we tried to duct tape it, but that didn't work. We tried to duct tape it some more, and some more, and more until a huge mass of duct tape formed, and a number of tiny streams of hot water spraying out in all directions. Eventually, I replaced the hose in time to "sort-of" save the beer. The 2 flavor additions were a bit over extracted, but the late KO addition was put in at its normal time.

T-90 Chinook Pale Ale

Grains
7.0 lbs. Organic 2-Row
5.0 lbs. Belg. Pils
.50 lbs. Am. Crystal 10L
.50 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
1.0 lbs. CaraPils


Hops
0.75 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
1.25 oz. T-90 Chinook, 11.4%, pellet, 15min
1.25 oz. T-90 Chinook, 11.4%, pellet, 5min
1.00 oz. T-90 Chinook, 11.4%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 6/26/09
Racked:
Bottled:

Water Adjustment:
Strike: .75 tsp Gypsum, 1 tsp Acid Blend
Boil: 1.8 g Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3-5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151-150°F/90min
Mash Out Temp: 167°F
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4.4gal/1.058

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/168°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3.1gal/1.029

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.5 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.049
Boil Time: 90+min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.9 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 71%

OG: 1.060
IBU: 52
Color/SRM: Pale-Gold/7
Ferment Temp: Fluxing at 68-72°F

FG:
ABW:
ABV:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sunburst Pale Ale

I'd like to think I'm becoming a bit more adventurous about naming my beers. This pale ale was named last night while finalizing and printing the recipe. Originally, I chose it because its very pale in color and should be bright in taste. But today's weather almost changed it.

It's been such a cool and mild Spring and early Summer here in Chicago, which is totally fine by me. Today however, we experienced torrential down pours, severe winds, and hail the size of nickels and quarters, followed by intense humid heat. While cloudy all morning and afternoon, rolling and booming thunder preceded around 8 serious downpours with lots of zapping lightning. It was during one passing storm, in the midst of a rolling boil, hail came crashing down, so I grabbed a couple chunks and tossed them in. At this point in the day, I almost changed the name to Hail Stone Pale Ale. But, I was holding out for the slight possibility a true sunburst would shine through. And at last, one did, towards the middle afternoon. What a sweet sight it was!

I'd consider myself somewhat superstitious, and in my 7th year brewing, I'm finding it easier to be so. This year I've had more problems than ever before. Today marks a first in mashing disasters for me. While stirring in the second sparge water, I dislocated the hose/false-bottom connection. I knew that while emptying the tun, the temperature would go way down. Acting quickly, I decided to scoop out a thick and short decoction, while the rest was poured into one kettle. Fixing the problem was easy, and after the mash was in it's rightful place, the temp was sitting nicely at 166°F...not bad.

This beer is one that I've been wanted to brew for a while now. The malt bill is quit simple, with only a touch of very light crystal and aromatic malts. The hops start out with smooth bittering from Sterling, and into more aggressive American "C" citrusy varieties...Centennial, Cascade & Chinook. The wort tasted clean with a clear bitterness and hop flavor, so it should come out quite good and refreshing during hot summer days to come.

Sunburst Pale Ale

Grains & Hail
16 lbs. Organic 2-Row
1. lbs. Amer. Crystal 10L
.5 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
1. lbs. CaraPils
2 Hail Stones in boil


Hops
1.8 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 60+min
1.0 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 10min
1.5 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 10min
0.5 oz. Cascade, 6.1%, pellet, 10min
0.5 oz. Chinook, 11.3%, pellet, KO
0.5 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, -KO
0.5 oz. Cascade, 6.1%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast cakes

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 6/19/09
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 7/5/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 3.8g Gypsum, 1 tsp Acid Blend
Boil: 2.8g Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.2gal/1.028

2nd Batch Sparge MashTemp: 172->166°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 5.5gal/1.028

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.7 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.049
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: 9.5 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 73%

OG: approx. 1.052
IBU: 39
Color/SRM: Golden/6
Ferment Temp: low 70's

FG: 1.012
ABW: 4.2%
ABV: 5.25%

Monday, June 15, 2009

Split Amber Ales

A good friend has come back yet again to brew some more beer. Originally making a pale ale and then Stout, he wanted to go somewhere in between. Along with a couple other friends, they brewed a massive 9 gallon batch of amber ale. Instead of making one, we split the batch.

The first half is pretty much a straight up American Amber Ale with some common citrus hops Cascade and Centennial. The beer isn't really loaded with a lot of Crystal malts, so it should come out more like a darker pale ale, and the hopping will still allow some good old malt to come through.

The second half has a different blend of hops with some rough & touch Cluster, and to smooth it out, some Sterling in overall profile. Together it will give this beer distinct aromatic qualities. On top of that, at flame-out, we steeped the rind from one whole grapefruit. This beer will also go into a secondary fermenter with crushed pink peppercorns. Since these peppercorns are actually a berries from the Baies rose plant, they are quite floral and fruity. So the brew will get a healthy addition at this stage, and be tasted for it's readiness.

All together, I'm looking forward to the end results. They had a really good time learning the process and getting involved. Teaching the art and science of brewing is truly great when such enthusiastic and fun poeple are doing it.

Split Amber Ales

Grains
14. lbs. Organic 2-Row
2.0 lbs. Munich
1.5 lbs. Cara-Pils
.60 lbs. UK Crystal 45L
.50 lbs. Biscuit
.35 lbs. Special B
.31 lbs. Cara-Munich
.13 lbs. Honey Malt


Batch 1 - "Hops"
.30 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
1.0 oz. Cascade, 6%, pellet, 20min
1.0 oz. Cascade, 6%, pellet, 10min
1.0 oz. Cascade, 6%, pellet, KO
.30 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, KO


Batch 2 - "Pink Peppercorn"
.25 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
1.0 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 20min
1.0 oz. Cascade, 6%, pellet, 10min
1.0 Organic Grapefruit Rind, 0min
1.0 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, KO

__ tsp. Pink Peppercorn, crushed, Secondary


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 6/7/09
Racked:
Bottled:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rhino Rye 2

I really enjoy a beer that takes a few sips, or even a few pints, to get used to. Where, within the first impression, there's obviously some major flavors going on, but they are quite familiar. Then, after getting over it's initial peculiarity, the beer quickly becomes a favorite.

A good beer to me, must be unique in some way. In a commercial standpoint, the beer must be worth it for me to buy it, and this comes down to how unique it is. It's difficult for us to duplicate a commercial beer. But when the quality of our homebrew gets close, then it's more important to come up with a unique style to call our own.

Last year I made Rhino Rye. It had great flavor and clarity and packed a good punch. It was definitely unique and took a few to fall in love with it. So, since it eventually made towards the top of my list of favorites, I had to brew it again.

With only minor alterations, I hope it will come out close to the original. I did decide to darken it a tad by using a malt I've been playing around with...Crystal Rye 75L. This malt has a pretty intense/sharp, but clean sweetness to it and gives a beer a more saturated red color. With the crystal malt being upped to 40L, this will also give the beer more color and sweetness.

The hops are pretty much the same, except Centennial was substituted in the bittering addition. Scaling up to 6 gallons from 5, all the ingredient percentages in the recipe were held very close.

Rhino Rye 2

Grains
8.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale
3.0 lbs. Flaked Rye
.50 lbs. Amer. Crystal 40L
.50 lbs. Crystal Rye 75L
.75 lbs. Turbinado


Hops
.90 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 50min
.35 oz. Cluster, 7.7%, pellet, 25min
.60 oz. Mt. Hood, 5.2%, pellet, 25min
.50 oz. Cluster, 7.7%, pellet, KO
.50 oz. Mt. Hood, 5.2%, pellet, KO
.35 oz. Cluster, 7.7%, pellet, Dry
.45 oz. Mt. Hood, 5.2%, pellet, Dry


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale decanted Starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 6/5/09
Racked:
Bottled:

Water Adjustment
Protein Rest: .25 tsp gypsum, .25 acid blend
Strike: 1 tsp gypsum, .5 tsp cacl, .5 tsp acid blend
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp gypsum, .5 tsp cacl


Protein Rest: 129°F/30min
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Ph: 5.4
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Batch Vol/SG: n/a

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: n/a
2nd Batch Vol/SG: n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.35 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.049
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.85 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 73%

OG w/ sugar: 1.061
IBU: 42
Color/SRM: Copper-Amber/9-11
Ferment Temp: 68-72°F

FG: 1.008
ABW: 5.6%
ABV: 7%

Monday, June 8, 2009

Belgian Tripel 2 - 'repeat'

After brewing at a high and steady pace for over 3 years, there hasn't been a style I've wanted to reproduce...until now. Last year's was not only my first attempt at a high gravity Belgian Tripel, it was also brewed almost perfectly. I'll still pat myself on the back for that one. But seriously, now I need more of it. So this marks my first reproduction batch.

But, now as I proceed to write the recipe here, it already looks like I goofed. The recipe used was from a printout from TastyBrew. The recipe written on the blog suggests I altered it while brewing. Sometimes these changes happen during the boil. If so, then an additional .5 ounce of Sterling hops were chucked into the KO addition. Only time will tell where the error is. And I'm not worried because Sterling is a forgiving hop, and an extra little accent should be nice.

Otherwise, everything seemed to be on track. Pretty much all the stats came out great. With an OG only 3 points above the original, it should come very close.

Belgian Tripel 2

Grains
13. lbs. Belgian Pils
2.0 lbs. German Vienna
1.0 lbs. Belgian Wheat
1.5 lbs. Clear Candy Sugar (boiled & added 6/6)


Hops
.80 oz. Magnum, 13.6%, pellet, 60min
.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 30min
.50 oz. Saaz, 5.8%, pellet, 10min
.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 10min
.50 oz. Saaz, 5.8%, pellet, KO
.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity (cake from 1 gal. batch)

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 5/31/09
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 7/5/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1 tsp. Gypsum, .75 tsp. Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp. Gypsum, .25 tsp Epsom

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.2 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 150°F/75min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 170°F/10min
1st Batch Vol/SG: 4.25gal/1.077 (left 1 gal in mash for 2nd sparge)

2nd Batch Sparge Vol/H2OTemp/MashTemp: 2/178°F/166°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 3gal/1.048

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.25
Pre-Boil SG: 1.061
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: 5.9 gal
Mash Efficiency: 75%

SG: 1.072 (grains only)
OG: 1.087 (w/ sugar)
IBU: approx. 39
Color/SRM: Pale Gold/4
Ferment Temp: 67,71,65,70°F
Bottling Yeast: Safbrew T-58

FG: 1.012
ABW: 7.88
ABV: 9.8%

Sunday, June 7, 2009

3 Brews Last Week!

It's been a busy brewing week over here. Being consumed by planning, prepping, buying ingredients, yeast starters, brewing, and then a job and daily family life on top of that, there hasn't really been time to write about them.

I hope to post about these beers tonight and into the week. So for now, I'll just say I brewed 3 batches (technically 4)...

Belgian Tripel 2
Rhino Rye 2
Split Amber Ales

Thanks for visiting my site. Stay tuned...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fermentation Friday - 5/09 - Brewday Joy & Stress

A year ago, Adam at Beer Bits 2 launched what's called "Fermentation Friday." On the last Friday of every month, a nice round-up of homebrewing bloggers write their story on a common theme. It's been very interesting reading everyone's brewing perspectives.

I've been invited to host for the month of May. While honored and excited, I've also been struggling to find a theme. It's taken me a while to come up with a topic. I realize I didn't leave much time to write about this, but the truth is, the topic literally just came to me.

I've been wanting to write about brewing beer in terms of being a science, and an art form. But, I think that's a better topic for my own writings in the future.

So for something a bit more light and fun, this month's topic revolves around the brewing activity itself. Brewing is an extremely rewarding endeavor, especially after sipping on the end product...a delicious pint of cold carbonated beer. But in the process of making it, its not always "a walk in the park." I'm interested to hear about what areas in the brewday bring joy and stress. So the questions are...

a. What part of the your brewday brings you the most JOY?
b. What part particularly brings out a good deal of STRESS?


So before, on, or even a bit after this Friday, May 29th, please share your story here in the comments section, or include a link to the post in your blog.

I will follow-up with a round-up of all contributors.

Brewday Joy

I do a lot of preparation before brewday like the filtering and collection of water in gallon jugs, recipe development, recipe research, setting up & checking equipment, and crushing grains the night before a typical 5am start time. All that preparation only builds the anticipation for another good brewday. Like I've said in the past, I enjoy the process of brewing even more than drinking fine tasting beer itself.

Brewing to me is a long and drawn out culinary creation, and I love the practice of using my good olfactory sense throughout the whole day. The smell of freshly crushed malted grains is dry with a virgin malt scent. Character malts definitely enrich it. The hot mash smells like oatmeal and is usually when I fix myself some breakfast. As the wort flows into the boil kettle it has a rich sweet scent with pale worts being clean and dark ones having rich chocolate and roasted overtones.

The best part is when the wort is just about to boil. At this point, thick steam begins to rise, and within, a full malty sweetness unleashed into the air. ah...so Good, so good it is! I also love noticing how the bittering hops smell hoppy in the beginning but fade away beyond the 30 minute mark.


Brewday Stress

Among various spontaneous causes for intense stress, like wort dripping from the mashtun through the crack in the floor and into my down stairs neighbor's light fixture, there is one major cause that I depend on every time.

I run full wort boils on the stove in my kitchen. Sometimes there are two enormous kettles stretched over all four burners. With roughly 36,000 total btu's, maintaining a boil isn't what I'd call fun. In fact, I must keep the lids only slightly ajar to keep a vigorous boil.

There are many reasons we boil our worts vigorously for about an hour. During this hour, one gallon of liquid volume is boiled off, and it's important to prevent the steam/condensation from re-entering the pot. So its a double edged sword for me in my kitchen. I need to keep the lids on, but continually wipe them every 2 to 3 minutes during the whole boil (x2 with 2 pots).

Wiping lids is something I've gotten very used to over the years. It's basically a 6th sense for me, so while I prep other things, I know when to return to the lids. Also, if there are any helpers with me, they easily become "Lid-man." So this is a guaranteed cause of stress during one of my brewdays.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peppercorn Belgian Ale

I have always wondered when I might want to replicate a beer. Some pretty good beers have passed through my set-up over the years, but there's always something tweak. But, last year's Belgian Tripel was so good, I'm not sure there is anything change. I'll write more about that one later.

In order to recreate the Tripel, I needed to make a one gallon batch of a light alcohol Belgian ale. This yeast starter is actually very similar to last year's Silly Trappist. I used up a bunch of different worts from final mash runnings. Some extract was also thrown in at the end.

The hops were kept simple with one small addition at 60min. I thought I'd try something similar to the light Belgian ale in the recent Zymurgy. So, in went some cracked black pepper right at the end of the boil. The whole peppercorns are organic with a ton of aroma!

Peppercorn Belgian Ale

Grains
1 gal. Various pale worts
.3 lb. Extra Pale DME


Hops
.2 oz. Spalt, 2.9%, pellet, 60min
.25 tsp Organic Black Peppercorns, crushed, 5min
.125 tsp Organic Black Peppercorns, crushed, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 3787: Trappist High Gravity

Brewed: 5/22/09
Bottled:

OG: 1.038
IBU: approx. 14
Color/SRM: Pale/3-5
Ferment Temp: 75-80°F

FG: 1.014
ABW: 2.5%
ABV: 3.15%

NHC Meet @ Half Acre Beer Co.

I'd like to send out a big thanks to my friends at Half Acre Beer Company for graciously hosting the 4th meeting of the Northside Homebrewers Connection. Gathering in the space at a time when it's still "under construction" was a unique experience. It really is coming along nicely.

I was happy to see a good turnout of both regular attendees and new folks who had been interested for a while. As a group, we enjoyed a grand tour of the brewery, hearing fun stories from Gabriel and Tommy, a great Q&A session, and all while enjoying samples of some super fresh beer.

I started the Northside Homebrewers Connection as a way to meet more locals who enjoy brewing and drinking fine beer. I'm happy to see a lot of interest, and already the group has come up with great ideas and meeting topics. A google group has been formed as a way to chat in-between meetings. I look forward to future meetings, events and plans.

I encourage anyone in the area who may be interested in this group to contact me (see bottom of this post about the NHC). At this time I wont post about upcoming meetings here (especially cause this is my journal & a NHC blog may be created soon), but will send out email updates. Attending a meeting opens the opportunity to sign up for the google group, and other events.

My wife Sarah came along to shoot the evening.
Enjoy a look inside the brewery!
Visit In Your Guts for a few more pics!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Knock Out Hops

What are "knock out" hops? They are often referred to as 0min hops, and could even be considered "whirlpool" hops. In other words, these are hops that are added when the boil is finished and the heat turned off. I suppose each one could mean something slightly different, but all of them do the same thing...add lots of hop aroma to a beer. For the past year or so, I've been using this zero minute addition for an extra boost of aroma in certain styles.

Most of the time, published recipes call for this hop addition and is notated as 0min or KO. I used to add these hops at or even a little before the heat was cut. But I felt my beers just didn't have a bright enough hop scent, so I've redefined what this addition means to me and my beer.

I thought I might clarify what is written in all my recipes. When you see a 0min, or more often...KO addition, it doesn't mean they are added right when the heat is cut off. These hops are actually dropped in the hot wort after its been cooling for about 4-7 minutes. Why do I notate it like the books, I'm not quite sure? Maybe I'll start writing it as "-5min".

Adding hops while the wort is near boiling only scalds them and really diminishes their level of freshness in a brew's bouquet. Much like preparing french pressed coffee, the temperature of the water shouldn't be above 190°F, and even better at around 180°F, because anything higher tends to give my morning coffee a scalded & harsh flavor...yuck! This same theory applies to steeping tea, where boiling water should never be used. In the same fashion I add my "knock out" hops when the wort has cooled to about 180-170°F, or after the first chill water collection bucket is filled (about 5 minutes). The wort needs to be hot enough to breakdown the hops and offer a good hot steep, and if its too cool the hops tend to float on the surface without much contact.

I've also found that pellet hops give the best aroma for this addition. Primarily because they break down almost instantly, where as whole hops float and take much longer to get into full contact with the wort. It's all about contact time.

Just about all my beers that require a hop nose get this special post-KO addition. Especially if no dry hopping is planned, and a big hoppy presence is needed, a larger dosage of KO hops is infused.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Small Beer

A super high gravity Imperial IPA called Wayward was pulled from the first runnings of a huge Parti-Gyle batch. Now for the Small Beer part. It's been nice having lower alcohol session beers around. My friends appreciate them as well. More brew with less the punch and carbs. Good stuff.

Initially I thought the 2nd/3rd runnings of the mash might provide enough malt for a light beer. But then I recalled reading about adding crushed crystal malts to this portion of the sparge to add things like color, body and sweetness to a very light ale. Since I had some various crystal malts on hand, in they went. the crystallized sugars on the inside of the kernels simply dissolve in hot water.

The hopping for this small beer is utterly simple. One bittering hop addition at 60+ minutes. That's it.

The volume for this beer came directly from the second sparge. The OG turned out only 1 point below target, and it tasted sweet enough for me. It should turn out light with some sweetness. The bitterness may come out a tad high at about 24 IBU's.

Small Beer

Grain Bill...See 1st Parti-Gyle

Hops
1.25 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, 60+min

Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: May Day 2009
Kegged & Bottled: 5/11/09

Pre-Boil Vol: 7.25 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.021
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: 6 gallons

OG: 1.029
IBU: 24
Color/SRM: golden/8
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: 1.010
ABW: 2%
ABV: 2.5%

Notes

1. Tasting this beer at racking time actually made me think of pouring it right down the drain right then and there. It almost tasted like how my feet smell after a long day at work.
2. Sampling a bottle sitting a room temperature only 3 days after bottling, changed my perception completely. It tastes great! Very smooth, light, not too sweet, not really all that dry, with enough bitterness carrying through.
3. Can't wait to try it fully carbonated and conditioned in a couple weeks. Most of it was kegged, and light on the priming sugar...didn't want this one being too carbed.
4. Thanks to Kevin for persuading me to keep the hopping simple after considering more hop addition.
5. Now that its kegged, softly carbonated, and sitting at cask temp, this is probably one of the best beers to date. Strange to think that a super low ABV with delicate flavors and a beer that is basically the "run-off" from a big on e would be so great tasting. It's clean, smooth, bittered right, has soft malt profile, easy drinking, and simply delicious.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wayward Imperial IPA

There have been some pretty bitter IPA's brewed here last year. Since the Columbus IPA, I've been thinking about brewing another IPA like it, just a bit more intense. As the first wort to drain from the main Parti-Gyle mash, it entered the kettle at a pre-boil SG of 1.071. Since the gravity typically rises about 10 points after an hour boil, I was happy to see the OG going to be near what I was hoping for.

If you've ever tried Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, and ended up loving it, then we have something in common. I love that beer! It's gonna take some time to get to that point in my imperialistic pale ale brewing adventures, but I hope this is in the ballpark.

I love the look of a very pale, crystal clear IPA/IIPA. It's a deceiving look. Very pale, yet very intense in flavor! I imagine pilsener malt, very light crystal (10L), with a touch of aromatic malt, make up the grain bill for these brews. But I was already set on using my organic pale ale malt and some medium-light crystals.

As for hops, its got about 88 IBUs of hop bitterness spread throughout a one hour boil. Centennial is doing most of the work here, but I've tossed in a special blend of both Chinook and Columbus for interest and intensity. The "blend" in the formula is 1/3 Centennial, 1/3 Chinook & 1/3 Columbus. I haven't decided yet how much dry hops to use, but I think it'll be around 1.5 ounces of the special blend.

Going into the fermenter, it tasted like fermented beer. Solid bitterness, sweet flavor and a ton of hop flavor and aroma. Within an hour the wort was beginning to bubble, with some heavy hoppiness coming through. I hope it turns out wayward, in the right direction, as it pours into the glass.

Wayward Imperial IPA

Grain Bill...See 1st Parti-Gyle

Hops
.80 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 60min
.80 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 30min
1.0 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 20min
.40 oz. Centennial, 9.1%, pellet, 10min
.60 oz. C - Blend, 11%, pellet, 10min
1.2 oz. C - Blend, 11%, pellet, 5min
1.2 oz. C - Blend, 11%, pellet, KO
1.5+oz. C - Blend, 11%, pellet, Dry


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: May Day 2009
Racked: 5/15/09
Bottle & Keg: 5/22/09

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min

Pre-Boil Vol: 5.5gal
Pre-Boil SG: 1.071
Boil Time: 60min
Post-Boil Vol: 4.5

OG: 1.081
IBU: 88
Color/SRM: golden/7
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: 1.014
ABW: 7%
ABV: 8.8%

Read about the Small Beer part of this big batch here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1st Parti-Gyle

On May Day, I tried my hand at a true parti-gyle technique. It's something I've wanted to do for quite a long time. This is an old/traditional style of brewing that not only rinses just about every last molecule of sugar out of the mash, but it makes 2 or more styles of beer with different levels of alcoholic strength. I found this article, written by Randy Mosher, to be very interesting and a great description of the technique as it applies to home brewers.

I decided to make one super strong Imperial IPA from the first runnings, and then a low gravity small beer with the rest. The mash and sparge was just a little more complex, especially because my system can't handle the volume being pushed through it. I used both fly and batch sparging techniques, and utilized buckets for holding hot water while filling both pots. It was also cool to research my own notes, about first sparge gravities, to calculate what the SG of the first running would be, and it turned out to be very close! And it was fun having Felipe over to help out.

The first sparge (for the Wayward IIPA) began without any mashout because the mashtun wouldn't accept any more liquid. I knew I'd get about 4.3 gallons, so a fly sparge setup was used to collect an additional 1.2 gallons. This put the pre-boil volume at 5.5 gallons and SG at 1.071, for a 4.5 gallon batch of super strong beer.

After the IIPA volume was collected, a second batch sparge was added to the drained mash. Along with this hot water, in order to add a touch more color and sweetness, 1 additional pound of both American & UK Crystal malts 20-40L was thrown into the mash. Draining all of this provided me with 7.25 gallons of pre-boil wort at 1.022, for a super light Small Beer.

The IIPA finished boiling first. I'm glad, because we were able to get the hop-complex beer out of the way. The Small Beer had only one bittering hop addition, and it was nice to relax a bit at that point. While these worts were chilled/chilling, we kegged and bottled the Hooded Sterling APA to expose the Wyeast American Ale yeast cakes in both fermenters.

Main Mash Grain Bill

19. lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale
.75 lbs. Amer. Crystal 20L
.75 lbs. UK Crystal 20L
.25 lbs. Belg. Aromatic
.25 lbs. Belg. Biscuit
.25 lbs. CaraPils

Small Beer Crystal Booster Blend:

.25 lb. Amer. Crystal 20L
.25 lb. UK Crystal 20L
.25 lb. Amer. Crystal 40L
.25 lb. UK Crystal 40L

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hooded Sterling APA

A fellow crew member at TJ's became interested in the idea of brewing as we began to talk more and more about it. A couple months back he decided to try his hand at it, so we planned a drew day. He definitely wanted a keg for a party at the beginning of June. I then suggested a bright and hoppy American pale ale. That sounded good, and so last week Mik and his friend Rafe brewed their own batch with me on my equipment.

For this one, I wanted to make some alterations based on the two Sterling ales of 2008. I liked the assertive quality and bigger body of the Sterling Pale Ale, but I also really like how balanced of the Sterling Moon and it's lighter color.

So in this version, I hope to hit some of the strengths in both those brews. The color and caramel malt flavors should be a tad lighter. The body should still be medium-full. It's a hoppy beer so there will be tons of hop flavor and aroma with Simcoe and Mount Hood backing up Sterling's dominating presence. I took the overall IBUs down 5 points, and the OG was also lowered a tad to make it a bit more drinkable.

Overall, I'm looking forward to tasting the results. It's a 9 gallon batch, so I get to put some of it on tap here at home. A big thanks to Mik and Rafe for supporting me, while taking the plunge into brewing their own. Thanks also to Isaac for lending a helping hand & sitting down for a couple pints after it was all said and done. In all, 9 gallons brewed and a total of 10 gallons bottled and kegged...what a day!

Hooded Sterling APA

Grains
14.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale Malt
1.00 lbs. American Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. American Crystal 40L
0.50 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
0.25 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
0.25 lbs. Canadian Honey Malt
1.25 lbs. CaraPils


Hops
1.00 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 60min
1.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 20min
1.00 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 15min
1.00 oz. Simcoe, 13%, pellet, 10min
1.25 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, 5min
1.50 oz. Sterling, 5.3%, pellet, KO
1.00 oz. Mt. Hood, 5.2%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 1056: American Ale yeast from 1gal batch

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/16/09
Racked: just primary
Bottled: 5/1/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, 1tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1.5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, 1 tsp Epsom, .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/50min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 169°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.1gal/1.080

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: n/a
2nd Batch Vol/SG: n/a

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.25
Pre-Boil SG: 1.043
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: shy of 9 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 74%

OG: approx. 1.055
IBU: 40
Color/SRM: Deep Gold/7
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: 1.013
ABW: 4.4%
ABV: 5.5%

Sunday, April 19, 2009

King Ludd's Midway Arcade

Version Fest is...

"an annual springtime arts festival that brings together hundreds of artists, musicians, and educators from around the world to present some of the most challenging ideas and progressive art initiatives of our day. The ten day festival showcases emerging trends in art, technology and music."

As a part of Version '09, the King Ludd's Midway Arcade is...

"King Ludd's Midway Arcade began with a call for proposals seeking home-made video games, parlor games, and carnival games that would, in some way, challenge or offer and alternative to the forward march of high technology. Games could be analog, low-tech, or hacker. Artists were encouraged to think about the games as a site to investigate metaphors for social engagement or the production of social spaces. The results have been spectacular!"

Material Exchange, a group of artist dedicated to using used materials in the production of something else useful or otherwise artistic in nature, put out the call for proposales to create analog games. I was talking with Sara Black about how I too am building analog games form salvaged/used materials. They graciously invited me to contribute a game. I am building a portable skee-ball game with interchangeable back-boards. It's coming together nicely, and I hope to show pictures of it here, or on a new game building blog. But, just come out to the show to try your hand at it, and what should be a round-up of many challenging games.

Because this is a brew blog, here comes the part about home brewed beer. As a finale for the event, we will be hosting an after-party featuring all the games plus 3 home brewed beers and a keg of Half Acre craft beer. It only took a nano-second to say yes, after asking Kevin LaVoy to brew a batch for the event. Take a look at his LMNR Pale Ale. I brewed my Palisades Best Bitter, and Sara Black also brewed a batch. Its really going to be a BLAST, so I hope to see everyone there.



The info...

At the Experimental Station in Hyde Park
6100 South Blackstone Avenue

Opening night: Saturday, April 25th, 7-11pm
Sunday, 26th from 2-8pm
Friday, May 1st, 7-11pm
Saturday, May 2nd, 2-8pm & after-party 6pm-?

Adults: $5, Kids $3
All proceeds support Material Exchange,
the Experimental Station,
and the artists who made the games.

E.S.B.

The Palisades Best Bitter was finished and it's yeast settled and ready for more wort in one week. No secondary for this brew, because I just don't have a zillion carboys laying around. Kegs are just fine for secondary conditioning.

On top of this London ESB strain, I wanted to brew my first ESB. In general, I don't care for English hops for their herbal/earthy/spicy qualities. I guess I've never been able to get good flavor and aroma, especially at the reserved levels most Bitter recipes call for. I have a feeling that these hops must to be utterly fresh & whole to impart their true delicate qualities. The pellets I get just don't seem fresh enough.

To get a more accentuated hop flavor and aroma, I used a ½-½ hop bitterness strategy. Half the bitterness comes form the 60 minute addition, and the remainder through the late flavor/aroma 15 minute addition. Originally, an aggressive knock-out addition was planned, but I felt good about the one big punch of flavoring. Besides, keg hops are planned.

The malts are pretty straight forward. Definitely enough color with various crystal malts. Some biscuit and a bunch a carapils to build some body. Mashed at 151°F, it should ferment well, and some sugar in primary will help dry it out a tad.

This was brewed over a week ago and is already conditioning in their kegs. Having both Ryan H. and Devon C. around to lend there very helpful hands was super. Experienced brewers in my kitchen is an often missed luxury, and I sincerely thank both of them for being here.


Extra Special Bitter

Grains & Sugar
14.5 lbs. Organic 2-Row Pale Malt
1.00 lbs. UK Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. UK Crystal 55L
0.75 lbs. Crystal Rye 75L
0.75 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
1.50 lbs. CaraPils

0.50 lbs. Belgian Clear Sugar


Hops
2.0 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 60min
4.0 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 15min
1.5 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, KO
1.5 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, Dry


Yeast
Wyeast 1968: London ESB yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/9/09
Kegged: 4/16/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 2 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .75 tsp Acid Blend, .25 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp CaCl, .25 tsp Kosher Slat

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.25 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 170°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.13 gal/1.080

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/170°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 5.63gal/1.0245

Pre-Boil Vol: 11.75 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.042
Boil Time: 60+min
Post-Boil Vol: 9 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 73.9

OG: 1.056
IBU: 40
Color/SRM: Pale/11
Ferment Temp: 68°F

FG: coming soon
ABW:
ABV:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NS Homebrewer's Connection Meet #3

I'm glad to see such a good response as a result of posting about the North Side Homebrewer's Connection. Check out that post to see a description of this club idea. It looks like a bunch more folks will be joining us at the next meeting.

I will be hosting the third meeting at my home in Rogers Park next week Tuesday (4/14). It will begin a tad earlier at 6:30pm, and go until 9pm.

At this meeting we will discuss more topics of what a Northside Connection could be. I'd like to see some sort of goal to look forward to, like a private tasting. I'll have some beers to sample, and welcome others to bring some as well. I figure there will also be much talk about brewing in general.

At this meeting I will announce the location and a unique experience for the 4th meeting in May.

Again, if you would like to join us for a low key round table of homebrew talk, please get in touch (click link above). I welcome beginners and experienced brewers alike.


Thank You.
Ted

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Palisades Best Bitter

This beer kicks off another round of three batches using a select yeast strain. Each successive beer style will get stronger and/or darker. As with the previous Scottish ales, here we have some Bitters. I've chosen London ESB yeast because it gives a clean flavor, the beer's taste stands up to some aging, and it flocculates extremely well leaving a super clear beer.

I was originally going to keep it strictly British in nature, but things began to change...and for the better I think. I took into consideration some really good brews from last year (Sterling Moon, Rhino Rye, and Ordinary Bitter) and it gradually took on an American influence. After visiting with Half Acre's brewer, I found that the bittering approach would have to change a bit to highlight a more clean bitterness with a moderate hop flavor. I also went with a flavor/aroma hop variety I've never used before which should give the beer a somewhat American/UK hybrid taste. For the style, this one might be hoppier in the nose, but it's not a super aromatic variety.

The brewday went as well as could be expected. I really liked how the Palisade hops smelled at 10 minutes. The hop blend at knock-out should be good. Most of the batch will be put into 2 kegs, each with a different small dose of keg hops. 10 gallons of another session ale will be just the ticket for some upcoming events.

Palisades Best Bitter

Grains
7.0 lbs. Organic 2-Row
3.0 lbs. Belgian Pils
.70 lbs. UK Crystal 40L
.70 lbs. Crystal Rye
.75 lbs. Belgian Biscuit
.50 lbs. Belgian Aromatic
.50 lbs. Belgian Candy Sugar


Hops
1.10 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, 75min
2.75 oz. Palisade, 6.7%, pellet, 10min
0.25 oz. Kent Golding, 4.5%, pellet, KO
0.25 oz. Palisade, 6.7%, pellet, KO


Keg Hops
3 gallon: .25 oz. Kent Golding & .25 oz. Palisade
5 gallon: .80 oz. Palisade .40 oz. Kent Golding


Yeast
Wyeast 1968: London ESB

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 4/2/09
Kegged/Bottle: 4/9/09

Water Adjustment:
Strike: 1.25 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp acid blend, .5 tsp Chalk
2nd Sparge: 1 tsp CaCl, .5 tsp Gypsum, .5 tsp Chalk

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.4
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: n/a
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.25gal/1.041

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/171°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 6.25gal/1.014

Pre-Boil Vol: 12.5 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.030
Boil Time: 75+min
Post-Boil Vol: 10 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 80%

OG: 1.036
IBU: 27
Color/SRM: Golden-Copper/9
Ferment Temp: 66°F with diacetyl rest

FG: 1.014
ABW: 2.31%
ABV: 2.88%

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Royal Ryeness Brown Ale

It's been a while since brewing a one gallon batch. So, for a yeast starter of American 1056, I'll be using up some old all-grain starter wort that's been sitting in the frig for quite a long time.

With these worts, in an addition to some pale DME, this beer should be brown with an OG around 1.050. I hope to have some distinctive malt flavors, and hopefully they'll be strong enough to stand up to some fairly aggressive hopping. Low AA% Spalt, and Willamette will be spread out evenly in the boil with some nice late hop aroma.

Royal Ryeness Brown Ale

Fermentables
.7 lb. Briess Pale DME
36 oz. Rhino Rye wort
22 oz. Robust Porter wort
22 oz. Pale wort


Hops
.2 oz. Spalt, 2.6%, pellet, 45min
.2 oz. Spalt, 2.6%, pellet, 20min
.2 oz. Spalt, 2.6%, pellet, 10min
.2 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, 5min
.2 oz. Willamette, 4.8%, pellet, KO
.2 oz. Spalt, 2.6%, pellet, KO


Yeast
Wyeast 1099: American Ale

Overall, it should be unique. That's all I need with this batch.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Support Local Breweries

In short...lets support our local breweries. Compared to other cities, especially the beer meccas Denver & Portland, in Chicago there aren't many. But, with the addition of three new ones this year, its slowly getting better.

Here's a list of the locals...

In the City:

Goose Island
Half Acre
Metropolitan
Piece
Rock Bottom
Moonshine
Revolution coming soon


Nearby: with city distro

Two Brothers
Three Floyds
Flossmoor Station