Thursday, July 22, 2010

Current Beers - Summer 2010

At this post date, there are no beers fermenting, or brew-days planned. Currently serving, mostly on draft, are...

-Session 1 light lager
-Biscuit Small Beer
-American Hefeweizen
-Columbarillo IPA
-Cherrywood Smoked Doppelbock
-The Bones Eye IPA best ipa to date!

This year has provided a good number of beers brewed with others in mind. A number of students have learned the all-grain brewing methods and techniques I use. Several interesting test batches were brewed. Its interesting to note that many brewdays were centered on recipes not quite what I've wanted to brew for myself. Never-the-less, the second half of many of these batches have gone straight into kegs for Summer consumption. Early on, I placed a big order of American hops for a bunch more hoppy brews, but I really haven't gotten around to using them till very recently. My Bones Eye IPA is a killer 6.4% pale ale bursting with fresh Amarillo hops!

With a handful of brews on draft right now, I don't see any problem quenching our blazing hot summer days here in Chicago. I plan to drink, not brew. With a lot of small bbq's, with close friends on the horizon, I look forward to a relaxing summer. Also, I welcome you to swing by and enjoy a pint with me, so just get in touch.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Been Away For a While

For those who have been following my brewing journal, you may have noticed an absence from my contributions for a while. I've still been brewing a lot, but finding time this year to sit and write has been replaced with more personal and family time. Picking up more shifts, vacations, and community has also filled the schedule book.

Being so busy and scatterbrained, having enough time to effectively run the Northside Homebrewers Connection has been difficult at best. In affect, a much more casual approach has taken place. I hope to get things together, to at least schedule regular meetings again, but time will tell us how/what our group evolves into. Overall, I'm very happy with the camaraderie of everyone involved.

Lager brewing was squeezed into a few cold months starting at the beginning of January. Following that, I got in a big batch of small beer which matured very well, and took on a very British taste. Then, brewing some styles I've never made before, like the Hefewiezen was cool, and it turned out great! Having good friends over to brew has been fun this year, brewing outside a few times, and being quite cold too.

Also, I've taken on another test batch project for hopes that one will be chosen by a new brewery opening somewhere in the continental USA. It's something I'm fucosuing on, but really not sure how it will unfold.

Of the batches I've had no time to write about, here I'll simply list them.

Copper Lager #4 ½ on Pils yeast & ½ on Bohemian yeast
Cherrywood Doppelbock
Smoked Baby Bock the 2%abv parti-gyle from the doppelbock mash
Daring Pilsener
Cousin's Dark Brown Ale
Columbarillo IPA
American Hefewiezen
Test Batch A1
Test Batch P1

I hope all is well in the home brewing online world. With life mellowing in the foreseeable future, I plan to write more about my brewing adventures.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Small Beer - Biscuit

Kicking of a round of ales on American Ale 1056 with a big batch of small beer. Last year's small beers turned me on to the simple taste of simply made beer. At low alcohol levels, these super clean and easy drinking ales were even easier to drink. I'm not so into alcohol anymore, and much more prefer to have the taste of quality beer along side a meal or while I write a post like this. So these small beers have become my favorite to brew and drink.

In this version, I wanted to push the toasted malt flavors and reduce the amount of crystal malt sweetness. I'm interested in obtaining a more dry/biscuit, sort-of English, taste to this small beer. After analyzing the taste and smell of Maris Otter and Golden Promise pale malts, I chose Golden Promise because it's smell was more earthy, and the taste more dry/toasted. Maris Otter is more clean it smell and has a more basic sweet pale malt taste. Also, in this recipe, Biscuit malt has a larger role than the pale crystal malt.

Once again, hops are simply added for bitterness. The OG came in one point under target at 1.034, so 25 IBU's will give it a solid clean bitter balance.

Small Beer - Biscuit

9.75 lbs. Golden Promise 2-Row
1.00 lbs. Belg. Biscuit
1.00 lbs. Belg. Cara 8
0.40 lbs. Fawcett Crystal 25L

2.5 oz. Willamette T-90, 4.8%, pellet, 60min

Wyeast 1056: American Ale 1.5qt decanted starter

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 2/9/10

Water Adjustment
4 gallons RO
Strike: 1.25tsp Gypsum, 1.2g Epsom, .75 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1.25tsp Gypsum, 1.2g Epsom, .25 tsp Acid Blend

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.6 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.3
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 152°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 169.5°F/
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.63gal/1.048

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 175°F/169°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 6.37/1.016

Pre-Boil Vol: 13 gallons
Pre-Boil SG: 1.030
Boil Time: 60min
Post-Boil Vol: 11 gallons
Mash Efficiency:

OG: 1.034
IBU: 25
Color/SRM: Pale Gold/5
Ferment Temp: 68-74°F

FG: 1.011
ABW: 2.4%
ABV: 3%

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Copper Lager 4

It's time for yet another favorite of mine, an annual tradition of sorts. The Copper Lager is a beer that originated by using up all old ingredients from earlier in the year. In its 4th incarnation, the recipe has changed, but critical elements remain...color, IBU's, ABV, and yeast choice.

This time, I'm using grains from bulk ordered sacks of grain. So since there's plenty of Pils malt available, I decided to use it as the malt bill base. In years past, American pale ale malt was used, and I really like the solid malt flavor it gives the beer. Munich, and Crystal 20L will lend some sweetness and foundational orange hues. Wheat has always been in the recipe because it really adds the the tight foam head, and here its up a few percentage points. Special B is added for a shade of color.

Hopping is kept pretty much the same. In the first recipe, 4 different hops were used (UK & German). Here I stuck with another bulk purchase, Hallertau T-90. Hop bitterness being moderate to balance the richer malt notes with two flavor additions, the overall hop character is balanced.

As an experiment, this batch has been split over 2 yeast strains. Traditionally, Wyeast Bohemian Lager is used, and always makes a great beer. Being a little under pitched, I hope it comes out clean enough. The other half is fermenting on yeast cake of Wyeast Pilsen Lager. Having more than enough yeast, this half fermented in only a week, with pleasant and clean airlock blurps.

Copper Lager #4

15. lbs. Franco-Belges Pils
2.0 lbs. Ger. Munich
1.25 lbs. UK Crystal 25L
1.5 lbs. Belgian Wheat
.25 lbs. Special B

3.4 oz. Hallertau, 3%, pellet, 60min
1.0 oz. Hallertau, 3%, pellet, 30min
1.5 oz. Hallertau, 3%, pellet, 15min

Wyeast 2208: Bavarian Lager 22oz starter
Wyeast 2007: Pilsen Lager yeast cake

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 1/31/10

Water Adjustment
Nearly 1:1 ratio RO & Distilled to Chicago
Strike: .75 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp CaCl, 1 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: .75 tsp Gypsum, .75 tsp CaCl, .25 Epsom

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.1 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/75min

Boil Time: 70min
Post-Boil Vol: 10.25 gallons

OG: 1.056
IBU: 29
Color/SRM: Orange-Copper/8
Ferment Temp: 50°F


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Session 1 Lager

Using Chicago's frigid Winters as a perfect ambiance for brewing lagers, I look forward to the season to get in several batches. Looking back to last years small beers, I thought I'd try making a small lager. A session lager that's low in alcohol, light in color, but very flavorful and crisp.

I was thinking about hopping with only one bittering addition, but since I'm going for more of a pils taste than helles, a bright finishing hop might be a nice refreshing nuance.

93% of the grist is made up of Franco-Belges Pilsen malt. Its a new malt for me, so I'm hoping it'll provide the right flavor for this light lager. One pound of Belgian Cara 8L was add for a tiny kiss of sweetness.

Simple really. Light and refreshing. Perfect for Spring. A good first beer of the year. It will leave a nice yeast cake for my 4th annual Copper Lager.

Session 1 Lager

13.5 lbs. Franco-Belges Pilsen Malt 1.8L
1.00 lbs. Belgian Cara 8L

2.25 oz. Czech Saaz, 3.5%, pellet, 60min
1.30 oz. Czech Saaz, 3.5%, pellet, 5min

Wyeast 2007: Pilsen Lager

Brew Day Stats

Brewed: 1/12/10
Racked: 1/31/10

Water Adjustment:
2 Parts Distilled/RO to 1 Part Filtered Chicago
Strike: 1.06g, 3.38g Epsom, 1.25 tsp Acid Blend
2nd Sparge: 1.06g/heaped .25 tsp CaCl, 3.38g Epsom, Acid Blend->pH=5
Boil: .25 tsp Kosher Salt

H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Ph: 5.1
Sacch. Rest Temp/Time: 151°F/60min
Mash Out Temp/Time: 168°F/vorlauf
1st Batch Vol/SG: 6.75gal/1.060 (worried me a bit)

2nd Batch Sparge H2OTemp/MashTemp: 180°F/171°F
2nd Batch Vol/SG: 6gal/1.022

Pre-Boil Vol: 12.75
Pre-Boil SG: 1.038 (where OG should be)
Boil Time: 75min
Post-Boil Vol: approx. 10 gallons
Mash Efficiency: 89%

OG: 1.045 (darn...7 points high)
IBU: approx. 19
Color/SRM: Straw-Yellow/3
Ferment Temp: 45°F

FG: 1.014
ABW: 3.26%
ABV: 4%

Cost: $25.4, .24¢/12oz., $1.44/6-pack! nice and cheap!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Muddy River Stout brewed at Hamburger Mary's

Last year in November, our Northside Homebrewer's Connection had it's first internal dark/seasonal ale contest hosted by/at Hamburger Mary's. Five teams made five dark beers, all served on draft, with sampling and judging by the general public. After all the votes were tallied, Muddy River Stout won! Its a super smooth & chocolaty stout made with dark roasted malts and real chocolate.

The winning team, Hoyne Street Brewers, received a cash prize and the opportunity to go in and brew their recipe at Hamburger Mary's. With some recipe tweaks, ordering & gathering equipment & ingredients, and a logistical meeting, the brewday finally came.

I'd like send out a big congratulations to the winning team (Dave W., Matt K., J.D., and Kyle S.)! Also, a big thanks to Brandon for hosting the event and opening your kitchen/brewery to our new club! And we could have done it without the generosity of Nathan Barth, who's awesome brewing equipment was absolutely necessary...Thanks!

Yesterday morning, a 75 gallon, partial mash batch of Muddy River Stout was brewed. Using a 55 gallon mashtun (that would later become 1 of 3 boil kettles), along with numerous 15 gallon kettles, we mashed close to 100 pounds of grain and drew off nearly a full wort boil. Extract was added to make up the gravity points, and chocolate was also added at the end of the boil.

All-in-all, what easily could have been a logistical nightmare turned out to be a successful brewday. With six brewers, numerous filled kettles scattered half-logically all around, in a very small prep-kitchen, it was a bit cramped, but also a really enjoyable time. It was totally worth it and an experience we'll never forget. This special seasonal stout will be released on draft at the restaurant at the tail end of January or the very beginning of February.

It makes me very happy to see such a rewarding event and fun opportunity unfold within the first year of starting the NHC. Another NHC/HM contest will be planned & scheduled for either Spring or late Summer. After our second informal board meeting, plans for 2010 are set and unfolding. With a dedicated website coming soon, the majority of NHC information will be communicated there.

Muddy River Stout: On Draft NOW!

I'll be visiting Hamburger Mary's this Saturday evening...Jan30th. Please join me & some of the others from the winning team, over a pint while hanging out in their wreck room. Give me a call/text to coordinate a time.