Slow Dance-Sour Brett Saison Tasting Notes!

I added tasting notes to the bottom of the blog post for Slow Dance, my Saison that was kettle soured, fermented with Saison yeast and Brett, honey, and aged on oak.  Read about it HERE!

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Hop Harvest IPA Tasting Notes

The tasting notes are up at the bottom the post for my Hop Harvest New England style IPA brewed with fresh picked Nugget and Cascade hops!  Read about it HERE!

I’v got a few beers still awaiting tasting notes including my sour Saison Slow Dance, my Imperial Stout ISO: Whalez Bro! 2016, my Porter Cold Black Eyes, my House Blend Brown, and my Oktoberfest.  Check back for more updates!

White Death (Version 7) New England Style DIPA

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White Death was brewed on 10/10/16.  Well well well, here we go again!  I knew I wanted to brew another batch of this beer before long, and there wasn’t much I wanted to change about it.  Since the last time I brewed this beer, Chicago has had a few breweries come out with some truly great examples of the New England IPA style.  Breweries like Mikerphone and their Special Sauce beers, Hop Butcher’s Galaxy Bowl, and The RAM’s Juicy have all been stellar beers that I just couldn’t get enough of.  The more I had these beers, the more things I realized that I needed to tweak to get White Death to be 100% where I want it.

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A couple tools of the trade

One thing I wanted to improve was just the overall saturation of hop flavors and aromas.  Sadly for my wallet, this just meant more hops.  There’s basically a pound of hops in this recipe, and the vast majority of those are in the hop stand and dry hop.  I’m not sure if this is overkill or not, I’ll have to see once this is done and see if there’s anywhere I can scale the hops back a bit without losing any flavor or aroma.

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Me, giving the mash a good stir

Looking back, I love how I said I wouldn’t change much if anything with that recipe last time, and just look above.  What can I say, I love tinkering with my recipes, but I really think this will get me where I want to be!

As for the brew day itself, it went about as perfect as it gets.  I was with my friends Jason and Dave, so I had plenty of help when I needed it.  I hit my mash temp right on the dot.  I mashed for an hour and then sparged.  Once the boil got going, I had some time to relax and have a couple beers with the guys.

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Jason stirring the mash

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A nice fall day for brewing some DIPA

Below you’ll see my hop additions, and that’s without the dry hop!  I added Citra and Mosaic at 10 minutes left, and got my chiller going at flameout.  I brought the beer down to 180 degrees and added a hopstand charge.  I let those hops steep for 45 minutes, chilled down to pitching temperature, and took my OG reading.  Right on the money at 1.075!  I swear, this brew day went too good to be true, I’m waiting on some disaster with the yeast or I’ll drop the carboy at kegging or something.

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The boil and hopstand hops…there’s anoth 8oz for the dry hop!

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My brew assistants Jason and Dave

I’ve said it before that this is my favorite beer that I brew, and this is the most excited I think I’ve ever been about a batch that I brewed.  I really think this recipe nailed the style, and I executed everything on brew day.  Hopefully the repitched slurry of Wyeast London Ale III yeast do their job, and I minimize any oxygen pickup during dry hopping and kegging.

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Pale Malt (2 Row)
Oats, Flaked
White Wheat Malt
Carapils
Honey Malt
Corn Sugar

Apollo
Citra
Galaxy
Mosaic

Keg Update 10/18/16:  The beer was kegged on the second round of dry hops.  The FG came in at 1.014, right on target to get my 8% ABV!  The sample I took was absolutely fantastic tasting, tons of juicy hop flavor.  I can’t wait to see what another four ounces of dry hops does!

Tasting Notes 11/3/16:

Appearance:  White Death pours a deep golden orange color with a beautiful haze.  If you you dig New England IPAs, you’ll love this.  The beer beer looks like its glows under a light source, its really a beautiful beer.  The appearance really enhances the juicy feel of the beer.  The head is fluffy and white and maintained by lively tiny bubbles.  The head eventually dissipates and fades to the side of the glass where it clings as nice, sticky lacing.

Smell:  So, so juicy smelling.  Its like opening a blended bag of hops and putting your nose in.  It smells like a smoothie made of orange and a bit of generic citrus, pineapple, peach, berry, passion fruit and mango.  It’s just very juicy!  I feel like I’m overusing that term, but it’s really the best descriptor.  I love how the Galaxy hops really amped up that peach and tropical fruit aspect.  The yeast esters further compliment the fruitiness of the hops.  If you want floral notes or piney resin, look elsewhere.  This beer is like a glass of carbonated fruit juice blend with some alcohol.

Taste:  The bitterness is very mild and so smooth, but its enough to keep the beer from being too sweet.  The taste follow the nose with predominant flavors of orange, pineapple, mango, and peach.  There’s lighter hints of passion fruit, lemon zest, and a bit of berry.  Malt definitely takes a back seat here, but I love the way the sweetness and slight fruitiness of the honey malt compliments the hops.  The 1318 yeast provides a wonderful profile that really enhances everything else going on with this beer.

Mouthfeel:  Silky smooth from the wheat and oats.  The body is on the fuller side of medium, with lighter medium carbonation that enhances the creamy body.  Even the body of this beer is juice like, and it really enhances the aromas and flavors.  I feel like I’ve gotten close with previous beers in terms of mouthfeel, this is the first time I’m really nailed it on the head.

Overall:  Yes!  Yes yes yes!  This is truly the beer I’ve been trying to make!  The almost pound of hops I put in this beer truly turned out to be worth it.  This beer is so saturated with hop flavor and aroma, I’ve never brewed anything quite to this level.  The addition of Galaxy rather than Amarillo really played well with the Citra and Mosaic.  It was an improvement for sure with what I was going for.  I think the higher percentage of oats and wheat really made the body perfect on this one.  The dry hop is right on the money.  I’d love to shave a couple ounces of hops off somewhere if I could to keep the cost down, but I don’t want to lose anything from this spectacular beer.  I might up the Apollo at 60 to .5 oz, then do an ounce of Apollo at 10 and save all my flavor and aroma hops for flameout and dry hops.  I also might be around the end of this pitch of 1318, though that doesn’t factor into the actual recipe design.  I’ve never had this beer even get close to clearing at all until the very end of the keg on my last batches.  I just harvest slurry from my fermentor without washing it, and I’m thinking I’m getting more and more flocculant pitches.  Every three or four days I need to agitate the keg a bit to get more of those hop oils and yeast back into suspension.  That seems to be the key with beers like this.  It loses some flavor when it clears since there isn’t much going on behind all those wonderful hop oils.  This beer is the best beer I’ve made…..period.

Juleøl 2016 – Norwegian Spiced Christmas Ale

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Brewed 09/30/16.  Its that time of year again!  I had attended my friend Scotty’s wedding earlier in the month when I ran into my friend Alex.  Alex was the driving force behind me brewing this beer last year, and he asked that we brew another batch this year after last year’s success.  Always up for a brew day, I agreed!

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Heating some mash water

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This year’s version of Juleøl is the same recipe as last year, only adjusted very slightly for an extra quarter gallon in the batch size.  I’m not going to go in depth on what a Juleøl is, you can read last year’s post for a more thorough explanation on the history of the beverage and what Alex and I were trying to achieve.  In short, a Juleøl is a Norwegian Christmas Ale made in a farmhouse tradition.  Norwegians would use ingredients they had at hand to make their winter beers to get them through the cold, dreary months.  These beers would often include a number of specialty ingredients including spices and sometimes even smoked malt.  Alex had visited Norway and had a Juleøl while he was there that he fell in love with.  After he described the beer to me, it sounded a lot like it was basically a spiced strong ale.  I put together a list of ingredients that met the flavor profile that Alex described and we brewed it.  The beer turned out to be a success, so much so that Alex told me that he wouldn’t change a thing.

For this year’s Juleøl, I followed Alex’s advice and barely made any modifications.  One thing I wanted to try was to use better spices this year.  I used actual cinnamon sticks and ginger root in this years version rather than ground spices.  I did still use ground all spice and clove, but those are supporting flavors next to the cinnamon and ginger.  I used one ounce of sweet orange peel as well.  The malt and hop bill stayed the same since Alex thought that the raisin and dark fruit flavors from the specialty malts were right on the money in my last attempt.  Wyeast London Ale III remains my go to yeast for most things, and it worked well in this beer last year so it returns here.

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Alex squeezing the ol sack….I’ll never stop making that joke

Brew day, or night I should say, didn’t get going until after work and I had a chance to buy my ingredients.  It was a cool September night into a cool October very early morning, so the weather set a nice tone for brewing a spiced ale.  I hit just a degree shy of my mash temp which works just fine for me.  I sparged via my usual batch sparge method, and got this beer boiling.  Once I added my 60 minute Warrior hop addition, I didn’t have much going on until the last 20 minutes or so of the boil for this beer.  I added my late hops and spices at their set times, and then turned the burner off.  It was nice not having to worry about a hop stand, and was able to chill this beer down to 70 degrees relatively fast.

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Scotty, post local Oktoberfest visit, and Jason

I did have two hiccups on this brew day, but neither were a big deal.  First, one of these days I need to learn to just trust that I have my water volumes figured out correctly.  When we mashed in, the mash looked thicker to me than usual.  I added an extra quart of water to thin it a bit.  I think I accidentally added an extra quart to the sparge as well.  I was able to correct this with a bit of malt extract that I keep on hand for just such an occasion.  Second, I forgot to add a Whirlfloc tab to the boil.  I noticed its taking a lot longer for things to drop in the carboy as this beer ferments, but I’m hoping it shouldn’t have any impact on the beer since it will condition in the bottle for a good amount of time.

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Alex prior to playing some lever hockey

Recipe Specifications
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Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.072 SG
Estimated Color: 21.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 28.9 IBUs
Est Mash Efficiency: 73.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
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Amt Name Type # %/IBU
11 lbs Pale Malt, Golden Promise (Thomas Fawcet Grain 1 75.9 %
1 lbs Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.9 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 6.9 %
12.0 oz Special B (Dingemans) (147.5 SRM) Grain 4 5.2 %
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 5 3.4 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Wheat Malt (400.0 SRM) Grain 6 1.7 %

0.50 oz Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 24.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 11 3.2 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 12 1.8 IBUs

2 Cinnamon Sticks at 15 minutes
0.50 oz Ginger Root at 15 minutes
1.00 oz Orange Peel, Sweet at 15 minutes
0.25 tsp ground Cloves at 5 minutes
1.25 tsp ground Allspice at 5 minutes (The 1 tsp was added at bottling, the .25 was brew day)

2.0 pkg London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318) [124. Yeast 14 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 14 lbs 8.0 oz
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Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 18.13 qt of water at 165.9 F 154.0 F 60 min

Bottling Update 10/20/16:  The FG of this beer came in at 1.017 giving me a final ABV of 7.2%!  Thats a nice number for a winter warmer.  I had mentioned that beer looking cloudy in the fermenter, but that wasn’t an issue by the time I bottled as everything had settled out nicely.  What was an issue was the level of ginger I was getting from the hydrometer sample.  This thing was a ginger bomb for sure, the intensity of the fresher spice over the ground stuff was huge.  To help balance it out, I made a tincture with a tsp of allspice.  I blended that into the bottling bucket and the sample I tried afterwards was better.  The beer is spice heavy right now, but it should mellow in a month to be a really pleasing Christmas beer!

Tasting Notes 12/23/16:  

Appearance:  Juleol pours a deep brown with ruby highlights at the edges of the glass.  The beer has the appearance of a glass of cola.  When the beer his held to the light it has a pretty nice level of clarity.  The beer poured with a consistent off-white head.

Smell:  Cinnamon and allspice lead the charge when you hold your nose to the glass.  There’s a slight hint of clove and ginger as well.  Its like sticking your nose into a bag of Christmas cookies!  Nothing in the way of hops or malt aroma makes it past the spices in this year’s version.

Taste:  Holy allspice!  I definitely went way heavy with the allspice addition at bottling to try and correct the dominating ginger flavor.  This beer is certainly not undrinkable by any means, its just way to spice heavy for my taste.  I get hints of cinnamon and ginger as well, but the allspice dominated all else.  The spice leaves just a lingering bit of harshness.  I’m not getting much from the malt, but there is an almost vanilla like sweetness under the spice and I’m not sure where it came from.  Maybe its just a bit of malt sweetness  coming through.  I wish there was more balance here.  I really miss the dark fruit and bready flavors from the malt bill that were in last year’s version.  Hopefully they’ll become a bit more evident as the beer ages and the spice fades.

Mouthfeel:  The feel of this beer is on the heavier side of medium bodied with medium carbonation.  There’s a bit of bite at the end that reminds me a bit of drinking a less carbonated Coke, its certainly not unpleasant.

Overall:  I can’t help but be disappointed with this beer, mostly because I brewed it for someone else with their money.  Its not a bad beer, but the spice balance its off from where I wanted it to be.  I think if I would have left the beer alone at bottling, the ginger would have subsided to an acceptable level by now.  I way over corrected with the allspice to the point where its the dominant flavor of the beer.  Like I said, I’m just bummed because I did this beer for Alex, and I hate giving someone a product I’m not as proud of.  I need to reduce the initial ginger addition and probably drop the allspice all together.  I kept about 12 bottles, so I’ll age some to see how it goes as the spice fades.  In the words of almost all beer fans in regards to an annual release:  Last year’s was better!