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

dsc_1183

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.

dsc_1142

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.

dsc_1146

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.

dsc_1144

Jason stirring the mash

dsc_1157

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.

dsc_1149

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

dsc_1151

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.

dsc_1161

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

dsc_1237

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!

dsc_1139

Heating some mash water

dsc_1156

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.

dsc_1164

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.

dsc_1180

dsc_1182

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.

dsc_1188

Alex prior to playing some lever hockey

Recipe Specifications
————————–
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:
————
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
—————————-
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!

Hop Harvest IPA 2016

dsc_1148Hop Harvest IPA was brewed on 09/18/16.  This beer marks the first time I’ve had access to freshly picked hops!  A coworker of mine, Steve, is a fellow homebrewer who happens to also grow his own hops.  I showed up to work and found a bag of about three and a half ounces each of freshly picked and dried Nugget and Cascade hops!
dsc_1132

I brought the hops home that night, measured them out in 1 ounce bags, flushed with Co2, and then put them in the freezer until brew day a few days later.  The flavor fresh hops impart is supposed to be unique and intense when compared to using pellet hops.  I had about 6 and a half ounces to work with here, so that’s not a ton given that whole cone hops have more plant material that doesn’t impart anything to the beer than pellets do.  I figured to get the most out of this beer I needed to both do a smaller batch to make the amount of fresh hops I had go further, and I needed to supplement them with some pellets.

I bought two ounces each of Cascade and Nugget pellets to use during the boil and first round of dry hops, saving all my fresh hops for the hopstand and keg dry hops.  If you read my blog, you know I make my pale ales in the New England/Northeast style.  I always do a round of dry hops in the fermenter while primary fermentation is still active.  I used an ounce each of Nugget and Cascade pellets in the fermenter just for ease of removal.  Getting bagged whole cone hops out of the carboy would be awful, and not bagging them would make yeast harvesting difficult.  So pellets it was.  An ounce and a half each of my freshies were saved for hopping in the keg.

Cascade and Nugget are not the trendiest types of hops, and I’ll be interested to see what these classic American hops do in the new school NE hoppy style.  Cascades are still citrusy, and I can see Nugget fitting in here too.  Nugget can lean more towards the herbal, pine and spice side of things, but I’ve had strictly Nugget hopped beers that were fruity as well. Cascade and Nugget aren’t the Citras and Mosaics of the IPA world anymore, but that’s kind of appealing here, combining old and new.  I’ll also be excited to see what using fresh hops brings to the table as far as flavor and aroma intensity goes.  In reality, 6 ounces of fresh cones isn’t a lot by today’s pale ale standards, so I’m hopping that by doing a smaller batch I was able to stretch them a bit further.

Brew day was a madhouse, but in a fun way.  I was given two one gallon brew kits by my friend Andy, and I decided to put them to good use.  While I was brewing my fresh hopped pale ale, I had two batches of one gallon all grain beers going on the stove.  Needeless to say, I had my hands full.  Things were pretty hectic, but everything turned out well for the most part.  The Hop Harvest ale went really well, I hit all my numbers.  I mashed in at 152 for 60 minutes, sparged, and got my 60 minute boil going.  I used some of my Cascade and Nugget pellets in the boil, and saved a bit for a flameout addition.  I had a big addition of fresh hops go in right at flameout, and I steeped the hops in a hopstand for 45 minutes to let those freshies really soak in.  After the hopstand I chilled to about 70 degrees, took my hydrometer sample, and poured through my strainer into the carboy.  My hydrometer sample came in at 1.058.  The beer fermented at 68 degrees for 4 days.  I hit it with the first round of dry hops on day 4 and ramped the temp up to 72 to help the yeast finish out.

dsc_1133

Recipe Specifications
————————–
Batch Size (fermenter): 4.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.058 SG
Estimated Color: 6.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
————
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt, Golden Promise (Thomas Fawcet Grain 1 64.5 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 11.7 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 11.7 %
6.0 oz Honey Malt (Gambrinus) (25.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.4 %
4.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 5 2.9 %
4.0 oz Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.9 %
2.5 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 7 1.8 %

0.25 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 8 15.3 IBUs
0.75 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 16.6 IBUs
0.50 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 10 4.7 IBUs
2.50 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
2.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 12 0.0 IBUs

1 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 1
1 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 1

1.75 oz Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 2
1.5 oz Nugget [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 2

London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 8.5 oz
—————————-
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 10.66 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min

Keg Update 09/29/16:  I kegged this beer last night on 2.25 oz of fresh Nugget and Cascade hops.  I used some stainless steel washers to help keep the bag weighted down.  I took my final hydrometer sample and it came in at 1.012, giving me an abv of 6%!  The sample tasted nice already, with citrus and some herbal and pine notes.  I’ll be anxious to see jhow this turns out!

Tasting Notes 10/12/16:

Appearance:  Hop Harvest pours a cloudy orange color with gold highlights.  This beer started with the usual level of juice like haze I get in my New England style beers, but as the keg has gone, it’s begun to settle out a bit.  Its still hazy, but not turbid.  The beer has a nice white head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smell:  I’ve never used Nugget hops, and its been a while since I’ve used Cascade, so I’m not sure how much the fresh hops differ from the usual pellets, but this beer has a unique smell.  The dominant smell almost reminds me of being in a forest after a rain shower.  Its a very fresh floral and herbal note I think, with citrus and a bit of peach underneath that.  I’m guessing the peach comes from the 1318 esters, while the citrus should be the Cascade.  I’m thinking the herbal and floral notes are from the Nugget hops.

Taste:  This beer benefits from the stirring the keg up periodically, otherwise its a bit bland for a NE style pale.  The bitterness would be mild in a more flavorful beer, but there’s not a ton of hop flavor, so the bitterness sticks out a bit more.  There’s a spicy herbal flavor, with just a hint of grapefruit and peach beneath that.  The Golden Promise and honey malt add a bit of complexity to keep the beer from seeming boring, but there’s a bit of harsher bitterness in the finish.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a decent beer, but its pretty balanced and certainly not a hop bomb.  Its just a bit bland.

Mouthfeel:  Pretty nice body on this,  but nothing special.  Medium carbonation.  The bitterness in the finish creates a drier feeling on the tongue that interferes with what would otherwise be a smooth finish.

Overall:  I can’t say I’m necessarily let down here since I didn’t really have any expectations for this beer, but I’m certainly not impressed with it either.  I think the issue comes down to the amount of hops used.  The fresh whole cone hops have a lot more plant material by ounce, and while the aroma and flavor they provided was raw and pretty cool, I just didn’t have enough.  I should have done an even smaller batch to really make the most of them, but oh well.  I’d love to try another fresh hop beer though, and it was cool getting to use some varieties that I don’t use much if any of.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a forgettable beer.  I’ve brewed plenty worse, but I’ve certainly brewed better IPA’s.

 

Oktoberfest -Version 2

dsc_1164

Oktoberfest was brewed on 08/28/16.  One of goals in the beginning of the year was to step up my lager game, and brew a couple lagers.  Mission complete since this is lager number two for me in 2016.  Though I’m a hop head for sure, I really enjoy a good Oktoberfest beer once the weather starts cooling off and the leaves change colors.  Its really one of the perfect styles for people who are big beer people and people who drink macro beers.  Its usually malty and not bitter, easy drinking but with good flavor, and sessionable.  They aren’t complex enough where people may be turned off, but there are subtle nuances that can be appreciated as well.

DSC_1106

My brew/drinking buddies for the day, Jason, Andy, Steve (Dave not pictured)

There are two types of Oktoberfest beers:  Festbeers and Märzen.  The Festbeer style is closer to being like a more robust Munich Helles.  This is the type of beer you would be served if you attended THE Oktoberfest in Munich.  The Festbeer is smooth, crisp, and easy to drink in quantity despite an abv usually hovering around 6%.  Pilsner malt should still make up the majority of your base, but you’ll see a higher percentage of Munich and/or Vienna malt in there as well than in a Helles.  Specialty malts should be kept to a minimum.

The other type of Oktoberfest is the Märzen.  This style is typically more deep gold to amber colored, and is the more commonly found style in the US.  A lot of examples have a bit more toasty or caramel flavor.  Munich and/or Vienna malt may make up a larger part of the grain bill, and you may find some specialty grains being used like caramunich or other crystal malts.  Their use should still be restrained since you don’t want sweetness.  There’s a clear difference between a good, well attenuated malty beer and a sweet beer, and this shouldn’t be sweet.

DSC_1107

Both styles of Oktoberfest have things about them that I enjoy, so I tip-toed the line between them.  This year’s Oktoberfest probably leans more toward the Märzen style, but it it shouldn’t have any of the caramel sweetness that can sometimes be off-putting in that style whn not done properly.  With this beer, I much prefer getting my malty flavors from using larger percentages of Munich and Vienna malt, and I added a half pound of Melanoiden malt.  Melanoiden is a specialty malt that is almost like a super Munich malt.  It adds intense malt aroma and flavor to the beer, but not in a sweet way.  The malt should have notes of fresh baked bread, biscuits and a bit of toast.

 

 

DSC_1109

Mashing in!  Jason on the left, me on the right.

This year’s beer isn’t too much of a change from the last time I brewed an Oktoberfest.  I substituted a couple pounds of Pils malt for Munich for that added maltiness, and the Vienna is the same.  I upped the bittering charge a bit, and got rid of the second round of hops so that the bittering hops will offset the sweetness, but there won’t be much hop flavor to get in the way of the malt.  I also went with the yeast I used on my Helles, Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager.  It had a profile that I really enjoyed, and it should work just as well here.

DSC_1111

Getting all those sugars out!

Brew day was a lot of fun as usual, I had a good group hanging out and helping me.  I mashed in at 150 for an hour and sparged as usual.  This beer called for a 90 minute boil due to the Pilsner malt used.  Since it wasn’t a huge percentage of the grist I may have been able to get away with a 60 minute boil, but why risk it?  I threw in my lone bittering charge at 60 minutes and sat down for some beers and BLT’s with my friends.  I didn’t have anything going on until a whirlfloc addition at 15 minutes, and sanitizing the chiller in the boil at 10 minutes.  I got the beer chilling right at flameout, but this took a while to get to pitching temperature.  Hose water this time of year doesn’t get too cold, so we filled a bucket with ice and saltwater and then coiled the hose in it as a sort of pre-chiller.

DSC_1117

Watching for a boil over

We were able to get the beer down to 68 degrees and I decided I’d let the fride to the rest of the work.  I drew a hydrometer sample, poured through a strainer into the carboy, and then I pitched my yeast which I had built up in a starter.  My hydrometer sample was right on at 1.057!

DSC_1122

This beer will ferment at 48 degrees for about a week and a half.  After that time, I’ll raise the beer to 65 degrees for a diacetyl rest.  The beer will sit at 65 for two days, and then I’ll transfer the beer to a keg.  I’ll then drop the beer by  5 degrees each day until it gets close to freezing, probably 34 or 35 degrees.  Once I have open space in the kegerator, I’ll trow some gelatin to clear this thing and then start letting it carb!  I expect to be drinking it by mid October, though it should continue to improve with more time in the keg.

DSC_1123

My Strainers, Jason and Steve

DSC_1128

Right on the money!

Ca+2                  Mg+2                  Na+                Cl-                 SO4-2              HCO
80.3                   11.8                     7.8                  72.0                59.2                4.379

Recipe Specifications
————————–
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 8.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 76.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
————
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 34.8 %
3 lbs 12.0 oz Munich 10L (Briess) (10.0 SRM) Grain 2 32.6 %
3 lbs Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 3 26.1 %
8.0 oz Melanoidin (Weyermann) (30.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.3 %
4.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 5 2.2 %

1.50 oz Hallertauer [4.80 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 6 25.6 IBUs

2.0 pkg Bohemian Lager (Wyeast Labs #2124) [124. Yeast 8 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 11 lbs 8.0 oz
—————————-
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 14.38 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F 60 min

Keg Update 09/12/16:  After a few days at 65 I kegged this beer under my usual closed transfer system.  The FG came in at 1.011 giving me my target 6% abv!  The beer had a really nice clean malty flavor already that will only improve with lagering.  I lowered the beer back to 50 and will drop the temperature a few degrees each day until it reaches lagering temps where it will sit a month or so.

Tasting Notes 10/20/16:

Appearance:  Oktoberfest pours a deep gold to light amber color.  The beer has a nice level of clarity thanks to the gelatin used to fine it.  Its not crystal clear, but its not far off.  The beer has a nice white head when poured that sticks around for a bit then clings to the side of the glass.

Smell:  The aroma of this beer is mild, as it should be.  The dominant smell I pick up from this beer is freshly baked bread crust.  There was initially a hint of sulfur, but that has thankfully conditioned out of the beer.  No yeast or hop aroma to speak of in this one.

Taste:  Clean, crisp, and malty is the name of the game here.  The maltiness follows the nose in that it tastes very bread crust like.  Its just a pure malt flavor, no real flavor from the hops come in, just bitterness to offset the sweetness.  The beer is well balanced, could maybe be just a touch hoppier to further balance it.  I’ve had a number of friends sample this at an Oktoberfest party and it was well received, but the constructive criticism I got was to up the hops a bit.  I think a 15 or 20 minute addition might do well here.  This lager yeast fermented very clean, and I’m glad I used it here after the success I had with it in my Helles recipe.

Mouthfeel:  A light to medium bodied beer with lively carbonation.  One of the adjustments I made in the keg with this beer was to blast this with some more C02 while my other keg was disconnected.  I usually have my regulator set to about 12 to 15 psi, which works great for my ales, but setting this at 20 and leaving it overnight about a week ago bumped up the carbonation to a perfect level.

Overall:  A definite improvement over last years, but still not perfect.  I had an Ayinger Oktoberfest the other day, and that beer is on a whole other level.  That being said, I’d put this beer against a lot of other American versions of the style.  The malt flavor in this beer is really nice and clean.  The bitterness could use the slightest bump.  I’d like to add a bit more toasted biscuit flavor, or somehow just make the malt a bit more complex without over complicating the beer.  I’m thinking a higher percentage of Munich or Vienna malt might do that, and maybe a bit of Caramunich.  All that aside, I’m really pleased with this beer, and it’s another solid entry into my very sparse lager portfolio.

Slow Dance -Kettle Soured Saison with Brett, Honey, and Oak

dsc_1181

Slow Dance was kettle soured on 08/12/16 and boiled on 08/14/16.  Sorry about the lack of brew day picks for this beer, my camera had died and I didn’t feel like waiting till it charged.  This beer sort of killed two beers with one stone for me; I wanted to brew another sour after the success I had with Acid Rainbow, and I wanted to brew another Saison after the mediocre Farmhouse Disco.

I really enjoyed Acid Rainbow as a base sour beer without a ton of complexity.  It’s an easy drinking summer sour and would be a great base for further experimentation.  I wanted the second sour I did to be different from that beer with some layered complexity.  I thought a Saison would be a base style that would lend itself well to being soured.  I have mixed feelings about Saison.  It’s a style I’d really like to love, but I just can’t get myself there.  I know when I’m drinking a great one, and I’ve actually really enjoyed some of the ones I’ve had.  I’ve had some Hill Farmstead Saisons for example, and they blew me away.  I realized that most of the examples of the style either had hopping levels similar to a pale ale, or were fermented with some wild yeasts.  I decided to take those two elements and combine them here in Slow Dance.

I started with a pretty simple base Saison grain bill, with a good dose of wheat for a bit of body and mouthfeel, as well as some honey malt for a hint of sweetness that I hope fill carry into the final product.  I then kettle soured this beer for two days.  This is a small batch of beer, 2.75 gallons, and I don’t have a secondary fermenter that size to age this.  I would have liked to have done a traditional sour here since I’ve heard there are more complexities, but a kettle sour method will do.  For primary fermentation I chose Omega Yeast Labs C2C Saison/Brett blend.  The Saison strain comes from a Northeast brewery which I’m hoping is Hill Farmstead, and Brett from a West Coast brewery.  I’m excited to see how the Belgian esters (which I’m not normally a fan of on their own) play with the tart Lacto and Brett funk.

In addition to the interesting blend of bacteria and yeast, I plan adding wildflower honey after primary fermentation is complete, as well as a small amount of oak cubes for a couple weeks prior to bottling.  I’m hoping that while this will be a complex beer, these flavors should all blend well together to make a cohesive final product.

For the hops, I am hoping for a little fruitiness from them to complement the existing flavors rather than overshadow them.  The Nelson hops’ wine like flavor should compliment the dry tartness of a sour Saison, while the citrus qualities of the Amarillo should add some nice fruitiness to compliment the yeast esters and funk.

The two brew days for this went pretty well for the most part.  The mash and sparge on the first day went as planned, I hit my mash temp of 152 for an hour, collected my wort in the kettle and heated to 180 to kill any unwanted bacteria or other critters present from the grains.  I cooled to 95 degrees and pitched my Lactobacillis blend.  It sat covered in the kettle from Friday to Sunday when I boiled for 90 minutes due to the Pilsner malt.  I added hops at 5 minutes and flameout, let that sit for about 10 minutes to soak in, and then cooled to 70 and took a hydrometer sample.  My sample was way high.  This was the first time I’ve done a 2.75 gallon batch on my propane burner, I usually do them on the stove.  I boiled off much more than expected.  I hopped on beersmith and added about a couple quarts of water to get back to my intended OG before the honey, which was in the low 1.050’s.  The honey should bring my OG to 1.061.  After making my corrections, I pitched my C2C Saison Brett blend and will let this ferment in my warm garage without any temperature control.  The garage is insulated, so it stays consistently around 80 degrees in the summer, so it should ferment warm without getting too hot and throwing out off flavors.

I don’t have my exact water profile I used, I forgot to save it, bit I think my Calcium and Chloride where both around 130, and my S04 was 75.

Recipe Specifications

————————–
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 4.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 14.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78.00 %
Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Ingredients:
————
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
3 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 60.9 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 17.4 %
4.0 oz Acidulated (Weyermann) (1.8 SRM) Grain 3 4.3 %
4.0 oz Honey Malt (Gambrinus) (25.0 SRM) Grain 4 4.3 %

12.0 oz Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 13.0 %

0.50 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 5 6.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 6 8.4 IBUs
0.50 oz Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Boil 0.0 min Hop 8 0.0 IBUs

1.0 pkg C2C American Farmhouse (Omega #OYL-217) Yeast 9 –
1.0 pkg Lactobacillus Blend (Omega #OYL-605) Yeast 10 –

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Light Body, No Mash Out
Total Grain Weight: 5 lbs 12.0 oz
—————————-
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 6.25 qt of water at 171.1 F 152.0 F 60 min

Bottling Update 09/12/16:  I ended up adding honey a week after brewday when primary fermentation had settled.  After another week, I added an ounce of oak cubes that I had boiled.  I left those oak cubes in the beer for two weeks until bottling on 09/12/16, four weeks after brew day.  The FG of this beer came in at 1.007.  Even with the Brett, I think that should be low enough to bottle without worrying about bombs.  The final ABV came in at 7%.  The flavor was already delicious.  Sour, but the Saison and Brett characters were evident at well.  The oak added some real nice complexity without overpowering.  I can’t wait to see what time and carbonation does with this beer!

Tasting Notes 10/27/16:

Appearance:  Slow Dance pours a moderately hazy deep gold.  The beer poured with a better head than I usually get with sours.  The head clings nicely to the side of the glass.

Smell:  The initial aroma is heavy on the Lacto and Brett aromas.  You can tell that this is going to be complex just from the smell.  The Lacto lends some acidic pineapple aroma.  There’s also some of that unmistakable barnyard Brett funk.  Under all of that is lemon zest and a healthy dose of floral from the hops and honey.  I’m not really getting anything from the Saison yeast or the oak in the aroma.

Taste:  Tart and funky are the things that hit you right off the bat.  The tartness has a lemon or lime type of citrus to it.  Under the tartness and funk are some honey notes from the combination of honey malt and wildflower honey.  Its just a hint of underlying sweetness.  There’s a bit of graininess from the Pilsner malt in there as well.  I’m not really getting much oak from this, it’s very subtle.  I don’t get much of the traditional Belgian esters from the Saison yeast, they are overshadowed by the more dominant Lacto and Brett flavors.  The flavors from the hops blend seamlessly with the other flavors from the bacteria and yeasts.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is lighter bodied with lively carbonation.  It finishes pretty dry and crisp as a Saison should.  The higher percentage of wheat keeps it from ever feeling too thin.  Slow Dance is pretty refreshing for a 7% ABV beer.

Overall:  I’m pretty thrilled with this beer.  The tartness and Brett flavors came together really well.  The wildflower honey added some nice dryness and some wonderful floral qualities.  I wish the oak and actual Saison flavors would have been a little more evident, but I’m pleased with the way that all these flavors have blended.  When I put this together, I wasn’t certain all of these flavors would blend, it could have been a jumbled mess of clashing ingredients, but it came together well.  I could probably balance them all a bit better, but this is good!  I’d keep the recipe the same for next time, I’d maybe just give the Lacto a day in the kettle rather than two in order to tone the tartness down just a bit.  I’d also increase the time the beer sits on the oak to try and extract a bit more from it.

Kangaroo Scallywag – New England Style IPA With Nelson Sauvin and Galaxy Hops

DSC_1072

This beer was brewed on 07/10/16.  Kangaroo Scallywag is another in my series of New England/Northeast style beers.  This one is an American IPA.  It’s been a year since I’ve brewed one.  I tend towards brewing doubles in the 8% range or going lighter with APA’s so I figured a standard IPA brew day was about due.

The original plan for this beer was to use Azzaca hops rather than Galaxy, and the beer’s name would have been different.  I’d been reading about Azzaca hops and they sound like they’d be great in this type of beer.  I’d never used them so it would have been fun to try them out alongside the Nelson hops for a super fruity IPA.  When I got to my LHBS I saw they were out.  I still got a bunch of Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand and I wanted another fruity hop to go with it so I figured I may as well just make this a Southern Hemisphere IPA and go with Australian Galaxy, hence the Kangaroo part in the name.  While I’ve only used Nelson once prior, I know plenty of commercial beers that pair it with Galaxy, so I know I’m in for a delicious hoppy treat.

There were a few aspects of this beer that were new to me, but let’s start with what’s the same.  I went with my usual 2 Row base, I used both White Wheat and flaked to give it that smooth creamy body, some carapils for the same, and my hop schedule is my usual for this type of beer.  I kept my water chemistry treatment in line with what I usualy do for this style of beer which is heavier on the chloride and lighter on the sulfate to help achieve that smooth easy bitterness that this style of IPA is known for.

As for the differences, there were a couple.  This is my first time using honey malt in a hoppy beer, though I’ve seen plenty of recipes that have so I’m hardly doing anything outside of the ordinary.  I’m interested to see how it compares to the light caramalt I usually use for color and a hint of sweetness in my hoppy beers.  If it adds a little extra complexity I might have to sub honey malt into some of my other recipes.  The other new factor in this beer wasn’t a new ingredient, but rather a new method for me.  I’d never wanted to go through the hassle of harvesting and washing yeast.  It seemed like more work and risk of infection than I wanted to deal with.  By just buying a couple packs of yeast on brew day and just pitching those, I felt like I eliminated one extra variable where something could go wrong.  While that’s a safe way to do things, it gets expensive.  Yes the ease of just pitching a couple packs of yeast is nice, but it adds up money wise.  I read an article on one of my favorite blogs, Ales of the Riverwards,  about just harvesting the slurry from the fermenter and directly pitching that slurry into another batch without going through a washing process.  It sounded interesting, so I harvested the Wyeast 1318 London Ale III from my Serrated Summer Ale in mason jars and kept it in the fridge.  As the article I linked to describes, its good to keep as much trub and hop matter out of the harvested slurry as possible, and I think I did a good job of that.  I was excited to try harvested slurry for the first time here.

Sorry for the lack of brew day pictures, I didn’t bother with the camera for this one.  The brew day itself was the usual processes and procedures.  It was just my friend Steve and me, so it was a pretty quiet day.  I mashed in at 150 for an hour, did my usual batch/dunk sparge with the grain bag, and boiled for 60.  I had to cut my hopstand from 30 minutes to 20 as I was up against the clock trying to get this done before leaving to go play in my hockey league.  I chilled the beer down to about 95 degrees before I had to leave, so I put the beer in my fermentation fridge and set it to run while I was gone.  I came home and the beer was around 70 degrees so I took my hydrometer sample and then I measured out about 200 ml of 1318 slurry and pitched it.  They hydrometer sample came in right at my expected 1.064 after I adjusted for temperature.

It took until the next evening before I saw signs of fermentation, but it took off like a rocket at that point.  I added an ounce of Nelson and Galaxy after 4 days of active fermentation, and I’ll post an update when the beer is kegged.

Recipe Specifications
————————–
Boil Size: 7.00 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.75 gal
Estimated OG: 1.064 SG
Estimated Color: 5.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 63.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 74.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 74.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
————
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 76.0 %
1 lbs Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 2 7.2 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 7.2 %
8.0 oz Carapils (Briess) (1.5 SRM) Grain 4 3.6 %
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 5 3.6 %
5.0 oz Acid Malt (3.0 SRM) Grain 6 2.3 %

1.00 oz Warrior [15.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 48.1 IBUs
0.50 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 8 8.1 IBUs
0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 7.0 IBUs
2.00 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 0.0 Hop 10 0.0 IBUs
2.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Steep/Whirlpoo Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 1
1 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 1

1.5 oz Galaxy [14.00 %] – Dry Hop 2
1.5 oz Nelson Sauvin [12.00 %] – Dry Hop 2

London Ale III (Wyeast Labs #1318)  200 ml slurry repitched from previous batch

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs 13.0 oz
—————————-
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 17.27 qt of water at 161.4 F 150.0 F 60 min

Sparge: Batch sparge with 2 steps (0.84gal, 3.50gal) of 168.0 F water

Water Profile:

Ca+2                  Mg+2                  Na+                    Cl-                  SO4-2               HCO
139.2                  12.0                   10.0                   151.9               96.4                 120.571

Kegging Update 07/19/19:  I kegged this beer to sit on another round of dry hops for the next five days.  I took my hydrometer sample and was thoroughly disappointed.  For whatever reason, this beer only got down to 1.020.  It was fermenting like crazy, almost requiring a blowoff tube, so I’m really surprised.  1318 is a quick fermenter, so I’m guessing its done.  Maybe my pitch rate was off if I had more trub in the pitch than I expected?  I’m not sure.  I’m hesitant to use any yeast harvested from this batch since it didn’t really perform.  My ABV is only 5.8 on this one, more of a pale ale than IPA, but the flavor was still nice.  Can’t win them all I suppose.  UPDATE 07/24/16:  I removed the dry hops and noticed that there was a ton of foam in the keg when I opened it.  I wondered if I had roused the yeast when I transferred so I figured why not take another hydrometer sample and see.  It got down to 1.015!  Hell yes.  So my final ABV on this beer is 6.5%, right in line with what I wanted!  The hydrometer sample tasted great, I have high hopes for this one.

Tasting Notes 08/15/16

Appearance:  Kangaroo Scallywag pours a glowing orange color with golden hues mixed in.  A typical looking New England style IPA, this beer is very hazy and juice like in appearance.  The beer pours with a sift white head that sticks around then clings to the side of the glass.  A pretty beer for sure if you dig this style like I do!

Smell:  This beer has a huge bouquet of fruity aromas.  In my opinion, the Nelson sticks out over the Galaxy, but both are evident.  The classic vineyard grape aromas from the Nelson blend with notes of mango and pineapple.  There’s more tropical fruit and not much in the way of citrus in the aroma.  There’s a aroma that Southern Hemisphere hops tend to have in common and its evident here.  I wish I could put my finger on the exact quality they have, but I can’t.  There’s an almost Belgian ester aroma to the aroma, but it doesn’t carry to the flavor.

Taste:  The bitterness in this one is so smooth.  It quickly gives way to  beautifully saturated hop flavors.  Again, I feel the Nelson shines through a bit more with its grape like fruitiness, but the mango and pineapple from the Galaxy are close behind.  This beer is like tropical fruit juice, its so tasty!  There’s a pleasant sweetness in the finish without coming across as malty.  I’m sure its a mixture of hop flavors and sweetness from the malt bill, specifically the honey malt.

Mouthfeel:  This beer is very soft on the palate, with what could be described as a pillowy mouthfeel.  The beer still finishes dry enough that it leaves you anxious for another sip and remains very drinkable.  The carbonation is medium and the beer leaves sticky lacing on the glass.

Overall:  I was worried about this beer when it went into the keg due to what seemed to be the yeast crapping out on me.  Either they were still working or the transfer to the keg woke them back up, but either way, they got the job done and I’m very happy with these results!  I really like Nelson and Galaxy together, they produce so much fruit flavor in a beer like this.  I’m a big fan of the subtle sweetness of the honey malt in this type of IPA when used in the right amount, and I’ll be interested to use more of it going forward.  I’m not sure of anything I’d want to change if I was to brew this one again.  I’m sure it’ll be a while if I do just because there are always new hop combos I want to try and other beers I’d like to revisit first, but put this beer firmly in the “Would brew again” category!