Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Socks-Off IPA

This IPA is so-named because it will "knock your socks off", between the hops and the potential alcohol content. My wonderful spouse got me a "home-brewed" IPA kit from our local small brew store (i.e., one thrown together by the owner) for Christmas, so I decided to brew it up tonight, with a few minor modifications for what ingredients I had on hand and wanted to use up.

Socks-Off IPA
  • 0.66 lbs. Munich malt
  • 3.75 lbs. Pale Malt, Maris Otter
  • 3.3 lbs. Briess Amber Liquid Malt Extract
  • 3.3 lbs. Briess Golden Light Liquid Malt Extract
  • 3.3 lbs. Briess Bavarian Wheat Liquid Malt Extract
  • 3 oz. Cascade hops (whole)
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer hops (whole)
  • 1 oz. Sterling hops (whole)
  • 1 oz. Saaz hops (whole)
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 2 oz. Northern Brewer hops (pellets)
  • 1 package London Ale III yeast (Wyeast Labs #1318)
  • I heated 3 gallons of tap water to 154° F, and steeped the grains for one hour (between 154° and 156° F). Then, I sparged the grains with one gallon of water at roughly 160° F, to bring the total volume to 4 gallons (or just a little over).
  • After bringing the mixture to a boil, I turned off the heat and added the liquid malt extracts. Then, I heated the kettle back to a boil (again) and added the whole Cascade, Hallertauer, and Sterling hops.
  • After 45 minutes, I added 1 tsp. of Irish moss.
  • After 55 minutes, I added the Saaz hops.
  • After 60 minutes, I removed all of the hops and chilled the wort. Once it had gotten down to an appropriate temperature, I added the wort to my fermenter. The volume at this point was 3.5 gallons, so I topped up with cold tap water to roughly 5.25 gallons.
  • The temperature of the wort was 76° F. I pitched the yeast, sealed the lid, and let the yeast do its thing.
  • Starting gravity was 1.072 - right at the upper of end of the American IPA style. BeerSmith estimates the bitterness at 59.3 IBU, color at 11.7 SRM, and ABV at 7.1%. 
  • In a week or so, I'll move the mixture over to my secondary fermenter, and add the Northern Brewer pellets for dry-hopping.
In other news, I've started using the BeerSmith software to formulate my recipes. The excellent reputation of the program is quite deserved - it's flexible and friendly to extract brewers as well as all-grain brewers.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amber Ale, Vanilla Porter, and Irish Stout Updates

A few updates condensed into one post. . .

Vanilla Voay Porter
This experimental brew (recipe, update, and update) was bottled on Saturday, December 10. This gave the vanilla extract/pods around two weeks in the secondary fermenter - the chopped and scraped pods floated on the surface, and many of the tiny seeds were everywhere in the fermenter.

Final gravity was 1.016, from a starting gravity of 1.056, giving 5.25% alcohol by volume. Final yield was just over 5 gallons of beer(!), with 30 12-oz. bottles, 12 1-pt. bottles, and 4 22-oz. bottles.

Four days after bottling, I was impatient and opened one of the small bottles. Carbonation was still very slight, but the flavor and aroma were delicious. A faint vanilla scent, but a rich vanilla flavor (not overpowering though, thankfully). I'm very excited to see how this is going to mature over the next few weeks!

Fake Tire Amber Ale
One week after brewing, I transferred my Fat Tire clone into the secondary fermenter. The aroma was very estery, with a strong banana component. I might have been a little worried, except the yeast strain is known to do this. The gravity was around 1.014 at this point, and hadn't changed at all when I racked the beer into the bottling bucket today (December 17, 19 days after brewing). This gives 5% alcohol by volume, a little less than the 5.2% of real Fat Tire.

From this batch, I got 20 12-oz. bottles, 14 1-pt. bottles, and 1 22-oz. bottle. Next time I might try scaling the recipe up a bit.

When preparing to bottle, I'm very impressed by the absolute clarity of the beer. This bodes well for the final product (which I'll probably test in a week's time - Christmas Eve!).

Coopers Irish Stout
The Irish stout I made a few weeks ago has matured into a wonderfully drinkable brew. The head is a nice caramel-color, and isn't overwhelming, but certainly sticks around the edges of the glass after pouring. The flavor has a hint of malt and is dominated by the roasted grains, and has a nice dry finish (as expected for the style). As I noted at the time of bottling, it's not a very exciting beer (middle of the road flavor - good but no really unusual highlights), but it's certainly a solid one.

This kit was cheap, fast, easy, and tasty - perfect for the beginning or end of the brew season when I just want to crank something out! I'll admit that it's not quite as much fun as doing everything from scratch, but then again that's also a welcome break sometimes. I expect I'll probably do this kit (or a similar one) again!

Irish stout, in the glass