Sunday, March 25, 2012

Andy's Orange Wheat Ale Bottled

Yesterday (March 24), I bottled up the orange wheat beer, skipping a secondary fermentation stage. The beer had fermented for 11 days and reached a final gravity of 1.013. With a starting gravity of 1.042, the ABV is 3.9%. Because my sources suggest a higher amount of carbonation for the American Wheat style, I used 1 cup + 2 tbs. of corn sugar boiled in 2 cups of water for the primer. I ended up with 35 12-oz. bottles, 7 16-oz. bottles, and 2 22-oz. bottles.

The beer has much of what I'd expect for a wheat ale and the strain of yeast that I used. The appearance is pretty cloudy, and when tasted at room temperature there is a distinct banana finish, with no clove or citrus flavor apparent. When I cool the beer down, however, the banana is much diminished and a distinct citrus note pokes through. The color is perhaps a little darker than I anticipated, but this may be due to the fact that I used liquid rather than dry malt extract. In any case, I think this is going to be a nice warm-weather beer!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Claremont Summer Ale Bottled

Tonight I bottled the Claremont Summer Ale (with the able assistance of brew pal Brian). The final gravity (after 8 days in the secondary) was 1.014, unchanged from when I transferred it from the primary. Given the starting gravity of 1.052, the estimated ABV is 5.0%. The flavor of the uncarbonated beer is remarkably clean, with a slightly nutty finish; the color is golden. This is going to be a real gem once it matures, I think!

I carbonated with 3/4 cup of corn sugar (plus a few tablespoons). The total bottle yield was 28 12-oz. bottles, 5 16 oz-bottles, and 4 22-oz. bottles.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Andy's Orange Wheat Ale

The brew season really is nearing its end; as my hectic spring schedule looms and the temperatures continue to rise, it's time for one final(?) batch. Of course, I want something that will be refreshing and thirst-quenching in the coming warm months. What's better for that than a light and flavorful wheat beer?

One of my favorite local brews is Hangar 24's Orange Wheat Beer. According to their web page, whole oranges are used in every step of the brewing process. The result is a slightly citrus aroma and flavor in every sip. . .although I couldn't find any clone recipes out there (Hangar 24 isn't very widely distributed yet, which is probably part of the reason for the lack of clones), I decided to try and put something together that approximates it. Various blood orange weisen recipes provided direction for how to treat the oranges.

The result is my Orange Wheat Ale. It's probably one of the most experimental beers I've ever brewed, so here's hoping the end result works!

Andy's Orange Wheat Ale
  • 8 oz. 10°L crystal malt
  • 6 lbs. Bavarian Wheat Liquid Malt Extract (3.3 SRM; 65% wheat, 35% barley)
  • 2 oz. Liberty hops pellets
  • 1 package American Wheat Ale Yeast (Wyeast Labs #1010)
  • 8 fresh Valencia oranges
  • I heated 3 gallons of water to ~164°, and steeped the crystal malt for one hour. The temperature dropped pretty quickly to around ~158°, and easily held there. Then, I sparged with a half gallon of water.
  • I heated the brew kettle to a boil and added the liquid malt extract. I rinsed out the malt container with another half gallon of water, to bring the total volume in the kettle to four gallons.
  • Meanwhile, I zested the peel of eight medium-sized Valencia oranges (fresh-picked, without the nasty wax coating you get in the grocery store), resulting in 1.1 oz. (wet) of peel. I was very careful not to go down to the white part of the peel, which is too bitter. Then, I peeled and sliced up three of the oranges (the remainder went to make fresh juice - delicious!). I put those oranges and orange peel in a hop sack and placed them in a saucepan with 1/2 gallon of water. I heated this to just boiling, and turned off the heat to let it soak (~45 minutes).
  • Once the wort mixture came to a boil again, I added 1 oz. of the Liberty hops. After 55 total minutes of boil, I added another ounce of Liberty hops. After 60 minutes, I chilled the wort.
  • I poured the wort into the primary fermenter and added the hot mixture of orangey water, slices, and peel. I topped the fermenter up with cold water to ~5.25 gallons, and pitched the yeast. The temperature was ~84°, a little hotter than I hoped for, but I figured it would be best to pitch the yeast immediately (especially because any extra esters and phenols would be in character for a weizen). Starting gravity was 1.042.
My plan is to let this ferment for 10 days and then bottle immediately.

Postscript: The simple ingredients for this one mean it's also one of the cheapest I've brewed this year - total ingredient cost equals $25.37. Assuming a typical yield, that's about $4/six-pack.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Claremont Summer Ale Update

This afternoon I transferred the Claremont Summer Ale over to the secondary fermenter. The gravity right now is 1.014 (down from 1.052), so the current ABV is 5.0%. The beer has a nice straw color and a pretty clean taste (just a hint of ester that I think should mature out). I will probably bottle next weekend, so that the beer will be carbonated, conditioned and ready to drink by Easter (April 8).

The only minor hitch was the stopper for the airlock slipping into the secondary. Fortunately I had a spare, but it will be quite a trick to get the other stopper out in the end.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fake Tire Amber Ale 1.1 Bottled

After conditioning the beer in the secondary fermenter for three weeks, I decided to bottle the second batch of Fake Tire Amber Ale. The gravity was unchanged from when I racked it to the secondary fermenter, at 1.012. This results in a final ABV of 5.0%. I added 3/4 cup of corn sugar for priming. The yield was 22 12-oz. bottles, 11 18-oz. bottles, and 4 22-oz. bottles. Thanks to my buddy Eric for assisting!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

IPA and Amber Ale Updates

A few odds-and-ends. . .

Fake Tire Amber Ale 1.1
This brew was transferred to the secondary on Sunday, February 12, after 8 days in the primary. The gravity at that time was 1.012, down from 1.050 (giving a current ABV of 5.0%). Unlike the first version of this recipe, I did not get an estery aroma out of the primary fermenter - maybe because I fermented at a slightly lower temperature?

Fake Tire 1.0
Fake Tire Amber Ale 1.0
The original version of this recipe has conditioned very, very nicely, and as a result I've been drinking it with some regularity. A few weeks back a friend and I did a blind taste-test with the commercial version of Fat Tire. My version is a little less bitter and just a shade darker. Otherwise, they're quite similar. In some ways, I prefer my slightly less hoppy version; it will be interesting to see how version 1.1 varies.

Socks-Off IPA
On January 5, I transferred this IPA over to the secondary fermenter; the gravity at that time was 1.024. On January 19, I added 2 oz. of Northern Brewer hops pellets directly to the fermenter (no hop bag). I let this mixture dry-hop until February 12, when I bottled the brew. The final gravity was 1.021, yielding an ABV of 6.7%. I ended up with four 22-oz. bottles, 21 pint bottles, and 13 12-oz. bottles.

This is a solid IPA. It has a subtle hop aroma, and a clear, coppery hue. The flavor is appropriately bitter, but perhaps the only fault is that it is a shade on the sweet side.

Brewing Plans for the Rest of Winter 2012
Time is growing short, before the temperatures inch their way up too far. My summer ale is in the primary fermenter now, and I'm considering doing a wheat beer to close out the season. If that happens, it will have to be next weekend. Finally, I have five pounds of honey that I'm planning on turning into mead. My understanding is that you can ferment mead at a reasonably high temperature, so that will be my "anchor" for Winter 2012.

Claremont Summer Ale

The brewing season is nearing an end here in southern California, so it's time to stockpile some refreshing beers for the coming warm months. I also had a few packages of grains and hops pellets sitting around that needed to be used up. The result: a recipe for Claremont Summer Ale. I built the recipe in BeerSmith, using the Blonde Ale style as a rough guide.

Claremont Summer Ale
  • 6 oz. 20°L crystal malt
  • 8 oz. carapils malt
  • 8 oz. Munich malt
  • 3 pounds light dry malt extract
  • 3 pounds pale (extra light) dry malt extract
  • 1 oz. Cascade pellet hops
  • 1 oz. Mt. Hood pellet hops
  • 1 tsp. Irish moss
  • 1 package East Coast Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP008)
  • I heated 3 gallons of water to 158° F, and steeped the grains at this temperature for 1 hour (plus or minus a few degrees).
  • Then, I sparged the grains with a gallon of water, bringing the brew kettle up to 4 gallons total. Upon heating the mixture to boiling, I turned off the heat, added the DME, and brought it all back to boiling again. The Cascade hops were added.
  • After 45 minutes of boiling, I added the Irish moss.
  • After 58 minutes of boiling, I added the Mt. Hood hops.
  • After 60 minutes of boiling, I removed all of the hops and chilled the wort.
  • I decanted the mixture (except 0.5 gallons of trub) into the primary fermenter, and topped up with water to 4.75 gallons. The temperature was 68° F, and I pitched the yeast directly in.
  • BeerSmith estimated my starting gravity to be 1.057 (slightly outside the blonde ale style), with 18.1 IBUs, a color of 6.7 SRM, and estimated ABV at 5.5%. The actual starting specific gravity was 1.052, and I expect the color will be a little lighter than estimated too. The most likely reason for this is that I poured off such a healthy amount of trub. The end result is that I should be within the style for a blonde ale (for whatever that's worth).