Monday, August 31, 2015

Seven Seas Session IPA Update

After 5 days in the primary fermenter, the Seven Seas Session IPA appeared to have finished up fermenting. So, I raised the temperature from 65°to 70°, to help things clean up a bit. After a total of eight days in the primary fermenter, I kegged the beer and added the dry hops (August 30, 2015). The yield was a full five gallons. Final gravity was 1.018, down from 1.052, which works out to 4.3% abv. The beer has a great flavor, with a definite hops character. Both the level of bitterness (higher than my last session IPA) as well as the body (more full than the last version) are greatly improved. I plan to let this dry-hop at room temperature for at least a week before carbonating and cold-conditioning.

As an experiment for my upcoming brew (titled "Packrat Porter"), I'm washing and reusing my yeast. More on that in the next post!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Seven Seas Session IPA

My first real attempt at a session IPA was adequate, but needed some work. So, I've tuned up the malt and hop bill a bit in order to bolster the brew all around. The result: Seven Seas Session IPA. The name is a bad pun on the hops variety, Falconer's Flight 7C's.

Seven Seas Session IPA
  • 7.5 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 1.25 lbs. 10° Munich malt
  • 1 lb. white wheat malt
  • 0.5 lb. crystal 60° malt
  • 0.5 lb. crystal 15° malt
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer
  • 1 oz. Falconer's Flight 7C's Blend hops pellets (10.3% alpha, 4.9% beta), 15 minute boil
  • 2 oz. Falconer's Flight 7C's Blend hops pellets (10.3% alpha, 4.9% beta), 10 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Falconer's Flight 7C's Blend hops pellets (10.3% alpha, 4.9% beta), 5 minute boil
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (10 minute boil)
  • 1 pkg. English Ale Yeast (WLP002), prepared in 1 liter starter, 12 hours in advance
  • 2 oz. Falconer's Flight 7C's Blend hops pellets (10.3% alpha, 4.9% beta), 14 day dry hop
  • I mashed in with 16.75 quarts of water at 170°, to hit a mash temperature of 159.7° at the start. After 10 minutes, the mash was at 159.5°, 157.6° after 45 minutes, and 154.5° after 60 minutes.
  • I added 0.8 gallons of water at 210°, which raised the mash temperature to 160°. I let it sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and collected 3.25 gallons of wort. Then, I added 3.8 gallons of water at 185°, which raised the mash temperature to 168°. This was then vorlaufed after 10 minutes at the remainder of the wort was collected.
  • All together, I collected 6.75 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.043. This works out to 74% efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, and added the first ounce of hops at 45 minutes, two more ounces at 50 minutes (along with a Whirlfloc tablet), and the final ounce of hops at 55 minutes. 
  • After 60 minutes of boiling, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort as much as I could. Given the high temperatures (and the warm-ish tap water), I was only able to chill down to about 90°. I transferred the wort into the fermenter, and then set it to chill in the fermentation chamber. Once I reached 70° (after about 3 hours), I pitched the yeast. I started fermentation at 68°, and will drop the temperature to 65° once visible fermentation was under way (persumably within a few hours).
  • In the end, I had 5.25 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.052. I plan to ferment for at least 10 days before dry hopping.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Citra Blonde Ale Kegged

After 11 days in the primary, I kegged the Citra Blonde Ale tonight (August 19, 2015). Final gravity was 1.015, down from 1.049, which works out to 4.5% abv. The beer is definitely a touch more malty than my usual blonde ale recipe. Because the wheat beer is just about out and I hate the thought of an empty tap, I'm speed-carbonating this batch (40 psi at 36° for 24 hours, then down to 25 psi for 24 hours, and then adjust down to serving pressure).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Beer Tasting: Azacca Session IPA

My first intentional attempt at a session IPA has been in the keg for about a month. A perfect time for a tasting!

Azacca Session IPA
  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.045, final gravity = 1.015, abv = 3.9%, estimated IBU = 38.
  • Appearance
    • The head is white and fairly thin, but still pretty persistent. The beer itself is slightly hazy and light gold in color. Quite pretty!
  • Aroma
    • Fairly weak, considering that it was dry-hopped for so long. There are slight tropical fruit notes, with perhaps a whiff of citrus.
  • Flavor
    • Light and hop-forward, with a pleasant floral and tropical fruit taste; very smooth on the finish. The bitterness is noticeable but restrained; I might up the hops a bit for any future iterations. There is a slight (but not unpleasant), rounded mineral taste at the finish. The malts are very much in the background, perhaps too much so.
  • Mouthfeel
    • Pleasant and fine carbonation; the body is adequate but perhaps a touch thin. 
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes, but with some modifications. I quite like the concept of session IPAs, which hit all of my buttons (hop-forward, not numbing in alcohol content). Truth be told, I was a little disappointed with Azacca hops. My personal preference for an IPA is to have a big nose punch, and Azacca just isn't there. It has pleasant aroma and great flavor, but is restrained to the point where it might be better suited for light dry hopping in a blonde or perhaps plain pale ale. Next time, I'm going to try something different from the hops, and perhaps a little more for bittering. I also would like to up the maltiness on this just a touch--a small amount of crystal malt (perhaps crystal 60) might be what I need. Finally, I'm thinking about a little wheat to aid with head formation and retention. All in all, I feel like I'm on the right track with this brew, but have a little work to do to dial it in.
  • Overall rating
    • 5.75/10

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Beer Tasting: West Coast Wheat Beer

As my first all-grain wheat beer (and an American wheat beer at that), this batch has been a complete success. Check out the details below!
  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.049, final gravity = 1.012, abv = 4.8%, estimated IBU = 23
  • Appearance
    • The head is white, creamy, and fine; almost meringue-like in consistency. It is incredibly persistent, too; even though it thins out some time after pouring, the head sticks around down to the very end of the glass. In fact, if anything the head is a little too dramatic - it takes a slow pour, a steady hand, and a bit of patience before the glass is full and ready to drink. I initially had chalked this up to potential over-carbonation, but now I'm pretty satisfied that it is a happy consequence of an all-grain beer with a heavy percentage of wheat. The beer itself is light gold and modestly hazy (it has clarified some over the 2-3 weeks since tapping the keg).
  • Aroma
    • Tart and lightly malty, with perhaps a hint of tropical fruit. Delicious!
  • Flavor
    • Slightly tart taste, balanced against a clean malt backbone. Smooth and light bitterness. Wonderfully balanced! 
  • Mouthfeel
    • Crisp and light bubbles; it could be carbonated a touch more, but is still within style.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • I would brew this beer again and again. It's one of the best brews I've made to date, and is quite popular in our household. 
  • Overall rating
    • 10/10

Citra Blonde Ale

During the warm months, it's nice to have some refreshing beers on-hand. The wheat beer is rapidly dwindling, and I suspect the same will be true also for my session IPA. So, it's best to get out in front of the inevitably empty keg and brew up a replacement!

In the interests of maximum drinkability to the greatest number of friends and family, I'm aiming for a blonde ale. Although my "house" blonde recipe is quite tasty, I wanted to branch out and try something different.

Gordon Strong's Modern Homebrew Recipes had a beer called "New World Blonde," which was intriguing in terms of the malt bill as well as the technique. The malt bill was interesting because it was a little more complex than my usual blonde ale recipe. The suggested technique departed from my usual, in that it was a no-sparge step mash. The single wort collection schedule is supposed to provide a slightly richer malt flavor. The step mash is presumably to incorporate a protein rest for the pilsner malt. Because I am just mashing in a cooler, I am somewhat limited in the types of steps I can incorporate, but this recipe was simple enough (target of 132° to 152° to 168°) that I could approximate it. Of course, I couldn't quite raise the final step as high as needed (I maxed out at 161°), but for my purposes I deemed it sufficient.

I made a few minor changes from Strong's recipe, primarily to use all Citra hops (his called for 1 oz. of Australian Galaxy too, but I didn't want to buy yet another bag of hops that would only be partly consumed) as well as to switch to WLP051 from the recommended Wyeast 1272. In terms of overall process, I hit my temperature targets fairly well, and my actual efficiency was a bit better than estimated prior to the brew.

Citra Blonde Ale
  • 5 lbs. 2-row malt (Great Western Malting Co.)
  • 5 lbs. Pilsner malt
  • 0.75 lbs. 10° Munich malt
  • 0.5 lbs. Caravienne malt
  • 0.5 oz. Citra hops (13.2% alpha, 4.0% beta), 10 minute boil
  • 0.5 oz. Citra hops (13.2% alpha, 4.0% beta), 5 minute boil
  • 1 oz. Citra hops (13.2% alpha, 4.0% beta), 5 minute steep
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer (added to mash)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet, 10 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. California Ale V yeast (WLP051), prepared in 0.75 L starter 12 hours in advance
  • I mashed in with 5.1 gallons of water at 139.5°; the mash temperature settled at 133.8°. After 15 minutes, the mash was down to 133°.
  • Next, I added 2 gallons of boiling water, which raised the mash temperature to 153°. Temperature was down to 150.4° after 30 minutes and 148° after 45 minutes.
  • After 60 minutes (past the first boiling water addition), I added 7 quarts of boiling water for the mash-out, which raised the temperature to 161°.
  • After 15 minutes, I vorlaufed and then drained the mash tun completely.
  • In total, I collected 7.3 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.042. This works out to 75% efficiency - a bit higher than expected!
  • I brought the wort to a boil, for a total of 90 minutes.
  • At 10 minutes and 5 minutes remaining, I threw in the appropriate hops additions. At flame-out, I removed the first two hops bags and added the final bag (1 oz.).
  • I chilled the wort down to 80°, transferred to the fermenter, and pitched the yeast.
  • Starting gravity was 1.049 (confirmed on both refractometer and hydrometer). The beer showed signs of fermentation within 7 hours of pitching. I brewed this beer on August 8, 2015.