Monday, October 26, 2015

Pannotia White IPA 1.5

In my quest to achieve a perfect white IPA, I've modified my previous recipe just a touch (based on my tasting evaluation). I brewed this up a few weeks ago, but only just now got a chance to post it. Here are the details!

Pannotia White IPA 1.5
  • 4 lbs. 2-row malt
  • 3.5 lbs. Pilsner malt
  • 3 lbs. white wheat malt
  • 1 lb. flaked wheat
  • 0.5 lb. flaked oats
  • 0.5 lb. rice hulls
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (assumed 5.5% alpha, first wort hopping, boil 60 minutes)
  • 1 oz. Cascade whole hops (assumed 5.5% alpha, boil 30 minutes)
  • 3 oz. Citra hops pellets (12% alpha, steep 5 minutes)
  • 1 oz. Citra hops pellets (12% alpha, dry hop in keg)
  • 1 oz. Australian Galaxy hops pellets (13.7% alpha, dry hop in keg)
  • 1 oz. Mosaic hops pellets (12.8% alpha, dry hop in keg)
  • 8.1 g gypsum (added to boil)
  • 1 pkg. Belgian Wit Ale yeast (WLP400), prepared in 1L starter)

  • I mashed in the grains with 4.75 gallons of water at 164.5°. The mash stabilized at ~153°, and was down to 152° after 30 minutes. After 65 minutes, I added 0.75 gallons of water at 180°. From this, I vorlaufed and collected the wort (adding the first ounce of Cascade hops at this time). Then, I added 3.75 gallons of water at 185°, and mixed to reach 169°. Then, I vorlaufed and collected the remainder of the wort.
  • All told, I collected 7.5 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1.043. This equates to an efficiency of 71%. I added 1 oz. of gypsum to the wort prior to boiling.
  • After 30 minutes of boiling, I added the second ounce of Cascade hops.
  • For the final minute of the boil, I added the orange peel and coriander seed.
  • At flame-out, I added 3 oz. of Citra hops pellets as well as the final ounce of Cascade hops. These were steeped while I cooled the wort using my wort chiller. Once the wort was cooled to 80°, I transferred it to the fermenter.
  • The starting gravity was 1.053, slightly below my anticipated target (1.059). Next time, I may boil a little longer.
  • I pitched the yeast, and set the fermentation chamber to 70°, and lowered it to 68° after 12 hours. At this point, there was a very vigorous fermentation, which topped out through the airlock. This yeast strain could probably use a blow-off tube next time.
  • The yeast was pitched on October 6, 2015. On October 25, 2015, I kegged the beer and added the dry hops. At this time, I also started carbonating (at room temperature, ~70°)
  • The final gravity was 1.013, which equates to 5.2% abv. The beer has a clean, citrusy taste, and I think should be quite tasty after dry-hopping!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pumpkin Ale 2015 Update

Today I kegged my Pumpking Ale 2015. The final gravity is 1.017, down from 1.064, which equates to 6.2% abv. The beer has a beautiful golden color as well as a tasty, cinnamon-forward flavor. I am eagerly awaiting the chance to sample this in carbonated form!

Claremonter Weisse

Wort in the kettle, after souring
and just before the boil
Sour beers don't do much for me; like most brewing fads, the majority of examples I have tasted are too over the top to be enjoyable for more than half a glass. Occasionally, something grabs my attention--for instance, I experienced a Lichtenhainer at NHC that was absolutely delicious and refreshing. More recently, fellow homebrew club member Jason brought a tasty Berliner Weisse to our club meeting. I was intrigued, but didn't think souring was for me. I had heard that once you go down that road, you basically have to commit a set of fermentation equipment to sours (to avoid cross-contamination of non-sours). It didn't seem worth it for a type of beers I don't plan on brewing frequently. This all changed when I learned that Jason's Berliner Weisse was made using a technique called kettle souring*.  Basically, everything is soured before the boil--no need to contaminate carboys, hoses, or kegs! Quick, easy, and mostly painless. With some additional information in hand (both from Jason--who also gave me an extra lacto culture--as well as an online presentation via Five Blades Brewing), I set out to give souring a try.

The grist for this is simple, and the techniques (outlined below) are fairly simple too. Although it's technically a Berliner Weisse, more or less, there are enough American twists that I renamed the beer to reflect its geographic influences. Apologies to my German friends.

*This is a great example of how joining a homebrew club has paid off for me; I've tasted all sorts of styles I wouldn't have otherwise, and have been clued in to new techniques by my friends in the club. I probably never would have made a sour beer if not for my homebrew club!

Claremonter Weisse
  • 2.5 lbs. Pilsner malt
  • 2.5 lbs. white wheat malt
  • 1 oz. Cascade hops (whole), 5 minute boil
  • 1 pkg. Lactobacillus Blend (Omega Labs, OYL-605), prepared in 1L starter
  • 1 pkg. California Ale yeast (WLP001), prepared in 1L starter 8 hours in advance
  • On Tuesday, October 20, I prepared a 1L starter at ~1.040 gravity (100 g of extra light DME in 1 L water), and adjusted the pH down to 4.4 using 88% lactic acid. I boiled the starter in a 2L flask, and cooled it down to 100°. Then, I added the Lactobacillus culture and let it propagate for two days.
  • Because this was a fairly small batch, and because I wanted a quick mash with minimal equipment to clean, I followed a brew-in-a-bag protocol for the mash. On Thursday, October 22, I heated 6.85 gallons of water to 154°, and added the grains in a big bag. The mash stabilized at 150°. After 30 minutes, I added a little heat to slowly bring the temperature up to 152°, and let it ride back down slowly until 60 minutes had passed after mash-in. At this point, I raised the temperature to 168°, and let it sit for 10 minutes. In the end, I had 6.1 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.027. This is 86% efficiency!
  • I added ~3.3 tsp of 88% lactic acid to the wort, to bring the pH down to ~4.5. I added some ice packs to cool the wort to 95° and pitched the bacterial culture. I covered the wort with saran wrap to minimize oxygen. 12 hours later, I turned on a heat pad to help raise temperature a bit, to 85°. I let the Let sit until 2 pm on Saturday, October 24.
  • The pH was down to 3.4 by Saturday afternoon. A thin white pellicle covered the entire surface, and the wort had a slightly cidery aroma. I took the relatively pleasant odor as a good sign.
  • I removed as much of the pellicle as I could, and started a very hard and vigorous boil. After 40 minutes, I added the hops for 5 minutes and then removed them. After a total of 50 minutes on the boil, I turned off the flame and chilled the wort to 78°. I transferred approximately 4 gallons of wort into the fermenter and pitched the yeast.
  • The official starting gravity is 1.032. The yeast was pitched on Saturday, October 24, 2015, and I had signs of fermentation by that evening, with a good krausen by the next afternoon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Beer Tasting: Packrat Porter

  • The Basics
    • Starting gravity = 1.054; final gravity = 1.017; abv = 5.1%; estimated IBU = 38
  • Aroma
    • Lots of malty aroma, with a grainy and roasty character to it. I don't pick up much in the way of hops or yeast esters.
  • Appearance
    • The beer is deep brown in gross examination. When held up to the light, a deep ruby tinge is quite apparent, as well as excellent clarity. It's very pretty! The head is beige, fine, and moderately low, with excellent retention during the course of consumption. 
  • Flavor
    • The beer is malt-forward, with a primarily grainy and chocolate character backed up by roasty notes (in the overall same ballpark as the aroma). The bitterness is moderate and smooth, but not overwhelming.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The beer has a moderate body and a pleasant, fine carbonation with a slightly creamy sensation. The finish is relatively dry and tasty. 
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes! For something that was thrown together from odds-and-ends, it turned out exceptionally well. Although I am unlikely to duplicate this exact recipe ever again, I think the overall 'feel' is a definite winner. The beer is a solid improvement on my last porter, most probably in my choice of a less attenuative English ale yeast as well as a healthy addition of flaked oats, which added some needed body over the previous recipe. I would note that this probably is best classified as a "hybrid porter"--the starting gravity is a bit higher than conventional for an English porter and the graininess is apparently slightly out of character, but it's not quite aggressive enough to be an American porter (no 'burnt' characteristics and the hops are fairly tame). Ignoring the BJCP, though, it's a great beer! I would definitely brew a simplified version of the recipe (cut the micro-additions of various grain sample packs), or perhaps even switch it up by using Maris Otter for the base malt.
  • Overall rating
    • 8.5/10

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pumpkin Ale 2015

Pumpkin beers are perhaps one of the most divisive styles I know, and for good reason. Too many take the "just add spice" approach, and are basically a light lager with an overdose of cinnamon and nutmeg. However, I know that there are good pumpkin beers out there, as evidenced by some reasonable success on last year's pumpkin ale. Following a string of successes with recipes from Gordon Strong's Modern Homebrew Recipes, I opted to give his pumpkin ale recipe a try (in very slightly modified form to adjust for ingredient availability). His recipe is intriguing for its sheer amount of pumpkin--9 pounds--as well as for its complex grain bill that I think will make the background beer more interesting in its own right.

Pumpkin Ale 2015
  • 5 lbs. Golden Promise malt
  • 3 lbs. Vienna malt
  • 2 lbs. Munich II ("Dark Munich") malt
  • 0.5 lbs. brown malt
  • 1 lbs. flaked oats
  • 1 lbs. flaked wheat
  • 1 lb. Belgian Caramel Vienne malt (17 SRM)
  • 0.25 lb. pale chocolate malt (225 SRM)
  • 9 lbs. Libby's pumpkin puree (5 large cans, added at vorlauf and transferred to boil kettle in bag)
  • 3 oz. Grandma’s Original Molasses
  • 0.5 lb. Turbinado sugar
  • 1.65 oz. Hallertau hops pellets (4.3% alpha, 5.6% beta), 20 minute boil
  • 1 tbs. 5.2 pH stabilizer (in mash)
  • 1 Whirlfloc tablet (10 minute boil)
  • 1 vial English Ale yeast (WLP002), in 1.5 L starter
  • Spice blend including:
    • 6 large sticks cinnamon, broken up and crushed
    • 1.5 tbs. crystallized ginger, chopped up
    • 1 whole nutmeg, coarsely ground
    • 10 whole allspice, coarsely ground
    • 2 vanilla beans, split, scraped, and chopped
    • 4 black cardamom pods, peeled from husks and crushed
    • 0.25 tsp. ground mace
  • Prior to brewing, I put the pumpkin puree into a few baking dishes, so that it formed a layer 1-2" thick in each. I roasted the pumpkin in a 400° oven for 1.5 hours, stirring it up every 15 to 20 minutes. By the end of this, a lot of the excess moisture had been driven off and the pumpkin had darkened up a bit too. After it all cooled, I placed it in a big mesh grain bag and set it aside for the mash
  • I mashed in the grains with 5.1 gallons of water at 168°. The mash stabilized at around 156°, and was down to 154° after 40 minutes. After 60 minutes, I added the pumpkin and 1 gallon of water at 180°. I vorlaufed after 15 minutes, drained the mash tun, and added 4.1 gallons of water at 185°. I let this sit for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained the rest of the wort. I transferred the pumpkin over to the boil kettle, and let it steep while the wort came to a boil.
  • In total, I collected 7.5 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.050, which equates to 68% efficiency.
  • I brought the wort to a boil, and at this point removed the pumpkin. I saved the pumpkin to recycle for a pumpkin soup. The wort boiled for 60 minutes total. I added the hops during the last 20 minutes, a Whirlfloc tablet during the last 10 minutes, and the spices at flameout. I let the spices sit in the hot wort for 10 minutes, before removing them and chilling the wort as usual.
  • Once I had cooled the wort down around 80°, I transferred it to the fermenter and pitched the yeast. (The yeast had been cold-crashed, so I decanted most of the spent starter).
  • Starting gravity was 1.064, a touch higher than initially predicted (1.060). The cinnamon is pretty prominent--I am a little worried that it might be too much so (I suspect the recipe's 6 cinnamon sticks were smaller than the one's I used!), but maybe that worry will be unfounded. I started fermentation on October 3. The beer was happily krausened when I checked on it ~12 hours later, and had a robust fermentation. I will leave it in primary for at least 2 weeks.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Beer Tasting: Seven Seas Session IPA

After 5 weeks in the keg, it's a good time to formally taste my latest session IPA! Overall, it seems like I'm about one iteration away from the "house recipe."

Seven Seas Session IPA
  • The Basics
    • Original gravity = 1.052; final gravity = 1.018; abv = 4.3%; estimated IBU = 50.
  • Appearance
    • Very persistent ivory head with a little bit of lacing on the glass; it starts quite high, and lowers a bit as I drink the beer, but never disappears. The beer itself is a rich gold with a slight haze.
  • Aroma
    • A strong but not overwhelming pine and grapefruit dominate. I don't pick up much in the way of malt (except towards the end of the glass, when the beer is warmed up a notch).
  • Flavor
    • The malt is in the background on this one, but definitely there. It supports a prominent bitterness from the hops, which is quite pleasant at the forefront but fades perhaps a little more harshly on the finish than I care for. In other words, the bitterness sticks around.
  • Mouthfeel
    • The body is just about perfect on this one; moderate, but not overly thin or overly chewy. Carbonation is moderate and on-point for an IPA.
  • Would I brew this again?
    • Yes, with only slight modification. The appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel are exactly perfect for me, so I wouldn't change the malt bill, mashing schedule, yeast, or dry-hopping. The only minor issue that I would care to fix would be to tone back the nature of the bitterness a bit; something a little more subtle might be nice. It's not bad in this way (as discussed at my homebrew club when I brought it), just slightly outside my personal preference. So, I would probably change up the bittering hops for this recipe; dial them back just a touch, and aim for something with a smoother bittering profile (?Cascade). The beer is definitely a big step closer to my house session IPA recipe. Once I get the bittering hops figured out, I think the recipe is set!
  • Overall rating
    • 7/10

On Falconer's Flight 7C's: I quite like this hop blend. It basically says "West Coast IPA." And despite the slight shortcomings for the bittering profile in this particular recipe, I think it would be fine for bittering in a bigger beer (i.e., a standard strength IPA). It's just a _touch_ much for a session IPA.