Header Image

Friday, September 30, 2011

In Progress Tasting

Marshall and I were talking the other day about how if we ever open a brewery we’d probably end up drinking 3/5th of it before it’s finished.  We say this because we find that we're constantly tasting our beers throughout the brewing process.  I can't fully speak for Marshall but generally I do this to check how the beer is progressing. While I rarely make mid fermentation changes but it does give me the ability to do so, for instances I can always add coco nibs or oak (both plain and spirit soaked).

Here’s a rundown of every phase of fermentation that I taste the beer.

The first place I do any tasting is actually while shopping for ingredients.  If I’ve never used a current type of grain before I general eat a couple of the kernels to get a general sense of the flavor profile it can add.  This method is actually how I started to employ both victory and carared.

Next up is while sparging, I’ll taste a little dab of the wort while I'm getting ready for my iodine test (no I don’t taste the iodined sample).  Here I’m looking to see if it has a sweet taste to indicate starch conversion has occurred.

Next comes after the boil is completed and the wort is cooled, I drink the hydrometer sample.  This is more tradition than anything else. At this point I have drank the hydrometer sample of every beer I’ve ever brewed (including the Karl Strauss batch).  This is not a good gauge of the finished product as some of my smoothest and sweetest beers, such as my citra wheat series, have tasted 180 degrees different then they did at the hydrometer sample.

Checking the color, clarity and taste on
After that I sample whenever I take gravity and during transfer to secondary (or tertiary).  This is a great opportunity for me to check color and clarity as well as getting a since how it’s coming taste wise.

For some of my bigger beers (such as Imperial Rhino Stout2011) or a funky beer (such as SNB can be CynicAle) I pull or thief samples purely to check the progress of the beer.  These types of beers generally have a pretty long conditioning cycle for the taste to end up where I want it. The last thing I want to do is start serving a beer too soon.

Generally I'll have another sample while I’m kegging it up and then several while I’m carbonating it to check the level of carbonation.

Here's some notes I made over the weekend when I sampled three of my beers in progress.

StarRaptor: Brilliant clarity and I’m loving the color, it’s a little darker than I was targeting but man it’s a nice garnet shade of red.  Still pretty fusel/hot (large alcohol presence) but it is mellowed out since the last time I had it.

SNB can be CynicAle: Tasted during transfer to secondary. Great straw color and the flavor is right around where I want it.  It’s shaping up to be a pretty interesting combo, very much an amalgamation of Cynic and BeanyTink.

Scott’s BIG IPL w/Citra: 1 week in hydrometer check sample.  The corrected hydrometer sample shows that it is currently sitting at 1.020 SG, not bad for a one week old double lager.  The taste is very bready but it has a nice nose and some good hop flavors.  Diacetyl rest started Wednesday morning and will last till I transfer to secondary and dry hop this weekend.

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into my tasting insanity



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stone Ruination IPA Double Dry Hopped with Centennial and Citra

I stopped by Stone Brewing to pick up a growler fill of 2009 Old Guardian for an upcoming trade.  While there I stopped by the cold case and was pleasantly surprised to find bottles of Stone Ruination IPA Double Dry Hopped with Centennial and Citra Hops.  As part of Stone's new Quingenti Millilitre Series it comes corked and caged in a beautiful 500 ml bottle.  Word on the street is this run was done to test out the new bottling line for the Quingenti Millilitre Series, if that's true I'm very happy they decided to do it with this beer. 

500 ml bottle opens with a pop and is poured into a Bruery Tulip.  Reviewed 17-Sept-11 

Appearance: The beer is a gorgeous pale golden color and when poured creates a nice inch tall fluffy white head.  Good level of carbonation is presents and it forms a solid lace down the side of the glass. Swirling the glass reinvigorates the head to a beautiful fully cloud.

Aroma: Literally smelled like I opened a bag of citra hops. Very pronounce citrus smell, primarily drive by the citra, the centennial hops do form a nice counter.   Bonnie Notes - oh my lord, light hop note to the smell, very pleasant

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied, fills the mouth well, sits nicely on the palate. 

Taste: Citrus! Very slight passion fruit, key lime rine. Still has the classic Ruination bitting bitterness but highlighted by a citrus rine bitterness… some lemon and grapefruit notes are present. Very bitter on the back end but as a lupulin addict I'm very ok with that though I do have to say the dry hopping has softened it slightly.

Overall:  Absolutely fantastic. When I spotted it in the store my heart stopped I was so excited.  I love citra hops especially as a dry hop and have always appreciated Ruination. As I grew in my craft beer journey I started to feel like Stone was stuck in a past era, this beer has changed that option of them.  This is probably my new favorite Stone beer, hopefully this won't be the only time they make this.

Upon further investigation I learned additional facts about this beer from Jacob McKean, Communications Specialist at Stone.
1) It was done to test out the line.
2) It was bottled back on 6/22 (held up really well)
3) It was intended to be given away to Team Stone members only.
4) Super rare = Whale! I;-{)]

Monday, September 26, 2011

Scott's BIG IPL w/Citra

Well here it is, for the first time ever in one place, the full recipe and story behind Scott's BIG IPL.  Well, sort of anyway...

I've brewed this beer three times now (four if you count my brewday with Karl Strauss), each time I do there is a slight change here and there to the recipe.  

Recipe sheet
Batch 1

The first time I brewed it was for a demo at Addison Homebrew Provisions.  It was an adaption of my Scott's BIG IPA recipe that had recently won the store's competition.  The main hop bill was the same but the malt bill was modified greatly to play off the lager aspect adding plisner DME and rice DME.  I was inspired to brew this beer after having a pint of Humulus Lager at the Bruery several weeks prior to the demo.  Not only was this beer my inspiration of doing a lager IPA but is also the origin of the rice addition. 

When it came time for the demo I got distracted and combined a couple of additions and missed a time here and there, but this is the reason you should always notes and I wrote down and tracked all these modifications.  This is also the reason that only people who were at the demo and tracked these changes would have the recipe to that point.  

Final changes to batch one against the recipe came with a second dry hopping into tertiary.  There is a lot of good information out there when to how long to keep hops on a beer and because this is a lager it takes longer and I grew concerned that I would start to get off flavors so I decided to move it a tertiary with even more hops.  

Some of the water agents used
I fortunately keep the progress of this beer updated on the AHP forum which worked out very well for me as later I needed to track the progress and write down when I did things.  

Batch 1 came out incredible and we flew through the keg, in fact I was shocked how quickly I went through 5 gallons of wonderfully hopped lager.  I think it might be Bonnie's favorite of my beers as she was constantly sneaking out to get some.

Batch 2

With an empty keg on my hand and a cool winter in place I decided in January of 2011 it was time to brew it again.  I went back and forth with whether I would brew this beer a my next brewing demo in mid January or do it at a club brewday the week prior.  In the end I opted to do it at the brewday and do up a batch of Smoked Pepper Porter at the demo to be served at the club booth at the SCHF 2011.

I went back to my notes and review my posts on the forum to create batch 2 of the recipe.

The mash
As much as I like brewing with people and hosting brewdays i really hate doing both at the same time.  For the most part everything went well, despite a boil over.  I also picked up a couple of cool new tricks and once my beer was safely tucked away in my fermenting cube I was able to relax, grill up some sausages and have a great time.

It was early on in the fermentation cycle that I noticed a post on facebook about Karl Strauss holding a contest where the winner would get a chance to brew their beer that the main brewery and have it entered in the Pro-Am competition at the NHC 2011 in San Diego.  Having been a fan of Karl Strauss in the past I decided I wanted to enter, the question was what.  I knew I had enough time to to an IPA but sorta wanted to enter the still fermenting IPL.  As fun as lagers are and how good the results are they're not the type of beer one can rush.  Still I thought it would be a good beer to enter but would it be done in time.

153 for 1 hour
There was only one way to answer that, a timeline.  I cut up a couple of calendars and mapped out the cycle for the original batch, I then took another calendar and starting with the brewday transferred all the milestones from the first batch calendar to the second one.  I also marked the deadline for the Karl Strauss competition.  As luck would have it the IPL would be finished and kegged just in time to BeerGun and enter.  

As some know I did enter it and ended up winning it.

Batch 2ish the Karl Strauss Version

I guess I ended up brewing it again between Batch 2 and the latest Batch 3 with Karl Strauss, however this was not my recipe but rather their take on it.  

I'm not going to go into much detail on it, but if you are interested you can review the full story on the AHP forum here and here.

I will say this, in retrospect I have a few issues with their version of the recipe that I'll quickly sum up; no pilsner malt, not enough rice and too few hops.  I also feel that fermentation might have been rushed as it didn't have the same lager crispness as the original.

Still it was a very well done beer that went over well.  It scored ok on BeerAdvocate scoring mostly A's except for one guy who even admits it he might have gotten a bad pour.

Batch 3

Brewing up this beer again had been on my mind for awhile, but with a 15 gallon keg of the Karl Strauss version in the Crate I was in no big rush.  The two month brewing hiatus also didn't help and I was soon running low on beer. I have big plans for the beer in 2012 and felt that time was running out to make and test changes to the recipe.  It is after all a 10 week batch cycle for this beer.

I had in stock or had access to all the key hops I would need for this beer with the exception of Amarillo. I decide to play around with the recipe and substitute the Amarillo with Citra, one of my favorite hops.  I also wanted to incorporate it into a flavor addition and I didn't want to just add it and change the IBUs so I adjusted some of the other hops to keep everything in line.

The biggest change I made was skipping moving the recipe to Partial Mash and going all out and converting it to All Grain.  Good idea? Bad idea? I'm always telling people there is no reason to rush the process until you are ready to make the jump to the next step, yet here I am with only 5 Partial Mash and 1 All Grain under my belt taking the recipe for my best known beer and converting it up.  In retrospect I really haven't decided either way.  I know I have a lot still to learn on water and steps to increase my efficiency but it was fun.

My mom stirring the mash during the sparge
The brewday itself was pretty good.  I got an early start with preheating my tun and setup complete around 7:30 am. My mom was in town so she helped off and on in between helping my wife out with our daughter.  Originally I was going to opt for a shorter mash after having had a conversation with Brad that for the most part conversion occurs around 20 minutes due to increased efficiencies in the malting process of the grains.  I ended up mashing for over an hour as I decided to take my daughter and BrewDog for a walk to the park for a game of chuck it and fun on the slides.

Hop lineup
I was pretty off on my gravity so I need to do some additional research on steps to improve it. Other than that it went pretty well, I did apparently buy a pound of light DME instead of a pound of rice DME so I sent my wife over the shop to grab it while I sparged.  In retrospect I should have tossed it in to make up for the lower gravity.   I hit all my hop marks and was down cleaning up in time for a late lunch.   

Given the time involved and the house demand for it I'll probably only have this available at the brewery.  I'll plan a release tasting sometime in December if it comes out good.



First Wort Hops
Scott's BIG IPL w/Citra
Double IPL
Type: All Grain 
Date: 9/18/2011
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal 
Brewer: Scott Bennett
Boil Size: 7.65 gal 
Asst Brewer: Marianne Bennett and DG (BrewDog)
Boil Time: 75 min 
Equipment: Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (10 Gal)
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 % - ended up much lower at 60.3%
Fermentation: Scott's IPL Lager 

Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.082 SG 
Measured Original Gravity: 1.071 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.017 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 8.7 % 
Bitterness: 108.5 IBUs
Est Color: 6.7 SRM 


8 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM)
4 lbs 12.8 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
1 lbs Rice DME (7.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 15L (15.0 SRM)
8.0 oz Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)

0.70 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min
0.70 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - First Wort 60.0 min 
0.75 oz Citra [12.00 %] - Boil 17.0 min
0.75 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 17.0 min
0.75 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 17.0 min
17 minute addition
0.70 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.00 %] - Boil 7.0 mi
0.75 oz Centennial [10.00 %] - Boil 5.0 mi
1.00 oz Citra [12.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min

Dry Hops
1.00 oz Columbus (1st Dry Hop) [14.00 %]
1.00 oz Cascade (1st Dry Hop) [5.50 %]
1.00 oz Citra (2nd Dry Hop) [12.00 %]
1.00 oz Simcoe (2nd Dry Hop) [13.00 %]

1.0 pkg American Lager Yeast (White Labs #WLP840)

1.00 tbsp PH 5.2 Stabilizer (Mash 60.0 mins)
10.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins)
5.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 mins)
1.00 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 15.0 mins)

7 minute addition
Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge
Total Grain Weight: 15 lbs 4.8 oz
Sparge Water: 5.52 gal
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F
Mash PH: 5.20

Mash Steps
Mash In Add 18.59 qt of water at 164.3 F 153.0 F 60 min
Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.29gal, 4.22gal) of 168.0 F water

Fermentation Schedule

Primary for 10-12 days at 55.0 F until fermentation slows
Diacetyl Rest for 2 days at 65.0 F
Secondary for 14 days at 50.0 F ending at 45.0 F
Tertiary for 21 days at 45.0 F ending at 40.0 F


Cooling down
Moving to the fermentor
Leftover hot break and spent hops
Good amount of yeast
I hit it with O2 three times in 6 hours

Friday, September 23, 2011

FT: Cantillion (Classic Gueuze & Rose De Gambrinus) ISO: ?

With the Sour BIF 4.0 (will talk about this in the near future) quickly heading my way I knew I needed to try and lock down at least one awesome Cantillion bottle for my package.

I’d been coming up zeroes in potential trades so when I saw a post by JM03, FT: Cantillion (Classic Gueuze & Rose De Gambrinus) ISO: ?, I knew I had to act fast.

I said in my BM that I could offer up a combination of the following; Exponential Hoppiness, 2011 Parabola, 2010 The Abyss, 2011 Older Viscosity and Batch 6 Consecration.  The first three were from his want list so I figured that might get me noticed.

I sent Evan...
He came back asking “So you'd do the Expo Hoppiness, Parabola, and Abyss for 1 classic and 1 Rose? “ Really wanting to get this trade locked down and done I said yes despite the fact that I really didn’t want to part with that Abyss. In the end though I’m really glad I did.

It turns out that the trade wasn’t with JM03 at all but rather his friend optimator13 aka Evan. 

For this I really wanted to only use beer I currently had in my possession, this included the extra – which in and of itself was hard to part with. 

On my side I sent Evan a bottle of Exponential Hoppiness from Alpine Beer Co, Batch 2 Parabola from Firestone, Deschutes The Abyss 2010 and my last bottle of the Bruery’s The Workman’s Friend.  It was really hard for me to part with the last two as I had been saving that bottle of Abyss for some time and The Workman’s Friend is probably my favorite Provisions Series beer to date.  I selected the Workman’s friend as it was on his want list.

... and got this in trade
For his part Evan blew me with the package I got from him.  Inside were 7 beers, that’s 5 extras over the agreed Cantillon Classic Gueuze and Rose De Gambrinus.  They include two awesome beers from Squatter’s Outer Darkness and Hell’s Keep, plus the Terrapin W-n-B, a Saint Arnold Weedwacker and a smoked wheat ale.

I was blown away when I pulled out that Outer Darkness.  You have no idea how awesome it is to me to have gotten this beer as a freaking extra.  I tried to trade for it several times and each time the guy I was working with broke the trade days before we were to ship.  I literally gave up on trying to trade for this so it really made my night.

To date this is definitely up there as one of the best trades I’ve been involved with not only in quality but also in speed. This trade was set up and completed in under a week.  It’s people like Evan that make trading fun and enjoyable.



Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SNB can be CynicAle

I'm going to try something new with my brewing posts and include more pictures and a somewhat different layout.

Brew sheet, hops and
wireless thermometer
After a long break from brewing which lasted over 2 months I got back into the swing of things pretty fast.  My first two brews after the break where both StarRaptor, the first one I dumped while the second was during a brewday and very hot.  Between the heat, learning the new system and multitasking as a host I really didn't enjoy either one.  I've always enjoyed brewing so I needed to do another round more relaxed and laid back.  I therefore decided to invite my buddy Marshall over to hang out and assist me in brewing my first all grain batch on my new system.

For this inaugural brew I decided to try Northern Brewer's Surly Cynic Pro Kit.  The story behind how the kits were created and the process they went through is pretty cool as I learned while talking to Todd Haug but that's a story for a different time.  I decided to select this kit for a few reasons.  I wanted to try another one of the Pro Series Kits after the great results I had with the Furious kit and I wanted to do a saison, which Surly Cynic is, using the American Farmhouse Blend WLP670.  After how well BeanyTink's Farmstead Ale came out I was really wanting to use it again so I grabbed I vial while it was still available from Addison Homebrew Provisions specifically to use with this recipe.  As I'm pretty new to the world of all grain brewing so I wanted the first batch to  recipe.

75 minute mash at 150
I have to say the information included in Northern Brewer's all grain kits are completely different from their extract kits which as pretty much a step by step recipe.  The all grain instructions on the other hand were little more than an ingredient list.  While it did tell me the target mash temperature of 148 that was about it.  How much water to use,  water to grain ratio for the mash, water temperature targets, even expected efficiency were left out.  After a lot of research I came up with a 1.3 qt/lb grain ratio and let BeerSmith 2 tell me the rest.  I found the ability to play with the grain and mash tun temperatures pretty useful.

The name is a play on the name of the beer and is similar to the name I gave the Furious version which was SNB is Furious.

The brewday itself was not with out it's issues but overall went pretty smooth and was much more relaxed, it did help that the temperature was a lot cooler than previous days. 

1.3 qt/lb water to grain ratio
Marshall arrived near the end of my 75 minute mash with a growler of 2010 Stone Double Bastard with Chipotle Peppers, just in time to help me vorlof the wort till it was clear.  Later I tossed some sausage on the grill for lunch and used the heat of the boil to warm the tortillas. 

I only had three minor issues; I was slightly above mash temperature, under target efficiency and forgot the flame out hops.  I decide to toss the hops in the primary anyway.  

It felt nice to be back in the swing of enjoying brewing again.

For primary fermentation I started the beer at 68 and slowly raised it up a little each day over the first two weeks to 78.

Currently the beer is still in primary, as I want plenty of time on the yeast, sitting around 1.006.  This weekend I'll transfer to secondary and collect and wash the yeast.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Terrapin W-n-B Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout

A really nice roasty beer
12 oz bottle pouring in to my awesome new Stone Double Bastard Tumbler.  I pulled the bottle 45 minutes prior to opening so that it could warm to the proper serving temperature.  Received as part of a very generous amount of extras from Optimizer from the Cantillon trade.

Appearance: The beer pours a thick black color.  I poured it slowly into a tilted glass which only allowed a very small tan head to form.  Fantastic lacing appears as I slowly drink the beer.  The color is an opaque black, very low levels of carbonation appear present.

Aroma:  Coffee, oatmeal, roast, semi-sweet.  The aroma is quite pleasant and reminds me a lot of Founders Breakfast Stout. the coffee notes and roast notes play off each other very well.  No hop aroma is present  Bonnie Notes: Coffee, Chocolate (dark), espresso beans.  Really nice chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, covering my entire palate.  Full bodied, which is what I would expect from the oatmeal, with medium carbonation that slightly tingles the front of my tongue.  warming when consumes. Bonnie Notes: Playful, covers the sides of the mouth well.

Taste: Lots of coffee and roast, almost bourbon like quality.  very heavy flavor which dominates.  Slighlty hot in the back of the throat. Not too bitter.  I wpouldn't say it's overly balanced as it is very dominate with the coffee.  the coffee and roast coverup most of the bittering hops.  Bonnie Notes:  Tight flavors not out of balance.

Overall:  thick and warming with good coffee note.  This beer is a great example of what I love in Imperial Oatmeal Stouts with coffee.  I do feel the coffee is overly dominate but to the point where I wouldn't want more.  Bonnie Notes: Nice little stout.  Better then most stouts I've had.

Friday, September 16, 2011

BCTCB Black Lingerie - The Review

As a general rule I don’t want to put my reviews of other homebrewer’s beer up on this site.  There will be however one type of exception allowed, if said beer is so outstanding that it, and the brewer, needs to be highlighted. 

The Label
For the first entry into this rule of exceptional beer I’m going to talk about Black Lingerie that I received from my BrewBrother Daniel.  Daniel, aka Beancurdturtle, is the creative mastermind behind what I refer to as BCTCB or Beancurdturtle Creative Brewing.  Not only does Daniel make great beer but he is probably the most creative brewer I’ve had the pleasure of talking to.   His recipes have included rose petals, oak staves, hand crushed strawberries (added briefly at knockout then removed), kona coffee and many more that I can’t remember off the top of my head. He recently made a mead using lemon grass, kaffir limes, chili peppers and super fresh honey. I need to build a database just to track his creativity for future reference.

Let’s move on to Black Lingerie. I was fortunate enough (only 3 gallons were ever produced) to receive an eight ounce bottle of this delicious concoction back in January.  When Daniel gave it to me he told me to sit on it for awhile and let it age.  It was tough keeping it in my fridge and constantly staring at if for eight months but I did. Then a few weeks back Daniel posted that he had opened a bottle and it was time to drink it. 

I initially had no desire to post up a review but I was so blown away by it I knew I needed to.

So good
Black Lingerie

8oz gold waxed bottle poured into my freshly washed Surly Darkness tulip, in retrospect this was the perfect glass for this beer. The label indicates that it was inspired by his Baltic Porter (another awesome beer) only more vigorously boiled.  It also mentions that towards the end of secondary vanilla beans from Papua New Guinea where added along with Chinese aromatic miniature whole rose bud tea. SRM of 38, IBU of 30 with an ABV of 10% bottled on 11-Dec-2010.

Appearance:  Pours inky black into to glass forming a very creamy light tan head.  The head laces the glass extremely well and is an off white color. The beer retains its head probably better than any 10% beer I’ve ever seen.  I nice bit of yeast remains in the bottle.  The color is very very dark black yet also very clear in the slim instances where you can actually pierce the darkness.

Aroma:  The aroma is my first clue that I was about to drink an extraordinary beer.  I’ve seen in reviews people taking about how some beers have a tobacco like aroma to them.  I personally have never really encountered this in a beer before, this beer changed all that. Holy shit, the aroma hits my nose like a train made of cigars on fire! Deep rich cigar aroma, not tobacco

Mouthfeel:  Exceptionally smooth and silky.  It seems fill and coat my mouth.  Very thick and creamy definitely full bodied.

Taste:  A somewhat long time ago I was really into cigars, drinking this beer brought back memories of some of the best cigars I’ve ever had.  The taste is really rich and extremely complex.  I’m picking up roast, sweetness, flowers, chocolate (might be a sensation), cigar tobacco of course.  No off flavors at all just a wonderfully crafted beer.

Overall:  I should have used this as trade bait to land me a whale of a beer. That was the thought that popped into my head as I drank the beer. Several times while drinking this beer I honestly thought I was smoking an incredibly smooth cigar.  It really is amazing what time will do to a beer. I think the Bruery missed out, this should have been Batch 300.

I know this review might come across as a little over the top heaping praise on a buddy but you have to believe me it is 100% fact based. In my head I have a list of the best homebrews I’ve ever had; for its look, aroma and complexity of flavor Black Lingerie may very well stand on the top of them all.  

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...