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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Boysenberry Riff Mead

Production at the
Brewfooery Meadworks
The other week I got the opportunity to visit my friend Chad's home brewery (known internationally as the Brewfooery).  I've been meaning to get over to Walnut to visit him for quite a while and I was determined to make it happen.  The impetus for this trip was to take part in a mead demo he was hosting.  I'd been wanting to make a mead but I was mentally holding myself back over the cost of a 5 gallon batch and personal hang ups about only making a signal gallon. Chad's demo was the perfect opportunity to get over myself and just do it.

I've known Chad for a little over a year now and the thing that has always impressed me is his open approach and creativity to fermented beverages. It seems like nothing is off limits as an ingredient (palm sugar and kiefer limes are among the more famous Brewfooery ingredients) to Chad which is help open the possibilities to anyone who has tried his beers.   

Chad started brewing several years ago but took a long period off and started back up in the fall of 2010 and go back in running.  I swear it seemed like at times he was brewing twice a week or more and soon started hosting brewing demos for friends and coworkers.  Soon their were several members of the Brewfooery School of Homebrewing turning out their own unique beers.

The MeAD Scientist showing off
one of his many in production meads
About a year ago Chad started playing around with honey adding large quanities to his beer.  This lead him to brew a bunch of braggots (sort of a cross between a beer and a mead) along with some dry hopped meads. 

On the day I visited him he had 16 1 gallon meads going with a wonderful spectrum of ingredients.  Most of Chad's meads are variations on a very classic and straight forward mead recipe known as Joe's Ancient Orange Mead.  I've had several different versions of this one and it remains a favorite recipe for meads.

I decided that I would forgo my current style of recipe development (lots of reading and research) and embrace a more free flow model similar to my approach with dry hopping some of my early beers.  I'd had a few cans of Oregon boysenberry pie filling sitting in my garage for a while that I had originally bought to use in a beer I never made.  Chad provided a multitude of other spices, juices and fruits to add.  

I started my mead by adding 3 lbs of warmed honey to a gallon jug.  Next I opened my two cans of boysenberries, that had been hanging out in sanitizer, with a sanitized can opener and added the contents to the jug.  After smelling several of the spices I opted to use a cinnamon stick, a teaspoon of Indian Sarsaparilla, about 25 raisins for nutrients and a single clove. I then added what looked like about a cup of cranberry-raspberry juice and topped it off with water.  I added some mead nutrient, the yeast (Lalvin D-47) and shook the jug to aerate.  Done in less then 30 minutes!

Looking at an online recipe builder at Got Mead I'm looking at a starting gravity of around 1.108.  It should be about 14% ABV when it's done in 6 months or so.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Cold Coffee Extraction

For my friend Chad (and to collect the information to my site) here is my method for cold extracting coffee. When using the product in beer I've added it at flame-out, secondary and kegging.  Remember, it's going in your beer so treat cleaning and sanitation with the same importance as you give to the beer it's going into.

1) I use clean water (either bottled never opened or boiled then cooled tap water)
2) A clean and sanitized growler
3) Coarsely crushed coffee
4) I combine and leave for around 24 hours (shaking it from time to time)
5) Filter out the grains into another clean and sanitized growler

The Cold Brew Coffee - From Imperial Rhino Stout

Clean and sanitized growler
I tend to use 8oz of coarsely crushed
coffee beans per 4 cups water
My wife Bonnie (aka the coffee expert) grinding the beans
to a coarse consistency
Ready for water
Chilling out with some wild cider and the yeast starters
I tried several methods for filtering but in the end
ran it through the filter in my wife's coffee pot
The Results

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flying Saucer - Houston

While away on business in Houston I decided to hit up on of my favorite Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bars the Flying Saucer in downtown Houston.

Main entrance
When I first got into beer places like The Yard House and Goat Hill Tavern were major destinations for me. Being Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bars (which I'm trademarking by the way) they allowed me to try a good variety of beer quickly and often carried a beer I haven't seen before.  The problem I ran into overtime was finding a beer out of the hundreds they carried that I actually wanted to drink.  The another issue I started to encounter was odd flavors that I've come to associate with improper maintenance of draft lines and stale beer.  Suddenly these shining lights beer became a little less bright in my eyes.  I'm sure by now you're probably screaming "Beer Snob" and to a degree you might have a point.

Fortunately in my travels I have found Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bars that have redeemed the concept one of which is the Flying Saucer in Houston (the Winking Lizard being another one). Similar in concept to other Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bars, the Flying Saucer is a chain of beer focused restaurants across the south.  They carrying a large number of draft beers in addition to a very large and reasonably priced bottle list, though there's not really distinction between the two as they appear on one large beer menu.  The nice thing about the beer menu is that it is divided up by style which includes a nice little blurb about it.  While the description are not entirely accurate it does an excellent job describing the style and setting the stage for what to expect. They also offer a variety of specially put together flights offering to take you an a tour of a style or region.

The chalkboard menu showcasing special beers
On my visits I've always been able to find a beer I've wanted to try but have never encountered with in this trip included a (512) IPA (which was excellent) and a Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale (brewed for Monk's Café in Philadelphia but available elsewhere). The treat of the evening was a glass of 2008 Stone Double Bastard featured on their chalkboard menu.  I think it was that which showcases the difference between a Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bar focused on the beer and a Monster-Taplist-Beer-Bar focused on the number of taps.

The food was nothing to write home about (or in this blog) but that was only a side effect of my trip to the Saucer.



Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2008 Stone Double Bastard

Good example of the color
8oz pour in a small goblet at Flying Saucer Houston. I spotted it on the menu and looked at it several times before I noticed it was an 08. Being a fan of this beer with some age on it I couldn't pass it up for the price.

Appearance: Hazier then I would have guessed it to be.  Rusty orange in color with a thin tan head. The lighting could be better for a through evaluation.

Aroma: You'd never guess that this is a hoppy beer when fresh as it is devoid of hop aroma. Very malty on the noise. Slight caramel and the smell when hops have died. When it warms I get an almost fig-like aroma. The strong malt aroma also fades well. English breakfast tea?

Mouthfeel:  Heavy bodied with medium carbonation that is allowed to occur due to it being aged in a keg vs bottle. I guess what I'm saying is I doubt a 4 year old beer from a bottle would retain this level of carbonation.  It was served too cold for a beer like this. I need to hold off till it warms.

Taste: The booziness this beer has when young is gone. It's replaced by a very rich beer. Caramel and dark toffee.  Prunes and figs.  The booze is detectable if I let the beer sit in my mouth for an extended period of time. I want to say it comes off oxidized but given the format it's clearly something else. While the hop aroma is gone the bitterness remains somewhat intact.

Overall: If the taste matched the aroma I would be more happy with it. Still a great beer to have gotten to try and proof of the power aging can have on a beer. It definitely opened up as I let it warm. Great beer for 5 bucks.



Friday, February 17, 2012

Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone - Special Holiday Ale

Some Special Holiday Ales
I've mentioned before that one of my favorite things to do when it comes to collaboration brews is to establish a base recipe among the participants, then have them each go their own direction on them.  When it comes to professional collaborations more often then not only one beer is produced which for the most part doesn't seem to capture the individuality of either brewery.  There are a few exceptions to this one of which is the Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone - Special Holiday Ale.

The story behind these beers started back in 08 with a chance meeting of Greg Koch from Stone and Kjetil Jikiun from Nøgne-Ø (the name translates to Naked Island) in a bar in Tokyo.  They got to talking and decided to brew a collaborative beer.  To complete the Stone collaborative triangle of power (let's call it the Triforce of Awesomeness) they invited Ron Jefferies from Jolly Pumpkin to take part with Mitch Steele taking the brewing duties for Stone.

The three brew masters ended up creating their own beer from the ground up including indigenous ingredient from each regions; White Sage (Stone), Juniper Berries (Nøgne-Ø) and Michigan Chestnuts (Jolly Pumpkin).

Triforce of Awesomeness
The first go-around was so successful that they decided to do it again, this time with the twist I love and the three travel to each others brewery to do the beer there.  This lead to the creation of three different beers with some of the tweaks being more subtitle then others.  The Jolly Pumpkin batch ended up being fermented with Brettanomyces and barrels giving it a nice sourness.

It was with this beer, known as Collababeire, that my tale with this beer start.  I was in Ohio on business when I ran across a bottle of it during a Stone event at Lizardville.  The Stone rep recommended it so I grabbed a bottle.  Soon after I ran across the Nøgne-Ø and knew I must complete the set for a side-by-side tasting.  Tracking down the Stone version wasn't too hard despite being retired for a couple of years, Carleton (SpdKil)hooked me up with a couple of bottles in my best trade to date.

The other night my tasting group came over and I decided to bust out the set to share with them.  Below are some of my small notes on each.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Warning, I am a Hop Head

Pliny the Younger
With Pliny the Younger upon us and a great breath of other outstanding seasonal hoppy beers on the scene (Bell's Hopslam, Surly Abrasive) I thought I would take this moment to repost and update another presentation I did at Addison Homebrew Provisions for the AHP Brewclub, this one on IPAs.  I'm going to include some of my favorite IPA recipes that I've done as well as plan to do in the future.

When I got into craft beer (shit, beer in general) back in 2004 I started with Hefeweizens and American Wheats.  Overtime I started gravitating toward hoppier beers and fell head over heals in love with IPAs. Currently I have been fortunate enough to have sampled the 15 of Top 20 IPAs and 14 of the Top 20 Double IPAs ranked on BeerAdvocate.com (as of 14-Feb-12).

Wall of Abrasive
The style IPA or India Pale Ale originated in Britain in the 18th century to categorize pale ales as prepared for shipment to India.  It started out as a beer known as an October beer which was a pale well-hopped brew intended to be cellared for up to two years.  In the late 18th century George Hodgson of the Bow Brewery started exporting his beers (included his October Beer) to India via the East India Company (his location on the Middlesex-Essex border and liberal credit line of 18 months made him popular with the company).   In India his October beer became highly regarded as it had benefited from the conditions of the voyage.  Soon October beer started to become known as "pale ale as prepared for India", "India Ale", "pale India ale" or "pale export India ale" finally became "India pale ale" in an advertisement in the Liverpool Mercury newspaper published January 30, 1835.  Today in England, IPA is still a common term for ordinary session bitters that are a far cry from their American descendents.

Hops, It's what's for dinner
American IPAs have been round for far longer than today's beer consumer might realize.  Ballantine brewery was brewing a highly regarded 7% 60 IBU IPA that was aged in wood barrels for a year around the turn of the last century (maybe mid 1930's).  During the Dark Age of American Beer (Prohibition to the late 70s) American IPAs were regularly available but not very popular, fortunately homebrewing was legalized in 1978 and today IPA is one of the most popular styles of beer, in fact it was recently announce by me to be the GREATEST STYLE EVER end of story!

Favorite Wet Hop Beer
As far as Double or Imperial (I do not like the use of the term "Imperial" in front of anything but a Stout) IPA goes 3 breweries claim ownership of the style. First off is Vinnie Cilurzo of Blind Pig Brewing Company, in the 1994. According to Vinnie "I took the recipe for what was to be our Blind Pig IPA, doubled the hops (literally) and raised the malt bill by 30 percent or so. I figured that if there were any off flavors in the Inaugural Ale, at least there would be enough hops to help mask them." Pizza Port San Diego claims to have been brewing a DIPA since they opened their brewery in 1992.  Finally to Rogue Ales has been brewing it its I2PA beer since 1990. If you want to get technical at 7.5% and 70+ IBUs Ballantine’s IPA is technically a DIPA and was first brewed around the 30s.

BJCP categorizes IPAs as Category 14 currently divided into 3 different subcategories: 14A English IPA, 14B American IPA and 14C Imperial IPA.  Who knows what the future for the category might hold as in recent years additional subcategories have started to develop.  The most famous of these is the Black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale or India Black Ale or Black Ale or American-Style India Black Ale or as the Brewers Association recently announced American-Style Black Ale.  The others are Belgian-Style IPA, Northwest Pale Ale (NWPA) and American Barley Wines or Triple IPAs



Friday, February 10, 2012

Brewing Beers with Big Hop Aroma

One of my favorite charts illustrating the various hop additions
One of my favorite things about a good IPA is the burst of citrus/pine aroma I get when I take a deep sniff.  In brewing there are several time periods to add hops to the boil, each having it's own function. The classics are Bittering (over 60 minutes), Flavor (20-30 minutes), Aroma (0-5 minutes) and the mother of all aroma Dry Hopping.

Dry hopping is generally done in secondary fermentation and there is some logic behind this.  The first bit is that active fermentation can be quite aggressive and literally eject a lot of the hop aroma out the airlock.  The next bit has to do with maximizing the surface area of the hops exposed to the beer by eliminating anything that is not beer ie the left over yeast.

In line shot of dry hopping
When it comes to dry hopping lengths opinions very depending on who you ask as it's a topic that is up for debate.  Generally for warm fermented beers I prefer to keep the length of dry hopping to 1-2 weeks and for cold fermented beers a little longer 3-4 weeks.  This is how I actually come up with the BIG IPL dry hopping scale.  I was following the BIG IPA recipe and had dry hopped in secondary.  The beer was a long way from being completed and I was nervous that if I left it on the dry hops for too long it would pick up some grassy flavor.  I therefore decided to move it to a tertiary vessel with additional dry hops using hops I just happened to have left over from it's brewday.  

Moving beer from one dry hop to the next is not so unique, for instance when Mike over at the Mad Fermentationist posted the recipe for his version of Pliny the Younger he included the dry hop schedule straight from Vinnie Cilurzo himself.  Vinnie strongly believes in getting his hoppy beers off of the dry hops as soon as they have fulfilled their purpose and for Younger he dry hops a total for 4 times post primary.
DH 1 Simcoe, Amarillo, Centennial for one week and remove
DH 2 Amarillo, Centennial for one week and remove
DH 3 Simcoe for one week and remove
DH 4 Simcoe, Amarillo Dry Hop in Keg
The Ultimate Hop Chart by Zeke Shore
Buy it at Hopschart.com
When adding dry hops I prefer to put them in first and rack the beer on top of the hops.  I have done it both ways and been please with both results.  I've have occasionally been known to forget to add hops during the initial transfer and add them later.  When brewing Costa del Sol I move the beer to secondary clean and only dry hop a week or two before I keg.

When selecting dry hops I look to the aroma descriptors via Hop Union or other online sources.  I will admit that I was much more experimental when I first started brewing and played around with a lot of different hops.  These days I know what I like and have really narrowed my hop varieties down to a handful, especially when it comes to dry hopping.  My favorite hops to dry hop with are all pretty classic dry hopping hops.  Amarillo (apricots and peaches), Cascade (floral and citrus), Centennial (fruity), Columbus (dank, onion, garlic, spice), Citra (passion fruit, grapefruit) and Simcoe (pine).  I think Amarillo and Simcoe make an outstanding pair not only in dry hopping but throughout the process.  Citra is another excellent aroma hop that goes great in IPA, I've not had luck in pairing it with Simcoe but it's a good partner for Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Summit.

One thing to look at when brewing a big hoppy beer is the Cohumulone (one of the two primary alpha acids in hops). Low Cohumulone levels in a hop leads to a more smooth bittering.

I'll reiterate something I mentioned in a previous post on secondary and tertiary transfers. Prior to transferring I flush the carboy with CO2 from my keezer prior to filling it.  This is especially important when it comes to hoppy beers as the CO2 flush reduces oxidation preserving a fresher hop character.



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Temperature Control

I recently put together a presentation for the AHP Brewclub at Addison Homebrew Provisions on the benefits of temperature control on fermentation.  This is the core of that presentation with some minor changes

The Inside of my Fermenting Cube
A recent reader poll on the Mad Fermentationist found the most important investment brewers could make is Fermentation Temp Control. I definitely agree that it is one of the best investments I have made in brewing.  Let’s face it yeast like a nice stable environment to do its job and when it’s not happy it will let you know in both off flavors and aromas.

Here’s a quick list of issues that can occur without controlling temperature (sourced from How to Brew).
Alcoholic:  Overpowering alcohol flavor, bitter, acetone, paint thinner, spicy, sharp, undesirable
“hot” sensation in the throat fermenting at temperatures exceeding 80ºF

Estery/Fruity:  Fruit, especially banana, to a lesser extent, pear, strawberry, raspberry, grapefruit. Fermenting over 75ºF has been shown to drastically increase these esters.

Solvent-like:  This group of flavors is very similar to the alcohol and ester flavors, but are harsher to the tongue. These flavors often result from a combination of high fermentation temperatures and oxidation
Temperature control also allows a brewer to have the ability to brew what they want when they want, ie ales in the winter, lagers in the summer. I like to do a lot of lager beers and without the use of my converted deep freeze I wouldn't have the range and accuracy I want to brew them to the standards I want. 

What are we trying to control?

A Poor Man's Fridge
Before we move forward we need to understand what we are trying to control; the environment temperature (ambient room temperature) or the temperature of the fermenting beer.  For the most part we are going to be trying to control the temperature of the fermenting beer but adjusting the temperature of its environment.  Active fermentation can cause the beer to be 5-10 degrees warmer than its surrounding environment.   There are a few ways in which we monitor this.
1) Crystal Thermometer – Similar to one you would find on a fish tank this measures the temperature of the liquid it is attached to.  AHP carries ones specifically for beer that measures into the lager range.

2) Thermowells + Thermometer – Typically these are stainless tubes built into stopper bungs that always you to take a center of the liquid temperature method but inserting a thermometer into the tube.    Certain types for temperature controllers can have their probe inserted into the thermowell allowing you to control the liquid temperature instead of the environmental temperature.

3) Infrared Thermometer – A small hand held device that takes the surface temperature of the object scanned.

In all these cases (except when using a temperature controller inside a thermowell) you are taking the temperature of the fermenting beer with the understanding that you will be adjusting the temperature of the control up or down to reach the desired fermenting temperature

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Farmrose IPA

The dueling brew kettles
Thanks again Marshall
The other thing that Daniel’s quad brewday inspired me to do was make a parti-gyle beer off of second runnings of Westbennetteren 12.   I’d been wanting to do one since the parti-gyle episode of Brewing TV, in fact if it wasn’t for the reality of being plan out of fermenter space I would have done a Damien inspired black ale off of the second runnings from 33.

After talking to Daniel and reviewing his parti-gyle small beer I was concerned that my second running gravity would be too small for what I wanted.  I therefore hatched a crazy plan to add about 5.5lbs of additional grain to the mash tun and re-mash at 155 for about 30 minutes to see if I could boost it up.  I decided that once the mash was done I would take a pre-boil gravity reading and supplement with some DME to raise the OG target to produce a beer in the 5-6% abv range.   In order to have any chance of doing this in a reasonable time frame I determined that I would need a second pot, burner and propane tank.  This is where having a close circle of fellow brewers is great.  I asked my buddy Marshall if I could borrow what I needed and he came through like a boss.

Going in I had already decided to use a second generation WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend strain that I had harvested from SNB can be CynicAle.  I really want to make an IPA with the second runnings and had been toying around with using WLP670 for an IPA since BeanyTink’s Farmstead Ale was first brewed.  All I needed to come up with was a nice IPA hop schedule, but to do that I need to know what my gravity would be.

The 5.5lbs of additional grains
My pre-boil gravity came in really low at 1.030 with an estimate OG or 1.041 and abv of 3.8%.  I decided to add a pound of Golden Light DME and a little over a pound and a half (1lb 10oz) of Pilsen DME to bump the pre-boil gravity to 1.046 and targeted OG to 1.063.  Once I was happy with my targeted gravity it was time to add the hops After having recently played around with a Melrose IPA recipe I’d found online, I decided that I would use that hop schedule and bitterness ratio (1.436 IBU/SG).  This was a simple trick of scaling down the recipe while adjusting the OG and hop schedule to keep everything in alignment. 

This is why I was frustrated when the post-boil gravity came in at 1.055 – 8 points under target.  I put a lot of thought into building this on the fly recipe based around the pre-boil gravity measurement.  I think there is an error somewhere in calculations that BeerSmith 2 is giving me.  I willing to bet that it has something to do with my equipment setting as I noticed it worsen when I changed from Brew Pot (15 Gal) and Igloo/Gott Cooler (10 Gal) to the SNB Brewhouse (Keggle and Cooler) setup.  I’ll have to play around with it more by returning to the old setting on my next brew.


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