Monday, November 24, 2014

The Barista Batch #3 (Breakfast Stout) -- Brew Day

My last attempt at a breakfast stout came out pretty wonderfully, in my opinion.  The beer finished a little bit higher than I had planned and it carbonated less than I had expected, though.  I've always tried to carbonate my stouts at the 2.1 volumes that most of the online calculators spit out, but that has always resulted in a less than sufficient carbonation.  Due to the under-carbonation, head retention and occasionally body has suffered as a result.  Despite these shortcomings, the beer scored a 35 at a local competition and took a silver medal in the Stouts category.

Comments from the judges centered around the inadequate carbonation (I agree), the domination of the coffee (a slight ding, but I brewed it to be like that), and a lack of character from the base beer (agree and disagree).  The carbonation will be fixed this time around.  The overpowering coffee character that they noted isn't really shared by my palate.  I really enjoyed the nice, roasty flavors that the coffee addition brought to the table.  In terms of the base beer lacking character, I had a hard time classifying the base beer.  I put it down as an imperial stout, but in all honesty it was a little weaker than that and I think that hurt the score.  In reality, there isn't a BJCP category for a fuller flavored, higher ABV American Stout.

In this iteration, I'm going to be largely following the initial recipe with a replacement of the 2.5lb of malted oats in the old recipe to be swapped by upping the flaked oats to 5lb.  I didn't really think that they added anything detectable that flaked oats don't add, but they had the added bonus of being an utter bitch to source.  Additionally, I'll be monitoring the fermentation a little closer in order to ensure I get to the final gravity I want.  This beer was a big hit and I'm excited to have some more around.

The Barista Batch #3 (Breakfast Stout)
Est OG: 1.085
Est FG: 1.022
Est ABV: 8.25%
IBU: 76
SRM: 8

8.00lb Pilsner Malt
5.00lb Flaked Oats
2.00lb Pale Chocolate Malt
1.15lb Brown Malt
1.15lb Caramunich Malt
1.15lb Roasted Barley
0.65lb Rauch Malt

1.50oz Centennial @ FWH (39 IBU)
0.80oz Chinook @ FWH (26 IBU)
0.50oz Cascade @ FWH (10 IBU)
1.00oz Cascade @ Flameout (2 IBU)

1.00oz low acid, cold-pressed coffee -- pressed in 12oz of water added 2 days before bottling

1250ml starter of WLP090 Super San Diego (House Culture)

Mash @ 153f for 60 minutes

11/22/2014 -- Brewed by myself.  Still trying to hone in on my efficiency with the new grain bill.  This batch came in at around 80%.  Seems like my higher gravity stuff comes in a bit lower, so I'll have to compensate for that in the future.  Gathered 5.5 gallons of 1.082 wort and pitched my WLP090 starter.  Fermentation rocketed off within a few hours.

12/11/2014 -- Added coffee.

1214/2014 -- Bottled.  FG came out to 1.030, higher than expected -- the same as last time.  There must be something the BeerSmith is calculating wrong because if there was something in there that was fermentable, I'm positive that WLP090 would have taken care of it.  Carbed to 2.2 vol -- higher than the calculators say, but I've always felt like my stouts were a touch under carbonated based on the calculators.  Sample was good, really dominated by coffee, probably more so than the last batch.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Squatch Batch #3 (American Amber) - Brew Day

I've always been a lover of the "idea" of an American Amber.  Before I turned into a hophead, I thought it was a great style with a beautiful copper color and a restrained hop profile that really showcased the caramel malts used in the grist.  Now that I have turned into a total hophead, I basically want all of that...plus a shitload of hops.

I've made two other honest attempts at brewing what I really want.  The first was probably a strange hop combination and definitely ended up too dark.  The second ended up darker but nicely showcased the Centennial hops.

This time around, I'm mashing up in the higher end of the range and "capping the mash" with the darker malts.  I'll be holding the chocolate malt out of the mash until the final 20 minutes in order to allow conversion for the paler malts in a more hospitable pH environment and to try to restrain the astringent character of the roasted stuff.

The hops schedule on this one should be a nice combination of pine and fruitiness.  I've always felt that unrestrained fruitiness just feel out of place in an amber, completely due to the color of the beer.  Something that trends to the more piney, resinous side of hop flavors always seems much more appropriate to me.  I'm hoping to crash this one fully, potentially with some gelatin, to attain a really nice, clear American hoppy amber ale.

The Squatch (American Amber)
5.5 gallon batch -- 60 minute boil
Est OG: 1.074
Est FG: 1.016
Est ABV: 7.7%
IBU:  75
SRM:  13

10.8lb Vienna Malt
3.50lb Maris Otter Malt
1.00lb Flaked Oats
0.50lb Caramel 120L
0.10lb Chocolate Malt 450L (add last 20 minutes of mash)

1.00oz Simcoe @ FWH (37 IBU)
0.50oz Magnum @ FWH (20 IBU)
2.50oz Nelson Sauvin @ Steep 5 min (8 IBU)
2.00oz Columbus @ Steep 5 min (7 IBU)
1.00oz Simcoe @ Steep 5 min (3 IBU)
2.50oz Nelson Sauvin @ Dry Hop 4 Days
2.00oz Columbus @ Dry Hop 4 Days
1.00oz Simcoe @ Dry Hop 4 Days

1250ml starter of Super San Diego WLP090 (from prior slurry)

Mash @ 154f for 60 minutes.

11/16/2014 -- Brewed by myself.  Mash efficiency came in around 85%.  I overshot my boil volume a little bit as my lighter crush doesn't seem to hold as much liquid.  Ended up with 5.5 gallons of 1.071 wort.  Pitched house culture of WLP090.

12/1/2014 -- Dry hopped. Gravity down to 1.012, more than expected. I had been worried that the WLP090 wouldn't fully ferment because I have had issues with it bottle carbing in my basement from temps in the low 60s, but it appears to have torn through everything.

12/4/2014 -- Cold crash.

12/7/2014 -- Bottled.  Beer finished at 1.013.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Le Fleau (American Farmhouse Ale) - Brew Day

Two winters ago I brewed a wonderful Saison that was spiked with Brettanomyces Clausenii.  It was a traditional Saison single-hopped with Czech Saaz throughout the boil.  I used the DuPont strain to ferment that one and pitched the vial of Brettanomyces c. once fermentation had subsided.  I let it bulk age for around 2 months and then bottled it in heavy Belgian bottles and finished it with a cork and cage.  After that beer had around another 4-5 months on it, it was just beautiful.

My goal today is to recreate that beer, however, I want to make it a little bit more complex.  I'll be borrowing the general grist from my house saison, throwing in a bit of rye and munich for some malt complexity.  I also usually add candy sugar, but I took that out (along with a change in the mash schedule) to leave some more complex sugars for the Brettanomyces.

In addition, the hop schedule is changing from strictly Saaz to a bittering charge of Hallertauer Mittelfrueh and a small pop of Cascade for a short whirlpool.  After this has the funk character that I'm looking for, I'll be dry hopping with one ounce each of Citra and Mosaic.

In order to supply some more complex sugar and other interesting molecules for the Brettanomyces, I changed up my mash schedule from a single, low-end temperature infusion to a step mash.  The first step will be a ferulic acid rest.  This rest is pretty common in German hefeweizens when you want to introduce a lot of clove character from the 4-vinyl guaiacol that this mash produces.  An interesting tidbit is that apparently Brettanomyces strains metabolize this molecule and poop out 4-ethyl guaiacol.  Basically they eat your clove and poop out more funk.  Delicious.  I'm also raising the saccharification rest to be a little higher than normal to encourage more complex sugar formation for the Brettanomyces to munch on and adding a small amount of French Oak cubes.

Brew day went pretty normally, except for my ridiculous mash efficiency courtesy of my new grain mill.  This time I got it up to 92%.  That's insane.  My whole brewhouse efficiency has improved to be better than my mash efficiency in the past.  Looks like I'll have to redesign every recipe I ever want to brew again.

Le Fleau (American Farmhouse Ale)
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.058
Est FG: 1.004
Est ABV:
IBU: 25
SRM: 5

9.00lb Belgian Pilsner Malt
2.00lb Rye Malt
1.00lb Munich Malt
1.00lb White Wheat Malt

2.00oz Hallertauer Millefrueh @ 60 min (24 IBU)
1.00oz Cascade @ Steep 5 min (2 IBU)
1.00oz Citra @ Dry Hop 3 Days
1.00oz Mosaic @ Dry Hop 3 Days

1.25oz Medium Toast French Oak Cubes (added after fermentation subsides)

1 vial The Yeast Bay Saison Brettanomyces Blend

Mash Schedule
Ferulic Acid Rest - 113f for 15 minutes
Saccharification Rest - 154f for 60 minutes

11/15/2014 -- Brew day was pretty uneventful.  Used the new B&D drill for the barley crusher which was a little difficult to get right, but once I got the hang of it, it was MUCH better than hand cranking.  My mash efficiency came in at 92%, which basically threw the rest of the recipe to the high side in terms of OG.  All said, I gathered 5.5 gallons of 1.062 wort.  Could have been worse.

12/3/2014 -- Added 1.25 ounces of medium toast oak cubes after boiling them for 5 minutes.

12/30/2014 -- Dry hopped.  I audibled to 2 ounces of Mosaic as my 2014 crop of Citra hadn't arrived yet.

1/3/2015 -- Bottled.  Carbed to 3.0vol.  Finished out at 1.005.  Interesting character, very complex.  Will be fun to see how this one ages.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Scholar Batch #3 (American IPA) -- Brew Day

So, I know I used to condemn brewing batches over and over in order to fine tune them, but maybe that's because I didn't find a bunch of batches that I really loved and to which I really wanted to dedicate my brew time.  This most recent batch of The Scholar, an American IPA featuring Nelson Sauvin and Citra, has become one of my favorite beers.  In a Philadelphia home-brew competition only open to American ales, my The Scholar took gold in the IPA category with a score of 40.

For this batch, I really want to work on a few things.  The first is temperature control.  In the previous batches when I brewed this beer, I didn't have a temperature controller hooked up to a fridge in order to control my temperatures.  This has been a recent purchase of mine so now I'll be able to ferment this on the cool side and hopefully make a very clean, hoppy IPA.

Second is working to really dry this beer out.  When I was fortunate enough last week to get out to San Diego to try the beer that inspired mine, Society Brewing's The Pupil, I was amazing at how dry it really was.  I'm lowering the grains in the original and replacing it with a half pound of corn sugar to dry out the final beer.  This will serve to up the OG a little bit as well.

Third, I really want to make this seem hoppier.  I changed some of my water chemistry around to up the sulfate content to 160ppm.  Usually, I shoot for around 75ppm on my hoppier beers.  I've always been worried about accentuating the bitterness of hops instead of the flavor, so I've kept my sulfate levels restrained in the past.  However, I just figured I'd experiment a bit this time.

This batch is also the first time that I've been able to utilize my new Barley Crusher grain mill.  Unfortunately, the drill that we own wasn't powerful enough to spin the rollers and I had to use the hand crank on this which was a major bitch.  Consider it a given that a new drill has been ordered.  The one thing that my new grain mill contributed was an insane efficiency of 85% that bumped my OG up to 1.070, thus giving me a 8.2% ABV beer.  I'll adjust for that the next time (I figured something like this would happen), but I'm not going to dilute this one to bring it back to recipe.

The Scholar Batch #3 (American IPA)
5.5 gallon batch -- 90 minute boil
Est OG: 1.062
Est FG: 1.007
Est ABV: 7.3%
IBU: 66
SRM: 4

10.0lb 2-Row Pale Malt
3.50lb White Wheat Malt
0.75lb Carapils
0.50lb Corn Sugar (added at end of boil)

0.50oz Magnum @ FWH (24 IBU)
0.66oz Nelson Sauvin @ 20 min (14 IBU)
0.33oz Citra @ 20 min (7 IBU)
2.00oz Nelson Sauvin @ Steep 10 min (13 IBU)
1.00oz Citra @ Steep 10 min (6 IBU)
0.50oz Centennial @ Steep 10 min (3 IBU)
2.00oz Nelson Sauvin @ Dry Hop 4 Days
1.00oz Citra @ Dry Hop 4 Days
1.00oz Centennial @ Dry Hop 4 Days

1500ml starter of WLP090 Super San Diego

Mash @ 148F for 90 minutes

11/11/2014 -- Brewed by myself.  Used grain mill for first time and got an 85% mash efficiency.  Brewhouse efficiency kicked up to 70% with a 1.070 OG.  Pitched yeast, saving some of the starter in a ball jar.  Strong fermentation began within 10 hours.  Happily bubbling away at 66F in the ferm chamber.

11/27/2014 -- Dry hopped.

12/1/2014 -- Crash cooled.

12/2/2014 -- Added a half packet of gelatin, rehydrated in 2/3 cup of 155f degree water.

12/3/2014 -- Bottled.  Final gravity came out to 1.007, so given the higher OG, this baby came out to 8.6% ABV.  That a tad more than I had wanted, but I suppose it is winter and a heartier beer does a body good.  I added a 1/3 packet of S04 as I've had trouble with WLP090 carbonating at the lower winter temps of my basement.  Carbed to 2.4vol CO2 with 4.1 ounces of corn sugar.  Other than the gravity miss, this one came out beautiful, at least at bottling.  Wonderful aroma, great hop taste, and a crystal clear straw color.