Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Brews 21 and 22; The Fallout

Brew #21 came out OK so far. It's in the keg with a FG of 1.010. Still gotta add some rye whiskey soaked in caraway seeds and it'll be finished to bring up to the Homebrewer's Jamboree this weekend. Also bringing the peach saison which came out wicked awesome!

Brew #22 went well as well, a "Mocktoberfest" or mock version of a German Oktoberfest. Instead of lagering it, which I don't have the time or equipment to do so, it uses a very dry American ale style yeast that should give it close enough crisp flavors of a good lager. It's an interesting experiment to see how it comes out. The name is Spocktoberfest. I also used the hops I harvested from an acquaintance in Worcester, and no idea on the strain of hops so that should also be very interesting.

Also big news, if all goes as planned I'll doing a brewing demo for The Fallout art festival at Scandinavian Athletic Club in Shrewsbury on October 1st. I'll be brewing Wormtown's Pumpkin ale, with supplies provided thanks to Wormtown and Ben, for which I get to keep the brewed beer. Most likely I'll share it with everyone. So the spectators will be able to see how the beer is brewed essentially then go get a pint inside. Should be a lot of fun. More info here:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brews 20 and 21

Brew #20
Sorry for the late update again, busy summer. So brew #20 was a second version of Saison of the Witch, but with a whole different witch. The first one I used Brett, and originally I was expecting to use the same yeast cake to redo with more Brett, but due to complications I will explain in a minute, I had to change things up. After not being able to use the same yeast cake, I had to use regular Saison Yeast. It went for the SSBC annual competition at the pig roast, got a couple votes but not a winner. Anyways, now with what's left, I decided to witch it up a bit, but instead of the Wicked Witch of the North Brettanomyces, I decided to use the Good Witch of the East Peaches. Sliced up 10 fresh ripe peaches, skin and all, and threw them in. After about a week I'll taste and see how it is. Should be interesting to say the least.

So the reason it went bad... so the original Saison of the Witch for which I added Brett, in order to prevent contaminating my normal fermentation eqp with Brett, I decided to use a Poland Spring 5 gal water bottle. At first as it was fermenting it started to taste good, with hints of Brett. But it was going slow. So to speed up the process I added more sugar and boy did it ferment. A big rolling new fermentation went, and when it was done I decided to bottle it and let it continue to bottle condition. At bottling time, which happened to be when I was brewing this batch for brew #20, I opened it and smelled polyurethane, paint thinner, and acid. Sure enough a slight tongue burning taste confirmed it. After much searching and forum posting, the best conclusion I found is due to oxygen. Poland Springs bottles are apparently very porous, which is why they are approved for water use only. Also something I learned, when Brett is fed lots of oxygen, it creates lots and lots of acids and acetic like flavors and aromas. SO I ruined the batch, but learned a lot. I bought a new fermenter specifically for bugs for the next attempt.

Brew #21
Next I needed to brew a beer for the Homebrewers' Jamboree in September. I decided to do something interesting and unique. While I was thinking about it I happened to be eating some dark rye toast, so I thought why not do the same in a beer. It is a play on the words India Pale Ale (IPA), but as it's no longer pale, pumpernickel replaced it well. It is a Cascadian Dark Ale (Black IPA, American Dark Ale, whatever you want to call it). Basically hopped very well, with Chinook for bittering, then Centennial for some flavor and aroma as well as some Cascade to finish it off. It will then be dry hopped with Simcoe, and most likely polished with some Rye Whiskey oak chips. On top of that, added a bit of rye, some bready malty and biscuit grains, a bit of flaked oats for body, and some nice dark malts. It rings in at an estimated 62 IBUs, and SG of 1.070.

Another update to come hopefully when both of these beers are finished.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Brew #19 Iced Coffee Cream Ale

The next beer in the coffee infusion series, I wanted to replicate a nice refreshing iced coffee for the summer. I created a light malty and aromatic cream ale, toasty and refreshing. I brewed the original beer a few weeks ago and went to LalaJava and talked to the owners about coffee that would work well. They gave me two different coffee options, so I split the finished beer into two 2.5 gallon batches and added the cold extracted coffee. THe flavor of the coffee was light (as I only made a little of each cold extraction), so I'm making another round of the coffee and pitching soon. The FG reaching a dry 1.006, 21.4 IBUs, and 5.1% abv, not to mention some nice subtle coffee flavors. It should be a nice tasting beer, and drinkable for the summer.

Next beer, saison of the witch #2, using the same yeast cake as the previous fermentation. This will contain both the original Belgian Saison yeast as well as Brettanomyces already in it. This should give the Brett an extra kick to get more wild flavors in it from the beginning. THis will be brought to the South Shore Brew Club annual Summer Pigroast Brew competition.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brew # 18 Saison of the Witch

Brew #18 went off well, a Belgian style Saison, which was brewed and kegged a few weeks ago. It came out VERY good, maybe the best beer to date. "Saison of the Witch". It clocked in at 6.5%abv, 35 IBUs, and FG of 1.009. Half of this went right into the keg, and the other half went into another fermenter with Brettanomyces! My first experiment with Brett, so it should be interesting. I'll continue to sample that and see how it's coming along, and add more sugar if needed to bring more of the Brett funky flavors out. That will be bottled so it can continue to develop.

Next up for brewing will probably be Memorial Day. It will be either a light amber ale for summer with some nice hop additions and light spices maybe, or the first of the winter beers with a big heavy oatmeal stout with coffee which will get bourbon oak chips, similar to Kentucky Breakfast Stout.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Central NE BA Meetup Feb 19, 2011

Another successful meetup. We did have a slight incident with the Skillebrau, but that will be explained later. If I screwed up on who brought what beer I apologize, please let me know and I will correct it, and hopefully remember to record it next time.

To get things started we cracked a growler of Kern River Citra DIPA, very fresh, tons of delicious musty fresh hops, plenty of citrus and tropical fruits, etc.

From there we settled in and started the real tasting, beginning with Rock Art Infusco, from Melissa's cellar from 2007 I believe. It was labelled as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, bringing some chocolate covered raisins, licorice, candi sugar, some booze, smoked apple and cherry wood, caramel, toffee, very complex.

After that we took on our first compare and contrast with Berkshire's two Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ales, the Julios release from 2 years ago, and the latest Gude Greg. I believe Chris V. brought the Julios BB Scotch Ale, and I offered up the Gude Greg for comparison. We came to the conclusion that they were different recipes, and very different beers. The Julios one is now about 2 years old or so, and definitely has lost its edge. Most of the bourbon and oak, and nice scotch ale flavors have subdued to the point it's not that great anymore. The Gude Greg is just average overall, some bourbon and oak but not a lot, and the base beer is not the greatest.

Next on the list was Element's Dark Element versus the Double Dark Element, thanks to Chris H. The regular is a nice beer, some raisin and dark fruits, dark malts, a bit sweet, but the double was almost literally doubled that. Very sweet and heavy, lots of dark fruits and raisin, some bit of earthy hops, some booze, etc. Both great beers.

We then moved onto the Imperial Stout Trooper vertical, '08, '09, and '10, thanks to Andrew P. The '08 brought some woody esters, dark fruits, aged malts, a little smoked, and a nice aged flavor. The '09 seemed the most bland overall, a bit more chocolate but just seemed to be missing something. THe '10 was really tasty, lots of fresh hops, earthy, dark malts, fairly luscious.

Sorry for a quick break, Lucic just started the THIRD fight of the Bruins game tonight, damn!

TO change the pace we moved into Trinity Old Growth thanks to Phil. THis was crazy sour, some dour dark malts, malt vinegar, mouth and even eye watering puckering sourness, some acetic acid, solventy, but interesting.

Then we moved into the Surly Smoke Lager '09, also brought by Phil. This brought a nice smoked malt and campfire, some woody esters, a bit chalky with chewy malts, roast, creamy, but all that on the foundation of a crisp lager flavor. Very interesting.

After that I offered up a Gumballhead as a quick palate cleanser, before we moved onto the Abyss vertical. Evan brought the three initial bottles, '08, '09, and '10. The '09 ended up being VERY sour, so we tasted it quickly and I brought one up from my cellar, which also ended up being infected, but was much less infected just in the early stages. The '08 actually brought a fresh wort taste with some hops and bitterness, dark chocolate, black patent malt, dark fruits, and nice and roasty, tasty! The '09s speak for themselves, and offered an interesting drink when blended. The '10 was fresh and a bit boozy, a bit of fluffy nougat, fresh hops, and more bitter.

Next was the Great Skittlebrau Incident of 2011! As a joke I suggested some Skittlebrau, a reference from The Simpsons, and Phil immediately jumped on it, so I had to deliver. We decided to drop the skittles in the Bud Light tall boy can and let them settle and dissolve a bit. However, we were all apparently unaware that skittles have the same properties as Mentos, and dropping them into the Bud Light caused a big eruption of Bud Light all over the place. EEEEwwwwww!!!! After we cleaned up, it tasted like Leinenkugels fruity sugary cheap crappy beer.

After that we needed something with meat! Ivan the Terrible! Also thanks to Xenon I believe. This was all i had hoped it would be, dark and roasty, heavy but light and fluffy, caramel, vanilla, oak, plenty of oats, light earthy hops, smooth and creamy, a bit of booze but drinks well.

Then we raided my cellar and stood around in the cold cellar for about an hour just talking, and eventually came up with Zapata bot and Alpine Duet, and probably some other beers I didn't record.

Thanks to Evan for some great photos again, our unnoficial photographer.

Not sure when the next event will be, but shouldn't be too long. Theme is also open, any suggestions welcome. See you next time.


Friday, February 11, 2011

New Location and Brew

Wow, it's been a while since I updated this. With the move and winter and new house and all, it's been busy. SO the new house in Spencer is setup for the most part, with the brewery built into the garage now. All fancy, much easier to brew than at the shed in Milford.

The first brew at the new place was a success as well. It was a DIPA cleaning out some old hops. Theoretical 120 IBUs, SG of 1.068 and abv of 7.6%. The hops were continuously hopped every 5 minutes, spreading it out, with a 2oz dry hop of Simcoe in the keg. I don't have the recipe in front of me, so if I remember later I'll update teh hop schedule. It was brewed on Jan 15th, and kegged on Feb 5th to be on tap for the super bowl. It has a really nice taste, the hops and bitterness build, but are not too much, and a nice malty backbone with a decent balance. A really nice beer.

So more updates to come hopefully. I think I'll start trying to brew more often. Next up will probably be my first attempt at a sour/lambic style, when I have a weekend to do it. I'll sour the mash, and add some fresh fruits to the fermenter with some lacto.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brews #15, #16

Sorry for the delay in updates, work has been kicking my butt lately. Anyways, the MexiCali TropicIPA, brew #15, went off well. The SG was a little low at 1.048 instead of 1.057, but this was my first time milling my own grain. So I think I will have to adjust my grinder. The FG ended at 1.007 bringing the abv to 5.4%. I added in the purreed fruit, 2 mangoes and a peach, and it added an interesting fruit quality, but not as much as I hoped. I also went with cognac soaked oak chips rather than the tequila, which came through really strong at first but seemed to mellow out over the past week. I entered this beer into the BeerNuts homebrew competition, so we will see how it goes.

Next brew is this Saturday, at Dr. Gonzo's Emporium in Worcester. He is hosting a homebrew day, for which I will be bringing samples and brewing on site. I'll be "contract" brewing for a friend. Ricky, formerly part of our 6-strings/Meat Robot brewing crew, will be purchasing the ingredients and assisting the brewing, then taking home most of the beer. He was not a beer fan before, and we've introduced him to beers he likes, the Grey Lady being one of them. So initially we made a clone, but if you read back in the posts you can see how bad that went (way too heavy on spices). However, he loved it this way. So we're doing it again, this Saturday about 2PM.

More updates to follow later. Still to brew this summer will be a super heavy beer for the winter, either big imperial stout, or Belgian quad. Also attempt at an ale version of an Oktoberfest.