6.1.2017 Creamsicle Milkshake IPA

It’s been almost a year since I’ve last brewed a Milkshake IPA.  Since the last batch was so well received, I decided to give it another go and combine my do’s and don’ts from my brew notes with my latest findings with brewing New England IPA.  I decided to omit the apple puree and change the fruit/flavor contributions.  This will also be a short boil (30 min) no-sparge, meaning I mashed with the full volume of liquor and omitted a sparge.  Aside from those factors, not much has changed from my last batch.  The double milkshake was great, but for the warm spring into summer months, a DIPA is a bit much.

My brewing partner for the day was John, the Michigan Beer Guy from the BEER NUTS PODCAST.  He was finishing up his London Porter as I began to mash in.

2.5 gallon batch

Grains/Fermentables:

Two Row

White Wheat

Flaked Wheat

Flaked Oats

Carafoam

Flaked Oats

Hops:

Columbus

Amarillo

Mosaic

Citra

Other Ingredients:

Lactose

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum
Lactic Acid

Orange Zest (5 large)

Vanilla Bean

Yeast:

WLP030 Thames Ale

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I mashed at 152F for 60 minutes.  My water adjustments were about spot on.  Ten minutes into my mash, the PH came in at 5.2.  During the Saccharification Rest, I proceeded to zest 3 large navel oranges.  John had a few others sitting around, so I added the zest of 2 additional blood oranges.  At first I didn’t realize they were blood oranges.  When I looked down I saw a dark red liquid covering my hand and freaked out for a second.  I thought I had zested my hand open.  After a good laugh, I mashed out and lit the burner.

A boil was achieved shortly after.  10 minutes passed and I had added my bittering charge.  I then added a moderately heavy 5 minute addition and added my orange zest at flameout.  I immediately turned on the immersion chiller and quickly cooled to 170F where I added 7oz of hops for my hopstand/whirlpool addition.  The hops were allowed to steep for 20 minutes before the wort was chilled to 70 degrees, transferred to my fermentation keg, and aerated using my drill attachment.  I measured an original gravity of 1.068 which was shy of my target 1.072.  I attribute this to the lack of sparge.

I pitched yeast that was from the White Labs vault known as Thames Ale yeast.  It was described as, “Banked back in 2001. Very flocculant strain great for all things English. Great for porters, stouts, ESBs. Lower ester production than most English strains but creates a bigger mouthfeel than most cleaner strains.”  Watch it kick ass since it’s not readily available.

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Since my fermenters were tied up with Olde Ale, I decided to try something that I’ve been considering revisiting for a long time; fermenting under pressure.  The idea here is to stop the fruity (dare I say juicy) aromas from escaping during fermentation and instead, dissolve those into the beer providing a unique flavor.  I purchased a spunding valve from Williams Brewing (I believe) and attached it to the “in” post of the keg and sealed it up.  I set a base adjustment on the valve and decided to check on it every few hours to find a good pressure as this did not come with a gauge.  I believe there is merit to this process as it was brought to my attention by a reader that tree house advertises on their growlers that their beers are naturally carbonated.  Given tree house beers taste like no other due to their yeast esters, this could be the missing link in my process.

Fermentation began in a little over 24 hours.  Regardless of the spunding valve adjustment, there was moderate to low pressure in the keg during fermentation.  If I had to guess, I’d say 4-5lb.  Just enough to make a quick hiss when you released the valve on the keg.

On the third day of fermentation, I directly added my dry hops to the keg.  The off-gas smelled amazing in the keg for the brief second it was open.

The beer was cold crashed after 10 days in the keg for 48 hours prior to transferring to the serving keg.  The serving keg is attached to my clear beer draught system.  In the bottom of this keg lives 3 sliced and split vanilla beans that have been in a tincture of everclear for 3 days.  Typically I would double dry-hop here, but they hops aren’t the main event.  The hops, vanilla, lactose, and orange should work together in harmony.

Since the beer was carbonated during fermentation, I was unable to get a FG reading.  That’s ok.  When it’s done, it’s done.  Software anticipates it finishing around 1.020 with the lactose additions and 1.014 without.

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After 24 hours in the keg, I took my first pull.  I was very pleased with the finish.  The nose is a combination of vanilla, light orange and floral melon from the mosaic dry hop.  The added heft from the lactose is a welcome addition.  There are tons of good esters in this beer.  I am not sure if I attribute that to the yeast or the pressurized fermentation process.  An excellent beer!  Next time I will add more zest to the keg as I feel much was lost in the hot side.

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Cheers!

5.6.2017- Double Mashed Olde Ale

I think everybody should be part of a brew club if you have access to one.  The amount of knowledge, support, and comradery toward the hobby is a real motivator.  I am part of a brew club known as the Downriver Brewers Guild.  We are an older brew club; 24 years old to be exact.  There is a minimalist approach to this group.  This has appeal to me.  A majority of the beers shared are traditional and designed to style guidelines.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Mike, you’re far off from your traditional styles and guidelines.  How do you fit in?”.  True many of the IPA styles that love to drink and brew are seen as a trend or fad, there is much to be learned around the basics.  A classic lager is one of the hardest beers to brew.  In the same fashion, a nice lawnmower pilsner will never go out of style.  The club brings this information to me in the same fashion as how I bring the radical stuff to them.

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When we spoke of doing Big Brew Day, I was excited.  I’ve been with this club for nearly 2 years and we’ve only had outings recently.  This is a great step in getting out there and having some exposure.  Our LHBS, Adventures in Homebrewing, put on the event.  A few brewers and me took the reins on this one and ran with it.  What we decided to do was, in my opinion, a fair compromise of old school meets new school; A double-mashed olde ale.  Getting an early start, I loaded up my half of the needed equipment, and headed to pick up my brewing assistant for the day.  His name is John and he is the Michigan Beer Guy.  Check out his site and the BEER NUTS PODCAST to learn more about John.  He’s an all-around good dude.

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10 gallon batch

Grains/Fermentables:

Maris Otter

Dark Munich

C60

C120

Black Malt

Flaked Oats

Birch Sap

Vermont Maple Sap

Black Strap Molasses

Hops:

Nugget

Other Ingredients:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum
Lactic Acid

Yeast:

Split Batch – US04 / WLP007 Dry English Ale

We arrived on site and unloaded the equipment.  Michigan spring is in full effect.   Today was a 50 degree sunny day with 20mph gusts of wind out of the north.  We got set up, I walked over to the store and milled nearly 36 pounds of grain.  We were brewing the largest volume of the biggest beer of all the brewers on site.  That’s a pride point.  This also would be the largest batch I’ve brewed to date.  It’s always good to step outside of your comfort zone.  It makes you grow and adapt.  In the world of brewing, it’s clear as day that you need to adapt to what the people want or you will go the way of the dinosaur.

We began by heating our strike water to 180F to heat both of the 10 gallon mash tuns.  We then mashed in with 6.5 gallons of 170 degree water to reach a mash temperature in each tun of 155F.   We mashed for roughly 90 minutes while our large volume of sparge water heated.  Both tuns were run off to the 15 gallon brew kettle.  We sparged each tun over the course of the next 90 minutes and collected roughly 12 gallons of runnings.

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Just in time to start the boil, Murphy arrived on-scene and the wind kicked up tremendously.  We were not able to maintain a flame on our burner.  This forced us to relocate to the backside of a building so we were shielded from the wind.  Luckily, this worked and our 90 minute boil went on without any issues.  Nugget hops were added at the 60 minute mark to pull in 40 IBU.  1lb of black strap molasses was added at the 5 minute mark.  The birch sap and maple syrup was added at flame out.  We began chilling immediately using my baby immersion chiller.  This chiller is sufficient for small batches, but it took about 3 beers and 2 tamales time to chill to 110F.  I’ll need to upgrade this if I want to go larger.

This beer weighed in at a 1.085 at temperature.  Using the brewer’s friend conversion chart, this beer clocks in at an OG of 1.091.  I racked half of the finished product into 2 carboys and drove home to clean up.  Following cleaning, temperature was just right to pitch the yeast.  I aerated each vessel with my drill attachment and added an addition of yeast nutrient.  My Speidel fermenter received a double pitch of Safale US04 yeast, while the beer bucket received a triple pitch of WLP007 Dry English Ale.  The beers are stored in my cellar at a temperature of 64F.

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Hours later, signs of fermentation were present.  In the middle of the night, I was awoken by my carbon monoxide alarm going off due to the off gassing of the beer.  I had to attach a blow off tube to each vessel.  I chuckled a bit and went back to bed.

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My plan is to agitate the vessels and add a half tsp of yeast nutrient every other day until fermentation finishes.  Once the beers reach terminal gravity, I will allow them to rest for one week until signs of any off flavors are gone.  From there, they will be separately racked into a secondary fermenter to condition.  I anticipate to bottle these beers, naturally carbonate them using munich DME, and allowing to condition in my cellar until the holidays come around.

Updates to follow at that time.  This will be a great beer for years to come.

What did you do for big brew day?  Let me know in the comments below.

Cheers! – Mike

 

 

4.25.2017 – Eleven:Eleven – New England IPA Homebrewing

Even though I still have not been able to nail down an “All Whirlpool” New England IPA, I consistently see great looking examples on groups and Homebrewing sites that boast “0IBU” or “Whirlpool Only” and I’m motivated to try these to get the results.  I’ve come to the conclusion that either I’m doing something wrong in process, or some individuals haven’t really made a quality example of this style.  Now, that’s not a knock against anybody.  Everybody starts somewhere and no two people taste alike.  All that means is that I haven’t had it work for me yet.

On this brew day, I will take the lessons learned from my last 0IBU experiment which was an absolute failure.  Following that example, I vowed to never follow an unproven recipe again.  I’m going to pair this with something that I know works in terms of grist and kettle addition timing.  Don’t let anybody fool you, there is no such thing as a 0IBU addition.  In quantity, hops going into the kettle, whirlpool, or dry hop can add bitterness.  Whirlpool additions are a tool for the collection, not the only piece in the collection.  You don’t build a house with only a hammer.  If you do, you’re a better person than I.

Grains/Fermentables:

Two Row

Flaked Wheat

Flaked Oats
Dextrose

Golden Naked Oats

Hops:

Apollo (late/fo)

Amarillo (late/fo)

Summer (late/fo)

Kohatu (fo/wp)

Citra (wp/dry)

Azacca (wp/dry)

Other Ingredients:

Yeast Nutrient

Irish Moss

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum
Lactic Acid

Yeast:

Tree House Brewing Co Yeast Harvested From Julius / Green Cans – 6th Generation

I began by processing my grains and measuring out my hops according to my recipe.  I’ve put a tighter crush on the grain mill at my LHBS (Adventures In Homebrewing) hoping to step up my efficiency.  I preheated my strike water to the desired temperature and missed my mash temperature of 154F and came in at nearly 156F.   My mash PH came in at 5.3.  Added to my mash was a small amount of Amylase Enzyme to assist with my conversion and efficiency.  I mashed for 75 minutes.  I recirculated my first runnings through vorlauf and proceeded to sparge.

I was told that efficiency may be an issue because my sparge is not taking long enough.  This time, I steeped my sparge water in the grains bringing the temperature up to 168 and held for 10 minutes before recirculating through vorlauf and trickling the second runnings out to my brew kettle.  This process took nearly an hour.

According to the information provided by my brewing software, brewer’s friend, I collected 8.5 gallons of wort and proceeded to boil.  The boil was uneventful and contained hop additions at 20, 10, 5 and Flame Out.  I then chilled the wort to 160F and added the largest whirlpool addition that I ever have.  I allowed the wort to stand for 20 minutes before chilling to 100F, transferring to my fermenter through syphon, aerating, and pitching my yeast.  The yeast of choice was a multi generation, multi-step starter of my tree house culture collected from cans of Julius and Green.   My measured OG was 1.080.

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I immediately noticed that I had a problem on my hand.  The 8.5 gallon fermenter was about half full.  This was intended to be a 5.5 gallon yield with 5 gallons or so going into the keg.  I hadn’t even dry hopped yet.  It had become apparent that my brewing software does not factor in for hop absorption or I just don’t know how to set it properly.  I haven’t had this issue before.  Do you leave your kettle trub behind or do you transfer off of that to your fermenter?  Let me know in the comments below.

 The beer fermented off 70F, again hoping to coax out the fruit esters.  Fermentation began within hours and filled my cellar with aromas of peach, mango, fruit, and everything delicious.  I won’t say juice, however.  On day 4 as fermentation slowed, I added my first round of dry hops.  On day 8 I had reached terminal gravity of 1.018 and added my second round of dry hops.  There was a little off taste in the beer so I had decided to wait 48 hours for the yeast to clean up.

I then transferred off to my keg and noticed that the drain spout from the speidel fermenter was just spitting hop sediment and trub.  I had to syphon off the top into a keg that had been purged of oxygen.  I had collected just over 3.5 gallons of beer.  I could have gotten about a half-gallon more, but it was too murky and was plugging up the siphon.  It looks good!  The taste is quite muddled and more bitter than I would care to admit.  But the sediment on the bottom of my glass leads me to believe this is still conditioning out.  The Tree House yeast fights you for bright beers in a similar fashion to Conan.

I waited a week while cold conditioning and drew an initial pour.  While the beer isn’t fully carbonated, it’s much more mild and enjoyable.  This was my first time using Golden Naked Oats (GNO).  My lesson learned is not to treat them the same as flaked oats or oat malt.  I will scale these back about 50% in hopes of drying the final product out.  The malt backbone is complex like granola, but without being a cloying malt-bomb.  The level of hop saturation is ideal, yet too complex.  Perhaps 6 varieties of hops were too much.  The aroma is strong, but not overpowering.  Imagine a big sticky pine tree in the tropics that gives off fruit.  You pick this fruit and bite into it.  It is earthy, with a touch of citrus, and fruit.  It tastes the way it smells.  I believe that is the Kohatu at work.  I really enjoy Kohatu when paired with Citra.  Again, the sediment remains on the bottom of the glass which makes the final sip not very enjoyable.

Given my past results on racking beers made with Tree House yeast to a serving keg from a conditioning keg, I decided to give it another shot.  I transferred the bright, carbonated, beer to a serving keg that has been purged of oxygen via closed loop transfer.

Low and behold, the first few pours from the serving keg after waiting 24 hours were excellent.  Any off flavors were left behind in the conditioning keg and all that’s left is solid, bright beer.  I took this pic just before sundown which makes the beer look darker than it really is, but it’d say it’s a solid 4-5 SRM in color.  Much lighter and brighter than my previous NEIPA’s.  Contrary to popular belief, time does these beers well.  It’s been nearly 4 weeks since brew day and the beer has finally come together properly.  It is at this point where it would be ready for packaging.

For anybody local or interested, Big Brew Day is coming up 5/6/2017.  If you’re a homebrew or interested in Homebrewing, I highly advise you to get out there and experience this with some fellow brewers.  I will be brewing on behalf of the Downriver Brewer’s Guild at Adventures in Homebrewing in Taylor Michigan all day.  We will be doing an Olde Ale.  Come on down and say hi!

-Cheers!

4.5.2017 – Main Squeeze Alternate Grain Bill

Spring has sprung in Michigan and I’m back to brewing.  I received a request from a reader to brew a hoppy beer without flaked grains for a lighter, more quaffable spring treat.  I’ve had a taste for one of my mainstays, Main Squeeze IPA, and decided to experiment with the grain bill and remove any flaked grains from the bill.

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The original bill called for 2 row, flaked wheat, white wheat, dextrose, and carafoam with wy1056 yeast.  It originally has the appearance and body of a NEIPA.  My modified grain bill is seen here.  Less is often more when showcasing hops.  In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a big brown bitter malt bomb.  It might be your thing, but it’s just not for me.  I digress, but being a good brewer often involves brewing things that may not suit your palate.  You must educate yourself on styles and processes that aren’t in your wheelhouse.

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2.5 gallon batch

Grains/Fermentables:

Two Row

White Wheat

Dextrose

C10

Hops:

100% Falconer’s Flight

Other Ingredients:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum
Lactic Acid

Yeast:

WY1968 ESB

After a thorough cleaning of my equipment which sat around all winter I was ready to brew.  The weather, unfortunately, had other plans.  I decided to scale down to 2.5 gallons and go old school on the stove top.  You do not need top quality equipment to make good beer.  I cannot stress that enough.  If your procedures and practices are consistent and thorough you can get by without any big investments into equipment.  I’ve made some of my best beer using my grandma’s old soup kettle and a brew demon cheapo small batch conical or a Mr. Beer fermenter.

I began by treating my tap strike water with Calcium Chloride and Gypsum.  I made ph adjustments using food grade lactic acid to the neighborhood of 5.6.  After my strike water reached necessary temperature to achieve a 150 degree Fahrenheit mash, I doughed in.  Stirring every 20 minutes, I mashed for 60 minutes, vorlauf until the runnings were clear, and then batch sparged at 168 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.  I collected approximately 3.5 gallons of 1.050 wort and prepared my boil.

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Falconer’s Flight hops were added at 60 minutes for a light bittering charge, 5 minutes, and flame out while chilling my wort to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  I then transferred the wort to my fermenter, aerated using my drill stir attachment for 60 seconds, and added my first round of dry hops.   In total, approximately 8 oz. of hops were added to the kettle.  I attached my fermenter heater, and programmed it to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  My OG came in at 1.058, 6 points below my intended goal.

I’ve heard great things of WY1968 and its ability to produce fruity esters.  This made it an obvious choice to experiment with.  I wanted to ferment on the hot side to encourage these esters to the forefront.

On day 3, fermentation began to slow.  I added 3oz of Falconer’s Flight to my fermenter before work and increased the temperature to 72 degrees to encourage a strong finish.  When I walked into my house that evening, I noticed a huge fruit aroma filling my house.  I went to check on the fermenter and noticed that the temperature probe had become dislodged and my heater was running amok.  The wort had reached 77 degrees!  I’ve never fermented this warm before, but at this point, I was committed.  I killed the heat and let the beer sit at ambient temperature for 5 days before kegging.  My final gravity came in at a SHOCKING 1.005 thanks to that temperature spike.  I’ve never heard of WY1968 getting that dry.  This beer weighs in at 6.9% ABV.

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The beer was transferred to a keg equipped with the clear beer draught system and was purged of oxygen.  I then put it on gas, purged, and burst carbonated at 30psi for 48 hours before reducing the gas to serving pressures.  After 4 days of cold conditioning, I took my first pull.

There’s a little bit of haze on this reminiscent of a 3 Floyds Zombie Dust.  I have a feeling it’ll flock out a little bit more over the next week or so.  The nose is of floral grapefruit and strawberry.  The beer is quite pungent, but not over the top like a NEIPA.  I wouldn’t consider this a NEIPA due to the light, refreshing body and transparency.  This was clear getting into the brew day given the grain bill.  It’s just a nice, normal IPA with low perceived bitterness and big aroma.

Due to the overall dryness, the hops take center stage.  The dryness isn’t out of place, however.  It’s drinkable as hell!  There is no offensive bitterness here, but you know it’s a hop bomb.  The beer hits your palate with grapefruit, pith, strawberry, and flowers with no detectable yeast esters.  This is some happy tasting shit!  Is happy a taste?  It is now.  At 6.9% it’ll get you feeling happy in no time.

Cheers!

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3.2.2017 – Brewing News!

Hey everybody!  I’ve taken the past few months off from brewing to focus on my health.   Some of the new meds I’m on don’t allow for drinking.  It sucks, but let’s hope its a temporary thing.

Anyway – I’m going to be brewing this SATURDAY.  I have two weeks before a party.  I’m going to brew 5 gallons total.  What would you like to see me brew?  I was thinking an extract NEIPA style?  Perhaps re-visit one of my previous batches?  Something new?  Maybe you have a great recipe to share!

Let’s hear from you.  What should it be?

Cheers!

12.1.2016 – Tree House Brewing Co. Julius Clone – Attempt 2

 

Looking back at how proud I was of my Green clone, I decided to take another stab at cracking the code that is Julius from Tree House Brewing Co.  A close friend received a huge grocery store bag full of old assorted hop pellets new in.  I nabbed up a haul of Citra, Amarillo, Columbus, Apollo, Centennial, and a few others.  Score!

Borrowing from my current IPA’s, I decided to simplify the grist.  Following my notes from the last attempt, I noted that the color was a little dark, reduce or eliminate dextrose, and increase Munich… well, I don’t have Munich today – I have Vienna.  Close enough.  Back then, I was not controlling fermentation temp very well.  Now, I have a temperature controller in action.  Also, I used the Omega DIPA yeast which I was not a big fan of.  My house cultures of Conan are better performers.

 5 gallon batch

Grains/Fermentables:

Two Row

Vienna

Flaked Oats

Honey Malt

Carafoam

HOPS:

Columbus

Citra

Amarillo

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum

YEAST:

Conan

I mashed in using RO water treated with Calcium Chloride and Gypsum in a 2:1 ratio at 154F for 60 minutes.  The Chloride contributes to the soft, pillowy mouthfeel.   I then batch sparged at 168F for 20 minutes and then began my boil.  I decided to forego the 60 minute addition in favor of a 20 minute addition to get more flavor than bitterness out of the Columbus.  Following the boil, I dumped in 8oz of a citra/amarillo blend.    I then oxygenated the wort using my drill/stir attachment for 60 seconds and pitched my Conan.

This time, I did not pitch my dry hops during peak fermentation.  Instead, allowed the beer to ferment at ambient temperature for 7 days.  On day 7, I turned the heat up to 70F and added 4oz of citra/amarillo to the fermenter.  4 days later I transferred to my conditioning keg and cold crashed for a week.  The beer was then close transferred to my serving keg, blast carbonated and poured.  Keg hops were not added as I don’t get that “in your face” aroma from Julius.  Then again, it’s been nearly a year since I’ve had Julius (please send me some).

Here it is.  Round 2.  Lessons learned and changes made.  Initially, I was worried at day 10.  Before dry hopping, I tasted the beer and the hop flavor was weak…  My saturation levels were nowhere near the NEIPA’s I’ve made in the past or of commercial comparison.   I also get an overwhelming sulfur aroma coming from the beer.  This is surprising since there are a good amount of dry hops.

After two weeks in the keg, not much has changed.  I feel that due to the long (45 minute) whirlpool, some DMS got into the beer.  Minimal alpha acids were extracted due to the 170F whirlpool and the late (20 min) boil addition.  I feel this contributed to the problem.

The moral of the story is that the whirlpool addition at low temperature for a long time is overhyped.  Going forward I will stick to kettle additions and flame out additions and chill as quickly as possible.  If I do a whirlpool, I will keep it on the hot side for a short period of time as I have had success with in the past.  As for the old hops, never again.  There was a reason why they were free.  Yuck.

I’ll revisit a proven recipe next time around.  In the meanwhile, I’ve got 4 gallons of stink-beer to go butt chug.

***UPDATE***

Two weeks have lapsed since kegging and initially trying this beer.  I took a pull last night and the sulfuric aroma has dissipated.  The nose is now citra/armpit.  Perhaps this was just some gnarly citra?  I’ve heard that citra can sometimes get “catty”.  Perhaps this is what I smelled.  The taste has also cleaned up a bit.  I attribute this to the cold conditioning aiding the Conan in flocculating down.  The beer is now a drinkable pale ale.  However, this is nowhere near Julius in any sense.  The haze on this makes me question the oat addition in this style.  It just looks different.

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Cheers!

11.9.2016 – Yeast hybrid growth and the pursuit of fruit esters

 

Fancy title, eh?  Doesn’t it make me sound smrt?  

I was fortunate enough to have a fellow homebrew enthusiast send me a care package containing some of his excellent homebrews and some specialty yeast!  Thanks M00ps!!  Included were 2 vials.  One contains F1, a “rare mating” of Conan and WLP644.  The other contains F1/C4, a meiotic segregation of F1.  Supposedly the F1/C4 mix will ferment faster, but with less fruity aroma.

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I initially learned of this hybrid over the summer from homebrewtalk.com user “SureGork” from Finland.  I jumped over to his blog (http://beer.suregork.com/?p=3747) and pulled together what information I could gather.  There is lots of evidence supporting his claim that this is an actual hybrid and not a blend.  His goals were to develop a yeast strain with lots and lots of fruity esters, high attenuation, fast fermentation, and moderate flocculation.

I’m not the first to use this yeast, but this will be my first time veering into the WLP644 style of things.  I’ve read of a man in Germany winning homebrew contests with this strain overseas so I am pumped to try it out.  Lots of positive feedback from other people using the strain that made it across the pond to the states as well.

Yesterday, I brought the vial of F1 to room temperature and created a yeast starter on my stir plate.  My goal is to step this up several times in order to cultivate enough yeast to store for future use as well as pitch in a NEIPA.

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Day 2 – 24 hours later there is no activity in the starter.  I guess he meant it when he said it’s a slower fermentation.  Let’s hope that the wait is worth it!  In case I made the starter too strong, I diluted the solution by 20%.   Apparently I am not the only person to experience this lag time.  This is reminiscent of starting some dregs from a can.

Day 5 – No visible activity.

Day 7 – I cold crashed and decanted the top fluid.  I took sample to taste and it wasn’t sweet at all.  This must have just fermented out very quickly.  Tasting notes of straight orange rind / clementine.

Following day 7 I stepped this up with 200ml water of 1.030 wort every 48 hours for 6 days.  This yeast is violently aggressive.  Like Conan, it’s not much of a top cropper.  I foresee a direct pitch of this finishing a 1.060 beer in 3-4 days at ambient temperature (this time of year it’s about 62F).

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Day 14 – I wound up with 1000ml.  I cold crashed, decanted the top beer, poured half the yeast to a jar for later use.   I gave the decanted beer a taste and it was very significantly dry orange peel.  I will build the starter once more for a direct pitch.  I feel this yeast will work excellently with “Main Squeeze” one of my primary Pale Ales.  I will use F1 instead of my go to wy1056 yeast.  Stay tuned for that brew day.

Cheers!

 

 

11.2.2016 – Imperial Apple Pie Brown Ale

Pursuant to my heavy duty craving for big cool weather beers, this recipe was born.  I had received a few requests to make my pumpkin ale but since pumpkin is on the outs with the cool kids I decided to take a new approach.  Meet apple pie spice.  I haven’t had this before in Michigan so hopefully there’s not a reason why!

I called upon my new 10 gallon mash tun, 8 gallon fermenter, and 5 gallon keg to produce the biggest brown ale that I’ve made to date.  There was 15 lb of grain in my tun!  Since I always get a slight fruit bite from 1318 at cooler temperatures, I decided to try that to bring the apple flavor to the party.  I began by making a huge 2 step starter.

 

Grains/Fermentables:

American 2 Row

Maris Otter

Flaked Oats

Chocolate

C60

Special B

Aeromatic

C120

HOPS:

Hallertau Hersbrucker  (hops are kind of irrelevant here – shoot for 20ibu)

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum

Apple Pie Spice (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg)

YEAST:

WY1318 London Ale III

Brew day again was uneventful.  My new norm is mashing with RO water and sparging with tap that has been treated with campden tablets.  I mashed at 150F for one hour, raised to 168F for mashout, and batch sparged for 20 minutes at 168F.  I then chilled to 80F, aerated with my drill attachment, and pitched my monster dose of 1318.  Fermentation began within the hour.  My OG came to 1.075.

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After 3 weeks at ambient temperature, I racked to the secondary for a week and added my pie spice.  After 3 days, I tasted a sample for flavor.  It was a bit light so I added another dose of spice, waited 3 more days, and transferred to my keg.  The beer finished at 1.018.  Perfect!  The beer conditioned for 48 hours at 35 psi before taking a pull.

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Up front, you’re met with a full, silky mouthfeel.  Impressions of fruit from the 1318 paired with the aroma of spice sends your palate to the cider mill.  APPLE PIE.  A multitude of malts then come forward to finish just right.  I couldn’t be more satisfied with this.

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Cheers!

10.28.2016 – Tri Power Belgian Tripel

I promise, I haven’t forgotten about you!  I haven’t been brewing as often simply because my equipment has been tied up aging bigger beers.  I brewed this beer back on September 21 and have let it condition.   With IPA, I’m typically grain to glass in about 2 weeks.  This beer was pushing 5 weeks, which is still quick comparatively speaking.

Here in Michigan, we have a great brewery known as Dragonmead.  They produce an amazing Tripel known as Final Absolution.  I believe it to be their flagship.  I had one of these (first time in a long time) and totally forgot how awesome this is.  I’ve never done a Belgian beer.  Truthfully, I’m not overly fond of the style.  A good brewer has to open their horizons.  Perhaps I can make something that I would enjoy more than the normal offerings.  In that, perhaps others can enjoy it too.  I’m a big fan of taking something and making it your own.  I try to do that with a majority of my beers.  I want somebody to sip something and, without a doubt, know that it’s something that I produced.

After much research, parsing through homebrewtalk (my username is RuckusZ28), and asking brewers in my club I landed on a recipe.  For me, the esters in the Belgian beers make it for me.  I’m going to try to maximize the esters through underpitching and cranking the temperature during fermentation.

 Grains/Fermentables:

Belgian Pils

Belgian Munich

Carafoam

Belgian Candi Syrup (clear)

Michigan Maple Syrup (added at FO)

HOPS:

Hallertau Hersbrucker

THER INGREDIENTS:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

Gypsum

YEAST:

WLP500 Trappist Ale

Using RO water for my mash I did a protein rest at 140F for 15 minutes in my brew kettle before transferring the mash my tun for a rest at 150F for 60 minutes.  I mashed out at 168F and then completed a batch sparge for 20 minutes at 168F.  The brew day was uneventful.  Following the boil I added the Candi Syrup and some freshly tapped local Michigan maple syrup to my kettle.  I hit my target gravity of 1.091.

I allowed the beer to sit in primary for 3 weeks and would agitate the carboy every week.  On the third day of fermentation, I turned the temperature up to 70F.  On the sixth day, I raised the temperature to 72F.  On day eight, I ceased temperature control and allowed the beer to rest at ambient room temperature of 64F.  At week 4, I racked the beer to secondary and cold crashed.  We finished at 1.017 weighing in at just over 10%abv.  The beer was then racked to the 2.5 gallon serving keg and allowed to carbonate for 3 days at 25psi / 40F before taking a pull.

The maple really did darken this one up more than expected.  Though no maple flavors come off, you can definitely tell that this has some serious adjuncts in it!  The nose is of candy and fig with a twitch of alcohol.  The head dissipates quickly though the beer is sufficiently carbonated.  Upon tasting, you are greeted with a burst of fig, plum, prune, with a slight burn finish.  This is mighty tasty and also quite dangerous.   I wouldn’t mess around with more than 1 of these at a time.

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The plan here will be to enjoy this for a week and then bottle the remains of the keg for cellaring.  I’ll periodically check in with these as they age.

Cheers!

10.8.2016 – Kitchen Sink NE IPA

Given the failure of the 0IBU beer, I need something to drink!  It’s also becoming tiring digging through little bags of hops in my freezer when I dip in looking for the good stuff.  Why not make a big old mish-mash and see where it goes.

Let’s first talk about these new Ariana hops from Hopmeister.  I picked these up from Farmhouse brew supply about a month ago.  Farmhouse had the following to say about Ariana.  AA__10.2%.  Depending upon the style of beer brewed and timing of the addition of the hops, brewers have noticed grapefruit, gooseberry, citrus and vanilla flavors.  Ariana is said to be ideal for dry hopping, when it imparts its most intense fruity flavors.  Use in: Big American Ales, IPA, Pale ales, Ambers.

Wow, this sounds remarkably like Nelson, but with some vanilla in the mix.  I’m not a big fan of Nelson, but it sure is complex.  Having Nelson in this beer, plus this, should make for some outstanding tasting notes.  This time around, I’m going to focus on that dry, cool grape, green fruit, gooseberry thing.  Maybe a dry wine inspiration?  Why not.  Let’s keep it simple and focus on the hops the best way I know how.

Taking what I’ve learned from my Green clone attempt, I feel that the hop timing and amounts are pretty solid and I’d like to stick to it.  We will bitter with warrior.  Nelson and Simcoe will be the big proponent of the whirlpool with a little bit of Ariana and Warrior for complexity.  The dry hop will be the inverse; primarily Ariana and El Dorado with a touch of Simcoe and Nelson.

An uneventful brew day carries on.  I adjusted some equipment in BeerSmith to see if it helps with my awful efficiency.  Perhaps the water levels are wonky?  (This has been since resolved.  It was because of my 5 gallon mash tun.  I upgraded to a 10 gal and can gather the majority of my wort in first runnings as opposed to before where half of my wort would be first runnings and half would be my sparge runnings)

Grains/Fermentables:

Pale Two Row

Fawcett Oat Malt

Flaked Oats

Dextrose

HOPS:

Warrior

Simcoe

Ariana

Nelson

El Dorado

OTHER INGREDIENTS:

Yeast Nutrient

Calcium Chloride

YEAST:

WLP 007 – Dry English Ale

I mashed at 152F for 60 minutes followed by my usual 20 minute batch sparge at 168F.  The sparge came in a little low this time.  I missed by 4 degrees.  In effort to avoid messing with my water amounts, I left it as it.

The whirlpool went on for 30 minutes at 180F allowing the temperature to fall gradually.  The aroma coming off the kettle is DANK VANILLA.  How interesting is this!

The beer fermented with WLP 007 using a starter for 14 days before being kegged and cold crashed.  I carbonated at 25 PSI for a few days and then dropped down to serving temperature before taking my first pour.

The head did not stick around long.  Perhaps that’s from the gratuitous amounts of hops?  After all, we’re talking about 3.75oz/gallon here.  I did not keg hop this beer.  The only hop addition was on day 3 of fermentation.  It doesn’t have a very big nose but it’s all gooseberry.  The body is medium.  The color is quite darker than the software had predicted.

This beer hits the palate hard.  It’s much bitterer than I had anticipated.  It’s a sharp bitter unlike a resinous bitter.  The taste is very dry.  I don’t get juicy on this at all, but there is some fruit.  I’m thinking under ripe berries with maybe a splash of green pepper.  The finish is reminiscent of chardonnay – dry white wine in cool weather.  I’ve read that El Dorado imparts a bit of a candy taste on the back end.  It plays well with the Nelson and Ariana on a wine like level.  The Simcoe doesn’t come through.   I’ve made it through half the glass and can’t really put my finger on it.  It’s VERY unique and complex.

This beer isn’t for me, but it may be for some that are into the Nelson thing.  I have a feeling lots of this one will be given away.  As I said earlier, I’m not a big fan of Nelson and this beer imparts lots of the Nelson flavors.  The funny thing is that there’s 1oz of Nelson in this beer and 4oz of Ariana.  I’d challenge somebody with a solid recipe that uses Nelson to replace the Nelson with Ariana and evaluate.  Since Nelson is so scarce, Ariana may have found its place.

I may do a cuvee using this and some white wine just cuz.

Cheers!