Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fermented News

There is a new coalition trying to get rid of the ridiculous law that only allows grocery/convenience stores to sell low gravity beer (3.2% ABW). Their big hook is increased jobs which I find that questionable, but whatever lies they have to spin to make buying beer/wine more convenient is okay with me. Lots of other states (missouri) allow it and they all still have plenty of independent liquor stores. [LJ World]

Saturday is Kansas's 150th Birthday as a State and everybody is invited to celebrate by raising a glass of Kansas beer, wine, or cider at 6:00pm when the KU - K-State game tips off. I'm sure I'll have a growler of something nice from Free State (Iron Man Imperial Stout?) [facebook]

Hops Shortage. Everybody Panic. [Rouge Wire Service]

In Boulevard Brewing news:

  • Their collaboration with Christopher Elbow should be on shelves in time for Valentines Day. Mmmmm Chocolate. [KC Beer Blog]
  • Imperial Stout is in bottles so keep an eye out for that, probably won't last long. [facebook]
  • Rye-on-Rye is in barrels. [facebook]

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ashburne/Cascade SMaSH

Single Malt and Single Hop = SMaSH. It's a fairly popular homebrewing technique. The idea is to pick one malt and one hop and really focus on highlighting the flavors of those two ingredients. It's a fun way to get familiar with brewing ingredients and can help with recipe creation down the road.

For the malt I decided to go with Ashburne Mild from Briess. It's a base malt kilned to 5.3 Lovibond, which puts it in the neighborhood of a Maris Otter, light Munich or Vienna malt. I thought it gave a nice bread crust flavor with a touch of sweetness. It defiantly had more flavor than the regular 2 row pale malt, I can see myself using it more in the future. The only real problem with it is it cost a little more than 2 row.

For the hops I went with the classic, Cascade. Originally developed by the U.S.D.A. and released as an aroma hop in 1972. It has become the standard for American hop aroma, and can be found in many IPAs and Pale Ales. Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale is probably the most popular and one of the first to popularize its use. Another great example is Hopalicious from Ale Asylum in Madison. The beer I brewed reminds me of Hopalicious, lots of Cascade, a little malt. On a side note: If you ever visit Wisconsin, fly into Madison (a Frank Lloyd Wright designed airport) and head down the road to Ale Asylum for your first stop and repeat on your way home. It's a great way to start & end a vacation.

Expected OG: 1.046
Actual OG: 1.055
Expected FG: 1.015
Actual FG: 1.010
IBU: 41
BU:GU: .77
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 6.2 gallons
Final Volume: 4.8 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 81.1%
ABV: 6.05%

10 lbs. Ashburne Mild (Briess)

2.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 4.1% AA) @ 30 min.
1.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 4.1% AA) @ 10 min.
1.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 4.1% AA) @ 5 min.
2.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 4.1% AA) @ flame out
2.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 4.1% AA) dry hop
Safale US-05

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

Mash Schedule:
60 min @ 155° (15 qt @ 165°)
20 min @ 168° (16 qt @ 190°)

Should be about 6.5 gallons of sweet wort.

Brewed on 12/08/10 by myself.

I used this spreadsheet to calculate temps, it worked well for the barleywine.

8:20am - Brrrrrr 11° outside.

9:00am  - Somehow I missed way to the low side on my mash temp (I thought I was getting better at this) sat around 140° for about 25 min then I added 6.5 qt of boiling water which brought the temp up to 156°. That temp had dropped to around 150° by the time I started sparging. I think the sub-freezing temperatures outside might be a contributing factor to the low mash temps. I wanted to mash at a high temp to ensure there was plenty of body in this small beer. Looks like it'll be on the dry side now.

10:40am - preboil gravity is about 1.043 with only 6.2 gallons collected. I'm going to have to adjust my original hopping schedule to account for the increased gravity.

12:15pm – 1.055. Nice.

1:30pm - Pitched yeast at about 68°. A little less than 5 gallons, going to call it 4.8. 78% efficiency? That would be my best ever.

12/11/10 - High kraeusen, temp is 64°

12/12/10 - Still chugging along at about 64°

12/21/10 – Added dry hops. Temp has settled down to the mid 50s.

12/29/10 – Bottling Day. 2.25 Vol. CO2 + 4.75 gal. + 65° = 3.2 oz. Table sugar.
16 x 22 oz. + 1 x 24 oz. + 1 x 750 ml + 2 x 500 ml + 4 x 12 oz. = 3.77 gallons. Might end up with carbonation in the 2.6 volume range instead. Glad I started low, kinda forgot how little wort there was to start with, plus trub. Sample smells very citric, orangy. With a toasty, bread flavor.

1/11/11- 1st taste. Pretty nice. Big orange/cascade burst with a little spice, and a bread crust backbone. Clear with a short rocky head.

1/15/11 – Clear deep golden color, small rocky head, some lacing on the side. Orange-ish citrus in the nose, hint of bread. A touch of sweet, bread crust, more citrus. Clean finish, lingering grapefruit-ish flavor, mild bitterness. Carb is on the low side, I like it that way. Mouthfeel is on the light side of medium. Very drinkable.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Boulevard's New & Improved Website.

I'm sure you've seen Boulevard's website redo by now. If you haven't go take a look. There was one improvement I found to be especially interesting as a homebrewer that I wanted to point out.

They've added ingredient, gravity, and bitterness information for all their beers. They even have CO2 info, which I've never seen a brewery disclose before. I like it when a brewery is willing to disclose this much information about their beers, it only increases my appreciation of them. (see also: Sierra Nevada) And it helps with recipe formulation if you know what commercial brewers are using in beers you enjoy. I'm not sure why they have the annoying date of birth thing at the beginning. It seems all the bigger craft breweries are doing it, probably to appease some whiny nanny somewhere.

Now, if anybody knows exactly what they mean by "dark sugar" please let me know...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Red Ale #3

This is my third attempt at brewing a hoppy red ale. The two previous versions were both pretty good. This recipe is pretty much the same as the first version except I reduced the amount of pale chocolate malt. I thought there was a little too much roast flavor in the previous versions. I originally started with the recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I want this to be a red ale with a hop forward flavor. I missed my mash temp way to the low side, resulting in a pretty low final gravity. I think I'll lower my target to 152° next time so I can keep it on the dry side. If I use the Wyeast 1450 again I might reduce the amount of Crystal a little as well, it does a nice job of accenting the malt flavors.

Color is a rich amber, pretty much what I want. Pretty clear too. The aroma is mostly malt, caramel, bread, and a little toast. Some citric overtones from the hops. Next time I want to add some dry hops to give it a little more hop aroma. The malt aromas carry through to the flavor. Toasty bread with a caramel flavor but not very sweet, thanks to the low FG. Finish is dry and smooth. Well balanced and easy to drink. Won't last long.

Expected OG: 1.055
Actual OG: 1.055
Expected FG: 1.015
Actual FG: 1.010
IBU: 45
Boil: 60 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 6.25 gallons
Final Volume: 5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 81.1%
ABV: 6.05%

10 lbs. Two-row Pale (Briess)
1 lbs. Crystal 40 (Briess)
8 oz. Victory (Briess)
4 oz. Crystal 120 (Briess)
2 oz. Pale Chocolate (Thomas Fawcett & Sons)

1.0 oz. Centennial (pellet 8.6% AA) @ 25 min.
1.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 5.0% AA) @ 10 min.
1.0 oz. Centennial (pellet 8.6% AA) @ 10 min.
1.0 oz. Cascade (pellet 5.0% AA) @ flame out
1.0 oz. Centennial (pellet 8.6% AA) @ flame out

Wyeast 1450 Denny's Favorite 50, 1 quart starter

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

Mash Schedule:
60 min @ 154° (4 gallons @ 168°)
20 min @ 168° (4 gallons @ 190°)
Should be about 6.5 gallons of sweet wort.

Brewed on 10/22/10 by myself.

10/21/12:30pm – made a one quart starter using 4 oz. DME.

Estimated mash water temps with help from

10:30am – Initial mash temp is around 145°. Grain temp was closer to 70°. added about 4 ½ cups of boiling water, still not as high a temp as I wanted. Ended up with a little over 6 gallons of wort, call it 6.25.
2:20pm – 1.055 on the money! Around 63% efficiency.
2:30pm – Pitched yeast at about 67°. 5 gallons on the nose!
Instead of the flame out hop addition I added them after the wort had cooled to about 120°, I read somewhere that you get better aroma than at flame out this way because there is less heat to drive off volatile aroma compounds. Some of the pellets never full dissolved, so I'm not sure if I got all the aroma from them, we'll see.

10/23/2010 :
10:00am - Fermentation is going strong. Should have used blow off, a little bit of yeast leaking out the top. Temp is around 68°.
2:00pm – added a blow off. Fermentation is still going strong. I wonder how low it will finish considering the mash temp was pretty low.

10/25/2010: Fermentation is starting to wind down a bit, temp seems to be holding around 68°.

12/3/10: Bottling day. 4.8 gal, 65°, 2 vol CO2 = 2.7 oz table sugar. 20 x 22 oz. + 5 x 24 oz. + 4 x 12 oz. = 4.75 gallons. FG was low, probably due to the low mash temps. Didn't smell as hoppy as I wanted it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Festivus

First a grievance then we'll move on to the the feats of (alcohol) strength...

My grievance: seasonal creep. I don't want to see Christmas displays in the summer (looking at you Hobby Lobby) and I really don't need to hear Christmas music until late December. What I really don't want is a Spring seasonal beer when it's still freezing outside. Apparently Boulevard has already released it's Irish Ale, which is billed as their Spring seasonal. I like the beer just fine, but come on, Christmas isn't even past yet and Winter is just getting started. Maybe you should call that your Winter seasonal or, you know, release it in the Spring. Moving on.

Last year's Festivus Ale was mostly a success. The only negative feedback I received was that the alcohol was a little strong ("it's like beer flavored vodka" Ouch!). So this year I tried to make it a little lighter (only 8.5%) and I brewed it earlier in the year so it would have a little more time to mellow. I also used less cane sugar this year which should help reduce the booziness. I really didn't want to use any cane sugar but my mash efficiency was so low I had to add some to get the gravity up. Next year I might try adding more caramel malt and or mashing a little higher to give it some more body and a slightly higher final gravity.

The beer pours a hazy, rich chestnut with a wispy tan foam. Aroma reminds me of figs and caramelized apples. A burst of noble hops from the Hallertauer and a hint of peppery esters. Flavor starts off with a slight sweetness that fades to a grainy cracker with herbal and pepper notes. Finish is slightly tart, like a granny smith apple, and dry. Mouth feel smooth and medium bodied with just enough carbonation.

Expected OG: 1.070
Actual OG: 1.066
Expected FG: 1.004
Actual FG: 1.001
IBU: 35
Boil: 130 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 7 gallons
Final Volume: 5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 98%
ABV: 8.5%

10 lbs. Pilsner (Rahr)
2 lbs. 10 oz. Munich (Weyermann)
12 oz. CaraMunich III (Weyermann)
8 oz. Cane Sugar
2 oz. Debittered Black Malt (Castle)

2.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ 115 min.
1.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ 5 min.
1.0 oz. Hallertauer (pellet 3.8% AA) @ Flame out
Wyeast 3711 French Saison

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

75 min @ 149˚ (19 qt. @ 164˚)
20 min @ 165˚ (16 qt. @ 185˚)
Hopefully I have about 7 gallons of sweet wort.

Brewed on 5/7/10 by myself.

5/7/ - Mash went fairly well. Was a little low at first, so I added about 1 ½ cups of boiling water to get it up over 150˚. I collected 7 gallons of wort. Had to boil a lot longer than I thought, my 75 minute hop addition turned into a 115 minutes. Missed my OG by a bit, added 8 oz. of table sugar to help make up the difference. Pitched yeast slurry around 8pm at around 70˚.

5/8 – Fermentation took off strong. Temp got up around 76˚.

6/10 – Bottling day. 4.8 gallons, 76˚, 2.5 volumes = 4.2 oz table sugar. 11 x 12oz. + 20 x 22oz. + 1 x 16oz. = 4.6 gallons.

6/29/10 – First sample bottle, aroma is real nice, spice from the hallertauer, some breadiness, a bit of light fruitiness from the yeast. Carbonation is about right, smooth and velvety in the mouth. A little rough around the edges, the alcohol is there but not harsh, spicy. Doesn't feel as dry as it is. Finish is crisp, herbal, spice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad

I got mine. Did you get yours?

One of my favorite beers was beers was released earlier this week. If you see any be sure to buy some and stash it away. This beer is lovely with a year or so of aging. They also make great Christmas presents.

A special note for the 2010 batch:
The 2010 edition is unique because, unlike previous batches, it is 100% barrel-aged. The length of aging time ranged from eight months to three years using a blend of first-use, second-use and third-use oak bourbon barrels. Because more barrels were combined to create this batch, the cherry tartness is slightly more pronounced than in prior years, contributing to a greater overall complexity and depth of flavor.

Some notes from a 2008 bottle I had back in May.

  • 02414 of 10630 Batch 2008-2
  • Clear deep mahogany color with a tan head that settles into a thin wispy film. 
  • Toffee. A little cherry. Some subdued vanilla/bourbon booziness. The sum aroma is better than its parts.
  • I really like the subtle cherry note that runs through the sip from begining to end. Dry, a little tart, a nice balance to the caramel/toffee sweetness.
  • The bourbon barrel flavors are nice and subdued, well blended with the other flavors.
  • No alcohol burn, you feel it more so than taste it. 
I wish I could buy cases of this.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hurricane Burner

I finally stepped up to a propane burner (Thanks Mom & Dad) so I can start brewing outside. The 60,000 BTU's make my brew days noticeably shorter. Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Year, Another Fail.

The Turd Birds unleashed another summer of stench (67 – 95, -169 run differential*) so of course I had to brew another batch of Turd Bird Ale. And just like last year I brewed like the Royals play. For some reason the yeast never finished fermenting during primary and waited until it was bottled to finish up. Maybe I didn't pitch enough yeast? The result was explosive, literally. I lost about eight bottles.

*I'm not even going to bother to recap the season, I stopped paying attention in July. The only thing you need to know is that the kids in the minors were awesome last year, lots of post-season awards. There is reason to be hopeful, as long as Moore doesn't find a way to screw it all up...

If you wait for the carbonation to dissipate, it's a pretty good beer. Creamy chocolate, bread crust, toffee, lots of yummy malt goodness going on in this one, too bad I screwed it up. Next year I'm brewing the same recipe, hopefully I get it right. Third times a charm, right? Maybe I'll brew it in the spring, just for practice (like spring training).

Ever wonder what twelve ounces of foam looks like?

Expected OG: 1.085
Actual OG: 1.075
Expected FG: 1.022
Actual FG: 1.023
IBU: 46
Boil: 90 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 7.0 gallons
Final Volume: 5.5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 68%
ABV: 7.28%

14 lbs. Maris Otter (Crisp)
1 lbs. 8 oz. Crystal 50 - 60 (Simpson's)
1 lbs. 8 oz. Brown Malt (Crisp)
8 oz. Coffee Malt (Simpson's)

2.5 oz. Kent Goldings (pellet 4.5% AA) @ 75 min.
0.5 oz. Kent Goldings (pellet 4.5% AA) @ 10 min.

Wyeast 1968 London ESB (Fuller's)

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

60 min. @ 154˚ (24.5 qt. @ 167˚)
20 min. @ 165˚ (12.25 qt. @ 180˚)

Brewed on 9/17/10 by myself.

9/16/12pm – made 1 quart starter using 4 oz. of DME.

Estimated mash water temps using this calculator.

9/17 – Mash in was more around 155˚-156˚ – pretty close to what I wanted. Grain temp was closer to 78. Sparge water could have been hotter, didn't get up over 160˚ like I should be.

1.075 – around 66%? If I had boiled it down to 5 gallons I'd be close to 1.085

Pitched yeast at 2:50pm at about 70˚.

10/14 – Bottling day. 75˚ + 4.7 gallons + 2 volumes of CO2 = 2.9 oz table sugar.
28 x 12oz. + 6 x 22oz. + 6 x 24oz. + 1 x 500ml = 5.05 gallons.
Sample tasted pretty good, creamy chocolate, a little coffee. Should be a good one.

11/10 – Some how I over carbonated, I suspect that the FG has dropped below 1.023. Once the carb settles down a bit it tastes pretty good.

11/20 – I measured the gravity and it was lower, around 1.017. No wonder bottles were exploding. I should have known it wasn't done at only 68% AA.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Amarillo IPA

After abut five months of no home brew I was really eager to brew up a nice hoppy IPA. I decided to go with all Amarillo hops again. I should really branch out and try some different hops in my IPA but the wife and I both love the grapefruit blast from Amarillo hops, so delicious.

Bright cooper color with a touch of haze from the dry hopping. Fluffy white head that settles into a thin film, slight lacing on the side. Aroma is a big blast of juicy grapefruity citrus goodness. In the mouth, more grapefruit, a little resin, and something a bit sweet, kinda like sweet tea. Finish is a little chalky, dry. Carbonation is spot on. Bitterness is a bit bracing but not overpowering. I've brewed a similar extract recipe twice in the past and I can see myself repeating this recipe at least once a year.

Expected OG: 1.065
Actual OG: 1.063
Expected FG: 1.012
Actual FG: 1.009
IBU: 77
Boil: 90 minutes
Pre-boil Volume: 7.0 gallons
Final Volume: 5.5 gallons
Apparent Attenuation: 86.7%
ABV: 7.33%

13 lbs. Two-row Pale (Briess)
8 oz. Carapils (Briess)
8 oz. Caramel 20 (Briess)

1.5 oz. Amarillo (pellet 8.6% AA) @ 75 min.
1.0 oz. Amarillo (pellet 8.6% AA) @ 20 min.
1.0 oz. Amarillo (pellet 8.6% AA) @ 10 min.
1.5 oz. Amarillo (pellet 8.6% AA) @ Flame Out
3.0 oz. Amarillo (pellet 8.6% AA) Dry Hop

2 Packets Safale US-05

Spring water from Welpman Spring in Morgan County, MO

60 min @ 152° (19.5 qt. @ 167°)
20 min @ 165° (15.5 qt. @ 190°)


Brewed on 9/10/10 by myself.

9/10/10am – mash was a little hotter than I wanted, around 154-155˚ should be ok.

9/10/5pm – pitched yeast at around 72˚ a little warm, put the better bottle in the old kettle and filled with cold water.

9/11 – everything seems to be going well. I'm using frozen bottles of water to keep the fermentation temps down around 70.

9/17/1pm – added dry hops, already smells hoptastic.

9/30/2010 – Bottling Day. 4.6 gal + 74˚ + 1.9 volumes = 2.6 ounces of table sugar. Ended up with 19 x 22 oz. + 6 x 12 oz. + 2 x 500 ml = 4.09 gallons. A little less than I was expecting, good thing I aimed low on the carbonation.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

I'm going to try and get this blog going again.

First a quick recap of what I've done during my hiatus.

Added a new brew kettle:

So far this year I've managed to brew eight beers.
  • Twelve Pound Red 1.0 - A hoppy red ale using Centennial and Cascade hops. Pretty good beer with a nice balance between the hops and the malt.

  • Collison Stout - My second attempt at a dry stout. This time I tried to use nottingham yeast and it ended up under attenuated and a little on the sweet side. Pretty decent overall, but not what I was trying for.
  • Twelve Pound Red 2.0 - Went with Simcoe and Amarillo this time. Also nice.
  • Saison - Bunch of Pilsner, touch of wheat, a mix of Kent Golding, Saaz, and Styrian Golding, and some 3711 French Saison yeast. Nice.
  • Peter's Pale Ale - alot like the first Robot Pale Ale, brewed to celebrate my son's first birthday. It was well received. (I should take better tasting notes)
  • Festivus Ale - I'll do a separate post on this with tasting notes later in the year...
  • Citra Xtra Pale Ale - A really delicious hoppy pale ale.

  • Amarillo IPA -  Separate post coming soon...