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.