Saturday, September 13, 2014

Back in Berliner

I saved a few bottles of the Berlinergyle from a while back and cracked one today just for the heck of it. Overall, it's aged well and continued to develop over time. It certainly has not faded.

Appearance: Very light straw and a little cloudy with a thick head that fades quickly.

Aroma: Strong lactic sourness and slightly sweet. Cooked stone fruit and floral notes. It's sharp but not unpleasant.

Flavor: Not as strong as the aroma leads me to believe but still noticeable lemonade sourness. No detectable hops and almost no maltiness but there's a little graininess in the tail. Citrus fruit dominates with an occasional chemical note in the tail but I can't quite place it, maybe a little rubber so probably a few off phenols in there still.

Mouthfeel: Quite light but it does stick a little to the tongue. Lively carbonation dances on the tongue.

Finish: Medium finish which is intensely lemony especially on the lips and tongue.

Overall: Glad this has lasted. I might bring a bottle to a small homebrew contest next week. Probably won't appeal to most but I quite like it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Bob's Best Bitter

Well, it's been quite a busy year, and that means not a lot of brewing. A contest at work spurred me into making a quick bitter. I'm rather happy with it too.

I cracked the first bottle after a week conditioning, here's the result.

Appearance: Light golden to amber. Quite clear despite a little yeast kicked up during the pour. Thin head falling quickly but I expect a little more with the roasted barley.

Aroma: Not much here but it's still a little under carbonated. Spicy hop aroma from the fuggles. A little breadiness and some caramel or vanilla warm sweetness. The phenols are probably from a high fermentation temperature but they are slight and add a nice subdued sweetness to the nose without overwhelming.

Flavor: Definitely some spicy and slightly resinous hop in the tail but the initial impression is caramel. I'm getting a little bit of a resin/chemical flavor that could be from the smoked malt although I suspect the caramel is the predominant contribution from that ingredient. Balance tips to the bitter side of the scale.

Mouthfeel: More full bodied than you'd expect from the low alcohol which is what I was going for with the grain bill. I nice creamy smoothness that reminds you a little of a dry Irish stout but it's more of a memory than a real impression. Carbonation is low, but again, it's only been conditioning for a week. I don't expect high carbonation but I suspect there will be a bit more in the coming weeks.

Finish: Fairly long linger on the hop which makes this a good beer to drink slowly. Coupled with the low alcohol, I expect I could finish 5 or 6 in a long session without any sign of a hangover the next
day.

General Impression: I'm rather happy with this one. I'm a little rusty these days and I've been doing crazy beers to it's nice to have a easy to brew, east to drink beer for a change.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fresh Hop IPA 2013


After a few years of trying, I've finally managed to get a good hob yield so I brewed a fresh hop IPA with the hops. I'm not entirely sure what I used as I don't remember which plants survived but I believe this is mostly cascade with some fuggles. The recipe is simple, 12 lbs US 2-row, 1 lb 20L crystal, and 1 lb flaked wheat for some head retention. Mashed at about 151°F for just over an hour. I did a brew in a bag this time; about the largest I can handle and just enough for a 5 gal batch.
I boiled for an hour with 1.1 oz of Chinook pellets at 12.1% AA for bittering then at flame out I added some Irish moss to help with clarity and 8.7 oz of my fresh hops. Chilled and pitched US-05 then fermented for about 2 weeks. OG came in at 1.062, a hair under my expected 1.066 but good enough. I ended up with 4 gallons in the fermenter. One of these days I'll learn to boil with more because I always come up short but can't top up without dropping OG.

Of course, I couldn't let the extra hops go to waste so I had a nice pour over with a tasty craft pale ale from Widmer Brothers.

The beer has only been in bottles for about a week but it's been warm so I decided to give it a shot. Carbonation is a hair low as expected but pretty good overall.

A: Slightly cloudy cider colored. A small head that falls fairly quickly. I expect something larger with the wheat but it's still under carbonated so that might change in the weeks to come.

S: Spicy with a hint of citrus rind. There's a slightly sweet malt but not too much. The hops are clean and mellow, not overpowering.


T: A little grassy with the fresh hops with a mild astringency on the palette. There's some brightness like a slightly lemon flavored iced tea. Malt is caramel flavored and subdued. Mouthfeel is medium with a little sugary thickness from the 1.009 finish.

O: Not too bad. I wish I had caught the hops a few days earlier to cut back on the grass flavor. If I had, I could have used some more for a massive dry hop but they were too far gone by that point. I'm pretty pleased overall. There's enough body to hold up to the cool autumn nights without being heavy.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More kefir experiments

Right now I'm mashing my next kefir experiment, a kefir and yeast fermented sweet stout. I'm also drinking the last of the kefir lambics so I figured I'd review.

Aroma:

Definitely getting some wheat in the nose along with a slight spiciness likely from the Saaz (even though it was well aged and boiled for a while). There's a little cooked fruit in the background, cherry-like. I might be getting a small amount of DMS like sweetness. Overall, the aroma is quite subdued.

Appearance:

While not super cold, I did refrigerate for and hour or so. Despite this, there was a huge pop when I cracked the top. I'm glad this was the end of the batch so the bottle fill was a little low so there was no mess.
A thin white head with large bubbles rapidly dissipates but this isn't surprising for a funky/sour beer.
Deep golden color, almost brassy with a slight haze.

Flavor:

A bit harsh and biting on the front end like a rye ale. There's a little solvent flavor when I aerate, perhaps some fusels were created during the long bottle conditioning. Quite dry with minimal hop flavor. It's also a bit vegetal but not overly so. So real sourness, just hints of it in the background. Quite disappointing.

Mouthfeel:

Despite the pop when I opened it, the carbonation isn't particularly high. The wheat is boosting the body leaving it with a medium body that hangs on your palette just long enough.

Overall:

Still disappointed there's really no sour but I hold out hopes for the sweet stout. That said, this isn't a terrible beer. If I had another six pack, I'd finish it off but it's not a re-brew batch.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Westvleteren 12

Yes! I got a bottle thanks to a friend who agreed to a swap. So, without further ado, here's the skinny.

Appearance: An off white head that hangs on for ages. The body is a milk chocolate brown.

Smell: Malt forward with dates, raisin, caramel, grapes, sherry, and cooked cherries. Very little hop in the nose.

Taste: Very complex malt flavors with a balanced hop bitterness. There's a little toastiness to complement the same caramel luciousness in the nose.

Mouthfeel: While there is a little thickness, it's surprisingly light for a 10.5% beer, no doubt due to lots of candi sugars. There's a little tickle of carbonation but it isn't particularly high for a Beligian.

Overall: A wonderful complexity of cooked fruits and a perfect balance of malt and hops shows me why this beer is so often rated as one of the best in the world. That said, it's a bit expensive to have more than once or twice unless I lived nearby the Abbey and could get it with less hassle. But don't misunderstand me, I really enjoyed this beer. 97/100

Friday, September 7, 2012

Houston, We Have Sour

I finally have some positive results from the kefir lambic experiment. I just have a bottle of the control and one of the kefir version.

As a reminder, I brewed with a pretty standard lambic grist and split the batch. Half was fermented with US-05 until stable at about 1.022 then I added some kefir grains. There was no noticeable drop in gravity after another few days so I bottled. The second half was fermented entirely with kefir and settled at the same 1.022. After a couple of weeks in the bottle the control had no sour and light carbonation. The kefir version was almost completely flat. Both were a bit syrupy and had a little rubberyness but were ok other than that.

It's been a few more weeks. The control gushed at room temperature and left a thick, firm head. It had cleaned up in flavor a bit, almost mo band aid present except a very small amount at the tail of the glass. It still wasn't sour but wasn't sugary either. Not a bad beer actually.

Kefir from today
So I poured a bottle of the kefir. Not as carbonated as the control but it still had a tight head which dropped down after a couple of minutes. The aroma is quite a bit more complex than the control. Bready with noticeable stone fruit; it reminds me of a warm bun with apricot preserves. The wheat is at the forefront of the flavor too but there's a hint of a smooth lactic sour hiding in there. I wouldn't call puckery, much more subtle and quite pleasant. It's almost a sweat and sour candy sort of a flavor. I've got one more bottle of the kefir version. I think I'll cellar it for another few months and see how it turns out. This gives me hope for the technique. I still think I'll do a milk stout base next time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Great Experiment

A few weeks ago I got some kefir grains and I've been really enjoying making my own kefir. The smooth sourness and wonderful flavors made me wonder about brewing with kefir grains so I launched the grand experiment. I'm brewing a small batch tonight for part 1 of the experiment. The grain bill is classic lambic, nothing too crazy. I'm going to split the batch in two and start one with US-05 then finish with kefir grains. The second half gets all kefir grain fermentation. I'm hoping for something lambic like. Batch two will be a similar experiment with a milk stout grain bill.

1lb Belgian pilsen malt
12oz US torrified red wheat
2oz Belgian aromatic
0.2oz aged Saaz

I did a 75 minute BIAB mash at about 152-154°F for a pre-boil gravity of 1.046. (84.5% efficiency...pretty standard for a small batch BIAB for me). I boiled for 60 minutes with the hops in for the full time (and a pinch of irish moss for the last 10 minutes or so). I had some hops in the freezer from quite some time ago (at least a year). It was mostly Saaz but probably had a little of something else mixed in. Chilled in the sink to about 70°F then split to two growlers. OG is 1.054. Pitched 1g of US-05 in one container and 0.5oz of rinsed kefir grains in the other.

UPDATE:
I checked this morning and the yeast half is fermenting nicely. The kefir portion has pushed the water through the airlock with an occasional bubble so it seems to be doing ok although it's starting out slowly.

UPDATE 2:
On Monday evening the yeast half had slowed significantly so I took a gravity reading. At 1.021 it seemed mostly finished (40% unmalted wheat and a low mash temp leaves lots of unfermentables). I racked to a secondary and pitched 0.5oz of lightly washed kefir grains. The kefir only half is fermenting fairly well now. Not a full on yeast fermentation but a couple of bubbles a second.

UPDATE 3:
The kefir half had slowed and cleared by Wednesday evening. The gravity is at 1.022 which is essentially the same as the yeast half. There's not any sourness but I didn't compare the two. The estimated FG for the batch is 1.013 so there may be room to drop still but it might need brett to get the rest of the way. I'll give them a few more days and see if it's steady then do a comparison. I'm thinking I might need to move on to experiment 2, a milk stout. Maybe the addition of lactose will give the kefir something more to chew on.