Sunday, December 25, 2011

Festivus FoS 2010 revisit

We broke out two of the last bottles of last year's Feats of Strength. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to make a batch this year but this batch is still quite nice.

Appearance: It pours with a very thick head which takes a while to settle. It's slightly off white and quite creamy settling with some nice lacing. The beer is slightly cloudy from the spices and a nice nut brown.

Aroma: There's a slight spice to the nose but it's not very pronounced probably due to the beer being fridge temperature. More pronounced is the sweet fruit: raisins, candied plum, and a little brandy alcohol. This really smells like a well aged fruit change.

Flavor: The palette hits with a spicy winter warmer character and finishes with some breadiness. It's much nicer than I remember last year. Checking my notes from last December, the things I don't like about it now are the same as last year but there's definitely some improvement, it's more rounded now.

Mouthfeel: It's still a little dry and thin and could use some more dextrin to boost the body.

Overall: I think this had improved over the last year and I'm glad there are a couple of bottles left for next year.

I haven't posted or brewed in quite a while as it's been sort of an overwhelming end of the year. I hit up a lot of breweries this year and I'm planning on putting together a year in beer summary sometime in the next week so keep an eye out.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sierra Nevada Tumbler and The Kaiser

I decided to pick  up a six pack of Sierra Nevada's fall offering, a brown ale called Tumbler.

Pours with a thick off-white head that stays around for quite a while. Dark amber to light brown and fairly clear when held to the light.

Roasty malt nose with some raisin. There's a little grassy hop but not too much.

Raisin and molasses with some biscuit in the back end. A fair amount of bitterness for a brown (it's definitely an American variant).

Medium body with a little astringency. Not entirely unpleasant. Not as thick as some browns I've had (notably Ithaca's Nut Brown).

Not a bad beer but not my favorite brown. It could stand to have less hop bitterness which would let the malt shine a bit more. Pretty low alcohol makes this a decent session beer for cool fall afternoons. Not as impressive as the Torpedo and Kellerweiss but I'd drink it again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Update on the 60/- heather ale

Bottled the heather ale tonight. Got 30 x 12oz, 2 x 1L and 1 x 1pt bottles. FG rang in at 1.008 with an estimate ABV of 3.51% so technically it's a 70/- since the cutoff for 60/- is 3.5% but I won't tell if you won't. It tasted a bit thin but that's to be expected with an uncarbonated session beer. There's some bitterness from the hops and heather but no discernible hop flavor. It's a little malty with a slight breadiness to the nose and a hint of floral from the heather. I'll be interested to see how it is with some bubbles.

I also tasted the partiweiss again tonight and it has mellowed a bit. I used my shallow, open top chalice this time. The sourness has mellowed a bit and is quite pleasant. There's still a little rubber in the after taste but I think it will fade in a little while. I'm feeling more comfortable submitting this one for judging as well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Berlinergyle tasting notes

It's finally time to post tasting notes on the Berlinergyle. I've already had quite a few of these but I tried to review without any preconceptions.

The timing corresponds nicely with this month's beer blogger session.

Appearance: Straw yellow with white head that fades quickly; somewhat cloudy.

Aroma: A bright lactic sourness with some green apple and a little lemon. No hop in the nose at all. Also, there's no brett detectable even though I put some dregs from a Jolly Pumpkin in the primary. I think the lacto out competed just about everything else pretty early on.

Taste: Slightly sharp acidity with a bit of breadiness. Some acetic character but not so much as to be unpleasant. No bitterness detectable and no real maltiness.

Mouthfeel: This is a very light beer. The acid and high carbonation keep it very light and refreshing. The acid isn't strong enough to cause any tannin-like roughness in the mouth.

Overall: This beer had really mellowed since the initial tasting and is quite refreshing with a noticeable carbonation. I don't think it needs any syrup to balance the sour unlike the first bottle I drank. This tastes a little like a lemonade wine cooler but with a little more complexity. I would have liked a little brett sweetness but I'm not getting any after a few months so I think it's a lost cause on this batch. A decent beer for my first attempt at a sour and my first partigyle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heather ale brewday

As the Dayton DRAFT Brewfest 2011 draws near it's time to put together some entries. I'm planning on submitting the two wheats from the partigyle I did a few months ago and the coffee porter from last year. I'm undecided if I want to enter last year's Festivus since I'm running low. I decided to brew one more batch while there was time and went with my wife's request for a heather ale.

The beer is a Scottish 60/- session beer with two additions of heather for some bitterness and aroma as well as a little Fuggles at 60 minutes for some added bitterness. It's a Maris Otter base with some unmalted, roasted barley for color and added breadiness. I decided to break one of the rules for traditional Scottish ales and add a small amount of peated malt for a little smokiness. Normally the slight smokey flavor is supposed to come entirely from the yeast but that tends to require a bit of aging and I'm a little short on time so I cheated a little. Other than that, the numbers are right on par for the style with the style guidelines. The OG was right at the top end, coming in at 1.035. If it finishes a little high, I enter it as a 70/- instead and still be on style.

The day went reasonably smoothly. I was initially a little high on mash temp so I added a little cold water to adjust. It went down a little far and I was under at the 30 minute mark so I tried to bump it with a hot water addition. That wasn't quite enough so I pulled a small decoction which did the trick and might help the maltiness of the beer as well. No major boil overs or other boil problems. 3/4 oz Fuggles at 60 minutes, 1 oz heather at 30 minutes and 1 oz heather at flame out. I forgot to add Irish moss which would help clarity for the competition but I don't think it will be too much of a negative.

I came in a little under target OG which I'd normally ignore and just have a slightly weaker brew but I was just out of style so I added some DME to boost the gravity.

The wort was bubbling away and holding at a good fermentation temperature in less than 24 hours. I expect it will be done fermenting within a week and ready to go into bottles.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parti-weiss bottling

I'm finally getting around to bottling the strong beer from my partigyle experiment. The gravity dropped another 7 points over the summer for an estimated ABV of 6.8%. When I opened the fermenter there was a pelicle of some sort so it may have gotten an infection; hopefully it's the funky stuff from the little beer and not a nasty beer killing bug. Any initial tasting shows a slightly alcoholic nose with some honey notes and what could be a little bret funk so I'm thinking it will turn out ok. Mouth feel is heavy but with no carbonation that's to be expected. No strong off flavors with hints of breadiness. It's mostly more honey.

I bottled with 3oz of table sugar and got 26 bottles out of it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bottling the berlinerguile

I finally bottled the small beer from my wheat partiguile. 37 twelve ounce bottles went in with about five punches of table sugar, I'm hoping for nearly 3.5 volumes. The final gravity was 1.008 for an AA of 75% and an ABV of 3.2%.

Initial impressions show some rubber hose and a little DMS but both should clear. It is very sour and I didn't have any rasberry or woodruff syrup but a touch of mint syrup calmed the acid and made for a tasty glass.

I'm thinking of bottling the big beer next weekend and maybe there will be enough carbonation for a real tasting of the berliner.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Derby day and the BBC

Yesterday I went to my first Derby day in the infield. An interesting experience to say the least. I did manage to get some Bourbon past security in a booze sandwich.

After to Derby, we headed into Louisville for some dinner and ended up at the Bluegrass Brewing Company. Jenn had her favorite; the nut brown and I had one of their seasonals, a dark saison which was quite nice. Slightly malty with just a hint of sour and bret funk. A little sweater and sturdier than a standard saison and quite a nice drink.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brew day results

So things didn't go quite as planned. I winged it more than I usually do (copious amounts of homebrew probably helped with this). I didn't hit my mash temps as well as I should. The extra grain (20 pounds) through me for a loop and I should have used a calculator instead of intuition. The result is I mashed at a lower temp than I wanted with a thinner mash for less time so efficiency really went down the tubes. I ended up with a 1.065 big beer with only about 4 gallons. The small beer was 1.033 which was pretty much on target but was a little short too at about 4.5 gallons.

The mash kept setting in the 144 temp range and I kept pulling some small decoctions to try and get the temp up and eventually got it to 152. I didn't calculate efficiency as I'm a little afraid of the number but that's ok, we'll see how it goes.

I ended up boiling 0.5oz of Hallertauer (4.7%AA) in a 15 minute decoction to give it a few IBUs. The big beer got the other 0.5oz for a 60 minute boil.

The big beer  got a packet of US-05 and the small got a lacto starter I made with a quart of apple juice and the dregs from a Jolly Pumpkin. Tomorrow night if things look good, I'll add some yeast.

Since I didn't work up a formal recipe I won't post one but I did end up with 50/50 malted wheat and pilsner. The small amount of hops and nothing else went in except for the bugs.

For the lead up to the brew day, read this post.

*** UPDATE April 15 ***
After a couple of days in the kitchen, the temperatures were getting a little on the high side (78F) and I was getting some sulfur smells so I moved both fermenters to the basement. Today I checked on things; both are still slowly bubbling the air locks and the temperature is holding about 61F (ideal range for both yeasts is 59F-75F). The big beer is reading 1.020 (apparent attenuation at 68%) and the little beer is about at 1.010 (apparent attenuation at 69%). The big beer was reasonably tasty with some noticeable alcohol and still a fair amount of residual sweetness. The small beer was a little thin tasting but was getting a pleasant lactic sourness. There was definitely some sulfur taste but nothing that shouldn't disappear with a couple of months lagering.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Berliner-gyle This Weekend

Ok, I'm doing the Berliner-gyle this weekend. (anybody want to come to a brew day?) Here's the recipes I worked. Since this is a partigyle I'm guessing at some numbers so I expect to adjust a lot during the brew day. Here's my starting point.

10 lbs German Pilsner
14 lbs German Wheat Malt

Mash in at 133°F for 15 a minute protein rest then add an infusion up to 151°F for a mixed beta/alpha rest for 30 minutes. Pull a decoction and add 0.5oz Hallertauer and boil for 15 minutes. Add the decoction to mash out at 168°F.

First runnings of 6 gallons or so to hit a target post boil OG of 1.084-1.090. I'm guessing a first runnings efficiency of 46% but this is a total guess so we'll see how it goes. This boils for 60 minutes with an ounce of Hallertauer (although I might substitute something I've got in the freezer). This cools and goes in a fermenter with a packet of Safbrew WB-06. Ferment this complete in the primary and bottle age for a few months.

Second runnings of 6.5 gallons with a target post boild OG of 1.032 and an estimated efficiency of 23%. Since this was mash hopped to about 3 IBU and is a no-boil it gets no additions and heads to the brew pot for a 180°F sanitation for 15 minutes or so. Into a fermentor with some US-05 for a few days then into a secondary with a lacto starter to age for a couple of months. Bottle and age further.

Monday, March 14, 2011


It's been a little while since I've posted. Winter has been cold and brewing has ceased but now things are warming up and it's time to plan some summer beers. I've wanted to brew a Berliner weiss for a while but I'm also planning on having a brew party where we were going to do a parti-gyle. So, I'm thinking about doing a 2 batch parti-gyle and making a doppleweiss and a Berliner weiss.

Here's my thought, 50% malted wheat and 50% pils. I'll do a single decoction starting with a low beta rest then decocting up to 158 or so for a short alpha rest to try and give a little body. I'll add a small amount of German hops in the decoction for a little bitterness. I"ll do a 1/2-1/2 split and shoot for a post boil target on the big beer in the 1.090-1.100 range and a run off target on the small beer of 1.028 or so.

The little beer goes right into a fermenter with either a WLP630 starter (if I can get it at the store) or a good apple juice starter of lacto and some US-05. Throw in a Jolly Pumpkin dregs for a little brett to balance the lacto and start fermenting.

Meanwhile, boil the big beer and add some more bittering hops. That goes in with a heffeweizen or Bavarian wheat yeast (whichever is available at Brewtensils).

The Berliner gets a short primary and a secondary for a couple of months in the bottles. The dobbleweiss get a longer primary to make sure it ferments out completely, then a few weeks in bottles to condition. I'm thinking of dry hopping a couple of bottles of each with some citra as an experiment.