Sunday, February 22, 2009

No Gas Smoke Beer

My MO for this year is to start to develop some of the stuff that worked well last year, but I also want to build some stuff that I can work on for next year. My brewing buddy Ted did a smoke beer last year that was absolutely fantastic, and it was definitely the inspiration for this one, with it's smooth forward smoke flavor and beautiful red hue:

No Gas Rauchbier-

German Pilsner- 3 lbs
Dark Munich- 3 lbs
Rauch Malt- 3 lbs
Cara Pils- 8 oz
Black Patent- 1 oz

Mt Hood- 7/8 oz- 90ish minutes
Crystal- .5 oz- 10 minutes

Wyeast Bavarian Lager 2206- 1000 ml starter

OG Target/Actual-

I had been wanting to do a rauchbier, but I wanted an even amount of smoke in a medium sized beer. Something you drink several of because it's a strong taste but still refreshing. The hops are low alpha acid noble varietals. They should provide some nice bitterness, but I didn't want much since the star of this beer was supposed to be the malt. To that end, I picked a Bavarian Lager yeast, which is supposed to highlight malts. I'm planning on using the yeast cake in another version of the Darkish American Lager No. 2.

So it was a real cold brew day (somewhere in the 20's), and to keep the gas flowing I had to dunk my propane tank in hot water. And then about ten minutes into what was supposed to be a 90 minute boil, I realized I was about to completely run out. I dropped everything, ran to the gas station and got some more. My boil stopped for about 15 minutes as near as I can tell, since on my trip to get gas, I zeroed out my stopwatch. By the time I got the gas going again, my wort was about 160 degrees.

At that point, this beer was basically screwed in the sense that it was not going to end up with what I had wanted. I decided once it got boiling again to just boil another 60 minutes, and call it a beer. I had a lot more evaporation than I had anticipated, so I ended up with a much higher gravity and a lot less beer. Something like 4 gallons or so.

Oh well. As I always tell my dad when he's having issues with his beers: the worst case scenario is you made beer. I'm thinking once it's in the bottle, I'll lay it down for a while, as the higher gravity with the smoke is going to need some time to condition.

I also now have two propane tanks, so I'll never run out again. Now I just need it to stay cold long enough to do another lager before spring arrives.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Darkish American Lager No. 1

I hadn't brewed in a month, mostly due to a crazy work schedule, and it was time to get this show back on the road.

The recipe-

Pilsner- 4 pounds
Vienna Malt- 4 pounds
CaraVienna- 4 ounces
CaraPils- 4 ounces
Crystal Malt 60L- 4 ounces
Black Patent Malt- 1 ounce

Nugget (11)- .75 ounces- 60 minutes
Vanguard (4.6)- .875 ounces- 10 minutes

Wyeast 2007 Pilsner- 1400 ml starter

149/167- hot water infusions- missed this by 1 degree

Gravity Target/Actual-

My initial idea with this beer was to make an orange one. It struck me that orange as a taste is probably not all that hot in beer form (truth be told, "orange drink" was horrendous out of those leaky McDonalds cups when we were kids). I wanted some depth of flavor, but I didn't want grain soup, so while there are a few different character grains in it, they are low in weight (the Patent Malt was just there to darken it a little. And it does not take much. I think it was something like 2 tablespoons worth to get the color I wanted). The Nugget hops will give it an assertive forward bitterness, but the late Vanguard addition should make smooth too. Balance. I would have called it Balance Beer, but that sounds like maybe a manufacturer of energy bars for ladies have gone into the beer business. You know, like, it's beer, but it helps fight Osteoperosis. Maybe you could have a bunch of women sitting in those inexplicable Viagra commercial bathtubs in the middle of some far off field drinking them and laughing together. Or maybe a bunch of women in one bathtub. At least it would be a fun commercial anyway.

Super close on my temps, super close on my gravity, blah blah blah. It was nice to brew again. I'm glad my technique is consistent. My beers this year are going to be so much better. I can't wait to crack the first one of these open sometime late in March.