Saturday, April 25, 2009

American Hops, American IPA

I really started my serious brewing last year in the midst of a 500 year hop shortage. As such, I felt like it was a little odd to try brewing an India Pale Ale, because hops were in short supply, and really expensive.

I ordered some some supercharged American hop varietals recently from Freshops, and it seemed like it was time to let loose with a hop bomb.


Marris Otter- 7 pounds
Two row Pale Malt- 2 pounds
Flaked Barley- 8 ounces
Crystal 40- 8 ounces
Victory Malt- 8 ounces

Chinook- .5 ounces- 60 minutes
Simcoe- 1 ounce- 15 minutes
Simcoe- .75 ounces- 5 minutes
Simcoe- 1 ounce- Dry hopping in the secondary

Wyeast 1056- American Ale yeast- 1200 mL starter- pitched right off the stir plate

153/167 mash out- hot water infusion

Gravity- Target/Actual/Final/ABV

I had written this recipe up last week, but I completely changed it around after a conversation with Ted about using hops which blew my beady little brain as to how I use hops. The Chinook hops are a classic American IPA hop. The Simcoe hops instantly became my favorite variety when I popped open the bag. They smelled so fresh and fruity, almost with peach undertones. The grain bill is a larger sized version of what I made a few weeks ago for a pale ale. I added some Victory malt to give the beer a bit more malt flavor. I've been reading a lot of Randy Mosher lately, and he's an advocate of getting most of your color from the base malts for the Pale Ale family, so Marris Otter is the backbone of this one.

As far as brewing goes, I could not have asked for a better day to make beer. The weather was absolutely beautiful, and I was able to finish cleanup right before the rain started. Great day, and hopefully a great beer.

Coming up are my favorites to brew: Belgian beers. I'm so excited to be getting back into the Dubbels, Saisons, and start using the crazy expressive Belgian yeasts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Red Rye

I've been doing quite a bit of experimentation with my beers since going to all grain brewing, but I've been hoping to do some more work on some older recipes. Specifically, I had been thinking about having a sort of Haus Bier. Something that I've always got a few bottles of, that's good, that if people stop by, I know I can bust this out, and it'll be a crowd pleaser. My Rye Ale last year was definitely a candidate. It was really smooth, not too assertive, so it would work for beer nerds and BMC fans alike.

Red Rye-

Two row pale malt- 5 lbs
Rye Malt- 3 lbs
Crystal Malt 60L- 8 ounces
Black Patent- 3 ounces
Rice hulls- 1 pound

Willammette- 1 oz- 60 minutes
Noble hop mix- ?oz- a few minutes

Wyeast 1056 American Ale- pitched on to the yeast cake from the yet to be named Pale Ale from the week before

98/125/151/157- hot water infusions- the 157 was supposed to be a mash out, but I just ran out of room in my cooler. 5 gallons is definitely undersized. I may need to upgrade this year.

Gravity- target/actual/final/ABV

This is pretty much the same recipe as last year, plus a little Crystal malt and some Patent for color (this seems to be the year of Black Patent color additions). As far as the hops go, I feel like when I'm brewing something like a Rye, I want the malt to really be showcased, and the hops should be in the background. The Willammette addition should give it a complementary bitterness. The Noble hop melange is a mix of Mt Hood and Crystal that I had only very small amounts of, so I was looking to get rid of them. I was a little frustrated by the mash problems I had earlier, so they were really more of an afterthought.

Needless to say failing to hit my mash out temp turned the mash into a five gallon cooler full of cement. I vorlaufed, started the runoff, and I don't think I got to half a gallon before the mash just set completely. It was back to transferring the mash to a bucket, so it turned into a long and tremendously messy brew day. The rice hulls didn't do a damn bit of good as far as I could tell, and I think the 98 degree rest was far to thick to do any good. Anyway. While this beer is going to be a good one, the thought of brewing it every four to six weeks as a Haus Bier is just a little more work than I think I could take. I may try a different iteration later this year with flaked rye instead. I'll have to research what sort of differences that would make.

Pitching on to the yeast cake was explosive. So explosive, in fact, that in the week it took me to get around the writing this, it's already done with primary fermentation. I racked it yesterday.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Last Minute No Recipe Pale Ale

I had planned on doing a retooled version of my Rye Pale Ale this weekend, but had a last minute change of plans. I got a call from Ted Saturday morning inviting me to be part of an event based around building arcade games from reclaimed materials. Being a part of a fun event like that was too good to pass up.

The invite itself presented a couple of problems. I would have four weeks to brew, ferment, condition and carbonate a beer. This would mean kegging it. The recipe I had planned on brewing was not the sort of beer that would be ready that quick. I was no where near any brewing software to come up with a recipe. So, I walked into Brew and Grow, grabbed a bunch of grain, and sort of made it up on the spot.

LMNR Pale Ale-

Maris Otter- 7 pounds
Flaked Barley- 1 pound
Crystal Malt 60L- 8 ounces
Crystal Malt 90L- 2 ounces

Fuggles- 1.25 ounces- 60 minutes
Wilammette- .5 ounces- 13 minutes
Willamette- .5 ounces- Knockout

Wyeast 1056 American Ale- I had a yeast cake from my 1 gallon barleywine. I made a 1000 ml starter to help roust the yeast, since this needed to take off right quick. I ended up pitching this as the just as the krauesen was on the way down, which, as I understand it, is the best time to pitch into your brew.

155/172- hot water infusions

Gravity target/actual

As I was first considering this recipe in the car, I was thinking something like a bitter might be good. But Ted had just brewed one, and I didn't want to serve the exact same thing as him at this event. So, a smallish Pale Ale would be in order.

This should be a really good beer. I've been reading Extreme Brewing, and Randy Mosher recommends getting as much color from your base malts as you can, hence hte Marris Otter, which I've never used before. The high mash temp is going to make it feel like a bigger beer than it really is, the flaked barley should make it look like a bigger beer than it is, and the quick cooling time (I went from knockout to under 100 degrees in about 10 minutes) should make the hoppiness really pop. The yeast I was using tends to work with what you give it, so I think I made a real nice clean flavored pale ale. I was a little high on the OG, which has to do with evaporation more than anything. That's something that I'd like to get a little better at predicting this year. All in all, close enough.

The brew day itself was miserable. It was rainy, cold, and starting to snow as I was finishing. I usually do most of my clean up as the beer is chilling, but today I was not in the damn mood to plunge my hands into cold waste water in a 39 degree drizzle. It makes me wish the Illinois Lottery would have pity on me and see fit to award me enough money to build a proper brew shack.

As far as having it ready on time is concerned, I saw the first bubbles in the blowoff bucket about 20 minutes after pitching the yeast. That is a definite good sign.