Archive for the ‘Homebrewing’ Category

The brew: American IPA part II.

The last IPA turned out well, or at least, it would have turned out well. Thanks to work and life (yet again!) I was not able to get the batch into the keg until almost 4 weeks into the primary! Fortunately, the yeast were healthy enough to not give way to autolysis and those wonderful flavors that come with. In fact, it was still a very drinkable batch. My only issue was that it seemed that a majority of the hops dropped out, leaving me with an overly bitter and unbalanced ale. Perhaps it was a process/fermentation issue. Or perhaps it was something else. I suppose the only way to get an answer is to try to brew it again. Oh darn!

Photo courtesy: bjcp.org

BJCP Guideline 21A – American IPA (2015):

Overall Impression: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hopforward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Commercial Examples: Alpine Duet, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, Lagunitas IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

American IPA Recipe – 5.00 gal Batch (Based on Brewing Classic Styles Recipe)

– 12 lbs, 12 oz. US 2 Row
– 12 oz. Munich
– 1lbs. Crystal 20°L
– 4 oz. Crystal 40°L
– 1 oz. Magnum at 60 mins
– 1 oz. Centennial at 10 mins
– 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
– 1 oz. Mosaic at 0 mins
– Fermentis SafAle US-05
– Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

– OG: 1.069
– FG: 1.015
– ABV: 7.18%
– 62.8 IBUs

Here’s what really happened:

Imagine a beautiful, sunny, California morning. The was a very slight breeze. The sun was out just enough to keep the temperature under the shade to a perfect 68-70 F. Three friends gathered all their brewing equipment at one friend’s home brewery (his garage), and set up for the morning. Conditions were in place for a perfect brew day. So perfect, in fact, that if it wasn’t 0700 am at the start of our brew day, I would have started the day with a breakfast stout… I didn’t. But I seriously considered it.

So I heated up my water as usual. Time for dough in…DOH! I only got up the high 140s F (146-148 F). But I remembered my last batch only hit 144 F, and it still turned out okay. I think the low temperatures may be due to the very thick mash caused by some equipment limitations (see the above grain bill and insert into my 5 gal. cylindrical cooler). It’s okay though! Moving on…

I sparge approximately 1.34 million times to work my way up to 6.5 gal. pre-boil volume in the kettle, turn the fire on, and sit and wait. Since I’m going full boil on a turkey fryer, getting the wort to boil can take awhile. During these downtimes, the 3 of us usually help the other with their brew day where needed. After there’s nothing else to help with, I get my kettle additions laid out and ready to go (hops, whirlfloc, and the like).

I don’t really have the luxury of video or audio to allow for the awkward dead air, but that’s basically the feeling I had while I waited for the boil. And finally! I see some rolling wort action! First addition of Magnum here we…

Photo courtesy: Hopunion.com

Oh crap. I saw the M on the hops and threw them in there. But it wasn’t Magnum… it was Mosaic! Well, there goes my aroma addition, and really my whole hop schedule. I wasn’t then going to add Magnum and the rest of the hops. So instead, I slightly improvised and used the hop schedule below (based on what I had available):

– .8 oz. Mosaic at 60 mins
– 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
– .5 oz. Amarillo at 0 mins
– 1 oz. Citra at 0 mins

As you can see, it’s a much different schedule than what I planned. But what’s that old saying? Oh yeah.. Don’t worry. Relax, and have a homebrew! (Or something like that..) Here’s to another 5 gal. of mystery beer! Cheers!
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The brew: American Wheat part II. The last wheat I brewed was about 2 months ago, and the last beer I brewed was almost 1 1/2 months ago. Work and life have been so busy – I ended up having to squeeze in a brew day last minute.

 

Photo courtesy: Bellsbeer.com

 

The absence of Bells Oberon in California has me craving a crisp and clean wheat that I can have a few pints of in this triple digit heat, no water having, California summer. The last wheat brewed unfortunately fell to my friend, Acetaldehyde. It might’ve been high fermentation temperatures, bacterial infection, an underpitched amount of yeast, or any combination of a few other post boil factors. I’m sure there were at least a few other things going on in that batch, but the green apple and fruity esters overpowered just about everything else. So I decided to keep going with the same recipe.

 

 

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

 

 

American Wheat Recipe (Based on Jamil Z. Recipe)

 

  • 5 lbs. 8 oz. US 2 Row (50%)
  • 5 lbs. 8 oz. White Wheat (50%)
  • 1 oz. Williamette at 60 mins
  • .3 oz. Williamette at 0 mins
  • .3 oz. Centennial at 0 mins
  • American Hefe Strain (WLP 320 or Wyeast 1010)
  • Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

 

 

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

 

  • OG: 1.054
  • FG: 1.014
  • ABV: 5.3%
  • 19.3 IBUs

 

Here’s what really happened: 

The brew day setup.

The brew day setup.

 

Everything went according to plan. I entered it into a few competitions, and it took gold in each one… Okay, not really. I actually haven’t even tasted it yet. I will be transferring from primary to keg tomorrow, so it should be ready in about a week.

 

But the brew day really did go as well as I hoped. I used a nylon mesh BIAB bag as my false bottom, which was used in combination with the bazooka screen. The 11 lbs. grain bill with 50% wheat in my 5 gal. mash tun worked out just fine – No stuck sparge  like last American Wheat brew day!

 

I did mash a little higher than I expected – 155 F. I was trying to make up previous experience with my mash tun losing several degrees over the duration of the saccharification rest. Fortunately or unfortunately, the 155 F was consistent throughout the entire mash. For my purposes (drinking at home), the 3 degree difference will not be a major issue. I did pitch warmer than I wanted. I was aiming for around 70 F, but pitched around 80 F due to time constraints on the brew day.

 

Other than that, the day was fairly uneventful. I put the glass carboy in the fermentation chamber set for about 65F (the temp controller probe was taped to the carboy surrounded by some cloth to try to get a closer read). Here’s to a successful batch of American Wheat!

This post roughly marks this blog’s 1 year anniversary! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to also find me at Sommbeer.com!
Not too long ago, I saw a “web coupon deal” for a tour with tastings for two at a local brewery for a fairly reasonable price. I told my wife and friends about the deal in an attempt to get a small group to go with – new beer with friends is always a better experience. Local brewery tour and tastings? Check. Reasonable price? Got it. Friends to drink with? Done. It was only natural that I purchase this coupon.

Photo courtesy: Smosh.com

So my friends and I make the trip, and upon entry to the tasting room I was quite impressed. Great looking decor, friendly and knowledgeable staff, great beer selection, and board games along with the giant Jenga set that seems to be a must have in every brewery around town.

We took the tour of the 7 bbl. brewery,  shared laughs and kettle-envy, then sat down to enjoy our double-digit tastings. We started with the lighter, cleaner ales and made our way through to the stouts and porters. We talked about the ones we like, and the ones we didn’t. The words “buttery,” “astringent,” and “apple flavors” may or may not have been said at our table. In the end, many of the 5 oz tasters were still over halfway filled, and my friends and I opted to go to our typical go-to taphouse.

Now, this is not a criticism of the brewers or the brewery. Are my friends and I Master BJCP judges or even award winning home brewers? No. But we can tell you what we like, and what doesn’t taste right to us in a given beer. Perhaps these were off flavors. Or, perhaps some of these flavors were on purpose as part of the brewery’s style. I believe it’s up to us as the consumer to determine that.

The unpopular opinion here may be that it is acceptable for a brewery patron to not like a brewery’s beer. It is also okay to not see through a beer’s flaws simply because it was made locally. I don’t necessarily think there is a craft beer bubble in front of us, but I do believe the breweries that are making flawed or less than stellar beer may not survive as a business.

Photo courtesy: ETFTrends

According to the Brewers Association, a little more than 20 years ago there were less than 600 breweries in the United States. In 2014, the number of total U.S. “craft” breweries topped 3,418 with the number growing every day. The number is sky rocketing with little sign of slowing down. With this tremendous growth, occasionally a beer with “flaws” may be produced and sold to you.

I have listed some of these “flaws” or off-flavors (from BJCP.org) that you may find in a beer, commercial or homebrew. If you find them in a beer from a local brewery, should you throw the taster in their face and write a 2 page, 1/2 star review on every craft beer platform and forum?  I would venture to say that it would be more beneficial if you didn’t, and instead, you should probably have a discussion with someone at the brewery. Maybe they will thank you for the feedback. Or maybe you will learn something about the beers produced or the beer styles.

Off-Flavors and Brief Description
  • Acetaldehyde – Green apples, grassy (not from hops), vinegar or cider-like
  • Astringent – Tannic or tart, unpleasant
  • Diacetyl – Buttery, nutty, reminiscent of butterscotch, oily
  • DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) – Cooked corn, vegetables
  • Lightstruck – Skunky, mercaptan
  • Oxidation – Cardboard, wet-paper, stale, sherry or leathery; musty or earthy
  • Phenolic – Band-aid, cloves, bananas, smoky, plastic, medicinal
  • Solvent – Pungent, harsh, acetone or turpentine
  • Sulfury – Rotten eggs, meaty, struck match, burn rubber

Photo courtesy: AskMen.com

This list is obviously a brief summary and is not all inclusive; it is only intended to serve as another quick reference. There is at least 2000 lbs of information out there on these off-flavors, their causes, and how to troubleshoot them if you run into issues in your own brewing. You can also check out the Beer Judge Certification Program or the How To Brew websites, which also have a ton of information on beer styles and/or off-flavors.

Did I make a mistake somewhere? Do you disagree with anything written? I’d love to learn and have a respectful conversation with you! Feel free to reach out to me on the Twitter, or you can email me at inbituinthebrew@gmail.com.
Don’t forget to find me on Sommbeer.com!

 
Today’s brew: Everyone’s favorite, THE American IPA. Like much of the world, my mainstay is the American IPA. I love most styles, but I tend to favor the Fresh Squeezed (Deschutes), Deep Ellum IPA (Deep Ellum Brewing), and million other IPAs on the market. I figured most of my non-American Lager fans do too, so why not get a decent and consistent recipe down.
My working layout (My morning IPA not pictured).

My working layout (My morning IPA not pictured). New school on the left (Beersmith.com), old school on the right (Notebook)

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

American IPA Recipe – 5.00 gal Batch (Based on Brewing Classic Styles Recipe)

  • 12 lbs, 12 oz. US 2 Row
  • 12 oz. Munich
  • 1lbs. Crystal 20°L
  • 4 oz.Crystal 40°L
  • 1 oz. Magnum at 60 mins
  • 1 oz. Centennial at 10 mins
  • 1 oz. Simcoe at 5 mins
  • 1 oz. Amarillo at 0 mins
  • Fermentis SafAle US-05
  • Single Infusion Mash at 152 F for 60 mins

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):

  • OG: 1.069
  • FG: 1.015
  • ABV: 7.18%
  • 62.8 IBUs
Here’s what really happened: 

The brew day actually went fairly smoothly. I stayed on course with my intended recipe. My issues with the brew day took place pre-boil. The grain bill of almost 15 lbs. made my poor little 5-gallon mash tun work far harder than it should’ve. The mash was extremely thick, but I used a BIAB mesh bag as a false bottom over my bazooka screen. Multiple sparges were needed, but no stuck mash here! Since I can’t measure the exact volume of my wort, I can’t determine an accurate efficiency %. But that is one thing to plan for as I nail down my processes.

Not only was my mash thick, but I also had issues with my mash temperature. The plan was to dough in around 165°F, but by the time the entire grain bill was stirred in, I was mashing at the low end of the Beta-Amylase range of around 140°F. I hope the beer doesn’t turn out as dry and light as the numbers make it out to be.

 

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Photo courtesy: BJCP.org
BJCP Guideline 21A – American IPA (2015):

Overall Impression: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hopforward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Commercial Examples: Alpine Duet, Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA, Firestone Walker Union Jack, Lagunitas IPA, Russian River Blind Pig IPA, Stone IPA

On a separate note, you can now find me as a contributor on SommBeer.com. Check out my posts along with a variety of others written by an awesome SommBeer.com team!

Thanks to traveling, work, and having only one arm, I finally got to brew today. I have to admit, I’m a little rusty on my processes. I haven’t brewed since before the holidays! This year, though, I’m ramping up the grain mill to eventually start entering a few competitions.

Today’s brew: American Wheat. I didn’t want anything special (that’s later in the year) – just a cool, crisp, clean sessionable something or another that also allows my tastebuds to live another day. The original, original recipe was supposed to be an Ode to Oberon (Bell’s Oberon). I saw it everywhere as I was traveling, but of course, it’s not in California. As the brew day came closer, I decided to keep it simple and go with a classic American Wheat.

Here’s what was supposed to happen:

American Wheat Recipe (Jamil Z. Recipe):
6 lbs. US 2 Row (50%)
6 lbs. White Wheat (50%)
1 oz. Williamette at 60 mins
.3 oz. Williamette at 0 mins
.3 oz. Centennial at 0 mins
White Labs WLP 320 – American Hefe
Single Infusion Mash at 150 F for 60 mins

According to BeerSmith (for my equipment profile):
OG: 1.066
FG: 1.017
ABV: 6.43%
17.6 IBUs

Here’s what really happened:

Brew Day 16 May 2015

Brew Day 16 May 2015

I stuck to the recipe intended, with the exception of the yeast used. I procrastinated and didn’t think that WLP320 would be as uncommon as it was. I made the last minute decision to use what was on hand – US-05. Dry yeast (when hydrated properly) is actually a lot better than people give it credit for!

And now for the downer of the day… My 60-minute mash then sparge turned into a 60-minute STUCK mash and another 60 minutes of “kind of sparge.” Turns out the mill made the grains a little too fine/pulverized, and the wheat decided to make my day twice as long. How was it solved you ask? With morning tasters of home-brewed IIPA, Pliny the Elder, and Monk’s Blood (21st Amendment Brewing). Yes it was 0900am, but we limited ourselves to tasters. I mean C’mon, we’re not lushes… Next time I will definitely use a 1/2 pound of rice hulls.

On a separate note, you can now find me as a contributor on SommBeer.com. Check out my posts along with a variety of others written by an awesome SommBeer.com team!

As with most other minutes of the day, I find myself thinking about all things beer. Recipes, mash temps, hop schedules, beer styles, homebrew competitions, working in a brewery, working in the industry, the state of the industry… the list can go on and on. Then I begin to ponder about WHY I love this stuff so much, and why I would even consider working in an industry that revolves around an alcoholic beverage (disclaimer: I am merely an amateur homebrewer that also has a minor interest in business).

Then it dawned on me… it’s not about the beer at all! Do I enjoy the artful science that is the brewing process? Absolutely! Does the beer quench my thirst on every occasion? But of course! Will my wife ever go back to drinking American Lite Lagers? NEVER!

All these things are fine and dandy, but it’s the people that keep me thirsty for more (see what I did there?). Its the experiences shared. The time in community with the like minded, or in some cases the opposite minded with similar tastes, brings about a plethora of thoughts and feelings that create lasting memories. Some of my deepest conversations started over a shared pint. Relationships have been created AND strengthened at local pubs. Those things that last much longer than the beer itself make for the perfect pour everytime. As Billy Currington put it, “God is Great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

In other news, my recent research into first wort hopping has shown that it has only a minimal effect on the homebrew level compared to typical boil additions in regard to IBUs, but has a greater effect on perceived bitterness. So there’s that. Thank goodness for BeerSmith.

Yes, it IS April already… but we still have 8 months left of this year! Why do I bring this up? As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have been traveling for work since December. I am definitely ready to get back home and start on the year’s first batches.

So far, I have about 10 batches planned for this year, but only about 5 different recipes – I am hoping to alter them and make the batches as consistent as possible. The base recipes are from the book Brewing Classic Styles, but as I progress I will be swapping various hops and yeasts to tailor to my own tastes. The recipes will be posted on my recipe page here. Here’s the plan for 2015 (all 5.5 gallon batches or less):

May – American Wheat Batch 1, American IPA Batch 1
June – American Wheat Batch 2
July – American IPA Batch 2
August – Belgian Tripel Batch 1, American Brown Batch 1
September – American IPA Batch 3
October – American Brown Batch 2
November – American Stout (Style TBD) Batch 1
December – American IPA Batch 4

Totals:
Wheat – 2
IPA – 4
Brown – 2
Tripel – 1
Stout – 1

In other good beer news, I finally convinced the Mrs. to allow me to move forward with transitioning from bottling to kegging. The plan is to convert a chest freezer into a 4-tap keezer. I will definitely keep this blog updated with photos and my process once I get home. In the meantime, if you are looking for some info on converting your own, Northern Brewer created a great video on YouTube here. Here’s to a great 2015! Cheers!

Well, that’s what this blog seems it’s turning into… “Hello World, this is me.” 6 Months later… “Hello, I’m still here.” 3 Months later… “Hello again.. I like beer.” No post for umpteen months…

So yeah… Thanks for reading!
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Okay… It has been like that, and it all started a little after my last post. Life happened and work travel started. But the beer keeps flowing! Fortunately, I’ve been able to have some different beers traveling outside of the West Coast. For the list of those, you can find me on Untappd.com.
From Left to Right Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA,  Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

From Left to Right
Rear: Lagunitas Maximus, Rodenbach, 903 Brewers Sugar On Top, Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA, Revolver Brewing Blood & Honey, Rahr & Sons Stormcloud IPA, Saint Arnold Brewing Elissa IPA, Stone Stochasticity Project Master of Disguise
Front: Cedar Creek Brewing Dankosaurus IPA, Deep Ellum IPA, Southern Star Brewing Valkyrie IIPA, Deep Ellum Dream Crusher IIPA

While the beer flows, the brew-formation (see what I did there?) seems to be flowing even more. I’ve listened to dozens (maybe hundreds?) of podcasts and watched several videos on homebrewing and the craft beer business – everything from multiple shows on the Brewing Network, to the BeerSmith, Basic Brewing Radio, and MicroBrewr podcasts, to the several BrewBound sessions available on the Youtube.com. I’ve also read a good number of books, which you can find the updated list here. You can also find an expanded reading list at Microbrewr.com. All of it so informational and entertaining!

I know I’ve set multiple directions for this blog within its short lifespan, but now I just planning on posting stuff. Some of it will be related to the beer business. Some of it to my homebrewing and recipes. Some of it relating to tastings. Just stuff. So here we go again! Happy reading! Cheers!

Yes, I am still here, and I have yet to give up on this blog. Some busy work months, attacks of the Rhinovirus variety, a few family emergencies, and here we are almost at Thanksgiving.

First things first – A few updates from the previous posts. The split batch of SMaSH Pale experiment turned out much differently than what I was expecting. To bring you up to speed, I used a very simple  all grain 2 row/Cascade small batch (2 gallons) recipe and used WLP001 and WLP565 in each one gallon fermenter. The 001 really allowed the hops and the bitterness to shine through. Unfortunately for me, it was a bit too much without a fuller malt backbone to support tne bitterness. However, the 565 batch had the phenolics to mask the bitterness. The Saison yeast gave it a Farmhouse IPA character. It ended up being my preferred  batch.

In other news, I have continued my look into the craft beer business. In following much of the beer and beverage industry news, including various podcasts and websites/articles, I have opened my mind to contributing to the industry in other ways besides a nano brewery/brewpub. Perhaps it’s in the cards to open a local brewery. Perhaps its a tap house or bottleshop or some other local retail shop focused on quality beer. Or maybe it’s to keep spreading the knowledge of good beer. Who knows what the future holds… for now I’ll just have another pint. Cheers!

image

A Golden Strong with cherries from Mraz Brewing

If by some miracle you are actually keeping up with this blog and its posts, you may have noticed that the posts have stopped. Well… as it turns out, I am still alive and well. It also turns out that blogging is A LOT of work. By “a lot of work,” I don’t mean its hard work – but it is work to publish something that doesn’t turn into a series of Facebook and Instagram updates, yet is still frequent and interesting to read. 

Example:

     “Here’s a picture of my beer.”
     “Here’s the food from this place that I had with my beer.”
     [INSERT POSITIVE QUOTE]
     [INSERT RANT ON CURRENT ISSUE]
     “This beer tastes like this.”
     [INSERT FUNNY MEME]
     “Look at this IPA. It is so hoppy.”

Other than trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, I’ve also been shoulders deep in reading everything I can about entrepreneurship, brewing, and running a taphouse/brewpub/restaurant. My office is filled with everything from recent articles and books on running your own business, to magazines on beer and brewing – including some old issues of Zymurgy (1989-1996 editions) given generously on Freecycle.org. [Freecycle.org is this amazing, community-based website where you can give and find tons of free/used stuff. For more information, click here.]

From what I’ve read so far, apparently there are a million ways to do the same thing – and everyone is right! There will definitely be good times ahead. If I never open a brewery/taphouse/brewpub, at least I’ll be that much better of a businessman and homebrewer right?

*****UPDATE*****

In other news, the experimental “Pale ale”  is now in the secondary. Its cleared up quite a bit, and is hopefully conditioning just as well. It should be bottled within the next week, and thanks to natural carbonation, will be ready to drink by the middle to the end of September. I’m curious to see the differences the yeast made. I’ll get some photos come bottling time.

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Finally, here’s a funny photo just because I can. You’re welcome.

 

Photo cred: see photo.