Archive for the 'Partial Mash Brewing' Category

PM#17 – Yo-leven India Pale Ale

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Having completely screwed up my last attempt at this beer, I didn’t want to waste any time in re-brewing it. In addition, I want to make sure I have some nice hoppy beer for sipping over the Autumn/Winter brewing season. I’ll be doing some brown ale and a porter in October, so I’ll need my hop fix too. I’ve designated this beer as the “Citra” beer. Plus some Cascade chucked in there for balance. I’ve got two bags of expensive Citra hops in the freezer too, which I’ll be using for my next attempt at this beer. The fermentation should be cleaner this time because I’m using a re-pitched US-05 slurry. I don’t know why, but it always gives better results than pitch dry (even rehydrated) yeast.

I’m planning on doing a Citra and Cascade dry-hop on this beer and keeping the hop bill simpler by leaving it at two different varieties. I’m resisting the urge to do a dry-hop of Chinook, as the last attempt at Yo-leven was dry-hopped with Chinook and the aroma at bottling time was immense. Of course the proof is in the drinking – if my second attempt at Yo-leven turns out to have a superior hop aroma, well then the next Yo-leven is getting a big dose of dry Chinook hops.

Recipe

Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.075 SG
Estimated Color: 9.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 75.8 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.75 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 58.5 %
0.40 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM), 8.5 %
0.15 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 3.2 %
0.15 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM), 3.2 %
0.15 kg Munich Malt (10.0 SRM), 3.2 %
20 g Cascade [7.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 27.6 IBUs
1.10 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 23.4 %
20 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 14.7 IBUs
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
20 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.1 IBUs
20 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 9.2 IBUs
20 g Citra [15.00 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 9.2 IBUs
20 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05) (450ml Slurry from previous batch of Yo-leven)
10 g Cascade [7.50 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
25 g Citra [15.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Brew Day 09/09/2013 – Doughed in at 72.5°C and started off the mash at 67.5°C. Got 14 litres at an OG of 1.074. Very happy with that given the large amount hops soaking up the wort. Certainly a lot more successful than my last attempt at this beer. The wort is quite pale with a great hoppy aroma. Taste from the trial jar was tasty, but extremely sweet as you’d expect. Pitched 450ml of US-05 yeast slurry.

10/09/2013 – Big action going on in the fermenter this morning when I got up. The weather has suddenly turned quite cold so there’s some good ambient temperatures for fermenting a big beer like this. It’ll keep those fusel alcohols in check.

15/09/2013 – Dry-hopped with 25g Citra and 10g of Cascade (just a little to bring the size of the dry-hop up). The dry-hop I did on the last (screwed up) batch of Yo-leven gave a huge aroma out of the fermenter and that was dry-hopped for a week with a similar amount of Chinook. Will leave this one at least a week also.

22/09/2013 – Bottled with 95g of dextrose (12.5l at 2.6 vol), so this was dry-hopped for 7 days in total. Got 4 x 500ml bottles and 32 x 330ml bottles from the batch. I got just over the 12.5l out of the batch, spot-on. Fantastic aroma.

18/10/2013 – Dying to open this! It’s calling me! Must resist for another week or so…

26/10/2013 – The first sip of this was a little bit of a shock to the tastebuds. I initially thought ‘yeasty’, but it’s not yeast.. it’s alcohol. There’s quite a boozy kick in it which I’m hoping will dissipate somewhat over the next few weeks. I think it will be fine though, because I timed the last batch of Yo-leven to be at it’s peak level of conditioning at 7 weeks after bottling. I’ll try another bottle next weekend to see if it’s improved. Other than that, the hop flavour is great. Though the hops are probably being masked by the heat from the alcohol. The body of the beer seems excellent for a Double IPA, nothing too syrupy; at least, nothing that’s out of style. Carbonation level is good. Head retention really good also. On subsequent sips, it’s definitely got a big boozy nose. There’s a great deal of citrus and caramel flavour in there, but it’s being pushed into the background by the alcohol.

30/10/2013 – Getting a bit worried about this now. That booze level is still too hot for a beer that’s been in the bottle for 5 weeks. The first taste is still quite shocking, but then your tastebuds adjust to it. Not as hoppy as I was expecting either. Is the hop varieties the problem? Or is it the fact that I didn’t use pellets this time?

09/11/2013 – Hmm… still not there yet. The first sip the booze hits you, though it’s more subdued than the last time I tasted it. I think… I’m now thinking of moving closer to the first attempt I did on this. Less alcohol, taking it out of the “Double” IPA category. I’m also thinking of radically changing my approach on the hop front and dispensing with the Citra altogether. The bucket of “Trixibelle” I have at the moment is throwing out massive aromas of pine and fruit. The hops in that? My old friends Amarillo and Columbus. It’s pretty much a tried and trusted partnership and I think loading the Yo-leven with both varieties will be the way forward with this beer. The mouthfeel is really good, carbonation fine. The head retention in this version is not as good the first version, so I might go back to using wheat malt instead of the CaraPils. I think a bigger flameout addition is required, along with a bigger dry-hop, as the aroma really isn’t as prominent as it should be.

11/11/2013 – It must be getting better, because I’m opening these bottles with alarming frequency, right?? To be serious, on this occasion I’m definitely tasting a different beer. Could be because this bottle came from the shed and not from the fridge. The aroma is more prominent and it’s a lot less hazy – pretty damn clear actually. I know I was going for a stronger “Imperial/Double” style beer with this attempt, but I think the level of crystal malt is too much. I think it’s too syrupy. That, and the warmer temperature is making the beer seem like a barleywine or some other sipping beer.

12/11/2013 – These are starting to disappear! It’s getting really good now. The alcohol has definitely subsided a bit more and it does seem hoppier than on previous occasions.

BIAB#5 – Bastogne Pale Ale

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31/08/2013 – I’m a bit of a novice when it comes to liquid yeast and the starter cultures they usually require. The only time I’ve used a liquid yeast (with a starter) was the hefeweizen earlier in the year that used the WLP300. The starter seemed to be fine but the fermentation was sluggish and the temperature control was non-existent. For various reasons that have been well-documented, the beer was pretty disappointing. A complete banana-bomb, with some inappropriate Belgian-style esters and very little mouthfeel (though in fairness, this was probably caused by using 100% malt extract). Having been disappointed with the Belgian flavours in my hefe, here I am attempting a beer where I actually want those types of esters!

The yeast I’ve chosen for my upcoming series of Belgian ales is WLP550. It’s reported to be cultured from La Chouffe, a fantastic example of a Belgian golden ale. I’ll be doing a moderate gravity Belgian pale ale to kick things off gently. Then I’ll be stepping up the gravity and doing a “faux” saison, before doing a heavily-hopped Belgian IPA. This yeast has a high level of attenuation, flocculates reasonably well for a Belgian yeast and has a nice spicy Belgian character. It’s reported to have a moderate level of esters so I might be compensating for this with some fruity/floral hop choices in the upcoming beers.

Having scorched the feck out of my 2l conical flask and no way of removing it without buying some spooky chemicals, I used a 2l plastic mineral water bottle. I used 1.5l of the mineral water itself (yeast starters are not supposed to have any chlorine present) and added 150g of light spraymalt. I boiled for 10 mins in a saucepan to sanitise and chilled the saucepan in a sink filled with icy water. It cooled down in a surprisingly short length of time. I was sure to check the pitching temperature which was 17C. I transferred the starter wort to the plastic bottle and aerated the wort by putting the plastic bottle cap back on (which had been sanitised) and shook the hell out of it several times, opening the cap each time to get more air into the bottle.

The first surprise was when the yeast vial started fizzing when I opened it. I’ve done a bit of reading on this and it’s supposed to be quite normal. Pitched the yeast anyway, it already had that signature Belgian aroma. I think a couple of Belgian beers are in order tonight. I’ll give the starter a few days to work it’s magic before pitching into my 15 litres of Belgian pale ale! Here’s hoping!

I also sanitised the vial of WLP550 before shaking well to dislodge the compacted yeast.

01/09/2013 – No sign of the starter kicking off yet, even though it’s been about 18 hours since the yeast was pitched!

02/09/2013 – Big fermentation going on in the start today. Huge streams of bubbles. Should hopefully be about 2 days until I can brew with this.

04/09/2013 – Note to self… do the yeast starters mid-week so that you can do brewing at the weekend, not the other way around! It’s Wednesday and I have to brew tonight!! 🙂

So what’s this recipe? The idea is to start off my WLP550 yeast in a moderate-gravity beer instead of putting it straight into a strong dubbel or Belgian IPA (those recipes will be coming up shortly). It’s a fairly basic recipe, ripped off from Jamil’s “Brewing Classic Styles” – pilsner malt, CaraMunich, Munich, CaraPils and Biscuit. The CaraPils is my own addition, just to help the head retention. This is my first time using pilsner malt, so I’ll be doing a 90-minute boil instead of the usual 60 minutes. This is done to reduce dimethyl-sulphide (DMS) in the beer. I’ll still be adding my first hop addition at 60 minutes though. Hops will be all East Kent Goldings, an English hop (obviously) but a very common ingredient in Belgian beers. I’m also taking advantage of the freedom afforded by the fact that I’m “doing a Belgian” to add some funky spicing. I’ll be adding some coriander and orange peel. Just a little bit, to give the beer an extra something.

Recipe

Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 8.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 25.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

3.20 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM), 82.4 %
0.24 kg Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM), 6.1 %
0.16 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 4.1 %
0.16 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM), 4.1 %
0.13 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 3.3 %
20 g Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] – Boil 60.0
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 10.0 mins)
5.00 g Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 mins)
24 g Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] – Boil 0.0
1.0 pkg Belgian Ale White Labs #WLP550 – 1.5 litre starter – 3 days old

Brew Day 04/09/2013 – Doughed in at 72C, mash temperature of 67C, bang on target. I fished the muslin bag containing the 5g of coarsely crushed coriander seeds before I turned on the immersion chiller. Not sure if this is the done thing, but I’d rather have too little coriander flavour in this than too much. The smell from the spent seeds is amazing – I really hop some of that flavour makes it through to the fermented beer. Really citrussy, reminds me of Christmas cake in a  weird way. It’s pretty cool not having to deal with (f’ing) malt extract for a change. I’m looking forward to making the move to my full all-grain setup. I also quite like not having to worry about yeast hydration etc. I can just pitch the starter into the fresh wort.

09/09/2013 – This is well finished! Only 5 days later! Bit worrying really, but I’d heard this yeast was a bit of an animal. I’d noticed a couple of days ago that the fermentation had slowed right down so I was keep an eye on it. With a fair amount of trepidation (given my last experience with liquid yeast and starters) I took a gravity reading and was delighted to read 1.010. Right on target but I’ll leave it another 1-2 weeks in the FV to do a little cleaning up. I had a taste from the trial jar and it’s not bad at all. Bit yeast, alcohol a little too prominent. But there’s a superb grainy flavour from the beer – the pilsner malt I presume. I does remind me a little of a nice crisp lager. Seems to be plenty of fruity Belgian yeast character in there though. Happy with that.

15/09/2013 – Bottled with 97g of dextrose (13l at 2.5 vol) into all 500ml bottles. Got 24 bottles from the batch. Sample was a bit yeasty, but there’s a nice underlying biscuit flavour and plenty of Belgian yeast flavour.

13/11/2013 – I think this has really improved. Past tastings have been a little cidery, a little astringent perhaps. But that’s mellowed a lot. You can really taste the sweetness of the Pilsner malt. The crystal malt (CaraMunich) is very evident, maybe a little too much, but it’s probably appropriate for the style. I think I’d make this a little drier if I was doing it again.

PM#16 – Yo-leven India Pale Ale

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Having actually done the brew before writing the introduction to this recipe, I fear that anything I write as an introduction will be pointless as this wasn’t a very successful brew day. Everything was fine until I measured my original gravity. It came in at 1.063! I almost couldn’t believe my eyes; I’ve never missed my gravity targets by this much before. Adn the sad thing is, I’m still at a loss on why it happened. There was a big gap between weighing out my malts and doing the actual brew. Because of all this hot weather we’ve been having, I abandoned this brew and just bagged up the crushed malt in ziploc bags. Is it possible Ieft some base malt out of the recipe and forgot about it? Maybe another culprit might be the mash temperature? I mashed at a pretty high temperature of 69.5C. While I was shooting for a slightly higher mash temperature, I did go a little overboard. But I didn’t adjust with cold water because I didn’t think the mash temperature would be high enough to kill off any enzymes. And I still don’t believe the mash temperature is the problem here. Maybe I under-estimated the amount of hop soakage. No more than usual though. I only got 14 litres into the fermenter. [EDIT: it turns out my inaccuracy was due to a dodgy weighing scales. See comment in notes below.]

Pretty disappointing, however, I’ll try to set out where I was going with this attempt at a re-brew. I wanted to make the beer lighter and colour and reduce the malt flavours, but still leave plenty of caramel sweetness in the beer. I’ve used different hop varieties (including my old favourite, Cascade) because I was getting a lot of grassiness from the last hop combo, which I suspected was from the flamout additions of Columbus and Summit.

The following is a summary of the changes to the grain and hop bills in this attempt.

  • No corn sugar in this attempt. The idea was to not only up the ABV slightly (by 0.2%), but to see what effect removing the corn sugar would have on the mouthfeel and flavour of the beer. Given the problems I encountered with the gravity, it’s just as well I removed the corn sugar!
  • This attempt has slightly more crystal malt, just 50g. But it’s split between 75% C15 and 25% C40.
  • The amount of wheat malt is much the same, I reduced it by 10g only to have the same percentage as the other specialty malts. I reduced the Munich malt by 50g but added 50g more biscuit malt this time. I’m not sure whether any of these changes will have much of an effect though.
  • This attempt used a sachet of fresh US-05 whereas the last attempt was fermented by a pitch of US-05 slurry.
  • This attempt has a traditional 60-minute bittering addition, instead of the 30-minute bittering addition used in the first attempt.
  • There’s three different hop varieties here, instead of six used in the last attempt. The flameout addition is slightly smaller too.

Recipe

Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.075 SG
Estimated Color: 10.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 71.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.25 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) , 50.6 %
0.30 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM) , 6.7 %
0.15 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 3.4 %
0.15 kg Munich Malt (10.0 SRM), 3.4 %
0.15 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM), 3.4 %
0.10 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) , 2.2 %
0.35 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) , 7.9 %
20 g Centennial [11.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 42.5 IBUs
1.00 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min] (8.0 SRM), 22.5 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
24 g Cascade [7.40 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 9.6 IBUs
24 g Centennial [11.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 10.2 IBUs
24 g Cascade [7.40 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 6.0 IBUs
36 g Chinook [13.30 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
30 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
30 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Notes

24/08/2013 Brew Day – As I said above, everything was going fine until I had the beer in the fermenter and realised I had missed my target gravity by 12 points! A bit of a disaster, but hopefully it will still make a tasty beer. This is likely to be pretty bitter as the IBUs are possibly too high for the OG. I might abandon my plans to do the double dry-hop on this after all. I’ll leave this in the fermenter for 2-3 weeks before bottling.

27/08/2013 – Well, the mystery has been solved… My assistant brewer and I noticed this morning that our digital scales are completely off! I did think at the time that my hop additions looked pretty small compared to previous batches. The 1.35kg of malt extract that I weighed out looked a little small too, which would explain the lower gravity. So what now? Now that I know that both my malt additions and my hop additions were lower than intended, maybe they’ll balance each other out. The wort I tasted from the sample jar was pretty sweet, not much hop bitterness coming through, but hopefully it will be okay. I considered dry-hopping this twice, in line with my original plans, but I might just be wasting hops on what might be an under-bittered and cloying beer. Now I’m thinking of just doing the single dry-hop and chalking it down to experience. What have I learned? Calibrate the weighing scales before attempting any brewing. It’s pretty bad that I can’t trust a Salter digital scales, but there you go. Fuck it, anyway…

31/08/2013 – This brew has been an unmitigated disaster and one borne out of pure carelessness. I was looking over this recipe the other day, just contemplating how the balls-up with the kitchen scales might have affected both my gravity and bitterness levels, and then it hit me.. I had completely forgotten to add my flameout addition of 36g! Complete and utter lack of attention. At this stage in my brewing career, I really should have noticed the low level of hop material in the kettle at the end of the boil. My first idea was to do a really aggressive (and probably multi-stage) dry-hop. But I don’t want to be chucking expensive hops into a brew which is so wide off the mark of my recipe. Probably better to chalk it down to experience and get on with a re-brew. So I dry-hopped today with 30g of Chinook and I’ll probably remove the hops in a weeks time, then bottle.

I had planned on re-using the yeast from this beer in a new Imperial red ale which I’m going to call “Diabolus in Lupulus”. It’s an extension of my Big Dawg Amber Ale, but using a completely different malt bill in order to achieve a completely different style of amber ale. Now however, I’m abandoning that plan in order to re-brew the Yo-leven (again!) and I’ll roll over the yeast from this batch. I even bought a new bag of Citra hops to use in the re-brew.

07/09/2013 – Bottled with 100g of dextrose (13.5l x 2.5 vol). Got 24 bottles from the batch as expected. No issues with bottling. Great hoppy aroma from the FV. The brew has a prominent bitterness, quite to my surprise, given the low IBUs. Saved the yeast slurry for the next batch of Yo-leven, which I’m brewing tomorrow.

16/10/2013 – Nearly 5 weeks in the bottle and my thoughts on this are a little mixed. Surprisingly, it seems to have just enough bitterness to carry the ABV and level of residual sweetness. But as we know, bitterness fades, so I’m guessing this one will have to be dispatched fairly quickly. It was a little yeasty, but that could be because the bottle hadn’t had any cold-conditioning in the fridge; I just took the bottle from outside. Maybe I just poured it carelessly, who knows. One disappointing aspect of the flavour is that it has the hop flavour level of an ordinary pale ale, not the huge hop bomb I was aiming for. Maybe when the yeast drops out further and conditions a bit more, the hop flavours might be more prominent. It’s also got great clarity.

I’ve adjusted the recipe in BeerSmith to account for the dodgy scales (which was ready approximately 50% of the actual weight). As such, my malt extract and hop additions were too small. Here’s the updated/actual recipe:

Recipe

Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.061 SG
Estimated Color: 9.5 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.25 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 57.7 %
0.30 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM), 7.7 %
0.15 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 3.8 %
0.15 kg Munich Malt (10.0 SRM), 3.8 %
0.15 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM), 3.8 %
0.10 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 2.6 %
0.30 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM), 7.7 %
10 g Centennial [11.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 22.5 IBUs
0.50 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 12.8 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
12 g Cascade [7.40 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 5.1 IBUs
12 g Centennial [11.50 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 5.4 IBUs
12 g Cascade [7.40 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.2 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
30 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Looking over the recipe, it’s pretty easy to see why the beer lacks the intended hop punch – it’s got only 76g of hops! Even a standard pale ale would have more hops than this. It’s a useful illustration though, of how important those late/flameout additions are. After forgetting my  flameout addition, I can really see a big difference in the aroma.

30/10/2013 – It’s pretty apparent this is not going to be one of my more successful brews. There’s very little hops in evidence for an IPA and the malt and yeast flavours are just not up to scratch either. There’s enough bitterness surprisingly, but not enough hop flavour.

10/11/2013 – I had thought this was improving slightly – the Belgian yeast character was starting to subside somewhat though it still had (and has) a touch of the “heads and tails” about it. I’d three bottles of it recently, and the ensuing headache was something else. On this tasting, there’s an unpleasant level of residual sweetness in it. Even though there’s still plenty of hop bitterness there, perhaps it just doesn’t have the oomph to balance all that residual sugar? Not bad though, considering the brew day was an unmitigated disaster. You’d still know this was an American ale.

PM#15 – “Pie-O-My” Amber Ale

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There’s always a new recipe to try. A new hop or yeast strain to experiment with. For that reason, I don’t do a lot of “re-brews” – tweaking recipes of previously brewed batches. It’s definitely something I want to address because I think tweaking recipes will really improve my skills as a home brewer.

I have a big glut of American hops at the moment so I was thinking of a strong, heavily-hopped American IPA or pale ale. But I’ve had really good results with my pale ales lately and there’s one style of beer which I still haven’t managed to reproduce – the American amber. I’ve done two example in the past, “The Hopinator” and “Pie-O-My“. Both beers were lacking the smooth mouthfeel and luscious caramel flavours that are prevalent in my favourite examples of the style. They were also too bitter, so I’m going to be watching my IBUs very carefully this time.

I’ll be re-brewing the “Pie-O-My” recipe, but using elements of the first amber recipe I did, such as the Munich and wheat malts. I also want to get some elements of the “Big Dawg Imperial Amber” like the satisfying mouthfeel, but without the high ABV. I’ll be increasing the crystal malts by a considerable amount to get that caramel flavour and residual sweetness. For hopping, I’ll be scaling back the hops to 35 IBU and starting the chiller at flameout instead of leaving the flameout additions to stand for 15 mins before chilling. I suspect that I was getting a lot of extra bitterness from this technique and it’s too unreliable for a moderate gravity/bitterness beer. For flavour and aroma, I’ll use the same amount of Amarillo, but I might sub the Centennial for Simcoe, as I have plenty of Simcoe and I want to use it while it’s fresh. Simcoe and Amarillo are supposed to be an excellent combination.

I’ll be rolling over the US-05 yeast cake from the Monkey Feet Pale Ale so a quick and clean fermentation will be assured. Then, I’ll probably re-use the yeast from this beer to re-brew the medal-winning Big Dawg Imperial Amber.

Recipe

Boil Size: 16.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 14.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 19.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 15.2 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

1.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 32.5 %
0.500 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 12.5 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 10.0 %
0.400 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM), 10.0 %
0.200 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 5.0 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Bel (2.0 SRM), 5.0 %
6 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 6.1 IBUs
1.000 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0  Dry Extract), 25.0 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
25 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 13.2 IBUs
20 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 6.7 IBUs
25 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 8.2 IBUs
25 g Cascade [7.50 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
30 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Mash & Brew Day 15/06/2013 – Target OG was spot-on at 1.051. I was a bit worried about my efficiency with all that specialty malt. Would it affect my normal 65% efficiency? Sample from the trial jar is already telling me that the colour is lighter than expected. I also don’t get the dark crystal quality I was after. I might have to replace the C75 with C100, or at least a portion of it. There’s a lot of sweetness in the sample obviously and a worry lack of bitterness, but I’m sure most of the sweetness will ferment out as always and leave the bitterness more obvious.

17/06/2013 – Looks like I’ve had a really fast fermentation! Most of the kreusen has already dropped. Will leave to settle for at least another week and I’ll get it in the bottle.

21/06/2013 – Dry-hopped with 30g of freshly-opened Simcoe. Will bottle in the next 5-7 days.

27/06/2013 – Bottled with 125g of glucose and got 32 bottles from the batch. I got a bit of a shock when I saw something unusual floating on top of my fermented beer. It looked different from yeast, almost waxy or flaky. I had to stop and consider what to do when I took a sample for tasting – I got a pretty sharp flavour and I immediately thought ‘acetobacter’. It has been pretty warm for the last couple of weeks so I wasn’t that surprised. There was no vinegar smell, just a great smell of fruity hops. After leaving the sample to stand for a while I went back and had two separate tastes and didn’t get the ‘off’ flavour. Funnily enough, I got a slight vinegar flavour from initial samples of the last American amber I did also. I think I’m now reasonably confident that there’s no infection there, but I’ll give it a month in the bottles before checking. I was planning on saving the yeast slurry but didn’t think it was worth the risk, so I chucked it. I can tell already that the flavour is not where I want it – I think I’ll need more darker crystal malt in there.

26/08/2013 – I’ve had quite a few bottles of this now, and it’s not bad. I’m pleased to report that there doesn’t seem to be an infection there. Though at times, I wonder if I do pick up a slight astringency. The body is too light – it needs lots more residual sweetness and dark crystal malt malt character. My next attempt at this is going to have nearly 25% crystal malt! The hop character is good – very, very fruity. So fruity in fact, that sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a little Belgian yeast character in there. Hop fruit flavours, or a hot fermentation? In any case, I’ve decided that the combination of Amarillo and Simcoe is not doing it for me. I’m going to give these hops a wide berth for the next couple of brews and see if I have better luck.

30/08/2013 – I got some really overwhelmingly positive comments on this at a meet last night. When I suggested a few ways in which I intended to improve the beer (more crystal, more hops), I was told “don’t change a thing”. Nice comments to get, but I’m not happy with either the grain bill or the hop bill. Next time I’m thinking 450g C15, 450g C40 and 200g C100. I’m unsure about the C100 addition, whether 200g might be too much, but I’ll research it in the meantime. The hop bill needs something more pungent in there, to balance all that fruit from the Simcoe and Amarillo. I’m thinking of big charges of Columbus, Amarillo and Nelson Sauvin in the kettle and then chuck the kitchen sink at it in terms of dry hops.

PM#14 – Monkey Feet Pale Ale

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If I had to pick one favourite style of beer it would be the classic American Pale Ale. Hands down. It’s generally a mid-gravity beer, allowing the brewer to showcase a wide variety of citrussy American hops against a nice malty backbone. I’ve brewed several APAs at this stage and I’ve enjoyed all of them, though my recipe still has plenty of room for improvement. They always seem just a little too bitter or too dry for my liking. It’s generally thought that a dry APA is better as it accentuates the hop flavour, but I disagree. I like my APAs to have a little more caramel flavour and mouthfeel. I think this stands up better to the level of hopping I like in a pale ale.

My recipes for APA are improving all the time though, I think. I think the challenge, especially if you like really hoppy pale ales as I do, is to keep the bitterness restrained. But it’s sometimes hard to use a lot of high-alpha hops for flavour and aroma and not draw significant IBUs from late additions. On my session pale ale, I experimented with hop-bursting. This technique dispenses with the 60-minute bittering addition altogether and you get all your bitterness from the late (15 minutes or less) additions. I was a bit nervous of doing this the first time, but there was no need to worry. The resulting beer was plenty bitter.

My last attempt was a “leftovers” I brewed last Christmas, which turned out to be the best pale ale yet. It had a little extra maltiness from Munich malt and some CaraPils for body and head retention. The hoppinh was a bit of a mish-mash, as befits a leftovers beer. This recipe will use a classic hop pairing of Simcoe and Amarillo, a combination recommended by Stone Brewing’s Mitch Steele in a recent interview with James Spencer of Basic Brewing. Despite using Simcoe a few times before (mainly in my kit days) and using bucketloads of expensive Amarillo over the last couple of years, it’s a pairing I’ve not used before. I can see why the comination of the two would work though – Amarillo is very fruity and citrussy. Simcoe has lots of grapefruit going on, but it’s also a bit dank and piney. Nice.

I’m keeping the recipe simple by using equal percentages of light crystal, medium crystal, Munich, wheat and CaraPils. 400g of crystal malt is the most I’ve ever put in a 1.050 pale ale, but I think it will get me closer to my idea of a perfect pale ale.

Recipe

Boil Size: 13.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 11.00 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 19.00 l
Bottling Volume: 19.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 9.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.3 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 55.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 55.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM),46.5 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 15L (15.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Munich Malt (9.0 SRM), 4.7 %
0.200 kg Wheat, Torrified (1.7 SRM), 4.7 %
0.100 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM),2.3 %
3 g Columbus [13.30 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 6.2 IBUs
1.200 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 27.9 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 4.7 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 5.6 IBUs
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 4.6 IBUs
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 3.9 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 1.0 min, 4.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
15 g Amarillo [11.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
15 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Brew Day 26/05/2013 – My gravity was absolutely spot-on, despite a huge amount of hop material. My hop timings were a little off though, because I wasn’t paying enough attention. My 10-minute addition went in a couple of minutes late, so I set the clock back to 10 minutes. This will theoretically alter the amount of IBUs I got from my 60-minute addition. But I also put my 1-minute addition in a little late, so maybe it will all balance out. I did some sieving this time to remove those pesky hop seeds which plagued my siphoning of my American brown ale a few weeks ago.

03/06/2013 – Dry-hopped with 15g of Simcoe and 15g of Amarillo using a muslin bag weighed down with about 30g of glass marbles.

09/06/2013 – Bottled with 130g of glucose. Got 33 x 500ml bottles out of the batch. No problems.

26/06/2013 – This is definitely due for it’s first sampling. I might open a bottle at the weekend. At room temperature, it is absolutely sparkling in the bottle.

28/06/2013 – First taste and it’s pretty rubbish. There’s a sharpness there I’m not happy with. There’s also a slightly Belgian quality that I’m tasting. Could it be an infection or just an immature beer? I bottled the “Pie-O-My” last night which was fermented with the yeast slurry from this beer and that I suspected that had a rather sharp flavour to it, not to mention visual evidence of an infection. There was a few flecks of white film on top, but I’m not sure whether this was just from yeast or dry hops. Rather worrying.

29/06/2013 – Curiosity got the better of me on this and I cracked open another one, just to check if it was my tastebuds that were off yesterday. Happily, it seems that my tastebuds were off after having a big glass of Double IPA. This beer isn’t half bad after all, and I can’t pick up any trace of infection. At least in the bottle I opened today. It’s not got the mouthfeel I was was hoping for, even though it’s not bad. Maybe I need more crystal? The torrified wheat doesn’t seem to have done much in terms of the head retention; I’m not sure if I’ll be using this grain again as it was pretty ineffectual in the last beer I used it in too. There’s a great fruity, citrus flavour to it and a nice aroma. It should taste better after aging for another week or two.

02/07/2013 – Had a nicely chilled bottle of this. It’s nearly a month in the bottle but it’s got a slight off flavour which reminds me of immature beer. But it could also be an off flavour due to high fermentation temperature. A little estery possibly.

PM#13 – “South Dublin Brewers” Imperial Porter

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This beer is to be part of a collaborative brew by the NHC’s South Dublin Brewers in order to fill a used 200-litre Bushmills barrel. The 10% Imperial Porter will be brewed and fermented separately by 9 different contributors and then racked to the barrel in order to undergo a period of aging and to draw out the oak and whiskey flavours from the barrel. I’ve already started collecting 330ml bottles for this beer – smaller measures are going to be necessary, I think!

Recipe

Boil Size: 17.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 15.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.098 SG
Estimated Color: 57.7 SRM
Estimated IBU: 145.7 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 60.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 60.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

1.500 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 24.6 %
0.750 kg Amber Malt (22.0 SRM), 12.3 %
0.750 kg Brown Malt (65.0 SRM), 12.3 %
0.375 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM), 6.2 %
0.187 kg Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM), 3.1 %
0.187 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 3.1 %
0.187 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM),  3.1 %
0.500 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM), 8.2 %
39 g Magnum [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 93.3 IBUs
1.650 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 27.1 %
102 g Goldings, East Kent [5.80 %] – Boil 20.0, 37.0 IBUs
1.5 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Brew Day #1 04/05/2013 – There’s a huge amount of roasted malt going into this brew (especially given that this is a partial mash) so I was a little apprehensive about how this would effect my mash pH, and consequently, my starch conversion. A fairly hefty amount of grain for me, but the mash was still pretty loose. I used about 12 litres of treated water in the mash, and kept around 6 litres for sparging. Mashed at around 67-68C. The smell from the mash was absolutely fantastic, huge espresso and caramel. The smell from the huge 20-minute flavour addition was fantastic too – 102g of freshly-opened East Kent Goldings. Huge amount of hop material at the end of the boil. The wort is so incredibly sweet and it has a huge amount of hop flavour. Hopefully, some of this will persist in the finished/aged beer. No hitches at all – I got just over 14 litres at a gravity of 1.098. REhydrated 1.5 packets of Safale US-05 and fermentation was well under way less than 12 hours later.

Brew Day #2 05/05/2013 – Every thing went according to plan, the same as yesterday’s brew day really. I’ve got about 28-29 litres in the fermenters. After lossed to trub, I should have 26 litres available for transfer to the barrel.

07/05/2013 – Both fermenters are happily bubbling, but I’m not getting the volcanic fermentation I was expecting. There’s maybe two inches of kreusen on top of the fermenting beer. Should be fine, but I’ll be checking the fermentation and gravity over the next 2 or 3 weeks.

09/05/2013 – Both fermenters have now slowed down and most of the kreusen has dropped. Still a bit of foam on top of both FVs though. I wasn’t quite expecting fermentation to be finished at this stage to be honest; but if there was a really good pitch rate then this would make sense.

03/03/2014 – This beer (and the South Dublin Brewers) won a silver medal in the “barrel-aged” category of the National Brewing Championship. Easy to see why from the samples I’ve tasted.

03/05/2014 – Emptied barrel and got a corny-full of porter (18 litres) from my contribution. Beer smells amazing, boozy but not harsh. The assembled brewers also cleaned out the barrel and racked in another 217 litres of freshly brewed English barleywine.

23/11/2014 – After several months sitting in the corny, I finally got around to bottling this today. Of course, there was no chance of any viable yeast being left in the beer, so I had to re-seed with some fresh US-05. I weighed out approximately 1-2g of dried yeast and re-hydrated in a ramekin in about 50ml of tap water. This is the first time I’ve re-seeded a beer with yeast. I added the yeast to the bottling bucket as the beer was being racked from the corny. Primed with 125g of corn sugar. Bottled in a variety of bottles (1 x 1l, 19 x 500ml, 21 x 330ml). The aroma from the beer is absolutely amazing.

26/11/2014 – Happy days. There’s visible signs of fermentation going on in the bottle. Plenty of bubbles coming out of solution when I gently shake the bottle. I’d kind of lost interest in this beer, I have to say, but now I’m really looking forward to having this fully conditioned for Christmas.

13/12/2014 – Uh-oh.. don’t know what’s happened here. Cracked open a 330ml bottle and it was as flat as a pancake.. I can’t think why this hasn’t carbonated. It got a fresh dose of yeast and what I thought was ample time conditioning at fermentation temperatures. Bit of research needed.

28/12/2014 – Brought the bottles back into the house, and gave them a gentle shake to stir the yeast (assuming there is any!) into suspension. I’ll leave it a few weeks before testing another bottle.

10/01/2015 – It seems as if there’s bubbles in the bottles. But I thought the same when I test the bottle last November too. Will leave another couple of weeks I think.

24/01/2015 – Finally!! It’s carbonated! Taking the bottle back into the warm house, rousing the yeast in the bottom of the bottles, and exercising a bit of patience has worked. The beer is so complex and sophisticated. It’s actually staggering how good quality is, certainly better than any commercial barrel-aged stout I’ve ever tasted.

PM#12 – Yo-leven India Pale Ale

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With the re-brew of Big Dawg Imperial Amber bubbling away thanks to the repitched slurry from Way to Amarillo, I decided on impulse to brew my first attempt at a big West Coast style IPA. I’ll be using the other half of the slurry I saved from Way to Amarillo.

“Yo-leven” is going to be an extreme beer. I copied the Big Dawg recipe and removed the chocolate malt and dark crystal, but I added some Munich for some extra malt character. I upped the bittering hops to give a 1:1 gravity-bittering ratio, even though the massive amount of late hops will probably push this way over the 70 IBU calculated by BeerSmith. I realised that I could easily do 7 or 8 hop additions with different varieties of American hops so I’ll be using Centennial, Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra, Columbus, Summit and Cascade. I originally had a 60 minute addition of Magnum but I removed this as my IBUs were way too high and I wanted to include a 30-minute addition to add a different level of hop flavour. I don’t usually do 30-minute additions, but some people swear by them for the bigger, hoppier styles. 30-minute additions seem to be in a lot of Randy Mosher’s recipes.

The hops are all leaf hops apart from the zero minute additions of Columbus and Summit. This is going to be quite a hop monster!

Recipe

Boil Size: 16.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 14.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.070 SG
Estimated Color: 11.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 69.6 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 52.4 %
  • 0.350 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 8.3 %
  • 0.200 kg Munich Malt (10.0 SRM), 4.8 %
  • 0.160 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM), 3.8 %
  • 0.120 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 2.9 %
  • 24 g Centennial [13.50 %] – Boil 30.0 min, 30.6 IBUs
  • 0.950 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM), 22.6 %
  • 0.220 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min], 5.2 %
  • 0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
  • 24 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 12.9 IBUs
  • 24 g Simcoe [13.20 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 11.7 IBUs
  • 24 g Citra [14.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 11.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Columbus [14.20 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)
  • 20 g Citra [14.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs
  • 10 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Notes

Mash Day 19/04/2013 – Prepared 17 litres of water using half a crushed campden tablet. Decanted 6 litres into separate pot for sparging. Sparged in 15 litre FV. Mashed at 66-68°C. Wort is light coloured.

Finally got around to calibrating one of my 5 gal fermenters using a jug and weighing scales. Surprised to see that the 15 litre mark indicated on the FV is actually spot-on! On so many occasions in the past, I’ve blamed my poor mash efficiency on uncalibrated fermenting buckets. At least I know now!

Boil Day 20/04/2013 – Got OG of 1.070 with volume of 14 litres. Happy enough considering there would have been a huge amount of wort loss from the large hop bill. Wort tastes awesome – really, really, really awesome.

24/04/2013 – Fermentation has mostly finished. The yeast has dropped to the bottom of the FV but there’s still plenty of fizzing at the top of the beer. I’ll be giving this 2 weeks in the FV regardless, as it’s such a big beer.

28/04/2012 – Dry-hopped with 20g of Citra and 10g of Amarillo. I’d originally planned on using 30g of Cascade to add another variety to the hop bill, but I’d just bottled a batch of the Big Dawg which has a big Cascade dry-hop and I wanted to try something different.

03/05/2013 – Anticipating a lower volume of beer than the intended 15 litres, I used only 80g of glucose to prime this batch. I got 16 x 330ml bottles (Duvel) and 13 x 500ml bottles. Pretty pleased with that. The aroma from the fermenter was just something else. Serious tropical aroma, reminded me a bit of Odell’s IPA. If it turns out to be even half as good as the Odell’s, I’ll be delighted. Had a taste from the trial jar – wow, it’s bitter! Not out of balance though, I hope. I really can’t wait to crack this one open.

18/05/2013 – A bit naughty drinking this 7.5% ale after only 2 weeks in the bottle. It does seem a little bit young, but certainly not undrinkable. Big hop flavour of course, and big bitterness. It’s a lot darker than I expected. Surprised how little of the Citra comes across, I was expecting a bit of a mango-bomb on this one. I’ll have to leave this alone for another few weeks I think, and see how it changes.

23/05/2013 – Oops, I opened another bottle of this by mistake! Like most of the beers I’m brewing these days, it’s always nice to drink, but never the beer I set out to brew in the first place. I imagined this would be a golden with a massive fruity hop flavour. But in actual fact, it’s much darker/redder than I intended it to be. It’s also got a lot more dank hop character than I expected, and not enough of that citrus-tropical character that I wanted. I’m already thinking of the re-brew of this. A lighter crystal malt and/or omitting the Munich malt will be a good start. I’ll also be replacing the Columbus and/or Summit with something fruitier. Maybe lots of Cascade, Citra or Centennial. I also think I might shave around 10 IBUs off the recipe as it’s coming across quite bitter. But then it’s not even 3 weeks in the bottle. I’ll make that judgement around the 8 week mark. Also, I wouldn’t go as far as saying the alcohol was “hot” in this beer, but the alcohol is definitely more prominent than that in the “Big Dawg”, even though they have the same ABV. Could this be the fermentation temperature? Or do the malts in the Big Dawg hide the alcohol a little better?

02/06/2013 – A month in the bottle and it’s showing a lot of promise – certainly a lot more promising than the last taste I had. It’s strange, but a week in homebrewing is a long time and can make all the difference between an immature beer and something really perfect. It’s definitely too dark in colour, which will mean changes to the grain bill on the next attempt. It’s also got a lot more malt character, which is coming from the Munich malt mostly. I’ll definitely be omitting the Munich and using a mixture of light and medium crystal malts. Hopping is really good, but I definitely want something less dank in there next time. The attenuation/mouthfeel is really good – quite a dry finish. It would probably take a little more residual sweetness from more crystal malt, but I’m not sure about this yet. As I’m planning on upping the gravity next time, I probably won’t want more crystal in there.

10/06/2013 – I’m starting to consider actually reducing the ABV in the re-brew of this beer. The alcohol is quite prominent and I think I’d like to have something a bit easier to drink. I’ve been drinking it out of the 330ml bottles and the smaller bottle is really the most you would want to drink of it. There’s some fantastic malt flavours in it – really complex. The bitterness does seem very high, though not overly off-balance.

23/06/2013 – This has matured into a really good beer. It’s extremely drinkable because of the corn sugar, so you’d drink a couple of pints of it no problem. Though I wouldn’t recommend it, as it packs quite a punch. It’s like an amplified version of every hoppy American ale I’ve ever made. It’s got more bitterness, more fruit, more alcohol, more grass, more pine, more everything. I actually think it could use a little extra caramel malt to balance all that hopping. I might look into some recipes and see how I can increase this without going overboard. I’m also starting to think that leaving it as an Imperial IPA might be the best way to go – that alcohol is really quite prominent, and I think putting this in the American IPA category might see it dinged for having too much alcohol. I still maintain that I want something less dank/piney/grassy and lots more fruit. So the Columbus and Summit have to go next time. As far as optimum bottle conditioning goes, I think 7 weeks is pretty good. Though I think it was tasting pretty good a couple of weeks ago as well.

25/06/2013 – I have it in mind to do a side-by-side comparison with Brewdog’s Hardcore IPA to see how it measures up. This beer was never intended to a clone of said beer but I’m curious to see how “Yo-leven” compares with a commercial Double IPA. Even though there’s massive differences in ABV and hop bill, I might get some valuable pointers on how to approach my next attempt at this. I had a bottle of the homebrew this evening and it had only been in the fridge for 30 mins. As such, it was quite warm – the hot alcohol has diminished and the malt flavours have really rounded out. I’m curious to see how the CaraMalt will work in this recipe.

28/06/2013 – Appearance – Both examples quite cloudy, with the Yo-leven being cloudier. Surprisingly, the HIPA has a lot of yeast floating about in it! I thought all Brewdog beers including the Hardcore were filtered to some extent. Ignoring the haze and general murkiness, both beers a similar shade of orange with the Yo-leven being a shade darker.

Aroma – The Hardcore has a more prominent hop aroma but you can also get a prominent caramel aroma too. Lots of tangerine in the Hardcore. The Yo-leven has a more ‘general’ hoppiness, but this might change as the glasses warm up.

Taste – As you’d expect, the alcohol is much more prominent in the Hardcore. There’s a very big flavour of tangerines from the Hardcore, which reminds me of odells IPA. A great flavour, I don’t know which hop is contributing this flavour – unfortunately I’ve never been able to get this flavour into my beer, no matter which American hops I’ve used. The Brewdog website lists the hop varieties as Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe. And it’s definitely not the Columbus that’s contributing this flavour. By a strange coincidence, I happen to all of those three varieties in abundance at the moment.

Mouthfeel – The hardcore is fuller bodied and is an altogether more sugary affair. I’m starting to think this isn’t really a worthwhile comparison as they’re two completely different styles of beer.

Overall Impression – Overall, this was a fairly futile side-by-side comparison. When compared with Hardcore IPA, the “Yo-leven” is deinfitely within the designated IPA style guidelines. It’s drier, and more easy-drinking. I think if I’m to make Yo-leven into an Imperial IPA I’ll need to up the gravity, up the crystal malt and maybe omit the corn sugar.

03/07/2013 – I think I’m down to my last bottle of this. It’s such a fantastic drop. I think it’s definitely loitering between the territories of IPA and DIPA. It’s got lots more of that tangerine-citrus flavour that’s in a lot of my favourite IPAs, like Odells. It’s still quite grassy and piney, so I need to dial this back a bit.

Yo-leven vs Sierra Nevada Torpedo

19/07/2013 – After getting some feedback that my beer was similar to Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo, I decided to do another side-by-side comparison with my second last bottle. The verdict is this:

Appearance – The Sierra Nevada looks the more attractive beer – a fantastic copper colour with great clarity for such a big beer. The Yo-leven is considerably darker, almost approaching chestnut colour with some copper overtones. Head formation and lacing is much more impressive in the Yo-leven however, and lasts all the way to the bottom of the glass, unlike the Torpedo.

Aroma – The Yo-leven has a very different hop aroma – understandable given the much different hop bills, but the aroma is much fresher than the commercial beer. It’s probably a younger beer though. Unfortunately, Sierra Nevada does not include manufacturing dates on their beers, but it’s well over a year to it’s BB date. A good score on the aroma front as far as I’m concerned.

Taste – The Torpedo has a fantastic grainy flavour, not much tropical fruit flavours coming across despite the alleged use of Citra hops. It’s more toffee-like. The biggest difference is the massive hop bitterness of the Torpedo, perhaps more prominent due to the lighter body? The Yo-leven is much more dank and grassy but with lots of accompanying hop fruitiness. The hops are more complex in the the Yo-leven, but the grain flavours in the Torpedo and more complex. Huge hop flavour in the Yo-leven, a much hoppier beer in general. The Yo-leven has more dark caramel flavour, not as toffee-like as the Torpedo, but it seems maltier. Great grapefruit flavour in the Torpedo.

Mouthfeel – The Torpedo is lighter in body, and much drier even there’s only around 0.3% difference in ABV. Despite the prominent toffee-caramel flavours in the Torpedo, the Yo-leven still seems more caramelly. Surprisingly gentle carbonation in the Torpedo; the Yo-leven is just slightly more lively.

Overall Impression – My opinion hasn’t changed from previous tastings of this. The Torpedo has definitely reinforced my opinion that I need to reduce the colour and soften those malt flavours a bit. The hop flavours are amazing, but still less fruity than I had hoped for. I’m also thinking of leaving the bitterness where it is at 70 IBU. After two months of aging, the bitterness has faded considerably.

Franciscan Well IPA

27/07/2013 – Finally a taste comparison with a beer that is exactly the same ABV as the Yo-leven.

Appearance – Gentle pour on both samples. Yo-leven has slightly better head formation. Both samples served in identical glasses and both very hazy. Franciscan Well IPA is a shade (or two) darker than the Yo-leven.

Aroma – Superior hop aroma coming from the Yo-leven. The Franciscan Well’s hop aroma is there but it’s not very strong. Dark malt aromas, maybe even a bit of chocolate malt creeping through?

Flavour – Definitely roasted malt flavour from the Franciscan Well and some nice hop flavour. Very dark caramel notes in the flavour which puts me in mind of an American amber. Plus there’s something about the bitterness – it’s a little too aggressive and I don’t think it works well with the dark crystal/roasted malts. The alcohol in the Franciscan Well is very balanced, no hot alcohols there. For a single-hopped Citra IPA I would be expecting a lot more tropical fruit flavours than are going on here. Yo-leven has a much bigger hop flavour and more light caramel flavours. Yo-leven also has a better balance of bitterness and residual sweetness. Once again, the dank and grassy notes of the Yo-leven come to the fore. As the glass warms, the Franciscan Well is becoming overwhelmingly yeasty, despite a very careful pour. A bit young, perhaps?

Mouthfeel – The Franciscan Well is surprisingly light-bodied for the high gravity.

Overall Impression – These two beers are definitely in the same ball park! Similar mouthfeel and level of hopping, with the Franciscan being drier and the Yo-leven with more hop character. Both excellent beers, however I would not see either of them going down well stateside. The American IPAs I’ve tasted don’t have that dark crystal thing going on. Franciscan Well have taken things a little further with the addition of some form of roasted malts, probably chocolate malt. This is just inappropriate for a beer styling itself as an American IPA. If someone handed me this beer I might even wonder if it was a heavily-hopped American barleywine that undershot it’s gravity. A very enjoyable beer but doesn’t live up to it’s IPA billing and it just doesn’t have the distinctive Citra character it should have.

PM#11 – Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale

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It’s funny. I had a blog post all ready to go about how I was going to make improvements to my “Big Dawg Amber IPA” – to lighten the colour, reduce the bitterness, increase the attenuation etc. Well, it’s supposed “flaws” drove me to re-designate the amber IPA to “Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale” as the dark malt flavours made it seem much more like a super-charged American amber. I entered it in the “Specialty” category of Ireland’s first national homebrewing competition where it scored a very respectable 40 points and took the bronze medal in that category. While I’m sure there’s still room for improvement, it seems a bit silly to go tinkering with the recipe now. Here, for posterity is how I was planning to turn the recipe around to make it more like an IPA:

  • I’ll be omitting the Crystal 100 altogether. Even though there’s only a small amount of this grain, I think the heavy caramel flavour comes through and I don’t think it’s appropriate here.
  • I do still want this to be an “amber” IPA, but I’m going to be much more conservative with the colour adjustments this time. I’ll sub the chocolate malt with the pale variety and use half the amount.
  • I’ll be reducing the Crystal 40 to 150g but adding 200g of Crystal 15. This will lighten the colour considerably I hope.
  • I’ll be upping the amount of base malt to 2kg, up to the limit of my mash pot capacity. Instead of taking the easier option by drastically increasing the amount of corn sugar in an attempt to dry out the beer, I’m going to try to achieve this by decreasing the mash temperature. I’ll be aiming for 65C. However, I’ll also be increasing the amount of corn sugar slightly from 180g to 250g.
  • The hop schedule will stay the same as the hop flavour and aroma is fantastic. I’ll be shooting for the same level of IBU aswell, even though I’ll have less residual sweetness in the beer. Hopefully it will work out. I’m going to aim for 7 days of dry-hopping this time.

There’s a lot of merit in these changes I think and they will prove useful when I get around to actually doing an amber IPA again.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to do a re-brew of Big Dawg Imperial Amber Ale, an exact copy if I can. I got some feedback from the judge in the competition who said that it was just slightly too bitter for the gravity. I went back and looked at my recipe and realised the AA rating on my Summit hops was incorrect. When I adjusted the AA, the IBUs in the beer climbed to 72.5. So I’ll be paying close attention to my hops this time and I’ll also be reducing the IBUs to around 67. I also want to reduce the carbonation ever so slightly, as the beer was just a bit too lively.

Recipe

Boil Size: 16.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 14.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.071 SG
Estimated Color: 16.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 66.9 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.200 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM), 52.5 %
  • 0.350 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM), 8.4 %
  • 0.160 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM), 3.8 %
  • 0.120 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM), 2.9 %
  • 0.039 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt -100L (100.0 SRM), 0.9 %
  • 0.039 kg Chocolate Malt (530.0 SRM), 0.9 %
  • 10 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 34.1 IBUs
  • 1.100 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0), 26.3 %
  • 0.180 kg Corn Sugar (Dextrose) [Boil for 20 min], 4.3 %
  • 0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 8.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 16.4 IBUs
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 5.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 24 g Summit [16.80 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
  • 1.0 pkg Safale Fermentis US-05
  • 28 g Cascade [6.80 %] – Dry Hop 5.0 Days, 0.0 IBUs

Notes

16/04/2013 Mash Day – Mashed at 67-68°C.

17/04/2013 Boil Day – Nothing much to report. Used my 15 litre fermenter to sparge. Didn’t bother taking an OG reading.

24/04/2013 – Dry-hopped with 28g of Cascade leaf hops. I used my new marbles to weigh down the hop bag! I used 300g of marbles which was over half the bag, but it still didn’t make the bag sink. I guess I’ll be going for the full bag of marbles next time. Surprising for such a small dry hop. I’ll give this 4-5 days before bottling – depends on when suits best to do my bottling.

28/04/2012 – Bottled with 85g of glucose. The beer was a total of 11 days in fermenter,  just one day less than the first batch. Had no problems with clogged siphon this time and I got 12 x 750ml swingtop bottles and 8 x 500ml regular bottles. Fantastic hop aroma from the dry-hopped Cascade.

18/05/2013 – Pretty good, but it still tastes a little young as it’s not even 3 weeks in the bottle. Will give it another 2 or 3 weeks. Definitely the same beer I brewed before, but the darker crystal malts need a little more aging. Looking good though.

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21/09/2013 – Comparison with Brewdog 10 Heads High – I was very excited to see a few weeks ago that Brewdog had not only released what they were calling an “Imperial Amber Ale”, but that it was 7.5% ABV, the same as “Big Dawg”. I snapped up a bottle as soon as I saw it in my local offie.

Appearance – The Brewdog beer is a definite shade darker than the Big Dawg. Much better head formation and retention in the home brew. Huge globs of yeast in the Brewdog bottle. Please, oh please Brewdog, tell us when your beers are bottle conditioned rather than filtered. This is the third time this has happened to me with BD bottles. We seasoned Brewdog drinkers are just not used to unfiltered beer from yourselves. Sort it out.

Aroma – A little stronger in the Brewdog. Aroma is of dark caramel and tangerine fruitiness. The Big Dawg is quite old at the moment though, and is likely to have lost much of it’s aroma.

Taste – The first difference that hits you is the whack of roasted malt in the Brewdog. That’s not present in the Big Dawg. The difference in hop character is not huge but the Brewdog has slightly more residual sweetness, perhaps lots of that CaraMalt that Brewdog likes using in a lot of their beers.

Mouthfeel – the mouthfeel is pretty much the same in both beers, as is the level of carbonation.

Overall Impression – my chief taster, in a blind taste test, preferred the Big Dawg and pointed out the “smoky” note in the Brewdog which is the roasted malts I referred to earlier. I quite agree, the Big Dawg trumps the pro beer just slightly, though I’d love to taste both beers with a little less age on them.

That’s the last bottle of Big Dawg. I’ll definitely be doing many rebrews of this beer. Excellent.

PM#10 – Way to Amarillo Brown Ale

Hops

Most of the dark beers that I brew tend to be of the English variety – milds, bitters etc. As much as I like those styles of beers I always find myself asking “I wonder what this would taste like with a huge blast of Amarillo or Cascade?”. I suppose I just love that American hop flavour. I’ve had my eye on an American brown ale recipe in Jamil’s “Brewing Classic Styles” since I bought the book over a year ago. For one reason or another, I never got round to doing it. This time though, I’m determined to use lots of my fresh 2012 Amarillo hops in this brown ale recipe. I’ll be making just a few changes to the published recipe, replacing the Nugget bittering hops with Magnum and adding an extra charge of Amarillo, just because I don’t think you can have too much Amarillo in any beer. I’ll use pale chocolate malt instead of regular chocolate malt as the US chocolate malt tends to be kilned a little lighter than the varieties we get here. I used a smaller amount of pale chocolate malt in a recent mild I did and I really liked the result. Plenty of my favourite specialty malt in Jamil’s recipe too – biscuit malt! I’ll be following Jamil’s bitterness-gravity ratio and hopefully this will make a tasty, hoppy beer.

Recipe

Boil Size: 16.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 14.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 20.00 l
Bottling Volume: 20.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.049 SG
Estimated Color: 19.9 SRM
Estimated IBU: 35.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.000 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) 48.5 %
0.300 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) 7.3 %
0.225 kg Pale Chocolate Malt (300.0 SRM) 5.5 %
0.200 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) 4.8 %
0.200 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) 4.8 %
0.150 kg Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM) 3.6 %
0.100 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM) 2.4 %
10 g Magnum [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 20.1 IBUs
0.950 kg Light Dry Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0), 23.0 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
25 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 10.0 min, 7.7 IBUs
25 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 5.0 min, 6.4 IBUs
50 g Amarillo [10.90 %] – Boil 0.0 min, 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash & Brew Day 29/03/2013 – Mash and boil conducted together. Treated 17 litres of water using campden tablet and set aside 6 litres of sparge water in small pot. Doughed-in at 74°C and after a little adjustment with both hot and cold water, settled at a mash temperature of 67°C. Sparged again in my 15 litre fermenter and allowed to steep for 10 minutes or so. The wort had that distinctive cooked corn smell you get when using CaraPils. Wort is a fantastic colour – deep mahogany. Topped-up to just under the 20 litre mark and got an OG of 1.050. Pitched about 500ml of US-05 slurry from the Downtown Train Pale Ale and a big fermentation had taken off less than 12 hours later. Nothing to report apart from my immersion chiller dismantling in front of my eyes and spraying water all the kitchen, just a loose jubilee clip.

09/04/2013 – I got only 33 bottles out of this batch which is surprising for what was supposed to be a 33 litre batch. Had slow siphon problems again – this time the culprit was those funny little seeds that you sometimes get in hops. I need to do some research on what these actually are. Primed with 130g glucose.

24/04/2013 – First taste. It might have been whatever I’d eaten or drank beforehand, but this hasn’t turned out at all like I expected. I expected a bit of a hop bomb but it’s like the chocolate malt is masking the hop flavour. Maybe it needs a couple more weeks conditioning, but with the huge amount of Amarillo that went into this, I expected it to be a more hop dominated beer. Though it is very tasty – the pale chocolate malt and crystal are making themelves known. Try again in a couple of weeks. Maybe row back on the chocolate malt next time.

23/06/2013 – Someone tasting this remarked that it reminded them of another beer, which happened to be a black IPA. After I reeoved this feedback, I can’t get the thought out of my head and I’m now myself thinking of this as a scaled-down version of a black IPA. It’s got quite a subtle roast flavour, but it doesn’t use an de-husked roasted malts, as most black IPA recipes seem to include. I presume this is because the pale chocolate malt is more subtle than the regular version. The flavours seem to have softened and mingled a little more and I think it’s drinking a lot better. It’s funny though, how someone else’s comments can change your perception of your own beer.

06/07/2013 – Wonderful stuff. A few months aging have really done wonders for this beer. It’s definitely got overtones of ‘black IPA’. Hops and caramel melting into each other, but some lovely notes of coffee and chocolate also.

PM#9 – Black Widow – Anniversary Stout 2013

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Recently, I got the idea of brewing a big beer for consumption in October to celebrate my third year of being a homebrewer. A barleywine is an obvious choice, but I think I prefer the idea of a high-gravity stout which will fall somewhere between a foreign extra stout and an imperial stout. It will be around 8% ABV and I’m planning on using some darker crystal malts which will smoothen out over 8 months aging and should lend the beer some intense vinous flavours. I’ll use a good quantity of roasted barley also which will also mellow into a smooth roastiness during the extended aging period. Hopping will be kept simple with a single bittering addition of Magnum and a large charge of Northern Brewer for flavour. I’ll be targeting a robust bitterness of 55 IBU which will mellow slightly between now and October.

I was planning on using this beer to make my first foray into the world of oak-aging, using an ounce or two of medium-toast American oak chips. But I’ve decided to leave the oak for my next stout, which is going to be a bigger Imperial stout.

Recipe

Boil Size: 15.00 l
Post Boil Volume: 13.11 l
Batch Size (fermenter): 15.00 l
Bottling Volume: 15.00 l
Estimated OG: 1.082 SG
Estimated Color: 37.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 55.5 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 65.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients

2.300 kg Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) 47.0 %
0.275 kg Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM) 5.6 %
0.240 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 40L (40.0 SRM) 4.9 %
0.160 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt – 75L (75.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.160 kg Chocolate Malt (450.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.160 kg Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) 3.3 %
0.400 kg Light Dry Extract (8.0 SRM) 8.2 %
14 g Magnum [14.20 %] – Boil 60.0 min, 34.1 IBUs
1.200 kg Light Dry Malt Extract [Boil for 20 min](8.0 SRM) 24.5 %
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 15.0 mins)
40 g Northern Brewer [9.00 %] – Boil 15.0 min, 16.5 IBUs
1.0 pkg Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Day 04/03/2013 – At the last minute, I decided to increase my gravity to bring this beer up to 8.5% ABV. I mis-calculated with the temperature of the strike water. It was 72°C and after doughing-in it had dropped to 65.5°C. I attempted to put some heat under the small mash pot but I was worried about the grain bag melting on me. I also figured that a more fermentable wort might be a desirable in such a big beer. (Thinking about it now, I’m not sure I’d want this in a big stout. I like them to be pretty chewy.) Let the mash stand for 60 mins anyway. I didn’t stir during the mash.

Brew Day 05/03/2013 – Pretty uneventful brew day, until I measure my OG. I had confidently topped up to the 15 litre mark on one of the large fermenters and took a gravity reading. My OG stood at 1.076 instead of 1.082. Not entirely disastrous but still not what I was shooting for. I’ll likely end up with a beer just under 8% now. The wort looked and smelled great but not the syrupy consistency I expected. Could this be the lower mash temperature? I suspect the drop in mash efficiency was due to the lower temperature mash, but it’s also conceivable that I was off with my volume of top-up water. I think the beer will still be pretty good; it’s hardly likely to be thin in body when it’s 7.8% ABV. But I am concerned that the gravity and body won’t stand up to the extra 10 IBUs I added to compensate for the increased target OG. The sample from the trial jar did not taste hugely roasty either – but there was a huge amount of sweetness there which could have masked it. Fresh sachet of US-05, rehydrated with boiled water.

06/03/2013 – Small layer of kreusen on top this morning. I’m expecting this to be a very volcanic fermentation given the high gravity and the high proportion of roasted malts.

12/03/2013 – Surprised to see the kreusen has completely dropped in this, which is most uncharacteristic for US-05. Maybe I had a bigger pitch rate than I thought? 1 sachet in a 15-litre batch? I’m worried that the recent cold temperatures may have made the yeast drop out. Moved into kitchen to warm up, just in case it has gone to sleep.

13/03/2013 – No activity this morning and it looks and smells like beer. It’s still got a few small bubbles rising to the top, so it looks like it’s fermenting or at least cleaning up. I’ll leave it a few more days and take a gravity reading. If it’s fully fermented out, I’ll probably leave it another week. With such a big OG I don’t want to be rushing this off the yeast.

22/03/2013 – Bottled using 80g dextrose. Got 14 bottles regular stout, 10 bottles of vanilla bourbon stout – each primed with 10ml of vanilla-infused bourbon, and finally two bottles of an experimental stout: bottled aged with chipotle chilli. Each bottle got half a chipotle with the seeds and pith carefully removed.

11/08/2013 – This is actually my second taste of this, and it’s really good. Great caramel and body. Could probably use a touch more roast to balance all that caramel, but the balance is not bad at all. The burnt aftertaste is really nice. It’s quite boozy, but the alcohol isn’t hot or overpowering. Even though it’s at the lower end of the scale of ABV for Russian Imperial Stouts, it certainly drinks like an RIS. It’s got the body and the alcohol presence to push it firmly into the “Imperial” category. Plenty of balancing bitterness there, I just hope there will still be plenty of bitterness for next years competition.

26/08/2013 – Had a bottle of this last night. Didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the last bottle, but that could have been because my palate was shot with several hoppy IPAs. It’s really smooth and caramelly. The alcohol is noticeable but it’s quite smooth also. I’m not sure if the bitterness level is going to stand up to another 6 months aging, but we’ll have to see. I’m planning on opening a bottle of the bourbon version soon too.

28/08/2013 – I was just reading on John Palmer’s online version of “How to Brew” that roasted barley has “less of a charcoal bite to it than does Black Patent”. This might explain why I’m not getting the same lovely burnt toast aftertaste that I got with my Pork Chop Porter, which used black malt.

See here: http://www.howtobrew.com/section2/chapter12-1.html

06/10/2013 – Even though I planned on “cellaring” this beer for my 3-year anniversary, there’s actually few bottles left. I gave a few of them away and have been periodicaly sampling the odd bottle too. But I do have a couple left with which to toast my 3-year anniversary as a home brewer. The beer did not turn out quite as I hoped; it’s not nearly as roast as I like my big stouts. It also missed it’s gravity by quite a few points and the low mash temperature also means it’s lighter bodied than I’d hoped. Having said that, it’s still a great beer and the alcohols have aged out to the extent that you’d never know this was an 8% beer you were drinking. While the body is relatively light, there is plenty of caramel malts peeking through. It’s very complex, in fact. The bourbon version is also delicious, plenty of vanilla and bourbon flavour showing through, but not overwhelmingly so. I might even push the dosage to 12ml (or even beyond) on subsequent versions of this. I hope to crack open another bottle of this on the 10th!

17/10/2013 – I finally opened a bottle of the Chipotle-aged stout and all I can say is “wow”! A really good result, but I think the level of heat would be too much for most people. You are left in doubt as to what sort of beer this is. There’s a huge smoke flavour from it too, really complex. I’ll definitely do this again, though I might consider reducing the amount of pepper I put in each bottle. I’ll try a quarter of a dried pepper next time and see what that does to the flavour. I can report that the chili stays intact in the bottle which is something I was a little worried about. But it sinks to the bottom of the bottle and easily drops out of the bottle with the beer dregs. It’s a really good experiment to try as you get a second beer out of your batch of stout. And you can experiment with flavours on a bottle by bottle basis. My next stout is going to be bulk-aged with some ancho chilis, along with some other Mexican flavourings to produce a mole stout.

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11/01/2014 Pre-competition Tasting – Pours with an impressive, thick head. Aroma is sweet caramel and roast. Not a huge amount of alcohol on the nose. Taste is absolutely fantastic! Roasty and sweet and the level of alcohol is really subdued for a beer that’s almost 8%. Great raisin-fruit flavours in abundance, even though the beer is pretty cold in the glass. Should improve immeasurably as it warms in the glass. Finishes dry. Perfectly balanced after the extended aging period. A definite entry for 2014’s competition, but most definitely in the “Foreign Extra Stout” category, not “Russian Imperial Stout”!

12/01/2014 – Wow! The vanilla-bourbon version has held up extremely well! As happened with the last time I did this treatment to a porter, it has taken on an extraordinary chocolate-like quality. It’s got a real smoothness too, which puts me in mind of an intense coffee-chocolate milkshake. For that reason, I’m going to enter it in the competition as “Five Dollar Shake”. Tastes absolutely fantastic. Very impressive head which lasts very well, a half-finger of dense, mocha-coloured foam. Wonderful. Hope the judges think so.


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