Since last we were here…..
Oktoberfest 2011 came and went. Fun again, good beer, first use of my “pin” cask. The cask worked out great, I brewed an ESB and loaded the cask with whole Centennial hops and I was really happy with the result (well other than the beer that sprayed all over when we vented it – a little lighter on the carbonation next time!). Still up in the air if we use the cask again this year or not though.
The whiskey barrel aged imperial stout has been kegged & bottled. 1/6th of it has Intelligentsia Black Cat Expresso added, and it turned out fantastic. As a change I took some Intelligentsia Analog Expresso and added it to a second keg. I didn’t think this was as good as the first, but still interesting. The rest of the barrel has been either bottled, will be soon or I may keep one keg full for winter. Currently, the barrel is filled with a sour Belgian stout that is tasting really good and I will likely pull some of that off in the next month or two to bottle and then continue to use that barrel “solera style” for sour stout like I am with the two wine barrels with the lambic and flanders red.
I rebrewed some of the lambic a few weeks ago to pull some out to use a bunch of the door county cherries we had gotten last year so hopefully that should be ready in a few months. I plan to use the rest of the cherries we got last year in a small batch of the sour stout.
I know that it’s still 3 months away, but one of the beers for our Oktoberfest party is already done and lagering. I brewed a helles bock type beer for the “official” festbier. We didn’t have any lagers last year so I really wanted to do one this year. It was down to a helles, a traditional bock, and the Vindicator doppelbock. Since I was already going to have a big double IPA on draft, I figured the lighter of the options might be the best choice. Anyway, I sampled the helles a couple days ago and it’s quite good. It should only get better as it lagers in the low 30s. I brewed it on one of the hottest days of the year so far (98 degrees) so it was quite the brew day but I eventually got it chilled and seems like everything worked out great. The rest of the beers are best served fresh (IPA, Double IPA, Hefe, etc) so I’ll likely get them done at the end of August or first week of September so they are at their prime come the end of September.
In the last couple of weeks I brewed 3 different beers, all of which are hop focused. The first was a 100% Citra hopped IPA. This was a repeat (with a few tweaks) of a beer I did last year and I think I have this recipe down, it turned out great. The second is a hoppy wheat beer brewed with WY3333 German Wheat yeast and Amarillo hops which is currently fermenting. This was also the first beer I used my hopback on which was packed with Cascade and Centennial hops. Can’t wait to try this in a few weeks, it should be interesting – partly because I had a few issues with the mash, and it ended up a bit lower than I wanted. The third beer I brewed recently is a “Session IPA” – basically a lower alcohol version of an IPA I guess. I am thinking this should come in around 4.5% abv, and about 42 IBUs, all provided by Simcoe and Amarillo hops. It smelled fantastic so I can’t wait to try this one also.
Lastly, I think it is time to upgrade some/most of my equipment so I will likely not be brewing anything for the next month or two as I try to gather all the necessary materials & parts to build a new system. I might put some pictures up during the fabrication, but then again it’s been 15 months between posts so maybe not
I haven’t brewed much since my last post mainly due to the cold and snowy winter we had this year. The Belgian Quadruple keg kicked, but I managed to save 3 bottles worth. The 2 porters are about done as well, so I will be bottling a bit of those as well to save for some people to try at a future date. I did manage to brew a saison and golden strong that are on tap now. I reserved half of the saison and added orange peel which I will need to sample this week, as it may be time to move it to a keg. Additionally, I have an amber/alt going as well as an IPA which are both scheduled to be kegged this weekend. The big news though is that I scored a freshly emptied whiskey barrel a couple months ago, which is now sitting full of an imperial stout. I basically took the recipe that I used for the sour stout, but replaced about half of the roasted barley with a blend of chocolate malts. It should come in around 9% and will be very dark. It tasted great fresh, and again after about 2 weeks in the barrel. I will probably take another sample in a few weeks and see if it’s getting close. This was a 30 gallon barrel so it wasn’t as much work to fill as the wine barrels which was nice, however I need to keep an eye on it so the oak/whiskey flavors don’t become too overwhelming. The next few brews will likely be all old recipes to refill/top off the sour and stout barrels as the kegerator will be full once the IPA and amber go on tap. Lastly, I did a little yard work on Saturday, and didn’t see any hop shoots popping through yet. I am fine with that as I need to build a new trellis after disassembling the old one last fall.
Wow, I have fallen behind again…so here is a mega update:
I brewed 2 versions of a smoked porter recipe, one using the malt I smoked over apple wood and one using Briess cherry wood smoked malt. The recipe was identical except for the smoked malt. The Briess version ended up a bit too aggressive, and the apple wood version is really good if not a bit light in smoke character. I will eventually try this again increasing the percentage of apple wood smoked malt just a touch. Additionally I took a bit of the smoked porter and added some chipotle peppers to it. I will have to try that one again, but I seem to recall the flavor being between the two with a slight bit of heat from the pepper.
I also brewed a Belgian Quad around the time of the porters. This one turned out excellent! Light fruity flavor from the yeast and dark fruit flavors from the D2 candi syrup. Nice and delicious, though quite potent as well coming in around 10% ABV.
This coming weekend I plan on brewing a belgian strong, the “BL”, the amber/alt we served at Oktoberfest, and a new batch of Drama Queen in honor of Brent Favrah. I’ll post recipe details and variations for these next week.
The lambic is tasting really good right now. I think I will pull a couple kegs off & top off with the fresh beer I have lying in wait. The fruited versions are also pretty interesting. The apricot version turned quite a bit more sour, while the raspberry is showing a LOT of the fruit flavor and the cranberry is pretty light on color and flavor.
The blackberry flanders red is also tasting good right now. The fruit flavor is there, but not overbearing, and it added a bit of a musty flavor that isn’t present in the unfruited version….interesting. I will try to sample some of the unfruited red and the stout this week or next to report their progress.
FOBAB was once again a great event….some really interesting beers, and glad to see some of the new entrants taking home awards. I was sad to see some of my favorite breweries didn’t send anything though (Surly and Jolly Pumpkin specifically)
Apparently Surly is still short on capacity to service the entire state of MN….so no Surly made it home from hunting last week, though we did score some 21st Ammendment and Deschutes which was a nice consolation prize for sure! We did get to try some Darkness a few weeks ago when some kegs made their way to various bars in Illinois. Good stuff as expected. Now I am looking forward to trying the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Vanilla and Rare when we have Stoutfest sometime early in 2011….it will be hard to wait.
Good enough for now….will have updates on the next brews after the weekend.
I had planned on brewing a couple of smoked porters last weekend but some meat got in the way. I smoked a brisket and pork shoulder and the temperatures got a little low overnight so it took way longer than I had anticipated to finish. Regardless, the meat is delicious and we vacuum sealed and froze 80% of it so we will have some delicious pulled pork and brisket whenever we want now. I also threw some kosher salt in a pan and put that on the smoker so we now have some smoked salt to use as seasoning.
What this all means for brewing is I will be finally getting around to the porters tomorrow morning EARLY and hoping to have them both done by noon in time for kickoff!!
Several years ago I realized that if you steep chili peppers in vodka for a period of time, the vodka can take on the flavor (and heat) from the peppers you used. As I was cleaning up a bit last week, I realized I had quite a bit of centennial hops (whole hops, not pellets) and a half empty bottle of vodka. So, I decided to see if I could steep the hops to end up with a centennial flavored vodka. I measured out about 500 ml of vodka and a 3/4 ounce of hops into one jar, and 700 ml and a 1/2 ounce of centennial hops into another jar. I let these steep for 2 days and decided to give the first batch a taste. The aroma was BIG with the grapefruit associated with centennial with a touch of alcohol. The taste was slightly hoppy – only in flavor, not at all bitter, and fairly vegetal – probably due to the high ratio of hops to liquor. Although it was vegetal, it wasn’t unpleasant. I happened to have a lime handy so I gave a squeeze of lime to the taster, and it was actually quite nice. The citrus of the hops went really well with the lime and seemed to tame the grassy flavor a bit. I think I will try this again with a lower hop to liquor ratio (I assume it will take a longer period of time in that case) to see if that eases the grassy flavor a touch but maintains the hops flavor and aroma. I think I have a couple other varieties in mind I’d like to try this with in addition to another attempt with centennial.