Archive for the ‘Brewing Ingredients’ Category

Mega Update

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.


Sunday, I decided that I should do a little smoked malt experiment next weekend.   I have some of the cherry wood smoked malt that Briess produces.   I also have a smoker and a variety of wood to use with the smoker.   I decided on using apple wood and cold smoking some maris otter pale malt which I will use in a smoked porter to compare the two malts.  I ended up smoking my malt in two batches for an hour per batch.   I moistened the malt by spraying it with distilled water before putting it on and then again at 30 minutes, or halfway through.

In comparison, my malt is a bit lighter in color, which makes me wonder if Briess uses a hot smoking method as their grain is a bit darker, almost red looking.    The aroma is noticeably different between the two, with the Briess smelling a  bit more sweet, and candy-like.  I am still working out the recipe, but I think I will stick to using the same proportion of smoked malt in both batches regardless of how it seems like the malt will impact the beer (right now I am guessing the Briess will provide a sweeter flavor and a bit more pronounced smoke flavor as well).    That way, I can either adjust the smoking process or the recipe formulation later to increase/decrease the smoke levels.  I’ll provide an update in a few weeks with tasting notes & comparisons between the two.

Lots O Hops

Saturday morning I harvested about a pound of Centennial hops off the bines at our house.  I planned on also taking some Cascades but they didn’t seem to be ready yet, very little aroma, still quite green and the lupulin was still a pale yellow.  The Centennials ended up being split into two beers brewed that day – most went into an IPA, and the remainder went to a Cascadian Dark Ale.

The IPA took on a very “C” character as I used Columbus, Cascade, Citra, and the freshly picked Centennial hops.  To take a bit of the harsh edge off, I used the “first wort hopping” technique with the Columbus, and promptly remembered why I don’t like to use it.  Normally, I take a gravity reading once the runoff is complete and I can make adjustments to the volume (boiling more or less off) without affecting too much as none of the hops will have been added yet.  With FW hopping, if you are high on volume you can’t just boil longer as you will extract more IBUs (because the bittering hops have already been added) and end up with a more bitter beer.  In this case, I was a touch high on volume so I came in a couple points light for my original gravity.  In the end, it won’t impact the beer very much, but I prefer to hit my numbers when I can.

The Cascadian Dark Ale was a new style and recipe for me.  For this I used Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial, and Amarillo.  To get the roast flavor and dark colors, I used Carafa Special III as the only dark/roast malt.  Since my water tends to leave the roasted malts extremely bitter and astringent when mashed, I used only 25% of the malt in the mash and the remaining 75% was cold steeped overnight and then added directly to the kettle.  I am thinking this should allow some of the roast character to come through while gaining the full depth of color expected from a malt that dark.

Both of these brews will be aggressively dryhopped, with the first addition probably on Friday followed by a second addition Monday and transfer to kegs on Wednesday or Thursday.  I am thinking a blend of Centennial and Amarillo for the CDA, and either 100% Centennial or a blend with Citra for the IPA.

With my focus lately on Belgian and sour, barrel aged beers, I think it’s been over a year since I last brewed an IPA.   Sad, I know, but I am really optimistic about how these two will turn out.   I also should have another couple pounds of Centennial and Cascade hops from the yard to play with in a month so there may be an overly hopped American Amber, Double IPA or American Barleywine in my future…

Kriek Sample

So I decided to sample the Kriek (Cherry Lambic) that has been fermenting away since the CO2 production has drastically decreased.  The beer has a terrific red color, and a very nice balanced flavor.  It could have perhaps used a bit more cherry flavor, but has a nice sour and cherry/sweet flavor at the same time.  When this is brewed again, I will likely increase the cherry additions to 2.5 lbs/gallon from 2.0 lbs/gallon.  I also think for fruit lambic batches going forward, I am going to have to use slightly larger fermenters to account for the additional space taken up by the fruit.  This beer is good as-is, so I will likely bottle it next week.   I think for this year, I will also hope to do a peach/apricot lambic, cranberry lambic, and another batch of the framboise I tested out last summer.   I currently have 2 batches of base lambic in process I can use for two of these, but the third will have to wait a bit as I will be a bit short, unless I take some from the barrel.

A Winner Has Been Declared

So this past weekend we got to sample the Wit and Saison experiments….and the winner is……..WLP550.
In both experiments, the batch fermented with 550 was preferred over a more traditional yeast.

The Wit experiment consisted of brewing a fairly standard 9 gallon batch of witbier and fermenting half with the WLP550 Belgian yeast strain, and the other half with the WLP400 Belgian White strain. While the 550 version was clearly preferred, I think both of the batches were a touch under-spiced so I plan on re-brewing a batch with the 550 and increasing the adjunct levels somewhere in the range of 10-25% over what was used in this batch.

The Saison experiment consisted of a 10 gallon batch where upon completion of the boil, half was drained from the kettle, chilled, and fermented @ about 80 degrees with the WLP568 Saison Blend yeast. The other half was whirlpooled with a blend of spices including coriander, pepper, cinnamon, and grains of paradise. This second portion was then fermented in the 66-68 degree range with WLP550. The spiced saison seems to have finished a touch drier, and the spicier profile was also clearly preferred.

Since all four of these beers were fairly fresh during this sampling, I plan on holding another tasting sometime after the holidays to see how they are holding up.

Lastly, the battle of flanders-style beers resulted in a clear victory for the red style. Somewhat disappointing because it means another 16 months before the next will batch will be ready to drink – hopefully I can ration what I have to last that long. The brown only took 4 months, so it would have been nice to have a delicious sour with a quick turnaround, but the red had a really nice tartness and the addition of oak added some complexity that was missing from the brown.