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Just Brewed: Dry Irish Stout

19 Sep

This recipe was heavily influenced by the Dry Irish Stout recipe in the book Brewing Classic Styles. I have tried a couple of stout recipes before, but for several reasons, they have not turned out great. Mainly the problem had to do with mash issues and yeast not fully attenuating–leaving a medium-ish body finish–which is not ideal for “dry” stout.

I have a good feeling about this one–primarily because of the milled roasted barley and goodly amount of flaked barley. One huge unknown at this point is the yeast. Many recipes call for Irish ale yeast. The plus about this yeast is its low ester production. Of course, just about any yeasts can be “low ester” producing if fermented at the right temperature. So, I decided to give Fermentis Safale US-05 a try. Its label says it is an American Yeast, but it’s qualities are well suited for Stout–high attenuation and clean fermentation. I am fermenting it at 64 F, which should keep things in the clean zone. So far so good, but with only 6 hours into fermentation, it’s much too early to tell.

In the meantime, here is the recipe for Dry Irish Stout. It is unnamed as of yet. we’ll see how it shapes up.

 
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Just Brewed: Ellusive ESB #3 (a Fullers ESB clone)

22 Aug

First of all, Fullers ESB is one of my favorite beers. In fact, for many years it was my ONLY favorite beer. No matter what, I think it remains #1 in my book—especially when it’s served from a cask. If you live near the San Fernando valley, be sure to check out the White Harte Pub in Woodland Hills. They not only have Fullers ESB on cask, but Fullers London Pride from the cask as well (both–usually–served in a sweet dimple mug).

OK, so, since I started brewing, I have made many attempts at brewing what I consider to be the perfect ESB. Many attempts have come close, but none have been excellent–UNTIL NOW! This recipe, in my opinion, brews up a great ESB. The important factors I have gathered throughout the years:

  • Use a good English yeast (Fermentis Safale S-04 is my new favorite, fermented at 68 F)
  • Find your local water profile and use this brewing water calculator to match the Burton on Trent water profile as closely as you can
  • When fermentation is complete, condition at 55 F for at least a week

So, without further adieu, here is my Fullers ESB clone recipe. I call it “Ellusive ESB” because of the many times I’ve tried to brew it with less than stellar results. Cheers!

 
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Los Angeles County Fair awards

19 Aug

Dark Heather Saison and Haas Wit picked up a gold and silver ribbon respectively. Results are posted here http://www.lacountyfair.com/2010/entertainment/documents/LACF2010OfficialResultsfinal.pdf. And the recipes can be found here:

Dark Heather Saison Recipe
Haas Wit (Witbier Recipe)

 
 

Just Brewed: American Amber

25 Jul

My original inspiration for this beer was Mack & Jack’s African Amber. I first tried this while on vacation in Seattle and I thought it was awesome. With its limited distribution, I have not been able to try it since. But I remember much of the flavor and aroma of it and have tried to match it with this recipe. Earlier versions of it were a little too intense on the malt character. This version is a little more simple and I think fits more in-line with what people expect from an Amber. Sadly, it has been way too long since I’ve tried M&J’s so I can’t say if it is a decent clone, but this recipe brews a good drinking Amber nonetheless. It is medium-low body, with an initial malt sweetness that fades into a caramelly medium-dry finish. The hops are restrained–but in a good zone for this style.

This beer has an interesting malt bill and a nice array of hop additions. It is somewhat easy on the late hop additions compared to some American Amber recipes, but I am always more pro-malt that hops, so that is my personal preference. If you like more hop flavor and aroma, double the 10 minute and knock out hops.

Recipe here: American Amber.

 
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Just Brewed: Fiddy Fiddy Rye

13 Jun

This is an American-style Rye beer brewed with 50% malted Rye. The Rye malt adds a dry, crisp character to beer and some perceived spiciness. Typically it is used in amounts of 10-15%, but I decided to use Rye for half the malt base (hence, Fiddy Fiddy). This is more of a ratio used for wheat beers. Personally, I like a little uniqueness in the flavor and I’m a big fan of Rye whiskey. When I’ve had Rye beers before—such as Hop Rod Rye—I often wish there was more Rye flavor in the beer. So, I’m giving this a go. I figure, if it’s too much, we can always pull it back next time. But sometimes More is More.

Click here for the detailed recipe for Fiddy Fiddy Rye.

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 8.03 gal
Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00
Ingredients
Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 3.70 %
6.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 48.15 %
6.50 lb Rye Malt (4.7 SRM) Grain 48.15 %
0.70 oz Centennial [10.00 %] (60 min) Hops 26.1 IBU
0.50 oz Liberty [4.70 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.75 oz Amarillo Gold [8.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
1 Pkgs Kolsch Yeast (Wyeast Labs #2565) [Starter 1000 ml] Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.048 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.04 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.21 %
Bitterness: 26.1 IBU Calories: 210 cal/pint
Est Color: 5.8 SRM Color:

Color
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 13.50 lb
Sparge Water: 5.72 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
75 min Mash In Add 18.23 qt of water at 161.0 F 150.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
 
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2010 California State Fair Results are in

12 Jun

Starry Blonde takes 2nd in the Cream Ale / Blonde Ale category.

Oktoberfest II takes 3rd in the European Lager category.

Alt Whitman takes 3rd in the Amber Hybrid category.

 
 

Mash Return Manifold w/ tension rod

06 Jun

This is my idea for an adjustable mash return manifold that can sit inside the cooler with the lid on.

First, some background…

I have messed around with a few different variations for returning wort to the mash during recirculation.

Version 1: Rest it on top

First I created a short, copper manifold with four outlets and hoped that it would “rest” on top of the grain bed during recirculation. This worked OK, but I found that the manifold would often not lay flat, which resulted in one outlet outputting most of the return while others did very little. I would try to adjust this during recirculation but it was hard to get it right. Plus I had to keep monitoring the progress to make sure it wasn’t way off.

Version 2: Long, vertical pipe

Next, I tried a long, vertical pipe with the same manifold on the bottom and a 1/2″ barb at the top. The plan was to adjust its height by clamping it through a wooden lid that sat on top of the cooler. This helped to keep the return more even, BUT, it meant that I could not easily look inside to check the flow while the clamp was on. I had to remove the clamp to remove the top. Plus the long vertical piece was hard to manage during setup, breakdown, and cleaning.

Version Null: Old School

At one point, I did away with the manifold completely and went back to recirculating with a pyrex measuring glass and carefully pouring the return on top of the mash. This was tedious and also had the downside of messing up my grain bed, which did not help with runoff or clarity. This setup also meant that I could not constantly recirculate as is done in a RIMS set up. I didn’t have a heating element anyway, so this was not a big deal at the time.

Version 3 & 4: Cut a hole in the mash tun

The addition of a RIMS heating element (details in another post) meant that I once again needed some sort of return option to constantly recirculate the wort.

The next idea was to use a hose, fed through the wall of the cooler, much like the Blichmann Auto Sparge. The problems with this, though, were 1) depending on the liquid level, the return would generate varying amounts of pressure and would adversely affect the grain bed by creating craters where the liquid came out of the hose; and, 2) when it was working well, the return would create a whirlpool effect and the wort would be sucked more from the sides than the center. Because of this last problem, I had different temp regions in the mash, indicating it was not draining evenly.

I then decided I should once again try the manifold and attach it to the hose that was now in the cooler. Luckily I was able to use the same 4-outlet manifold I created initially. I just cut off the long piece and attached some other parts to it. I again wanted to be able to adjust the height of the manifold so that it was always just under the liquid level. At first I did this with a clamp and a wooden rod. But this did not allow me to put the top on the mash tun, which meant I was losing heat. Not terrible in a RIMS set up with a heating element, but not ideal.

Version 5: What about a tension rod??

So, I had an idea to affix the manifold to a small tension rod that could be put inside the cooler and stay in place with…tension. I knew Bed Bath and Beyond sold tension rods, but I did not think I would find one that fit inside the cooler. They all seemed to be made for full-sized windows. When I got to BB&B, though, I was happy to see they had a 7″ model. These are not listed on the website, you have to go into the shop to find them. Once I had the tension rod, it was just a matter of attaching some clamps and such to affix the manifold. See the results in the gallery. Now I can adjust the manifold to any height and still keep the lid on. When I need to look inside to check flow, I just remove the lid.

I have not yet brewed with this return manifold; however, I do not see any reason why it wouldn’t work great. The only problem I can foresee is that heat and condensation, coupled with the weight of liquid running through the manifold, might cause the tension rod to slip a bit. But I should be able to tighten it to get around this. Or the tension rod might rust all to hell from the heat and steam. We shall see.

 
 

Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie

05 Jun

Got a chance to check out Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie over the weekend. I expected the decor would be much more rustic than it was. This place is much more done up than I had thought, and I was pleasantly surprised. The bar is very well designed and clearly a lot of time was spent on getting the details right. The decor is warm and inviting–what you’d expect in a brewpub. Staff was friendly and the patrons ranged in age from 10 years old up to 65 I’d say. A great mix.

We did not eat much, but what we did have (pomme frittes) were a bit disappointing. More like standard french fries than what you’d expect pomme frittes to be. We had a hard time finding and tasting the garlic and herbs that were supposed to be on them. The red ale ketchup was pretty good and seemed to beg for tastier fries!

So, on to the beers:

LA BLANCHE Belgian Wit – This beer had an amazing aroma. Very bright with coriander (predominantly), orange, and citrus zest. The mouthfeel and finish were spot on for what a Wit should be, but I thought there was a bit too much coriander in it. It left a sort of dried grass aftertaste. Aside from that, this is a very clean, well-brewed beer.

‘TROIS FILLES’ TRIPEL – A very nicely brewed tripel. A little bit thicker and a touch sweeter than some of the best brewed tripels, but still very much within the realm of what you would expect a tripel to be. Cleanly brewed and no flaws.

PICTURE CITY PORTER – This is a great porter. Chocolate and roastiness abound. Nice dry finish that leaves you wanting another sip. I think, if anything, the roastiness was a bit over the top and left a slight burnt flavor aftertaste (probably due to the coffee they say they put in it). It’s a very smooth, highly drinkable porter and I would definitely order this again.

BLIND AMBITION – A popular Belgian “amber.” Very drinkable. Medium bodied. Nicely complexity in the flavor. Low sweetness in the finish. Great belgian pale ale flavor and aroma. Would definitely order this again.

CHESEBOROUGH IPA – This is a fantastic IPA. I was extremely surprised to find it is a 9% ABV brew. It did not taste high in alcohol at all. Dry finish for this style, which I appreciated on this hot day. Amazing hop aroma and flavor with enough malt support to round it out. In general I do not like the way most IPAs attack your palate with hops and leave a thick film after successive sips. This one doesn’t do that at all. It’s a highly drinkable beer and would go well with most foods.

 
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Just Brewed: Dark Heather Saison

30 May

This recipe was designed to mimic New Belgium’s Dark Heather Saison. It is essentially a saison with added dark grains and spices (black pepper, cardamom, and heather tips). The results is—at least in the New Belgium version—a light bodied, drinkable beer with hints of chocolate and a spicy, peppery finish. This is much darker than a traditional saison, hence the name. Click here for the detailed recipe.

Batch Size: 6.00 gal

Boil Size: 8.63 gal
Boil Time: 90 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Ingredients
Amount Item Type % or IBU
9.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 70.53 %
0.75 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 5.88 %
0.75 lb Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 5.88 %
0.50 lb Carafa II (412.0 SRM) Grain 3.92 %
0.13 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 1.02 %
0.13 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 1.02 %
1.80 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (60 min) Hops 26.9 IBU
1.00 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (0 min) Hops -
1.00 tsp Black Peppercorn (measured after coarse grind) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 tsp Cardamom Seeds (measured before grind) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 oz Heather Tips (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.50 lb Cane (Beet) Sugar (0.0 SRM) Sugar 11.76 %
2 Pkgs Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) Yeast-Ale
Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.062 SG

Measured Original Gravity: 1.060 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.013 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 6.44 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.79 %
Bitterness: 26.9 IBU Calories: 265 cal/pint
Est Color: 21.1 SRM Color:

Color
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 11.26 lb
Sparge Water: 6.86 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.2 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
90 min Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 157.7 F 147.0 F
10 min Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 15 min 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

————————

After mixing the spices together, I noticed that each had a somewhat peppery aroma, which should play well together. The cardamom had the most intense character, but since the recipe uses very little, it should not be overpowering.

The brew procedure was a single infusion mash at 147° F for 1.5 hours. I was using a PID controller for the first time and have yet to work out some of the kinks. It ended up overshooting the temp by about 5 degrees. I had to add some ice to get the temp down quickly. I realized later that I should have gone through the “auto-tune” procedure on the PID which would have kept it from overshooting the temp. I’ll figure out the auto-tune piece for the next brew.

I tasted the wort post-boil and it was very sweet, but I could definitely taste the character of the spaces in the finish. I’m looking forward to tasting how this ferments.

Fermentation started quickly (in about 4 hours) and is going strong at 69° F.

History of Saison

Saison doesn’t have quite the storied past of styles like bock or porter. Its humble birth occurred in the farm houses of Wallonia, Belgium. Saison was the beer brewed by households for their own consumption. This style brewed by the French speaking people in southern Belgium shares a lot of similarities with the Bière de Garde style of France. Originally this was a seasonal beer brewed in spring to last through summer and into autumn. Therefore is had to be durable and refreshing – a tall order for ales brewed in the days before refrigeration.

Update 6/01:

Fermentation is nearly 50% completed. Tasted a sample and it is, of course, still very sweet. The spice character is very strong at this point, but I think this is probably due to the sugars still in the beer. Fermentation has slowed significantly but still steady.

http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/dark-heather-saison
 
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Just Brewed: Haas Wit

02 May

This beer was inspired by Hoegaarden, brewed in Belgium. It was brewed with 44% flaked wheat and 10% flaked oats. Corriander, fresh zest from farmers market oranges, and dried chamomile flowers were added near the end of the boil to create zesty aromatics in the finished beer. The result is a light bodied, refreshing, highly drinkable beer. Get the detailed recipe here.

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
Boil Size: 8.63 gal
Boil Time: 90 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Ingredients
Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 4.21 %
5.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 42.09 %
5.00 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain 42.09 %
1.13 lb Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM) Grain 9.51 %
0.25 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 2.10 %
1.35 oz Hallertauer [4.00 %] (60 min) Hops 20.1 IBU
1.00 gm Chamomile Flowers (Dried) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1.00 tbsp Flour (white) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
2.00 gm Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 min)
11.00 gm Coriander Seed (Crushed) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
43.00 gm Orange Citrus (Zest) (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
1 Pkgs Belgian Wit Ale (White Labs #WLP400) Yeast-Wheat
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.051 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.049 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.012 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.008 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.13 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.34 %
Bitterness: 20.1 IBU Calories: 214 cal/pint
Est Color: 3.6 SRM Color:

Color
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Light Body Total Grain Weight: 11.88 lb
Sparge Water: 6.93 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.2 PH
Single Infusion, Light Body
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
15 min Mash In Add 15.00 qt of water at 129.5 F 122.0 F
60 min Rest Heat to 154.0 F over 15 min 154.0 F
10 min Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 10 min 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).

The History of Witbier

Witbier, white beer, (French: la bière blanche), or simply witte is a barley/wheat, top-fermented beer brewed mainly in Belgium, although there are also examples in the Netherlands and elsewhere. It gets its name due to suspended yeast and wheat proteins which cause the beer to look hazy, or white, when cold. It is a descendant from those medieval beers which were not brewed with hops, but instead flavoured and preserved with a blend of spices and other plants.

At one point Witbier almost vanished completely from the landscape. Its origins date back to the Brabant region east of Brussels in Belgium in the 1500s, where wheat beer had been brewed for hundreds of years. By the 1950s, it had all but disappeared, due to wars, the big movement towards lagers, and breweries being bought and sold or closing down altogether. In 1966, a man named Pierre Celis, one of the greatest and most influential minds in the history of modern brewing, established the De Kluis Brewery, next to his house in Hoegaarden. He made a beer that the town had once been known for, and the road to recovery was being paved.

Witbier Characteristics

A moderate sweetness with light notes of honey or vanilla and spicy, fragrant wheat aromatics will be the nose that is an earmark of these beers. They’re very pale straw to very light gold in color, with a cloudiness from starch haze and yeast and a dense, white, mousy head with lacing that should be present until the last sip. Witbier has an incredibly flavorful, refreshing sweetness combined with a zesty, orange-citrusy fruitiness. Herbal, spicy flavors from the coriander will be ever present, but should not dominate the flavor of the beer. Like Hefeweizen, hop bitterness is low to medium-low. They’re medium-light to medium bodied with a smoothness and light creaminess from the unmalted wheat and occasional oats, with a dry, tart finish.

 
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