Category Archives: Brewing

New Year, New Brew

Last year my main resolution was brew more of the beer that I drink.  It was a simple resolution, and one that I achieved further than I would have believed.  With this added experience, I have gotten better at brewing and anticipating what a beer will taste like before it has finished.

As many of you who homebrew may know, there is such a joy in cracking open that first bottle of a batch to discover that all the hours of work and months of waiting have yielded something delicious, and in many ways, something better just because it was handmade.  While many of my beers this year have contained flaws, there are a few choice batches that come to mind that I will have a hard time forgetting.

So while I plan to continue to experiment, this year I am going to focus developing a set of recipes influenced by Belgian ales, utilizing the same yeast and implementing techniques and designs I’ve learned this year.  I’m brewing my first batch today of what is to be a brown session ale infused with hibiscus and orange peel.  From this I will use the yeast to brew another recipe, higher in alcohol.  And I will continue to step it up with these recipes.  Right now I am looking at a portfolio of 4-5 different brews, some being alterations of those I did this past year.

I will follow up on the recipe for today’s brew soon.  Now I must attend to the boil.

To a new year, full of new ideas, experiences, and joys!

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Filed under Beer Philosophy, Brewing

Rachel and Andrew’s Ginger Hibiscus Saison

My girlfriend and I brewed this one up this past summer, taking advantage of the high-heat to ferment at proper Saison temperatures.  This one was brewed with my sour-beer equipment, which most definitely has bugs living in it.  It was fermented with WYeast 3724 Belgian Saison, but many of the distinct characteristics of that yeast have been muted by the lovely wild yeasts living in my equipment.  First, the recipe, than a full review of the beer.

Ingredients

Amt

Name

Type

#

%/IBU

10 lbs

Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM)

Grain

1

83.3 %

8.0 oz

Caravienne Malt (22.0 SRM)

Grain

2

4.2 %

8.0 oz

Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)

Grain

3

4.2 %

1.00 oz

Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] – Boil 60.0 min

Hop

5

17.2 IBUs

1.00 oz

Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] – Boil 30.0 min

Hop

6

13.3 IBUs

1 lbs

Turbinado (10.0 SRM)

Sugar

4

8.3 %

1.0 pkg

Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [125.00 ml]

Yeast

7

Spices/herbs:

4oz. of dried Hibiscus at 15 min

.5oz of dried Ginger at 5 mins

Mash details:

Single batch infusion–Mash at 148 F for 75 minutes.  Sparge with 170 F water. OG= 1.060 FG= 1.002 ABV= 7.6%

Review

Appearance:  Pours with a small, frothy white head.  The body of the ale is a copperish red/pink, getting most of its color from the Hibiscus.

Aroma:  Slight coriander spiciness, hints of fresh rain, straw, and solvent.

Flavor:  Tangy with a hint of hop bitterness on the back.  Very little ginger character, but the hibiscus really cuts through built on top of a hay-like malt profile.  Mouthfeel is thin and bubbly.  The obvious brett/lactic presence adds some layers of acidity and rustic, barnyard characteristics, though at the same time muddling the spiciness that the WYeast strain is known for.

Overall Impression:  Drinkable and stronger than it would seem to be.  It’s a little underwhelming to drink do to some of the flavors just being muddled.  The ginger has little presence, and in future incarnations of this brew I would use fresh ginger, as opposed to the stale dried ginger I used here.  I would also not inoculate it by using sour equipment–I would either go one way with just the WYeast 3724, or the other way with a purposeful lab strain of Brett or a blend of bugs.  For now though it’s a drinkable brew, and a noble first attempt at the recipe.

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Filed under Beer, Brewing, Sour Ale, Terroir

Strong Smoked Pale

On Sunday I tried my hand at my first smoked beer.  I wanted to go for something that had a large smoke component, but with enough support from other malt flavors to not be over-powering or one-dimensional.  Here’s the rec

6# 2-Row Pilsner Malt (1.0 SRM)

6# Smoked Malt (Weyermann) (2.0 SRM)

8oz. Melanoidin Malt (Weyermann) (30 SRM)

1.5# Honey Malt (25 SRM)

1oz. Northern Brewer pellet hops (8.9% AA) –Boil 75 Min.

1oz. Willamette pellet hops (4.6% AA) –Boil 75 Min.

1/2 gallon starter of Wyeast American Ale (1056) yeast

Mashed in with 17.4 qts. of water at 170 Degrees to bring the mash to 156.  Let sit for one hour, then sparged with 4.5 gallons at 170 degrees.  I ended up drawing a little too much wort into the kettle, and I also wanted to adjust the recipe to get a little more bitterness out of my hops, so I boiled for 75 mins.  My measured gravity was 1.070, which puts me at about 68% efficiency–slightly better then my typical 65%.  Cooled and pitched my starter.  It’s been fermenting strong for the past few days, but I’m a little concerned because Monday got into the 80s here, and since I don’t have A/C or fermentation temp control (hence “Primitive Brewing”), I know it will develop some off flavors.  I’ll post a review of it when it’s ready, but for now, here’s some pictures from the brew day:

Glorious glorious wort

Some deliciously smokey inspiration

All done and in the basement.

 

 

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Filed under Beer, Brewing, Strong ale