Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Citra Hop Pale Review

My Citra Pale Ale

Citra Pale Ale
Appearance: Tall and pale, with a fluffy white head, looked nice. When I held it to the light is was almost white at the edges, it's nearly clear in the tap line, it's very pale. Carbonated with about 17 PSI.

Aroma: Grapefruit, citra hops, and quite pungent. The hop bursting, dry hopping, and back loading paid off.

Flavor: Excellent, smooth hops, nice flavor from the organic 2 row malt shines through, and the touch of caramel malt offers a nice balance to the hops, If I could dial the hop flavor up just a touch I would but at this point I'll take it. The apparent bitterness is not near the 45 IBUs.

Mouth: Nice, the high carbonation for the style is driving this simple sipper. The effervescence is the key to the crisp refreshing feeling. Keeping it light keeps me coming back to the glass.

Overall: I am glad to see more breweries putting citra hopped beers into production because this hop is a winner. My home brew has won me over, we'll see if it continues to do so as it ages in the keg. It'll just be me drinking it for a while until some one comes to visit me.

Rating: if I paid for this I'd rate it a B/B+, it's crisp, nice, and pleasing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Belgian Single

This beer was inspired by Sarah. When we racked the first lambic we tried the freshly fermented beer. Despite being simple in recipe, it was wonderful. We really liked the flavors imparted by the yeast.

I wanted to use the third generation Ardennes yeast cake from my Belgian lambic primary fermentation. After considering my options I decided that I wanted to make a very simple recipe to showcase the yeast. I wanted a session-able beer that would be low in alcohol. I wanted a beer with low malt complexity and subtle hopping to showcase the yeast profile of this strain. I settled on a simple Belgian table beer. This style of beer is brewed by monastic monks to be the table beer served inside the monastery's walls. Very few commercial examples exist. Most of the recipes I looked at call for all pilsner malt, the exceptions mixed in carapils and aromatic. The most common selections of hops included saaz, tradition, and other typical belgian hops. The yeasts most commonly associated with this style were Trappist blends and abbey ale blends. I plan to use the Ardennes strain.

(more after the jump)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Small Batch: Equipment

They say that necessity is the mother to invention; I would say desire is the father. I desire to brew.

I live in a studio apartment. I have about enough space not to go crazy. This does not lend itself to 5 gallon all grain brewing. It doesn't lend itself to traditional equipment. My mash ton, liquid tank, brew kettle, immersion chiller, and many carboys all reside at my mothers house. It's the house I grew up in which once housed many children and now just houses her. She has lots of extra space for my bigger batches, and in contrast I have almost no space to live.

So I desired to brew in my small space. Through internet research, a bit of scavenging, and my own resourcefulness I've been able to do just that. For less than 60 dollars I can brew at my place, brew good tasting beer, and brew all grain batches.

The Kettle
I found a cheap stainless steel pot at my local grocery for 6 dollars, I found a damaged one and talked them down to 4 dollars. It's a 4 gallon pot; perfect for 1 or 2 gallon batches.

I briefly considered getting a 3 gallon cooler and installing a false bottom, this would have worked. Then I learned about an emerging technique that costs very little, takes negligible space, and yields good results. The answer was Brew In A Bag(BIAB). This technique is a lot like a grain sock, except that you increase the size of the sock, and put all of your grain in it. You steep it at the temperature you want to mash at for the time you would mash it. When it is time you just pull the whole thing out like a giant tea bag. It couldn't be simpler. I made the bag from a nylon fabric called voile. The fabric was in the curtain section of my local fabric shop. The instructions said to make a bag big enough to put my whole kettle inside. I double sewed the seams on my sewing machine and put in a draw string. This bag has the added bonus of doubling as a large hop bag for my american lambics. The cost of the bag was around 10 dollars.

This was the most expensive part. In total it cost me 26 dollars build, and I might have over done it a touch. When buying copper tubing it's important to get the tubing that is NSF certified for potable water. This was available at my local Lowes for 12 dollars for a 10 foot coil of 3/8 inch ID tubing. I also got the thicker high-temp spa hosing, and a universal sink adapter, the kind you'd use with a dishwasher. The assembly of the chiller was so simple it's un believable.  I started by taking the coil and bending the last foot or so of each end at a stiff angle, between 45 and 90 degrees, in relation to the main coil of tubing. Then I tighteded the coil a touch to fit it into my pot easily. Next I bent the ends out over the rim of my pot and attached the hoses with hose clamps. Finally I attached the sink adapter to the hose. It took more time to go to the store than to build the chiller.

For this purpose I use one gallon glass jugs; I might consider two gallon plastic buckets for heavier beers, or more active yeasts but so far US05 hasn't needed a blow off. These jugs can be obtained from the internet, or anywhere cheap 1 gallon jugs of wine are sold. As an added bonus cheap wine is perfect for soaking oak cubes; cheap grape flavor, no guilt. My Local brew store recycles old glass wine jugs that they get as returns. They sell them for home brewing or wine making. I can get these four jugs for 8 dollars, or 2.50 each. It's convenient to have extras for primary and secondary fermentation.

Other Equipment
Depending on the top of the glass jug rubber stoppers of various sizes work. I also use plastic screw caps with a hole manufactured into them; costing just .40 cents each they're a bargain, and they seem to seal everything up nice. I also purchased a 12 inch auto syphon, it is easy to clean, and easy to prime, perfectly sized for this application. My only other purchase was a small funnel for a variety of uses. The Total here was 15 dollars.

Brew Kettler: 4
Wort Chiller: 26
Brew Bag: 10
Fermentor: 4
Equipment: 15

Total: $59

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kegerator (part one)

I've heard that it's almost impossible to make a great home brewed IPA without kegging equipment. I've heard that kegging saves so much time that you'll never go back. I've heard that the carbonation is better with kegging. I've heard counter pressure filled bottles taste fresher longer. I heard all of these things from seasoned brewers online and that made me wonder, "is it true?"

Keg Kit
I got a dual regulator setup from midwest brewing supply earlier this summer that I have been eager to try out. I chose this system for a few reasons you might want to consider: I wanted 2 kegs so I could always offer 2 beers on tap in case my friends wanted some variety, the dual regulator offers the option of controlling the carbonation of both beers, ball locks are more common and also a bit more expensive. Ball lock kegs and pin lock kegs also have different dimensions. This was important when picking out the mini fridge I intend to use for my kegerator.

The Fridge
I wanted the sanyo fridge that the internet seems to think makes the best/easiest at home kegerator. I could not find one for cheaper than $290 on line. While touring best buy last week I noticed a reasonably sized Frigidaire model BFPH44M4LM on sale for $169+tax. I couldn't say no: not when I was this close. The pluses about this fridge: it has a lock, everything inside of it comes out so it can accommodate kegs, and there is a guide on how to modify it on homebrewtalk's forums. There are draw backs to this fridge however: it requires some modding of the temperature control to fit 2 kegs, and it's not exactly clear where the coolant lines are in the top.

The Next Step
So next up I need to modify the fridge, brew some beers and try this thing out. I've been investing in this project pretty heavily recently. I've wanted beer on tap at home since I was in college and now that I have the chance I'm not going to miss it.

Part Duex? 
As this series rolls along I am going to do a post on keg care and cleaning from a newbie's view. How I plan to purge oxygen from my brewing process(you know the parts where oxygen is bad). How the fridge is working with picnic taps and kegs. I will finish it up with a detailed accounting of the addition of taps and other modifications of the fridge.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Citra Pale Ale

I purchased a keg setup from Midwest brew supply and a fridge from Best Buy that I intend to make into a kegerator (pictures/guide to come when I do it all). I've been thinking about what beers to keg, for my first kegged beer I picked a Citra Pale Ale.

The inspiration for this beer came from Kyle. When we were drinking the Citra IPA which was our first legitimate all grain brew(the prior brew was done just as a walk through, it turned out a bit too bitter) Kyle's first thought was that he wanted it to be a bit less bitter, and then he decided he wanted a bit less body. I wanted a bit more carbonation, and a bit more aroma. Thus I decided to reduce it from an IPA to a Pale. I did this to keep the sugars down because I wanted to reduce this to a session beer that I'd want to drink more often. This yielded a recipe with 2 fewer ounces of total hops, and 4 pounds less grain.

(read more after the break)

Friday, August 19, 2011

American Lambic: An Experiment in Lambicing

I am enjoying funky beers more and more, and I have been inspired by mike over at the mad fermentationist, and many others.

Things really turned for me earlier this year when I went to LA for The Bruery’s reserve society party. Patrick makes some fine beers, when I tried the oude tart I really began to enjoy funk; the oude tart with cherries was sublime. Then we found a bar in West Hollywood called The Surly Goat which had some Lost Abbey and Russian River sours on tap, this sold me. I had never experienced the depth of flavor, it was beer, fruit, tart, and subtly sour at the same time. This kicked off a sour run that has not stopped. 

My research for brewing this beer has been extensive: I’ve listened to the brewing network podcast, another great resource, read the info on BYO’s website, and read the mad fermentationist. Jamil pumped up a simple extract recipe that I had read at BYO. Steve Piatz wrote the recipe and explains why it works better than I could.

My take on it is doing 2 at once, and seeing what some of the different sour strains do so I can get a feeling for what I can make. In 12-18 months I might blend them into a gueze, or drink them straight or send them back to work fermenting fruit.

The Recipe
3 lbs Wheat Dry Extract (3.5 SRM)
3 lbs Golden Light Dry Extract (3.5 SRM)
4.00 oz Malto-Dextrine (Boil 90.0 mins)
4.00 oz Lambic Hops [0.00 %] - Boil 75.0 mi
1.0 pkg Belgian Ardennes (Wyeast Labs #3522)

Then aged with:

1.0 pkg Belgian Lambic Blend (Wyeast Labs #3278)
1.0   pkg Roselare Blend (Wyeast Labs #3763)
.5 oz light toast French oak spirals

The process is a simple extract brew, 5 gallons of bland beer, fermented out with the Belgian blend, then racked to secondary with the Lambic yeast. First up is the Roselare Blend because the satchel of it I bought was produced a while ago.  

Lambic Hops are another unique ingredient in this brew. Typically they are aged one to three years. The idea of this is that all of the aroma and acids have long since floated off leaving only preservative qualities. I didn’t have three years to wait to make a beer that takes 2 years to make. I bought a pound of Czech Saaz hops. I aged 8 oz(4 oz for each batch) in my oven for 4 hours at 175 The results? They came out dry and faded, with much less aroma then when they went in.

I can’t report on the results yet, but so far so good. I brewed the first batch on 8/5/11 and the second batch on 8/19/11.

The only remaining question is what to brew next? I’ll have a third generation Belgian yeast cake ready to go.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

American Black Ale (Simcoe)

This is part one of a three part experiment. As the title suggests this will be an ale featuring Simcoe with a bit of Cascade to add hop dept and fruit flavors. Cascade made the perfect choice because it is the classic hop in American beers; it seemed like a logical choice for this American style. When I formulated this recipe I looked around the Internet and settled on Carafa 3 special to darken the beer and add a distinct roasted aroma. Additionally I included chocolate malt to add roasted notes and victory to add biscuit flavors. I plan to dry hop this beer for about 5 days and bottle it a week in advance of my next trip to STL. 

This was my first and probably one of my last experiences with an ice bath. Some point soon I am going to build a second wort immersion chiller especially for small batches. The ice bath chilled my beer but 7 pounds of ice was no match for even a gallon of beer. The 25 foot immersion chiller we used in Chicago cooled our porter in less than 10 minutes to less than 70 degrees. I just need to engineer it to fit into 2 inches of water. 

I am a fan of hop bursting, I first read about this technique when I read Jamil Zainacheff’s article from zymurgy. The idea is that you use the majority of your hops in greater quantities in the last 20 minutes to increase your flavor and aroma while keeping the bitterness reasonable. In my somewhat limited experience with the technique I have yielded great flavor, good aroma, and not a lot of bitterness. To contrast we made a pale ale with warrior @ 60, citra and centennial in smaller amounts as usual, @ 40IBU; we also made an all citra IPA with a small 60 minute citra addition and 6 oz in the last 15 minutes, flameout and dry hop for 70IBU. The pale ale had more apparent bitterness. I put this technique to use with 50 IBUs coming from hops in the last 15 minutes.

I mentioned my experiment in the first paragraph; I plan to brew this three times, and each time I’ll supplement Cascade with another strong American hop. The next two versions will be centennial and nugget. I picked these hops because of the flavors, huge pine, huge citrus, and huge earth/spice.

The Recipe
Type: All Grain Date: 8/16/2011
Batch Size (fermenter): 1.00 gal     Boil Size: 1.14 gal: 
Boil Time: 60 min     Equipment: Brew Pot (2 Gallon)
End of Boil Volume 1.00 gal     Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %

2 lbs 2.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) 79.0 %
4.0 oz Carafa III Special (525.0 SRM) 9.3 %
2.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) 4.6 %
1.5 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) 3.5 %
1.5 oz Victory Malt (25.0 SRM) 3.5 %
1.0 pkg Safale American (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)

Mash Profile: BIAB, 60 minutes @ 152, mash out @ 168 for 10 minutes

Bittering Hops:
0.10 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min 20.4 IBUs

Flavor Hops:
0.30 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 15.0 min 12.9 IBUs
0.20 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 15.0 min 20.3 IBUs

Aroma Hops:
0.20 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 5.0 min 3.4 IBUs
0.30 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min 12.2 IBUs
0.20 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
0.30 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs

Dry Hops:
0.20 oz Cascade [5.50 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
0.20 oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs

OG: 1.069
FG: 1.014
SRM: 51.8
IBU: 69.2

Brewing Notes: I am always suprised how much hop trub is left over after brewing with whole hops. I need to remember to use a slotted spoon when I am brewing. I also will be thinking about using pellet hops in the boil, I might use some or all of the pellets in the boil and then dry hop with whole hops.