Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers (FOBAB)

The Festival of Barrel Aged Beers is an event that happens annually in Chicago. It is both a celebration and a competition for barrel aged beers. The only qualification to be entered in this competition is that it must be aged in some sort of barrel. Wine Barrels, Sour Barrels, Oak Barrels, Bourbon barrels, Any Wood Barrel goes! The event is an open tasting with dozens perhaps 100s of jockey boxes. There are so many taps that there is barely ever a line, each group of 4 or so taps is manned by a person. You're never waiting for a sample for long, water is provided as a palet cleanser and there is food availible to purchase. This is a well run event with 2 sessions, and no beers are only availible at a single session.

(read more after the break.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: Cinnamon Treacle Old Ale

Cinnamon Treacle Old Ale
Appearance: Dark with a billowing head, The pour may have been a bit too aggressive as the head was just billowing.

Aroma: Neutral, not too much going on except the sweet smell of caramel malt.

Flavor: Neutral; Pretty Mild not enough treacle or cinnamon.

Mouth: Really good, Just the right amount of carbonation

Overall: Mild, this would be a good mild, not too flavored, not too booze, not too hoppy, very neutral. The next iteration of this style will be a bit more treacly, maybe some treacle in secondary, I dunno. It needed more dark treacle.

Rating: I sure made a great mild. Too bad I was shooting for an old ale. This needed something, more cinnamon, more treacle, bourbon barrel aging, something... I'd give it a C for average, because that's what it was.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blackberry Pacific Gem Pale Ales

A few new types of hops are coming out of New Zealand these days and landing in my local home brew stores. These hops have a completely different set of flavors from the Noble German Hops, or the 'C' hops of the Pacific Northwest. One of the hops I'd like to try out in a beer is the Pacific Gem breed. This breed is said to 'fill the brew house with enticing aromas during kettle additions and has been described as producing oaken flavors with a distinct blackberry aroma.' This description could make this the perfect hop to make a black berry pale ale. A nice hoppy beer with bitter and sweet properties from a hop whose flavor should lend blend with the fruit addition for a nice complexity. If both the bitterness from the hops and the sweetness from the fruit can come through in the final product this brew could be a winner.

(read more after the break.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Three Floyds 15th Anniversary

Saturday 11/12/11 was 3 Floyds 15th anniversary. They brew some fantastic beers. There was a 6 hour line to get into this event. Not for me though I knew better and arrived 2 hours early, I was about 20 minuttes from getting beer in the line.

The Beer: The Anniversary Beer was a super stout called Ballerstout which was made from Darkness, Darklord, Beer Geek Brunch, and Black Albert. Other beers to buy were Brandy Barrel Aged Dark Lord, Several Sours and One Off 3 Floyds Products. We got 4 Brandy DL and 1 Conquistador De Muerta. I got to sample Ballerstout outside in the beer tent. It was really good, It was very drinkable for being a big stout. The flavors were a perfect mesh of the strengths of the various components of the beer. It had the dark fruits from Darklord without the overall viscosity, it had the hop flavor of Darkness without being as intense, It had the coffee of Mikkeller without being too astringent.

(read more after the break.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks For Reading My Blog!

I see that people have been reading this blog in Russia, France, Germany, Latvia, South Korea, Indonesia, Canada, the USA, and many others. Thank you! If there is anything you'd like to see or like me to include post it in the comments and I'll try to make it happen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Belgian Quadruple

My Belgian Quad is a stepped up Dubbel. I took the rough grains from my Dubbel and I pumped them up a bit. Then I pumped my sugars up with candi sugar. Then I want to increase the flavor of the beer with a less than subtle tart cherry flavor. I have 2 pounds of frozen tart cherries. I am hoping to make a dark beer with cherry flavor and Belgian yeastiness.

I believe adding cherries is semi to style. Ommegang makes their 3 Philosophers Quad which contains 3% cherry juice. BBQ is aged on tart cherries and while I was drinking it I wished it had a touch more cherry flavor. This is also kind of a test run for my Flanders red ale and lambics. Although this beer doesn't have a tart flavor inherent from any sort of intentional infections I'll be able to evaluate the tart cherry flavors and see how much of that I want in my already tart beers. I'll probably end up adding a touch of rye whiskey soaked oak cubes.

The sky is the limit with Belgian beers, you can go a touch sour, you can go full sour; you can have dark saison, light saisons, strong ale, weak ale, sour, clean, hoppy, fruity, whatever. The characteristic Belgian flavors must be present but can be accentuated in many ways.

(read more after the break.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Belgian Triple

A Belgian Triple is a strengthened Enkel without the addition of browning additives. The relatively crisp mouth feel is delivered by pumping up the alcohol with 100% fermentable clear Belgian candi sugar leaving the charicteristic dry mouth feel and light body but with a deceptive alcohol. My goal here is to take a relatively similar recipe to my enkle, add candy sugar and see what happens. If this produces a tasty treat then I'll be onto something.

My procces with this recipe was to take my single recipe which is about 6lbs of Pilsner Malt per five gallons and to double it. Which is basically what I did, then I increased the gravity with candi sugar. This should pump up the alcohol a bit without increasing the mouth feel and body. I bumped up the hops a bit, and I am hoping it's smooth and good.

(read more after the break.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ouch: Burned Myself

Well it was bound to happen, an injury. It doesn't take much to make you appreciate when brew days go well. Right after they go poorly and you're ready to pitch this hobby it's important to remember, it happens. I was brewing friday, I got a late start on my triple brew day, about 4 hours later because I hung out with my dad for a while. I love my father so that was totally a good choice. My bad choice came when I still thought I had time to brew three beers and started rushing. Many mistakes wear made from accidently dry hopping the wrong beer and then ultimatly what ended my brew day and sent me to walgreens for a can of burn spray some gause and a wrap.

I was burned by the business end of my wort chiller, steamy superheated water shot out, richoched off my sink, and up onto my hand and neck. Ouch. I was in a lot of pain but still had to finish my beer. I missed taking my grain bag out and ruined a batch of triple as it was boiling with grains in it. For 2.1 pounds of pilsner I was willing to dump it. I finished my dubble and went to the store. I was 3 hours from being done with the belgian brew day, instead it's carried over to tonight.

It's important to remember this is a dangerous hobby and that you have to be careful at all times. This could have been much worse. There are many chemicals used in brewing that can burn your skin, blind you, etc. Hot sugary water is also a concern. As is steam.

Haste makes waste as well, I messed up a beer I brewed to be fruited by dry hopping it, I am going to start over and brew the original beer again rather than just going with it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Belgian Dubbel

As mentioned in my previous post a Dubbel is a extra strength Enkle with the the addition of amber candi sugars and malts. The next step if this recipe doesn't turn out will be to make a Dubbel using my Enkle recipe and just candi sugars. I am going to reserve judgement on this one for now, not to get ahead of myself. My thoughts headed into this are to take my Enkle recipe and step it up to a Dubbel by adding some of the brown malts and a modest amount of candi sugar.

Brown malts:
Aromatic 19L - imparts a distinct, exaggerated malt aroma, and deep color in high amounts.
Biscuit 25L - adds a warm biscuit aroma, with bready flavors, and a garnet-brown color.
Cara-Vienna 21L - imparts a golden to light copper color with sweet caramel flavors
Cara-Munich 45L - adds a deep golden to copper color with sweet toasted caramel flavors.
Special B 145L - imparts a sharp, caramel, toffee, raisin-like flavor and deep color.
Debittered Black 500L-600L - adds deep color without increased astringency.

Dark Sugars:
Amber Candi Sugar 45L-80L - imparts flavors of toffee, vanilla, and toast
Dark Candi Sugar 165L-180L - imparts flavors of fresh ground coffee, dark fruit(raisins, dates, prunes, ect.), and toast.

(read more after the break)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Belgians by the Numbers

The naming convention for Belgian beers has always amused me, enkle, dubbel, triple, quadruple. Based on what I've read the naming convention is nothing more than a way to measure alcohol. While the beers have fallen into various styles now that trends developed over time as breweries and abbeys tried to copy and outdo each other.

Before we get into the brewing it's important to understand where these beers come from in the real world; I'll share a bit of history. Long ago baby Jesus was born in a stable. Fast forward 900 years and monks following Jesus started to live in monasteries and brew beer. These monasteries still exist and still brew beer. Perhaps the best brewers come from the St. Sixtus' Abbey, Westvleteren, which belongs to the Cistercians of Strict Observance, or Trappists, and is located in Westvleteren, West Flanders, in Belgium. They brew the highest rated beer in the world Westvleteren 12.

(read more after the break.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making Belgian Candi Sugar

After reading on many home brewing forums that buying clear candi sugar is a waste of money; forums where the recommended procedure is just to use table sugar. I'm not convinced that table sugar will yield the same results. Candi sugar is an inverted sugar created by heating Sucrose(table sugar) in solution with water to produce Glucose and Fructose. This is achieved most often by adding a catalyst such as lemon juice(citric acid) or cream of tartar(tartaric acid) to sugar and water while applying heat.

(read more after the break)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Going sour...

To make sour beers you need sour gear. You could try to sanitize your gear while going back and forth, but plastic has a way of soaking up bad germs. They are bad if you want to make "clean beers".

This event gave me the excuse to buy the half inch auto siphon I wanted. I moved my Flanders Red from one carboy to another and this was the point of no return for several pieces of equipment. All of the stoppers and airlocks that I used are marked with red to show they are infected. My old auto siphon is now permanently sour as well.

Part of what I was excited about with transferring the yeast was the chance to harvest some of my yeast cake for a future batch of sour beer.

The point of this post was to remind you what I needed to be reminded of:
Once your plastic goes sour it can't go back.
Harvest some yeast; you can save it for the future.
Get your oak back.

Good luck harvesting some sour yeasts and putting your beer into cold storage.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Designing A Beer

As a novice brewer with limited capital to invest in this hobby I haven't bought every book in the beer making library. I do not have a copy of "Designing Great Beer". I can however offer eight months of wisdom, common sense, and Hollywood catch phrases.

"If you build(brew) it, they will come." - Mysterious Corn Field, Field of Dreams. Almost with out fail my friends will tell me I've made a great beer and gladly drink the free beer while we sit and watch movies, talk, or watch sports. If I grill and give them free beer they'll tell me I should be a professional brewer. Good friends make bad judges, but good drinking buddies. The moral here is to worry less and have fun more; if you brew it your friends will drink it.

My first step in making a beer is to decide on a style. Having a style can be a good guide in selecting malts, yeasts, and hops. The Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) has defined style guidelines that can be helpful to follow in designing a beer. I take this guide line and compare it with other sources including Brewing Classic Styles, Zymurgy Magazine, and BYO Magazine. Special mention here goes to BYO's web page, as they offer several style guides and recipes. With ideas about the style, and the help of a few recipes, I take my personal experience a long time beer drinker(7 years) and formulate a basic recipe. I proof this recipe against available literature. Fine tuning is done after I bounce the recipe off of the brew boards at beer advocate.

(read more after the break)