Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sweet Potato Wheat Wine

Sweet Potato 
Thanksgiving will be upon the American people soon. Thanksgiving is a time for family, feasts, reflection, and appreciation. I'd like to take that feast and replicate it inside a bottle of beer. Thanksgiving food for me is about a few things: turkey that no one likes, home made rolls that are to die for, and pies with fall appropriate spices.

Last fall I made a pumpkin ale, and it was alright. I think that the pumpkin might have taken something away from the mouth-feel of the beer. This would have happened if it was highly fermentable and threw off my calculations. Kyle liked the pumpkin batch a great deal but I wanted more. To get more I am going to re-interpret my beer as a wheat win. This will allow me to work in some body increasing ingredients as part of the base of the recipe.

(read more after the break.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

White Wine Yeast Mead w/ Spicey Peppers

I've used Redstar's Pasture Champagne yeast several times, and each time I have not enjoyed the yeast flavors it contributed. I am going to give another yeast a try to bring out different flavors in my next batch of mead. Redstar's Côte des Blancs sounded like a good choice after reading that it brings out the fruity flavors when used to make white wines. This should work as I am hoping to bring out the fruity sweet flavors of the honey and fire those flavors up with a mixture of fresh store bought peppers including Serrano, Pablano, and Anaheim.

(please read more after the break.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review 2011 Hard Apple Cider

2011 Cider Blend

Appearance: Thick and Yellow, active carbonation is apparent upon a closer look but not so much by looking at it. The head is nearly non existent.

Aroma: Sweet and fruity, this has a pleasant aroma of apple cider/apple juice.

Flavor: Too sweet. The sweetness was still apparent even after fermenting. I might try dry cider yeast next time. The Pasture Champagne yeast still isn't my favorite but the yeast flavor has mellowed out after a year in bottles.

Mouth-feel: Full and carbonated, not as crisp/dry as I'd like.

Overall: I am going to give this a C/D. I'd prefer basically any professional cider over my novice blend. Someday I'll own a fruit press and make my own cider. Someday like a year or two.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Black India Pale Ale, Errr What?

Is it a black India pale ale, a cascadian dark ale, an american black ale, an East India export porter, or a NW style black ale? I honestly don't know anymore and that is the most frustrating part of these beers. It's not yet a BJCP recognized style, and yet every brewery under the sun is riding the black ipa wave for giggles or glory. Some examples of this are Stone Sublimely Self Righteous, Shorts Bludgeon Yer Eye PA, Hill Farmstead Jim, and Widmer Brother's Pitch Black IPA.

All of the best examples of this style have had two characteristics worth noting. The first is a clear hop forward presence. It can be Citra, Cascade, Amarillo/Simcoe, etc., but it must be clear and forward. Behind the hops is where the American Black Ale distinguishes itself from an IPA; this is where you'll find a unique maltiness. This malt flavor has notes of a subtle porter; not caramelly, but roasty; not harsh, but additive. The flavors of dark caramel malts, chocolate malts, and de-husked roasted malts are the flavors that work well with hops and add to the flavors. A beer advocate review of Hill Farmstead's Society & Solitude #2, an experimental american black ale, reads:
"A beautiful marriage of pine and roast. Additional notes of chocolate and citrus. Lovely malt body. Medium bodied and easy to drink too quickly."
I found this review spot on with my experience while drinking the beer. I enjoyed it immensely and it helped to challenge my paradigm of what this style was.

(please read more about this style and my beer after the break.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

East Coast Yeasts

A Selection of East Coast Yeasts.
I appreciate the consistency, availability, variety, and efficiency of big business. I am also a fan of the flexibility, innovation, and creativity of small business. Big Yeast (Wyeast and White Labs) makes a damn fine product and I want to pay them their due. In the world of small yeast manufacturers Al Buck is trailblazing the way forward for all of us. His company East Coast Yeast produces twenty or more varieties featuring both year round strains and seasonal strains. His small business model allows him the flexibility to release specialty blends of souring cultures, pure brettanomyces cultures, and other strains not typically available from 'big yeast' manufacturers. His souring cultures are unlike anything available from large producers. Bugfarm VI for 2012 includes a mixture of at least 5 brettanomyces strains, wild cider yeast, lacto, and pedio. His saison strain varieties come as a mixture of two strains, a single strain offering spicy notes, as well as a farmhouse brettanomyces blend which features saison yeast and brettanomyces.

I have used each of my vials of east coast yeast in a different batch of beer. I've purchased most of his line at this point and intend to post more information and detailed reviews of the strains. I know that a list like this would have been helpful to me before I dove in with both feet. Exploring East Coast's line has been fun for me and has yielded some delicious results.

(please read more after the break.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Flowery Teas

I'll be making a wit bier again. After the vanilla didn't quite show up in the STL Wit I wanted to go a different way with my second wit bier. I've decided to try out a few varieties of flower blossoms, or petals, as a tea. My inspiration for this beer has been a number of flower beers that I haven't had a chance to try, and some that I have. The original batch of Goose Island's Fluer is having a large influence over this beer.

(please read more about my flowered teas after the break.)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Imperial Chocolate Porter II

I may have overdone my first imperial porter. The smell of the beer is intoxicating but the flavor is all cocoa. I'm committed to getting this style right. Once I have the base down I have big plans for my recipe.

This is basically a re-building of my original Imperial Chocolate Porter but with the recipe I intended. When I had gone to buy malt I couldn't find brown malt or pale chocolate. I ended up adding carabrown and adding more chocolate malt instead. I don't intend to add any adjuncts to the brew this time around so that I can get a better baseline for future brews.  I'll be using oak cubes as I did last time because I believe that oak adds a great deal to the finished product through depth of flavor.

(please read more after the break.)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: Blueberry Sour Blond Ale

Batch 001 Sour Ale - Fruiting

Appearance: Deep purple; the head rises and falls quickly. There are tiny carbonation bubbles within the beer.

Aroma: Pungently sour. The funk in the nose is well elevated and their is a unique fleshy scent that gives away the fruits.

Flavor: The flavor is multifaceted. There is an intense tartness from the the blueberries, a funk note from the dregs, and the whole beer finishes with a potent lactic sourness. The additional depth of flavors come from the base malts, and the berry skins.

Mouth-feel: The whole thing is prickly and puckering. A sour lovers sour ale.

Overall: It's a touch too sour for me. The whole thing is puckering and sour forward. The blueberry flavor isn't as much as a flavor but an essence. Blueberries are not the most flavorful fruit so they don't take over the flavor of this beer, but they add an essence of fleshy fruit skins.

Jolly Pumpkin Dregs:
Holy sour beer batman! These dregs are aggressive. A tart fruit, additional fruit sugar, and a dextrinous wort combine to form a very sour beer. The sourness is more aggressive that I would have liked. It could also have been the timing and size of my pitch. I pitched the dregs first and added the regular brewers yeast after 24 hours.

Dreams do come true:
I finally turned my tap tower on and this first pour from it since it's installation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse

Appearance: The appearance is a translucent yellow ale. The head is a white mousse that dissipates over time into the beer.

Aroma: The aroma is a wheat wisp in my nose with a bit of a graininess. Some oak is present but not overpowering.

Taste: I get wheat and euro-ale yeast. The lactic zing is missing and I hope that over time it will become apparent, I will check a bottle later.

Mouth Feel: The mouth feel isn't as carbonated as I'd like.

Overall: C- a very poor man's saison, not sour enough to be to style.