Monday, July 7, 2014
Before I jump into this post, I wanted to clear up a couple things. This beer was created for my wife and yes, its named "Axis of Evil" because I love her and she loves (tolerates) my hobby far more than most. The name is a joke on how awesome she is when it comes to my hobby, plus it being a German Weizen helps a lot. So, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea concerning the history of the name.
My wife has a taste for Hefe-weizen's. The problem is I don't. So when creating a recipe I had to make her convey what she wanted in the beer without me really understanding the style, flavor profile or understanding what she really wanted. It started off as creating a recipe for a Orange/Lemon American style Hefeweizen. I did a double decoction trying to get this right. I thought the end result was spot on to the style I understood she wanted. Come to find out she wanted a German take on the style. The recipe was scrapped and I started over again. (after 2 attempts BTW)
Switching to White Labs WLP300 was key. I started using the WLP320 and hated it. Way to many esters for what we were looking for. I also started this recipe looking for an American profile, which slowly changed over to a newer German feel. WLP300's key a low fermentation temperature, under 65. (My target for this beer is 63.) When starting low, you get a better balanced ripe banana to clove profile. When starting above 67 I started to get a bigger green, unripe banana to harsh clove phenols created by the yeast. I find this (What I call green banana) harsh and a red flag concerning a bad fermentation. Now the harsher clove doesn't bother me as much, but it seems they are created together so you might as well stay low on the fermentation temps.
For the hops I knew I wanted to use hallertauer, mostly because I had a large amount sealed in the freezer. Pairing this with a German Pils and 52% of various types of Wheat Malt. The Melanoidien Malt was slid in to mimic a traditional double decoction mash. Which for this recipe I didn't want to continue doing. I can tell its lost some complexity, but not at the expense of the recipe. I've found this beer a challenge overall, having brewed this 6 times, 4 on this final recipe I am happy to say this is right where my wife wants it to be.
Aroma: Hints of bubble gum paired with a background of clove. I get a rounded malt sweetness that is almost "fluffy".
Appearance: A solid white head that commands attention sitting on top of a ripe banana yellow hazy liquid. This beer is solidly hazy. Which is needed for the style. The lacing on this beer can not be forgotten, rings remembering each sip remain on the glass.
Monday, June 23, 2014
This is a ongoing "Naked:" hop experiment using Russian Rivers Row 2 Hill 56 base grain.
When starting this Naked: series I knew it would be an awesome hop showcase (want to know why? Start at the beginning) Simplicity is the key, as in anything Pale Ale related. That what makes this experiment so exciting as a homebrewer. Using this grain base has really elevated my brewing and I am only on the 4th batch of this experiment.
Chinook started as my go to IPA hop back in the early 2000's. It was cheap, available and tasty as a bittering or an aroma addition. Using Chinook as a single hop in a Pale Ale or even a small IPA isn't a new idea to me (or most anyone else) I just haven't been able to pinpoint a recipe worth creating in my mind. Thoughts of 100% Vienna or Maris Otter bounced back and forth until this recipe base was settled on.
The taste profile for Chinook is classically American. Big grapefruit, sometimes pungent suggestions of mountain pine and resin (especially as a dry hop) with citrus and fragrant dried herb in the background. This hop is classically American and has seen a resurgence with the influence of homebrewers turning into professional brewers over the last couple of years. At one point it even became harder and harder to find. This is along the same lines as Centennial. Both these hops have a deep history tied in with the rise of Homebrewers becoming professionals.
Aroma: Sweet dried herbs, similar to dried flowers or potpourri. A resinous pine character at the end.
Appearance: Pilsner like, amazing clarity. The picture above doesn't do this clarity justice. Brite white head with larger than normal carbonation bubbles. A little on the over carbed side. Which creates a nice cascading bubbling effect form the bottom of the glass.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Sometimes the final product is nothing like the original intentions when crafting the recipe. Originally two Meads, one Blackberry and the other a berry mix from Costco (Mulberry, Blackberry and Blueberry). Both using 1.5# per gallon of fruit (added cold) dropped into secondary for 40 days after it was racked, cleared and racked again. When pulling samples, they both felt like they needed something else, so what's a homebrewer to do besides blend them together?
I pulled off 1.5 gallons of each Mead and blended. Placing them into a Scotty keg. Once blended I tossed them into my lagering fridge. There it sat cold for about a month before I decided to bottle them with my Blichmann Beer Gun. During this time they cleared up really well, bottling with a hint of Co2, creating about .5 volume with no clarifying agents. The Co2 was just for some crispness on the final Mead.
Bouquet/Aroma: Blueberries, strawberry and stone fruit. Some crisp acidic or tart sharpness on the back end. Some heat in the nose.
Appearance: Outstandingly beautiful. Gem like clarity. The sides are a rose colored plum, with the highlights almost ruby red.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Russian Rivers' all Simcoe Row 2 Hill 56 Pale Ale might be the perfect Pale Ale. To understand how well put together this beer is you don't need to be a hop head or a beer nerd. Its perfectly balanced against the simple hop bill. Tossing Simcoe on top of Simcoe to create a ubber drinkable Pale Ale. Russian River has out done itself showcasing how beautifully Simcoe can stand alone in a recipe. But is this recipe built around Simcoe? Or is this recipe build around a malt base that just works? Personally, I think this recipe so well crafted that almost any hop will work within it's grain bill. So I chose to put it to the test.
The recipes are based off HomebrewTalk's.com Row 2 Hill 56 (R2H56) clone. (The recipe seems/tastes spot to the original.) Then brewing another beer with Azacca Hops (same grains and expected IUB's) with all Azacca hops to test out the sturdiness of the recipe for a planned "Naked:" Single Hop Pale Ale Experiment using my personal favorite hop varietals.
Azacca is a new highly talked about hop formally known as Experimental Hop #483. This hop is going for the nitch IPA market. With keywords of grapefruit, fresh citrus, orange, tropical, pineapple and fresh. Which, just about every hop is using now days. Making the selection of a new hop very difficult for a homebrewer.
Copying these 2 beers is the key, ensuring a spot on comparison by brewing them back to back in the same fermentation chamber. Comparing the pros and cons of each single hopped beer paired together with the same base grain, hopefully better educating myself with this new hop "Azacca".
As you can see from the above picture, Simcoe (above left) has a small amount of chill haze compared to the Azacca (above right) which is much clearer. But the numbers and colors are spot on to each other, but how do they stack up?
Naked: Azacca Pale, Tasting Notes:
Aroma: Big bunches of grapefruit pith (white meat), much more than the zest I smelled when opening the bag of hops. Somehow some orange and something resembling cascade are showing up in the backround.
Friday, April 25, 2014
If you pulled me aside and asked about my Mead processes, I 'd really only have a couple of suggestions for you. Don't boil the honey, ferment cold, de-gas and add massive amounts of nutrients. If you continued on looking for more information, I might start making a fool of myself. The science behind my reasoning, (which I'm sure is interesting, as I attempted to blog about here) doesn't interest me as much as drinking, now that interests me.
Opening a Mead automatically creates a experience, a moment in time. On the patio, at the park or with friends. This is what I love about Meads. Capturing that moment in time. As long as I follow the rules above, I've been lucky creating a experience(s) worthy of posting here. (Not that this blog is worthy of much)
This Mead is my 3rd in a rapid "Mead Brewing Season" that started in November late last year, for lack of a better description. The first two are bottle and aging properly, this one is sitting inside my keggor with Hickory Honeycombs on a picnic tap. The original concept was to use this as a NHC blending base with "They call me Porter" entering it as a Braggot. (Which ended up placing third in the first round in Austin.) However its turned into a pretty solid Mead on it's own.
Blueberries are fast becoming my go to choice in creating fruit forward homebrews. The tartness blends itsself well vs the overpowering sweetness most other fruits bring to meads.
Bouquet/Aroma: Honey sweetness, backed by an acidic tartness from the blueberries. The aroma is wonderful coming off this sample.
Appearance: A small amount of haze that cleared up on the second pour (don't judge me), no head as this mead is meant to be still. Bright raspberry in color which looks fantastic in any glass.
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Some of the best home brewed beers don't necessarily start off as originally intended. This beer for example, was planed as a homage to a Belgian Pale ale. A style I've haven't brewed before. After pitching the yeast and not seeing any activity for 3 grueling days last September, I knew something was wrong. I also happened to have freshly built up dregs of Logsdon Seizon Bretta ready for another project in my homebrewery. 500ml of solid slurry was way to temping to pass up in a effort to save this unfermented wort. (I did do a warm fermentation test on the wort, it came back clean, so tossing the batch was out of the question)
I pitched the built up Logsdon Brett (which I named LB-Logsdon internally here at the house) into the 3 day old wort at 65 degrees. A little colder than I would of normally pitched Brett, but under the conditions I thought it was best to get something into the wort to start the fermentation off as quickly as possible. The yeast did take a while to get going at this temperature. Over the next couple of days as the yeast warmed, fermentation quickly caught up. No pellical was visible while in primary with the Brett yeast. However when I moved this beer into my plastic sour carboy #6, a pellical started within a week. This carboy previously contained Brett, Lacto and Pedio for a Flanders Red. Even though this was cleaned, I fully expected some microorganisms to migrate over into this batch due to the plastic. Influencing it in some way or another. This beer sat at ambient garage temperature for 5 months with little to no change.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The National Homebrew Competition was changed for the better this year. Registering before hand and selecting any open competition site pushed me to Austin, TX. I am happy to report all of my 3 entries made it to the Mini-Best of Show rounds and two advanced to Nationals in June.
The beers I decided to send:
Silent Midnight, Braggot. 26B Final Score 37 (Advanced to Mini-BOS) 3rd Place
They Call me Porter, Robust Porter. 12B Final Score 36 (Advanced to the Mini-BOS) 3rd Place
Cucuy #3 (Aged on Caco Nibs) , Russian Imperial Stout. 13F Final Score 39 (Advanced to the Mini-BOS)
Silent Midnight Braggot: Scored a 37/50 Overall. Category #26B Braggot. Mini-BOS Advancing to the 2nd round at NHC.
Judge #1, Professional Mead Maker/Certified Mead Judge 39/50
Bouquet/Aroma: 6/10 Estery. Roast, chocolate, treacle, banana, blueberry coffee. Not getting much honey - very soft neutral honey in backround.
Appearance: 6/6 Black. Pretty, solid tan head, nice!
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
This mead has been a long time coming. Creating the time slot needed to open a bottle of Mead during the day for a Tasting Session on the other hand, has been challenging. However this delay has benefited the mead since my last tasting. So much so, it's renewed the passion to create another Brett fermented mead in the near future.
Aroma: Sweet notes of honey dominate the nose. No alcohol heat noticeable. It still has a smell that's reminiscent of a Hard Cider. However, looking back at my Tasting Notes from 6 months ago, this is fading with age.
Appearance: Lacy white head, about a quarter inch thick when poured. By the time I grabbed my camera it faded into a thin 1mm thick bubble layer. I attempted to refill the glass to agitate it with no help. Consistent bubbles during the entire tasting ran up the side of the glass. Clear, golden sun in color. (The haze has really cleared up since the last sampling.)
Flavor: The tropical notes have faded it a rustic honey sweetness. A almost crispness lingers. Low to minimal barnyard notes (if associated with a Farmhouse Saison). Very minimal heat, which has dropped over the last couple months. With the rustic barnyard notes, it balances well with the sweet honey left over from the fermentation. Which I'm surprised is still around after the low finishing gravity at .0996.