Thursday, April 17, 2014

Low-Bush, Brett Belgian Pale aged Blueberries & Oak

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

2014 National Homebrew Competition, 1st Round Results

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

Pioneer Brett C Mead, Tasting Session

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.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

4 Rings Session IPA and Tasting Notes

Its nice to see the session beer craze finally appearing into the main stream Craft Beer pipeline.  I for one, have been a session beer fan for years.  Having a couple drinks after work is a treasured pastime. So creating a homebrewed beer(s) that can be session-able and satisfy my hop requirements is something that is close to my heart. 

The major issue with creating a low alcohol session beer is creating a faux impression of body into the beer.  People talk about mashing at a high temperature or adding a lot of crystal malt into the grain bill, I'm not going to do that.  I'm approaching this problem like I would when brewing a Brett fermented beer.  Creating unfermentable sugars, and adding them into the mash.  Chad from Crooked Stave talks about adding oats, flaked wheat or another adjuncts into the finished mash or fresh wort around 170-200 degrees for his Brett fermented ales.  (Would it still be an ale if fermented with Brett?).  By doing this, I'm locking the starches into long chain sugars that any ale yeast wouldn't want to ferment.  Leaving them in the final product as perceived body.  So instead of aiming for a final gravity of 1.009 - 1.012, we would be looking at a final projected gravity of 1.013 - 1.016.  Which normally would be an alarm for a troubled or stalled fermentation.   

The vision for this beer is a very simple grain bill, focusing on the hops.  The majority of the grain is  American Two Row at 78% of the grain bill.  Followed by Flaked Wheat (Which we are going to add after the mash) With equal parts Acid malt and Cara-Pils at 4% each. Looking to be under 4.5% and refreshing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2014 Results

I try and enter 2 competitions a year, the National Homebrew Competition and the local America's Finest City Homebrew Competition.  I've always done OK in both, yesterday I received my judges sheets back for review.

They Call Me Porter:  Scored a 39.5/50 Overall. Category #12B Robust Porter. 3rd Place, America's Finest City Homebrew Competition 2014

Judge #1, Certified 40/50

Aroma: 9/12 Moderately high roasty aroma, some dark chocolate, tobacco, a hint of caramel.  Hops aroma is moderate.  Fruity ester is mute. 

Appearance: 3/3  Very Dark brown in color.  Large tan head with good retention.  Some garbet? highlights.

Flavor: 15/20 Moderately strong malt flavor.  Coffee, dark chocolate, grainy characters.  Hop flavor is moderately low, bitterness is moderate.  Semi-dry finish.  Fruity esters moderately low.

Mouthfeel: 5/5 Medium body, medium carbonation, slight astringency.  (Not harsh) Semi - Dry finish

Overall Impression: 8/10 A robust porter with great roasty dark chocolate character.  Could use some more hops, but complex dark malt characters.  Tasty Brew!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

They call me Porter & Tasting Session

Just got word that this placed 3rd in Cat 12.  Quaff's Americas Finest Homebrew Comp.

Peering into a vast array of bottles nestled together.  Looking down each row, studying them one by one.  Attempting to find the perfect bomber to enjoy after work.  Eying in on a Drakes Denogginizer, I happily close the refrigerator door without noticing a single Porter.  Did I walk into the bottle shop predisposed to purchase an IPA vs a Porter?  It's possible, or maybe its just how I feel about the style in general.  Predictable.

When purchasing a beer I want it to be exciting and different.  I want to be arm and arm with the hot girl at the party.  Maybe even outside my league. (or brewing skill set)  Porters are, well just porters.  They are the back-up girl when someone cancels on you last minute.  There like a moped, "Always fun to ride, but you never want to get caught riding on one".  They are predicable. 

Now with that out of the way, an American Porter was probably the first or second style you homebrew.  Good or not, it was your first.  More importantly, it was yours.  While it's true, normally I do not purchase Porters, I do enjoy drinking them.  They are my fat girl.

When I started out working on a Porter recipe, I wanted it purely American.  Style 12B Robust Porter, which is a horrible style name (BTW).  Wanting the recipe to maximize the roasted and chocolate notes I love.  For strength, I went right under 7%.  Fairly strong, yet contained.  I ended up doing a split yeast pitch on this beer.  The WLP028 started off for 2 days then I pitched WLP090.  This should bring out some traditional English characters without the phenolics associated with English Ales.  This is my third re-brew of this batch, I think I like where it is, just needing to re-brew it one more time without any changes.

Aroma:  Somewhat burnt, coffee/roasted barley acridness. More coffee and chocolate as it warmed up.  I do get some husky grain notes also, this seems to come forward the longer this beer is on draft. 

Appearance:  Thin head, that somewhat appears after I finish pouring the taster.  I'd say about a 1/4 thick.  (It doesn't last long, but I like my porters low on the Co2.)  The head is clearly dark tan, small bubbles dissipate quickly.  The beer shows black, but as you take a sip the black changes to a dark burnt chocolate red. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Blind Hog IPA & Tasting Session

A beer before the rain

Aroma:  Strongly Simcoe, incorporating a resin like pine note.  Sweetness that I can't pinpoint but I'm sure its hops related.  I get a hint of a rye malt likeness that is very pleasing. I *think* I can smell the Apollo hops, a hint of garlic, just at the threshold of pleasant. 

Appearance:  Golden yellow, small amounts of hop haze but mostly clear.  A perfect 3/4 inch of brite white head adorns the top of the IPA glass.  Nice lacing during the tasting  A thin, yet resilient head stayed on top of the beer until it was refilled.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Red Ryder IPA and Tasting Session

Over Thanksgiving weekend, when people loose all sense of self control, knocking down the doors of their local Best Buy.  I wanted to pull out a chair and brew a couple beers and relax.  Normally, I have a some recipes in the works inside Beersmith and this was one of them.  A West Coast Red IPA with a clean malty profile backed with the correct, west coast amount of hops.  Looking to be around 6.3% and 53 IBU's.

Red IPA's always have a special place in my brewing.  I'm attracted to the burnt amber colors they produce.  Pair that with a clean white head, resulting in a magical combination.  I wanted the beer starting off with Summit, which has quickly jumped into on of my favorites for bittering these styles.  For the aroma/dry hops I used Citra, Centennial and Simcoe generously throughout. 

Aroma:   Sweet toffee with a pine bitterness.  Smaller than expected on the nose.  I really had to look for the aroma hops.Which was surprising for the amount of dry hops used.

Appearance:  Glorious burnt amber color.  Strikingly clear.  Full white to light tan pillowy head.  The lacing stays with the glass during the tasting.  Beautiful stream of carbonation bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass for a good 3-4 minutes. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Yellow Tractor, Brett Session IPA & Tasting Notes

1 teaspoon of flour was added to keep this beautiful haze.

I was born and raised in San Diego, but I spent most of my summers under 12 in Nashville with my mom, sister and Grandparents.  My Mom didn't work while I was in elementary school, so she would fly back east, spending the summer months in Nashville while my Dad worked as a pilot for the US Navy.  For me, this was normal, spending time with my cousins playing in the pool and working the garden that my Grandfather (Popa Charlie) had.  Now, this wasn't a huge garden, but to a 6 year old this was a big plot of land suitable of feeding hundreds of people.  I remember jumping off the diving board, then running over to the table to chuck green beans into a giant pile that my Grandmother would then can for the winter.  After swimming we would venture into the garden looking for tomatoes and watermelon for Popa Charlie.  (He loves to slice them about an inch thick and cover them with salt and pepper before dinner.)  I remember walking through the garden and getting the best smells of hay, ripe veggies, vines and pine needles (from the trees the lined the back of the property.) Popa Charlie needed a tractor to maintain his property, for this he owned a little yellow tractor.  I not even sure of the name, make or model, but it was his and us kids loved it as our own.