Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Homebrew Presentation, It Goes a Long Way.

Sometimes it's not what's in the bottle, it's how the bottle presents itself.  Are the labels off?  Is the cap on straight?  Any signs of rust?  How's the fill level?  These are all honest questions to ask yourself before handing anyone a bottle of your homebrewed Beer or Mead.  Lets start the new year off right and forget your promises to hit the gym and focus on something important.  The hobby you love. 

A lot of thought goes into the way I package my homebrewed.  While I have no intentions of selling my homebrewed beer and mead, I do want it to look professional.  The level of cost(s) and how you get there is really up to you.  (All of the ideas below are gauged at homebrew that is NOT meant for competition.  For comps, a new bottle and some blue tape on top is about perfect IMO.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Farmers Daughter 2013 Blend #2 & Tasting Session

Taking some Tasting Session notes while brewing at a buddies house in EastLake

Last June, I got together with Eric, Danny and Sisco to blend our 2013 Flanders Red Ale.  (Which we normally do each September, but the timing was off this year) Eric, Danny and myself all had variants of our house Flanders ready to go.  Plus, I always brew a clean malty beer for some added mouthfeel (if needed) during blending.  Here is a quick overview of the beers we used.

  1. Eric brought his Flanders Red ale fermented w/ DeeperRoots Flanders House blend yeast*
  2. Danny brought his Flanders Red ale fermented w/ DeeperRoots Flanders House blend yeast*
  3. I brought my Gail Belgian Dark Strong, fermented clean w/ WLP550 Yeast
  4. I brought my Invocation American Sour Ale , 100% Wild, which had really gotten clean and tart.
  5. I brought my 2013 Farmers Daughter 2013 Base (recipe below) fermented with my house Flanders pitch (Called LB-Flanders) *1

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hold my Hand into the Sunset; Blended Brett Mead & Tasting Session

Everything looks so nice after a San Diego downpour

 *Update 12/11/2014 - There has been a lot of chatter about Brett Trois not containing any Brett.  To see a good story about it, please read this story. 

People seem to love Brett IPA's, Brett Saisons and even some Brett Wheat beers, so always confuses me when Meads are not included into this statement.  Lets go over the facts, meads are perfect avenues for honey to show off fruit and spices.  Brettanomyces during primary fermentation pushes these fruit phenolics and spices.  So creating a fruit forward mead, paired with a fruit producing yeast seems like the perfect combination right?  Well I think so, with some small issues that we can overcome.

If you've seen my other posts you know I love 71B for my meads. Its quick, its easy and it fly's through fermentation when treated right.  However, the more and more I use Brett Trois and Brett C, the more I want to explore what these yeast can do, especially in meads.

This started off as two meads, one clean and one Brett fermented.  The clean mead was a "Quick, lets make this while brewing this other IPA." mead.  The Brett was a little more planned. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Cit" Tronic IPA & Tasting Session

Citra was the cool hop before we even knew hops could be this cool.  Rising to fame in late 2008/09.  Bringing flavors most beer drinkers didn't know were possible.  That's what inspired this recipe.  Citra Blast was first brewed back in early 2013 (based on Kern River's Citra IPA), followed by a couple more re-brews tweaking this or that.  Until it was changed into "Cit"tronic IPA.  This beer is a beer designed for IPA lovers for what it isn't.  No big punches of dankness, pine or resinous hops.  Only tropical, mango flavors of citra.

For those of you keeping count, this was brewed 5 (starting with Citra Blast) times over the last 2 years, with this one headed in a slightly different direction vs the others.  The use of a hop back or a "Randel", if you wanted to use its trade name.  (I went into detail about using a Blichmann Hopback a couple years back and decided it was more show than go.  So I built a Customized Randel the way I thought it would work best and it does

Now what to fill the Randel with?  Pairing Citra hops with citrus seemed best.  Focusing in on Grapefruit zest and some pulp.  No rind.  Using the zest of 2 grapefruit and the fruit of one.  Peeling as much of the white rind as I could off.  Chunked it up with a knife and filled the Randel once the beer was carbonated.

Aroma: Grapefruit zest, maybe a little soapy.. from the zest?  Starts off on the sweeter side (grapefruit) then goes into a tart grapefruit zesty ending. I can't explain how big the grapefruit notes are coming off this beer.

Appearance:  Hazy, no clearing agents used in boil or keg.  (It also is going thru a hopback) Big foamy head which fades quickly.  Leaving solid lacing rings down the glass as you quaff it down.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Naked: Columbus & Tasting Session

This is a ongoing "Naked:" hop experiment using Russian Rivers Row 2 Hill 56 base grain. 

Columbus was the first modern hop downfall.  Columbus, being such a high alpha hop, was grown to excess though the late 2000's. Creating thousands of pounds siting outside the palletizing factories.  Farmers, unwilling to spend more money on palletizing this hop and enter it into a flooded market, sat in inventory for years.  Due to this oversaturation, Columbus had a low price point.  Almost to low to sustain.  Causing farmers to change over to different, more profitable varieties.  Homebrewers who knew a good deal picked this hop up by the pounds.  By then, the damage was done.  Homebrewers didn't want to spend much over the faux low price point on this hop they became accustomed to.  It also gave the hop a bad name to some newer homebrewers. Who looked at Columbus as a low cost, subpar hop.  The reality is, Columbus is a beautiful hop, very closely profile wise to Chinook and Galena (In my experience) which is why I chose to include Columbus into this hop experiment.

The parameters are the same.  The grains would stay the same as the Russian River, Row 2 Hill 56 Pale ale recipe.  The IBU's would be adjusted to stay the same as the original recipe.  The dry hopping would stay at 2 ounces.  The brew day was uneventful.  All the numbers hit spot on.

Aroma: Mr. Clean-ish, showing a little pine chemical nose to it.  Maybe even closer to Pinesol.  Big hints of a resinous dank character, only a big classic American hop can provide.

Appearance:  Amazing clarity.  (No finings)  The most brilliant golden sunshine yellow liquid makes this appear quaffable.  Carbonation bubbles were still running up the side of the glass as I wrote this. The head as the smallest bubbles I've seen using this base recipe.  Solid white head at about half an inch when poured correctly.  The head tends to linger for the duration of the tasting.  Which, appearance wise is awesome. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Stumbling into my 1st Cider Part #3 & Tasting Session



Continuing on my journey attempting to make a quaffable cider, (if your catching up please read part #1 and part #2) With all the fermentation things done, this cider's ready to bottle.  I wanted to bottle all, leaving none on draft, so stopping any future (potential) fermentation is of vast importance.  I always try to avoid adding any chemicals into my beers or ciders.  So using any type of sorbates is out of the question.  Bottling with my Blichmann beer gun under pressure and pasteurizing them on my stove is the way to go.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Axis Of Evil, German Weizen & Tasting Session

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

Naked: Chinook & Tasting Session

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.