Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sheriff Bloody Ear Imperial Amber & Fall Mild

Hello All,

Great to be back. I took an unplanned hiatus from beer brewing. Life, work, and the heat got in the way and I didn't brew for 3 1/2 months, this is the longest I have gone without brewing in the past 6 years. I had been dying to brew, yearning to try out some new recipes. I even bought grain, but never had a chance to get to it. I had Veteran's day off, so I knew I had to get some beer made since I had time and with the holidays coming up I needed some new beers to serve to family and friends. Thanks Jeff for worrying about me. We will have to brew soon and finally set up our sour tasting soon.

Living in San Diego, I am often tricked by the "seasons", we get cold winter like rain storms, followed by hot and dry Santa Ana conditions in the Fall. The evenings cool down, but the days are still warm. Hell, it was 74F today. So it is difficult for me to decide what to brew in the Fall, maybe a saison for the warm days, maybe a big malty amber, or maybe a West Coast IPA. I have been wanting to brew an imperial amber for a long time and with the weather finally starting to turn I decided to go for it. I doubled my red ale recipe from last Fall. I also decide dot move away from the American hops and go for a more traditional hop. I wanted to use Northern Brewer my go to hop for beers where I don't want the hops to stand out. However, I couldn't get any so I went with Sterling hops. I want this beer to be malty, toffee-like with a slight roast. I upped the chocolate malt a tad and I think that the beer may come out a little darker and more brown than I was shooting for. I guess when you haven't brewed in 3 1/2 months, this isn't that big of a deal. Since the beer was going to be on the larger side ~9% I thought, hey why not get a second beer out of the mash. I was hopping to get a dark mild out of this beer, and to my surprise I was able to get a nice 1.040 OG beer from a second mash. I really like this idea and will try and do this with any of my larger beers.

All in all, the brew day went very well, and I am happy to be back in the saddle. I have all of next week off, so I will be brewing up a couple of beers for my work Holiday party. I will also be brewing my Feliz Navidad (Mexican Hot Chocolate Beer) it was such a great beer that I have to make it again.

Recipe: US 2- Row, Dark Munich, Victory, US Chocolate Malt, Sterling Hops @ 60 and 30. Fall Mild, same grain second mash with Sterling and Goldings @60 and Goldings @30. Safe Ale US-05

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Be Back Soon!

After many months of not brewing, I will be back soon. I picked up grain for a few batches here soon. Stay tuned, glad to be back in the game.

Friday, July 20, 2012

SMaSH Saison

I recently saw a video cast of  Drew Beechum speaking at this year's NHC about simplifying the brewing process "Brewing on the Ones" .  In the video he speaks about SMaSH beers, which are Single Malt and Single Hop Beers, this got me thinking. I had bunch of 2-Row on hand and I just got some new varieties of hops that I wanted to try out (Motueka, Riwaka and HBC324 Experimental). I also recently stocked up on some new yeast strains and some that I wanted to use again. I wanted to make a saison using White Labs new Saison III strain, a strain I first tried at Drew Beechum's Saison for Every Season lecture at last years NHC. I was one of the people who emailed White Labs about releasing this strain, at last years NHC is was still an experimental and unreleased strain. I wanted to keep the beer simple so I could see how the Motueka hops and the Saison III strain would act. This strain is spicy and fruity like a traditional saison strain, but it also has this wonderful tartness that makes it  even more refreshing.  I also wanted to keep the beer lower in alcohol. The recipe wasn't a true SMaSH beer because I did us some flaked oats to add a slight amount of body and mouthfeel since I was only using 2-Row. I also boiled the first runnings for about 10 minutes to try and get some extra color and taste since 2-Row and Oats were the only malts.

Recipe: US 2-Row, Flaked Oats, Motueka Hops @60, @30 and @0. WLP Saison III (Platinum Strain).

Thursday, July 5, 2012

California Steamin'

In my opinion Steam Beer aka California Common beer is the quintessential beer for seafood. It is hardy enough for a cool day, yet still refreshing enough for a warm day. It pairs well with all types of food and is a truly California native. Anchor Steam was one of the first real craft beers that I ever drank and it holds a special place in my heart. I brewed a batch as my second beer back when I was still making extract beer. It was okay but didn't really live up to the original. I wanted to give this beer another shot. I didn't have the correct hops on hand and since it isn't a hop forward beer, I figured it is okay. I substituted the Norther Brewer with a blend of Falconers Flight, Fuggles and Challenger. My thinking is that Falconers flight is similar to Chinook, and Chinook can be a substitute for Northern Brewer. Challenger can also sub for NB and the fuggles were to give that more traditional hop flavor. I'm also using a blend of White Labs San Francisco Lager Yeast, and SafLager S-23. My thinking is I would have enough strong yeast S-23 to ferment at lower temps and I would still get the characteristics from the San Fran yeast.

Ingredients: US 2-Row, 80L, 60L, Victory, Carapils. Falconers, Challenger and Fuggle @60min. Falconers, Challenger and Fuggle @30. WLP 810 San Francisco Lager and SafLager S-23.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Summer Solstice Pale Ale

To celebrate the longest day of the year I wanted to make a hop forward pale ale. This is my most hop forward beer to date. I wanted to make a hoppy pale ale that really stretch my comfort zone of hop additions.  Normally I go low on the bittering charge and really crank up the late additions, not this time. This time I went big all the way through. I have made number of Belgian style ales in the last few months, so I wanted to get something a little hoppy on tap as the weather warms. I kept the malt bill simple and used 4 types of hops in the beer. I also think that this is the most hop varietals that I have used in any one batch. I tried out two newer hop varietal called Zythos and Falconers Flight. Both Falconer's and Zythos are blends of Pacific Northwest and "C" hops made by Hop Union. I also used Pacific Gem and Amarillo in this beer. I hope it will be a citrusy, piney-like pale that is well balanced and refreshing.

The yeast cake for this beer will be used for my first attempt at a IIPA.

Recipe: US 2-Row, Honey Malt, Crystal 40L. Zythos, Amarillo @60min, Pacific Jade, Zythos and Falconers @30min, Zythos, Amarillo, Pacific Jade and Falconers @15min, Zythos and Amarillo @5min, Zythos and Amarillo @Falme Out. US-05.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monkeying Around...At Monkey Paw

Last month I had the opportunity to go and help my friend Derek brew a fact of beer at Monkey Paw Brewing Company in San Diego. Derek has been brewing at Monkey Paw for almost a year and already he is getting wonderful reviews. I have know Derek for about 4 years, we met through home brewing and  he was the creator of our homebrew club CHUG. I was able to help Derek brew his Rich Man's IIPA. It was  great opportunity to learn and experience what brewing on a commercial scale was like. The brewery is tiny and with all the kegs, grain and storage there is little room for much less. The biggest thing I noticed was that the process is much more hands off than homebrewing, most of the time you are pushing buttons and turning valves. The hardest part was using the clamps to run hoses from outlet to inlet. I also noticed how long the process takes. We started to mill in at about 9am and I left around 5:30pm leaving Derek with a small amount of clean up. I learned a bunch and really gained a greater respect for commercial brewing...these guys work extremely hard. In addition to brewing I helped Derek fill kegs, clean tanks and manage inventory. He is not only the head brewer, but the bar manager for the pub.
The other cool thing that occurred from this particular batch of beer from Monkey Paw was that during the CBC the mobile canning unit called the Can Van came to Monkey Paw and Derek and owner Scot Blair canned three batches of beer (Rich Man's, Oatmeal Pale Ale, and Sweet Georgia Brown). This beer was officially the first beer to be canned in San Diego, well at least since Aztec and Mission Brewery (the originals) closed in 1953. I was able to buy a couple of four packs at one of the local beer stores Bine and Vine. I enjoyed the fruits of my labor (well mostly Derek's, although I did clean out the mash tun) on my front porch the other day...it was great feeling and  great way to end a long week.

In short, this was great day spent with a good friend learning about professional brewing.

Thanks Derek!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Forward Pale Ale

Well, let me start off by saying I don't know what style this beer is. It is not a typical Belgian Pale, nor is it a Wit beer. It is a blend of the two and uses american hops. It just sounded like a beer I would want to drink on a warm day or evening, so I went for it. I only had about 2 hours and 15 minutes to brew this beer and based on some new information about mash conversion times from some local commercial brewers I decided to give a short mash a shot. When I say short, I mean the time it took me to raise my sparge water up to temp, about 15 minutes. The brewers I talked to said you can get away with a 7-10 minute mash. In fact one of the bigger breweries here in San Diego actually uses this method, and their beers are amazing.

I wanted a beer that was cirtusy, fruity, slightly tart, hoppy, and just a refreshing beer. I used some grapefruit zest, and amarillo hops to get the citrusy/fruity aroma and flavor profile. Add to that the Belgian yeast and I figure I can get quite a bit of citrus fruit out of this beer. I also wanted a slight tartness, so I used 10% acid malt. I am not sure how this percentage of malt will affect the tartness but I figure I can start at 10% and build up from their. In addition I used about 30% wheat malt.

Ingredients: US 2-Row, White Wheat, Carapils, Acidulated Malt, Amarillo @60, 15, 5, Grapefruit Zest @ Flameout, WLP550 Belgian Ale Yeast.

Special Day Cider

A friend at work is getting married in a few months. She is a foodie and although she doesn't like beer, she has a great respect for well crafted beer as well as all well crafted food and drink products. She knows I homebrew and so for her wedding she asked if I would mind making a batch of cider. I haven't made a cider in about 3 years and my first attempts were fusel, hot, acetic messes. I have done some research on ciders since the last batch and I used this knowledge to make this batch of cider. My friend likes a slightly sweeter cider with lots of apple flavor and aroma. To achieve this she bought 4 gallons of California organic apple and organic apple cherry cider. I decided based on what she wanted and the research I have done that I would use an English Ale strain. In the past I have used Champagne yeast. In addition I wanted to keep the cider fermenting at a lower temp than in the past, so I placed the fermenter in a water bath in which I placed frozen water bottle to hold the surrounding temp in the 50-60s. I am hoping that with a less attenuating yeast held at cooler temps I should avoid the hot fusel alcohols I have gotten in past batches. I also did not boil, or pasteurize the must in any way. The cider was flash pasteurized already and I didn't want to lose any aromatics or apple flavors. I poured in the must and pitched the yeast.

Ingredients: 2.5 gallons Organic Apple Juice, 2.5 gallons Organic Apple Cherry Juice, Pectine Enzyme, WLP002-English Ale Yeast.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Extract Hefeweizen (Westerlies Weizen)

Hefeweizen was the first beer that I ever made that was a true success. I even won my first award with my first Hefeweizen. The beer was a huge hit with my friends and family's well. The first batch I made was back when I was still an extract brewer. I tried to make an all grain Hefeweizen a few years back, but it just didn't come out the way it should have. I didn't do a deccocotion and I think that was one reason it didn't come out the way it should have. Iread that you could get a great Hefeweizen from extract, and my earlier batch supported that theory. I decided I would give an extract Hefeweizen another go. It's a simple recipe and it was great to knock out a batch in about an hour and a half.

The name comes from the westerly winds that blow on shore off the Pacific Ocean. These winds will often bring in coastal clouds, that are murky and cloudy, much like a hefeweizen. These clouds are most prominent in spring and early summer, commonly referred to as May Gray and June Gloom. Weather like that reminds me of a refreshing hefeweizen.

Recipe: 3# dry pilsner extract, 3# dry Bavarian Hefeweizen extract, Hallertauer @60 and 20, White Labs 300 Hefeweizen Ale.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Spring Saison

I wanted to brew a saison since the weather is starting to warm, the days are getting longer and spring is on its way. I even have some of my hops starting to sprout. I wanted to keep it simple and light, with a refreshing quality, and possibly throw something in that would make this saison a little different. White Labs has recently made their American Farmhouse Yeast a year round selection. I didn't have a chance to try it last year when it was released as a platinum strain, but I have heard great things about the yeast. what I found most intriguing was that the yeast is said to be a blend of a farmhouse strain and a Brett strain that lends a tartness to the finished beer, supposedly from Lost Abbey. Here is White Labs description of the yeast. When I opened the vial to this yeast is squirted like a geyser and had an amazing pineapple aroma. Needless to say I am excited about this yeast and how it will lend itself to the beer. In addition to a different yeast, I was able to pick up some Sorachi Ace hops as the new crop of hops has finally made its way into the LHBS. These should lend some citrus, lemony type flavor and aroma which should pair amazing well with the yeast. I debated adding some Meyer Lemon zest form my backyard tree, but I wanted to see what the hops and yeast could do on their own

Recipe: 2-Row, Honey Malt, White Wheat. Sorachi @ 60, 20, and 5 minutes, White labs American Farmhouse Ale.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Toasted Oatmeal Stout

The next beer I am going to brew is for St. Paddy's Day. It is a basic oatmeal stout recipe, except I bumped up the amount of oats a little and I am planning on toasting the oats as well. I am also going to grind up a portion of the roasted barley in a coffee grinder and add it to the mash. I hope I get a nice, smooth, roasty, silky, chocolate-like beer.

I'm also planing on splitting this 6 gallon batch post fermentation, where one portion is left as is and the other will get coffee beans.

Ingredients: Marris Otter, chocolate malt, crystal 80, victory, roasted barley, toasted flaked oats. Fuggles @ 60, US 05.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Brewing Quarterly Schedule*

Lat year I put together this list with high hopes and lofty ambitions. Well out of the 33 beers I said I would brew, I hit 16 (plus others I didn't set out to brew, probably an additional 4-5 beers). Not too bad approximately half of what I aimed for. I was all over the board as far as when I would brew the beers and I often missed my mark for beers brewed for special occasions (Oktoberfest, Christmas beer, etc.).
I have decided to approach this year from a slightly different approach. First of all I will be developing a Quarterly schedule and I will re-evaluate at the end of each quarter. I have also noticed that I brew a bunch of beers that have all sorts of creative ingredients and flavorings. I love brewing this way, its one of the reasons I brew. However, it never really allows me to focus on a style and really hone in on the nuances of the style. This year I hope to focus on a few styles and do small tweaks in the recipe that will allow me to really create a great base beer recipe and also allow me to get a better understanding of the styles I am focusing on. The styles I am hoping to focus on are the following: American/Oatmeal Stout, American/Southern Brown. I know they are both hybrids, but I want to take the best from each of the styles. I will also continue my work on Saisons and IPA/Pales. In addition I hope to finally master a lager that will ferment out completely in a timely manner.

Wee Obese - A Wee Heavy, Wee Heavy
Brown #1 - A complex malt bill brown ale

Stout #1 - A Basic Oatmeal Stout with a bigger hop punch
Gueze Y1 - For my Birthday my wife gave me a gift certificate in which she will be my assistant brewer for a Gueze. Luckily that means she signed up for a 3 year tour. Looking forward to this one.
Old Oak- A Big, Malty, Oak aged English Style Barleywine. An ode to Avery's Samaels.

Pale #1- ???
Biere De Garde- A malty Farmhouse Ale
Pomme Dubbel - A Belgian Style Dubbel with Pomegranate Molasses instead of dark candy syrup.

Here's to 2012!

*Beers Subject to Change

Charger's Session iPA

I like to offset my big strong ales with more sessionable beers so that I have a beer that I can have a couple of and still be able to get some work done. At the time I put together the recipe I had just brewed two stronger beers (Black Friday IPA and Mexican Hot Chocolate Stout) and I had a keg of Belgian Golden Strong on tap. I hadn't made a real hoppy beer in a few months and my hop supply is running pretty low. The 2011 harvest is just getting out to retailers and so I wanted to finish off my Nelson hops from 2010's harvest. I had the opportunity to try Drakes Brewing Company's Alpha Session. I loved this beer because it was dry, hoppy and low alcohol. Essentially everything I love about an IPA minus the booze.

I decided to brew this beer and name it after my new French Bulldog puppy Charger. Charger is a beast of a little dog, he has a huge head with lots of chubby face rolls. He is very loving and gentle, but he is also kinda a honey badger. He is tough, and bold, but with a gentle soft side. Like Charger, this beer has a big bold hoppy side, but has a softer lower alcohol side as well.

Recipe: US 2-Row, Honey Malt, White Wheat, Magnum @60, Nelson @ 20, 10 and flame out, US-04 (by accident, wanted to use US-05).