Monday, November 11, 2013

A Charlie's Brown: Thanksgiving Beer

Well I am finally back. I haven't brewed since early June. I had a slight change at work and I have a lot more responsibility. Last spring I was named principal of our new middle school. Part of these responsibilities included a pretty substantial remodel of old preschool classroom spaces into the middle school. Managing the remodel and planning the new school took up almost all of my summer. Then once school started I have been super busy. I think it is finally starting to slow down a bit. I had Veterans Day off so I decided it was time to brew. This summer I did get one chance to brew a 10 gallon batch of a basic saison, that I then split into two 5 gallon batches. In one batch I added 3lbs. of fresh cucumber into secondary and the other half got about 8 tea bags of a jasmine green tea. These both came out great and were wonderful refreshing summer beers.

Today I brewed up a batch of a brown ale. I wanted a malt forward beer with enough hop bitterness to balance it out. It is kind of a cross between a Southern Brown Ale (malty, sweet, fruity) and an American Brown (roasty, hoppy, dry). The malt bill is more Southern, but I used a substantial dose of Sterling hops in the boil.  My local homebrew store, The Homebrewer has an amazing variety of grain. I built my recipe using Beer Alchemy, but upon getting to the store I realized the store had some better options for my beer, so I called an audible on the malt bill. I built the base on a 50/50 blend of Golden Promise and Ashburne Mild. I then picked out two crystal malts to add some sweetness and added dark fruit, burnt sugar and toffee flavors. I then finished off the bill with pale chocolate malt to get chocolate flavors and color, and some coffee kiln malt to add some roasty, coffee-like flavors. I also used a American Style yeast to keep the beer dry and allowing the fruit component to come mainly from the malt bill and not the yeast.

This beer will a great beer to pair with Thanksgiving dinner.

Recipe: Golden Promise, Ashburne Mild Malt, Dark Crystal (~80L), Extra Dark Crystal (~130L), Pale Chocolate Malt, Coffee Kiln Malt. Sterling Hops @60, and US-05.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hot Curl

I was reading an article a few months ago about the history of San Diego (a subject that I geek out on). While reading about San Diego’s surf history I stumbled upon an article about a surfer-made statue that represented as the artist put it a “crummy surfer”, loosely model after himself. The statue was known as Hot Curl was first erected in 1963 by artist and self-described “crummy surfer”  Mike Domer (now 77) and his buddy Lee Teacher. The two built the 6’4” cement, scrap iron, and chicken wire statue and placed it next to the surf shack at Windansea beach in La Jolla. The statue was subject to love and hate and was taken down by City crews, only to be built again after passing city permit tests. Finally, a disgruntled surfer bludgeoned it to pieces late one night. Although the statute didn’t last long in its original location, a replica now sits in the Surf Museum. In addition to the current replica, Hot Curl became an icon of the surf movement in the 60s and continues to represent that early age of surfing culture today. Hot Curl has also been a comic for a number of years.

I love these old nostalgic stories of San Diegans in the “old days” doing crazy, weird and awesome things. The city was so much smaller then and was much more laid back. I figured I would honor the surf culture of San Diego through a beer. Karl Strauss makes a traditional hefewiezen called Windansea Wheat. I wanted to build off their model and create a beer that is just a little more San Diegan than a German Hefe. So I built a recipe for a Hoppy Wheat Beer (an IPW if you will). It is pretty standard wheat malt bill with an American Wheat yeast and American Hops. This beer should be a great porch sipper or a clandestine beach brew. Either way it should make a great summer beer. I hadn’t brewed  a hoppy beer in a while and when I opened my bag of Amarillo hops I was inundated by the amazing aroma of this hop, which continues to be my favorite hop. Here’s to Hot Curl!

Recipe: US-2 Row, White Wheat, Honey Malt. WLP American Hefe, Zythos & Amarillo @60, Amarillo @15, Amarillo @0.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

BRETTTTT!!!!!!!! #3

This is my 3rd attempt at a 100% Brett beer. I have had really good luck fermenting beer with 100% Brett. The beers have finished dry,  extremely fruity and slightly tart. My first two batches used Brett c. and Amarillo and Nelson hops respectively. The Brett c. and Amarillo worked amazingly well together and is probably the best beer I have ever brewed. I have a post here about my second batch and my thinking with these beers. I have changed my thinking a bit, and this time I decided to create a big starter before pitching. I may get a slightly cleaner finished beer but that is fine.

For this batch I used brettanomyces anomalus that I received from Al B before he opened up East Coast Yeast. He told me that this strain was a WYeast strain of Brett a. The vial was old (2009-10) so I started with a small amount and ramped it up over a number of starters. The yeast was very active by the second round of starters and started fermenting vigorously once I pitched it into the wort. I kept with the  same 100% brett strain and 100% hop varietal. In this version I used Rakua hops, which should have peach, passionfruit and mango-like characteristics. I felt that these hops would complement the fruitiness of the Brett a. well.

Recipe: 2-Row, Carapils, Crystal 40. Rakua hops @60, 20, 0. WYeast Brett anomalus.

Citrus Saison

I had a bunch of citrus (blood oranges, navel oranges, and Meyer lemons) and wanted to brew a beer for my work happy hour my wife and I will be hosting in early May. I knew that saison is a style that will be nice and drinkable and refreshing for an afternoon happy hour party. I also thought that the citrus would play well with saison characteristics. My coworker Alex came over to help me brew up this beer. His good friend and housemate just started brewing and he wanted to see what all grain was about. Alex chopped the citrus up into 1/8's and we placed them in a mesh bag and added the last 10 minutes of the boil. I used White Labs American Farmhouse blend yeast which has some funk in it. To compliment the citrus and the yeast Alex and I decided to use Motueka hops which are said to give citrus, passionfruit and tropical fruit aromas and flavors. We also added a small amount of Amarillo for that orange component. In addition I threw in a small amount of cracked black peppercorns, and 6 crushed fresh bay leaves at flameout. The bay leaves had this great fruity aroma with a slight menthol-like component. The beer is fermenting away and smells amazing!

Recipe: 2-Row, White Wheat, Vienna. Motueka and Amarillo hops at 60, 20, and Motueka alone at flameout. Blood oranges, navel oranges, and Meyer lemons, black peppercorns, and fresh bay leaves. WLP670 American Farmhouse Blend.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Napoleon's Dynamite. A Berliner Weisse: Two Ways. An Experiment in Taste and Speed.

Berliner Weisse is one of my favorite styles of beers. I had my first a number of years back at Stone Brewing's 2nd annual sour fest. It was a sweltering, humid day in July. Although many of the beers were tart and refreshing the Berliner was just outstanding at quenching my thirst and not getting me too wasted. That was before Berliner Weisse "blew up". The next version I had was the Bruery's Hottenroth. That beer woke me up to a whole new version of Berliner Weisse. In addition my homebrew buddy Pat made an amazing batch that he served at our house warming party almost 5 years ago. Since then I try and make at least one batch a year, usually in time for summer. In the past I have built up a starter of a commercial strain of lactobacillus and pitched that for about 48 hours before pitching a clean ale yeast. This has worked very well for me in the past. However, it does take some time to get sour enough. On a side note I usually brew a batch of Gose with the bacteria/yeast cake left over from the berliner.

This year I had some extra time on my hands and decided to test two methods of making Berliner Weisse. I have heard good and bad things regarding sour mashes for Berliners and so I figured I would do a side-by-side experiment. I would sour mash one Berliner (which should allow for a nice sour beer, in a much faster time frame. may have some off flavors, not as complex) and I would do a more traditional version where I pitch a commercial lacto strain and then after ~48 hours at warm temps I cool it down and pitch a clean ale yeast (which should be more complex, less chance for off flavors, be nice and sour, but takes longer). We will see how the results turn out.

Here is an overview of my procedure:
-16# of grain into the mash tun, 8# 2-Row and 8# of Wheat Malt, mashed at 150F for 35 minutes.
- Drain off first runnings and collect.
-Sparge mash and collect second runnings (this was 8 gallons final).
-I split that 8 gallons into two parts. 4 gallons went back into the mash and 4 gallons stayed in the kettle.  I then added 1.5 gallons of water to the kettle. I added a pitcher full of ice to the mash to cool it down closer to 100F (I only got it down to 125F, I tok the temp tonight and it was down to 110F, in addition the grain had risen above the liquid level and the funky aromas were starting to form.) I wish I had pictures.
-The sour mash will hold at ~100F for 48 hours. I added about a half pound of crushed grain to the mash tun as well to introduce some healthy lacto.
-Kettle Half was hopped and boiled for 15 minutes, cooled to 80F, and the lacto was pitched. after 48 hours I will cool and add clean ale yeast.
- The sour mash will get mash hops, drain and sparked to bring final volume to 6 gallons. I will boil it for 15 minutes to kill the lacto. I will then add a clean ale yeast to finish fermentation.

My hope is that the sour mash version will be just as sour, and complex as the commercial strain version, and hopefully with no off flavors. If this is the case then I would do a sour mash from here on out, since this version would get me to the same ends at a much faster rate.

Westerlies Weizen 2013

This was one of the first beers I ever brewed and it was my first beer to medal in a competition. Its a great beer for the gloomy foggy Spring/Early Summer here in San Diego (May Grey and June Gloom). Westerlies blow in from the ocean and create these gloomy conditions, I love so much. A hefeweizen is a cloudy, mirky beer perfect for this time of year.

 I typically like Hefeweizens that lean more closely to the banana versus the clove flavors/aromas. I am watching the fermentation temps closely to produce large amounts of the ester isoamyl acetate. I am aiming to stay in the high 60s to low 70s, 68-71F.

I made this batch for a good friend who will be deployed shortly to Afghanistan, it is her favorite beer I have made. I tried a year or so again to do this batch all grain with no decoction and it wasn't very good at all. I kept to simple and used DME, light and Wheat. I hope it turns out and she can enjoy some before she is deployed.

Recipe: Light DME, Wheat DME, Northern Brewer @ 60min and 20. WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Charger's session iPA

This is my second version of a session IPA or an iPA, named after my french bulldog Charger. He is older now, but this high flavor, high hopped, low alcohol IPA fits him perfectly. I really want a beer that I can a number of at night after work and not feel the effects of. I essentially just lowered my basic IPA recipe malt bill, and added as many hops as I would in a stronger Pale Ale or a smaller IPA. The last version was bitterer with Warrior and then Hopped with Nelson at 10 minute intervals the last 20 minutes of the boil. I also dry hopped the original with Nelson. The beer got some good feedback at a homebrew club meeting, but some said to call it an IPA it needed to be more bitter. I don't normally like IPAs that are too bitter, I enjoy the late hops that give aroma and flavor, but I guess that their opinions have some merit. For this version I kept the alt bill the same, but for the hops I wanted a slightly different hop profile. I really wanted a more tropical and citrus profile. I bitterer with Falconer's Flight to get a tropical and citrus background, with enough bitterness to call it an iPA. I then used a blend of Motueka, Rakau, and Amarillo at 20 and 10. The Motueka gives citrus notes of lemon and lime with a tropical fruit aspect as well. The Rakua gives more tropical fruit (this hop smelled fabulous when I opened the bag) especially passionfruit, and possible peach. I may use the Rakua as a single hop for my net 100% Brett beer. I used the Amarillo in these two add-ons to add some orange/citrus to round out the fruity profile. The last addition was just 50/50 Motueka and Rakua. I also plan on dry hopping this beer with these hops.

Recipe: US 2-Row, Honey Malt, White Wheat, Hops (see above), US-S05.

Biere De Garde - A Farmhouse Ale of a Different Color

Today I brewed a Biere de Garde. This is a style that I have wanted to brew for some time now, but I just haven't gotten the chance to do it. Biere de Garde is in the same family of beers as Belgian Saison. Biere de Garde is a farmhouse ale from Northern France. Both of these beers were originally brewed on small farms to supply the local population with beer to drink after working long days on the farm, or so the story goes.  Biere de Garde is a tough style to find commercial examples of. Luckily, the Lost Abbey here in San Diego makes a very nice example of the style in its Avant Garde. Avant Garde is brewed with Lost Abbey' s house lager yeast, fermented at hybrid ale/lager temps. Since commercial examples are so tough to find, another important resource is Markowski's Farmhouse Ales. This book does a great job explaining Biere de Garde, which can be a very difficult beer to describe, since very few commercial examples exist and very little is known about the original versions of the styles. In general the more modern versions are clean and malty, with a moderate hop profile. Markowski argues that much like early Saison's,  Biere de Garde was a farmhouse product, and probably was brewed with what ever grain, hops and yeast were available to the brewer. In addition they probably had some contamination of wild yeast or bacteria. I couldn't decide which route to go with, modern or traditional. Since the few commercial versions I have tried were the modern version (excluding Jolly Pumpkin's Biere de Mars). I wanted to ferment the beer with White Labs French Ale Yeast but since it wasn't available at the LHBS, I went with another neutral ale yeast, White Labs European Ale. This yeast ferments clean, and will enhance the malt profile of the style. I am thinking about pulling off a gallon or so of this beer and adding some wild yeast to get a more traditional version of the style. This beer had amazing amber color and I look forward to see how it turns out. The last characteristic of Biere de Garde's is that they are Guarded or aged for long periods of time to mature and smooth out the rougher edges. I will be aging this one for at least 2-3 months after primary fermentation is complete.

Recipe: US-2Row, Vienna, Dark Munich, Aromatic, and Crystal 60. Northern Brewer @60, Goldings @20, WLP 011 European Ale..

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Wee Obese - Strong Scotch Ale

When I was first getting into brewing about 6 years ago (and still extract brewing), I decided to break away from the homebrew stores basic recipes and try my hand at my own recipe creation. I pulled up the BJCP style guidelines and started reading through the history, ingredients and other characteristics of al the styles. At that same time Hamiltons Tavern had just opened and quickly became a weekly stop for me and my buddies to do some "research" on various styles. I drank two beers that really change amy thinking on beer, and inspired me to build my own recipe. The first was Alesmith's Wee Heavy and the other was Traquair Jacobite ale. Both are wonderful strong scotch ales. I knew after tasting these beers I had to create my own version of a Scotch Ale. I put together a recipe that was pretty standard, but I added some peat smoked malt (I know its not traditional, but I want that smoky rustic flavor) and dark brown sugar, to impart some molasses-like favors.

The beer was awesome, not to style because of the peat smoked malt, but it was a big favorite of my friends. One called it a man's campfire beer. I even entered it into the San Diego County Fair and even though it didn't place,  it got great feedback from the judges, one said that he would buy it at a bar. In my opinion that is the best feedback I can receive from a judge.

I have been wanting to brew my Wee Obese for many years, but it just hasn't made the cut when I decide what I want to brew. I don't often brew the same beer twice. Last week I finally got down to brewing his beer again. However, I dialed back the peat smoked malt to just a few ounces. Everything else was pretty much the same as the original. I hope tho sheer comes out as great as the first beer did. I clean doug my keggerator, cleaned the faucets, replaced the liquid lines and I will be serving this beer, my chocolate stout, golden rye, and Maulee's Mild on Super Bowl Sunday

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Golden Eye, Golden Rye

I was inspired a few months back to make a dry golden ale with the spiciness of rye malt. I put together a recipe and then forgot about until last week. I started scrolling through my Beer Alchemy recipe library trying to figure out what I wanted to brew. The last few beers I have made have been darker and more malt driven. I wanted to get something a little more light and hop driven on tap. I knew that this was the beer I needed to make. I wanted the rye to shine, so I left the recipe pretty simple with three malts including the rye (rye made up ~28% of the malt bill). I originally wanted to just use Northern Brewer hops all the way through, but at the last minute I subbed in some Amarillo at flameout. I debated what yeast to use; American Hefe, Wheat or US-05. I ended up going with the cleanest so that I could let the rye shine and it would allow me to see what rye really lends to a lighter beer. If I like how it works, I may incorporate it into an IPA. I am hoping to get in a batch tomorrow on my last day of vacation, either a Wee Heavy or a Dark Mild.

Recipe: 2 Row, Rye, Victory. Northern Brewer @60 and 30, Amarillo @0. US-05.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Feliz Navidad & Chai Spice Brown

Good New Year to all! I actually brewed these beers back a month or so ago, but didn't get a chance to post about it. The Feliz Navidad is a beer that I brewed last year for Christmas. It is a pretty standard stout base with added cocoa powder added at flameout that then gets dry spiced with vanilla bean, cinnamon, chile peppers. The beer was  huge hit last year at my Christmas party. My friend who works at a local brewery tried to pitch this idea to them for their holiday beer, but they wanted something that could age a little bit longer (they are doing a 12 years of Christmas beer), maybe in the later iterations? I decided to bump up the cocoa powder by an ounce this year, but other than that I didn't really change anything.

Recipe: 2-Row, Red Wheat, Chocolate Malt, Crystal 40, Crystal 80, Roasted Barley, Cocoa Powder, Goldings @60, US-05, Cinnamon Stick, Vanilla Bean, Dried Ancho Chilies.

The other beer I brewed for the work holiday party was a twist off a brown mild that I brewed earlier in the month. I wanted a spiced winter ale, but often find the spices use din these winter warmers to be a little harsh. Instead I tea bagged my beer with 6 Mate Chai tea bags. I left them in the keg for a week and this beer was a huge success. I personally would want a more sweet and malty base beer than what I had. Overall, I was very happy with this beer and think it is a great beer for fall and early winter.

I have this week off, so I will b e doing some brewhouse cleaning (very much needed!) and brewing a couple of beers. I will be rebreeding the first beer that I ever created the recipe for, a Strong Scotch Ale called Wee Obese, a Mild (I was at Magnolia in San Fransisco and became inspired), and possibly another stout, lager or hop forward beer.