Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Brewing an American Stout

Nice Shiny New Mash tun
I Thought this weekend during my Brew day, I'd take pictures of my upgraded system, and decided I'd document my process. However the HLT Urn I bought off Trademe (NZ equivalent of E-Bay) had a substantial leak in it. There goes my plan to work a new system.

I used Basic Camping Mat to Insulate the MLT.
Ah well, at least that's the only thing that didn't go to plan. So back to the trusty BIAB Process I went. Difference this time, was I used the new mash tun (I had cut everything to size for it already)

I'll detail my recipe in this post to give you an idea of what's what and why is looks like ink.... lol.

Brewed: 25/01/2015
OG: 1.066
IBU: 71

FV Volume: 21 Litres

6kg Gladfield Ale
700g Rye Malt
350g Pale Choc
300g Medium Crystal
250g Roast barley

60Min: 20g Centennial / 29g Nelson Sauvin
0Min/Whirlpool: 38g Centennial / 17g Nelson Sauvin

No Dryhops.

Yeast: WLP 090 Slurry (Thick)

So away I went, and to be sure of no screw ups I took my time, I filled my new shiny with 36 Litres of Tap Water, and turned the burner on.
Mashing In

A Strike Temps of Around 69 was required, I normally gets 3-4 degrees of heat loss once the grains are added.

Just a quick side note on BIAB and heating etc. Please be careful to stir the pot to maintain an even temperature through the whole body of water. this makes sure all the heat from the bottom is being utilised, thus making your heating slightly faster, and getting an even temperature across the board.

The other thing I should probably mention at this stage,  Heat gain doing BIAB, this can be an issue in some vessels, mainly the thinner ones, where the heat can travel through the post around the outside, and not distributing evenly. So what I like to do, is get to strike while stirring, and then spend a good 2-3 minutes vigorously stirring the water to make sure its at a settled temperature, and of course even through out. (I have an analogue temp probe on the vessel, as well as a small digital readout one, which is hand held.)

I'd thought out about using a new process (Well a shortened process) as I like to do a mash out step using BIAB. I have a pulley system rigged up, which means I can pull the bag off the bottom and heat to 75/76 degrees then wait 10/15 minutes before removing the bag and bringing to a boil. Basically this is the process I thought about changing to the No Sparge Method. Meaning I wouldn't need to carry out the mash-out step. (I will attempt this at some stage)
All tucked away.

Anyway, back to the day at hand. After
that, I remove the bag and suspend it slightly for a minute before  hanging it from a big hook I have in the garage, below of course is a Pot to collect the additional Wort.

Nice Clear Wort. Nice and Dark
then Boil and Add the Hop additions as normal. I'll add the Immersion Chiller 15 mins before the end of the boil (After a quick Water spray to remove dust) and that'll sufficiently sanitise the chiller.

I gave this a 15 min Whirlpool/hop steep, before turning on the chiller, and whirl-pooling again, to get full wort contact.

I hit 65% efficiency on this, which was a shame, but only 4 points away from the normal target. I shook the fermenter, and then used my aquarium pump for 30-40 minutes for full aeration, and then pitched the yeast.

Simple process, short brew day. Mostly, the clean up is what takes the time. Most people mention this, and you've heard it all before, make sure everything is clean and sanitised.

Primary1(Plastic): Secret Crusade American Rye Stout
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Watch This Space}
10 Litre PET Carboy #1: Night Crawler Imperial Stout 
Sour#1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Sour#2 (PET Carboy): {Watch This Space}
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Chch Homebrew Club Barleywine / Braggot Ale.
Keg1: Bathed in Blood II (Stone Levitation)
Keg2: Promised Land II (Stag)
Keg3: Clown Prince Belgian Blond (SMaSH Beer)
Next Beer to Brew: SOUR BEER

Monday, 19 January 2015

Clown Prince Belgian Blond - Last bottle of Brett

I've been drinking the Original Sin Brett Saison for awhile now, and I'm sad to admit I drank its last bottle last night. This beer has been fantastic, and it's been one of those beer I've stashed away for aging etc. in an effort to make the bottles last. It came along leap and bound and as you can see, the clarity is near on perfect.
Just a short few notes on where this sits now, compared to where it was in my first tasting.
Appearance: Crystal clear with nice cascading carbonated bubbles. keeps its head nicely. not over-carbed either.
Aroma: Funk, and plenty of it, this has become much more of a Brettanomyces type beer. Very nice indeed.
Flavour: Some light pilsner malt, with the body coming from the rye and the cara-pils. plenty of funk again, lemon/lime earth and hay.
Mouthfeel: Dry finish, with a medium thin body, which is expected. but much fuller than you'd expect from a beer like this.

Overall: Perfect summer beer, and with 30 degree heat yesterday, it was a great beer to have outside to relax.

It will be re-brewed this year to coincide with the NHC2015 competition, some very minor tweaking required, but its very small minor changes, as I like it as it is. It does lack a touch of complexity, but who needs that right?

Now, onto the beer of the moment.....
the Clown Prince Belgian Blond Ale. I brewed this especially for the SMaSH comp we had locally here in Christchurch, and I'm humbled to say, it won Brewers choice. not only that, but it also won the judges choice award. It's safe to say I'm pretty happy with the outcome, and I couldn't believe it got this far, with some great entries from some of the other guys (Personal favourite was the German Lager brewed with Pacific Gem Hops  Bock Lager Yeast and 100% Munich Malt) so definitely some stiff competition.
So onto the notes of the beer.
Appearance: this went into the keg very cloudy/milky, which did not look promising at all, so I fined with gelatin, as per my previous posts, and it pours a just so slightly hazy golden colour, with a nice bright white head.

Aroma: Banana-Bread, very much yeast dominant. sweet and malt backing. probably the Candi sugar and pilsner malt.

Flavour: More banana bread, clove, spices anda sweet toffee flavour from the sugar again. pils back it up nicely.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, no issues here, head retention is good. arb could probably be better.

Overall: Lovely beer, I'll be bottling a couple up to enter into the GKBF homebrew comp, where I think it'll do quite well. Next iteration of this (yes it will be re-done) will have more than just pilsner malt, I'll probably just add a half kilo of munich if I changed anything, not bothered about changing the hops around, for the yeast I like it, but whenever this is brewed I'll essentially just use the belgian yeast available at the time.

Here's a look at the recipe (I'll be posting the recipes directly to the blog now, rather than linking them out to Brewtoad, it's taking too long)

Malt: 94.1% Gladfield Pilsneer Malt 5.9% Homemade Candi Sugar (Added at Flameout)
Hops - Pacifica: 60min - 25g / 30min - 14g / 5min - 21g.
Yeast: WLP500 (Slurry taken from Backup Plan III)
OG 1.066 / FG 1.014
Mash Temp: 65 deg C for 90 Minutes / Boiled for 90 Minutes.

Just a short note on the next beer to brew, I have once again changed my mind, with an eye on the GKBF home-brew comp and a Christchurch Case swap, I will be brewing a big stout, and bottle conditioning. An American Rye Stout to be precise. I'll be using Centennial and Nelson Sauvin as a flameout addition, with a big charge of hops at bittering. This is a beer I've been looking to brew for awhile, ever since I read this recipe Here. This merely serves as inspiration, rather than a copy.

Primary1(Plastic): Bathed in Blood II
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Watch This Space}
10 Litre PET Carboy #1: Night Crawler Imperial Stout 
Sour#1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Sour#2 (PET Carboy): {Watch This Space}
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Chch Homebrew Club Barleywine / Braggot Ale.
Keg1: War-Pigs Am. IPA
Keg2: Promised Land II
Keg3: Clown Prince Belgian Blond (SMaSH Beer)
Next Beer to Brew: Secret Crusade American Rye Stout

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Batch #100

As promised, some brief tasting notes for the American IPA. Apologies for the crappy picture. I don't have a good camera currently, so it's just an iPhone.....
this recipe was based off the Blind Pig Clone from here, so the recipe is pretty much Identical.

Appearance: Hazy Golden colour, the haze makes it muddy looking. Yeast Haze and some chill haze.
Aroma: Nice enough, some grapefruit, pine and grassyness. I suspect I left the slightly aged hops in too long, and there's a touch of butter in the mix also. Not so good.
Flavour: Hops lead the way, some grassyness and a slightly malty backbone, but again the diacetyl takes away from what should have been. The hops I suspect were not stored all that well, or vacuum packed, so maybe some cheesy-ness. the haze has given the beer a slightly bitter bite, this is the yeast not dropping out, which is typical of Conan/Vermont yeasts.
Mouthfeel: This is where the diacetyl takes its place, silky and butter on the mouth, body is fine, carb is probably a bit low, but its how I like them.
Overall: Not bad, but not good either, and I've gone off it as time's gone on. swap out the yeast, and get it cleaner. It finished at 1.014 which was weird, but I'm testing out WLP090 as a house yeast for these types of beers, so we'll see.

2 Mash Paddles make the work slightly easier

This was my friend Oli's 100th batch. He decided to brew a style he really enjoyed, and let's be honest here who doesn't enjoy them. An Imperial Stout. Originally Based on the CYBI iStout recipe, from our group brew a good year and a bit ago. Chris was kind enough to lend his mashtun for the day, which is a very large 175 litres, he has brwewed one commercial batch from it, and it works a treat. Stainless steel, with cast legs. He also has a boil kettle which is a converted Hot watercylinder, about 200 litres or so. Pretty impressive stuff.

Mashing in time. - 175 Litre Mash Tun
I'll post the recipe below to help people out if they decide to go ahead with it. I took away 10 litres on the WLP090 yeast I'm testing, Oli took 20 litres for himself, as did Chris, and Finney took another 10. So all in all, around 60 litres was the finished volume. an FG of 1.102 was hit, and a 2 hour boil.
The recipe is HERE.
Spent Grain being emptied
I also had an empty keg to fill, and a test batch to make for my wedding coming up, so for me at Oli's it was all about This. Essentially an American Amber, which would make for a nice sessionable beer, for my wedding if it comes out ok. I've aptly named this beer Bathed in Blood II, but only to fill the name, which should work.

This was a great day, and the smells were quite heavenly from the RIS, big roast and chocolate. I'm not sure what I plan to do with my section of the RIS,  I doubt I'll oak any of itI have some  inspiration for Dryhopping, which actually comes from Goose Island Beer Co., who made an RIS called Night Stalker, which was heavily dry-hopped with Simcoe. Now as you know, I didn't like the Simcoe in the Black IPA, and given I've heard Centennial works well in darker beers, may give this a shot. But I'll decide closer to the time.

In the pipeline before the end of Summer, I'll hopefully have another sour in the mix, and maybe another brett beer (Possibly mixed culture of Saison yeast and Brettanomyces.)

Primary1(Plastic): Bathed in Blood II
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Watch This Space}
10 Litre PET Carboy #1: Night Crawler Imperial Stout 
Sour#1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Sour#2 (PET Carboy): {Watch This Space}
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison / Chch Homebrew Club Barleywine / Braggot Ale.
Keg1: War-Pigs Am. IPA
Keg2: Promised Land II
Keg3: Clown Prince Belgian Blond (SMaSH Beer)
Next Beer to Brew: Either Bad Wolf Belgian IPA III or Hoppy Funk Here.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Happy New Year: 10 Goals for 2015

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to the year 2015.

It's been a good few weeks, with plenty of beer drunk, food eaten, etc. Another year has past, and I've noticed a few blogs outline their goals and aspirations for the year. So I kinda figured I'd jump on the band-wagon and let you all know where I'm taking the blog, my brewing and life in general. So here they are the challenges I've set myself for the 2015 year.

1: Wedding Beer - As you may know, I'm getting hitched in just over a year, and as such it's time to nail some real recipes for the big day. I don't want to give away too much yet, but there'll definitely be a fair few hops flying around at some stage. the aim is 6 batches of beer, so approximately 120 Litres of beer, plus possibly a couple of more special beer for the day.

2: 100% Brettanomyces -  I've done a couple of these beers now, and they've turned out pretty well. I really like how they play with some of the New age NZ Hops out there. My main goal for this is a medal at the NHC towards the end of the year, using 100% Brettanomyces fermentation, I'll most likely revise the existing Saison recipe to where I think I need to take it. given the WLP644 talk, I may look to amend the yeast to something more Brett-y. Maybe Lambicus, like 8 Wired. Time will tell.

3: New Equipment -  I've got a new Mash tun, and I'll continue to use the existing boil kettle, I need a HLT, Pumps, Stand, and I'll be set to go, this will be an ongoing project. I'm not aiming to finish it by the end of the year, but some progress would be great.

4: First Solo Barleywine - This is going to be a fun one. a beer (no honey), in a full sized batch of 18-21 litres. I know what my plan is, I'm just trying to fit it into my schedule somewhere. this is going to happen sooner rather than later, and of course 100% NZ Hops.

5: The SJPORR Challenge 2015 - I understand this challenge will be taking place world-wide again. So I aim to enter it again, and hopefully improve on my 10th placing for the recent one.

6: More Sours - I have plans to add to my Guts and Glory Flanders Red, I plan to add a Sour blonde and a Darker beer as well through the year.so watch this space.

7: Improve my process and fermentation - The Obligatory learn more improve the beer goal. This is actually a pretty important goal to have. If you don't improve and adjust the processes in place how will I/you become better brewers, and make, well, better beer in general. this actually ties together with the first goal of getting beers ready for my wedding.

8: Find a House Strain - This is a hard one, but it is on the list of things to do. While I've had good success with the dry yeasts out there. I really would like to save some money and invest in liquid yeast. Here in New Zealand the vials tend to be more expensive, but can be used a few time/multiple times in different beers/styles. If I get stuck I've always got the Dry stuff to fall back on. This may not necessarily be one particular strain. but a couple of different ones. But the overall aim is to find a house strain for American/clean style beers, also possibly something for Belgian style beers (this could even be Brettanomyces, who knows.) I'm aiming for a list of liquid yeast no more then 4-5 strain long. I can add 1 strain to my house list, WYeast 1469 - West Yorkshire Ale. this will most likely be my house strain for the quintessential British Real Ale. all I need now is a clean ale strain, and a Belgian strain (Less so, as I like the hugely different characteristics of some of the different strains out there.)

9: The Sons of Liberty Porter - Ha!I haven't, and will never give up on the beer. Despite the 15 and 8 out of 50 in the two previous NHC competitions. this is a beer I will get right eventually. you might say I have un-finished business with this brew. but let's not kid ourselves here, it may take sometime. but damn it will be worth it!!!

10: Release my first Commercial Beer - This will be on my list every year, until I achieve it. I don't think I'll achieve it this year. Maybe not even next year. But it will happen. I'll leave you to speculate on what that style would be or should be.

Phew! That a year worth of goals, plenty to pack into 12 months if you ask me. Have you got any goals for the year that is? If your listening/reading out there, let me know.

On separate notes, (there's a couple), I've kicked the Black IPA keg, it held it's own, and while it wasn't as good as the first version, it was still pretty damn tasty. I decided at the last minute to keg the Clown Prince Belgian Blond(SMaSH) and it's drinking nicely so far, some more time is required though given the sugar and alcohol involved. i used WLP500 from the Backup plan previously. Supposedly this is the Chimay strain, and you can tell, it's so Banana bread-y.
Fining with Gelatin: I fined the Belgian with Gelatin, to help clear up, what looked literally like yellow milk. the strain seems to take forever to clear out, so I just helped it along a bit. Gelatin is something I will probably start to use more, to remove unwanted haze, and I'm noticing some slightly more bitter note in my beers, when they're not clearing properly. This article HERE, suggests, that this is due to additional yeast in suspension, causing that extra bitter bite.

War-Pigs IPA is still in the keg, but it's a bit Meh, Damn Diacetyl. I'll have some tasting notes of War-Pigs up soon. along with the recipe as usual.

Lastly, I brewed up Version 2 of Promised Land Pilsner, but used WLP090 (so technically not a Pilsner). This is for my Friends Stag Party in a few weeks.

Primary1(Plastic): Promised Land II
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Watch This Space}
10 Litre PET Carboy: Braggot/Honey Ale
Sour#1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Sour#2 (PET Carboy): {Watch This Space}
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison /100% Brett Wild West IPA / Chch Homebrew Club Barleywine + Partigyle.
Keg1: War-Pigs Am. IPA
Keg2: {Nothing}
Keg3: Clown Prince Belgian Blond
Next Beer to Brew: CYBI - Stone Levitation Ale Clone

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Dark Storm II

this has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of weeks now, sorry about the delay:

As promised, Here is some tasting note for Version 2 of Dark Storm. the idea behind this version, was to increase the hop flavour and complexity across the board.
I can say this much now, I failed in that respect, the reason is because I beat my target gravity by a staggering 4-5 points. So I hit 1.067 OG prior to fermentation.
I did increase the malts by 200 grams, but wouldn't have thought this would've increased it by this much.
I'll put it down to missing water. I missed my volumes by 2 litres, and originally hit 1.072 somehow, I was sure I put the correct amount of water in, but clearly not. so as you will see from the picture, this has come out more brown than black, due to the top up water added. Which put me down to 1.066/67.
Coupled with these issues, I had a miss cue on Fermentation, meaning I missed my target Og by 2 points as well. hitting 1.018, rather than the previous 1.016, which again will probably be down to increased viscosity and increased OG from the originally 1.062 last time.

So, onto some tasting notes:

Aroma: Some dark Malts, roast aroma only slight but noticeable none the less. Big hits of Grapefruit and some of that lovely Mosaic pokes through, however it seems to be hidden behind the Simcoe somehow..... I realise its a powerful hop, but for me it doesn't work in a dark beer.

Appearance: Brown Rather than black like last time, this is due to top up water, which is a shame. there is also some haze on this one, most likely hop haze. It's not a big deal in terms of a dark beer, but it is noticeable, due to the lighter than normal appearance. I'll also put this down to US-05 rather than M44. head retention is good.

Flavour: More of the aroma, although some minor alcohol notes here as well, nice big grapefruit/lemon flavour with a saturation of Mosaic in the mix. the dakre malts don't play as well as I'd hoped for with Simcoe, and I don't really get much from the Special Roast.

Mouthfeel: this is a bit thicker than I like, there are some unfermented sugars at play here. the 1.018 is too high, and this works much better at 1.016. Guess it goes to show you those extra two points can make a big difference.

Overall: This is a good beer, but some clear issues arose from what I mentioned above. I know where to take it from here which helps, but it'll be back in the direction of the original recipe.

So, where to from here for this beer. I'll be going back to what made this beer such an inspiration last time, the fruit from the hops played really well with some of the increased roast flavours in the mix. Yeast I may go liquid, or may just head back to MJ44, while I nail down the recipe. Special roast is out, it didn't add much top the recipe, and while I don't think it contributed to haze or lack of colour, if I go back to the original, then I know where I stand. Hops - I'll continue to experiment with more fruity options, the Simcoe doesn't work on this, next time will probably be Galaxy, in the later additions.

On another note, my Belgian Blond is in down and seems to be pretty happy. I kept things nice and simple, I'm looking to build a base and work from there. so just pilsner malt, candi sugar (Homemade) 100% Pacifica hops, this way I can enter into the upcoming SMaSH comp at the local brew club. 1.066 hit, fermented with the slurry of WLP500 from Back Up Plan III. Next up will be Promised Land II for a mates Stag Party.

Primary1(Plastic): Promised Land II (Ale Yeast)
Primary2(Plastic): {Nothing}
Primary3(Bretts/Sours): {Nothing}

10Litre PET Carboy: Braggot/Honey Ale
Sours #1(Wide Mouth Glass): Guts & Glory Flanders Red
Sours #2 (PET Carboy): {Nothing}
Barrel: Hail Caesar Oud Bruin Ale
Bottled: Original Sin 100% Brettanomyces with Wai-iti / 100% Brettanomyces Saison /100% Brett Wild West IPA
Keg1: War Pigs IPA (Conan Yeast)
Keg2: {Nothing}
Keg3: Clown Prince Belgian Blond 
Next Beer to Brew: Possibly Funktown Pale Ale, or Stone's Levitation Clone