Category Archives: homebrew

Page 184

34343701006_ea1c892ce7_kContinuing the brown ale series, we have Page 184. This has a chocolate malt nose and a bitter chocolate finish. Not like cocoa powder, more like very dark chocolate, but pretty close to the former.

It’s still quite drinkable, though as I managed to buffer those bitter chocolate moments with a sweet taste in the middle. It’s pretty drinkable and not hard on the palate on any level, so I can have it with lots of different foods; even, I think, a good salad with blue cheese crumbles in it would work well.

It’s a good late spring mid-autumn beer I think. Sure, it’s dark but it’s not too heavy so that if the weather is warm, you don’t feel like you’re overdoing it. But if it’s a little nippy out, well this will still suit you just fine.

Is it what I meant it to be though?

No. Just look at it: is that a brown ale? It is not. It is a Porter. A damn fine Porter in my opinion, but still a Porter.

Now, I don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good, here. A tasty beer is the goal at the end of the day.

However, I am trying to do something specific and that means holding myself up to a slightly higher standard. So, this beer but lighter might work just fine but as it is? Back to take another swing at it.

Brew date: 2/19/17

Steeping grains
4 lb Maris Otter
.75 lb Carapils
.5 lb C120
.25 lb Carafa 1 and 3
1 lb Chocolate Malt

Fermentables:
4 lb Extra LME

Extra: 1/4 tsp Calcium chloride

Hops
.5 oz Pearle .5 oz US FUggles @60
.5 oz Pearle .5 oz US FUggles @5

Yeast: Imperial’s Independence (2nd use)

I forgot to get the OG. Sigh.

FG: 1.018-but without the original gravity, I can’t calculate the ABV.

Bottled 3/12

Adaptable

33594144870_573bed0ebf_cInitially, this beer was meant to be brewed with extra-light malt extract, because I was shooting for a pale. When I got to the store though, they were all out and so my response was “Eh, screw it. Light malt extract is fine.”

Except it wasn’t quite, because I just continued with my ordinary recipe as though nothing had changed. That was an error on my part.

The hop nose isn’t too intense and with it is a strong undercurrent of malt. There’s a bit of yeast there too, almost like I have walked into a brewery, with a touch of bready warmth, as though the beer is still going.

The head on this beer is pretty thick and steady, too…which isn’t nearly as sexual as it might sound. Yes, I’ve probably ruined everything now. It’s OK.

Still, the steady foam top gives this beer a nice visual, like frosting on a cake.

The beer itself, I didn’t know what to do with. The malt qualities just run all over this beer, until the last touch of hop bitterness bushes it aside. That bitterness is juuust strong enough to endure a bit after the effervescence clears my palate. The finish has this interesting sparkle-bitterness happening but it wasn’t something I meant to create.

And I didn’t know what to do about that.

Sometimes, though, life steps in and throws a line, right? Or, I just buy a lot of different kinds of beer when I can.

Either way, it was about this time that I had a Deschutes India Red Ale and suddenly, my questions about flavor profile and style were solved! I had inadvertently made a an IRA instead and while it wasn’t identical, the Adaptable was still pretty close.

So I’ll take it as a happy accident and call it good.

Brew date: 1/11/17

Steeping grains
5 lbs Munich
2 lb Sacchra
1 lb Carapils

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

Hops
1 oz Simco, .5 oz Galaxy @60
.5 Simco @ 30
.5 Simco .5 Galaxy @5

Yeast: Imperial Independence

Secondary on 2/3, added 1oz Simcoe to beer

OG: 1.092

FG: 1.03

Bottled 1.22.17

ABV: 8.4%

Brown #1

32600157634_2587a5a9c1_cIt begins! Long time readers of the blog might remember that last year, I tried making pale ales (every other batch, to be precise) in order to find and properly execute a recipe that I liked.

It was a good experience, and there will be more opportunities to make pales ales but this year, I’m changing to brown ales. Brown ales come in two major categories: English and American. I can’t say I have a favored style at the moment, I just know that the commercial versions of this style that I’ve had, I’ve liked. But they appear infrequently so it’s time to brew my own.

There’s a dark malt note in the nose (when I get to it) that isn’t flawed but…it feels incorrect.

Which is not a bad description for the beer at large. It’s drinkable, yes, but there’s also a molasses flavor, both sweet and sulfur, that is far, far too strong for the kind of beer I was aiming for.

As with my last beer, B#1 suffers from staying a little too long in the bottle. It doesn’t taste infected though, so whatever bonuses I can take from that, I will.

Brew date: 1/8/17

Malts
.5 light roast barley
1 lb chocolate
1 lb C 120
1 lb Carapils

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

Hops
1.5 oz Nugget @60
.5 oz Nugget @ 5

Yeast: Imperial Darkness (3rd use, starter made)

Forgot to get FG readings and…so I don’ t know how strong this beer is. That is too bad, as it could’ve told me some information but I think next time, I maybe have to leave out the roast barley.

It’s Solid, If You Can Get To It

33040749792_ae524e0ba6_cI know what it looks like…it looks impossible.

It also looks infected: some of the other beers I have made have had similar issues, visually, which corresponded to something going wrong with the flavor.

I’m pleased to say that’s not the case this time: the nose is definitely more malty, with a pleasant orange sweetness wrapped in there. The taste is undercut by the effervescence, the pops of tiny bubbles sweeping away flavors. But it’s pleasant and drinkable and once I give the beer time for the head to settle out (five minutes, tops!), there’s even a smidgen of a hop bite at the end.

So what’s causing this?

Well, in January I was a steward for the Oregon Beer Awards, where a bunch of experts tried over 900 beers (we poured over 3,000 samples on Saturday alone, I was told), and at the end of Saturday the organizers said to the serving staff: “None of this beer can stay here. Take it all home!”

I walked out of there with three cases of hastily assembled beer from all over Oregon.

Drinking three cases of beer takes time. Even for me. The consequence of doing so, however, meant that all of this beer spent a few weeks longer in the bottle than it normally would and that, I believe, lead to the carbonation levels.

The proof will be in my next couple batches of beer, though. If those are also overcarbonated but taste fine then the hypothesis is supported. If not, well then maybe I just got lucky with this batch.

Brew date: 12/15/16

Steeping Malts
3 lb 2 Row
2 lb Metolius
2.5 lb Golden Promise

Fermentables:5 lb EXLME

Hops
1 oz Sorachi Ace@ 60
.5 oz Medusa@ 60
.5 oz Sorachi Ace @60
.5 oz Medusa & Sorachi Ace @5

Yeast: Imperial- Barbarian, 3rd use

OG: 1.08

FG: 1.019

Additions: 1/2 tsp Gypsum added to boil
Pinch of Irish Moss @flameout

Secondary 12/30/16: 1 oz Medusa in secondary

Bottled 1/2/17

ABV: 8.3%

Sabotage Within

31510914194_40af6f35ce_cThis did not turn out so well. I prefer to say that up front because I think it’s always better to front load information like that.

The nose has a little medicinal hit to it, which comes back at the finish. Really, that’s where it goes wrong and it’s enough to make this a disappointment. I’m not sure what’s got this beer off but I’m thinking two things happened urging my process:

First, I have been using a little less water when I’ve been cleaning bottles and I think that I may have to go back up to using a little more. While using more water isn’t ideal, neither is producing a corrupted beer.

Second, I didn’t produce a starter for the yeast. I have been overconfident with the volume of yeast I had available but it wasn’t enough. This delayed the start of the fermentation and could have provided a window where things could go badly.

I think this is less likely, as when I tasted the beer before bottling it seemed fine. If it’s infected, it’s usually pretty easy to tell right then. But having less-than-ideal bottles could be what turned this beer, because two weeks in contaminated vessels will make things go badly.

Brew date: 11/11/16

Steeping grains
4 lb 2 row
2 lb Munich
2 w lb C15

Fermentables: 4 lb EXLME

Hops
2 oz Columbus @ 60
1 oz Columbus @ 30
1 oz Columbs .5 oz Zythos @ 5

Yeast: Imperial’s Barbarian-2nd use

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.016

Put into secondary 11/30
.5 oz Columbus and .5 Zythos added to secondary fermentation

Bottled 12.4

ABV: 6.5%

Devils Mother 3: Mary MacLeod

There is something to be said for consistency. Doing the same thing, every time helps bring about results that are expected.

Mary McLeod is the Devil's MotherI’m pleased the say that it’s no different here: Mary MacLeod is a solid version of the Devil’s Mother. I just keep repeating that recipe, and it keeps on delivering.

The nose isn’t too strong and that is a slight ding against the beer. The dry roast coffee scent is there, if I dig into it but it’s not pushed at all. That is only bad because so much flavor is lost without olafactory stimulation!

(Sorry, I’m trying out some $5 words to keep from getting burnt out).

The beer itself though is solid as a brick. Full body, a touch of black licorice in there, almost certainly coming from the Black Patent malt, with nothing too sharp on the bitterness to make the beer too challenging to drink.

Brew Date: 10.22.16

Steeping Malts
1 lb black patent
1.5 lb chocolate
.5 black prinz

Fermentables/brewing malts
3 lb 2 row
4 lb Maris otter
7 lb LME

Additions: 1 lb Lactose

Hops: 2 oz Nugget @60

Yeast: Imperial Darkness

OG: 1.1

FG: 1.03

Bottled 11.13

ABV 9.5%