Category Archives: homebrew

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%

S.A.D. 2

31216209232_9d05c10374_cWe are getting to the end of my year of pale ales. I may not have made it explicit, but I was trying to engineer a pale ale that I liked and could make regularly-or on request-because it’s a pretty common style. I’d like to improve on some basics and so a lot of practice was done in 2016. In this case, I went after a repeat of a successful recipe.

The hop nose is faint but I can tell the Columbus hops are there. The is a definite spike in the bitterness on the finish but before I get there it’s got a pleasant sweetness, very much like an orange with a tiny bit of caramel drizzle over it. It’s also pleasantly dense: got enough body to it to justify itself, along with encouraging having another beer.

I have to say, I’m fairly pleased with this and think that some version of it should work its way into my regular rotation.

Brew date: 10/14/16

Steeping grains
1.5 lb Munich
1.5 lb Vienna

Fermentables: 7 lb extra light malt extract

Hops
1 oz Columbus @60
.5 oz Simco @60

Yeast: Imperial Barbarian

OG: 1.064

FG: 1.014

Secondary 10/28, added .5 oz Simcoe hops

ABV: 6.8

Bottled 10/30

Resisting Puns

30715895215_a52454e624_cWhen an IPA is made with rye malt, it’s pretty difficult to refuse a cutesy name. There’s rhyming schemes that human brains just like a lot and the temptation hangs out there, like a free beer.

But I’m not going to do it, I tells ya. Smarter (and dumber) people than I have had their way with the name and I just won’t do it.

The nose is a little resiny, nothing too strong but pleasant, for it’s faintness. The body is dense enough to hold up the bitterness on the finish. Definitely a sweet note in the middle that’s tempered with some orange flavor before that finish comes up.

It’s alright. But I mean this in the best way, because a good beer that hits the acceptable standard is sometimes hard to praise or talk up. It’s worth having and even getting another. That’s pretty good!

I don’t think it’ll win me any medals but it won’t make me any enemies either.

Brew date: 11-Sep

Steeping grains:
2lb rye
1 lb victory
1lb Maris Otter

Fermentables: 7 lb LME

Hops:
1.25 oz Columbus @ 60
.25 oz Equinox, .5 oz Columbus @30
.25 oz Equinox, .5 oz Columbus @5

Yeast: Imperial Independence, 3rd use

OG: 1.071

TG: 1.019

Notes:
1/4 tsp Irish Moss@ 5
.5 oz Equinox in secondary
Secondary 10/5

ABV: 7%

9x This

30241084040_ac2e532d37_cWe have the ninth attempt at a pale ale!

The nose is faintly citrus; almost like a good soap. The end also has a bit of this quality too, which might be an element of the hops. This beer isn’t terrible by any means but it faintly has a cilantro or soapy quality to the finish that is really keeping it from being one I can enjoy with relish. This could be the result of leaving the beer in primary too long, or it could be the hops and I suppose the only way to tell for sure will be to try it again.

On the other hand, this beer looks great-a really nice gold with decent clarity. There is a solid note of malt in the middle, so that part is holding. But I think the bittering hops need to be changed up: this finish is not what I’m looking for. I can see why grapefruit is so emphasized as the bittering flavor in IPAs but if I wanted “juicy” I would just buy OJ.

Brew date: 9/5/16

Steeping grains
4 lb Full pint
2 lb Vienna
2 lb C15

Fermentables: 4 lb EXLME

Hops
1.5 oz Columbus @ 60
.25 oz Simco, .5 oz Columbus @30
1.5 oz Columbus @ 20

Yeast: Wyeast 1084 (3rd, final use)

OG: 1.07

FG: 1.01

Notes:
1/2 tsp gypsum added to the wort
Yeast starter made, smelled very fruity

Secondary on 9/21, added .5 oz Simco

Bottle 9/25

ABV: 8.1%

Fall Classic 2016

As I mentioned on Monday, I was the head steward for the Oregon Brew Crew’s Fall Classic competition again, which had somewhere around 330 (but maybe even 360!) entries for judging this year.

30541072110_7db80b8961_cAnd once again, I stole the best of show stewarding for myself. I hustled a picture while the judges plowed through the twenty-five best of show entries, starting with a creme ale, which the judges liked on first impressions. And second.

But as the styles got whittled down, some due to obvious flaws (diacetyl being mentioned more than once) others because the judges had to start cutting things down (a beer sparged with donuts could not find a champion)…the creme ale found itself cut.

In the end, nits were picked as I listened to a discussion between an American brown ale and a bock. Once again, I was impressed by the judges’ ability to talk about the beer itself, separate from their style preferences. I did my best to remain impartial but as a fan of brown ales, I was pulling for it (although both were delicious). It’s hard to root against a beer that’s delicious and that bock was quite tasty.

Still, I’m glad the brown took the big prize, especially if that means more brown ales.