Tag Archives: brown

Uneven Haircut

So I either get this:

Or I get this:

And I don’t get a head on the beer nearly as often as I get no carbonation whatsoever. This is always disappointing and it’s weird in this case, because the beer is so inconsistently carbonated. Not that many bottles are carbonated but when it is,¬† the bottles will gush! Usually that’s the sign of an infection.

Except the beer doesn’t taste infected at all. It’s got a very clean, sweeter coffee flavor to it. Which is what I was going for, so that’s great! It’s very flavorful and worth drinking, it’s just flat. Which leaves me with a bit of a conundrum as to what went wrong.

My theory is that I didn’t mix up the bottling sugar well enough with the beer and some bottles were just overloaded with sugar. It’s not much of a theory but since everything else went right, I don’t know what else to say.

Brew Date: 6.23.14

Steeping Grains
1.5 lb Carared
1.5 Belgian Coffee malt
1 lb Mild ale malt

Fermentables: 7lb LME

Hops
.75 oz Liberty @ 60
.25 oz Simco @60
.75 Simco @10
.25 Liberty @ 10

Yeast: Breakside ale yeast-3rd use,

Bottled 7.23

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Bad Brown (it’s not a feature, it’s a bug)

This is bad. There’s no way to get around that fact. The beer contains traces of (in no particular order) anise, molasses and a banana split in the nose. The flavors include all of the above and a solid chocolate note to top it all off.

So this didn’t work out; too sweet, too many weird flavors that aren’t meshing well.

I don’t know what happened. I added black tea at the end because I thought that a hint of the spicy flavor would be interesting with a brown ale. Nothing in the off flavors suggest black tea however, save, perhaps, for the anise. Which I still think would be interesting if everything else had worked out.

The most likely conclusion is that I pitched the yeast at a temperature that was too high but I’ve been really good about that sort of thing for awhile. I know that anything above 78 is bad news so I do my best to shoot for cooling the wort to 70-75.

Nevertheless, screwing that up is the most likely conclusion. That, or I should just stay away from tea-related adjuncts forever. The worst of it is; in addition to being barely drinkable, I can’t have more than two at night or else the caffeine from the tea keeps me awake! It’s like a terrible rum and coke.

The funny thing is, last Saturday I tried the Bananas On Fire by Stickmen brewing, a dunkelweizen with rum soaked vanilla beans. And it had the exact same off flavors as my brown, excepting anise.

So I guess it’s OK when you do it on purpose? The Stickmen beer tasted like it said it would so I can’t say that it’s flawed, I can only say that it doesn’t seem like beer ought to taste like this.

Brew Date: 8.18.13

Steeping Grains:
2 oz Black patent
6 oz C120
.25 lb Brown
12 oz C60
.5 lb 2 row

Fermentables: 6 lb LME

Hops:
.75 oz Crystal @ 50
.5 oz Athuam @ 60
.25 oz Crystal @15
.5 oz Athuam @ 15
1.25 oz black tea @ flameout

Yeast: Wyeast 1318 London Ale

OG: 1.062

FG: 1.02

ABV: 5.6%

7pm Overkill

Faint trace of chocolate malt in the nose of Standing Stone’s Riverkeeper Brown and I want to like this, because the flavors are correct. The finish is a thin though; a watery, limp end where something stronger ought to stand. I begin to wonder: do I have this style all wrong? Maybe my malt expectations are a bit high. Thankfully, I live in an age where I can ask questions and get answers.

It’s pretty amazing sometimes, living like I do. I don’t know that this is acknowledged enough. I am fortunate enough to exist in a place where I can see and talk to people on the other side of the world, I can share experiences with strangers but more importantly, I have an opportunity to listen to people who, for whatever reason won’t sit down to have lunch with me. It’s a chance to become more human, in a roundabout way. (Just never read the comments.)

I can find out, just by asking, what the characteristics of a brown ale can be, or the stats of Optimus Prime (a word my iPad knows to capitalize), the name of Motorhead’s second album, or what to do to prepare fig trees for the spring. I can experience how other people translate solitude or a crush, get the best criticism of Ayn Rand or Scientology ever, through things that never even mention those words, and from a great distance I can celebrate the small triumphs of lives that will be unsung in history. Those lives matter to me and that is enough.

It isn’t a perfect world but I don’t want to focus on that tonight. Tonight I just want to be amazed.

7pm Cold Seeps In

It took me a minute or two to decide but eventually I went for the Epic Double Skull doppelbock. Like sucking on a chocolate Popsicle, this beer offers me the essence of coca but not the solid. Also, and this is very, very weird but my first reference is a grape sucker, the cheap kind you’d get from the doctors office after a shot.

There are things I can explain but this is not one of them. I usually like Epic’s work but this beer? I can’t say it’s bad but I am hard pressed to recommend it, too. This dopplebock is not improving with warmth, either. It should be the perfect beer for a cold evening like this but it tastes thin and is coupled with a sweetness that is making me thirst for an ale with more body to it.

I think the holiday tuckered me out. Even for a Monday I feel a bit less animated, less engaging. More likely to say something I shouldn’t or, more exactingly, use words I do not mean to get across an idea that is dying on its feet.

Might be the chill in the air. Winter is finally descending onto Portland with clear skies and northern winds. It’s the kind of thing that sucks life away, down south, until I can fortify myself with scarves, whiskey, women and a steely eye.

I opt for a small Block 15 brown ale and I already feel better: this beer doesn’t taste as thin. Is that expectations or legit flavor making a case for itself?

Times like this, I wish I wasn’t drinking alone. Don’t get me wrong, I like these moments of contemplation but comparing notes when facing strange flavors is what makes this experience interesting.

Fortunately for me, someone comes in, asking for an IPA and weeds through her choices with that bartender to settle on the Pelican fresh hop ale. She’s visiting from Cleveland and loves the style; I tell her she’s in the right place. Wrong time, though: if she really wanted a bounty of IPAs, September would have been the time to arrive, with not only the traditional ipa bounty but the fresh hop ales too.

She tells me that there is a really good beer scene in Cleveland and somehow I’m not terribly surprised. A city like that, in the middle of the country is ripe for influences from all over and has an opportunity to bring the best ideas from everywhere to play. It may be a depressed place but where better to innovate?

It’s fun being an ambassador for Portland.

Nut Brown Ginger

Nut Brown GingerThis beer is close to but not quite how I hoped it would be.

I had a nut brown ginger at the NW Lucky Lab earlier this summer and liked it quite a bit. I also had a little inner glow moment when I thought: I could totally make this! So I gave it a shot.

I have to say that it’s not bad but the ginger flavors are a bit more dominant than the nut flavors and so it’s less balanced than the beer I had at the Lab. I’ll have to look into upping the malts that would provide those flavors–I don’t think chocolate is quite what I want but it does present an interesting thought: a chocolate ginger porter, maybe?

As a bonus, it’s the last recipe I still have before my laptop crashed so huzza for me! The next couple beers I talk about I won’t have anything but a vague memory of how I made. I’ll just have to take more photos, I guess.

I really should have someone teach me some photography skills.

Anyway, the recipe is as follows:

Brew Date: 7.15.12

Steeping grains
.75 lb C 40
1.25 CaraPils
.5 Chocolate

Fermentables
7 lb LME
.5 lb Wheat DME
1.5 lb Light DME

Hops
1 oz Wilamette @ 60
.25 oz Willamette @ 30
.5 oz Palisade @ 30
1.5 oz ginger, @ 5

Made starter from Summer IPA yeast
OG: 1.086
TG: 1.012

Abv: 9.71%?

Chocolate Mint Brown (sorta)

So here you have it: the chocolate mint beer I made

It’s…alright. Let me tell you what’s going on here.

First, this is a brown and I really would have preferred that it resemble a porter or, to be honest, a stout. Unfortunately, I can’t quite seem to get the mouthfeel right. This beer is decent, don’t get me wrong, it’s just not quite where I was hoping it would be.

I may need to up the fermentables to get there, certainly using the correct grain bill all at once would help and I’ve also been told that oatmeal can provide the kind of mouthfeel I’m hoping to achieve. So there are some options: I may have to run this by some OBC members to see what they think.

Second, I don’t really notice the mint qualities. They seem faint in the aroma, like early morning lake fog, and at the end there’s a bit of a sheen, like gasoline on the water. I was hoping for something a little stronger. I’m told by others that there’s just enough mint in this beer and everything is fine so I guess it’s OK. I may need a broader sample size for feedback.

Finally, this beer is a touch overcarbonated. Darker beers are generally flatter and with the results from this beer, I think I can say with certainty that yes, the adding of bread yeast to the bottling syrup really does boost the carbonation. It’s a great trick and useful for many beers but not such a good idea for this style.

Brew date: 7.29.11

Steeping malts:
.24 lb 120 malt
.5 lb choco
.25 lb roasted barley
.25 lb dark munich

Fermentables:
7 lb LME

Hops:
.5 oz Hallertauer @
.5 oz UK Fuggles @ 60

Yeast: Wyeast 1768, English Bitter

OG: 1.052

FG: 1.018

TG: 1.024

ABV: 4.14%

Added 1 oz of Kafka II malt to 3 cups water, steeped and added to secondary on 8.10

Bottled 8/21

Imperial Brown redux

Here’s the recipe I used to when I attempted to re-do the imperial brown I made for my birthday:

Steeping  grains:
1.5 lb pils
1.25 Crystal 40
.5 lb chocolate
3 oz Carafa II

Fermentables:
7 lb LME

Hops:
2 lb Dry Extract malt, light
1.5 oz Centennial @ 60
1 oz Fuggle @ 15

Yeast:
Reused yeast from Choc-Chai-WLP 008, 2nd use

Original Gravity
1.08
Final Gravity
1.021
Likely Terminal Gravity
1.031

ABV
7.70%
My notes during the process:
This one went a little hot on me–sparging was good but steeping/boil was just a touch over
Smells hot-possible infection?
Added .5 tsp yeast for carbonation but not sure it’s needed.
Sweet but not crazy so, carbonation may help.

So how’d it turn out?
imperial brownNot bad at all.

It may be a touch overcarbonated for a brown ale but that works in this case because the slightly overheated steeping gave this brew some cinnamon and a touch of estery banana flavors.

The carbonation helps finish all that off pretty cleanly, which is good because otherwise don’t think it would be as impressive. The alcohol warmth doesn’t show up much and it’s pretty easy to drink.

It’s not perfect; I think I held back on the darker/more bitter flavors and that means the beer doesn’t have quite the balance I’d like. The hot sparging may have also brought up flavors I really didn’t want and though I do try to keep a rein in on the temperature when I’m cooling the wort, it’s possible I didn’t drop the temp enough before pitching the yeast.

Still, it’s a solid brew and I’m pleased.