Monday, 22 September 2014

Tasting : El Dorado Session IPA

Now that I've brewed several one-hop beers (including two Session IPAs and an American Pale Ale), I've confirmed that it is a worthy experiment, especially when we're talking about a new-to-you hop that you really want to get to know. I also feel that when doing this, it's important to strongly consider not brewing a full 5-6 gallon batch... I love hops as much as the next beer geek, but all hop varieties are NOT considered equal, so it pays to play on the safe side of things (especially with a beer style that can fade fairly quickly with time).

Drinking this El Dorado Session IPA over the past several weeks has confirmed this for me. Comparing it to the Mosaic Session IPA I brewed last November, I feel that the change made to the mash temperature (increasing it from 149 F to 153 F) was a smart one - this beer definitely has more body than the Mosaic beer did. However, while I enjoy the hop character in this beer, I don't think that El Dorado can hold a candle to Mosaic, at least not when used in a single-hop setting. While offering a pleasant, fruity character to the beer (I get a lot of orange, myself, as opposed to the regularly-reported Jolly Rancher candy), it's definitely a more-mellow hop than Mosaic.

Keep in mind, I DID fiddle with the hop schedule for this beer, making a single 5-minute addition (instead of at 10 minutes), and a shorter hop steep (10 minutes vs. 15 minutes). This likely explains why I find the beer heavier in hop aroma than flavor. But I think it still stands that El Dorado, while making this a perfectly enjoyable, easy-drinking beer, isn't as strong on its own as some other hop varieties. I think it would work really well when combined with some other hops; maybe some Simcoe and Columbus? Something I'd like to try in the future. In the meantime, I'm still really enjoying hoppy beers under 5% ABV, so look for more one-hop Session IPAs from me soon.

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, white, creamy head with very good retention. Body is light gold, with very good clarity.

Aroma: Very fruity and citrusy, with orange coming through greatest, for me. Nice supporting malt character in the background. This sample is obviously a bit too old, but it’s held up pretty well.

Taste: Pleasant orangey-hop character, with a bit of bready malt character supporting it. I’d like to see the hops more upfront, I just think this variety is mild-mannered. Still, this is quite nice, and would be a great intro-hop beer for non-hopheads. Medium to medium-light bitterness in the finish. No flaws.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, medium-light carbonation.

Overall: Very nice, but I don’t think I’ll use El Dorado on its own again in the future. I’d like to try it with another hop variety or two in the future. Still happy with how this came out as a highly sessionable IPA.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Brewing a Modern Times Blazing World clone

A hoppy American Amber (or Red IPA, or India Red Ale, if you prefer), one of my favorite beer styles out there. A bready malt backbone that is supportive to the hops, but still allows the beer to finish dry. And three hop varieties: Nelson Sauvin, Mosaic, and Simcoe, three of my all-time favorite varieties right now, used in hefty quantities. Does this sound like an excellent beer, or what? Not to mention that the three words used to describe this beer (right on the packaging) by the brewery are: "Hoppy. Dank. Amber."

You had me at "Hoppy", but everything else about this beer sounds great. The beer we're talking about is Blazing World, one of the four flagship beers from Modern Times, a brewery in San Diego that opened up a little over a year ago. I was a lucky, lucky man, as I visited San Diego last September and got to try many Modern Times beers during that trip, including Blazing World... right in the tasting room at the newly-opened brewery. And yes, it's pretty much as tasty as you would expect. It's been a while since I've brewed this style of beer (I believe the last one was my Maine Beer Co. Zoe clone, another winner), and I've wanted to tackle this one for awhile, so what better time than the present?

I won't talk much more about Modern Times (I got into more detail last summer when I brewed a clone of their Fortunate Islands, a hoppy American Wheat beer with lots of Citra - which by the way is still one of the best beers I've brewed), but for those of you who didn't follow their start-up progress, all of their flagship beer recipes were developed by Mike Tonsmeire, beer-blogger-extraordinaire, with tastings, recipe tweaks, and the like reported regularly on his blog, The Mad Fermentationist. The final rendition of Blazing World on this blog is the recipe that I went with.

It's a good-looking recipe, you can't deny that. The grist is made up of mostly "Pale Malt" (I used Maris Otter), a healthy amount of Munich, and just a touch each of Roasted Barley and Carafa II. These grains are mashed at a pretty low temp, 149 F; obviously the key here is to still try to get the beer to finish fairly dry. The hopping schedule is pretty fantastic, if a bit pricey - it employs hop extract for bittering, a dose of Simcoe at 25 minutes, and then two large flameout additions, and a large dry-hop as well. Fermented with a clean American yeast, it all makes a very tasty-looking hoppy Amber.

Now, Modern Times also has links to the recipes for their regular-release beers on their website (their Blazing World one is here). These recipes differ from those created by Tonsmeire; no big surprise, really, as they brew on obviously a much bigger system and have undoubtedly made a few changes to suit their brewery. Their grist for Blazing World is listed as 2-Row and Munich, with Pale Chocolate malt replacing the Roasted Barley and Carafa II that Tonsmeire used (oddly, elsewhere on the Modern Times website, Midnight Wheat is listed as an ingredient for this beer). As for the hop schedule, it matches up closely, but with a much smaller flameout addition: 2.2 oz total for a 5 gallon batch, vs. 7 oz in Tonsmeire's recipe. That's a big difference. However, with higher IBU extraction in a larger system, and much longer steeping times due to increased wort-chilling time, it's not a surprise.

I was able to follow Tonsmeire's recipe very closely. The only real difference is I had to cut back slightly (10 g) on the Nelson Sauvin flameout addition; I had more than enough in another vacuum-sealed package, but didn't want to bother opening and re-sealing for 10 grams. I made up the difference with Simcoe; I can't see the beer being hurt by such a small change as this.

In a change from more-recent recipes, I decided not to make any additions in terms of salts to the mash or boil. Fredericton city water is very well-suited to Amber-colored beers; I've made them to this style in the past, but decided this time I would just leave it as-is, see how it turns out.

It goes without saying (because it holds true for pretty much ever brew), but I really have high hopes for this one. Like I said, I'm a big fan of this style and these hops; I'm hoping it'll come out even better than the Zoe clone. I CAN say that when I racked the beer to a keg last week and took a gravity sample, that it smelled amazing... and this is BEFORE the dry-hop addition. Always a good sign!

Recipe targets: (4 gallons, 72% efficiency) OG 1.068, FG ~1.012, IBU ~100, SRM 13.5, ABV ~7.3%

3.8 kg (83.4%) Maris Otter
675 g (14.8%) Munich
50 g (1.1%) Roasted Barley
31 g (0.7%) Carafa II

Hop extract - 5 mL (equivalent to 28 g of 10% AA hop) @ 90 min

Simcoe - 17 g (12.9% AA) @ 25 min

Mosaic - 17 g (12.7% AA) @ 0 min (with a 15-minute steep)
Nelson Sauvin - 52 g (12% AA) @ 0 min (with a 15-minute steep)

Mosaic - 34 g after started chilling, when wort temp below 180 F
Simcoe - 17 g after started chilling, when wort temp below 180 F

Mosaic - 17 g dry-hop for 7 days
Nelson Sauvin - 42 g dry-hop for 7 days
Simcoe - 36 g dry-hop for 7 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered

- Brewed on August 13th, 2014, with Jill (and a little help from Zoe). 50-minute mash with 13 L of strike water, mashed in at target of 149 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 7.5 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~2.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~5.75 gallons.

SG a bit high at 1.049 (target 1.048). 90-minute boil. Flameout hops had a 15-minute steep before turning on the chiller; wort temp was almost immediately below 180 F, where I added the second amount of flameout hops. Final volume ~4 gallons. Chilled down to 66 F, then poured/filtered into Better Bottle. OG high at 1.072. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry sink with some cold water to try to keep temp down.

- By the next morning, airlock activity was present, and quite active by the evening. Continued for 4-5 days before stopping; the beer temp got up to 72 F. 

- 25/8/14 - FG finished a bit high at 1.015. Racked beer to CO2-purged keg and added dry-hops in a weighed-down mesh bag; left keg at room temp.

- 31/8/14 - Removed dry-hops, set keg in keezer to chill down to ~45 F before starting carbing.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tasting : Hidden Duck Hefe 2.0 (Hefeweizen)

As summer comes to an end, it's time for me to finally post the tasting notes to one of the finest summer beer styles out there: Hefeweizen. This was my third attempt at the style, and my first in several years. Basically a rebrew of my last recipe (same grist, same yeast), I brewed this beer in late June, bottled it in mid-July, and it's been tasting pretty great since. I bottled this beer instead of kegging it mainly because it's such a great style to have on hand for travelling purposes, what with going to a couple of family vacation spots back and forth all summer.

I'm no expert on Hefeweizen, but I really do enjoy a well-crafted one. I can't claim to have the most discerning palate, or nose for that matter, but I consider a good Hefeweizen to be well-balanced between clove and banana (if you get a bit of bubblegum or vanilla in there as well, that works) in both the flavor and aroma, with a little wheat character backing it all up. The color should be quite light, the body cloudy from rousing the yeast, and the beer should have a large, white, creamy head that has really good retention. Finish that off with a creamy (but not heavy) mouthfeel, and, importantly, high carbonation. You want this style to be refreshing.

So, I think in the end this came out really well. I believe I hit on all the important points I mentioned above (not really getting any vanilla or bubblegum in there, but that's ok). As I mentioned in the original post, this style of beer really shows how important process is, at least as much as recipe. Use a good yeast, make a starter, aerate the wort appropriately, and keep tight control on your fermentation temperatures, if you can.

I've got a few of these left (I've given quite a few away)... I'll definitely be drinking them as the warm weather unfortunately starts to fade!

Appearance: Poured with a very large, white, creamy thick head that shows fantastic retention. Body is golden-coloured, and cloudy. Effervescent.

Aroma: Nice balance of bananas and clove; I’d say the banana is a bit more prevalent than clove, but not by a lot. No real bubble gum aroma. Very slight background of wheat.

Taste: Again, comes across nicely balanced, with a bit of supporting wheat character. Very easy-drinking, low bitterness in the finish. No hop flavor.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation, medium-bodied and creamy.

Overall: Came out great, pretty much exactly what I was going for. Fantastic summer beer.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Brewing an El Dorado One-Hop Session IPA

Ever since my first foray into brewing a single-hop Mosaic Session IPA last November, I've really been anxious to try it all again, but with another hop variety. I really enjoyed what Mosaic brought to the table (such a fantastic hop), I liked how brewing solely with that hop really helped me identify what aroma and flavor characteristics it added to the beer, and on top of all that, I love a well-brewed Session IPA. I'm a huge fan of having a big hop presence without big alcohol... as long as it's done well. I've had some fantastic Session IPAs over the last year (it definitely seems to be one of the popular "styles" now for an increasing number of breweries), but I've had some disappointing ones, too. My only major complaint about my attempt with Mosaic was that the beer did come out a bit thin, so I hope to remedy that with another try... this time, featuring another fairly-new hop variety - El Dorado.

El Dorado became commercially available in 2010. Developed at CLS Farms in Washington state, it's a high alpha acid aroma/flavor hop variety that doesn't seem to have garnered as much popularity as some of the really big new hops, such as Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, and Azacca. However, I had read some positive homebrewer notes about it online, with descriptions of tropical, citrus, and stone fruit, along with pear and, oddly enough, cherry or watermelon Jolly Ranchers (and this is from many sources). I had the opportunity a few months ago to buy a half-pound from the late-2013 crop, and couldn't resist (I'm very weak when it comes to buying hops). It looks like some breweries have tried brewing some beers with all El Dorado, such as Flying Dog, with an Imperial IPA in their Single-Hop series. Unfortunately, I have not tried any of these beers (aside: am I the only one that really despises Flying Dog's labels?).

Like I said, brewing a single-hop beer is a great way to feel out a new hop variety, but something you have to keep in mind is that brewing with one hop does not necessarily work out better than when you combine multiple hop varieties. I'm a big believer that adding too many hop varieties in one beer can easily result in a muddled mess, but there are plenty of beers out there that combine 2 or 3 varieties with better results than a similar beer with just one of the hops. But in this case, I really wanted to continue this experiment, and didn't have any other plans to use El Dorado in the near future, so I went with it. Just wanted to make clear that I understand the risk that comes with this... that is, brewing a beer solely with a hop that sometimes resembles Jolly Rancher candy.

For this recipe, I virtually duplicated the malt bill, but scaled it down to a 4-gallon batch. I thought this grist worked very well for the Mosaic Session IPA; it provided enough specialty malts to help bolster the body slightly, yet the beer didn't come out too malty or sweet. It had just enough malt character... mind you, yes, the beer was a bit too thin, so this time I went with a target mash temp of 153 F, compared to 149 F last time.

As for the hopping, with the Mosaic Session IPA I was worried after brewing it that maybe I had hopped it too-heavily, but I didn't find that to be the case when I finally tasted it. There was no heavy grassiness to the aroma or flavor at all; lots of hops, yes, but it was exactly what I was aiming for in that department. I made only a couple of slight changes this time around: same amounts, but I moved the 10-minute addition to 5 minutes, and steeped the flame-out hops for a shorter amount of time (10 minutes compared to 15 minutes). No real reason for these changes, I just wanted to try moving the hops a bit later, and felt a 10-minute steep would be enough for such a low-ABV beer (since you still get some bitterness when wort temp is above ~180 F).

Everything else is the same as well. Same yeast (US-05, going for neutral character here), same water adjustments (a bit of gypsum and calcium chloride added to the mash). The only big difference involves packaging; now that I have a kegging setup, I'm definitely going that route compared to bottling (as with the Mosaic Session IPA). Hopefully the keg-hopping and minimalized oxygen exposure to the hops (although to be honest, I still don't feel like I've perfected the procedure) will result in a really hop-fresh beer. Since I've started kegging, I haven't necessarily noticed a huge difference in this quality, but the hop freshness does last a lot longer compared to bottling.

If you happen to look up the recipe for my Mosaic Session IPA and compare it to the one below, note that this current batch is for 4 gallons, vs. the 5.5 gallons I typically have brewed in the past. This beer is currently carbing, so look for the tasting notes to follow soon. And once again, forgive me the lack of pictures in this post; summer is a distracting season, you know!

Second from the left in all that mess... that's the one!

Recipe targets: (4 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.011, IBU ~50, SRM 6.2, ABV ~4.9%

2.145 kg (72.2%) Canadian 2-row
330 g (11.1%) Munich
330 g (11.1%) Wheat malt
165 g (5.6%) Crystal 40 L 

Hop extract - 2.5 mL (equivalent to 14 g of 10% AA hop) @ 60 min
El Dorado - 20 g (13.8% AA) @ 5 min
El Dorado - 40 g @ 0 min (with a 10-minute steep)
El Dorado - 60 g dry-hop for 7 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish Moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 3 g Gypsum and 2 g calcium chloride added to the mash

- Brewed on July 21st, 2014, by myself. 50-minute mash with 9 L of strike water, mashed in at 152 F, slightly below target temp of 153 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 4 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~3.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~5.25 gallons.
- SG on target at 1.037. 60-minute boil. Flameout hops had a 10-minute steep before turning on the chiller. Final volume ~4 gallons. Chilled down to 68 F, then poured/filtered into Better Bottle. OG on target at 1.048. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry sink with some cold water to try to keep temp down.

- Vigorous airlock activity over the next few days; temp got as high as 72 F before finally settling down when active fermentation did.

- 30/7/14 - Racked to a CO2-purged keg, added dry-hops in a mesh bag and left at room temp.

- 6/8/14 - Removed dry-hops, set keg in keezer to bring temp down to the mid-40s before beginning to carb.

- 21/9/14 - Posted the tasting notes. Strong orange character to me; a very tasty Session IPA, but not a hop I would rush to use on its own again in the future.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Tasting : Hoppily Ever After (Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone)

Well, my brother's wedding went off without a hitch (ha ha, I'm awesome)... great weather, great people, no one got jilted, and most importantly, the beer was a hit! I had high hopes for this Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone, an all-Simcoe American Pale Ale, and I wasn't disappointed. More importantly, neither was the groom or his guests.

Things really worked out well for this beer. The brew day and subsequent fermentation went smoothly - the only aspect that was off was the higher-than-expected efficiency, resulting in an OG of 1.061 (5-6 points above target), but the beer still fermented fine. I then bottled the beer a little over two weeks before the wedding, which gave it plenty of time to carbonate (always easier this time of year), but still allowed it to be consumed very fresh during the festivities.

And it really came out tasty. As I stated in my original post, I was a little skeptical as to how hoppy a beer would be with only 3 oz of hop additions for aroma and flavor (1 oz at flameout, 2 oz dry-hop), but had read a lot of positive feedback on this beer from others who had brewed the recipe. I'm really starting to think that crazy-high hop additions at flameout and for the dry-hop may not be completely necessary, especially if you're using as-fresh-as-possible hops. For this beer, all of the Simcoe I had was this year's crop, so I'm sure that made a difference.

More research is needed, however... which I'm happy to dive into. In the meantime, you can add my name to the long list of homebrewers recommending this recipe. Hoppy, delicious, highly drinkable... and VERY approachable as a craft beer for any population. Brew it!

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-sized white head that fades fairly quickly to a thin film on the beer. Body is a dark gold color, approaching amber/light copper, with good clarity (despite the picture shown above).

Aroma: Big fruity hop aroma, with a bit of pine... but surprisingly, the fruit is way ahead. A bit of malt sweetness in there, with the grainy pils character slightly noticeable. No flaws.

Taste: Again, the hops are the dominant flavor, but are backed up nicely by the slightly grainy and sweet malt character. Finishes fairly dry with a medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, possibly medium-light; moderate carbonation.

Overall: A very tasty beer. Great hop character; the Simcoe definitely comes through with a mostly fruity presence. I really like what the malt bill adds to the beer as well, very supportive for an APA, without overbearing the hops. Quite drinkable, and a nice beer for beer geeks and non-beer geeks alike.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Brewing a Hefeweizen

I don't know about most of you homebrewers out there, but I (usually) keep very-detailed records of my exploits in this hobby of ours. Aside from using brewing software (Beersmith) to come up with my recipes and enter brewing data, I have a binder filled with notes, details and tasting notes on every beer I've brewed since my first brew in November, 2009. I also have my planned brewing schedule, inventory, future brew ideas, etc. stored there. I even keep this binder with me at work, for when I have free time and want to go back to check things. Maybe a bit overboard, yes, but hey, it helps sometimes!

A couple of months ago, I was looking over previous beers I've brewed, and was struck by the fact that I haven't brewed a Hefeweizen (aka Weissbier) in 3 years. I was honestly shocked; a German wheat beer, Hefeweizen has to be one of the perfect summer-beer styles. Spicy and fruity, refreshing and light-drinking, the best ones have a perfect balance of banana and clove aromas and flavors, backed up by the presence of wheat, with high carbonation. Sounds great for this hot weather, doesn't it? A lot of commercial breweries brew a Hefeweizen of their own this time of year, and there's many German examples that are widely available... if you haven't already, get out there and give some of them a try. You'd be surprised how much they can differ. For my money, you really can't get much better than Weihenstephaner's Hefe Weissbier.

I brewed a Hefeweizen my first two summers of being a homebrewer; in fact, my second beer was an all-extract Hefeweizen that somehow won a gold medal in the German Wheat and Rye Beer category in the ALES competition in 2010. The past two years, however, I concentrated on another great summer style, Witbier (like this one from last year, hopped with Belma). As much as I love a good Witbier, I thought it was definitely time to revisit the Hefeweizen style. 

Hefeweizen is a beer style that has a deceptively-simple recipe, yet can be difficult to brew a great example. If you look at the majority of recipes out there, you're going to find a grist of at least 50% Wheat malt (German law actually states that a beer labeled as Hefeweizen must have 50% or more Wheat malt) and 50% Pilsner malt. And that's usually it. You don't want Crystal malt in there, or anything else, really. Sure, some people probably throw in some flaked oats or torrified wheat or something similar, to increase the body/creaminess of the beer, but you don't want it to be heavy-bodied (medium-light to medium is what you should aim for) or sweet, so keep it simple. I've had great results with the 50/50 ratio of Wheat malt and Pilsner, so I chose to stick with it again this time, with a small addition of Acid malt for mash pH purposes. If you're feeling ambitious and nostalgic for the old ways, you can do a decoction mash; for me, I only have so much time to brew, and I've had good luck with a single infusion mash as usual, so that's what I'll be doing here.

For hops, I'm aiming for a classic Hefeweizen, which means basically no hop aroma or flavor. So, a simple light addition of a noble variety (e.g. Hallertauer, Tettnanger) early on in the boil to add a bit of bitterness, and that's all.

What really makes or breaks a good Hefeweizen is the fermentation of the beer; while a Belgian Witbier relies on the addition of coriander and citrus peel to provide at least some of its spice and fruit character, Hefeweizen gets all of the banana and clove components from yeast. Yeast strain, yeast health, and fermentation temperature are extremely important. Yes, they're ALWAYS important in any beer style, but given that the overall recipe is usually so simple for Hefeweizen, they're even more important than usual. Let's dissect each component...
  1. Yeast strain - There are several commercial strains available for brewing Hefeweizen, but I've always used the same one - Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen. It's readily available at my LHBS, but more importantly, it really is a great yeast. Supposedly the same strain (basically) as what the Weihenstephaner brewery uses for their beers, it does a fantastic job of providing both the banana esters and clove phenols necessary for a great Hefeweizen. The balance between the two is generally pretty good, however, you CAN steer it in either direction... whether you mean to or not. Which brings us to the next two points...
  2. Pitching rate - Like in almost 100% of cases, you should make a yeast starter when brewing a Hefeweizen. However, overpitching yeast can actually result in LESS esters being produced, which means the banana character will be diminished, and the clove character (the phenols) will be more apparent. If you like more clove than banana in your Hefeweizen, this is one way to achieve that result. Conversely, underpitching will produce more esters/banana character. I won't get into the exact science, but the harder yeast have to work, the more esters that will be produced as a result. A well-balanced Hefe is preferred by most, so use a yeast pitching calculator like the one at Mr. Malty, and aim for what it recommends. How much is too much? I don't have the experience to tell you, which is why I recommend sticking with a calculator, at least as a starting point. After that, you can start tweaking your process to find what makes the best Hefeweizen for you.
  3. Fermentation temperature - Generally, the thought is that the warmer the fermentation temperature, the more banana esters that are produced, and the less clove character you get as a result. Conversely, the lower you ferment, the less banana you get. However, in Jamil's Brewing Classic Styles, he highly recommends fermenting in the low-60s F, saying that these temps will give you the best-balanced Hefeweizen. I followed this suggestion with my first attempt, and fermented my second Hefeweizen at about 68 F. Both came out pretty well, I thought, with both seeming quite balanced to me. If you have excellent fermentation control, go ahead and try the low-60s; however, for this time of year, if you don't have rigid control over your fermentation temperature, try to aim for 67-68 F and not go too much over, or the banana character may be a bit overwhelming.

Something else you need to remember when brewing this style of beer - there's no need to use any fining agents at all. If you look back at most of my recipes, you'll see I always add a half-tablet of Irish Moss (aka Whirlfloc) near the end of the boil, which helps the clarify a beer. Hefeweizen is one of the few styles where you actually WANT a cloudy beer; in fact, when pouring one, you want to rouse the yeast in the bottle and pour that in your glass as well. So, no Irish Moss, Whirlfloc, gelatin, etc. when brewing this style.

Also, just a warning if you use the Wyeast 3068. I can't speak for the other Hefeweizen yeasts out there, but 3068 is pretty active. Leave yourself a good amount of headspace in your fermentor (Wyeast goes as far to recommend 33% of your fermentor), or at least use a blow-off tube. There will likely be a huge krausen on this beer; I hadn't had any problems in the past, but for this brew day, fermentation started quickly and got a bit violent, and I lost a bit of beer to overflow. Luckily, no explosions with beer on the walls and ceiling, but still, losing beer is not a good thing, ever!
I was very slow in getting this post out, seeing that the beer was brewed a month ago, so look for the tasting notes relatively soon. Remember with this style, it is meant to be consumed fresh!

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.049, FG ~1.011, IBU 11, SRM 3.7, ABV ~4.9%

2.1 kg (49%) Pilsner malt
2.1 kg (49%) Wheat malt
80 g (~2%) Acid malt

Tettnang - 20 g (4% AA) @ 60 min

Misc.: 68 g rice hulls, added to the mash

Yeast: Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephaner Weizen (PD May 9/14, with a 1.4 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 3 g calcium chloride added to the mash

Before the near-explosion

 - Brewed on June 24th, 2014, by myself. 50-minute mash with 13 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 152 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 6.25 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~4.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7.25 gallons.

- SG a bit high at 1.038 (target 1.037). 90-minute boil. Began chilling at flameout, brought temp down to 64 F after 20-25 minutes. Final volume ~5.5 gallons. OG on target at 1.049. Aerated with 75 seconds of pure O2, pitched decanted yeast starter. Placed BB in laundry sink with cold water.

- Despite the fairly-low pitching temperature, airlock activity began about 12 hours after pitching. By the next morning, the temp had climbed to 70 F and the airlock was full of krausen and about to blow, Replaced it with sanitized foil; was able to replace the airlock by that evening. The next day the temp had dropped back to 66 F, and everything had settled after 4 days from pitching.

- 16/7/14 - FG 1.012. Bottled with 190 g table sugar, aiming for 3.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons, max temp 70 F.

- 28/8/14 - A little late, but posted the tasting notes. This came out just how I wanted to, basically; refreshing, nicely balanced... the perfect summer beer.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Tasting : Good Day Sunshine (Lawson's Finest Double Sunshine clone)

Sorry for the delay on this one; I had no intentions on letting the tasting notes for a DIPA to go this long. But summer always seems to go by so quickly, and for some reason I don't find the time to write on here as often as I'd like to. Anyway, on to it!

I brewed this beer in late May, and have been drinking it for about a month now. Bottom line: it's quite tasty. This isn't a real surprise to me; any beer that is brewed solely with a healthy amount of Citra hops is probably going to taste at least pretty good, as long as the grist isn't swimming with Caramel malt and there isn't a rampant infection going on. Since I've never had Lawson's Double Sunshine, I can't answer what should be the real question, here - is the beer cloned? So, I'll try to answer the next best thing - is this an EXCELLENT Double IPA?

I would have to say... no, not quite. It's very good, it really is. The first few days, the beer had a strong cat pee aroma that you usually find in beers hopped heavily with Citra, but it didn't last long. Now, it's tasting very fruity, with some dank character in there that I like. Sometimes IPAs and DIPAs can be TOO dank, but I don't find that to be the case with this beer. The fairly-busy malt character doesn't distract too much from the hop character, but it does confirm for me that I prefer a really hoppy beer with less specialty malt. I've had people taste this beer after drinking my Societe The Pupil clone, (about 75% 2-row, 20% wheat malt, 5% Carapils) and they've mentioned - without prompting from me - that they prefer the Pupil clone, especially the malt backbone. I can't put my finger on why, exactly, but maybe the simpler malt bill just allows the hops to shine through more?

Regardless, this Double Sunshine clone is a pretty darned good recipe, and if you're a Citra fan, by all means give it a try. What really strikes me with this beer is how drinkable it is; you'd never guess that it's an 8.3% ABV beer. The hop aroma and flavor could be a bit bigger, and I can't say for sure if it's, again, due to the malt bill or the fact that the Citra I used wasn't as fresh as it could have been. So... try it! Just do your best to find as-fresh-as-you-can-get Citra.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, white head that shows good retention, leaving a bit of lacing on the glass. The body is a burnished-gold color, with very good clarity.

Aroma: Now that it's been pouring a few weeks, the cat pee has faded, and is barely there at all. A big citrusy, tropical fruit punch comes through in its place, with a light dank character that works well. Some background malt presence, but luckily the beer doesn't smell sweet. No flaws.

Taste: Prominent tropical fruit hop flavors, again with a touch of dank. The hop character is a bit less than in the aroma; more malt character (maybe a bit bready, not too sweet) backing up the hops that are there. No real alcohol presence, surprisingly. Quite smooth. Medium bitterness in the finish; still fairly dry despite the presence of specialty malts.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall: An easy-drinking DIPA, with great Citra character throughout. Would like to see it a bit hoppier; a grist that concentrates more on 2-row would help, along with fresher hops. Still, a highly-recommended recipe, especially for Citra-lovers out there (and who isn't, really?).