Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Brewing an English IPA (Reid 1839 clone)

Well, looks like I'm able to squeeze in one more brew for 2013, and another hoppy clone at that! For those of you keeping score, that makes 10 hoppy beers this year (if you don't count the California Common) and 8 clone recipes, out of a total of 15 beers brewed. I can see where my homebrewing career is now leaning...

I've never brewed an English IPA, but it's a beer style I've always wanted to tackle. I've had a few English IPAs over the years, but most of them were American versions (e.g. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale, Goose Island IPA); I've also had a couple of great ones from England (one standout to me is Thornbridge Jaipur IPA) and some homebrewed ones that were quite good. Like an American IPA, today's English IPAs exhibit a good amount of hop character and bitterness, but generally showcase more fruitiness due to the use of English yeast. Where they generally differ from American IPAs, however, is that their hop character and bitterness are less pronounced; the hops are definitely there, but there's more of a malt presence in the beer's qualities compared to the American take on the style.

Notice that I said "today's" English IPAs. Some people have put in a lot of research around English IPAs of the past (especially Ron Pattinson over at his blog, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins); it's definitely a fascinating topic when you start doing a bit of reading. Many of these beers were much hoppier and more bitter back in the day where shipping beer took a lot longer; Mitch Steele's book IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale has an extensive section on the history of this topic. And in the recipe section of that book, he includes several recipes for recreations of historic IPAs.

Like I said, I've been meaning to brew an English IPA for awhile, and I've also been interested in brewing another SMaSH (single malt and single hop) beer, too. One of the recipes in Steele's book - which, coincidentally, was provided by Ron Pattinson - that caught my eye was for Reid's 1839 IPA. Reid was a brewery based in London in the 19th century; they eventually merged with the Watney brewery in 1898. The recipe calls for 100% Maris Otter, a British pale malt known for giving lots of biscuity flavors in beer, more-so than your typical North American 2-row base malt. The recipe also involves several large additions of the Fuggle hop, an English aroma hop that exhibits grassy and floral aromas. Luckily, I had a very large amount of Fuggles on hand from last year's crop, so this seemed like a perfect English IPA to brew!

As I mentioned, the beer is 100% Maris Otter. Not uncommon for an English IPA, especially one from the 19th century. What DOES strike me a bit odd is the mash temp for this beer... 158 F! That's pretty high; I'm not sure that I've ever brewed a beer with such a high mash temp. Thinking about it, though, I can't say I'm TOO surprised; I assume this high mash temp is to leave behind some unfermentable sugars to give the beer a higher FG so that it doesn't come out too dry, and to provide a bit of character in a beer that doesn't have any specialty malts. I actually DID add some acid malt to the mash, but not to provide character. I recently began using the EZ Water Calculator, which is an excellent site that helps you estimate your mash pH based on the actual ingredients and amounts in your recipe. I added enough acid malt (about 4%) to bring my mash pH hopefully down to a better number, around 5.4.

Lots of hops for an English IPA
So, if you look at the hopping schedule below, you're probably thinking, "That's a lot of hops for an English IPA", and you're right. This recipe involves much more hops than your typical English IPA recipe, and more than a lot of American IPAs out there. What's interesting is that almost all of the 10 ounces are added from the beginning of the boil down to 15 minutes... with a small dry-hop addition. Contrast that to most American IPA recipes, where the bulk of the hops are now added from 10 minutes on, or even just at flameout and in the dry-hop.

Still, I expect that this beer will have a very decent hop aroma and flavor... and a heck of a lot of bitterness. My calculated IBUs came to 93 when the hops were adjusted for age, but the recipe in Steele's book actually calls for about 120 IBUs. I could have upped my amounts to get to that target, but I figured 93 IBUs was enough... that's an IBU/OG ratio of 1.63, which is really high.
When discussing fermentation for this beer, the book's recipe calls for Wyeast 1028 London Ale or its White Lab equivalent (WLP013), or Danstar's Nottingham Dry Ale Yeast. I would have much preferred to use Wyeast's liquid yeast, here. I'm not being liquid yeast-snotty, but Nottingham is usually considered to give a fairly clean profile, compared to this description for Wyeast 1028: "A rich mineral profile that is bold and crisp with some fruitiness." But, living in Fredericton and wanting to brew on the fly, your options are severely limited... it would have taken a minimum of 3 weeks to get the 1028, so Nottingham it is. Luckily, a beer this well-hopped probably wouldn't allow a lot of yeast character to shine through, anyway. We'll see.

As for the water, the recipe didn't specify any targets to hit, or specific adjustments to make. On reflection, I should have tried to emulate the water profile of London, where the brewery was originally based, but I just ended up adding 8 grams of gypsum to the mash, to increase the calcium and sulfate numbers and hopefully provide a bit more hop bite to the beer.

Should be an interesting beer if it turns out; at the very least, a good way to showcase the Fuggle hop. I'll likely dry-hop directly in primary since it's a single addition, so hopefully I'll be drinking this beer
early in 2014.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.057, FG ~1.014, IBU ~93, SRM 5.1, ABV ~5.7%

Grains & Other:
4.86 kg (96%) Maris Otter

200 g (4%) Acid malt

Fuggles - 80 g (4.3% AA) @ 75 min

Fuggles - 80 g @ 30 min
Fuggles - 78 g @ 15 min
Fuggles - 35 g dry-hop for 5 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Danstar Nottingham, 1 package, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 8 grams gypsum in the mash

- Brewed on December 10th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 18.5 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 158 F. Mashed-out with 5.5 L of boiling water. Sparged with ~3.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7 gallons.

- SG 1.045, just above target of 1.044. 75-minute boil. Final volume 5.5 gallons. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured/filtered (lots of hop sludge, of course) into Better Bottle. OG on target at 1.057. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2, pitched rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry room, ambient temp about 66 F.

- 11/12/13 - Airlock bubbling almost every second in the morning, temp 66 F. In PM, same activity, temp up to 68 F.

- 12/12/13 - Temp 70 F, airlock slowing down a bit, bubbling every 2 seconds.

- 13/12/13 - Airlock activity already seems to have stopped, temp dropped down to 65 F. I have a hard time keeping the temp up this time of year in this area of the house; probably should have moved the fermentor to a warmer room when activity visibly slowed.

- 22/12/13 - Took gravity reading of 1.020... crap! I assume this is due to the yeast conking out a bit early due to temperature?

- 23/12/13 - Added dry hops directly into primary fermentor.

- 30/12/13 - Bottled with 76 g table sugar, aiming for 2 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, max temp of 70 F reached. Crossing my fingers and hoping for no gushers/bottle bombs.

- 20/1/14 - Tasting notes... not bad at all, despite the high FG, but the body is a bit too full, and the beer definitely would have benefited from being fermented with a more characterful yeast.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tasting : 'Merica vs. 'Anada

Ok, I apologize right now for these tasting notes taking as long as they have, because when I originally posted my brew notes for this Prairie Artisan Ales 'Merica clone, the post had a lot of attention. Seems like a lot of homebrewers out there love this beer, and would like to try cloning it themselves.

As mentioned in the original post, I decided against bottling this beer with two strains of Brett, as Prairie does. Instead, I dry-hopped and bottled half the beer "plain", and added Brett bottle dregs (from some commercial beers) to the other half in secondary; after the FG got down to 1.001, I dry-hopped and bottled that half. This is why I've waited to post the tasting notes - I wanted to compare both beers to each other, and to the actual 'Merica itself.

Well, in a nutshell, the beer came out pretty fantastic. Even though my hopping schedule was off (Prairie corrected me AFTER I had brewed the beer and posted the recipe), with the dry-hop being only half of what it should have been, the beer has a HUGE Nelson Sauvin presence, in both aroma and flavor. Wow. I just wanted to shove my nose in this beer and keep it there all day... such a massive blast of tropical berries, with a bit of dank. Nelson may now be my new favorite hop variety.

Now that most of the plain beers are gone, I just started drinking the Bretted version, and honestly there's not a huge difference. I didn't get a lot of Brett character from 'Merica when I first had it, so I'm not too surprised, even though I took a different approach. I actually prefer the non-Brett half, because all that time in secondary diminished the Nelson a bit. Still a great beer, but if you brew this recipe, I encourage you to drop the Brett addition if it means more trouble/money for you.

So, the comparison you see in the picture is with the Bretted version of my homebrew, vs. 'Merica. Below are my notes on my beer, compared to the real deal...

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, fluffy white head that has very good retention (despite the picture). Body is a light orange color, and very hazy. The two beers look basically identical; I'd say my homebrew is just a hair darker and hazier.

Aroma: Intensely-fruity, with a strong berry component. Like sticking your nose into a big bowl of tropical fruit, with a touch of dank thrown in. Wonderful-smelling, one of the best-smelling beers I’ve ever brewed. The 'Merica is very similar, but has less fruit/hops and a bit more dankness/funkiness to it... it's hard to place (my wife mentioned "like feet").

Taste: Big berry flavor as well, with just a touch of spiciness - I assume from the yeast - to complement. It’s pretty much all-Nelson for the most part, although I’m sure the fruity character from the yeast is combining with the hop component. Medium-low bitterness, with a dry finish. Again, the 'Merica is very similar, but has less hops and more of that dank/funky character that I can't quite put my finger on.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, medium-high carbonation... yet, smooth, and not too prickly. Pretty much bang-on with the 'Merica.

Overall/Final Thoughts: This homebrew came out fantastic... it'd probably be up there in my top 3 or 5 beers I've brewed. I find it very similar to 'Merica, but with a bit more hop presence. However, I can't tell when the bottle of 'Merica I had was bottled, and I purchased it 2 months ago, so it could be an age thing. I also have no idea what yeast strain 'Merica uses; if they bottle condition this beer, it may help to actually culture some yeast from a bottle. However, I'm completely happy with the "clone" the way it came out; I don't even think it'd be necessary to double the dry-hop to match up with Prairie's recipe.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Tasting : Raspberry Zombie Printemps

Now, I'm not really sure WHY it took me so long to post the tasting notes for this beer. I mean, look at the picture - I took the damn thing in the summer, for crying out loud!

This was my first time brewing a Saison. A "Super Saison" with a high-ABV I brewed it in August of 2012, and bottled half of it a few weeks later (tasting notes for that portion here). The other half I tried to get a bit creative, aging it on raspberries for over four months. I also pitched the bottle dregs from a delicious Fantome Saison, just to see if I could coax a bit of funkiness into it.

Well, as you can see from the picture, the raspberries definitely came through in the color. I'm pleased to say they came through in the aroma and flavor as well, without making the beer too syrupy or cough medicine-like. I really don't think the Fantome dregs added anything, though, but this doesn't surprised me - the beer's FG was already at 1.004 at that point, and it only dropped a couple points more to 1.002. There just wasn't a lot of sugars left for the dregs to work on, even with the raspberries present.

Still, the beer is pretty tasty, and is shockingly drinkable at 8.9% ABV. It definitely encourages me to work with fruit in a Saison again in the future; and maybe add some Fantome yeast before fermentation has completely finished.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, white head that begins to fade very quickly, before settling in at 1/2 cm or so. The body is hazy and bright red; very pretty-looking.

Aroma: The raspberries definitely come through, here... the first few bottles smelled a little too-much like some raspberry-flavored cold syrup, but luckily after a bit of time it mellowed out a bit, so it's now not sickening at all. There's a hint of spiciness from the yeast as well. No hop aroma.

Flavor: Again, raspberries. Quite refreshing, even with the high ABV. A bit of alcohol warmth on the way down, but it's not hot at all, and is pretty easy-drinking. Moderate-low bitterness in the extremely dry finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, with high carbonation. Spritzy.

Overall: This beer wouldn't be for everyone; I guess you could call it a fruit Saison if you had to call it something. I like it; again, no need really to pitch the Fantome dregs, but I tried. Next time, pitch the dregs before the fermentable sugars are mostly gone.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Brewing a Mosaic One-Hop Session IPA

With Christmas fast approaching, and along with it, the pile of things to do (family to visit, gifts to buy, beer to drink), you've got to take any opportunity to brew that you can. And last week, one of those opportunities came up, so I jumped on it. I'm a little worried that this will be my last brew day for 2013 - bringing my numbers for this year to an all-time personal low - but hopefully I can sneak in one more before the New Year.

Anyway, once again I only had some dry yeast on hand (US-05), but that's ok because I was in the mood to brew another American IPA. Now is the time of year where the 2013 hop harvest is starting to trickle in to homebrew shops and other online hop suppliers, and I just recently received a couple of new varieties (to me) from Yakima Valley Hops. I've still got quite a lot of some 2012 varieties that I really should be trying to use up (luckily, they're vacuum-sealed and stored in the freezer, so are still smelling and tasting good), but I wanted to try brewing a hoppy beer with as-fresh-as-possible hops. It didn't take me long to decide which hop to showcase: Mosaic.

This picture says a lot, actually...
A fairly new hop variety (it just became commercially available with last year's harvest), Mosaic is a daughter of the Simcoe hop, crossed with a "Nugget-derived male", according to Stan Hieronymus's book, For the Love of Hops. A high alpha-acid hop, it still provides a lot in terms of flavor and aroma. While Mosaic is often known as a very fruity hop, giving notes of "mango, lemon, [and] citrus", the quality that often makes it stand out is blueberry. Mosaic quickly gained in popularity for both homebrewers and commercial brewers, so it shouldn't be too difficult for anyone in a good-beer area to find a product that features it. I was lucky enough to try a homebrewed version of an American IPA brewed solely with Mosaic (from Derek of Bear-Flavored), and it was excellent - I wouldn't say the blueberry jumped out and slapped me, but I could definitely pick it up. Either way, I really liked what the hop added to that beer, and it's been on my must-buy hop list ever since. When I saw that Yakima Valley Hops had the 2013 crop available, I immediately bought a pound. I decided to brew this IPA with all-Mosaic, since it's my first time using it.

I also decided to take a new stab at the American IPA category, shooting for the unofficial (to the BJCP, at least) "sessionable IPA" category. Session IPAs - basically, lower-ABV IPAs that still pack a good hop punch - are becoming more and more popular these days, with lots of commercial breweries selling their own take on the "style", such as the delicious All-Day IPA from Founders. So, isn't a Session IPA, or India Session Ale, as some are calling it, simply an American Pale Ale, you ask? Well, I'd have to say no, because most of the Session IPAs out there are coming in at <5% ABV (with a lot of them following the true "session beer" term and going even lower, less than 4% ABV), which is still lower than your typical APA. Not to mention that these beers are HOPPIER than APAs, for the most part, but that, too, is blurry now, because a lot of APAs out there now are really hoppy. You could also argue that APAs generally have more of a caramel malt-presence than American IPAs.

But, I digress. So, in a nutshell, I decided to brew a Session IPA featuring Mosaic. I threw together a recipe quickly, because this brew day came up quick and I didn't have a lot of time to put more thought into brewing this style of beer... which is unfortunate, because now that I've looked into it a bit (AFTER brewing the beer), there's some changes I would make. I'll explain what approach I took, and what I would change.

For the grist, I wanted to keep it relatively simple, but still add a couple of specialty malts for a bit of character. Along with a large percentage of 2-row, I added some Crystal 40 L, Wheat malt, and Carapils. All should help add some body to the beer, without making it too sweet. I mashed low, at 149 F, to ensure I had a good amount of fermentable sugars. I added some gypsum to the mash to help decrease the pH a bit, and bump up the calcium and sulfate as well.

Now, the hopping. How DO you hop a Session IPA, anyway? Like your standard American IPA? I wanted it to have an assertive bitterness, but not be overbearing. I aimed for roughly 1.0 on the IBU/OG ratio, which is pretty bitter. I still had quite a few of the CO2 hop extract left from my previous order, so I used 5 mL at 60 minutes to provide some IBUs. I then went with an increasing amount of Mosaic near the end of the boil: 1 oz at 10 minutes, 2 oz at flameout (for a 15-minute steep), and 3 oz for the dry-hop. Nothing too crazy, but Mosaic seems to be (from what I've read from others' experiences) a pretty potent hop, so these numbers seemed reasonable, to me.

So, what I would change...
  1. I don't know what I was thinking, but obviously with a session beer that has an OG in the high 1.030s, you probably want to mash higher than 149 F, to give the beer more body. Whoops. I just went with what I usually do for American IPAs, because I like them to finish dry. I also don't like a lot of Crystal malt in this style of beer; another approach would have been to add more specialty malt than usual, to also bump up the body.
  2. I could probably get away with decreasing the late-addition hops. Apparently, with session IPAs you have to be more cautious of adding too many hops. I read something by Mitch Steele that suggested that you're more likely to get grassy flavors with large hop additions. 
I haven't given up hope yet, though. The grist DOES have some Crystal 40 L, Carapils and Wheat malt to provide some body, and 149 F definitely isn't the lowest mash temp I've seen. Unfortunately, my OG came in several points below target, but we'll see where it finishes at. Here's hoping that the beer doesn't come across as too thin; I plan on carbing a bit lower than usual for an IPA to make up for the likely-lower body.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 80% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.010, IBU ~50, SRM 6.2, ABV ~4.9%

Grains & Other:
2.95 kg (72.2%) Canadian 2-row

454 g (11.1%) Munich malt
454 g (11.1%) Wheat malt
227 g (5.6%) Crystal 40 L

Hop extract - 5 mL @ 60 min (equivalent to 28 g 10% AA hop)

Mosaic - 28 g (12.7%) @ 10 min
Mosaic - 56 g (12.7%) @ 0 min (with a 15-minute steep)
Mosaic - 84 g dry-hop for 5 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: US-05 Safale, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 6 grams gypsum in the mash

- Brewed on November 18th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 12.6 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 149 F. Sparged with 5.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons.

- SG low at 1.035 (target 1.039). 60-minute boil. Final volume ~5.5 gallons. Steeped flameout hops for 15 minutes, then started chilling. Chilled down to 62 F, then poured/filtered into Better Bottle. OG low at 1.044; volume also seems a bit low in BB, maybe only 4.5 gallons or so. Aerated with 45 seconds of pure O2 and pitched one pack of rehydrated yeast. Placed BB in laundry room, ambient temp ~66 F.

- 19/11/13 - In early afternoon, temp 66 F, airlock bubbling q 2 seconds.

- 20/11/13 - In AM, big krausen, temp 68 F, bubbling almost every second.

- 21/11/13 - In AM, temp up to 70 F, but bubbling slowing to q 3 seconds. Moved BB into the water-heater room to keep the temp up to 70 F or so.

- 28/11/13 - Gravity reading of 1.010.

- 3/12/13 - Added dry-hops directly to primary.

- 8/12/13 - Bottled with 95 g table sugar, aiming for 2.3 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, with a max temp of 70 F reached.

- 6/1/13 - Posted the tasting notes... definitely should have mashed higher, as the body is too thin, but it still made a great-smelling and tasting beer!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Tasting : Schnee Tag! 2.0 (Schwarzbier)

The second of the two lagers brewed this year, this beer is my second shot at the Schwarzbier style. My first attempt turned out pretty great; I was really happy with the malt character, mixed in with some coffee flavors and aromas, without the burnt qualities you get in other dark beers like Stouts.

I brewed this beer shortly after the Vienna Lager; I washed the yeast (Wyeast Munich Lager II) from that beer and pitched the slurry into this one. This is a great way to a) get more than one batch out of one pack of yeast, b) avoid having to build up another big starter for a lager, and c) ferment and lager two beers at virtually the same time, maximizing the use and space of your fermentation chamber (for more on my approach to brewing lagers, check here).

I didn't make many changes this time around from the first Schwarzbier recipe... a bit with the grist, hopping, and I messed with the water chemistry some, but that's it. I wish I had held on to one bottle from that batch; it's been a few years, but I still would have liked to compare it to the new one. Either way, I'm happy with it... once again, enough coffee and chocolate character to be tasty, but none of the burnt, really roasted flavors you get from beers with lots of roasted malt. Definitely an excellent beer to get non-dark-beer-drinkers into drinking darker beers!

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-large, light tan head, creamy and long-lasting. Fades very slowly to a full-finger. Body is black and opaque at first-glance, but shows excellent clarity with ruby highlights when held to the light.

Aroma: Sweet malt aromas (Munich-like), and milk chocolate. Not really getting any roast.

Taste: A touch of roast character in the flavor, but the Munich malt sweetness, bit of caramel, and milk chocolate win out. Perhaps some very slight noble hop character. Medium-light bitterness in the finish. Clean. No flaws, no diacetyl.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Pretty tasty, easy-drinking... could probably benefit from a bit more roast character. Otherwise, very close to what I was going for.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tasting : The Sound of Zombies (Vienna Lager)

Ok, continuing on with the tasting notes. I brewed a lot of hoppy beers in 2013, and naturally, these are the beers I got to first when it came to posting my thoughts on the results. Not that I got to most of them quickly enough, but I got there. There's still a bunch of beers I've brewed over the last year (or more) that I HAVEN'T posted on yet, but these are beers that aren't in danger of fading as quickly as the APAs and IPAs that were big on hops.

First off is my first attempt at a Vienna Lager, one of the two lagers I brewed earlier this year using one of Wyeast's private collection yeasts, the 2352 Munich Lager II. I brewed the beer in March, began lagering it in early May, and bottled it in July. I've been drinking it since the summer, with more emphasis in the fall thanks to the style's close similarity to an Oktoberfest.

I think the beer came out pretty well. Vienna Lager is one of those styles that isn't going to jump out and smack you in the face, like a really good IPA, DIPA, or sour beer. But if you pay attention to what you're drinking, you can easily appreciate a well-brewed one, with its malt complexity and balancing bitterness.

The Vienna and Munich malts are definitely present, here... the beer is quite malty, but it doesn't finish really sweet - I'd say it's fairly balanced, maybe tilting a bit towards the sweet side, but luckily it's not cloying at all. For some reason the carbonation is a bit higher than I had aimed for, but it's not a big problem. All-in-all it's a decent Vienna Lager recipe, and the yeast seemed to work well for the style, too... but I think if you wanted to brew it now, using another one of the Lager yeast strains would give you just as good of an end-result.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-large, white head that shows great retention, finally fading to a full-finger. The body is dark amber, leaning into red-colored, with excellent clarity.

Aroma: Strong bready malt, a touch of sweetness of the caramel variety. No hop aroma. Pretty clean.

Taste: Again, mostly a bready-malt flavor. Maybe just a touch of spiciness from the later hop addition, but it's pretty minimal. Finishes with a moderate-low bitterness, and enough dryness to make the beer feel pretty balanced.

Mouthfeel: Medium-light bodied, with medium-high carbonation.

Overall: Pretty decent. I like the character from the Munich and Vienna; I think for what the style is supposed to be, that this came out well enough. I'd like to decrease the carbonation and bump up the body a bit.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Tasting : Belmade Pale Ale (APA with Belma and Cascade)

I have a lot of homebrew tasting notes to get caught up on, so you'll have to excuse a potential flurry of posts; actually, this isn't really a bad thing since I've been pretty terrible at posting in general, lately.

This beer is the American Pale Ale I brewed in September, which I hopped with equal amounts of Cascade and Belma hop pellets. Except for a very small bittering addition, most of the hops were added at flameout (3 oz each) and in the dry-hop (1.25 oz each). I wasn't completely sure what to expect, but was ultimately aiming for a medium-strength, medium-bodied APA with a good amount of fruity hop presence in the aroma and flavor.

For the most part, I think I hit that goal. More details below, but the beer is definitely fruity and citrusy. What the beer definitely could use more of is bitterness; in hindsight, I should have either let the hops steep longer than I did, or maybe thrown in a 10-minute addition to up the IBUs a bit. You CAN get IBUs from flameout additions, but you have to add a lot of hops, and I guess make sure to let them steep long enough. How long, exactly? Well, I still haven't found anything concrete that says "x" amount of minutes with "y" amount of hops gives you "z" amount of IBUs. Maybe a good blog post for the future...

Still, it's definitely a tasty APA, and at 5% ABV (along with a low-perceived bitterness) makes for some easy-drinking.

Appearance: Pours with a moderate-sized, slightly off-white head that shows pretty good retention. Fades to 1/4-finger. Body is golden with really good clarity.

Aroma: Definitely getting some of that now-expected Belma character... strawberries, and some citrus fruit from the Cascade. A touch of malt sweetness, but the hops dominate.

Taste: Similar to the aroma, big hop flavor of strawberries and citrus. The beer finishes nicely balanced, tilting towards the dry side. Medium-low bitterness, needs to be higher. No flaws detected.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, medium carbonation. Smooth.

Overall: Nice APA; I'd consider brewing it again if I had a lot of Belma on hand sometime, but as mentioned, I'd either steep the flameout hops longer, or more likely add maybe 0.5-1 oz of Belma and Cascade at 10 or 5 minutes.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Brewing a Belgian Dubbel

After several months and five very-hoppy homebrews, I figure it's time to brew a beer that DOESN'T showcase hops. Don't get me wrong, if inventory and desire ruled, I'd be quite happy brewing up another five really hoppy beers, and probably more, but I have to admit I DO have a hankering for a darker, maltier beer as the days get colder. Looking back through my brew notes, it occurred to me recently that I've been ignoring one of my favorite beer styles: Belgian Dubbel.

Definitely not a hoppy beer, Belgian Dubbel is in the Belgian Strong Ale category of the BJCP. The good ones have a complex, malty sweetness in both the aroma and flavor, along with fruity esters, spicy phenols, and maybe some subtle alcohol notes. Basically a semi-dark beer that really gets to showcase malt character and Belgian yeast. It's been about three years since I last brewed this style of beer, so once I started thinking about it again, I was pretty anxious to get going.

There's a lot of different Dubbel recipes out there. The grain bill is what makes the recipe, of course, and they can range from simplistic to much more-complicated, with six, seven, or even more specialty malts being used. My original recipe from last time came from Jamil's Brewing Classic Styles; this recipe is somewhere in the middle in terms of malt bill complexity, with five different malt types. I had intended on trying this recipe again with a few tweaks of my own, but came across a different one altogether in Stan Hieronymus's excellent book, Brew Like a Monk. The recipe was provided by Tomme Arthur, brewer at The Lost Abbey and Port Brewing in California. While the malt bill was slightly more complicated (eight malts instead of five), I really liked the look of it. The specialty malts include Caramunich, Aromatic and Special B; the only change I made was upping the Munich malt slightly, and dropping the Belgian Biscuit (since I didn't have any).

While lots of malt varieties can build Dubbel character, another very important ingredient that you see in most Dubbel recipes is Dark Belgian Candi Syrup. Usually agreed by brewers to provide more character than the solid sugar form, there are several different types of candi syrup that you can buy, varying in color, flavor and aroma. I had a little under a pound of the D2 Syrup from Dark Candi, Inc; at 80 SRM, it provides a mixture of "burnt sugar, figs, ripe fruit, toffee, and dark chocolate". I've used it before, and have been very happy with what it adds to a beer. All syrups are simply added to the boil... doesn't matter when, just do it sometime before the end of the boil to make sure it is sterilized. And make sure to stir well when you add it, to prevent scorching on the bottom of your kettle. For those of you so inclined, there's lots of recipes/techniques to make your own dark candi syrup online.

As for the hops, well... pretty simple, as expected. Tomme's recipe called for two additions, at 90 and 60 minutes, but I just made a single addition at 60 minutes. I went with a noble hop, Tettnang, and just enough to bring the IBUs up to about 20... you're really not looking for very much, or any, hop character for this style of beer. Just a bit of bitterness to offset some of the sweetness from the specialty malts and candi syrup.

When it comes to what yeast to use, there's a lot of options out there. Even if you're limited to liquid yeast from Wyeast (which I am, at least through my LHBS), there's still more than ten regular-release Belgian yeast strains available. With my first Dubbel, I actually used the Wyeast 3864, which was a special-release strain based on what Unibroue uses in their beers. For this brew, I decided on Wyeast's popular 1214 Belgian Abbey, from the Trappist brewery Chimay. No real reason, other than I knew other homebrewers who have used it and liked it, and because I really enjoy Chimay Premiere (better known as Chimay Red), an excellent Belgian Dubbel. I made a big starter days in advance, and plan on fermenting the beer in the low 60s to start, bringing it up to about 70 F or so over the first few days.

And that's about it. No need to add any spices to this style of beer; yes, the beer should be slightly spicy, but you want that to come from the yeast. I've seen some homebrewers successfully add fruit (such as plums) to this style of beer, but I think I'm going to keep things relatively simple, here. Just brew, ferment, and bottle... hopefully having a malty, fruity, spicy, and smooth Dubbel on hand in time for the holidays.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.068, FG ~1.014, IBU 21, SRM 19.7, ABV ~7%

Grains & Other:
3.59 kg (59.9%) Bohemian Pilsner
500 g (8.4%) Wheat malt
454 g (7.6%) Munich malt
409 g (6.8%) Aromatic malt
204 g (3.4%) Caramunich II
204 g (3.4%) Honey malt
204 g (3.4%) Special B
427 g (7.1%) Dark Belgian Candi Syrup (80 SRM) (added to the boil)

Tettnang - 42 g (4.6% AA) @ 60 min

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey (dated Sept 18th; with a 2.7 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 7 grams calcium chloride in the mash

- Brewed on November 4th, 2013, by myself. 50-minute mash with 16 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 153 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 7 L of boiling water. Sparged with 4 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7.75 gallons in the kettle.

- SG at 1.046, at target. 90-minute boil. Final volume a bit over, at 5.75 gallons. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured into Better Bottle. OG a touch low at 1.067. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2 and pitched yeast starter. Placed BB in laundry room, ambient temp about 66 F. 

- 5/11/13 - Lots of airlock activity in the AM, bubbling about every second, temp 66 F. By the evening, temp had increased to 68 F.

- 6/11/13 - Bubbling more than every second in the AM, temp now up to 70 F. By the evening, the temp was still 70 F, but bubbling had slowed to every 5 seconds or so. Moved the BB into the water-heater room to try to keep the temp up to 68-70 F.

- 20/11/13 - FG a bit high at 1.017. Bottled with 140 g table sugar, aiming for 2.75 vol CO2 for 5 gallons, max temp of 70 F reached.

- 2/2/14 - A little over two months later, the beer is really starting to taste nice... great malt complexity, nice chocolate background. Tasting notes here.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Tasting : Russian River Pliny the Younger clone

Well, I'm finally posting a review of my clone attempt of one of the most highly-rated, sought-after beers on the planet. And I approach the keyboard with my tail tucked between my legs... it's a disappointment. One of my most-disappointing attempts at homebrewing I've made in a long while.

Sure, we're all our own worst critics. But this isn't a case of false modesty, here. No, I've never had the real Pliny the Younger, and I probably never will. But I know that a DIPA with that many hops isn't supposed to taste like this! I read the detailed tasting notes over at Bertus Brewery, where I got the recipe from (only a few very minor changes were made on my end). Scott describes his clone as having a huge hop aroma and flavor, and I didn't get that with my beer. Not to say the beer isn't hoppy; it is. But with THAT many hops, even with a beer as high as 9.7% ABV, I would expect the hops to come through more.

So, what went wrong? I'm pretty much flabbergasted. The brew day went well. I pitched two rehydrated packs of US-05, more than necessary for this beer. I aerated with pure oxygen, for 90 seconds... and then aerated AGAIN 18 hours later (at the recommendation of several sources when brewing bigger beers). The beer fermented out well, getting down to my target FG of 1.010. And it fermented under controlled temperatures, starting at 64 F in my fermentation chamber, with gradual increases over the week to 68 F.

As for the hopping... well, I transferred to secondary and made four dry-hop additions every 4 days. As mentioned in the original post, this would be more ideal if I had a way of purging the secondary headspace with CO2, which I wasn't able to do. However, I used this same approach (albeit every 3 days) for my Kern River Citra DIPA clone, and it turned out great.

So, in a nutshell... the beer isn't hoppy enough at all, considering the amount of hops added to it. Luckily, it doesn't really TASTE like hot alcohol; the 9.7% is actually hidden pretty well in the flavor. I don't want to discourage anyone from brewing the recipe, however... I think it should really turn out great. If you keg, and can thus dry-hop in the keg and purge with CO2, I think you should have a real winner of a DIPA on your hands.


Appearance: Pours with a medium-sized, off-white head that's fairly thick and fluffy... eventually fades to 1/2-finger. Body is dark golden in color, with surprisingly very good clarity.

Aroma: Citrusy and piney hops. Maybe not as strong as I would have thought, but a bit of time has helped them come through. There's a bit of alcohol in there, too, but the hops dominate.

Taste: The hops come through, flavor-wise, both citrusy and piney, but again, maybe not as much as I expected. A bit of sweetness, surprisingly, but ultimately the beer finishes quite dry and strongly bitter. 

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation. Some alcohol warmth, but it's not hot or solvent-like.

Overall: In the end, not nearly as hoppy as I was expecting. The hops are there, and it's a nice beer, but I wanted more from it. Sneakily drinkable at 9.7% ABV... but I'm disappointed.

Side-note: Just thought I should also include that several people (beer geeks) have tried this beer and really enjoyed it... re-reading the post, I come across as a little harsh. It IS a good DIPA, but like I said before, when you add that many hops, I just feel like they should have come across more than they are.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Brewing a Prairie Artisan Ales 'Merica clone

In September, my wife and I were lucky enough to make another trip to San Diego, one of the beer meccas of the U.S. Despite being accompanied by our 16-month-old daughter, we did pretty well in the beer department, I thought; I personally had 36 new beers during the week we were there. Along with trips to the San Diego Zoo and several beaches, we also visited Modern Times, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens (Liberty Station location), Pizza Port Ocean Beach, and a few choice beer bars, such as Toronado.

As expected, many of the beers I had were fantastic... lots of very hoppy IPAs and DIPAs were consumed! However, one of my favorite beers of the trip was a hoppy Saison brewed by a fairly new brewery called Prairie Artisan Ales... out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yep. Oklahoma. They brew many different types of Saisons; the one I had was called 'Merica. It was fabulously grassy and fruity, with a good amount of funk in both the aroma and flavor. When I arrived home, the Wyeast 3711 French Saison yeast I had ordered from my LHBS arrived; I had originally planned on brewing a Modern Times Lomaland clone, or some other Saison, but I decided to attempt to put together a 'Merica clone recipe.

Searching the internet for other attempts at 'Merica clones turned up nothing. There IS some helpful info on Prairie's website, however:

"‘Merica is a single malt, single hop saison. It’s brewed with floot malted pilsner and 3lbs per bbl Nelson Sauvin hops. The beer is conditioned with 2 brett strains and wine yeast."

While I've never brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops before, I just happened to have 8 oz of it from an order I made with Yakima Valley Hops a few months ago... 3 lbs/bbl equates to about 8 oz for a 5 gallon batch. Perfect! It was meant to be (Disclaimer: If you put your mind to it, you can convince yourself of anything in homebrewing). Nelson Sauvin is a New Zealand variety hop that has been quickly growing in popularity over the past few years. It is well-known for a strong fruity flavor and aroma: gooseberries, passionfruit and grapefruit, or a Sauvignon Blanc (white wine) character.

I thought I'd try sending a direct message to Prairie's Facebook account, asking for a bit more help with the recipe, but unfortunately they didn't respond. I mainly wanted to get a rough idea of the hop schedule, and find out whether the beer was dry-hopped or not (I assumed it was, from the strong aroma). I dug around a little more, and found the IBUs (35) listed on the Shelton Bros. (beer importers) site; they also note that the beer is "heavily dry-hopped". After a little more searching on Prairie's website, I found that their Standard Saison (their "everyday" beer) is dry-hopped with 1 lb/bbl of Motueka, another New Zealand hop variety. I figured this was a good number to shoot for in the dry-hopping of my 'Merica clone, which amounts to about 2.5 oz for 5 gallons.

The grist of the recipe was easy, obviously - 100% pilsner malt - with 3 grams of Gypsum thrown in the mash, just to increase the calcium levels of my water a little. As for the hop-schedule, however, I was on my own. When you're hopping a beer to about 35 IBUs with 8 oz in a 5 gallon batch, and the hop variety has an alpha acid % of 11... well, it seems to me that you pretty much have to avoid any early hop additions, or the IBUs on the beer are going to end up being too high. I fooled around with the additions on Beersmith, and decided to go with three at increasing amounts: 1 oz at 10 minutes, 2 oz at 5 minutes, and 2.5 oz at flameout, with a 15-minute hop steep. That should get me roughly around 35 IBUs... and hopefully one hell of a lot of hop flavor and aroma. And a lot of hop sludge leftover.

Now, while I've brewed with Brettanomyces in the past, I've never strictly bottle-conditioned with it. Because Brett is capable of fermenting carbohydrates with as many as nine molecules of glucose (compared to brewer's yeast max of three molecules long), it can slowly chew away at leftover sugars in the beer for months, and even years, producing more CO2, increasing the risk of gushing and bottle bombs.

Don't get me wrong, lots of breweries bottle condition with Brett, and it certainly doesn't always result in exploding bottles. Orval is probably the most well-known Brett-bottle-conditioned beer out there; I've opened bottles that were over three years old, and there hasn't been any gushing at all... just fantastic, mouth-watering funkiness! For the homebrewer, the two main issues when adding Brett at bottling are how MUCH Brett do you add, and how much bottling sugar, if any?

There's some good articles out there about approaches to take (check out this one from The Mad Fermentationist), but I'm going to keep it simple for myself, and take the safe route. I decided on splitting the batch in two from the very beginning: 
  • Half will have the bottle dregs from several Brett beers pitched in over time. I'll try to start pitching the dregs before the 3711 is completely done fermenting, because in my experience with it, it can ferment LOW, which wouldn't leave much in the way of sugars behind for the Brett to work on. Not a very accurate approach, but hopefully it'll be ok. When the gravity seems to have plateaued, I'll dry-hop for a week or so and then bottle it as-is.
  • The other half will be fermented with JUST the 3711, dry-hopped for a week, and bottled without Brett. I figure this is a good way to a) have a Saison to drink a little earlier, and b) compare the qualities that the Brett hopefully adds to the other half.
I'm not really sure what the added wine yeast at bottling provides to the beer, but I'll probably add a little dry wine yeast that I have on hand, at least to the Brett-half, just for the heck of it. Some of Prairie's beers are starting to show up in Maine, I believe, so hopefully I'll find a bottle of 'Merica when I'm there later in the month to compare to my results.

UPDATE: After I tweeted the link to this post, Prairie responded back about the hop schedule. They say they use a 60-minute bittering addition (so, it would have to be very small), and 1 lb/bbl whirlpool, 2 lb/bbl dry-hop. This translates to 2.5 oz Nelson at flameout for a 5-gallon batch, and 5 oz for dry-hopping. So, I was right for the whirlpool, but added hops at 5 & 10 minutes that should have gone into the dry-hop, for the most part. 

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 75% efficiency) OG 1.056, FG ~1.007, IBU ~35, SRM 4, ABV ~6.5%

5 kg (100%) Bohemian Pilsner

Nelson Sauvin - 28 g (11% AA) @ 10 min
Nelson Sauvin - 56 g @ 5 min
Nelson Sauvin - 70 g @ flameout (steeped for 15 minutes)
Nelson Sauvin - 78 g dry-hop for 7 days (divided in two, 39 g for each half-batch)

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 3711 French Saison (with a 1.5 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 3 g Gypsum in the mash

- Brewed on October 7th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 16.5 L of strike water, mashed in a little under target temp of 151 F. Sparged with 5.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7.5 gallons in the kettle.

- SG at 1.044, slightly over target of 1.042. 90-minute boil. Final volume a bit over 5.5 gallons. Flameout hops steeped for 15 minutes, then turned on immersion chiller. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured ~10 L into 3-gallon Better Bottle, and the rest into a 6-gallon BB (lots of trub got into this half). OG on target of 1.056. Aerated with 60 seconds of pure O2 for each half, and placed in laundry room, ambient temp about 72 F.

- 8/10/13 - 14/10/13 - Over this week, visible fermentation was never fast and furious, bubbling about 3-4 times per 10 seconds in the airlock, temp 70 F.  Gravity got down to 1.009, so I attached a heat belt to the non-Brett portion and turned it on, bringing the temp up to the high 70s. Pitched the bottle dregs of two bottles of Orval into Brett portion.

- 25/10/13 - Added dry hops to non-Brett portion directly into primary.

- 29/10/13 - Bottled non-Brett portion with 85 g table sugar, aiming for 3 vol CO2 for 10 L and a max temp of 78 reached.

- 4/11/13 - Over the next few weeks, pitched bottle dregs of three more bottles of Orval and one bottle of Allagash Confluence. Racked Brett portion into secondary on Nov. 12th.

- 28/11/13 - Added dry-hops to Brett portion into secondary fermentor.

- 4/12/13 - Bottled Brett portion with 67 g table sugar (and ~1/8 pack Lalvin EC-1118 rehydrated yeast... a white wine yeast, unfortunately realized I didn't have any red wine yeast), aiming for 3 vol CO2 for 2.13 gallons with a max temp of 78 F reached.

- 24/12/13 - Tasting notes... damn, what a delicious beer! Huge Nelson presence, lots of fruit (berries, specifically)... amazing! Close to the real thing, but more hoppy and lacking a bit of hard-to-place funkish character.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Brewing an American Pale Ale (with Belma and Cascade)

Crap, I let it happen again! An almost-two-month hiatus from brewing! I won't lay on the excuses, but am I the only homebrewer that finds it more difficult to brew regularly in the summer? Temperature issues aside, there always seems to be so much going on, it can be tough to squeeze in a brew day. Luckily I got a couple batches brewed in both June and July, so I didn't run out of beer for August and September... but I sure did miss brewing!

Anyhow, back to business. I had ordered a smackpack of Wyeast 3711 French Saison from my LHBS a few weeks ago, but it arrived later than expected. Before I could get a starter made, an impromptu brew day came up. All I had on hand was good ol' US-05, so I decided to whip together an American Pale Ale. I took a quick look at my inventory list, hop-wise, and picked out a couple of varieties that I still had 1/2 lb of, but hadn't used much of lately... Belma and Cascade.

Anyone who's homebrewed is familiar with Cascade, but Belma is definitely a newer variety. I used a small amount of it in a Witbier I brewed a few months ago, but this time I really wanted to use it in higher quantities. As mentioned in the Witbier post, Belma is a variety created by the farmers at Hops Direct, and is supposed to be quite fruity, described as having notes of orange, melon, pineapple... and especially strawberry. I had thrown around the idea of brewing an APA solely with Belma hops, but thought I'd try mixing it in with equal amounts of Cascade. With the typical characteristics of Cascade, I'm aiming to have an APA that is REALLY fruity.

Once I had the hop varieties picked out, I threw together a recipe. As I said, at first I had intended on brewing the beer with JUST Belma, so I planned on using a recipe in For the Love of Hops, by Stan Hieronymus. In one section of the book, Stan talks to Russian River's Vinnie Cilurzo concerning a standard recipe Vinnie uses when he wants to get a feel for what characteristics a single hop brings to a beer. The recipe is really more intended to be for an IPA, but I just scaled it back to an OG of about 1.050. It's made up of 74% 2-row, 13% Maris Otter, 10% Crystal 15 L, and 3% Acid malt. The hopping amounts he used in this recipe are a little lower than what I wanted to go with, so I created my own hop schedule from here.

I really hopped this beer... I wasn't trying to overdo it, by any means, but I tried to take advantage of the "hop bursting" method that I've been using more lately, where you add the high majority of your hops at the end of the boil. In this case, I only made one hop addition during the boil... a very small amount of Belma at 60 minutes to about 10 IBUs. I then added a large amount - 3 oz each of Cascade and Belma - at flameout, and let the hops steep for 15 minutes before turning on the chiller. You still get some IBUs when the wort is this hot, but you're mainly trying to extract a lot of flavor and aroma from the hops. This is the method used in the Modern Times Fortunate Islands clone I brewed in July, and that beer came out pretty fantastic. I then, of course, had to dry-hop the beer, so I decided to go with equal amounts Belma and Cascade again, 1&1/4 oz of each for 7 days.

This brew day was also the first for two new pieces of equipment for me. First, I finally replaced my crappy turkey fryer with a Blichmann burner. I was given the opportunity to buy this product brand new for an extremely reasonable price, and I couldn't resist. With an evenly-distributed flame, the burner is supposed to be much more efficient with propane, and provide a better boil in a faster time. I CAN say, after using it once, that it's a damned-sturdy product, and is obviously built to last. And standing next to it in my garage when the wort is boiling no longer sounds like I'm in the engine of a 747. This thing is QUIET. I also had zero soot on the bottom of my kettle after the 60-minute boil was complete, a first for me in homebrewing.

My other new product is a Thermapen. I wouldn't say that I've had major problems with my fairly-cheap digital thermometer that I've been using for a couple of years now, but it takes a long time to get an accurate (?) reading. I've been hearing a lot of highly-exuberant testimonials about the Thermapen over the years (both for brewing and cooking), and an opportunity came up (again!) to buy one at a reduced price. It really is very fast... only takes about 2-3 seconds to get a temperature reading, and the accuracy seems pretty fantastic.

I plan on fermenting the beer at around 68 F for a couple of weeks, tops, and then adding the dry-hops directly into primary for a week. Bottled from there, I hope to be drinking this beer by mid-October. I'm also behind on some tasting notes for more-recent brews, but I'll try to get the results for this APA posted soon after starting to drink it.

Recipe targets: (5.5 gallons, 78% efficiency) OG 1.052, FG ~1.012, IBU ~35, SRM 5.3, ABV ~5.2%

3.41 kg (74%) Canadian 2-row
591 g (13%) Maris Otter
454 g (10%) Crystal 15 L
136 g (3%) Acid malt

Belma - 7 g (11.3% AA) @ 60 min
Belma - 84 g @ 0 min (steeped for 15 minutes)
Cascade - 84 g (5.5% AA) @ 0 min (steeped for 15 minutes)
Belma - 35 g dry-hop for 7 days
Cascade - 35 g dry-hop for 7 days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: 1 package Fermentis US-05 dry yeast, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g Gypsum, 3 g CaCl in the mash

- Brewed on Sept 18th, 2013, with Jill. 60-minute mash with 15 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 153 F. Sparged with 5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~6.75 gallons in the kettle.

- SG at 1.043, slightly over target of 1.042. 60-minute boil. Flameout hops steeped for 15 minutes, then turned on immersion chiller. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured/filtered ~5 gallons into Better Bottle. OG a bit low at 1.050. Aerated with 75 seconds of pure O2 and placed in laundry room, ambient temp about 68 F (a bit high).

19/9/13 - Some light activity in the airlock in the AM, temp 68 F. By the evening, bubbling vigorously, temp still at 68 F.

20/9/13 - In the AM, still lots of airlock activity, temp up to 70 F.

22/9/13 - Returned from being away for a few days, airlock activity has stopped completely. Temp 70 F. Took a gravity reading of 1.013.

28/9/13 - Added dry-hops directly to primary.

5/10/13 - Bottled with 101 g table sugar, aiming for 2.4 vol CO2 for 4.5 gallons, with a max temp of 70 F reached.

13/11/13 - Tasting notes... turned out pretty enjoyable. Easy-drinking, nice hop presence, but could definitely use a kick in the bitterness department.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tasting : A Witter Shade of Pale 2.0 (Witbier with Belma hops)

Getting to this beer a LOT later than I would like... I originally planned on having it ready to drink at the beginning of summer, or maybe even a bit earlier. It's been bottled for over two months now, but the reason I took a while to get to it is due to one of the most frustrating problems in homebrewing: a stuck fermentation.

When I brewed this beer, fermentation was fast and furious - it took off within 12 hours, was quite vigorous while it was going, and within a couple of days the krausen had diminished and there was barely any activity in the airlock. Because the OG wasn't high (actually even came in a bit below target), I just assumed that it didn't take long for the yeast to do their work. I then let the beer sit in the fermentor for 3 weeks, until I planned on bottling it.

Well, that turned out to be a big mistake. I took a gravity reading after 3 weeks, and it had stalled at 1.019. Not exactly the end of the world, but at about 7 points above target for a beer that isn't high alcohol, and is supposed to be refreshing... well, I was little peeved. I left it in the fermentor for another week, rousing the yeast by gently rocking the Better Bottle every day, but it did no goo - 1.019 is where it sat. I briefly considered pitching some bottle dregs of some Brett beers into it; I kind of liked that idea, actually, of making a funky Witbier. However, I knew that it would take some time to let the Brett do their thing, and I really wanted this beer for summer, so I ended up bottling it as it was. The problem with this is where do you aim in terms of carbonation? I don't keg, so I had to consider what I wanted to risk more... aim for low carbonation in case the yeast "woke up" and consumed the remaining sugars in the beer (as in what I assumed happened to my recent ESB)? Probably the smart move, but if that didn't happen, then you get a fairly-flat Witbier. However, flat beer can't physically injure you... bottle bombs technically can!

So, I split the difference and aimed for 2.5 vol CO2, about what you'd do for "moderate" carbonation. A Witbier should really be 3 vol or even more, so I was hoping to get some decent carbonation, and no explosions. In the end, I'm not sure why fermentation got stuck. The temps never got low in our house. I'd say that maybe it was because of the high percentage of flaked wheat and oats, but the grist of the recipe isn't much different that last year's Witbier, and that finished with no problem. And I made a good-sized starter for a pretty-fresh smackpack. Ah well... the joys of working with yeast!

All said and done, luckily the beer came out pretty good. It doesn't taste overly sweet, even with the high FG, and at less than 4% ABV, it's certainly very sessionable! I'm not too sure if the two additions of Belma hops bring much to the table, but the aroma and flavor of the beer definitely isn't 100% in the norm for the style. Now that I've been drinking it over the summer, and most of the bottles are gone, I CAN say that it is over-carbonated... when you open a bottle that sat at room temperature for awhile, there's quite a lot of foaming over when you pour into the glass. Luckily, high carbonation in a beer like this isn't much of a flaw, unlike the previously mentioned ESB, which was like Champagne by the time I finally finished it all.

I'd certainly brew the beer again... the recipe, other than the Belma hops, is pretty much your standard Witbier recipe. I like what the higher amount of orange peel added to the beer this time. If you're looking to get some Belma character in your Witbier, though, I'd definitely go with more than I added. Doubling it would probably not be overdoing it at all.

Keep in mind the tasting notes below were actually written back in late July... I wouldn't dream of trying to give a fair review to a 2+ month-old Witbier!

Appearance: Poured with an extremely large, white creamy head. Fades a bit and then stays there, great retention. Body is cloudy and dark yellow.

Aroma: Strong aroma of both coriander and orange citrus... the extra orange peel really came through this time. There's a bit of sweet pilsner character as well, and maybe just a touch of strawberry character from the Belma.

Taste: Bang-on with the aroma, lots of coriander and citrus, without being overpowering. Again, a little bit of sweetness/tartness from the pilsner and wheat malt. Refreshing. No real hop flavor to speak of.

Mouthfeel: Light-medium bodied, slightly creamy from the wheat malt. Very high (effervescent) carbonation.

Overall: I like it, minus the issues with the overcarbing. As mentioned above, I'd increase the Belma hop additions to try to make it shine through more.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Brewing a Russian River Pliny the Younger clone

When I brewed the Russian River Blind Pig clone last month, I already had the next couple of beers planned out. While I've actually had Blind Pig several times, I decided to brew another Russian River clone - this time, one of the biggest white-whale beers out there, Pliny the Younger. Now, Pliny the Elder is the brewery's regular-release Double IPA (DIPA); it's not exactly wide-release, by any means, at least in terms of distribution, but if you're somewhere in the West Coast U.S., chances are you'll find Elder on tap or in bottles, somewhere. And it's a fantastic beer, pretty much deserving all the accolades it has received over the years (and there's been a lot of them). I actually brewed the widely-available clone recipe (straight from Vinnie Cilurzo, owner/brewer at Russian River) a couple of years ago, and it came out pretty fantastic.

Pliny the Younger, however, is a DIPA that the brewery releases once every year, on the first Friday in February. It's not available in bottles, and you can't get growler fills of it - it's only available on tap, and usually only at the brewery (a keg or two will pop up at some choice beer bars in the country, but that's it). People line up on the release day at extremely early hours to try the beer, where it's available for two weeks only.

Unfortunately, I'm not lucky enough to have been able to make a trip out to California just for a beer release. Maybe some day, but that just ain't gonna happen for awhile. All I can do is read about the beer; it's supposed to be pretty fantastic, of course - high theoretical bitterness, high alcohol (10.5% ABV) yet alarmingly drinkable, with a huge hop presence. Basically, Pliny the Elder times two... or more. Younger has actually been called a "Triple IPA" by some (including those at the brewery), but let's not even start trying to divide DIPAs into Triple and higher categories... Double or Imperial IPA is fine by me.

So, there's a lot of clone recipe attempts floating around the internet, put together by speculation, tastings, and interviews with Vinnie where he's mentioned this or that about what they do at the brewery. The best I've seen is from a homebrewing blog called Bertus Brewery, run by a guy from Arizona named Scott. Scott does a lot of IPA/DIPA clones, and seems to have a lot of success with them (the blog is really well-written, too; I suggest you check it out if you haven't already). Scott put a lot of work into his Younger clone, and claims to have come quite close on his second attempt. This is the recipe I used, and other than a few changes noted below, I followed it pretty much exactly. So, any luck I have with this will be mostly attributed to Scott's work... ditto for any failure! <shakes fist in general direction of Arizona>

That's a lotta grain...
Ok, so let's get to the recipe. First, the grist. Similar to the Pliny the Elder clone recipes that are available, it's pretty simple: a large amount of 2-row, and some Crystal 40 L and Carapils - not a lot, though, which is typical for Vinnie's opinions on Crystal malts in DIPAs. He feels that the best DIPAs are the ones that aren't overly sweet and underattenuated... and I agree. I prefer my DIPAs quite dry; when they get sweet, they're starting to border American Barleywines. There's also a good amount of table sugar in the recipe. In Scott's recipe, he went with 1 lb, but later thought that a bit more to increase the attenuation would be a better idea; so, I went with the higher end of his recommendation, 1.5 lbs. As I normally do with sugar additions, I boiled the sugar in some water to make a syrup, and added it to the fermentor when fermentation began to slow down. I like to do this to make sure the yeast chew threw the maltose and maltotriose, before they get their "dessert", the more-easily-fermented sucrose. It also means that your starting gravity is lower, so you don't have to pitch as much yeast.

For the mash, Scott did a 75-minute rest at a very-low 145 F, to really increase the amount of sugars that would be easily-fermentable by the yeast; he then followed-up with a 10-minute rest at 155 F. I went with this approach (albeit at a slightly-less 145 F, for 60 minutes), but if you wanted to skip the 10 minutes at 155 F, you'd probably be fine.

Of course, what you really want to read about with a recipe like this is the hopping schedule. It's pretty darned crazy, really. Overall, you're looking at almost a full pound of hops, PLUS 40 mL total of hop extract, the equivalent of 8 oz of a 10% AA hop, giving you a theoretical or calculated IBU of somewhere above 250. Quite bitter, let's just leave it at that. Full details are listed below, but here's the amount of each actual hop variety used, between kettle-hopping, flameout, and dry-hopping:
  • Simcoe - 6 oz
  • Centennial - 2.5 oz
  • CTZ - 2 oz
  • Amarillo - 2 oz
  • Chinook - 1 oz
And, that's a lotta hops!
Now, I didn't go with Scott's recipe EXACTLY. Based on his thoughts after drinking his clone, he made a couple of recommendations for changes, which I applied. He had also added 10 g of CTZ at 45 min, which I ignored since I didn't think it would be missed. He also had a couple of small additions of Warrior in the dry-hopping, based on a change to the recipe he had heard Vinnie has done recently. I didn't have access to Warrior, so I subbed in CTZ for one dry-hop, and dropped the Warrior in another (it was only 1/4 oz, anyway).

So, there's a huge flameout addition (5.5 oz) of four different hops; I did a 10-minute steep with these before beginning the chilling. As for the dry-hopping, there are FOUR dry-hop additions. I haven't done that many since my Kern River Citra DIPA clone, and it was tough to decide how to do it. Ideally, I would have a kegging system, so that I could just add and remove each dry-hop directly in the keg, purging the headspace with CO2 each time to prevent oxidation of the beer and the hops. However, I don't keg, so I had these options:

1) Dry-hop in primary - I've done this before, with usually good results. Pro: it's easy, and some argue that this method may help prevent oxidation, since CO2 may still be released from residual fermentation of the beer. Con: the yeast in suspension may strip away some of the hop aroma and flavor. Even with four additions? Not sure.

2) Transfer to secondary, then dry-hop - I've also done this before, and also have had good results. Pro: you get the beer off most of the yeast, so there should be less stripping of the hop flavors (if that happens, of course). Con: you're increasing the risk of infection and oxidation.

I thought about doing half the dry-hop in primary, and then half in secondary, but that seemed counter-productive, and just as much work as doing it all in secondary. I also considered dropping the temp of the beer while in primary to floc out the yeast, and THEN add the dry hops, but I wasn't sure if that would be better. In the end, I decided to rack to secondary and add all the dry hops there. I came to this decision based on the excellent results I had with the Citra DIPA clone; this was the approach I used with that beer, so hopefully it'll work out as well, here.

When brewing Younger, Russian River apparently does each dry-hop for 1 week. On a homebrewing schedule, not only does that require a lot of time, but it REALLY increases the likelihood for oxidation of the beer and hops, especially for someone like me who doesn't have the luxury of purging with CO2 over and over. So, I'm going to go with a 4-day dry hop of each addition, for 16 days total.

For the yeast, as expected, you can use the California Ale yeast of your choice: WLP001, Wyeast 1056, or US-05 dry yeast. I had originally planned on using yeast slurry from my recent Modern Times Fortunate Islands clone, but based on some past results with reusing yeast, I chickened out and went with 2 packets of US-05, rehydrated. Now, Vinnie has always recommended that you do a slight UNDER-pitch of yeast for hoppy beers; he feels that too much yeast will strip away some of the hop flavors/aromas. I believe 100% that the man knows what he's talking about, but for a beer this big (and expensive), I just didn't want to take that risk. I'd rather lose a bit of hop flavor than have a big DIPA stall out at 1.035.

As for the water, I didn't add much in terms of minerals. I followed the same approach I've used with my last few hoppy beers, adding a couple of salts in moderate amounts to increase the calcium, chloride, and sulfate. In this case, just 5 grams each of Gypsum and calcium chloride, directly into the mash.

My goal here is to have a really drinkable, REALLY hoppy DIPA. Even if I had had Younger before, I wouldn't necessarily expect this clone to come out exactly similar. While Scott says that his version came out almost identical, I know my limits with my system - the inability to purge with CO2 will undoubtedly hurt this beer. Hopefully, oxidation will be minimal at the worst... nothing worse than oxidized hops, especially in a recipe as expensive as this one! I'll likely be drinking this beer around the beginning of September... tasting notes will be posted soon after.

Recipe targets: (6 gallons, 70% efficiency) OG 1.088, FG ~1.010, IBU 266 (!), SRM 6.6, ABV ~10.3%

7.73 kg (86.5%) Canadian 2-row
341 g (3.9%) Carapils
182 g (2%) Crystal 40 L
681 g (7.6%) Table sugar (boiled in water and added in two portions during fermentation)

Hop extract - 35 mL @ 90 min
Hop extract - 5 mL @ 45 min
Simcoe- 14 g (12.9% AA) @ 30 min

Simcoe - 70 g @ 0 min 
Centennial - 42 g (10.9% AA) @ 0 min
Amarillo - 28 g (8.9% AA) @ 0 min          *All flameout hops steeped for 10 minutes
Chinook - 14 g (11.4% AA) @ 0 min

Dry-hop 1: 14 g CTZ, 14 g Simcoe, 14 g Amarillo for 4 days, then...
Dry-hop 2: 28 g CTZ, 28 g Centennial for 4 more days, then...
Dry-hop 3: 14 g Chinook, 14 g Simcoe for 4 more days, then...
Dry-hop 4: 14 g CTZ, 14 g Amarillo, 28 g Simcoe for 4 more days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: 2 packages Fermentis US-05 dry yeast, rehydrated

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g Gypsum, 5 g CaCl in the mash

- Brewed on July 27th, 2013, by myself. 60-minute mash with 21 L of strike water, mashed in slightly above target temp, at 146 F. Added 4.75 L of boiling water to bring temp up to 155 F for another 10 minutes. Sparged with ~4.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~8.1 gallons in the kettle.

- SG at 1.056, slightly under target of 1.057. 90-minute boil. Flameout hops steeped for 10 minutes, then turned on immersion chiller. Chilled down to 64 F, then poured/filtered ~5 gallons into Better Bottle. OG low at 1.083. Aerated with 90 seconds of pure O2 and placed in fermentation chamber with temp set at 64 F.

- 28/7/13 - In AM, bubbling about q 2 seconds. Raised temp to 65 F and aerated with 30 more seconds of pure O2 (about 18-19 hours after pitching).

- 29/7 to 1/8 - Lots of activity in the airlock over the next couple of days. Added the first dose of table sugar (341 g in boiled water) when activity started to slow slightly on the 30th, then the other 341 g on the 31st.

- 2/8/13 - Bubbling starting to slow, gradually raised temp to 68 F over a couple of days.

- 8/8/13 - Gravity 1.011. Racked beer to secondary and added first dry-hop addition. Added dry hops every 4 days afterwards, as in recipe.

- 24/8/13 - FG at target of 1.010. Bottled with 120 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons, max temp of 72 reached. Also added ~1/8 pack rehydrated Nottingham yeast.

- 2/11/13 - Late, but here's the tasting notes... ultimately, disappointing in the hop department.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Tasting : Isles of Fortune (Modern Times Fortunate Islands clone)

Ah... it's so nice when you brew a beer and have high expectations for it, and it actually doesn't end up disappointing you in any way! Sorry if that sounds a bit cynical, but often it's the beers I look forward to the most that end up letting me down, at least slightly. But this one hasn't. At all.I knew when I tasted this beer when I took a gravity sample that it was going to be pretty great... the hop aroma was huge before I even dry-hopped it (making me wonder if 4 oz Citra and 1 oz Amarillo in the dry-hop may be unnecessary?).

The real Modern Times Fortunate Islands (described as a "hoppy wheat") hasn't even been available to the public for very long now, but this clone that I brewed last month has everything I would hope to find in the commercial beer... which makes me sure that the real thing is all the better! Detailed tasting notes below, but in summary it's a really "tropical" beer - all that Citra and Amarillo really paid off. At 4.8% it's pretty sessionable, extremely hoppy (especially in the aroma) without being very bitter... a delicious beer. Looking at the tasting notes from Mike Tonsmeire's blog, it seems like the two beers are fairly close, at least in the main points. I'm sure Mike's beer (and Modern Times') came out even better, since they'd be able to keep the hops fresher by flushing with CO2 during fermentation/transfer. Oh, and due to the fact that they're better brewers!

If you can source a good amount of Citra and Amarillo, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Thanks again to Mike Tonsmeire and Modern Times for being so open with their recipes!

Appearance: Poured with a stark white, moderate-sized sticky head, that shows good retention, eventually fading to 1/4-finger for the duration of drinking. The body is a dark golden/very light copper color (the glass I poured it in in the picture makes it look darker than it really is), and is extremely hazy - probably due to the lack of Irish Moss, all the wheat malt, and the intense dry-hopping.

Aroma: Huge citrus, tropical fruit presence. Lots of orange and mango. Maybe a touch of malt character in the background, but honestly the hops are so prevalent, it's hard to detect anything else!

Taste: Again, a strong amount of orange and mango at first, but a bit subdued compared to the aroma. The wheat malt and Caravienne come through more after that initial hop hit, and the beer then finishes with more fruit and just a touch of a resiny character, which I wasn't expecting. Moderate to moderate-low bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Slightly under medium carbonation... I think it would benefit from a bit more, actually. The body is medium-full at least... the wheat malt and high mash temp really came through. This isn't a bad thing with this beer; it actually works very well.

Overall: Great beer; definitely something to have on tap in the summer - it wouldn't take long to go through this beer. Other than a bit more carbonation, there's nothing about it I'd change. I'll definitely be brewing this again!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tasting : Visually Impaired Sow (Russian River Blind Pig clone)

Even though I've had Russian River's Blind Pig IPA two or three times, I really didn't know what to expect when I brewed this clone in late June. It's probably been at least two years since I've had Blind Pig; I know I really liked it, but I can't remember specifics. So, when I saw the clone recipe posted in Zymurgy, it immediately went in the top section of my list of IPA clones to brew. Even if the results weren't the exact same as Blind Pig, I could tell by looking at the recipe that it would make a tasty beer.

And it did. The result was an American IPA with a healthy amount of hop aroma and flavor, moderate (but extremely smooth) bitterness in the finish, yet some definite malt character in the background. The body is also a bit fuller than a lot of other American IPAs out there now, but it's not chewy. I think I was expecting more hop character in this beer than I got, but the hop amounts in this beer really aren't that crazy. A bit of bittering, a small amount of Amarillo at 30 minutes (which I screwed up and added at 60 minutes... obviously any bit of flavor from that would be next to nothing), and 2 oz of several hops total at flameout. Follow that with 2 oz of dry-hopping... a healthy amount of hops, but not DIPA territory for sure.

The first few bottles struck me as hoppier, overall, but it's settled quickly into a very easy-drinking American IPA. Definitely a tasty recipe; recommended to anyone out there looking for a new IPA to brew, whether you've had Blind Pig or not.

Not as dark as the picture makes it look
Appearance: Pours with a moderate-large, white creamy head that shows very good retention; finally fades to about 1/4-1/2 finger and stays there. Body is golden-colored, with extremely good clarity.

Aroma: Strong hop aroma (but maybe not as strong as I expected)... citrus and tropical, mainly. A bit of dankness in there, too. A touch of sweet malt character, but it’s very light. No diacetyl.

Taste: The hops dominate, of course, again, coming through with a lot of citrus and tropical character, followed by that bit of dankness. Medium bitterness in the finish; mostly dry, but it’s got a bit of sweetness there, too. Quite smooth.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Very nice. I was expecting a bit more hop character (the first couple bottles seemed to have more), but I like how easy-drinking it is. The higher mash temp really helped increase the body (it’s close to medium-full) and leave a bit more malt character. Nice hop presence... an IPA I think that non-IPA drinkers would be able to enjoy, and maybe open up to bigger things.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Brewing a Modern Times Fortunate Islands clone

If you're any bit a beer geek (and if you're reading this, you probably are... or, you're stalking me), you know that the number of breweries in the U.S. and Canada is at an all-time high point, even compared to pre-prohibition numbers. And the amount of breweries in the planning stages is even more staggering. This is fantastic news for all of us, but as a brewery owner, how do you make your brewery stand out? How do you get people excited about your product... before you even HAVE a product to offer? I spend a lot of time reading - mostly online - about beer and breweries, and there is one brewery that has succeeded in accomplishing this better than any other, in my opinion. That brewery is Modern Times.

Based in San Diego, CA, Modern Times has only had their beers available at bars for the past month or so. However, due to a lot of hard work and smart choices by its owner, Jacob McKean, Modern Times has been well-known and much-anticipated in the brewing world for a year or more. For example:
  • Jacob kept an ongoing blog of the trials and tribulations of getting a brewery up-and-running... we all know it isn't easy, but Jacob's blog made the whole process feel more personal. It wasn't long before I was rooting for him to succeed.
  • He got Michael Tonsmeire involved. Now, Mike's blog is probably the most-read and most-respected homebrewing blog out there, and for good reason. He started developing the recipes for the four regular-release Modern Times beers about a year ago, and kept detailed and open records on the recipes, tastings, and subsequent changes. Again, this made it more personal for those of us following along.
  • The Kickstarter campaign. With a pretty-hilarious video to go with it, this campaign managed to raise $25,000 beyond their $40,000 goal, giving out some classy-looking swag and original awards to backers, of which I proudly am one.
I could go on and on here. Basically, Jacob got a lot of people excited about his brewery, and while Modern Times hasn't been producing beer for very long, I've heard a lot of great things about their products. They brew four regular-release beers: Black House, a coffee stout; Blazing World, an "Amber IPA", or hoppy Amber if that's easier to picture; Lomaland, a sessionable Saison; and Fortunate Islands, a super-citrusy and tropical, easy-drinking American wheat beer.

I've been an avid reader of Mike's blog ever since I got into homebrewing, so I followed along (with a lot of other people) when he was tweaking the recipes for the beers above. They all sound great, and I'd be more than happy trying out the recipes for each on my own. However, for this time of year, it was the Fortunate Islands that attracted my attention the most. With a supporting malt backbone and a boatload of Citra hops, it sounds like the perfect summer beer for hop-lovers! After a couple of variations on the recipe, Mike settled on this one.

Regarding the grist, Mike's recipe is fairly straight-forward, with a little more than half of it being Wheat malt, along with some 2-row and a healthy amount of Caravienne. The mash temp is fairly high at 155 F, mainly to provide some body that was lacking in previous recipes.

A lot of hops; more importantly, a lot of Citra!
The real fun lies in the hopping schedule. There's a single "Hop Shot" of CO2 hop extract at 60 minutes to provide the bulk of the bitterness to the beer. Hop extract is becoming popular with commercial brewers and homebrewers; it provides bitterness without leaving a lot of the hop sludge in your wort by the end of the boil. I'll do a separate, small post on hop extract in the future; for now, if you don't have access to hop extract, just know that 5 mL equals about 10 AAU of hops, or 1 oz of a 10% AA hop.

That's the only hop addition during the boil. However, there's a very healthy 11 oz of hops added afterwards... 8 oz (1/2 lb) of which is Citra! The other 3 oz are another delicious, hard-to-get hop: Amarillo. I'd normally be quite wary of adding this much Citra into one beer, but I was lucky enough to get my hands on a good amount of it a couple of months ago, so I'm willing to sacrifice 8 oz... this time. In Mike's
homebrew process for this beer, he was able to make use of a plate chiller, March pump, and HopRocket... none of which I have. He goes into detail about this on his post... however, I had to improvise. So, the first flameout addition I let steep for 10 minutes, then I turned on my immersion chiller and made the second addition. Won't be as effective as his method, but it'll have to do with what I have available. There's two dry-hop additions at 4 days apiece; pretty massive, coming in at a total of 5 oz... not bad for a wheat beer!

Yeast-wise, this beer requires your standard, clean California Ale-type. I've been using the dry US-05 for the last several batches of APAs and IPAs, but I had the time here to pick up Wyeast's 1056, and make a starter. A single pack of US-05 would work fine, as well. Fermentation should be in the 66-68 F range, but if it gets a bit higher due to summer temperatures, it shouldn't be too much to worry about, especially if you pitch in the mid-60s.

I didn't make much in terms of adjustments to my water. As I've been doing lately (to varying degrees), I added some gypsum and calcium chloride to mainly boost the calcium, and at the same time bring up the sulfate and chloride a bit. I also added Irish Moss as I normally do to most of my beers; the BJCP lists American Wheat as being "brilliant to hazy", so I aimed for clarity.

I'll be drinking this clone before I ever get to try an actual Fortunate Islands... but, maybe not TOO long before? There's a chance I may be making a trip to San Diego in September; if so, I'll be absolutely visiting the Modern Times brewery and trying as many of their beers as I can, wherever I can find them! In the meantime, I'm really hoping this beer has the huge hop aroma that I'm expecting it to have... a lot of hops are riding on it.

Recipe targets: (6 gallons, 73% efficiency) OG 1.048, FG ~1.013, IBU ~48, SRM 5, ABV ~4.7%

2.6 kg (55%) Wheat malt
1.795 kg (38%) Canadian 2-row
332 g (7%) Caravienne malt
113 g rice hulls to prevent a stuck sparge

Hop extract - 5 mL @ 60 min
Citra - 56 g (14.1% AA) @ 0 min (steep for 10 min)
Amarillo - 28 g (8.9% AA) @ 0 min (steep for 10 min)
Citra - 56 g @ 0 min (when start chiller)
Amarillo - 28 g @ 0 min (when start chiller)
Citra - 56 g dry-hop for 4 days
Amarillo - 14 g dry-hop for 4 days
Citra - 56 g dry-hop for 4 more days
Amarillo - 14 g dry-hop for 4 more days

Misc.: 1/2 tab Irish moss @ 5 min

Yeast: Wyeast 1056 American Ale (PD May 21st; with a 1.5 L starter)

Water: Fredericton city water, carbon-filtered; 5 g Gypsum, 3 g CaCl in the mash

- Brewed on July 9th, 2013, by myself. 50-minute mash with 15 L of strike water, mashed in at target temp of 155 F. Mashed-out for 10 minutes with 5.75 L of boiling water, resulting temp 166 F. Sparged with ~4.5 gallons of 168 F water for final volume of ~7.3 gallons in the kettle.

- SG a couple points above target at 1.041. 60-minute boil. Took about 35 minutes to chill to 64 F using pump/ice water. Poured ~5 gallons into Better Bottle. OG a bit high at 1.050. Aerated wort with 90 seconds of pure O2. Pitched yeast at 66 F and set BB in laundry room sink with cold water.

- 10/7/13 - In AM,  good airlock activity, temp 66 F. Temperature had climbed to 70 F by the evening, bubbling 1-2 times per second in the airlock.

- 11/7/13 - In AM, bubbling every second, temp 70 F. Slowing down by the evening, temp still holding at 70 F.

- 23/7/13 - Added first dose of dry-hops directly into primary.

- 27/7/13 - Added second dose of dry-hops.

- 31/7/13 - Bottled with 120 g table sugar, aiming for 2.5 vol CO2 for 5 gallons, with max temp of 72 F reached.

- Tasting notes... came out really great - huge hop nose, lots of tropical hop flavors... delicious.