F+ Beer

Adventures in Homebrewing and All Things Hoppy

Archive for the category “Beers I’ve Brewed”

Pretty in Black

This is an interpretation of BYO’s Deschutes Obsidian Stout Clone recipe.  I like it, but it turned out way too hoppy — CDA (or whatever you want to call it) territory.  The main reason for this is the fact that I have been using a crappy plastic-and-spring kitchen scale, which is terrible for measuring small quantities of light, fluffy hops.  This beer made me finally break down and buy a digital kitchen scale. 

I couldn’t find the hops called for at the homebrew supply store, so I played around a bit.  I kept the same AAU’s but used Northern Brewer for all the mid- and late-hops.  Willing to sacrifice some subtle hop austerity (the more proper stout hop character), I opted instead for a little bit of odd interest.  I wanted to get a sense of that somewhat unusual “rough-hewn” NB character (and I think I did!).

An interesting observation: right out of the kegerator it’s quite hoppy, but let it warm to a more appropriate American Stout serving temperature, and this beer comes across as more balanced (malts seem to express themselves better).

I have no photos pertaining to beer for this post, so here’s one of the Raveonettes:

Style: American Stout

Brew Date: Sunday, 1-5-14

Transfer to Secondary: Saturday, 1-11-14

Kegged: Saturday, 1-25-14

Base Malt: 6.8 lb. light liquid malt extract (LME) 2 °L

Steeping Grains:

  • 1.3 lb. black malt 530 °L
  • 1.0 lb. crystal malt 80 °L
  • 9.5 oz. Carapils 2 °L
  • 9.5 oz. Western Munich malt 10 °L
  • 9.5 oz. Western wheat malt 2 °L
  • 1.4 0z. roasted barley 575 °L

Yeast: White Labs WLP002 English Ale (pitched at 68°F, started 2 nights before [Friday night], conditioned on stir plate)

Hops:

  • “Tomahawk/Warrior/Columbus” @13.8 alpha – pellets
  • Northern Brewer @ 9.7 alpha – whole cone

Hop Schedule:

  • 0.85 oz. Columbus at 90 min
  • 0.5 oz. Northern Brewer at 30 min
  • 0.8 oz. Northern Brewer 5 min

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.055 at pitch 1-5-14
  • 1.018 at kegging 1-25-14

Process Notes:

  • First attempt at full-volume boil.  Probably due to the time took to steep grains and bring water to temp in the cold weather, I got only 3.3 gallons (before make-up water) from a 6 gallon start!
  • Instead of the following the directions (time and extra steps) for steeping grains at 170° for 35 minutes in 1.5 gallons, I just put the grains in cold, brought it up to 170° and held grains at 166-175 (best I could do for controlling temp) for 10 minutes.  Water started at 11: 15.  90 minute boil started at 12:12.
  • OG came in way low.  Should have been 1.068.  I suspect this, in part, to be due to my steeping method above.  Why else though?  I had all the necessary LME, which should have provided most of the sugars.
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Debris Slide Fresh Hop IPA

We hit our hop harvest season again here in the Willamette Valley last month, so I did the proper thing and made another fresh hop IPA.  This one is based on last year’s model, but with a little more LME, a different yeast selection, and a different hop profile.  I tried to make it Saaz-forward again, but this year I didn’t get quite enough Saaz to use that hop exclusively in the mid- and late-boil additions.  So my [Golden] Nugget hops made up the difference where needed.  Still, I had a ton of bright green hops rolling around in the sticky, hop-oil-infused wort – a pretty sight!

Compared with last year’s version, this one has more of a heft to it (a good thing).  On the downside, there is a harsher bitterness to this one, especially at the finish – not to the degree that it’s bad, but I wish the edge wasn’t there quite so much; it seems to somewhat mask the fresh-hopiness of the flavor.  This sharpness could be due to the slightly longer boil time, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the weird “Golden Nugget” hops taking on more of the hop duties in lieu of the softer Saaz.  (I did keep the overall alpha addition schedule the same from last year, however.)

I’ve got no photos to share for this time around, so please enjoy the below link to the the namesake for this beer (note that this is, syntactically, a command and not a request):

Style: Fresh-Hop American IPA

Brew Date: Sunday, 9-22-13

Base Malt: 8.0 lbs. light LME

Steeping Grains: 1.0 lbs. Carapils, 1.0 lbs. Centennial-10, 0.75 lbs. Munich Light, 0.75 lbs Wheat, 0.5 lbs. Centennial-60 (all steeped for 35 minutes between 152-160°F)

Yeast: White Labs WLP001 English Ale (pitched at 73°F, started 3 nights before [Thursday night], conditioned on stir plate)

Hops:

  • [Golden] Nugget* at 11% α (estimated)
  • Saaz at 4% α (estimated)

Hop Schedule:

  • 1 oz. Nugget (dried) at 70 min
  • 12 oz. Saaz (wet) at 35 min
  • 3.5 oz. Saaz (wet) and 2.0 oz Golden Nugget (wet) at 0 min
  • 2.25 oz. Golden Nugget (dried): secondary fermentation stage dry hop (duration of secondary)

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.054 at pitch 9-22-12, 3:00pm
  • 1.013 final (at kegging 10-14-13)

*We got this breed of hop (2 of our 3 hop plants) prior to my getting into brewing, just because we liked hops. This is an unfortunate hop to have as a brewer, as it seems to not have been bred especially for brewing, and the online homebrew community is peppered with not-so-definitive Q&A threads about this hop and what exactly it is, even.  Nonetheless, it has worked fine for me (as a bittering hop) so far.

Darklands

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the last porter recipe I picked out ended up being a “Brown Porter” (based on OG and other traits), which is not really the standard porter we craft-beer-drinking Americans are used to. I liked it fine for what it was, but I had wanted a deeper, more flavorful porter and thought I had screwed it up. So anyway, I’ve brewed another porter, ensuring this one is a “Robust Porter” per BJCP’s style guidelines. This one is based on BYO’s Jolly Roger Double Mocha Porter (found in Jan-Feb 2012 issue), with the only real changes being in the bittering hop variety and yeast type.

My New Kegerator!

It turned out to be pretty good! Dark and robust as I hoped, and balanced. I missed my final OG target of 1.016(?), which may contribute to the richness of the mouthfeel. At the end there’s bitter-roasty finish, which my wife and I like, though there might be a touch of astringency associated with it. Not sure if such a finish would get me docked in a BJCP evaluation or not, but it seems nice to me.

I kegged this in my brand new kegerator system: a Nostalgia kegerator kit which I modified (with way too much trouble) for a Cornelius keg. Nice to have a good beer on tap at home! Just in time for the April skies…

Darklands Robust Porter

Darklands

Grain Bill:
8.0 lbs. light LME
0.25 lbs. Crystal 120
0.25 lbs. Crystal 150
0.25 lbs. Carafa Type II
0.25 lbs. 2-row black patent
0.5 lbs. kiln coffee malt
0.5 lbs. chocolate malt

Yeast: WLP001 California Ale (one vial in a 1.0L starter)

Hop Schedule (60 min boil per recipe*):
0.6 oz Chinook hops (17.6% alpha) for last 45 min.
1 oz. Willamette hops (5.6% alpha) for last 20 min.
1 oz. Willamette hops (5.6% alpha) for last 5 min.
*Why a 60 minute boil on an extract beer with a 45 min. hop duration?!

Gravity Schedule:
1.056 at pitch, 2-23-13
1.020 at kegging, 3-17-12

Notes:
•Yeast started about 17 hours before pitch.
•This was my first extract brew with a wort chiller (immersion). Much better than the ice block thing.
•More on the Nostalgia kegerator thing later. It was a good deal but there are a few things to watch out for if you want to modify it.

North American Scum

Oh I don’t know, I don’t know, oh, where to begin…

This winter I thought it would be nice to have a stout on hand. With our dark, cold, rainy Oregon winter in full swing, I was really in the mood for a nice, heavy one. I started looking through American Stout recipes, as American stouts are known to be a bit more robust: fatter, more aggressive, and more in your face—you know, more American.

This is the first full-on stout I’ve brewed.  It’s based on the BYO ‘American Stout‘ extract recipe. Modifications included replacing the Centennial Hops with my homegrown Saaz (equivalent AAU’s), and doing some other odd damage-control hop adjustments to make up for some wacky stuff that happened early in the boil.

We are North American Scum

And for those of you who still think I’m from England…
I’m not, no.

Yeast: WLP001 (one vial in a 1.3L starter)

Gravity Schedule:
1.062 at pitch, 11-11-12
1.022 at racking to secondary, 11-19-12
1.021 at bottling, 12-3-12

Bottling Notes:
4.25 oz corn sugar for ~2.5 volumes.

Hillsboro Hops IPA

As I mentioned, we got another good load of hops this year.  I’m excited to have brewed my first fresh-hop beer and the first beer made exclusively from our own backyard hops. As mentioned previously, this beer is based on a Lagunitas IPA clone but with hop modifications galore.

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Style: Fresh-Hop American IPA

Brew Date: Sunday, 9-23-12

Base Malt: 7.8 lbs. Light LME

Steeping Grains: 1.0 lbs. Carapils, 1.0 lbs. Centennial-10, 0.75 lbs. Munich Light, 0.75 lbs Wheat, 0.5 lbs. Centennial-60 (all steeped for 35 minutes between 154-163°F)

Yeast: White Labs WLP002 English Ale (pitched at 83°F [thought it was cooler], started nights before [Friday at 10:30pm], conditioned on stir plate)

Hops:

  • Nugget at 12% α (estimated)
  • Saaz at 4% α (estimated)

Hop Schedule:

  • 0.75 oz. Nugget (dried) at 60 min
  • 11.25 oz. Saaz (wet) at 30 min
  • 7.2 oz. Saaz (wet) at 0 min
  • 4 oz. Saaz (dried): secondary fermentation stage dry hop (duration of secondary)

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.052 at pitch 9-23-12, 6:30pm

Bottling Notes: ¾ cup corn sugar.

Other Notes:

This beer definitely has the “fresh hop” zing.  It is bit light on body, though, which I suspect may be due to a too-small grain sack (crammed pretty full and thus not as efficient for steeping and releasing sugars).

Nice hop aroma from the dry hop, but not as much as I expected given that I used, like, a gazillion pounds of hops in the fermenter. I think it would have been much more pronounced if I could have found a good way to sink a sack full of them to the bottom.  Wasn’t happening though when I tried that — stupid carboy neck was too small and I didn’t want to mess around with it too much.

Bring on the minor leagues.

Tarnished Angel

This was the first beer where I tried doing some customization.  I wanted a nice summer beer, and my wife suggested a hef.  Always a nice light-ish, refreshing brew, that hefeweizen.  I’ve really been enjoying rye stuff lately, though, so I started with a local homebrew supplier’s American Hefeweizen recipe and worked some rye character into it.  The rye grain varieties available were a few forms of crystal rye, all generally darker than the color of a typical hefeweizen.  The sales person was looking for a lighter alternative, noting that the rye we found was going to cast a dark shadow on the golden innocence of my brew.  But I was already corrupting the style, so I figured ‘what the hell’.

Style: Muttweizen

Starter Date: 6-8-12

Brew Date: 6-10-12

Base Malt: 6.5 lbs. Wheat LME

Steeping Grains: 0.5 lbs. flaked wheat, 0.5 lbs. unmalted wheat, 0.5 lbs. crystal rye (all steeped from cold up to 180°F)

Yeast: White Labs WLP320 American Hefeweizen (pitched at 68°F, started two days prior, conditioned on stir plate)

Hops: Liberty at 5.3% α

Hop Schedule:

  • 0.6 oz. at 60 min
  • 0.6 oz. at 0 min

Additional Additives: None.  (Wanted it cloudy, hef-style.  Also, I’ve learned that my Irish moss is a bad idea with extract brewing.  Thanks, John Palmer.)

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.042 at pitch 6-10-12, noon-ish (low?)
  • Unknown at secondary racking (forgetful me), 6-17-12
  • 1.012 at bottling 6-30-12

Estimated ABV: 4.0%

Bottling Notes: 7 oz. corn sugar.  See more details below.

F-Ups:

  • Forgot to prepare a block of ice. Instead had to cool stock pot of beer in ice bath in the sink.  This is supposedly better anyway (you’re not supposed to aerate hot wort, and dumping a pot full of hot wort on a block of ice is sure to introduce some oxygen),  though it did take longer to cool to pitching temp.  The longer time might contribute to chill haze, but who cares with a hef, right?  Still, this might also decrease the shelf life of the beer somewhat, according to Palmer.  The time was not excessive, but more than I’m comfortable with.
  • Due to above concerns, I’m more seriously considering making a wort chiller.  (I know I’ll end up doing it eventually anyway.)

Other Notes:

The crystal rye was used to replace some of the wheat steeping grains (flaked and unmalted).  As the crystal malt has its own sugars, however (and the wheat does not have this characteristic), we (the sales person—a homebrewer himself—and I) decided to  deduct some of the liquid malt extract (the recipe called for a small amount of golden LME in addition to the majority wheat LME – we cut out the golden).

There was also a German Hefeweizen recipe at the store.  The American version is similar but with hefeweizen’s characteristic phenolic/ester notes (banana/clove/bubblegum/etc.) toned down.  I figured this is the way to go, since I do want to notice the rye character and don’t want to have too many flavors fighting with each other.

Hefeweizens like lots of fizziness, so I also researched carbonation.  I wanted to shoot for about 4 volumes of CO2 (which is about mid-range, though this varies depending on your source).  To be safe, I cut it do 3.8 volumes of CO2, but this was about 8 oz. of corn sugar. This was 1 2/3 cup! Made me nervous, so I did roughly 3.45 volumes at 7 oz instead.  A low-ish carbonation for a hef, but I bottled this right before leaving town.   While away, I kept the bottled beer in the tub in case of bottle explosions.  Four weeks later, no pops!

No Pity Porter

I brewed a porter this time, based on a “Basic Porter” recipe from one of the local homebrew supply stores.  I think it turned out pretty good.  Off flavors do not seem to be a noticeable issue.  However, the beer has a slightly light-ish quality (color and mouthfeel and/or taste) for a porter.  I don’t know if it’s real or if it’s just me.  It could be that the recipe is for a brown porter instead of the black porters I’m more used to (recipe description does not specify).

The name is thanks to a cool label design a friend sent my way (thanks, Chris). PTFC!! Check it out:

Type: “Porter”

Brew Date: 4-7-12

Base Malt (Extract): 7.6 lbs. light malt extract

Steeping Grains: 1 lb Crystal 10L, 0.25 lbs. Chocolate, 0.25 lbs. Black Malt

Yeast: White Labs WLP011 European Ale

Hops: Willamette at 5.6 alpha

Hop Schedule:

  • 0.5 oz. for all 60 min
  • 0.5 oz. for last 10 min
  • 0.75 oz. at 0 min

Additional Additives: 3/4 tsp. Irish Moss for last 45 min of boil

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.053 at pitch 4-7-12, noon-ish (matched recipe)
  • Unknown at secondary racking (hydromicide), 4-14-12
  • 1.015 on 4-29-12 (recipe estimated 1.012)

Estimated ABV: 4.98%

Bottling Notes: 1 cup corn sugar

F-Ups:

  • That’s right, I broke another hydrometer somehow.  I’m three for three.  I bought another replacement, this time a better one from a different place.  It looks a lot thicker at the bottom, where my other ones inevitably cracked.

Other Notes:

  • Recipe called for all Goldings hops, but these were unavailable.  Instead, I used Willamette as it’s a recommended substitute (and the standby on my list that had the closest alpha acid value). I added the hops at the same schedule as the recipe, but the 0 minute addition called for 0.5 oz. instead of 0.75 oz.  I had more hops than I needed, and my sense of smell isn’t so keen sometimes, so I thought I’d kick up the hop aroma a bit.  Though I’m trying not to overhop any styles (yet), I feel an extra kick of aroma hops won’t sully the purity of the style.
  • I forgot to write down the alpha acid number for the Willamette hops I used, but it was in the 5-6% range (I’m pretty sure it was 5.6%).
  • It was a beautiful and warm day for (see my previous post about this), but this made for a slow cool-down time to reach pitching temp.  Next time I should stick the bucket in an ice bath in my sink (or invest in a wort chiller?).
  • With ice and cold make-up water, I ended up right at 5 gallons, but I added a liquid yeast starter of about 1 liter.  I came  in a little high on the liquid mark – even though it was a simple “beer” of a sort, I wonder if it contributed to the lighter nature of the mouthfeel.
  • If the Timbers had kept up on their crappy streak and didn’t win last weekend I was going to have a hard time sticking with the name.  Might’ve had to consider something like ‘Pity-Ful Porter’.  As it is, at least we can say we’re ahead of the Galaxy.

Miso Bitter

In an effort to improve and learn, I decided to brew the same beer recipe (essentially) a second time.  This may surprise those who know me because I rarely drink the same beer over and over (though I do have my favorites).

There is actually no miso in this beer (it was named after a kitty).  I assure you, however, that every F+ beer is made with a healthy dose of genuine bitterness.

What I did differently:

1) Added Irish Moss as a clarifying agent.

2) Didn’t dump by flavoring grains straight into the sonofabitching water until it boiled over.

3) More carefully watched pitching temperature.  (I think it was a bit on the cool side last time.)

4) Made the brewing supply store replace my oversized autosiphon hose with the proper size, thereby eliminating the Auotsiphon Air Injection™ feature.

What I did the same: Broke the f**king hydrometer.

Miso Bitter

Type: American Style ESB

Brew Date: 1-14-12

Base Malt (Extract): 8 lbs. light malt extract

Steeping Grains: 8 oz. Victory Malt and 8 oz. English Crystal Malt

Yeast: White Labs California V Ale Yeast, 1 vial

Hops: 2 oz. Cascade (C) at 9.3 alpha and 2 oz. Willamette (W) at 5.6 alpha

Hop Schedule:

  • 1.5 W for all 60 min
  • 1 C for 2o min
  • 0.5 C for 15 min
  • 0.5 W for 10 min
  • 0.5 C for 5 min

Additional Additives: 3/4 tsp. Irish Moss for last 45 min of boil

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.049 at pitch 1:30 pm 1-14-12
  • 1.014 at primary-to-secondary racking, 1-25-12
  • (unknown at bottling[broken hydrometer], on 2-5-12 — assume 1.012)

Estimated ABV: 4.85%

Bottling Notes: 3/4 cup corn sugar.  No air/siphon problems like last time.

F-Ups:

  • Hydrometer reading looked pretty low right away – somewhere just above 1.010.  Then 1.010.  Then 1.oo9…8…7…huh.  1.005…4…2…1.  WTF?  1.000.  OK this is almost impossible physically.  0.99…  c’mon, I didn’t distill this liquid!  I examined the hydrometer in the Thief, and sure enough, it was slowly taking on beer through a crack.

Other Notes:

  • Because of some clearly defined issues with this batch (one major one which was NOT my fault), I decided my second batch would be the same recipe (essentially), primarily because I want to learn from my mistakes and better understand how to detect and prevent off-flavors.  This beer is much, much better, due in large part to the proper racking hose (no air injection and thus minimal oxidized [cardboardy] flavor).
  • I like it.  It turned out decently.  Will follow up later.
  • I’m unsure of the clarity impact of the Irish Moss.  It still gets a chill haze if fridge-cold, but this disappears at serving temperature.  My previous beer, if I recall correctly, has a pretty similar behavior.

Slow Education ESB

OK, so I’ve been busy with working full time, school part time, etc., so I kind of let this blog go right away.  Plus, I already got irritated with the new-guy tone of this blog.  Also, I got too lazy to feel like spelling out all of the details/steps I was going through, so I’m just going to post whatever the hell I feel like.  Tonight I’m going to finally record notes on my first beer…

Weeks ago I brewed an American-style ESB.  I’m lucky enough to have a very home-brew-experienced friend who was able to advise and oversee the process (thanks, Joseph!).

Slow Education ESB

Type: American Style ESB

Brew Date: 11-13-11

Base Malt (Extract): 8 lbs. light malt extract

Steeping Grains: 8 oz. Victory Malt and 8 oz. English Crystal Malt

Yeast: White Labs California V Ale Yeast, 1 vial

Hops: 2 oz. Cascade (C) at 9.3 alpha and 2 oz. Willamette (W) at 5.6 alpha

Hop Schedule:

  • 1.5 W for all 60 min
  • 1 C for 2o min
  • 0.5 C for 15 min
  • 0.5 W for 10 min
  • 0.5 C for 5 min

Additional Additives: None

Gravity Schedule:

  • 1.045 at pitch 12:25pm 11-13
  •  1.018 at primary-to-secondary racking, 2:00pm 11-26
  • (unknown at bottling[shitty record keeping], on 12-07)

Estimated ABV: 3.55%

Bottling Notes: 3/4 cup corn sugar (though recipe said 1c).  What a mess (see below).

F-Ups:

  • Goddammit.  During primary-secondary racking (somewhat) and especially during bottle racking, I could not keep a siphon.  Air bubbles like crazy were really stressed me out.  Once bottling was done (and I wasn’t so scared of contamination), I played around with the auto-siphon and eventually determined that the hose they gave me was slightly too big for it (hence the air entrainment).  I exchanged the oversized hose for another one (sold as part of my initial kit).  This F-up was not my fault (the rest of the F-ups below are totally my fault), though I may have noticed it better during primary racking, and my lack of experience didn’t help in seeing the problem sooner.  I found out that this oversized-hose problem seems to be pretty common around here.
  • Stupidly, I literally threw the specialty grains into the pot of water without putting them into a grain bag first.  There was an ugly boilover followed by Joseph doing damage control and determining a way to slavage the batch.
  • I dropped a full bottle of beer on my host-brewer’s concrete patio, shattering it of course.  Also, my brewing problems were a distraction to the all-grain batch he was producing at the same time and may have compromised his mashing process.  Sorry, Joseph!

Other Notes:

  • Overall, this turned out OK for a first brew.   The siphon/air problems did lead to fairly noticeable wet cardboard notes (from oxidation) as expected.  Also, it’s hard to tell over the cardboardness, but there is probably some astringency attibuted to the boiling grainwreck I caused.  Though not a good beer, the off flavors aren’t so extreme as to make it unenjoyable to drink.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’d be pretty critical if I bought this in a store, but again, it is enjoyable enough.  My wife and I like it (I know what you’re thinking, but she’s not just being nice–we both tried some at primary-secondary racking and both clearly thought it was pretty terrible, but it really improved).  Interestingly, the first bottle opened seemed better than the next ones (we left town for over a week between #1 and #2).  I think the oxidation hadn’t quite kicked in as much when we drank the first one.
  • At primary-secondary racking, this beer had very strong off-flavors, especially (I surmise from the sharp, sour flavor) acetyldehide.  I was pretty worried that it was infected and doomed to an early end in the drain.   Turns out, it does not seem like infection was a problem, and I might have tasted it while much of the yeast was still mid-process.
  • Because of some clearly defined issues with this batch, I decided my second batch would be the same recipe (essentially), primarily because I want to learn from my mistakes and better understand how to detect and prevent off-flavors.
  • I initially, based on early tastes, was going to assign one of a couple of very obscene names (I better not expound, as I don’t yet know who will be reading this) to this brew, but, as I said, it turned out to be pretty drinkable.  Thus, the appropriate Sliver-Jews-inspired name.
  • I mistakenly used 3/4 cup sugar (per Papazian) instead of 1 cup (per recipe) for bottling.  I’m glad I did this, as it seems to be the right amount of carbonation for an ESB (respecting the English tradition, it’s definitely enough for the ESB style, but not as much as other beers might have).  I think I’ll use 3/4 cup on the next batch as well.

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