F+ Beer

Adventures in Homebrewing and All Things Hoppy

Archive for the tag “brewing”

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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Bonus! (Fun with Byproducts)

I hate just throwing away all that good spent grain after I’m done brewing.  Luckily, there are some great things you can do with spent grain so that you only have to get rid of most of it!

Spent Grain Cookies

Spent Grain Cookies

Yesterday, once I got everything going in the fermenter, I pulled up this great recipe from Omnomicon for spent grain chocolate chip cookies.  These things are delicious, with the grains adding a kind of rustic hardiness — manly cookies that chew back!

Let’s call it… I don’t know, a Black Splash.

The beer I made was an American Stout (extract with a lot of flavoring grains), so my leftover grains had a bit of thick, black liquid pooling in the bowl beneath them.  I took a taste: an oily dark/burnt grain character with a mild sweetness (as you might expect from a bunch of black, crystal, and Munich malts).  A bit tannic, but very interesting and overall fairly pleasant.  I had to try doing something with it, so I thought it might be good as a whiskey mixer.  So I tried a 1: 1 ratio of this stuff with Bourbon whiskey, mixed on the rocks.  It was okay, but missing something.  My wife was thinking as I was: some kind of citrus character would be good.  I cut a slice of orange and gave it a good squeeze.  Better — pretty good in fact!  It was sort of similar to an Old Fashioned, with the black slurry standing in for both the sugar and the bitters.  I think it could stand a bit of tweaking (maybe a tad more sugar, for one), but it was a pretty good drink for saying it was done on the fly.

WE DEMAND TREATS!!!

I have yet to make spent grain dog treats (which are often not that far off from the human versions) but these are another popular use for brewing leftovers.  Here is one recipe from BYO.  My dogs would be so pissed if they knew this was an option.

So these are a few ideas for brewing byproducts, anyway.  I really hate wasting things, and I mentioned how I still have to get rid of most of my spent grains (none of these projects use up much of the brewing quantity).  However, even disposing of my leftovers won’t be bad from now on, as my friend wants to take it all for composting (which is another good use for spent grains).  Great!

Beer in China: Part Two

Craft Beer in China and My Accidental Adventure

In my last post, I referenced a great article about beer in China.  I found this article in an issue of HOPS Magazine, and I found HOPS magazine by (almost literally) stumbling into it.

HOPS is a publication (I got a copy of both their Chinese and English versions) dedicated to Chinese beer culture, with an emphasis on craft and high-quality beers.  It should come as no surprise, therefore, that they were at a pretty significant Shanghai beer event known as Sinan Mansions Beer Festival.  What did surprise me, as I walked down Chongqing South Road in Shanghai at about 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, is that I was heading right for a beer festival!  In China!  Where I hadn’t had any Chinese beer stronger than about 4% abv in over two weeks!

I had a couple of hours to kill, so it popped into my head to check if Untappd worked and see if I was close to any good beers.  Untapped does work in China, and I was fairly close to Boxing Cat Brewery, which I had read about stateside.  So I headed that way.

Just roll with it, OK?

Just roll with it, OK?

When I arrived, a big banner on Boxing Cat’s block announced that the Sinan Beer Fest was going on right there on that block.  I went straight for the tents and started navigating the crowds (which were significant but not on the scale of the Oregon Brewers Festival). In my excitement to find good, strong beer, I bought a Chimay on the spot, which, in retrospect, was a mistake, as I only had limited cash on me and there ended up being a lot of Chinese craft beer options, toward which I should have devoted all of my resources (I was in China, after all!).

I was also able to try a number of the Chinese beers, though.  I had East City Porter by the superbly named Great Leap Brewing, Buckwheat Ale by Le Ble dÓr’s Suzhou facility, TKO IPA by Boxing Cat Brewery, as well as a few other samples here and there. To get a good, quick overview of craft beer in China, I, again, recommend the HOPS article, but here are a few of my own observations about craft beer in China:

Sainan Beer Festival

Happy Drunk People

  • The mix at the brew fest was about 60%-70% white expats, and most brewers and brewery booth staff were expats as well (though this wasn’t necessarily the case for distributor/retail/publications booths).  Craft beer seems to be very expat-driven; however, the article notes that “now Chinese now outnumber expats in the Beijing Homebrewing Society”, and I agree with the author that this is a good sign for the future of the Chinese beer scene.
  • I hate to be a critic in matters like this, but the beers I was able to try were, overall, pretty good but not great, and not to the level of what we’re used to in, say, Oregon.  As the article notes, brewing (including access to supplies) is a tougher go in China, and it this may play a part in many a finished product.
  • Like craft beer scene in America, the scene in China seems to be fun, dynamic, and energetic.
  • It would be very exciting to be associated with one of the craft brewers in China right now. From what I’ve seen and read, I think it could be argued that the industry has developed enough steam to move past being characterized as “nascent” and is now better described as “burgeoning”.  Further to this, the growth of incomes, interests, and Western tastes among China’s local citizens (urban ones, at least) bodes well for places like Boxing Cat Brewery.

Boxing Cat

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.

Dawg Grog

courtesy http://pinterest.com/pin/210191507579891962/

Bull Dog Beer Ad

I’m a fan of Oregon’s reputation for being both pro-beer and pro-dog, because I’m… well, pro-beer and pro-dog. I often love anything that brings the two worlds together. For example, I sometimes get in arguments with my wife because I think bars should be able to let patrons bring their dogs in with them. I know there are a lot of good reasons to keep dogs out of bars, but I WANT TO GO TO BARS WITH DOGS IN THEM! And I want to bring my dogs into my favorite boozy establishments.

That said, I’m not so sure about the latest dog-beer intersection in Oregon. Somebody (incidentally associated with the [very good] Boneyard Beer Company) decided to make Dawg Grog – a beer for dogs. Now, for health reasons, many argue that dogs should not be given actual beer* (ok, maybe I let my pups have a sip every once in a great while). However, Dawg Grog isn’t actually beer and is designed to be fine for dogs to drink.

OK, so far we have a dog-safe “beer” that you can give to your beloved pooch. This sounds great, right? Maybe, but your dog had better LOVE it, because it costs $36 for a six pack! In addition to costing more than many a damn fine ‘human beer’, it has no alcohol, making this quite possibly the world’s most expensive N/A beer.

So to my dogs I’ll continue to say, “Sorry pups, no beer for you!  …OK, maybe a sip of mine if I can ever sneak you into the Horse Brass.”

*Look this up for yourself.  I’m not going to get into this debate.

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.

Stir Plate: Up and Running

I bought a 1.5″ stir bar and threw it in my 2000ml flask to test my new stir plate out.  Works great!  At some frequencies the water excitations can throw the stir bar off to the side of the flask but it’s pretty easy to adjust away from any odd behavior.  It’s been test run for long periods without derailing. Here’s a video of it running.

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