Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mocha Porter: Disappointing Brewday

Today's brewday was a new version of my mocha porter recipe. Unfortunately, nothing really went very smoothly. For one thing the sparge got stuck. It's the second time it's happened but I'm pretty sure I know why. It's probably the flaked oats causing it to stick, but for some reason the last time I used this quantity of oats nothing went wrong. Well, lesson learned. I'll always use rice hulls in a batch like this from now on.

The next problem was that the grain extraction efficiency was awful. The final gravity came to about 1.065, when it should have been closer to 1.075. I'm going to take a look at the spacing in my grain mill, I have a suspicion that I'm not cracking the grains as much as I should be. This makes two batches in a row that have been lower than expected in efficiency. I'm thinking that because I haven't added the chocolate or coffee, I may just leave this as a standard porter and try brewing the recipe the right way in another week or two. Not sure yet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Amarillo IPA

The American (Amarillo) IPA in my chest freezer was tapped before I left for a wedding in Connecticut this past weekend. This was my first IPA that I've ever brewed, which is weird considering how much I love IPAs.

Pulling a pint tonight, it looks like the sediment has finally settled out, giving the beer a lightly hazy and light amber color. The aroma isn't as plentiful as I'd hoped, meaning I need to not be so paranoid about over-hopping next time. Only one variety of hop was used for this batch: Amarillo. It's a nice high alpha acid American hop that doesn't have the grapefruit character that Cascade does.

The beer could probably use a little bit more hop bitterness and a lot more character from finishing hops. I'm pleased with the recipe, especially for a first attempt at the style, but I'm looking forward to tweaking it and making it better.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brewday: English IPA

Today was quite productive. Kegged my Brown Ale from a few weeks ago, tapped my American IPA that was kegged earlier in the week, and brewed an English IPA. My recipe for the English IPA, and notes on the brewday:

English IPA
-10.00 lbs Maris Otter
-01.00 lbs Crystal 60L
-01.00 lbs Munich Malt

-1.00 oz Northern Brewer (10.1% AA, 60 min)
-0.50 oz East Kent Goldings (5% AA, 60 min)
-0.50 oz East Kent Goldings (30 min)
-1.00 oz Fuggles (4% AA, 10 min)
-1.00 oz Fuggles (0, min)
-1.00 oz East Kent Goldings (dry hop)

Wyeast 1028 London Ale Yeast

I mashed this one around 156F to give it some body. In the end, the gravity came out about 5 points low at 1.055, when I wanted it around 1.060. I'm starting to suspect that my grain mill needs to be readjusted so I can get a finer crush.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sampling the IPA

This evening I took a sample of the American IPA I brewed last week. Without carbonation and sitting around 72 degrees, it has a nice mild malty flavor that lets the Amarillo hops shine through nicely. The taste is pretty close to what I was going for... definitely a nicely balanced IPA, though it could probably use some dry hopping, which I think I can handle. I have a feeling it's gonna go down like water once it's chilled and carbonated. It's at ~6.5% ABV, which is pretty much what I was going for, and shouldn't be painful to pound on a hot day. :p

Friday, July 31, 2009

Brewday: Brown Ale

On Wednesday I decided I would brew a new session beer today. The style I chose was a brown ale. Beers of the World had a new shipment of yeast and hops, which was great because my fear was not having a choice of yeast for this one. I managed to get a British yeast that's always worked well for me in the past.

Brown Ale

-8.00 lbs Maris Otter
-1.00 lbs Flaked Oats
-0.50 lbs Crystal 60L
-0.50 lbs Roasted Barley
-0.50 lbs Vienna Malt

-0.50 oz Northern Brewer pellets (7.7%AA 60 minutes)
-0.50 oz Northern Brewer pellets (7.7%AA 30 minutes)
-1.00 oz Mount Hood pellets (3.8%AA 5 minutes)

-Wyeast #1098 British Ale Yeast

Mash Schedule
-3.25 Gallons of water at 160F stabilizing to 151F
-Mash for 60 minutes
-Sparge with 4.25 Gallons of water at 170F

Specific Gravity
1.055 (temperature corrected)

Brew day went extremely well. I wound up with the exact 5 gallons I was looking for, and the exact specific gravity I was looking for. I sparged the grains for over half an hour to make sure I got as much out as possible. Seems to have worked as I hit my estimated gravity perfectly.

Looks like there's already pressure in the airlock of the fermenter, so the yeast were ready to go!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Upcoming Batches

Before it gets too late in the summer, I want to brew a beer to age for the holiday season. That beer will be either a slight tweak on my Mocha Porter, or a cherry version of the Mocha Porter. In addition to the beer for the holidays, I need to get another session beer made (I'm going through the mild ale pretty quickly). I'm thinking of using some of the remaining grains and hops I have here to keep the cost of a new session beer down.

The hard part of choosing the next session beer is figuring out what style to make. I haven't made a brown ale in a long time, and I have my favorite brown ale hops right now (Mount Hood and Northern Brewer). A good English bitter is always good, too. Oatmeal stout is a style I've never really brewed, but could be interesting. I've made some pretty good witbiers in the past, but haven't really been in the mood for them this summer (wit + rain = meh).

So yeah, help me decide if you like. I'm thinking of choosing between:
Brown ale
English bitter
Oatmeal stout
Belgian pale ale

Leave a comment and help me decide. If there are suggestions for other styles, also let me know. Looking to make a session beer (3-5% ABV, yes I consider 5% to be a session beer).

This will, of course, depend on the yeast selection in the area. Last time I was at Beers of the World their selection was sparse. I'll head back there tomorrow to get an exact list, possibly picking up ingredients if I've decided on a recipe.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Brewday: IPA

I brewed the American IPA this afternoon. From start to finish, including cleanup, it took four and a half hours. Not too bad for all grain. I was able to use the mash downtime to watch the Baseball Hall of Fame induction speeches. Good times.

The beer came out a bit weaker than I was hoping as it looks like my extraction from the grains was lower than normal. Not really sure what the issue was this time, though I think I may have drained that mash too quickly. I need to brew more often so my technique stays consistent.... hmmm, maybe I should brew again sometime this upcoming week. :)

Starting gravity is 1.064, where I was aiming for closer to 1.070. Hmph. Oh well.