Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Homebrewing Year in Review

I was intrigued about the thought of brewing my own beer for a while, but it wasn't until I met Mike Hess (Hess Brewing) that my interest was truly peeked and I began my voyage into homebrewing in late 2010. Mike explained how simple it is to get started and I thought to myself that I could do this. The only thing that I secretly wanted for Christmas in 2010 (yes, I dropped some hints of course!) was a home brew kit. Well, my wife came through and got me the True Brew Homebrewing Kit. Little did she know that this was going to become our favorite hobby and lead us down a long, fun road of brewing adventures.

My wife and I brewed our first batch of beer on January 5, 2011, which was our one and only extract batch of beer, a pale ale that we named "1844". We quickly realized that "going all-grain" wouldn't take much more effort or equipment, so I learned how to batch sparge and moved to all-grain for batch #2 and never looked back. Here is a re-cap of our brewing year:
- Brewed 25 batches, 140 gallons, 10 different styles of beer, and 1 hard cider.
- We've attended one American Homebrewer's Association (AHA) Pro-Am Rally at Stone, where we became AHA members.
- Judged and competed in one homebrew competition (San Diego County Fair).
- Began attending the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) review class to ultimately become beer judges.
- Brewed a double batch with Hess Brewing.
- Held numerous brew days with friends to help spread the joy of homebrewing. I've specifically taught/brewed with 6 individuals.
- Upgraded brew house from 5 gallons to 10 gallons.
- Grew a Kombucha mushroom (SCOBY) from a commercial bottle, and have brewed numerous batches

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA Tasting Session

I was in the mood for great IPA this evening so I picked up a 6 pack of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. I also am in a 12 week review class for the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) to be come a beer judge, so I'm trying to do formal tastings on many different beers.

Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA is a continuously hopped IPA with Northwestern US hops. Continuously hops means they have an auger that literally drops hops into the boil kettle throughout the entire 60 minute boil, resulting in 60 or more individual hop additions. It's an interesting concept, which seems to result in a fairly balanced beer, although, continuous hopping isn't necessary to achieve a balanced beer.

Although this is a terrific beer, I think they may be pushing the pricing envelope a bit far - $16 for a 6 pack? There plenty of other IPA's out there that are as good or better that are priced at the $9-$10 range. I may not have chosen it tonight if there was a price tag on it - I should have known better - no price tags equal lots of $$$ ! In any case, it's a wonderful beer that I was able to enjoy this evening. Maybe it's because of my cold that I'm recovering from, but after I conducted my tasting session, I looked up what Dogfish Head had to say and they state that it is for hop heads (a hop bomb) and has a lot of citrus aroma. I picked up no citrus aroma, and yes it is definitely hoppy, but no means is it a hop bomb. It's extremely well balanced between the malt and hops though, very drinkable, and probably a delicious beer to introduce to people moving from lighter beers into the IPA realm, but still not as hoppy as other IPA examples, such as Stone IPA, or Lagunitas IPA (my personal favorite).

Aroma: piney, resiny, grassy
Appearance: crystal clear, golden to copper color, thick, long lasting, white head with hints of gold. low to moderate hop character. good lacing
Flavor: dry, resiny, grassy hop flavor thorughout. very well balanced between malt/hop character. Hop flavor persists throughout.
Mouthfeel: clean, dry, leaves a very pleasant resiny coating across entire mouth.
Overall Impression: A very drinkable beer, not overly hoppy. Very well balanced. Enjoyed the consistent flavor of hops throughout each sip. Grassy (vegetative matter) likely due to large amount of hops added through boil process.

Arrogant Bastard Clone Recipe

Jon came down from San Fancisco this weekend to help me brew up an Arrogant Bastard clone. We only had a few mishaps along the way. I never changed out of my warm, comfy slippers (hey! it was cold out there!), but Jon purposely accidentally started spraying me with frigid water when cleaning out the mash tun. That's ok, I exacted my revenge when I sprayed his foot with boiling wort when starting to whirlpool. He cut himself on a hose clamp around the copper coil while vigorously stirring the ice during the chilling process, and while tightening up a hose clamp, I stabbed myself in the hand with a screw driver! Comedy of errors! 

This was my first attempt at any clone beer (I know, very arrogant of me to think I can replicate an Arrogant Bastard on my first attempt) and of course, I'm excited to see how well I did. We had to finish before a mutual friend's wedding that afternoon, so we were up at 5:45 and started heating water by 6am. San Diego has been having a bit of cold spell lately, so it was about 40 degrees when we started out in the garage. This made holding my mash temps difficult because my mash tun (cooler) was so cold it kept absorbing the heat. After adding a gallon of boiling water, then 2 more gallons of water at 190, I was able to stabilize the temp at about 156-157 and held it there for about 45 minutes for a total of an hour long mash.

Fortunately, my new "brew tap" on my tankless hot water heater helps shave some time off the heating process, which now takes longer when brewing up a 10 gallon batch. Of course, the Arrogant Bastard recipe is a closely guarded secret at Stone, which has developed its mystique over the years and makes it a fun project to try to clone. I'll post an update on this once the beer is finished and carbonated to let you all know if I cloned it.

Here is the recipe I came up with, based on listening to The Jamil Show Can You Brew It, research online, some advice, and my thoughts on the beer. I used Beer Smith 2.0 for the first time to design this recipe instead of Hopville.
90 Minute Boil, 20 Minute Whirlpool
OG: 1.072, FG 1.017 (in order to hit the 7.2% ABV)
IBU's 100
Mash 157
77%, 22.5 lbs American 2-row
7.7%, 2 1/4 lbs Special B
5.1%, 1.5 lbs Munich
5.1%, 1.5 lbs CaraMunich
5.1%, 1.5 lbs Aromatic
5.5 oz Chinook for 60 minutes boil
4 oz Chinook for 20 minutes of whirlpool
Yeast: WLP007 Dry English Ale
Whirlfloc (2 tablets) at 15 minutes
Water Profile: Balanced at 1:1 ratio Chloride:Sulfate (which required 6 grams of Calcium Chloride in the Mash and 7 grams in the kettle to adjust my water.)

I chose Special B over Crystal 150, mainly due the Jamil show's research on the matter and popular opinion online. Perhaps next time I will try using C-150 to see if it makes a difference. The Special B adds the dark, ruby color and caramelized flavors. The C-60 adds a mid level caramel flavor to help round out the caramel flavors and the 90 minute boil helps with the caramelizing as well. The Munich and Aromatic help out with body and malty mouthfeel.

My initial taste after brewing this, it seemed a bit too bitter, so I'll probably dial down the IBU's next time. The WLP007 English ale yeast may help soften that bitter bite though, so we'll see what happens before I make any changes.
Jon hard at work!
the brewery

mmm! beer!
Yep - that's four carboys in there! 10 gallons of
Dark Side of the Moon Black IPA in the back (dry-hopping)
and 10 gallons of Arrogant Bastard clone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pirate's Breakfast Tasting Session

I've been working on perfecting my Imperial Oatmeal Stout recipe (Pirate's Breakfast) for quite a while now. I've brewed it 5 times now with a coffee oatmeal stout thrown in there, so really 6 times. In any case, I call this one Pirate's Breakfast #5, or for short, PB #5. PB #5 is getting much closer to my ideal oatmeal stout. Frankly, I've never had a beer that tastes exactly what I'm shooting for, but that's really the whole point of creating this beer. I think that my next attempt at brewing this should be spot on for what I'm shooting for. This beer roughly falls within the Oatmeal Stout, 13C BJCP category, however, since it's "imperial" it doesn't exactly fit. The OG is 1.080 and the IBU's are 50. The style calls for a max OG/IBU's of 1.065 and 40 respectively. Aside from that it falls within the category quite nicely.

Pirates's Breakfast #5 Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Jet black, seems to be perfectly clear with now haze. Pours a thick tan head that persists for a couple of minutes then disappears almost entirely.

Aroma: Slightly sweet on the nose, malty, biscuity roasty

Flavor: Strong roast malt hits up front with a little chocolate and perhaps a bit of coffee. Flavor starts to fade slightly then a nutty, toasted oatmeal comes rushes. This character lingers on the back of the tongue and roof of mouth for quite some time.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, moderate carbonation, great carbonation level for this style. Leaves front of tongue dry and after drinking a few ounces over a period of time leaves most of mouth a bit dry. Fuller mouth feel towards side and back of mouth initially.
Overall Impression: Rich and ark with intense roast character up front which quickly gives way to a delicious toasted oatmeal character that lingers. Chocolate and coffee flavors present, but these are dominated by roast, nutty, toasty character. More body is needed and preferred by me, but falls within acceptable range of this style. A very delicious beer, but still room for improvement.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Yeast Flavors and Affects on the Brewing Process at Bottlecraft

Last night I attended a class presented by White Labs hosted at Bottlecraft in Little Italy (see my review of Bottlecraft here). The presenter was Troels Prahls, Yeast Applications Scientist who stepped in to cover for sick co-worker. The material presented was very informative and covered both basic topics as well as advanced topics related to brewing. We tasted six beers, some of which had similar recipes, but different yeasts, showing how selecting a different yeast strain alone can produce a vastly different beer. We also discussed fermentation temperatures, yeast harvesting, storage and re-pitching.

The presentation was excellent and the venue at Bottlecraft was terrific. I got to Bottlecraft a bit early, so I perused their wide selection of beers for awhile, then purchased a couple of fine beers after the session. I also ran into fellow I know through Hess Brewing, which made the class a bit more fun! Many thanks to Bottlecraft and White Labs for putting this event on!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

10 Gallon Brewery Upgrade & Big Brew Day

I recently completed my upgrade from a 5 gallon brewery system to a 10 gallon brewery.
The equipment consists of (2) 15 gallon aluminum kettles, a 120 qt cooler mash tun, and (2) pumps.
I had a brew day with several friends to test it out and introduce them to the world of homebrewing last week, brewing up batches #22 and 23 for the year. We brewed 10 gallons of Dark Side of the Moon (Black IPA) and 5 gallons of a Scottish Ale. It was a lot of fun having so many people over to brew and introducing more people to the home brew craft.

Part of the upgrade included sizing the stainless steel water supply hose used for the mash tun drain to be 1" diameter allowing improved drain flow rates. I was able to hook a pump up to the mash tun and quickly mash out/sparge. I learned that it is important the batch size should be sized to the kettle. The 5 gallon batch of Scottish Ale was intended to be a Scottish Heavy 70 (1.036 OG), but due to the very small volume in the large kettle, 50% of my 7 gallon pre-boil volume boiled off in 70 minutes, leaving me with 3 1/2 gallons at an OG of 1.066. I guess this is a Wee Heavy, brewed without a lot of malt. I'm very interested to see how this turns out.

I began adjusting my water profile for these beers, but due to the distraction of having several new people to teach, I forgot to add the brewing salts until nearly the end of the mash. I threw in the salts anyway into the mash as well as the planned amount in the kettle. We'll see how it turns out.

The new 15 gallon kettles and yours truly.

Carefully calculating the next hop addition. I love this photo - it shows so many aspects of the brewing process in one photo.

Jon and Geoff made a great stirring team to keep the copper coil cold during chilling.

Brother Dave came in town to visit and brew with me.

Dave sporting his Adroit Theory Brewing shirt and my Hess Brewing glass.

Mike and I enjoying some great beer during one of the calm moments of the brew day.

Chilling down the 10 gallon batch. Liz is carefully overseeing the operation.

Yours truly is monitoring the kettle and the chilling procedures.

Dark Side of the Moon almost chilled.

Dark side of the Moon hitting the fermenter.

Stir baby, stir!
Pre-Brew Day: Making the Filter: I wanted to keep the fittings to attach the filter to a bulkhead fitting in the cooler. So I had to carefully pierce the rubber tube inside by using this small tool, then carefully work the tube out (see photo below).
Working the tube out of the filter proved difficult because a water supply hose is like a chinese handcuff!

The completed 120 qt mash tun with 1" stainless braided hose filter and ball valve.