Monday, July 17, 2017

Ruby Red Grapefruit NEIPA

I’m a pretty unenthusiastic BJCP judge. I passed the test in 2008 with a "national" score and over the last nine years I’ve managed to earn a paltry nine judging points; 3.5 of which came at Hoppy Halloween Challenge 2015 - where I got to judge Best of Show with BJCP's top-ranked judge, Grand Master VIII, Steve Piatz. That was a treat, but usually I don’t love waking up early in the morning to drive somewhere to drink a variety too often oxidized IPAs, fusel Belgians, and over-carbonated stouts. Sometimes though it works out and I get lucky and taste an inspiring entry.

Dosing a sample of IPA with hibiscus.That happened in 2012, while judging the DC Homebrewer’s Cherry Blossom competition, when I judged a fantastic hoppy-hibiscus beer. I’ve been thinking about brewing one since. It tasted and looked like ruby red grapefruit juice, bitter and aromatic, citrus and floral, finishing with a hint of tart brightness. Delicious and unique.

I took the other half of the Citra-Mosaic NEIPA I posted about last week and finally made it happen! It was the same wort through pitching the yeast. I used different dry hops, Ekuanot and Eureka, selected out of convenience rather than intention. Northern Brewer describes Ekuanot (formerly Equinox) as "In the midst of the bright citrus and melon there is a ribbon of green pepper. Or something like green pepper. It’s not green pepper in the eat-it-with-hummus-use-it-on-a-fajita sense of green pepper." Not exactly appealing. I was hoping that the mid-fermentation addition paired with the fruitiness of grapefruit zest 48 hours before kegging and a dose of hibiscus tea in the keg would lead to a fruity impression. Those are ingredient techniques I had used separately in a Grapefruit APA and a Hibiscus Wit (among others).

After brewing the batch I decided I should track down the brewers of the original "Pink Hoppy Bunny." I reached out to former DC Homebrewers President Josh Hubner and he revealed the brewers to be Pete Jones (of Lost Lagers) and Cody Gabbard. They responded that the base was a wit hopped with loads of Citra, with hibiscus and rose petals added directly to the fermentor. Turned out that batch won the category!

Ruby Red NEIPA

Smell – Mostly hops, dank, resiny, borderline green onion. Occasional tropical mango notes. Like Simcoe and Summit had a baby, and they pumped it full of steroids. Blocks out the citrus and hibiscus, but they help to temper it... a little.

Hibiscus NEIPA next to our "wild" pumpkin patch.Appearance – Red NEIPA! Oddly clearer than the other half of the batch, especially considering the beers looked similar before infusion/kegging. Maybe an effect of the lower pH? Nice slightly pink head, sticky lacing.

Taste – Really dank, Pacific-Northwest, resiny, fresh nose-in-the-hop-bag hoppiness. Firm bitterness, considerably higher than the NEIPA half. Likely a result of the lower final pH (4.05 compared to 4.57). Finally, in the finish a touch of grapefruit and cranberry-hibiscus comes through. Luckily what I don’t get is the green pepper that is a common descriptor for Ekuanot, a flavor I tasted in several beers brewed with the lupulin powder.

Mouthfeel – Thinner, crisper than the straight NEIPA. Not as rounded. The higher acidity again. Similar medium carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes – I'd hoped hibiscus and grapefruit would balance the dank hops, but they get trampled. I may try dumping in a bottle of grapefruit juice into the keg before it kicks. It isn’t a bad beer, just discordant with what I was trying to brew and how it looks.

Changes for Next Time – Fruitier, more grapefruity hops. Cascade, Chinook... Citra. Surprised that the early dry hop addition didn't "soften" the aromatics more. The vague memory of that two ounces of beer from the competition will continue to haunt me until I try this one again… luckily now I have the recipe! A 50/50 blend with the New Englandier half of the batch gets pretty close to what I wanted.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 67.7
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.013
ABV: 6.0%
Final pH: 4.05
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 minutes

Fermentables
-----------------
58.8 % - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
20.6% - 2.625 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
20.6% - 2.625 lbs 365 Old Fashion Rolled Oats

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 155F

Hops
-------
Whirlpooling the NEIPA.1.25 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.5% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Eureka (Pellet, 18.00% AA) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
4.00 oz Ekuanot (Pellet, 15.00%) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
0.50 oz Ekuanot Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg
2.00 oz Eureka (Pellets, 18.00% AA) @ Keg

Other
-------
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash

8.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
1.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
.50 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
150
150
10
5
40

Yeast
-------
Omega British Ale V (OYL-011)

Notes
-------
Recipe was originally 11 gallons, split with a standard NEIPA. Values represent the batch tasted here.

Brewed 6/18/17

24 hours before pitching fed a cup of harvested slurry (~1 month old) from, 2.3% IPA ~2.5L of starter wort.

Mashed in with 4.5 gallons filtered DC diluted with 3 gallons of distilled.

pH of mash originally read 5.51 at Mash temperature (~5.7 at room temperature) with salts and phosphoric. Rest of phosphoric down to 5.36. Lactic (ran put of phosphoric) got down to 5.26/5.46.

Sparged with 1.75 gallons of distilled, cold. Collected 7.00 gallons @ 1.053.

Chilled to 75F left at 65F to cool for a few hours to 70F before pitching.

Fermenting well after 12 hours. 67F internal.

6/20/17 Down to 1.026, dry hopped FV2 with 4 oz each of Eureka and Ekuanot.

6/26/17 Added the zest from two ruby red grapefruits loose to the fermentor. Dunked in StarSan, zest removed with a vegetable peeler, and pith scraped off with a spoon.

6/28/17 Kegged with bagged hops, purged. .5 oz of Ekuanot Lupulin powder, plus 1 cup of hibiscus concentrate (5 min soak with 1.5 cups off-boiling water and 1 oz of hibiscus from TPSS Coop). Attached to gas and left in the kegerator.

6/30/17 Added an additional 2 cups of hibiscus tea made with 2 oz of hibiscus, color and flavor weren't there.

Ruby Red Grapefruit NEIPA.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cryo Lupulin NEIPA: Citra-Mosaic

Trillium Stilling Street vs. my Citra-Mosaic NEIPA.
A few weeks ago someone asked on my Facebook how I’d stack NEIPAs against commercial versions, I prefer my best to all comers, save Tree House Julius and Trillium Double-Dry-Hopped Fort Point. For my palate, across their lineup Trillium is close to perfect. The lack of a line to buy cans is a bonus. I also have a bias for the brewery that is open with their process, not to mention that JC is a former homebrew blogger and someone I've shared a few beers with. What is remarkable is that he has increased quality and scale, despite having to adjust process (including yeast).

I’ve learned that putting my one-off attempts head-to-head with my favorite commercial examples of a style are often an exercise in humility. As a homebrewer I don’t have the reps to dial in a recipe the way a brewery does, I don’t have the equipment, or the resources. So, when I grabbed a four-pack of Trillium Stillings Street IPA (their Nelson Sauvin showcase) at the Boston brewery on my way to Logan last week, I was already looking for excuses for why the carbonating IPA I was returning home to wouldn’t be as good.

This recipe is the culmination of three years of attempts at cloudy-juicy IPAs. Most of it will be familiar from previous batches, but as always a few tweaks. Water treatment was pretty much my standard, just a little more heavy handed up to 150 PPM for calcium, chloride, and sulfate. The grist was heavy on both flaked oats and Carafoam. I added a small dose of Columbus at 15 minutes to slightly elevate the bitterness over my NE Australian IPA, Columbus is rich in thiols which make it a good (inexpensive) choice for hot-side additions. Fermented with Omega British V, their answer to London III, harvested from my 2.3% NEIPA. A big dose of Mosaic and Citra pellets for a hop-stand, and another massive charge (8 oz in 5 gallons) 48 hours into fermentation once the yeast passed 50% apparent attenuation.

A traditional pellet on the left, a lupulin pellet on the right.When I was ready to keg I brought in a ringer, Yakima Chief Cryo Hops "LupuLN2" lupulin powder. I picked up samples at CBC, and ordered extra now that it is available to homebrewers. This is the alpha acids and oils roughly double-concentrated with much of the green plant material removed. The big advantage is that the plant material absorbs iso-alpha and other compounds from the wort (not to mention wort itself). While this may sound similar to T45 pellets, the improvement here is using nitrogen to reduce oxidation and temperature. The more concentrated the oils become, the more aromatic-volatilizing heat that is generated. See Scott’s fantastic post and Stan's summary for more details.

NEIPA: Lupulin Edition


Smell – Mix of big tropical fruit (mango especially), melon, pineapple, with that certain dank-fruitiness I get from Mosaic (even more from Nelson, and a bit less from Hallertau Blanc likely 3S4MP). While it has fruit flavor, it still has the telltale notes of hops. I enjoyed the aroma of the Mosaic Cryo, the Citra was so concentrated it was almost offensively dank, luckily upon dilution the contribution is delicious! The hop nose jumps out of the glass, even more so than the Stillings Street.

Appearance – Glowing yellow body, a shade and a half lighter than the Stillings Street thanks to lots of oats and no C10. A couple flecks of particulate. Nice white head, great structure, but I wouldn’t mind if it lasted a little longer.

Taste – Totally saturated juicy hops with just enough bitterness. Citra and Mosaic are punchy and can carry an IPA along, but together they have a wonderful synergy. Pineapple, orange, Sauvignion blanc, and mango. A little drier than Stillings Street, the sweetness enhances the “juice” character. Bitterness is perfect, just there without lingering.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, coating hop oiliness, soft. Medium carbonation, or almost, perfect.

Drinkability & Notes – A beer that is difficult not to have a second pour. Some IPAs grate on the palate, this one soothes the bitterness without being sugary. The combination of huge hop aroma, saturated hop flavor, restrained bitterness, and fluffy body is what I want to drink.

Changes for Next Time – This is my dream IPA, the best NEIPA I have brewed. In comparison, the Trillium I bought four days before the tasting isn't as fresh and vibrant. Not their fault, how can you compete against beer that was in contact with dry hops 30 seconds ago? Might as well take advantage of every trick I have to make up for the lack for hop contracts, a centrifuge, and some of the best brewers in the country!

The small amount of grain the hop filter caught on the wort's way to the kettle.Recipe

Batch Size: 5.50 gal
SRM: 3.6
IBU: 67.7
OG: 1.059
FG: 1.012
ABV: 6.2%
Final pH: 4.57
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71%
Boil Time: 60 Mins

Fermentables
-----------------
58.8 % - 7.5 lbs Rahr 2-Row Brewer's Malt
20.6% - 2.625 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
20.6% - 2.625 lbs 365 Old Fashion Rolled Oats

Mash
-------
Mash In - 60 min @ 155F

Hops
-------
1.25 oz Columbus (Whole, 15.5% AA) @ 15 min
2.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ 30 min Whirlpool
2.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ 30 min Whirlpool
4.00 oz Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
4.00 oz Mosaic (Pellet, 12.25%) @ Day 2 Dry Hop
1.00 oz Citra Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg
1.00 oz Mosaic Cryo (Lupulin, 26.00% AA) @ Keg

Other
-------
10.00 g Calcium Chloride @ Mash

8.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) @ Mash
1.00 tsp Phosphoric Acid 10% @ Mash
.50 tsp Lactic Acid @ Mash

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
150
150
150
10
5
40

Yeast
-------
Omega British Ale V (OYL-011)

Notes
-------
Still no trouble with hot break clogging up the hop screen.
Recipe was originally 11 gallons, split with a Hibiscus-Grapefruit IPA. Values represent the batch tasted here.

Brewed 6/18/17

24 hours before pitching fed a cup of harvested slurry (~1 month old) from, 2.3% IPA ~2.5L of starter wort.

Mashed in with 4.5 gallons filtered DC diluted with 3 gallons of distilled.

pH of mash originally read 5.51 at Mash temperature (~5.7 at room temperature) with salts and phosphoric. Rest of phosphoric down to 5.36. Lactic (ran put of phosphoric) got down to 5.26/5.46.

Sparged with 1.75 gallons of distilled, cold. Collected 7.00 gallons @ 1.053.

Chilled to 75F left at 65F to cool for a few hours to 70F before pitching.

Fermenting well after 12 hours. 67F internal.

6/20/17 Down to 1.026, dry hopped FV1 with 4 oz each of Citra/Mosaic.

6/28/17 Kegged with bagged hops, purged, in each (1 oz each Citra and Mosaic Lupulin Pellets from Farmhouse Brewing).

NEIPAs are fantastically sensitive to oxygen, even compared to standard IPAs, here's what my gravity sample looked like after 24 hours exposed to the air compared to a fresh pour. The best guess at why this happens is the transformation of phenols into quinones via oxidation and perhaps polyphenol oxidase (a similar process is responsible for browning in avocados, tea, and cocoa). I suspect the color change looks more dramatic than clear IPAs given the low starting SRM and haze.

Fresh pour compared to a 24 hour old oxidized sample.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Dark Brett Saison: Date and Pomegranate

What started as an annual tradition in 2007 is coming up on its tenth anniversary. That's right, Alex and I have been brewing dark saisons together since the year the first iPhone was released! We've managed to fall a year behind though. We’re just now planning Dark Funky Saison #9, by next year we might be brewing a big batch of #10 at Sapwood Cellars?! I'd love to create similar series of seasonal beers at the brewery, the same concept but continually evolving the base beer and additions. Rich-ponderous beers for the winter, fresh-floral for the spring, and bright-fruity in the summer.

Taking a step back a year to when we brewed Dark Funky Saison #8. It was a “what’s on hand” batch. I had sacks of Weyermann Bohemian malts on hand for Pilsner and Tmave, my House Brett Saison Culture, and Mandarina Bavaria hops. Bootleg Biology is taking pre-orders for the second release of their version of my Brett-Lacto-saison culture this week, 7/5-7/10. Lots of good reports from the first release in this thread.

Rather than the usual dried fruit we added pomegranate molasses and date syrup. I’d brewed an Easter Quad with pomegranate molasses, and my split batch sugar experiment included date sugar. Anytime water is removed from fruit whether by drying or boiling it takes some of the subtle aromatics with it, but the resulting concentrated flavors tend to be more complimentary to dark malts.

We decided to keep the starting gravity low, much lower than Dark Saison 7's 1.071. With the high attenuation even the seemingly session-strength original gravity of 1.045 resulted in 5.6% ABV.

Dark Funky Saison Eight

Smell – Rich aroma of dark fruit, pumpernickel toast, and clay or steel. I don’t get dates or pomegranate specifically, but I don’t think a beer at 1.045 could have that nose without them.

Appearance – The brown color of a brown ale, with rich red highlights. Clear. Pours with a voluminous tan head that sinks over a couple minutes receding to a ring.

Taste – The fruits add an rich, dark, authentic flavor that I usually associate with Belgian dubbels and oud bruins. A combination of date and CaraMunich? Slight cherry or plum, some from the house culture. Mild tartness and funk even after all of this time between the fermentor and bottle. Finishes with a bright fruitiness I take to be the pomegranate.

Mouthfeel – Rounded, firm carbonation at first but it seems to leave the beer quickly.

Drinkability & Notes – Drinks like a bigger beer than it is, in a good way. Reminds me of a less-sour, less-cherry version of Russian River Supplication. Not a wow beer, but it works. The date and pomegranate play supporting roles that could have been taking by candi syrup or another adjunct. My house culture did well, staying restrained despite the age compared to its usual duty.

Changes for Next Time – I can't think of much to change on this beer, maybe pull back on the IBUs to allow a little more lactic acid production from the bacteria. Although the strain in the blend seems to be getting more hop-tolerant with time.

Recipe

Batch Size: 12.00 gal
SRM: 21.7
IBU: 14.2
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.002
ABV: 5.6%
Final pH: 3.91
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78%
Boil Time: 90 mins

Fermentables
-----------------
38.1% - 7.00 lbs. Weyermann Floor-Malted Bohemian Pilsner
38.1% - 7.00 lbs. Weyermann Floor-Malted Bohemian Dark
5.4% - 1.00 lbs. Briess Caramel Munich
5.4% - 1.00 lbs. Weyermann Carafa II
8.2% - 1.50 lbs. Alwadi Date Syrup
4.8% - .875 lbs. Alwadi Pomegranate Molasses

Hops
-------
1.00 oz. Mandarina Bavaria (Pellet, 6.50% AA) @ 75 min.
2.25 oz. Mandarina Bavaria (Pellet, 6.50% AA) @ 0 min.

Extras
---------
5 g Calcium Chloride @ mash
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 5 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 5 min.

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
70
70
50
20
10
90

Yeast
-------
Mad Fermentationist House Saison Blend

Mash Schedule
-------------------
Sacch Rest 45 min @ 154F

Notes
---------
Brewed 3/12/16 with Alex

16 gallons filtered DC tap water. 5 g of CaCl.

Heated to 165 slowly over 15 minutes. No sparge.

Date syrup added at the start of the boil, pomegranate molasses added at the end. Chilled to 65F. Shook to aerate. Pitched decanted House Saison culture.

1/2/17 Bottled 5 gallons with 4 oz of table sugar and Champagne yeast.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

19th Century Guinness Extra Stout

Hose water filter.One hundred years before I was born, around the time my great-grandmother was leaving Ireland, some guy in Dublin was brewing Guinness Extra Stout. I brewed my own batch based on the recipe in Ron Pattinson's Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. My only tweaks were a slight boost to the Black Patent, and swapping the English ale yeast for Irish. I have no certainty of how close WY1084 is to the yeast Guinness uses today, let alone 135 years ago!

Times have changed, Guinness is opening a brewery in Maryland where they'll be brewing a wide range of mediocre beer and screwing up laws for local craft brewers... like me! They won't be brewing stout though, I guess it is too unthinkable for them to not have "Imported" on the Guinness Draught labels in the US, even if it is only imported from Canada.

My batch of  circa 1883 Extra Stout is still young at six-weeks from brewing and the weather is a too warm to be drinking 7% stout, but I wanted to write up tasting notes for the full-strength version while the diluted "Draught" half of this batch is still on tap to compare. I'll post an updated tasting this winter.


1883 Guinness Extra Stout

Smell – Clean roasty notes of coffee plus brown bread. Relatively straightforward maltiness without dark fruit or caramel. There is an earthy hoppiness, although not as strong as in the diluted half. Thankfully the hint of diacetyl that was there a couple weeks ago is gone.

A glass of Guinness Extra Stout c. 1883.
Appearance – Perfect stout appearance. Dense tan head with staying power. Near black body with a few amber highlights. Surprisingly clear when it isn't opaque.

Taste – Rolling bitterness, coating without being harsh. Bitter, but not as much as the IBUs would suggest. Clean coffee and toast malt. Without the added sticky-oomph of crystal malts, or dark sugar, and with the firm balancing bitterness it doesn’t linger. Clean fermentation, no alcohol heat or other off-flavors. If you told me this was 5.5% ABV I’d probably believe you. Hoping it gets more interesting with age.

Mouthfeel – Relatively thin for a big stout, especially at this OG/FG, but I'd call it medium overall. Medium-low carbonation, which breaks my streak of somewhat over-carbonated dark beers.

Drinkability & Notes – In a way it reminds me of a schwarzbier: clean, bright, and fresh maltiness. Easy to drink for a stout with both high alcohol and bitterness, a testament to simple recipe design.

Changes for Next Time – Far too early to be making proclamations about what to change. I’m looking forward to tasting this beer after six-months in the cellar, once the weather cools off.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
SRM: 39.7
IBU: 73.3
OG: 1.075
FG: 1.022
ABV: 7.0%
Final pH: 4.58
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67%
Boil Time: 120 mins

Grain
--------
82.8% - 12.5 lbs Crisp Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter
10.3% - 1.60 lbs Muntons Amber
6.9% - 1.00 lbs Simpsons Black Malt

Mash
-------
Sacch I - 40 min @ 152F
Sacch II - 20 min @ 160F

Hops
-------
2.50 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 90 min
2.50 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 60 min
2.50 oz East Kent Golding (Pellets, 4.80% AA) @ 30 min

Other
-------
2.3 g Chalk @ mash
0.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
70
32
54
15
10
130

Yeast
-------
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

Notes
-------
Recipe scaled to be brewed as a 5 gallon batch. 

5/6/17 4 L 1.034 starter with 6 week out yeast.

Dissolved 17 g of chalk in 30 oz of filtered water. Chilled and carbonated to get it to dissolve.

pH measured 5.19. Added .6 cup of the resulting saturated liquid to the mash. pH measured 5.25 at mash temperature, 5.39 pH when chilled. Both with Halo.

Chilled to 66F.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

1.075 post-boil. 5 gallons pitched with 2.5 L of starter.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

5/26/17 Bottled 5 gallons of the full-strength half with 95 g of table sugar. Aiming for 2.2 volumes of CO2.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Guinness Draught - 1883 Edition

A couple months ago I posted a page featuring links to my favorite recipes for all of the 2015 BJCP styles that I’ve brewed. I was surprised by how many I'd brewed, but it also reminded me that even after 12 years of homebrewing there are plenty of classics that I haven’t, like Irish (Dry) Stout. It seemed a shame to own a stout faucet and not use it to serve the style it was invented for!

Rather than brew something akin to modern Guinness Draught I decided to get weird! I brewed a batch of 1883 Guinness Extra Stout based on a recipe from Ron Pattinson’s fascinating Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer, a sort of distillation of his blog Shut up about Barclay Perkins. My goal was to leave most of the batch at the specified gravity, and dilute a few gallons to create an anachronistic imagining of Guinness Draught as it might have existed in 1883.

The recipe, one of the few in the book not based on actual brewing logs, has a few interesting features. It contains pale malt, but not the other two  grains in the standard Irish Stout formulation. It is from just after the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880, well before Guinness took advantage of the end of adjunct prohibition. As a result it calls for black malt instead of unmalted roasted barley (which they changed to around 1930). It also includes amber malt for a richer flavor than flaked barley (added around 1950). Hop additions follow many 19th century recipes, copious amounts of low alpha acid varieties towards the start of the boil. I made two minor tweaks to the recipe as written, increasing the black malt from 5.56% to 6.9% to prevent the diluted version from being too pale and subbing in Wyeast Irish Ale for Whitbread Ale.

I ran off 5.5 gallons of the resulting 1.075 wort into a fermentor (that portion is bottle-conditioning currently). For the draught-strength I ran off 3 gallons of the chilled wort into a separate fermentor, and diluted it to 1.047 with two gallons of distilled water. That is what is now sitting on beer gas. Guinness didn't start using nitrogen until 1959, so Ron wasn’t a fan of my plan:

This was my first batch using a Halo pH Meter sent by the kind folks at Hanna Instruments. The biggest benefit of this “Beer Analysis” version is that the hardy titanium body can take pH readings directly at mash temperature without cooling a sample! You do need to add .2-.35 to the reading to adjust for the influence of the elevated temperature. That’s about what I found with the Halo reading 5.25 at mash temperature and 5.39 on a chilled sample.

The time-savings of  not chilling samples makes up for the added hassle of  pairing the Halo with my phone. The point of co-dependent smart-devices is to leverage the existing hardware, but the Halo costs more than twice as much as my Milwaukee MW102. The app would be more valuable if there was a need to track pH changes during the mash, but I don't have an easy way to mount the meter and once the pH stabilizes there really isn't a need to track small changes.

I’m interested to see how long the probe/electrode lasts with the exposure to high temperature. It includes an extendable cloth junction that can be pulled out to refresh it. However, Hanna does not sell replacement probes so after the expected 12-18 month lifespan it’ll be another $225 rather than $43 for a replacement probe for my MW102. Might be worth expensing it to Sapwood Cellars, but I imagine not an annual purchase for most homebrewers!

My preference is for a slightly higher mash pH on dark beers, to prevent the roasted malts from tasting acrid. That said, my old friends at Modern Times aim for a slightly lower final pH for batches of Black House destined for nitro to replace the acidity otherwise provided by carbonic acid. When the pH reading came in a bit lower than I wanted I dosed the mash with chalk dissolved in carbonated water (using a carb cap) - the same chemical reactions are behind acid rain eating away at limestone. I first read about this technique on Braukaiser. The issue with adding chalk directly to the mash is that it doesn’t dissolve at typical mash pH like other water salts. While it likely helps buffer the boil and final pH, baking soda or slaked/pickling lime are better choices for direct mash tun additions. However, dissolving chalk is a useful technique if you want to add calcium rather than sodium along with carbonate.

Guinness Draught 1883

Smell – The nitro-pour subdues the aromatics, but what comes through is pretty expected: fresh grainy-roast, some fresh yeasty notes, and a hint of earthy hops.

Appearance – Shows off the classic swirling, cascading bubbles that Guinness features so prominently in their advertising. Settles into a velvety, half-inch off-white head. A pure sheet of lacing trails each sip. Will look even pretty after a few more weeks on tap as nitrogen continues to slowly dissolve and the slight haze hopefully drops out.

Taste – The first sip has really firm bitterness from hops and roast. The bready maltiness picks up, more than in the classic Irish Stouts, but not enough to bring English stouts to mind. As my first glass winds down the bitterness has tamed to a crisp finish. Has a lingering “dirtiness” from the Fuggles I presume.

Mouthfeel – The low carbonation certainly helps to provide some fullness that wouldn’t be there with high carbonation. The texture of the head on each sip helps as well.

Drinkability & Notes – A true summertime stout. Light, smooth roast, and refreshing bitterness like an iced coffee. Easy to pour a second glass.

Changes for Next Time – It’s a rare beer that I don’t have much to change for next time. I might go all EKGs, or at least at the 60 minute addition, to clean and brighten it up a bit.

Recipe

Batch Size: 5.00 gal
SRM: 23.8
IBU: 43.8
OG: 1.047
FG: 1.014
ABV: 4.3%
Final pH: 4.31
Brewhouse Efficiency: 67%
Boil Time: 120 mins

Grain
--------
82.8% - 7.5 lbs Crisp Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter
10.3% - .95 lbs Muntons Amber
6.9% - .625 lbs Simpsons Black Malt

Mash
-------
Sacch I - 40 min @ 152F
Sacch II - 20 min @ 160F

Hops
-------
1.00 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 90 min
1.00 oz Fuggle (Pellets, 3.57 % AA) @ 60 min
1.00 oz East Kent Golding (Pellets, 4.80% AA) @ 30 min
Scaled all three hop additions to account for the higher utilization assumed for a low gravity beer.

Other
-------
1.4 g Chalk @ mash
0.5 Whirlfloc @ 5 min

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate
70
32
54
15
10
130

Yeast
-------
Wyeast 1084 Irish Ale

Notes
-------
Amounts above scaled to be brewed as a 5 gallon undiluted batch. 

5/6/17 4 L 1.034 starter with 6 week out yeast.

Dissolved 17 g of chalk in 30 oz of filtered water. Chilled and carbonated to get it to dissolve.

pH measured 5.19. Added .3 cup of the resulting saturated liquid to the mash. pH measured 5.25 at mash temperature, 5.39 pH when chilled. Both with Halo.

Chilled to 66F.

Diluted 3 gallons with 2 gallons of distilled to 1.047. Pitched with 1.5 L of starter.

Left at 67 F to get started. Got up to 70F overnight, moved to fridge, slowly brought back to ~67F actual temperature to ferment.

5/19/17 Kegged the diluted half.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

2.3% ABV Session NEIPA

Recirculating through the hop filter.
I received an email a couple month ago from a homebrewer looking for advice on a 1% ABV New England IPA. It got me thinking about how light I could push a beer that still scratched my hop-itch. All else equal, I prefer beers with less alcohol so I can drink more, especially when it is hot out. I’ve brewed a few low-alcohol hoppy beers over the years (Wheat-based at 2.1% and Vienna-based at 3.6%), but it seemed worth revisiting. Rather than make a 1% near-beer, I decided 2% ABV was a more plausible goal!

While dextrins aren’t a major mouthfeel driver (study, Brulosophy, Karnowski), lower attenuation allows more malt to be added for the same volume of wort. Below 3% ABV is where the simple lack of malt begins to really show, especially in a style like this that isn’t buttressed by specialty malts. Think of it as the opposite of a big DIPA where you might substitute sugar for base malt to prevent the beer from becoming too malty. To make an absurdly-unfermentable wort I opted for equal parts Maris Otter (for more malt flavor pound-for-pound than my usual Rahr Brewer’s 2-row) and dextrin malt (Weyermann Carafoam).

Dextrin malts vary substantially depending on the maltster. The two most common are from Briess and Weyermann:

Briess Carapils is a true glassy caramel/crystal malt, albeit one that isn’t roasted enough to develop the color or flavor associated with darker caramel malts. The problem is that the dextrins created during the stewing process are converted to fermentable sugars if mashed with enzymatic base malt (light crystal/caramel malts don’t substantially affect attenuation, further discussion). Although if they were steeped alone, that would be another story.

Weyermann Carafoam (Carapils outside the US) is akin to chit malt, high in protein and under-modified. It is mealy/starchy so it too is converted into fermentable sugars when mashed, but would be unsuitable for steeping. Weyermann suggests it can be used as up to 40% of the grist. I hoped the protein contribution would make up for the well-modified English base malt while preventing the beer from tasting too biscuity.

Omega British VI performed a brew-in-a-bag mash given the small quantity of grain. I mashed in at 165F to quickly denature the beta amylase responsible for creating most of the highly-fermentable maltose. Efficiency was a bit better than expected and it reached 1.030 instead of 1.028.

One of the takeaways from my recently submitted September BYO Advanced Brewing article (subscribe) comparing the mineral content of water to the beer brewed with it was that many of the flavor ions increase substantially. Much of that is from the grain, and using less grain suggests increasing the mineral additions. As a result, I increased my chloride target to boost mouthfeel.

I had some El Dorado in the freezer, and decided this was a good first batch to brew with them. I decided to pair with an equal amount of Simcoe to cut through the fruitier notes that El Dorado brings – often described as watermelon or strawberry. I used the new 400 micron hop filter I bought on a whim to hold the single flame-out addition, recirculating the wort through them.

For yeast I decided to try out Omega British V, which they compare to Wyeast 1318. I was hoping the grain and hot mash would result in ~50% apparent attenuation rather than the standard 71-75%. Despite all of my efforts the yeast still achieved a surprising 60% attenuation!

Session-Strength Session NEIPA

Smell – It smells like beer and not wort or hop tea! The hops provide an interesting mix of fruit (the power of suggestion says watermelon) and resin. Not much citrus or juice. Hop aroma would have been boosted by a keg hop. Not much else going on, but it doesn’t raise any flags given the style is all about hops.

Drinking Session IPA before mowing.
Appearance – Passes the eye test as well. Not too pale thanks to the Maris Otter. Appropriate haze. Head looks about right too, solid, white, with good-but-not-great retention.

Taste – The malt flavor is almost there, and then it isn’t, falling flat and fading too quickly. Doesn’t come off as excessively bready English-malty though. The bitterness was harsh when I tapped the keg, mostly because I was drinking it nine days after brewing! A week later, now that the hop matter has dropped out of suspension, it has mellowed to just a little sharp. No hint of alcohol...

Mouthfeel – Despite the chloride, Carafoam, and low attenuation the body isn’t fooling anyone. The mid-palate is more Bud Light than Julius, seltzery rather than pillowy. I remember the wheat-based batch having better body despite the same 1.030 original gravity.

Drinkability & Notes – Crisp, crushable, hoppy barley water. I like it, but it’ll need some tweaks to dupe anyone into thinking it is above 4%, let alone 6%!

Changes for Next Time – A small addition of honey malt would help the malt flavor and add sweetness to balance the hops. I’d probably swap half of the Carafoam for oats as well to bring the body up. Might chill to 200F before adding the hop-stand addition to reduce the bitterness.

Recipe

Batch Size: 6.00 gal
SRM: 3.2
IBU: 48.6
OG: 1.030
FG: 1.012
ABV: 2.3%
Final pH: 4.89
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68%
Boil Time: 30 Mins

Malt
------
50.0% - 3.5 lbs Weyermann Carafoam
50.0% - 3.5 lbs Crisp Floor-Malted Gleneagles/No. 19 Maris Otter

Mash
-------
Sacch Rest - 45 min @ 165F

Hops
-------
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Flame-out (30 min Hop Stand)
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Brew Day Dry Hop
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Brew Day Dry Hop
2.00 oz El Dorado (Pellets, 14.00 % AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3
2.00 oz Simcoe (Pellets, 13.00 % AA) @ Dry Hop Day 3

Other
-------
9.00 g Calcium Chloride @ mash
4.50 g Gypsum @ mash
1.00 tsp 10% Phosphoric Acid @ mash
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 5 min
0.50 tsp Wyeast Nutrient @ 5 min

Calcium
Chloride
Sulfate
Sodium
Magnesium
Carbonate*
135
160
100
10
5
45
*Do not increase if your water is lower in carbonate.

Yeast
-------
Omega OYL-011 British Ale V

Notes
-------
Brewed 5/19/17

BIAB with all of the salts and the acid, 3 gal each distilled, and DC tap. 5 gallons of 1.035 after removing the bag. Diluted with 1 gal each distilled and DC tap. That knocked the temperature down to 140F, but the enzymes should have been mostly denatured.

Brought to a boil for 30 minutes. Turned off the heat and added the hops for a 30 min stand with the wort recirculating through the hop filter.

Chilled to 70F, added first dose of dry hops to fermentor during run-off, pitched the yeast directly from the package, left at 64F to ferment.

5/22/17 Added second dose of dry hops.

5/29/17 Kegged, no keg hops at this point.

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