Sunday, November 16, 2014

Extract Sour Stout on Blackberries and Beach Plums

After 200 all-grain beers, it is nice to take pictures of a different process.Everyone knows that malt extract is what gives beers that gross “homebrew” flavor. The reason is that the malt flavors become too concentrated and ummm… as a result becomes oxidized by the Maillard reactions during storage? Seriously though, most of the off-flavors many homebrewers remember from their early batches were a result of issues with the concentrated boil, sanitation, or fermentation. With a full boil and the benefits of an experienced brewer’s fermentation process, extract batches can be every bit as good as all-grain! However, what you gain in ease of brewing, you give up in control. As a result, malt extract is best used for beers in the middle of the fermentability spectrum, golden or darker, and not driven by a characterful base malt.

While I’ve brewed a few delicious clean beers with extract over the years (like a hefeweizen and Belgian single), I’d never brewed a sour beer based on malt extract (although I have augmented with it). I decided to use it to evaluate the pack of Wyeast Oud Bruin Blend I had in the fridge. The blend, released as a summer 2014 VSS, combines brewer’s yeast and Lactobacillus. It is intended to turn out a drinkable sour beer in about two months, without attenuation as high as their similar De Bom Blend.

A pack of Wyeast Oud Bruin Blend.This recipe was inspired by the cherry variant of our sour bourbon-barrel porter that our barrel group brewed in 2010. I steeped the specialty malts in 165F water to extract their flavor. Unlike all-grain mashes where the enzymes from the base malt convert the dextrins in specialty malts (including caramel/crystal) into fermentable sugars, extract based beers retain these unfermentables into the fermentor. Hopefully those long-chain sugars provide some sweetness and body to balance the mild roast from the chocolate rye and ~300L roasted barley. For extracts I opted for rye LME and wheat DME. The extra proteins in each should help fortify the body.

Instead of sour cherries I selected 3.75 lbs of frozen blackberries. Blackberries don’t impart as distinct a flavor profile as cherries or raspberries. They are more generically fruity/winey, meaning they integrate without dominating. I had great luck with them in my first batch of Flemish red. I also tossed in a pound of beach plums harvested from my parents’ backyard (just a few yards from the mead pit). Instead of bourbon, I added oak cubes soaked in calvados along with one ounce of the remaining oak-infused liquor. It should be a unique flavor combination if nothing else!

I’ve got ingredients for an extract lambic I'm planning to brew soon as well! Closer to my standard fermentation process, and leaving the extract flavor a bit more exposed.

Soured stout racking onto blackberries.Sour Stout on Blackberries

Recipe Specifics
-------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 8.55
Anticipated OG: 1.055
Anticipated SRM: 30.8
Anticipated IBU: 5.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 50 %
Wort Boil Time: 40 Minutes

Grain/Extract
----------------
38.6% - 3.30 lbs. Briess CBW Rye LME
35.1% - 3.00 lbs. Munton's Wheat DME
8.8% - 0.75 lbs. Weyermann CaraMunich II
5.8% - 0.50 lbs. Weyermann Chocolate Rye
5.8% - 0.50 lbs. Briess Roasted Barley (300 L)
5.8% -  0.50 lbs. Briess Extra Special

Hops
------
0.50 oz. Czech Saaz (Pellet, 3.50% AA) @ 35 min.

Beach plums right after harvesting.Extras
-------
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast
------
WYeast 3209-PC Oud Bruin Blend

Water Profile
----------------
Profile: Washington, DC

Mash Schedule
-----------------
Steep - 165 F for 30 min.

Notes
-------
Brewed 10/12/14

Stepped crushed specialty malts in 3 gallons of water starting at 165F for 30 minutes. Topped off with more filtered tap water with 2 g of CaCl.

Chilled to 73F. Shook briefly to aerate, pitched the yeast blend directly from the package.

11/10/14 Transferred five gallons of tart stout onto 3.75 lbs of frozen Whole Foods organic blackberries, and calvados soaked oak (6 cubes plus 1 oz of the steeping liquid)!

11/14/14 Added 1 lb of frozen beach plums harvested on Cape Cod in September.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Phenols and Brett - Initial Results!

A few months ago I was asked to speak at a Mid-Atlantic Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) meeting. I opted for an enhanced rendition of my 2014 National Homebrewers Conference presentation (The Influence of Mashing on Sour Beer Production - audio/slides for AHA members). The only significant complaint I received about my original presentation in Grand Rapids was that I didn't serve any beers to illustrate my points. The MBAA meeting was at Lost Rhino Brewing Co, easy driving distance, so I got brewing immediately. Glad I did because both the presentation and example beers were successes! Apparently I made enough sense to sell copies of American Sour Beers to a bunch of craft brewers (and even a couple MillerCoors guys)!

Taking a step back, on a hot July day I brewed two separate batches with identical malts and hops. For one batch I performed a single infusion mash and fermented with English Ale yeast. For the other I started with a ferulic acid rest (113F for 15 minutes), before raising to the same saccharification temperature, and then fermented with a Belgian Ale strain. The goal was to taste the influence of freeing additional ferulic acid from the malt and its subsequent conversion to spicy 4 vinylguiacol (4VG) by the yeast, compared to the control. According to the science, Brett takes 4VG and converts it into 4 ethylguiacol (4EG), a big part of the classic funky-phenolic-baryardy character.

That phenolic brewer's yeasts are more effective at converting ferulic acid to 4VG is one reason that 100% Brett fermentations tend to be less funky than their mixed-fermentation counterparts. While access to additional carbohydrates causes Brett to produce more esters (making 100% Brett beers fruitier) additional phenols are not generated in the same way.

A four month turnaround is a bit tight for a mixed-fermentation, but I did my best to speed the process along, pitching a starter of White Lab's Brettanomyces bruxellensis and naturally conditioning in the keg. Luckily there was about a gallon of each beer left in the kegs after my presentation, so I'll be able to revisit this tasting in six month or so!

Belgian/Ferulic (The Funky?)

Appearance – Hazy golden, headed towards light amber. This would likely clear up given more than a couple days in the fridge. The beautiful sticky white head trails solid sheets of lacing down the walls of the glass.

Smell – Very Belgian nose, mild spice, pear, Brett is there, but subtle. It is young, but at Brett-plus-100-days I was hoping for a little more funk. Pleasant, but not enticing.

Taste – Solid Belgian pale with Brett. Light hay, not much horse blanket (or "stallion cover" as a knock-off version of my book calls it) to be tasted. Could be drier, which should come with time. Some toasty-bready malt. Slight hop bitterness, but no real hop oil profile. Dry, but not bone dry.

Mouthfeel – Crisp body. Firm carbonation. As I hope for pale funky beers.

Drinkability & Notes – Nothing out of the ordinary, it reads as you would expect a young Belgian pale finished with Brett. Despite the time keg conditioning, it needs another few months to achieve the volume of Brett character I was anticipating.

The English/Control is on the left, and the Belgian/Ferulic is on the right.

English/Control (The Fruity?)

Appearance – Identical, if maybe a half tone darker/clearer. Same beautiful head and lacing.

Smell – This is where things get weird: big clove (aka 4VG)! The Brett is slowly working to convert the ferulic acid to 4VG, and apparently I caught it in the middle. No real funk yet, but assuming things continue like this there should be eventually.

Taste – Like a hefeweizen fermented cool with WLP380 Hefeweizen IV, very low fruit, but tons of clove and spice. No classic Brett character yet. As is the flavor is harsh and rather unappealing, especially as I was expecting this one to be fruitier. Comes across as slightly more bitter/harsh as well, almost a solvent edge.

Mouthfeel – Similar, but the carbonation is slightly higher. The primary fermentations finished at the same gravity, but I haven't checked them post-Brett yet.

Drinkability & Notes – This is why you take the time experiment (cough cough Experimental Brewing). While my original hypothesis was correct that the Belgian primary strain would accelerate the eventual production of funky 4EG, I didn’t expect the English primary strain to yield such a spicy beer at this point!

If nothing else, fermenting with a phenolic brewer's yeast seems to speed up the conversion of ferulic acid to 4EG in a beer with Brett. While I have made many wonderful sour beers with English, American, and lager yeast primary fermentations, it seems like Belgian (or hefeweizen) strains are your best bet if your goal is funk with a short turnaround time.

It will be really interesting to see where these two beers end up when the Brett characters stabilize. Will the funkiness of the English yeast primary fermentation eventually catch-up, or will there always be a difference in the level of funk? You'll find out as soon as I do!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pressure Canning Starter Wort

Using the pressure cooker to wash the jars and lids.Why do so many homebrewers skip starters for their liquid brewer's yeast? Pitching enough healthy cells can have a greater impact on the quality of a batch than anything else you do on brew day! Maybe because from start to finish making a starter can take almost an hour. Using an Erlenmeyer flask makes the task easier, by allowing you to boil, chill, and grow in a single vessel. Adding a stir-plate creates denser yeast cultures, the result is less wort to boil and chill for a given target cell count. Still I’m lucky if I can go from getting equipment out to pitching yeast in fewer than 30 minutes. Sometimes half an hour is hard to come by on a weeknight!

I weigh the DME into each jar.Not anymore! My new pressure cooker allows me to produce a large volume of shelf-stable sterile wort at one time. I can produce enough wort for 10 starters in one afternoon. That way all I have to do to make a starter is sanitize my flask and add the wort and yeast, done! The key is the pressure (15 PSI) generated by the canner causes the wort to boil at 250F (121C), hot enough to kill Clostridium botulinum in a reasonable amount of time (it would take 7 to 11 hours in boiling water). While boiling at 212F (100C) is more than enough to kill all the microbes brewers usually worry about, this is only because we are working under aerobic conditions initially and pitching enough brewer’s yeast to quickly lower the pH and produce alcohol thus inhibiting the nasty microbe responsible for botulism. C. botulinum is all around us (mostly in dirt), but really thrives in the anaerobic environment created by boiling-water canning.

The cans with the water added as well.If you don’t have a pressure cooker/canner there are two alternatives to prevent C. botulinum from growing in canned wort. You could add enough phosphoric or lactic acid to lower the pH of the wort below 4.4. This is acidic enough to make reasonable time hot water-bath canning safe (as it is for many fruits). Alternatively, you could store the canned wort in the refrigerator, C. botulinum will not grow if the temperature remains lower than 38F (3C). Personally the risk (however small) of botulism poisoning (paralysis followed quickly by death) with these methods isn’t worth the time/money savings!

Equipment
I purchased an All-American 25 Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner a few months ago for $230. It’s super heavy-duty aluminum, and doesn't rely on a gasket to seal, so I’m expecting it to last at least the next 50 years of my brewing career. There are less expensive options, but I try to buy things that will last when I am able to. A pressure canner can also serve as an autoclave if you are planning to do sterile culturing for yeast isolation and wrangling (where sanitation isn't good enough). The All-American even looks a bit like a mini-version of the one Pasteur used. In addition you’ll need your desired-size Ball jars (which come with rings and lids) and optionally a jar lifter. That's it!

12 jars 8 oz jars in one layer, with room for another.Wort Production
You may not want to produce the same density of wort for all starter applications. I like having small jars filled with low gravity wort for harvesting microbes (8 ounce jars with 10 grams of light DME and a pinch of yeast nutrient). They are easy to take to a tasting or a bar if you want to collect bottle dregs (harvestable bottle dregs list). Pop the lid, pour the dregs in, and screw the ring back on. When you get home you can transfer the inoculated wort to a sanitized beer bottle with a No. 2 stopper and an airlock. Or simply keep the Ball jar in the fridge if you want to prevent the microbes from growing – remembering to vent the lid periodically.

The pressure canner heating.If you are planning to use the canned wort for traditional starters, Kristen England suggested canning high gravity wort (I'd keep it around 2-3 times stronger than your target starter gravity). That will allow you to can less and yield more by diluting the starters with water. It all depends on how concerned you are about the sterility of that water. I am comfortable adding bottled water directly to chilled wort without boiling/chilling. If you want starter wort that is ready to use for growing commercial brewer's yeast cultures, aim for a standard 1.040.

To reach the target gravity you can use malt extract, extra runnings from a brew, or a purpose brewed “beer” for a year’s worth of starters. If your starter wort is all-grain, I’d suggest boiling it first. At Modern Times I brewed a 3 gallon no-sparge batch that I drained directly into jars for canning. The result was the most intense DMS aroma of tomato soup I’ve ever experienced. With the high temperature and lack of steam escaping it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Not a big deal if you decant the starter wort, but it made evaluation of the microbe starters tricky until they were stepped up. Pre-boiling isn't necessary for malt extract, which has already gone through a full boil during production.

The weight, this one can be turned to the 5, 10, or 15 PSI setting.Process
Make sure to follow the instructions for your canner when it comes to processing. Start by washing all of your equipment is hot-soapy water. Rinse with warm tap water to remove all of the soap. While you're rinsing, inspect the jars and lids for chips, dents, and cracks. Don't use any that are anything less than pristine.

Fill the jars with wort or water/DME, leaving ~3/4 inch (2 cm) of space at the top of each jar (this is necessary to form an adequate vacuum during cooling). Hand-tighten the rings over the lids. The ring only holds the lid in place during processing, so it doesn't need to be too tight. Arrange the jars in the canner on the rack, trying to leave a little room around each one to promote even heating. Add hot tap water to the canner, enough to come a few inches up the jars. You can add a second level of jars on another rack if they fit. Lock the lid on the pressure canner.

Begin heating on high. Once steam is escaping from the vent, wait seven minutes, and then install the weight. At this point the pressure will slowly rise. Once 15 PSI is reached, the weight will begin to sputter, hiss, and rattle. Only now do you begin the timer (15 minutes for 8 oz jars, plus 1 minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level to compensate for the lower ambient air pressure). Adjust the heat so that the weight continues releasing pressure, but it doesn't nee to be violent. After the time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to dissipate slowly. Once the pressure returns to 0, remove the weight and then the pressure canner's lid.

The pressure gauge, nearly to 15 PSI.Once the jars cool completely, press gently in the center of each lid. If they pop up and down this indicates that the vacuum seal was not successful. The wort is these jars should be used immediately or discarded. Partially unscrew the rings on the successfully sealed jars. At this point the suction of the vacuum in the headspace is holding the lid on. If this vacuum fails to hold the lid at any point, discard the starter wort in that jar. Only use the lids once, but the jars and rings can be saved and reused as long as they remain undamaged.

At the moment I have six empty sour-beer-only carboys, so I’ll be harvesting some fun microbes. Starting with a couple raspberries still hanging on the bush in our backyard. I also have some exciting sour beers I have hanging out in the basement in need of harvesting as well (Russian River Beatification, Trillium Lineage Wheat and Rye, Cuvee de Ranke, and a bunch of gueuze).

The finished product, shelf-stable starter wort.

Feel free to post any additional tips or chili recipes in the comments!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Saison New Zealan’ Tasting

Saison New Zealan’ is the spiritual and microbiological successor to Saison ‘Merican. It was hopped exclusively with varieties from the island (late additions of Motueka and Nelson Sauvin, with Rakau for bittering). In addition I added a bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc directly to the keg to enhance the citrusy-terroir of the hops.

Saison New Zealan’

Appearance – It sure is a looker. The sunrise-yellow body is hazy, without appearing muddy. The white head is dense, prodigious, and sticky.

Smell – Despite the competing aromatics, the Nelson still leads with its distinctly divisive-pungent aroma. The Motueka and wine manage to soften it, sending it off on a somewhat citrusy tangent. The Brett (Trois and CB2) is mild, adding some fresh cut hay as well as mingling with the citrusy-funk of the Southern Hemisphere hops.

Taste – Saturated hop flavor that lives up to the nose. The grape(fruit)y wine comes through a bit more emphatically as well, assisted by the mild acidity from the Lactobacillus. The bitterness is just the right level to play with the lactic acid without clashing. The resulting balance is reminiscent of grapefruit juice cut with seltzer water, refreshing not bracing. The alcohol is present as it warms, but remains clean like a dry cocktail.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, firm carbonation, and downright refreshing for a beer above 7% ABV. A dangerous thing indeed!

Drinkability & Notes – I’ve said it before, but adding wines rather than wine grapes is the great option unless high quality grapes are easy to source. This is another win for my slowly developing mixed-house saison culture, when this keg kicks I’ll have to hang onto the lees to brew something else. Maybe continue the world tour with Hull Melon and German Riesling, or Galaxy and Australian Chardonnay?

Monday, October 20, 2014

American IPA Recipe, Tips, and Tasting

You can see the difference in the krausen texture between the beers with and without hops.Hoppy beers are some of my favorites to brew at home. The four things that kill hop aroma are heat, time, oxygen, and aroma scalping. Serving the finished beer in a well-purged keg addresses all three. I won’t buy bottled hoppy beer unless it is labeled with the packaging date, or I know it was recently released. A beer that is delicious at bottling can be mediocre at best after only a couple months. Like bread, once you have a taste for fresh hoppy beer it is hard to enjoy it stale!

The IPA recipe below was half of a split batch, and I don’t have too many new things to say about IPAs. My focus was on the other half, which was an “IPA” flavored with spruce tips and grapefruit zest (an American-hoppy beer without any hops). More on that one next week.

Instead of sending you back to my old posts about brewing IPAs, here are my 10 quick tips for brewing hoppy beers:

1. Treat your water to have minimal carbonate, and moderate-to-high chloride, sulfate, and calcium.
2. If the raw hops don’t smell great, neither will your beer.
3. Steep flame-out hops for 20-30 minutes before force chilling.
4. Add dry hops as fermentation slows.
5. Add more dry hops after fermentation ends.
6. Purge everything the fermented beer touches with carbon dioxide.
7. Ferment with a yeast that imparts some (but not loads of) character.
8. Force carbonate rather than naturally condition.
9. Store the finished beer as cold as possible.
10. Drink the carbonated beer ASAP.

There was recently an informative Q&A session with Peter Wolfe of AB-InBev on Reddit's r/beer. His responses include information about glycosides and his process for dry hopping homebrew. JC from Trillium Brewing (brewers of many excellent hoppy beers - Double Dry Hopped Congress Street IPA is super-fantastic Galaxy-goodness) dropped his tips for mimicking their process in a BeerAdvocate thread not too long ago as well. Seems like a real shift from the advice to chill the wort quickly and dry hop bright beer that were so popular when I started brewing.

“Real” IPA Tasting

A glass of the finished IPA.
Appearance – Golden beer. Light dry-hop haze. Nice head retention, white, dense, sticky. Certainly looks like an IPA.

Smell – Solid hoppy, piney, orange aroma. Not a jump out of the glass hop, but stronger than many commercial IPAs. Not as juicy as I was hoping for, more classic-American than new-American. Not much else in the aroma yeast or malt-wise

Taste – Firm bitterness. Drenched with hops through each sip. A mix of citrus and more resiny flavors. The hops lack a certain vibrancy and freshness. Certainly the hops being harvested 12 months ago doesn’t help, but I suspect the Centennial in particular (I've had bad luck with Centennial from Freshops before - and these didn't smell terrific).

Mouthfeel – Crisp body, which doesn’t get in the way. Solid carbonation. No complaints here from me.

Drinkability & Notes – A good IPA, maybe even very good, but not great. I love balance, but when the hops lead they need to be outstanding, and here they are just a bit dampened or muddled.

"Real" IPA Recipe

Recipe Specifics
-------------------
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 26.69
Anticipated OG: 1.064
Anticipated SRM: 3.8
Anticipated IBU: 38.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 69% (inc. parti-gyle)
Wort Boil Time: 70 Minutes

Grain
-------
60.0% - 16.00 lbs. Rahr Pilsner
30.0% - 8.00 lbs. Great Western Pale Malt (2-row)
7.5% - 2.00 lbs. Weyermann Wheat Malt
2.6% - 0.69 lbs. Simpsons Golden Naked Oats

Hops
------
2.00 oz. Rakau (Pellet, 10.45% AA) @ 60 min.
2.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ 0 min.
2.00 oz. Centennial (Whole, 10.50% AA) @ 0 min.
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Centennial (Whole, 10.50% AA) @ Dry Hop
1.00 oz. Amarillo (Whole, 10.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 oz. Simcoe (Whole, 14.00% AA) @ Keg Hop
1.00 oz. Centennial (Whole, 10.50% AA) @ Keg Hop

Extras
--------
1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Yeast
------
White Labs WLP007 Dry English Ale

Water Profile
----------------
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
------------------
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 156F

Notes
-------
8/22/14 - Made a stir-plate 3 L starter with 2 tubes of WL007. Aiming for 450 billion cells - for 10 gallons. Crash chilled after 24 hours.

Brewed 8/24/14

5 g CaCl and gypsum added to the mash along with 2 tsp of phosphoric acid. Diluted with 2 gallons of distilled. Collected 7 gallons of 1.075 first runnings. Same treatment for the 7 gallons of 180F batch sparge water. Collected 7 gallons of 1.035 second runnings. Mixed so there were 7 gallons of 1.055 runnings in each pot.

Rakau adjusted down from 11.4% AA. The rest of the hops were nearly a year old from Freshops.com. Half flame-out allowed to steep 30 min before chilling, remainder added at start of chill. Boiled down to 4.5 gallons at 1.075. Chilled to 70F. Diluted with .75 gallon of distilled water, OG 1.064. Left at 65F to ferment.

8/28/14 Added the first dose of dry hops as the fermntation slowed.

8/30/14 Moved to warm ambient basement to ensure complete fermentation.

9/9/14 Kegged with the keg hops bagged and placed into the keg before purging. Hooked up to CO2 and left to force carb gently. FG = 1.015 (6.4% ABV)

10/13/14 Tasting notes above (posted about a week after writing). It is a solid IPA, but not spectacular, hop character isn't quite where I want it, but otherwise everything is spot on.

Monday, October 6, 2014

American Blonde Ale with Coffee Beans


Here are the tasting notes for a coffee beer that isn’t brown, black, inky, syrupy, or opaque. The key for this American blonde recipe was adding a coffee that melds with the light malt, i.e., one that is bright, acidic, and citrusy. Ceremony Thesis in this case. There are many ingredients that are easy to oversimplify or overlook, like: chocolate, fruit, and coffee. For each of these there are people who are just as nerdy about the variety and processing as we are about hops!

When I posted about this recipe originally, I got plenty of suggestions on my Facebook and Twitter for other pale beers with coffee from all over America: Noble Ale Works Naughty Sauce, Black Acre Brewing Coffee Bitter Life, Monday Night Brewing Bed Head, Fort George Brewery Java the Hop, Carton Brewing Regular Coffee, and for Brazilians Morada Cia Etílica Hop Arabica! If you aren't sold on the combination, seek one out (or next time you are bottling a hoppy beer, toss a couple coffee beans into one).

American Blonde Ale aged on Coffee Beans.
Coffee American Blonde

Appearance – Similar in color to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. If you really wanted to brew a coffee beer and have it remain “blonde,” likely you’d need to go all Pilsner and wheat. The color from the C60 and Golden Naked Oats I added for deeper malt flavor combined with the the coffee to result in the honey color. Mildly hazy. Wonderfully creamy white head suspended on top.

Smell – Lemony coffee leads. It is still vibrant after more than six weeks in the keg. More like the aroma of grinding coffee beans than a freshly brewed cup. Not quite as aromatically hoppy as I expected from the four ounces of oily Cascade I added near the end of the boil. Nice supporting toasted, almost Butterfinger candy bar, maltiness.

Taste – Crisp, with moderate hop bitterness. Coffee doesn’t dominate, but it is the most prominent flavor. Not roasty or burnt, but still distinctly coffee. The citrusy hops linger into the finish, grapefruit mostly. Not an astoundingly complex or mind-bending beer, but it is balanced, and there are great flavors through each sip

Mouthfeel – The body is not too thick, not too thin, just right for a slightly more flavorful blonde ale. Carbonation is spot on too, prickly without being spritzy.

Drinkability & Notes – A wonderfully pleasant session beer. The coffee is the highlight without dominating. Amazing how few beans can completely change the flavor of so much beer. Next time I’d add a small charge of dry hops just to get the hop aroma up to play with the coffee a bit more. I might also skip the specialty malts to get them out of the way of the coffee and hops. Simplify man.

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