Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vacation and BrewLocal

I'm taking next week off from work to go up to Massachusetts for a friend's wedding. As a result I probably won't be posting much until after the 4th of July.

In the meantime if you are bored you should head over to the soft opening of BrewLocal and check out the first in our series of brewery/brewer profiles. The first interview was with Tim Pohlhaus of Old Dominion Brewing Company, and along with it we have a photo essay of our brew day with him, a video tour of their recently closed Ashburn brewery, couple recipes, and some info on the Brett spiked oak barrel Millennium barleywine. We are aiming to make these posts more technical and in depth than your average brewer interview or brewery profile. We appreciate any comments/suggestions/questions that you may have for this project.

While I am up in Massachusetts, Nathan and I will be brewing with Matthew Steinberg at Mayflower and David Wollner at Willimantic (they seem like two great guys and I know both are terrific brewers), so look for those to be posted in the next few weeks. Posts at BrewLocal are going to be pretty sporadic based on when Nathan and I can get our schedules to line up with brewers, but it should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lemon Pepper Single

As I've alluded to in a couple previous posts, I've been seeing a wonderful girl (Audrey) for the last few months. One of our joint interest is a passion for both food and drink. She may not be as much of a nerd as I am when it comes to beer, but she certainly enjoys it (especially Belgians). As I have gotten her to geek out a bit more in return she has been getting me into running... once every couple weeks.

A couple months back she invited me to go down to the Outer Banks for a long weekend with her family. I thought it would be a good idea to bring some homebrew (and homemade goat cheese) to help win them over. We decided to brew something that would go well with the seafood we were sure to eat down there. We struck upon the idea of doing a pale Belgian ale with plenty of wheat and spiced with lemon zest and black pepper.

The malt bill was pretty simple, pils, wheat malt, and Munich plus a touch of cara-10 to keep it from being too dry. For hops we went for moderate bitterness with Glacier (which has some lemony aspects to its flavor). We added the spices at flameout to preserve their aroma (we went easy on the amounts knowing we could add more later). After reading the yeast descriptions she liked the sound of White Labs 550 (Belgian Ale Yeast originally from Achouffe), it is a pretty mellow yeast, and I fermented it cool to further mellow the character since we wanted it to have broad appeal.

Last weekend we were down there and the beer went over well with her family (and luckily so did I).
 
Tasting 6/24/09 

Appearance – Cloudy golden-orange (it clears as it warms indicating chill-haze). Nice two finger white head, retention is moderate at best. When it sank the head became clumpy, certainly reminiscent of the coagulated protein flakes I saw in the boil.  

Smell – There is a complex spice aroma with clove, citrus, pepper, and coriander. It is hard to tell what is actually from the spices and what is just yeast derived. As it warms the smell turns yeastier, like fresh dough.

Taste – The flavor has similar spice notes to the nose, but it is enhanced by a solid bready malt backbone. It is a bit sweeter than I wanted, just .25 lbs of crystal may have been too much. More bitterness could also help to cut through the sweetness as well.

Mouthfeel – Not as carbonated as I intended, closer to a bottled British beer (~2 volumes). As a result the body seems thicker than ideal for a moderate gravity Belgian.

Drinkability & Notes – It is a solid beer, but it is not as dry/crisp as I was aiming for. This is partly a result of the lower carbonation, but I think the crystal malt is also partly to blame. I am happy that the spicing plays with the yeast, I don't think I would change the amounts if I brewed it again.
 
OBX Seafood Ale (Lemon Pepper Single) 

Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
----------------
Batch Size (Gal): 4.75
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.75
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 4.9
Anticipated IBU: 22.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 62 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Grain
------
5.00 lbs. German Pilsener
4.50 lbs. German Wheat Malt
1.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
0.25 lbs. Crystal 10L

Hops
-----
1.00 oz. Glacier @ 60 Min.

Extras
-------
0.50 Whirlfloc 15 Min.
0.25 Tsp Yeast Nutrient 15 Min.
30 Black Peppercorns 0 Min.
2 Lemons worth of zest 0 Min.

Yeast
------
White Labs WLP550 Belgian Ale

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

Mash Schedule
---------------
Protein Rest 20 min @ 131
Sacch Rest 75 min @ 148

Notes
------
Brewed 5/01/09 with Audrey

Was ready to add acid, but the mash pH was perfect.

Collected 6.5 gallons of 1.042 wort.

Some of the best hot break I have ever seen, huge chunks of coagulated protein in the boil.

Zest of 2 lemons and 15 crushed black peppercorns added at flameout.

Boiled down to 4.5 gallons, let chill for 2 hours because I fell asleep, strained, pitched the whole 1.5 qrt starter that I made the night before, and gave 60 seconds of O2. Put into the chest freezer @ 64 degrees.

Strong fermentation, nearly blowing off after 12 hours.

5/04/09 Upped the temp to 70 to help the beer finish out as fermentation seems to be slowing.

5/16/09 Added another ~15 peppercorns toasted (to sanitize), and crushed.

5/23/09 Racked to secondary.

5/28/09 Ended up with ~4.25 gallons. Bottled with 4 oz of cane sugar (aiming for the high 2's volumes CO2). May not have mixed sugar in well enough as the sample from the end of the bucket tasted very sweet. Looks very clear. Gravity down to 1.010.

5/31/09 Already a faint hint of carbonation.

6/20/09 Carbonation does seems variable (although just a bit low for the most part), I will always stir the priming sugar in more thoroughly in the future.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review: Microbrewed Adventures

Microbrewed Adventuress: A Lupulin Filled Journey to the Heart and Flavor of the World's Great Craft Beers is a combination travel log - homebrew recipe book. It covers the many beer related adventures that being the father of American homebrewing and the president of the AHA/BA has allowed Charlie Papazian to have over the years. Each of the stories has a corresponding recipe, many of which are clones or at least inspired by the interesting beers that he has gotten to sample all over the world.


Content: Each chapter covers a beer trip, or the stories of a group of like-minded brewers. Roughly the first half of the book covers America, while the second half explores the rest of the world.

I really enjoyed his story early on about Anheuser Busch's request that he brew them some homebrew (which they attempted to can with limited success) for a meeting of the Master Brewers Association. It is interesting to hear that Bud was even aware of homebrewing in 1983, let alone interested in trying what American homebrewers were creating.

For the sections on the various breweries the focus is on the people and the history, not on the brewing technique/ingredients etc... I would have liked to see more of this stuff, because lets face it I'm a nerd, but as it is this section would be good read for anyone who is just interested in beer not just homebrewers.

There is some great back story on the pioneers of microbrewing for those of you late to the game (like me). The likes of Sam Adams, Anchor, Sierra Nevada, and Bert Grant. I thought the most interesting was the story of New Albion Brewing, a brewery that was there very early on, but didn't make the jump to major player like the others. For most of the breweries in this section there is an inset with a quick discussion and page number (all the recipes are together in the last section of the book) of a recipe for one of their beers or a beer inspired by an offering that Charlie got to try at some point.

Papazian then moves on to the second wave of brewers with stories about Stone, Rogue, New Glarus, Magic Hat, and Dogfish Head (among others). These stories were more familiar to me, but there are still some interesting side adventures and details along the way. All the time you get that great enthusiasm that all of his homebrew books were written with.

With the American brewers out of the way the focus shifts to Europe. The first section covers the start of the new wave of craft beer in England. From there he moves onto Mead, one of the more inspiring sections with discussions of getting to meet the two elder statesmen of mead making Brother Adam and Lt. Colonel Robert Gayre.

The next few chapters cover some of the historic brewing countries (Germany and Belgium), as well as some other countries that people might not associate with great beer (Sweden, France, and Italy). The breweries range from the iconic (De Dolle, Andesch) to the obscure (including homemade gotlandsdricke). These chapters are great as there is not nearly as much coverage of European brewers (especially the tiny ones) as there is for American brewers.

The rest of the book covers beer from a wide range of the rest of the world, Latin American, Fiji, Africa, and Russian. These stories are interesting well in excess of what you learn about beer. Being an international ambassador to brewing for the last 20 years has given Papazian the opportunity to meet some very interesting people, and these chapters really do that justice. I really like the stories of his time in Africa, not that any of the beers I have tried from the continent have been that good (even the Guinness Foreign Export Stout).

Recipes: Just like the content, the recipes run the gamut from well known craft beers to the indigenous "beers" of the pacific islands. The recipes are considerably better than in Charlie's other beers, no standard gypsum additions, and other no major issues that I can see (although I always hate to see the same 3/4 cup of priming sugar listed for virtually every beer).

Taking into account all of the positives, I still do not appreciate that it is unclear which recipes came from the brewers and which he just whipped up after being inspired by a beer. When I post clone recipes here I try to make it clear which information I'm sure about and where I am guessing, that way people can make their own judgment.

Each recipe comes as an all-grain and as an extract or partial mash variant depending on what grains are required.

Accuracy:
Most of the book is just stories, so it is hard to dispute the accuracy. I didn't note any major discrepancies or typos, which again is a major upgrade over some of his previous books.

Readability:
I like the way the recipes are all grouped together. It made it easier to just read through the the narrative portion without getting interrupted, and now I can just flip through the recipes if that is all I want to do. The writing style is fun, and not too technical. I would have liked if the book lopped off some of the stuff on well known American Brewers, but I guess there are a lot of people out there who might not know the stories behind them.

Overall:
I think Microbrewed Adventures is well worth a read if you want to get an overview of brewing around the world. The recipes can be interesting, but I don't think the book is worth buying for them. The stories can provide plenty of inspiration even if you aren't going to brew one of the recipes he provides. I think this book really plays to Charlie Papzian's strengths as a writer and a brewer, and despite not being a big fan of his other books I fully enjoyed reading this one. That said this is not a book I would get if you don't already own most of the great ones available.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blueberry Lambic - First Tasting

I've been holding off on reviewing this one for awhile, hoping it would improve, but the time has finally come to bite the bullet. After two years in the fermenter, 6 months on fruit, and 6 months in the bottle, I can officially call this beer a failure.

Appearance – Talk about a beautiful beer, brilliantly clear (right out of the fridge) purple-red with a one finger stark white head. Clearly a good amount of carbonation streaming through the beer and giving the head a lift.

Smell – Sadly the aroma does not have the same beauty. It starts off with a pleasant enough spiced blueberry note, but after that comes a harsh solventy assault. Not much else to speak of.

Taste – Nice lactic tang up front, but the finish has that same off putting chemical flavor as well as some vegetal notes. There is certainly some acetic acid as well that scrapes at my throat. It has none of the characteristic funky lambic complexity, it just tastes like a crappy infected blueberry wheat beer.

Mouthfeel – Light and crisp, except for the acid. The traditional hot sparge did not extract any tannins that are still hanging around.

Drinkability & Notes – What can I say? The base beer wasn't great and the fruit certainly didn't help matters much. Not sure what caused the problem, but when this beer is thinned with a bit of water it improves quite a bit, so part of the problem was probably the too big OG.

I am hoping that whatever bugs were in the lambic that I blended into the pluot Flanders pale don't do any harm to it (I'll see when I bottle it in two weeks). Hopefully the changes I made for my second batch of lambic (namely adding more microbes to get fermentation going sooner than four days) will give me better results. I am planning on doing a third batch in a couple weeks, this time with a traditional turbid mash (that will be a fun day...).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spirit of Free Beer - Competition Results

I thought I would share the results from my six entries to the Spirit of Free Beer homebrew competition which is put on each year by one of the homebrew clubs I belong to (BURP). I thought the judging was pretty good overall, most of the comments were right on target for my beers. I was planning on judging (as I did last year), but a week before competition it dawned on me that it was being held on the same day as my new girlfriend's birthday... guess which one took priority?

I put the category in parentheses, followed by the three scores. Below that is what I felt to be the most detailed/representative "overall impressions" from one of the judges and my reaction.

Wheat Triplebock (Eisbock) - 37/38/38 2nd in Category.

"This is a good tasting beer. Prune character followed by malt sweetness. Finish is balanced. I think the body is thin for the style and that it should have a more pronounced alcohol character."

I am very happy with this result for such a young beer, might give this one a shot at the NHC next year.

Cider 2008
(Common Cider) - 32/33/35 - 3rd in Category

"Yummy - very refreshing. Would pair well with a delicate fish dishes."

Pleased with this result. I think my technique is good, I just need better cider for my next batch.

International Session Ale
(Northern English Brown Ale) - 31/33/33

"Quite good. Body is a bit light. There is a piney/resiny hop think was that supposed to be there. Maybe cut back a bit on the roast malts?"

Very pleased with this result considering I did not use an English hop and was not really aiming for any style in particular.

India Brown Ale
(American Brown Ale) - 27/30/30

"Seems like this is a very big beer (higher gravity than normal?) for this style. Overly hopped for this style. Good beer for a hophead."

That judge nailed it, certainly too big/hoppy for the style, but glad they still though it was a solid beer. I actually think the judges like this one more than I do.

Temptation Clone (Belgian Specialty Ale) - 28/28/27

"Overall a very nice Belgian style beer without a lot of complexity. Hint of Brett a little that some malt note and wish there was a little more depth. I wish that the brewer had indicated what they did for this category."

Not sure what happened, I put a pretty detailed description of what I was aiming for on the registration sheet and on the bottle labels. This was my biggest disappointment as I really like this beer, but it is a hard category to judge when the judge doesn't know your intent.

Liquor Spiked Barleywine and Funky Old Ale Blend (Old Ale) - 19/20/20

"You've got enough complexity to make this an interesting beer, but it's by no means a good old ale. Sourness is not an expected component, so watch sanitation. Malt bill may be fine, but you need to work on the carbonation and condition"

It may have been a bit heavy handed on the Brett, but I didn't taste any sourness in either beer. I think more judges need to try a Gale's Prize Old Ale with a couple years on it. That said it probably would have done better as an Oud Bruin.

I think next year I'll send some beers to the NHC for the first time, the one bottle requirement really appeals to me compared to the 3 need by the SoFB.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Alderwood Smoked Porter - 2nd Tasting

It has been 9 months since I reviewed my Alderwood Smoked Porter, and since I was about to drink my last bottle of it I thought it was time for a final review. Not much I would change on the recipe, although I might try smoking my own malt next time.

Alderwood Smoked Porter - 6/12/09

Appearance
– Pitch brown, opaque from a distance, but clear when you look closely. Small tan head, very tight bubbles, retention isn't great, but some wisps remain. Retention is worse than 9 months ago, but the lacing has improved.

Smell – Big smoky aroma (campfire and sausages), with just a hint of oxidation. The oxidation is sherry like with a touch cardboard, acceptable but headed in the wrong direction. There are some notes of coffee and dark fruit, but they are in the background.

Taste – Good balanced smoke character that is potent, but not over the top (sort of like burned marshmallows). Surprisingly it tastes smokier than it did when it was young. There is some bitterness, but the beer is now more malt balanced than it once was. The porter character isn't as strong as I expected, the smoke and the age are more potent than the malt character. The fresh bready malt character is gone.

Mouthfeel – It has a nice creaminess, with moderate carbonation. Solid mouthfeel for a medium-high gravity porter.

Drinkability & Notes – Easy to drink, lots of complexity and no harshness. Pretty close to Alaskan Smoked Porter, but the smoke does not have the “varietal” alder character that the original has. I wonder how the malt smoking technique differed. A very solid beer, this is my last bottle, but at 15 months old it tastes like it is headed downhill anyway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Outbreak 2009 - Infected Barrel

Sounds as if our Bourbon Barrel Wee Heavy has come down with a pellicle. We have no idea what caused it, could be an infected batch, the old barrel, or the fact that the beer was surrounded by funky beers and just wanted to fit in. Needless to say this has sent the group scrambling to figure out what to do with the smoked doppelsticke we have been brewing (details to come soon).

For the time being we will probably just toss some more dregs into the wee to aim for an big Oud Bruin-ish beer after another year or so. We are hoping to get a new barrel for the doppelsticke, I am hoping to talk to Copper Fox to see if could have a barrel after they dump one. They malt their own grain (how cool is that?) and smoke it over apple/cherry/oak, so it seems like it would be a good match for a smoked beer.

I am thinking in the future these massive group blend barrel brews may be much less risky if we just go for sour beers, but there are plenty of other people involved with other opinions.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review: Brewing Wheat Beers

German Wheat Beers (Classic Style Series #7) is the oldest book I have reviewed up to this point, published way back in 1992. Thankfully not much changes in twenty years when you are talking about German brewing, so the information is still very applicable. Eric Warner, the author, studied brewing in Germany and worked at a couple German breweries, so he clearly had the right resume for writing this book. The most recent info I can find on him is that he was brewing for Flying Dog last year, not sure if he moved with them to Maryland after they closed shop in Denver (too bad
-->they don't do a hefe their hefe doesn't live up to his reputation).


German Wheat Beers
focuses on the most popular styles, hefeweizen, dunkleweizen, and weizenbock in good depth, and also briefly mentions a few more obscure styles. Weisse (German for white) and is the preferred term over there for wheat beers (much as Belgian wheats are called wits), while Americans tend to use weizen (German for wheat). So either one can be used, but for this review I'll stick with the American usage.

Content: I really enjoyed the anecdote he starts off the introduction with about his first day brewing professionally in Germany. The short version is that during the morning break of his first day on the job he ordered a coffee to the embarrassment of his coworkers, who ordered weissebier and pretzel (I can tell you I would be a lot happier at my job if I got to do that every morning).

The first chapter covers the history/popularity of using wheat in German brewing as well as some nutritional information. There is nothing too exciting here, but it paints a picture of wheat brewing as both a long standing pillar of German brewing and of its outsider status against the more common lager styles.

The second chapter gives an overview of the wide variety of wheat beers made in Germany. It covers all of the standard beers that most people have heard of, but also talks pretty extensively about BerlinerWeisse and Kristall Weizen, as well as brief mentions of other more obscure styles (Leichtes/light Weissbier, Bremer Weisse ). There is both a general discussion of flavors as well as some much more technical analysis of the various styles. This chapter is very similar to the BJCP guidelines, but includes several styles which the BJCP does not.

The next chapter covers the science behind the more common wheat beers. Issues of bitterness (low), carbonation (high), color, pH, and alcohol are touched on, but the focus is on the two classic flavor components banana (isoamyl-acetate) and clove (4-vinyl-guaiacol). Adding a low temperature rest can enhance the clove phenol by freeing up extra ferulic acid, while banana is a result of the yeast selection and the fermentation temperature. The author suggests a pretty low pitching and fermentation temperatures, advice that many brewpubs could use for their Hefes if the banana/bubblegum bombs I tend to get are any indication.

The fourth chapter covers the various brewing techniques that are employed. This focuses a good deal on the mash, but also water, boiling, and similar pre-fermentation topics are also examined. A decoction mash is emphasized and I think is important if you are going with a simple pils/wheat grain bill. That said I have tasted many fine weizens that get some extra maltiness from Munich or melanodin malt. A decoction also helps if you are planning to do a multi-step mash and do not have a heated mash tun.

Chapter five is all about fermentation. There is a lot of focus on yeast handling, pitching rates, repitching yeast, He has a brief mention of many breweries giving their weizens a short lagering period. This is something that I really like, but is not popular in the homebrewing community (where the mantra tends to be drink weizens as young as possible). This chapter finishes with a discussion of bottle conditioning.

Chapter six covers such topics as how to pour a wheat beer (including the "flashy nightclub pour"), glassware, and other related topics. There is a short section on food pairing, but nothing too in depth. There are some really funny pictures circa 1990 of Germans enjoying beer.

Recipes:
The actual malt/hop bills all make sense to me (they are simple and look well constructed), but the instructions on how to brew them are severely outdated. Just the way the recipes are written goes against "modern" homebrew convention, hops are given as grams of alpha acid (with the HBUs tacked on), and hop timing is given as minutes from the start of the boil (not from the end). The recipes also suggest bottling many of the beers right after attenuation finishes (2-3 days after pitching), which certainly risks bottle bombs and is odd given that the time line he relates for commercial brewers is much more relaxed.

Yeast choice is not mentioned in any of the recipes because (I assume) there was not much in the way of commercial weizen yeasts available back then. In the source list for yeast at the end of the book he simply lists German breweries.

I used many of the general suggestions given by the book when I brew a hefe last fall. That said I certainly modified the techniques in the recipe chapter to match the advances in homebrewing since then. I went with a very simple grain bill, easy on the hops, a decoction mash, and fermented on the cool end of the spectrum. It was such a great batch that I don't think I will change a single thing when I brew it again (something I have never done).

The recipe section includes both extract and all-grain recipes, not as conversions of the same recipes, but as completely separate recipes. There are only two extract recipes and the book itself focuses on all-grain techniques, so this may not be a great buy for an extract brewer.

Accuracy: I thought the accuracy overall was very good, although (as I said above) some of the suggestions on how to replicate the commercial practices at home are a bit outdated. It is more a book about what the pros do, so that information can always be adapted to the current homebrew "best practices."

Readability:
It is not a particularly snappy read, it has lots of technical information and is clearly aimed just as much at microbrewers as it is at homebrewers. The charts are a bit dense, it would have been nice if they were simplified to highlight the important comparisons. It could use more summary sections that pull out the key tips rather than forcing you to dig through the technical justification to find the applicable sections.

Overall: German Wheat Beers must have been a revelation when it came out 17 years ago. Even today I am not sure there is a better reference for most of these styles, although Designing Great Beers comes close on all but Berliner weisse. I would strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in brewing German wheat beers. It would have been nice to hear more details about the more obscure German beers, styles like Gose (contains wheat), Roggenbier (a dunkle weizen with rye malt instead of wheat), and Dampfbier (a hefeweizen without the wheat) would also have been worth mentioning at a minimum.

This is still the definitive look at brewing wheat beers... at least until Stan (BLAM) Hieronymus' Brewing with Wheat is published.

A bit late on this review, but with the nice weather here it has been getting harder to find time to write these. After next week's Microbrewed Adventures review I'll be done with my initial set of reviews. I've got an Amazon order in for Randy Mosher's Tasting Beer as well as Drew Beechum's The Everything Homebrewing Book, so there will be more reviews coming sporadically. It seems like there are lots of other brewing books out there, any suggestions for other books I haven't covered (particularly new titles)?

Monday, June 1, 2009

EisAdam (HoTD Dave Clone)


Back in 1994 Hair of the Dog (during their first year in business) took 300 gallons of Adam (their peat smoked 10% dark ale), froze it twice (removing 200 gallons of ice in the process) to create a 29% ABV beer. After four years of aging Dave (as he is called) took first at the 1998 Barleywine Festival at the Toronado. Since then there were occasional reports of the beer showing up at festivals from time to time. A couple years back some of the beer was bottled for rereleased (in that ugly clear screw-top bottle) at the brewery it (reportedly) had a price of $80 per bottle.

Reviews for the beer were so positive, and it was so rare that at a charity auction for Fredfest last year a single 375 ml bottle sold for more than $700. That is the most I have ever heard of someone paying for a bottle of beer that would most likely be drank.

Ice concentration intensifies both the alcohol and the sugars in the beverage (unlike distillation which concentrates just the alcohols and other volatile compounds). This process is most often associated with German eisbock and American applejack, both of which strive for a balance between boozy and sweet.

For a long time I assumed that ice concentration was considered distillation and was thus illegal for homebrewers. James Spencer over at Basic Brewing Radio talked to both the ATF and the TTB and neither had a problem with homebrewers doing ice concentrations, it would only be a issue (and just a tax one at that) if a commercial brewer did this.

So after brewing up a three gallon batch of Adam clone I thought it would be worth taking a shot at producing something along the lines of Dave (a beer I will probably never get to try). I'm not a huge fan of strong drinks in general, so I just wanted to make a couple bottles to see how the technique works.

I took 1/2 gallon of beer from the secondary and put it into a sanitized tupperware container. I put it into the freezer for 24 hours. The next day when I took it out it was mostly solid. A few quick scrapes with a fork and it broke up into large flakes.


I placed the beer granita into a sieve and let it drain for about an hour. Once most of the color had left the ice (taking with it most of the sugar and alcohol) I discarded it. This step cut the volume in half. The gravity of the discarded ice was ~1.004, so it was mostly water.


I poured the concentrated beer back into the tupperware and placed it back in the freezer. The concentrated alcohol and sugar worked as a powerful antifreeze, after another 24 hours in the freezer the beer had only turned into a weak slush. I tried letting the beer melt through the sieve again, but this time I was only about to reduce the volume by a small amount (and the ice never got as white as it had the first time).

Even without much of a second freeze the FG of the beer had more than doubled from 1.023 to 1.050, which I assume means that the beer had also more than doubled in alcohol to around 22% ABV (since that would mean that both the alcohol and the sugar have doubled). Not quite as strong as the original, but still about 8% bigger than anything else I have made.


As you can see the concentrated beer (on the left) is certainly darker. The flavor was heavier with an evident alcohol burn on the tongue (even at close to freezing). The flavor was not as sweet as I expected, but it was certainly super-malty. The peat smoke was present, but it was not overpowering. I'll do a full tasting once the beer has some age on it.

Once I was done I filled up two twelve ounce bottles and to each I added a single cube of American oak that had been soaking in bourbon. I'll open one sometime next winter and one a year after that.

Post-Script
Several weeks later AJ and I ran an ABV test on the beer, it turned out to be 17.5% ABV. Not quite as high as I hoped, but still not bad.

Post-Post-Script
I finally tasted the beer about 7 months later and it didn't show any signs of oxidation.  It was still very boozy though and the single oak cube really came through, as well as dark fruit and the peat. 

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