11 1 / 2013

That, right there, is my Rye Guy IPA I brewed in December. It’s been in the bottle for a few weeks now. It’s perfectly carbonated and ready to drink.

And drink it I have. Probably too much. I only got 20-25 bottles out of the brew and I’m trying to ration them, but … damn. It’s hard.

Rye is so wonderful in a beer, if used right. It’s crisp and dry. It is complex, too. Working with Cascade — a citrusy hop — this beer really shines. The citrus floats on top of the Rye flavor. It’s a wonderful combination. I don’t thing I’d change a thing if I brew this again. I would like to experiment, though, and maybe use Chinook — just to see what it’s like. But I think the grain bill is spot on and I think the amount of Rye (20 percent) is perfect.

My porter I brewed? Well, it isn’t receiving the same reviews.

My North Country Porter tastes good. It is complex. It’s got a lot going on, with chocolate and coffee bouncing back and forth on your tastebuds. But the mouthfeel is off. It’s too thin. It needs more body.

This is a case of a beer that might taste good but it’s not the complete package. I think if I up the mouthfeel a little bit, it will all come together. I’m tempted to use oats if I brew it again, but I don’t know how much I would blur the lines between a robust porter and an oatmeal stout.

I brewed my Bohemian-ish Pilsner earlier this week. Brew day went well, but it was long. I had to heat up two different batches of sparge water, which I think was the big issue. I’m working on a new system and I don’t have all the kinks worked out. Maybe one of these days. But hey, that’s what being a homebrewer is all about, right?

Anyway, I was shooting for a 1.054 OG and I got 1.053. I’ll take that every day. Especially since this was my first five-gallon batch in many, many months. In fact, it was my first five-gallon, all-grain batch. I wasn’t sure how that would factor into everything, but I pretty much hit all my numbers. I mashed a little too low, but I was able to compensate with a little hot water and make those grains happy happy.

As the yeasties get busy in the pilsner, my next brew is my Motueka Pale Ale rebrew. It will be another five-gallon batch, so it will probably be another long day. I also have the grain for a 2.5-gallon double IPA. I just need to figure out the hop schedule and I can brew that at some point.

Speaking of hops, I have some pretty good ones in the freezer ready to be used: Galaxy, Citra, Amarillo, Sorachi Ace, Chinook, Falconer’s Flight 7C’s and Simcoe. That doesn’t even include Motueka, which will be used in the pale ale (obviously), and Mosaic, which is a new hop that most people, let alone me, haven’t brewed with yet. It’s considered the “daughter” of Simcoe. Simcoe is one of my favorite hops, so it was worth it to buy a few ounces of it.

That’s the update. If you want to chat beer, shoot me an email (rbooth9 AT gmail DOT com) and I’d be happy to get back to you.

21 12 / 2012

I should really try to get back into a regular swing of this blog.

My brewing is back at a normal pace, maybe even higher than normal since my move. Here’s some updates. Just random nuggets of beer goodness:

  • Porter carbing. I tasted my North Country Porter last week. It was one week in the bottle and not even close to being carbed. Whatever. It happens. It was way too sweet and way too boozy. I tasted it again last night and was much more impressed. I would say, roughly, it was 1,000 times better last night than the week before. The sweetness and boozy taste was cut down because of the carbonation and this porter is really coming together nicely.
  • Oh my Rye. My Cascade Rye IPA has been sitting in the primary for a few weeks now. I typically like about 2-3 weeks in the primary to let it settle. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a dry hop: I had one ounce of Cascade, so how long should I dry hop? Three days? Seven? Ten? I’m typically a 7-10-day dry hop guy, but I decided I’d go with three. So on Wednesday I decided to take a sample and dry hop. The beer tastes great right out of the fermenter, without even the dry hop addition. I have never had a beer taste so good out of the fermenter. I think I am figuring this hobby out. Bottling on Saturday.
  • Brews on the way. I have grain for two beers to be brewed soon, hopefully next week. One is a Bohemian-ish Pilsner (to be named), brewed with Saaz and Magnum hops. It’s going to be a light, easy-drinking beer that I hope to get as clear as possible. I’m aiming for the Bud drinkers with this brew. Also, I am re-brewing my Motueka Pale Ale, which was a big hit. If you remember correctly, it was my first all-grain brew. So I decided I’d make it a bigger batch with a few tweaks. I’m excited to see how this comes out on the new system and some tweaks.

Another note on the next two brews: They are a part of a bigger project, which I’m going to keep pretty close to the vest. But when the times comes, hopefully, I’ll blog about the details.

With that, go drink a beer.

26 10 / 2012

(Source: planetbeer)

22 10 / 2012

Oh, boy. It’s been far too long.

I got out of the beer-brewing game this summer because, well, it was the summer. I tried brewing a SMaSH toward the beginning of the summer months and it was difficult. The beer came out all right, but it was such a pain trying to regulate temperature. It was definitely my most screwed up batch yet. (I even bought a little wine cooler to use as a fermentation chamber afterward, but I didn’t have an opportunity to use it.)

But I’m back and ready to brew.

This weekend, I am moving to northern New Hampshire. And when I say “northern,” I mean north. Like, really north. Like, I-can-smell-Canada north. To mark the occasion I will be brewing a beer — and maybe even two.

One is a Double IPA with Warrior, Galaxy and Motueka hops. This recipe was ironed out months and months ago, but I never got around to brewing it. Hopefully, with a new system (outside/garage, ground burner), I can do that.

But the real brew I’m excited for is a Robust Porter. I got the recipe from Ed Wort on HomeBrewTalk.com, but I had to modify it to my system and downsize it to 2.5 gallons.

Here’s how it’s looking right now:

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.50 gal   
Estimated OG: 1.063 SG
Estimated Color: 29.8 SRM
Estimated IBU: 32.2 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
5 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)           Grain         1        79.9 %        
7.0 oz                Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)    Grain         2        7.0 %         
7.0 oz                Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)               Grain         3        7.0 %         
3.5 oz                Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM)                 Grain         4        3.5 %         
2.1 oz                Black (Patent) Malt (500.0 SRM)          Grain         5        2.1 %         
0.5 oz                Roasted Barley (300.0 SRM)               Grain         6        0.5 %         
0.50 oz               Northern Brewer [8.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop           7        24.3 IBUs     
0.25 oz               Cascade [5.50 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           8        7.9 IBUs      
3.64 oz               Malto-Dextrine (Boil 20.0 mins)          Other         9        -             
1.0 pkg               Nottingham Ale Yeast (White Labs #WLP039 Yeast         10       -             

It will be my first dark beer I brew. At my girlfriend’s request, it’s a porter. It’s my first Ed Wort recipe, too, but everything I’ve read speaks highly about his brews. I’m excited to start working with porters and stouts. But don’t worry: I’ll still be trying to make a killer Double IPA whenever I can.

14 6 / 2012

I am drinking the first bottle of my Willamette American Blonde right now, and I can’t believe it: This thing is good.

I didn’t have high hopes for this beer. I had 3 oz. of Willamette in my freezer and I know I had to use it up somehow. So I searched for recipes using Willamette and found a belgian blonde recipe. Since I’m not a huge fan of belgian beers (more specifically, belgian yeast), I tweaked it into an “American blonde.”

That means: hoppy and clean yeast (at least, in my mind it does). I actually dry hopped for longer than I wanted to, but couldn’t get around to bottling.

ANYWAY, it’s light, crisp and refreshing. The mouthfeel is quite thin, which is new for me. It has a little bit of peppery bite to it and it’s perfectly bitter. The aroma is good, too, but I think you can tell it was dry hopped a little too long. But it certainly doesn’t disrupt this beer. It’s got a little bit of a fruit toward the end, too. You can taste a little bit of of the pilsner as well.

My beer is almost gone. I have another home brew I want to try tonight, but I really want to put another Blonde into the fridge to try it again. I’m really shocked and amazed that it’s as good as it is.

And consider this: It’s been in the bottle for a week. But nice head and great carbonation. This will be a great warm-weather brew.

12 6 / 2012

The wait is over: I’m finally going to brew a SMaSH.

For those of you who don’t know what a SMaSH is, it means “Single Malt and Single Hop.” These are very simple recipes that are meant to showcase what the malt and hops can do to a beer.

I’ve been intrigued by SMaSH recipes for a while now. I’ve been wanting to brew one since I started this hobby but had never pulled the trigger.

But here it is, my first SMaSH recipe. It’s brewed with Vienna malt and Simcoe hops (which I’m finding out is harder and harder to find):

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 3.00 gal
Post Boil Volume: 2.46 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 2.50 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.057 SG
Estimated Color: 5.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 40.4 IBUs
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
5 lbs 8.0 oz          Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                    Grain         1        100.0 %       
0.25 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min         Hop           2        17.1 IBUs     
0.25 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 20.0 min         Hop           3        10.3 IBUs     
0.25 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min         Hop           4        6.2 IBUs      
0.50 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min          Hop           5        6.8 IBUs      
0.75 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min          Hop           6        0.0 IBUs      
1.0 pkg               Safale American  (DCL/Fermentis #US-05)  Yeast         7        -             
1.00 oz               Simcoe [13.00 %] - Dry Hop 7.0 Days      Hop           8        0.0 IBUs      

It should be a nice, middle of the road pale ale. Not too bitter, with a nice aroma of the Simcoe. I think I’m in love already.

I’ll be brewing this week (hopefully). I’ll check back when I do.

09 6 / 2012

This is the greatest satisfaction in home brewing: bottling.

Not the actual process, mind you. That is terrible. But when you are all done bottling and you put your bottles into a box and you put your bottles into the back of the closet.

Awesome.

So that’s what I did with my Willamette American Blonde today. It’s gone. It’s in bottles. It’s been consumed by my closet. Now I feel so good.

So what’s next?

I’m an IPA whore, so I made up a new recipe for a very bitter double IPA. I’m still tweaking the recipe, but I want to bitter with Warrior and have Amarillo for flavor and aroma. I’d need to buy Warrior and just another ounce or two of Amarillo to get it done.

My only issue now is the grain bill. I’m sticking with 2-row as the base, but I’ve toyed with toasted malt, Vienna, some crystal and whatever else to finish off the grain. I’m trying to avoid sweetness, so if I have crystal it’s going to be a real small amount. I like toasted because it will give an earthy taste and some color. Vienna seems like a good option because it gives it color but isn’t as sweet as Munich.

Anybody want to help?

I’ve said for a couple months I’d do a red ale, but I’ve balked at that for a while. I’m not sure why. It’s probably because I haven’t found a red ale that I’ve really loved, so what are the odds I brew a red ale I really love?

Another issue I need to think about is how to ferment beer this summer. It’s getting warmer, so I’m going to have to combat that somehow. I saw this nifty thing recently, but I can’t help but think there’s an easier and cheaper way to reproduce that. I could “build” a swamp cooler, too. That’s certainly an option.

Whatever I do, I need to figure it out soon before I brew. Who knows what the New England weather is going to bring. It could be 95 degrees on Saturday and then snowing on Sunday.

My beer won’t like that.

(PS: My closet isn’t exactly empty. I have 95 bottles of home brew in there, either ready to drink or soon-to-be ready to drink. Anybody want to take some off my hands? Email me! rbooth AT gmail DOT com)

05 6 / 2012

Hello there. You’re my one reader. How are you this afternoon? Long time no talk. Nice to see you again.

It’s been a while since I last posted about dry hopping. Good for me for having a real life! To update you on all things homebrewing…:

  • Bottled my DIPA. Yup, that was pretty much the worst bottling day of my life. I stank like beer afterward, but that wasn’t because I was drinking it. Just too many problems to even list. Alas, I got my DIPA bottled.
  • And I drank my DIPA. I only got 18 bottles of my Flying the Coop DIPA, unfortunately, but I had a week-old bottle because I’m impatient. It tasted pretty good despite its youth. I think it’s a little sweet, but I’ll work with it,
  • Willamette to be bottled soon. I dry hopped the Willamette American Blonde last Saturday. It’s been a week plus now and it’s time to bottle. I tend not to go more than seven days, but I’ve been extremely busy with work so I’m hoping to get it done within the next two days. Something tells me I’ll be getting a grassy blonde…

I got a pretty favorable review of my Motueka Pale Ale. So much so that I’m going to enter it into a home brew competition here in the great state of New Hampshire. I have plenty of bottles left of it because I’ve been stingy. I’d love to get some feedback on it.

I’m also thinking of brewing another IPA for the competition. I need an IPA with more bitterness, so I’m going to get some Warrior and maybe make a Warrior/Amarillo DIPA. I have 3 oz. of Amarillo that needs a home, so this may be a good place for it.

I’m playing around with the grain bill. I’ve had luck with a 2-row/crystal bill — simplicity is always great — but I’ve been dabbling in adding a few other grains in the mix. My Flying the Coop had a touch of Munich as well. I’m thinking I might toss in Vienna this time.

Changing the base malt is an idea that’s out there, but I think I might want to do a SMASH first before I make that leap. That would absolutely give me a better idea of what the grain swap would do for me.

What else? My love of New Zealand hops may be tugging at my heart strings once again. Rakau looks like a nice hop. Why not a Rakau IPA or pale ale? Passionfruit and peaches. That sounds like a winner to me.

In other news: I just drank my last Sixpoint Resin and I’m sipping on a Dogfish Head Burton Baton. My love of IPAs will never cease, I fear. But life is good with hops. Hops never fail.

17 5 / 2012

Flying the Coop DIPA, dry hopped with more Falconer’s Flight. Dry hopped on Tuesday. Bottling next Tuesday.

—-

For whatever reason it seems that the standard dry hopping question has been bouncing around HBT a ton the last few days:

How long do you dry hop?

So, very quickly, this is what I do for my pale ales and IPAs: 14 days fermenting, seven days dry hopping.

I never do more than 10 days dry hopping. It’s always 7-10. I may have done 10 once. Regardless, every time I’ve reached desired results.

I’ve read that you can get a grassy taste if you dry hop for 14+ days. I’ve also read that you can reach desired aroma within three to four days. It’s worth a shot, in my opinion (because, really, what isn’t?), but until I feel gutsy enough to stray from the beaten path, this is how I’ll do it.

And another dry hopping note: I don’t use a secondary anymore. I did for my first brew so I could dry hop. It was fine and all, but I think it was a lot of unnecessary work. Just dropping the hops into the primary 14 days after the start of fermentation is about, oh, 4,000 times simpler.

One day I might work with hop bags but, again, just throwing the hops in works well. I deal with more sludge and trub, but it’s not the hardest thing to clean up.

My last note on dry hopping: It works really, really well. So if you’re ever on the fence on doing a dry hop for an IPA, don’t even think about it. Just do it. It’s worth it. And like I said, it’s extremely simple.

Even I can do it. What does that say?

12 5 / 2012

The Willamette American Blonde is in the books. About six hours later, we already have a trickle of fermentation.

No big problems today. I missed my gravity by about 4 points again. Like I’ve said before, I’ll take that. Fourteen points? Not so much.

Anyway, brew day went well. It was probably the best I’ve had. So here’s what’s going on in my closet:

  • FERMENTING: Flying the Coop DIPA, Willamette American Blonde
  • BOTTLED: Hoppy Birthday Pale Ale, Hooray! IPA, The Hefe Eff, Motueka Pale Ale

The Motueka, while we’re talking about it, is fantastic. It can probably be classified more of an IPA than a pale ale. All I really know is that it’s a damn good beer. But that was also my first 2.5-gallon batch. So having fewer bottles means I can’t drink it as much. It’s a sad realization. It will really hit me when it’s all gone.

Next on the docket? I have no idea. Maybe a red? Maybe some apfelwein? Maybe another IPA? If you have any ideas, let me know.