Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rockit Cup Dry Stout Brewday

It’s time to get my Afrikka Bambaataa “Planet Rock” on. And if that reference is lost on you, let me give you a hand: “Everybody just rock it, don’t stop it/ Gotta rock it, don’t stop.” I’d drop some “Looking for the Perfect Beat” on you, but I can see I’ve already blown your mind. That’s what that ill shit will do. And no, I will not draw you a diagram.

Yes, that is a bike seat.

For the latest installment of the Rockit Cup, we’re venturing into the land of stouts. Bring on the roasty dry goodness. And, um, other things. Word.

99. Rockit Cup Dry Stout
7 lbs. Muntons Pale Malt (Pearl)
2 lbs. Flaked Barley
1 lb. Muntons Roasted Unmalted Black Barley

Mashed @ 150° F w/ 4 gallons of RO water for 60 minutes; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.060
Batch sparged @ 170° F w/ 4 gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 4 ¼ gallons @ 1.026

Collected 6 ½ gallons; brought to a boil (60 minute) and added:

w/60 to go: 2 oz. Kent Golding pellet 5.8% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish moss

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched Wyeast 1028 London Ale

Brewed: 9/20/2011 @ 70° F
Secondary: I skipped this via lack of time—stupid time
Bottled: 10/8/2012 w/2 oz. table sugar; the vast majority of this went into two mini-kegs, and the rest got bottled.

OG: 1.042
FG: 1.012

Tastes good going into the bottle; here’s hoping that some carbonation happens for next Friday’s Rockit Cup throw-down.

Ah, mini-keg, I love you so...

Tasting Notes (10/14/2011): In sweet sweet Rockit Cup action, we actually got five people to brew it. Check that—we got four. Ben Cripes cheated and tried to pass off a previous beer as a Rockit Cup beer, and sadly, we let him get away with it. My ire is best explained by the fact that his beer got 1st and mine got 2nd. Go figure. You may think me petty, and sometimes I am, but he used a different yeast and brewed it six months ago. You do the math.

This man is dodgy.

All of the beers were remarkably similar—the variations were slight and nuanced, and with the roastiness of the beers, there was some palate fatigue trying to keep all the components straight and clear. Of the five, Jeffrey’s had that slight sour tang to it that you find in a good dry stout like Guiness—he added the dark grains during the sparge, ala Gordon’s advice in Brewing Better Beer; Ben’s was sweeter with a more even and mellow balance, Tim’s had a slight chocolate sweetness to it, although that chocolate was also flatter and drier (maybe describing it as cocoa would be more appropriate), Brent’s was a brighter chocolate than Tim’s, while mine had a fresh roastiness combined with a slight chalkiness. Oh, and these are my comments from when we were tasting them blind—I’ve retroactively applied names so as not to protect this motley crew. Certainly, none of them are innocent. The final rankings (we all ranked them blind 1-5, and then created cumulative scores): Ben in first, I was in second, Jeffrey third, Tim fourth, and Brent fifth. I’ll type up some more specific tasting notes shortly—I think my version could use a touch more carbonation, so I’m giving it another week or so before trying it again.

484. Epic Brainless on Cherries Belgian-Style Ale

Epic Brewing Company is a new brewery out of Salt Lake City, Utah; they’ve come up pretty hot and heavy as of late, especially here in Dayton—we’ve seen a couple of events featuring their beer, and quite a wide variety of beers as well. I actually had this beer on tap a couple of weeks ago at Lucky’s, and it is much better out of the bottle. Described as a “malt beverage brewed with cherries and aged on oak barrels” (and they do indicate that the barrels are French Oak), Brainless on Cherries is part of Epic’s Exponential Series. And as to why beers from Utah are blowing up in Dayton, Ohio—well, that’s another story, one most likely beyond even my abilities to bullshit.

Brainless on Cherries pours a pinkish grapefruit leavened with an orange-ish tan—it is not quite clear, although less than opaque, and brightly effervescent with a white head that constantly replenishes itself. It also has some pretty ruby-red highlights. The nose contains a good dose of cherry, but there is also plenty of Belgian yeast character—the cherry melds nicely with the perfume-y qualities and fruit esters of the aroma. This is further balanced by fruit pith, a touch of sweet toasty malt (pilsner, I would guess) and some simultaneous spritz-y and mineral notes. We’ll call it candy fruity Belgian goodness. Oak character emerges as the beer warms, but when first poured, it is pretty minimal—unless it is passing itself off as the pith aroma. Flavors start sweet and slightly creamy before plunging into the cherry flavor in the middle; there is slight tacky dryness in the middle that I’ll attribute to the oak as well that gives way to a touch of bright but gentle alcohol as the beer turns to the finish. It concludes with a touch of fruit tartness and some lingering alcohol warmth, although the beer is far lighter and brighter than I initially expected. The fruit flavor is light and balances well with the body of the beer—it is both delicate and subtle. As well, Brainless on Cherries sits lightly on the palate for a 10.7% beer; there is some alcohol flavor and warmth, but far less than anticipated. The bright carbonation contributes to rounding the beer on the tongue (as does the oak); there are a few harsh alcohol hints as the beer warms, but these are minimal. The oak is present but restrained; the emphasis in on the beer and subtle fruit, with the oak playing a supporting role that contributes most to the larger character of the beer. Overall, I’d call this beer a pleasant surprise—it is well-crafted and has more character, subtlety, and nuance that I would had originally given it credit for—and this is after I had it on draft. Elli even had nice things to say—she got nice and tipsy from her share of the bottle—and was pleased with the subtle flavors and smoothness of the beer. We may have to get ourselves a couple more bottles to try...

From the bottle: “You are holding something special—one of only 1,800 bottles released and numbered. Intrigued? Visit http://www.epicbrewing.com/ to explore this limited brew’s precise details.”

From the brewery: “Release 3 we decided to add another layer of flavor to this beer by combining both Sweet and Sour Cherries in the barrel fermentation and aging process but with a higher ratio of sour cherries. We took our double gold medal winning Brainless Belgian, added cherry puree and aged it in French Chardonnay casks for a secondary fermentation in the barrels and some additional aging. Pours a beautiful deep ruby color with a medium white head to pink head. A nice nose of sweet and sourcherries, Belgian malts, and barrel aging. The flavor is dominated by white wine dryness and malt and fruit driven sweetness.”

ABV: 10.7%
Release #3


Saturday, September 17, 2011

483. Jeffrey McElfresh Barleywine

I’m back up on that Jeffrey McElfresh bandwagon. You win some medals, you get that attention. I’ve had this beer for a while—I think Jeffrey’s on like 75 or something now, and this is 39, so you can do the math—and since it won its category at Brewfest, I figured that it was time to bust it on out and see what is what. I guess that makes me the biggest winner, doesn’t it?

JM B-wine pours a rusty brown with a fair amount of orange to it—roughly the color of weak truck stop coffee that you notice is looking a bit sketchy right before the cream goes in—but this is beer, and thus not nearly as disturbing for that particular shade of tepid. It is, however, brilliantly clear—the rusty is color-based, not clarity-based. There are ruby highlights through the glass on the table (which is one difference between this beer and truck stop coffee—this is being consumed out of a glass, not a styrofoam cup), and the barest sheen of carbonation across the top of the beer, although when swirled you can see the carbonation slowly fighting through the thick fluid. This beer also has legs, but since it is around 12% ABV, is anyone really surprised by that? I let it sit for 10 minutes on the counter before opening it after pulling it out of the fridge, and I’m letting it further warm up in the glass while typing all of this. Yes, I’m typing slow. I haven’t even smelled or tasted it yet. Such due diligence.

The nose is rich and warm, with faint, bright alcohol coupled with chewy toffee malt, toasty bread dough, and caramel. There is a decided creaminess and a touch of dried fruit, although no real fruitiness discernable from the yeast. I’m not detecting much in the way of hops either, but the malt is pretty prominent. The malt character grows as it warms, getting more rounded and softer. Flavors are malt forward, at least until the smooth alcohol flavors make their presence felt in the middle and on into the finish—there is bread and toffee with hints of nuttiness running along the edges in the front, dropping into brown sugar and caramel sweetness in the middle. The alcohol flavors provide a balance to the sweetness, although they still have a slight upper hand; they come in right after the brown sugar and dance on the tongue with the caramel malt sweetness. Flavors dry up a bit into the finish, although brown sugar and caramel corn comes into play in the finish, mixed with a warmer alcohol and light hop bite. The body is slightly chewy, although not as chewy as the aroma initially indicates—the alcohol thins and lightens the mouthfeel, although this beer does strike me as still rather young. The creaminess of the nose is in the mouthfeel as well, along with a touch of slickness from the alcohol. As a whole, this is a good beer, but it has not yet achieved the depth or complexity that comes with age—I was hoping for some oxidized or vinous notes along with that malt complexity that comes with age. But all this means is that the second bottle is gonna keep sitting in the basement until it is time for its triumphant rebirth into the mouths of saints and sinners alike. B-wine goes in the B-mouth.

Smack your tweet up, Jeffrey.
The second half of the bottle was slightly more spritzy with the carbonation—a couple skiffs of foam even suffered to hang out for a while on the top of the beer. As it approached room temperature, the body thickened on the palate, although the alcohol also increased in the finish—there was more warmth and a stronger bite that minimized the malt characteristics of the final third, but there was also more brown sugar and caramel across the entire profile.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dayton DRAFT Brewfest Judging

It is that time of year again. Already. DRAFT Brewfest. The name may have changed, but the sound remains the same. And like last year, I foolishly agreed to be the Cellar Master. Next year, would some one please tell me to NOT to be Mr. Happy Volunteer? Although when the time comes, I’m certain someone will be happy to throw me under the bus. Thanks in advance for that, by the way. I will say, with a year of previous experience, dealing with all of the beer was a hell of a lot easier. And I mean a lot. You know what they say about practice, don’t you? That’s right, it makes an ass out of you and me. Anyway, we had 214 beers total this year, so an increase from last year. The final results are posted here.

Highlights included watching Jeffrey McElfresh utterly destroy the competition (he won four categories and got second in three others), trying to figure out how my Rockit Cup Saison ended up getting third place (which means it did better here than in the Rockit Cup, where I was fourth out of four, although I will attempt to validate my performance there through noting the quality of the competition), and drinking all of Jule Rastikis’ leftover beers. That’s right, being Cellar Master has its perks, and drinking all the leftover 16E entries is one of them. And that man knows how to make some tasty, tasty beers. The one with service berries, blue berries, honey, orange peel, and dark candi sugar was a pure delight. So thank you, Jules—your beer was one of the highlights of my day. Sadly, however, there were no underground catacombs to tour after the competition...

And I’m still waiting for my poetic complaints from last year, dammit. Jeffrey, get to work.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dandelion Saison Brewday

More dandelion. It’s just like more cowbell, only different. After the mixed success of the last couple of versions—74 ended up good, but it took a while—I’m here to give it another shot. I plan on splitting this batch, bottling half as is and racking half onto several pounds of frozen cherries. The first version will be a plain ol’ dandelion saison, but the other half will magically become Dr. Morgan’s Stupendous Gout-B-Gone. You heard it here first—consider gout cured by the sheer fluid potency of my fantastic elixir. You’re welcome, America.

98. Dandelion Saison
8 lbs. MFB Pilsner
1 lb. Weyerman Light Wheat
1 lb. Weyerman Light Munich
1 lb. Weyerman Acidulated Malt

Mashed @ 150° F w/ 4 gallons of RO water for 90 minutes; collected 2 ½ gallons @ 1.064
Batch sparged @ 165° F w/ 3 ¾ gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 3 ¾ gallons @ 1.034

Collected 6 ¼ gallons; brought to a boil (70 minute) and added:

w/60 to go: 1 oz. Hallertauer leaf 4.1% AA
3 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
2.85 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish moss
1.2 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
1.35 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped

w/5 to go: 1.2 oz. dandelion leaves, coarsely chopped
1.35 oz. dandelion root, coarsely chopped
½ oz. ginger, coarsely chopped
2 g. coriander, lightly crushed
1 g. grains of paradise, lightly crushed

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched Wyeast 3711 French Saison (mason jar saved from 95)

Brewed: 9/3/2011 @ 65° F
Secondary: 10/20/2011 @ 1.000
Bottled: 10/26/2011 w/4 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.000

Tasting Notes (5/18/2012): First, a disclaimer: I never found any appropriate cherries to rack this beer onto (next time, I’ll punch that Fruit Fast Montmorency Tart Cherry concentrate ticket—yes, I've learned my lesson). So sorry, America, you’ll have to keep waiting for Dr. Morgan’s Stupendous Gout-B-Gone.

Dandelion Saison pours a crystal clear straw with a thin white head replenished by the small streaming bubbles up the side of the glass. It reminds me of champagne it the clarity and brilliancy in the glass—there are bright gold highlights on the table from the light passing through the beer. The nose is sweet candy pilsen malt coupled with a light floral earthiness and spiciness—more dandelion than hop. Flavors start bright, sweet, and dry; the dandelion earthy bitterness picks up in the middle along with some fruity and floral yeast esters—I’d describe it as classic 3711 flavor—before dropping into the dry, brut-like finish. There is a slight tartness in the finish from the acidulated malt along with some residual sweetness that lingers along with the dandelion bitterness, creating something of a bitter candy flavor on the back of the mouth and throat. The body is bone dry; the sweetness is residual flavor with no corresponding mouthfeel components, while the carbonation is medium, and slightly spritzy. A good beer, but it could be better; next time I make this, I need to increase the hop bitterness (like, say, at least two ounces of Styrian Golding, or something like that—something that will work well with the dry body), as well as the carbonation—it is lively in the glass, but not on the palate. The beer does finish dry, but the FG is 1.000. I’d like a sharper bite on the tongue from the carbonation to better match the body, and I might consider another ½ lb. of the acidulated malt to crisp it further in the finish.