Friday, February 24, 2012

SODZ British Beer Fest Judging

Another bright, sunshiny morning that found Jeff, Jeffrey, and myself rolling towards Columbus. Unlike two weeks ago, when Jeffrey was the sucker driving, this time it was my turn for early morning suffering, especially since judging began at the more traditional 9 a.m. as opposed to the benevolent and generous noonish of the last event. Plus, since I was hand carrying my entries, that bumped up our arrival time to 8:30 a.m. Good times!

First beer of the day: right along at the crack of suffering...

And, like last year, this year’s event was at the Winking Lizard. Ugh. So painful. Maybe someday, men will roundly realize that gratuitous references to their junk aren’t really that clever. Or funny. Or interesting. Something tells me not to hold my breath, though. Unless I’m looking to be deaded.

But I digress, as is my wont. This was another easy judging day—one morning flight, then onto the awards. I judged 12. Porters: we had 28 beers between three sets of judges, and there were several enjoyable beers, topped out by Gordon Strong’s Brown Porter, which was, well, delicious. And the beers I entered managed to do reasonably well: my Rockit Cup Scottish 60 Schilling ended up second in Scottish and Irish Ales category, and the Lucci Cup Scottish 80 Schilling I made precisely for this event made it to the mini-BOS for the Lucci Cup, so that was nice to see. I even got a ribbon! Hooray! The ride home to Dayton was about as festive as the ride to Columbus, the only exception being it was Jeffrey sleeping in the backseat while Jeff kept me company for the ride home. For all the results, see here. Thanks, SODZ! See you next year!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Rockit Cup Belgian Session IPA Brewday

Rockit! Rockit! Rockit!

Our latest installment in the now world-famous Rockit Cup competition. This one features a whole crap-load of late addition hops to build the hop profile (know as hop bursting—if you’d like some more sweet math action to accompany your beer brewing knowledge, see here; you can also check out Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing, 52-3); as you can see, hop additions are all in the last 20 minutes. I heard through the grapevine that one nameless participant (Scott) did say this was the most hops he’d ever used in a beer. Can you feel the learning?

110. Rockit Cup Belgian Session IPA
8 ½ lbs. Weyermann Pilsner
1 lb. Breiss Caramel 80° L
½ lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mashed @ 154° F w/4 gallons of RO water for 60 minutes; collected 2 ¾ gallons @ 1.076
Batch sparged @ 163° F w/4 gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 3 ¾ gallons @ 1.022
Collected 6 ½ gallons; added 1 qt. to bring volume to 6 ¾ gallons; brought to a boil (90 minute) and added:

w/20 to go: 1 ¼ oz. Simcoe leaf ­14.1% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Simcoe leaf 14.1% AA
1 oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA

w/0 to go: 1 ½ oz. Simcoe leaf 14.1% AA
1 ¾ oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched Wyeast 1762 Belgian Abbey II

Brewed: 2/20/2012 @ 68° F
Secondary: 3/1/2012; dry hop: ½ oz. Simcoe leaf 14.1% AA & ½ oz. Centennial leaf 11.5% AA
Bottled: 3/3/2012 w/ 3 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.014

Tasting Notes: (3/9/2012) For this Rockit Cup, there were four participants: Jeffrey McElfresh, Brian Gallow, Scott Young, and myself. All of the beers were good; it is getting easier to pick out and pick apart these beers—I could easily pick out Jeffrey’s and mine because I know we used the same yeast (no one else had 1762, since there was none in town, so any Belgian yeast was dubbed acceptable), and of the other two, Scott’s house character stood out. Brian’s beer was by way of elimination, but still correct. Jeffrey’s was the clear winner, while Brian ended up second, I was third, and Scott was fourth.

(4/17/2012) Rockit Cup Belgian IPA pours an orange copper with a rich white head that laces the glass well. The wheat malt is really pulling its weight in this beer. Initial aromas are focused on hops: spicy pine and resin citrus. The hop bursting certainly helps create a delicate and complex hop aroma. There is also some caramel in the background, but it is well buried underneath the hop aroma. Flavors also start with hops. Here, the spice and resin is more prevalent. When we first had it, there was more delicate citrus and orange, but that has faded in the last month, leaving more of an orange marmalade hop flavor as the beer moves into the bitterness of the middle. The pine flavor comes in as the bitterness asserts itself, although by no means is the hop bitterness aggressive, and I get a touch of the Centennial sourness that I do so love and cherish—it always helps to round and balance, even in excessive beers. If pushed on the matter, I might claim that the effect is based upon the magic of Centennial, and leave it at that. There is a touch of caramel sweetness in the front, but it is very unobtrusive, serving mainly as balance for the body; as for other malt flavors, there is not much—the Weyermann Pilsner offers an unobtrusive body that works well with the beer. The finish has bitterness, but it is subdued and in balance with the rest of the beer—the focus is more on complexity and balance, creating a beer that is quaffable and clean. The caramel does balance the pine and resin hop flavors, but I would be intrigued to substitute something like a C-8 or C-20 for the C-80, and compare the balance and body between the two. The mouthfeel is medium, as is the carbonation, and there are no real elements that merit commentary; I do get a touch of grassiness in the mouthfeel now that the beer has passed its peak. The yeast character is clean and even—I’ll be interested to compare the next two beers I made with the 1762 cake to see if the Belgian yeast character exerts any more influence on the beer, as in this one, it is well nigh unremarkable. Nonetheless, a solid beer, and something I’d like to play with more. Oh, Rockit Cup, you always make my day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

511. Sun King Osiris Pale Ale

So today was all about the adventure. Which means we threw a hung-over Jeffrey in the backseat, and headed to Indianapolis to check out Sun King Brewing. After all, if you win all of the GABF medals in the world in one year, you’re probably a brewery worth visiting. Especially when you’re only a short two hour drive away.

Visiting the brewery goes like this: on the way into the tasting room, you’re given coupons to sample their beers—four for regular beers, and two for fancy beers. Small samples, certainly, but if they want to dole out the free beer, who I am to stop them? Since it was Saturday, they were also doing tours, so while Jeffrey signed all three of us up, Elli and I started the sampling process. About half way through our samples, we got called for the tour, so after a quick refill, we wandered over to begin the shenanigans. Our tour guide drove the truck during the week, but seemed to be having a good time leading us through the brewery, and putting up with Jeffrey’s questions and both of our desires to poke our heads everywhere. Visiting a brewery becomes a lot more fun when you actually have a sense of the way things work. I did like the pink fermenter that Sun King uses for lagers—so cute! After the tour, we finished our samples, ogled the GABF medals and the small science lab through the window (with yeast slurries on stir plates!), and then got our growlers filled up to take with us. We opted for the Osiris Pale Ale, while who the hell knows what Jeffrey got, since he brought like eight growlers for everyone he knows. Afterwards, to bask in the glow that is Indianapolis, we went to Brugge Brassiere for
lunch and a beer (I had a Harvey, Elli had a Bee’s Knees IPA, and Jeffrey had a sampler), followed by a quick one at Upland’s Tasting Room (the brewery is in Bloomington), a visit to 21st Amendment (beer store, not the brewery—it’s in San Francisco, silly!), and then we hit the road back to Dayton. And, as you can undoubtedly guess, that growler of Osiris became our beer for the day.

Osiris Pale Ale pours a rich, burnished gold—it is clear with a white head that mostly hangs around. In the nose, there is biscuit and caramel malt mixed with pine and resin hop aroma, although the hop character is subdued and comes into play after the malt—the aromatics are subtle and pleasant, performing a delicate dance that offers a pleasant initial encounter with the beer before tasting it. Once in the mouth, flavors start with biscuit and a light breadiness that border on doughiness before the hop flavors—again, pine/evergreen and resin—come into play. The middle features a clean and refreshing bitterness, bright and present, but certainly not overpowering—again, it comes in after the malt flavors. The biscuit returns in the tail-end of the middle and on into the finish; it combines well with the hop bitterness in the finish, creating a clean finish where the bitterness hovers briefly before disappearing. While carbonated, the beer is soft on the palate. There is a slight bite from both the carbonation and the bitterness in the final third of the beer as it turns towards the finish, but again it is subdued and restrained—this beer is a model of balance in both flavor and profile. Osiris is both well-made and approachable; it is an excellent example of an APA, one that would be refreshing and enjoyable all evening long, and certainly worth seeking out. Nice job, Sun King.

ABV: 5.6%
IBU: 50


Saturday, February 11, 2012

APA w/ Edinburgh Yeast Brewday

I wanted to squeeze one more beer out of the WLP 028 yeast cake before I retired it for posterity, so this was my nefarious plan. Plus, some easy-drinking hoppy beer has been in demand for a while now: certain critics who prefer to remain nameless (ahem! Elli! ahem!) have been clear regarding where my brewing brewing priorities should be. Consider this a problem solved.

109. American Pale Ale w/ Edinburgh Yeast
8 lbs. Muntons Pale Ale (Pearl)
1 lb. Weyerman Light Munich
½ lb. Muntons Crystal 60° L
½ lb. Dingemans Cara 45° L
½ lb. Dingemans Cara 20° L
½ lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mashed @ 152° F w/4 ½ gallons of RO water for 60 minutes; collected 3 gallons @ 1.060
Batch sparged @ 168° F w/3 ½ gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 3 ½ gallons @ 1.024

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

w/60 to go: ½ lb. white table sugar
1 oz. Magnum pellet 10.0% AA

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

w/10 to go: ¾ oz Amarillo leaf 10.7% AA

w/5 to go: ¾ oz Amarillo leaf 10.7% AA

w/0 to go: ¾ oz Amarillo leaf 10.7% AA

Chilled, racked onto White Labs WLP 028 Edinburgh Ale cake from 108. Lucci Cup Scottish 80 Schilling

Brewed: 2/11/2012 @ 66° F
Secondary: 2/16/2012 @ 1.014
Bottled: 3/1/2012 w/ 3.0 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.014

Tasting Notes: (4/16/2012) This beer didn’t turn out quite like I expected—while it is certainly malt forward via the yeast, the hops—and specifically the Amarillo components of those hops—are incognito in the nose and flavor. Instead, we’ve got a malty and bready beer with a touch of bitterness that reminds me more of the Rockit Cup Alt than anything really resembling an APA (although the malt character between the two is also different via the 100% Dark Munich used in the Rockit Cup Alt, which give the beer a chewy and delicately fruity but clean malt character, while here malt is more bread crust and cereal). That said, I think it is a delightful beer—it’s just not anything like an APA, regardless of intention and hop profile: the lower yeast attenuation (FG: 1.014) and rounded malt character covers hop aroma and flavor. Some actual comments:

Edinburgh APA pours an orange toffee; it is lightly hazy with a tan head that rouses easily and lingers pleasantly. The nose is fresh bread crust and dough mixed with caramel; there was a touch of hop bitterness at first, but it faded almost instantaneously. Flavors start bright and almost crisp—there is cereal and graininess along with malt breadiness before giving away to the touch of bitterness in the middle, which lingers into the finish. There is also caramel sweetness leading into the finish along with a touch of toffee, but the bitterness cleans it up to finish bright with a touch of dry biscuit flavor. The body is medium as is the carbonation, although the bubbles brighten the beer on the tongue. Clean, even, balanced, this beer certainly reflects the yeast far more than anything else in the recipe. While it didn’t turn out as I expected, it is still a pleasant and easy-drinking beer—I’ve already worked through about half of it, and it still tastes fresh and bright. Not quite the hopy beer I was requested to make. Nonetheless, here’s to happy accidents!

CMI All-American Beer Judging

This day of judging was a little harder than others. First, the DRAFT club meeting was the night before, so needless to say, I was feeling a little slow this morning. My only consolation: so was Jeffrey, who foolishly agreed to drive down to Cincinnati. Also, thankfully, the competition didn’t start until noon. And since there was some slight chaos in regards to organization, Jeffrey and I were able to sneak off to score some food before judging got under way—both of us were too stupid to think to grab something on the drive down from Dayton.

First beer of the day: a much more reasonable time.

Mercifully, there was an abundance of judges as well. I judged APAs with Ben Seifker from SODZ; we only had to judge five beers since there were 12 judges for APAs along with a queued pull. And if I recall, we actually got through more than our share. In other words, this was certainly what I would call an easy point. Afterwards, Jeffrey and I voted to forego our free tickets to the Cincy Winter Beerfest, and instead head back to Dayton. Sad, but true. We did at least swing by the Comet for a beer and a burrito to bolster ourselves for the drive home. Northside! Oh, and results are here.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lucci Cup Scottish 80 Schilling Brewday

This beer is for the Lucci Cup, Frank Barickman’s intra-club challenge for the SODZ British Beer Fest. While I’m not an official SODZ member, I’ll be driving out there to judge. So I consider this my official gate-crashing self-invitation to participate. Plus, since the Lucci Cup is the basic format Jeffrey and I stole for the Rockit Cup, it just feels right. Because it is always easier to steal someone else’s idea than to come up with a good one on your own. Word to that.

108. Lucci Cup Scottish 80 Schilling
8 ½ lbs. Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter
½ lb. Weyerman Dark Munich
½ lb. Flaked Barley
½ lb. Dingemans Cara 45° L
½ lb. Gambrinus Honey Malt
¼ lb. Muntons Crystal 135-165° L
¼ lb. Crisp Pale Chocolate

Mashed @ 158° F w/4 ½ gallons of RO water for 70 minutes; collected 2 ½ gallons @ 1.064; pulled one quart to boil/reduce to caramelize sugars
Batch sparged @ 168° F w/3 ½ gallons RO water for 20 minutes; collected 3 ½ gallons @ 1.024

Collected 6 gallons; added 1 quart for 6 ¼ gallons total; brought to a boil (80 minute) and added:

w/60 to go: 1 oz. Sonnet leaf 4.1% AA
condensed caramel syrup from reduced quart of first running

w/15 to go: 1 tsp. Irish Moss

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched mason jar of White Labs WLP 028 Edinburgh Ale from 104. Rockit Cup Scottish 60 Schilling

Brewed: 2/5/2012 @ 68° F
Secondary: 2/11/2012 @ 1.024
Bottled: 2/16/2012 @ 64° F w/ 2.65 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.024

Tasting Notes: (4/18/2012) While this beer didn’t win me the Lucci Cup, it did make it to the mini-BOS, which is a victory in itself, since there were seventeen 80 Shillings alone. I will have to say, the 60 and 80 Shilling beers have surprising revelations for me—while they are malt forward, they are light, drinkable, and complex. Lucci Cup 80 Shilling pours a burnished copper with orange highlights. It is clear while the head is tan and has decent staying power—it never quite disappears from the center. The nose is sweet, but also lightly crisp; there is caramel and a touch of honey sweetness mixed with hints of chocolate—sort of the slight brown character you get in British beers. Flavors start with a drier bread and almost cracker malt character before the sweetness picks up in the middle, with chocolate and caramel, and also a touch of Munich malt. The carbonation bite cleans the palate, leaving a light chewy bread malt on the tongue through the finish—it ends clean and almost even crisply. The body is medium while the carbonation is light to medium, and the mouthfeel is rounded, lightly chewy, and silky. I think the addition of flaked barley has really helped solidify the mouthfeel—I’ll certainly be using it again in the next version of this beer I make. The restrained complexity makes this beer stand out—I’ll actually be sad when I run through the last six-pack, as this beer is delightful.