Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rock-it Cup Single Hop Session IPA II Brewday

Since I can’t get enough of the Rockit Cup love, I decided to brew another one for April. I used Millenium this time because it has served me well in the past. Hell, if I had the time, I’d brew several more, as Cluster and Styrian Goldings would both make solid additions to the event, and partial pound bags currently reside in my freezer. Sure, this one may not be fully ready for the upcoming DRAFT meeting, but that doesn’t matter. Because you can never have enough small, tasty, super-hoppy beers. Can I get an Amen?

143. Rock-it Cup Single Hop Session IPA II
8 ½ lbs. Rahr 2-row
½ lb. lb. Dingemans Cara 8
½ lb. Dingemans Aromatic
½ lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 151° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 1 ¾ gallons @ 1.082
Batch sparge @ 167° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 ¼ gallons @ 1.024

Collected 6 gallons; added ½ gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: ¾ oz. Millenium 16.6% AA

w/20 to go: 1 oz. Millenium 16.6% AA

w/5 to go: 1 ½ oz. Millenium 16.6% AA

w/0 to go: 1 ½ oz. Millenium 16.6% AA

Let stand for 20 minutes; chilled, racked onto Wyeast 1272 American II cake from 142. Rockit Cup Single Hop Session IPA

Brewed: 3/28/2013 @ 68° F
Secondary: 4/6/2013 @ 1.010; dry hop w/ 1 oz. Millenium 11.0% AA; bottled 1 gallon w/ .55 oz. table sugar
Bottled: 4/27/2013; bottled remaining 4 gallons w/ 2.2 oz. table sugar; filled mini-keg first, then bottled the rest

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.008

Tasting Notes:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

SODZ British Beer Fest Judging

Another early morning for yours truly. Jeff Fortney showed up at my door at 7:00 am, we made a quick detour to grab Chris Wyatt in Yellow Springs, and then rolled on to Columbus. The good news: British Beer Fest relocated to Seventh Son Brewing this year, which was a nicer and better lit venue for beer judging that last year. Sorry, but it’s true. While Seventh Son didn’t have any of their own beers on tap yet, the space and the scenery was better suited to beer judging. And more good news: this was again a one flight competition, which means we could hang around and have a beer and hear the winners. Which was an even mix of Frank Barickman, Gautam Bagchi, and Jeff Fortney. Sure, a couple others got thrown in the mix, but those three took most of the cheese. You can check the rest of the results for yourself. My Rockit Cup Mild bombed like the Enola Gay mixed with Rivertown Hop Bomber. Work out that simile on your own, tiger. I’ll just blame Chris again, as it was his recipe. Hey, he said I could throw him under the bus this time.

I spent my morning judging Porters; there were twenty two of them all told, so with the three sets of judges, we rolled through them in short order. For some reason, my pairing ended up judging the extra beer again (yes, the math is on you, dear reader). I’d like to delude myself into believing it has something to do with skill and knowledge, but probably it was more a desire to be finished. After the mini-BOS, it was time for lunch, awards, and that previously mentioned beer, which was Columbus Brewing Company’s IPA in a Seventh Son glass. See? Look at all the light inside the bar!

After the awards, we rolled back to Yellow Springs, where the lot of us got to enjoy some beers and snacks at Yellow Springs Brewery—they were having a small gathering for everyone who had volunteered to help. Don’t you all worry: they’ll be opening soon so you can get yours—April 13th is the Grand Opening!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Rock-it Cup Single Hop Session IPA Brewday

Boom! Pow! Bang! Rockit Cup to the rescue! Two years of pushing people to better understand their brewing process. It’s like therapy, only better. Because this one gets you straight liquid gold. Here’s to April’s single hop beer tasting, to more pushing of the craft and science of brewing, and to more of the fun and hijinx that is the Rockit Cup!

142. Rock-it Cup Single Hop Session IPA
8 ½ lbs. Rahr 2-row
1 lb. lb. Dingemans Cara 8
½ lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 150° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 gallons @ 1.080
Batch sparge @ 168° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.030

Collected 6 gallons; added ¾ gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: ¾ oz. Comet 11.0% AA

w/20 to go: 1 oz. Comet 11.0% AA

w/5 to go: 1 ½ oz. Comet 11.0% AA

w/0 to go: 1 ½ oz. Comet 11.0% AA

Let stand for 15 minutes; chilled, racked to carboy, & pitched Wyeast 1272 American II

Brewed: 3/22/2013 @ 70° F
Secondary: 3/28/2013 @ 1.012; dry hop w/ 1 oz. Comet 11.0% AA
Bottled: 4/6/2013 w/ 2.85 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.010

Tasting Notes (4/27/2013): This is a combined tasting of 133. ECYFarmhouse Brett Saison w/ Comet and 142. Rockit Cup Single Hop Session IPA w/Comet: I wanted to see how Comet compared in the two styles. Both beers pour different shades of tan; the Saison is clearer and has more tan in it, while the IPA is slightly hazy and more of a dull gold. Both have a white head, with the saison having better retention and coverage—it is silkier and provides Belgian lacing on the glass. The nose of the Saison is a mix of resin and citrus, which includes mineral, lemon zest, orange flower, and dried orange as well as some spicy earthiness and just the hint of brett leather beginning to show. The IPA is more citrus forward, with peach, mango, passion fruit, and over-ripe pear—it much more tangy, although the spicy earthiness is lurking in the background. The Saison opens with cracker and toast malt with mineral hop tang and citrus; it further dries out in the middle and has a gentle cleansing bitterness that lingers into the finish. The earthiness and lemon zest start in the middle and run into the finish, and there is slight tart lemon citrus bite in the finish followed by the lingering bitterness and an earthy brett dryness. The carbonation is lively but not bright, although the beer itself has bright, crisp flavors even with the dry body. With the IPA, opening flavors are a kiss of caramel and orange marmalade; there is the same mineral tang as in the saison, but this one has more of a resin citrus bite to it. The middle is spicy resin bitterness mixed with pear and mango before giving way to bright, clean finish that features an ever-so-faint evergreen tang along with a gentle but assertive bitterness. This beer has more body and more hop flavor, but the underlying bitterness is strikingly similar between the two. I do get a slight gumminess from the wheat in the IPA that I don’t find in the Saison, which is surprising given that there is twice the wheat (1 lb. as compared to ½ lb.) in the Saison. While both the ½ lb. of oatmeal and the more attenuative yeast in the Saison helps account for the difference, the perception on the palate is still interesting to contemplate in relation to the differences in the malt profile. Still, when focusing on the shared hop between these two beers, I think that Comet has components that make it equally viable in both styles. There is a slight earthy gaminess behind the citrus and tropical fruit that may throw off some people, but it still finishes clean and bright. While I want to say I prefer the Saison to the IPA, I can’t honestly admit that: each beer plays to different strengths in regards to this hop. The Saison foregrounds the earthy components of the hop (and it is a bit longer in the tooth), while the IPA highlights the complex citrus and tropical fruit aspects of it. Either way, I’m hooked: Comet is the hop de jour at this house.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Even More Brett Beers Brewday

Today’s brew allowed me to transfer over the first two beers from the Great Brett Experiment. And like with the last transfer, another split decision: custersianus is a workhorse while claussenii is a lazy bastard. Punk ass claussenii. So claussenii and ECY05 are going to hang out in the corner together until they learn to play well with others. Don’t feel too bad for them; they’ll still be able to chat with the 10 other three gallon carboys adorning my dining room beer storage room. Something tells me I might be permanently influencing my house character.

Oh, and in a related turn of events, this beer also marks my official crossing of the Lolli curve: the moment when I’ve brewed more beers than Kevin Lolli has made blog posts for the year. Technically, the Lolli curve threshold was passed with the American Weissbier, but I forgot to mention it. I’m mentioning it now, though, dammit.

141. Even More Brett Beers
6 lbs. MFB Pale
4 lbs. Weyermann Pilsen
1 lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 151° F for 90 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.084

Batch sparge @ 160° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 ¼ gallons @ 1.024

Collected 5 ¾ gallons; topped off with 1 gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ½ oz. Magnum pellet 10.0% AA

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Magnum pellet 10.0% AA

Let stand for 20 minutes, chilled, and split into two 3 gallon carboys:
141a. yeast cake of 136a. ECY19 Brettanomyces custersianus plus 3 Hungarian house toast oak cubes
Brewed: 3/16/2013
Secondary: 6/28/2013
Bottled: 7/20/2013 w/ 2.0 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.052
FG: 1.000

141b. yeast cake of 136b. WLP645 Brettanomyces clausseni plus 3 Hungarian house toast oak cubes
Brewed: 3/16/2013
Secondary: 6/28/2013
Bottled: 7/20/2013 w/ 2.0 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.052
FG: 0.998

Tasting Notes:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

American Weissbier Brewday

My inspiration for this beer was a post by Jeff Alworth on Beervana discussing the ingredients in American Weissbiers in Wahl and Henius’s American Handy-Book of American Brewing, Malting, and Auxiliary Trades (1902).
From here.

Alworth closed by asking “Who out there is willing to reclaim this important part of American brewing history?” While I am guessing that his challenge is directed more at professional brewers, I am always ready to run aimlessly into the breach of brewing futility. Or, in other words, sign my ass up. As well, if you are really interested in reading more, there is a downloadable version of Wahl and Henius available via Google books. Super-awesome! I also tried something new with this batch: I mashed on Wednesday night, and then boiled the collected wort on Thursday morning. Post-mash, I brought the wort to a boil, and then shut it off and went to bed.

140. American Weissbier
5 lbs. Breiss 6-row
3 lbs. Breiss Flaked Maize
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 152° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 1 ¾ gallons @ 1.080
Batch sparge @ 166° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.026

Collected 5 ¾ gallons; topped off with 1 gallon RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Cluster leaf 7.6% AA

Chilled, racked to carboy, and pitched mason jar of White Labs 570 Belgian Golden from 139. Rock-it Cup Belgian Pale Ale

Brewed: 3/14/2013 @ 75° F; fell to 68° F in first 24 hours
Secondary: 4/6/2013 @ 1.008
Bottled: 4/27/2013 w/ 3/5 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.048
FG: 1.006

Tasting Notes (5/30/2013): After shipping a couple of bottles of this off to Jeff Alworth, my inspiration for this beer, I realized that I had not, in fact, typed up any notes. Nothing says keeping it classy like a lack of your own follow through. Solid. Any who, Alworth’s comments are here, while mine follow. American Weissbier pours a hazy gold with a white, lacy head—the wheat is really doing its job. The nose is a big punch of fruit esters with a touch of phenolic tang in the back, although the silky creaminess I associate with White Labs 570 is also present. The beer is soft and sweet in the front, with the corn and wheat balancing each other nicely, giving way to estery yeast fruitiness in the middle—when first bottled, it came across as more banana, but that has shifted in the last couple of weeks to bright pear and apple. These flavors linger into the finish, along with a bright bite from the carbonation that is clean and yeasty—Alworth describes the beer as having a “yeasty turbidity,” which fits the flavor and mouthfeel perceptions I get in the finish in a more precise manner than I could have probably enunciated. There is a touch of harshness in the finish, but none of the normative descriptors that I’ve read as related to 6-row—combined with the corn and wheat, there is a rounded, balanced body that works wonderfully in this beer in conjunction with the carbonation and flavors. This beer works on many, many levels—it is crisp, clean, and easy drinking. I’m a convert—I’ll shortly be trying a couple more versions of this to see how different yeasts contribute to the final product. My favorite comment regarding the idea behind this beer comes from my correspondence with Alworth when I was getting ready to mail it to him; as he points out: “Corn is so hated now we forget that it’s our claim to indigenous fame. We call it ‘cheap’ but if the Belgians had had corn, we’d call it ‘rustic.’ Time to reclaim it from the beer geek trashbin.” In today’s climate, the Belgian part of this quote couldn’t ring more true.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Rockit Cup Belgian Pale Ale: Recap

Less than a month turn-around time, and we still had five brewers for this installment of the Rockit Cup Belgian Pale Ale. Stupendous! Those five included myself, Jon Vanderglas, Wes Davis, Brian Gallow, and Matt Young. Let’s hope we get solid turn out like this next month for the April Single-Hop Session IPA, which is also the 2nd Anniversary of the Rockit Cup. Terrible twos indeed!

Five beers made for a much more manageable tasting and ranking, and the plastic cups helped as well. As well, while all were similar, the two different yeasts did stand out: we had three with 3522 and two with 570. The overall rankings were:

1st: Jon Vanderglas
2nd: myself
3rd: tie between Matt Young & Wes Davis
5th: Brian Gallow

Wes and I were the two who used 570; both beers had a creamier, more rounded mouthfeel that those made with 3522. Mine had more banana, while his was more phenolic, but otherwise very similar. Jon’s version was the hoppiest of the five, which probably helped him to victory. Also, I do feel compelled to point out: Darren Link, who came up with the recipe, didn’t make it. You can see him ever so faintly in the background, peering over Jon’s shoulder in the picture. Bad Darren. Bad.

See you next month!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bockfest Beer Judging

After a one year hiatus, it was time to return to the Bloatarian Brewing League’s Bockfest 2013 Homebrew Contest. While I didn’t end up in the underground labyrinthine caves beneath the brewery this year (I know, I was sad, too), I did get to judge some damn fine bock beer. A whole lot, in fact, as I was judging 5B. Traditional Bocks; we had two sets of judges, with each set getting 7 or 8 beers. All I know is we judged eight beers, so maybe the other set of judges weren’t pulling their weight. Any who, afterwards, Jeff Fortney and I sauntered downstairs for a ham and cheese crepe (not German, I know, but it certainly was delicious). I also made derisive comments about the stripper pole set up in front of the radio station booth. After all, nothing says classy like a stripper pole. Because when I think of German brewing heritage, the first thing to pop into my mind is, well, strippers. Who don’t?

After a quick deliberation, we voted to head out to 50 West Brewing Company, as neither of us had been there previously. While it is a bit of a ways outside of downtown Cincinnati proper—exacerbated, I will admit, by my taking a few wrong turns—it was certainly worth the visit. Excellent atmosphere and good beer. I tried the Coast to Coast IPA; I can’t remember what Jeff had. My favorite moment, however, was when Jeff inadvertently got one of the bartenders in trouble: Whit Hesser was at the door when we were leaving, and asked us how we liked our visit and what was in the growler Jeff had; when Whit found out it was the Russian Imperial Stout, he looked grumpy and observed it wasn’t supposed to be available for growlers. Whoops! Still, I will certainly be back to check out 50 West in more detail soon.

Oh, and results for Bockfest are here!


Friday, March 1, 2013

560. Firestone Walker 14 Anniversary Ale

I’ll start by noting that there are a lot of adjectives we could use to describe this beer. A lot. It has a lot of layers. A lot. As in numerous. And, not surprisingly, all of them are delicious. As well, this is our third beer from Firestone Walker; previous indulgences—good, but not so nearly good as this—include Solace and Union Jack IPA. I’m just sayin’.

14 Anniversary Ale pours a rich brown sugar molasses with a thin, wispy tan head. While dark, it is crystal clear in the glass. The nose is rich, thick, and deep: molasses, caramel, and brown sugar dance in the nose, along with a slight tannic oak-scented vanilla creaminess. There is also cherry and tobacco; even with all of this, it is bright, clean, and open—nothing is muddled or indistinct. Flavors are rounded, chewy, and chocolate-y. The front is molasses, brown sugar, and cocoa before moving chocolate and dark fruit richness. As it moves into the finish, there is a richer chocolate and cocoa mixed with a slight roast tang. The mouthfeel is sweet, chewy, rich, and rounded; while clean, the sweetness and the slick smoothness coming from the stouts gives the beer a delicious aged presence on the palate that is soft and simultaneously delightful. While this beer is delightful across the board, the nose and mouthfeel really stand out. While the flavor profile is delightful and complex, the nose is seductively transcendent—it is an aromatic delight that is stunningly rich and rewarding. It is probably one of the most interesting noses I’ve found in a beer in the last several years. Yes, it is that good. Or, as might not be surprising, was that good. In other words, having finished the beer about 25 minutes ago, I’m still struggling with adequately describing the delightfully ephemeral olfactory sensations that are still dancing in my mind. Maybe I’ll find more of that when I crack the 15 in another year or so. I certainly hope so. Time will tell.

From the box: “Since founding our brewery in 1996, we have specialized in the rare art of fermenting beer in oak barrels. In the fall of 2006, we released a limited edition, oak-aged strong ale called ‘10’ to commemorate our 10th anniversary, thus beginning an annual autumn rite. This year, we present 14, our fifth release from our barrel aged program. 14 was crafted from separate lots produced over several months and years, then carefully blended into this truly unique and complex brew. Each of the contributing lots was aged in oak barrels, some previously used by American spirits producers, others used in our Firestone Union. Each barrel lent its own bit of soul to the flavor profile, including nuances of tobacco, chocolate, and molasses. Local Paso Robles area winemakers and our brewers collaborated to taste each individual lot and lend their expertise to the final blend. The resulting limited production brew offers immense depth and complexity with long, intense flavors that beg to be sipped and savored. 14 is a one-of-a-kind beer built to last and will reward careful aging for years to come.”

ABV: 12.5%

P.S. That bear is gonna kick the crap out of the lion. Trust me on this one.