Monday, September 28, 2015

inTROduction - American Session Ale

Since it had been 6 months since brewing and I had drained my stash of Heady Topper, I needed to brew something hoppy.  I had a solid amount of Citra in the freezer just waiting to be used so I decided to make a hoppy american session ale for the first brew on the indoor induction brewery! 

The brew day was pretty solid for the first run on a new system and I tried to document some of it in this video below.  I don't know if my enthusiasm showed through enough, but let me just say it was AWESOME being able to brew a batch of beer inside as it absolutely down poured rain all day outside.

I made my first attempt at a hoppy session beer last year and then failed to document it on the blog - shame on me.  In that attempt I took the Scottish 70 /- recipe from Brewing Classic Styles and threw a bunch of hops in it.  I made it with maris otter LME for a quick extract batch during the mash of another beer for a two-brew, brew day.  It ended up tasting okay and was a light-brown hazy ale, but just wasn't what I was looking for.  Too much malt character and the hopping ended up being too Citra forward (had 3 oz in the dry hop) - if that is possible.

Taking the previous attempt into account I decided to lean more towards a grain bill I would use in a pale ale, but upped the crystal malt %.  I used Weyermann Caramunich I (~35 lovibond) because I purchased five pounds of it in a bulk buy, but I think using Crystal 40 could achieve very similar results in the future.  I like to have a little crystal malt as I think the sweetness it imparts pairs nicely with Citra hops.  Also having a less fermentable grain is pretty crucial in keeping these low gravity hop bombs in check.  I rounded out the recipe with some Munich malt for character and more equal parts of Simcoe and Cascade to prevent the Citra from being overpowering.

I present inTROduction - an American Session ale.  A play on words for my innagural brew on the induction system.

inTROduction - American Session Ale

Brewed On: June 27, 2015
Kegged On: July 16, 2015
Style: 10A - American Pale Ale
Batch Size: 5 gallons
Efficiency: 72%
OG: 1.043
FG: 1.011
IBU: 47 estimated (Rager) 
ABV: 4.2%
Yeast: 1L starter of WLP002.  Fermented at 64° for 3 days then rise and held at 68°

Grist Mashed at 152.5 for 40 minutes
74% - Pale Ale Malt (Rahr) - 6.5 lbs

14% - Munich (Briess) - 1.25 lbs
11% - Caramunich I (Weyermann) - 1 lb

Hop Additions
.44 oz - Magnum 14.7%AA - FWH - 35 IBUs
1 oz - Cascade 7.3% - 20 min - 12 IBUs

1 oz each of Simcoe, Citra, and Cascade at Flameout
Dry hopped with 1 oz Citra, 1/2 oz Simcoe and 1/4 oz Centennial

Water Adjustments
Montgomery County, MD Water - 1/2 Campden Tablet for all brewing water
8 grams gypsum to mash water, and 2oz acid malt for an estimated mash pH of 5.41 according to EZ Water Calculator

Tasting Notes

Appearance: This American session ale pours dark amber in color with good, but brilliant clarity.  It has a frothy just off-white head with great retention and good lacing.

Aroma: High tropical fruit notes dominate the pleasant hop aroma while moderate background notes of grapefruit citrus are present.  There is a low background note of sweet malt character that is most likely accentuated by the Citra hops (which can lend a perceived sweetness themselves)

Flavor: Moderately high hop flavor of tropical fruit with low citrus notes.  There is a herbal-spice character I often notice with centennial that I detect, but need to figure out a better way of describing.  Moderately low caramel malt sweetness.  Moderately-high hop bitterness.  Finishes slightly dry. Balance is moderately hop forward and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Moderately high carbonation, medium-light body, low creaminess, no astringency and no alcohol warming

Overall:  This was a refreshing hoppy session beer, however, at the time I finally got around to writing down my tasting notes it was a shell of what it was fresh.  Alas, that's what happens to all hoppy beers over time. Citra is still the dominant hop in this attempt, but the other hops add necessary complexity too keep this beer from being too one dimensional.  I liked the way this came out and I think in the future I may mash a little higher to increase the body a smidge.  additionally I may use a lower lovibond crystal malt which shouldn't impart as much caramel sweetness, but retain the body I am looking for.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Brew Thru #6 Updates

When you don't post often, there is always something to discuss!  In this Brew thru...

  • Sharing Homebrew
  • Why I am switching (back) to Five Gallon Batches
  • Alcoholic Root Beer
  • Shegogue Brew Around the Web

Sharing Homebrew

8 Taps
(Eight Taps for the picnic)

Last month I attended a community picnic featuring a homebrew tent.  Eight different home breweries (Shegogue Brew included) provided a variety of beer for all to enjoy.  I brought my session IPA (recipe and review to be posted soon) and it seemed to be well received.  Its always nice to see smiles on the faces of complete strangers enjoying your beer.

Tasting a new brewer's beer
(Sensory Analysis for new brewer's beer)

Five Gallon Batches

I have reverted back to five-gallon batches and I want to explain why...

In the beginning, 99% of homebrewers follow their extract recipe and kit to "a tee," and I was no exception. All of those extract recipes are designed for 5 gallons post-boil (with top off water). It's easy since all ale pales have a clear demarcation at the five gallon mark. So why does it seem that a lot of brewers move onto batch sizes which not divisible by five?

My guess is Brewing Classic Styles - To some this is their homebrew recipe bible.  All of the recipes in this book are formulated for 6 gallons post boil, leaving a half gallon of trub/hops etc in the kettle.  The remain five and a half gallons is fermented leaving at least five full gallons to go into the keg.

This may work for some, but looking back I can see all the headaches it caused me!

I ferment in six gallon better bottles.  You know what is a sure way to make a mess or require a blow off tube, which can still make a mess?  Fermenting five and half gallons of wort in a six gallon better bottle.  I did this for a while and just used a blow off tube, but it is a pain cleaning both airlocks and blow-off tubes all the time.  Not to mention liquid suck-back if I chilled the beer down quickly.

You know what doesn't make a mess or require a blowoff tube (in most cases)?  Filling that six gallon better bottle with five gallons or less of sweet wort.

Five gallon kegs hold five gallons, not five and half.  If you aren't paying attention you can fill the beer in the keg so high that it covers the CO2 dip tube.  This is a sure way to spray beer everywhere when you "burp" air out of a pin lock keg (ask me how I know).

So in an effort to make less of a mess while also saving money on ingredients, I am going back to 5 gallon batches.  If you are interested in any of my recipes, please take note of the batch size as the older recipes will still utilize a six gallon size.

Not Your Father's Root Beer

Not Your Father's Root Beer

A friend gave me a bottle of this on Labor day weekend.  If you have not had this one yet I will tell you it does taste exactly like root beer.  Only difference is it hash a slight boozey note in the finish.  My reaction was much like my friends - you start out amazed at the sorcery that is conjured to create an alcoholic root beer and think "Man, I could drink a whole six pack of this!"  By the end of the glass, however, you are changing your tune.  I was on a rather empty stomach, but even so it was just too sweet.  I have mixed beer and sweets in the past and never makes my stomach feel good.  This beverage just expedites that feeling by putting the two together for me!  Would still recommend trying one if you haven't.  I may have to look into creating something similar in flavor but decreased sweetness.

Shegogue Brew Around the Web

Only one article to note since the last brew thru - Organizing Tips for Homebrewers.

Well, that is it for now!  I am about to put my brown ale on tap and when I get a chance I will be posting that recipe as well as the session IPA.  Looking to try and brew this weekend, but having trouble deciding what to make... suggestions welcome.