Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Some tasting

Kolsch II

I tasted this just after a Flensburger Pilsner, so it's interesting to pull out some of the contrasting tastes between a very clean pilsner and a relatively clean tasting kolsch.

Pours with a generous creamy white head, which dissipates and leaves no lacing. Pale coloured, though not quite as pale as the pilsner. Good level of carbonation for the style. Some very slight green apple (possibly acetaldehyde but slightly different I think). Other noticable 'white wine' type flavours. Little to no hop aroma on this one. Bitterness is clean and at an appropriate level for the style. Dry finish.

A good beer, reasonably well brewed. I am very sensitive to acetaldehyde and I think I can possibly detect it here, but only a very tiny amount. I've gotten this with both Kolsch yeasts I've used (WLP029 and WY2568), but with other yeasts any acetaldehyde tends to disappear with time.

I would like to see a better head and lacing on this and some of my other beers. I wonder if no-chilling influences this. I think I've noticed a correlation here, but I need to keep track of things a little better to know for sure.

Kolsch II

Brunswick Pride

This beer is almost simultaneously a triumph and a disaster. With eyes closed it is a really fine example of a drinkable, sessionable english bitter ale. However with eyes open it's a mess. It has a serious haze problem, which cold conditioning has had no effect on.

If you can recall the brewing notes on this one, the grain had been sitting in my garage crushed for 9 months before I got around to using it. A taste test seemed to confirm it was in reasonable condition, but I think it's extremely likely that it's the cause of this haze. I have found a few examples on homebrew forums where brewers found the same haze problem with very old grain. I don't know how to explain this scientifically, but empirically there does appear to be a strong connection.

This is a shame, as usually any beers I ferment with WY1968 are extremely bright. Also I place a lot of importance on having my beer reasonably bright, and this haze is annoying me. Still, it's a really nice beer to drink, so not a total mess.

Got down to an FG of 1.012 on this, so I think the O2 injection at yeast pitching time is having the desired effect. Also this beer was ready to drink (tastewise) a little quicker than I would have expected. I think I'm sold on O2 for aeration.

Dead Guy Clone

This beer had me very confused for a while. Kegged after 3 weeks, I tasted it quite regularly over the following three weeks. It began with some harsh phenolic type notes, little to no hop character, poured with no head, and displayed a slight haze. This changed slowly at first and then rapidly to a beer with beautiful toasty, buiscuity notes and a spicy hop character. The rapid change seemed to coincide with the haze disappearing, so I think perhaps some of the particulate in suspension was causing the phenolic type tastes.

Dead Guy Clone
Dead Guy Clone

Unfortunately, the balance of this beer was off by a little, missing perhaps 10 IBUs of bitterness. Also it would have benefited from a little more late hop character. I can't blame the recipe for this, as the hops I used were lacking in AA% and my attempts to make up for this on the day with some high AA% hops I had stored were unsuccessful. This was probably due to the age of the high AA% hops.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kolsch (again)

I saved the yeast from my last batch of Kolsch, and given the time of year I though I'd get another one on asap to deal with visitors. This is a beer I don't mind drinking, but not a favourite by any means. All the same, it requires a certain amount of skill to come up with a very pale, clean tasting beer, with no-where to hide in terms of fermentation issues etc.

An early tasting of the previous batch

I decided to change the recipe a little, based on a Jamil recipe from a Kolsch article of his in a 2009 issue of BYO magazine. This is just Pilsner malt and wheat malt in a 95/5 ratio. I had planned to go with Hallertau hops, but my brew shop was all out, so I went with Spalt. This is a hop which many people report as having quite an odd flavour profile. I'm interested to see what it's like in the finished beer.

Mashing was at 65 for 50 mins (recirculated through HEX), then mash out at 75 for 10. I no-chilled this beer. One unusual thing about my brewing setup is that I never measure volumes, just guess based on experience how much water/wort I've got at each point. This has never let me down before, but on this brew I ended up with 22.5L of 1.044 wort instead of 20L of 1.049 (after trub losses). This is actually quite a mess up, and is a bit of a wake up call for me, I need to sort out my volume measurements.

Anyhow, here's the recipe:

4.72KG Joe White Pilsner Malt
0.25KG Joe White Wheat Malt

30g 4.75%AA Spalt hops @50
10g 4.75%AA Spalt hops @10

whirlpooled for 20, then no-chilled.

This will stay in the no-chill cube until the London Pride clone is done fermenting, then I'll pitch some WY2565 slurry to this and ferment at 16 (one degree lower than the last batch). I'll also give it a blast of O2 and try to dry it out a little. The previous batch is not quite dry enough based on early tastings.

Brunswick Pride

I've had a bag of grain ready for brewing for several months, and a smack pack of yeast in the fridge for over a year. Yesterday I decided to put both to work to see if good quality beer can result in such old ingredients.

First off, I had a mix of 95% Simpsons Maris Otter, 5% Simpsons Dark Crystal which was supposed to go into a Fullers ESB type beer. The yeast is a WYeast 1026PC cask ale, manufactured June 2013!

Chewing on the grains I discovered that they still had plenty of crunch with no discernible musty notes. The yeast I smacked and waited about 8 hours until I could see that the pack was beginning to swell. At this point I decided to bank this yeast in glycol stocks. I made a quick post on aussiehomebrewer.com about this.

I was still not too sure about the actual viability of the yeast, so the wort was no-chilled to ensure that it can wait until I either propogate or buy some healthy yeast.

Given the yeast issues, I dumped about 800g of my grains to come up with the following grain bill:

4.67Kg Simpsons Maris Otter
0.25Kg Simpsons Dark Crystal

then very loosely based on a Can You Brew It Fuller's London Pride recipe, the hop bill is as follows:

12g Northdown @60mins
22g East Kent Goldings @60mins

18g Northdown @ 0mins
25g East Kent Goldings @ 0mins

I took 250ml, 700ml and 2L wort samples for stepped starters, and no chilled the rest. The mash was recirculated at 65.5 for 50mins, mash out at 78 for 10. I got pretty good efficiency here - OG of 1.051 for 75%, a little more than I expected.

My yeast adventures began with pitching the 100ml remaining in the 18 month old WYeast pack into 250ml of wort. I watched this for two days but there was no discernible activity. Despite this there was a slight drop in gravity so I decided to pitch this to the 700ml wort flask. After another day or so I had lots of activity in this flask, but this failed to pass the sniff inspection (never mind the taste inspection). It had serious medicinal/phenolic aromas. Either the yeast has mutated severely, or most likely I've got some Brett or something in there. I will try to streak out a few colonies from the frozen stocks to see what I come up with, but this won't be done in time to ferment this batch.

The solution is a fresh smack pack of WY1968 london esb ale yeast. This will be pitched to my 2L starter tonight, followed by pitching to the main batch tomorrow. Fermentation will be at 18C rising to 20 towards the end.

Had I known for sure that the WY1026 was a no-go, I would have mashed a little lower to achieve better attenuation. However, I have just gotten myself a little pure oxygen aeration kit, so 60secs of Oxygen may help to boost yeast health and numbers and achieve a dryer finish. Updates on this fermentation will follow.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rogue Dead Guy (Can You Brew It)

I recently spent a week in San Francisco where I drank some incredibly good beer. Best of all was Rogue Dead Guy on draught at the Rogue pub.

I had tried some rogue beers here in oz several years ago, but had not been impressed. Like many imported american beers at the time, they had been badly treated and didn't give a realistic impression of the quality of the beer. The situation has improved considerably since then, with chilled shipping being the most important factor.

Anyhow, I just had to have a go at this beer, and I'm trying the 'Can you brew it' recipe. We're looking for quite a high OG here. Not a big deal in a multi-vessel set up, but with brew in a bag this can be tricky. A slightly high mash temperature will also reduce our potential raw wort gravity.

I recirculated this mash for 75 minutes at 67C, then did a mash out at 75C for 20 minutes. A small additional step was to rinse the grains with about 3L of ~75C water after removing the grain bag from the mash vessel. During the boil I kept an eye on the refractometer readings and ended the boil when I got a reading of 17.25ish. This translates to and SG of 1.067 and my hydrometer later confirmed this.

This was chilled and immediately had 22g of rehydrated Safale US-05 pitched to it. Tried to get Pacman, it's my favourite yeast for lots of brews, so it would have been nice to be able to use it for a Rogue clone. Unfortunately there was none to be found. Fermentation is quite vigorous and is taking place at 17C. Can't wait to get this one on tap.

Here's the recipe, I've subbed Saaz for Sterling and added a little nugget to bump up the IBUs to my desired level (~45):


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 67.4     5.14 kg.  Pale Ale Malt (2-row)         Australia      1.037      2
 22.8     1.74 kg.  Munich Malt (Bolander)        USA            1.036     10
  9.8     0.75 kg.  Simpsons Crystal Pale                 UK             1.035     34

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
  5.00 g.     Nugget                            Whole   13.00   8.2  75 min.
 40.00 g.     Perle                             Pellet   6.30  34.8  75 min.
 40.00 g.     Saaz                         Pellet   3.00   0.0  0 min.

2 x packets of Safale US-05


I have been brewing lately, but not blogging about it. I'll try to keep this a little more up to date.

Decided to brew something light and inoffensive for Christmas, as I have family visiting who are not especially in love with big hoppy brews. This is from Brewing Classic Styles and I've brewed it twice before, though I used the White Labs yeast both times, here I'm using WY2565. Wyeast is very easy for me to get, but white labs is a pain to get hold of. My former source in New South Wales is now out of business and I don't think I'll bother finding a new one.

The grain bill and hop schedule are both very simple. Unfortunately I only realised when I got home from the brew shop that my Hersbrucker hops were 1.8% AA. This was about half what I expected so I threw in a small amount of nugget to bump up the IBUs to something reasonable.

I recirculated this mash at 65C for 60 minutes, then did a rest at 72C for 20 minutes. I no-chilled this and took a 2L starter to which I pitched a full packet of WY2565. About 18 hours later I pitched this into the full batch at 17C. 12 hours later (this morning) I had noticeable activity.

Here's the recipe:


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 95.4     4.67 kg.  Pilsener                        Germany        1.037      1
  4.6     0.23 kg.  Vienna Malt                   Germany        1.036      4

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
 40.00 g.    Hersbrucker                   Pellet   1.80  10.6  70 min.
  6.00 g.     Nugget                            Pellet  13.00  11.5  70 min.

WYeast WY2565 Kölsch

Thursday, March 6, 2014

SNPA . . . again

I'm back. Just lost interest in brewing for a while - but I think it's back again.

To ease my way back into things I've brewed yet another version of this excellent Sierra Nevada Pale Ale clone. I've used safale us-05 to keep things simple, and also no-chilled to make it probably the simplest brew day I've had in a long long time.

Recipe for a 23L batch:


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 92.2     4.70 kg.  Pale Ale Malt (2-row)         Australia      1.037      2
  7.8     0.40 kg.  Crystal 105L                  UK             1.033    105

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
 20.00 g.     Nugget                            Pellet  13.60  29.5  50 min.
 20.00 g.     Perle                                Pellet   7.70   8.5  20 min.
 80.00 g.     Cascade                           Pellet   5.75   0.0  0 min.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marble Red Ale

One of the best beers I've ever brewed was my version of Jamil Zainasheff's Evil Twin (blog post here). There's something magical about so much malt and hop character coming together. I was toying with the idea of re-brewing it, but just for fun I decided instead to try my first recipe from the recent book "For the love of hops" by Stan Hieronymus.

The recipe is for "Marble Red Ale". I should mention that I have never tried a Marble brewery beer, nor heard of them outside of this book, but the recipe would seem to add up to a pretty awesome beer, so I had to try it out.

If you look through my older posts you will see that I have a few different possible brewing configurations, from pretty simple pot on a heat source BIAB  with no chilling, right up to recirculating automated step mashing, sparging and full chilling. Generally the higher the OG, the more complex my setup, so for this 1.065 monster I sparged and chilled. I also upped my volume a little to 24L to account for extra losses to hop material.

For yeast, I cultured up a large stirred starter of WYeast PACMAN, which I kept from a smack pack from late last year. Pacman is now my favourite yeast for American ales. I feel that it gives a really nice mouthfeel that I don't get from other american ale yeasts. Also it really is a beast and gets through high OG worts very quickly.

Here's the recipe:


   %     Amount     Name                          Origin        Potential SRM
 75.0     5.14 kg.  Pale Ale Malt (2-row)         Australia      1.037      2
 10.0     0.69 kg.  Vienna Malt                   Germany        1.036      4
 10.0     0.69 kg.  Crystal 77L                   UK             1.035     75
  5.0     0.34 kg.  Crystal 120L                  UK             1.033    120

Potential represented as SG per pound per gallon.


   Amount     Name                              Form    Alpha  IBU  Boil Time
 20.27 g.     Columbus                          Pellet  15.00  38.7  60 min.
 11.73 g.     Citra                             Pellet  11.50   3.4  10 min.
 11.73 g.     Simcoe                            Pellet  13.00   3.9  10 min.
 23.47 g.     Cascade                           Pellet   5.75   3.4  10 min.
 48.00 g.     Cascade                           Pellet   5.75   0.0  0 min.
 90.67 g.     Cascade                           Pellet   5.75   0.0  Dry Hop
 13.87 g.     Simcoe                            Pellet  13.00   0.0  Dry Hop
 13.87 g.     Citra                             Pellet  11.50   0.0  Dry Hop