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Topics - skyler

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Commercial Beer Reviews / When "hot" breweries get stale
« on: March 15, 2016, 10:35:19 AM »
At 32, I am lucky to be young enough to have grown up with craft beer, but old enough to have seen how that industry has developed and shifted over the past 10-15 years. I remember when witbier seemed like a new and cutting edge beer style. I remember when the word "imperial" was on every label. And I remember when a bunch of breweries that are still around were "hot" and worth a trip out to wherever to visit. Some of these breweries sold out, then got ruined by their corporate overlords (Mendocino Brewing), and some went under, but some are still around, still making the same beers that made them famous, but I don't see them on tap in great beer bars anymore and I don't hear anyone talking them up anymore. Of course, plenty of the "hot" breweries of 2005 are even hotter now (Russian River comes to mind), but I wonder about these beers that I used to get excited to drink - that were a regular purchase for me ten years ago, but now seem so old fashioned.

Here's an incomplete list: North Coast Brewing, Lost Coast Brewing, Mad River, Rogue, BridgePort, AleSmith, Anderson Valley, and even Bear Republic (okay, Racer 5 is more common than ever in the bay area, but this brewery hasn't had a "hot" beer release in a decade, AFAIK).

Does anyone have any idea why these breweries seem to have lost their mojo? Is it us (the consumers) who have changed? Are they resting on their laurels? Have they just found a sustainable formula and stuck with it?

Ingredients / Balancing "New New School" Hops for Hop-Forward Beers
« on: March 12, 2016, 11:51:20 AM »
A post a while ago led to a discussion about blending El Dorado with CTZ. Then I drank a 100% El Dorado IPA at a local brewpub, followed by an "experimental IPA" that has continued my curiosity about the newest generation of American hops.

Other than Mosaic, which I think tastes and smells like Simcoe mixed with Amarillo and CTZ (a glorious combination), most of these newest varieties of hops have seemed odd to me. Calypso, El Dorado, Azacca, Belma... the list goes on. Last night I drank an IPA at a brewpub that I know to make great IPAs, and this new "experimental" IPA tasted like French lavender candy. I imagine there were so many of the newest new school hops in it without the dank, herbal punch of something like CTZ or Simcoe to balance it out. I appreciate the high oil content in these hops, but they seem imbalanced on their own.

So I want to know if I can make better, bolder hop-forward beers with these newer varieties of hops in blends, or if I should just stick to the tried and true. Can I get something really special by mixing the perfume-candy of El Dorado and Calypso with the Cannabis-Grapefruit punch of CTZ? Should I be pulling out the Apollo to balance out the Belma? How is everyone else utilizing their newest new school hops?

I am tentatively planning an Apollo/El Dorado/CTZ (2-2-1) DIPA to see if mixing dank with candy gives me what I'm looking for.

Ingredients / CaraFoam and CaraHell vs CaraPils and C10
« on: February 25, 2016, 04:16:54 PM »
I am working on putting together a "Blonde IPA" inspired by Pfriem. I would like to mimic the malt flavor I get from the carahell, but get a lighter color. Is carafoam the closest thing? My software shows me I can get 3.8 SRM from 5.5% carafoam. I have used the malt in the past, but not as the sole specialty malt, so I am a little concerned.

Ingredients / Question About Grain Storage
« on: January 01, 2016, 12:17:28 PM »
My wife and I bought a house last summer, and I've been storing grain in the garage. Previously, when I lived in apartments, th grain was stored in whatever temperature it was in the apartment. This meant the grain was stored generally no colder than 58º F on a cold day when I was at work and no warmer than 85º F on a hot day because we had no air conditioning. It has dawned on me that my garage gets below freezing from time to time here in Portland - and that I am now storing my grain at a much colder temperature. Should I be concerned?

Commercial Beer Reviews / Stone Pale Ale 2.0
« on: June 22, 2015, 12:34:24 PM »
As a lukewarm fan of Stone Pale Ale, I was looking forward to the new version, assuming it would be hoppier, drier, and maybe lighter in color/abv. I was wrong on all counts. Anyway, here's how it would go down if I was judging this one in a homebrew comp.

Poured from bottle

Aroma - mild orange and grassy hops, sweet malt, lightly fruity (from hops or yeast) 5

Appearance - Deep gold/light amber, clear, thin head 3

Flavor - Biscuit and sweet malt upfront, then excessive bitterness. Not very hoppy, but there is a distracting slight orange and herbal hoppy quality reminiscent of orange juice from concentrate. Maltier and less aromatic than 1.0 and simultaneously too bitter and too sweet without striking a balance between the two. 6

Mouthfeel - Medium to full body, nice carbonation. A bit big for the style. 3

Overall impression - This doesn't taste like a more modern or updated pale ale, but like an amateurish attempt at showcasing Mandarina Bavaria. Fermentation character seems clean enough, but otherwise this beer is unbalanced. I suspect the malt base would make for a pleasant beer if it were much less bitter, but the bitterness combined with low hop aroma makes this very fresh bottle taste like it has spent the past two years in the back of the refrigerator. 4

Score: 21/50

This as a replacement for the overpriced-but-delicious Stone Pale Ale 1.0 is very disappointing. Yuck.

Ingredients / Old Malt
« on: June 05, 2015, 02:41:04 PM »
I brewed a 1.040 pale ale not so long ago with golden promise left over from a long ago brew day (more than one year). The malt was in an airtight "vittles vault" container the whole time, so I figured it was worth using. Anyway, the beer came out oddly astringent. I even used polyclar to try to clean it of the tannins to little avail. It doesn't taste stale or anything, just a little astringent, like a back of the throat bitterness. I don't think the problem was caused by the water or the hops, so it must be from the malt or the process. I don't think I oversparged (I batch sparged), but I suppose it's possible. My question is whether old malt can do this or if I must have just sparged too aggressively this time?

I'm looking for honest feedback. I haven't 100% sold myself on my idea or anything, but I think it makes sense within the limited confines of this great city (Portland).

I live in Portland and am coming into a decent chunk of money to invest (high five figures to low six figures) in the next month or two. As I am still just 31 and I am already on my second career (and not really happy about it), I am considering trying to start a brewery, but not right away. My plan is to first open a beer cart. Here in Portland, we have several "pods" of food carts - essentially plots of land filled with trailors or trucks that serve restaurant-quality food. The carts usually have longterm or month-month leases and they are fun and interesting. Some carts have gone on to expand into brick and mortar restaurants, some have become small chains. Many more just trod along or close down. They've become an established restaurant format over the past decade or so, but nowhere more than Portland. For the past year, beer and wine have been allowed and now most (but not all) of the good pods in Portland have a "beer cart."

My plan is to open one of these beer carts or buy an existing one, then get a lawyer to clear all the paperwork for a nano-brewery, aligning the name of the cart and the brewery so that, when I open a brewery, my beer cart can be my "tasting room" and the brand will already be a little bit established. My plan is to rely on the beer cart's success first, then transition into selling my own beer from a 3BBL (or smaller) system. The thought is that I could have a storefront in a central neighborhood with relatively cheap real estate, while brewing in the cheapest lowest-rent chunk of real estate in Portland. And I wouldn't have to worry about running a pub, just brewing, filling my own kegs, and selling beer by the pint (mine and others).

Also, in this plan, I would keep my day job, brew by myself (or with buddies) and would hire someone (probably two people part time) to work the taps most of the time - at least for the first year or two (I get summers off, so I would be more active during the high season). I would enter every festival/competition and would save/invest everything back into the business for the first year or two and would eventually try hand bottling some "special" beers in 750mL Belgian bottles, and maybe getting a mobile canner or bottler to come around. The ultimate endgame would be to expand to a decent-sized brewpub.

Assuming I can do all this without taking out any loans, does this sound workable?

For the past three years I have been chilling my wort with a whirlpool immersion chiller ( and a pump. It chills very fast and it is easy enough to clean and sanitize, but I also bought it because of the purported benefits of a hop whirlpool. After some trial and error, I have been doing a hop stand by replacing my flame-out hops with whirlpool hops that I add after chilling the wort to just under 180F, at which point I add the whirlpool hops and let stand for 10-30 min, then chill again. This has been effective, but frankly I still got better late-hop aroma from my flameout hops when I had a simple immersion chiller that took 2-4 hours (and a small lake's worth of precious Californian water) to chill my wort down to near-pitching temps.

I was wondering what other people who use a pump to whirlpool and hop stand do. Do you chill down partially before adding the hop charge? Do you add flameout hops as well as whirlpool hops? Do you give it a longer hop stand? A shorter hop stand?

Ingredients / Carawheat in an IPA/APA/AAA
« on: August 27, 2014, 08:13:11 AM »
Hey, I am planning top brew my first beer since April - an IPA to celebrate my move back to Portland, Oregon. And since I still have a ton of 2013 hops that I would like to use up before the 2014 batch arrives, I went to my LHBS (where I used to be a regular customer back in 2008-2010) and maybe became a little too interested in the different malts that were available. So instead of getting IPA-specialty malts I was planning on getting (light crystal, medium crystal, and wheat malt), I decided to buy a half pound each of caramunich and carawheat along with a pound of white wheat malt (this is a 12 gal batch).

Then I realized I had never brewed with carawheat before and had only ever noticed it in wheat beer recipes. I was already planning on adding some wheat to this IPA (something I occasionally do), but is the flavor contribution of carawheat far off from a regular crystal of the same color? What should I expect?

Kegging and Bottling / Belgian Corks for Champagne Bottles?
« on: February 11, 2014, 02:54:17 PM »
I was wondering if Belgian-style corks (designed for Belgian bottles) would fit into Champagne bottles. Any experience?

Ingredients / Sinamar: Not the Right Coloring Agent for a Black IPA
« on: May 24, 2013, 11:06:46 AM »
I have been drinking and brewing Black IPAs since before the naming controversy had left the Portland beer blogosphere and before anyone had gotten tired of the style. I have brewed several different recipes and had different "takes" on the style (more crystal, less crystal, adding wheat, English yeast, etc...). But the one constant for me was that I used Carafa Special II as the coloring agent in the beer and I always added it at sparge (I am a batch sparger, fwiw). In some cases, I used more or less Carafa and sometimes the sparge water was as cool as 120 degrees or as warm as 170, but that was always how I did it. This time, I wanted to try sinamar, so I did the math and 2 bottles (8 oz total) was the amount to use to get my IPA from Pale to Black. I added it at the beginning of the boil.

Awful idea. The color is about 10 SRM lighter than calculated; it is more of a dark brown than black, probably 25 SRM or so (not exactly out-of-style, but not my preferred black). And the subtle but pleasant roasty oreo-cookie note I am used to getting from the boatload of carafa? Not there. The smooth texture and head retention I get from the addition of 16-24 oz of Carafa? Not there. Instead of building a beer that goes where regular IPA can't, I just have a really dark IPA. I consider this a failed experiment. It is still a decent beer, but I was hoping to get a more consistent coloration from the sinamar and expecting it to contribute SOME roasty flavor. Instead, it just makes it taste like I used a darker crystal than I did.

Yeast and Fermentation / 1968 in No-Crystal AIPA (Mash Temp Help)
« on: May 16, 2013, 11:00:37 AM »
I now have a craft brewery source for 1968, and want to use some for my next IPA. Though I usually prefer Chico for such a beer, I have noticed that my wife (a major hophead) tends to prefer IPA made by craft breweries who use English yeast. I am trying to brew "her perfect beer." I have put together a hop bill and malt profile that I think will get me where I want it, but I am curious about the mash temperature I should use because this is a zero-specialty grain IPA. How should I mash this one? I want it dry - something like 75-80% attenuation. My instinct says to mash at 148-150, but I thought I would pass it by the forum and see if anyone has had similar experience.

Purrbox IPA(Yes, a cat-related name to please the wife)
11 lbs 8 oz GW 2-row
3 lbs Gambrinus Vienna
1 lb Castle Wheat Malt
8 oz Rice Hulls

12g Summit     15%AA     60 min
30g Columbus  14.6%AA   30 min
90g Amarillo     8%AA      10 min
60g Simcoe      13%AA      0 min
60g Chinook     11%AA      0 min
20g Columbus  14.6%AA    dry
20g Amarillo     8%AA       dry
20g Simcoe      13%AA      dry
20g Chinook     11%AA      dry

OG ~1.070
IBU ~70
1968 Fermented at ~63º F

Kegging and Bottling / Bottling Yeast Choice for Imperial Stout
« on: April 22, 2013, 11:31:13 AM »
Sorry for the newbesque question, but I haven't bottle-conditioned a high gravity beer in 4+ years. I have a 1.086 OG imperial stout fermenting that was specifically brewed with bottle conditioning in mind (the idea is to bottle them in pretty champagne bottles or something, then give most of them to friends/family as presents).

My plan has been to ferment it to completion, then rack it to secondary and bulk age for a month or two (maybe with oak or something) before bottling it with champagne yeast and priming sugar to ensure carbonation. The primary yeast is BRY-97 (Danstar's American Ale yeast), fwiw. As I understood it, the champagne yeast would survive the ~9% alcohol, eat the priming sugar, and not continue to eat anything else in the beer. But my brewing partner is concerned that champagne yeast would continue to ferment other sugars in the beer, resulting in a bottle bomb. Should I be concerned?

Beer Recipes / West Coast Winter Ale (Winter IPA?)
« on: December 12, 2012, 12:11:45 PM »
I have noticed a trend here in California/Oregon (I go back to Portland several times a year) that winter seasonals are no longer barleywines and spiced dark ales, but hoppy red-brown beers with a good bit of caramel sweetness and dark-fruit malt flavor. In a sense, I think that Sierra Nevada Celebration and Deschutes Jubelale are the originators, but some of these "winter ales" are maltier than jubelale and hoppier than celebration. One beer that fits this bill, but is not sold as a winter seasonal is Ninkasi's Believer Double Red Ale, but even their Sleigh'r Double Alt (winter seasonal) essentially meets the same criteria.

I have brewed double red ales before, where I essentially brewed an IPA with 10% medium-dark crystal malt and a pinch of carafa. But in keeping with my desire to make this a "Winter Ale," I am brewing my next one with a more idiosyncratic malt profile. What I am wondering about is the hop rate I should use (I am settled on the hop varieties), as well as whether or not I should dry hop. As for whether or not I dry hop - I know that I can make this determination after fermentation is complete, based upon whether I feel like it needs MOAR HOPS or has the right balance already. But I am wondering how I ought to hop this in the kettle. My usual method for an IPA is either FWH-60-10-0-Dry or 60-30-10-0-Dry (occasionally 60-15-5-0 Dry). But I also do my IPA's super dry and typically in the 1.062-1.065 OG-range and give them 70-75 IBUs. In keeping with this winter ale as a more balanced beer, I have wondered if the 10 min addition is the right place to pull back to let the rich malt flavor shine, or if I should reduce the 30 min addition to make room for a 2-oz dump of Amarillo or Summit at 10 min?

Any ideas?

This is what I have so far:

13 lbs US 2-row
1 lb Carafoam
1 lb Special B
8 oz Golden Naked Oats (Light Crystal Oat Malt)

20 g CTZ at 60 min (21.5 IBUs)
40 g Summit at 30 min (41.3 IBUs)
90 g Amarillo at flameout/whirlpool (0 IBUs)

30 g Amarillo Dry
10 g CTZ Dry
10 g Summit Dry

Beer Recipes / 100% Vienna Malt Recipe Ideas
« on: November 28, 2012, 02:07:52 PM »
So I have decided to brew a 100% Vienna Malt beer because I still have never brewed one and I have a good bit of Vienna malt from a sack I purchased a fairly long time ago. I also just got some yeast slurry from Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, OR and am eager to use it. They use Wyeast 1318 as their house yeast, but mostly brew American-style ales with it. My first instinct was to use up my 2011 US Tettnanger supply and brew a bitter. Then I considered going a majorly different direction and brewing up a "Session IPA" (the next beer style whose name we will all argue about), which would be about 1.045 and probably 50 IBUs. But I also have plenty of 2011 Cascade, Glacier, and Crystal hops, and could very well brew something a little more "to style" with any of them. What do you all think?

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