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Topics - erockrph

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Commercial Beer Reviews / Leinenkugel Big Eddy Wee Heavy
« on: November 22, 2013, 09:55:50 PM »
Maybe it's because my expectations are relatively low for a Leinenkugel brew, but I am legit blown away by this beer. The nose is deep toast with some toffee, raisins and maybe some cherries. The flavor is pretty complex. I get more cherries and raisins, along with a nice dark, toasted whole wheat bread note.

There are some rich caramel notes that hint at sweetness, but it is not cloying in any way. There is a little bit of tartness and some smokiness in the finish that balance out the sweetness perfectly. Because there are so many layers here you get fleeting notes of things like milk chocolate and scotch. And even though it clocks in at 9.5% ABV, it isn't boozy in any way. This beer is very drinkable, bordering on poundable.

After two sips this beer had me regretting that I don't drink Scottish ales more often. Belhaven used to be a staple in my fridge years back. Looks like a 70/- into a Wee Heavy will have to be on my brew docket this spring.

Commercial Beer Reviews / DFH Festina Peche
« on: October 29, 2013, 08:47:51 PM »
So maybe my palate for sours is skewed, but I was really disappointed when I tried this brew. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad beer. I'd rather kick down a few of these than Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat or Shock Top, but to me this tastes much more like a slightly acidic American Wheat Beer than a Berliner.

I definitely get a nice dose of peach aroma and flavor. What I'm missing is a nice lactic tang to make the fruit pop and get your mouth watering a bit. It's nowhere near as tart as I'd like, and the acidity is super clean. Bummer - guess I had different expectations here.

Ingredients / Spices for Winter Warmer - boil or steep?
« on: October 25, 2013, 11:11:13 AM »
So I'm planning on brewing my first winter warmer is a few days. I'm looking for something in the vein of Harpoon's Winter Warmer - a moderate gravity drinker, as opposed to a high-gravity sipper. I'm going to be spicing it with cinnamon and nutmeg, and I'm considering a touch of vanilla as well.

Normally I spice my meads and beers after primary fermentation is complete, but I'm looking for more of a mulled cider character from the cinnamon and nutmeg. I was thinking of adding the cinnamon and nutmeg at about 10 minutes before flameout, then adding a vanilla bean or two in secondary and racking off when the vanilla level hits the right balance.

Anyone have any thoughts or recommendations? I have some good quality whole nutmeg and ceylon cinnamon sticks, so I'm wondering how much of each to add to the boil to get a significant spice level without overdoing it.  I was also debating whether to boil some of my runnings down to a syrup in the vein of a scotch ale to get some caramelly notes, but I'm leaning more towards an ESB-like base with English Dark Crystal instead. Here's the recipe I have planned at the moment:

Title: Winter Warmer

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Holiday/Winter Special Spiced Beer
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.054
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.062
Final Gravity: 1.018
ABV (standard): 5.75%
IBU (tinseth): 25.57
SRM (morey): 18.51

6.5 lb - United Kingdom - Maris Otter Pale (90.4%)
6 oz - United Kingdom - Dark Crystal 80L (5.2%)
3 oz - United Kingdom - Extra Dark Crystal 160L (2.6%)
2 oz - United Kingdom - Chocolate (1.7%)

0.4 oz - Magnum, Type: Pellet, AA: 12.2, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 25.57

1) Infusion, Temp: 154 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 17 qt, Sacc Rest

White Labs - London Ale Yeast WLP013

Other Fermentables / Watermelon wine?
« on: October 13, 2013, 08:52:12 PM »
So this is mainly to share a recent observation and post some food for thought.

I've had a watermelon from my garden sitting on the counter since the first week of September. I just never got around to cutting it up. A couple of hours ago I hear "boom" coming from the kitchen. I didn't taste the resulting mess, but I did smell a pretty strong butterscotch aroma. Seems pretty clear that there was some sort of fermentation going on.

So of course the brewer in me instantly gets an idea. I'm thinking you could drill a hole that would hold an airlock, then use a marinade injector to pump in a yeast slurry into a few spots in the melon. Not sure what the results would be, but it would be a cool experiment. Maybe add some sugar or honey to boost the ABV a bit. Anyone ever try something like this?

The Pub / Through the Never
« on: September 30, 2013, 05:38:44 PM »
Any other Metallica fans out there? I just saw their new movie in IMAX 3D the other night and it blew my mind. The side story was kinda mediocre, but the concert footage was incredible. The cinematics were fantastic, and the sound in the IMAX was un-freaking-real. It was better than seeing them live. If you're even remotely interested in seeing this movie, do yourself a favor and see it at IMAX.

Beer Recipes / Belgian Amber Strong Ale
« on: September 23, 2013, 06:55:30 AM »
So I've decided to give WY3864 (Canadian/Belgian - aka Unibroue) a run as my house yeast for a while. It ferments remarkably clean at lower temps with a sizeable pitch of yeast. It plays nice in both hoppy and malty styles. But it always leaves a distinct character in the finish that I can pick out as "yep, that's Unibroue". I've always enjoyed blending styles a bit, so this should be fun to adapt some of my favorite recipes to make best use of this yeast.

I have a Belgian Pale Ale going now, so this one is destined for that yeast cake. I don't have a spare fridge at the moment, so I didn't get to brew a 'fest this year. This recipe is inspired by that rich base malt complexity that I get from my fave Ofests, but amped up to strong Belgian levels.

Title: Belgian Amber Strong Ale

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Belgian Dark Strong Ale
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.055
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.088
Final Gravity: 1.020
ABV (standard): 8.86%
IBU (tinseth): 31.4
SRM (morey): 12.34

3 lb - German - Bohemian Pilsner (31.6%)
1 lb - German - Vienna (10.5%)
2 lb - German - Munich Light (21.1%)
1 lb - German - Munich Dark (10.5%)
0.5 lb - Belgian - Aromatic (5.3%)
0.5 lb - Belgian Candi Syrup - Amber - (late addition)  (5.3%)
1.5 lb - Cane Sugar - (late addition)  (15.8%)

0.8 oz - Sterling, Type: Pellet, AA: 7.1, Use: Boil for 90 min, IBU: 31.4
0.5 oz - Sterling, Type: Pellet, AA: 7.1, Use: Boil for 0 min

1) Infusion, Temp: 153 F, Time: 75 min, Amount: 18 qt, Sacc Rest

Wyeast - Canadian/Belgian Ale 3864

Yeast and Fermentation / Trub in an all-grain starter
« on: September 13, 2013, 12:24:49 PM »
I recently grew up a pitch of Wyeast Canadian/Belgian from a bottle I brewed last year. I'm a big fan of the yeast and it's a seasonal strain that's not scheduled for release any time soon, so I decided to keep it going for a while. I decided to save the last ounce or so of yeast slurry and add some of the final "runnings" I set aside from the Belgian Pale Ale I was brewing to restart the starter.

So now I have a starter with a huge amount of trub - approximately 3 times as deep as the yeast slurry was in my last starter (and the yeast hasn't even started to floc out yet). Has anyone done an all-grain starter and run into this before? Any idea how I should handle the trub? I'm not growing a starter for a particular batch at the moment, but I just wanted to stockpile some relatively fresh slurry in the fridge for use later this fall.

I was thinking of either:

A) Wash the yeast to separate it from the trub, then store in a loosely closed mason jar in the fridge until I'm ready to use it


B) Just say "screw it" and dump the slurry and trub all together into a mason jar in hopes that the layers will separate and I can pour mostly yeast slurry off the top when I go to pitch.

Any thoughts or other suggestions?

Ingredients / Wet hop sale
« on: September 02, 2013, 07:37:08 PM »
I saw this and thought I'd share for those who'd like to brew a wet hop beer but aren't growing their own.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery
« on: August 30, 2013, 08:44:21 PM »
I was also able to make it to Moat Mountain on my recent trip to NH. Unlike my experience at Woodstock Inn, Moat Mountain has never disappointed me. Food and service were excellent, as were the beers. My favorite brews were the Czech Pils and the Brown Ale. The Pils was crisp and firmly hopped. The Brown Ale was easy-drinking but with a touch of roastiness, which is something I appreciate in a Brown.

They also had a nice Helles as one of their seasonals. I don't see too many brewpubs dabbling in lagers, so I really appreciate seeing a Pils and Helles on the menu. I think Helles is one of the most unforgiving styles to brew, and I think it says a lot when a brewery puts out a good one. Props to Moat Mtn for having the stones to put one out.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery
« on: August 29, 2013, 09:14:51 PM »
I was up in NH with the family this week and I managed to squeeze in dinner at a couple of the local brewpubs. Unfortunately, I had a rather disappointing trip to Woodstock Inn. Without going into the service too much, I'll just say that our waiter was having a truly horrible day. My wife ended up wearing some of it, too.

On the beer front, all they had available was their 6 year-round brews. Not only have I had all of them at one time or another, but they are all distributed fairly well in the region so I could pick up most of them at the store if I wanted to. Kinda lame to make the trek to the brewery only to find nothing new/special/seasonal on tap.

And then I remembered why I wasn't a huge fan of their beers in the first place. Every single one was a butter bomb. It's like they were all fermented with 1968 and crash cooled about 2 gravity points too soon. It's a shame, because I think their APA and red would be killer if there was no diacetyl.

Kegging and Bottling / Fixing overcarbonated bottles
« on: August 21, 2013, 05:04:13 PM »
I bottles an ESB a couple of months ago and underestimated how much beer the dry hops would soak up, so I ended up overpriming my bottles. Unfortunately, there is a lot of sediment in the bottles (side note - I will never be trying the "1-day dry hop" thing again. Not enough time for the hops to settle out and too much makes it through my siphon/paint-strainer bag setup). The carbonation is high enough that it blows the sediment loose once I open the bottle and it all makes it into my glass. Essentially, this batch is a dumper unless I can fix the carbonation issue.

So, has anyone here had any luck fixing an overcarbonated batch of bottles? Most of the bottles I've tried have been gushers, so I don't think I can simply open, then recap them. Any ideas?

Beer Recipes / Belgian Pale Ale
« on: August 18, 2013, 08:24:47 PM »
So hop harvest time is just around the corner and I've done the APA/IPA thing to death this summer so I want to do something a little different with me & my buddy's hops. I was thinking a Belgian Pale Ale using our hops at flameout (will have several ounces of Cascade and an ounce or two of Willamette). Here's my first draft of what I was thinking:

Title: Belgian Pale Ale

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Belgian Pale Ale
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.047
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

Original Gravity: 1.054
Final Gravity: 1.013
ABV (standard): 5.33%
SRM (morey): 8.99

2.5 lb - Belgian - Pale Ale (40.8%)
2 lb - German - Vienna (32.7%)
10 oz - Belgian - CaraVienne (10.2%)
8 oz - Cane Sugar (8.2%)
8 oz - Belgian - Aromatic (8.2%)

1) Infusion, Temp: 151 F, Time: 75 min, Amount: 17 qt, Sacc Rest

Any thoughts or recommendations? Most of the BPA recipes I've seen call for Pils as the base malt, but I'm not really looking for that Pils malt flavor in this one. That's why I went with the Pale Ale/Vienna combo for the base malt. I'm going to try to grow up a starter from a bottle I brewed last fall using the Canadian/Belgian Wyeast strain. The other option I was thinking of was the Duvel strain.

For hops I was planning on bittering with Magnum for 15 IBU's, then making a WAG at how long to hold a hop stand with the homegrown hops to get another 15 IBU's or so. If I can end up in the 25-35 IBU range I'll be happy.

Beer Recipes / Hopstand & Dry Hop IPA
« on: August 12, 2013, 10:30:46 AM »
I just got this into the fermenter. Crazy amount of hops - looking forward to how this turns out. I used a 30 minute addition to estimate the utilization from the 90 minute hop stand. Not that it matters much at 475 IBU...

Title: Hopstand IPA

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: American IPA
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 3.5 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.058
Efficiency: 70% (brew house)
No Chill: 30 minute extended hop boil time

Original Gravity: 1.066
IBU (tinseth): 475.51
SRM (morey): 7.62

6.5 lb - American - Pale 2-Row (72.2%)
2 lb - German - Munich Light (22.2%)
8 oz - American - Victory (5.6%)

2 oz - Citra, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 14.8, Use: Boil for 0 min, IBU: 104.49
2 oz - Apollo, Type: Pellet, AA: 18, Use: Boil for 0 min, IBU: 139.79
2 oz - Meridian, Type: Pellet, AA: 6.7, Use: Boil for 0 min, IBU: 52.03
2 oz - Motueka, Type: Pellet, AA: 7.2, Use: Boil for 0 min, IBU: 55.92
2.5 oz - Nelson Sauvin, Type: Pellet, AA: 12.7, Use: Boil for 0 min, IBU: 123.29
1 oz - Amarillo, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 12, Use: Hopback for 0 min at  °F
1.5 oz - Citra, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 14.8, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days
2 oz - Meridian, Type: Pellet, AA: 6.7, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days
2 oz - Motueka, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 7.2, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days
1 oz - Nelson Sauvin, Type: Pellet, AA: 12.7, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days

1) Infusion, Temp: 153 F, Time: 60 min, Amount: 17 qt, Sacc Rest

Fermentis / Safale - Safale - American Ale Yeast US-05

90 minute hop stand

(Note: Efficiency calculation dropped to 70 to account for wort lost to hops.)

"Hopback" Amarillo is actually steeped in French Press with priming sugar immediately prior to bottling.

Generated by Brewer's Friend -

Ingredients / Single hopped beer tasting notes - 2013 edition
« on: August 09, 2013, 09:22:33 PM »
So I've finally started tasting my most recent crop of single-hopped pale ales and have some tasting notes to share. First, here's a quick rundown of my basic recipe/procedure.

I brewed these all as a series of 1-gallon (preboil volume) extract batches with a 15 minute boil. The goal is more speed and efficiency than precision here. Once I get a good flow going I can crank out a new batch every 30-40 minutes.

Malt bill - 0.8lb Light DME/0.3lb Munich LME, but I figure out how much this is by volume and just measure it out by the scoop to save time. Target OG is between 1.055-1.060. I add this to my kettle with 1 gallon of water and stir as it heats up until everything is dissolved.

Once the extract is dissolved I add the FWH hops. I calculate this as a 20-minute addition and target 40 IBU's (although my palate is telling me that it's really closer to 30) I then add 0.25oz at flameout and 0.5oz as dry hops. I find that this gives me a decent overall picture of the bittering, aroma and flavor for a hop variety. It also conveniently works out to almost exactly 1 ounce of hops per batch, which is a nice coincidence.

Without further ado, let's get to some tasting notes.

Other Fermentables / Ginger Ale Mead?
« on: August 04, 2013, 06:48:53 PM »
I've had an idea that keeps popping up in my head, so I'm thinking of giving it a go. I was thinking of brewing a relatively low gravity (1.050-1.060ish) mead that would be a bit more refreshing than my typical 15%+ "dessert-wine" style melomels. I want to shoot for something like a fruited ginger beer (thinking raspberry, lime, or both).

Anyone have any experience with a recipe in this style? Would I use as much fruit as I would for a bigger melomel, or cut it back? Also, any recommendations on how much ginger root to use? Lastly, I'd want to bottle carbonate, but I've never done this with a mead. I'd assume the preferred priming sugar would be the honey I used for the mead, correct? I'm thinking of priming to 3 volumes in normal beer bottles.

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