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Topics - erockrph

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32
Commercial Beer Reviews / Allagash Confluence
« on: August 22, 2014, 07:59:59 PM »
I am cracking into my bottle from June 2012. Confluence is Allagash's dry-hopped/Brett-aged beer.

The nose has plenty of fruit complexity. I get Bretty pineapple along with pear and apple. There is some spiciness as well, leading to a bit of a mulled cider impression. I'm not getting much funk, maybe a hint of horsiness way in the back, but it's pretty much fruit all the way in the aroma.

On the palate the fruit is less assertive. I get some rustic, grainy malt throughout. There are overtones of fruit, earth and a little barnyard in the middle. The finish has a bit of a lingering resin and grass hop bitterness. There is some nice complexity here, and everything seems pretty well-balanced. Mouthfeel is on the thin side, but the carbonation helps round that out a bit. This is a really well-done Brett beer.

Given that this is a 2-year old beer, I was surprised that the hops held up so well (dry hops in particular). I was also expecting a bit more Brett character. No complaints, though, as the balance seemed just right. I have a bottle of the 2013 hanging around. I'm not quite sure to drink it sooner to see how the hops are when it's young, or sit on it longer to see if the brett develops more over time. These are life's tough decisions :)

33
Commercial Beer Reviews / Ommegang Wild at Heart
« on: August 17, 2014, 08:58:56 PM »
I've been dipping into my commercial stockpile as of late since I haven't been able to brew much as of late. This is one that is fairly disappointing to me.

Wild at Heart is a 100% Brett primary, but the Brett character is really subdued. To me it's like a Vienna Lager that was poorly fermented. The primary flavor is a grainy malt character that kind of makes me think of Sam Adams. There is some Belgian Tripel-like fermentation character, along with just a hint of Brett fruitiness. The finish is a bit sweet and underattenuated.

I don't know if Ommegang uses a house Brett strain, but the difference between this beer and their Biere de Mars (which had a normal primary with Brett added in the bottle) is astonishing. The Biere de Mars is one of the best Brett aged beers I've had, while the Wild at Heart is "meh" at best.

34
Ingredients / Sugarcane
« on: August 17, 2014, 10:21:43 AM »
I'm trying to come up with some ideas for meads and lime-based ones keep popping into my head. I've seen Mojito mead recipes out there, but I'm not always in a mint mood. So the next logical idea is a Caipirinha mead. And that brings me down the rabbit hole of using sugarcane in the mead.

Now, I've never actually cooked with sugar cane, so I have no clue whether my romantic notion of racking my mead onto cut up bits of cane is a worthwhile endeavor. Anyone have any clue whether I will get any noticeable flavor out of this? Or am I better off using sugarcane juice (if I can find some out my way)? I was planning on doing this in secondary after sulfite/sorbate, so I'm not worried about the yeast fermenting all the sugar out.

35
Equipment and Software / Bottling under pressure from a gallon jug
« on: August 17, 2014, 07:11:43 AM »
I brew a lot of 1-gallon batches of beer, but the real PITA is bottling. It is possible to do it with one person using an autosiphon, but it's not easy and I always end up making a mess in the process.

My thought is to use a 2-hole stopper to bottle under CO2 pressure. In one hole I'd jam a racking cane and set it to just over the level of trub, then attach some tubing and a bottling wand to it. In the other hole I'd stick a small piece of tubing with a male MFL screw on the end. Then I'd hook up a CO2 tank at a few PSI and start bottling. Sort of like using a carboy cap for racking, just at a smaller size.

My dilemma seems to be finding a food-grade 2-hole stopper that fits my gallon jugs (i.e., size #6). I can find non food-grade rubber stoppers, but I'd really like to avoid that. I have seen a couple of places selling gum rubber 2-hole stoppers, but I'd have to buy like 60-90 dollars worth.

I'm thinking I might have to drill my own from a solid stopper. But I don't have access to a drill press, and I'm not sure about doing this by hand without ripping it to shreds.

So that's my story. Anyone have any constructive feedback? Sources for stoppers? Tips on bottling under pressure, drilling stoppers, am I crazy for wanting food-grade stoppers, etc.?


36
Equipment and Software / Super cheap pH meter
« on: August 16, 2014, 04:55:03 AM »
I just ordered one of these and thought I'd share. Right now this pH meter is selling for $7.42 with free shipping. The reviews seem decent as well.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0087LOWIA/

A pH meter has always been one of those things that I've wanted, but the price point has been too high for me to justify pulling the trigger on one. I've never had any major issues that I would attribute to my water. I've always used either Brun'water or Kai's calculator on Brewer's Friend and spot-checks with colorpHast strips have always been what I was expecting to see.

Even if it's a throwaway meter after a handful of uses, that's perfectly fine with me. I'm just looking to spot-check a few of my usual recipes to verify that the water calculators are accurate enough for me.

37
Commercial Beer Reviews / Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza
« on: August 12, 2014, 10:31:03 PM »
I was unaware that JP started distributing to RI, but a recent stop at one of my local bottle shops gave me a pleasant surprise. I didn't realize how pleasant until I cracked into this beer. When I poured my first glass I was just smacked upside the head with an incredible, Orval-like Brett aroma. There's just a touch of lactic twang, a bit of spice, some grainy malt and just enough hop bite and flavor.

It's a very well-balanced and complex Saison-ish base beer that just got whacked upside the head with a Brett baseball bat. It's no wonder why I've heard so much hype about JP's beers. This is just stupid good.

38
Commercial Beer Reviews / Bruery Hottenroth
« on: August 05, 2014, 09:43:43 PM »
This is my first time trying a commercial straight-up Berliner Weisse and man, am I impressed. Hottenroth is certainly tart, but it is not in the realm of gueuze or La Folie. For such a small beer, it is remarkably complex. There is a big, bready graininess to it, and a nice lactic twang to balance it out. The Bruery always impresses me with their sours, and this is no exception.

39
Ingredients / Ribes (currants and gooseberries) for the homebrewer
« on: July 22, 2014, 08:33:40 AM »
There have been a few mentions of currants and ribes floating around in a few posts. I have been growing several varieties over the past few years, so I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences:

I have red, pink and black currants growing, as well as both red and green gooseberries. They are quite easy to grow. This is my third year and I'm getting about 2 pounds from each of my currant bushes, despite heavy pruning last fall. One thing to note is that most Ribes varieties are susceptible to white pine blister rust, so they are restricted or banned in many areas. Even if you are able to find an online supplier that will ship them to you (hint, hint ;) ), use good judgement whether it would it would be the best idea for your local flora to introduce Ribes plants.

My gooseberries aren't yielding quite as much, but I have been pruning them quite a bit until I figure out how I want to train the bushes. They grow a lot more like vines than the currants, which are well-behaved little bushes. Gooseberries have nasty thorns that put blackberries to shame.

Red/Pink Currants - these are like a cross between a tomato and a pomegranate aril to me, both in flavor and seediness. Pink currants are just a variety of red currants. They have less tomato and are sweeter than red currants. I find these suitable for eating out of hand (more so than red ones), but they are seedy enough where I wouldn't want to eat a mass quantity. I am planning on syrup from my red currants this season, and they make a decent jelly as well. For brewing applications, my best guess would be a Flanders Red, many of which have a touch of a ketchup thing going already (at least to my palate).

Red Gooseberries - I haven't been getting a lot off of mine, but they rarely make it indoors from the garden. The inner flesh is very similar to a blueberry - sweet, fleshy and mild. Then the skin has this great sweet-tart flavor to it. It does have a bit of muskiness, which I enjoy, but might not be everyone's tastes.

Green Gooseberries - more tart than their Red cousins. They're good for pies and jams. If I were making a gooseberry beer, I'd probably use the green ones. I think they'd be pretty good in a saison. Mikkeller makes an excellent gooseberry lambic.

Black Currants - this is the one that gets thrown around the most in homebrewing as a flavor descriptor for hops. All parts of the plant have a distinct musky/spicy aroma. To me, it is much closer to the aroma of tomato stems than cat pee, but I guess I can see where the descriptor comes from. I guess that is a perception issue that varies from nose to nose.

If you can get your hands on a fresh black currant, by all means try it. I find the fresh berries to be distinctly different than juices or jams. That musky note just isn't the same once they're processed, IMO. Don't get me wrong, eating a fresh black current is not a particularly enjoyable experience - it is bitter, tart and tannic. But it is certainly eye-opening of you haven't had one.

As far as brewing applications go, you see black currant in a lot of commercial meads, and it's a great fit there. It adds some tannins and tartness that rounds out a berry melomel nicely. I've also had a fantastic lambic from Hanssens Artisanaal that used black currant. Of all my ribes plants, this is the one I had more of. I'd really like to use quite a bit of these in my sour beers. I'm debating whether to store this year's harvest until next year in hopes of having enough saved up over 2 seasons to use to secondary a beer on, or to make a syrup to add to a Berliner Weisse (among other things).

One other idea is to use them in a Pale Ale or IPA. I've read from some articles in the perfume industry that the blackcurrant aroma pairs well with rose, so it seems like it would fit well with New World hops that already exhibit currant-like flavors, as well as sharing many of the essential oils that are present in roses.


40
Commercial Beer Reviews / B Nektar Zombie Killer
« on: July 11, 2014, 08:05:53 PM »
Until now, the only commercial meads I've had have been from Moonlight Meadery. Great meads, but their take is very much the big, sipping mead style; in the vein of a big red or dessert wine. To date, all my homebrew meads have been modeled after this style of mead, since it's all I really know and I'm a big fan of it.

I just came across B Nektar in my area for the first time, so I grabbed a few of their meads to try. The first one I'm trying is Zombie Killer, which is a 6% cherry cyser.

This is something I can easily put down in mass quantities. The nose is apples with a cinnamon spice note. Flavor is cider first, with slightly tart cherry highlights. As the fruit fades, the honey starts to assert itself. The finish is a nice honey note, along with a hint of cinnamon. Sweetness is off-dry with light carbonation.

I get that cinnamon note in a lot of wildflower honey, so I'm guessing that's where its coming from, but I've gotten it from apple cider before as well. This honestly has given me a whole new outlook on mead. Great stuff. This is a bit transcendent experience for me. It definitely makes me want to brew a batch or two of this type of session mead.

41
Beer Recipes / A better light lager?
« on: July 10, 2014, 08:27:17 AM »
I've decided that the time is approaching in my brewing career to take a stab at an American-style pale lager. I'm not a huge fan of the style, but there is something refreshing about a clean, crisp lager that I can get into every once in a while.

My thought is to bring in the flavor profile that I enjoy from German lagers to amp up the flavor a bit. So I'm planning on German Pils malt, plus Munich and a bit of Aromatic to amp up the malt flavor. I'm going to use a German lager yeast as well.

The question then becomes whether to use corn or rice as my adjunct. I'm thinking corn, but I'm not really familiar with either.

Here's what I was thinking:

Title: Fizzy Yellow

Brew Method: BIAB
Style Name: Premium American Lager
Boil Time: 90 min
Batch Size: 3 gallons (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 4 gallons
Boil Gravity: 1.037
Efficiency: 80% (brew house)

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.049
Final Gravity: 1.007
ABV (standard): 5.45%
IBU (tinseth): 25
SRM (morey): 5.82

FERMENTABLES:
1.5 lb - Flaked Corn (31.2%)
2 lb - German - Pilsner (41.6%)
1 lb - German - Munich Light (20.8%)
5 oz - Belgian - Aromatic (6.5%)

HOPS:
0.5 oz - Sterling, Type: Pellet, AA: 7, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 25
0.5 oz - Sterling, Type: Pellet, AA: 7.1, Use: Boil for 0 min

MASH GUIDELINES:
1) Infusion, Temp: 145 F, Time: 90 min, Amount: 13 qt, Strike water = 151F
2) Infusion, Temp: 160 F, Time: 10 min, Amount: 4 qt, Mash out

YEAST:
Wyeast - Octoberfest Lager Blend 2633

42
Kegging and Bottling / Carbing multiple kegs without a manifold
« on: June 13, 2014, 07:32:30 AM »
When I bought my kegging setup I cheaped out and didn't get a multiple-connection manifold because I thought I could get by without one. I didn't take into consideration that I would be filling all 4 of my new kegs within a few days of each other. I really don't want to wait a month to carb them all up one-by-one. To further complicate things, I'm going out of town for a while so I won't be able to top them up with more CO2 once or twice a day (which is how I was planning on handling multiple kegs without a manifold).

My thought was to over-pressurize the kegs a bit before I leave (to maybe 20 PSI or so). Hopefully that will keep the carbonation process moving along over the 5 days I'm gone, without having to worry about overcarbing too much. Does that sound reasonable? Any other suggestions?


43
Kegging and Bottling / Frozen keg
« on: June 05, 2014, 07:02:29 PM »
Last night I switched my chest freezer from fermentation chamber to kegerator mode. I have a pilsner cold crashing before I move it to a keg for lagering, and a barleywine that is starting to carbonate at 10PSI. I set my temp controller to 38F.

When I went to check on it today, I saw that the temp controller was reading 66F. WTF? Then I noticed - I never stuck the probe back in the freezer. The temp controller was running full blast for about 18 hours. Everything in the freezer is frozen rock solid. I put the probe where it belongs, but it will probably take a while to thaw.

I'm not worried about the pilsner in the bucket, but the keg is under pressure. I'm thinking that 10 PSI shouldn't be a problem. Anyone ever do this? Do I need to worry about things blowing up?

44
General Homebrew Discussion / Double check my fining technique
« on: June 03, 2014, 02:55:24 PM »
I've never messed with fining my beers before, but now that I have some kegs I have a problematic barleywine that I plan on transferring to a keg, fining, force carbonating, then bottling. I've never done any of this before, so I was hoping the experts on the forum could spot-check my plans to make sure I'm not missing anything important.

I have 2.8-ish gallons of barleywine that has been crash-cooling at 25F for 2 days now. I'm going to sanitize and purge a 2.5-gallon keg, then add my dissolved gelatin and rack my beer on top. After that I'll force carbonate for a week or two, then blow off the sediment and bottle the rest.

Do I have it right? Any suggestions on how much gelatin I would need for 2.5 gallons? Should I just use a whole pack, or will half be sufficient?

Thanks in advance.

45
The Pub / Sake anyone?
« on: May 25, 2014, 09:28:26 PM »
Does anyone here enjoy sake beyond the casual "going out for sushi, it's either sake or Kirin Ichiban"? I've had a few sakes that I really enjoyed in the past, but not enough to really make me want to seek it out on a regular basis. Then I discovered Nigori (unfiltered) sake a few years back, and I was hooked.

A lot of sake is hot and harsh to my palate, but Nigori sake tends to have just enough sweetness to balance out that hotness. Right now I'm drinking Snow Beauty, which is a really nice one. It has some floral and muskmelon notes, and a flavor reminiscent of mochi/daifuku rice candy, with some melon and plum wine highlights.

My biggest issue with sake is that it's not particularly easy to find a store with a decent selection of different higher-end sakes to try, especially nigori sake - which is still very much a niche product.

Anyone have any suggestions or favorites?

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