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Topics - enso

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Events / NHC ever in New England?
« on: June 22, 2010, 03:05:32 PM »
So, I am a fairly new AHA member so I never really paid much attention in the past.  Has there ever been or will there ever be an NHC conference in New England?  I realize it would probably have to be in Boston being the largest city but 3 hours away is better than 2-4,000 miles.

The few years I have been aware of the conferences it seems it is frequently in California and occasionally in the Midwest.  I would love to attend some time.  Just can't afford to take time and fly and pay for hotels...

Yeah, I am griping.  Sorry for being a sour puss.   :-*

Commercial Beer Reviews / Saison du BUFF
« on: June 19, 2010, 07:58:21 PM »
Man, oh man do I dig this beer.  The herbs are not overpowering but they are definitely there.  They blend smoothly with the hops and the yeast phenols.  It is really complex and easy drinking at the same time.  Spicy and herbal.  Hard to pick it apart it is so seamless.  I don't know why but something about this beer has me excited unlike any brew I have had in a while.  Guess I better buy a few so I can compare when the Victory and DFH versions come out.


All Grain Brewing / How did I make this (sour) beer?
« on: June 18, 2010, 07:03:49 PM »
So, I just posted another topic asking for advice/recipe for an easy first sour beer.  However, I am sipping one that I made several years ago.  Completely unintentionally.  I quite like it though it has a murky history and I have no idea how it came to be...

I believe I know the source of infection if not the actual mechanism.  I will describe all that I know and where I think it turned.  Then I will describe the results.  Perhaps folks can help me figure out what I have.

The beer started life as a batch of my lovely Scottish heather ale.  Marris otter malt (90.9%), Medium British Crystal (4.5%), and CaraAmber malt (4.5%).  No hops, just heather and a touch of sweet gale.  It is a pale/golden beer normally.  It was also a pretty well tested and good recipe.  Won one first place the only time I had entered it.  What I did different with this batch is I attempted to add some dried heather to the fermenter post fermentation.  Things got weird after a few days.  Sadly I did not take any notes so everything is a bit fuzzy.  I recall it was a bit off when I kegged it up.  Somewhat sour.  I decided to keep it anyway.  It sat for many months.  I sampled it now and again and was not sure what to do with it.  Twice I opened the keg and was about to dump it but could not bring myself to go through with it after taking one last sample each time.  It was not treated with the greates of care.  If I needed space in the kegerator it got the boot, so it warmed up and cooled down.  Not sure i purged the airspace every time I aborted the dumping urge.  I never noticed any weird growths or formation (pellicles or what not).  I finally had sampled it enough over time that I had only a couple of gallons left in the keg and I needed the keg empty.  So, I bottle up what was left.

Every now and again I sample a bottle.  Only 2 left now.  I find it pretty nice each time.

I will do my best to describe it.  It is quite effervescent.  Seemingly more so than the level I had force carbonated it to, but again, no notes.  Remember I had described the beer as pale gold in color when it comes out the way intended.  This is dark amber.  Not sure if that is relevant.  The aroma is tart and fruity.  I remember at one point thinking it smelled strongly of pineapple.  I can still perceive that but there seems to be something else that I cannot place my finger on.  Floral?  The flavor is quite tart and puckering.  Not harshly, I find it refreshing.  I can also taste some pineapple as well as other things.  Not sure what as the tartness makes it hard to pick out.  I entered it in one competition in hopes of figuring some things out.  It bombed pretty bad iirc.  I remember some judges calling it oxidized.  I do not perceive that but I am new to sour beers.  I can certainly see where oxidation may have occurred all those times I tried to dump it!

I myself really enjoy this.  I have no idea how it actually came about so sadly I can not repeat it.   :'(  I may pitch some into another beer some day if I don't drink the last 2 bottles first.  Though without knowing what I have that may be risky?

Any ideas?  I know a strain of brett is reported to have the pineapple character but surely I have other critters at work?  Brett. is not known for puckering tartness is it?  Can anybody pick this one apart?

I have recently acquired the taste for sour/wild beers.  Big time.  At least most of the ones I have the pleasure of trying.  A recent privilege/delight was getting to sample some of Allagash's efforts from there koelschip project which is not yet available commercially.  Thanks AHA and Allagash!!!

One I have been enjoying a lot that I am able to purchase is Jolly Pumpkin La Roja.  I fear once i buy all of the 1 case the paskage store bought it will be gone as it was a hard sell to convince them to get it in the first place.  Not to mention it is $11 a bottle.  Adds up quickly.

So, after seeing Allagash's setup and reading Wild brews and anything I can find on the subject, I really feel it is time to take the plunge.  My objectives are, make something near to la Roja without too much risk and have a repeatable results that are not overly complicated and save some moila...

Any suggestions?  I am at once fascinated by it all and terrified/intimidated.  Part of me wants to dive in over my head and another just want to get something simple going that will yield a tasty result not too long off.  I know it takes time, it would be great to have something ready in 6 mos...

I have a Saison I have "Orval-ed" that should be ready in a bit but I would really love something funkier like la Roja.  Tannic and bone dry and oaky and funky.

Iam rambling on here, guess I am not sure what I am asking for.  I am actually moving in a little over 1 month which will put a serious monkey wrench in the brew workings.  Not the best time to start getting into this I guess, but then that is usually how I go about things!

I don't even know for sure how something like la roja is produced, meaning what the base style is.  I it patterned after a Flanders Red?  Can I even come close simply without brewing multiple batches over a course of several years and then blending?  Can it be done with a simple single infusion mash and standard procedures?

Can anyone get through all this mental diarrhea to provide an answer to whatever the question actually is?


Ingredients / What do I do with this cherry extract?
« on: June 16, 2010, 10:36:14 PM »
So some of the booty I got for prizes in a homebrew competition included 2 bottle of cherry extract (one for each beer that won).  I am not really a fan of fruity beers and I imagine if I were to brew one I would use real fruit.

Any ideas?  I guess I could just pass it on but perhaps there is some really cool idea out there of a use...


Commercial Beer Reviews / Commercial beer BOMBS!
« on: June 07, 2010, 05:34:09 PM »
I have a case carton of various vintages of barley wines in my basement.  I went to select one today and the first one I picked up was an empty bottle!  It was a 2009 Victory Old Horizontal.  Apparently it burst out the bottom, drenching the whole case.  Which actually was probably a good thing as the cardboard absorbed most of the liquid and the shock of explosion so there were no other causalities.  I only had 3 left of the 2009.  I am chilling one down now to see if I can determine if it is an infection or not.

I have had homebrew explode but never had a commercial beer do that.  Anyone else ever had that happen?  Hope it doesn't happen again.

Homebrew Competitions / NHC Consolation prizes?
« on: May 27, 2010, 09:20:25 PM »
So, I got my NHC judging sheets a few weeks ago.  They were much lower than I would have hoped or expected.  So, I figured I bombed pretty bad.

Today I got 2 silver certificates and 3 bronze certificates.  The only beer I did not get a certificate for was one that scored 20.  

So what do these mean exactly?  Is this just something everyone gets for participating so long as they score above 20?

General Homebrew Discussion / Random Laws of the brewday #266
« on: May 12, 2010, 08:29:30 PM »
266:  If the brew day has gone wicked smoothly and you are near the end...

You forgot something!

This time it was the Irish moss.  Again.  Last time I brewed this recipe I also forgot!

Judges seem to be really hard on them. Or perhaps they don't quite know what to make of something under 4% abv?

I love Scottish shilling ales and I believe I make some damn tasty ones.  I think they are wicked smooth, clean and flavorful.

Judges don't seem to agree.  I have often had comments about sourness and infections.  I don't taste or smell sourness or infection at all and I am pretty sensitive to that.  I wonder if it is the malts I use?  I love to add a bit of aromatic malt for the wonderful maltiness.  Early on in fermentation I perceive a fairly noticeable raisin character from it.  It fades to more bready malt flavors as it cold ages.  I wonder if that is what they are picking up on?

The other no-no that I do is the kettle caramelization.  I know that this is often perceived as diacytal by judges so it is not recommended, but I love it.  It adds to the malty sweetness I think and certainly the color.  I try to stick to the "authentic" simple grist approach.  I used to use only Marris Otter and a touch of roasted plus the caramelization.  I only added the aromatic to boost the maltiness to try and mimic the more amber/brown base malts that would have been used.  I have not had any complaints about diacytal, but perhaps it is adding to the sourness issue?  One judge actually did recommend MORE kettle caramelization...   ::)

Another comment that tickled me was that the yeast character was not evident enough.  That is one thing I personally do NOT expect in a Scottish ale.  I intentionally ferment as cold as the yeast will let me.  In this case 55F for Wyeast 1728.  After a long cool ferment I age it even cooler for a month or so.

I realize infection is probably more of a potential in such low abv beers but I really truly do not believe these are infected.  I do not have any issues with any other beers and I really do not taste it in these.  My sanitation is excellent and once they are fermenting they tend to be almost lager like in there treatment.

I am just stumped.  It isn't that they are always slammed.  I entered the same beers recently in 2 competitions.  One in the NHC and one in a local comp.  I did not have much hope of my Scottish 70/- doing well in the local comp (non-bjcp) because generally the beers that win are HUGE, either in alcohol or hops.  I actually took 1st.  In the NHC...  Bombed,  only 28!

I don't know.  I really love how the beers are so I won't be changing them.  Anyways, just rambling here I guess.  Thanks for reading.

Other Fermentables / How much wine to top up?
« on: May 07, 2010, 08:10:35 PM »
This is only my second batch of wine.  I ran into this problem the first time.  When I racked to secondary I have 6 gallons.  That leaves the level of liquid only at the shoulder of the carboy.

I think last time I only had 5.50 gallons.  The first batch (well, and this one) were gifts for my wife so I wanted it to turn out well.  So, I topped up with store bought wine,  Took a 1.5 L then another 750 ml last time.  Makes the price go up...

I hate to add water as the instructions suggest mostly because I can't figure out exactly how that effects the gravity/abv?

What do other folks do?

Yeast and Fermentation / Yet more Orval dregs questions.
« on: May 07, 2010, 03:04:57 PM »
I am about to keg up or possibly rack into another carboy a saison  I have going.  I plan to bottle condition it at some point.  I am going to add the dregs of a bottle of Orval.

What I am wondering is this.  If I add the dregs and let it sit a bit, I assume the bugs in there if they are still viable will multiply.  Then, if I were to draw off some of this beer and add it to another could I then "infect" another batch of beer?  Or maybe later once it is bottle conditioned can I use the dregs from that bottle again?

I am a little fuzzy on the process of this.  The collective wisdom seems to be that you want to culture these bugs in already fermented beer.  What I understand is, if you attempt to culture up just the dregs in a regular starter you will most likely get a larger population of the Sacchromyces strain than the Brett that is in there because conditions are more favorable for them at the point.  Whereas if you add the dregs to already fermented beer the Sacch. won't have as much to eat so the Brett will take more of a hold.  Is my understanding correct?

Could you then perhaps culture the dregs on their own by adding them to a small amount of beer rather than wort?

Man.  What a Birthday.   :(

Family agreed to let me go the awards for a homebrew comp. last Saturday over in Burlington.  Two hour drive, four hours round trip.  Get there.  Wait around for about an hour as they are giving out door prizes to judges and then get set-up for BOS judging.  Get in line to get my score sheets.  Finally get up there.  'We don't have any record of entries from you.'


"Where did you enter your beers?" 

Well, I dropped them off at one of the approved businesses; a brew pub, the day before the deadline.  Even emailed the contact person to make sure it was okay as it was so close to the deadline.  Got a reply that he would not even be picking them up until the middle of the following week.  I spoke with this same guy at the competition.  He claims to have stopped in at the pub I dropped them off at twice after the deadline only to be told there were no entries.  Grrr.  I call the pub.  I ask for the manager, she has no knowledge of anything to do with the competition but is kind enough to look into things for me.  We identify who the bartender was when I dropped it off.  She calls him at home and calls me back.  Sure enough, my beers are still there!

Did I mention it was an hour drive (2 round trip) to get to this pub to drop my beers off in the first place?!  Gonna have a friend of mine pick up the beer and rip up the entry check so i don't have to drive all the way down again.  Good deal for him, a case of some damn fine beer...  If I do say so myself.  And I am the only one who can at this point.   ::)

Man was that a pisser and a half.  Consolation was I was going to stop in Montpelier on the way back and enjoy some special cask beers at the Three Penny Tap rooms 1st anniversary party.  Live music, cask ales outside in the sunshine...  Was supposed to go from 3 pm to 10 pm.  Got there at 6:15 pm.  Beer is gone!  Casks are empty!!! 


Still had some tasty beers in the bar itself but... Damn.   >:(

I have tried to put it behind me.  Today I started to get paranoid that my beer never made it to nationals either, cause I still haven't gotten any scoresheets.  I know it probably takes a while but after last weekend I am a bit suspicious of everything.

I even emailed the contact guy again that very night about what I found out, and what I thought about it all.  I replied to his reply that had informed me it was still fine to drop off when I was going to.  Only because he claimed to not recall getting my original email.  No reply.  Yes, I believe I was very polite and respectful in my email.  I even pointed out I was aware that the folks running it were doing so voluntarily and showed my appreciation for that fact.

You think some sort of reply would be not asking too much right?

Kind of put off by competitions at the moment.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Harpoon UFO white. What is it exactly
« on: April 21, 2010, 05:08:46 PM »
I think it is supposed to be a Belgian wit.  I have not cared much for Belgian wits in the past but I find this wicked refreshing.  Very slight but detectable orange citrus and very light coriander.  Not much on phenolics.  Would folks who are wit afficianados classify this as anywhere in the ballpark?  O is it perhaps an "American" wheat beer with spices?

I guess what I am looking for is how I could go about reproducing this.  I have a great American wheat beer recipe I have not made in a while as I don't usually get excited about the style.  Something just very easy drinking about this though.

My regular wheat beer uses 50/50 MO and wheat mat with all Amarillo.  I normally use US-05 for the yeast.  If I used WLP 530 and some orange peel and coriander would that give me something like Harpoon White?

Yeast and Fermentation / WLP 565. What's all the fuss?
« on: April 20, 2010, 03:13:11 PM »
I finally brewed my first saison, well 2 actually.  I used WLP 565 the Dupont strain.  I have read Farm house brews.  Countless forum postings and the reviews on White labs site.  So I was prepared!  I was ready to wait a long time!  I made a big starter.  I mashed low @ 143F.  I aerated well with an airstone intially and then again into ferment.  I kept them warm.  One in a water bath the other in a ferment chamber with a heating pad.

The one in the chamber with heating pad is already down to 1.011 after only 2 days!  It was a simple one.  Only pilsner.  I had it up to about 82F in there.  The other astonishing thing?  It already tastes pretty damn good after only a few days! 

The other in the water bath is still chugging.  I have only let it get as high as 75F so far.  It is easier to control a slow ramp up with the aquarium heater.  I did not have that control with the heating pad (though that does not seem to have hurt.)  It was my first attempt at a cereal mash using spelt.  That one is only down to 1.018, but, hey it is only 2 days.  This one is pretty tasty too.  Definitley some bready flavors.  Also some banana I do not pick up in the other one.

Normally I would not check a beer this early.  I would not touch for at least 2 weeks.  Since I am new to this yeast though and after all I have read I wanted to see how it goes though.  The krauesen last night I think, and one was no longer producing enough CO2 to escape the airlock, so I guess I wanted to see if the rumors of its sluggishness were true.

Can't wait to repitch from these for another round...

Equipment and Software / Home made beer engines
« on: April 18, 2010, 11:13:37 PM »
Every now and again I get the inkling to make a homemade beer engine...

I never get around to it though.  I know how I would do it if I do. There are loads of great ideas out there usually built around a hand water pump for rv's.

Came across this.

Delivers 1 pint per stroke.

It is highly doubtful that it is made of food safe materials sadly.  Otherwise It would be perfect!  I could even see modifying the pump handle to a nice pub style handle.

Well, just dreaming here.  One day I'll get around to it.   ;)

'Til then I return you to your regularly scheduled discussions.

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