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Messages - dmtaylor

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Beer Recipes / Re: lager recipe for lager-hater
« on: October 22, 2015, 09:02:43 AM »
Is a Vienna lager "not too malty"?

Gosh, you've got to take all the fun out of it, don't you!

You're right, you don't like lagers.  :P ;)

Beer Recipes / Re: lager recipe for lager-hater
« on: October 22, 2015, 08:11:34 AM »
You really can't beat a Vienna lager.  Use almost 100% Vienna malt, just a touch of CaraMunich, noble hops, and 2206 yeast.  Those are all the keys to it.  You can play with other specialty malts if you want, play around with hops, use whatever mash schedule you like, ferment as slow or fast as you like.  But just use a ton of Vienna and the 2206, and you're 95% of the way there.

It sounds like a bad case of burnout to me.  A lot of intensely dedicated home brewers experience it.  Some come back after few months or years away from the hobby; however, many more move onto something new after bringing balance back to their lives.  Home brewing can become an unhealthy obsession that can dominate one's life, especially if one has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.  I have been through home brewer burnout twice, so I know the feeling.  One can only burn the candle that hot for so long.

This has happened to me.  In 2011 & 2012, I barely brewed at all, and stopped visiting all of my favorite forums like this one.  Then I got back into my groove.  It happens.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Finding my Style
« on: October 20, 2015, 09:02:20 AM »
I might be crazy, but... it's a goal of mine to eventually brew every style and see what I'm good at and what works with my water and my process.  I've already narrowed things down to my Top 15 that I like the best AND that score well in competitions -- these I consider to be my "flagships" that I will continue to brew occasionally forever.  Interesting coincidences out of my Top 15 beers I have ever made:

6 of 15 are very simple blonde color ales or lagers!  This seems to be too many to be just a coincidence.
5 of 15 are German styles.
4 of 15 are Belgians
3 of 15 have somewhat unusual ingredients (gruit herbs, jalapenos, smoked malt, etc.)
Only 2 of 15 are recipes from someone else with few or zero modifications, the other 13 are totally original.

What styles might be most worthy of checking out if you haven't considered them already?  My own humble opinions:

Gruit Ale
Jalapeno Porter
Scotch Ale
Rye Anything (try using >40% rye malt in any style!)
Traditional Cider (no added sugars or spices)
Traditional Mead (no added sugars or spices)

As you can see, I'm a bit of a malthead (opposite of hophead).  I also tend to be more traditional and purist, excepting mainly the jalpeno porter.  The porter is great on its own, but the jalapeno just makes it go BOOM!  I like to split batches very often as well, and experiment with slightly different ingredients in each.  Try that, it's very educational.  Even something as simple as two or three different yeasts can be very eye-opening.


Beer Recipes / Re: 100% Vienna Lager
« on: October 19, 2015, 04:15:24 AM »
Oh yeah....... I'm reminded now about a SMASH beer competition that my club did about 5 years ago.  We each selected a different malt and a different hop.  We all agreed that the 100% Vienna beer (I forget the hop and the yeast) had without a doubt the most interesting and delicious malt flavor, and it won the comp.  I brewed my own Vienna lager with a high portion of Vienna only after my learnings from that comp/experiment.  So definitely, all Vienna can make a great beer -- and no debate over specialty malts required!  Just Vienna and roll.

Beer Recipes / Re: Suggestions on Belgian Dark Strong?
« on: October 17, 2015, 06:28:44 AM »
Toots or farts: if it tastes good to YOU, then YOU should use it.  If it doesn't, then don't.  That's the bottom line.

Beer Recipes / Re: Suggestions on Belgian Dark Strong?
« on: October 17, 2015, 06:16:19 AM »

Beer Recipes / Re: Suggestions on Belgian Dark Strong?
« on: October 16, 2015, 08:15:48 PM »
when I hear Dark Strong, I think Grande Reserve, Rochefort 8, St. Bernardus 12, Westy 8/12, Achel Bruin Extra, etc. No Special B to be found there.

You've got the real recipes from the monks?  Methinks not.  Some of these taste raisiny enough to me.  Maybe our tastebuds are not aligned.

Beer Recipes / Re: Suggestions on Belgian Dark Strong?
« on: October 16, 2015, 04:53:16 PM »
What a coincidence.... I just happen to be drafting a dark strong recipe as we speak.  My research on "the best" recipes (in my opinion) has led to the following conclusions so far as to recommended grist:

Pilsner base
Special B
Dark Candy Syrup

Those are all required.  Also optional:


Other malts aren't used as much.

As for hops, many people use Styrian Goldings or Hallertau or its derivatives (Hersbrucker, Mt. Hood).

Many people are using WLP530 or Wyeast 1762, those are the big ones from what I can tell.

There's really nothing wrong with your original recipe at all, looks great to me.  I would drink lots of it.  But, as others suggested, it wouldn't hurt to simplify it a bit, if you want.  I'd start by ditching the chocolate wheat, and trade the Crystal 60 for CaraMunich, that might be more interesting and a little simpler.  Also maybe decide whether you want Vienna or Munich, probably no need to use both.  And if you can get the dark candy syrup, use that instead of brown sugar.  That about covers it.  If you want.  Your recipe would still turn out awesome.  But just could be simplified, slightly, if you want.


You'll most likely find that if you can hang onto a few bottles for a good 6 to 9 months, the lager will just get better and better with age.  Hang onto at least a few for that long and see what a difference it makes.

Continuing to show how little I know about lagers (I love to drink them though!)... I've never heard this before. Is it just a continual smoothing out...?

Yes, exactly.  And the malt flavors can become slightly more caramelly and thus more complex with age as well as they begin to oxidize slightly.  Age I think is what gives some imported beers "that special German lager flavor" that I love so much.  You don't get it quite as much from a fresh lager, it takes time to mature.

Also, when you crash cool lagers and/or add gelatin, does this still leave enough yeast in suspension for bottle conditioning?

Yes, not a problem at all, unless you lager it for a very long time, maybe 6 weeks or longer.  Less than that, and you won't need to worry, there's enough yeast in there yet, even with gelatin.

Lots of different ways to make good lagers.  My preferences and general process:

Yeast selection is important.  You really cannot go wrong with Wyeast 2206.  W-34/70 is also a favorite.  Beware WLP820, it's a bad yeast for many reasons.

With a small batch, you are fortunate!  You can skip making a starter.  Otherwise, making a starter is crucial.

I like to chill my wort down to about 48-50 F.  Then pitch and let that go until fermentation seems like it's slowing down, then check the gravity.  When gravity is half of what you started with (e.g., 1.060 turns into 1.030) then taste it and warm it up a few degrees.  If it tastes like sulfur or buttery at all (diacetyl), then keep it in the 60s for several days.  Otherwise mid 50s would be good enough.  In either case, it will probably finish fermenting within a week after you warm it up, and warmer temperatures will only help it and not hurt.  Once you are certain that fermentation is totally done (check gravity over the course of 3 or 4 days at least), then you should cold crash it until the beer is clear.  This can take a few days or a few weeks.  If you want to speed things along, you can also add gelatin and then it will clear within 48 hours.  From there you can bottle and have it finish up in the bottles.  If you taste a bottle within a couple of weeks and it tastes like sulfur or diacetyl at all, don't worry, just warm up your bottles for 2-3 weeks and these problems will disappear while the yeast eats the stuff.  After about a month of conditioning, your lager should be ready to drink, and if you're lucky, even sooner than that.  However...

You'll most likely find that if you can hang onto a few bottles for a good 6 to 9 months, the lager will just get better and better with age.  Hang onto at least a few for that long and see what a difference it makes.

Beer Recipes / Re: 100% Vienna Lager
« on: October 16, 2015, 11:59:26 AM »
I've not gone 100% yet, but on my last one, which I really loved, I did use 76% Vienna, with the rest being Munich and CaraMunich.  Turned out fantabulous with the 2206 yeast.  No pilsner malt necessary at all.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: The Hop You Hate
« on: October 16, 2015, 10:16:00 AM »
To be exact, 4MMP is present in tomcat urine. If you have an un-neutered male cat who is spraying, that's where you're going to find it. It is not a generic "cat pee" smell necessarily. It is also present in blackcurrants, tomato plants and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, among other things.

This is interesting, as I was going to suggest "tomato leaves" as an alternate descriptor.  Sounds like others might agree.  Whatever it is, it's stanky... or delicious, depending on personal preferences or mood.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: and one day it happens...
« on: October 16, 2015, 09:34:22 AM »
For me, it was my Vienna lager.  I'd tried to make Oktoberfest many times but always messed up something -- usually I think it had to do with the yeast selection and fermentation control more than anything else.  Finally, I made a Vienna lager with 2206, it was my first time using that particular yeast strain, and as you know, Vienna and Oktoberfest are almost identical styles (some might say that they really are one and the same).  Anyway....... it was just about the finest lager I have ever made.  Need to brew that one again soon.  I think it really was all about the yeast.  2206.  Accept no substitutes.  Except maybe for W-34/70, I've made a fantastic helles with that one as well, though the beer didn't keep for long, went stale after 6 months.  Again, probably my fault.  I need to brew some lagers this winter.  Really need to.  But of course I have a long waiting list of ales I want to make, so I don't know how I can squeeze all of it in........

Also, the first time I ever made a dubbel, it was fantastic and scored a 41.  I have tried making it two or three times since then, and it's never been quite the same!  Still chasing that one.  Next time I am going to try underpitching and see where that gets me.  Again, with respect to yeast, it's definitely got to be WLP530.  Accept no substitutes!  That much I do know.  Wyeast ain't the same, no way no how, not with my best dubbel anyway.

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