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Topics - jivetyrant

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Ingredients / Dry hopping with whole leaf
« on: July 28, 2011, 04:43:53 AM »
The subject says it all, really.  I'm planning to dry hop an IPA with Ahtanum, but only have whole leaf available.  I was going to try putting it in a muslin bag with a ball bearing to weigh it down.  It'll probably be a nuisance to get out of the carboy, though.  Will there be enough surface area between the bagged hops and the beer?  Should I dry hop in a bucket instead of a carboy?  Should I just try to find some Ahtanum pellets online?


Beer Recipes / Sorachi Ace Saison, feedback time!
« on: July 17, 2011, 11:37:34 AM »
It almost seems like fate.

A little while ago I stumbled across some threads discussing the use and availability of Sorachi Ace hops.  They sounded interesting but difficult to find, I ended up going a different route and brewed something else instead.  Well, I went by one of my local micro breweries yesterday to try out their new summer ale and found out that they used solely Sorachi Ace for it!  Wow, what a flavor!  Crisp, dry and very citrusy, I fell in love immediately.  They screamed "Saison" to me!  After some hunting around I found an online source for them and I started working on a recipe.  Here's what I came up with;

Batch size 5.5 gal
OG 1.060
FG est 1.005
Color est 6.4 SRM
IBU est 32.3

1lb Honey Malt, steeped
6.6 lbs Pilsen LME
2 lbs honey, varietal as yet to be determined
1/2 oz Sorachi Ace - 60 mins (10.7% AA)
1/2 oz Sorachi Ace - 30 mins
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient - 10 mins
1/2 tsp Irish Moss - 10 mins
1 oz Sorachi Ace - 0 mins, steeped for 20 mins
Pitch Wyeast French Saison 3711, 1.5L starter

Rack to secondary when complete, dry hop with 1oz Sorachi Ace for 14 days.

I have heard of a technique used when brewing Saisons.  It says to pitch at 68 F and slowly raise the temp, over the course of a week or so, to the max of the range specified by the yeast producer, in this case 77 F.  It seems like this would assist in creating the super dry finish common to the style without creating a beer loaded with fusels.  Has anyone ever tried this technique?  I've also heard of brewers spiking their Saisons with Brett B at bottling time, though I don't know if that would clash with the bright citrus flavors from the hops.  Any thoughts?

Other Fermentables / First time mead, very tart!
« on: July 11, 2011, 05:53:17 AM »
So on the spur of the moment a few months ago I decided to try my hand at mead making!  I was at a local discount store and stumbled across 8 lbs of raw honey at and absolutely rock bottom price of $1.50 a lb!   I processed it using the low heat method while skimming, used yeast nutrient and Cote de Blanc wine yeast from Lalvin.  When I say it was "raw" honey, I really mean it.  (  There was propolis, wax and bee bits that needed skimming, and i tossed in some heather tips for good measure.

OG was 1.087, FG is currently 0.997.  It is extremely clear with a dense yeast cake, I had used bentonite to fine about a month ago.  It is extremely crisp and dry, but has a very strong, tart flavor.  I wouln't call it sour, but I'm the only one I've shared it with that really likes it. :p  It seems better at room temp, when chilled to fridge temp it takes on a strong waxy undertone.

I realize that this mead may have been doomed from the start because of my honey selection, but is there anything I can do to suppress the tart flavor?  I'd like someone other than me to be about to enjoy it!  If nothing else I can simply say that I've learned some important lessons, and I believe that my technique was excellent.


Yeast and Fermentation / Strange behavior with Wyeast Ringwood Ale
« on: July 06, 2011, 04:25:48 AM »
So I brewed an IPA a few weeks ago using Wyeast 1187 Ringwood Ale.  I've used this yeast before with no problems, it's actually become one of my favorite IPA yeasts.  This time, however, it is exhibiting some strange properties that I've not yet run into and could use some input.  Normally this yeast has always flocculated very well, giving me a nice compact yeast cake to rack off of and dry hop.  This time the whole bottom 1/4 of the carboy is a yeast smoothy and there are little islands of yeast floating on the surface, the beer is also cloudier than I would have expected.  It hit my target FG on the nose, it doesn't smell weird and it tastes great, I just need to convince the yeast to drop out!  My fining options are limited as I will be serving this beer to some vegans, so no gelatin, isinglass, super kleer or polyclar.  I could probably cold crash it, but that would require jockying some kegs around, my dispensing fridge is full at the moment.

Has anyone run into this behavior in the past?  Any suggestions on how to handle it?

Yeast and Fermentation / First lager, some quick questions
« on: May 12, 2011, 05:46:02 PM »
     As the subject says, I brewed my first lager yesterday!  Everything went well, the carboy is currently chilling (har har) in a temp controlled fridge, the beer is low 50's according to my fermometer.  24 hours later I still am not seeing any airlock activity and the yeast seems to have sedimented out.  How long does it take to see signs of active fermentation with a lager?  Should I expect to see vigorous fermentation like I am used to with my ales?  Will it krausen up?  (I'd assume not)  How can I tell if I have a healthy fermentation?

     I did everything I could to ensure a healthy environment for the yeast.  I thoroughly aerated with O2 injection, added yeast nutrient and pitched plenty of yeast. (3 packets of dry, rehydrated)  I guess I'm used to ale fermentations that take off like rockets go strong for quite a while.  I expected less activity out of a lager but I'm somewhat concerend at this point.

     Any information the community can provide would certainly put my mind at ease!

     So 2 used corny kegs just popped up on craiglists about 10 miles from my house, $25 apiece.  The seller says they have new seals and hold pressure just fine.  He does not specify if they are ball or pin lock style.  Any quick tips or words of warning before I take the dive and start kegging?

Beer Travel / Washington, D.C. area and the Delaware coast!
« on: May 10, 2011, 06:30:16 AM »
     My wife and I will be headed to D.C. at the end of this month for a much needed vacation!  I am sure there must be tons of great places to eat and drink down there, but I simply don't know where to start!  The only places we've decided on so far is the Bier Baron (previously Brickskeller) and the Dogfish Head brewpub in Fairfax, VA. (It's only 15 minutes from our hotel in Manasses, woo!)

     Over memorial day weekend we will be visiting the DFH brewery in Milton, DE.  We'll certainly be going to the brewpub in Rehobeth Beach, but I don't know that I'll want to go there for 2 meals a day for 3 days straight!

     Any further recommendations would be greatly appreciated, this will be my first time in the D.C. area since I was 14 so I really don't know much about it!

I've have an ongoing discussion with some of my homebrew friends on this topic for a while now.  I'm the type that loves to try new stuff, especially locally produced beers.  Some of my buddies balk at me when I come home from the liquor store with 80 bucks worth of beer.  (Heck even I balk at me sometimes.)

So what's your take?

Kegging and Bottling / High ABV beer not carbonating
« on: April 10, 2011, 06:33:16 AM »
So I have a beefy (12.2%) Tripel in bottles right now, it's been sitting for about 2 1/2 weeks.  I cracked one last night and it was practically flat, yikes!  I forgot to add some fresh yeast at bottling time and don't have a kegging system yet, but I've read of people cracking the caps on the whole batch and adding a sprinkle of dry yeast to each bottle then capping them all again.  Would a standard dry yeast like US-05 work for this purpose?  Can I simply sprinkle it in dry or should i rehydrate it first?  Are there any other alternatives?  Thanks!

The title says it all.  Is there any reason besides clarification for racking to secondary?  I've got a Dark Belgian Strong in primary right now and I'm not intent on clarifying the batch.  Would that be in character for this style?  If not, is there any other reason to rack to secondary?  Thanks!

Commercial Beer Reviews / Orval - disappointed
« on: April 06, 2011, 05:06:17 PM »
After hearing many of my brewing and beer loving friends sing the praises of Orval I tracked a bottle of it down.  I cracked it a few minutes ago and must say, I was not only underwhelmed but I was genuinely disappointed by it.  I found it to be very dry (not a bad thing) and quite crisp (also not a bad thing) but it had a really funky aftertaste.  I would call it acidic, appley and almost solvent-like.  I tried it several times and came up with the same taste time after time.  I cleansed my palette, gave it a rest and tried again a few minutes later.  Same thing.  If not for the aftertaste I feel like I would really enjoy it.

Was it just a funky bottle?  Should I give it another try?  Or is it really meant to taste this way?  From how much other folks were talking it up I feel like I'm a bad beer lover for not liking it. :(

Ingredients / LHBS oak chip alternatives
« on: April 02, 2011, 07:24:46 PM »
So my LHBS is out of oak chips!  I got some medium toast oak cubes last week, but after reading some responses in my post in the recipes forum it seems that these are better suited to long-term aging, not short term (less than 1 month) flavoring of beer, in this case an IIPA.  I plan to keep the oak cubes soak them in port wine for a week or so then toss them into a porter for 2-3 month aging, but it's too late to order any online and still get them quickly enough for me to stay on schedule so I'm looking for some alternatives.  (I'm busting out 2 batches a week in prep for a wedding in a few months)

I was at Sears today and found some Frontier brand apple chips, normally used in a smoker.  They proclaim to be all-natural and free of additives, they also sell hickory chips.  Does anyone have any insight on this brand, or other brands that would be readily available?  Can you think of any reason not to use these instead of the type available online or at homebrew supply shops?  It's edging on grilling season here in MA so I assume that any number of stores will have other, similar types available.


Easily the best coffee stout I've ever had.  It has a thin enough mouth feel to linger just long enough, unlike many other overly thick stouts I have had. It has a *very* clear taste of dark roasted coffee, most akin to an espresso or Italian roast, much more true coffee taste than most others of it's type which often taste muddy and unrefined.  Very bright, fairly effervescent as stouts go.  Maintains the distinct acidity of a dark roast coffee for quite some time after the initial taste, mostly on the back and sides of the tongue.  Umami!~  Meaty without being overwhelming.

I'll definitely be buying this one again!

I'm sure it's no great big deal, but a few things have popped up in my homebrewing adventure that I feel compelled to share!

Firstly, I joined the AHA yesterday!  Wahoo!

Secondly, I will be attending my first meeting of the local homebrew club for Southeastern Massachusetts on April 12, it will be a tasting event that I plan to bring some 6 or 7 different types of my homebrew to.  It'll be the first time I've shared my homebrew with anyone but family and the owner of Blackstone Valley Brew Supply (my LHBS) with.  Very Exciting!

Thirdly, I've developed 2 original recipes so far, the first of which is currently on the stove coming to a boil!  It's an American/English hybrid Oaked IIPA, the other recipe is for a Belgian Dark Extra Strong.  Both recipes are posted on the Recipes forum if you care to critique them.

Fourthly, I will be visiting my local commercial brewery (hopefully) next weekend to share my brews.  My stomach is all aflutter just thinking about it!

Finally, my wife and I have discussed it and if all goes well with her career and our family business I will be opening the first and only homebrew supply store in the New Bedford area within the next 5 years.  (unless someone else beats me to it!)

I love homebrewing.  Sometimes I feel like the hobby was made just for me!

Edit:  As I was typing the last sentence my wort boiled over a bit.  An unwatched pot *always* boils at the most inopportune time.  :P

Beer Recipes / Warlock Oaked IIPA (original recipe)
« on: March 27, 2011, 10:46:23 AM »
So I'm starting at 6.75 gallons of water, waiting for it to boil.  This strikes me as an excellent opportunity to post the recipe I've whipped up!

The theme for this beer is fairly simple.  It's a American/English hybrid oak aged IIPA.  I'll do doing a 90 minute boil with continuous hopping using;

1oz Warrior
1oz Columbus
1oz Challenger

Fermentables are as follows;

preboiled with 1lb British Amber Malt

6 lbs Amber DME
3.3 lbs Amber LME
1lb Turbinado sugar (10 minutes remaining)
1/2 tsp yeast nutrient, dissolved in warm water (10 mins)
1 tsp irish moss, rehydrated (10 mins)
1/2 oz Amarillo (end of boil)

Whirlpool for 2 minutes and add Amarillo hops, cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Cool with wort chiller, transfer to carboy and top up to 5 gallons if necessary.

pitch 2 11.5g satchets of Fermentis S-04 English Ale yeast, rehydrated.

Oxygenate and ferment.  Once primary fermentation is complete transfer to secondary and dry hop with;

1oz Perle (german, I know. I may change this.)
1/2oz Amarillo
1/2oz UK First Gold

Add 6oz Medium toast oak cubes and keep in secondary for 2 weeks.

Thoughts? :)

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