Friday, September 26, 2014

Learn to Homebrew PArty for PArkinson's

November 1 is The American Homebrewers Association's Learn to Homebrew Day. Organized by the AHA, Learn to Homebrew Day is an international event held on the first Saturday of November. Since 1999, thousands of homebrewers have gathered each year to teach friends and family the basics of the homebrewing hobby.

“If you’ve ever had an interest in homebrewing, Learn to Homebrew Day is the ideal way to get started. Brewing a batch with an expert is a great way to get started, which is why this event connects aspiring homebrewers with experienced ones for a hands-on education,” said Gary Glass, AHA director.

November 1 also would have been my grandfather's birthday. Pa Chalifour passed two years ago after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Growing up our large extended family would have a gift-swap and Pa would don his Santa cap and hand out the gifts. Last year my cousin Andy and I brewed a special beer in Pa's honor and served it at our family Christmas gathering.

LTHD

For this year it made too much sense for us not to brew the beer again on his birthday and to share homebrewing with people new to the hobby. Thus the Learn to Homebrew PArty for PArkinson's was born. The plan right now is to brew a 10 gallon batch of Pa's Lager so it will be ready for Christmas. We will demonstrate how to brew and explain every step of the way. We still have time to iron out all the details.

We are going to raffle off a Northern Brewer Essential Starter Kit which includes ingredients for their Caribou Slobber Brown Ale.

Admission is free, the suggested donation is $10, and that automatically enters you into the raffle. Our uncle is hosting the PArty for PArkinson's that evening at the Beverly/Salem Elks lodge. It is a great event that I probably had too good of a time at last year. The plan is to present our uncle with cash (and a check from Eventbrite where you donate by credit card).

If you are a fan of the blog, and haven't made the leap into brewing your own beer this event is a great way to see it in action! Plus you get to meet me! Honestly, what could be more exciting than that?

For more information on Learn to Homebrew Day, please visit the Events section of HomebrewersAssociation.org or HomebrewersAssociation.org./pages/events/learn-to-homebrew-day to see a list of other Learn to Homebrew Day events.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Paper, erm... glass or plastic? The eternal debate...

At the grocery store it was a decision I could never make. I leaned toward plastic because I could carry more at once. My home is perpetually overrun with leftover plastic bags. I like the idea of reusable cloth bags, but I can never remember to bring the damned things with me to the store.

fermenters1

In the homebrewing community a similar debate rages between brewers who prefer plastic or glass fermentation vessels. Like so many other things in life there are pros and cons to both. It is a matter of personal preference. My first kit came with a plastic primary fermentation bucket and a glass carboy to use for secondary fermentation, so I have used both from the beginning.

Plastic vessels are lighter and easier to carry around than glass. A plastic bucket will have a built-in handle, and if you do drop it there is no concern about shattering like there is with glass. There are horror stories out there of people being seriously injured by shattered carboys. For some brewers that is reason enough to use plastic only. When using glass carboys a handle like this or this is an essential accessory.

Cleaning is also a consideration. It is easier to reach inside a plastic bucket with your arm than squeeze in a carboy brush and manipulate it into clean the inside of a big glass bottle. Unlike glass, plastic stains and stains permanently. Just like plastic containers used for food, if you use a bucket too many times it will be stained beyond the point of ever being white again. With glass you can almost always rinse any debris with a sink-mounted, bottle washer. If that doesn't work a good, long soak with a PBW or OxiClean solution will.

When it comes to durability, glass wins in a landslide. In addition to staining, unlike glass, plastic is susceptible to scratching. Microbes that will infect your beer love to hide in even small scratches. At that point the bucket can no longer be used as a fermentation vessel. Taking lids off plastic buckets is a pain in the rear. In my experience I have had lids crack along the lip while being removed and had to replace them.

To state, but not assume the obvious, never pour hot liquid into a room temperature glass vessel of any kind. The rapid change in temperature will make the glass shatter. The only time you would ever want to pour hot wort into glass is if you are bottling wort for yeast starters to save for future use. In that case, be sure to fill the glass bottles with hot water so the glass can heat up. When you add your hot wort the change in temperature will be less drastic.

Unless it shatters, a glass carboy will last a lifetime with proper care,  which is why I lean more and more to glass. As long as dried krausen or trub is not allowed to cake on the inside, I don't find glass carboys that much harder to clean plastic buckets. I made sure to buy handles for all my carboys to alleviate the weight and safety concerns. I still have four seven gallon plastic buckets. As they begin to scratch, stain, or even smell I will start to replace them with 6.5 gallon glass carboys that have adequate head space to use as a primary fermentation vessel for five gallon batches. I would rather spend $40 on something that will last a lifetime, than $12 on buckets with a limited shelf life, and $3 lids that are even less durable.

Another consideration is that plastic is not completely impervious to oxygen. For any type of extended aging, glass is essential.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Brew Day: The Sustenance (Substance Ale Clone - American IPA)

Check out Cloning The Substance Part I and Part II for the recipe and the story behind it.

I designed the recipe as an extract recipe so any brewer could brew it. My last brew day was Pinch Hit Belgian Pale Ale so it was nice to have an easier brew day for a change. I steeped the flaked grains with a little 2-row in a 3 gallon stock pot. I let the grains steep for a little longer than 30 minutes as I fiddled with the recipe on BeerSmith.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_1180.JPG Steeping my specialty grains. I could also have used a muslin bag.[/caption]

I recently purchased Brewing Classic Styles. It really is a must-read. The book has award winning extract recipes and for every BJCP style. In Chapter 3: Brewing With Extract, co-author John Palmer goes into great detail in how to brew with extract and still get the same hop utilization as all-grain brewing. If all the extract is added at the beginning, the wort will be overly thick reducing the hop utilization. Evidently BeerSmith accounts for this, because when I adjusted the recipe the International Bitterness Units (IBUs) almost doubled. I tweaked my hop volumes to adjust the IBUs on the fly.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_1181.JPG My tiny first wort hop addition of Summit hops.[/caption]

I put the first wort hop addition in the bottom of my five gallon kettle and used a wire strainer to separate my steeping grains. From there I brought my wort to a boil, shut off the burner, added the dry extract, and topped off with water until the total volume was three gallons.

The brewing was easy, but my clutter in the brew house is becoming a challenge. I had to bottle two separate batches just to make room for my fermenting bucket. I have so much beer that it is a challenge to organize. Sadly I have a lot of old beer that came out ok when it was brewed, but certainly hasn't improved sitting in warm temperatures for months on end. I need to dump a fair bit before I end up on Hoarders. That is why I have made it a point to get into small-batch brewing.

Among other things, Noah emphasized to the importance of pitching a lot of yeast. Since I didn't brew a session starter batch I could safely harvest yeast from and re-pitch, I had to make a yeast starter. Essentially that entails creating a low-gravity wort with malt extract that will not stress the yeast, pitching the package of yeast, and letting it ferment so the cell count will start to multiply. With the alcohol level and amount of hops, I wouldn't want to reuse yeast from The Sustenance, so I used a similar approach to this article and made an extra large starter so I would have extra yeast for upcoming batches. I have two other IPAs in the pipeline I will want to use the yeast for. Chico is so versatile I can use it I'm almost anything.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_1182.JPG My yeast starter was krausening up through the air lock. I love fermenting in clear glass and being able to see the yeast at work. It is like staring at a fish tank for a home brewer.[/caption]

With a yeast starter you can put the starter in the refrigerator after a day so the yeast in suspension will "cold crash" and condense at the bottom of the vessel. From there you can decant most of the starter wort before pitching. The other option is to pitch the entire starter, wort and all. I didn't have time to cold crash. Since my starter used the same extract as I used in the beer, I wasn't worried about the starter wort effecting the flavor.

Noah told me that the starting gravity of the Substance is 1.059 and final gravity is 1.009. That is an exceptionally high attenuation of 84%. He said to let it ferment in the mid 60s for a few days before letting it increase to the low 70s thereafter. The cool initial temperature will make the yeast ferment cleaner than at a higher temperature accentuating the hop flavor. BeerSmith estimates the beer will finish at 1.013; raising the temperature will give the yeast a push to keep fermenting that last bit of fermentable sugar in the wort.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332"]IMG_1189.JPG This temperture strip is indicating the wort is right in the mid 60s F, right on the money. I have a wet t-shirt on top to help keep the bucket cool.[/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="354"]IMG_1188.JPG A low-budget, but effective way to keep the fermenter cool. Frozen water bottles are so useful to have in the brewhouse for swamp coolers and ice baths for cooling after the boil.[/caption]

My plan to do that was predictably low budget. I used a swamp cooler and frozen water bottles to keep the temperature where it needed to be. After three days I removed the bucket. The ambient temperature is around 70 degrees at the moment. The yeast should still generate some additional heat. As a hedge I added the yeast nutrient to the recipe to help ensure a healthy fermentation. If fermentation stops short of a 1.009 or 1.010 final gravity, I will add yeast energizer to try and get the dry finish the beer should have.

After 2-3 weeks, depending on when I have time I will rack the beer to a carboy for a secondary fermentation. I'll dry hop three to four days after racking, and bottle ten days after that. Even though it is largely not my recipe, I sill might enter this into a competition. The recipe is obviously proven, so unless the beer is infected it should receive at least a decent score. If the beer receives a high score or even places in the always competitive IPA category, it means the lessons I applied in this beer and things I knew but have been lax about in the past like water chemistry, temperature control, yeast pitching rates, Palmer's extract brewing instructions truly made a difference.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cloning The Substance - Part II

After driving home from Maine on Saturday evening and recovering from Beer Camp I was finally able to crack open a can of The Substance on Sunday. I was sure to drink slowly and critically to imagine what the ingredients were that they used. The malt was present to balance the beer, but stayed out of the way to let the hops shine. I figured the base malt was American 2-row. I didn't detect any esters from the yeast so I felt safe in assuming that the yeast was the Chico strain (S05, 1056, WLP001). I was at a loss as to the hopping. Having only brewed a couple IPAs I wasn't sure where to begin. If there was one high alpha acid hop like Centennial, and lighter hops like Cascade it would be easy to ascertain that the big hop would be the bittering hop, and the lighter hops the late additions. All the hops on the chalkboard were big, high alpha hops that could be used for bittering and aroma.

IMG_1098.JPG

When I started formulating the recipe I knew I wanted to create an extract recipe. My cousin and all-grain brewing partner-in-crime Andy has been preoccupied with frivolous pursuits like getting married and planning his wedding. It didn't seem like the best time to bug him about having a brew day at his house. If I brewed it at home I wanted to brew a full five gallon batch so I would have enough to share. With a simple malt-bill and a relatively high starting gravity, I didn't think a partial-mash BIAB recipe made a lot of sense. An extract recipe would also be something a brewer of any skill level could brew.

I sat down on my iPad and played around with extract quantities until I hit an estimated 6.6% ABV. I did the best I could when estimating the hopping. Before I started working on the recipe I tweeted that I was going to clone the beer and write about it. While I was working on the recipe The Bissell Brothers Twitter account responded to my tweet and asked if I would like some hints!

IMG_1095.JPG

Part of the exercise when I came up with the idea was to see how close I could get to cloning the beer. Getting help from the brewer might be considered cheating. At the same time I didn't want to brew endless test batches trying to get the flavor and aroma just right. I ended up compromising with myself because I started to feel like I was out of my depth. I decided to finish my recipe, email it to Noah Bissell the brewmaster who offered to help, and ask him if there was anything glaringly wrong with what I came up with. It felt like trying to solve a math problem in school before the teacher explains to the class how to solve it. Here is what I came up with initially:

The Sustenance (The Substance Clone)
American IPA
Extract (5.00 gal) ABV: 6.62 %
OG: 1.066 SG FG: 1.015 SG
IBUs: 60.7 IBUs Color: 6.5 SRM

1 lb - Caramel/Crystal Malt - 20L
Steep prior to boil (9.8%) - 20.0 SRM
3 lb - Pilsner Dry Extract
Boil (29.3%) - 2.0 SRM
4.0 oz - Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
Boil (2.4%) - 0.0 SRM

0.50 oz - Summit
Boil 60 min (14.5 IBUs)

0.50 oz - Chinook
Boil 30 min (8.5 IBUs)

0.50 oz - Apollo
Boil 15 min (7.2 IBUs)

0.50 oz - Centennial
Boil 10 min (3.1 IBUs)

6 lb - Pilsner Liquid Extract
Late extract addition: 10 min (58.5%) - 3.5 SRM

0.25 tsp - Irish Moss
Boil 10 min

1 pkg - American Ale
Wyeast Labs #1056

1.00 oz - Falconer's Flight
Dry Hop 14 days
0.50 oz - Centennial
Dry Hop 14 days

0.50 oz - Chinook
Dry Hop 23 days
0.50 oz - Apollo
Dry Hop 23 days
0.25 oz - Summit
Dry Hop 23 days

I used Pilsner extract because I thought there was some light crystal and I wanted to match the color. The hop schedule is based on 14 days in the primary and 14 in the secondary. I sent it to Noah not sure exactly what kind of response I would get. I got more advice than I would have ever asked for or would have ever hoped for.

The Substance has no caramel/crystal malt. The body and head retention came from a combination of flaked rye and flaked barley. The flaked rye provide a spicy flavor. Flaked barley is typically found in stouts to add body and mouthfeel. In an IPA it will add body without sweetness like Crystal, and that allows the hops to be front and center.

Bissell Brothers uses a few techniques for hopping that I have read about, but never used. Instead of a hop addition at the beginning of the boil there is a first wort hop addition. Hops are added as the initial wort is collected which is designed to contribute a smoother bitterness. The boil is 75 minutes, but the next hop additions aren't until 20 and 10 minutes left in the boil. This is called hop bursting. You add lots of high alpha acid hops late in the boil so the beer has plenty of bitterness without sacrificing flavor and aroma. There is also a whirlpool hop addition. At a commercial brewery at the end of the boil and before chilling the wort, there will be a whirlpool inside the kettle so any trub from the boil will accumulate in the middle and not end up in the finished beer. Adding hops during the whirlpool will add aroma and some bitterness as the wort is still hot even if not quite boiling. I'll stir the wort vigorously to create a whirlpool in the kettle. BeerSmith estimates the IBUs contributed based on how long the hops steep.

Noah gave me the parameters for the malt profile, hop schedule and amounts, and other tips. If he didn't give the exact recipe it was pretty close. I've shown the email to a few people and they were suprissed how forthcoming he was. Great recipes don't make great beer, great brewers do. Nobody in my family can replicate my nana's American Chop Suey exactly either, even if my uncle David's is fairly close. There really aren't any secrets in brewing. If a smarter, more experienced, and better brewer than I really applies himself/herself, he/she can really come close to cloning anything. That is essentially how homebrew shops and websites develop their clone kits. Besides, as The Would-be Brewmaster I can still certainly screw this up.

As I waited for the temperature to cool so I could ferment at the proper temperature, I continually went back to the recipe and the email from Noah as I tweaked the recipe. Noah said I could take or leave the flaked grains and compensate with additional corn sugar which I almost did. I decided to keep it to get as close to the real thing as possible. I also included 1lb of 2-row to convert the starches in the unmated grain. I did round a few things and made some minor tweaks that I thought made sense for brewing on a homebrew scale. I decided to use WLP001 as the yeast because out of all the Chico varieties it attenuates the best and had the highest floccuation giving me the best chance to match the ABV, body, and appearance of The Substance.

Water chemistry is far less important when brewing extract beer because any minerals in the water used to create the extract will be in there. Now that I know how poorly suited Beverly water is to hoppy beer, how to eliminate the chlorine, and how to dilute the sodium levels I wanted to apply those lessons to this beer if it would help in any way.

IMG_1169.JPG

Here is the final recipe I went with:
The Sustenance (The Substance Clone)
American IPA
Extract (5.50 gal) ABV: 6.23 %
OG: 1.060 SG FG: 1.013 SG
IBUs: 56.0 IBUs Color: 8.4 SRM

4.00 gal Salem/Beverly MA
Water
2.00 gal Distilled Water
Water

6.00 g - Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate)
Mash 60 min
1.00 Items - Campden Tablet
Mash 60 min

8.0 oz - Rye, Flaked
Steep prior to boil (4.8%) - 2.0 SRM
8.0 oz - Barley, Flaked
Steep prior to boil (4.8%) - 1.7 SRM
1 lb - Pale Malt (2 Row) US
Steep prior to boil (9.5%) - 2.0 SRM

0.10 oz - Summit
First Wort Addition (8.3 IBUs)

1 lb 8.0 oz - Light Dry Extract
Boil (14.3%) - 8.0 SRM

0.40 oz - Apollo
Boil 20 min (10.6 IBUs)

0.40 oz - Centennial
Boil 10 min (4.2 IBUs)
0.20 oz - Apollo
Boil 10 min (3.1 IBUs)
0.20 oz - Summit
Boil 10 min (2.8 IBUs)
1.00 tsp - Irish Moss
Boil 10 min
1.00 tsp - Yeast Nutrient
Boil 10 min

6.0 oz - Corn Sugar (Dextrose)
Add after boil complete (3.6%) - 0.0 SRM
6 lb 9.6 oz - Pale Liquid Extract
Add after boil complete (63.0%) - 8.0 SRM

0.75 oz - Falconer's Flight
Steep 20 min (8.2 IBUs)
0.75 oz - Centennial
Steep 20 min (8.0 IBUs)
0.30 oz - Apollo
Steep 20 min (5.7 IBUs)
0.30 oz - Summit
Steep 20 min (5.1 IBUs)

0.5g Yeast Starter - California Ale
White Labs #WLP001

0.50 oz - Summit
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz - Apollo
Dry Hop 18 days
1.75 oz - Falconer's Flight
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz - Centennial
Dry Hop 18 days
1.25 oz - Chinook
Dry Hop 18 days

For an all-grain batch I would substitute the extract with 9.75lbs American 2-row and mash at 149F for 75 minutes.

Ironically I spent more time on this recipe than I have any of my own original recipes in a long time. With all the time I put in, the new knowledge I am applying, and all the money I have spent on ingredients I really want this beer to be the best I can possibly make it.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cloning The Substance - Part I

Sean, my new team lead at work might arguably be more of a beer nerd than I am. He is deliberating making the leap and to start homebrewing, but when it comes to appreciating craft beer Sean has me beat. Sean is all over Beer Advocate looking for new beers to try, news on when beers are being released, and looking for people in other parts of the country to trade beers with that aren't distributed locally. When I told him my girlfriend and I were going to Portland for Beer Camp last month he told me to pick him up some of The Substance by a brewery in Portland called Bissell Brothers. I had never heard of the beer or the brewery. It took me an embarrassingly long time to remember the name of the brewery and stop calling the beer The Sustenance. I can't tell if I am getting old, if beer is effecting my brain function, or both.


BB-2


I figured while we were up in Portland I could stop into a store easily enough and pick up some. The Beer Camp festival was on a Friday evening. While we were in line waiting for the gates to open we struck up a conversation with the people next to us who were locals. I mentioned that we were going to pick up some of The Substance and the locals laughed at me. Evidently the stuff is impossible to get. Considering it has a 96 rating on Beer Advocate, and a 4.1 on Untappd, it should not have been a surprise that it is the latest and greatest "wait-in-line IPA".


Bissell Brothers were pouring at the festival, and minimally I had to try the beer to see what the hype was all about. Being close to the front we made a beeline to where Bissell Brothers was set up. When we made it to their booth there were only a half-dozen or so people in front of us in line. While we waited I overheard somebody in front of us ask where he could find the beer. Whoever was pouring said they only can the beer a couple of times a month, but that they would have some available at the brewery the next day. They opened at 1:00 p.m., but if you got there at 12:30 p.m. you should be able to buy some.


When we made it to the front I got a sample of The Substance, and my girlfriend the other beer they were pouring Baby Genius, and we shared both. The Substance Ale is a single strength IPA that weighs in at a middle of the road 6.6% alcohol by volume (ABV). The beer was an onslaught of hop flavor as waves of different flavors crash over your palette. It was an excellent IPA and we were lucky to have gotten a taste because they were out of beer by end of the night. I am not one to wait in line for anything, but I could deal with waiting for half an hour to be able to try more than four ounces. Scoring points with a superior at the office isn't a bad thing either. We ended up making it to the brewery the next day and buying two four packs each of The Substance.


IMG_1094.JPG


Cloning commercial beers is a reason a lot of people get into the hobby. This is especially true of rare beers and/or beers that aren't distributed nationally. Living in Massachusetts it is easier to brew Speckled Heifer or The Plinian Legacy than to find Spotted Cow or Pliny the Elder.  I have bought a couple clone kits, but have never been one to try to copy a beer somebody else has brewed. Since cloning is one of the attractions of the hobby, and it was something I had never done before, I thought it would be fun to try and clone The Substance and write about it here. At the brewery I took a picture of a chalkboard that listed the hops used and the ABV. Once I was home I could crack open a can and try to reverse engineer the beer.


In Part II I will have more on how I came up with the recipe.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Brewing with Beverly/Salem Water Part II

Homebrewing can be as involving as you want it to be. It is fair to say after my last post on water chemistry, and specifically how it relates to our local water supply, I've gone a little deeper down the wormhole.

IMG_0082.JPG

I shared the post on the North Shore Brewers Facebook page because I thought it might be interesting to a group of local homebrewers. I got an interesting and detailed response:

IMG_0081.PNG

I had always ascribed to the axiom that if your water is good enough to drink it is good enough to brew with. Honestly, I remember drinking tap water as a kid, not dying as a result, and figuring it was good enough. As an adult I filter my drinking water like I am sure most people do. After reading Paul's comments I did a side-by-side taste comparison of water fresh out of the tap and filtered water. Sure enough the water straight out of the tap had a slight, but noticeable chlorine taste. That hasn't stopped me from brewing good beer that I have enjoyed in the past, but if I can eliminate the chlorine taste in the water and make my beer even slightly better it's something I want to do.

I could use all distilled water like Paul. The only real downside is the added cost and having to carry all those jugs of water up to the third floor. Depending on what style of beer and how long the boil is, using all bottled water could increase your cost of ingredients 15%-20% per batch. Another option is to purchase a filter like this. That's another $45 out of my pocket, and more bulky equipment I don't have room for. After doing some additional research, and consulting the homebrewer's bible: John Palmer's How to Brew, I found the easiest solution. One campden tablet will remove chlorine or chloramine from up to 20 gallons of water by converting them to negligible amounts of sulfates and chlorides. At $3.49 for 100 tablets I can save my water that I run through my wort chiller, keep it in a sanitized and closed fermenter, throw in half or even a full tablet, and use that water on my next brew day.

Another chemical in our water that is present at slightly higher than ideal levels is sodium. According to the water report the source of the sodium is:
Natural sources; runoff from use of salt on roadways; bi-product of treatment process

Some of it is naturally there, some of it is road salts finding there way in our water supply. The only way I can find to reduce sodium levels is to dilute the water with distilled water.

Brewersfriend.com has an excellent and easy to use water calculator that has helped me apply everything I have learned the past few weeks about water. All you have to do is enter the mineral levels of your source water, put in what your target levels are or use one of their pre-loaded water profiles, and then play around with adding water salts and dilution percentages until you hit your target. I used it in finalizing the water profile for an upcoming IPA I have been working on for over a month.

IMG_0080.PNG

I will have enough sulfate to compensate the naturally high chloride levels in our water supply. Diluting the tap water with a couple gallons of distilled water will reduce the sodium levels. Those steps along with de-chlorinating the water will hopefully make my upcoming IPA my best beer yet. The IPA developed because I thought trying to clone a sought after commercial beer would be a fun blog post, and I had never tried to come up with my own clone recipe before. In the end I probably ended up spending more time developing this recipe than I ever imagined.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Master Crowd Brewer, still not a brewmaster

CrowdBrew

A few weeks back on my Facebook page, I shared a really cool contest Innis & Gunn were running called Crowd Brew. They crowd-sourced the recipe by letting people who were fans of their Facebook page to vote on the style, type of malt, hops, and barrel that the beer would be aged in (all of Innis & Gunn's beers are barrel-aged). If you voted for the winning ingredient you were entered to win a chance to be a "Master Crowd Brewer" where your name will appear on the beer and you win a prize pack.

For the hop type I voted for Northern Brewer hops. At that point Scotch Ale had already been selected as the style, and I thought the almost minty flavor Northern Brewer has would work perfectly with the malty profile of a Scotch Ale. I used Northern Brewer in a Milk Stout a few months back and it was a perfect contrast to the roasted barley and the lactose. I also used a small amount as a late flavor addition in a kolsch. It still had enough of a continental hop spiciness that it gave the beer the desired crisp finish.

I was fortunate enough to be named one of the crowd brewers. My name will be on the finished beer that will be released in 2015. I also received a prize pack from Innis & Gunn headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland with a poster, t-shirt, apron, and other assorted goodies. To state, but not assume the obvious this is not my recipe. I voted on one ingredient along with untold numbers of other people. Unless the contest was a work, and Innis & Gunn wanted a blogger and social media whore to win and tell everybody how great the beer is, my name was pulled at random. I had to bring my mother back down to Earth and remind her that just because her son won a contest, that is not any evidence as to the alleged brilliance of her son.

CrowdBrewWinners


I can't wait to see my name on a store shelf and drink the finished beer. All of Innis & Gunn's beers are excellent. I tend to try new beers all the time whether it is buying beer at a store or of course brewing at home. Innis & Gunn is one of the beers that whenever I buy I ask myself why I don't buy it more often. The flagship Original is warm beery goodness in a glass; it's is like a luscious dessert you want to savor and enjoy.  The Irish Whiskey Cask might be my favorite. It is not a beer I would necessarily drink if I was out on St. Patrick's Day dealing with the mass of humanity and amateur drinkers who go out on St. Patrick's Day. It is a beer for an adult or somebody with enough sense to not go out on March 17 and is spending a quiet night at home. It is bigger than a Guinness Draught, the oak mellows the roasted character of the malt, and the Irish Whiskey (that may or may not be Jameson) adds complexity and add a subtle Irish Car Bomb flavor.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tasting Notes: Summer of '18 Ale

With only a couple weeks left in the summer beer season this beer just snuck in as it was ready to drink by mid-August. Since it's a little cooler in the late summer a bigger summer ale feels appropriate. It's summery enough for a 70 degree late-summer day, but hearty enough for a cool night next to the fire.

The beer pours a cloudy straw color. The soft white head fades quickly. Not including any cara malt like carapils or carafoam was a rookie mistake.

The citrus is prominent in the aroma, but the herbal and spicy noble hop aroma from the Crystal is also present. The body is medium light thanks to the size of the malt bill, otherwise it would have been light. You can tell its meatier than most summer beers, but isn't harsh like my original recipe, or overly filling.

Just like the aroma, the lemon is prominent in the flavor. There is plenty of hop flavor as well. The Cluster and Crystal hop flavor is there. The beer perhaps could have used a dry hop addition or a spice addition like Grains of Paradise to cut through the citrus a bit more. The finish is dry and crisp.

Overall I am pleased with how this came out. This is a beer that sneaks up on the drinker. At 6.6% alcohol by volume, this is very drinkable. Next year I will be sure to use some carapils to help the head. I have all winter to contemplate what I want to do with the hops. I think I'll have to solicit opinions and decide. It's great how it is, the question is do I want to change it?

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