As a beer drinker I try to make it a point to circle back to some of my favorite beers that got me into craft beer in the first place or just inspired me along the way. As a brewer I have always been quite promiscuous. With around 150 batches under my belt, there might be ten that I have brewed more than once. With few exceptions I have never been the type of brewer that has sought to perfect one recipe or one style. Instead I have brewed a wide array of styles as a way to learn more about them.
I brewed beers for our first party at our home, an event that was not necessarily a "craft beer" event. I wanted to brew something for everyone. I didn't want to have six different IPAs on tap. As I was deciding what beers I should brew for our housewarming cookout a strange thing happened, I found myself revisiting some of my old recipes.
Many of these recipes I loved and was waiting for the right occasion to brew again. It is always interesting to look at what I was thinking three, four, and five years ago when I developed these recipes. Some of them still made sense while others made me scratch my head. If there is one thing I have done as I revisited my older recipes it is simplifying them.
The other changes I made were to adjust these recipes to use ingredients I have in bulk; in particular the Muntons malts I keep in bulk. The majority of my recent recipes use 100% Muntons malts, and all of them at least use a portion. I do believe in the quality of the products I sell. An added bonus is that it brings down my cost per batch.
In addition to having malt in bulk, I have also been buying more of my hops in bulk. I found some great deals especially on some of the less sought after hops that aren't commonly used in IPAs. Another way I have been saving money has been reusing my yeast and rebuilding my yeast bank. My cost per-batch is ranging at $15-$20 per batch.
My yeast bank didn't survive the move to our new house. To build it back up again I have gotten back into the habit of over-building yeast starters or saving yeast slurry to re-pitch in a new batch. As backup I always keep a few sachets of dry yeast. Keeping a selection of ingredients in bulk gives me the flexibility to brew what I want without having to buy more ingredients. Although I made adjustments to my old recipes to utilize the ingredients I have, my goal was to always maintain the character of those beers.
After brewing for as long as I have, I have brewed most of the styles I have wanted to brew. My recent re-brews are beers that I always wanted to revisit at the right time. After bringing back a couple of older recipes for our party, I am reviewing more recipes in my log to find inspiration for upcoming brews.
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Thursday, August 2, 2018
Every writer has their own creative process. For me it was easier to sit down and write when I was sitting down at a cubicle 40 hours per week. I would bang out posts during lunches and breaks. Now most of my desk time is spent researching breweries, managing inventory, and working on forecasts. Although I haven't been posting, I have been brewing, drinking, traveling, and judging.
I judged four flights at the first round of National Homebrew Competition (NHC) judging in New York. I was fortunate to judge some really strong flights, and judge one flight with a master judge. Brooklyn is an area I need to spend more time in as that is the real center of craft beer in New York.
|Entry of Convenience, enjoyable but missed the mark.|
I managed to enter two beers into NHC. Entry of Convenience scored a 29 which I think was completely fair. The judges thought it lacked the richness of malt flavor to score more highly. I thought the beer tasted like a fudgcicle. My second entry was Thomas Brady's Ale (2017) which scored a 37. That a score that high didn't even advance the beer to mini-Best of Show indicates how strong that flight was. The judges thought the beer was aged on the wood for too long. All I have to do is bottle the next batch sooner, easy enough!
At the end of June I made my return to Homebrew Con in Portland. Oregon. Manning a booth was a bit of a different experience; I didn't make any of the seminars. It was still a lot of fun. Portland is a great beer city. I found the Pacific-Northwest IPAs to be bitter compared to other regions, and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of styles I found at the bars and breweries we visited. Next year Homebrew Con will be in Providence! All of the local homebrewers I've spoken with have been very excited.
The highlight of Homebrew Con in Portland for me was meeting this man:
The living legend Charlie Papazian visiting our booth! He talked about how Muntons was one of the first vendors to support #HomebrewCon first attending in 1981!! Charlie also had fond memories of visiting our maltings at Stowemarket in the UK. #homebrewcon2018 . . . #beer #craftbeer #legend #livinglegend #homebrew #homebrewing #RDWHAHB #cheerstocharlieA post shared by Muntons North America (@muntons_north_america) on
Charlie Papazian founded the American Homebrewers Association, Great American Beer Fest, and wrote one of the bibles of homebrewing The Complete Joy of Homebrewing. Charlie had announced his retirement effective January 2019 and was chosen to give the keynote at Homebrew Con. I had seen Charlie in passing at other events, but knowing this could very well be my last chance to meet the man. The Complete Joy of Homebrewing was the first brewing book I owned and was the only book I brought with me to the show to potentially have signed. Not only was I lucky enough to get my book signed, someone had the presence of mind to take the above photo.
|Hazy, but not quite turbid.|
I brewed my first New England IPA at the new house. It was a blend of Muntons Pale, Wheat, and Caramalt hopped with Exp Stonefruit hops. On a friends advice I steeped the whirlpool hops at 140F. The resulting beer was quite tasty. It maybe could have used a touch more hop bitterness and haze, but the three gallon batch went fairly quickly. I want one of my four taps to have a NEIPA on all the time.
|You can make a great beer with little effort!|
|Easiest beer I've ever made! All the ingredients are here!|
Playing around with some of Muntons homebrew kits, I took Muntons Mexican Cerveza kit and made it my own by substituting amber and dark dry malt extract to make an amber lager. The kit contained hopped extract. That meant there was no boil. All I had to do was boil enough water to dissolve the extract in the kit and the dry extract, then top off with cold water. The top off water was cold enough to bring the wort down to pitching temperature. No need to run a wort chiller. The whole thing took 15 minutes. The resulting beer was a fair approximation of Dos Equis Ambar.
|I learned how important mash pH is with a decoction mash.|
Trying my hand at another beer inspired by Pretty Things, Modern Mower was my first attempt at a decoction mash. A traditional European method of mashing, decoction mashing invovles removing a portion of the mash, boiling it, and adding it back into the main mash to increase the temperature. Brewers who use decoction mashes now do so because they feel it imparts a richer malt flavor.
In my experience the decoction certainly gave the beer a richer malt color. The fatal flaw of my beer was I let the pH of my mash get too high. This extracted tannin and chill haze. The finished beer was slightly stringent and hazy. It was drinkable, but it missed the mark. Next time I need to add an acid rest and add a decoction, use some acidulated malt, or just acidify my mash. The good news is that these are easy fixes. That doesn't change the fact I should have known better.
|Less is more with some spices like chamomile.|
Jennie wanted to name a beer after our cat Fredward. Being a white monochrome short hair cat a witbier was an obvious choice. I wanted the beer to be slightly sweet like our kitty is. I tweaked the spices from my house witbier recipe adding vanilla and chamomile. The chamomile dominated the one pint of the batch I was able to try. It reminded my why I stopped brewing with chamomile. I want to make another witbier, but I think Walk-Off White will be coming back.
The reason I only enjoyed one pint of Fredward Wit was because the keg, along with Modern Mower, Cerveza Ambar, and Entry of Convenience froze. I was moving kegs inside of my keezer and inadvertently left the temperature probe outside of the freezer. The temp controller picking up the ambient temperature kept the compressor going. I tried defrosting the kegs, but they just didn't taste the same. I dumped everything in there.
In a couple of weeks we are opening our home to guests for the first time. I brewed six different beers for the occasion. Dumping those kegs at least freed up space. Check this space for details on all six brews.
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