Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tasting Notes: Australian Sparkling Ale

When tasting as opposed to merely drinking a beer I always go back to the question, "Does the beer taste like it is supposed to taste?". This Australian Sparkling Ale is the first example of the style I have tasted, but drinking the beer it feels like it does. Australia in the 19th Century wasn't too dissimilar to the American West. This is a beer I can imagine drinking out of the bottle in the sweltering heat of the Australian Outback.

Beautiful clarity in this batch.

The beer pours an orange-ish copper. The head is foamy and white with very good retention.  The clarity is brilliant when this bottle-conditioned beer is poured carefully.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Dry Yeast vs liquid yeast

Like glass versus plastic equipment, there are pros and cons to using dry yeast or liquid yeast. I eluded to some of them when I purchased my stir plate.

No shortage of yeast options.

Most brewers start with dry yeast because it's the easiest to work with. The instructions on the sachet say to sprinkle the yeast onto the wort and call it a day. Most brewers, myself included re-hydrate their yeast. Essentially you add the yeast to some water about half an hour before pitching the yeast. This gives the yeast time to reconstitute itself into it's natural, liquid form before devouring all the sugars in the wort.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brew Day: Curly's Milk Stout 1.4

After Ales for ALS I was probably overdue to brew my next batch of Curly's Milk Stout, my flagship brew. I still have about six bottles left from Batch 1.3, I found four bottles from Batch 1.2, and still have a 22 ounce bomber from the beer's first iteration Batch 1.1. Once this batch is complete I'll have to do a vertical tasting of all four versions and notate any perceived differences.

Let's tweak the milk stout recipe again!

Recipe-wise I had to make some last-minute changes. Whenever I buy a lot of ingredients at once I always forget at least one. This time it was the Medium English Crystal malt which augments the sweetness of the lactose. Instead of going out of my way to buy one pound of grain I substituted a half pound respectively of 60L American Caramel Malt and German Caramel Wheat Malt. These were leftover malts from earlier batches. Since I mill my own grain at home they were still fresh. I don't anticipate this having much of an effect on the flavor, but I could be wrong.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Tasting Notes: Curly's Chocolate and Coffee Milk Stout

It is coming up on time to brew another batch of Curly's Milk Stout, my flagship beer. After Ales for ALS I was down to a half dozen bottles. I have been hoarding the chocolate and coffee variants since I ended up with about eight bottles of each. Overall I am happy with how both came out.

Coffee and chocolate milk stouts. 

The coffee in the aroma of the coffee is dominant. It is earthy with notes of fresh pot soil. The velvety dark chocolate aroma in the chocolate variant plays a supporting role with the other aromas from the base beer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Time for my beer to grow up

I have four five-gallon glass carboys for secondary fermentation. At the time I purchased them would rack my wort into a secondary fermenter, just to free up my primary fermenters to make more beer. I was also brewing lagers at the time which would sit in the carboy for secondary fermentation of up to eight weeks.

This carboy is full of beer, the way it should be!
This carboy is full of beer, the way it should be!

There is great debate about whether a secondary fermentation is necessary. Technically in most cases a secondary fermentation is not an actual fermentation; it is more about the beer aging and maturing. I feel my beers are clearer and brighter when I use a secondary, but over time I have gotten away from doing it. Most of my beers are low enough in alcohol that they do not need extended time to age. Skipping a secondary is also just easier; it's one less step.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Brew Day: 1905 Holiday Ale (Pre-Prohibition Amber Ale)

I was extremely happy with how my Hot Stove Porter came out last year. I actually still have a few bottles left. I recently popped one open that had been in my beer fridge. The hop aroma was gone, there was still some hop flavor, but the malt flavor was much more prominent. The beer has aged nicely.

A one gallon experimental batch. 

For some reason though I felt like brewing something different for the winter this year. I am also downsizing the amount of beer that I brew. That I still have bottles of last year's Hot Stove Porter demonstrates that I have been brewing too much beer.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Goose Black Friday

I am not a patient person. The longest I will wait for anything is usually 20-30 minutes. I also loathe waking up early. Goose Black Friday combined both.

My idea of Black Friday.

My aversion to waiting usually extends to beer. I am not the type of person who will typically wait in line to buy a rare beer. Even when we drive up to Maine a few times a year I think the longest I have ever waited at Bissell Brothers is probably half an hour. Last week I made an exception.

Every Black Friday Goose Island releases their Bourbon County line of beers. These beers are highly sought after and sell quickly. These beers are in excess of 12% alcohol by volume and aged in used Heaven Hill bourbon barrels for at least six months.