Homebrewing Guide - Dave Miller
Friday, April 2, 2010
Homebrewing Guide - Dave Miller
Thursday, April 1, 2010
My new recipe is as follow:
3.3 lbs Muntons light LME
3.3 lbs Muntons amber LME
1 lb Crystal malt (40 L)
1 lb Vienna malt (10L)
1.5 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (bittering)
.5 oz Chinook leaf hops (finishing)
California Lager yeast (Wyeast 2112)
While I'm still using malt extract as a base (could have used dry spray malt) I'm adding a 1/2 lb more of each specialty malt and will be doing a partial mash. I'm sticking with the same grain bill in order to try and keep that aspect constant. I think Vienna is a good malt to use because it will add some body, a copper color, and a toasty quality I enjoy. The Crystal malt will serve to sweeten the beer hopefully giving it a caramel flavor.
I have decided to try a new liquid yeast by Wyeast. The results should be the same as the first batch where I used a White Labs product. Just going with a different company to see if there is a noticeable change.
The biggest change I'm making is replacing the Willamette finishing hops with Chinook. I've found Chinook to be a spicy, piney hop similar to Northern Brewer. It is also a little on the pungent side so my hope is that they will add more aroma while retaining the piney quality typical of this style. In addition, I'm going to be splitting the batch in half after it's done in the primary fermenter. I'll dry hop one carboy with 1/2 oz of Northern Brewer and the other with 1/2 oz of Chinook. Maybe it would be good to bottle a control before dry hopping. Essentially, I'll have three different finished products from the same beer to sample. This will help to refine my recipe all the more.
Looking at brewing this coming Saturday.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Last Spring I wanted to enter the Sam Adam's Longshot competition so I began thinking of a beer style that would be fun to make. I was drawn to the Amber Hybrid category that California Common beers fall under. I took my time on this beer in order to produce the best product I could. I sanitized like no one's business, took great care at every step, and the end result was the best beer I've brewed thus far. Below are my ingredients.
3.3 lbs Briess golden light LME
3.3 lbs Briess sparkling amber LME
.5 lb Crystal malt (40L)
.5 lb Vienna malt (10L)
1.5 oz Norther Brewer leaf hops (bittering)
.5 oz Willamette leaf hops (finishing)
San Francisco lager yeast (WLP810)
It tasted great and pretty damn close to the original if I don't say so myself. While the hop notes did mellow over time, lagering the bottles in my fridge helped to produce a clean, crisp beer. After all, home brewing is about your tastes and got close to what I was wanting to produce.
Going into the competition I had very low expectation as a newbie brewer. Upon receiving my feedback in the mail I was pleasantly surprised. I was given a 35.5 out of 50 and during the judging it went into a second heat. Not what I expected, but it certainly felt good after tending to each detail meticulously. Among the comments received in critique were: "well balanced, could use more carb, finishing hops lacking, low aromatic hops, clean, low esters, light toasty malt aroma, slight creaminess, could use more malt and hops, and attractive beer." The feedback was free and really helpful for growing as a home brewer. Yes, it hurt the pride a little, but in the end humility and a teachable attitude are key.
The average grade from the two judges came out a C- which I'll gladly take. Personally, I gave this a solid B, but I'm bias and have much to learn about this style. Looking forward to brewing this again.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
This Kream Ale was the last of the four brews I attempted of the winter months. I wanted to brew a beer that could be lagered for some time in case I forgot about it. Cream Ales are usually fermented at the low end of ale temps in order to produce a lager-like beer. Sometimes there are cold conditioned, but do not have to be. As it turned out, I forgot about this beer and it stayed in the primary carboy for close to three months. The temperature was at a consistent 55 degrees so I guess it got a good cellaring. I wanted to use up some of the remaining grains and hops I had left from the first three brews so I added them to the recipe. It was a partial extract brew in that I only used 3 lbs of Amber LME. The remaining grain bill included: 1 lb Faked Maize, 1/2 lb of Flaked Rice, 2-Row Pale malt, Munich malt, Caramunich malt and 1/4 lb of Rolled Oats. Not really sure why I used all of these? Maybe curiosity had something to do with it. On the hop side I used 1 oz Saaz and 1/2 oz Perle to bitter and 1/2 oz Simcoe for finishing. I probably could have used the Simcoe to bitter since it has a higher AA%, but I did not want to over do it.
I was also able to keg the entire 5 gallons after fixing the leak to the best of my ability. I think it might have a leak still, but I've been keeping the pressure up and I'm able to get a good draw. It was rewarding to tap my first keg and pour a homebrew. I have the keg sitting in the basement which is between 50-55 degrees. Doing so has given me a nice cask-type ale than you'd find in England. It as turned out to be a very sessionable beer.
Aroma: The aroma is light and slightly fruity. Since it was not fermented at high temps the fruit ale notes do not present themselves as much. I think the strongest scent is that of DMS or corn, which comes across as plastic. There is an earthy hop character which I attribute to the Saaz and Perle. I do receive some toasted grain hints probably from the Munich and Caramunich malts.
Taste: At first I was met by the plastic qualities that using too much corn impart. They are not overpowering, but take some time to get use to. Aside from that, I'd say the malts and hops balance pretty well. I experience the light adjunct ingredients, but also notice the toasted malts. There is a slight hint of honey due to the saffron I did not expect to find. The hops are earthy and pungent. The finish is rather dry, but palatable. I had a Bass Ale recently (last night) and found my beer to be close in flavor (which I considered a good thing). Drinkable!
Mouthfeel: On the lighter side of the spectrum, but that is to be expected. Dispensing from the keg provides a nice head that lasts the entire glass and just enough carb to prevent it from being flat. Easy drinking and low in alcohol (between 3-5%). I'm left feeling satified after a pint or two.
Grade: B- (or B on a good day)
There are a couple things I would do differently next time I brew this beer.
1) Pre-soak the oak in some Bourbon so it can absorb some of those flavors.
2) Use only one variety of oak cubes or spirals as to keep the wood profile consistent and simple.
3) Watch the airlock to make sure it stays filled. Some bacteria might have entered the carboy after the water evaporated from the airlock.
Appearance: Black at first glance, but when held up to the light it is a deep mahogany or garnet color. It has only been two weeks since I bottled it so the carbonation is still pretty low. The picture shows a weak beige head that dissipated quickly.
Aroma: An extremely high wood scent. It reeks of moderately burn wood, but does not contain familiar hints of Bourbon. This makes the aroma rather bland and not as deep. It smells like ash to a certain degree. After wafting for some time, I was able to key in on some roasted malt notes.
Taste: There are some off flavors right at the start. It is bitter, puckering, astringent, over the top wood notes that are not developed or smooth. I was hoping the flavors would mellow out and compliment the deep roasted grains, but there is a medicinal quality to it still. I do get burnt malt notes towards the end of the sip and minor coffee expressions.
Mouthfeel: The carbonation has not built up yet so it is still rather watery. In regards to the texture, it is very one dimensional with the wood being the boldest. I was hoping for a more well-rounded beer. The aftertaste did show some promise (coffee and roasted grains), but lacked the Bourbon component. Minor carbonation did not add anything life to the beer.
This Porter was awesome and tasted great after spending time in the primary fermenter. I should have kept it at that and not decided to age in on oak. Shoulda, woulda, coulda...next time! For now, I'm going to let it cellar for a while and see what happens carbonates.
My Midas Touch (Dogfish Head) clone was the
first batch I brewed and it also took the longest. Brewed with 2 lbs of honey and saffron threads during the boil, than 4 cups of grape juice concentrate added at the peak of fermentation this beer is sweet. Boasting an ABV of 8-9%, this is the highest percentage I've obtained as a homebrewer (based on rough calculations). I accidentally primed it with Cane Sugar instead of Corn Starch causing me to wait longer for it to bottle condition.
Appearance: Not pure gold like the original version, but it does have golden highlights on the sides of the glass. Ruby red with a large plume of tan head that fades slowly, I was rather proud of it's appealing nature. There are visible beads of carbonation that maintained a small film.
Aroma: The first waft brought strong hits of grapes, blossoming flowers, and an faint alcoholic sting in my nostrils. It reminded me of a Belgian Triple of Quad without the spicy yeast profile. Taking a couple minutes to savor the smells, I'd conclude that it has fruity wine-like notes.
Taste: Stronger alcoholic presence on the palate that provides a warming effect. Darker fruit flavors come to the front as sweet undertones dominate. I can isolate the grape concentrate confirming the wine-like aromas. There is also a pleasent hint of honey on the back of the palate. I cannot pick out the hops, but I know they help to balance out this beer. I think the Cane Sugar used for priming added an apple-like flavor.
Mouthfeel: Medium body because of the residual sugars, but the higher alcohol helps to lift them off the tongue. My lips are sticky and the honey/grape flavors coat my palate. The carbonation gives it a minor champagne-like quality.
Although I did not brew a perfect replica of Midas Touch, I have something that I'm proud of and the time spend waiting has been worth it.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I added 12.5 oz of Maple syrup during the boil in hopes that it would lend a sweeter character to a rich malty beers. I used at Oktoberfest Lager yeast making this the first lager I've attempted to make. Not having a fridge space to properly ferment in led me to place it in the garaged during the Fall months. This was not the best choice as the constant fluctuation in temp from day to night seems to have shocked the yeast. As a result, I do not think it fermented thoroughly and might have produced some off flavors. Not having much hope for a good outcome I used 2.5 gals to test out my new keg. This turned out disasterous as it had a leak and the beer never carbonated and soiled. The remaining 2.5 gals were botteled and cellared for some time. About three weeks ago I placed the bottles in the fridge for consumption.
Appearance: Pre-fridge it poured a clear bronze with colors highlights of Fall leaves. The head was relatively minimal, but overall the beer did look like a legitiment Oktoberfest beer (almost Spaten-ish). Post-fridge it is now a cloudy bronze and lacks any head only producing a couple bubbles. It looks like some kind of chill haze.
Aroma: A mixture of maple syrup and malts where the syrup overpowers. It does not have a crisp clean lager scent, but rather a sugary nose (caramel). I can barely make out the hops and thankfully I do pick up minor bready and biscuit notes. Basically, it smells like wort rather than a fully fermented beer.
Taste: Watery, weak, sweet, sugary, and tastes like I put too much syrup in it. I do notice the 2 oz of Hallertau hops I used to bitter and 1 oz. of Saaz for finishing. They give an earthy finish to the sip. There is a slight lager characteristic, but for the most part, I feel like I'm drinking wort.
Mouthfeel: Light-medium with a watery texture. The aftertaste had a high sugar residue with a pungent subtle bitterness. Minor carbonation suspended in beer that adds a little life.
I hope to re-brew this batch without the maple syrup and properly ferment it at a consistent temp.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I enjoy bottling, but the cleaning gets old quick. That is way kegging is probably quicker and easier, but after my experience last night I more comfortable sticking to bottling.
So it was an eventful evening upon the completion of kegging and botteling both beers.
I ended the night with a sense of accomplishment and excited to move on to the next series. I think I'm going to brew each one seperately so I can watch them more carefully and give them my full attention. In two weeks both the keg and bottles should be ready so consumption.
As you can see to the right I enjoy putting labels on my fermenting buckets and keg. I think it adds a nice touch (kind of like a well traveled suitcase). Oh! During bottling I found out that Pilsner Urquell and Peroni bottles do not work. They do not have a lip for the cap press to grab onto so don't save them for homebrew.
Lately, I've been reading up on some interesting beer blogs and realized that I need to perfect my craft and grow as a homebrewer (unfortunatly, as with most hobbies, that requires cash). The best beer I've brewed to date was Common Place. I'm finding that I want to brew that beer over a couple times and perfect my recipe and quality of product. Do some experiments with hopping, use a partial mash, and explore better grains to use would all be interesting to me.
I think I might interrupt my next series of brews to attempt a second batch of Common Place...we'll see.
Happy Valentine's Day and Happy Home Brewing!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Today I decided that enough time had gone by not to mention I wanted to free up a carboy. I recently bought my first keg and had attempted to keg a half batch of my Marzen. This did not turn out the way I hoped. The seal leaked and after numerous efforts to stop the bleeding I gave up. I ran out to the homebrew shop and picked up some supplies and gave it another go. Under the advise to put a lube on the seal I went with some glycerin and that seemed to do the trick.
I racked the 5 gal. batch of Kitchen Kream into the keg and sealed it up. My F.G. ended up being 1.006. I did not expect this brew to be a big beer as much as it is an experiment. Still trying to work on my lagering skills and getting use to this whole kegging system (which is not that hard). The beer smelled fruity, had some hop notes, and still contained some DMS. After a couple sips it tasted and smelled similar to a plastic toy or packing. We'll see how it turns out after 2 weeks of conditioning and getting the keg operating smooth.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Matthew - Cream Ale
Mark - Blonde Ale
Luke - Kolsch
John - Wheat/Rye Beer
I'll be posting the results of my current beers as then finish.
Enjoy the weekend!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
The evening started out with brewers submitting their entries and milling around. There were Sam Adams reps present who gave out samples of the Imperial Series and the Holiday Pack. Between 6-8pm conpetitors could chat about their brewing practices while enjoying some food made with Sam Adams beer and mingle around sampling various beers. I had the privilage of meeting Tim (the 2nd place winner) who gave me some words of encouragement and advice. I was amazed to see a wide range of people from a guy that looked he should be LARPing, retired guys with too much time on their hands, to a woman with a very fiesty personality. The underground world of homebrewers is complex no doubt. Before the winners were announced Sam Adams gave out samples of Utopias, a 25% ABV beer, which tastes more like a sherry or cognac. We got complementary gifts which made the evening worth it.
At the end of the night is was good to have branched out in the world of homebrewing despite not winning any prizes. Besides, after spending so much time and putting so much dedication into brewing a beer it's hard not to share it with others.
Monday, October 26, 2009
The last two weeks here in Chicago have been nothing but depression. Cold, rainy, and sun depraved. The advent of Winter should mean one thing for the beer drinker: dark, rich beers. Once we have worked through the early Fall/Oktoberfest beers there is a plethora of Porters, Stouts, Brown Ales, and Schawrzbiers that will help you get through those cold blustery days.
Today I transfered my Split-Log Porter to the secondary fermenter and added oak infusion spirals (medium roasted). The O.G. was 1.042 and my gravity reading today came out at 1.019. I'm pretty happy with it so far. I took a taste test and there was definately an English Porter flavor. Roasted grains were present in the aroma and taste (chocolate malt/black patent). There was a definate hoppy bitterness which rounds out the dark malty backbone. Now I just have to wait about 6-8 weeks to get the desired Oak flavor.
In the mean time, I have my Maple Marzen out in the garage fermenting away. I think I'm going to give it a couple more days till I rack it to the secondary. It is my first Lager and I'm noticing that the yeast is definately taking longer to do it's job.
If you would like to try some good Porters or Stouts here is a quick list to get you going (this is not a definative list).
Sam Adam's - Honey Porter
Summit Brewing Co. - Great Northern Porter
Breckenridge Brewery - Vanilla Porter
Samuel Smith - Old Taddy Porter
Great Lakes Brewing Co. - Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
Anchor Brewing Co. - Porter
Southern Tier - Porter
Great Divide - St. Bridget's Porter
New Holland Brewing - The Poet Oatmeal Stout
Samuel Smith - Oatmeal Stout
North Coast Brewing Co. - Old #38 Stout; Old Plowshare; Old Rasputin; Old Rasputin XII
Big Sky Brewery - Snow Elk Oatmeal Stout
Red Hook - Double Black Imperial Stout
Bell's Brewery - Special Double Cream Stout
Two Brother's - Northwind Imperial Stout
Rogue - Mocha Porter; Shakespeare Stout; Chocolate Stout
Sam Adam's - Cream Stout
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I'm excited to see how my rendition of a Marzen turns out. Of course I'm adding a little to it (maple syrup) so I won't have a control to base future batches off of, but in the end doing something unique is what it's all about. Maple Syrup is basically sucrose (which will break down during the boil) and it will add a darker amber color.
Here is the recipe:
1 lb. Vienna Malt 10L
½ Munich Malt 10L
½ lb. CaraMunich Malt
¼ lb. Biscuit Malt
(2) 3.3 lbs. Briess CBW Munich LME
12.5 oz. Maple Syrup (SpringTree-100% pure, grade A dark amber)
(2) 1 oz. Hallertau hop pellets (bittering)
1 oz. Saaz hop pellets (finishing)
Oktoberfest Lager yeast (WLP820)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
It's been a good two days...
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Despite the fact that it is not March, I've decided to name it Maple Marzen. This beer will be brewed using Munich and Vienna Malts, Munich LME (new 2009 product by Breiss), Hallertau hops, and the addition of Maple Syrup.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here are the ingredients:
1 lb. Crystal Malt 120L
1 lb. Chocolate Malt
½ lb. Rolled Oats (thick cut)
¾ cups Black Patent
3.3 lbs. Briess CBW Sparkling Amber LME
3.3 lbs. Briess CBW Traditional Dark LME
1 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (bittering)
½ oz. Perle hop pellets (finishing)
British Ale yeast (WLP005)
1 tsp. Irish Moss
I was going to brew it sometime this week, but my evenings got busy. Saturday!
Thursday, October 8, 2009
is undoubtably the various types of grain. Let's face it, without grains, there would be no starches and without starches, nothing for the yeast to feed on to make beer. As I have sampled different beers the ability to pick out certain grains has become increasily easier and fun. For example, Hoss by Great Divide has a nice spicey note which can be attributed to the use of Rye. Many amber ales use a Crystal Malt to impart a rich caramel flavor.
On my last visit to the homebrew shop I stocked up on some grains for the coming months of brewing. I thought it would be wise to try and understand what each grain profile before I started brewing. For each grain I took out some of the starch and gave it a taste(let it dissolve). It might sound odd, but I actually found it helpful for identifying the taste in the finished product. What follows is a break down of 8 grains.
Pale Malt 2-Row This malt is a standard all-purpose grain used in most beers to add body and serve as a foundational building block in grain bills. It gives a smooth less grainy flavor. Smell: light, crisp, and straw-like
Color: "pale" to golden blonde hue with white starch compound.
Taste: flour-like and lightly sweet
Munich Malt 10L A common grain used in a majority of darker German beers. It is kilned slightly higher than Pale Malt which gives it a deeper color, richer aroma, and fuller flavor.
Smell: similar to 2-Row with a little bit more of a bready aroma.
Color: just a shade darker than 2-Row if not the same.
Taste: sweet and chalky.
Vienna Malt 10L A grain that is used in Marzen, Oktoberfest, and Vienna style lagers. It has high acidity, yeilds a deeper color than Munich Malt, and is very rich/aromatic.
Smell: similar to 2-Row and Munich, but more straw-like and earthy.
Color: looks exactly like Munich and 2-Row.
Tastes: exactly like Munich, less chalky, and an ever-so-slight bitterness.
Biscuit Malt A lightly toasted malt that lends a garnet to brown color and increased body. It has a rich biscuit or bread flavor and aroma
Smell: more well-rounded than 2-Row, full toasted aroma.
Color: looks toasted, very neutral, starch is tan.
Taste: like a Triscut cracker.
CaraMunich This is a Belgium Crystal malt that is medium-copper, gives the beer a rich caramel sweetness both in aroma and flavor. It has no enzymes and is not associated with Munich malt.
Smell: like a bad of oats, richly toasted, and cereal notes.
Color: looks copper and amber.
Taste: sweet and caramely
Crystal Malt 120L A dark highly kilned grain with no enzymes, but the unfermentables give the beer an enhanced mouthfeel, rich body, better head retention, and great color.
Smell: roasted, deep cereal notes, nutty, sweet to sharp caramel notes
Color: mahogany-almost black roasted
Taste: a little like toffee or caramelized sugar.
Chocolate Malt Used by brewers in all types of beers to impart color and chocolate/coffee flavor. It is named more because of the color rather than the it's flavor. Highly roasted and similar to Black Patent, but lighter and used more in Porters.
Smell: robust, dark nutty, and burnt grain that is bold.
Color: has a deep choco bean, rich burnt brown look
Taste: burnt, coffeeish and dark choco chalky flavors.
Black Patent Also known as "black malt" this grain is kilded at very high temps for a long period of time. Just about all the starch and enzymes are destroyed so the malted is used to add a sharp burnt flavor found in most Stouts/Porters.
Smell: burnt like charcoal and rather sharp smokey noes.
Color: like black coffee grounds.
Tastes: dry, chalky, and burnt/charred.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The Soba Ale has a very unique taste due the addition of roasted Soba (Japanese for buckwheat) malt. They give it a nice full-bodied taste which balances well with the hops. The Black Obi has a similar profile to the Soba ale, but takes it a step farther with more roasted grains which lend a richer, darker flavor (almost like a schwarzbier). The Imperial Pilsner is your classic interpretation of an imperial style beer. It has pilsner character which shines through with a bold hop aroma and taste.
I would highly recommend making these you next beer purchase. They might run you a pretty penny (depending on where you shop), but they are definately worth it. Not to mention they have cool artwork!