Friday, September 26, 2008

Hop Harvest

I started out this spring with 5 hop rhizomes in pots, and in May moved them over to my garden. Over the summer, I added onto existing garden trellises and let the bines just grow. I only got a couple of bines out of the Willamette and Cascade. The Mt. Hood, Magnum, and Zeus bines seemed to grow the best. However, only the Zeus bines bore any hops this year.

This is before I dried them. Afterwards, I was able to stuff them into two quart-sized bags and stick them in the freezer. I need to get a scale and weigh them. I'm guessing, if I'm lucky, I got 2 ounces. However, all I'm hoping for is at least 0.66 ounces, so I can make my Jinx clone I talked about last week.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm a Jinx, Bedlam Follows Everywhere

It's been close to a year since I mentioned The Jinx, a beer brewed by Magic Hat in Vermont. The good news is when I went into Pat's about 2 weeks ago, they had six packs of #9 and The Jinx. So, naturally, I picked up a sixer of The Jinx.

It does not appear to be showing the purplish hue I remember from last year, but it could be the glass that I drank it from. I need to pour it into more of a traditional pint glass and verify it. The smell of smoked peat malt is there, as is a tiny aroma of CTZ hops that they use. Since I harvested my Zeus hops (more on that next week), I can identify the smell easily.

A note about Magic Hat: A lot of people find their beers to be wimpy. I have even read and heard people say that they make "beer for women." Whatever. I find that they make good, interesting, lighter ales. The Circus Boy is my 2nd favorite American Wheat (to Three Floyd's Gumball Head), even though some would call it a vegetable/herb beer since it uses lemongrass.

Where I do agree with most critics of Magic Hat is the way they're so into marketing. That webpage of theirs is a mess, and they're always promoting events. I bought a Jinx t-shirt for $20, and boy, was it a dissapointment. Looking at the photo, looks like a decent shirt. When I got it, it was an XL, but the collar was tight, and the material was not like a beefy-T (No, I don't need a 2X. Most of my t-shirts are XL, and my collared shirts are usually L). It was closer to the kind of white t-shirts you get at your local five-and-dime in a package, 3 for $5. I know you hippies are trying to expand your brewery and all, but Christ, if you want me to support your company, don't try to fuck me in the ass.

But I digress.

Using both Beer Smith and ProMash software, I believe I have been able to build a clone recipe for this curious ale. Somehow, using the ingredients given by Magic Hat for the Jinx in the Google search engine, I came upon this recipe, which is a Scottish ale, that has some of the same ingredients. Substitute .33 oz of CTZ hops for boil at 60 minutes, and another .34 oz of CTZ hops at 15 minutes, and you get the same IBUs. Using dark brown sugar seems to give it the color it needs. The dark Belgian candy sugar made it too dark. Adjusting the black malt and the sugar got me within 1 SRM of the color Magic Hat says the Jinx is.

A guy named Wahoo who posts over at the Northern Brewer Forums, posted this about the yeast I want to use:

London Ale Yeast attenueates well and does not produce large amounts of esters the way Ringwood or Special London (Wyeast 1968) do. It finishes dry enough to be excellent in IPAs and Pale Ales, the "minerally profile" Wyeast refers to makes it great in a stout, and I have no reason to think it is anything but the absolute best choice for a London Porter (a style which I haven't brewed in a decade). It does attenuate very well so if you are doing a low OG recipe such as an Ordinary Bitter or Dry Stout, you may want more Crystal or Cara-Pils than you would use with a yeast that leaves more residual sugars in the beer.

The low flocculance of this yeast makes for a beer that is not as easy to get crystal clear as some of the other strains you might use in some these styles. However, I find that as a homebrewer, "working" with the yeast (harvesting, pitching, etc) is easier if it does not make an extremely compact yeast cake, and in that respect the low flocculation of 1028 is somewhat of an advantage.

What Wyeast Says: Rich with a dry finish, minerally profile, bold and crisp, with some fruitiness. Often used for higher gravity ales and when a high level of attenuation is desired for the style. Flocculation: Medium-Low Attenuation: 73-77% Temperature Range: 60-72F, 15-22C Alcohol Tolerance: 10%ABV.

I did read somewhere that Magic Hat uses a Ringwood Yeast, but I liked the description of the yeast above, and how the Wahoo guy is really into this style of yeast.

Based on all of this, I give you my recipe for Samhain ale, since I can't exactly confirm that it is going to be exactly like the Jinx, it will be slightly different, and therefore not a Jinx clone, per se, but pretty damn close, and hopefully even better:

Samhain Ale
Partial mash

8.3 lbs Pale Liquid Extract
1.5 lbs Caramunich Malt
0.5 lbs Crystal Malt 20L
0.10 lbs Chocolate Malt
0.13 lbs Peated Malt
1.0 lbs Dark Brown Sugar

0.33 oz Zeus @ 60 min.
0.34 oz Zeus @ 15 min.

Wyeast 1028 London Ale

OG = 1.080
IBU = 20.1

Put grains in a couple of muslin bags and steep at 155* F for 45 minutes. Bring to a boil and follow hop schedule. Substitute Columbus or Tomahawk hops if Zeus are not available. Add extract and sugar at end of the boil. Cool to 70*F and pitch yeast. Suggest making a yeast starter or pitching two Activator packs. Ferment at 65 – 70*F.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Two New Brews

On Tuesday, we racked two new beers: one was an Amarillo Pale Ale, made with 2 ounces of Amarillo hops, and the other was a Czech-style pilsner.

The Amarillo ale is looking good. It's clear, nice color, and currently has a gravity of about 1.014. It will probably end up around 1.012 in three weeks. We had this one in the conical for about 2 weeks, and it's now in the keg. We're still doing partial mash recipes at this time. For this one, the recipe is as follows:

Amarillo Ale
6.8 lbs Pale Malt Extract
1 lb Briess Caramel 60L
1 oz Amarillo Hops @ 60 minutes
1/2 oz Amarillo Hops @ 15 minutes
1/2 oz Amarillo Hops 5 @ 5 minutes
1 TSP Irish Moss @ 5 minutes
White Labs California Ale V (WLP051)
We loaded up about 6 gallons of water and heated it to about 160F and turned off the burner. Put the Briess Caramel grains (freshly cracked from Shoreline Brewery, thank you, Sam) in a muslin bag and let them steep for a good 35 minutes. Added the PME and brought it to a boil and added the hops. Chilled the wort to about 70 F and then pitched the vial directly into the conical. Added a drop of olive oil and oxygenated it for about 90 seconds. I'm looking forward to this one.

For the pilsner, I used a variation the partial mash recipe from May-June 2008 issue of Brew Your Own magazine. This is the recipe:

Wiesbaden Pils
6.0 gallons distilled water
5.0 oz Pilsner Malt (2-Row)
2.0 lb Caramel Pils Malt 2*L
1.5 lb Munich Malt 10*L
3.0 oz Acidulated Malt (0.375 cup)
4.0 lb Generic Light Malt Extract - Light (stir in at end of boil)
1.25 oz Vanguard Hops (60 min)
1.50 oz Vanguard Hops (15 min)
1 Whirlfloc Tablet (15 min)
0.25 oz Vanguard Hops (0 min)
Wyeast 2000 Budvar

O.G.: 1.049
F.G.: 1.014 – 1.018
IBU: 42

Put cracked grains in bag and steep in 3 gallons of distilled water for 45 minutes at around 150*F. Rinse the bag with a quart of cool water. Raise total volume to 5.5-6.0 gallons and boil for an hour, adding hop additions. Be sure to stir the extract in at the end of the boil.

Unfortunately, we did this brew starting around 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. The reason we did this was because we bought a big Activator pack of the Budvar yeast and smacked it on Thursday night. We've had a terrible time with this yeast. The first time we tried to brew a Pilsner, we just pitched a single vial of the White Labs version of the yeast and we didn't get fermentation, we got a bunch of growing things on the top of the carboy. So I bought all the ingredients and a Propagator pack, figuring to make a starter. I smacked the pack and gave it 3 hours. Overnight, the yeast did nothing in the starter bottle. So we ordered an activator pack, smacked it, and waited. On Sunday (three days after we smacked it) the pack began to swell. We made a starter on Sunday evening, and had to brew Tuesday.

Instead of just 3 gallons, when I got to John's house, he had 6 gallons going, and I managed to get all the grains into one bag. Looking back, we should have just done the 3 gallons and divided up the grains into several bags for more surface area coverage. I think I'd just prefer to do an all-grain version of this recipe. The gravity ended up at like a 1.039, when we were looking for a 1.049. The nice thing was we had whole-leaf hops for this brew, and they were awesome. Before racking it and putting it back into the fridge at 38 F, we sampled it. It's golden, light in body, but a hop monster. Not overhopped, but hopped like I remember a good pilsner being in Germany. The Budvar yeast is nice, it's very fruity. I'll have photos of these up in a few weeks.