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

Grains
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

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

Yeast
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.