Friday, December 31, 2010

Bulldog ESB

When I made the Red Rooster for a second time, I had 3 ounces of hops left over from a half pound of Willamette pellets that I bought from Midwest Supplies. I think it was for $6, which is a great deal!

I thought about what kind of style of beer I could make with 3 ounces of Willamette, since the Rooster was going to take up 5 ounces. For some reason, I was wanting to have a Goose Island Honker's Ale. I like using Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer's Brewing Classic Styles as a place to start, so I looked up the chapter on Extra Special Bitters. I believe I used the malt bill for the most part to make up what would become the Bulldog ESB.

I've seen that Willamette are good substitute hops for English Fuggle hops. However, the recipe did not call for Fuggles, but for Goldings. I just decided to wing it because I had Willamette.

I was also wanting to have a beer with a big biscuity-malt taste, so I opted to use all Marris Otter as the base malt. In the end, I had also just harvested my backyard hops. The trellis fell in June, so I had to rebuild it, but I didn't take the time to sort through the bines to divide the hops into respective bags. They all went in the same bag; The Magnum, the Zeus, and the Cascade. I christened them 131 Westchester hops and used 2 ounces to dry-hop the beer as an afterthought.

Bulldog ESB
OG: 1.061
SRM: 10.9
IBU: 40.7
5.4% ABV

10.0 lb Marris Otter
1.0 lb Victory Malt
0.25 lb Crystal 120*L
0.50 lb Crystal 20*L

2.0 oz Willamette @ 60 min
1.0 oz Willamette @ 0 min
2.0 oz 131 Westchester hops (55% Zeus, 44% Magnum, 1% Cascade) Dry Hop

Wyeast London ESB 1968
Danstar Llallemand Nottingham dry yeast 11 gram

A note on the yeast: I had planned to make a starter, but didn't. I figured the gravity was low enough that I could just pitch from the package, and the Wyeast smack pack blew up big, and it did it quickly. However, after 36 hours, I opened the bucket and there was no Kreuzen. I ended up pitching a pack of Nottingham I had ordered extra.

The beer turned out great - it has cleared, and has an orange hue. The nose is of the Zeus hops, and has a nice Willamette bite. As an "afterthought" beer, it has turned out to be quite a nice ale. I have added it to my list of annual beers to make.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Red Rooster Ale - This Time with Rye

I made the Red Rooster ale the first time back in November of 2009 and wrote about it here in January. I enjoyed it so much that I brewed it again in early October.

In early March, I got to be part of a surprise party in Kentucky for a friend I had not seen since I lived in Germany in the 80s. I also got to hang out with a few of my friends from that time in my life that I had not seen since. It had been 24 years since I'd seen most of them. I took a few of my beers down there, including the original Red Rooster.

I was surprised how my friends enjoyed this simple beer. The chocolate rye imparts a slight mocha aroma and flavor in conjunction with the Willamette hops. I get a similar result when I taste Sierra Nevada's Porter, but the rooster is only red, not dark like a Porter.

I don't know when the last of these was drank, but since that time, I was thinking about how I could improve upon this recipe. I decided to substitute 2 lbs of rye malt in place of 2 lbs of 2-row malt, and dry hop with an extra ounce of Willamette. The recipe looks like this:

Red Rooster Ale
5.5-gallon batch
OG: 1.063
28.8 IBU
SRM: 13.8

10.0 lb 2-Row Pale Malt
2.0 lb Rye Malt
0.5 lb Caramunich II
0.33 lb CaraWheat
0.33 lb Chocolate Rye

1.50 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 30 min.
1.00 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 0 min.
1.50 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) Dry Hop 5 days prior to bottling

Danstar-Lallemand Nottingham dry yeast, 11 grams

While I bottled the last batch, I had a kegging system set up this time around. I wasn't able to do a side-by-side comparisson, but from memory, I know that 1) I made this one stronger, since the original had a target OG of 1.046, but it ended up 1.041. In that regard, this one ended up at 1.055, so it went from 3.8%ABV to 5.93% ABV (I was hoping for around 6%). The rye gives it a bit more of a spicy taste. Unfortunately, the beer is kind of cloudy. It tastes great. It's got the same kind of mouthfeel, like it's begging for a nitrogen tap, it's creamy, and feels like a thin film of foam is left on the roof of your mouth. The aroma is kind of woody and smells of malt. It doesn't have a big hop nose like American IPAs.

Once again, I have to thank Dawson over at Northern Brewer for his Dawson's Multi-Grain Red ale. It was the inspiration for me to brew this red ale, which is more like a reddish-brown.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bad Moon Weizenbock

I can't remember where I first read about the style of Weizenbock. I do know that I was intrigued enough that in 2007, my first year of brewing, I threw together a recipe. After some modifications this year, I brewed one.

Weizenbock is actually a style of bock beer you can make without lagering. Bocks are usually brewed with lager yeast. A wheat beer yeast (preferably one of the German varieties for brewing weizen beers) is all that is needed for this style.

As far as I know, the best example of this style comes from the Schneider brewery in Germany; the Aventinus weizenbock. I've had this a couple times. I liked it, but my favorite one was probably Heavy Seas Hang Ten. Clocking in at 10%, it's probably a bit bigger than your standard style, but I remembered that being a really good beer, and quite possibly, that's what caused me to research the style and take a stab at the recipe I mentioned above.

As a consolation prize for entering a brewing contest earlier this year, I ended up getting back, along with my results, a combined 3 packs of the Munich Dry Yeast. At first, I thought, "Awesome! A new kind of dry lager yeast!" Upon further research, I discovered that it was actually a dry weizen-style kind of yeast.

I'm not a big fan of weizen or "wheat" beers. I don't mind a couple here or there, but to brew 5 gallons of wheat beer isn't very likely for me. They're good, and in fact, I thought it might have been nice to have some wheat beer this summer, but for the most part, they don't fall into my top 10 lists of beers I want to make, unless, of course, you're talking about cloning Gumballhead.

I then remembered the Bad Moon Weizenbock recipe I had crafted. Was that a lager or could I ferment that with the dry yeast I had?

I checked the Advantageous Weizenbock kit that Northern Brewer sells, and right there it was as the dry yeast option: Munich dry yeast.

So I decided that I would use two of the packs of yeast for this beer, and then use the third to brew some kind of Dunkelweizen later. Then I found my dad wanted to make a hefeweizen, so I figure I'll just give the yeast to him.

Another reference I check is Jamil Zainasheff's and John Palmer's Brewing Classic Styles book. In their description of making weizenbock, they state that you can't brew this beer using only Munich and Wheat Malts. Unfortunately, when I read this, I already had my ingredients ready to go the next day. So I decided to not worry about it. Weeks later, I'm enjoying this beer. It tastes great, very much like a bock beer, without all the details involved with making a lager yeast starter or going through the long lagering process.

Bad Moon Weizenbock

6 gallons
OG: 1.086 (20.64)
SRM: 15.4
IBU: 28.3

Boil time: 60 minutes

9.0 lbs Red Wheat
5.0 lbs Light Munich Malt (10*L)
4.0 lbs Dark Munich Malt (12*L)
0.5 lbs Special B Malt


1.0 oz Perle (7.5%AA) First Wort
2.0 oz Crystal (4.1%AA) 15 min.
1.0 oz Crystal (4.1%AA) Dry Hop

Danstar Munich yeast (2 packs sprinkled onto wort)
Fermented at 68*F

Friday, June 18, 2010

DFK Pils

There is knowledge in the homebrew community, mind you have to search for it or stumble onto it, but it exists, that if you want to make a true Czech Pilsener beer, that you have to brew it using a decoction mash.

It's really a simple recipe; Pilsener malt, Czech Saaz hops, and your choice of Czech lager yeast. I know of three right off the top of my head, and I'm pretty sure that both Wyeast and White Labs make versions of the Budvar (original Budweiser), Pilsen (used for Pilsener Urquell) and Bohemian lager yeasts.

In the last quarter of 2009, Wyeast released the Staro-Prague (Wyeast 2782-PC) yeast. Northern Brewer also made a simple kit available for use of this yeast. If I'm not mistaken, it was called Farley's Svetle-Pivo (which translates from Slavic to "Farley's Light Beer") and for a 5-gallon recipe, was calling for 10 pounds of Pilsener malt, 5 ounces of Czech Saaz hops, and the aforementioned yeast. Also, it suggested a triple-decoction mash.

For the most part, when you do an all-grain homebrew, you get your grain. It's crushed. Then you get your water hot so that you can put your grain in it, and the grain sits at a temperature between 149*F and 156*F for at least an hour. Then you sparge the grain with hot water (around 180*F) until you get enough to boil down so that when all is said and done, you have 5 gallons of beer (the usual amount, especially if you're serving from 5-gallon kegs).

However, a decoction mash is its own animal. For this beer in particular, I started with 100*F water, put it and the grain into my mash tun for 20 minutes, and then the real fun began: It was early January when I did this, so it was like 19*F in my garage. I had the side door open and the big garage door cracked about a foot and a half to get decent air flow. So I took 2/3rds of the mash (water and grain, mostly grain) and started heating it up on the burner. You have to stir so you don't burn the mash or make the color too dark. I brought the mash to 150*F and then took it off the burner, wrapped it in a wool blanket, and let it set on a crate for 20 minutes. Then I returned the kettle to the burner, and slowly brought it to a boil, let it boil for five minutes, then returned it to the mash tun, bringing the temperature to 126*F in the mash tun, stirring it in so the temperature was uniform. I let it rest 30 minutes. I did this again, to bring the temperature of the mash to 148*F, and then again to 158*F (I didn't let it sit for 20 minutes either time after this, since it was so close or beyond 150*F anyway, just straight to boil). Finally, I drained about 4 gallons of mostly liquid wort and brought this to a boil to raise the temperature of the mash to 170*F for mash out, where you're looking to get all your "sugar water" to make the beer.

This makes for a long day. Especially in January. But I was hoping for an awesome beer. The great thing about mashing this way is that a lot of the proteins that you get from the boil kettle when you're moving the wort into the fermenter actually stay in the mash tun. The result is a clearer, cleaner beer. For more information on decoction mashing, I suggest you check out Kai's decoction mash videos. A three-part series that you can take seriously because of Kai's accent.

As for how the beer looks, here are a few photos:

This is the beer about 30 seconds after it's been poured. Burnished gold.

As the beer is drank, a swirl of foam remains. Smells of sulfur, fresh-mown grass.

It's unfiltered, so while some beers are clearer, this one is not as clear.

Of course, there is a story behind the name. Even though it's Farley's recipe, I upped it to 12 lbs of Pilsener malt and 6 oz of Czech Saaz hops because I was shooting for 6 gallons. I did the work, I get to name it.

Like I stated above, the beer pours with a decent head. Once the head is gone, lacing continues and the foam swirls on the top. It smells of sulfur and freshly-mown grass. The taste is like biting into a handful of Czech Saaz hops. It's quite wonderful. The Pilsener malt is a great vehicle for the yeast and hops.

While I lived in Germany, I had a good friend named Dan Kendall (DFK). I left during the middle of our Junior year. During the summer, Danny was to leave to go back to the states, where his dad, who was a colonel, was getting a promotion. Danny decided to impress his dad's associates by getting a mohawk. Lately, I've seen mohawks being worn as a fashion statement. But in 1986, I guarantee you, mohawks were considered pretty "1981." Hell, I don't even remember too many people wearing them in 1981. But then, I lived in Oklahoma that year.

The point is, you can take the easy way out on anything if you're smart. But to live, sometimes you need to go through all the steps just to see what it's all about. It's easy to get a mohawk when all the cool kids are doing it.

Danny did this, he cut his hair, and he knew he was causing trouble. He knew he'd take suome lumps. Why did he do it? Because fuck them.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Pitching Rate Experiment

One of the neat things about homebrewing is that you have so many people with different degrees of experience and all kinds of systems. One of the forums I frequent, over at Northern Brewer, will often have someone new to brewing asking a question. A lot of people chime in. The funny thing is, there are usually two camps that end up breaking out on any topic. Glass fermenters versus plastic fermenters is common. One that recently came up involved pitching rates.

As you can see by the introductory question, the starter of this particular thread wants to know that when it comes to pitching liquid yeast into a batch of beer, should he pitch one Activator pack, or two.

Let the shitstorm begin.

Where I stand on this opinion depends on the strength of the beer you are making. My general rule is that anything at a specific gravity of 1.055 or less I would feel comfortable throwing a Wyeast Activator into, preferably fully puffed out after you've smacked it, but still okay if puffed out just a little. Case in point: I made a Patersbier at my dad's place. The Activator pack was 3 months old. I didn't feel real good about the age of the pack, but I trusted the Trappist High Gravity yeast to be a strong one. The gravity of the beer was 1.048, so I wasn't too worried about it. Fermented it for a week at around 63 degrees, finished at 1.011. Done.

At about 1.060, I begin to make yeast starters. So I do believe in starters. In fact, I really wanted the Koelsch I just made to do really well, so I made a quart starter for it, even though the gravity was only 1.050. I moved it to secondary after 13 days. The gravity was at 1.016 at the time, which was kind of surprising; I thought it would finish lower. That starter grew for about 28 hours.

Of course, the most frustrating thing to me about homebrewer opinions, is that at times, people think that their opinion is the only way to do things. That's fine. Believe what you want. But just don't tell me it's the only way to do things. Or tell me I can't do something, especially if I've done it, or if I think it will work. See the Koelsch above as an example. Made with 95% Koelsch malt. Some dude said on the NB forum that I couldn't make a Koelsch with that malt. Guess what? Did it. Guess what else? It tastes fucking great. As my wife put it, "Reminds me of the beers I used to drink in high school." Well, maybe. It is a Koelsch.

So this guy, Sean, decided to do an experiment. As you can see, for the cost of shipping, he sent us 3 beers to try. I got my brewing friend, John, to share the tasting with me. I told him, "YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT THE BEER UNTIL WE'RE DONE!" He looked at me funny.

Here were our comments:

John (A): Cloudy. Not really amber. Hazy. Smells of alcohol. Tastes somewhat fruity, mildly hoppy, tastes of alcohol. Over-attenuated? Slightly astringent. Low mod. body, good carbonation.

Jez (A): Decent foam. Kinda light in color for an amber. Decent lacing. Hazy, smells fruity, apple-juicy, caramel, alcohol. Flavor is a bit appley, hops are nice. Very dry, not much of a malt backbone. Mouthfeel: Back bit of hops. Smooth feel. Appropriate carbonation. Seems like it's underpitched. I seem to have gotten better attenuation from a smack pack.

John (B): Thicker head than A. Same amount of haze as A. Smells slightly estery, flavor is estery as well. Less astringent than A. Is this under-pitched?

Jez (B): Bigger head on this one. A bit stronger lacing. Same haze as A. No fruity aroma, maybe some caramel nose. Very dry, nice hops for an amber ale. Same mouthfeel, nice carbonation. Guessing this one used a starter.

John (C): Same as A.

Jesse (C): Same as A.

So as you can see, I thought A&C were underpitched, John thought B was underpitched.

Overall, I think that there really wasn't that much difference in the beer. One was not really better than the other. I think that if you told me that these came from the same batch, I couldn't really tell a difference.

I'd like to thank Sean for the beer. It's always so nice to share someone else's beer. I'll be in Indianapolis in May. Perhaps I could bring you some of mine?

Also, this confirms my indifference to "amber" ales. I think I like more of an Amarillo-Zeus-Simcoe combo of hops in mine.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quit Crying for Session Beers

(Edit: I posted this article the morning of April 30. I was notified by Mr. Chris Lohring with some information I either misconstrued or did not see on his website. The edited portions are in blue)

I get Beer Advocate magazine. A friend of mine got it for me as a gift. It's actually a pretty good magazine that has food recipes, an occasional homebrew recipe, news about craft beer, and reviews of beer. It's decent. In the back of each issue, there's an column written usually by a guest writer called LAST CALL. In this issue (#39), Chris Lohring writes "It's Time for Session Beer".

In case you're unfamiliar with the term, "session" beer is beer that is usually lower than 4.5% alcohol by volume (ABV%). The idea being with less alcohol, you can drink more of that kind of beer, thus having a "session" with the beer. I guess.

It's a decent article - stating that craft beer would be more appealing to people if the alcohol by volume (ABV%) were less, then people could stick around longer without having to stagger out of the bar and keep their wits. Mr. Lohring eventually goes on to discuss his new brew, Notch Session Ale.

There are always these "back and forth" discussions in Beer Advocate. One month, the two brothers that run it were saying that we should all support our local beer cultures by drinking in our local brewpubs and buying from local brewers; stop buying imports. A few months later, in the same Beer Smack column, they're saying we should support overseas markets by buying imports. I'm sure this allows for people on either side of the table to raise a glass to the Brothers Alstrom.

When I try to look up "Notch Session Ale" on ratebeer or beer advocate, I don't find it. I went to the website. Yeah. There doesn't seem to be any description of the beer here, either, but there is a shitload of "marketing" on the Notch website. Reminds me of the Edison Light campaign. That ended up being another light lager in a clear (thanks for skunking it!) bottle.

It's unfortunate that this is how Mr. Lohring and Company want to promote their beer. The footnote at the end of the article states, "Chris Lohring is the founder of Notch American Session Ales, and co-founded Boston's Tremont Brewery. He spent his time out of the beer industry in the world of product design and development."

(edit: Mr. Lohring contacted me, and he was in fact, in Engineering, not Marketing. So I misconstrued what this was, thinking it was "marketing")

The other thing that gripes me also sort of lends itself to the marketing front: "It's Time for Sesson Beer". Really? I think that's been going on a while. In fact, when I searched for "Notch Session Ale" on Beer Advocate, I found a whole list of session beers. I would say East End Brewing in Pittsburgh is kicking your ass on this front.

You also might have heard of Stone Brewing Company in southern California? Yeah, they've been making Levitation since 2002. It's wonderful.

I guess it all comes down to this for me: Beer is beer. Some of it has more hops than others, some of it has funny ingredients, some of it's lower in alcohol, some are higher in alcohol. I like certain ones more at different times of the year. But the one thing that always remains is that I like a variety of beers. It doesn't matter to me if you have a fancy marketing campaign or not. If your beer tastes good, I will buy it.

In my opinion, session beer has always been an option. It's not anything new. Making it a "niche" market is totally unnecessary.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Display Shelf: When to Drink the Good Stuff

So in this month's "The Session", the topic is When to Drink the Good Stuff.

To me, I enjoy the good stuff more when I can share it. But giving good beer to people who haven't developed their palate can be somewhat disappointing. While those who have never tasted a rare Russian Imperial Stout can respect what it is from what you tell them, unless they've had several, pulling out that 2-year old bottle of Dark Lord might disappoint you. They might say, "Yeah, that's pretty good," but not really understand why it is good. I'll admit there is some beer douchebaggery going on when I sit there and look at the beer, smell it, and then describe all the flavors I'm taking from the beer. But then, I really like beer.

So, personally, I tend to save these for occasions when 1) I know the people will appreciate the beer, and 2) Where I can share it with a lot of people. Could be a holiday party, could be one of our family's Margarita Fridays. Just depend when the mood strikes.

Oh, and a tip I heard from a pretty great homebrewer the other day: If you're aging stuff, try to keep the temperature steady, and store it cool.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Beers Resolution - The Session

I did one of these last year, and I'm going to try and keep up with these, and perhaps go back to the list over the past 3 years and pick out ones that can be of interest to me.

I thought I'd work on the "New Year's Resolution" one since I still am within 2 months of the new year's beginning. The Session in question is:

So we want to know what was your best and worst of beer for 2009? What beer mistakes did you make? What beer resolutions do you have for 2010? What are your beer regrets and embarrassing moments? What are you hoping to change about your beer experience in 2010?

I'm going to go through these methodically, so the first question is, "What was your best and worst beer for 2009?"

I probably didn't do as good of a job rating beers in 2009, and of course, I tried a few new ones on New Years Eve, and those definitely didn't get rated on, so I'll try to be concise with this, based on the beers I did rate.

The Worst: Hillas pale lager, brewed in Greece. They were selling these along with Bud products at the Greek Fest in New Buffalo that we went to late summer last year. Basically, I paid $4 for a Budweiser knockoff. I also gave Sam Adam's Coastal Wheat a shitty rating, but really, it's a good beer for the style. It just sort of pisses me off that 1) This, along with the Cranberry Lambic was shoveled in with the other Winter Sampler beers, which are pretty good. If you wanted a lighter ale to throw in there, why not just go with the Sam Adams Light, which I think is pretty great, and 2)You already have a kickass seller in the Summer Ale, so what are you gonna do now when you've already replaced the poor-selling White Ale with the Noble Pils? Huh? Is Coastal Wheat going to stand on its own?

The Best: My top rated beers were Boulevard's Double-Wide IPA, which, despite the confusing name, is not a double IPA. I think I enjoyed the one I had earlier in the year more than the couple I had later in the year. It was a total hop bomb in the spring. I had the New Holland Night Tripper at Three Floyd's Dark Lord Day in April. The catch was, that it was last year's Night Tripper, so it had aged a year. I thought it tasted great, but then, it could have been just the atmosphere of DLD. I got another bottle in May and aged it about 2 months, and it was pretty good, but not how I remembered it.

Two other beers worth mentioning that I tried in 2009 were Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan, a brown ale brewed with pecans. This is by far, in my opinion, the best brown ale brewed in America. It was just wonderful. Nutty, and sweet, but not annoyingly sweet. Stone's Levitation ale was another first-try at DLD, and at 4.4% ABV, it had a surprisingly awesome hop nose, without being overly bitter.

What Beer Mistakes did you make?

Probably not brewing enough beer. There were shortages between my buddy and I, but we both had busy summers, so we just didn't buckle down and brew a lot. Also, I should have exercised more to counter all the beer I drank. I've been going strong for 4 weeks now and I feel a ton better. There were also a ton of beer brewing mistakes that I made, but as for the pairings discussed in the root article for this session, meh. I didn't get crazy with food pairings so much.

I'm just going to combine the last questions of What beer resolutions do you have for 2010? What are your beer regrets and embarrassing moments? What are you hoping to change about your beer experience in 2010?

First of all, I don't have any beer regrets or embarrassing moments. 2009 will be noted as the year I stopped drinking the American Lagers produced by Bud, Miller and Coors. There were several times I went without a beer when all that was available were these products. Luckily, though, the craft beer industry seems to be infiltrating places not usually associated with what I would call "good beer". I never went to a NASCAR race, though, so I'm sure I'd go without at that event.

Resolutions and changes for 2010?

1) Enter at least one beer into a contest this year.
Ideally, I'd like to enter 3. Some dude out there has already entered an amount in the teens, and it's still January as I write this. Yeah, I guess I won't worry about being "Homebrewer of the Year" in 2010.

2) Get a local homebrewing group going.
Seems like a lot of people want this, but no one is leading the effort. I don't think it will be too hard, and I enjoy throwing a soiree every now and then. I need goals, though. But not anything that will scare people who just want to scratch the surface.

3) Improve my homebrewing techniques.
This is a continuous improvement process

4) Make the 2nd version of the Black Sabbath Imperial Stout
This is my annual big beer, but probably not my only one, since I've got plans for another Belgian as well as an American Strong ale.

5) Be more consistent with my beer blogging.
I was thinking about posting something every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but if I can just make every Friday for the rest of the year, I think that is good enough.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Brewdog Punk IPA

Around December, I received an issue of Brew Your Own magazine that had an article about the Brewdog Brewery in Scotland. It even included some recipes for 3 of their beers. I had seen this brand in my favorite local liquor store, but the label suggested to me that they were pushing an attitude, and for an IPA, I thought the price was a little too high for me.

I caved, though, when I read the recipes and the ingredients that they used. That being they use only one malt, Marris Otter, to make this beer. Bear with my brewing knowledge for just a second; some of the time pale ales or India Pale Ales use a base malt, such as 2-Row Barley, Marris Otter or some other malt that when converted to sugar, will completely ferment. If your yeast does it's job (and gets good attenuation) 75% of those sugars will convert to alcohol. Thus, the beer is not very sweet. Crystal, or Caramel malt, with varying degrees of colors (measured in Lovibond), will give the beer a darker color, and the sugars this malt imparts are not converted to alcohols. These malts usually make up less than 10% of the grain used in the beer.

So what this means, in the case of the Brewdog Punk IPA, is that the malt base is going to be lighter in color, and not have much head retention (wheat malt is one type of malt that can be used for head retention, but there are others, such as Caramunich), as you can see in the photo.

The hop profile is interesting, because they use hops from New Zealand called Nelson Sauvin hops, as well as Chinook, a high alpha acid American hop, and also Ahtanum, another American hop, that has some Cascade and Amarillo qualities, and is usually on the lower end of the alpha acid scale. All the hops used are citrusy. The Chinook has more of a grapefruit quality, while the Ahtanum and Nelson Sauvin are more on the lemon or orange zesty side of things.

Overall, what you're getting is a beer that is not dry, but it's not necessarily sweet, with a big shot of bitter, citrusy hops. I'll let the guys at Brewdog explain it, since they do justice to the description way better than I ever could:

Here's where IPAs become interesting to me, because this is a nice, extreme example of the style, and when I say "extreme", I mean that it's on one end of the IPA spectrum. The other end would be a sweeter malt base with hops that provide the bitterness, but not the citrus sting. My favorite kinds meet somewhere in the middle - I like a sweeter base with stinging hops.

This is definitely worth trying just to get a base of what kind of beers IPAs can be. However, it is nowhere near anything you should suggest to someone who wants to try IPAs for the first time, because the flavor can be overwhelming.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Red Rooster Ale

A couple of months ago, I started putting together a spreadsheet of beers I wanted to make along with the ingredients and prices. I frequent the Northern Brewer website, and occasionally post on their forum. I saw a kit they had there called Dawson's Multigrain Red, and it sounded awfully good to me.

Of course, the kit is for a 5-gallon batch, and I try to get enough ingredients for a 6-gallon batch. I bought the Willamette hops over at Freshops for a mere $1 per ounce. I got the grains and yeast at Midwest Supplies for $16.40. That's right, $19.40 for 6 gallons (a little more than 2-cases) of good beer. Of course, add in the postage, too. I ordered the ingredients for a Black Lager as well. That's the subject of a whole 'nother post.

Before this, I had never used the Danstar Nottingham yeast. When I think of Nottingham, I think of Robin Hood, the Sherwood forest, and England in general, even though this yeast is made in Canada.

The difference between my version and Dawson's: His is a little lower in gravity. I upped the amounts of 2-row malt and the color malts (the chocolate rye and the CaraWheat) to bring the gravity up to 1.054 instead of 1.044. Also, since I had to order whole ounces of hops, I ended up using all 3 ounces by adding another quarter ounce to the bittering and flameout additions, and dry hopping the leftover half ounce. The recipe:

Red Rooster Ale
6-gallon batch
OG: 1.054
30 IBU
SRM: 12.7

11.0 lb 2-Row Pale Malt
0.5 lb Caramunich II
0.33 lb CaraWheat
0.33 lb Chocolate Rye

1.25 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 60 min.
0.75 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 30 min.
0.50 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) @ 0 min.
0.50 oz Willamette (4.5%AA) Dry Hop 5 days prior to bottling

Danstar-Lallemand Nottingham dry yeast, 11 grams

I really need to get a back light for photos. The glass here usually makes the beers look darker. In a standard pint, this one looks more lighter in color. It's not like one of those hoppy California red beers that have become so popular. There is nice lacing, you can sort of see it on this glass.

The hop profile is nice. It's sort of "woody". The nose is malts, yeast and just a tiny bit of the Willamette. I will probably buy another ounce and dry hop an ounce and a half next time. Maybe.

What I really like about this beer is the mouthfeel. It's sort of creamy, and I think it would be great if it were kegged and poured using nitrogen as opposed to CO2.

1.054 is big enough. My batch sparging technique was lacking, in that I didn't drain the mash tun all the way with the first bit of water, and then probably used too much water in the second sparge. I need to resolve the sparge water calculation and how to do that to improve the efficiency. As it was, the beer ended up at 1.049, which isn't too bad. It still tastes great.