Friday, April 1, 2011

Samhain - Version 4

Just as there are many kinds of beer, there are also many kinds of home brewers. When I got into this, I never made the same recipe twice. Then, while visiting in-laws in Syracuse, New York, I discovered Magic Hat beers for the first time. From what I’ve observed, Magic Hat tends to be a polarizing brewery for home brewers. It seems like people either love them or hate them, and I think a lot of it has to do with their flagship beer, #9, a not-quite-so pale ale with a hint of apricot.

Personally, I like #9. I don’t go out of my way to load up on it, but I enjoy having one or two every now or then. My wife also likes #9, which is also helpful.

However, while on the trip I mentioned above (and also here before), I also discovered Magic Hat’s Jinx. I really liked this beer. So much that I went on a quest to clone it. That beer turned out to be a lot bigger than it needed to be. Again, I liked the aroma of this beer, and I even enjoyed what a malt bomb it was, much to the chagrin of just about everyone else who drank it. I mean, Magic Hat made it with only 20 IBUs. So, yeah, it’s going to be malty. But earlier versions were much too sweet, I’ll admit.

So as I traveled down the path of learning about Scottish ales, which I discovered was sort of the base recipe of the Jinx in a far-reaching manner, I heard that you’re not supposed to put peated malt in Scottish ales, but rather derive that taste from longer boils and darker crystal malts.

The other thing I liked about this recipe is that I grow Zeus hops in my backyard, and I could use them for this beer. However, this year, I just put all 18 oz of my hops in my chest freezer/kegerator instead of freezing them (I didn’t really have the room in my basement beer fridge/freezer due to there being food in there; you gotta eat, you know). After a couple of months, all the hops had turned brown. And I dried them for 16 hours. Perhaps I didn’t bag them well enough. Next year, I’ll try and use a vacuum sealer. I had to use what I had on hand, since I didn’t plan on the hops being bad, and wasn’t paying attention. So I had half an ounce of Perle, and a whole bunch of Nugget and Summit hops (of which a little of the latter goes a looooong way), so I decided to make a different version.

I’ve been dickering with the malt bill every brew, the last time I used a pound each of Crystal 40 and Crystal 120, which kept me up at night. Again, that might have been a better beer had I hopped it heavier. Still, like I said, I enjoyed it. While the color of the current year’s (I believe I’ve brewed this beer 4 times now in my 3 years of brewing) beer a lot, it still doesn’t have that “purplish” hue (actually, when I poured the beer for the photo tonight, I think the color is spot on) but I think if I increased the boil 30 minutes, I could achieve this. That would be okay, anyway, since I ended up with 6 gallons this year instead of 5.5, so my OG was 1.060. I should also note that this year, I added the pound of brown sugar after 3 days of fermentation to dry it out. It still ended up finishing at 1.013, but for this kind of beer, that is okay with me. It finishes dry and there is a tart hop punch.

I think the malt bill is good. The hop schedule will change to 3 additions of Zeus hops, likely a third of an ounce at 60, a whole ounce at 10 minutes, and another ounce at 0 minutes. While, it won’t exactly be the malt bomb it was intended to be, it will be a more balanced beer, and one I will enjoy. Perhaps in version 6, I’ll tone those down a bit, because I don’t know what the alpha acid is on my Zeus hops. I am assuming 11% AA, while Fresh Hops, where I got the rhizome, are selling Zeus hops are 14.2% AA. It’s a great journey, and I’ve enjoyed each version.


Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Anticipated OG: 1.067
Anticipated SRM: 19.0
Anticipated IBU: 25.3
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

9.00 lbs. Golden Promise
1.50 lbs. Munich Malt(dark)
1.00 lbs. Brown Sugar (dark)
1.00 lbs. Crystal 40L
0.25 lbs. Crystal 120L
0.13 lbs. Chocolate Malt

0.5 oz. Perle (Pellet - 7.8% AA) @ 60 min.
1.0 oz. Nugget (Pellet - 11.2% AA) @ 10 min.
1.0 oz. Summit (Pellet - 18.5% AA) @ 0 min.

WYeast 1028 London Ale – 2 quart starter

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