Sunday, June 8, 2014

Angel Boots - A Zombie Dust Inspired Beer

From time to time, a friend will ask me if I can create a certain type of beer, although I've never been asked to clone a particular beer. This was my first foray into such a task.

You can find tons of clone recipes online by using a search engine, entering the name of the beer followed by "clone recipe".

Zombie Dust is an "American Pale Ale" made by 3Floyds in Munster, Indiana.  Even though this is a 6.2%, 50 IBU beer, according to their website, (Ratebeer has this listed at 60 IBU and 6.4% ABV) for all intents and purposes, it could easily be mistaken for an IPA from anywhere else. Hi there. Welcome to northwest Indiana. The beer is tender on the bitterness and big on the nose - lots of dry hops in here.  When it first came out, it was known to be made with Citra hops, a very popular hop for IPAs these days, but many people have said that the beer is finished with Amarillo as well.

I started off with this recipe to base my clone on.  The Melanoidin malt shows up here.  I remember when searching for Alpha King recipes that this was also used.  I've used the malt in one beer, thinking it would make the beer red, but it was still more bronze/gold than red, even though I used a full pound in that beer.

I had plenty of crystal malts lying around, and so I ended up substituting these for the crystal malts used in this recipe.

Angel Boots
5.5 gallon batch
OG: 1.062
FG: 1.014
SRM: 7.8
IBU: 68

12 lbs 2-Row malt
1 lb Munich malt
0.5 lb CaraPils malt
0.5 lb Baird's Carastan malt
0.5 lb Belgian Aromatic malt

0.7 oz Citra First Wort Hop
1.0 oz Citra @15 min.
1.0 oz Citra @10 min.
1.3 oz Citra @5 min.
1.0 oz Citra @0 min.
2.0 oz Citra Dry Hop
4.0 oz Amarillo Dry Hop

White Labs London Yeast WLP013

Mashed in the grain at 154*F for 90 minutes.  Nailed the 6.25 gallons I wanted.  Got somewhere between 5.0 and 5.5 gallons after the boil.  Made 45 bottles after transfers. I also drained about a quarter of the wort through my counterflow chiller before I dropped the 0 minute hop addition into the kettle. I made a 2 liter starter with the yeast, decanted, and pitched at 62-64*F for about 11 days.  Then I transferred the beer into a conical onto the dry hops, so I could harvest the yeast from the primary fermenter.

I bottled this, and after 11 days, the carbonation was really good.  Should actually wait 3 weeks.  Here is what it looks like:

Taste is not as hoppy as an IPA, but the overall bitterness and flavor is great, and it's well-rounded.  The English yeast adds a nice sweetness. Once again, the dry hop aroma is good, but I have never been impressed by the aroma coming off my beers compared to other beers I've drank that are dry-hopped.  Not sure if that's because of the old hop bags I'm using, the temperature (64*F for 10 days) or what. I used 6 oz of hops, and that's more than I've ever used.  Any suggestions or stories that are similar to mine would be great to hear about in the comments.  

I found this picture of Zombie Dust for color comparison:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Project: The Hold Steady Beers

I’ve opined to several people over the past few weeks about how this hobby of home brewing beer is a blessing and a curse.  To me, it’s nice to have an end product to drink, for sure, but the draw for me is making 5 gallons, or 2 cases, if bottled, of a beer that I can’t get commercially. What is funny is that one of my favorites (IPA) I can buy in various varieties, but I am getting to the point where, if I can get the hops that I want, I actually prefer my IPA to the ones I can buy, even those are very good.

But no, I am drawn to brew black lagers.  Dunkelweizens, and Saisons.  Try going to your local grocery store and buying a case of a dark wheat beer.  It ain’t happening.  So I read, and I start to think, and the thinking becomes 5 gallons of beer that I am glad I made, but not necessarily something I’m excited about drinking.

In 2012, I started finding really good deals on hops.  Once I got a grain mill, I could buy 50 lb bags of grain and then focus orders on crystal malts and other grains to add character to my beers.  All of the sudden, I felt I needed to start getting various varieties of hops to have on hand.  Once I started harvesting yeast, it all went to hell.  Because you want to use that yeast up before it goes too long in the Mason jar.

I started memorizing my hop and grain inventories in my head.  Then I would lay in bed thinking about beers I could make.  I would drive to work and think about the beers I would make.  On a drive home, while enjoying a playlist by the Hold Steady, it came to me…I would make 3 beers and bottle them.  I would give half away in six packs to friends, 2 of each beer.  I would design sixpack holders and make CDs of my favorite Hold Steady tunes to go with each six pack.  I WOULD CONTACT THE BAND AND SEND THEM A SIXPACK.

I will say that I got a number of the bottles labeled.  At least the ones I would give away (an operator error – ME- caused there to be more labels for one of the beers, and not enough paper in inventory).  I decided to forget about the sixpack d├ęcor…I have many sixpacks, but if I mail these, I don’t see the point in adding a cardboard carrier.  And the CD?  Well, let me know if you’re interested.

So, here are the beers I came up with to make based on 3 Hold Steady memes.  I have posted some rock videos with their songs in here for your listening entertainment. 

Charlemagne in Sweatpants

He asked what happened to Charlemagne. She just smiled all polite-like and said something vague. She said ‘Charlemagne got caught up in some complicated things.’ She wiped at her nose and she winked.” –  “Don’t Let Me Explode”

5.5 gallons
OG: 1.052
SRM: 10.2
IBU: 29.3
Efficiency: 68%
60-minute boil

8 lbs American 2-Row
2 lbs Belgian Pale Ale Malt
1 lb CaraMunich I Malt
0.19 lb (3 oz) Special B Malt

0.25 oz Herkules at 60 min.
1.00 oz Styrian Goldings @ 30 min.
1.00 oz Crystal @ 15 min.

Wyeast 3522 Belgian Ardennes (2 L Starter with 200 g light DME)

I had been jonesing to make a Belgian Pale Ale ever since I read a review about an Antwerp Belgian Pale Ale made by De Koninck.  Remember what I said about having all these hops and yeasts to make these beers?  Well, I didn’t have ANY of that stuff to make a Belgian Pale Ale.  Hell, what I REALLY wanted to make was a Belgian Dubbel.  But I thought it would be a good idea to make a smaller beer first, get a HUGE yeast cake, and then make the Dubbel from that.  Enter “Charlemagne”.

This beer turned out nice.  It’s balanced, and maybe a bit more in-your-face Fat Tire.  Still balanced.  Do I find it exciting?  Not really.  But it IS well-made, and it’s an easy drinker.  There’s this funk that hits you with the first drink, then after that, it goes down easy.

Ybor City

“Don't tell my sister about your most recent vision
Don't tell my family, they're all wicked-strict Christian
Don't tell the hangers-on, don't tell your friends
Don't tell them we went down to Ybor City again” – from “Slapped Actress”

5.5 gallons
OG: 1.055
SRM: 4.2
IBU: 48.6
Efficiency: 68%
60 Minute Boil

11 lbs American 2-Row
0.38 lbs (6 oz) CaraFoam
0.19 lbs (3 oz) Munich Malt
0.13 lbs (2 oz) Aromatic Malt

1.25 oz Ultra @First Wort Hop
0.50 oz Ultra @15 min.
0.50 oz Ultra @10 min.
0.75 oz Ultra @0 min.

Wyeast 2000 Budvar Lager (4L starter, 400 g light DME)

Never been to Ybor City, but I was in Tampa for a work thing once in the 90s.  Had I known about Ybor City, I would have checked it out.  Hell, I didn’t even have a computer that early in the 90s.

Thing about the south is that they’re coming along with the craft beer, but it seemed so much of it was centered around the heat, and not drinking heavy beers.  For a while there, a lot of the beer that they sold (and still sell) seemed “watered down” to me.  So I had some Ultra hops around and saw that they were a higher alpha acid, but a decent Hallertauer substitute.  So I decided to go with my favorite Pilsner yeast, Budvar, and used the Budvar clone recipe from the book “Clone Recipes”, except I ended up using 2-row malt instead of Pilsner malt.  Because I wanted to see how that worked out.

Turns out, it worked out pretty well.  I let the bottles lager for 3 weeks after letting them carbonate for 3 weeks, and this is as decent as any pilsner I’ve made.  I can’t find Ultra hops for sale anywhere, but they do strike me similar to Vanguard or Mt. Hood, just more Alpha Acids.

Your Little Hoodrat Friend

“While she was at the citadel, he was getting high as hell. When she came to in the matinee, she was asking round for someplace else to stay. While he was down in Lowertown, she was feeling out the 5:30 folk mass. And the night that she got born again, he was getting with her little hoodrat friend.” – “A Multitude of Casualties”

5.5 gallons
OG: 1.054
SRM: 12.7
IBU: 44.4
Efficiency: 68%
60 minute Boil

6 lbs American 2-row
3 lbs American Red Wheat malt
2 lbs rye malt
0.33 lb Carawheat
0.33 lb Chocolate Rye

1.00 oz Sorachi Ace @First Wort Hop
1.00 oz Sorachi Ace @5 min.

Wyeast 1007 German Ale (2L starter with 200 g of light DME)

This one gave me fits. I had these 2 oz of Sorachi Ace hops that I wanted to use.  I read enough about them to know that these hops were divisive; either people loved them and discussed the flavor as “lemon cream” while the opposite stated they imparted onion and garlic and were overall very harsh.  I decided to stay positive and think about what kind of beer would be good with lemon cream and remembered Sam Adam’s Coastal Wheat, which used lemon peel in the brew, and honestly, was a well-made beer (even though I’m not much of a wheat beer fan).  So I actually was leaning towards making a wheat beer with these for about 1 day.  Then somewhere along the way, I decided that I’d like to make an Alt beer.  I bought the yeast.  I thought I would love to drink an alt beer, and wasn’t sure I wanted to give half of it away.  Maybe I’m starting to bore you with the details here.

In the end, I decided to make an alt beer with a twist; half of the base malt would be a mixture of 2-row, red wheat and rye malt.  Then I decided to make it red, so I added a little chocolate rye and carawheat for color.  2 additions of Sorachi Ace hop, and alt beer yeast.  Done.

I think the issue I may have had with the first few beers was that they were only in the bottle 3 weeks before I tried them, and I was getting a lot of hop harshness.  To top that off, the mocha imparted by the chocolate rye was at war with the garlic-ness I was perceiving.

Flash forward 3 more weeks and the beer has balanced out.  There’s not really any malt coming forward or hops.  I’d be interested to hear what other people who try this think. 

Why the Hold Steady?

I love rock music, and I love storytelling.  When you can tell a story in a song and develop characters into episodes, then that is truly amazing talent to me.  The Hold Steady has found the perfect blend of all the rock music I’ve grown up with, the sleazy, enjoyable stuff that used to be frowned upon at highbrow establishments that can now be found on the people who run these places iPods.

Craig Finn is a lyrical genius.  He mixes great literary, music and film mythology into his characters and brings the seedy side to the surface.  He references the bible a lot, but not in a Christian Rock type of way.  He twists it and gives it the “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll” treatment.  I always chuckle when people say, “The Hold Steady are Christian Rock.” Yeah, if that’s the case, then I guess Slayer is sort of Christian Rock in that way as well.

My beers have always been influenced by rock and roll titles, imagery and art.  I thought this would be a fun project.  I will always continue to have rock and roll titles, such as making Black Sabbath albums the names of my Imperial Stouts.  However, I am not sure I will ever make these recipes again, so if you were lucky enough to get some, I hope you enjoy them.

“They did wade in the water into ‘One Tin Soldier’. She started to cry. Youth Services always find a way to get their bloody cross into your druggy, little, messed up, teenage life.” – “A Multitude of Casualties”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (E.T.I) - Red Honey Strong Lager

As I've stated before, I'm a fan of the Pilsner style.  When I first started putting recipes together, I thought it would be cool to make a black pilsner, and a red pilsner.

In the past year, however, I have learned that when adding malts that give beer a darker color than yellow, most of the time, this results in some sweetness in the beer.  While it's true you can get darker beers to finish dry, the idea behind a pilsner is to have it be dry without the excess flavor of any other malt, like roasted malt in a dry stout.  Mostly, I wanted to make a pilsner, but have it attain more color.

It came to a point where I was nearing the end of my 50-lb bag of 2-Row Malt and my 55-lb bag of Franco-Belges Pilsner malt.  I also had some extra dark munich left over, some honey malt, and more Carafa III than I could probably use to make several Schwarzbiers.  So I started experimenting and came up with the following recipe:

E.T.I (Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence)
Imperial Red Pilsner

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 18.38
Anticipated OG: 1.087 (20.85)
Anticipated SRM:13.6
Anticipated IBU: 109.8
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

9.00 lbs. Pilsener (Franco-Belges)
6.00 lbs. Pale Ale Malt                
2.00 lbs. Munich Malt (Dark, Northern Brewer)
1.00 lbs. Honey (Orange Blossom)
0.25 lbs. Honey Malt
0.13 lbs. Carafa III (Dehusked)

1.00 oz.    Warrior (15.40%AA) First WH
1.25 oz.    ETI Hops (6.83%AA) @45 min.
1.00 oz.    ETI Hops (6.83%AA) @15 min.
1.50 oz.    ETI Hops (6.83%AA) @10 min.
5.25 oz.    ETI Hops (6.83%AA) @0 min.

WYeast 2124 Bohemian Lager (cake from Esper Dark Czech Lager)

I should explain about the ETI Hops.  I had some leftover hops that I wanted to use.  This ended up being 1.25 oz Czech Saaz, 2.75 oz Mt. Hood, and 3 oz of Tettnang. In addition to this, I added 2 oz of Warrior hops.  I mixed all of these up in a bowl and then randomly started pouring the weights for the last 4 additions into the scale bowl and bagging them.  I also used a Bohemian Lager yeast cake from the Esper.  If you are making this from scratch, I would recommend making a HUGE starter using the Budvar yeast (both Wyeast and White Labs make it).

Note that I started this out as an Imperial Red Pilsner.  I was shooting for a dry, hoppy red pilsner at about 9% ABV.  Instead, it finished at 1.025 OG.  I didn't add the Orange Blossom honey until after 3 days of primary fermentation.  I put a half a cup of water in a pan, the honey, and brought it to a boil for 5 minutes and poured it right into the lager.  Still, it's 7.0% ABV, which is pretty good.

Turns out, I should have called this a honey lager, and I should have let it lager for 3 months.  Instead, I let it lager for a month, a keg came open, and I kegged it.  The orange blossom honey was overwhelming the first month in the keg.  I decided to avoid it for a while, and now the overpowering orange aroma has faded (although there was something nice about that - it was somewhat off-putting).

It actually turned out pretty decent, but I learned that lagering "bigger" beers is important.

As far as the artwork, that's from the Blue Oyster Cult album, "Extra-Terrestrial Live" which was my first BOC album.  I still love that album.  While the song, "E.T.I." is awesome, whenever I pull a beer from this keg, I think of "Hot Rails to Hell." TWELVE-SEVEN-SEVEN EXPRESS TO HEAVEN!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Parallel Lines - The Blonde Ale

When I create a recipe, I start with the beer itself, deciding on what malts, hop and yeast to use.  Then I wonder what I should call it.  Once I got a brewing software program, I spent my time actually making up recipes more than actually making them.  I noticed that I had a lot of themes around rock bands or album titles. As I was organizing all these recipes, I made a folder called "Rock and Roll Series".  In this folder resides such recipes as "Rocka Rolla" (the title of a Judas Priest album, inspired by Magic Hat's "Roxy Rolles" amber), and the various Black Sabbath recipes for Imperial Stout.

It was obvious that I would name a blonde ale after the band, Blondie.  It's low-hanging fruit.  Yes, I should try harder.  I did grow up listening to Blondie.  The band was probably not a top five favorite of mine during the grade-school years, but in sixth grade, I did tell people that "Dreaming" was my favorite song.  You can read more about my relationship with this band here.

You could almost lump the blonde ale into a series of beers named by their hue: Blonde, Amber and Brown. Traditionally, all of these beers are English in origin, malty, and have just enough hop character to preserve them for a decent amount of time.  Overall, I appreciate well-made beers.  While the traditional styles of these beers are drinkable, I would only opt for one if I had limited options.  I like a bit more bite when it comes to my beers, unless it's a Belgian-style beer, in which case, I'm mostly interested in the aromas, most of which are produced by the yeast.

They had a sale on a variety pack of hops over at Austin Homebrew Supply earlier in the year.  I decided that I would also add a few ounces of Amarillo and a new hop, Zythos, to my order.  This set me up for brewing all the IPAs and Pale Ales I so enjoy for the 2012 season.

The original Parallel Lines was made from ingredients I bought from Shoreline Brewery.  I was curious about the Sladek hops they had for sale.  I used an ounce of Liberty at 60 minutes, and an ounce of Sladek at 20 minutes.  Overall, I didn't really think this beer was very good.  I thought the hops were more bitter than I would have liked, and weren't as floral. It didn't appear balanced, even though the IBU were within the guidelines for a blonde ale.  Even though I put a pound and a half of Carahell (10*L) in the recipe, the Golden Promise was maybe not the best choice for the base malt.

This time, I decided I would utilize all 3 oz of the Zythos hops plus an ounce of Warrior.  It looks as though I didn't use enough crystal malt in this one either, but, for some reason, the beer finished at 1.022, which appears to have given the beer a slight sweetness to balance the hops.  The Zythos remind me of Amarillo, but just slightly different.

Parallel Lines Blonde Ale

Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.38
Anticipated OG:1.057 (14.15)
Anticipated SRM: 6.1
Anticipated IBU: 42.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68 %
Wort Boil Time: 60    Minutes

11.00 lbs. 2-Row Malt
1.13 lbs. Carahell Malt
0.25 lbs. CaraMalt 

0.50 oz.    Warrior @ 60 min.
Whirlfloc & Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.00 oz.    Zythos @10 min.
2.00 oz.    Zythos Dry Hop
0.50 oz.    Warrior Dry Hop

WYeast 1056 Amercan Ale/Chico

I don't know what's been up with the 1056 I've been receiving by mail order lately.  It shows up and it looks as though it's already been smacked.  This one slowly started expanding on me, and instead of brewing a Doppelbock with another yeast, I decided to brew this one.  I made a yeast starter, but I am still baffled at how my yeasts are performing lately.  I usually get ales to finish around 1.014-1.016.  I'm hoping for more of a 1.010-1.012, but I just don't get that.  It would upset me if I thought my beers were too sweet, but I even had my friends, Justin and Amy, who are recognized BJCP judges taste one of my beers that finished high and state that it was dry.  So, with this beer, I've created a Session beer, which wasn't what I was going for, but, at 4.4%ABV, I've created a florally, hoppy session beer.  It's rather quite nice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quad City Lager

If you're from the midwest, moreso the Chicago area, and you know your Illinois geography, you might have heard of the Quad Cities.  Of course, anyone who has been to the towns of Davenport, Bettendorf (on the Iowa side), Moline, or Rock Island (Illinois) will likely have heard the term "Quad Cities" or "Quad City Area" and understand that this group of cities shares a part of the Mississippi River.

While I went to school in Davenport from Kindergarten to Fifth Grade, and returned to finish my Junior year at Bettendorf High School and then graduated from Davenport North in 1987, the Quad Cities I'm referring to in this lager are not even in this country.  While thinking about the different malts that were named after cities, I came up with the following recipe:

Quad City Lager

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5 
Anticipated OG: 1.055 (13.63)
Anticipated SRM: 5.9
Anticipated IBU: 28.1
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

3.00 lbs. Bohemian (Moravian) Pilsner
3.00 lbs. Koelsch Malt
3.00 lbs. Munich Malt(light)
3.00 lbs. Vienna Malt 

1.00 oz. Halletauer @ 60 min.
0.50 oz Czech Saaz @ 60 min.
Whirlfloc and Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
1.50 oz. Czech Saaz @ 10 min.

Wyeast 2487 Hellabock Lager

See what I did there?  I was trying to figure out what kind of style this beer would end up being were I to enter it into a competition, and I decided that it was closest to the "Export" style, or "Dortmunder Export".  While the Koelsch, Munich and Vienna malts add a tinge more darkness, as does the 90-minute boil, it still just makes it under the required color style.  I've always brewed a pilsner, but truth be told, when just a lad of 15 and 16 years old in Germany, I had not yet gotten used to the hoppy German pilsners, and since most of the choices I had at the places I drank were "export" or "pils", I went with "export".  Even though I use Czech Saaz hops (a favorite of mine), this is my quintessential "German" beer.

"You like that German beer?"
"Yes. I. DO!"

I gotta admit - I didn't use the Moravian Pilsner.  I had some Franco-Belges left over from a 55-pound bag I bought, so I used that to make this.  You know what?  It's still good.  Smells of clean yeast (I would use the Hellabock yeast for all lagers other than Czech ones if Wyeast made it available year round.  I heard it's the Ayinger yeast, although Wyeast won't tell you where they get their strains from; I am told that the year-round White Labs 0833 is also the Ayinger yeast.  Might need to change yeast companies...) and malt.  No real hop aroma here, although I really wouldn't expect it.  At 28.1 IBU, it's hopped nicely, but again, doesn't punch you in the face like a pilsner.

Quite enjoyable, and tapped just in time for the summer months.

Friday, June 15, 2012

ESPer Czech Dark Lager

When I grew up in Germany, I knew about the original Budvar and Pilsner Urquell.  Those pilsners are still some of my favorite beers; simple malt bill, a clean yeast with some stinky residuals, and the wonderful zesty aroma and bitterness of Czech Saaz hops.

It wasn't until I started brewing, though, that I stumbled onto the animal known as Czech Dark Lager.  Similar in malt bill to a Munich Dunkel, the Czech Dark uses Czech yeast and Czech Saaz hops to provide something just a little different.

I actually had a couple of versions of this style, one was from Trader Joe's, and I actually had the same one not knowing it was the same brand (only the style was listed on the menu), at a local restaurant.  I wasn't too impressed by these - they had the same kind of maltiness akin to a brown ale, not necessarily a bad thing, it's a personal preference, and while I've had some nicely made brown ales, the style itself does not excite me.

Then, a couple of Januarys ago, I was dropping off some beer to be judged in Aurora, Illinois.  The family came with, as we decided to make a day of shopping, and we stopped into a Gordon Biersch Restaurant/Brewery, and the seasonal special was a Tmave Vycepni.  I asked the waiter to pronounce it, and he asked me to please not make him say it.  The description, though, was obvious - this was a Czech Dark lager.  It came in what appeared to be a glass shaped like a Weizenbier glass.  It smelled of roasted malts and, surprisingly, citrus.  It tasted a bit chocolatey with orange/citrus overtones.  I decided right then that I wanted to make one of those beers one day.

After doing some research, I came up with the following recipe:


Batch Size (Gal): 6.00  
Total Grain (Lbs): 10.69
Anticipated OG: 1.049 (12.09)
Anticipated SRM: 16.6
Anticipated IBU: 35.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

6.00 lbs. Pilsener (FB)                
1.50 lbs. Caramunich II               
3.00 lbs. Munich Malt (NB)        
0.19 lbs. Carafa III (Dehusked) 

2.00 oz. Czech Saaz (3.5%AA) First WH
1.00 oz. Czech Saaz (3.5%AA) @ 15 min.

Wyeast 2782 Staro Prague Lager

Some notes: First of all, I missed the window on the limited edition Staro Prague yeast.  Instead, since I had never used it before, I decided to try the Bohemian Lager yeast.  While the yeast made a good beer, I think I would prefer a more stronger aromatic strain, like that of the Budvar yeast or the Staro Prague.  I've made great beers with both of those yeast, and I think that I'd like to make the Budvar my Czech Lager yeast of choice.  The Staro Prague (which I believe is the Staropramen yeast) imparts a clean aroma with a tiny bit of sulfur.  Some people claim that this is a flaw.  It doesn't smell like a recently lit match, it's more of a hint, and with the Czech Saaz hops providing a nice, grassy smell, it's truly a fine thing.

The beer itself, depending on the glass, is a dark brown with some red highlights around the edge of the glass.  It smells of roasted malt and the "clean" yeast smell you get from lager yeasts.  There's not really any aroma of Czech Saaz in this one - could be it's masked by the malt and yeast smells.

The taste is similar to other dark beers - a nice roasty graininess with just a perfect hint of astringency - not burnt tasting like in some stouts.  The hops add a slight zestiness, and provide a nice amount of bitterness - they don't punch you in the face like a Czech pils.

I utilized this recipe for U Fleku for inspiration.

The name was inspired by a Loudness song from their "Disillusion" LP.  I thought Esper was some kind of ghost, but it turns out it might mean a person who has ESP, or "ESPer".  I have no idea.  The photo I found for the label was sort of cool looking, though.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

The first time I brewed an imperial stout, I learned a lot about brewing a big beer.  The original recipe, simply titled "Black Sabbath", was a pretty basic Imperial Stout, really more like a regular stout but amped up.  The plan was to make one of these beers every year, and age it to see how it improved.  In that recipe, I was able to use the Wyeast limited edition Imperial Ale yeast.  I made 5 gallons and was going for a 12% ABV recipe.  I also ended up making a 4% ABV stout with the second runnings.

However, when you're using 24 pounds of grain, your efficiencies tend to go down the toilet.  So I got a 10% beer, which really isn't too bad.  Considering I was two years into brewing, it turned out pretty good.  I "dry-beaned" it with 4 ounces of coffee beans.  I won't do that again, as I think the coffee becomes more astringent as time goes on.

There was also some design involved in the labels, in that each succession would line up with the next Black Sabbath album.  I figured this would keep me in label art for some time to come.  I also picked up some darker red wax from Shoreline Brewery to dip the top of the capped bottles in, akin to Three Floyd's Dark Lord.

In this second iteration, I was learning more about specialty grains, so I wanted to experiment with them.  The idea behind the use of these grains was to make a very complex beer.  The other issue I had was fermentation.  I wanted the fermentation to finish well, so I figured I would make a smaller batch so I didn't have to have such a large (1 gallon) starter.  I also didn't have the same Imperial Ale yeast, so I went with the British Ale II (Wyeast 1335) since that was what Northern Brewer was using for the Surly kits, and I like Surly quite a bit.  I made a 2000 ml starter for this one.  Fermentation began within 2 hours of pitching.

Black Sabbath – Paranoid 

Batch Size (Gal): 3.00
Anticipated OG: 1.094 (22.50)
Anticipated SRM: 54.9
Anticipated IBU: 124.6
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75 %
Wort Boil Time: 60 Minutes

5.00 lbs. American 2-row (Great Western)              
3.00 lbs. Munich Malt(dark)
1.00 lbs. Golden Light Dry Malt Extract             
0.25 lbs. Crystal 80L                 
0.50 lbs. Chocolate Malt               
0.25 lbs. Golden Naked Oats            
0.50 lbs. Flaked Barley                
0.25 lbs. Honey Malt                   
0.50 lbs. Roasted Barley               
0.50 lbs. Molasses                     

1.50 oz. Magnum @ 60 min.
1 tablet Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
3 tsp yeast nutrient @ 15 min.

Wyeast British Ale II 1335

In the last batch, I used both honey and molasses.  I have no doubt that the honey added to the alcohol content, as that ended up being a 10% ABV beer.  I went with Honey Malt this time for more honey flavor. The Golden Naked Oats were supposed to also add a fruitiness, and I went with those instead of flaked oats, which I used in the original recipe.  Another change to this recipe was the substitution of some Dark Munich malt for the 2-Row, to give it some more evil.

OG was a little under (I ended up adding the pound of DME for this reason) at 1.088.  Fermentation was vigorous for 3 days.  I even did a second oxygenation at this time with my aquarium pump for about 30 seconds.  I doubt this was enough.  The beer ended up finishing at 1.028, which freaked me out, but the beer has been in bottles for over 6 months now.  The most recent one had strong carbonation, but others I had were not as carbonated.  I didn't want a big carbonation by the style, but I have yet to drink a beer that wasn't helped out by at least 2.5 volumes of carbonation.  It's beer for Chrissakes, not wine.

So I ended up with an 8% ABV beer, which is actually all right.  The flavors have gotten more complex over the months, with more dark fruit beginning to show up. 2012's version (Master of Reality) will get an increase of 2-row, and I think I will add back the honey and molasses, but put them into the bucket 3 days after primary fermentation has started.  If I can get the Imperial Ale yeast again, I will.  I would like to use that to make an Imperial IPA and then use the yeast cake from that to make this beer.  Vanilla beans are a possibility.  Down the road, I'd like to use a Trappist High Gravity yeast to give it more of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale twist.  The possibilities are endless.