Friday, June 16, 2017

But first a HOP BOMB!

I have always loved Raspberry Wheat beer. Say what you will
but when it is done right, it is truly awesome!
I miss the craft beers of my misspent youth. Honey Brown, Raspberry Wheat, Cream Ale, Pale Ale,BDSA, Belgian Blonde, and Steam Lagers.  Don't get me wrong I still love the newfangled IPAs and Sours, who doesn't love a juicy NEIPA, or a complex Bret Beer aged on whiskey soaked oak or an Oud Bruin aged on Cabernet soaked currants? (we have 20 gallons of complex sour beer fermenting right now) But recently I find myself missing the more basic beers of my younger days.

I think what is motivating this is my need to make beer that more people will appreciate.  Sure it is nice to drink interesting craft beer with beer nerds, but it is also nice to be able to give your bud drinking uncle Leroy a beer he will enjoy.

So I am putting out a series of recipes and brew days called... wait for it... younger daze.  (I'm so damned creative.)  In this series I am going to brew 2.5 gallon batches of the beers we loved in the mid 1990's and early 2000's.  These are beers that anyone could make well. These are beers that didn't require a pressurized fermentation system and oxygen free transfer. There was no water chemistry required.  And these were beers that always tasted better when you made them your self.  These are all beers than can be kegged or bottled, and they will taste just fine.

Who doesn't love the beer and the TV of the
1990s and early 2000s
Heck I may just put these beers back into rotation full time.  I like them... that's right, after years of cognitive therapy and home brewing, I'm able to stand before you right now and say... I like basic craft beers.

I invite you to brew along with my younger daze series.  Return to basic awesome beer that all of your friends and neighbors will enjoy.   If you have never tried all grain, well now is the time to get started. None of these beers require advanced equipment or advanced water adjustments.   Although, making water adjustments is certainly an acceptable practice. I will certainly be starting with RO water and making adjustments.  (Remember sports fans, John showed us all an easy way to adjust water for a low IBU beer last week, mixing RO water and tap water 50/50 and using 5.2 stabilizer.)

So over the next few weeks I will be posting the recipes for these beers.   All 6 of them, I'll probably brew the BDSA first so that it can age properly before the fall and winter.  But I'll probably brew 2 a weekend.  And I am returning to Step Mashing in my cooler all of the time.  That's right every single beer get's step mashed.   I may be crazy, but I am more and more convinced that (overall) we made better beer in the early days of home brewing. Not as complicated, but better over all. We made beer with real head retention, and real mouth feel.   I am pretty sure my millennial brewing partners would agree with me on this controversial claim.

But before I do any of that, I will be brewing a hop monster, well a hop hyppo.   Why?  Because I happen to have the ingredients for one, and because I really like this recipe.   Here it is feel free to brew along with me.

By the way the Hop Bomb is the last of the 2 hour beers I will be making for now.  I will only be mashing until the mash is done, and boiling for 30 minutes on this beer.  The recipe is for 5 gallons, but I will only be brewing 2.5 gallons.   Enjoy.

August Hyppo 3.0 Classic West coast IPA
1.051 OG
1.007 FG
6.7% ABV
76     IBU (1.25 IBU /OG)
5.5    Gallons
72.5% efficiency on a step mash no sparge

3.8 #  6 Row Brewer's Malt
3.8 #  2 Row Brewer's Malt
1.0 #  Cara 20
1.0 #  Pale Wheat
  4 oz  Acidulated Malt

Mash at 150 F until the mash is converted then raise to 168 F to denature enzymes.

1.6 of Warrior  (16%) at 30 minutes
2.0 of Cascade (7%)  at 5 minutes
1.0 of Centennial (10.5%) whirlpool (175 F for 20 minutes)
1.0 of Cascade (7%) whirlpool (175 F for 20 minutes)
1.0 of Simcoe (13%) whirlpool (175 F for 20 minutes)
1.0 of Centennial (10.5%) dry hop 3 days
1.0 of Cascade (7%) dry hop 3 days
1.0 of Simcoe (13%)  dry hop 3 days

US 05 yeast

Make a vitality starter - 1 cup of sanitary water + 3.5 Table spoons of DME at the beginning of brew day.  Should be around 1.035 to 1.040 (I use my refractometer and get it in this range).  Performance will be as fast and easy as liquid yeast.

I will be adding 1 g of Gypsum to my water pre mash.  I will be adding .5 tsp of Gypsum to the boil (late).   I will be using yest nutrient, and whirlflock.




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The wedding brew day... featuring Cargil IdaPils

Saturday the crew gathered at John's brewery / garage for a special brew day.  You see Mark's brother is getting married to an awesome girl.  (how awesome?  she loves beer... and not just beer... the girl loves Sour and Funky beer).  And we were asked to brew something for the wedding.   Now the wedding is coming up soon, so there wasn't time to make a sour. (yes I know we could have done a Berliner Weiss, but this is a wedding, how many Bud guzzling muggles do you think would actually enjoy that beer).

We were joined by a whole bunch of Mark's cousins.   And it made for a fun brew day.  Mark and John explaining the process, and why we were doing what we do.  Great beers were sampled, and hi-jinks and shenanigans ensued.

On this brew day we were making Biermuncher's classic Centennial Blonde ale.   If you have never made it, well to be honest if you have never made it, where have you been?  It was the number 1 recipe on home brew talk.  It is a home brew classic.  Equally loved by craft beer fans, and beer muggles alike.  Medium gravity (1.046 target) and low bitterness (21 ibu)  make this beer a home brew classic.  At my home I always have Centennial Blonde or Cream ale available for beer muggles.

Now one thing to know about brewing 10 gallons.   Step mashing is usually faster than single infusion mashing.   Yes, you read that correctly.   Step mashing is usually faster.   Why?  Well use your common sense.  It is much faster to heat smaller volumes of water, and it takes less time to get your mash going.   The entire brew day for 11 gallons of Centennial Blonde, only took  a little over 3 hours, and that included clean up.
infusion mashing won't be
equalized unless you stir it
to make it even out
 On this day we were doing a no sparge 4 step infusion mash, with rests at 132 F, 146 F, 156 F, and 168 F. Now, remember we brew a lot, and we have our process down.   John chose to do a simple water profile for the day.   He mixed tap water with RO water 50/50 and used 5.2 stabilizer to buffer the pH.  Worked like a charm  We were at 5.46 for most of the mash.  His chief aim was making the water softer to let the malt shine a little more.  But we sometimes make Centennial Blonde with tap water and a basic acid adjustment, and it comes out just fine.  Great beer for new all grain brewers.

stir your infusions to equalize
and to get better efficiency.
We doughed in at 142 F, and the mash stabilized at 132 F.  We loose 10 degrees this time of year.  In the winter we pre heat the mash tun, and we still lose about 12 degrees Fahrenheit.  As soon as we doughed in we started our next water heating.  1.3 gallons of nearly boiling water would take the mash to 146 F The 2nd rest is our long rest, it lasts for about 35 minutes. At the end of that rest we added 1.7 gallons of nearly boiling water to get to 156 F.  where we rested for 15 minutes.  Finally we added 3.3 gallons of boiling water to get to 168 F where we rested for 10 minutes.   The smell of the Cargill IdaPils dominated the garage, and driveway.  You can use IdaPils for German Beers, American Lagers, heck you can even use it for Belgians.  Although we prefer the Dingeman's Pilsner for the Belgians.   It really is excellent malt.  An iodine test and taste test confirmed that our mash was complete.  One note on Brewing with John, don't leave an open bag of IdaPils near him, he eats it like pop corn.

There are so many advantages to a step mash, not the least of which is the ability to manage your proteins more effectively. We breakdown long proteins into medium length proteins.  What is left behind gives great head retention and great silky mouth feel. It's the way beer used to be, it's the way beer should be. Have you ever experienced a creamy meringue like head on a Belgian beer? Well, they step mash.  Step mashing also gives you very complete and predictable conversion of your starches.   The multiple temperatures are a more reliable methodology for conversion than just a long single infusion mash.   John collected 11.5 gallons of delicious pilsner wort.

The boil was uneventful.  Our 12" Banjo Burner quickly brought the 12.5 gallons to a boil.   John added .6 of Centennial at 60 minutes, .6 of Centennial at 35 minutes, .6 of Cascade at 15 minutes, and .6 of Cascade at 5 minutes.   That's it.  It is that simple of a beer.  The deliciousness of the beer has much more to do with it's simplicity.  The combination of Centennial and Cascade is the key.  Don't over do them.  Your target is 20-22 IBUs.  Do not half ass this thing into an "almost pale ale, or a "not very hoppy IPA".  Although these hops work for those styles just fine, do your self a favor, and just follow Biermuncher's recipe.  If you want to mess with something mess with the malt.

step mashed wort has lots of protein break.  That is a good
thing, that is what you are trying to created.  RDWHAHB
At the end of the boil, the wort was quickly chilled with our Jaded Hydra immersion chiller.  This thing is a beast.  The wort went from 210 F to 74 F in 5 minutes.  John and Mark then transferred into carboys, and put the beer in the chamber to continue chilling to 64 F.   When they got home from the Sporting Kansas City match (a Champions league 3-0 drubbing of Minnesota United)  John pitched Fermentis S-04.   The original gravity was 1.046 (spot on). Now, one important note, when you step mash you will have lots of protein break in your wort.  Don't freak out, it will settle out.

the proteins have settled
This beer will ferment fast, and will easily be ready in time for the wedding.  It will serve to protect the "special beers John has created for Rob on his big day.  But I suspect it will be enjoyed by all.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What would they drink in the shire? Warminster Maris Otter Brown Ale...

Years ago, while watching an episode of BrewingTV, I was inspired by the idea of a beer that the hobbits would have enjoyed.  A beer that would have been drank by the pint at the "green Dragon" and the "Prancing Pony".    Mike Dawson was interviewing John Palmer, and during the interview, MD asked JP, what would the Hobbits drink... out of that nerdy question (no judgement #NERDPRIDE!) came John Palmer's incredible recipe forBelladona Took's Oak Aged Mild.   If you haven't made the BTOAM... it is is a fantastic beer.  I have made it several times, and in an ultimate nerdery session,  last year I made a small batch of it (2.5 g) and I drank it as I re-read the Lord of the Rings.  It was an awesome experience that has lead to a pantheon of recipes inspired by film and books.

But I am never one to leave, well enough alone.   I for one am always messing with recipes and trying to create a new taste sensation.   And over time our recipe has grown, and changed.   It is now a Brown ale aged on oak, with a touch of smoke... I give you Bywater Brown Ale.

Saturday Mark Anthony and I got together to brew this awesome beer.  We generally brew small batch at Mark Anthony's place, and today was no exception.  I gave you a 5 gallon recipe, but we only brewed 3 gallons.  2.5 to 3 gallons are easily handled on most stove tops, and since Mark Anthony's stove seems to be nuclear powered, his stove makes it really easy.   This was a simple straight forward brew day.   Single infusion mash, no sparge, full volume, no chill... every thing easy.  Jazz on the radio, soccer (football) on the television.

We began with basic water treatments.   The brewing water in Kansas City is like many other cities, great for some styles, lacking for others. We treated our water with 5.2 stabilizer and because this beer is at least somewhat English in its inspiration, we did add some gypsum. We targeted a pH of  5.4.   Yes, 5.4.  when you are doing Full Volume BIAB you want to keep the pH a little higher.  Trust me you will still get full conversion and great efficiency.  It's a thin mash afterall.

Love the color of this beer.
For this brew day we were excited to be trying the Warminster Maris Otter.  This is another fine product from the good folks at Cargill.  (It looked and smelled amazing) We used specialty malts from our local home brew store.  The most interesting specialty malt was walnut smoked malt.  Man there are a lot of smoked malt options on the market these days.  I remember when we had to smoke our own malts for a Scottish Heavy or for a Rauch Bier.


Mash in went well, MAs stove quickly brought the water to strike temperature.  Almost immediately the kitchen took on the aroma of bread, and toast, with the slightest hint of campfire smoke.  Since we were brewing a beer inspired by literature, MA decided to ponder the mash for a moment.   The mash was stirred every 15 minutes and we began tasting the mash at 45 minutes.   Conversion was complete but the mash wasn't fully developed, so we rested for another 15 minutes.   Sometime in that 15 minutes is when the magic happened.  The bread like character of the Warminster Maris Otter came to the fore front, and the taste shifted from "really good" to "damn son"

We bag our hops during the boil to reduce
kettle trub.
At the end of the mash we pulled the bag, gave it a squeeze... and checked the gravity... 1.042... way too high for a pre boil mild... the solution... we rinsed the grains, grabbed some more English hops from MAs freezer... and Bywater brown was born.   We knocked it down to 1.036 with our rinse, targeting a post boil volume of 3 gallons, and a OG of 1.046.  One thing you can count on when brewing with MA, he will always have some kind of English Hop and some Czech Saaz around... I think he puts them on his oatmeal.  Our efficiency was over 80%, so the recipe you see above is adjusted down to 75%.  

The boil was uneventful  We added hops as indicated by the recipe, at the end of the boil we just sealed up the kettle and let it cool overnight.  The next afternoon, MA transferred to the fermenter, and pitched a package of Fermentis S-04.  The beer is fermenting away, and soon, the beer will be aged for a couple of weeks on toasted Oak chips.


OK so we've been a little inactive recently.  Two of our team member have had babies in the past couple of months.   But were back with a vengeance.   You can expect lots of posts coming up.  I'm brewing 2x this weekend, I will of course post about it.   Even when we're not posting, I am still brewing.   Ive brewed a BGSA (ridiculously good), a hoppy wheat, a Citra Saison, and a Pale in recent weeks.  Increasingly, I brew 2.5 gallon batches.   There is just no reason to brew 10 gallons all the time. But 1 gallon isn't enough beer for the effort.  I think it can be argued that most brewers should brew more small batch.  Not just for experimenting, and practice, but also because this is alcohol we are talking about.   One of the hazards of our hobby is excessive consumption, and possibly alcoholism.  Obviously small batch brewing doesn't solve the inherent issues of alcoholism.. but it can shift your focus from making a whole bunch of beer, to making the very best beer.  It also costs less...  In fact, I will be posting soon about responsible home brewing, and the easiest most affordable way to make world class beer at home.   We'll be examining what is and what is not important to create world class beer at home.   I will also be sharing tips for the brewing of small batches, and for the construction of a small fermentation chamber, and a kegging in 2.5 gallon kegs.




Sunday, March 5, 2017

Saison brew day featuring Cargill Malts

So it has been a while, but Saturday,  John and I gathered at his place to make 10 gallons of our flower power saison.   Flower flavored saisons  are a tradition for us in summer time.  (In the fall you may recall we make a heavily spiced saison inspired by Saison d'Pipaix.)   This years Flower power has a change from previous versions.  This year's Flower Power would be all Chamomile.   This change was inspired by John's recent trip to St. Louis, where he tried Saison de Lis... a wonderful, wonderful beer.


Can you say "Saison?"
So Saturday at 11:00 We started our brew day.   Now,  there was another special thing about this brew day.   We had the privilege of brewing with Moterij Dingeman's Pilsner Malt.   That is the real deal folks.  Dingeman's is a Cargill Partner.   As you have heard me say countless times.  If you haven't tried Cargill malts, do it.  Do it now.  The flavor is outstanding and the extraction is consistently as predicted.   Our adjunct grains were also from Cargill.    I should say now that we are so thankful to the wonderful people at Cargill for their continued support and advice.  We are rich with pilsner right now, and that is in no small part because of their support.   So in the coming weeks you can expect loads of pilsner based brews... "Children can you say lager season? I knew you could"

Our recipe was pretty straight forward.  And while John was setting up the brewery I started crushing the 20+ lbs of grain.  Now there is one change from the recipe you see below.   That being,   in the recipe below you will see German Spelt.   We actually used Meussdoerffer Spitz malt.  Spitz malt is an under modified grain which improves head retention.

We have been playing with Spitz malt as a replacement for Carapilsner in our traditional beers.  So far we are very happy with the results.

We have also had another realization that may prove beneficial to the group.  STEP MASHING IS FASTER THAN SINGLE STEP WHEN YOU ARE DOING A NO SPARGE MASH.   That's right.  I said it.  And I own it.  

We have a beast of a burner.  So no lack of heat
in our brewery.  12" / 231 K Btu.
Listen, we are blessed to have a 12" banjo burner, that puts out incredible amounts of heat.   And heating 14.5 gallons of water from ground temperature to strike temperature... just flat out sucks.   It takes forever... We can recirculate, we can stir, we can make sacrifices to the heat gods... doesn't matter.  The laws of thermodynamics are still, laws.  They dictate that water can only heat up so fast. They also dictate that the total amount of time for heating, per kCal / Btu is linear.   So why not put that energy to work earlier, especially if it makes better beer.  

You know what doesn't take forever?  Heating 5 gallons of water.  And we can have 3 separate burners that can heat  5-7 gallons to a rocking and ready state as brew day begins.    And the first addition doesn't even have to be boiling.   The first addition only has to be hot enough to start a protein rest.   Here's an example below.

For this recipe we have 22 lbs of grain.   We absorb about .08 gallons per pound after a gentle squeeze.   We loose 1.5 gallons to the boil.   We loose .5 a gallon in general.   This is a recipe for 11 gallons.   So we need 14.76 gallons of water treated, heated, and ready to roll.   To start off the day we will heat 6.76 gallons of water to 134.5 F.  We will dough in there and rest for 20 minutes.   During that time we bring 2.55 gallons to a boil, then infusion mash in bringing our mash rest temperature up to 146 F where we rest for 35 minutes,   then 1.85 gallons of boiling water to bring the mash up to 156 F for 15 minutes.  Then 3.6 Gallons boiling water to reach mash out.  And that's it.   That is our total volume of water.  The mash is so well converted after our basic step mash that we just drain and boil.   And yes I am telling  you this is faster than heating 14.76 gallons of water to the temperature necessary for a single step mash.   And unless you have a high powered electric brewing system,  It is faster for you as well. Don't argue this point, try it.  it is physics.   The laws of physics are not up for argument on a home brew blog site.

The thick Beta Glucan rest.
So we stepped in and came to rest at 125 for a protein rest.  We rested there for 20 minutes.   The protein rest was thick and milky... that is good.  That means the gummy substance betaglucan is being broken down.   Breaking down betaglucan will result in more effective starch conversion, more complete attenuation, and more clear beer.   We have written about this comprehensively in our step mashing series.  The links are to your right.

The mash after the final infusion. 
The brewery / garage filled with a wonderful bready aroma.  The aroma of a world class pislner malt.   Listen, all pilsner smells great when you mash in (for that matter all grain smells pretty darn good when you mash in).  But great pilsner is especially potent.  And this Moterij Dingeman's Pilsner Malt,  well let's just say Cargill has a winner on their hands.

After 20 minutes we added 2.55 gallons of boiling water to the mash tun.  And we rose to 146 F. This is our main saccrification rest.  We held at this step for 40 minutes.

As you can see the mash goes from extremely thick to very thin.  But that is ok.  Using our process we save a tremendous amount of time and actually produce better beer.   Our final infusion brought us to 156 F where we rested for 15 minutes.

Draining the wort, with Bella
the brew dog. 
Now we are no sparge brewers.   We started doing no sparge a year ago and we have never looked back.  We are seeing efficiency at 72.5% every batch.  We have our process locked in.  But, today we overshot.   Our initial gravity was supposed to be 1.045 and it was 1.055.   That's 85% efficiency.   All I can figure is that the Moterij Dingeman's Pilsner Malt extracts like crazy in a step mash. Remember in a step mash that includes a beta glucan rest, you are removing the gummy beta glucans and the amylase is more effective.... It also tasted amazing. 

So we drained our mash and started the boil.  The power of our burner makes boiling a breeze.  In fact, we have to watch to boil to make sure we don't boil off too much.   But we light the flame and put the spurs to it as soon as the first of our wort is in the kettle.

The boil was uneventful until the addition of the organic chamomile tea pods. When those went in the entire garage brewery filled with the magical floral smell of chamomile.   Listen to me round eye.  Do not spend big money on chamomile.  Organic chamomile tea is 100% chamomile flowers.  That is all it is.  There is no reason to go to a spice store or a specialty merchant.  just go get 1 ounce of organic chamomile tea at Walmart.  Simply make sure it is just 100% chamomile.

Normally we chill with our Jaded Hydra chiller.  But this time we decided to do a no chill.   We just thought it would be cool to leave the chamomile steeping for an extended period of time.

John and Boomer
brew buddies.
The next day we pitched 1.5 packs of Belle Saison.  (.75 packs per batch)  We are big believers in making saison yeast suffer a bit.   We know from our experience that our batches that are "under pitched" and our batches that ferment warm, with temperature swings up and down produce the best saisons.

As of today the batches are bubbling away.  I am looking forward to having these on hand for the summer.   These along with my recent IPAs and my "cascadian summer" saison will be the basis of my summer beer menu.

Big thanks to Cargill for their on going support.  If you have never tried their malts, I can't encourage you enough.