Closing out the year and beginning the new.

The first and last words on the subject, I took a while off from brewing, but I’m back at it. Here’s what I’ve been up to, since being back brewing.

Replacing my keggerator lines and cleaning taps. Initially built it 3.5 years ago, line replacement was overdue, they were yellowed with hop oils and other build up. They were not cleaned nearly often enough, but such is the life of a infrequently used keggerator. I am considering a different setup, but haven’t worked out the details. I like the capacity for cold kegs, and carbing and such, but maybe a dorm fridge setup? Then convert the freezer into a ferm chamber. I just want to be able to serve two kegs, but really only need to have one functional tap.

IMG 4749

Bottle washing… multiple hours + a large number of randomly sized bottles, rinsed, but not cleaned, or delabeled bottles needed cleaning. Now that I’ve got those done, I’m ready to complete some transfers. I’ve got three beers that need to be packaged or transferred or conditioned. Last years RIS needs to be bottled, It’s currently in a keg in the keggerator carbonating. The coolership grapefruit ‘saison’ I made, which is now over a year old, and was just bottled, and just needs some conditioning. I’ve also got a 4g batch of berliner that I finished with brett, that needs to be split and fruited (1/2 currant / 1/2 strawberry black berry rhubarb), then bottled in about a month. I don’t have enough heavy glass, and I”ve been quite disappointed with the 500ml bottles I purchased for this use. I guess I need to to finish up some of the gose, berliner, and saison currently occupying those bottles. Then more washing.

Brewing, yes, I actually said I was brewing again. I brewed a batch based on Tasty’s session pale ale.

My recipe is a variation, on the base bones. I used the base malts I had on hand, the biggest substations were hop varieties, and Oats in place of c-pills. Brew session was uneventful, no major screw ups aside from the ziplock bag melted to the burner during heating strike. I’m not sure how I managed that, but burnt plastic is a wonderful post christmas smell.

IMG 4746

SB (1.0) TASTY’S SESSION PALE ALE  American Pale Ale
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     69.0 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0442 SG     FG: 1.0133 SG
Mash: BIAB, Medium Body
Boil: 60 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.69 kg Pale Ale Malt 2-Row (Briess) (3.50 SRM) Grain 1 43.0 %
0.30 kg Golden Promise (Simpsons) (2.00 SRM) Grain 2 19.0 %
0.22 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.00 SRM) Grain 3 14.0 %
0.22 kg Valley Crystal Light (15.00 SRM) Grain 4 14.0 %
0.08 kg Caramel Malt – 40L (Briess) (40.00 SRM) Grain 5 5.0 %
0.08 kg Oats, Flaked (1.00 SRM) Grain 6 5.0 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
5.00 g Chinook [13.00 %] – Boil 60.0 min Hop 7 23.1 IBUs
12.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Boil 20.0 min Hop 8 12.9 IBUs
15.00 g Galaxy [14.00 %] – Boil 10.0 min Hop 9 27.1 IBUs
12.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 20.0 min Hop 12 5.8 IBUs
20.00 g Cascade [5.50 %] – Dry Hop 0.0 Days Hop 14 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.0 pkg SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) [23.66 ml] Yeast 13
Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 10
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 11

Next batch for 2015 was a simple saison recipe. I’m trying to achieve a crisp, pale, dry saison, akin to Saison brett, but w/a lower abv. Boulevard’s Saison Brett is one of my all time favorite beers, but at 9%, It’s not something I need a real quantity of. I did my usual research, it seems there are two fairly well known things about saison brett. First it’s almost the same as tank 7 saison, but is mashed different to finish lower. The second is that Steven Pauwels Boulevard Head brewmaster has shared the tank 7 recipe a number of times.

IMG 4754

Just like Tasty’s pale ale recipe above, I didn’t brew the given recipe verbatim. I was riffing on the idea of a brett finished saison, with amarillo hops. In another inspired moment, by bio transformation, brett, and buckwheat. I wanted to brew a buckwheat saison. For details on that type stuff, see Mad Fermentationist,  and Derek at Bear flavored Also… Buckwheat has a precursor called capric acid, Capri, being ‘goat’, and the brand ambassador from Boulevard has a bit of a thing for goats which I couldn’t overlook.

Temps for the cereal mash / gelatinization temperatures can be found in derek’s blogs above. I used a slow cooker for them,followed by a long and low mash, to ensure a highly fermentable wort. Once fermented, I’ll pitch a healthy dose of brett c, and give it a month or two to age. I used the stall happy dupont saison yeast, so I’m also taking a few additional precautions to ensure a complete fermentation. Low scarification temp, Healthy 1l yeast starter in a 2g batch of very well aerated wort, in a loosely covered fermentor. While the yeast is working, I’m going to be actively pushing the temp from 66 pitch temp, to a peak of 85 over the course of the next week or so. Which I’ll follow up by pitching brett C, into in secondary. Once secondary is nearly complete (3 weeks) I’ll dry hop with more amarillo, and bottle in some high pressure glass, and hope for the best.

Here’s my recipe.

Chèvre Fermier Saison  Saison
Batch Size : 2.00 gal     36.6 IBUs Estimated.
OG: 1.0500 SG     FG: 1.0078 SG
Mash: BIAB, Saison extra Light Body
Boil: 60 minutes

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.31 kg Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.00 SRM) Grain 4 75.0 %
0.17 kg Roasted Buckwheat (2.00 SRM) Grain 5 10.0 %
0.09 kg Red Winter Wheat (2.10 SRM) Grain 6 5.0 %
0.17 kg Dextrose (Briess) (1.00 SRM) Sugar 7 10.0 %
Hops Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
7.00 g Bullion [8.80 %] – Boil 30.0 min Hop 8 16.3 IBUs
20.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Boil 5.0 min Hop 10 12.6 IBUs
15.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Steep/Whirlpool 10.0 min Hop 12 7.7 IBUs
20.00 g Amarillo [9.20 %] – Dry Hop 7.0 Days Hop 15 0.0 IBUs
Yeasts Used
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
1.0 pkg Belgian Saison (Wyeast Labs #3724) [124.21 ml] Yeast 13
1.0 pkg Brettanomyces Claussenii (White Labs #WLP645) [50.28 ml] [Add to Secondary] Yeast 14
Misc Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
2.70 ml Lactic Acid (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 1
2.00 g Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 2
1.00 g Calcium Chloride (Mash 60.0 mins) Water Agent 3
0.50 Items Whirlfloc Tablet (Boil 5.0 mins) Fining 9
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 5.0 mins) Other 11

I am following up the buckwheat version with a corn grit version, the only change is swapping corn grits in for the buckwheat. I’m very eager to see the differences in these two beers. I don’t think I’ve controlled the variables this tightly since I tried to nail daisy cutter. I won’t have results for another few months, between primary, brett secondary, then dry hop, but should be a great spring beer, if it finishes how I hope it does.

IMG 4750

It’s really good to be back at it, I’ve been missing brewing, I’ve missed writing, and getting feedback, I’ve missed the constructive outlet, but haven’t had the free time, or the inclination to do it for a while. I’m going to skip the 2015 full recap (the summer recap was up for 7 months) and goals for now, perhaps a future update will shed some light into what has and has not progressed. Safe to say, I’m still a work in progress.

Happy New Year, and Cheers!

No comments

Imperial IPA II

After having a few of Mike’s latest hoppy beer, pliny light, I had to brew another imperial IPA. My first attempt was ok, but was pretty sweet, higher abv, and darker than it’s inspiration (heady topper). My goal is to get this one to dry out, have a lighter finish, less fruity, more dank, more grapefruit hop profile. When reworking this recipe, I referenced the same sources I hit up the first time. Continue reading

No comments

Plan C, batch number three of the Daisy cutter clone.

The third batch of the Daisy cutter came hot on the heels of batch #2, brewed just one week later. One might think it’s boring brewing the same beer over again, but I’ve found it’s the opposite. The challenge of trying to get repeatability and predictability and improvement from my brewing system is thrilling. Brewing batch two showed me more things that I needed to work on with my process. These are the nuances that I’d otherwise not pick up by brewing a new recipe each time. I’m seeing parts of my process that have been close enough, but that doesn’t cut it when you are trying to hit the same numbers again. One that caught my attention in the second batch was volume measurements of strike, sparge, runoff, and pre and post boil. I’ve jumped around between different brewing vessels so much, that it’s hard to remember which measurement is what volume in a specific pot. Before brewing batch 3 I took some measurements so I knew how much volume my total run off should be, and what my post boil volume should also be. With these measurement and my gravity notes, I’ll be able to tell and tune my efficiency going forward. I feel like I’m slowly working out small process issues, as well as incrementally improve the recipe. Continue reading

Comments (5)

Taking a second chop at the daisy cutter.

A month after my first attempt at brewing a daisy cutter clone I brewed this recipe. My first brew session wasn’t the smoothest, but I did hit my numbers and volume, so it wasn’t all bad. The beer isn’t bad either but It’s a work in progress. I gave a few bottles to friends, and I’m looking forward to some constructive feedback. The aroma was nice, but not what I wanted. The color is good, but darker than the original. The residual sweetness is good, it seems clean, dry, but does not have nearly enough hop flavor. The aroma is also too candy like. With that in mind, along with my first batch missteps, I had some process changes and recipe changes in mind. Continue reading

No comments

It’s a brew party and third time is a charm?

Brewing is a involved endeavor. To plan and pack all of my brewing gear into my car and spend an afternoon brewing at a friend’s house is quite a feat. In August when the invite appeared from Mike to a brewing party, I put it on the calendar. IMG_2826.JPG
I assumed that life would some how get int the way, and I would have problems making it, but I thought it would be fun. The weekend came, and even though I brewed the prior week, I busied my self writing a pack list, and making a starter. The only decision left was what to make. I’ve wanted to take another swing at my hoppy wheat (2am Maiden) for some time. Knowing I still had a pitch of 1968 and a freezer full of hops, it was a no brainer. The tweaks from last time are enough to consider this a new beer, but it’s the same quest for a hoppy ale that can compare to Three Floyds Gumballhead. One of the best beers I’ve ever had. I don’t think I’ve had any beers available locally that come close. In my last attempt at a hoppy american wheat, I used fresh amarillo hops, and it was a failure. I noted some significant changes after reviewing the beer, when all was said and done, I decided on.

All grain, 55% wheat, 37% pale, 8% Crystal light. Moving away from single hopping, hop bursting with amarillo and citra, and dry hopping with amarillo and centennial. The idea was to increase the fruitiness, hop flavor, and lose the bitterness. My initial thoughts moved the beer too far away from Amarillo, which is a hope I really enjoy.

This is the recipe I followed:

The planning and prep started the week prior. I started setting aside my equipment. I had to mentally go through my brew process a number of times to note all the things I needed to bring. Even with a crazy mind map for the brew day, I nearly left w/out my burner. As it was my gear just barely fit in my subaru wagon, I’m glad I was using the 2.5 gallon setup, I doubt my 6 gallon stuff would have fit.

I arrived, unpacked, and setup my gear. I had considered bringing my water along, but since I don’t know much about it, and don’t make specific adjustments for it, I just let it be. Mike and I did a side by side water taste test with the different filter setup, and the results were inconclusive. I was the first there, and pretty much got right to brewing. One unfortunate aspect of a brewing party is the distractions. It’s pretty easy to get off track, tasting some beer, or talking about something you just did, so much that you don’t remember your timeline, and forget to do the basics, like, oh say taking a single gravity reading. Needless to say I didn’t take great brew day notes. However I did hit my desired mash temps. I’ve slowly been making adjustments to my equipment in Beersmith. I’ve adjusted the cooler weight, the thermal mass, and been more aware to adjust grain and tun temperatures. It has been helpful for hitting my mash temp w/in a degree. I do still recommend hitting the cooler a a little hot, and string down to your target strike temp, since that will just happen naturally. While I hit my mash temp, I had a bit more of a challenge hitting my runoff volumes.  With the high wheat percentage in my grist, it was very helpful to have an extra hand mashing in, but it was still a gummy mess. The small cooler mash tun doesn’t really lend itself for a quick mash in w/out smashing the braided filter. Despite the metric ton of rice hulls and 170* sparge water my run off was terrible. I managed to get most of my volume, but I’m certain my efficiency suffered. Compounding the grain bill, I had an issue milling, and reran them through the mill. The boil was uneventful, no boil overs, and hit all my hop additions. I did forget however that I wanted to bag the hops. I wanted to bag the hops for two reasons. I wanted to remove all the non 0 minute hop additions. I also wanted to help simplify wort transfer. So much for that!

IMG 2827

I chilled to 180, and added my amarillo and citra burst/whirlpool hops, and boy did they smell great. Everyone was commenting on the wafting aroma. After a 20 minute hot steep, I chilled to 65x, and tried to transfer to my carboy. I first put my sanitized funnel in the carboy, followed by a hop sack. I then poured the wort through the sack into the carboy. Spilling wort, and hop matter everywhere. Needless to say the nearly 3 oz of mixed whole and pellet hops in about 3 gallons of wort was a slow filter. But I was able to avoid hop significant losses due to hop sludge.  Once I filled the fermenter it needed to take an hr journey to my house. About 4 hours after knockout, I hit with a full 10 count of 02, and a 1.5l yeast starter of 1968. I decided to see how well it worked at the ambient basement temperature, and with in 12 hours it was bubbling away. I added heat at 48 hours, as fermentation started to slow, I wanted to maintain an active ferment, but still get a clean ferment. I’m going to let it rest warm for a few days to clean up. Then it will get racked and dry hopped with Amarillo and centennial. I can’t tell you how eager I am to get this on tap, It’s been so long since I had a _fresh_ hoppy ale on my tap.


Plans for next batch of 2 AM Maiden

Work on water additions to maximize hop flavor, without making it harsh or minerally.

Sort the volumes on the small setup. I knew the 10g / 10.5 setup well enough, I need to calibrate myself to the smaller batches I am doing.

Adjust the mill gap. I bought the mill second hand, and have never adjusted the rollers. I’ve always assumed the crush was too fine, due to the amount of flour / powder.

Get a ball valve and a false bottom on the small kettle.


Resources / Alternate recipe sources

Mad Fermentationist’s Hoppy American Wheat – where I turned when I decided to rewrite this as an all grain recipe, and move away from single hops.

MeekBrewing’s Clone of Fortunate Islands – A clone of Modern Times Hoppy American Wheat, Mad Fermentationist’s wheat made on a production scale.

Brewing with wheat by Stan Hieronymus* – This contains a recipe for GumballHead (and I get a referal for purchasing on amazon)

Bertus Brewing : Wedding Batch #1 Hoppily Ever After – Another take on hoppy american wheat.


***One thing I forgot to mention about this brew day is that it is my 20th batch. I’ve come a long way in my understanding of brewing, but feel like I’ve only started to pencil in the framework of that knowledge. Here’s to another 20 batches filled with incremental improvements, and hopefully more lessons along the way. Thanks for following along as I learn what I don’t know.

Comments (2)

Brewing a heady topper clone.

For someone who drinks IPA like I do, it’s a little surprising that I’ve yet to actually brew one. I’ve always felt they are hard to brew well, and I can a good example locally. I’m also intimidated by the idea of brewing one. I like my ipa’s west coast style, or better yet, northern VT style (The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead). I like them dry, lots of hop flavor, citrus aroma, medium bitterness, and balanced. So, when I found this recipe for a heady topper clone in a recent BYO, I had to brew it. Continue reading

Comments (2)

Pales in Comparision: Collaboration with Bow Bog Brewing

Hydrometer reading of rye pale ale

This beer is a collaboration beer with my good friend Mike, of Bow Bog Brewing. We have been homebrewing in parallel for the past few years, and have had many an exchange recently about technique, ingredients, and various projects. We both have a similar focus on sourcing our ingredients locally, and trying to build our own equipment, and are at a similar experience level brewing. So when we went in on a few sacks of grain from Valley Malt late last year we started talking about a beer we would both brew. Continue reading

Comments (2)

Fresh hop American Amarillo Wheat review

From reading the brew day post, the second attempt at a hoppy american wheat took a few unexpected turns. I struggled to get the wort out of the kettle after boil, this being my first time brewing with whole hops, and fresh hops. The recipe itself is super simple, dme and hops, and a big dry hop dose. Ultimately I’m trying to replicate three floyds gumball head I was aiming for a light bodied, very aromatic, hop flavored beer. I ended up with a very light bodied, astringent, chlorophyl flavored beer, with tons of dry hop aroma. Continue reading

No comments

American Amarillo Wheat take 2

I finally got a chance to put the fresh Amarillo hops to use. When I picked up the hops at A&G homebrew I also picked up some DME. I had everything else on hand for a batch, except yeast, a slight oversight on my part. Thankfully one of my fellow home brewers from Brew free or Die was willing to share half a yeast cake of Wyeast 1968 London ale. This is the same strain of yeast I used for my first home brew. Continue reading

Comments (2)

Fresh hop delima

I got the call that my hops were in September 5th. It’s now the 15th and I haven’t used them. They are still languishing in my fridge. This is a post about my dilemma with fresh hops. When I ordered them I was extremely excited to have ordered them. Now that they are over 10 days old in my possession, I’m a little less ecstatic.
In hindsight I don’t think I’d do this again, not this way it’s just not worth it. This isn’t a slam on the grower, the home-brew shop A&G homebrew, or wet hops in general, just that my particular scenario doesn’t seem to make any logical sense to use them. I need to invest in more shelf stable ready to use ingredients not extremely perishable ones. Continue reading

No comments