Fall is the Saison Season

Saison is a style I feel a closeness to, I’m a small farmer and french Canadian by heritage. The idea of making an artisanal product with a raw edge, using my own hops, and rustic grain just moves me. This recipe is a simple table saison, something I think the farm hands may have enjoyed during the long work days. I found the recipe on beersmithrecipes.com via Nathan Smith. He’s a staple on the brewing network, has presented at NHC, ANHC, Beersmith, and Basic brewing radio. He’s even given talk on Saisons. Continue reading

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

Bitter again.

I took a few months off from brewing this summer to travel, and work my way through some of my homebrew back log. With any layoff it takes a bit of motivation to get started again. It’s not that I don’t want to brew, it’s just that life is busy these days. I figured my first batch back I should make something I’m comfortable with, so I made my third batch of bitter american clone. If you recall this was the first all grain beer I brewed and I brewed a second larger batch focusing on local ingredients for my club to bring to NHC back in 2013. I’m familiar with the recipe, and have mixed results with it, I have not brewed it enough to have it mastered. The original recipe came from a brew your own article on canned craft beers. When planning to brew this, I focused on using the ingredients i had on hand. I’ve got an over stocked freezer full of hops, and a cellar full of grain just waiting for me to brew. Somewhere along the way, I neglected to reference the original recipe and just used pearl malt instead of the recipe’s golden promise which I do have on hand. These two malts are similar, but from reading comparisons, http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f12/2-row-vs-maris-otter-vs-golden-promise-vs-halcyon-vs-pearl-vs-optic-439642/ they aren’t the same. I’m wondering how big of a mistake this is. The other shift in recipe was to swap out the warrior bittering hops for citra. I’m not sure why I haven’t bought more Warrior, I liked it in the alpha king clone, but more high alpha hops won’t be added to my freezer any time soon. Continue reading

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

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

Milling Table build.

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When Mike told me about his mill table, I thought it was neat but I dismissed the idea of making one myself. While visiting another brewer friend I saw his mill, and asked if he would mind sharing some details of the project. As I’ve found with most home brewers he was very willing to share details and helpful links. At both times it didn’t seem necessary at that time. Then I used mike’s mill at the bow bog brewing party and really liked how it worked. It was very nice to be able to just dump in the grain and crank it up. Not that hand cranking is difficult, but it would save me a little time and manual labor.  Once I took inventory of the required parts, I realized that I could build this with minimal investment. I had the mill, a motor and I had a shelving unit I could use as the stand. It appeared all I was going to need to buy would be some sheaves (pulleys), a belt, a shim, and some miscellaneous hardware and lumber.
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Long delayed Chat Absent tasting notes

These are some long, long, long over due tasting notes of my first saison. As I mentioned in the brewing notes, I feel close to this style due to my heritage, having a small farm, and the open interpretation that is allowed with this style. Saisons are an interesting style. The saison style originates in the farm houses of Wallonia and was made with fresh hops, grains, a variety of adjuncts, and spices varying from farm to farm. It was the beer served to the farm hands and was likely a lower abv and had mixed fermentation. From my understanding the style has only a few strong requirements, high carbonation, very low FG, moderate yeast esters and phenols. The style is way more wide open than the BJCB guidelines suggest. I’ve enjoyed examples hopper, much lighter and darker, as well as much lower and higher ABV. Not to mention versions with brett or other mixed fermentations. Some of the best ones I’ve had have been brett fermented. Continue reading

Brewing ‘Mildly alcoholic’ beer

Looking back through my brewing logs, I’ve never brewed two batches as close together as I did these past two. I’m of the school of thought that the best way to get good at something is to do it often. It was nice to have my brewing process fresh in my mind when approaching this brew night. The last batch a hoppy pale ale is just off dry hops as I write this brew day up. This batch is a rebrew of the english mild I brewed last summer. The first time I brewed this, I made a biab beer. Taking a very simple approach and not worrying about it. This might have been one of the better batches I brewed last year. This time I have a slightly different target. I’ve been asked a few times if it is possible to make an NA beer, so I’m trying to brew a very low abv beer, and make it as close as I can to Non Alcoholic Beer(NA). I figured it makes the most sense to start with a flavorful low abv beer. Research (googling) and turned up anecdotal stories, but no well documented first hand experiences with abv testing. I found two approaches to making NA beer, heating the beer to evaporate the alcohol, or freezing the beer to concentrate the alcohol and sugars leaving behind low alcohol beer ice. There are issues with either approach. Heat and Oxygen are known to damage beer. However I can’t think of a way to achieve the goal of low abv beer w/out exposing the beer to these factors. If someone has done this and has found a reliable way to do it with good results please let me know.
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