Tuesday, October 7, 2014

IPAs are overdone in America

I love the fact that some of the breweries, new and old(er), are coming out with new brews. For example, an old(er) brewery, Founders Brewing Company out of Grand Rapids, recently came out with Mosaic Promise. This Single Malt and Single Hop (SMASH) beer focuses on Mosaic Hops and Golden Promise Malt and was made specially for ArtPrize, one of the largest competitive art exhibits in the world, that runs the last week in September, into the first week in October. This is the the first and only time that I have had this beer and I had it from the source at the brewery. Though I am very pleased with what I drank, and most likely will have it again, I am, to a degree, bored by it. Don't get me wrong, it is spot on with what I would expect out of a American IPA! It features a blast of Mosaic hops backed by a great malty backbone from the Golden promise. I'm just bored by IPAs.

The first sip of Mosaic Promise was exciting, because it was a new beer that I have never tried and I have heard rave reviews on. I was exultant by the first few sips, but by the time I was most the way through it, it was just another IPA. I like beers that keeps me wanting more all the way through the beer and when I finish, wants me to buy another. That is the feeling I get when I drink Saison, Wild, Belgian, Stouts, and Porters.

The majority of American craft drinks are self-proclaimed hop heads. I guess this is the that I was when first started homebrewing and drinking craft beer readily in 2006, but I have moved on. No longer do I craved the hopped up beer that destroys your palate and overloads the senses. I like it when I can pull out subtle notes in a beer like some funk in farmhouse ales or caramelized malts and dark pitted fruits in a Belgian quad. Though, I have also had some Belgian beers where the fruits are overpowering to a point where you can no longer taste the subtle earthy and piney notes of the hops that is used in them. I don't like those either, but I feel that I have had much less in number of overpowering Belgians in comparison to the number overpowering IPAs.

One thing that I have found is a lot of the breweries in the U.S. tries to make the new, next best thing with a IPA with the newest hop variety. Is it Imperial, or Black, or Session, or Belgian, or whatever IPA? It has became an over-saturated market for the breweries that brews up IPAs. Why isn't the best selling style for a brewery a Saison or a English Bitter or even a Pilsner? Why do craft beer drinkers love IPAs? I guess that is what the market is and people are influenced by the masses.

I am not trying to criticize IPA, because most of them are well made, but for me, it is too much for me hard for me to drink multiple IPAs in a night because it make the palate fatigued to a point that it is not worth trying to drink anything else. I am not arguing against the fact of drink what you like, because drinking something that you love is something that I like to proclaim. I feel that I get bogged down by the same ol' thing coming out of every brewery in the nation.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Spent Grain Cookies

In Michigan, in the middle of summer, comes a glorious event called Michigan Summer Beer Fest. This year was epic, with 88 breweriesparticipating with over 800 craft beers to get samples of. Some breweries, like Greenbush Brewery, came with over 40 beers on tap. Some breweries, like Dark Horse Brewery, had epic set-ups, where they fired t-shirts from cannons from atop there stand and had beer poured down a ice luge . At Saugatuck Brewery, we had 17 taps, though not all of them running on the same day at the same time. A full listing can be found here. Some of our beers were special and were only available in the firkins and the tapping only happened at certain times. It was a 2-day event where the brewers had only an hour shift each day to pour. The day was filled with networking and sampling other beer.

Both nights, we camped at a KOA camp ground where we pitched tents and hammocks. Some of the breweries that camped last year did not camp again this year, but we had loads of fun. I made banana bread spent grain cookies with “infused” butter that I passed around at the festival and while camping that was a hit.

Since this blog is all aboot beer, this entry is aboot the making of spent grain cookies.
For the cookies you will need:
4 tbl (½ cup) infused butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey (local and raw preferred)
¼ cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 cup spent grain flour
½ tsp salt
½ baking soda
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ cup macadamia nuts chopped
½ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup Reese's Pieces chips

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, partially cream eggs, butter, sugar, honey and vanilla. Add contents to a food processor and pulse contents until fully creamed. In a small bowl combine the two flours, cocoa salt, and baking soda. Add dry mixture to creamed sugar slowly and mix in the food processor at the lowest setting. Add each of the remaining ingredients and pulse them until you have a homogeneous mixture. Spray or wipe a baking sheet with oil. Place spoonful of your cookie batter on your sheet 1 ½ inches apart and back for 8-12 minutes (for my oven, it is that variable, since it is shitty and I would have to check them often so not to burn them). Remove the cookies once done and place on parchment paper to cool. They can be frozen for later consumption.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

National Homebrew Competition

I started this post 2 months ago and I am finally able to finish it up. This past March, I sent in an ordinary bitter to the American Homebrew Association National Homebrew Competition. When I applied up for registration, I was one of the 3% that was not chosen to enter into the competition based on a lottery. This was disappointing, but then a week later I was surprised and received an e-mail notifying me that there were a few opening still available at one of the first round venues in Kansas City, MO. I jumped on it and sent out my beer to be judged. We were allowed 4 entries, but I only entered one, the ordinary bitter, because it was one that I was most confident with. Looking back, I should have entered more. But you know what people say out of hindsight...

A few weeks ago, I received my results. I scored okay, not as great as I felt that I would have done. I did get some feedback on my beer, nothing really helpful, which I did hoped for. The bitter scored a 23 out of a maximum score of 50. This was low for the range in the “good” category and was considered a satisfactory beer that fit the general style parameters which had a some minor flaws, which was perceived as wild yeast infection.

I had the normal judging of 2 judges for my beer. The first was ranked as a Master Judge. The second judge was a provisional judge. The way that they go aboot judging is as they taste the beer, they talk aboot it. Here is what the judges had to say on this beer.

Master Judge:

Aroma (5/12): Grass and lemon prominent. Lots of fruit, but seem to be hops and wild yeast. Seems to be quite acidic. Aspects checked for malt low, hops medium low, esters medium low, phenol medium low, alcohol low, sweetness medium low, acidity medium. Esters marked as fruit and citrus. Others marked spicy phenols.

Appearance (2/3): Had to pour carefully. Clarity medium, Head size high, head retention high. Colour specifiers checked as gold and amber in beer, head as cream, and other as lace. Aspects checked medium for clarity, high for head size, high for head retention.

Flavour (9/20): Lemon/citrus prominent, and some phenols. Hop flavour too high, way too many phenols for this style. Sharp and harsh. Checks for malt as grainy, citrus, floral, and spicy for hops, fruity and citrus for esters. For aspects, medium low for malt, hops medium, esters medium low, phenols medium, sweetness ow, bitterness medium

Mothfeel (2/5): Way overcarbed, robs body, thins flavours, accentuates bitterness and makes quite harsh. Fairly astringent. Gushed, a flaw that was checked, with written in the margin the word “almost.” Aspects checked, body medium low, carbonation high, warmth low, creaminess N/A, astringency medium.

Overall Impression (4/10): Carbonation unbalances the beer. Oft aromas/flavours seems to be wild yeast infection, but fairly mild. More “Belgian” than “English.” Aspects checked medium low for stylistic accuracy, medium low for technical merit, and medium high for intangibles.

Flaws intensity checked low for astringency in flavour and mouthfeel, low-medium for grassy aroma and flavour

Total (22/50)

Provisional Judge:

Aroma (5/12): Hops dominate, vegetal note. Aspects checked low-medium for malt, high for hops, medium-high for esters, low-medium for phenols, N/A for alcohol, medium for sweetness, N/A for acidic. Aromas checked for malt, caramel and bready, under hops, earthy and grassy, and under esters, fruity. Aroma was checked as flawed.

Appearance (3/3): Medium clarity was checked. Head size and retention were checked as high with a dense head texture. Colour specifiers were gold and cream.

Flavour (9/20): Big hop impression, high carbonation detracts from malt. Aspects were medium-low for malt, high for hops, medium-high for esters, medium-low for phenols, medium-high for sweetness, N/A for bitterness, low for alcohol, and low for acidity. Under malt, caramel was checked, under hops, earthy, grassy, and herbal were checked, under esters, fruity was checked, and under balance, hoppy was checked. Flawed was checked for flavour.

Mouthfeel (2/5): Overly carbonated, possibly bottled early or wild yeast infection. Under aspects, for body, high was checked, as well in carbonation. N/A was checked for warmth. For creaminess,, medium was checked, and low was checked for astringency. A flaw that was checked was gushed and the finish was medium.

Overall Impression (4/10): For the assessment of this beer, stylistic accuracy, medium was checked, for technical merit, medium-low was checked, and for intengibles, medium-low was checked.

Flaws that were checked for aroma was vegetal and for flavour was vegetal and sour/acidic

Total (23/50)

I do like the new format for the scoresheet. I feel that it gives more feedback, and a chance to give more helpful feedback in the comments.
Before I got my results from NHC, I already entered the same beer in another competition. This one is a local one in Grand Rapids, Michigan ran by Siciliano's Market Homebrew Shop. I'll put up those results here in the next couple of days as well a mead that I homebrewed. Hopeto get to more writing soon!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Michigan Brewers Winter Technical Conference

One of the experiences that I miss the most aboot academia is going to conferences and learning new ideas that is being used in a particular field. A really great thing aboot the brewing industry and where I work, is that there are plenty of opportunities to learn and that my bosses will pay the way for the workers to go to conferences. On 8-10 January, 2014, Michigan Brewers Guild (MBG) and Master BrewersAssociation of America-District Michigan (MBAA) gave their annual winter technical conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the Radisson Plaza Hotel. This conference gave me plenty of educational experiences through presentations and workshops.

Michigan winters are cold and snowy. This year though was a little different than the past year, or should I say 10, of unusually warm winters. We had what meteorologist call a “Polar Vortex,” I call it “hey, it's Michigan, so get over it.” I feel that this is the way that winter is suppose to be, so quit pouting. Because of the icy and unusually cold temperatures, we had some delays with some people that had some trouble getting to the conference on time. Saugatuck BrewingCompany is some what local, it only took us 30 minutes longer to get the venue, in which it usually only would take us 45 to 50 minutes to get to Kalamazoo.

After checking into the hotel, the brewers went to the conference centre to check in. We gave ourselves plenty of time before the conference was suppose to start to get there, but after checking in, we found out the conference was delayed, at first by 30 minutes, then by an hour. After re-arranging the program a little and allowing time for speakers to show, we finally got started after a hour and a half delay. During that delay, I had plenty of time to network and meet people that I wanted to meet. One person, someone that I have communicated with maybe three times through e-mail and Facebook, is Acasia Coast of the Brewing Association. Her role with the Brewers Association is to network with each state to ensure that the state and national level for the organization are working together on a common goal. It was a pleasure to get to know her throughout the conference and talk shop with her.

The first talk that was given by John Stewart from Perrin Brewing Company on beer stabilization through pasteurization, filtering, or using sulfates and how that changes hoppy beer. These stabilization protocols can be use to ensure that the beer is not infected when it reaches the consumer and to get rid of all organism (yeast included) in bottled beer. The majority of beer is no longer bottled conditioned and is forced carbonated when bottled or canned.

There are two techniques that are use when pasteurizing beer. One is “flash” pasteurization in which beer is ran through two heat exchangers, the first with hot water to raise the beer up to 71°C (160°F) for 20 seconds then quickly cooled before bottling. The second is called “tunnel” pasteurization in which the bottles of beer are sprayed with hot water to raise the temperature of the beer to 60°C (140°F) and held for 10 minutes before it is brought back down to cold temperatures for storage. The downfall of pasteurization is that it speeds up the oxidation process and ruins the freshness of a beer.

Another technique used is sterile filtration. His is especially key after bacteria (lactobacillus or pediococcus) or a wild yeast (brettanomyces) are used to sour a beer before bottling because you DO NOT want your whole brewery infected. This process is usually done after fermentation is complete in the fermenter and being transferred to the bright tank for carbonation. During this process the beer is past through a filter that is 0.22 microns in size. This strips the beer of all bacteria and yeast that was in the beer during fermentation.

The final way that a brewery can stabilize a beer is by adding sulfites to a beer. The only problem is that many people have an allergic reaction to sulites that causes asthmatic like symptoms. Almost all wines have sulfites and some ciders do to. If a brewery adds a sulfite to a beer, it MUST have a notification on the label.

At the end of the talk we tasted Huma Lupa Licious by Shorts BrewingCompany that went through the 4 stabilization methods and 1 that did not go through any stabilization methods. The two pasteurization method didn't taste much different than the one that wasn't stabilized, maybe if the beer had more age on it, there would be a greater difference. A huge difference was in the filtered beer, a lot of the flavours was gone. The beer with sulfites had a strange odor and taste.

The second talk of the day was on coopering and was given by Russ Karasch from Black Swan Cooperage. What interested me with this talk was how the barrels are produced and types of woods that is used and what flavours are imparted into the beer or spirits. White oak is the best because it does not leak, but red oak leaks like a sieve. A way that imparts more flavours into the wood is putting indents into the wood at a regular basis. This creates greater surface area, sort of like putting pieces of wood into a secondary and that wood is honey-combed.

Toasting imparts different flavours into the beer or spirits. A light toast gives a “bakery” flavour to the beer ot spirits. Medium toasting impart some cinnamon and vanilla notes. A dark toast or char will impart smoky flavours. Wood, especially white oak, has up to 27 different sugars and a lot of the tannins in the wood are water soluble.

The third talk of the day was on managing growth of a brewery. This was exciting because the three speakers were Brett VanderKamp from NewHolland Brewing Company, Tim Suprise from Arcadia Brewing Company, and Scott Newman-Bale from Shorts Brewing Company. These are some of the biggest breweries in the state. There is a lot of details here that I couldn't keep up with. This round table talk was a lot of questions from the audience, but it was really great to here different aspects on how they each got started and grew.

Since the conference got delayed by an hour, they cut out one of the talks and went directly into annual meeting and elections. During this time I had more time to socialize and then go to dinner. I visited some of the trade show, signed up for an event at Hop Head Farms, then venture out on the town.

While out in Kalamazoo, a group of brewers stopped by two breweries and a bar. The first brewery was Gonzo's Bigg Dogg Brewery. This was maybe 3 blocks from the hotel. It is a relatively new brewery in Kalamazoo and from the beer that I tried, excellent! I had their porter and then their stout. I am somewhat leery of new breweries opening and I'll let them get their legs under them before trying them, but this one, I was impressed. The owner/head brewer was the brewer for Old Peninsula Brewery and Restaurant. He gave us a tour of the brew house and talked aboot expansion already. I need to get by here again really soon!

The second brewery that we hit up was Rupert's Brew House. I had their their porter and it was better than average. Chill place, with open mic going on and someone with an “Angry Bird” shirt dancing...sort of...more like interpretive dance. I wouldn't be surprise if he wasn't on E. We ended up talking with Mark Rupert (pictured with me...I'm the one with the graying beard), the owner, and he gave us a tour of their exceptionally small system. It was really pieced together, but in reality, that is all that you need. It was barrel sized mashtun and boiler that was pumped downstairs to the fermenter. We showed up around midnight and they were in the middle of a transfer to the fermenter. Talk aboot dedication!

After we left the brewery, we ventured to a dive bar on the way back the hotel. Their wasn't much to talk aboot this bar. We had a PBR and we were on our way.

The next morning after breakfast (which was excellent), talked began again. We had access to a bloody mary bar in the morning before the talks began. The first talk on the second day covered beer tourism and focused on Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Michigan. I pulled a couple of things from this talk, mostly on tapping into the brewery community.

The next talk, presented by Gary Spedding of Brewing and DistillingAnalytic Service, I found very useful in my laboratory at the brewery. It is calculating the actual acohol by volume of the beer from original extract and realized extract. The realized extract is what you would read on a hydrometer and from that you can find the final gravity. The key to standardize your equipment with Budweiser, because it is the most consistent brewery in the world. It is a bunch of calculations that can be preformed on a excel (or in my case LibreOffice Calc) spreadsheet. Directly following his talk was a workshop on off-flavours in beer, followed by lunch. In the workshop, Budweiser was spiked with different off-flavours, some non-too-pleasent.

The next presentation after lunch was the one that I was waiting for. Barrel Dwellers: Microbiology of Barrel-Aged Beer. The original speaker canceled, so MBAA brought in Mary Pellettieri. Mary is a private consultant, but has had experience with MillerCoors and Goose Island. Since Micro-organism lives in the rough areas of the barrels, you cannot control microbes, but you can manage it. Acetobacteria, Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and Brettanomyces all live in the barrels. In the lab, the brewery can test how infected and what infection is present in the beer. I got the most use of this talk.

The next three talks were more for management and safety. They included MIOSHA (which will eventually replace OSHA), Wholesale Contracts, and Beer Tax. I had trouble with gleening much information from these talks.

After all of the presentations were completed, the board had a meeting then, what everyone was waiting for, the dinner. Here I really got to taste amazing food, paired with beer, and got to do more networking. I had converasations with the likes of Acasia Coast, Brett VanderKamp, Scott Newman-Bale, Russel Springteen (owner of RightBrain Brewing Company), and many other owners/operators of small breweries. I got a few business cards of people to talk with in the future.

That evening, we made our way out on the town again, but we only stopped by one brewery, Tibbs Brewing Company. Another very, very small brewery, that sells out of beer daily. This is the main problem with having such a small brewing system. Again, they only had a 1-barrel brewhouse. What I had, again, was really good. We hung out with people that run Michigan Mobile Canning at the brewery and I made another connection.

The third day of the conference, I was only interested in one talk on the Michigan Hop and Malt update. I like what I see which direction the hops in Michigan are taking. Jeff from Hop Head Farms are the closest to us in Saugatuck and hopefully we will be doing more with what they produce in the future.

The whole conference was exciting for me to attend and I am very thankful for the owners of Saugatuck Brewing Company to pay our way to the conference and the dinner. Next year, the venue may change, because of politics with the largest microbrewery in Michigan and the guild, but I cannot wait. Next venture will be the Michigan Winter Beer Fest on 22 February, 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Making of a Parti-Gyle Style Beer

On Saturday, 28 December, 2013, I racked and bottled a “parti-gyle” style of beer that I brewed back on 15 September, 2013. Parti-gyle is an method that produces two or more beers, the second and all of the following beers are less gravity and therefore less alcohol than the original. Each of the subsequent beer after the first are made from the sugars that are left after the initial sparging has taken place. From an initial “big” beer, usually up to 2 more beers can be made.

The beer that was the original “big” beer was an imperial porter that was being made at Saugatuck Brewing Company. The original beer was a double mash beer, in which the brewers mashed into the mashtun once, lightly sparged to get gravity of the wort that they desired, racked out, and mashed in again to fill the kettle with the rest of the wort, again at the desired gravity. The pre-boil gravity that brewers were shooting for was 21.1°P (1.088 SG).

After sparging was complete on the first mash, I took 7.5 gallons of the running that was left in the mash to make my beer. The wort that was taken from the first mash had a pre-boil gravity of 15.4°P (1.063 SG). Once the wort started to boil in my kettle, I added 0.75 ounces of Northern Brewer (10.6% AA) hops to the kettle. With 20 minutes and 15 minutes left in the boil I added 1.00 ounce of Fuggle (2.5% AA) hops to the kettle. Also at 15 minutes left I added to the boil 0.25 tablespoon of Irish moss, to help clear the beer, and 5.00 ounces of cocoa nibs. A teaspoon of yeast nutrient was added to the kettle with 10 minutes left in the boil. The rest of the hops that I added were 1.00 ounce of Fuggle (2.5% AA) at 5 minutes, 1.00 ounce of Fuggle (2.5 % AA) at 0 minutes, and 0.75 ounce of Willamette (5.5 % AA) at 0 mintes left in the boil. I ended up with a total post-boil volume of 4.5 gallons.

At this point, I took a sample and began to super cool the wort with a immersion heat exchanger. Once in the fermenter, I added WLP-001 Cal Ale Yeast from White Labs. A original gravity of 21.4°P (1.091 SG) was read from the hydrometer and from obtaining this, I was able to back construct a grain bill:

5.5# Brewers 2-Row Malt (29.5%)
5# Pale Malt (27%)
3# Marris Otter (16%)
1# Caramel/Crystal 120L (5.5%)
1# Roasted Barley (5.5%)
1# Rye Malt (5.5%)
0.75# Caramel/Crystal 10L (4%)
0.66# Chocolate Malt (3.5%)
0.66# Midnight Wheat (3.5%)

This beer differed from the imperial porter that was being brewed at Saugatuck Brewing Company in a few ways. First, even though that this beer was still fairly high gravity, it was not as massive as the imperial stout that brewery made (23.6°P or 1.100 SG). Secondly, though similar, my hops were different than the imperial porter that was brewed at the brewery. Finally, I used cocoa nibs as another bittering agent in my beer.

After two months in the fermenter, I was able to make time to bottle the beer that I made. As a primer for the yeast, I boiled 3.4 ounces of corn sugar in 1 cup of water. I then pour this into a sanitized bottling bucket and transferred the beer over it. I also added a packet of US-05 to make up for the yeast that were not alcohol tolerant or died because of all the time in the fermenter. I lost around 0.5 gallons after the transfer. From this volume, I was able to bottle 39 12-ounce bottles.

I cannot wait to taste this fully carbonated, because un-carbonated, it was pretty good (though I may have a slight bias). Currently, I have yet in fermenters the Beligian Quad and a sour that I brewed in December of 2012. I have plans to brew robust porter relatively soon with my new Blichmann kettle that I received as a gift for xmas. You would think that working in a brewery would have a negative affect on the amount of homebrewing that I want to do, but so far so good!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tasting Notes on Burton Baton by Dogfish Head

I went back into my stash of beer to pull out something occupy my palate while I wrap presents for the holiday. After searching through my hoards of beer that I have bought and homebrew and I pulled out something that I stashed back in 2010, Dogfish Head Burton Baton.

Here are the stats:
Brewery: Dogfish Head
Location: Milton, Delaware
Style: Imperial Pale Ale
ABV: 10%
IBU: 70
Malts: Not specified
Hops: Not Specified
Availability: Year Round
Original Release Date: Nov. 2011

Bottle Description: This special ale is a two-threaded blend of young and wood-aged imperial IPA. Please share with love ones and hoard it from non-believers. Lush and enjoyable now, this beer ages with the best of them.

Web Description: For Burton Buton, we brew two "threads," or batches, of beer: an English-style old ale and an imperial IPA. After fementating the beers separately in our stainless tanks, they're transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month. When enjoying the Burton Baton, you'll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% ABV of Burton, so tread cautiously!

Thoughts: The beer pours a deep copper color with a one-finger off-white head that dies quickly to a lacing around the glass. The clarity of the beer is pristine. Toasted and biscuit malts on the nose with other aromas that include dark caramels, dried dark fruits, wood, and, floral and herbal hops. Subtle hints of vanilla in the back. On the front of the palate dark caramel, toffee, and pitted fruits with an undertone of sweet bready malts. Smooth and creamy as the beer flows over the palate, with plenty of herbal and citrus still present after the years. Subtle suggestions of vanilla and brown sugar present in the beer. The beer finishes dry with a huge herbal and oaky punch, but with a mild alcoholic bite. As the beer is drank, the lacy head sticks to the sides of the glass and when swirled in the glass, the beer has nice legs, slowly trickling down the sides of the snifter. It also has a nice alcoholic warmth on the body at 10% ABV.

I still have 2 more from 2010, and 1 from 2011 and 2012 in my hoards. I think the 2010 maybe at its peak of flavours and may have to be drank soon.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tasting Notes on my homebrewed Chocolate Molé Stout

On 16 August, 2013, I brewed a Chocolate Molé Stout. After fermentation was complete, it was transferred to a secondary fermenter. At that time I seeded and sliced up two Pablano (another common name are Ancho) pepper and oven-roasted them. I also seeded and sliced two addition peppers. After the peppers that I roasted were charred, I removed them from the over. I added the contents of both the fresh and roasted peppers into the secondary fermenter with the beer. A mistake that was made while transferring the beer was I accidentally knocked a water canteen off of my table into the secondary fermenter with the beer. Luckily no infection happened. I've been drinking it on and off the past month, as well as my many other homebrews. I just wanted to provide some notes on the beer for my readers.

As the beer was opened, there was very little gas that escaped from the bottle. The Chocolate Molé Stout pour black and opaque with very little head that dissipates almost completely from the beer only leaving a slight lacing on the glass. Good amounts of earthy aromas (I feel comes from the Fuggle hops and the chili pepper used in the mash), cayenne (hot), and peppery (vegetable or green) spices comes to the nose as well as hints of chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. As the beer hits the palate, a slight cayenne (hot) pepper as well as roasty flavours are present. As the beer rolls over the palate, hints of sweet dark caramels, toffee, dark pitted fruits, and chocolate are present. Off the back the palate, some peppery (vegetable or green) flavours comes forward as well as some warming hot cayanne (hot) peppers. The beer has a medium mouthfeel and body, but a good amount of carbonation, which was strange because the lack of a head. This definitely has a lot going on in it.

Some of the things that I was looking for in this beer was more body, deeper chocolates, and more head. Changes that I may or may not do in this beer are: (i) use lactose to give more body and some sweetness, (ii) not use a hot chocolate mix, and (iii) make my own mole to use in the boil. I like the grain bill for this beer, so I will want to keep this the same. Ideas that I have for the mole in the boil is to add dried Ancho chiles, cocoa nibs, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, ground nutmeg and possibly some ground coriander, cumin, and anise seed (as these might muddy up the flavours). Overall, I am happy aboot this beer, but I also see improvements (as I always do) can be made.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brewing of a Belgian Quad

Last week I decided to brew one of many beer ideas that I have for a homebrew. This list is compiling and I felt like it was time to test of these out. Since I started working for Saugatuck Brewing Company, I have only brewed two other times as a homebrew, one was a beer that I have done before, slightly modified and secondaried with an added ingrediant (Chocolate Mole Stout secondaried with Poblano Peppers...I will do a review of my thoughts of this beer...mental note). The second beer that I have done in this time is a partigyle style beer from the runnings of a bigger beer done at the brewery (though, the second runnings still came out to be 17°P and the O.G. was 23°P).

This current beer is of a style that I have never attempted before, a Belgian Quad. There is no BJCP style outline for this beer, though there are for a Belgian Dubble and Tripel. In my Beersmith, I entered it as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. The grain and hop bill is as follows:

15# Belgian Pilsner Malt
2# Munich Malt (Germany)
1/2# Caravienna Malt (Belgium)
1/4# Biscuit Malt (Belgium)
2# Turbinado Sugar (add a pound at a time after 24 and 48 hours of fermentation respectively)
2 oz. Styrian Golding (Celeia from Slovenia, 3.2% AA at 60 min)
1 oz. Fuggle (UK, 4.5% AA at 10 min.)
1 oz. Fuggle (UK, 4.5%AA at Flame Out)

Four days prior to brew day, I ventured to Brewer's Edge Homebrew Shop in Holland, Michigan to pick up a vial of yeast. I knew that since that this was a big beer, that I didn't want to stress my yeast out too much and I needed a big starter. I talked to Tim aboot my options. I was thinking of WLP550 a Belgian Ale yeast from White Labs because of the Phenolic characteristics, though not as fruity and medium to high alcohol tolerance. Tim and I talked a little and I decided to go with his choice of WLP530, a Abby Ale yeast because of more fruitier and earthy characteristics.

Once home I made a 1-L starter for the yeast by boiling 4 oz. of dry malt extract (DME) in 1 L of water for 15 min. I then super cooled it in the sink to room temperature (through feeling the bottom the flask) and added the vial of yeast to it. A rubber stopper was then put on the flask with a airlock. I put it in a closet to build up yeast cells until brew day.

This past Sunday, 30 Nov., was brew day. Since I live in an apartment complex in Holland, MI., I have no access to water outside, where I brew at. I got permission from the CEO of Saugatuck Brewing Company to be able to brew in the production area, with my equipment. That morning, around 11:00, I loaded my car with all of the equipment that I required to brew, as well as a supply of beer. Even though I work at the brewery and I am able to get beer inexpensively, but I have an ample supply of homebrew that I should drink.

Once at the brewery, and everything was unloaded, I began heating up water to boil for storage in my hot liquor tank and mill my grain. I used some of the boiled water to preheat my mashtun, while the rest went into the hot liquor tank. Water was then heated to strike temperature of 160°F. After draining the preheating water from the mashtun, I added 22 quarts of strike water to the mashtun. To this I sifted and stirred in my grains. The temperature of my mash was a little low. To raise the temperature of my mash, I added some of the water that I put into my hot liquor tank to the mash to get it up to mash temperature of 148°F. I held it at mashing temperature for 75 minutes.

Once mashing was completed, 14 quarts of 203°F water was stirred into the mash to raise the temperature to 168°F, which was held for 10 more minutes. After 10 minutes, the wort was drained into a pitcher and recirculated back into the mash by pouring it over a spoon, so not to disturbed the grain bed. This process is called a “vorlauf.”

Once the wort came out clear, with no sediment, it was drained directly into the kettle. After a volume of 7 gallons was reached, a gravity was taken. A pre-boil gravity of 16°P (1.066 SG) was exactly what I was shooting for. The kettle was then heated to a boil. After the boil began, a first hop addition of 2 oz. of Stryian Golding, was done. With 15 minutes left, a teaspoon of Irish Moss was added to the boil as a clearing agent. Eighty minutes later the second hop addition of 1 oz. of Fuggle was done along with a teaspoon of yeast nutirent. During that last ten minutes the wort chiller was set up and sanitation of equipment to transfer the wort to the fermenter was done. At the end of the boil, a final hop addition of 1 oz. of Fuggle hop was done.

After the boil was commenced, the wort chiller was immersed into the wort to rapidly cool the wort. During the cooling process, a sample of the wort was taken and a gravity reading of 19.8°P (1.083 SG) was recorded. This reading was 2°P lower than what was expected. Once the wort was cooled to a temperature of 70°F, it was transferred through a auto siphon to a sanitized fermentation bucket, capped and an airlock was added to the bucket.

Back at my apartment, once fermentation started, the next day a pound of Turbinado sugar was dissolved and boiled for 15 minutes in 2 cups of water. The pan with the solution was cooled in a sink of cold water, then added to the fermentation bucket. This process was done again the next day. I figured the O.G. to be 23.5°P (1.101 SG) after the addition of the sugar.

After 3 more day, I went to check on the fermenter, and the air lock was full of krausen and the lid of the bucket was ajar from the bucket. The fermentation was so strong that it blew the lid right off of the bucket! Hopefully that there was so mush CO2 in a layer on top of the beer that it won't become infected.

I will leave it in the bucket, on top of the yeast cake, for some time before transferring it to a secondary bucket. The reason behind this is two fold; (i) I want to reuse this yeast for another beer in which, once the beer is transfered, I will add the second beer on top of the yeast cake, and (ii) I want to allow this beer to mellow out and any of the fusel alcohol hotness of the beer will subside. The idea for the second beer from this yeast is a Belgian Table Beer that will be around 4.5% ABV and will be simply 2 malts and 2 hops. I am currently working on this recipe and it is almost complete. I'll write another article on the tasting notes once I bottle it and give it plenty of time to bottle condition.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Drink beer, that is all....

WARNING: This might come of a little of a rant.

I'm sure that you all have seen this, while sitting in a bar or pub, a conversation that is critical of a beer that a brewery has made. Not because it has gone bad or completely undrinkable, those need to be heard, but because it doesn't fit someones personal standard. Beer is made to be consumed, not to be criticized.

This is troubling to me. Especially people who are brewers and/or work for breweries. What happened with “A rising tide raises all ships”? Then there are those people that are self-professed “beer geek,” or “beer snob.” Okay, I'll admit to it, I have called myself a “beer geek,” but that is not because I love good beer, I do, but I call myself that because I consume knowledge aboot beer. I'll constantly read and learn everything that I can with beer. This is why I consider myself a beer geek.

I'll also admit that I drink “macrobrews.” I don't hide from that fact. In fact, I just opened a Busch Light, because I am at my parents and that is what my fathers drinks. If my father offers me a Busch Light, I will not turn it down because my father offered me a beer. I don't turn my nose up at a beer because it is not popular or is a macrobrew.

I love (if there was a stronger word that that I would use it) craft beer, but I'll drink a Budweiser, Busch, Miller, or Pabst. Some people will not allow themselves to drink what they consider it "garbage.” I know that some people will cringe for me to say this, but the macrobrews make quality beer.

A big thing that makes up quality is consistency. Every Budweiser that you will drink taste exactly the same, unlike some craft breweries. Some craft breweries consistently change what hop they use in a beer and call it the same beer. Also, some breweries cannot consistently hit gravities, this also changes how a beer tastes on the palate.

People that I also consider “snobs” are those that sneers at beers that some breweries make. Because you may be spoiled by a bar or brewery because of the selection that it has doesn't mean that a beer that is made by another brewery is any lesser. Also, another thing that I question of these self-professed beer geeks, is that they criticizes a brewery because they state that all of that brewery's beer tastes the same. I'm sure that there IPA and porter tastes exactly the same. I also think it is a degree of jealousy that people have over a brewery because how popular it is.

Some websites advocates such behaivour. When I review a beer I tell how it tastes on my palate and how the aroma comes across my senses. I try to never criticize or de-construct, pouted over, nor declared insufficiently “hoppy.” I try to stick to BJCP guidelines and try to teach myself flavours and off-tastes.

In my mind, breweries, brewers, and people that drink craft beer need to support all breweries. Good beer is good beer. If I have a drink with you, I don't need you to stoke what you think is your ego near me, because it can get messy.