Saturday, January 22, 2011

Brewing Big

As in big, I mean large.  This is not my normal "big" brew as in high gravity, but on a system that is five times as large than I normally brew.

I am now a co-brewer at a bar that brews in-house.  Our system is a 1-hl system (~26.4 gallons for all of you Americans), which has a mashtun (top left), brew kettle (bottom right), hot-water storage tank (middle), conical fermenter (top right), and an open fermenter (bottom left, that we will never use).  It is all electric controlled (center white box) and heat is produced with electric elements.  This brewing system is at the Quarter Barrel in Oxford, OH (near Miami University).

This was my first experience in having major influences in brewing something on a larger scale.  For my first brew here, I help them brew one of my tried and trued brews, Ol' Stouty McGee (in which we call Batch #3)

The grain bill is as follows:

46.20 lb Pale Malt (2 Row)
15.84 lb Rye Mat
3.96 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt -120L
3.96 lb Chocolate Malt
3.96 lb Roasted Barle

The rye malt didn't come as pre-crushed, so we had to crush approximately 2-lbs at a time, to get up to the full 15.84-lbs.  That wasn't a long and painful process for me, but it was for my co-brewer Brandon.  After we completed crushing, and all of the grains were added to the mashtun, we then added 93-qt. of water at 179 °F to the grain and we held the grain temperature at 158 °F.

After a hour mash, we ran off into a pitcher so that we could vorlauf to clear the ending beer product.

With all the rye in the mash, and my inexperience, the run off took over an hour to get not very much wort.  We eventually had to disturb the grain bed to get the run-off done in a resemble amout of time.  Now I know not to runoff at full tilt, because that compacts the grain bed.

The boiling of the the wort went much better.  The boil was 60-min. and the hop addition were as follows:

15.09 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops
5.03 oz Bramling Cross [6.00 %] (40 min) Hops
5.03 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (5 min) Hops 

During the boil, we ran Iodophor through the system (pump, plate chiller, and fermenter) for 20-min. to sanitize the system.  After after sanitization, the wort was pumped to the fermenter (this time priming the pump wasn't as bad as previously experienced), through the plate chiller.  Then 5-packages of US-04, from Fermentis, was pitch with some excess wort.

For the most part, brewing on the bigger system isn't as challenging as thought of, except for priming the pump.  Our reading were a little low, but the lower then usual final gravity makes the beer a 5.6% ABV.

Pre-Boil Gravity: 1.050
Original Gravity: 1.055
Final Gravity:  1.012

This is the Quarter Barrel's Batch #3 and is estimated to be on tap on Thurs. Feb. 10, 2011.  Tomorrow (Sun. Jan. 23, 2011) we firkin Batch #3 for cask conditioning.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brooklyn Brewing Company 2011 Black Ops

I was sent out on an expedition to find Black Ops, by Brooklyn Brewing Co., by my friend Joel one day after he told me of it's release.  While heading back home to Cincinnati, OH (Clifton) from the Miami University, where I am a graduate student at, I receiving the phone call, that re-routed me to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield, OH.  Jungle Jim's is a foodies paradise, and it also has a great selection of beer, and in my opinion the largest wine holding that I think exists.

Brooklyn Brewery does not have a page dedicated to Black Ops, which it much deserves.  They do not even have a description or even mention the beer on there home page.  Maybe because the label tells it all:

"Brooklyn Black Ops does not exist.  However, if it did exist, it would be a robust stout concocted by the Brooklyn brewing team under cover of secrecy and hidden from everyone else at the brewery.  Supposedly 'Black Ops' was aged for four months in bourbon barrels, bottled flat, and re-fermented with Champagne yeast, creating big chocolate and coffee flavors with a rich underpinning of vanilla-like oak notes.  They say there are only 1,000 cases.  We have no idea what they're talking about."  The 1 pint 9.4 fluid oz. comes in at 11.3% ABV.  It was served in snifter glass at just below room temperature (and drank outside in the freezing cold while roasting coffee).

Appearance:  Pour black and thick with a creamy tan head that leaves a lacing all along the sides of the glass.  The beer looks very clean and opaque.

Aroma:  Off the top, I smell oak and bourbon.  After that passes, I smell a deep chocolate and vanilla, along with some coffee notes.  There are notes of deep fruits that are present in the beer also with each sip.

Taste:  Boozy, that is the first thing that I come across.  Not so much a alcoholic hotness, but the sort of feel that you would get from drinking straight vanilla extract.  Nothing that is over powering.  The chocolate come out in the front, and a smoky bourbon on the back of the palate.  Finishing tastes of cherries.

Mouthfeel:  Thick, creamy, good carbonation, and a little dry.

Overall:  Definitely a well balanced beer that is complex with the chocolate, dark fruits and vanilla, that both the oak and bourbon plays well with.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

I haven't had a lot of time to write a review of my few beers that I have drank over the past couple of days.  These next few post will be written after the fact.  I have three reviews that I has to catch up on:

For the New Year's I figured that I would break into my collection and open a bottle that I can share around with other people.  What better choice to taste a beer that numerous people have heard about because of few reasons.  First, because of a new show on Discovery channel called Brew Masters featuring Sam Calagione.  Secondly, because of the popularity of craft beer over the past few years.  The list can go on and on.

For the New Years I decided to open and share a occasional rarity brew by Dogfish Head called Bitches Brew. 

This beer was released to coincide with the release of the 40th anniversary edition of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew vinyl.  As explained on the website, this beer is "a bold, dark beer that's a fusion of three threads imperial stout and one thread honey beer with gesho root, a gustatory analog to Miles' masterpiece."  I can't find any information on specific grains or hops, but from the information that I have found the beer is a blended beer of three different imperial stouts and one batch of honey beer.

The honey beer, a mead-like concoction based on a traditional Ethiopian alcoholic drink called "Tej."  Tej are usually made in winter, because in summer the must may go bad before it starts fermenting.  Gesho, a common name for Rhamnus prinioides, the Shiny-leaf Buckthorn, is an African shrub or small tree in the family Rhamnaceae.  The root is used in the beer as a bittering agent.  The beer has a ABV of 9% and 38 IBU.

Appearance:  The beer pour a deep black with a hints of ruby around the rim and in the abyss of the beer.  The beer is looks as though it is filtered with no particulates within the beer.  A tan head fluffy head sit on top of the beer that leaves a lot of lacing around the glass as it is drank. As it is left to sit, the head does not die down past 1-cm.

Aroma:  First thing that hits the nose with this beer is the honey with faint hints of dark chocolate, molasses and roasted barley.  It has such a complex smell.  As the beer is drank, some woody notes and spice comes to the nose.

Taste:  The first thing that comes from this beer is the dark chocolate taste and honey.  Honey is present with each sip and is what really stands out in this beer.  The taste has differences that what was present in the aroma.  The chocolate isn't as sweet as it smells in the nose but come out as the bittering agent.  I do which that I new what gesho really tastes like so that I can pull that out of the beer.  I taste the toasty malts and the alcohol warming isn't that present in this beer for being such a high ABV.

Mouthfeel:  Very creamy, almost silky with low carbonation.  The creaminess of the beer coats the mouth at first with sweetness and then leaves the mouth dry, really wanting more.

Overall:  This is a solid beer, but with all the hype it was better than average.  If I haven't gone looking for this beer and just happened on it and not know anything of what DFH does, I would have been blown away.  I was very pleased that I did find this and got to experience the beer.  I have one left in the cellar and will sit on it for a few years.

I have a line-up of other rarities by DHF that I am waiting to try next.  I really can't wait...