Monday, October 31, 2011

Brewing of a Wet Hop Amber Ale - Now on Tap at Quarter Barrel

Ah, two blogs in one day. I forgot to release this with the release of our latest beer at Quarter Barrel. Brandon and I decided now to synchronize the release my blog with a beer that we release, instead of publishing it then 5 weeks later tasting the beer.

This beer that we brewed this past August coincided with a hop harvest. Brandon had this style in mind that he wanted to brew and to complement the malts, we decided to use fresh hops to add some earthy tones to the beer. What came out of it is the Wet Hop Amber Ale.

To this beer, we had a variety of malts and all fresh hops that I harvested from my parents farm in Michigan. My mother's business, Nelson's Herbs, started growing hops the year before last. We have 6 varieties, Cascade, Chinook, Hallertau Magnum, Mt. Hood, Santium, and Tettnanger hops. Of these 6 varieties, we planted 5 rhizomes of each, except for only 2 rhizomes of the Tettnanger.

For this particular beer, we used hops varieties that we have got a large harvest from (Cascade and Chinook). The grain bill is the following:

50# Pale Malt UK
5# Caramel/Crystal 60 Malt
5# Munich Malt
3# Caramel/ Crystal 120 Malt
2# Victory Malt
0.5# Roasted Barley Malt

To the grains we added 178°F water and kept the mash at 156°F. Another thing that was special about this beer is that we get to use our brand new fermenter. Now we have the capability to make twice as much as we use to with 2 1-hectoliter fermenters. Yes, hectoliter, 100 liters, and everything is that much cooler in metric.

After 60 minutes we drained the mashtun into the boil kettle, while fly-sparging, and started to heat the wort. Fly-sparging (Denny does a better job at describing it as well as other types of sparging) is the technique in which we keep the water level just the top of the grain-bed, while draining slowly, until we estimate that we need to drain the grain bed dry to have the correct amount after the boil to fill the fermenter.

During the boil process we had time to clean.  We started to cycle PBW to clean the fermenter, pump, lines, and plate chiller for 20 minutes at which time we drained and started the cycle again this time with Iodophor to sanitize.

We had to use more wet hops to make up the lack of water in dry hops. To the boil had added the following hop addition:

5.0 oz. Chinook (60 min)
4.0 oz. Chinook (10 Min)
4.0 oz. Cascade (10 Min.)
5.0 oz. Cascade (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)
5.0 oz. Chinook (0 min, Aroma Hop Steep)

After the boil, we transferred the wort to the fermenter, through the plate chiller, allowing for plenty aeration. We then added the yeast slurry of US-05 yeast connected the blow off tube and pushed the fermenter back into the closet. The Wet Hop Amber is on tap currently at Quarter Barrel.

Zincinnati Octoberbest Homebrew Competition

Over the past 7 years that I have been brewing, I have played with recipes and developed some interesting beers. Things that I brewed have greatly improved, because of feedback that I have gotten. I get feedback all of the time, from friends, and for the most part I trust them, but they are friends. Lately, I feel that it is necessary to get profession feedback on the beers that I make. This feedback that I get from professional judges and other people in the industry helps me continuously develop my beer to get them to fit styles that I want. Sometimes the beer doesn't fit the style, but has the exact characteristics that I am looking for it to have and it is nice for the judges to make that distinction in my beer. For example, one of the beers that I had judged in this homebrew competition is really hoppy edition for a barelywine style ale and it is nice that the judges to make notes on it (though I really scored low for this beer).

This year's Zinncinati Octoberbest Homebrew competition, hosted at the Covington Radisson Inn by Cincinnati Malt Infusers, is the third competition that I have entered this year and second time that I have entered a homebrew in this particular competition. This is competition is larger than the one that I entered earlier this month in Dayton, OH, but is still a small local competition. There were two beer entires that I put into this competition. I am glad to say that I took third in my flight for the Porter that I brewed, but the American Barleywine did not place. Though the style is not a Porter that I tried to brew, but because it did not fit any other style category, the one it fit closest to was the Porter. The beer that I tried to brew, in which I entered into the Porter, is a North American Dark Ale (NADA, or as others call it a Cascadian Dark Ale or Black IPA).

The American Barleywine, as I said above, was very hoppy and this is what the judges had to say of it:

Beer Judge #1
Beer Judge ID: B0636
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: N/A

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Rich malt complexity with lots of raisin, caramel, and toffee. Rich dark fruits, hops come through late with citrus.

Appearance (3/3): Very clear, ruby color Small white head that goes to ring quickly.

Flavor (10/20): Opens with sweet malts and fruits notes. Middle charges in and blasts through with hops. Malt and hop balance is gone. Finish lingers on for a very long time – bitter.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Middle-full body, light carbonation, hop astringency.

Overall impression (4/10): A beautiful ruby red ale with lots of malt complexity that is crushed by the hopping rates.

Total (28/50)

Beer Judge #2
Beer Judge ID: B0252
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: Recognized

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Toasted malt and hop aroma, with some hoppiness apparent.

Appearance (3/3): Nice dark amber color, good head retention.

Flavor (10/20): Good toasted, sweet malt flavor at front, but very aggressive, almost over-bearing, hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel (3/5): Medium body and smooth, but definite bite from hops kicks in rapidly.

Overall Impression (5/10): Good maltiness and sweetness to start, but the hop influence is bit too aggressive and over-bearing. Longer aging may help to mellow, but probably cut back on the hops a little.

Total (28/50)

The Robust Porter (NADA) took third in the flight and this is what the judges had to say of it:

Beer Judge #1
Beer Judge ID: N/A
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: N/A

Descriptor Definition: N/A

Aroma (7/12): Slight tartness, some fruit and roast chocolate emerges as it warms and tart recedes (reappears with fresh pour).

Appearance (3/3): Dark brown/black clear with a light brown head. Looks inviting.

Flavor (15/20): Good balance of chocolate and roast, with hop backing into finish. There is some decent fruitiness, but overall clean, well-attenuated. Maybe could use a little more “robust” roastiness, but I like it.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Nice creamy mouthfeel, appropriate carbonation. Hidden alcohol, roast comes in the nose after the swallow.

Overall Impression (7/10): Not sure why there is a sourness to the initial pour smell, but it is easily overlooked as I move in. Well done beer I could drink plenty more of.

Total (36/50)

Beer Judge #2
Beer Judge ID: B0654
Judge Qualification and BJCP Rank: Certified

Descriptor Definitions: Musty – Stale, musty, or mold aromas/flavors. Oxidized – Any one or combination of winy/vinous, cardboard, papery, or sherry-like aromas and flavors

Aroma (7/12): Slight oxidation / carboard up front. Moderate raost with slight acidic note. Slight alcohol more is apparent. Moderate hops.

Appearance (3/3): Very dark brown, clear around edges with creamy, persistent brownish head.

Flavor (16/20): Very malty flavor of toffee, caramel, and chocolate. Finishes med-sweet. Moderate bitterness balances well seems a it high gravity – like an imperial. Some roast / coffee notes and hop flavor. Clean flavor profile.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Heavy, chewy body, with creaminess. Carbonation helps cut the body fullness.

Overall impression (7/10); Very strong, malt / roast porter. A slight off-aroma up front, but cleared up nicely and did not leave any off-flavors. Good beer.

Total (37/50)

Again, I am very gratified with my showing and notes on my beer. I'll let my American Barleywine sit for a couple of years and re-enter it into another competition. Very soon I will have notes on my brewing of an Imperial Oatmeal Chocolate Stout that I did yesterday (10/29/11) and hopefully some notes on a Belgium Dubbel that Brandon and I brewed at Quarter Barrel. All notes on brewing will be released when the beer is on tap at Quarter Barrrel.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Teaching Friends how to Brew!

Teach Friends How to Brew

A lot of times I don't feel the necessity to brew beer for myself. My altruistic behavior wants me to share and have other people enjoy the fruits of my labor. I enjoy sharing my brew and with this batch that I am brewing, I get to share my knowledge of brewing. The batch that we brewed this weekend was a Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. It is not the imperial style, because I only have 3 weeks for it to be ready for a Halloween shin-dig that my friends wants it for. The brew date for this batch was 10.09.11. I want to acknowledge my friend and colleague Kaitlin Uppstrom for the rad photos that she took with her macro.

This brew is similar to the Imperial Oatmeal Chocolate Stout that I brewed last November in that it has a lot of the same grains and adjuncts. With this brew, I changed up the hop varieties and cut back on the yeast. Five days prior to this brew I started the smack pack of Wyeast strain 1084 Irish Ale and the next day I made a starter that had a specific gravity of 1.044. The morning of brew day, I crushed the grain, loaded my equipment and drove it from my home in Cincinnati to Oxford, OH for brewing.

My grain bill for this particular brew is the following:

8# Pale Malt (2-row) US
2# Munich Malt 10-L
1# Flaked Barely
1# Chocolate Malt
1# Flaked Oats
0.25# Caramel/Crystal 60
0.25# Caramel/Crystal 120
0.25# Roasted Barely
1# Rice Hulls

After I got all my equipment set-up for brew day, I prepared my mash water of 172°F for mash in and added it to preheat my mashtun and to the hot water storage tank. While this taken place, I also made oatmeal out of the flaked oats and barley. After the mashtun was preheated, I drained it and added my grains and oatmeal. I added 17 quarts of hot water to the grain and made sure that there were no dough balls and took a temperature reading. The temperature was low at 148°F, so I boiled another gallon of the stove and added it to the mash to bring the temperature up to 156°F.

During steeping of the grains in the mash Kaitlin and I went and tended bees. With this being the fall, and bees having limited nectar resources, the bees were angry. All that we were wanting to do is to check for the queen and add anti-mite strips to the colony. We are eventually going to prepare the bees for winter and split the hive, so that I will have a hive next spring and be able to extract honey for multiple mead making experiences!

During the run-off I did a Vorlauf to clear the beer and after the run-off of the wort, I weighed out the hops and cocoa nibs that I am using for this brew:

0.67 oz. Magnum [14.00% AA] at 60 min.
1.00 oz Willamette [5.50% AA] at 15 min.
1.00 oz Fuggles [4.20% AA] at 5 min.
3.7 oz. Cocoa Nibs at 15 min.
0.25 oz Irish moss at 15 min.

With my preboil being low of a 1.050, I decided to have a longer boil (70 min.) to bring up my. efficiency. I added my hops and adjuncts to the boil at the given times and started the cooling process with my wort chiller. Once the wort was down to 80°F, I sanitized the bucket, lid, and air-lock in an iodophor solution. I transferred the wort to the sanitized bucket by pouring it and allowing for plenty aeration. I added the starter to the wort, snapped on the lid, and applied the air-lock. The beer should be ready for bottling on October 23 or after.