Monday, September 24, 2012

Michigan Beer Cup

This past August, I submitted two beers into the 3rd annual Michigan Beer Cup. This state wide competition that promotes brewing through education and brewing. I was curious how some of my brews would fair in different homebrew competitions, though the competition is still only in the Midwest.

In this competition I did not receive any medals, though I did score the highest that I have ever scored for a beer that I submitted.

The first beer is a Spiced Beer. I used Mexican Hot Cocoa mix, Chili Powder, and Cayenne Pepper in this beer to make it a Chocolate Mole Beer in a style of a Oatmeal Stout. I received a honorable mention with a score of 40/50.

Judge 1: Experienced (not in BJCP)

Aroma (8/12): Nice spicy nose, has very little chocolate malt comes through nicely

Appearance (3/3): Color is spot on for all the chocolate, nice and clear

Flavor (16/20): Rich flavor with little chocolate finish, pepper comes through as a warm spicy finish

Mouthfeel (5/5): Warming smooth with the correct carbonation, a little spice is nice

Overall Impression (8/10): Very nice stout comes forward, roast malty flavor was unexpected but maybe the chili powder flavor, not to peppery.

Total 40/50

Judge 2: BJCP rank pending

Aroma (10/12): Roasted malt immediately evident. Also some spicy pepper almost equal. No hop aroma noted. No esters or other aromatics

Appearance (3/3): This beer is very dark brown and clear. Head retention is low, with very tiny bubbles.

Flavor (16/20): Roasted malt character dominates at first, but is quickly over taken by a spicy pepper character. No hop flavor detected. This beer is balanced a little to the bitter side and finishes dry and mildly hot.

Mouthfeel (5/5): The body is medium-plus, carbonation is low. Any alcohol warmth is masked by the hot pepper. No creaminess or astringency, the pepper feel pretty much dominates.

Overall Impression (6/10): Very drinkable hot pepper stout. The pepper is pronounced, but not excessive. Unfortunately I don't taste any chocolate over and above what would normally be found in an oatmeal stout.

Total 40/50

The second beer that I submitted was the Saison that I took third with at the Siciliano'sHonebrew Competition. At this competition, this beer did not fair as well as it did in Grand Rapids, because it foamed out of the bottle once opened.

Judge 1: BJCP rank pending

Aroma (5/12): Pilsner malt sweetness, some DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide), kind of barnyard aroma.

Appearance (1/3): Hazy, gold, head with huge bubbles that quickly dissipates.

Flavor (15/20): Sweet that does lingers into the finish. Not much fruit. Some alcohol flavor. Spice

Mouthfeel (3/5): High carbonation, medium-full bod, some astringency and creamy.

Overall impression (7/10): Needs to be drier, there are some off flavors in it, little tartness.

Judge 2: Non-BJCP

Aroma (7/12): High fruitiness present and a slight sour, with a little to no alcohol, mustiness present may be off flavor

Appearance (2/3): Pale color, cloudy, with light head, but low retention.

Flavor (13/20): Sweet character but lacks complexity and character.

Mouthfeel (4/5): Very high effervescent quality with light body and tart finish

Overall Impression (5/10): The carbonation was very high and bubbly, the beer did not mave much flavor profile for this style.

Overall, I was happy with the results, though a little perplexed by my Saison. Some competition say that it should be drier, some sweeter. I think that something was wring with the bottle and I need to drink one to see how it fairs to my taste. Also,everyones taste is different.

Yes, this is a post that I should have blogged a while ago. I need to catch up on my blogs. I have three more in mind that I want to get done in the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Brewing of a Belgian Golden Ale

A little over month ago, a few of us homebrewers got together to brew up a batch of beer for this year's homebrew party at my buddy Matt Aerni. To start, Matt and I wanted to think of a beer, something that would not to take to long to mature into a good beer, but something that would definitely age if a bottle or two is held back. The original thought was to develop a sour recipe, but that would take way to long to mature. After spending some time looking at different recipes on the Internet, it was that a Belgian Golden Ale would do good.

This recipe design and most of the brewing process I was able to refrain myself from taking the reigns and taking over. The idea, design, and the whole brewing process I let Matt take over. Plus, this is the maiden brew for Matt's new system, plus we decided to start a homebrew club (in which I will talk aboot later).

For this beer, it was decided to do a longer boil to do some caramelization. Another thing that we did was to use an additional adjunct malts to give more aromas and better mouthfeel.

Malt Bill:
14# Belgian Pilsner Malt
0.5# Melanoiden Malt

On brew day (Sat. 21 July, 2012), we began with boiling water and pre-heating the mashtun. The grain was crushed the night previously. We decided to keep the recipe simple by doing a single infusion with a batch sparge. When water reached the optimal temperature (165 ºF), we mashed in while stirring to reduce the amount dough ball that could form. We let the mash steep for an hour.

When running off the wort from the mash, we preformed a vorlauf to clear the beer. This process clears the wort by using the grain bed as a filter for the wort. We then sparged with 170 ºF water to rinse the grain of any left over sugars. Our final volume before the boil was around 7 gallon with a pre-boil gravity of 1.066.

Once the wort started to boil we added 2# of Clear Candi Sugar. We let the wort boil for 90 minutes while adding the following hops with the scheduled times:

Hop schedule:
Stryian Hops (60 min.)
Styrian Hops (30 min.)
Saaz Hops (20 min.)
Saaz Hops (15 min.)
Saaz Hops (10 min,)
Saaz Hops (5 min.)

When the boil was complete, the beer was cooled to 80 ºF. It took long enough to get it that low, being 90 ºF outside. The original gravity came out to a whopping 1.104. The wort was poured into a sanitized fermenting bucket and a flask of yeast starter with WLP570 Golden Ale Yeast was poured into the bucket. 

After 3 weeks the beer was transferred to a glass secondary fermenter. A week after the beer was bottled in 12-oz. Bottles with a FG of 1.016. That gives this brew a ABV of 11.8%.

EDIT:  I have to give credit to Alex Allegree for all of the photos.