Monthly Archives: January 2012

Homebrew: Double Brewday – Smoke Beer Part II

Last Sunday was a long day, as two friends (Johan & Marcus) and I brewed up two batches of smoke-themed beers (a smokey lager and peat-smoked porter). We started at around 11:30 AM and put the primaries in the fermentation fridge at around 7:30 PM, so a total of about 8 hours. Everything went quite well, but we did have some problems. First, we noticed the cordless drill my friend had brought for my malt mill wasn’t that powerful, so crushing the grains took some time. The battery in the drill lasted through about half the grain bill of each beer, meaning we had to make a total of 3 battery changes. Luckily he had two battery packs, so we had one constantly in the charger. Mashing went well, and with batch sparging we hit total efficiencies of 62% for the lager and 68% for the porter; which is an improvement over my previous batches. I’m still sure that the efficiency could be boosted a bit by crushing finer. Boiling went well, but the hop filter in my boiler kept getting clogged, even though we used cones instead of pellets, so it took some time to get the beers into their fermenters. In the end, the lager hit an OG of 1.050 and the porter an OG of 1.064. The taste samples were promising, but it became evident that we had been a bit too conservative with the amount of smoked malts in each of the beers, as there wasn’t much smokey character present in either of the pre-fermentation samples. Hopefully a smokey aroma and flavor will become more pronounced after fermentation. As if we hadn’t had enough problems already, I managed to grab the wrong combination of fermenting bucket + lid from home, which meant the lid didn’t fit the bucket perfectly. We fixed this by using some tape, to keep it down. After 24 hours the porter, fermented with WLP002, was already bubbling vigorously at an ambient temperature of 16C (meaning the beer itself is probably around 18-19C), while the lager showed no signs of activity in its fermentation fridge (set at 10.5C). Lagers usually have a longer lag time though, and since carbon dioxide is more soluble in cooler water, it will take more time before ‘visible fermentation’ is achieved. Hopefully the beers turn out good (and I won’t mind even though the beers don’t turn out smokey).

Alesmith Yulesmith (Summer)

  • Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
  • Country: USA
  • Style: Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 8.5 %
  • Size: 660 ml
  • Bought from: De Bierkoning, Amsterdam, ~15 euro
  • Beer Advocate
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Today it’s time to try the first of the beers I brought home from Amsterdam. AleSmith brew their Yulesmith beer twice a year, once during the summer and once during the winter. The recipe is slightly different between the seasons, with the summer version being an Imperial IPA and the winter version being an Imperial Red Ale. My bottle is the summer version, and I have no idea from which year it is (so am prepared for the worst, i.e. that it is a couple of years old and has gone stale). Hopefully there are still some hop flavors left in this one! Couldn’t find anymore info on the ingredients used for the beer, so will just have to try it out!

[easyreview title=”Alesmith Yulesmith (Summer)” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a hazy orange color, and a fluffy white head is formed, that collapses slowly leaving drapes of lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma has some tones of caramel, citrus, grass, resin and a slight alcohol presence.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a sweet caramelly maltiness, that is joined by a slight resiny and tropical fruity hoppiness. I suspect that a fresh bottle would be a bit more potent in the hop flavor department. Still, I quite like the subtle hoppiness. The flavor ends with a quite sweet aftertaste, and the bitterness is practically undetectable. I assume the beer has lost some bitterness over time, since I expect at least some bitterness in an Imperial IPA. The flavor are certainly on the malty side in my bottle, and lean towards a Barley Wine. Still, there are no off-flavors or other bad flavors, so this still tastes very nice.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium body and carbonation level, and with the virtually undetectable bitterness this is very easy drink. There is some alcohol present, which draws away some points.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Even though it is clear that this bottle isn’t fresh (my guess is 2010 release), since there is very little hop flavor and bitterness present, the beer is still perfectly drinkable and has taken on nice Barley Wine-like tones. Very tasty still, with a nice mouthfeel and still some hops left in the aroma. If I ever get a chance to try this fresh I definitely will. Hopefully my other IPAs I brought home from Amsterdam are in better condition.”]

Edit: I apparently was correct, as looking more closing at the text on the back of the bottle yielded: “Yulesmith Holiday Ale 2010”

Homebrew: Double Brewday – Smoke beer

Sunday I will be brewing two beers together with a couple of friends. One friend expressed a desire for smoked beer, so both beers we will be brewing will have a smoky character. We will be brewing a Smoked Lager, inspired by the German Rauchbiers, and a Smoked Porter, brewed with peated malt from Scotland. It’s probably gonna be a long day, but hopefully we end up with 38 liters of tasty beer. This will be the first time I try brewing a lager, and have managed to get a new fermentation fridge, that I will put to use for it. You can find the recipes below.

[beerxml recipe=http://beer.suregork.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/smoked_lager.xml metric=true cache=-1]

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Trip to Amsterdam

I’m just back home from a great and relaxing trip in Amsterdam with my girlfriend. Had some great beers during the trip, and even managed to bring back home 10 bottles. I really fell in love with De Bierkoning, a small beer shop featuring some very nice brews from around the world (they even recently got some 1 month old bottles of Pliny The Elder, which I didn’t buy since I’ve tried it before and didn’t want to pay the 15€ for the bottle). The prices were mostly nice, but the American beers were predictably quite pricey. They had a large selection of Dutch microbrews, which was really nice.

The first beer of the trip was ‘t IJ Zatte, an Abbey Tripel by Amsterdam-based craft brewers ‘t IJ.



Zatte poured with a hazy orange color and a small off-white head. It featured some caramel and some nice spicy and fruity yeast tones in the aroma. Flavor is similar with tones of yeast, citrus and coriander. The finish was quite dry, with a slight bitterness. A nice attempt on a Tripel. I had the beer while we were at blue°, a cafeteria/bar at the top of a shopping center in the middle of the town.

 
Next, I tried a couple of bottles I bought from Bierkoning at the hotel. First up was Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA.



This IPA was bottled 23.06.2011, so it was around 7 months old. It poured with a slightly hazy golden-orange color and a fluffy white head, which collapsed leaving some nice lacing along the glass. The aroma featured tones of caramel, resin, grass, citrus, and flowers, and was mostly hop-dominated. The flavor begins with slightly sweet caramel tones, that were joined by piney, resiny, and grapefruit tones from the hops. The beer ended with a quite dry and biting bitter finish. The beer features lots of hop flavor. This was a really crisp and smooth IPA. Overall a very nice American IPA, with some huge resiny hop flavors with a bitter finish. Would really like to try this one fresh. Score: 4/5

 
Next up in the hotel was The Kernel’s India Pale Ale Simcoe Centennial. The Kernel are a London-based microbrewery, that I’ve been hearing some great things about.



This IPA had a BBE of 27.07.2013, so guessing it was bottled 27.07.2011, making it about 6 months old. The beer poured with a slightly hazy golden-orange color (very similar to Jai Alai) and a slight white-colored head, that collapsed leaving minimal lacing along the glass. The aroma was very hoppy, with fruity, resiny and citrusy tones. Really liked the aroma. The flavor begins with a minimally sweet and caramelly maltiness, that is overtaken by hop tones of grapefruit, tangerine, resin and grass. The flavor ends quite dry and a nice bitterness. I thought the flavors were nicely balanced, and the hop flavors were especially nice. The beer had a smooth and medium-full body, making it easy to drink. A great American IPA, that in my opinion was slightly better than Jai Alai. Great hop flavors in a better balanced package. Simcoe and Centennial are amongst my favorites hops as well. Score 4-4.5/5

 

Next, it was time to head to Beer Temple, a quite small and cozy bar focusing on American craft brews, located right next to De Bierkoning. They had 30 beers on tap, with the majority being from the US (e.g. Great Divide Titan IPA, Rogue OREgasmic Ale, and Flying Dog Kujo Coffee Stout), the rest being from different European craft breweries (E.g. Mikkeller and Brewdog). They had an awesome list of bottled beer as well, and the first beer I ordered was Founders Breakfast Stout (since I brewed something similar a couple of weeks ago):



The Breakfast Stout was fantastic, and poured thick and black, with tones of coffee, chocolate and roasted malts in the aroma and flavor. Hopefully my latest homebrew inspired by this tastes at least half as good. After the stout, it was time for both an Imperial IPA and an Imperial Red Ale: Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA and Rogue’s Imperial Red Ale (from tap):



Unfortunately I only took a picture of the Weyerbacher brew. Both beers were very nice, with the Double Simcoe IPA being my favorite of the whole trip, and probably one of my favorite IPAs ever. Fantastically balanced Imperial IPA, with truckloads of resinous and tropical fruity hop flavor and aroma, and a pleasant bitter bite. The Imperial Red offered a nice combination of caramelly maltiness and citrusy hoppiness. Great beers and a great bar. Definitely worth the visit if you are after tasty beers in Amsterdam. The place got quite crowded when we visited it again on a Saturday, so come early. On the second visit I had some Brewdog/Mikkeller I Hardcore You from tap, which tasted very similar to what I remembered, but with even more hop aroma. After our first Beer Temple visit, we headed to ‘t Arendsnest, a bar serving only Dutch (craft) beer. They had tons of De Molen and Emelisse beer, and of course other beers from other nice breweries such as SNAB, ‘t IJ, and La Trappe. I played it safe and ordered a bottle of De Molen’s Tsarina Esra (Imperial Porter) and some Emelisse Triple IPA from the tap (note the fantastic drapes of lacing along the glasses):



The Tsarina Esra was a very Imperial Porter, with sweet roasted malt tones, chocolate, licorice and hops in the aroma and flavor. Really nice beer to sip on. The Triple IPA had a sweet caramelly maltiness, combined with grapefruit and resin tones. A nice Imperial IPA, but there are better beers in the style available. ‘t Arendsnest was also a cozy bar, with a great selection, and definitely worth a visit if you’re after some great local brews.

 

The beer selection in the largest (?) supermarket chain in Netherlands, Albert Heijn, was quite bad, but at least they had something else than bulk lagers. La Trappe Dubbel and Tripel 6-packs were available for 6 euros (which is fantastically cheap for Trappist beer), as well as Duvel, La Chouffe and Mc Chouffe for around 1.40€. I had a La Trappe Dubbel, La Trappe Tripel (sorry no picture) and La Chouffe in the hotel:




 


I liked the La Chouffe best of the trio, with it’s spicy and lightly hoppy finish, and really disliked the Dubbel, which in my opinion had too much alcohol presence, and an unpleasant estery fruitiness with tones of banana and raisins. The La Chouffe has recently become available at Alko as well, so you can try it out at home.

 

I managed to bring home some really nice beer I bought at De Bierkoning to Finland. A nice blend of Pilsner, IPA, Imperial IPA, Imperial Stouts and of course a bottle of the famed Westvletern 12:



Back row, left to right: Alesmith Yulesmith (Summer), Port Brewing 3rd Anniversary Ale, Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti, Hoppin Frog DORIS the Destroyer, and De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis 666
Front row, left to right: De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis, De Molen Vuur & Vlam, De Molen Winterhop, ‘t IJ Plzen, and Westvleteren 12

 

Overall, it was a nice and relaxing trip. One week was a bit too long for a small city as Amsterdam, as we ran out of things to see and do after a couple of days (we were not interested in the coffee shops), but my travel companion was great, so we were never bored. For a shorter weekend trip, I would definitely recommend the city though, especially if you want to see canals, crooked houses, windmills, or want to try some nice beers.

Below are some random photos taken during the trip:













Stadin Panimo NZ Pacifica Pale Ale

  • Brewery: Stadin Panimo
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 4.5 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: K-Citymarket, 3.95 euro
  • Not on Beer Advocate
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Saw a couple of new Stadin Panimo beer (NZ Pacifica Pale Ale, Nugget Pale Ale and Witbier) in K-Citymarket a couple of weeks ago, and now I finally have time to try one of them. Stadin Panimo have been brewing a series of single hop pale ale for a couple of years now, and this is an extension to the series. I haven’t tried anything hopped with NZ Pacifica (at least that I know of), but the hop is known for orangey citrus notes, so it should be interesting. I have no more information on the ingredients used, but the beer should have a bitterness of 35 IBU and it has been aroma-hopped using hopback technique. Tomorrow I’m heading to Amsterdam with my girlfriend for a one-week vacation. I’m really looking forward to some time off school and work, and will hopefully be able to try some nice beers on the trip as well. Will at least try to head to De Bierkoning (unfortunately Cracked Kettle has closed), Beer Temple, ‘t Arendsnest and In de Wildeman.

[easyreview title=”Stadin Panimo NZ Pacifica Pale Ale” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a slighty hazy golden-amber color, a white-colored head that quickly collapses leaving minimal lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is hoppy, with floral and fruity tones. I can’t pinpoint the exact fruits, but there is some citrus (though not much orange), peach and maybe mango? There is as a slight sweetness present as well.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a slight caramelly sweetness, which is joined by a citrusy and fruity flavor, similar to what was present in the aroma. The flavor ends quite dry and with a slightly bitter finish. Quite light, but the flavors are well balanced. The aftertaste is plagued by a vegetable-like off flavor, that sticks to the top of the mouth.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer is quite light-bodied and has a medium carbonation level. The beer is refreshing, but feels a little thin.” cat4rating=”3″ summary=”A good pale ale, similar to the other beers in Stadin Panimo’s single hop series. It had some nice fruity aroma and flavors, but the strange off-flavor draws away some points. A bit light in body, but still nice for a <4.7% beer."]

More Finnish microbrews to become available at Alko 06.02.2012

According to rumors at the Olutopas.info forum, the following beers (all from Finnish microbreweries) will become available at Alko 25.01.201206.02.2012. The release is associated with Alko’s 80 year anniversary, which it will be celebrating this year. The beers will make it to most Alkos nation-wide, but the stocks are quite small (3000-10000 per beer).

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Homebrew: Snopen Dog Mocca Stout

Today was a brewday again and this time I brewed a (Imperial) Breakfast Stout, i.e. an Imperial Oatmeal Stout, spiced with coffee and chocolate. Everything went surprisingly well and I ended up with an OG of 1.091, so am aiming for about 9% ABV. I will add some more ground coffee and cacao nibs to the secondary, after fermentation is complete. The hop bitterness in this one is a bit lower than what is recommended for the style, but that is because the coffee and chocolate contribute with some bitterness as well. Below is the recipe and a picture of the hop and spice additions.

 
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Homebrew: Update on the Lusty Leopard Tripel

Today I racked my Lusty Leopard Tripel to a keg for conditioning and force carbonation. Will probably bottle the batch in a couple of weeks. The gravity had dropped to 1.015, so the ABV should be around 8.4%, perfect! The sample tasted promising as well, with a nice spiciness, coupled with tones of belgian yeast and a slight fruitiness. There was a bit of alcohol warmth, but I think this one will be great in a couple of months, with carbonation, conditioning and a slightly colder serving temperature.

Tomorrow is brewday again, and I will have a go at brewing a Breakfast Stout, i.e. an Imperial Stout with Oats, Coffee, and Chocolate. Hopefully everything goes well! I also have plans to oak-age half my Black Panther batch, which (the non-oak-aged portion) will be hitting bottles in around 3 weeks.

Left Hand Milk Stout

  • Brewery: Left Hand Brewing Company
  • Country: USA
  • Style: Sweet Stout
  • ABV: 6.0 %
  • Size: 355 ml
  • Bought from: Bierzwerg, 2.59 euro
  • Beer Advocate
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Today will be the first time I try a Milk Stout, also known as Sweet Stout or Cream Stout, as I try Left Hand’s Milk Stout. Milk Stout is a, originally English, style of beer that first appeared in the end of the 19th century. Milk Stouts are Stouts with added lactose (which is non-fermentable by common brewers yeast), thus leaving a residual sweetness. This beer is brewed with Pale 2-row, Crystal, Munich, and Chocolate Malts, Roast Barley, Flaked Oats, Flaked Barley, and Lactose, and hopped with Magnum and US Goldings to a bitterness of 25 IBU. The color is 47 SRM, so it should be quite dark. My bottle had a best before date of November 2011, so hopefully it is still drinkable.

[easyreview title=”Left Hand Milk Stout” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a black color (that shows some hints of red when looked through against the light), and a compact cream-colored head, that collapses slowly, leaving slight lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is roasty, with tones of roasted malt and a slight coffee note. Maybe a light sweetness in the aroma, but could also just be my imagination. Nothing special in the aroma.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a sweet and creamy roastiness, that offers similar tones as in the aroma. The coffee tones are more pronounced with the backing sweetness, and these are joined by some chocolatey tones as well. The flavor ends semi-dry with just the slightest bitter and acrid finish. The flavors work quite well together, but are on the light side, and the finish puts the beer a little out of balance.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a smooth, creamy and medium-full body, with a medium carbonation level. Not overly sweet, and to be honest not as sweet as I had expected. Felt nice in the mouth.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall a nice beer, that featured some roasted coffee and chocolate flavors coupled with a smooth mouthfeel, but unfortunately had a slight acridness in the finish. The creamy sweetness really helped bring forward the coffee and chocolate flavor, and it definitely wasn’t overdone. Overall a nice beer!”]

Anderson Valley Imperial IPA

  • Brewery: Anderson Valley Brewing Company
  • Country: USA
  • Style: Imperial IPA
  • ABV: 8.7 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: Bierzwerg, 2.79 euro
  • Beer Advocate
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I hope everyone has had a good start to the new year! We have finally received some snow here in Southern Finland, but it seems as if it is going to melt away very soon. This evening I though it would be time for the first beer of the new year, and what better than a hoppy Imperial IPA! Have only had one beer by Anderson Valley before, their Hop Ottin’ IPA, and that one was quite nice, so hopefully this one delivers as well. Their Imperial IPA was originally brewed to celebrate Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s 20 year anniversary. Couldn’t find much information on the beer, other than that it’s been brewed with ‘excessive amounts of malt’, and hopped with ’20 separate additions of the finest Pacific Northwest hops’ to an IBU of 100. The large amount of hop additions make this interesting, and I am expecting a complex hop presence in the beer. Let’s see how it does!

[easyreview title=”Anderson Valley Imperial IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a slightly hazy orange-amber color, and a slight off-white head, that collapses as quickly as it is formed. Could have used a better head, but otherwise looks tasty.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma has hints of both malt and hops, with tones of caramel and honey blending with some citrusy and floral hop tones, that draw from grapefruits, pine, grass and tropical fruits (just slightly). I detect some alcohol, as well as a soapy/spicy off-aroma that I think doesn’t really fit with the other aroma.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins very malt forward, with sweet tones of caramel, butterscotch and honey. The malt flavors are then joined by a floral, fruity and slightly spicy hop flavor, featuring tones of grapefruit, pine, resin, mango, and (black)pepper. Feels as though the hop flavors are a little hidden behind the malt, but they are certainly present, though not as in-your-face as other West Coast Imperial IPAs. The flavor finishes quite dry and with a nice bitter bite. The maltiness balances the hop flavors and bitterness quite well, but I think they take over a bit too much. Otherwise I liked the taste of this beer.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a smooth, oily, medium-full body and a medium carbonation level, giving the beer a quite thick and syrupy mouthfeel. As mentioned, the beer is balanced towards the malty side of the spectrum, but there is still a huge presence of hops.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A good Imperial IPA, that unfortunately doesn’t really cut it. It is sweeter than most other beers in the style, and the hop flavors seem a bit tucked away. There are still lots of fruity and resiny hop tones, and these combined quite well with the caramel from the malt. Not bad, but probably wouldn’t buy again.”]