- Brewery: Bear Republic Brewing Company
- Country: USA
- Style: American IPA / Rye Beer
- ABV: 8 %
- Size: 355 ml
- Bought from: Gift
- Beer Advocate
I haven’t tasted any commercial beers made with rye before, only a homebrew by my homebrewing neighbor Juhani (thanks for the tasting, the beers were both interesting and tasty!), but I am very interested in doing so, since I have heard that the rye lends a spicy character that sounds intriguing. Bear Republic are a craft brewery from California, and have tried their Racer 5 and Big Bear Black Stout before which were really nice. I wasn’t able to find any official information on the ingredients used in the brew, but homebrew recipes circulating around the web suggests it contains Pale Ale, Rye, Munich, Wheat and Carapils malt, and Columbus, Centennial and Amarillo hops. The IBUs should be around 80, so this is bordering to an Imperial IPA. Lets see how it tastes!
[easyreview title=”Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a clear dark amber, almost brown, color, and a large, but compact, cream-colored head is formed, that slowly collapses leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. Beautiful appearance.” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma contains both caramelly and malty tones, lending tones of a sugary and almost raisiny fruitiness, combined with a piney, resiny and even grapefruity hoppiness.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a caramelly maltiness, drawing to tones of brown sugar and again an almost raisiny fruitiness. These are joined by a resiny, grapefruity and dank hoppiness, combined with minimal peppery tones (is this the rye?). The finish is semi-dry and quite bitter. The flavors are quite balanced, and this beer definitely has a strong malt backbone to back up the bitterness. The alcohol is well hidden behind the complex flavors present.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-full body and medium carbonation level, making it quite easy to drink. This is definitely more of a slow sipper, but still very enjoyable.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A really nice beer, featuring a strong malty backbone combined with a resiny and dank hoppiness and a biting bitter finish. There were some spicy notes present which I guess are from the rye, and they fitted really well with the hoppiness of the beer. This beer really got me interested in brewing something with rye myself!”]
Today I dry-hopped the Imperial IPA I brewed 8 days ago with 100 g of hops (40 g Amarillo, 20 g Centennial, 20 g Columbus and 20 g Nugget). I originally had the intention of dry-hopping with 20 g each of the five varieties I used when brewing, but since the Amarillo were pellets I decided to dump them all into the primary (since I don’t want pellet debris in the keg) and instead save the 40 g of Simcoe for the keg. The fermentation seemed quite finished, but again I didn’t measure the gravity, so will have to hope for the best. I will be kegging this beer next Thursday, so it will be 5 days on the dry hops. Here is the label I will be using for the beer (thanks again Pia for designing this fantastic label!):
- Brewery: The Alchemist
- Country: USA
- Style: Imperial IPA
- ABV: 8 %
- Size: 500 ml
- Bought from: Online, ~8 euro
- Beer Advocate
Time to try another highly rated IPA (ranked number 3 all-time on Beer Advocate and the 5th best Imperial IPA on RateBeer) I recently acquired: The Alchemist’s Heady Topper. Alchemist are a craft brewery from Vermont, USA, currently only brewing a single beer (Heady Topper, their Imperial IPA). The reason for this is that their brewery was destroyed with Hurricane Irene last year, and they have now just recently reopened. They produced a wide range of beers before, but are now only concentrating on brewing their flagship beer perfectly. The new brewery also features a canning line, so this IIPA should be extra protected from UV light and oxygen. Alchemist are very secretive about this brew, so I have no information on the ingredients used to brew it. The website states that the beer is 120 IBU. The can suggests you should drink the beer directly out of the can, but I wanted a look of it as well, so I poured it into a snifter. Let’s see if this lives up to the hype!
[easyreview title=”Alchemist Heady Topper” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a hazy golden-yellow color (some hints of orange), and a slight white head is formed, that collapses quickly leaving some lacing along the glass. There are hop particulates floating around in the beer, suggesting that this is gonna be a really hoppy beer. The surface is oily as well.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”Wow, you can smell this beer from a couple of meters away. The aroma is extremely hoppy, with tones of grapefruit, mango, tropical fruits, resin, grass and lemon zest. As a hop-lover I can say this is the best smelling beer I’ve ever had.” cat2rating=”5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is as hop-dominated as the aroma. There is almost no sign of any maltiness, as the flavor begins with a citrusy and resiny hoppiness, featuring tones of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, pine and earthy herbs. The flavor clings onto the every exposed surface of the mouth, and it finishes with a bitter and quite dry finish. This beer is balanced completely towards the hops, but the bitterness is not over the top, and it still is enjoyable to drink. In fact, I really like this beer. Maybe not the tastiest beer I’ve had, but definitely top 3. You really have to like hop flavors to like this one though” cat3rating=”5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. The beer is a little sticky and oily because of all the hoppiness, and the bitterness withdraws some points. This is still surprisingly easy to drink!” cat4rating=”4″ cat5title=”Overall” cat5detail=”A fantastic beer, filled with amazing hop aroma and flavor. This beer is concentrated solely on the hops, but the beer still manages to be interesting and tasty. The hoppiness is complex, and features a wide range of flavors. Definitely lives up to its hype. If you ever get the chance to try it, do it! Beware though, you have to love hops!” cat5rating=”5″ overall=”false”]
- Brewery: –
- Country: –
- Style: Blonde Ale
- ABV: 4.4 %
- Size: 330 ml
- Bought from: Homebrew
- Not on Beer Advocate
- Not on RateBeer
After 7 days in the bottle I decided to try the first bottle of Lovecats. Since this bottle was bottled directly from the fermenting vessel, it will probably taste slightly different to the majority of the batch that is currently kegged with 40 g of Nelson Sauvin. I expect the beer to still taste a bit green (i.e. some yeast tones and harsher bitterness) and have an insufficient carbonation level, but this should still give a general idea of what the batch will taste like. I remember that the batch of Centennial Blonde I brewed up last summer had a light citrusy and floral aroma, a malty and lightly hoppy flavor, a minimal bitter finish, and a light body, making it very refreshing to drink. Hopefully we will have achieved something similar here, but with some tones of tropical fruits as well!
[easyreview title=”South Pacific Blonde (Lovecats)” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”As I open the bottle I hear a reassuring hiss, so there should be some carbonation at least. The beer pours with a hazy orange color (the beer will hopefully clear up a bit with time) and a large fluffy white head, that collapses quite quickly leaving some lacing along the glass. The color was surprisingly dark, and don’t know if this really can be classified as a blonde ale.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is quite hoppy, featuring tones of citrus and tropical fruits, with a slight maltiness lurking behind. No strange off-aromas, so that is at least promising. A really nice aroma actually.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a bready maltiness, with some tones of biscuits and caramel present. The maltiness is joined by floral, citrusy, and grassy hop tones, that hang on quite long, as the beer finishes with a dry and minimally bitter aftertaste. The beer seems very balanced, as no flavors are dominating. The flavors are quite light, but that was intentional, as this was supposed to be a refreshing summer ale.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a light body, and currently a quite low carbonation level (this should increase with more time in the bottle), making it really refreshing and easy to drink. This is gonna be a perfect beer for those hot summer days.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”I was really positively surprised by this one, as after just a week in bottles this beer is perfectly drinkable and very refreshing. I’m happy that there are no off-flavors, and hopefully these flavors will still come together even more with a couple more weeks in the bottle. The appearance is quite off-putting at the moment, but this should hopefully clear up with time, and gain a bit more long-lasting head as the beer gets more carbonation.”]
- Brewery: AleSmith Brewing Company
- Country: USA
- Style: American IPA
- ABV: 7.25 %
- Size: 650 ml
- Bought from: Online, ~8 euro
- Beer Advocate
I recently got hold of some beers from AleSmith (their IPA, Old Numbskull and Speedway Stout), and will be trying the IPA first. AleSmith’s IPA is the top-rated IPA at RateBeer and 9th-placed American IPA at Beer Advocate, so expectations are naturally high. I couldn’t find any official information on the ingredients used in the beer, but homebrew recipes floating around online suggest a malt bill consisting of 2-row backed up with light caramalts, and a hop bill consisting of Columbus, Simcoe and Amarillo. AleSmith’s webpage informs me that the OG of the beer was 1.072, meaning the FG should be around 1.016-1.017 to give an ABV of 7.25%. A surprisingly high FG for a West Coast IPA, but it should be right down my alley (as I’m not a fan of super-dry (I)IPAs). Of course there is no freshness indications on the bottle, but it should hopefully be quite fresh. Let’s see how it tastes!
[easyreview title=”AleSmith IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a slightly hazy golden color (some hints of amber), and a slight off-white head is formed with the pour. Some lacing is left along the glass as the head collapses.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is mostly hop-dominated, with floral, citrusy (grapefruit and orange) and resiny tones present. There are some hints of caramel hidden behind the hops as well. I wonder if the aroma has suffered slightly on the way over from California.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor starts off with a honey-like and caramelly maltiness, that is joined by smooth tones of grapefruit, resin and pine. I feel the hop flavor is ‘raw’, i.e. it reminds me of the aroma of dried hop cones and that is a good thing, and it finishes off with a pleasant bitterness and a semi-dry finish. The beer is well balanced, and the components come together nicely, with the caramelly malt backbone balancing the hoppy flavors and the smooth bitterness fantastically. Still feel the beer is lacking a bit of freshness, as the hop flavors seem a bit subdued.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium body and carbonation level, and it is easy to drink for such a big beer. The beer has a smooth and slightly oily mouthfeel.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall a great beer, combining a nice maltiness with tons of hop flavors in a easily drinkable package. Even though there was plenty of hoppiness present, it felt as if the beer wasn’t super fresh, which was a shame. Alesmith seem to know what they are doing, and it is not a surprise that this beer is highly ranked.”]
Yesterday I bottled and kegged the South Pacific Blonde I brewed 2 weeks ago. The gravity had fallen to 1.010 (6.0 brix), giving it an ABV of 4.4%. This seems perfect for a summer session beer. The beer had a pleasant hop aroma and flavor, but there were also some yeast tones present, that will most likely disappear with some time in the bottle/keg. I also added 40g of Nelson Sauvin to the keg, hopefully giving it an extra boost to the aroma. My girlfriend designed a great label for the beer (which is now known as Lovecats), while I blatantly stole some lyrics from The Cure’s Lovecats for the label text.
After the bottling and kegging, I began brewing my take on an Imperial IPA. The malt bill is loosely based on the ‘Can You Brew It’ recipe for Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA, while the hop bill consists of five different varieties (Amarillo, Centennial, Columbus, Nugget, Simcoe) concentrated late in the boil, as I was hoping for massive hoppy flavor and aroma, with resiny, piney, citrusy and dank tones. I also used a variety of different salts to adjust my water. The water profile I was aiming for was quite high in sulphate (145 ppm), calcium (90 ppm) and chloride (60 ppm), to hopefully accentuate the hoppiness. As usual, I didn’t really hit the mash efficiency I was hoping for, so used a slightly extended boil (100 min) to reach the gravity I was hoping for. The flameout hops were added after 5 minutes of cooling with the immersion chiller, and I let them soak for 15 minutes, before I slowly continued chilling. I ended up with 21 liters of 1.077 (19.4 brix) gravity wort, which is now happily fermenting in my fermentation fridge set at 18.5 C (the San Diego Super Yeast caused airlock bubbles in under 12 hours). A total of 200g of dry hops are still waiting, and these will be added in two rounds (primary and keg). Hopefully this one turns out great.
Me and two brew friends have during the spring stared planning and building a 50L automated electric brew kettle (inspired by the Speidel Braumeister, though not a clone of the mechanism), with a 3.5kW ultra-low watt density element, PID thermostat, and circulation pump. We currently have all the materials, expect the tap valve, and have started with the metal work. The basic construction is presented in the picture below:
The brew kettle will consist of a 50L outer kettle (as a base) and a 35L inner kettle (we have two of these, during the mash one will function as a BIAB bag (it will have stainless steel mesh along the bottom), and during the boil the other will function as a hop bag (it will have stainless steel mesh along the bottom and sides)). The outer kettle will have a drain hole in the bottom, which is connected to a tap and a pump. The pump will circulate the wort during the mash. The mash temperature is controlled by a heating element, which in turn is controlled by a PID thermostat connected to a temperature sensor located before the tap valve.
Here is a picture of one of the inner kettles, with the bottom cut. We will weld fine stainless steel mesh over the holes (mesh placed inside the kettle):
I will post updates on the blog as the project progresses.
Brewery: Founders Brewing Company
Style: Imperial Stout (Oatmeal Stout)
ABV: 8.3 %
Size: 355 ml
Bought from: Online, 5 euros?
A rich and complex Imperial Stout might be a strange beer to drink on a warm summer night, but after some really hoppy and bitter IPAs I felt the urge for a chocolatey and coffee-like Imperial Stout. I tried this (legendary) Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Stout during my trip to Amsterdam in January, and immediately fell in love. I also tried brewing my own version of it in January, and it turned out surprisingly good. This Imperial Stout has been brewed with flaked oats, chocolate, cacao nibs, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, to give it a thick mouthfeel combined with flavors of chocolate and coffee. Only bacon missing, and this would be a perfect breakfast. The bottle also features artwork of a baby eating from a bowl on the label, and this label caused the beer to be banned from Systembolaget in Sweden. For the same reasons we will probably never see this beer at (Arkadia) Alko either. The bitterness is reported at 60 IBU. Hopefully this tastes as good as I remember!
[easyreview title=”Founders Breakfast Stout” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours pitch black with a thick consistency, and a tan-colored head is formed, that collapses quite quickly without leaving any lacing.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is dominated by tones of coffee, dark chocolate, roasted malts, licorice and caramel. Fantastic aroma if you are a fan of these kind of darker complex Imperial Stout tones. Bordering to a 5.” cat2rating=”4.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is dominated by similar tones present in the aroma. Coffee, chocolate, roasted malts, caramel, ash and the slightest dark fruits come together in a bittersweet harmony. The finish is semi-sweet and quite bitter, but the flavors play together very well. The coffee and chocolate go great together, and even though they dominate the flavor, they don’t take over completely. As the beer warms up, the alcohol sweetness becomes more evident, and the flavors become stronger.” cat3rating=”5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a very smooth and full body and medium-low carbonation level. The beer feels thick as well, and as it passes through the mouth you can feel it stick to the roof of the mouth. This is definitely a slow-sipper, a not something you want to have a warm summer day on the beach.” cat4rating=”4″ cat5title=”Overall” cat5detail=”A fantastic beer, that was as tasty as I remembered. The aroma and flavor are complex and full-packed with dark roasted tones that go together fantastically. The coffee and chocolate are present, and balance perfectly with the roasted malts and bitterness. A very drinkable beer for being this big. I haven’t had the chance to try out too many Founders beers, but they seem to know what they are doing. If you ever get the chance to try it out, do it!” cat5rating=”4.5″ overall=”false”]
- Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Co.
- Country: USA
- Style: American IPA
- ABV: 7.3 %
- Size: 355 ml
- Bought from: Online, 4 euros?
- Beer Advocate
Green Flash Brewing have impressed me greatly, and I liked both their Hop Head Red and Imperial IPA (especially this one). Their West Coast IPA is one which I attempted to clone (well it wasn’t an exact clone, more of an ‘inspired by’) last summer, and I suspect I wasn’t even close to the original. This American IPA has been hopped with Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade to an IBU of 95 (making this border to an Imperial IPA), so should be packed with citrusy and resiny hop tones. I couldn’t find any information on the malt bill, but suspect it consists mostly of Pale Ale malt and a hint of Light Crystal and/or Cara-pils. Let’s see how it tastes!
[easyreview title=”Green Flash West Coast IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours clear golden-amber, with a fluffy and long-lasting white-colored head, that leaves lacing along the glass as the liquid level falls. The second pour was a bit cloudier, as some yeast sediment managed to make its way to the glass.” cat1rating=”4.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma contains both some tones of sweet caramel and a fresh citrusy, resiny, floral and grassy hoppiness (similar tones to as when smelling a bag of dried hops). A really nice aroma, but it maybe feels a little subdued (‘tired’ bottle?).” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with the slightest hints of caramel, but it quickly becomes clear that this beer is all about the hops. Tones of resin, grass, earthy herbs and citrus can be found, and the flavor finishes with an aggressive bitter and dry finish. Even though the beer is very bitter, there is still lots of dank and citrusy hoppiness to back it up. It maybe feels a bit unbalanced, without a stronger malt backbone (but I guess that it what the US West Coast IPAs are famous for).” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-light body and a moderate carbonation level. Quite refreshing to drink, but the huge bitterness withdraws some points. The huge amount of hops give a slightly oily feel.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A great beer, that didn’t quite reach the top. There was a great amount of hop tones in both the aroma and flavor, but the aggressive bitterness made it feel a bit unbalanced. Since Green Flash started just recently with date-marking their bottles, this one didn’t have any information on bottling dates. I suspect the bottle wasn’t super-fresh, but it still was very tasty. Diamond Beer have recently started importing Green Flash beers to Finland, so you should be able to find these in well-stocked pubs!”]
Today I had a look at how the South Pacific Blonde was doing, and fermentation seems to have ended (I didn’t check the gravity, cause I don’t like unnecessary messing with fermenting wort, but the krausen had dropped and airlock activity had stopped). I added 70g of Summer hops for dry hopping. I will be bottling and kegging next Thursday, so the dry hops will be 6 days in the beer. I will be adding 40g of Nelson Sauvin to the keg as well.
I also made a 2L yeast starter out of White Labs WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, which I will be using for my Timid Tiger Imperial IPA, that I’ll also be brewing next Thursday. The starter is happily stirring on the stir plate.