Monthly Archives: August 2012

A small update

I apologize again for the slight inactivity, as I have been busy with work and studying. Will try to review some beers during the weekend, post some updates on the homebrews as they come along, and finish the final part of the Hop Science mini-essay during next week. Today, I will be dry-hopping the American IPA with some Amarillo, Cascade and Simcoe, tomorrow we will be bottling the Weisse Katze Hefeweizen after two weeks of primary fermentation (I will aim for about 3 vols carbonation), and on Friday its time for another brewday, as we are going to brew up an Imperial Porter for Christmas.

We are brewing the Imperial Porter a couple of months in advance, to ensure that it has matured (at least somewhat) until Christmas. The malt bill will consist of Pale Ale, Munich, Crystal, Special B, Chocolate and Black malt, and it will be hopped with Nugget and Magnum. We are aiming for an OG around 1.090, an ABV just under 9%, IBUs around 90, and an EBC above 100. After fermentation we will let the beer mature on some vanilla beans and maybe some bourbon-soaked oak chips, to give it some complexity. I have never really been a fan of ‘christmas-spiced’ beers, so will not use any ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc., and instead play with the mixture of roasted coffee, chocolate and vanilla, which I though worked well in the Brandy-Vanilla Porter I brewed about a year ago. Will post the recipe and brewday pictures on/after the brewday.

I also have plans for a lot of different batches (the Brett IPA, a Belgian Blond, a Quadrupel, and a low-ABV session IPA), that I hopefully will have time to brew during the autumn. Friday is also my last day at my current job, after which I will start working on my master’s thesis. I’m very happy and excited that my master’s thesis will be about beer fermentation (more specifically diacetyl production during fermentation), so stayed tuned for some scientific posts about the topic as well (depending on what kind of information I’m allowed to publish).

PS. Two new online shops for homebrewing supplies have opened in Finland: Brewcat and I have already tried out both, and can highly recommend both of them!

Homebrew: Fermentation Update

The gravity of the German Pilsener brewed on the 9th of August has dropped from 1.055 to 1.012 (14 to 6.8 brix) after 3 days at 9.5C, 5 days at 10.5C and 2 days at 20C, so I racked it over to a cornelius keg for 4-8 weeks of lagering (will regularly taste it to see when I think it has lagered enough) at 0C. The small taste sample I had was promising, but I couldn’t really draw many conclusions, as I have a cold and my nose was completely stuffed. I couldn’t detect any major flaws at least, and overall the flavor was very clean and crisp. Looking forward to trying this again in a couple of weeks, hopefully with improved olfaction.

The Hefeweizen, Black Lodge Imperial Stout, and American IPA are still fermenting. The hefeweizen fermented extremely violenty, and I had my first blow-off (though luckily not that messy). The Imperial Stout is slowly chugging along, and hopefully it won’t get stuck at too high of a FG. The American IPA was very slow to start, with no airlock activity for the first 48 hours, even though I pitched a large and active WLP051 starter. Now it is fermenting actively, with some strange (sulfur-like?), but apparently perfectly normal for the strain, aromas from the airlock. Hopefully these turn out nice.

New and upcoming releases at Alko

Here are some beers that were released during the summer in Alko:

And here are some beers (including some tasty, but pricey, IPAs) that will be later during this month:

Beer Tasting

A couple of weeks ago (yes, I have really postponed writing this), me and two friends gathered to drink some beer after work, and at the same time I could ‘get rid of’ / taste through some of my evergrowing beer stock to make place for more. We had nine beers on the agenda, with one of them being Lovecats, the homebrewed blonde ale, and many being beers I had tried before. The whole line-up from left to right was: Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale, Alesmith X, Port Brewing Shark Attack, Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier, Lovecats, Green Glash Hop Head Red, Lindemanns Faro, William Bros Kelpie and Dark Star Espresso Stout.

We began by tasting Lovecats (left in picture below), Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier (center in picture below) and Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale (right in picture below). Lovecats poured with the usual hazy orange color and quickly-collapsing white-colored head. The aroma was citrusy, grassy and also featured tones of tropical fruits, and compared to the other two beers in the lineup (and actually also compared to the hoppier beers tasted later during the evening), it became evident that Lovecats has a really strong hop aroma. The flavor began with a slight maltiness, which was joined by a grassy and citrusy hoppiness, that lingered on to a bitter and slightly tart finish. The beer had a light body and quite high carbonation. Overall, Lovecats is an okay pale ale, have brewed better though.

Hopfenstopfer Jahrgangsbier is  German Pilsener, apparently brewed with homegrown malts and hops. The beer poured with a crystal-clear golden-yellow color and a fluffy white head. The aroma was very mild, but featured sweet, malty, and perfume-like tones. The flavor was also quite sweet, with malty and bready tones dominating. There was almost no hoppiness nor bitterness present in the flavor. The beer had a light body and medium carbonation level. Overall, I didn’t really like this one. Very bland and boring.

Firestone Walker’s Double Barrel Ale is an English-style Pale Ale, fermented in oak barrels. The beer poured with a clear copper color and a fluffy off-white head. Nice looking beer. The aroma contained some herbal and earthy hops, combined with tones of oak, caramel and the slightest fruitiness. The flavor was similar to the aroma, with a caramelly and bready maltiness dominating together with a oaky woodiness and a herbal hoppiness. The finish was dry and quite astringent. The body was smooth and medium-full, and the beer had a medium carbonation level. Overall, a strange beer, but the oakiness went together quite well with the caramel and hops.

After this we moved on to the darker and (the only) sour beer: William Bros Kelpie (left in the picture below), Lindemanns Faro (center in the picture below) and Dark Star Espresso Stout (right in the picture below). Kelpie, which I have had a small taste sample of before, is a dark traditional ale that has been brewed with fresh seaweed in the mash tun. The beer poured clear and dark brown, almost black, with a quite long-lasting cream-colored head. The aroma was dominated by toasted and roasted malts, with slight coffee tones. There is also a minimal fruitiness present in the aroma. The flavor is also dominated by the toasted and roasted malts, and these are joined by a herbal hoppiness, and a minerally and dry finish. The beer has a quite light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, I was not really fond of this beer, as the flavors were a bit strange and the beer felt a little light. I couldn’t really detect any seaweed, but there was a saltiness present.

Next up was Lindemans Faro, a beer in a style that was new to me. Faro Lambics are lambic (i.e. spontaneously fermented sour beers) blends which have been sweetened with (usually brown) sugar. Bottled versions are usually pasteurized, to prevent bottle-fermentation of the added sugar. The beer poured slightly hazy, with an amber color, and almost no head. The aroma was sweet and sour, with a combination of candy, sugar, a cherry-like tartness, and some funkiness. The flavor featured sweet caramel blended with a citrusy and cherry-like tartness and acidity. The flavor reminded me of some kind of sweet and sour candies I’ve eaten as a kid. The finish was slightly dry, while the body was a light and the beer had a medium-high carbonation level. Overall, a very strange beer, that I found surprisingly enjoyable I must admit. I’m not a fan of sour beer at all, but this was surprisingly drinkable (probably thanks to the sweetness).

Dark Star’s Espresso Stout is also a beer I’ve had before, and it is a stout brewed with ground arabica coffee. The beer pours pitch-black, portraying slight red tones when held up against the light, and a tan-colored head is formed, that leaves lacing as it collapses. The aroma is dominated by coffee, but there are some roasted malt and caramel tones present as well. You can definitely tell coffee has been used when brewing this. The flavor featured tones of roasted malt, coffee, ash, and some chocolate. The finish is quite dry and astringent, and I’m left wishing for some more body to back up the roastiness. The beer has a light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a very coffee-dominated beer that is a little light on the body. Would really benefit from some more alcohol and rest sugars.

We finished off the evening with the hoppy beers, tasting through Green Flash Hop Head Red (left in the picture below), Alesmith X (center in the picture below) and Port Brewing Shark Attack (right in the picture below). I had tried two of the beers before, but Alesmith’s X was new to me. Green Flash Hop Head Red poured with a clear dark amber-copper color and a cream-colored head, that collapsed leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. The aroma has lots of hoppiness featuring floral, citrusy, fruity, and pineapple-like tones. There are also some tones of dark fruits and candy-like sweetness present. The flavor features tones of caramel, toasted malt, and a resiny and grapefruit-like hoppiness, that ends in a semi-dry and moderately bitter finish. The beer has a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice beer, featuring some nice hoppiness (especially the aroma) and balance.

The next beer was Alesmith X, which is an American Pale Ale by the infamous San Diego-based brewers. The beer poured with a clear golden-yellow color and a white head, that collapsed leaving some slight lacing along the glass. The aroma was hoppy, featuring floral, citrusy, and grassy tones. The aroma also featured some mild caramel tones. The flavor featured a light maltiness coupled with a citrusy hoppiness, that finished in a dry and bitter finish. The beer had a medium-light body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a better-than-average pale ale, but nothing very special. The hop tones were nice, but felt like the beer was lacking something.

The final beer of the evening was Port Brewing’s Shark Attack, previously tasted here. The beer had a very similar appearance to Hop Head Red, with a dark amber color and a cream-colored head. The aroma featured tones of dark fruits, raisins, red fruits, floral and citrusy hoppiness, and slight alcohol. I definitely remembered this being a lot hoppier and the last bottle I had was even much older (this one was only 3 months old). The flavor featured tones of caramel, dark fruits, malts, and a grapefruit-like hoppiness. The flavor finishes semi-dry and quite bitter. The beer featured a medium-full body and a medium carbonation level. Overall, a nice imperial red, but this was a lot maltier and less hoppy than I remembered. Still very enjoyable and a nice end to the evening.

All in all it was a good evening, with some really nice beers. The last three beers were among my favorites of the night, and something really surprising was that Lovecats had the most hoppy aroma of the lot.

Homebrew: Unexpected Predator – American IPA

Yesterday I brewed up yet another beer, this time an American IPA together with a friend (Mats) who was interested in trying homebrewing. I currently have four batches fermenting, so there will be a lot of beer for the autumn and winter. Mats requested a citrusy and hoppy pale ale, so we brewed up a beer with a simple malt bill (Pale Ale, Munich, Crystal 10 and Crystal 60) and hopped it with Magnum (bittering), Amarillo, Cascade and Simcoe. The calculated IBU is only 49, but I’m certain the real IBU is higher (probably closer to 70), since after the flameout hop addition, the hops were steeped in recirculating hot wort for 30 minutes before the wort was cooled to pitching temperatures with the plate heat exchanger (took 5 minutes). We will dry hop the beer with around 100 g of hops after fermentation has slowed down. We pitched a 1.5 liter starter of WLP051 (this is my first time using this yeast), and hopefully it manages to ferment the beer down to around 1.015. Sorry, no pictures this time.

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Homebrew: Black Lodge Imperial Stout Part II

Today I brewed up the Black Lodge Imperial Stout mentioned in the previous post. Everything went quite well, and even hit my target original gravity of 1.100, so this should end up around 9.0-9.5%, depending on how dry it ferments. Might have to add some more coffee, cherry juice concentrate and chili before bulk aging, if the flavors aren’t strong enough. Fingers crossed this turns out good. Recipe and brewday pictures below.

The ‘special’ ingredients. From left to right: The resiny and piney Chinook hops (douglas firs of the Northwestern woods), the candi syrup (the dark soul of Windom Earle), the coffee beans (damn fine coffee), the chili (something that will really light your fire), and the cherry juice concentrate (the best cherry pie in town).

Cutting up the Cheyenne chili.

Weighing up the coffee beans.

The four hop additions.

The mash. Thick and smelling good!

Lautering into the kettle. The beer is very dark and thick as you can see.

Boiling. I needed to boil off lots of water to hit the high gravity.

Enjoying a damn fine cup of joe during the boil.

Adding the juice after flameout.

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Homebrew: Black Lodge Imperial Stout Part I

Tomorrow I will be brewing yet another beer, but this time around I will be using my old brewing equipment and I will be making a smaller batch (12 litres). The beer I will be brewing is the Twin Peaks-inspired Black Lodge Imperial Stout, first mentioned in this post. I have revised the recipe a little since the last post, adding some Dark Candi Syrup, changing around the malt bill and bumping up the gravity slightly.

This Imperial Stout will be around 10% ABV, and contain some:

  • Damn fine coffee (Brazilian Yellow Bourbon Coffee Beans at flameout and perhaps in the secondary)
  • The best cherry pie in town (Cherry juice concentrate at flameout)
  • Something that will really light your fire (A Cheyenne Chili Pepper at flameout)
  • The dark soul of Windom Earle (Dark Candi Syrup at flameout)

Hopefully the flavors don’t clash too much with each other, and instead merge into a dark and complex whole. I plan to keep the beer in the primary for about a month, and then move it to a keg for a couple of months of bulk aging. To reach the 1.100+ OG, I plan on using a two hour boil, and no sparging. I will also try to crush the grain really fine. I might have to make a smaller beer out of the second runnings, as I guess a lot of sugar will be left in the unwashed grains. Recipe will be posted in tomorrow’s brewday report.

Homebrew: Weiße Katzen – Hefeweizen

Today we had a second go at brewing with the new brew kettle. I have tons of wheat malt, so we decided to brew a Hefeweizen, a style I haven’t brewed before. The malt bill consists of 60% Wheat, 33% Pilsner and 7% Munich. We hopped with the Hallertau Mittelfrüh that remained from last week’s Pilsner brewday. For yeast we chose Wyeast’s 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen, as Weihenstephaner’s Hefeweizen is among my personal favorite wheat beers (I’m not a great fan of the style to be honest), and I made a 1.5 liter starter on a stir plate. The brewday went surprisingly well, but wasn’t problem-free. We managed to lose 2-3 liters of wort on the floor, as a silicon hose from the pump loosened from the kettle and fell to the floor. My brewing friend got a huge heat exchanger for free from his former employer, so we cleaned it up and used it for cooling the batch (will try to take pictures the next time we use it). The wort cooled from boiling to 15.5C in 5 minutes, and at the same time the wort was transferred to the fermenter. Talk about fast cooling! This will be a valuable addition to the brewing equipment, as the brewday was shortened by about 30 minutes. Will be interesting to see how this one turns out. Recipe below:

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Back from Lund & Copenhagen

Sorry for the inactivity, I have been away on a trip to Lund, which included an afternoon in Copenhagen. Managed to have time for a trip to BarleyWine, from which I bought 19 bottles, 4 of which I consumed in Lund, and 15 that I brought home. A really nice shop, with a large and interesting selection, and a very friendly owner. The line-up I brought home was:

From left to right: Omnipollo Mazarin, Beer Here Kama Citra, Laguntias Maximus, Amager Rated XxX, Amager Lust, Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot, Amager Wrath, Mikkeller 10, Amager Gluttony, Amager Sloth, Amager Hr. Frederikson Colorado, 8 Wired iStout, 8 Wired Fresh Hopwired, Sly Fox Phoenix, Lagunitas IPA

The beers I had in Lund was Omnipollo’s Leon (which was really nice and interesting), Evil Twin’s El Raval Hipster Ale (okay APA), Beer Here’s White Cat (reminded me of my homebrew Lovecats), and Beer Here’s Fat Cat (a caramelly Nelson Sauvin ale).

Stay tuned for some reviews.

Tomorrow I will be brewing up a Hefeweizen, on Wednesday an Imperial Stout, and on Thursday an American Pale Ale. Stay tuned for some reports on these brewdays as well!

Homebrew: German Pilsener – Brewday

Tested our newly built Brew Kettle today by brewing up a batch of German Pilsener. Everything went surprisingly well, but had some small problems also. We will have to lower the inner kettle, as there was a lot of dead space with the current setup (which meant slower cooling with the immersion chiller as it wasn’t fully immersed). Also, the pump got jammed once during the mash. I brewed outdoors, which might not have been the smartest thing to do during the summer, as the sweet wort aromas attracted tons of insects. I managed to find a dead wasp in the kettle after I drained it into the fermenter, so hopefully the batch hasn’t got contaminated. I pitched two packets of W-34/70, and threw the fermenter into the fermentation fridge set at 10C. I got around 55-60% efficiency, so the prediction was quite correct. I ended up with a little less volume, but a little higher gravity, than expected. The new mill was working great, and will tighten the gap for the next crush, as I think the crush could definitely be finer. Hopefully this turns out nice! I’m hoping for a Prima Pils-like pilsner, with lots of floral hoppiness. Below are some pictures from the brewday and the recipe.

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