Yearly Archives: 2013

Homebrew: New Year IPA

Tomorrow it’s time for the last brewday of the year. We will be trying to get rid of some opened packages of 2012 hops, so the obvious choice for beer style is an Imperial IPA. We will be using our classic malt bill, with Pale Ale, Munich, Carapils and Crystal malt, coupled with a slight amount of cane sugar to dry out the beer since we’ll be using a low-attenuating yeast strain. For hops, we will be using our standard bittering hop Herkules, while for flavour and aroma we will be using Amarillo, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin and Simcoe. We are aiming for 100+ theoretical IBUs. I like the use of English yeast strains in hop-forward beers, since they lend a slightly fruitiness that often complements the hoppiness. Since I have some Wyeast 1318 English Ale III slurry from a previous fermentation, we will be using it for this beer. Hoping to reach an FG of around 1.013-1.015 and an ABV of around 8.5-9%.

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Firestone Walker Wookey Jack

  • Brewery: Firestone Walker
  • Country: USA
  • Style: Black IPA
  • ABV: 8.3 %
  • Size: 650 ml
  • Bought from: Online
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

Next up for the evening is Firestone Walker’s Black Rye IPA, Wookey Jack. I’m a very big fan of Firestone Walker, and have loved practically every beer I’ve tried from them. They seem to be able to balance flavors fantastically, whilst still keeping their beers hop-forward and clean. The beer has been brewed with pale ale, rye, cararye, midnight wheat and black malt, while hopped with Magnum, Citra and Amarillo to 80 IBU. As with the majority of Firestone Walker beer, it has been fermented with an English yeast strain. We brewed a Black Rye IPA inspired by this beer earlier this autumn, and it will be really interesting to try the original! Cheers!

[easyreview title=”Firestone Walker Wookey Jack” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a very dark brown, almost black color, and a huge and fluffy tan-colored head is formed, that collapses slowly leaving drapes of lacing along the glass. Held against the light, you can see that the beer is crystal clear and that there are some ruby-like colors in the beer as well. A really nice appearance!” cat1rating=”4.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is surprisingly light, with some roasted coffee and chocolate, together with some tropical fruits, citrus and resin. Compared to our own homebrewed Black Rye IPA, hopped with the same varieties, the hop aroma is much more muted. However, this beer is almost half a year old, and the beer was most likely much different fresh. Some slight notes of caramel, alcohol and spicy rye as well in the background. Not bad, but I must admit I’m slightly disappointed. It does get better as the beer warms up though, and I may have opened it a bit too cold. I had first planned on giving 3-3.5 points for the aroma, but when the beer gets warmer I must say it gets closer to a 4-4.5, with the aroma amplifying.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a slight roastiness and sweet caramel tones, giving off an impression of mocha. There is even a slight ashiness present. A fruity (its mostly mango and grapefruit) hoppiness then joins in, and the longer the beer lingers in the mouth, the more the flavor shifts into the pine and resin territory. Throughout there is a slight spiciness from the rye as well. The finish is semi-dry and the beer has a firm bitterness. The flavors balance well together, and whilst the aroma was a slight disappointment, the flavor certainly delivers. Not quite as roasty and heavy as Imperial Stouts usually are, and with the fruity hoppiness of a nice IPA, this Black IPA gives a great balance of both. The alcohol is hidden well behind the other flavors. Compared to our own homebrew, the flavor is cleaner and slightly less roasted.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-full body and a medium-high carbonation level. The texture is smooth, and the beer makes a great slow sipper because of the roastiness and bitterness.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall a very nice beer, that was quite similar to our homebrew. The combination of roasted tones and fruity hoppiness works very well here. I imagine this would be even better fresh, but this still features a nice range of hop tones. I must say that I’m a bigger fan of traditional IPAs, but here all the flavors worked very well together.”]

Homebrew: Ilkka’s Grainy Day

  • Brewery: Ilkka’s Homebrewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Saison
  • ABV: 4.7 %
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

Today it’s time to try a homebrewed Saison that I got from my colleague Ilkka. I’ve tried some really interesting beers from Ilkka before, and this one sounds very interesting on paper as well. The malt bill consists of pilsner malt, flaked spelt and flaked buckwheat. The original gravity was 1.042, while the final gravity is 1.004, giving it an ABV of 4.7%. It has been single hopped with Sorachi Ace to 25 IBU. I’m a bit skeptical towards Sorachi Ace, as I haven’t tried that many beers hopped with it that I’ve liked, but hopefully its hop aromas stay in the background in this beer. The beer has been fermented with Wyeast’s French Saison 3711 yeast, and also oak with some oak chips for 15 days. There seems to be a lot going on in this, and it will be very interesting to taste it! The beer was brewed in the end of May, so is approximately 7 months old.

[easyreview title=”Ilkka’s Grainy Day” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a brilliant golden yellow color, and there is just a slight amount of haze. A fluffy white head is formed as well, but it collapses quite quickly leaving some spots of lacing along the glass. A nice appearance!” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is surprisingly sweet, featuring a candy-like sweetness combined with some spicy yeast notes. Luckily I can’t detect any of the dill tones you can sometimes get from Sorachi Ace hops. There is a slight presence of citrus as well. A nice and quite ‘easy going’ aroma.” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”At first the beer gives off a sweet impression, with an initial hit of honey-like graininess. Quickly however, the flavor becomes drier, more spicy and fruity, with typical yeast products. The beer features some lemon and citrus flavors as well, which works well with the spiciness. The beer finishes dry and with a slight bitterness. I’m unsure what the spelt and buckwheat brought to the beer, but there is something in the aftertaste I can’t really chart, and could be from the speciality grains. I like that the flavor isn’t overly spicy and yeasty, which some saisons seem to be, and rather there is quite a lot of fruitiness present as well. I also can’t really detect any oakiness, but I guess its subtleness adds to the whole experience.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The body is light and the carbonation level is medium high. The beer is very refreshing, and would be very suitable for a hot summer day. The spicy notes leave a slight bite, but otherwise a very nice drinkability.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”Overall this was very nice beer! Especially for one being only 4.7%. I wouldn’t mind buying it from the supermarkets here in Finland. The spiciness, fruitiness and apparent sweetness work well together, while the dry finish and light body give it great drinkability. Thanks for the beer! Really looking forward to trying the other beers I got from Ilkka!”]

Beer and Food: Beer-brined Pulled Pork

Yesterday and today I prepared some pulled pork, which came out really well. The recipe was inspired by the one found in this blog post. I made some small modifications, the main being substituting some of the water in the brine solution with beer and apple juice. I chose Anchor Brekle’s Brown for the beer, as I thought the malty and slightly roasted flavors could work well with the meat. The meat was really tasty and juicy, and I recommend you try it out! It doesn’t require much work, but it requires quite a lot of time and patience. Here is the recipe and some pictures:

What you’ll need:

1 piece of pork shoulder

Dry Rub:

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 dl brown sugar

Mix well and store in an air tight container.

Brine Solution:

1 dl salt
1 dl brown sugar
1 liter cold water
2 dl beer (e.g. dark and malty)
8 dl apple juice
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp dry rub mix

Add salt and sugar to the cold water and stir very well until they have completely dissolved. Add the dry rub and bay leaves to the beer and the apple juice, and stir well to combine. Combine and pour on the meat. The rest of the beer can be enjoyed by the chef.

Pork shoulder preparation:

Day 1: Rinse the pork shoulder and place in a large ziploc bag. Pour in the brine solution until the shoulder is completely covered. Close the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (e.g. overnight).

Day 2: Remove the pork shoulder from brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, and place in baking pan. Pour dry rub generously onto the shoulder and massage it in. Place the baking pan uncovered in a 107 degree C oven. Insert a probe thermometer into the center or thickest part of the shoulder. Cook the shoulder until the inner temperature reaches 93 degrees C. It took over 9 hours for my 1 kg piece of meat to reach this temperature. When the shoulder has reached 93 degrees C, shut off the oven and let the roast cool for a couple of hours before removing from the oven. Place the meat on a large, clean work surface such as a cutting board, and remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Pull apart with two forks, it will pull apart very easily. Enjoy (e.g. with bread and BBQ-sauce)!

The ingredients lined up.

The dry rub is mixed up.

Making the brine and marinating the chef.

Placing the meat in the brine.

Brining is carried out overnight in double ziploc bags.

The pork after a night in the brine.

A generous rubbing of the meat with the dry rub.

A plot of the inner meat temperature over time. It took over 9 hours to get the inner temperature up to 93C.

This is how the meat looked after taking it out of the oven.

Pulling the meat with two forks.

Eating the pulled pork with some bread, BBQ sauce and fried onions. I’m drinking a homebrewed Pale Ale with it, and it is an amazing combination.

Homebrew: Modern Pilsner

Yesterday I brewed up another batch of lager. This time I attempted an IPA-like beer, but the twist is that it will be fermented with a lager yeast and at low temperatures. The malt bill was simple, with Pilsner, CaraPils and Melanoidin malt. During the boil I single hopped with Centennial to around 60 IBU. After fermentation and lagering, I will add some random dry hops based on what opened packages I have in my freezer. I pitched a large starter of WLP800 Pilsner Lager yeast, and set the thermostat at 10C. The brewday went well, and I collected 19 liters of wort and hit an OG of 1.067. I mashed at low temoeratures (~63C) to produce an easily fermentable wort. This one should be interesting!

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Battle of the homebrewed Sahti

Sahti is a traditional Finnish fermented beverage, that can be made from a variety of grains and is typically spiced with juniper berries (hops are optional). The mash may also be filtered through a bed of juniper twigs. Fermentation is usually carried out with bread yeast (or an ale yeast), resulting in the formation of high concentrations of isoamyl acetate (a banana-flavored ester). I haven’t drank many Sahti before, with the only commercial ones being Lammin Sahti and Hollolan Kivisahti. I wasn’t really fond of either, so am in general a little skeptic towards the style. Today I have the honor to try two homebrewed Sahti, one more traditional from Jussi, and one a bit more modern from Juhani. Hopefully these can change my opinion on Sahti. Let’s begin with the more traditional Tokkura-sahti from Jussi.


  • Brewery: Jussi’s Homebrewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Sahti
  • ABV: 9 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

Tokkura-sahti was brewed in the middle of May, and has been mashed from barley and rye malts. Both hops and juniper berries have been used in the wort, and if I remember correctly the mash was filtered through a bed of juniper twigs as well. The OG was relatively high, 1.100, while the FG is also relatively high, 1.039. This means the Sahti will be sweet, while the alcohol level of 9% should lend even more sweetness. The Sahti is bottled in a plastic PET-bottle, which feels soft, so I’m not expecting much carbonation. I’m not sure what yeast has been used, but I suspect that it is not bread yeast. Most likely a brewery yeast. This should be interesting!

[easyreview title=”Tokkura-sahti” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The Sahti pours with a deep dark ruby red color, which almost seems black if it isn’t held up against the light. No foam head is formed at all, hinting that the carbonation level is probably very low. It actually looks like a glass of Coca-Cola. For a beer it doesn’t look really appetizing, but I guess it suits the style.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The first thing that hits me as I take a deep sniff from the glass is a rich fruity aroma. Hints of a strong and sweet maltiness, together with tones of raisins, plums and other dark fruits. I couldn’t detect any alcohol in the aroma, meaning the 9% are well hidden behind the other components. Reminds me quite a lot of the aroma you can typically find in Belgian Dubbels or Doppelbocks. Really nice!” cat2rating=”4″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is really similar to the aroma, with bready and malty tones dominating together with dark fruits. There are tones of raisins, plums and banana present. The finish is sweet, as was expected with the high final gravity, and there is very little bitterness. Can’t really detect much of the juniper berries or twigs, since the maltiness and fruitiness dominate the palate. I guess there is a slight earthiness present hidden behind the other flavors, which could be from the juniper. Again, I couldn’t detect any alcohol. Overall the Sahti is quite sweet, and it could maybe use slightly more bitterness.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The combination of virtually no carbonation and a very full body makes this feel almost like a dessert wine. A very heavy mouthfeel and this is definitely a slow sipper.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A really interesting experience, and definitely better than any Sahti I’ve tried before. A nice maltiness and rich tones of dark fruits (perhaps a result from oxidation) make this very beer-like, as the juniper and bread yeast tones were not really present. A bit too heavy for me and I couldn’t imagine drinking many of these during one evening.”]

  • Brewery: Kosoolan Panimo
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Sahti / American Pale Ale Hybrid
  • ABV: 5 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

Juhani’s Sahti is a hybrid of an American Pale Ale and a Sahti. I don’t have any information on the malt bill, but it has been hopped with Columbus and Simcoe. Juhani also ‘dry-hopped’ the beer with juniper berries. The beer was fermented with bread yeast, to give the traditional twist. I think this was brewed in the beginning of the Summer, so it should be of about the same age as the first Sahti. Should be a very interesting experience as well!

[easyreview title=”Kosoolan Panimo #72 Sahti-APA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a hazy amber color and a slight off-white head is formed. The head collapses quickly, and again I suspect a beer with low carbonation. Juhani had warned me of very high carbonation in the beer, but I seemed to have gotten a bottle with a lower level. The surface of the beer looks oily.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is dominated by a herbiness, which I assume is from a combination of the juniper berries and the Columbus hops. There is also a sweet maltiness and some caramel present in the aroma. There are very little banana tones of isoamyl acetate present, despite the use of bread yeast, which in my case is a good thing, as I’m typically not that fond of the aroma. This is very different to the previous Sahti, but nice as well!” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor starts off with a spicy and bready maltiness. The spiciness could be from the juniper berries, but it is such a long time ago since I’ve last had one, so can’t say for sure. The flavor also features some herby and resiny hop tones. The flavor finishes quite sweet and with a moderate bitterness. There is also a slight astringency that remains in the mouth as the other flavors fade. The flavor is not completely clean, as there are some yeast tones present as well. Compared to the previous Sahti, this was much lighter (both flavor and color) and more hoppy. I liked the flavor profile of both Sahti, but the first one was slightly more clean.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a low carbonation level and a medium-full body. Quite refreshing to drink, but it feels slightly harsh in the mouth, which draws off some points.” cat4rating=”3″ summary=”Both beers/Sahti were really interesting and quite different from those I’ve tried before. I liked the combination of a strong hoppiness and the juniper berries (it was slightly reminiscent of Malmg√•rd Panimo’s Arctic Circle Ale), but the flavor could have been slightly cleaner (perhaps by using an ale yeast?). Still an enjoyable beer!”]

Thanks to both Jussi and Juhani for the Sahti and the experience!

Homebrew: HG Pilsner

Last Friday we brewed a Pilsner, featuring a simple malt bill (95% Pilsner and 5% CaraPils), a single hop variety (Saaz) and W-34/70 yeast. The twist was that we decided to try out a technique commonly used by many (especially larger) commercial breweries: High Gravity Brewing. The idea is to brew the beer with higher original gravity (and increased hopping) than intended, and then after fermentation dilute the beer with boiled water to the desired ABV% level. The benefits of doing this, is that the brewhouse utilization is maximized and batch sizes can be increased past what the equipment allows for. Also, the amount of esters, higher alcohols and other (in a lager) undesired yeast flavors may be decreased in the final beer, compared to if the water addition would have been added prior to fermentation. We ended up with 40 liters of 1.070 wort, hopped with 350 g of Saaz for an IBU of around 50. We are hoping to dilute the final beer to around 60 liters of 4.5-5% ABV beer, depending on how dry the beer ferments. The beer is now fermenting along happily at 10C, where we will keep it for three weeks, before a 1-2 month lagering period.

Homebrew update

Last week we transferred the K02 Smoked Brown Ale to kegs, and the small taste sample was promising. The beer had a malty and fruity aroma, coupled with a lightly roasted and malty flavour. I guess the malts I smoked could have been in the smoke-box a bit longer, since I couldn’t detect any smokey flavour at all. Perhaps it will come forth with age. Otherwise we’ll just have to call it a Brown Ale instead. Gravity had fallen to 1.013 from 1.062, giving it an ABV of 6.2%.

Last week we also brewed up an APA/IPA-hybrid (I myself couldn’t make it to the brewday), which has currently been in the fermenter for a week. The beer has a simple malt bill (pale ale, munich, carapils and crystal) and has been hopped with Cascade, Citra and Mosaic (aiming for an IBU of 50). Efficiency was very high, and we ended up with an OG of 1.067 instead of 1.055, meaning the beer will be quite a lot stronger than intended. Hopefully the beer won’t be unbalanced, especially since the IBUs are probably around 45 now because of the decreased utilization from increased gravity. The beer is fermented with WLP002 that we harvested and washed from the K02 batch.

On Sunday we will be brewing a Schwarz/Doppelbock, which will be our first attempt at brewing a dark lager. I’m not really a fan of light-bodied heavily roasted beers, so we decided to go for a bock beer, brewed with munich as the base malt, to give it a big and malty backbone. The malt bill will include some pilsner malt for enzyme activity, and some crystal and chocolate malt for increased flavour complexity. The beer will be non-traditionally hopped with Motueka, mostly because I have some old 2010 harvest in the freezer, and I figured since we will only be adding hops at 90 and 30 minutes, the hop variety won’t have that much of an impact on flavour and aroma, especially with a long 3 month lagering period. We will be fermenting it with W34/70, and are aiming for an OG around 1.080-1.085, which will put the ABV close to 8.5-9% depending on how dry it ferments.

Building a Home Bar

Last week I finished a project I’ve had planned since we moved to a new apartment in the end of August. We had some extra space in our living room, so we decided to build a bar counter, which would double as a glass and beer storage. The visuals of the bar counter were inspired by two fantastic TV series: Snuff Box and Twin Peaks. The bar is still missing a shelf along the ceiling and some gliding doors on the inside, but I’ll complete those at a later date. Below are some pictures:

The bar also features this amazing oil painting of Sir Charles Berry, which my sister Linda was kind enough to make for us! Thanks!