Monthly Archives: January 2013

BrauKunstKeller Laguna IPA

  • Brewery: BrauKunstKeller
  • Country: Germany
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.6 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: Berlin Bier Shop
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

Despite having one of the largest beer scenes in the world, brewing in Germany is very traditional and there are few new-wave craft brewers drawing inspiration from the scene in e.g. USA, Scandinavia, and the UK. BrauKunstKeller is a new German craft brewer, drawing inspiration from the more hoppy brews and currently brewing small experimental batches, to find his style and market. I managed to grab some of the last bottles left (three different kinds) from BrauKunstKeller at Berlin Bier Shop when I was there over the New Year’s, but I imagine there will be new beers (most likely with new recipes) available there soon, if not already. First up, is what looks to be a typical West Coast IPA, hopped with Centennial, Cascade and Chinook, and brewed with Pale Ale, Munich and Crystal malt. The first thing that strikes me is that the ingredient list is very similar to the Pale 31-inspired beer I brewed on Sunday, which sounds promising! The beer seems to have been bottled in the end of October, so should be quite fresh! Let’s see how it tastes!

[easyreview title=”BrauKunstKeller Laguna IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a slightly hazy amber-orange color, and a slight creamy off-white head is formed with the pour, but it collapses quite quickly. There are some drapes of lacing left along the glass. Nice appearance, but could have used a fluffier head.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is a blend of caramel and hop tones, with resiny, floral, citrusy and almost berry-like tones. The aroma reminds me a lot of my homebrewed American Strong Ale/IPA. For an IPA, this could perhaps have used a slightly more bright and fresh hop punch, but I like the caramelly sweetness behind the hop nose as well.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a similar caramelly maltiness that was present in the aroma. A subtle dank, earthy and resiny hoppiness joins in with the malt, but the hop flavors aren’t ‘in your face’. The beer finishes semi-dry and with a quite light bitterness. No off-flavors or other problems, which is nice to see, but I feel the recipe could use some adjustments still. The bitterness seemed quite light for the style so would personally raise it 10-20 IBU, but the low bitterness might have been the purpose (i.e. not to make the beer to extreme for the German market). Would also use slightly more flavor/aroma hops and decrease the percentage of crystal malt a notch, to give more room for the hop flavors and crisp up the flavor a bit. Otherwise really nice, and I somehow recognize my own homebrews in this beer.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium body and a medium-low carbonation level. It is quite easy to drink, but it feels slightly flat in the mouth and could use slightly more carbonation.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”I was pleasantly surprised by this beer, and it was definitely a good ‘first try’ by this German nanobrewer. It was easy to drink, but a little wimpy on the hop front, as it could have used some more bitterness and hop flavors. I have another IPA by BrauKunstKeller in the fridge, and am looking forward to trying that beer as well. Do give the beers a try if you ever get the chance!”]

Homebrew: Another brewday behind (American Pale Ale)

I was planning on brewing yesterday, but the weather gods were against me, as it was -27C in the morning and our car wouldn’t start. I postponed the brewday until today, when it was a more manageable -10C. Our automated brew kettle is currently not really suitable for indoor use (large current draw and loads of evaporation), meaning I was brewing outdoors again. I mashed in our garage, to keep temperatures more even, and did the boil at the garage door, to send the vapor outside. The combination of a large batch and cold weather resulted in a little longer time to reach a rolling boil after the mash, but otherwise the brewday went surprisingly smooth. You can find the recipe in this previous post. The beer is based on Firestone Walker’s Pale 31, and I will be serving the beer (if it turns out drinkable) when I complete my Master’s Thesis in March. Brewhouse efficiency was surprisingly good for once, and I ended up with around 40-45 liters of 1.050 wort. The wort was tasting really nice and I have quite high hopes for the beer. Post-boil pumping, filtering and chilling also went surprisingly smooth for once, with great flow rates. I filled the HopRocket with boiled oat husks for filtering, and it managed to remove the kettle trub almost completely. This will ferment for approximately 3-4 days, after which I will add the dry hops and oak cubes, and let them soak in the beer for about a week.

Homebrew: 3 x Hoppy Amber

Yesterday we brewed up the ‘Kitchen Sink’ Amber Ale mentioned in this post. The brewday went quite well, but we ended up with about 30 liters of wort in the fermenting vessels instead of the expected 33. We hit a gravity of 1.063, which was slightly higher than expected, so we could have topped up with some water. We pitched WLP007 and WLP090 into 11 liters of wort, while the Conan yeast (which I cultivated from a can of Alchemist Heady Topper) was pitched into the remaining 8 liters of wort. There was activity in the two WLP-pitched airlocks, but nothing in Conan’s airlock this afternoon, but I’m suspecting there is a slight leak somewhere as a nice krausen seems to have been formed by the Conan yeast. The wort was tasting quite good (no burnt flavors as last time), so hopefully the beers turn out nice (and different from each other). Tomorrow I shall be brewing the Master’s Thesis Ale.

Upcoming homebrew plans

Next week I’m planning to brew around 70 liters of homebrew in two batches. The first batch will be some kind of a ‘kitchen sink’ Amber Ale, i.e. a batch similar to the Brown Ale I brewed last April, where I try to use up as many opened malt bags, hop bags and expiring yeast vials as possible. I’m aiming for about 33 liters of Amber Ale wort, which will be split into three smaller 16L vessels. Each vessel will then get its own yeast: WLP007 Dry English Ale, WLP090 San Diego Super Yeast, and my recently cultured Conan yeast. To further experiment with different ingredient combinations, I might dry-hop all three vessels with different types of hops. The recipe is quite hop forward, with loads of late hop additions to hopefully keep the bitterness down while keeping the hop flavors up. This should hopefully result in some tasty and different amber ales from the same wort batch. The proposed recipe is:
[codebox 1]

 

The second beer for next week will be an approximately 40 liter batch of American Pale Ale (will really try to push the limits of our 50L brew kettle), that I’m brewing as a ‘celebration beer’ for March, when I will submit my Master’s Thesis and hopefully graduate. The beer is slightly inspired by Firestone Walker’s amazing Pale 31, and am hoping to brew something light, drinkable and balanced, yet still with a hoppy aroma and flavor. If I brew this next week, it should be just perfect in two months time. The recipe is:

[codebox 2]

 

New book and yeast culturing from Alchemist Heady Topper

Today the mailman dropped a package through my door, containing a book about hops that my girlfriend bought as a Christmas present for me. Hops are my favorite ingredient in beer, and can’t wait to read through this recently released book written by Stan Hieronymus. For the Love of Hops belongs to the same series of books as Yeast by Jamil Zainasheff and Chris White, and the soon to be released Water by John Palmer and Colin Kaminski. I’ve only quickly looked through the book, but there seems to be lots of awesome information, including stuff on hop chemistry, hop growing, recipe formulation and hop types. I’ll write a blog post with a short review once I’ve finished it! Thanks Pia!

 

On another note, I’ve been culturing up some yeast from a can of Alchemist’s Heady Topper the last week. The can was quite old (I bought it in June, so it was at least 6 months old, probably closer to 9-12), but to my surprise and joy, I’ve been getting some yeast growth. Alchemist use a proprietary yeast strain (most likely an ale strain), dubbed ‘Conan’, which they use to ferment their famous Heady Topper. I really loved that beer, and apparently the yeast contributes with a large amount of its magnificent aroma. Since the yeast isn’t available to buy anywhere, the only way to get hold of it is to culture it yourself, which is possible since the beer is unfiltered. Others (see here and here) have been successful, so I thought I’d give it a try. I began by autoclaving 1.5 liters of 1.030 wort (sterility is vital when trying to grow small amounts of yeast with low viability). I then sanitized the can (using 70% ethanol), poured off the majority of the beer, and poured the yeast (and hop debris) slurry at the bottom of the can into approximately 200 ml of the sterile wort (all this working in a laminar flow cabinet). I let the yeast grow for three days in 25 degrees C on an orbital shaker set at 120 RPM. After three days, I removed the flask from the shaker, and put it in a cold room, to allow the yeast to sediment for a couple of days. I poured off the supernatant beer, and poured the yeast slurry into approximately 1 liter of wort. I again let the yeast grow for three days in 25 degrees C on an orbital shaker set at 120 RPM. Today I took the flask off the shaker and placed it in the cold room for sedimentation. The flask is smelling fruity and there has been lots of yeast growth (a nice light brown opaque color to the wort). The yeast seems to sediment quite slowly, but we will see in a couple of days. Really looking forward to using this yeast on an actual beer, since its characteristics sound awesome (high attenuation and fruity aroma (peach and tropical fruits)). Will keep you updated once I have more information. If anyone is interested in a small amount of Conan yeast, contact me and we can try to work it out.

Back from Berlin (again)

As mentioned in the previous post, I just came home from a one week vacation in Berlin. The Berlin trip was quite relaxing, and I both drank some good beer there and brought home a couple of bottles. I visited Das Meisterstück, BrewBaker and Berlin Bier Shop. Das Meisterstück had some Firestone Walker (my absolute favourite brewery) and Braufactum beer available, so bought a bottle each of Pale 31, Parabola and 14th Anniversary Ale from Firestone Walker and Progusta from Braufactum. From Berlin Bier Shop I bought a variety of different German microbrews, including Fritzale IPA, BrauKunstKeller Laguna IPA, BrauKunstKeller CaiPiEy, BrauKunstKeller Choco Chili Stout, Bavarias Best IPA, Hopfenstopfer Christmas Strong Ale, Camba Bavaria Nelson Sauvin Hefeweizen, Schoppe Bräu XPA and Tasty Lady (which is a Dutch beer). At Berlin Bier Shop I also had a nice chat with Rainer (the owner and a very friendly guy) and drank some Alesmith Speedway Stout with him. An incredibly complex beer, featuring tones of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate and liquorice together with a full and thick body. A very good beer and well worth the hype.

At Brewbaker I had their IPA from tap, and it was an average IPA, featuring mainly grassy bitter hop tones. Nothing spectacular, but a tasty beer without any off-flavors (which was not the case when I tried the beer from bottle a year ago). As I wasn’t able to fit that many beers in my luggage home, I drank some in the apartment we were staying in. The Pale 31 was amazing and the best American Pale Ale I’ve ever had with its lovely hop aroma, amazing balance and high drinkability. Firestone Walker hasn’t disappointed me yet. Braufactum’s Progusta was also an average IPA (brewed with Citra hops), but it lacked a bit of hop flavour and aroma. I drank it directly after the Pale 31, and even though the Pale 31 has travelled halfway around the world, it still packed more of a hop punch than the Progusta. I’ve had Fritzale’s IPA before, but the beer seems to have had a slight recipe change, since Cascade had been added to the hop bill and the IBUs had dropped to 45. This was again a tasty IPA (and definitely one of the best German IPAs I’ve had), though maybe slightly light on hop flavour. Would definitely buy again. Camba Bavaria’s Nelson Sauvin Hefeweizen was a strange brew (nothing technically wrong with it), combining a traditional Hefeweizen with Nelson Sauvin hops (Schneider is also famous for this combination). I’m not a big fan of Hefeweizens, but the Nelson Sauvin hops actually made the beer more enjoyable. Not something I would buy again, but definitely worth a try. The final beer I had in Berlin was Bavarias Best IPA. I was very pleasantly surprised with this beer, and it was the second best beer on the trip for me (after Pale 31). The beer featured a combination of a caramelly maltiness with huge resiny hop flavours and a nice bitterness. Really my kind of IPA, and it was almost bordering to Imperial IPA-territory. My favourite German IPA thus far. Definitely try if you get the chance! The brewmaster is apparently American, and he seems to know how to brew a hoppy beer.

I’ve now been to Berlin six times, and it is nice to see that the craft beer scene in Berlin has grown a little every time I come here. The markets and pubs are still dominated by the traditional beer styles, but it is nice to see new craft brewers and brew pubs popping up in the city. Berlin has so much else to offer as well (I love photographing in Berlin), and am eagerly waiting to get back there again! Rainer (from Berlin Bier Shop) mentioned that a new craft brewer has started brewing and selling his beer in Markthalle IX (a market hall in Kreuzberg), and he recommended paying a visit, but I unfortunately didn’t have time on this trip. It is probably worth checking out, and I will definitely pay a visit on my next trip!

An unrelated photograph I took during the trip at an abandoned Jugendhochschule outside of Berlin.

 

Kegging the Black IPA and Barleywine

Sorry about the lack of updates, I have been quite busy during Christmas and also just came home from a one week vacation in Berlin (more about that in a later post).

Today I kegged the Black IPA and Barleywine that we brewed in the beginning of December during a double brewday. The gravity of the Barleywine hade dropped to 1.027, giving it an ABV of 10.7%. Great work from the yeast! It tasted quite boozy, with some nice caramel tones and a firm bitterness. Hopefully the alcohol mellows with some aging, and this turns into a fantastic winter warmer (for next winter!). The Black IPA on the other hand was not so promising, and I may have to dump my first batch ever. After the brewing was over on the brewday and we cleaned the kettle, we noticed that the high protein content of the rye malt had caused a layer of protein trub to scorch around the heating element, and guess what, the beer also tastes like an ashtray. This burnt flavor will most likely not go away, but I hope it at least mellows in the keg, and the beer becomes drinkable. The gravity of the Black IPA had dropped to 1.022, which is a little higher than expected, giving it an ABV of 6.8%. I hope for the best, but am prepared for the worst. It would be a shame to pour out a beer that we have put a lot of time and effort (and some money) into …