Monthly Archives: June 2013

Tasting the Amarillo Hefeweizen

  • Brewery: Sly Cat Homebrewery
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: Hefeweizen
  • ABV: 4.8 %
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: –
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

I’ve been really bad at reviewing beers lately, with my previous review dating back a couple of months, so I though I’d write up some tasting notes on the Amarillo Hefeweizen we brewed in April as our first batch in our new premises. The batch didn’t turn out exactly as we hoped for, which I’ll come to later, but it is a nice thirst-quencher for the summer. I like the combination of new world hops and Hefeweizen yeast, and am surprised that more breweries out there don’t make these kinds of beers. This beer has been one of the only successful batches thus far this spring/summer, as a thick burnt trub layer formed around our heating element in the brew kettle as a result of this batch (a lot of protein in wheat), and we only realized this after brewing three other batches, great. We performed a thorough clean-up a couple of weeks ago though, and I’m happy to say that is seems to have helped, since I tasted a small sample of the Simcade Pale Ale brewed two weeks ago in connection with adding the dry hops to it, and it tasted awesome! Anyways, back to the review! This was brewed with Wheat, Pilsner and Munich malt, hopped with Amarillo and fermented with WLP380.

[easyreview title=”Amarillo Hefeweizen” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a hazy golden-orange color, and a big fluffy white head is formed. The head collapses really quickly though, which is quite surprising, since there is a lot of wheat in the malt bill. I had the same problem the last time I tried to brew a Hefeweizen (the exact same malt bill), and am starting to wonder if the actual malt is to be blamed (I’ve used Viking Malt’s products). This time we used a 15 minute protein break in the beginning of the mash, and it doesn’t seemed to have helped (not sure if it has made matters worse). Otherwise, the appearance is quite typical for a Hefeweizen. Shame about the head though.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”I’m usually not a big fan of Hefeweizens, mostly because I don’t really like the banana-like aroma (caused by isoamyl acetate) that is usually present in them. The aroma of this beer however is quite nice, since the banana tones are not that pronounced, and instead there are some nice pineapple and orange (from the Amarillo hops) that dominate. The banana tones blend in nicely with the hoppy fruit tones, and the overall impression is really fruity (think Juicy Fruit). There are not many clove-tones (caused by 4-vinyl guaiacol), even though the WLP380 yeast strain is famous for them. There is a slight malty sweetness in the aroma as well, which adds to the fruity impression. Quite a nice aroma, but not exactly style-typical.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The initial flavours are malty, bready (sourdough bread), and somewhat sweet (some vague caramel tones). These flavours actually dominate, as the fruity tones from the aroma are much more subdued when the beer enters the mouth. There are still though some citrusy and pineapple-like hop tones hiding behind the malt, and the more I sip of this beer, the more they come forward. The finish is moderately bitter (slightly more than a typical Hefeweizen) and quite dry. There is a slight tartness in the flavor as well, and I’m not really sure where it is coming from. It has been here the whole time, and not become worse with aging, so I doubt it is a result of an infection. The flavours are not either very style-typical for a Hefeweizen, and overall they are a little on the light side. On the other hand, this makes it a really ‘easy’ beer and a great thirst-quencher. We fermented this beer quite cold (if I remember correctly around 16-17 C), which means the yeast produced less esters during fermentation, and the beer is cleaner than a typical Hefeweizen. For a summer beer this is great, for a fan of the style this is a bit watery.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a very light body and a moderate carbonation level. I’m very surprised that the body is so light, and I’m starting to suspect the protein break (during the protein break, wort proteins are hydrolyzed, resulting in less body-enhancing high molecular weight proteins in the beer). Probably won’t be using protein breaks again when I’m mashing, as single infusion mashes have served me good. The light body makes this beer very easy to drink though, and the fruity hops and the slight tartness make it refreshing. The overall impression though is a watery beer.” cat4rating=”3″ summary=”Overall, I’m not really happy with this beer. The light body and flavours make this beer feel watery and very untypical for a Hefeweizen. The aroma is surprisingly nice though, and as a summer brew, it is very suitable. If I were to brew this again, I would get rid of the protein break during the mash, maybe add in some more specialty malts (maybe increase the munich or add melanoidin malt), and ferment with a slightly higher temperature to increase the esters and phenols. Don’t be afraid to try the combination of new world hops (e.g. Amarillo, Citra, or even Nelson Sauvin) and Hefeweizen yeast, because i though that was one of the most successful aspects of this brew!”]

BeerBug: First Impressions

I was a backer during The BeerBug’s Kickstarter campaign, and today I finally received my Early Bird prototype. Haven’t had time to do much else than take it out of the package, install the software and make a quick test in water. Build quality is okay; it seems a bit plasticy and the ‘torpedo’ hangs from the main device via a fishing line. But I guess it will serve its purpose, and once the unit gets into production I assume they will have polished the appearance. Installing the software was a bit of a pain, as first the computer didn’t want to find the device, but I finally managed to make the BeerBug communicate with my PC. The software is quite easy to use, but it is currently slow and buggy. I managed to calibrate the device in water though, and it is showing quite consistent readings (0.995-1.000). The device does seem to have to be exactly level in order for it to take accurate readings, as it seems to be quite sensitive to leaning a couple of degrees (I should get a bubble level for it). I’m eager to try this out with a real brew soon! Stay tuned for updates!

Homebrew: V IPA

Last Thursday we brewed up a 25-liter batch of an APA/IPA hybrid. The name (V) refers to the fact that we used five different hop varieties, five different malt types, US-05 yeast, aimed for an OG of 1.055, and an ABV of 5.5%. For the malt bill, we used one inspired by the APA/IPAs we brewed in April last year, consisting of Pale Ale, Munich, Carapils, Crystal 60 and Melanoidin malt. I really like how this combination gives the beer a solid honey-like malty backbone, despite the beer being relatively light. For hops, we decided to hop burst again, and used Columbus for FWH, and then combinations of Amarillo, Columbus, Mosaic and Simcoe for the late kettle hops. After flameout we still pumped the wort through a HopRocket filled with Nelson Sauvin hops. This should hopefully give the beer both some tropical fruitiness and some dank resiny tones. Mosaic is a new hop for me, and it will be interesting to see if it brings anything special to the mix. I’ve read that it can lend some subtle blueberry tones, which sounds interesting, but it will most likely be difficult to detect any subtle tones with the hop mix. We aimed for about 60 IBU, but it will most likely feel like less because of the hop scheme (maybe 55?). We decided to play it safe with the yeast, and chose to use US-05 dry yeast, since it has produced good beers for us before. Hopefully this one (and the Simcade Pale Ale) turns out drinkable, since we’ve had quite bad luck with our last couple of batches. Will be dry hopping both these batches later this week.

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Brewday: Simcade American Pale Ale

Today I brewed up a 30-liter batch of an American Pale Ale inspired by the second version of the From Shameless to Seamless I brewed this spring. I’m hoping the beer will be drinkable in the middle of August, when my mother is celebrating her 50th birthday. I haven’t decided yet whether the beer will be served from bottles or keg at the party, but in any case, if I bottle, it will most likely be via the keg in order to minimize the amount of yeast in the bottles. The brewday went very smoothly for once, and after performing a thorough clean-up of the kettle last week, I’m quite optimistic that the off-flavours we’ve been noticing in our recent beers won’t be present in this one. I ended up with slightly over 30 liters of 1.055 wort, so a little under 70% efficiency. The gravity was slightly higher than I had aimed for, so hopefully the bitterness still manages to balance up the beer. I’m letting this one ferment for around two weeks at 18C, after which I’ll dry hop it with Simcoe and Cascade.

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Small update

It’s been a while since the last blog post, so thought I’d just write a short update. I currently have three beers in fermenting vessels (the oak-aged English Strong Ale, the Imperial IPA and the Imperial Stout), which I will be transferring to kegs this week. We are currently doing some fixing on our brew kettle, which includes inserting a drainage port at the bottom of the kettle and a thorough cleaning of the heating element. We’ve had some trouble with ashy/charcoal flavours in our recent beers, which I assume was caused by a quite thick layer of burnt trub on our heating element. Hopefully our next batches will be better! Will try to post some tasting notes on the recent homebrews as soon as possible.