A couple of weeks ago, my first-year hop plants finally started producing cones, and today they were looking like this:
We were hit by some really cold weather (temperature dropped to 0C the previous night), so the cones might not develop properly. If they do develop, I will be brewing a fresh hopped ale at some point in the middle/end of October.
This weekend we will be brewing an American Pale Ale / IPA using only German hops. The German hop growers have been releasing lots of new interesting varieties the last couple of years, and I am really looking forward to trying Hüll Melon and Hallertauer Blanc. I bought some earlier this year, and will debut them in this beer. We decided to blend in some more traditional varieties as well, to balance the fruity tones with some more herbal hop tones. We have a lot of Vienna malt in our inventory, so we decided to use it as our base malt. These will be joined by some Pilsner, Carapils and Crystal 100 malt. We will be trying a new yeast strain as well, Wyeast’s 1217 West Coast IPA, which has been getting lots of good reviews (good attenuation and flocculation, together with a really clean flavour profile). Hopefully everything will go smoothly and the beer will taste good!
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Yesterday, the Sour Ale I brewed in October 2013 had been in the primary fermenter for almost 11 months. I didn’t have enough patience to wait the full year, so yesterday I also decided to add berries to the beer. I had originally planned to only use blueberries, but I ended up adding 2.2 kg of blueberries and 0.8 kg of raspberries. Before adding the berries, I bottled 5 bottles of the plain base beer, so I can use it for later comparisons. The gravity of the base beer had fallen to 1.010, while its ABV% was 4.2%, and its pH was 3.74. Compared to the pH of other commercial sour ales, this beer had a slightly higher pH (I’ve read that first generation homebrewed sours typically don’t get very acidic). This was reflected in the flavour as well, which was acidic and tart, but quite mild compared to the 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze I had during the bottling session (I pitched the dregs of the bottle into the homebrew as well). Otherwise the flavour was quite clean (i.e. no major off-flavours such as solvents, higher alcohols, diacetyl, chlorophenolics, etc.) and quite cider-like, with hints of apple and funk. It will be interesting to follow how this one evolves and compares with the ‘berry version’. I was quite surprised at the high FG and hopefully I won’t get any bottle bombs (the beer had been untouched in the fermenter for so long that one would think that fermentation would have ‘finished’). I ended up adding around 300 g berries / liter of beer, so they will hopefully contribute with a lot of flavour! I plan to bottle the ‘berry version’ in around 3 months time.
Here is a picture of the pellicle prior to bottling around 1.7 liters of the base beer:
The beer had cleared really nicely under the pellicle. Unfortunately it was lacking carbonation and was warm for the taste sampling, but despite this it was tasting promising.
I used frozen Finnish berries. I added them frozen directly to the beer.
Here is the 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze I had while bottling. I added the dregs from the bottle to the homebrew.
Here I am adding the berries through a sanitized funnel.
This is how it looked once all the berries had been added.