Monthly Archives: October 2015

Tasting Impressions: Schwarzbock from 2013

I found a couple of bottles of homebrewed Schwarzbock from 2013, and I decided to see how it had developed during two years in bottle. This one ended up at an ABV of 6.8% and with a final gravity of 1.020, so a bit lighter than what was originally planned. I remember this one being very tasty when fresh, so let’s see how it tastes now!schwarzbock

The beer pours black and with a fluffy tan-colored head (it looks a lot lighter in the picture below). If you hold the glass against the light, you see that the beer actually has a dark ruby color (and is crystal clear). As the head collapses, it leaves patches of lacing along the glass. A nice appearance! The aroma is really nice as well, and it features a good combination of chocolate-like roasted tones, together with dark fruits and caramel. There is a slight alcohol note in the aroma as well, even though this is only 6.8%. The flavor is mostly roasty as well, with tones of dark chocolate and ash dominating. Behind this roast, there are tones of malt bread, biscuits and caramel that balance out the flavor. There are not many hop-derived flavors, but that was expected based on the recipe and the beer age. The finish has a moderately light bitterness though. The finish is quite dry as well, which adds to the perception of a relatively light body. This is quite a difference to the sweet and strong imperial stouts. The moderate carbonation level gives the beer some more mouthfeel though. It is quite easy to drink, and it has aged very well! Overall, a very nice beer that I would definitely brew again!

Homebrew: Fresh Hop Ale

I collected this year’s hop harvest two weeks ago, and today we finally brewed a beer with them. This is the first time I’m using homegrown hops, so am really looking forward to tasting the final beer! Technically, this wasn’t actually a fresh hop ale, since I dried the hop cones before using them – but I’ll call this a fresh hop ale anyways. Since I’m not sure about the alpha acid content of these hops, we decided to use them only as flame-out hops, and instead use some Herkules at the beginning of the boil. This way we will hopefully extract the maximum aroma out of them as well. The homegrown hops weren’t very aromatic, so I’m expecting mostly grassy flavors and less of the typical citrus and pine resin. But hopefully I’ll be positively surprised! The post-boil wort had a slight perfume-like tone, which might have been hop-derived. For the malt bill, we went with a very simple 90% Maris Otter and 10% Carapils to an OG of around 1.050. This should let the hops shine (if they do). For the yeast, we used a really fruity ale strain that I’ve developed at work (more about that in a future post). I’m hoping it will compliment the hops, and make for a refreshing and crisp fresh hop ale! We will see in a couple of weeks!

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This was the first time we brewed at our ‘new’ basement brewery (we moved there 1.5 years ago – yes, we’ve been extremely slow with the renovation), and I’m happy to say that everything went really smoothly. We were done in 5 hours and 30 minutes, reached almost 70% brewhouse efficiency, and the ventilation system (a really powerful inline exhaust fan) worked amazingly well. Looking forward to brewing a bit more regularly from now on!

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Homebrew: Wedding Dunkel

Time for another wedding beer. This time not for my own wedding, but for two of my friends’ wedding. The groom requested one dark and malty beer (the wedding is in January, so that would fit with the cold weather) and one pale and fresh beer. I’ve noticed that the most popular beers during events, where the majority of the people are not ‘beer nerds’, are balanced and easy-to-drink beers. American Pale Ales with a relatively mild bitterness seem to be especially popular, so I thought I’d go with a remake of my own Wedding APA for the pale and fresh beer. For the dark and malty beer, I decided to go with a dark lager.

I haven’t brewed many dark lagers before, but decided to go for a malt base dominated by Maris Otter and Munich malt. To this I added hints of Chocolate and Dark Crystal malt to give some color and flavor. I kept it simple with the hops, and decided to go with Tettnang at moderate amounts to a fairly low IBU. For the yeast I chose to use W-34/70, which is my favorite homebrew lager yeast because of the ease-of-use (just sprinkled two packs on top of the 21 litres of wort) and the clean and crisp flavor profile. The brewday went extremely smoothly, and 21 liters of wort are now fermenting strongly at 12C. The aroma coming from the airlock is really nice, which is always a positive sign! The wedding is in about three months, which will mean I will have some time to lager the beer once it has finished fermenting.

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Homebrew: Bavarian Hefeweizen

I’ve again been lazy and haven’t updated the blog for a while. There hasn’t been that much interesting to post though. About three weeks ago I brewed a Bavarian Hefeweizen for a friend, and today I decided to pop the first bottle as quality control. The recipe was really simple, with the malt base being 60% wheat malt and 40% pale ale malt. I hopped with Tettnanger to a modest 16 IBU, and fermented the wort with WLP380, supposedly the Schneider Weisse yeast.

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The beer pours with a hazy golden-yellow, almost grey, color. A fluffy white head is formed, but it collapses a bit too quickly for a Hefeweizen. A typical wheat beer appearance. The haze is both yeast- and protein-derived as it was quite clear before I put it in the fridge.

The aroma is typical Hefeweizen, with tones of cloves and banana. The spicy 4-vinylguaiacol dominates the aroma profile, but there are lots of fruity esters present as well. The aroma is quite one-dimensional, but I guess it fits the style quite well.

As with the aroma, the flavour profile is dominated by spicy phenols and fruity esters. The amounts of esters and higher alcohols almost go a bit too far as I get hints of solvent as well. On the other hand, it has only been three weeks since pitching, so these will probably subdue a bit with some time in the bottle. There are some malty and doughy tones hidden in the background, but I can’t detect much hop presence at all. As it should be in a Hefeweizen. The carbonation level is high and the body quite light. Refreshing and quite easy to drink.

Overall this is an okay Hefeweizen. I’m not that big fan of the style, so I have a hard time judging how successful this beer is. It is still very young, so it will probably change a bit with more time in the bottle. There are definitely a lot of esters and phenols present, as it should be, but there might even be a bit too much of them at the moment. Perhaps this could have been fermented at a slightly lower temperature?

Hop Harvest

Today I harvested the cones off the hop plants in my yard. They might not have been perfectly ripe, but we have some cold nights coming up and I didn’t want to risk them getting destroyed by frost. They were smelling really good though! I collected 400 grams of hops in total, which after drying will probably fall to around 80 grams. To dry the cones, I spread them out in three layers on a steel mesh and put a fan underneath to recirculate the air. I’m hoping to brew a beer with them in a couple of weeks!

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