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Suregork Loves Beer

Beer Reviews, Homebrew, Rambling

October 22, 2015
by suregork
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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!

October 18, 2015
by suregork
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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!

VID_20151018_115953_2

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!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
24 L 60 min 57.8 IBUs 8.6 EBC 1.048 SG 1.009 SG 5.1 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American-Style Strong Pale Ale 51 1.05 - 1.06 1.008 - 1.016 40 - 50 11.8 - 27.6 2.2 - 2.8 5.6 - 6.3 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 5 kg 90.01
Cara-Pils 0.555 kg 9.99

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Herkules 26 g 75 min Boil Pellet 17.5
Homegrown 75 g 15 min Aroma Pellet 3

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Fruity Ale 77% 15°C - 23.89°C

October 7, 2015
by suregork
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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.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
21 L 60 min 20.1 IBUs 33.6 EBC 1.053 SG 1.012 SG 5.3 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
European-Style Dunkel 38 1.048 - 1.056 1.014 - 1.018 16 - 25 29.6 - 39.4 2.2 - 2.8 4.8 - 5.3 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 2.7 kg 51.33
Munich I (Weyermann) 2.3 kg 43.73
Chocolate Malt 0.13 kg 2.47
Crystal 300 0.13 kg 2.47

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Tettnang 30 g 65 min Boil Pellet 3.8
Tettnang 15 g 35 min Boil Pellet 3.8
Tettnang 15 g 4 min Aroma Pellet 4.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Saflager Lager (W-34/70) DCL/Fermentis 75% 8.89°C - 15°C

October 3, 2015
by suregork
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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.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
20 L 60 min 15.6 IBUs 9.2 EBC 1.048 SG 1.010 SG 4.9 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
South German-Style Hefeweizen 66 1.047 - 1.056 1.008 - 1.016 10 - 15 5.9 - 17.7 2.2 - 2.8 4.9 - 5.6 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Wheat 3 kg 60
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 2 kg 40

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Tettnang 20 g 60 min Boil Pellet 4.5
Tettnang 20 g 15 min Boil Pellet 4.5

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Hefeweizen IV Ale (WLP380) White Labs 77% 18.89°C - 21.11°C

patte_hefe

 

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?

October 3, 2015
by suregork
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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!

hops_korg

hops_tork

August 7, 2015
by suregork
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Small Update

Just thought I’d write a short update on the recent beers I brewed for my upcoming wedding. They are all tasting really nice, which I’m happy about. Here are some short tasting notes:

Wedding Pils – Dry finish, grainy malts, and a floral hoppiness that ends with a nice bitterness.

Wedding Blond – Lots of spicy phenols and fruity esters from the yeast. Not my favorite style, but this is quite a nice Belgian-style ale.

Wedding Hybrid – Lots of hop aroma combined with fruity esters. A slight hint of spicy phenols in the flavor. APA meets Wit. I like!

Wedding APA – Citrus and floral hops mainly that end in a moderate bitterness. Some maltiness as well, and not a completely dry finish.

Wedding IPA – Lots of citrus and tropical fruits from the hops together with a huge bitterness. A really successful IPA!

Also, here is a progress picture of the ‘bar’ I’m building for the wedding. Five homebrews will be available on tap. I still need to paint it and build a drip tray, but it should be ready in a couple of days. Really looking forward to testing it!

kegerator

June 29, 2015
by suregork
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Homebrew: Wedding IPA – American IPA

Yesterday I brewed the fifth and final batch of beer for my wedding in August (see previous posts for the Wedding Pils, Wedding Blond, Wedding Hybrid, and Wedding APA): an American IPA loaded with hops and fermented with Conan. I’ve brewed a slightly similar recipe before (see here), and while it was a nice beer, it ended up a bit too sweet with WLP007. This time I’m changing up the hop bill slightly based on what I have in the freezer, and I’ll be fermenting the wort with Conan. I’m hoping for a hoppy and bitter IPA, with loads of fruity aromas from both the hops and the yeast.

The malt bill is similar to the APA I brewed last week, and it consists of Maris Otter, Munich, CaraPils and CaraAmber.  I mashed quite low (63C) in order to get a very fermentable wort. I’ve used Conan a couple of times before and I’ve ended up with around 78% attenuation. I aimed for an original gravity just below 1.070, in order to get a beer with around 7.5% ABV. For the hops, I chose to bitter with Herkules (using up the last from a 100g bag), added some Cascade and Centennial during the boil, and at flameout I added even more Cascade and Centennial together with some Amarillo. The bitterness levels should be around 70-80 IBU, depending on how much the whirlpool hops contribute. I pitched a 1.5L starter of Conan after I had cooled the wort down to around 20C. I placed the fermenter in my fermentation fridge and set the fermentation temperature to 19C. I checked the fermenter 24 hours later, and it was fermenting violently with krausen coming out of the airlock. After a quick clean-up things were looking good again. Man it was smelling good inside the fermentation fridge!

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
21 L 90 min 86.1 IBUs 14.6 EBC 1.068 SG 1.012 SG 7.4 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American IPA 14 B 1.056 - 1.075 1.01 - 1.018 40 - 70 11.8 - 29.6 2.2 - 2.7 5.5 - 7.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter 5.5 kg 79.14
Munich II (Weyermann) 1 kg 14.39
Carafoam (Weyermann) 0.3 kg 4.32
Caraamber (Weyermann) 0.15 kg 2.16

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Herkules 30 g 90 min Boil Pellet 19
Cascade 20 g 25 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Centennial 20 g 25 min Boil Pellet 8.5
Cascade 50 g 0 min Boil Pellet 5.5
Centennial 30 g 0 min Boil Pellet 8.5
Amarillo 20 g 0 min Boil Pellet 9.2
Cascade 40 g 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.5
Citra 40 g 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 12
Centennial 20 g 4 days Dry Hop Pellet 10
Simcoe 40 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 13
Amarillo Gold 20 g 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 8.5

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 8.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 6.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Lactic Acid 2.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Conan (C1) Suregork 77% 18.33°C - 21.11°C

June 21, 2015
by suregork
1 Comment

Homebrew: Wedding APA – American Pale Ale

Today I brewed the fourth and penultimate batch of beer for my wedding in August (see previous posts for the Wedding Pils, Wedding Blond, and Wedding Hybrid): an American Pale Ale loaded with Cascade and Centennial. I’ve brewed variations of this recipe several times before (one, two and three), so I know exactly what to expect. The resulting beer should have a hop-dominated aroma, with tones of grapefruit, pine resin and floral perfume, while the taste should feature a lightly bready maltiness together with a citrusy and floral hoppiness that ends in moderate bitterness and semi-dry finish. All in all, it should be a really easy to drink, yet still flavorful beer. The beers have been crowd favorites in the past, so am predicting that this keg will be the first to run out during the wedding.

The malt bill is simple, consisting of Maris Otter, Munich and CaraPils.  These should, together with the relatively high mash temperature (67C) and low-attenuating yeast (WLP002), yield a solid backbone to the beer despite the low ABV%. I aimed for an original gravity just below 1.050, in order to get a beer with around 5% ABV. For the hops, I chose to bitter with Herkules (since I still have some left from a 100g bag), and at flameout I added a large dose of Cascade and Centennial. The bitterness levels should be around 40 IBU, depending on how much the whirlpool hops contribute. I pitched a 1.5L starter of WLP002 after I had cooled the wort down to around 20C. I placed the fermenter in my fermentation fridge and set the fermentation temperature to 18C. I like using ‘English Ale’ yeast in my APAs and IPAs, since I think the esters they contribute go well with fruity hops. The high flocculation is also a bonus. Hopefully this one turns out as tasty as my previous brews of this recipe.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
18.5 L 60 min 57.6 IBUs 11.1 EBC 1.049 SG 1.011 SG 5.0 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American Pale Ale 10 A 1.045 - 1.06 1.01 - 1.015 30 - 45 9.9 - 27.6 2.3 - 2.8 4.5 - 6.2 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pale Malt, Maris Otter (Thomas Fawcett) 3.5 kg 77.78
Munich 0.75 kg 16.67
Cara-Pils/Dextrine 0.25 kg 5.56

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Herkules 9 g 60 min Boil Pellet 19
Herkules 9 g 30 min Boil Pellet 19
Cascade 35 g 30 min Aroma Pellet 5.5
Centennial 35 g 30 min Aroma Pellet 10
Cascade 35 g 5 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.5
Centennial 35 g 5 days Dry Hop Pellet 10

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 6.50 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Calcium Chloride 6.00 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Lactic Acid 2.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
English Ale (WLP002) White Labs 75% 18.33°C - 20°C

June 18, 2015
by suregork
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Physicochemical analysis of Sahti

Last summer, me and a couple of colleagues visited the 23rd National Championship in Sahti brewing, which was organized in northern Espoo. The purpose of our visit was not to compete or just drink Sahti, but rather we were there to collect samples for a research project: we had decided it was time that a thorough physical and chemical analysis on Sahti was to be performed.

First of all, what is Sahti? Well, Sahti is a traditional farmhouse beer that has been produced and consumed in Finland for centuries. The Sahti beers that I have tried have all been sweet and alcoholic, with strong yeast tones in the flavour. The aroma of isoamyl acetate (banana) has particularly stood out. If you are interested in a more thorough introduction, then you can head over to this blog. For instructions (in Finnish) on how to make your own Sahti at home, you can check out this blog.

juniper

© Nesster / Flickr

We collected samples from 12 random Sahti at the Championships (all from different parts of the country). We then did some thorough analysis on these samples, including: ABV%, residual extract, IBU, colour, foam stability, sugar profile, organic acid profile, higher alcohol profile, ester profile, phenolic acid profile, 4-vinylguaiacol content, and finally we looked for juniper-derived components with GC/MS. We also analyzed seven commercial beers as references (one Sahti, two Pale Lagers, two Hefeweizen, and two Porters).

There was quite a lot of variation between the samples, but in general the Sahti had quite high ABV%, residual extract and ester concentrations, as was expected. The isoamyl acetate (banana aroma) concentration was really high in some of the Sahti (up to around 14.5 mg/L). Since Sahti is unhopped or lightly hopped, the bitterness values were low. Also, since Sahti is typically uncarbonated or lowly carbonated, the samples had really poor foam stability. All samples also had 4-vinylguaiacol (clove-like aroma, typically found in Hefeweizens and Belgian-style ales) concentrations above the flavour threshold. This is a presumably a result of the use of Finnish baker’s yeast. It can be concluded that Sahti indeed is a unique beer style, with some very interesting properties. I’m not that big of a fan myself, but I can understand the fascination behind the style.

You can download a pre-print version (i.e. it hasn’t been formatted yet) of the publication here.

Abstract:

Sahti, a strong, unhopped farmhouse beer flavoured with juniper is still actively brewed in rural areas in Finland. Presented here is the first comprehensive analysis of the physical and chemical properties of this unique beer style. Twelve sahti samples from the southwest of Finland were analysed and while properties varied, the beers generally had high levels of alcohol (mean = 7.9% ABV) and high residual extract (mean = 9.5 °P). Foam stability was negligible, as is typical for the style, and glycerol concentrations at 3.1 – 4.7 g/l were higher than in reference beers (commercial lager, wheat beer and porter). Both of these features may be attributed to the very high gravity conditions employed in brewing sahti beers. Bitterness levels were relatively low (3 – 13 IBU) due to the absence or moderate use of hops. All samples contained detectable levels of the clove-like compound 4-vinylguaiacol due to the use of baker’s rather than brewer’s yeast for brewing. Concentrations of higher alcohols and esters were high, with many individual aroma compounds being above the normal flavour thresholds. Results have highlighted the uniqueness of this style of beer in comparison to commercially available beers and have contributed to our understanding of the reasons for the particular sensorial properties of this traditional beer style.