Monthly Archives: November 2011

Homebrew: Black Panther (Imperial Stout)

Had another brewday yesterday, and this time I am attempting to brew a roasty, hoppy, bitter American-style Imperial Stout. The brewday went quite well, and managed to get better efficiency than last time, by crushing finer and sparging with warmer water. I’m still not pleased with the efficiency (but this was a big beer though, so that might explain it being a little low), so will have to crush even finer next time. I ended up with a Original Gravity of ~1.092 (23 Plato) by adding 0.5kg of Light Dry Malt Extract, so if this ferments to around 1.020, the beer should end up with an ABV close to 9.5%. I might oak-age half the batch, since I have a lot of French oak chips left from my Vanilla-Brandy Porter. You can find the recipe below, along with some pictures (sorry about the poor quality, didn’t have my DSLR on hand).

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The crushed grain. Could be a lot finer.


The mash. This was a pretty thick mash, because of the large amount of grain.


The boil. Damn, had my first boil over (my own fault, since I left the lid on the pot while heating the wort up to a boil, and stupidly left the thing unattended), but only lost a negligible amount of wort.


Lots of Chinook! This should be a very bitter, resiny and earthy beer!


In the primary. Since my fermenting refrigerator is still broken, I’m currently fermenting the beers in the garage, where the ambient temperature is around 14-16 degrees C.

Black Rooster The Hoptimizer

  • Brewery: Black Rooster Brewery
  • Country: Denmark
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 6.5%
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: Systembolaget, ~50kr
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer


Black Rooster are a phantom brewery, meaning they own no brewery of their own, but rather brew their beers at other breweries (in the same fashion as e.g. Mikkeller). ‘The Hoptimizer’ is an American-style IPA, physically brewed at Søgaards Bryghus. It was difficult to find any detailed information on the beer, but it is apparently a maltier IPA, that has been dry-hopped with a ton of Cascade and Chinook (at least Cascade has been used in the boil as well according to the label). The color of the beer should be around 25 EBC, while the bitterness should be around 75 IBU. This looks like an IPA I will like!

[easyreview title=”Black Rooster The Hoptimizer” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a dark amber, almost brown, color, and a slight off-white head is formed during pour. The small head is quite long lasting, and collapses leaving some drapes of lacing along the glass. The beer is slightly hazy as well.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is hop-dominated, with tones that are floral, citrusy and even leaning towards that of peach and pineapple. There is some caramel present in the aroma as well.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with some caramel and malts, leaving the slightest hint of roastiness. The hops take over quickly, lending some tones of resin and grapefruit to the mix. The flavors ends in a quite dry and bitter finish, leaving a slight aftertaste of caramel and honey. There is a slight presence of alcohol as well, but otherwise the beer was quite well balanced.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a medium-full body and a moderate carbonation level, making it quite easy to drink. The finish is quite dry, but still quite pleasant. The slight presence of alcohol disturbs a little.” cat4rating=”3.5″ summary=”Overall a great beer, that featured some pleasant hop tones, bitterness and a nice malt backbone. It was a little maltier than most IPAs, but I actually liked that in this beer. Unfortunately this isn’t available for purchase in Finland, but you can find it at Systembolaget in Sweden. Would drink again!”]

Homebrew: Bold Bobcat (American Amber Ale)

Yesterday was a brewday, and I brewed a small batch (around 12 liters in the fermenter) of the recipe below. The original recipe for the ‘Bold Bobcat’ was a bit different, but I had to change the hop additions, since my order of hops didn’t arrive in time (it’s been two weeks now since I ordered). The original recipe contained Magnum, Cascade and Centennial, but I had some Simcoe, Centennial and Amarillo on hand so decide to use them instead. I also changed the hop additions to 20, 10 and 0 minutes, to make an attempt on hop-bursting. These were not the only problems I had, as this was my first brew where I crushed all my grains myself (I’ve been buying pre-crushed grains before), and I’m quite sure I didn’t crush them fine enough, as my mash efficiency was awful (50%). This meant that I had to collect some more wort by extra sparging, and that I had to use a 120 minute boil to gain some more original gravity. I also added 425g of Dry Malt Extract to raise the gravity some more. I still ended up with a lower original gravity than predicted (1.053 instead of 1.066), but it hopefully shouldn’t affect the beer all too much. The yeast starter was in good shape, as the airlock was rapidly bubbling this morning (12 hours later). I’m fermenting the beer at 15 degrees C (low range of what is recommended for Denny’s Favorite), to hopefully get a clean, hoppy and malty beer. If everything goes as planned, this should just make it to the Christmas table.

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Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter

  • Brewery: Flying Dog
  • Country: USA
  • Style: Imperial Porter
  • ABV: 9.2%
  • Size: 350 ml
  • Bought from: Bierzwerg, ~3€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer


Still haven’t had a chance to start brewing, since my order of hops still hasn’t arrived. I have some spare hops from older brews, so might have to change the recipe around a little so that I can brew tomorrow. In the meanwhile I’m having a bottle of Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter, named as a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson, and some home-baked mud cake. This beer has been brewed with a mix of roasted malts, a original gravity of 22 plato, and hopped with Warrior, Northern Brewer and Cascade to an IBU of 85. Should be interesting!

[easyreview title=”Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a very dark reddish-brown color, and a tan-colored head is formed as well. The head quickly collapses leaving some lacing and some foam islands on the surface of the beer.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is roasty and sweet, lending some tones of coffee, chocolate, caramel and molasses. There is a strong presence of warm alcohol in the aroma as well.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is also dominated by roasted and almost charred tones. The same coffee, chocolate and molasses tones from the aroma are present in the flavor as well, but these are joined by some hints of burnt grains or sugar. The alcohol is present in the flavor as well, but not as strongly as in the aroma. The flavor ends with a slightly sweet and bitter aftertaste. The beer is well balanced, with the roastiness, bitterness and sweetness working nicely together.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a smooth and medium-full body, with a medium-low carbonation level. The beer has a good mouthfeel, but the burnt tones draw some points from the score.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”A great beer, that though in my opinion had a couple of flaws in the aroma and flavor. Still the best I’ve had from Flying Dog, and a excellent match with the chocolately mud cake I was eating at the same time. This beer had some great roasted tones, but was a bit put off by the burnt and almost charred flavor.”]

Homebrew: Yeast Starter

I’m still waiting for some hops to arrive in the mail before I can start to brew my Bold Bobcat (American Amber Ale) and Black Panther (Imperial Stout) recipes (see plans here). The Black Panther will be using dry yeast, so it won’t be needing a yeast starter, but the Bold Bobcat will use Wyeast’s Denny’s Favorite, and such I decided to make the yeast starter today, hoping that my hops will arrive before Thursday (which is my planned brewday). This was my first time using liquid yeast, and making a starter, so hopefully everything went okay. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, since there are loads of pictures and tutorials available online already.

My process was to first smack the Wyeast pack, to ensure the yeast inside was still viable. Then I boiled 75g of Light Dry Malt Extract in 750ml of water for 15 minutes in a pot (the volume was reduced to around 675ml). While it was boiling I prepared some Star-San solution, into which I placed a 1L Erlenmeyer Flask, a Stir Bar, some aluminum foil, and a pair of scissors. I placed the Stir Bar into the Erlenmeyer flask, emptied the Star-San solution from the flask, poured over the boiled wort, and capped the flask with aluminum foil. I let the contents cool until room temperature (assisted with first a water bath and then an ice bath). At proper temperature, I cut open the (now swollen) Wyeast pack with the sanitized scissors, and carefully poured the contents into the Erlenmeyer and quickly capped again with the aluminum foil. The total volume of the starter was now around 800ml, and the original gravity was around 1.035. I then placed the flask on my stir plate, and initiated the motor. I’m letting the starter do its thing for ~48 hours, after which I’ll put it in the fridge for 24 hours. Then on the brewday, I’ll decant the liquid from above the (hopefully) settled yeast, and then pitch it into the beer.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA


  • Brewery: Ballast Point
  • Country: USA
  • Style: American IPA
  • ABV: 7.0%
  • Size: 650 ml
  • Bought from: Brewdog Shop, ~9€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    Today it was time to try the highly acclaimed Sculpin IPA from San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing Company. This IPA has supposedly been brewed with Pale Ale, CaraPils, CaraVienna and Crystal malt, and hopped with Amarillo, Warrior, Magnum, Northern Brewer, Tomahawk, Crystal, Centennial and Simcoe to an IBU of 70 (Note: The ingredients are most likely different in the commercial brew). This should be a fruity and bitter experience!

    [easyreview title=”Ballast Point Sculpin IPA” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a hazy orange color, and an off-white head, that collapses leaving curtains of lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The beer has an aroma dominated by tones of tropical fruits, citrus, apricots and resin. There is a slight caramelly sweetness in the aroma as well.” cat2rating=”4.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins with a slight maltiness, that is quickly overtaken by tones of resin and grapefruit from the hops. The flavor ends quite dry with a pleasant bitter bite on the tongue. The beer is definitely balanced towards the bitter and hoppy side, but there is at least some maltiness to back it up.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a smooth medium-full body and a medium-light carbonation, giving it a good mouthfeel and making it easy to drink.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall, a very good American IPA by the San Diego-brewers, packed with loads of hop aroma, flavors and bitterness in a great package. Would buy again if I ever had the chance, but unfortunately living in Finland doesn’t really help. Could have had a slightly less dry finish, but still very drinkable and tasty.”]

    Guest Review: St. Louis Framboise


  • Brewery: Van Honsebrouck
  • Country: Belgium
  • Style: Fruit Lambic
  • ABV: 2.8%
  • Size: 250 ml
  • Bought from: Aufsturz, Berlin, 2.8€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    Here is a guest review from Pia that I’ve forgotten to post. This is another of the beers she had during our recent Berlin trip: St. Louis Framboise. This spontaneously fermented beer is matured with fresh raspberry juice, and should be available to buy in most major supermarkets here in Finland. Let’s see what she thinks about it!

    [easyreview title=”St. Louis Framboise” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer has a dark ruby red color (darker than the Kriek from the same brewery) and a slightly baby pink head that quickly collapses, leaving a little lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”4″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The beer has a strong raspberry aroma, that is slightly tart and juicy.” cat2rating=”5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is both sweet and acidic, with tones of raspberry. Reminds me of molten popsicles.” cat3rating=”4″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer is crisp, tart and has a moderately high carbonation level.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”Overall a fresh, yummy fruit beer that I would buy again!”]

    Thanks Pia for the review!

    Stadin Panimo Cascade Pale Ale


  • Brewery: Stadin Panimo
  • Country: Finland
  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 4.5%
  • Size: 330 ml
  • Bought from: K-Citymarket, 3.95€
  • Not on Beer Advocate
  • Not on RateBeer

    This is the newest of Stadin Panimo’s Single Hop Pale Ale series to hit the stores. I’ve only tasted their Citra Pale Ale, and it was nice, but other hops featured in the series are Ahtanum, Amarillo, Centennial, Chinook, Galena, Motueka, Pacific Gem and Pacifica (I have probably forgotten some hop). This American Pale Ale has been hopped solely with Cascade, to an IBU of 35. A Hopback technique has been used for increased hop aroma. Seems promising!

    [easyreview title=”Stadin Panimo Cascade Pale Ale” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a golden-amber color, is just slightly hazy, and forms a slight white colored head, that collapses leaving almost no lacing along the glass.” cat1rating=”3.5″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The beer has a sweet, fruity (some grapefruit and mango), and just slightly grassy aroma. As i mentioned, I haven’t had that many Stadin Panimo beers, but I seem to remember a similar tone in the Citra Pale Ale and Simcoe Lager, and such maybe a ‘house aroma’.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor begins slightly sweet, with just the slightest caramel. This is then joined by some grassy, floral and citrusy hop tones. The finish is bitter and quite dry, and I also get a similar vibe as with the aroma, i.e. that I can almost taste a ‘house flavor’ typical of Stadin Panimo.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer is crisp and quite light bodied, and has a moderate carbonation level. It was refreshing and drinkable, but would have wanted a slightly stronger body.” cat4rating=”3″ summary=”Nothing special, but overall a good beer. It’s always nice to drink a Finnish microbrew. The beer has some great hop tones, but I feel the beer could definitely use some more body.”]

    Little Valley Withens Pale Ale


  • Brewery: Little Valley Brewing
  • Country: England
  • Style: Golden Ale
  • ABV: 3.9%
  • Size: 500 ml
  • Bought from: K-Citymarket, 3.49€
  • Beer Advocate
  • RateBeer

    Have had a short break in writing, since I’ve been practicing and preparing for my orchestra’s 50-year anniversary concert that was held last weekend. It went surprisingly well, and am relieved that that project is finally over. Today it’s time for a “light and hoppy” pale (golden) ale by Little Valley Brewery. Their Withens Pale Ale is brewed with 100% organic ingredients, including Barley Malt, Wheat Malt, Cane Sugar and Cascade hops. Looks promising!

    [easyreview title=”Little Valley Withens Pale Ale” cat1title=”Appearance” cat1detail=”The beer pours with a pale-golden color, and forms a slight white-colored head, that quickly collapses leaving minimal lacing along the glass. I poured the complete bottle (not remembering this was a bottle-conditioned ale), meaning chunks of yeast sediment ended up in my glass. That is my own fault though.” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Smell” cat2detail=”The aroma is quite light, with floral, spicy and citrusy (some grapefruit and orange) tones of the hops, combined with a slight maltiness.” cat2rating=”3.5″ cat3title=”Taste” cat3detail=”The flavor is also quite light, and is dominated by a combination of slightly toasty maltiness and some grassy and citrusy hop tones. The flavor ends in a surprisingly bitter and crisp finish. Quite a good balance for such a light and low-ABV beer.” cat3rating=”3.5″ cat4title=”Mouthfeel” cat4detail=”The beer has a crisp, light and quite dry body, and a moderate carbonation level, making it easy to drink and refreshing. A refreshing thirst-quencher that would probably make a great summer beer. The large yeast chunks bother a bit, but can be left out with a careful pour.” cat4rating=”3.5″ cat5title=”Overall” cat5detail=”A light and refreshing golden ale, with some nice hop tones and pleasant bitterness. Quite a good price as well for the large bottle. If you are a fan of organic products, this will please you as well. Definitely try out if your after something light and crisp instead of something very complex and packed with different flavors.” cat5rating=”3.5″ overall=”false”]

    Thanks to Pia for buying me this!