25 October 2014

posted by benjy edwards

Under the vein of “one can never have too many IPAs on tap”, we’re doing another IPA to follow on from last weekend’s Blind Pig clone.  This time it is a recipe which I have never brewed before: a clone of Alesmith IPA.  I’m a big fan of the commercial beer, so why not?  We mashed domestic two-row, light crystal, carapils, Munich, wheat, and honey malt (33.5 pounds total) for an hour.  Then, the recipe calls for a first wort hop addition of Columbus and Simcoe, with later additions of Columbus, Simcoe, Amarillo, and Cascade for flavour and aroma.  Target gravity is 1.073, but with such a big beer our efficiency usually suffers, and today was no exception.  Our actual gravity turned out to be 1.069.

While the mash rested, we kegged the Blind Pig and sampled it.  The dry yeast hadn’t cleared, as with the previous batches, but the flavour was good.  Aroma on the Fuller’s yeast was better, and the difference in gravity was 1 point, like the American pale ale.  We had a sample of the chilled and carbonated APA fermented with the dry yeast and it was a bit hazy, but clearer than a week ago when it was kegged.  It could just be haze from the dry hop.

Next weekend will be our last use of this yeast, so it is time for a double IPA, when I can dry-hop it in the primary and leave it on the first dry hop for 10 days before a second dry hop in the kettle.  We will brew our successful clone of the Hop Venom from Boneyard in Bend, Oregon.

18 October 2014

posted by benjy edwards

It is time for the third use of this yeast, so now we are ramping up to IPA-level ABV.  The recipe is a clone of the Blind Pig IPA from Russian River.  We’ve brewed this twice before and it has turned out very well.  I was able to compare one of the previous version to the commercial beer while visiting Pacific City, Oregon, and they were identical except that ours was slightly hoppier, which I believe can be explained by relative freshness.

The mash is American two-row, crystal 40, and carapils, with a target OG of 1.058.  After only two batches back to brewing, we managed to hit our target gravity spot on.  While hitting the number is important, it tends to give one an overly-inflated sense of satisfaction when achieved, or an exaggerated disappointment when missed.  What is truly important is the taste of the final product, not what the numbers report.

Hop in this recipe are Columbus and Chinook for bittering, followed by Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial and Simcoe late.  The target IBU is 62, so of course we aimed for 100 IBU.  It has been my experience that we get a lower isomerization than commercial beers, probably due to both batch size and their use of the higher-efficiency pellets.  This theory could explain why most homebrew falls short of the punch that the hoppy commercial beers exhibit.  In any event, my theory is, the more hops, the better.

We kegged the Citra pale ale from last week, dubbed Citra Ass Down Pale Ale, and I was very pleased with the result after a week.  A great punch of the inimitable Citra flavour, which will only be enhanced with some carbonation and chilling.  Gravities were different between the two yeasts, with the dry yeast hitting 1.009 and the Wyeast reaching 1.010.  No prizes for guessing which hops were used in the dry hop.

Next week is another IPA, yet to be decided.  At this point it will likely be another clone of Headhunter IPA from Fat Head’s, or perhaps a first attempt at cloning Alesmith IPA.

11 October 2014

posted by benjy edwards

A week after the return batch, we’re brewing the beer for the second pitch of this yeast.  We switched from an English cask ale to an American pale ale, using my typical malt bill but using a single hop, Citra, which is one of my favourites.  Actually, Columbus is used for bittering, but that will be undetectable in the flavour.  Maris Otter is the base malt, with carapils, Vienna, Munich, honey malt and wheat.  Target gravity is 1.055 and actual gravity was 1.054.  The IBUs should be around 70, with my typical heavy-handed approach to hopping.

The brew day went fine, no boilovers or other disasters.  We racked the dark mild into a couple of sanitized and purged corny kegs to naturally condition.  Tasting the two yeasts was quite surprising.  If you’d asked me, I’d say that they weren’t even the same beer.  The Fuller’s strain was 3 gravity points higher at 1.016, tasted sweeter, but I thought had a more pleasant aroma and flavour.  The Mangrove Jack’s did not clear in a week, and I thought it’s flavour was less distinct.  Jeff, a friend from the bike racing team, thought that the Jack’s was better, however.  Of course the finished beer will  taste different, and the hope is that the dry yeast will eventually clear up.  It has been at least 15 years since I’ve used dry yeast, so it is an interesting experiment.  So far it has fermented well, aside from the clarity problem, so there is hope for the new and improved dry yeast.  Other brewers testify that it has come a long way from the early days of homebrewing, which was originally bread yeast.

4 October 2014

posted by benjy edwards

After what has to have been the longest break in brewing for me in at least a decade, today was my chance to get back into the game.  I was actually nervous about brewing this batch, just due to being rusty about the process.  By the way, the reason for the long interruption was putting the house onto the market in an attempt to downsize.  However, after six months being listed with a good local realtor, there was no interest, so I re-installed my beloved restaurant sink in the garage and dug out all of the brewing gear from storage boxes.

In the end, the brew went really well.  The chosen recipe is my dark mild, which will be cask-conditioned.  The target gravity is 1.040, but due to boiling too vigorously, we reached 1.046 as the actual gravity.  Our house yeast, the Fuller’s strain (Wyeast 1968/White Labs WLP002) was pitched from a smack pack into one fermenter, while in the other one we’re trying a dry yeast which I found in a homebrew shop south of Olympia.  It is Mangrove Jack’s British Ale yeast, which is billed as being very highly flocculent, as is the Fuller’s strain.  It will be interesting to see how the two compare.  Yeast strain can make a big difference in the beer’s taste.  I used the last bottle of hardware store oxygen to oxygenate the wort and we began fermentation at 66F.