Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Black Butte

There are some great beers available here in South Florida. But recently, every porter I've had has been too full bodied, too acrid, or too boozy. One of my favorite porters is Black Butte from Deschutes. Its infinitely drinkable. There are great hints of roast and coffee but not overly burnt and overwhelming. The light hop flavor is also a great counter point.

Sadly, the only way I've ever gotten to drink this beer is when my brother brought some home from a trip to South Dakota. Fear not, I can make my own. Like most of the brewing Ideas I get, this recipe is from The Brewing Network's - Can You Brew It. Only modifications I made are Briess light roasted barley in place of American chocolate malt, and Wyeast 1469 instead of the Fuller's strain (Wyeast 1968/ WLP 002). The Fuller's strain is notoriously flocculant, and I don't want to have to worry about it dropping out too early. Also, I'm a big fan of the 1469.  It finishes dry but leaves a great fat malt character behind, even in lower gravity beers.

Batch Size: 6 Gallons
Starting SG: 1.055
Ending SG: 1.011
App. Atten: 80%
IBU's : 38
ABV: 5.8%
Color: 25 L


10 lbs 2 Row
1.5 lbs Wheat Malt
.7   lbs Crystal 80 L
.42 lbs Crisp Chocolate Malt
.42 lbs Briess Light Roasted Barley ~300L


.75 oz Galena @ 60 Minutes - 12% AA
.25 oz Cascade  @ 30 Minutes - 6% AA
.25 oz Mount Hood @ 5 minutes - 5% AA


Wyeast 1469 - West Yorkshire Ale

1600 L Starter. Refrigerated after activity stopped. Plan to decant and add fresh starter wort on Brew Day.

Brew Strong.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Brew Me, I'm a Beer Recipe: Pater's Pils

I've been craving a dry, fruity, peppery, floral Belgian pale beer lately. No commercial offerings available in my area fit the bill. This is why I got into brewing in the first place.

My idea, German pils hops, American pale ale hop schedule, and a blend of saison and Trappist yeast. I'll update the White labs and Wyeast numbers later. The Trappist (WY 3787) should finish up any residual sugars after the finicky saison yeast (WY 3724) starts misbehaving.

For the malt, American pale ale malt. Low in protein, and a great backdrop to showcase the yeast and hops. I just brewed a Helles that would be fantastic sans the DMS. I'm staying away from pils malt until I can upgrade my chilling, or the ground water gets cooler. (85 f in FL) I boiled the crap out of that beer for 90 minutes. What a shame.

Not sure when I'll get around to brewing this. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's Make Helles

Hydrometer sample of 2.5 gallon starter helles. Poured through paper coffee filter.

After serving the Manchild at a party recently, I realized most of my family are pretty timid beer drinkers. Light beer folks, that think Kalik is a strong beer at 6%. In an effort to slowly convert them, I decided to make them a Helles for the next keg party. It's also getting intolerably hot, and a nice cold Helles sounds ultimately refreshing.

I'm going to do a few new things with this batch. First, yeast starter. I'm going to make a 2.5 gallon starter Helles for drinking on brew day and propagating enough cells. Second, decoction. Nothing crazy, just going to runoff the liquid portion of the mash and boil the thick part for 30 minutes. Then I will combine the two for the alpha amalayse rest at 160 f.

Hopefully the beer will be something both light lager drinkers and brewing geeks can enjoy. Here's the recipe.

13 lbs Best Maltz Pilsen
1 oz liberty 90 mins
.75 oz tetnanger 90 mins

WLP 830 bock lager

Simple right? The beauty of Helles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brew Day (upcoming): Norebo

My buddy from Michigan loves Oberon.  It seems like that is the beer of choice for 20 somethings in MI.  I stayed away from wheat beers early on in my beer drinking days.  I didn't like how they were always served with an orange slice. Seemed kind of gimmicky.

I finally tried Oberon last year and was delightfully surprised.  Its pretty much a bohemian pilsner mixed with an american wheat beer. Extremely flavorful and refreshing at the same time.  The signature Saaz flavor really won me over. Its got a great malt character thanks to the yeast. It reminds me a lot of Terrapin's beers, and their house ale strain is the Wyeast 1272 American Ale II. So I'll give that one a spin. The beer is also firmly bittered, but doesn't have any harshness. I'll go with soft water and 35-40 IBU's

I find myself wanting to make more beers for specific people now a days. IPA for dad, porter for my brother, and now Oberon Clone for my buddy.  I sent an email to the good people at Bell's. No response yet, but after reading a few posts from people that got responses and tasting the beer recently, this recipe should get me close.

Norebo - 

6 gallons - 75% Efficiency - 60 Minute Boil - 7 Gallons Pre-Boil

OG: 1.058
FG: 1.014
ABV: 5.8%
IBU: 37
SRM: 5.4


5 lbs American 2-Row
6 lbs Wheat Malt
.5lbs CaraVienne
1 lbs Munich 10L

Mash at 152 F


1 oz Crystal - First Wort Hop
1 oz Saaz - 45 Minutes
1 oz Saaz  - 20 Minutes
1 oz Hersbrucker - 20 Minutes


Wyeast 1272 American Ale II - at around 65 F


It seems Bell's has a stock response.  I read this exact same language that someone else had received. I can't blame them.  Its cool that they respond in the first place. As for the hop schedule. A number of people describe a citrusy aroma and flavor. I swear I've tasted it when this beer is fresh and on draft. But the couple I've tried recently scream Saaz and Hersbrucker. Maybe the slightest hint of a suggestion of an american noble type triploid with some citrus in the background. Crystal and Chinook would fit the bill. I kind of have a hunch that there might be a kiss of Cascade in there. Haven't decided what to do with the recipe yet. I'll keep you posted.

Here is the Bell's Oberon Home Brew Recipe stock response:

There are certain things about our recipes that we keep close to the vest, but I can offer some guidance. The malt bill is relatively straightforward: stick with 2-row base malt and a decent portion of wheat, something in the 40-50% range. Wheat can stick a little, so use as much of that range as you can within the limitations of your lauter tun; adding rice hulls can help improve the flow. A touch of caramel malt will be all the color you need usually. Aim for a target original gravity of around 1.056 and moderate fermentability. The ABV should be just below 6%.

Oberon uses several hops, but the signature varietals are Hersbrucker & Saaz. Target roughly 30 IBUs. Don’t be lured into using coriander or orange peel: Oberon is spice-free.

You can culture yeast out of one of our bottles if you're comfortable with that; it's certainly the preferred option for a solid flavor match. Otherwise, the local homebrew supply shops around here have found that most people looking to clone one of our recipes lean towards ale strains with a straightforward ester profile & good attenuation.

I hope this information helps. Good luck with the brewing!


Josh Smith

Marketing Coordinator
Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brewday Troubles

A few issues came up this saturday while I was making the Man Child. The wort is oddly oily in appearance and has a slightly green hue. Seriously, you'd have to see it to believe it. Here are the problems that came along.

1. Only had about 1.5 g of gypsum: Crap. This is a problem when you start with reverse osmosis water.  Homebrew store is 30 minutes away and I'm already mashed in. Oh well. I went to the grocery store and picked up some epsom salt to make up for the missing sulfates. The missing calcium came from CaCL.

Update - Not sure if I bought the wrong epsom salt and this is what is causing the strage look of the wort. Also tasted a sample from the fermenter and it had a harsh lingering bitterness/metalic taste. I only put a tsp of epsom salt in the boil. Maybe this was too much.

2. No Hot Break: Need help with this one. There is even 1 lb of torrified wheat in the recipe so there should be plenty of protein in the boil to get things to bind up. Starting with RO water I add enough calcium to the mash to theoretically get to around 5.2 -5.5. Maybe my pH is way off. I refuse to drop $100 on a pH meter. Maybe I'll buy some colorphast strips. In addition to the mash salts I always add a bit more to the kettle. There may have been some small particle hot break since I got some foam when I was coming to a boil, but no egg drop soup. Do I need hops to help coagulate protiens? Only used 6 grams of CTZ at 60 mins. All my hops went in at 10.

3. No whirlfloc: Man was I unprepared for this brew day. This is some murky stuff. There is almost no cold break either what the hell? I could only get down to about 80 F with my immersion chiller. Florida ground water is pretty hot. But usually once I get the wort in the carboy and chilled down to pitching temps you can see the cold break dropping out. This is one strange beer I brewed. Even now after 3 days in the fermenter no break material on the  bottom of the carboy and the same greenish cloudy look.

4. Krausen Dropped after 48 hours: I've used the whitbread strains before and the Krausen usually gets much higher and sticks around a bit longer.  At 48 hrs the gravity is down to about 1.019. Hopefully the yeast will finish off those last 6-7 points. I'll be really frustrated if my chest freezer and Johnson controller is over cooling and making my yeast drop out. At 1 degree differential it always gets about 3 degrees lower than the setpoint.

Brewing is humbling. Not going to let this get to me though. Even if this beer is a dumper. I may just brew the same thing again and try to get it right.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Brew Day: Man Child

I've been working on a recipe for a 4th of July party my brother is hosting. I've been on a hop kick recently as my columbus hops in the backyard are starting to plump up. So the idea is to brew something you can drink a lot of (its for a party after all) but is packed with citrusy hop flavor with a bit of "dank" pine and resin. So I want to keep it under 5% abv and keep the bitterness down.  I've got 2 oz each of Zythos and Falconer's Flight in the freezer. I think I'll supplement that with an ounce each of Columbus and Simcoe late in the kettle.

Despite the size of the beer I want to keep the body nice and full.  All those hops and a dry finish can get kind of abrasive. So I think I'll mash super high (156 F) and add some carahell and crystal 60. Just enough to give a nice mouthfeel but avoid too much caramel flavor. I'm also thinking of adding a pound of torrified wheat. It should provide a boost to the body and help make the head last. I've never used it but thats what all the suppliers claim. Shouldn't hurt anything.

Here is the Recipe:

6.25 Gallons

OG: 1.047
FG:  1.012
SRM: 6.8

EST ABV: 4.4%

IBU: 39

8.5 lbs Marris Otter
1.0 lbs Toriffied Wheat
0.5 lbs Carahell
.25 lbs Briess C-60

Mash Salts: RO water + .5 tsp gypsum + 2 tsp CaCl

1 oz Columbus - 10 minutes - 13% AA
1 oz Simcoe - 10 minutes -12.2% AA
2 oz Zythos - 10 minutes - 11.6% AA
2 oz Falconer's Flight - Dry hop

Boil Salts: 1 tsp epsom salt + 1 tsp CaCl

1300 mL starter of White Labs Oh-Oh Seven at Ocean Eleven.(WLP007)

By the way. I hope the Heat lose.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My beer doesn't suck

I still haven't gotten my score sheets back from the Atlanta NHC judging center.  But, I did get some good news while waiting for a table at Boma, at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. The Innkeeper took 3rd in English Pale Ales! Wow. I knew my beer was OK, but honestly I didn't have high hopes for this one at all.  

I don't have any homebrewing friends, or any that are half as into beer as I am.  So I evaluate my beer in a bubble. Its nice to know that I'm not blindly sucking down awful homebrew thinking that I'm an OK homebrewer.  Finally, some sort of validation. 

I already drank all of this batch, so its time to re-brew for the second round.  I've never brewed under pressure like this.  I usually have a very relaxed attitude when it comes to brewing.  I try a few new techniques, or a new ingredient combination, and just see what happens. I've never tried to duplicate a beer I've made. Who likes drinking the same beer all the time? 

Cheers to Kris England and Northern Brewer for putting this kit together and Wyeast for making 1469 a year round offering. Otherwise, I'd be totally screwed. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Great Fermentations

1.094 + 2 vials in a 1.8 L starter = Crazy Fermentation

The Tripel I brewed on Sunday is fermenting violently. I've never had a batch go nuts like this. There is so much C02 that the star san in my blowoff container keeps foaming up and beasting over. Maybe I'll switch to water.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brew Day: Michuda 10

This beer was meant to be. I went to the home brew store on Friday with no idea what I was brewing on Sunday. I looked at the base malts and the yeast available. The freshest things that caught my eye were WLP 530 Abbey Ale and WLP 800 Pilsener Lager. The Belgian pilsener malt was fresh so I went with the Abbey yeast. A couple ounces of Saaz and a couple of Hallertauer. I came home to find the latest issue of BYO. Whats the cover story? A feature article on brewing traitional Tripels. Sweet. Good reading will making sure the 2 L Erlenmeyer doesn't boil over.

Note: I was shooting for 1.081 original gravity. Two things happened. The lady at the homebrew store spilled some cracked malt going from a bucket into the bag. Then she added 4 more lbs. The spilled portion was probably mostly husks. Also I sparged really slow. I was concerned I'd be low on gravity. Good guess.

Michuda 10

OG: 1.091-94 (Depends on whose refractometer calculator you use)
IBU: 35


15 lbs - Belgian Pilsener Malt
2.5 lbs - Dixie Crystals Granulated Cane Sugar


131 F for 10 minutes
141 F for 40 minutes - raised by direct heat
153 F for 20 minutes - raised by direct heat

Could be the reason for the big jump in efficiency.


RO water from machine at grocery store. 4 grams each of SO4 and CaCL added to mash. 2 grams of SO4 added to Boil with 3 grams of CaCL.


1 oz - Hallertauer 85 mins
1 oz - Saaz 85 mins
.5 oz - Hallertauer 30 mins
.5 oz - Saaz 30 mins


WLP 530 Abbey Ale

1860 mL Starter, 1 tastey pint decanted.

Pitched at 62. Free Rise to 66. Raise 2 degrees a day for 3 days. Then temp control off.

This is my first time using my brand new chest freezer and Johnson controller. What a pain in the ass it tape the probe to the side of a better bottle with bubble wrap as insulation. Gotta figure out something better. Maybe I'll go the thermowell route.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tasting Notes: Brownstar

Brewed this at the end of February. Bottle conditioned 4-5 weeks ago.

: Tons of pineapple and peach, slight berry up front. Supported by a slight warm toasted bread smell, and a hint of roast.

Flavor: Fruitiness is a bit more muted by the malt than in the aroma. Still moderate mango & peach flavors. Some citrus appears in the middle. Graham cracker malt flavor mixed with a bit of roast like burnt edges on toast. There is a slight piney resinous flavor hiding out that pops up towards the end.

The head on this beer lasts forever. Its a bit hazy but I don't mind in such a dark beer. Big, full bodied mouth feel with a sweet impression up front that I get from most hoppy beers. The carbonation and bitterness lead to a clean dry lingering piney, bitter, dark toasted bread finish.

A lot going on in this beer. I'd cut back on the dry hop to an ounce of simcoe the next time. The aroma is amazing but makes this beer more of a brown IPA than a brown ale. I'm really happy with the way this one turned out. I'm fired up to brew my next batch. I have so many recipe ideas floating in my head, but I can't decide what I want to drink in a month. Suggestions?

Friday, April 6, 2012


"Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup, yup."

This beer was inspired by the legend that is Mike McDole's Janet's Brown. A big, bad, hoppy, american brown ale. When I got the first inclination to brew this beer, the thought of a touch of roast and chocolate paired with some resinous and floral american hops sounded delicious.

I've been trying to simplify all the recipes I brew lately. I hate using partial pounds of grain ordered from home brew stores. The two local shops only have domestic crystal, and a couple other random specialty malts. I've been blending base malts, but for this one went all Maris Otter.

American Brown Ale

6 Gallons

OG: 1.065
FG: 1.014
IBU: 36
SRM: 22.5

Mash Temp: 152 F

11 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb Simpsons Dark Crystal 70-80L
1 lb Belgian Aromatic
.5 lb Fawcet Chocolate 375-450L


Reverse osmosis water from machine at grocery store.

Cant find my notes but I think I added .5 tsp CaCl, .5 tsp gypsum, and 1/4 tsp baking soda to mash. Added 1 tsp gypsum to boil.

Boil Time: 60 mins

.6 oz - 60 mins German Magnum 13.5%
1 oz - 10 mins Centennial 8.1%
1 oz - 10 mins Cascade 6.4%
2 oz - Dry Hop Simcoe 13%

White Labs WLP001 - California Ale Yeast - 1.6 L starter for 24 hours, refrigerated, decanted 1 pint, pitched the rest @64. When making the starter,

I had to shake the vial vigorously to get the yeast loose. I took the foil off of my flask, and started opening the vial. Bad idea. I should have opened up the yeast slowly first. I lost some yeast due opening too quick. But White Labs sent me a coupon for a free vial. Awesome customer service, and I just like the flavor from WLP001 better than 1056.

Pitched at 64 F
Fermented at 66 F for 4 days
Rested at 69 F for 7 days with dry hops
Chilled to 32 for 3 days

I've been drinking alot of this beer. I'm really happy with how it turned out. I sent a bottle with two other entries into the National Homebrew Competion, but this one broke in transit. I was able to send another which should arrive today. Hopefully they haven't judged category 10 yet.

I'll post some tasting notes when I get a chance to pour another glass.

UPDATE: Scored a 43 in first round of the NHC.  Advanced to mini best of show, but didn't place.  

Hop Gin

Working from home is the best. Whatever stupid spur of the moment beer related idea I have, I do it. So when I saw my ever growing bag of partial ounces of hops in the freezer, I thought, "why not make some hopped gin, strain and compare different hops?"

The participants:

1. UK Brambling Cross - less than 6 months old, still smell great, floral, spicy, pruney, cherry-ey, slight citrusy

2. Amarillo - more than a year old, amazingly still smell good. Loads of citrus, navel orange, and grapefruit. Significantly darker than the others. My guess, higher oil content making the liquid cloudy and not letting light reflect off the white container.

3. East Kent Goldings - probably two years old, pretty weak compared to others. Black tea, woody, floral, very slight orange peel aroma.

4. Hersbrucker - probably two years old, very light aroma, hay, weeds, green tea, stale. Crystal clear gin. Must not have very high oil content.

After adding the gin the brambling cross probably smells the best. The amarillo changed the most, the bright citrus turned into orange juice left out for a day. Smells just like a Gin n' Juice. Snoop dogs favorite. EKG and hersbrucker smell very similar.

Initial Tastes:

Brambling Cross and Amarillo are great, but amarillo bitterness is a bit much. Its kind of crazy, I can put a drop on my tongue and feel it evaporate, but the taste and aroma linger for quite a while. Its pretty interesting. I should tell you, the Hersbrucker tastes pretty bad. It taste like wood and black tea mixed with grass. I think these are defenitely stale. They probably were when I bought them. That pilsener had some similar characteristics.

I think I'll spike some very bland lager (where the hell am I going to find this!) with just enough to see the effects of each. Next up, making hoppy martinis. I wonder if amarillo goes good with vermouth?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brew Day: The Innkeeper

My wife has me make a list of things I want for Christmas. On that list were 3 kits from Northern Brewer: The Inkeeper, Keeler's Reverse Burster Alt Beer, & the socially awkward Patersbier. I never use kits, and I thought it would be awesome for her to pick the style of beer I was brewing. She chose wisely.

The brew day was my shortest yet on my newish system. I was a little scared of only having 6 1/4 lbs of malt in my 10 gallon mash tun, but I got good conversion quick with little heat loss over an hour. Hit all my numbers on point on this one. Very satisfying.

I love Styrian Goldings and West Yorkshire ale yeast so this beer should be perfect for me. Twice Champion Beer of Britain? Maybe not. But I brewed it.

The Inkeeper 

5 gallons

1.043 OG
~ 40 IBU

6.00 lbs Simpson's Golden Promis
0.25 lbs Simpson's Extra Dark Crystal
1.00 lbs Corn Sugar

1 oz Fuggle @ 60 mins
1 oz EKG @ 45 mins
1 oz Styrian Goldings @ 15 mins

Wyeast 1469 - 1250 ml Starter, pitched whole thing @ 64 F into about 4.5 gallons of wort.

Brewed on January 28 in record time. Fast conversion and easy lautering.

Realized I forgot the whirlfloc. Doh!

Yeast took off pretty fast. Nice 2 inch thick Krauesen that sat on top for a solid 2 weeks.

Added some isinglass from the good folks at Northern Brewer in an attempt to clarify this mass of murk. I noticed a huge difference when leaving out the whrilfloc. I was able to squeeze a ton of wort out of the kettle with minimal losses, but the finished beer is going to have a good amount of chill haze.

Bottle on February 16 - Tasting pretty good. Nice and dry. Michael Jackson described Tim Taylor's Landlord and Styrian Goldings as orange marmalade flavors. Thats perfect here. Couldn't have picked a better descriptor for the hop flavor. The malt is juicy and leaves that biscuity toasty hint of toffee lingering after each sip.

I think there is some acetaldehyde. I always seem to get this with the Wyeast 1469. Maybe its just an ester and I'm fermenting to warm. Hopefully it goes away after some bottle conditioning. I'm looking forward seeing how this beer evolves.

Cheers. Tip your Innkeepers.

Update: Placed 3rd in First Round of NHC Atlanta Judging Center! Category 8b.