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.