Tag Archives: Beer

Peat Smoked Vienna Lager aged in a Scotch Cask

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This was my first attempt at making a smokey scotch influence lager.  It was bottled October 16, 2011 and has aged wonderfully.

Scotch Cask Aged Peat Smoked Vienna Lager

Appearance: A honey brown color with a light tan head.  It is cloudy, but It seems that the cask aging does this to every beer.

Nose: A slight smoke and malt nose.  Very light and pleasant

Taste:  A bread/malty beginning fading into smoke and malt.  A very crisp finish with a smooth and distinct flavor.  At about 6% ABV, this is a beer that can be easily drunk and well as sipped

Mouthfeel: High carbonation but very smooth

Overall: A great balanced beer with a very nice light body and just the right amount of smoke

8.9/10

Blanton’s Cask Brown Ale

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I knew this day would come…..

Blanton’s Brown Ale

After the better part of a year dealing/working with casks, I think I finally made a great beer.  Everything seemed to work just right with this batch.  The brew was a collaboration with my friend Simon, the cask was finally calming down with flavor profile, and it was January and Feb, perfect months for barrel aging in a Brooklyn apartment.

Here it goes, one of my favorite beers to date, even had a  hard time bottling it up to save for aging.

Appearance:  a huge thick tan head.  The color is completely black with a dark brown hue

Nose: A pleasant blend of oak, vanilla, and roastiness. A full dark chocolate flavor undertone

Flavor:  a smooth rise of chocolate with a complex creaminess, it all tasted kinda like a chocolate bourbon oak milkshake, but still had a brown ale taste.  Just a tad sharp from carbonation. totally nice beer to drink

mouthfeel: a big but balanced beer with a complicated mouth, finishes nicely with an oak and chocolate memory

overall: yeessss. make. this. again. but….. WHAT IS THE RECIPE?! time to dig up my brew log

9.4/ 10 : best beer so far on the blog

Peat Smoked Vienna Lager Tasting

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Peat Smoked Vienna Lager

This is my second time brewing up this beer.  I only use about 3 ounces of peat smoked malt and the rest of the grains is 100% Vienna malt.  The sweetness from the malt and the richness of the smoke go hand in hand very nicely.  I would try to dry this out just a bit more to really feel like this beer is perfect, but a damn good beer already!

Appearance: A yellowish head that hangs around for awhile.  Perfectly clear with an amber copper color.

Nose: A sweet malty nose with only a trace smoke.

Flavor: A malty sweetness comes in the beginning of the taste and stays up front, with the smoke being present but restrained.  A brown sugar taste underneath all the other flavors. Kind of hot from the high alcohol, which was above 8 %

Mouthfeel: A smooth, round flavor that leaves a smoke flavor sitting on the tongue

Overall: This was very nice, I am making this my official Rauch! 8.7/10

The sour beer experiment cometh..

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Recently I have begun souring beer, which is a simple process of inoculating (infecting) beer with specific micro organisms that like living in beer.  So far, I have soured left over beer that was less than perfect, like my earl wit that had a bit too much gypsum and a poor fermentation. I decided to repurpose this beer into a Lambic.  I have also started souring my casks, starting with quad/ homemade wine into a rye cask with Roeselare Blend from Wyeast.

Now, repurposing beer is cool, and a great way to start souring beers, but I have way too many questions about the variables in souring to just use my leftovers for this.  It was time to brew a 10 gallon batch of Flanders Brown Ale. The brew day was easy for this beer, all until I transferred the cooled wort into all the different fermentors.

So, what am I going to do with all this beer to sour!? that’s right, use up every one gallon jug i can find.  To start off I took 5 gallons and put it into a normal 6 gallon better bottle carboy, which I pitched American Ale  yeast . This 5 gallon fermentor will be inoculated with Roeselare Blend after fermentation is complete.

VARIABLES!

The rest of the batch left plenty of room to play with, so I split up the beer into 1 gallon jugs and labeled them 1,2,3 and X, Y.  Y is the clean fermented beer that will act as the baseline for comparison (control).  1 was only Brett L, 2 was only Brett B, 3 was yeast and Brett B pitched simultaneously, and X will be Brett L added after regular yeast fermentation.  I also used a growler for my wild yeast, which will have US05 added after 3 weeks fermenting.

The beers with only Brett fermentation was very interesting to watch.  Brett L seems to be the same micro that infected my Earl Wit.  The Brett B fermentation looked crazy for about a week, then everything flocculated.

Brett L infection

Brett B infection

1L : brett L 2B: brett B

Now it’s a long wait to start bottling/ blending. which will take about a year!

New hop season is here!

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With a warm winter, I am already having my hop plants come to life! My second year Nugget  is growing very quickly and the Goldings (2nd year) is growing nicely.  I also picked up some Willamette and Sterling.  I’m planning on having a great shady spot underneath the hops to relax in this summer. Here are some pics

Goldings 4.3.2012

two weeks later:

Goldings 4.17.12

and now the Nugget

Nugget 4.3.2012

two weeks!

Nugget 4.17.12

This is a tremendous difference from last year, which didn’t see sprouts until may/june.  I’m thanking a warm winter and a pleasant conversation about being happy hops every morning.

Coconut Porter Tasting

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Coconut Porter

Brewing with coconut has been an a desire of mine for some time.  I’ve only have had a few wonderful coconut beers, so this was my first shot in the dark. It tasted ok, but really, not too impressive.  I toasted the dried coconuts on the stove for about 15 – 20 min before putting them into the secondary for about 10 days.

Appearance: A wonderful Dark brown that has a honey/amber undertone to it

Nose: Big time Chocolate and some coconut aromas.  Malty with hints of dark fruit and plum

Taste: easy start with a big coconut, hop , dark chocolate mid flavor. the blend of flavors gave an almost metal taste.  Kinda weird, but if i cut the hop character, I think it would just be coconut flavor

Mouthfeel: nice carb, but the flavor is a bit cloying

Overall:  6/10.  Kick up the coconut and drop some hops.  The base beer was a great start on this beer.

OH NO! My sour cask wants to be a volcano?!?!

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I’m not sure if it is the teaching, the brewing, or just “grown up” instinct, but I’ve become accustomed to hearing loud noises and running directly toward the sound.  This reaction has proved to be tremendously valuable .  Last week I saved my clothes from a growler that felt like becoming a bottle bomb in my closet. While today, I was lucky enough to be in front of my computer when my recently inoculated (Roeselare Blend from Wyeast) and filled cask started going off like a second grade science project. This makes sense, but I’m surprised at the force that the beer was coming out with.  If you have ever taped a keg of beer, without realizing that the tap was not connected to the disconnect, that’s the pressure I’m talking about. Cask volcano will now be the artwork for this beer!  I fixed the problem by using some duct tape to barely hold the cork in place (I don’t have an airlock that will fit) emptying out some of the beer and putting the whole cask in a styrofoam cooler.  BTW, friends that order Omaha Steaks are great to know if you’re a homebrewer.

RED LAVA IN THE TIP JAR

problem solved! until an airlock comes to me...

brewing on a budget….

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This last year has been a great time for my brewing.  I won my first homebrew competition, which gave me a real kick in the butt to brew more frequently.  Since that competition I have been brewing weekly, sometimes working on beer 3 times a week.  Its been about 5 – 6 months of that schedule and I have spent all my money. As you can tell, slowing down my brewing is an answer to my problem, but I find a great amount of joy playing with my beer, so I’ve decided to knock back the brewing schedule to every other week and start saving money wherever I can.

With my science background, I’m planning on saving yeast and making slides, but I’m broke enough that an autoclave (pressure cooker!) is out of the question right now. This leads me to the cheapest/easiest way to save money on brewing, reusing yeast.  All I do is put the newly made beer directly on top of an old batches yeast cake.  I always make sure that the cake is as fresh as possible and never leave the yeast without beer in it for more than an hour or so.  I know this is tremendously over pitching the yeast… but whatever, its easy and the fast fermentation is wonderful!

I have also been reading/listening up a lot on no sparge brewing (video link).  No sparge brewing is a process commonly used for lower ABV beers that could use a better malt backbone.  In this process, you use all the water you need for your brew day in the mash tun, vorloft it well, and drain the entire mash tun into a brew kettle.  You lose some efficiency, but it makes for a wonderful beer (which I will soon find out!)

While I was listening to this method, I thought of a way to still use the extra sugars in the mash tun, make a partygyle brewday out of this process.  After I brew a no sparge batch, I simply add another 3 -4 lbs of grain (sometimes specialty grains) to the mash tun at the mashing temp and let it go through another conversion.  This second mash usually lasts about 2 hours, since I have been only using my 7.5 gallon kettle for inside brews and i have to wait to get the first beer out of the brew kettle.

The results of this process have been promising.  After 2 brew days, I have been able to get 4 different 5 gallon batches for the grain normally used to make 2 gallon batches.  Is the original gravity lower on all 4? sure! But with OG’s in the 1.040 range, i am more than content with having a few 4 – 5 % ABV beers coming down the pipeline.

This leads me to my last option to save money. STOP BREWING BIG BEERS.  Usually my beer all hover in between 6 and 10 % ABV.  ya know, I make strong beer! But with my goal being lower ABV beer, my bills are remarkably smaller, usually walking out of the homebrew store with a bill for less than $40.  That means I making beer at about 40 cents a beer.  Its weird, but it seems that I can finally make great beer that is cheaper than buying commercial beers! It only took about 6 years of brewing to do it, but my original goal was to make good beer cheaply. and now I have.

More on these beers to come!

the purrfect ipa

The Souring of a Cask

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Which one shall I choose?

One of the most fantastic rewards of having casks to play with is the ability to make sour beers.  A cask is the perfect vessel to keep micro organism cultures happy.  There is always a little oxygen sneaking into casks and our friends Lactobacillus and Peddiococcus love that.  In many ways, preventing them from developing in casks can be an exercise in futility, but I am taking steps in three casks (Scotch Casks, Blaton’s Bourbon cask, and Evan Williams bourbon cask) which will be a future post.  One of my casks, the rye cask, has been giving off some winey characteristics in the beers aging and I felt like it was about time to push this one over the edge.

A while back, I made a beer based off of a Westvelren 12 Quad.  I have 5 gallons currently lagering for eternity… planning on waiting until December (12 months old) to pull it out at taste it. I also had 1.5 extra gallons of the base quad that was fermented separately from the other 5 gallons using Chardonnay yeast.  Both beers clock in around 11.5 % ABV.  I wasn’t planning on souring this beer, but i am finished looking at this beer sitting, I MADE IT TO EXPERIMENT DAMMIT!

The next part of this cask souring experience comes from an endeavor that was way to long in the making.  The Homemade wine, Pony Vino, that my room-mate Tom and I made about a year ago was finally bottled a few weeks ago.  The wine is okay, kinda like a sweet red, but drinkable.

Wait....How many ml are in 5 gallons?

Unfortunately, when we bottled the wine, my math was stupid and I ran out of wine bottles with about a gallon left over…

Then my worlds came together in a fantastic moment of clarity. The wine went right into the Quad, followed with a good 3 ounces of Fantome De Noel

yum yum yum

a splendid beer that was a gift my friend Degal gifted me.

The fermentor bubbled for two weeks before I got around to playing with the casks, so I’m counting on micro’s munching away in there.  I’m planning on pitching a commercial bought micro blend within the week to throw into the cask as well.

So far, things are pretty crazy on this beer, but was I done? no way!  Every summer, there is this totally awesome fig tree that grows in my neighbor’s backyard, and no one EVER picks the figs.  This last summer I felt like it was a duty of mine to do something more with those lovely fruits than simply feed the birds, so I picked about a pound and froze them.  I had planned to put them into the Quad when it was done fermenting, but I left in the freezer until now.  I also had 2 packages of Blackberries frozen, so I just put them all together into this project.

I defrosted the fruit, cooked them for about 15 min, mushing them up the whole time, and then blended them in my blender.  Once they cooled, I tossed the puree into the cask after the beer.

messy messy messy

I think I have been reading the madfermentationist way to much lately, but I’m very excited about where this beer will go.  Updates to come!

A day trip to some local breweries: Barrier and Great South Bay

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This last Saturday was a perfect storm of plans falling apart, which made my day wide open to finally get out to some local Long Island breweries.

The day started off at Barrier Brewing in Oceanside.  I know this place makes great beers and the brewery did not disappoint, outside of the fact that the brewery is located in what is essentially an industrialized warehouse in the middle of suburbia that is hard to find.

It warped me back to playing hardcore shows in some random back alley warehouse… ahh, youth….

I was able to try 6 brews which all had a great smooth balance to them.  Each one was very well crafted beer.  However, there was very little to see at the brewery.  The brewing system is set up in the background and there is nowhere for you to sit, or really explore.  This is very much a destination to go to if you want to get the freshest beer possible, not for a fun trip with friends to hangout and enjoy the scenery, but tours are available.  It seemed like it is mainly open for really delicious growler fills.

After Barrier, my lady and I continued to Great South Bay Brewery. This brewery has a very similar vibe to Barrier, but triple the space – much easier to stand around to enjoy the tastings.  Both breweries brew on a one barrel system, but at Great South Bay you could actually check out the brewing set up.

The beers on tap were great, but unfortunately, my favorite beer, Marauder, a Scotch Ale that is aged on bourbon casks was not on tap.

Merauder waiting to grow up

This was fixed by Ryan the bartender, who was kind enough to pull a small taste out of a cask.  After tasting all the beers and finding out about the breweries future expansion plans (which is on the same plot of land), I got a growler of the Saison and took off.  This was the coolest brewery visit i have had the opportunity to experience.  They even post their brew sheets (including brew day details!) on their primary fermentation fridges.

me teaching Karen

Ryan and his lovely lady, Mackenzie were great at explaining everything and took the time to really go in depth with all of the beers.  It was obvious that Ryan was passionate about the beer he was pouring.  I look forward to heading back there asap – tip them well!

Here are some tastings of a beer from each brewery:

Bulkhead Red Ale

Barrier Brewery Bulk Head Hoppy Red Ale

Appearance: Light amber brown that is wonderfully clear

Nose: Malty and sweet with bready tones

Taste: Smooth husky dryness. Maybe a rye backbone? Raisin and dark fruit undertones

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation and easy finish

Overall: A really nice smooth beer. I could drink a lot of these.  Really good out of 10

GSB Saison

Great South Bay Brewery Saison:

Appearance: Cloudy straw yellow color with a nice full head that stuck around for awhile

Nose: Bready yeast essence with tart, citrus, and  flora notes

Taste: A crisp bready phenolic taste that ends in a citrus flora lemon character with a significant yeast character

Mouthfeel: Nicely carbonated with a quick dry finish

Overall: A good light Saison with a bit of booze. I like it, but a little light and lemony for my tastes .  Very nice out of 10