Monday, March 23, 2015

5 Way Berliner (and My First Competition Ribbon)

Not strictly a "split batch" or formal experiment (or should I say ExBEERiment) I nonetheless wanted to taste test 5 variations on sour wheat beers side by side to see which method I liked the most.  While 3 of the beers were started at the same time and used identical worts, the other two were made earlier and one used a very different wort (the extra runnings from my Hefeweizen).  The breakdown of each beer is listed below.  Each batch was a little less than 1 gallon.
  1. "B" Hefeweizen 2nd Runnings w/ Lactobacillus Delbrueckii followed by British ale yeast
    • The 1st version was fermented on the Lacto Del for 3 days before being moved to secondary with the British ale yeast.
    • OG ~1.040, FG 1.003
  2. "C" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii only
    • Pitched on the lacto cake from version 1.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.002
  3. "X" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii, British ale yeast, and Brettanomyces (BKYeast C2)
    • Pitched with the final slurry from Version 1 with Brett added 5 days later.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.002
  4. "Y" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii and wild microbes (my Sunroom blend)
    • 1 pint pitched with my Sunroom blend (of wild microbes harvested from my Sunroom) before receiving a small amount of the Lacto slurry while being stepped up from an to 1 gallon.
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.003
  5. "Z" Wheat Extract w/Lactobacillus Delbrueckii and Brettanomyces (BKYeast C2)
    • Given a pitch from the Lacto slurry before being given Brett 5 days later
    • OG ~1.030, FG 1.005

B- cloudiest, light pale color, short lived white head
C- darkest by far, longest lasting head, most carbonated, fairly clear
X- 2nd cloudiest, almost no head
Y- 3rd cloudiest, 2nd biggest head
Z- clearest, smallest head

B- fruity, light citrus,
C- medicinal off smelling, especially as it warms
X- lots of Brett funk, fruity citrus
Y- lightly fruity, vanilla, maybe a touch of butter, very interesting
Z- light fruit, berries, light Brett

B- fruity and tart, sourness is moderately high
C- lightly medicinal, just lightly tart
X- funky, light to moderate sourness
Y- moderately sour, some definite diacetyl butteriness, a little fruit
Z- light grain, lightly tart, fairly restrained

B-Super dry, lightly carbonated
C- medium body with medium carbonation
X- dry with low to medium carbonation
Y- a slightly slicker mouthfeel (diacetyl?) medium low carbonation
Z- medium low in body (the Brett and lacto don't seem to have attenuated as well as the lacto and yeast combos) medium carbonation

B- my favorite of the bunch, moderately sour but with some nice banana, lemon, and wheat in the mix
C- my least favorite by far, just using the lactobacillus is clearly not an advisable option as it surprisingly is under sour and very medicinal
X- my second favorite, and the second most sour. Brett character is a little too high and sourness a little too low
Y- while it was cold this one was really interesting and enjoyable, as it warmed it seems that diacetyl is the most dominant character and the sourness isn't quite high enough
Z- an alright beer, this sort of feels like a bland saison with a light Brett touch. The sourness of the lactobacillus and Brett alone isn't high enough.

This small test has made me think that lactobacillus followed by saccharomyces is the best option for quickly fermented sour beers. I'm a little disappointed in how buttery the wild fermented beer came out and learned to never do lacto only beers, but otherwise the results weren't overly surprising.

Spoke to a brewer at Tired Hands in Ardmore Pennsylvania and was told that they use a very similar process as version "B" for their sours: lacto for 3 days followed by British ale yeast.

Happy to say version "B" received a score of 35 and third place in the Sour Ales category at the DC Homebrewer's Club Cherry Blossom Competition.  Sure, it was only out of 6 beers in the category but for a beer not brewed to style and with no expectations it still did well enough to receive a ribbon.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Better Bitter

When I made my first Special/Best/Premium Bitter recipe I wanted something extremely classic: British Pale Ale malt, crystal malt, and a little bit of a roasted (in that case Victory) malt.  For the second iteration of this beer I decided to go in a pretty different and original direction.

While the base malt is still Maris Otter Pale ale malt and the hops are still primarily EKG's, I used an unconventional ingredient that I really like in Golden Naked Oats and an unconventional ingredient that I've really wanted to try in Crystal Rye.  The end beer I'm going for should have a smaller toffee/caramel character than a classic bitter but with a bit more of a dry/licorice character from the Crystal Rye and some creamy, subtle sweetness from the Naked Oats.

I thought about oaking a small part of this batch to make something completely original, until I discovered this recipe and was reminded that there's nothing new under the sun.
Surrounded by guitar pedal remnants on the Sunroom table.

Tasting notes:
Appearance- pours a pretty looking burnt orange color with substantial haziness. One inch bright white head fades quickly to a thin sticky layer.

Smell- peach, citrus, interesting grain character: lightly sharp, grainy, crusty. I start to pick up more rye/oat/pretzel(?) character over time and as I drink it.

Taste- like the nose the initial impression is fruit: mild stone fruit and some lightly citrusy notes. The grain and bitterness build after the swallow and with subsequent sips. Middle and finish is almost pretzel like, crusty, lightly toasty and sharp with the moderate bitterness.

Mouthfeel- medium bodied and medium to light carbonation, pretty good for the style and for this beer.

Overall- well, I was certainly trying for something different here with using the caramel rye and a lot of Golden Naked Oats but I didn't get what I was expecting. This beer somehow comes off as salty and sharply grainy. While it doesn't taste just like a pretzel, there is a distinct similarity in the flavors that is hard to account for though I assume the combination of caramel rye, golden naked oats, and the water chemicals added to the mash (1 g CaCl 3 g gypsum) all contributed. Not a terrible beer, nor a very good one, just something pretty different but drinkable enough.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"To Style" Hefeweizen Recipe and Tasting

When I decided that I wanted to brew a "to-style" beer for this year's DC Homebrewers Cherry Blossom Competition I was tossing around a few different ideas: British Bitter, American Pale Ale (the category I entered last year), Berliner Weisse, or a Witbier.  I was going through my inventory of hops, spices, and washed yeast and going back and forth when I decided to ask my girlfriend Alyssa for a recommendation.  Her answer: make a Hefeweizen.

There are a few beers that I accredit my love for the craft to. Allagash White and Duvel were two of the first Craft/Import beers which truly opened my eyes to the range of beer flavors and styles when I had both on my 21st birthday.  St. Bernardus Abt. 12 made me say "Oh my God this is the best beer" a few years before the similar Trappist Westvleteren 12 overtook that place on my list. Then there is Weihenstaphaner Hefeweissbier.

While craft beer (and to some extent even the imported beer) industry is constantly changing, with some hot new thing getting all of the hype, this Hefeweizen, from the oldest continuously functioning brewery in the world, never goes out of style and currently holds the highest rating of any Hefeweizen style beer and the 138th overall position on Beer Advocate.  While at any time a new IPA or Russian stout could be better than the last greatest thing, this beer is simply perfection that all other Hefeweizens should attempt to follow.

Frankly, I don't remember when I had the beer for the first time.  My very first homebrew was a hefeweizen and used the Wyeast 3068 Weihenstaphen Weizen yeast strain.  That beer turned out remarkably well and I searched down the source of the famed yeast.  While I don't remember when or where it was, I do remember thinking: this is a perfect hefeweizen.  While I have only brewed one other Hefeweizen influenced beer (my tasty but unfortunately explodingly carbonated LimeWeizen) the hefeweizen style has been one of the most influential in my brewing experience.

As my tastes have changed over time, hefeweizen has faded from a favorite style to more of a situational/seasonal beer for me.  I haven't made a light, refreshing, low hopped wheat beer in a long time and I had much better success with my to-style weizen than my to style wit, so, very long story short: I went with Alyssa's choice.

In order to attempt an award winning hefeweizen (also known as Weissbeer) I went with Mino Choi's recipe featured on Chop and Brew.  I did decide however to not go with the traditional decoction (or in this case triple decoction) and instead did a step infusion and added a half pound of Vienna malt to up the malt character.  The recipe ended up being exceedingly simple:

6 lbs. Wheat Malt
4 lbs. 2-Row
.45 lbs. Vienna
1 oz. Tettnanger hops
WLP 300 Hefeweizen Ale Yeast

With the gravity down to a stable 1.008 for a week now I decided the beer was done.  Flavor is underwhelming and there seems to be a strange clumpiness to the yeast.  I decided to keg 3 gallons as a krystallweizen and bottle the rest.  Bottled portion received 1.30 oz. of sugar blended in 1 cup of filtered water, ended up with only a little more than a gallon of bottles (11), a little worried about over carbonation.
Bottled "hefe" version on the left and kegged "krystal" version on the right.

Side by Side Tasting
Bottle: Cloudy, almost no head.  Looks like a hefeweizen except for the lack of carbonation.
Keg: Mostly clear but with some small specks floating throughout.  A much nicer head of a couple inches that fades to a thin layer.

Bottle: Bananas, butterscotch, vanilla, light spice, apple.  Pretty classic hefeweizen aromas but fairly low on the clove.
Keg: Much cleaner/lighter without the proteins and yeast added. Banana, light grain, fairly clean.

Bottle: Some light banana and spice followed by a light snappy tart apple character.
Taste: Cleaner and brighter than the bottled version.  Light banana and spice, but almost Pilsner like in its cleanness.

Bottle: Moderate to high body with very low carbonation.  Hopefully the bottles continue to carb up some, I was actually worried it would be too high so I'm surprise it's so low at this point.
Keg: More moderate to light in body with a much higher, but still only medium, carbonation level. Seems to be better in both categories, though this doesn't save the low level of yeast derived character.

Both: All around this is a fairly disappointing though not offensive attempt at the style.  The low fermentation temperatures (~68F) didn't produce enough yeast character.  The bottle conditioned version with all of the extra bottle dregs poured in definitely had a small increase in flavor, but also didn't have as nice of a carbonation or look.  Were I to make this again I would increase the fermentation temperature slightly and likely do a decoction.

Other Variants:
Second runnings were turned into a sour (Berliner Weisse? too high gravity and wheat content. Gose? no salt or coriander. So I don't know). WLP677 Lactobacillus Delbrueckii added for 3 days prior to pitching a British ale yeast.  Bottled with 0.60 oz of sugar for 9 bottles (and a half bottle that I drank). Wheat Extract wort pitched on top of straight Lacto and fermented fully, bottled with 0.40 oz of sugar for 7 bottles.  The beer fermented with both lacto and ale yeast was much tastier with a much stronger lemony sourness and a nice wheaty and malty backbone while the purely WLP 677 version is pretty mild and bland, not bad but nothing exciting, probably similar to Mike Tonsmeire's experience with a 100% lacto fermented beer with this same strain.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fruit Wine #1 Tasting

A- very clear for the most part but with a touch of sediment from the bottom of the bottle. Pale yellow in color, a few carbonation bubbles that disappear almost instantly. Certainly not "star bright" but looks good in a glass.

S-lots of sweet stone fruit: peach, apricot, nectarine. There is also some banana and some more  savory jammy/plum character.

T/M- dry and still, with a big, slightly sour/slightly sweet, peach sensation. In some ways less complex than the nose with an emphasis closer to straight peach flesh, but with a very nice balance and shift through the swallow from the up front sugars and on to the finishing sourness. No hotness or other off flavors, just mild to moderate peach characters.

O- I can't complain at all with how this one has turned out. Lots of stone fruit character, a touch of sweet, a touch of sour. How much of the sourness came from the fruit and how much came from other the additives is anyone's guess, but it certainly balanced well in the end. 

The wine tasted pretty hot a few months ago but has mellowed nicely and seems to have even more fruit character (less weird white wine-y) than it did when I first tasted it out of the bottle.

Nothing life changing here, but for someone who hasn't had many "fruit wines" I'm very pleased with the results.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

12B - Imperial Assassin (Imperial Licorice Stout) Tasting

A lot has changed since I brewed my first stout, a licorice forwards Imperial Russian Stout that saw half of the batch receive Jaegermeister soaked oak. The beer was brewed 3 years, almost to the day, before this tasting took place. While the beer tasted good relatively fresh, it has been a while since I have I have had one.  Having a bottle of Jaeger in the apartment and seeing an article in Draft magazine about beers that taste like cocktails, and especially the one which is aged in Absinthe barrels (Absinthe and Jaeger both have predominant Anise/Licorice flavor profiles and are among my favorite liquors/liqueurs) prompted me to want to try this one again.  I was lucky enough to find a bottle in my parents basement and gave it a go.

A- Deep dark and oily with lots of carbonation bubbles that support an everlasting 1 finger eggwhite foam.  Doesn't leave lacing as much as a full wall of bubbles.

S- Sweet, candy, oak, licorice, a touch of smoke.  Pretty good, though more sweet and sugary than most stouts.

T- Initial sweetness is swept aside by a moderate alcohol and licorice character that gives way to a long, creamy, oaky finish.  Honestly: it's awesome, similar to, but better than I remember with the sweet sugary character being nicely balanced by slight alcohol and licorice and finally the oak showing through.  Not enough roast character or bitterness to be a classic RIS, but delicious nonetheless.

M- Seems somewhat thin and snappy on the front, but the finish is long, smooth, and creamy.  The oak tannins could very well be what gives this sensation of a fuller body as the carbonation is clearly fairly high and the high alcohol makes the body feel relatively thin.

O- I would pay for this beer.  I would pay a lot for this beer.  This very well may have been the last bottle (I might have one more stashed away...) and that's somewhat sad since it seems to have just peaked with the alcohol barely present, and at over 9% ABV this one can definitely sneak up on you. While it is certainly on the very sweet side for an imperial stout, missing some of the chocolate and coffee character expected of any stout, and the licorice and Jaeger do not come through very strong, the overall impression is just a deliciously oaked dark brown ale.  One of, if not the single best beer I have ever brewed.   A very Good Beer indeed.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Imperial IPA Tasting

When I first racked my Imperial IPA to the keg I felt that, despite 6 oz. of dry hops and 6 oz. of hops divided between the late boil and the hop steep, the beer still underwhelmed in hop flavor so I decided to add 4 oz. of keg hops split between the 4 varieties (Amarillo, Cascade, Chinook, and Nugget) already used in the brew.

When I next attempted to taste this beer about a week later I found that the keg (new to me but very much a "used" keg) was leaking gas and that the beer was only marginally carbonated, the results were so underwhelming that I decided not to review and wait until either I was able to fix the issue or could rack to an empty keg.  With my oatmeal stout finally kicking I had a spare keg that could hold pressure and racked from the old keg (and off of the keg hop) into the "new" keg that had housed the stout.  While one day in this keg isn't going to be enough to fix the carbonation issues, and the extended time spent in a semi-closed environment (both due to oxygen and the sheer amount of time) may have already ruined some of the hop aromatics of this beer, but I decided to do a tasting now that I could come back and re-review should this beer turn around.

A- Cloudy copper with a small but sticky white head.  This beer was not nearly as cloudy previously, but did seem to have some noticeable hop particles.  I probably should have added some gelatin while I was moving it to the new keg.

Not a good photo of a not very good beer.  Yes, my desk is very crowded right now.
S- Pine, caramel, dank, pineapple, all fairly light in presence for the style but not unappealing.

T- Sweet and fruity up front fades quickly to a moderately strong and resinous bitterness.  The sugar seems to have given both some rummy alcohol presence and burnt marshmallow characteristics while the hop character is low for the style and pretty underwhelming.  The alcohol is just short of burning, it certainly seems much more alcoholic than the 8.7% estimated ABV would imply.

M- Alcohol presence seems to make this one feel even thinner and less carbonated than it is.  Lack of carbonation certainly doesn't help.

O- Not sure what went so wrong with this one.  The beer is not terrible as a beer, but is extremely off the mark for an imperial IPA (or an IPA of any kind for that matter) with the bitterness being a touch too low, the alcohol a touch too strong, and the hop aromatics and flavor being extremely lacking. I'm pretty disappointed in how this one stands now, one of my lesser "hoppy" beers and certainly not matching up with the better than average results I've had recently across the board.

One factor that certainly contributed to the issues: the yeast extremely overshot the expected attenuation (85% vs. the average of 69%, giving an FG of 1.012 instead of the expected 1.024). I could see a few factors contributing to this including the very large pitch of yeast, the fact that the yeast was a second generation, and the large amount of very fermentable sugar, but it was still a bit surprising and certainly seems to have made this one more alcohol forward than expected or desired.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Czech Pilsner Tasting

It is commonly thought that clean, lightly hopped, pale beers are the hardest styles to brew.  The thinking is that, in a beer without too much character of its own, any flaws are easily noticeable. After my first attempt at a pale lager I can easily understand where this thinking comes from, and, while I tried to avoid many of the flaws that can occur by pitching a heavy amount of yeast and fermenting at a cool temperature, I still wasn't able to completely nail this one.

A- Pale gold (looks lighter than pictured) with a moderately tall head that fades to a thin layer.  Fairly, though not brilliantly, clear.  Looks like a pilsner, though the clarity and head retention could be better. Gelatin in the keg might fix the clarity and a touch of wheat in the mash might help with the retention, though I don't know that either is necessary.

S- A bohemian Pilsner should have some malt, balanced by some spicy Saaz, and maybe a touch of diacetyl on the nose.  While all three components are here, they are not in the proper balance with the buttery diacetyl showing first and heaviest, the sweet malt also coming through, and the Saaz hops being just perceptible.  Serving at nearly 50F might accentuate the diacetyl, but it's higher than it should be regardless.

T- Grainy, lightly buttery, sweetness is swept aside by a refreshing, spicy, moderate bitterness that lingers for just a moment on the tip of the tongue.  Again, a little bit high in the diacetyl though not as noticeable and better balanced by the hops than in the nose.

M- Moderate carbonation with a moderate to light body.  The diacetyl here seems to be adding to the body, keeping it from being overly thin.  No complaints with the mouthfeel of this one.

O- For my first attempt at this style, and for lagers in general, I'm fairly happy with this beer but can see a few obvious flaws.  Not doing a diacetyl rest until after fermentation had fully completed clearly detracted from the overall character of this beer.  Other than the one (moderate) flaw the beer is well rounded, and really pretty tasty.  This is a beer that I could see both BMC drinkers and beer nerds drink, but not rave about.  If I were to brew it again I would only make slight changes to the recipe (maybe a touch more finishing hops) and a slight tweak to the fermentation process (diacetyl rest before the end of fermentation) but all around I'd say this is a winning recipe, and the water chemistry, grain bill, and yeast definitely worked well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#45 - Imperial India Pale Ale

After brewing a number of brett saisons and sours over the last year, I've dialed back the funk and overall weird factor in the last few months with an Oatmeal Stout, Bohemian Pilsner, and, today, an imperial IPA.  The beer is inspired in part by a beer that I've never had (Heady Topper) and a number of clones of that recipe (which I've also never tasted).  My recipe is, in no way, a Heady clone but instead attempts to use some of the best aspects of it (4 varieties of American hops, high levels of pale malt, sugar to dry out, around 100 ibu's) in an entirely unique way that should suit my tastes.

The malt bill is fairly simple: 14 lbs British Pale Malt (in place of the Pearl used for Heady), 1 lb Carahell (in place of any caramalt/etc), and 1 lb of Turbinado (in place of white sugar).  For the hop bill I decided to go with Nugget, Cascade, Chinook, and Amarillo.  While I originally had Palisades in the mix, I subbed them out for Chinook in order to get more of the classic pungency and pine of American hops that seems to be missing from my hoppy brett Saison which also featured large doses of Amarillo.  For the yeast I'm hoping that the lightly peach character of Wyeast West Yorkshire Ale will give a somewhat similar profile to what is often described for the Alchemist's Conan strain (which is also said to originally derive from a British ale strain).

When I first began brewing and writing this blog I didn't have much of a taste for hoppy beers with IPAs being more of a novelty that I could respect but not enjoy.  Overtime that has changed and I've become more interested in the world of hops and, with that, some of my best brews to date have been either straight to style American IPA's or interesting takes on the IPA style.

I have high hopes for this beer but it is my first time brewing an Imperial IPA (or Double IPA depending on your preference) and it is still not a style that I tend to gravitate towards, with most examples of the style having an overly bitter profile that voids any complexity from the hops and malt bill.  In the end, I'm hoping this one will be balanced enough and provide a nice alternative to on tap to the roasty Oatmeal Stout, the moderately bitter but otherwise clean (and halfway done lagering) Bohemian Pilsner, and (a just kegged) Cyser.

After rapid and forceful fermentation for the first 48 hours the airlock is now mostly still. Loosening the bucket revealed a a thick, gelatinous krausen that looks a bit like a thin dough. Pulled a small sample: cloudy, with thick haze, not sure if it is just active yeast or some proteins. Smell is extremely hoppy with taste being biting bitterness and alcohol. A little worried about this one in a few ways at this point but I am hoping another week and some dry hopping will calm it down.

Pulled a sample, flavor is much improved, piney, citrusy, and fairly bitter. Gravity all the way down to 1.012. Added dry hops (1 oz Cascade, 1 oz Chinook, 2 oz Amarillo, 2 oz Nugget). Planning to keg in the next 3-5 days.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#44 - Pilsner Brew Day - My First Lager

With my keezer finally in place and currently only occupied by 1 5 gallon keg and an assortment of bottles now is the first time in my life that I have a great chance to ferment a lager.  I'm also heading to New Zealand at the end of the week, giving a perfect time period to crank the chest freezer temp up a little for lager fermentation temps.

Knowing that now was the time to brew a lager the only question was, what lager would I start with? While I've long wanted to brew a BMC-ish "plain" beer (complete with adjuncts and light hopping), my recent trip to Europe introduced me to so much lagered goodness.  While I originally thought about brewing my favorite newly discovered style from Europe, the Czech Černý (which seems to sit somewhere between a Munich Dunkel and a Schwartzbier), I thought better of it due to already having a dark, roasty beer on tap and wanting something more pale and balanced.  The German Oktoberfest style beers I drank in the Wiesn tents, and the Helles and Dunkels I drank in the bars and beer gardens, were well crafted and easy drinking, but I've already had more of them than I would want for a few years.  So then, what lager to brew? Why not the most influential lager that set the bar for countless styles and the vast majority of beer consumed: Bohemian Pilsner.

While in Prague I was fortunate enough to enjoy a number of Pilsners including the original, Pilsner Urquell, in both its usual filtered and special unfiltered version (the unfiltered version is rarely seen outside of the city of Plzen but I happened to be in Prague the same weekend as Pilsner Urquell's brewing anniversary of October 5th).  Both of these, and a number of the other Pilsners offered in the Czech Republic, were excellent and I wanted to go for as classic of a Pilsner Pivo (beer, in Czech) as possible.  In my eyes there are 5 traits that make a Bohemian Pilsner what it is:
  • Soft water
  • Pilsner Malt
  • Lager Fermentation
  • Saaz Hops
  • Decoction mash
While I had these characteristics in mind, in order to fully design my recipe I looked at the most recent issue of Brew Your Own magazine which focused on German and Czech Pils. I also reviewed the four Bohemian Pilsners to have won gold at the NHC. Some notes that I found interesting:

  •  In addition to Saaz, Sterling was a common hop choice
  • Nearly every recipe used a small percentage of slightly darker malts in addition to Pilsner (often Vienna and/or CaraPils)
  • Not all recipes required a decoction with some using a single infusion mash
  • Diacetyl rest was often (though not always) mentioned as necessary
  • Long, extremely cold (~32F) lagering periods and extremely soft water were musts
With all of this in mind I decided to stick with the traditional Saaz, use a little CaraPils and CaraMalt (would have been CaraHell but HBS didn't have it), but avoided doing my first decoction and instead used a slightly more complicated grain bill and a step infusion mash.

2 days before brew day. I built a 1 gallon starter at room temperature (~68) with 2 packs of Wyeast 2000 Budvar Lager.  While 2 packs might not have been necessary, lagers typically require significantly more yeast than Ales and I wanted to make sure that mine took off without a hitch.

Brew day. I purchased 6 gallons of distilled water and added in 3.5 gallons of filtered Arlington, VA water, with no other water chemistry treatments.  Cooled wort to ~60 post fermentation before moving wort and starter to 42F chest freezer.  Will pitch yeast tomorrow once cooled and bring temps up a little.

Yeast was pitched yesterday morning and chest freezer temperature raised to 48F. Fermentation slowly showing signs of life.

Temperature increased to 60F for diacetyl rest.

Temperature decreased to 35F for lagering.

Gravity down to 1.013 (exactly what was predicted pre-brewing!).  Taste is moderately hoppy and grainy, maybe a slight off-flavor, not sure if it is due to using some older Saaz for bittering or an aspect of the Budvar yeast but it comes off a bit earthy.  Hopefully a month or so at lagering temps will bring this down but already tasting like an interesting and respectable pilsner.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

#43 - Oatmeal Stout

After a long time off from brewing a dark, malt driven beer I found myself really craving a refreshing, chewy, hearty stout.  I also have been eating a lot of oatmeal recently and really wanted the creamy smoothness and slightly nutty flavor of oats to come through in the finished product.

I based this beer off of the two successful porter/stout beers I have made in the past with some influence from my English pale ale.  The beer is intended to take the middle road between sweet and bitter, but the malt character should definitely be the driving factor.  One other important aspect of this beer is the yeast, Wyeast West Yorkshire Ale. I have wanted to try the strain for a long time and see this beer as an opportune way to build up a culture of it that I can use in anything that could use a bright, peachy yeast presence, from balanced bitters to extremely hoppy double IPAs.

Tasting Notes:

A- Pours with a beautiful big cascading beige head.  Opaque, very dark brown body with some noticeable yeast and hop residue at the bottom.

S- The stonefruit notes of the yeast lead with pear and peach.  There are also some mild roast notes of toast, nuts, and just a touch of dark chocolate.  Pretty much exactly what I want a stout to smell like.

T- Starts with light sweetness, toast and nuttiness, followed by some dark chocolate roast and a moderately bitter finish.  The fruit of the nose is much more subdued, just barely coming through.

M- Slick and creamy, while a little low on the carbonation (the gas disconnect was not properly attached initially so this may have been slightly rushed).  I can still get behind a lightly carbonated stout.

O- Very happy with this one.  While I would have liked more coffee character it is still an oatmeal stout where the oatmeal and roast both come through without being overly strong to make this anything more than an easy, cold weather drinker.  I'm also very happy with the yeast character as it stands out, without dominating or calling too much attention to itself.

Brewed on stove top.  OG of 1.052, a little odd tasting at this point, though maybe I just don't remember what a stout wort should taste like.

Fermentation has slowed dramatically.  Gravity down to 1.022; hopefully it will keep dropping over the next few days.  Taste is good: a bit biscuity, grainy, and nutty with a definite oat slickness and a touch higher bitterness than expected.

Gravity still reading at 1.022.  8 ounces of maple syrup added, hopefully this will ferment and rouse the yeast.  The beer might not attenuate any further due to the high mash temp and large amount of oatmeal.

My inaugural kegging. Set force carbonation to 30 psi to quickly carb for dispensing in a couple days.

Poured a tiny sample, gas disconnect seems to have not been fully attached.  Will re-attach and begin force carbonation over.