Monday, August 27, 2012

Lime hefeweizen Tasting #1

I brewed up an all grain hefeweizen a while back. Though I used a couple types of wheat it had a fairly simple, classic bill. I bottled half of it straight and it's a drinkable, though very mild, hefe without any thrills. The second half however I added roughly half a container (about .75 quarts) of Simply Lime limeade to.

Appearance: With all the wheat this beer pours with a big head and (purposely) cloudy.
Smell: The nose is yeasty and doughy with just a little hint of citrus and banana.
Taste: The flavor is fairly tart with the lime the dominant flavor and the other flavors backing it up.
Overall: This is somewhere in the middle of those I've made in terms of quality, with no major flaws and a refreshing quality, but without the hefe characteristics or malt-to-fruit balance I would have liked. I could see this going over well with ladies and those who are less into beer and it's certainly quaffable.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I like to experiment with my brewing. Many brewers don't understand the desire to try new styles, split batches, add fruit, spices, oak, smoke or whatever else to beers. Personally I would be bored to death to follow someone else's recipe and get someone else's results. There are two great rewards to experimentation.

1. Experience- when I experiment I can really see how beer works, what I like, and where to go in future batches.
2. Variety- I don't want to just make a pale ale that's as good as one from the store I want to make beers that are better and different from those I can buy.

Experimentation isn't just something that keeps me brewing beers, it keeps me drinking them. While many beer drinkers will primarily stick to a few key brands I usually go for a new one to try when possible. When I do find beers I like I go back to them on occasion (like how I plan to rebrew my hoppy black saison soon) but they also inspire me to keep experimenting both with the commercial beers I purchase and the homebrews I make. While I hope to brew some more "to style" beers in the future I will be sure to experiment within the limited range of those styles. After all some brewers have made a living off of experimenting.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Peated porter

I recently brewed an extract porter with specialty grains. While the bulk of the bill was just dumping my remaining grains (chocolate, black patent, American roasted barley, carared, special b) in to a light base extract I did add one new grain I had purchased. Peated malt (also called peat smoked malt) is a malted barley that has been dried with smoke from burning peat (a type of moss).

Peat malt is not traditional to any style of beer (as many style snobs will quickly point out) but is classically used in Scotch whiskey, particularly those from the isle of Islay. It is known to give a harsh smoked flavor as well as briny and medicinal characteristics. Smoke, clove and medicinal (some say band-aid like) flavors all come from various phenols and can be pleasant or ruinous depending on the type, amount and personal tastes.

In this beer I hope to have a noticeable but not unbearable amount of smoke and peatiness.  5 ounces is higher than some recommend but hopefully is not too much.  Depending on the results I will likely brew a future smoked porter (and other smoked beers) with other types of smoked malt (rauchmalt, cherrywood smoked, oak smoked wheat, etc...) in addition or in place of the peated.

8-04-12 Update
Bottled this up finally.  I broke my hydrometer before getting a reading so I don't know the FG.  The flat beer that I tasted was a bit sweet and mildly peaty.  I'm not sure how this one is going to come out, the flavor of the peat seemed mild but interesting and first, but built over time to a strange and unbearable taste that overwhelmed the rest of the flavor.  Hopefully this effect will be lessened with a little carbonation and time.

8-26-12 Update
Tried a bottle today, very low carbonation and head retention is the first thing I notice.  Very sweet and pretty peaty.  The peat was overbearing at first, then subsided, then built up again to the point of unbearable. I'm hoping with a few more months (or years) the flavors will meld better but right now it is pretty much just sweet and peaty in a bad way.

My dad drank some of these with the review "It's kind of weird by itself, but with barbecue it's really, really good." I'll have to try the combination but I could definitely see the sweet and smokey character of this being good with bbq or even good in a marinade or sauce.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cleaning Bottles

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again, cleaning bottles is the worst part of my brewing process. As much as people condemn bottling in favor of kegging I've always liked aspects of bottling (it's cheap, they're portable, the bottling itself is fairly straightforward and easy) but hated one aspect: cleaning bottles.

While part of my reason for cleaning bottles is to get the labels off the more important, time consuming and frustrating part is cleaning the interior which can have black mold and beer dregs stuck to the bottom. It usually takes me around 4 hours of letting them soak in a an oxiclean/hot water bath before 1-2 minutes per bottle of scrubbing before they get to my liking. For today's bottle cleaning session of 150+ bottles that means approximately 4 hours of active bottle cleaning time.

I might just buy new bottles from now on whenever I or others don't wash them out after use to avoid the mold.