Saturday, January 24, 2009

Vanilla Toffee Cream Ale

Ive been drinking/brewing a lot of very hoppy and bitter beers lately, and really needed a change, I wanted something that was sweet, but not malty, light and smooth, almost dessert like. One of my favorite sodas is vanilla creme soda, its great stuff, So I thought I'd try making a beer version of it.
Creme soda isn't very complex though, so I wanted to add another layer to it, some extra complexity. To me toffee and vanilla go very well together, but how to get that toffee flavor?? Toffee is just heavily caramelized sugar, but I didn't want to add sugar to this beer, I wanted it to be fairly low in alcohol if I could, and the sugar might thin it out a bit too much. So, I took ~0.5# of LME, mixed it with a cup of water, and boiled it, as you would sugar to make caramel, the results are delicious

Vanilla Toffee Cream Ale

1060: 22IBU: 15SRM

7.25 lb 2-Row
0.75 lb 40L
0.50 lb 80L
0.50 lb Carapils
1.00 lb Lactose
0.50 lb LME (Boiled for 10min)

1.0 oz NZ Hallertaur 7.0% 60min

Vanilla to taste in Secondary

Hopefully this will turn out, after boiling, again, it tasted bitter, I'm not sure whats going on the last two batches, although I payed attention to the crush after sparging and it didnt look as it should, there were a great number of kernels still intact, yet I still got nearly 80%efficiency when checking the gravity, so it doesn't appear that the IBU's are elevated due to a lower extract. I'm not sure whats causing this, but I hope I don't have to dump this one and the schwarzbier, I plan on ripping through all of my equipment and testing each piece separately in the next few days

First Tasting - 3/16/09

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I've really had the itch lately to be brewing, unfortunately all my carboys are full at the moment. So, I need to find alternative things to "brew" that dont necessarily need to have a large batch. So I've decided to try my hand at brewing some kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea, it supposedly has quite a few health benefits (not the best source but soooo easy), Im really just interested in it because, I like the flavor, and I can make it for much much less than I can buy it. A bottle at the store is ~3.50$+, I can probably make 5gallons for that.

If you dont know, and havent clicked on the link, kombucha is a fermented tea, is slighly acidic and has a sublte vinegar bite and nose. Its made by fermenting a sweetened black tea by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Its basically a big gross gelatinous blob in the tea. You can buy the cultures, but they are pricey 25+, so why not culture some from a bottle, just like you would from Duvel, Saison Dupont, etc?

To culture the SCOBY, I plan on stepping the culture up every few days, I will be using Lipton Tea, and black teas - its what I have on hand- and some sugar to make a starter of sorts. Others have reported good results, hopefully I will too. When all is said and done I hope to make a citrus/orange Kombucha. To do this I plan on adding lemon juice and/or orange juice when bottling

Kombucha Starter

16 oz Water
2 tbsp Sugar
1 bag Iced Tea
1 bag Black Tea

Dregs from Organic Kombucha Tea
Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pineapple Sour / Cider

I was enjoying some of last year's apple cider, thinking about brewing up another batch, next thing I know pineapples jump into my head. The wheels start turning and I think, what the hell, lets give it a try. So I went out and bought 1.5gal of pineapple juice.

But, Ive been brewing a lot of sours lately, and just happened to have a yeast cake from my berliner weisse, So I decided to do a clean version, and a sour/funky version, and hope that one of them turns out.

Pineapple has a lot of acid in it, in fact this is why I enjoy the fruit so much, unfortunately too much acid in a cider/wine can be a bad thing. Fortunately there's a wine yeast that metabolizes acid. Unfortunately the yeast Lalvin 71B-1122 (Narbonne) only metabolizes malic acid, which isn't the primary acid in pineapple juice, but it does account for 15-20% of it, so this should take the edge off of both the cider and the sour version. Normally I wouldn't use a wine yeast in a cider - I just don't like how dry they turn out - I feel like its necessary to make this one turn out, but only time will tell.

However all this talk about acid seems counter intuitive in a sour, and I agree it does, and Im not sure I will pitch 71B in this version, it will be a decision to make after I taste it in a month or two.

Pineapple Cider

0.75 gal Pineapple Juice
0.75 lb Table Sugar
1/16 tsp Fermaid

Lalvin 71B-1122

Pineapple Sour

0.75 gal Pineapple Juice
0.75 lb Table Sugar
1/16 tsp Fermaid

Berliner Weisse Yeast Cake (Lacto + US05)

OG: 1077

First Tasting - 6/1/09

2nd Tasting - 3/3/10

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today I took the day off and brewed a schwarzbier, I'd been planning to do this for awhile, and had been constantly editing the recipe. Most schwarzbiers I've tried, either from homebrewers or american craft brewers, I've found to be far too roasty, and almost always they remind me of a porter. To minimize this in my beer, I capped the mash with Carafa II Special during sparging, to only get the color and very little flavor from the malt. Below you can see the color of the runnings before and after the cap of carafa , To get the color I powdered the malt with a coffee grinder(below as well)

I wanted something nice and malty, yet I wanted a significant bitterness, the balance will be tipped toward the malt, but not by that much

1054: 29IBU: 21.2SRM

3.5 lb German Pils
5.5 lb Dark Munich
0.5 lb CaraMunich
5.0 oz Carafa II Special

1.00 oz Mt Hood 5.8% 60min
0.50 oz Mt Hood 5.8% 20min
0.75 oz Mt Hood 5.8% 5min

Saflager S23

The wort tasted great during the sparge, lots of toffee and caramel flavors, but after the boil it was extremely bitter, I experienced this with another beer using the same bag of hops, at the time I thought it was something leaching from fittings etc, and I dumped the beer, this one has the same rough edge and is very bitter, I'd ballpark it in the 45IBU range not 30!!, equipment is different and all stainless now, so it has to be the hops, I wonder if they were mislabeled and are somethin else?? It might be that they are not whole cones and look as though they are from the bottom of the batch, smells like a noble hop though, hopefully its not too bitter - eh its gonna lager for quite awhile anyway, maybe I'll just let it sit longer

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