Thursday, February 18, 2010

HopBurn IPA Review

Appearance - Crystal clear, medium golden color with orange highlights, monumental head that lasts till just about the last sip, significant lacing on the sides of the glass as you drink, probably one of the nicest showings of any beer Ive made!

Aroma - Passionfruit. - I don't know if I can actually add anything to that, SWMBO actually thought it smelled like passionfruit......I was dumbfounded, this is the only time she has actually said anything more than "it smells like beer"

Taste - This beer is remarkably well balanced, it is nicely bitter but has a nice maltiness that really balances the IBU's without being sweet; Passionfruit and grapefruit immediately jump out at you when you drink the beer, I could probably drink this for breakfast with pancakes instead of OJ. Smooth bitter finish that lingers for a short while.

Mouthfeel - Medium body, and it fits it very well. Carbonation is kept medium-low as I prefer lower carbonation in most all of my beers

Drinkability - I really like this beer a lot. I find myself drinking it quite often, even though I'm trying to save a few pints for a friend that's coming into town (huge IPA fan). The only catch is its a bit higher abv (~7.5%) than most of my typical session beers, so a couple and you've got a bit of a buzz

Notes/Thoughts - I am loving this beer right now, every once in awhile you hit a homerun and this is definitely one. Your probably saying isn't every IPA like that?.......No, they aren't; I enjoy a good IPA, but if I had a choice it probably wouldn't be the style I would choose to always have on tap, this beer though has changed my mind. I would dedicate a tap to it.

I really think the "whirlpool" addition of hops I did on this batch had exactly the effect I was hoping for, you can smell the hops from 5ft away! This is definitely a technique I will be using more often, I always wondered how some beers absolutely reeked of hops, maybe this was how they were doing it all along.

The one wish and the only thing I would change was that I would have like to have brewed up a bigger batch than I did.

- click on the photo and check out that clarity! that little streak on the right is co2 bubbles
Monday, February 15, 2010

Bare Necessities Sweet Oat Stout Review

Appearance - Jet black with a nice tan head that slowly fades leaving a fair amount of very sticky lacing

Aroma - the aroma is a bit subdued overall, but there is definitely a bittersweet cocoa smell and a hint of coffee

Taste - This beer finished out a lot lower than I was hoping for, so rather than a sweet stout this turned out to be more of a dry stout; there is a fairly strong chocolate flavor that immediately hits you followed by a very round roast flavor; because of how low the FG finished the amount of roast and IBU's have a slightly rough edge on the palate, something a bit higher FG would have rounded out a bit

Mouthfeel - Medium body, much more substantial than you would expect from such a low finishing gravity (1002), carbonation is kept relatively low to offset some of the roast and IBUs and it works pretty well

Drinkability - This beer is a decent drinker, and it goes particularity well with a strongly flavored cheese - Ive been enjoying it with robusto and parano lately, compared to other oatmeal stouts this is a bit easier to drink quite a few of, mostly due to the dry finish. Overall though if I were deciding between this and the IPA I have on tap Id probably choose the IPA

Notes/Thoughts - Overall this beer is OK, it probably would be much better if it had more residual sugars. It is a lot different than the oatmeal stout I generally brew, the other beer is much more bready and is fairly sweet, while this one is much more chocolaty with hints of coffee, both are good beers but aren't really comparable. Would I brew it again? Probably, but I would mash higher and try to retain more sweetness in the beer, I would probably even dial back the IBU's just a bit

Brewday 10/24/09 - Recipe & Notes
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

BugFarm Brew

So I was lucky enough to get a tube of Al's most recent BugFarm batch a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to brew up something to pitch it into, but all of my fermentors had been full. Finally I got off my but and rearranged somethings (racking my last lambic into smaller carboys with fruit) so that I could brew up batch.
My inspiration for this batch really has to go back to the Rustic Saison I brewed last in last summer. I really loved the body and color of the batch (here's a pic). The malt bill for the batch was pretty simple, just 2-row, biscuit, and flaked spelt. Now Ive obviously used 2-row before as well as biscuit malt, but I hadn't ever used spelt before. The beer had a wonderfully thick mouthfeel and a very nice earthy flavor that is really hard to describe. On top of that it was a beautiful golden color, which was something I really wanted to recreate in the sour beer. I really attribute most of the body and flavor to the spelt, I don't really know if it affected the color much (there was quite a bit of biscuit in it) but I really wanted to use the grain again in another beer.

Unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to find flaked spelt, but I was lucky enough to find spelt berries. This meant that I wouldn't be able to do a single infusion on the beer, and would instead have to do a cereal mash to get much of anything from the spelt. This really got me thinking of how I could make sure there was a lot to eat for all the bugs Al put in the blend. I decided to do a cereal mash with 2lbs of the spelt, and add the last pound (ground to flour) when sparging. I'm hoping that by doing this I ensured that a ton of starch and long chain dextrines made it into the wort to feed the bugs for the long run. Word of caution if anyone else tries this, make sure to make a paste with the flour before adding it. It seems very intuitive, especially with how much I cook, but I just added the dry flour directly to the mash and made a million little dough balls that I had to take a lot of time to break up.

So now that part of the malt bill was decided upon, I still wanted to make sure to recreate the beautiful golden color of the saison. Now I didn't really want to use biscuit malt in this beer because I really didn't think the flavor would fit well in a sour, so I went looking for another malt that was very close color-wise to biscuit. It was strange because I had been thinking about the honey malt recently, and new ways to incorporate it into different beers, so it was really nice that it just happened to be nearly the same color as biscuit.

Honey malt is a pretty interesting malt, it can be very overpowering even at 1/4lb in lighter beers, but with a light touch it adds a very nice depth and sweetness to any beer. Well, instead of getting just a hint in this beer, I dropped a honey malt bomb. I decided to use 2lbs of it in the beer. With the sours Ive made in the past, the crystal malts tend to have very little impact on the final flavor profile, but there's always a hint of them if your looking. I'm hoping that by using such a strongly flavored malt that a good portion of the flavor will make its way through to the final product. I think a sour with a touch of sweetness, even if its only perceived, would be very nice.

In the end a portion of this brew will get racked onto a caramelized date syrup. Ive been playing with making and using this on several small batches in the last few months and I think this will be a good match for it. The other 3+gallons I'm not sure about yet, Ill have to wait and see how it tastes.

BugFarm Brew
Malt Bill

Amt (lbs)


3.0Spelt Berries
2.0Honey Malt
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.0Crystal (3.3%)60
Mash Schedule

152F - Cereal Mash

2lb spelt and 1lb 2-row



Cap with 1lb of Spelt

1.75qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastAl B's BugFarm Batch 3
85% effIBU10
6.5gal BoilFG-

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