Friday, August 20, 2010

Collaborative Sin - A Robust Porter BA Group Brew

So a couple weeks ago I was contacted along with a small group of other BA'ers about possibly doing a group brew. The plan was to all brew up a particular style of beer, which would then be traded and a group tasting set up. A couple emails flew back and forth about the style, and honestly I wasn't that thrilled when we set on a robust porter.

However, as I drew up the recipe and after I brewed it I have since really come to like the idea of having this beer around and in trying the groups take on the style as well. Now I don't normally like big beers, so I kept to the lower end of the style for OG. I decided that I wanted to avoid using any black malt and would instead go about getting my color in a different route. There was a time when porters used something called essentia bina to get most of their color and a lot of their flavor. Essentia bina is made by taking the first runnings and heavily caramelizing the wort to the point it carbonizes and may catch fire. Now I didn't take it quite to this extreme but I did go pretty far.

I took the first ~1gal of runnings and reduced it to a volume of ~800mL (~260z). It was thick black gooey and formed a hard chunk when it cooled. I added a pic of the goo pre and post boil, as you can see it looks like oil after it was boiled down! It was amazingly sugary and added 2brix, roughly 70gravity points, to the wort when I added it back in. The flavor was a mix of chocolate, coffee, burnt sugar and butterscotch it was amazing! Ive boiled down a bit of the first runnings before, but I haven't ever took it to such a reduced volume.

I wasn't actually able to reduce the volume much after about 1hr boiling (checked several times) and steam had nearly ceased to come from the pot when I decided to quit. Hopefully this added an interesting dimension to the beer.

The rest of the recipe was basically a bigger version of a brown porter that I like to do in the fall. And in keeping with my trend of large amounts of hops, I used the lowest AA hop I had (crystal) to make sure I could get a ton of hops in the boil. Ive found that I really prefer the bitterness as its a bit smoother, and the head formation and retention is amazing! I did decide on one totally unknown, and that was using Wyeast London Ale 1028. Ive never used the yeast before, I love 1968 too much, but that that it might be a good fit. I think a minerally profile could work very well in this otherwise malty beer.

Collaborative Sin - aka Little Dark Cloud

Malt Bill
All GrainExtract Equiv
Amt (lbs)TypeAmt (lbs)Type
10.0Pilsner6.0X-Light DME (Late Extract Addition)
1.0Special Roast1.02-Row
0.5Chocolate Malt1.0Special Roast
0.25Carafa III Special0.5Chocolate Malt
--0.25Carafa III Special
Amt (oz)TypeTimeAmt (oz)TypeTime
4.0Crystal (3.3%)601.25Sterling (8.7%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.6qt/lb15min - vorlauf---
YeastLondon Ale WY1028 (1.2L Starter)
86% effIBU3775%IBU34
7gal BoilFG-3gal Late Extract--

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Ive been doing quite a lot of pickling lately due to the large harvest of cabbage and cucumbers from my garden. This however is my first attempt at making sauerkraut.

I scoured the internet, ok I barely glanced, and found a few things to read but nothing really caught my eye as a definitive source. It was kind of like pickling, there's too many recipes out there with follow up or a rhyme or reason for doing what they do. So I followed my gut and made the entire thing up - its worked in the past, hopefully it doesn't let me down this time!

Sauerkraut 1.0

  • 1 Head Cabbage
  • Non-iodized salt (iodized inhibits bacteria)
  • Misc spices (garlic, chili's, fennel, etc)
  • Quart size jars + lids
  • Boil and chill enough water to fill 3 or 4 quart jars
  • Chop the cabbage into thin strips
  • Dice up any desired spices
  • Place any small or crushed spices into the bottom of the jar (stops them from floating to top)
  • Layer cabbage and any larger spices (garlic, chili's) until jar is full
  • Add ~0.5tbsp of non-iodized salt to each jar (I used 1tbsp and it was a tad salty for me)
  • Push down to compact cabbage and fill to top
  • Fill with cooled water (can be slightly warm as it gets the bacteria going and helps dissolve salt and spices)
  • Place a weight on the cabbage to keep from floating to top - Ive found a glass shotglass works perfectly
  • Let sit in a cool location for ~1-2wks until desired level of sourness is achieved, then chill and eat

Notes: You can also ferment in a big bowl to make it easier to weigh down the cabbage, Ive found the 1gal ice cream buckets work really well for this. You can take the edge off of the lid, poke a few holes in it and use it to hold down the cabbage. It is also a really good idea to keep whatever is used as a fermentor in a larger container to capture any liquid that spills over

In my jars I used different combinations of spices, I found that everyone really enjoyed the garlic and chili pod version. I added ~3-4cloves of garlic and ~4-5 japanese chili pods, it really adds a nice kick to a brat. The least favorite was the most traditional with fennel seeds.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smoke Sticke - A Cherry Smoked Malt Beer

Ive been both terribly busy with work and then horribly lazy when I get home. So I haven't really kept up with all the small things Ive been doing/brewing the past couple months, as little as it has been. I did manage to brew up a couple beers, make some more pickles, sauerkraut and review a few things so I'm planning (forcing) myself to get off but and get to work.

I brewed this beer quite awhile back now, so I'm not 100% sure of the influences or what I was thinking at the time. Last summer I had brewed up a Smoked Ale (peat smoked malt) and it would really hit the spot with a hamburger, ribs, etc... Basically anything grilled, the smoke flavor really accentuated the flavor of the meats and veges. So last fall when I started hearing about a relatively newish smoked malt from Briess I was very interested.

Many people strongly profess to not like peat malt. It seems to be one of the very polarizing malts. Sometimes though, I wonder how many have actually tried it vs just repeating someone else's bad experience. That thought has actually made me temper my vitriol for melanoidin and aromatic a bit. Ah but that's another post/rant. Anyway, the cherry malt was supposed to lend a very smooth, sweeter smoke flavor than the other two available (Bamberg, Peat). I thought what the heck lets give it a try. When it showed up all I could smell was an amazing smoke aroma, yet it hinted at sweetness; almost like baked beans. Unfortunately the bag of malt sat around for some months till I had time to brew with it (~5), and the smell greatly diminished. It did so much in fact that until I racked the beer into a keg to carb about 2-3wks ago I was worried it wouldn't be smokey at all. Boy was I wrong there!

Originally I had planned on a making a smoked doppelsticke. The idea had really interested me, and after tasting both the Madfermentationist's and the City Brewer's versions I was just about set on doing one myself. The only thing that I was hesitant about was the highish gravity, I really tend to not enjoy bigger beers. This was probably the reason it took as long as it did to finally brew the beer, but when I did I decided to cut back a bit and just brew up a Sticke. For those that don't know, a Sticke is a special version of a Dusseldorf Alt. Basically its just a bit bigger, nicely balanced and brewed once a year.

When it came time to build the recipe I used last year's Smoked Ale as a starting point. This time around because the cherry malt is supposed to lend a sweet character I skipped the crystal malt in the beer, and I probably could have last year as well. I also decided against using any dark grains in the beer, I really just wanted to see what the cherry malt would bring to the table. I did however want something a bit breadier and maltier than last year and to keep better in style with a sticke, I used dark munich as the base for the beer. Finally I threw a healthy portion (2oz) of a noble-type hop at the beer to finish it off.

Smoke(d) Sticke

Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
5.0Cherry Smoked Malt
5.0Dark Munich (Global - 12L)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0Crystal (3.7%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.65qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastSafale German Ale - K97
75% effIBU25
7gal BoilFG

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