Sunday, January 23, 2011

Porthos - A Kölsch with Barbera Grapes, Oak and Vanilla

I decided to get around to brewing another of the Dumas inspired beers Ive been making lately. Of the ones Ive don't so far this one was less intuitive, I really had to think about the type of beer I wanted. At first I started out thinking about just making a Port, but a simple play on words wasn't good enough for me, I wanted something big and strong, that had complex flavors yet included a very simple malt bill. Something that really made you think Porthos

I ended up using the same malt bill as for Athos (They are similar after all) however instead of using the muscovado sugar to bump up the ABV I decided to use some Barbera grapes. I got my hands on some Barbera juice recently and I really liked the idea of brewing another version of What the Funk, sans brett of course. In that beer I made a Merlot reduction that I added to the beer, and when it was young dark berries and fruit dominated the flavor, however as can be expected with brett it slowly takes over and dominates the beer as it ages. For this beer I wanted to really showcase the grapes and also hint at vanilla and oak.

The yeast choice was kind of spontaneous and for one reason or another it really sounded good to me. Kölsch yeast can give off wine like characteristics, which was the real selling point for me, as I wanted the overall "beer" to have a kind of vinous character that bordered on a rich port with malt overtones. I plan on adding the grape juice after the primary fermentation had died down along with some toasted oak and potentially a bourbon vanilla bean (Porthos "lived" during the reign of a Bourbon monarch)

Porthos - A Port-Like beer with Barbera Grapes and Oak
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
1.00Munich 12L (Global)
46 ozBarbera Grape Juice (68 brix)
Amt (oz)TypeTime
1.5Crystal (3.3%)60
Amt (oz)TypeTime
TBDToasted Oak?
TBDBourbon Vanilla Bean?
Mash Schedule
170F1.7qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastKölsch WY2565
2.625gal (half batch) + 46oz (Juice) = 2.98galOG1057 + Juice = 1094
73% effIBU30 (pre-juice) ~23 after
3.625gal BoilFG1.006
Notes: Grape juice was added after the majority of the fermentation died down to retain a bit more fruit character; Oak will be added after the renewed fermentation dies down a bit as will the vanilla to taste; BTW the beer wasnt anywhere near as dark as it looks in the pic, however after adding the grape juice it turned a dark burgundy: 0.25oz of Dark and Light oak chips were added for 3days, along with 1split vanilla bean soaked in a 50/50 mix of everclear and water

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Corn Lager and Corn Kolsch

I don't brew too many lagers, in fact I actually don't drink many either. I don't really know why that is, I do after all enjoy a nice Dunkel, Marzen or Pilsner, I guess I just don't have the desire to drink 5gals of it very often. Thinking about it now, it might be that in general I usually prefer a yeast driven beer and all the layers of complexity that brings.

Recently however, I was quite surprised by a very simple straight forward beer. I was visiting a relatively new brewpub here in the Phoenix area, and happened to order their sampler. The first beer I tried knocked my socks off and Ive been in love with it ever since. I didn't think Id ever be saying this but it was a lightish American lager, and wow was it good! Ever since then Ive tried to drop in now and again and grab a pint or two of this wonderful simple beer.

I tried unsuccessfully to get a hold of the owner/brewer for tips on creating a beer like this myself, but I didn't have any luck. Somehow I'm betting that I didn't send it to the right email, as Ive met him in the past and he seemed to be a pretty good guy. He's actually an ex-homebrewer turned pro with his own place, sounds like a blast, but probably has a lot more stress involved that Id be ready for so I can understand if he just wasn't able to get back to me. I do suggest if your ever in the area to stop by and try out his beer sampler, its dirt cheap and you get a lot of really good beers in the process.

Anyway, after quite a bit of research (drinking) I decided on a simple malt bill incorporating lots of corn for a nice round sweetness to round out the beer. As is with most of my beers now, I included a healthy portion of low aa hops to provide smooth bitterness and lots of head retention. My recipe is quite a bit more bitter and probably maltier than his, but I kinda wanted to have a bit stronger beer than his.

The one aspect of the beer I was actually most interested in finding out was the yeast, the beer is extremely clean and I actually think that was one of its best qualities, but honestly I didn't really know what yeast to use for something like this. Ive used a few lager yeasts in the past, but they always had that malty German lager quality to them, and this really didn't. I was planning on going with WY2105, 2007 or 2035 but as usual my LHBS didn't have anything I was looking for. So I was stuck between using a 6mos old smack pack of 2124 (aka w34/70) or a 1month old pack of WY2278 the Urquell D strain. Without much thinking involved I grabbed the Urquell yeast, I'm really hoping that very cool temps will minimize the Urquell-esque flavors, but only time will tell

Because it is such a light and drinkable beer, and before my yeast woes I had decided to do a double batch and had already bought all the flaked corn, so I still went with a 11gal batch, but instead of fermenting the whole batch with 2278, I split the batch and used a Kölsch yeast on 5gal. If anything a Corn kölsh should be pretty tasty! and Ill get the chance to really see the difference two yeasts can offer to a simple light beer.

Corn Lager & Corn Kölsch
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
4.0Flaked Maize
Amt (oz)TypeTime
4.5Crystal (3.3%)60
Mash Schedule
170F1.8qt/lb15min - vorlauf
YeastCzech Pils WY2278 - 5gal
Kölsch WY2565 - 5gal
11 galOG1048 est
? eff (didn't measure)IBU25
7gal BoilFG1010

Corn Lager Review - 3/8/2012 - Notes & Thoughts

Corn Kölsch Review - 9/18/2011 - Notes & Thoughts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hoppy Witbier - Review

Appearance: Hazy golden color with orange highlights, dense long lasting head with lots or lacing, some bits of hops in the glass(dry hop bag came undone in the keg)

Aroma: Tangerine, grapefruit and all other citrus combined, not much yeast presence in the nose since I dry hopped this bad boy

Taste: HOPS! Lots of citrus, passionfruit and tangerine come to mind in particular, the finish is a smooth and accentuated by a subtle spiciness from the yeast. Before I carbed this beer all I could taste was a slightly bitter witbier, now its an IPA with a hint of a wit

Mouthfeel: Silky smooth mouthfeel from the oats and wheat, medium carbonation

Drinkability: I like this beer but its not one I crave, although I have never really liked Belgian IPA's in the past, something about the yeast and hops has never quite seemed right to me, a brewing buddy seems to really like the beer though, as such I have promised it for a party he is having, guess Ill see what the crowd thinks.....

Overall: I like the concept of this beer, and think it has potential with a few tweaks, I actually prefered the profile of the beer before it was carbed and it tasted like a bit more like a bitter witbier, I think that the yeast profile in this one is really dominated by the hops and the beer would need to be fermented a bit warmer to accentuate the yeast character a bit more, I also think I could have used a bit more coriander in the beer to add a bit more fruity flavor to balance the hoppiness a bit. The beer needed a bit of aging to meld, as when it was young the start and finish were great but something mid-taste wasn't quite right, that seems to largely have faded now (4mos)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Collaborative Sin Robust Porter Review

Until recently this beer was a bit of a headscratcher for me. One pint would be overly roasty, minerally and alcoholic, the next would be nicely rounded and slightly sweet. And for a long time I went back and forth on it, however, I think the batch just needed a bit of aging and the last couple weeks it has really come into its own. All the rough edges are gone, the flavor is much more straightforward and the alcohol is completely hidden

Appearance: Jet back with a dense 1 finger head that fairly quickly dissipates to a few remnants in the middle of the glass, with next to no lacing

Aroma: Coffee! and a malty sweetness, some alcohol if you look for it, no hops in the aroma at all

Taste: Sweetish, roasty and chocolaty but unlike the coffee in the nose there is none in the flavor, yeast character is definitely present and is actually very minerally, I'm actually not quite sure that I like that aspect of the beer

Mouthfeel: Moderate body, by far I prefer very low carbonation with this beer as it helps to minimize the minerally flavors and allows the malty roasty flavors to dominate the beer

Drinkability: Its a decent beer and I routinely have a pint for a nightcap, it does start to kick in a bit though, but I guess it should at ~7.2%abv

Overall: I think the recipe has a lot of potential, and I quite like the malt backbone of the beer, it really complements the light roast very well, I always like the sweet tanginess of special roast with dark malts though, If I were to brew this beer again I think I would use another yeast as I don't really like the minerally flavor profile of WY1028

Monday, January 3, 2011

Rye Harvest Ale

I know its a bit late in the season to be making something called a harvest ale, but somehow this ones been in the works since October. It seemed like every time Id be getting ready to start this batch up something would drag me away from it. Finally under the guise of needing to go Christmas shopping I snuck outta work early and spent the afternoon brewing.

Its been quite a while since I came up with the recipe so some of the how and whys are a bit fuzzy now but basically I wanted a nice rich ESB-esqu beer, a strong hop aroma and the calvados-like flavor I really like from using Rye. And what better pair for the rich, malty breadiness that is Marris otter than a healthy portion of Rye? I remember first getting the idea after reading a homebrewed kvass that used some rye bread in the boil!

I ended up using a packet of US-05 that I had laying around, which was really handy (haven't really had time for starters lately) Although I did bump up the mash temp a bit to prepare for what I'm expecting is going to be a fairly high rate of attenuation, normally I would prefer to use a British strain and mash a bit lower.

Rye Harvest Ale
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.0Marris Otter
3.0Rye Malt
Amt (oz)TypeTime
2.0Goldings (4.5%)60
1.5Goldings (4.5%)20
2.0Goldings (4.5%)<170f f--="" nbsp="">
Mash Schedule
170F1.9qt/lb15min - vorlauf
87% effIBU42
7.25gal BoilFG-

Review - 3/26/11

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