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I have been wanting to brew this style of beer for the longest time.  If you wish to read up on the history and the correct documented history of the style, please read everything Ron Pattinson has put out about the subject.  I don’t care what anyone says about the style, it’s a 100% Oak Smoked Wheat beer.  They used Lublin hops to hop the crap out of it.  Another good post about the style is here.  I won’t go into detail, because it has already been done.  If you’re interested go read up on it.  Crazy how the smoke and bitterness really make this beer come to life.  As you can tell this will be a really small beer.  Mine came in a bit high at 1.036 SG (10Brix), but I kept the IBU’s up around ~42.  A buddy of mine smoked the wheat malt for me using a cold smoking method.  He ended up using Jack Daniel’s smoking chips, because that’s the only plain oak chips you can find.  The malt smelled amazing, really smelled like fresh BBQ being smoked on the grill.  Another buddy found the Lublin hops needed for the authenticity.  They came in a 4% AA, which is pretty low.  I used 4oz total in the recipe, 2oz went in as First Wort hops and the other 2oz went in at the 20 minute mark of boiling.

For some stupid reason I thought with all the wheat I would use a single decoction method when mashing to best help break down the proteins needed for conversion.  So I mashed in at 122F for 15 minutes, pulled 40% of the grain and brought it up to 155 for 5 minutes. With this decoction I tried to leave behind as much liquid as possible.  Then boiled the decoction for 5 minutes. Added it back to the main mash. Mash temp was supposed to be 156F, but I ended up being a little low. Added in 2 gallons of boiling water to bring it up to temp. From here I batched sparged normally with 4.5 gallons of water at 185F.  This resulted in pretty good run off and extraction.  Of course I am sure some of that was due to the entire pound of rice hulls I had to use.

After all of this, I ended up with 6 gallons that is already off fermenting with the WLP029 yeast I used.  I want to say that I took the recipe from the book The Home Brewers Guide to Vintage Beer where Ron has a few pages on the style.  If you don’t have this book you need it.  Now on to the recipe.

APA Tasting Notes

I wanted to post some tasting notes I did of my House Pale Ale, I just put up.  I am way behind on posting recipes and thoughts.  I really want to start posting more notes and thoughts I have about the processes that I am doing, so here is a good start.  Overall I think this beer turned out great.  I do think it’s missing something to make it pop (water profile?) though, which I will work on over the next few months.  The keg is already more than half gone, so I will be brewing again soon.  I also must re-brew for the Alabama Brewoff Competition that I am entering.  Here are my tasting notes

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Aroma: Moderately High Citrus/Orange aromas, backed with a sweet biscuity malt complexity.  Ever so slight grassy notes present.  The beer could have more citrus to it.  Next time I will try adding in more dry hops.  Issue is getting the whole cone hops to dissipate through the beer while dry hopping.

Appearance: Yellow/Gold to Gold/Orange in color.  Slight chill haze that goes away when warmed up a bit.  It’s pretty clear once the beer warms past 50F.  Good rocky white foamy head with really good lacing that sticks to the glass.  I think the color and head complexity is where I want it.  If I could get this with every IPA or Pale Ale that would be great!

Flavor: Firm but not overpowering bitterness from the hops.   Calculated to be around ~32IBU’s you would think there would be less.  Very little to no astringency from bitterness or hop flavor.  Good malt sweetness present that is backed and balanced by the hop bitterness.  The beer seems sweeter than it is.  It finished pretty dry (1.012FG), so I wouldn’t expect much sweetness from it, but it’s there.  It does help to balance things out a bit.  Good pungent citrus hop flavor.  Notes of tangerine, oranges and grapefruit.  It’s what I would expect from Cascade, Columbus and Amarillo.  I would say it’s more towards the hoppy side than the malty side, which is a good thing.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with good carbonation.  Very smooth finish and easy drinking.  At 6.2% ABV, I wouldn’t expect it to be so easy drinking, but it is.  I can sit and have multiples at one time.

Overall:  Good second (first) try on this.  I think the addition of the Spelt over the Wheat added something to it, though I can’t say what.  The hop schedule is on point.  I am loving the flavor of this beer.  Next time I will need to keep my OG under control.  Starting at 1.062 was a bit high for me on a “sessionable” pale ale.  I would love to have this flavor in a 4.5% ABV beer.  The beer goes down easy with a wonderful hop aroma and flavor, good malt backbone (sweetness) rounds things out real well.


American Pale Ale

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For the longest I’ve been wanting to have a “house beer”  A beer that can be easily made, quickly fermented, lowish gravity and easy drinking.  I wanted something with some hop flavor, not really bitterness.  I wanted a good balance of malt/hop flavor with a heavy hopped aroma (dry hopping).  This lead me down to brew a Pale Ale back around the 1st of the year.  I acquired a 1lb each of Columbus, Cascade and Amarillo, all of which from this past season crop and all of which are leaf hops.  I find that leaf hops add a different flavor than pellets.  If the leaf hops are left in the beer at dry hopping too long you can get a grassy effect, which I do not want.  Either way, I love the hint of grassy/earthy notes that whole leaf hops give off.  Drinking a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale brings that into mind.  We know from past cloning recipes that they use whole cone Cascades and it shows.  Sierra Nevada has a “house flavor”, that is found in all their beers; I think all home brewers have that as well, including myself.  Anyway, so I  wanted to find a good showcase of the 3 lbs of hops I just bought.  So I made a Pale Ale back in January.  I took zero notes and it turned out fabulous.  Great, so now I have nothing to build off of, so I started over with what I thought to be the original recipe I used.  I had everything I needed already in house, Crisp Pale Ale malt, Riverbend Heritage, which is a bit darker (4-5L) than pale malt.  All I needed was the pound of Flaked Wheat.  Brew day rolls around and low and behold I forget to go get the Wheat.  Luckily I had a pound of Flaked Spelt, that I used in a pinch and I think it works.

I have built something I feel good about working on over the next few months.  I think the malt bill is perfect and the hop schedule is good, though the bitterness could be toned down a bit.  Tweaking the water profile is where I think this beer could shine.  I’ll be working on that and reporting back later once I brew it again.  Now on to the recipe.

Update: 2014-06-20: Tasting Notes

Classic American Pilsner

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Ill start this post by saying that my last and only other attempt at a lager, failed miserably.  It was a few years ago and I really didn’t watch the temperature during fermentation, and it got away from me.  Tons of off flavors and aromas, which lead me to dump the batch.  Fast forward till a month and a half ago and I feel like I got a better handle on brewing just about anything.  So I figured I would try my hand at brewing another lager.  I’ve always loved Classic American Pilsners, you can rarely find them at the local bottle shops.  The only commercial example that you can find sometime is Coors Batch 19, which is pretty good.  I say that only because every homebrew example I have ever had the pleasure of tasting has been far superior.  I really like how a balance is struck between the crisp pilsner malt grainy-ness and the sweetness from the corn and it’s normally very well hopped with usually some type of noble hop.  Bitterness is usually pretty high (up to 40 IBU) but doesn’t overpower the malt and corn.

So I set out to make my own here and do something a bit different at the same time.  I wanted to use a hop that was as old if not older than the style itself.  Something that I would think would be used back in the day prior to prohibition.  I decided on using Brewers Gold, which is all but gone from the hop  landscape.  It’s one of the oldest hop varieties coming from the UK and Germany.  The hops carries a high level of oil content which should strike a good contrast between the malt and corn, I hope.  It is said to have a sharp and pungent bittering quality, with flavors fruity and spicy flavors reminiscent of Black Currants.  With this hop, I wanted to be on the high end of the scale for IBU’s and I ended up being around 48-50 IBU’s.  I like to think that maybe, possibly everyone loved their hops prior to prohibition….

I also plan to blend this guy down to make other beers from it.  By adding some amount of carbonated water, I can make a variety of beers.  Not quite sure what exactly I will be making but maybe I will post more about that later.  Now on to the recipe.



English Barleywine

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One of my favorite blogs to read is Ron Pattinson’s Shut up about Barclay Perkins.  I’ve been reading it for years now, I have made several of his historical recipes that get posted on his Let’s Brew Wednesday topics.  Really love making these beers and trying to relive how people drank beer back in the late 1800’s to all the way till after WWII.  It’s always amazing to see the hopping rates, the interesting malt bills and use of different invert sugars and colorings (caramel coloring).  For this beer I had bought a whole sack (55lb) of Pauls Mild Malt almost a year ago and split it with a buddy of mine.  Having used a few pounds of it here and there, I was really looking for a way to make a beer showcasing this malt in some way.  So after some research and thought, I settled on this recipe from Barclay Perkins.  It’s from 1839, so it’s pretty old and pretty odd by today’s standard.  There is 1 malt and 1 type of hops, well 1 type of a lot of hops.  I settled on making only a 3 gallon batch, due to the amount of malt I had on hand and I didn’t want to bottle 5 gallons of this.  The bad part about this is the 4 hour boil, yeah 4 freaking hours.  I had to use 2 propane tanks to make this beer.  So I mashed in and started with a pre-boil volume like I would normally have for a 6 gallon (9 gallons) batch.  Over the 4 hours it boiled down to around 3.5 gallons.  Also adding in 2.75oz of hops for 3 gallons is a ton of hops.  So I had an issue of getting the beer out of the kettle due to all the hop matter.  Other than that, this beer is pretty normal.  It did have a starting gravity of 1.114SG and it ended at 1.024SG, and fermented pretty quickly at 65F for about a week.  It helped that I pitched a ton of yeast for the 3 gallons.

After fermentation I added a small amount of dry hops and then bottled.  The thought here was that I wanted to keep them for years down the road.  Ill wait a bit and to a tasting post down the road after some time aging in the bottle.

On to the recipe:

Blood Orange Sour

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This one started a while back.  I wanted to somewhat clone Crooked Stave’s St. Bretta but add in Blood Oranges.  I am pretty sure their Summer variant of this beer is made with Blood Oranges, but I never had the pleasure of drinking it.  So I went with a recipe pulled from the May/June 2012 Zymurgy magazine where Chad talks about brewing with 100% brett.  Their is a recipe for a 100% Brett Belgian White, which is kind of the base beer for St. Bretta which originally got it’s name from his WWB series WWBO (Orange).  WWBO is a wheat forward beer, 100% brett fermented with oranges added.  I believe everything about the orange is added, the zest, skin, pulp and juice.

So I wanted to take think idea and run with it and see what the results where.  This was 8 months ago….. So I took several dregs from Crooked Stave bottles and made a good healthy starter.  The 1st 2 weeks of fermentation were normal, big huge krausen no brett funk aroma, just a normal fermentation.  Then things started dying down and finally fermentation was complete.  I checked the gravity and it was still way too high, around (1.030).  So after a few more days a pellicle started to form, and then after a few weeks it turned into the picture you see below.

blood orange pellicle

So since I could not get Blood Oranges at the time of brewing I opted for 100% Blood Orange juice to add at the end of the boil.  I zested 4 Minneola Tangelos and added them in at flame out.  The grist is made up of mainly Pale and Wheat malts, with some Munich, Acid Malt, Golden Naked Oats and Flaked Barley.  Anyway once the pellicle had taken hold and then mostly dropped out I took a sample gravity which was still really high and no where near where I would have liked it (1.026).  I then took a PH reading and it read 3.1, which would explain why everything seemed to stop fermenting.  In a really heavy acid solution, nothing is going to work correctly.  I have spent several months trying to figure out what to do about this.  Blending comes to mind, but that requires extra work and extra brewing with extra beer left over.  I added in 2 packets of Champagne yeast and still nothing is fermenting.  Forward to spring 2014 and I run across some Blood Oranges in Whole Foods so I figure I would try one last thing before brewing another batch to blend.  I peeled and cut up the 4 lbs of Blood Oranges added them to a new sanitized fermenter and then racked the beer over to the pulp of the oranges.  I then added in a good dose of ECY Bug County (ECY20), now it’s finally showing signs of life again.  It’s another wait and see beer that I hope pans out, because the aroma on this beer is fabulous.

On to the recipe:

Hibiscus Gose

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I am infatuated with Westbrook’s Gose (pronounced Goes-a).  Comes in 6 pack cans and is available for a majority of the Spring/Summer/Fall, its 4% alcohol and it’s the definition of salinity and soury goodness.  It’s very refreshing and there is just enough salt to help wash things away, but it has an endearing quality of making you wanting more.  I usually can down a 6 pack pretty quickly and not feel  any effects from the alcohol.  Of course this might have to do that I am basically a minimalist drunk, but who knows right?

Anyway my first introduction to Gose was though the Mad Fermentationist’s blog post about Gose back in 2010, since then it’s really come back as a style, so much so that I believe that the BJCP’s next style releases will include a Gose style category.  So I have really been wanting to make one for some time.  I had a chance to come up with a quick recipe a few weeks back hoping for a quick turn around and an easy drinking beer ready for the hotter days coming up soon.  Sadly fermentation stopped at around 1.020 and I couldn’t get it started again (more on this later).  I wanted something fairly salty and somewhat sour with some Hibiscus.  So I opted for the Acid malt way of souring this beer so I wouldn’t have to endure a lacto fermentation and mess up another better bottle.

So after some research I found that adding a certain amount of acid malt in a secondary mash would effectively drop my PH low enough where it would be considered “sour” without having to use any type of bugs or bacteria.  So I decided on 3 lbs of Acid malt crushed and thrown into the mash before my 1st sparge.  I left the mash sitting for a good hour and checked the PH of the mash.  The temp was holding around 145F and the PH was reading around 4.2.  I was shooting for 4.1 so I left it for 30 more minutes.  Once the mash reached a PH of 4.1 I then batch sparged as normal.  I did have some issues sparging towards the end, but nothing too crazy.  Boiled for 90 minutes and added in 20g of Kosher Salt and a small amount of Coriander with 5 minutes to go in the boil.  At flame out I added 50g of Hibiscus and a few grams of Blood Orange zest for kicks, though I doubt any of the orange comes out in this beer.  After fermenting for a few days it crapped out on me around 1.020, I could have under pitched a bit, but still the gravity wasn’t that high.  I then added more yeast (S-05) but still nothing.  So after a week I decided to just go for it.  I threw in a good healthy dose of bottle dregs from Crooked Stave.  It was mainly dregs from Surette, Vielle, Hop Savant and St. Bretta.  Along with the dregs I added in about 50g more of Hibiscus for good measure.  I guess I will have to patiently wait to see how this one turns out.  Ill have to check back in a few months.

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On to the recipe:

Back Again

So I’ve been a few years without posting anything.  I switched over to using WordPress from Blogger a few months back and am going to try to keep things up this go around.  Lots of beers have been brewed since August 31st 2012 and I will not rehash those.  I also tied this into Google+ to see how that works, so technically anything I post here should post there and vice versa.  I will hopefully be posting up some recent recipes soon.