Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sierra Nevada Beer Camp #118

I started by flying into Sacramento, renting a car and making the 1.5 hour journey up to Chico, CA for +Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.  Beer Camp #118.  I met up with a fellow camper and we didn't lose any time making our way to the brewery for our very first pints.  The brewery isn't exceptional on the outside and even the inside of the pub looks a little dated, but that's to be expected since they're one of the first craft breweries in the country.  I got a Best Bitter to start and followed that quickly with Draught Style Pale Ale and Knightro.  The other campers started trickling in and before we knew it, the whole group was there.  We ranged in age from 25ish to 40ish and had a lot of different backgrounds from science related to stay at home dads.
The original artwork for their flagship Pale Ale
Sierra Nevada has something they call the Big Room which is essentially a music hall and luckily they had a show that very night.  We streamed to the venue, got plates of a delicious buffet, pitchers of anything we could drink and listened to an interesting gypsy rock group.   Since the other group of video submission campers started a day early, this was our main day that we would overlap so they took us out to downtown Chico that night.  More pitchers and some in-bar tricycle racing later, the night was over.

The following morning was a little rough, but we were up early and at the brewery.  We met Steve Grossman who gave us a little slideshow about the history of the brewery and we watched everyone's video entries.  
Original brew kettle

Following that, we met with the pilot brewer and formulated our recipe (with some Celebration pints of course).  
Recipe formulation

After learning we couldn't use a saison yeast, we settled on an IPA aged on cedar.  The final recipe was 8%, light! dry and had simcoe, el dorado, Amarillo, citra and summit hops and would be dry hopped with a new wild hop called Neo Mexicanus.

With the recipe settled, we were off for a brewery tour.  It's hard to put into perspective how big the brewery is, but when you're standing looking up at the massive cylindrical bottom of a 800 barrel fermenter, it hits you.  
The bottom of an 800 BBL fermenter.  One of 49 at the brewery!
Then they tell you they have 49 of those and your mind kind of explodes.  We saw their small bottling line, hop freezer (a couple thousand square foot room filled floor to ceiling with bales of hops. Sierra Nevada prides itself on using only whole leaf hops and they have a MASSIVE amount of them in this freezer).  
Bales filled with whole leaf hops.  This is the best smelling room I've ever been in

Torpedoes.  Sierra Nevada's version of a hop back.
We got to try Torpedo straight out of the tanks and it was as hoppy as you can imagine.

Following the tour we had lunch in the pub and then were off to the Abbey of New Clairvaux.  This is the abbey that SN has paired up with to make their Ovila series.  In doing so they are raising money for the abbey to build a new chapel for the monks there.  

We got a history of the abbey, a tour and then a wine tasting from the small winery that is there.  
Wine tasting at the Abbey

Oh, we of course had cases of SN Pale Ale and Old Chico on the way to and from the abbey.  Once we got back we had some more beers in the pub, had dinner with the other beer camp and then got to bed way too late.
The restaurant and bar
The second full day of beer camp started with breakfast burritos and coffee in the pilot brewery while we learned about their system.  They then put us to work milling the grain for our batch, hunting down and weighing the hops, then we were up to the pilot brewery to actually brew.  
Pilot system.  "Only" 10 BBL
More hops!

Adding hops to our brew

Their system is so automated that we really didn't have much to do other  than dumping grains and dumping a few hops in, but I can still day I've brewed on a 10bbl system before.  After that we were down to the pub for lunch and beers.
Checking the clarity after brewing

The second half of our day started out with a bang.  The head pilot brewer led us on a tour of his fermenters which involved samples of everything they had.  This included some other beer camps (weizen bock, brown ale, ESB), beers from their upcoming mixed IPA pack and some beers from their Beer Camp Across America mixed 12 pack.  Those were very exciting because they happened to have Cigar City's beer (massively fruity pale ale, think fruit cocktail) and 3 Floyd's in the fermenters.

Following this we hopped on their one of a kind beer bike where we sipped SNPA while we biked around the rest of their brewery.  

This involved stops at their wastewater treatment facility and composter.  SN is extremely Eco friendly and almost every building they own is covered in solar panels.  We got to go on the ground of their bottling line.  It was absolutely amazing to see thousands of 2014 Bigfoots whiz zing by.  They do something like 200,000 bottles a day out of that facility.  The scope of it is hard to describe until you see it up close.  
Only a portion of their bottling facility
Spent hops from a torpedo.

We finished our tour with a stop by their R&D and QA labs.  We got to do a blind triangle text of their beers with some off flavors.  I of course failed miserably, my palate needs serious work, but most of the guys picked out a light struck beer out of the lineup.  Their R&D lab is essentially a flavor matching and off flavor deciphering lab.  They have put a ton of money into making sure their beers all taste the same and have probably the most extensive lab in craft beer.   Other breweries send samples to them to get texted.  They are extremely busy now making sure their Asheville is going to put out the exact product as this one.

That was the end of our tour and we topped off our Beer Camp experience by opening a 2011 9L Bigfoot.  A massive bottle and delicious beer was  the perfect way to end the trip. 

 I can't say enough about SN after this trip and I'm now a lifelong fan and will spread the love to everyone I meet.  They are a big brewery but haven't forgotten their roots and do the right things to their fans which I will be forever after this experience.

Be on the lookout for Beer Camp #118's IPA coming (hopefully) to a bar near you!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dr. Homebrew

I was on The Brewing Network's new homebrew review show Dr. Homebrew a few weeks ago and the episode has posted!  I sent them the last bottles of my Pucker Up - Pineapple, a Pineapple Berliner Weisse.

Check it out here  via iTunes.  Click on the link posted 11/6/13 and have a listen!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I'm going to Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp!!!

It only took 3 years but I'm finally going to Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp!  I made a stop motion video this year and finally got the email to go to camp in early December.

I don't have much information right now, but I've read some account of people who have gone in the past and it seems like this is a hands-on, insider tour of their brewery.  Hop room, brewing system, bottling line, grounds, barrels, you name it, you get to see and taste it.  I'm going to take a ton of pictures (if they allow) and will post them all.

Oh yeah, you also get to brew a beer!!!  I'm not sure how that process works but it seems like you kind of flesh out a recipe over email before going and then you get to brew a small batch of it and have it distributed around the country.  I'll post any details about that process as it comes.  I'm so excited!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pumpkin Ale v2.0!

Is there one style out there that gets more people fired up then pumpkin beers?  People either seem to love them or hate the fact that they exist.  Personally, I'm somewhere inbetween.  I love the style but there are so many that are horrible that I'm very selective in my pumpkin drinking.  Last year I swore off beers like Pumpkinhead, Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin, Smuttynose.  They seem to exist because the brewery knows people love pumpkin beers because they signal the beginning of fall (even though they are now released in August and July, but that's a whole other story about "seasonal creep").  Not to sound like a snob, but I'm at the point where I'm very selective with my pumpkin beer drinking.  I really only order one if it is Southern Tier Pumking (my favorite), Cigar City Good Gourd and maybe Dogfish Head Punkin Ale.  

I made a Pumpkin beer called Ichabod Crane last year, but it wasn't quite what I wanted, so I'm off to brew another one this year.  Well, that and SWMBO has requested one, so I must oblige.

This recipe is similar to last years, and based off Pumking's malts, but I've added a few twists.  I researched Pumking clones forever this year and last and it seems that they do something proprietary to get that crazy buttery/pumpkin pie flavor that they claim can't be repeated outside their brewery.  So with that being said, here's my best effort.

Ichabod Crane v2.0
3 Gallons

8 lbs Maris Otter
1 lb Crystal 60L

0.3 oz Columbus (60 minutes)
0.25 lb Lactose
30 oz Libby's Pumpkin Puree
1 box graham crackers
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp Vanilla

Washed WLP002

Bake the pumpkin mixed with 1/4 c. maple syrup for 60 minutes at 350F or until carmelized.  Cool and add to mash along with box of graham cracker.  Add lactose and pumpkin pie spice to end of boil.  Add vanilla to taste in bottling bucket.

OG 1.079
FG 1.022
IBU 23.9
SRM 15.6

Tasting Notes:
It's still only a week from bottling but I've cracked 2 open.  Nice sweetness, a hint of graham cracker/vanilla (I added ~1/8 tsp to 2 gallons, maybe less).  The spicing is in the background, it's not a spice bomb, but could probably use a little more.  I'd like the body to be a little more substantial and there to be a bigger caramel-y backbone.  Next year I'll add some more crystal malt and some darker malts and actually use a vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, ginger, etc instead of McCormick's pumpkin spice.

Overall though, this is a highly drinkable pumpkin beer.  Better then a lot on the market IMHO.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Columbus Pale Ale

Football season is upon us (well, those of us in the South) and I need a quaff-able, tasty beer to tailgate with.  I also have about 6 oz of 2011 crop CTZ hops, so when I was putting together a recipe, I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone.  

Since it will still be hot here for the next 3 months, I didn't want anything that I couldn't put back easily, and I also wanted to keep the ABV down.  I read a little on hoppy, low ABV pale ales (Session IPAs if you will, but please don't) and used a few techniques to keep the beer simple and drinkable without being bland or too hop forward.  I've combined flavorful malts with a high mash temp and oats to get some more body and flavor.  I've also backloaded my hopping schedule to keep it flavorful and hoppy without too much lingering bitterness.

Batch size 2.5 gallon

OG 1.055
FG 1.202
ABV 4.7%
IBU 39.9

3 lb Maris Otter
2.5 lb Vienna
4 oz Flaked oats

0.5 oz Columbus (15 min)
0.5 oz Columbus (5 min)
1 oz Columbus (Flamout)
2 oz Columbus (Dry hop)

Mash at 156F for 60 min (7.19 qt) sparge with 2.25 gal water at 168F.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Hoppy Red Ale

The itch to brew is really getting to me right now.  I've got the Sour Brown quietly doing its thing in my closet, my Saison is just getting going and now I already want to brew again.  Since both the brown and saison are in better bottles at room temp (or in the case of the saison, getting hit with heat to get that WLP 565 to attenuate), I have room in my temperature controlled fridge.  I just got back from Modern Times in San Diego and their hoppy beers blew me away.  There is such a huge, pungent fruity nose in their beers, especially Blazing World, that I want to clone them.  Since they're awesome they've posted all of their recipes and tweaks online at The Mad Fermentationist's website and this makes my job easy.

Hoppy Red (Blazing World clone)

2.5 gallon batch

5.50  lb 2 row (82.7%)
1 lb Munich (15%)
1.6 oz Roasted Barley (1.5%)
0.8 oz Carafa III (0.8%)

0.75 oz Columbus (90 min, 93.1 IBU)
0.50 oz Simcoe (25 min, 37.5 IBU)
1 oz Nelson Sauvin (Hop Stand)
1 oz Mosaic (Hop Stand)
1.5 oz Nelson Sauvin (Dry Hop)
0.5 oz Mosaic (Dry Hop)
0.5 oz Simcoe (Dry Hop)

WLP 001

Mash at 149F (2.07 gallons).  Mashout at 168F with (2.82 gallons)
OG 1.066
FG 1.011
IBU 130.6
ABV 7.2%

8/25/13: Brewday.  Ran into hop problems.  Replaced 0.5 oz of mosaic with Nelson in hop stand.  Replaced 0.5 oz Nelson in dry hop with Galaxy.  Preboil OG 1.045.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

San Diego Trip

I just got back from a whirlwind San Diego brewery tour the likes of which I won't recover from for a few weeks.  I had just about 4 days in the city visiting my family with SWMBO and made full use of it all.  I tried to take pictures and have Untappd to thank for a complete review of what I drank.

First stop was Pizza Port Solana beach for some pizza and one of the best salads I've eaten.  Unfortunately Jules Winnfield was not on tap, which I fell in love last time I was here but I still had a delicious Saison de Mule with lime along with my food.  I had heard about a new brewery opening nearby so we walked about 2 blocks to Culture Brewing Co. and I had my first surprise of the trip.  The space was a small store front with cinder block walls, but it had an awesome vibe and their beer was spot-on.  I had an IPA, Black IPA and Black Lager and they were all very clean and delicious.  This place might be one to look out for in the future.

Next stop was the obligatory trip to Stone Bistro and Gardens in Escondido.  The entire place is exactly what a beer garden/big brewery should look like and I could literally spend days here.  I ordered the new collaboration with Rip Current and a couple of homebrewers, the Coconut IPA, but was quite underwhelmed.  Little to no coconut, which was quite disappointing.  The place wasn't too busy so we got to go on the tour ($3 for a tasting glass and 4 tasters!) which was the most impressive I've been on due to the sheer enormity of their operation
The tour finished with tasters of Levitation, Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard and their new collab w00tstout, which was a bit boozy at 13%, but I'm happy I can now say I've tried it.

The real reason for coming this far north was to visit Rip Current brewing which opened at 4 PM.  We made our way over there and I got a flight of beers, mostly to try Lupulin Lust which I've heard rave reviews about.
My flight had Rail Grab Roggenbier (my first Roggenbier, it was OK, I'm not sure what I was expecting), Barrier Reef Nut Brown Ale, Lupulin Lust IPA, Raked Over Red, Rescue Buoy and sURGEing Current Session IPA.  Lupulin Lust was delicious, but a little of a letdown due to the hype I heard, but sURGEing Current was good and the others were solid.  Rescue Buoy could use a little work though, it's kind of a bland RIS.

The next (and drunken final stop) was Latitude 33.  I hadn't heard especially good things about the place but while we were up here it was worth a trip.  The beer was forgettable, but I got a cool taster out of it.  
The next day was a rough one but we got up and moving early.  A hike over to Point Loma and a slow start to the drinking helped immensely.  We made our way to Stone's new amazing space at Liberty Station for some food and drinks.  I opened up with a Bite the Bullet IPA, which was a surprise favorite of the weekend and helped with the hair of the dog.  I also got a Crimson Gate Keeper, an oaked cherry porter, which was nice, but a bit much for my queasy stomach.  Stone Liberty Station is a gorgeous place and would be my number one recommendation to anyone traveling to San Diego.  Greg Koch knows what he is doing.

After Stone was my most anticipated brewery stop of the trip.  Modern Times was founded by a former Stone marketing employee, hired brewers from Ballast Point and Monkey Paw and employed maybe the most famous homebrewer on the web The Mad Fermentationist to do R&D on recipes and start their sour project.  I've been following them for a year or so and their owner Jacob has done a great job on social media, informative blog posts and the like such that my interest was definitely piqued.   I got tasters of their flagships Lomaland (saison), Fortunate Islands (pale wheat), Black House (coffee stout) and Blazing World (hoppy red/amber).  Their beers are great, especially Blazing World, it has this really juicy and fruity nose and taste.  Really great.  I also got to try their 100% Brett IPA Neverwhere which was really great and didn't taste a thing like the brett we know, it was clean like an ale yeast.  Oh and the tasting room was really cool, decorated with books, bookshelves and of course a post-it note mural of Michael Jackson and Bubbles.  You know, totally normal.

The next day we went to AleSmith to pick up bottles of Vietnamese Speedway Stout and Barrel Aged Speedway Stout I had bought online.  I got to try Vietnamese on tap and it was fantastic.  I'm a huge fan of regular Speedway, and this was better.  Also got to try their Lil Devil dosed with Lactic acid which was tart and refreshing.  

After AleSmith it was on to Societe Brewing.  They make some of the cleanest, most flavorful hoppy beers I've had and their tasting room is awesome.  The Pupil and The Apprentice are my favorite IPAs, but The Publican pale ale might be my favorite beer because of how easy it was to drink.  

One last stop at Coronado Brewing for dinner and their Hibiscus IPA (ehhh, so-so) and a quick stop in Bottlecraft and my trip was done.  
Yet another awesome trip to San Diego in the books.  Every time I go I think I've hit every brewery but when I go back there's always some new world-class place opening up.  Such a tough life, huh?  Cheers!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Hard Root Beer

I was wasting time on HBT today and stumbled across a recipe discussion for hard root beer.  After reading the thread, I have to admit, I'm intrigued.  Abita root beer is possibly my favorite soda and sometimes I order it before a beer (ok, not really, but I order it any time I see it on the menu).  With that being said, what could better then craft root beer?  Root beer with alcohol of course.  Next time I go to the homebrew store I think I'm going to pick up the ingredients for this.  It's cheap, easy and if it's good, might be a go-to recipe I brew (especially for those not into my regular beers).

1 Gallon recipe
OG: 1.045
FG: 1.015

1 lb DME
4 oz Lactose
4 oz Brown sugar
1 tsp yeast nutrient
Nottingham yeast

Combine ingredients above with 4 c water, bring to a boil, top off, cool,  pitch yeast.  Ferment ~70F for 7 days using a blow-off tube.

Bottling day:
1 c sugar boiled in 1 c water
5.5 oz honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp root beer extract

Add above to bottling bucket, bottle.  Once carbonated (check beginning at 4 days or using a plastic bottle) put in fridge or pasteurize.

8/18/13: Brewday.  12 hours later there is a full krausen and vigorous fermentation.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Sour Brown Ale Update 1

The ingredients are bought for my Sour Brown that I'm going to be making without the help of a commercial yeast product.  

Yesterday I made up a lacto starter to begin the souring and build up some lacto.  I boiled 1.5 L water with 75 g DME to make a starter of around 1.020.  Once that cooled to ~110F, I pitched a handful of milled grain in and put an airlock on the 1 gallon growler.  I'm going to try to keep this as close to 110F as possible but that will be hard because I have no heating source (stupid me, should have gotten a heating pad).  I got to thinking and I have decided to keep the growler in my car in the Florida sun during the day.  This way, I think I can expect temperatures to get to 110F at some point, helping the lacto grow and sour quicker.

I also picked up Monks Cafe Flemish Sour Ale and Petrus Oud Bruin to drink in the next few days and I will dump the dregs into the starter to get them active also.  When I brew on Sunday I'm going to pitch the whole mix into the wort and throw it in my closet, not to be touched for 6 months (hopefully!).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Sour?

I've wanted to get into brewing sours for a long time now but haven't been able to talk myself into it because I've always been 1 year within moving.  I'll finally be moving somewhere somewhat permanent in 6 months, but until then, I still have the sour bug eating away at me.  

Roselare or other commercial bug blends take a long time to get a delicious, sour beer but I just don't have that much time.  What I do have is the experience of souring with lacto, and a lot of sour beers with dregs in them.  My plan then is a combination of these techniques.  I'm going to brew up a brown-ish ale base, sour it with lacto from grain, ferment with dry ale yeast and some dregs, then add dregs for the next 5 months until I move and bottle it up then.  

Sour Brown
3.5 gallon

2.5 lb Munich 10L
2.5 lb Pilsner
2.5 lb Vienna
0.5 lb CaraAroma
0.5 lb C60
0.5 lb Wheat

1.5 oz Hallertauer (15 min)


Mash at 156F for 60 min.  Save a handful of grain to pitch post mash at 110F and sour for 2-3 days.  After souring is complete, bring to a boil for 15 mins to kill the lacto, get some IBUs from the hops and add DME to increase the OG if needed (when lacto sours, it lowers the gravity but doesn't necessarily add to ABV).  Then I'm going to cool and pitch a pack of dry US-05 and some bottle dregs (most likely from Sierra Nevada/Russian River BRUX and a Russian River sour or Jolly Pumpkin sour).  Then over the course of the next few months, anytime I drink a beer with bug dregs in it, I'll pitch it also. 

OG 1.060
FG 1.015
IBU 19.9
ABV 5.9%

My goal for this beer is to end up with a nicely sour beer that isn't as one-dimensional as the berliners I make (not that that's bad, just different).

8/12/13: Brewday.  Actual OG 1.071.  More boil off then expected.  Fermented in a swamp cooler.  Pitched rehydrated yeast, lacto grain starter, BRUX dregs, Monk's Cafe Flemish Red and Petrus Oud Bruin dregs.
8/17/13: Pitched Boulevard's Saison Brett dregs, pellicle forming.
8/21/13: Pitched Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabeza for the last of my dregs.  Some light spotty pellicle forming.  Will re-visit in 3 months.
9/23/13: Huge white, powerdy pellicle formed.  Gravity sample read 1.011.  Tasted of a flemish red/oud bruin with some nice lingering sourness.
1/5/13: Tested gravity, 1.011.  Despite what I have read about not bottling with this high of a gravity, I'm looking to bottle soon due to time constraints.
1/18/13: Bottled.


It's hot in Florida.  It says 92 on the thermometer but with the humidity outside it feel like 100+.  Since this weather will last until October/November, I wanted to brew up something refreshing, crushable and with a decent ABV to help combat the heat.  Also, I wanted to do 3 gallons, but since I can't fit that in my mini fridge, I need something that will be content with room temp fermentation temperatures, ala a saison and the wonderful White Labs 565 which is suggested to ramp up to 90F!

This recipe is a mixmash of an award winning saison on HBT and then some different ideas from Swamp Head's Saison du Swamp (very loosely).  

3 gallon volume

5 lb Pilsner
2 lb Rye
0.5 lb Flaked wheat

0.75 oz Hallertau (60 min)
0.5 lb Honey (5 min)

Mash at 148F for 90 min.

WLP 565

OG 1.064
FG 1.012
IBU 23.7
ABV 6.9%

I plan on pitching as cool as possible (65F), then letting it free rise to ambient (~74F).  After 3-4 days of that I'm going to bump the temperature up by adding a heating pad and try to get it to finish at a temperature up around 90F.

8/15/13 - Brewday.  Actual OG: 1.068.  Pitched WLP 565 around 70F and fermented in swamp cooler for 2 days.  Put on heating pad 8/18/13.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Berliner Weisse Treatments

I recently did a 3 gallon batch of Berliner Weisse, souring it by keeping it in a cooler at room temp with twice daily additions of boiling water.  I fermented it in an ice bucket with washed kolsch yeast.  I then split it three ways and did the following:

1 gallon with 1 pineapple cubed and frozen
1 gallon with 6 mangoes cubed and frozen
1 gallon with 3 packets of frozen passion fruit

They were left at room temp for a week and yesterday I tasted them and bottled them.  The passion fruit is intensely aromatic and sour.  Passion fruit is naturally very tart and along with the berliner base beer it is quite a mouth puckering experience.  Pineapple gave off a great aroma but pineapple doesn't seem to lend itself well to giving off a great fruit taste as well.  The best I can describe it is light.  It has some pineapple fruit taste upfront but otherwise is a little muted.  I think I got an infection in my mango batch because it has a harsh aroma.  I might bottle it in a few days but for now I'm letting it ride.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Souring wort

So I was craving a Berliner Weisse and really wanted to brew one. I did a ton of research on HomeBrewTalk, through Google and I even emailed Funky Buddha in Boca Raton for info on how they did their Berliners (and he even got back to me!). There was a ton of info and even more opinions on how to sour a beer with the most common general themes as follows: 

1. Souring the mash
2. Souring the wort
3. Souring with a pure lactobacillus culture

I looked into all of these methods and at the pros/cons of each.  Souring the mash and souring the wort were similar in that both methods used lacto that is present naturally on grain to sour the beer.  You mash in and once the mash is done you cool to 110-120F and pitch a handful of the grain then maintain it at that temperature until it reaches the desired level or sourness.  I was a fan of souring the wort because it seemed a little easier to clean up and transfer then souring the whole mash.  The downside to doing this is that you get a fairly one-dimensional sourness.  It's basically just a simple tartness and not very complex which can take away from a beer.  You can also develop some creamed corn/garbage aromas which may or may not clean up in the finished beer (mine mostly do).

Pitching a lacto culture provides a complex sourness and might provide a better overall experience but it can be frustrating to work with.  The sourness takes awhile to develop, so if you're looking for a quick turnaround, this method isn't for you.

Because I like berliners and have zero patience, I sour my wort.  My process which I've tried 5-6 times is as follows:

Once I drained my wort from my mash tun I put it into a bucket that I bought specifically for this lacto purpose. After it is cooled to 110F, I threw in a handful of grain (grain naturally carries lacto on it) and then put an airlock and lid on the bucket and put it in my fridge that I normally use for fermenting. I had put a light bulb in which I turned on and used as a heating source and it was kept insulated by the fridge, essentially creating an incubator. I maintained the fridge as close to 110F as possible because that is around the highest temperature that lacto likes to do its work without being killed (which occurs around 120F). As the wort began souring it gave off a creamed corn smell and when I took a sample it had a nice puckering sour. I was going for a big punch-you-in-the-mouth flavor so I soured it for 4 days.  

I've tried variations of this method with these results: 

4 days souring at 110F - way too sour, warhead level puckering, not desirable
4 days souring at 110F then blended 50/50 with fresh wort = perfect level of puckering tartness
6 days room temp 70F - lightly sour, gravity dropped drastically with minimal ABV contribution.
5 days room temp 70F with boiling water infusion 2x/day - slightly more sour, minimal off flavors, nice sourness and minimal gravity drop

My recommendations:

-Sour the wort for simplicity and quickness.
-Keep the wort as hot as possible for as short as time as possible to minimize off flavors.
-Don't fear the creamed corn/garbage smell!
-Put saran wrap on the top of the wort to minimize introduction to O2.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sweet Stout

I'm looking to model a beer after Cigar City's Cafe Con Leche.  Basically I'm looking for a sweet stout with a thick mouthfeel that I can add coffee to before bottling.  Their head brewer talks about it here in this blog post with the most important thing being "a ridiculous amount of caramel malts".  I went online to find some sweet stout recipes and then tinkered with them adding a heavy hand of caramel malts.

3 Gallon batch:

6 lb Marris Otter
0.5 lb Chocolate Malt
0.5 lb Dehusked Carafa III
0.25 lb Caramel 120
0.25 lb Caramel 80
0.25 lb Caramel 40
0.25 lb Caramel 20

0.75 oz EKG (60 min)
0.25 oz Columbus (60 min)

Mash at 158F.  Sparge at 168F.

Ferment with WLP005 at 62F and let it rise.

46 IBU
OG 1.064
FG 1.029

Add coffee beans for 48 hours before bottling.

Pfriem Family Brewers

Pfriem Family Brewing out of Hood River, OR has an amazing tap room that I recently saw online.  These tap handles are gorgeous and their serving tray for samplers is perfect.  I'm stealing this idea one day!

Hogtown Brew-Off 2013 3rd Place!

I entered my Big Nose clone and Kolsch into the 2013 Hogtown Brew Off a few weeks ago and got back the results.  I won 3rd in the Light Hybrid Beer category for my Kolsch!  38/50 and most had comments about a little more bitterness bite to the beer, but overall they liked it.  One even said "if it was on tap I'd order it".  Cheers!

Portland, Oregon

This may be TL;DR so skip if you don’t want to hear about my beer centric trip to Portland, OR.

I flew in Tuesday afternoon and left Saturday morning and the main goal was to hit breweries, see the city and just relax.  I’ll do a highlight reel of the best beers/breweries/bars I visited.

APEX beer bar was awesome.  Pliny the Elder on tap next to Boneyard’s Hop Venom and RPM IPA.  Honestly, although it was a different take, Hop Venom gave Pliny a run for its money.  RPM was one of the best IPAs ive had in a while also.  Wish I could have gotten a few bottles to go.

Wednesday was our hardcore brewery tour day.  Started at noon with Hair of the Dog. 
Moved on to and spent the most time at Cascade Barrel house.  Had Luckie Charms, a sour that tasted exactly like the cereal, absolutely wild.  Chocolate Bourbonic Plague, Vine, Vlad the Imp Aler, Noyeaux and tastes from my GFs Blueberry, Manhattan NW and more.  We spent a long time here, it was my favorite brewery.
Went from there to Base Camp, which had mediocre beers, but the space was badass and they had a smore stout where they put a marshmallow on the glass and took a little propane flame and roasted it for you.  Pretty gimmicky, but still neat as I had never seen that before. 
Before I go on, for some reason Wednesday is the greatest day ever to drink because every brewery we went to had $2.50 pints or $4 imperial pints (20 oz).  All the beer the entire weekend was really reasonable.
We got a flight at Burnside brewing, nothing special but they did have a pepper beer that I hated.  Why people put pepper in an IPA is beyond me.
$10 for all of this!
Coalition was a really tiny space with some solid beers.
Migration had an awesome outside space and a ridiculous taste flight for like $8.
Last stop of the (very hazy, drunken) night was Deschutes for a flight and Elk burger.
The next day didn’t have much beer tasting but instead we went to the Willamette wine country to visit 3 wineries.  First stop, Voodoo Doughnuts.
I know nothing about wine but it was a gorgeous day and the views were great.  We did hit up this ridiculous bottle shop on the way out.  The best selection I’ve ever seen.

On Friday we did a brewcycle tour where you pedal yourselves in a cart thing to three breweries then have a pint. 
We hit Lucky Lab (beer hall with not good beer), Caps & Corks (beer bar/bottle shop) and Deschutes again (remembered more this time).  Then it ended right next to Rogue where we had a flight and I got to try the Beard Beer where they brewed a beer using some yeast that had been in their brewers massive beard.  Not too bad!
Last few stops were Upright for some really tasty saisons (Four, Five, Six and Seven), and Tugboat brewing, a tiny, not-so-good brewery.
Overall it was an awesome trip, and I might still be a little hungover.  Favorite beers were Boneyard Hop Venom and RPM, everything from Cascade, HoTD Fred, and many I can't remember.