Thursday, September 25, 2014


I'm very much into clean, easy drinking lager type beers these days.  With the Fall approaching, I wanted something similar, but also something that fit the cooler weather.  That's where Oktoberfest style beers come in.  Malt forward, but very clean and easy drinking.  I don't have the ability to lager, unless I want to tie up my Ale brewing (I don't), so I need another solution.  Scouring the forums, it appears people in my situation have taken to brewing these clean lager beers with ale yeasts and fermenting cold to mimic the flavor.  A lot of people say you don't get the same flavor, which makes sense, but I just want to get close enough.  I love my own Kolsch, so if I can brew a malty version of that, I'm going to be happy.


3 Gallons

2.5 lb Vienna

2 lb Pilsner
2 lb Munich

0.5 oz Tettnanger (60 min)

0.5 oz Tettnanger (15 min)

Mash at 148F for 60 minutes.  Boil for 90 minutes.  3 g CaCl2, 2g CaSO4, 1g NaHCO3 in mash.  0.45 mL lactic acid in sparge water.  2.43 gallons at 161F for mash.  2.82 gallons at 179F for sparge.

Wyeast 2565 Kolsch Ale

OG: 1.055

FG: 1.012
IBU: 23
ABV: 5.7%

9/27/14: Brewday.  OG 1.068 due to over boiling and getting ~78% efficiency.

9/28/14: Visible fermentation.
11/15/14: Tasting notes.  The malt backbone is right on, but there's something to Kolsch ale yeast that turns me off.  There's this weird fruitiness/smartie taste.  I got it in White Labs and now I get it in Wyeast's version.  


I attended the Keep Florence Beautiful beerfest this past weekend.  It's a combination beer fest and homebrew competition.  I entered 3 beers on a whim, my Sour Blonde, my Strawberry Rhubarb Berliner and my most recent IPA.  They announced the winners midway through and much to my surprise they called my name as Best in Show runner up for my Strawberry Rhubarb Berliner!  I got an awesome ribbon and walked back to my girlfriend.  Then they announced the Best in Show winner and they called me again for my Sour Blonde!  I was totally shocked, and got another ribbon and an awesome Das Boot.  Next up, NHC medals!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

NHC Gold Medal Recipes 2000-2014

I posted this on and it well received so I thought I'd also post it here for posterity

I spent the past few weeks compiling all of the gold medal winning recipes that are posted on the AHA website from 2000-2014. I put them in a spreadsheet and calculated the recipes based on percentage of grains, hops used, OG, FG, mash temp and yeast used.
I'm not sure why I did this to begin with, but I certainly did learn some things from doing it.
There are some proven gold medal winning recipes that you can see from some people copying the exact recipe from the year before and winning gold. It was interesting to watch a category such as Pale ale or IPA progress in the last 10 years.

Some things I noticed for success in competitions:
--In hoppy beers, complex hop bills were almost exclusively used (No single hop beers won)
--Also in hoppy beers, Simcoe and Amarillo are almost always in the winning beer. Centennial and Cascade a close second. A lot had all 4.
--For big ABV beers, a complex malt bill was frequently used (>6 grains)
--Almost every Fruit beer that won used extract at bottling and not real fruit
--There are certainly categories that seem to win more often. You have a better chance of getting gold with a RIS than an American Stout (6 wins vs 1)
--Ingredients matter. For example, british style beers almost exclusively had british malts, yeast and hops.
--Don't even try to win gold with an IPA/DIPA because this guy Kelsey McNair or something has won the last 3-4 years with virtually the same recipe. (Kelsey, you out there? Want to trade? ;))

Anyways, those are things I noticed. I don't brew a lot of the categories so the subtleties of some are lost on me. Take a look if you want and I think this could be valuable if people can use this to determine how to be successful brewing different styles.

Sweet Stout v2.0

I was very happy with this beer last time I brewed it.  This is almost the same recipe with some more crystal malts and a little more Maris Otter.  I plan on splitting this 3 ways.  One gallon straight, 1 gallon with pumpkin spices and 1 gallon onto captain crunch!

Sweet Stout

3.5 gallons

6.5 lb Maris Otter
0.5 lb Chocolate
0.5 lb Carafa II
0.5 lb C80
0.5 lb C20
0.25 lb C120
0.25 lb C40
0.5 lb Lactose

0.75 lb Chinook (60 mins)

Mash high at 156F.  2 g CaCl2, 4 g CaSO4, 3 g NaHCO3.  Fermented with Thames Valley yeast around 64F.

OG: 1.071
FG: 1.025

9/7/14: Brew day.  Bad crush from the homebrew shop, so OG was low, 1.054.  

Brown Ale

I wanted a beer to split and do some flavorings to.  I chose a brown ale so I could do a PB&J beer and a oatmeal cookie beer.  The grain bill incorporated a lot of crystal malt to provide a sweeter note and I boiled for 90 minutes to try to develop some more caramel flavors.

3.5 Gallons

6 lb Maris Otter
0.5 lb C20
0.5 lb C60
0.5 lb Flaked Oats
0.25 lb Chocolate
0.25 lb Munich

0.5 oz Chinook (60 min)

Mash at 152F for 60 minutes.  90 minute boil.  2 g CaCl, 1 g NaHCO3, 4 g CaSO4, 0.54 mL lactic acid in sparge.

OG: 1.059
FG: 1.017
IBU: 30
ABV: 5.7%

8/16/2014: Brewed.  Actual OG 1.053.

9/6/2014: Bottled 1 gallon straight.  Bottled 1 gallon with cinnamon and vanilla.  Racked on gallon onto ¾ c dried peanut butter and 8 oz frozen raspberries.
9/20/14: Base brown is solid.  A little fruity.  I need to pick up a typical example of the style and see how it compares.  1 gallon with cinnamon and vanilla "Cookie Monster" is nice.  Could be more forward with a higher quality vanilla and cinnamon as well.  Added an extra 1/4 c. of dried PB when bottling.  Tasting it and the taste is completely nailed.  This is Funky Buddha's "No Crusts".  If the base brown was a little bigger and smoother, it would be a perfect clone.