I’ve been in a bit of a hop kick recently. I know, I know, a craft beer person in the mood for hops, big shocker. I also fell back in love with Belgian beers this summer so I decided to marry the two ideas in to one. As I have mentioned before, the Belgian IPA style is still in development so you can kind of do what you want with it. I basically had two criteria when designing this beer 1). It has to be hoppy and 2.) the Belgian flavor components should be noticeable and add to the quality of the beer.
I began this recipe by taking a look at my Belgian Tripel recipe. It’s a pretty simple recipe with three malts and two types of hops. I then gave my IPA recipe a look and it also had a simple recipe with four grain and two hops. I then began to compare the malts and hops in use. Clearly the IPA hops would overpower any of the Tripel’s hops, so I ditched any of the traditional Belgian Tripel hops and went with high alpha-acid American hops. The base malts were not far apart and I only had American 2-row in hand so that won out. The rest you can see below:
12 lbs. 2-row
2 lbs. Munich
1 lb. German Wheat Malt
1 lb. White Table Sugar (added @ 15 mins)
1 lb. Dried Malt Extract (added @ 15 mins)
1 oz. Magnum @ 60 mins
1 oz. Columbus @ 5 mins
A half and half mix of WLP530 and WLP500
As I said the base malt is pretty standard. I really like adding Munich malt to almost all of my beers as it adds a nice touch of bread and complexity to my beers. The wheat malt is there to enhance the body and to aid in head retention. I didn’t want to murder my base malt supply in making this beer so I added a bunch of sugar and a pound of dried malt extract to this one to supplement the base malt. The table sugar is also there to make sure the yeast get off to a quick and happy start.
The stats for this one can be seen below:
I love trying new things with my brewing and developing a recipe around a beer that doesn’t have a set style was both a challenge and a joy. This beer is currently kegged and I will get tasting notes up shortly.
I’ve brewed two pumpkin beers in the past. My first one was right when I first got into homebrew and it involved cutting up some cooked pumpkin pieces and steeping them in the boil kettle. The results were good but I wanted more out of the pumpkin. I also thought that the porter aspect of my beer took away from the other aspects that I wanted to showcase. About three years ago I brewed my second Pumpkin Ale. I still like the recipe idea but I got a stuck sparge and only collected 2.5 gallons of wort. The only thing that I didn’t realize was that I managed to get the majority of the sugar pulled out of the grain before it stuck, meaning that I had a 15% pumpkin beer.
For this round I wanted to make sure that I could really highlight the pumpkin flavor. I also had two secondary goals; a medium mouthfeel and a bready malt quality. On the technical end I just wanted to avoid a stuck sparge again. Below is the recipe that I decided to go with after looking through the ingredients that I had:
8 lbs. 2-Row
1 lb. Light Munich
.5 lb. Oats
.5 lb. Carapils
.5 lb. Crystal 40
.25 lb. Crystal 80
.25 lb. Crystal 120
3 lbs. Pumpkin puree
1 lb. Rice Hulls
1.0 oz US Goldings @60 mins
1.0 oz US Goldings @10 mins
1 tsp. Ground nutmeg @1 min
1 tsp. Ground allspice @1 min
1 tsp. Ground cinnamon @1 min
WLP008 East Coast Ale Yeast
Generally I like simple malt bills but I went a little more complex on this one. The 2-row is pretty standard as a base grain but the rest are all added for a specific purpose. The Munich malt helps add some breadiness as well as a depth to the malt character. The oats are there to provide a bit more mouthfeel. Carapils is there, well for what Carapils does, head retention. I used a variety of crystal malts to try and hit all ends of the caramel/toffee spectrum. The rice hull are there to help stop a stuck sparge. My pumpkin puree was made using the process I described here with the only difference being that I didn’t add any water. I added the spices at the end to make sure I could get as much flavor out of them as possible without having to add them in the secondary. I made sure to make this mash very thin, mashing 12 lbs. of grain and 3 lbs. of pumpkin puree with 6 gallons of water at 153. I sparged with 2 gallons to collect a total of six gallons of wort.
I wasn’t sure which yeast I wanted to go with on this one originally but the homebrew store only had one “standard” American ale yeast in stock so WLP008 was the choice of the day. After doing some research I think this one will do well with the style. It is described as, “Similar neutral character of WLP001, but less attenuation, less accentuation of hop bitterness, slightly less flocculation, and a little tartness. Very clean and low esters.” The beer comes out with the follow stats:
As of posting this the beer is sitting in the secondary and my transfer sample tasted very nice. I can’t wait to try this one out in a few weeks.
It has been super hot here for that past few days and I have been itching to brew something. The combination of heat and the perceived need to brew something light and refreshing lead me to try my had at a Belgian Wit. I haven’t tired to brew a Belgian beer in almost two years, and I’ve never brewed a Belgian Wit.
My recipes are generally a combination of research and simplicity. I find that many homebrewers often like to add 300 specialty grains because the grains add “something special” to their beers. I’m more of the mindset of, “breweries probably don’t add too many grain to their beers as they would cost to much to make, so I shouldn’t either.” I’ve been known to go crazy from time to time, but in general I like the KISS approach to brewing. For this beer, I kept the grain bill simple, but I added some ingredients that I have never worked with before to the mix. You can see my recipe below:
5 lbs. Pilsner
4 lbs Wheat Malt
.5 lb Oats
1 oz Hallertau (3.0% AA) @ 60 min
1 oz Saaz (2.6% AA) @15 min
.5 oz Bitter dried orange peel @ 5 min
.5 oz Coriander @5 min
I only went with three types of grain on this one with a slight edge to the Pilsner malt as I wanted to keep this beer out of a 50/50 ratio with the wheat. The wheat malt is still over 40% of the grain bill but I also wanted to try out oats as I’ve never had a chance to brew with them before. I’m hoping that they help give this beer a more silky character. The hops are pretty traditional European hops with low alpha acids and serve to help keep the beer in balance but are not intended to add any significant flavor or smell contribution.
The end of the recipe is where I was most excited. I’ve tried dried orange peel before but it has been almost four years and I thought this would be an excellent recipe to try it in again. The coriander is there to help the Wit be a bit more assertive in the spices that the yeast give off. WLP410 is on of White Labs seasonal releases that is only out there for May and June. It is rumored that it is the house Brewery Ommegang strain. It apparently has less phenolics then a typical Wit yeast strain and gives off more esters. It also doesn’t ferment as fully but I figure that the Coriander and esters will help give the beer a drying feeling at the end instead of leaving it overly sweet. The projected stats for this beer can be seen below:
Expected OG: 1.046
Expected FG: 1.011
Expected ABV: 4.5%
Expected IBUs: 14.5
I brewed this beer prior to posting this recipe and I did pretty well getting an OG of 1.042. I did make a mistake with the orange peel and coriander as I added them with my last hop addition instead of at the 5 minute mark.
Back in January I brewed a brown porter. You can read about the brew day here and find a recipe for the beer here. As any homebrewer should evaluate their beer according to what they wanted out of their beer. I wanted a beer that was super easy drinking, low in ABV, and something that you could enjoy in the cold and cool weather.
My brown porter came out being a bit darker than I had intended. It was a deep ruby color when held up to the light. Surprisingly this beer was crystal clear. The nose was full of roast and malty sweetness. I didn’t get any hops on the nose. I would have liked to had this one be a bit dryer on the nose, but what are you going to do?
The taste of this beer was exactly what I was going for. It has a nice round roastiness with some dark caramels and toffee flavors. It isn’t overly sweet and the hops combine with the roasty flavors nicely to cut the sweetness down a peg or two. It has a very clean flavor to it and each component rolls into the next flavor.
I’m pretty happy with how this one came out. A number of people have tried it and enjoyed it. My parents, who don’t like craft beer in the least, didn’t even mind it. I like the recipe and I think I got everything I wanted out of it. The next time that I brew this beer I’m going to shoot for a different type of yeast. I want something a bit more English in nature that gives off a few more ester and a little more dryness. I think that the additions of those flavors would really round this beer out better and make it better.
I brewed my Pilsner last Saturday, just as the snow ended. The snow setting made brewing a real treat compared to the normal blustery winter brew day. The recipe for this beer was pretty simple and the grain crush went quickly. Even though it was cold out, my mash water heated up quickly. My goal was to use a high water to grain ratio at low temperatures to get as much sugar out of the grain as possible, I ended up putting four gallons of water into ten pounds of grain. This gave me a 1.6:1 quart to pound of grain ratio. Typically this ratio is closer to 1.25:1. I have been doing these higher ratios recently and I have found that my efficiency has gone up, so I’m sticking with it.
I mashed for 90 minutes hitting my target of 151 °F through the whole mash. I then added my strike water at 175°F and let the whole thing rest for another ten minutes. Once everything was completed I began my boil. I went for a 75 minute boil this time around as I collected a bit more wort than I was anticipating. I added my whole leaf Hallertau hops at 60 minutes as you can see below.
I rarely use whole leaf hops, but they look awesome in the beer. For the next 45 minutes I read my book while waiting for the next hop addition. At 15 minutes I added the Sterling hops (pellets), my wort chiller, and the Irish moss. At 10 minutes I added a yeast nutrient that I have had good success with. Come fame out I turned on the wort chiller water. At this time I also begin transferring a different lager beer from the fermentor to the keg. Doing two things at once is nice, but also hectic.
I had to switch between checking on the beer transfer and stirring the wort to help it cool more quickly. As the completed beer finished its transfer, I put the airlock back on the fermentor in order to protect the yeast cake from the air. The wort cooled down to 60 °F in about 20 minutes and I decided to put it in the fermentor. The whole leaf hops tried to clog my auto-siphon but they did not succeed. After all of the wort was in the fermentor I shook it up to make sure that the yeast mixed with the beer and to make sure that it was properly oxygenated.
My target goal of 1.053 was hit dead on. I really love hitting my goals and I am going to continue to do a looser mash and longer mash time as the success that I have had with it continues to impress. Within six hours this beer was producing bubbles in the airlock. I plan on leaving it in my basement for a month at 55 °F. From there I will keg it and lager it at colder temperatures for two to four weeks. I’ll let you know how it turns out when I transfer it over to the keg. Continue reading →